Battle of Ulm

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Battle of Ulm
Part of the Ulm campaign during the War of the Third Coalition
Ulm capitulation.jpg
The Capitulation of Ulm, by Charles Thévenin
Date16–19 October 1805
Location48°23′00″N 9°59′00″E / 48.3833°N 9.9833°E / 48.3833; 9.9833

French victory

  • France gains control over Bavaria
First French Empire French Empire Habsburg monarchy Habsburg monarchy
Commanders and leaders
First French Empire Napoleon Bonaparte
First French Empire Michel Ney
Habsburg monarchy Karl Mack von Leiberich (POW)
Habsburg monarchy Johann I Joseph
80,000[1][2] 40,000[1][3][4]
Casualties and losses
1,500 killed, wounded or captured[5][6][7] 4,000 killed or wounded
27,000 captured[5][6][7]
Battle of Ulm is located in Europe
Battle of Ulm
Location within Europe
  current battle
  Napoleon in command
  Napoleon not in command

The Battle of Ulm on 16–19 October 1805 was a series of skirmishes, at the end of the Ulm Campaign, which allowed Napoleon I to trap an entire Austrian army under the command of Karl Freiherr Mack von Leiberich with minimal losses and to force its surrender near Ulm in the Electorate of Bavaria.[8][9]


In 1805, the United Kingdom, the Austrian Empire, Sweden, and the Russian Empire formed the Third Coalition to overthrow the French Empire.[10][8] When Bavaria sided with Napoleon, the Austrians, 72,000 strong under Mack, prematurely invaded while the Russians were still marching through Poland.[11]

The Ulm Campaign September–October 1805.

The Austrians expected the main battles of the war to take place in northern Italy, not Germany, and intended only to protect the Alps from French forces.[12][3][4]

A popular but apocryphal legend has it that the Austrians used the Gregorian calendar, the Russians were still using the Julian calendar. This meant that their dates did not correspond, and the Austrians were brought into conflict with the French before the Russians could come into line.[13] This simple but improbable explanation for the Russian army being far behind the Austrian is dismissed by scholar Frederick Kagan as "a bizarre myth".[14][15]

Napoleon had 177,000 troops of the Grande Armée at Boulogne, ready to invade England.[16][17] They marched south on 27 August and by 24 September were ready to cross the Rhine from Mannheim to Strasbourg. After crossing the Rhine, the greater part of the French army made a gigantic right wheel so that its corps reached the Danube simultaneously, facing south.[18] On 7 October, Mack learned that Napoleon planned to cross the Danube and march around his right flank so as to cut him off from the Russians who were marching via Vienna. He accordingly changed front, placing his left at Ulm and his right at Rain, but the French went on and crossed the Danube at Neuburg, Donauwörth, and Ingolstadt.[17] Unable to stop the French avalanche, Michael von Kienmayer's Austrian corps abandoned its positions along the river and fled to Munich.[19]

On 8 October, Franz Auffenberg's division was cut to pieces by Joachim Murat's Cavalry Corps and Jean Lannes' V Corps at the Battle of Wertingen. The following day, Mack attempted to cross the Danube and move north. He was defeated in the Battle of Günzburg by Jean-Pierre Firmin Malher's division of Michel Ney's VI Corps which was still operating on the north bank.[17] During the action, the French seized a bridgehead on the south bank. After first withdrawing to Ulm, Mack tried to break out to the north. His army was blocked by Pierre Dupont de l'Etang's VI Corps division and some cavalry in the Battle of Haslach-Jungingen on 11 October.[18][20]

By the 11th, Napoleon's corps were spread out in a wide net to snare Mack's army. Nicolas Soult's IV Corps reached Landsberg am Lech and turned east to cut off Mack from Tyrol. Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte's I Corps and Louis Nicolas Davout's III Corps converged on Munich. Auguste Marmont's II Corps was at Augsburg. Murat, Ney, Lannes, and the Imperial Guard began closing in on Ulm. Mack ordered the corps of Franz von Werneck to march northeast, while Johann Sigismund Riesch covered its right flank at Elchingen. The Austrian commander sent Franz Jellacic's corps south toward Tyrol and held the remainder of his army at Ulm.[21]


Mack surrenders to Napoleon at Ulm by Paul-Emile Boutigny
Mack surrenders to Napoleon at Ulm by Paul-Émile Boutigny

On 14 October, Ney crushed Riesch's small corps at the Battle of Elchingen and chased its survivors back into Ulm. Murat detected Werneck's force and raced in pursuit with his cavalry. Over the next few days, Werneck's corps was overwhelmed in a series of actions at Langenau, Herbrechtingen, Nördlingen, and Neresheim. On 18 October, he surrendered the remainder of his troops. Only Archduke Ferdinand Karl Joseph of Austria-Este and a few other generals escaped to Bohemia with about 1,200 cavalry.[22] Meanwhile, Soult secured the surrender of 4,600 Austrians at Memmingen and swung north to box in Mack from the south. Jellacic slipped past Soult and escaped to the south only to be hunted down and captured in the Capitulation of Dornbirn in mid-November by Pierre Augereau's late-arriving VII Corps. By 16 October, Napoleon had surrounded Mack's entire army at Ulm, and four days later Mack surrendered with 25,000 men, 18 generals, 65 guns, and 40 standards.[23][22]

Some 20,000 escaped, 10,000 were killed or wounded, and the rest made prisoner.[6] About 500 French were killed and 1,000 wounded, a low number for such a decisive battle.[22][24] In less than 15 days the Grande Armée neutralized 60,000 Austrians and 30 generals. At the surrender (known as the Convention of Ulm), Mack offered his sword and presented himself to Napoleon as "the unfortunate General Mack".[25][26][5][6] Mack was court-martialed and sentenced to two years' imprisonment.[27]

The II Corps in Augsburg.


Napoleon I saluting the wounded Austrians after their surrender.

The Ulm Campaign is considered an example of a strategic victory, though Napoleon indeed had an overwhelming superior force. The campaign was won with no major battle. The Austrians fell into the same trap Napoleon had set at the Battle of Marengo, but unlike Marengo, the trap worked with success. Everything was made to confuse the enemy.

In his proclamation in the Bulletin de la Grande Armée of 21 October 1805 Napoleon said, "Soldiers of the Grande Armée, I announced you a great battle. But thanks to the bad combinations of the enemy, I obtained the same success with no risk ... In 15 days we have won a campaign."[28][7]

By defeating the Austrian army, Napoleon secured his conquest of Vienna, which was to be taken one month later.[7][27][21]

Like the Battle of Austerlitz, the Ulm Campaign is still taught in military schools worldwide,[29][9][30] and would continue to influence military leaders to present times, a notable example being that of the Schlieffen Plan developed by Germany to envelope what they assumed and expected would be French-led allied troops and win World War I.[31] Indeed, Dupuy would say about the battle in his Harper Encyclopedia of Military History that it actually "was not a battle; it was a strategic victory so complete and so overwhelming that the issue was never seriously contested in tactical combat. Also, This campaign opened the most brilliant year of Napoleon's career. His army had been trained to perfection; his plans were faultless."[32]

Site of the Battle of Elchingen on October 14, near the monastery of Elchingen


  1. ^ a b Fisher & Fremont-Barnes 2004, p. 41.
  2. ^ Maude 1912, pp. 43–73, Chapter II. The French Army.
  3. ^ a b Maude 1912, pp. 1–43, Chapter I. The Austrian Army.
  4. ^ a b Fisher & Fremont-Barnes 2004, p. 32.
  5. ^ a b c Nafziger 2002, p. 282, Ulm, Capitulation of. (-U-).
  6. ^ a b c d Chandler 2009, p. 399, 35. Strategic Triumph-Ulm (Part Seven. From the Rhine to the Danube).
  7. ^ a b c d Maude 1912, pp. 252–264, Chapter IX. Conclusion.
  8. ^ a b Connelly 2012, pp. 118–141, 9. Subduing the European powers: Austerlitz – Jena-Auerstädt – Friedland, 1805–07.
  9. ^ a b Allsbrook, John T. Turin, Dustin (ed.). "Napoleon Bonaparte's Peak of Military Success: Ulm and Austerlitz". Inquiries Journal. Boston, Massachusetts, United States: Inquiries Journal/Student Pulse LLC/Northeastern University. 4 (9): 1–2. ISSN 2153-5760. Archived from the original on 6 October 2016.
  10. ^ Connelly 2012, pp. 107–117, 8. Marengo and the Grand Armée, 1800–1805.
  11. ^ Ralby, Aaron; et al. (Illustration by Andy Crisp) (2013). "6. Europe (The Napoleonic Period 1799–1815)". In Hamilton, Jill; Moore, Damien; Baile, Philippa; Youel, Duncan; Cardon, Nanette (eds.). Atlas of world military history: From antiquity to the present day. Bath, England: Parragon/Moseley Road Inc. pp. 274–278. ISBN 978-1-4723-1236-5 – via Internet Archive.
  12. ^ Chandler 2009, p. 382, 34. Plans and Preparations (Part Seven. From the Rhine to the Danube).
  13. ^ Schneid 2012, pp. 35–50, 3. The Campaigns.
  14. ^ "battles of ulm". Retrieved 2022-03-20.
  15. ^ Fisher & Fremont-Barnes 2004, p. 31.
  16. ^ Mikaberidze 2020, pp. 173–187, Chapter 9. The Elephant Against the Whale: France and Britain at War, 1803–1804.
  17. ^ a b c Chandler 2009, pp. 382–389, 34. Plans and Preparations (Part Seven. From the Rhine to the Danube).
  18. ^ a b Chandler 2009, pp. 390–401, 35. Strategic Triumph-Ulm (Part Seven. From the Rhine to the Danube).
  19. ^ Chandler 2009, p. 186, 16. Grand Tactics on the Battlefield (Part Three. Napoleon's Art of War).
  20. ^ Mikaberidze 2020, pp. 188–227, Chapter 10. The Emperor's Conquest, 1805–1807.
  21. ^ a b Forster Groom & Co. Ltd. (1912). "Map of Central Europe showing the routes taken by Napoleon to defeat the allied Russo-Austrian army at the Battle of Ulm on 16–19 October 1805 and the Battle of Austerlitz in December 1805" (Military map). Written at London. Sketch Map illustrating Napoleon's Campaign in 1805 (Ulm & Austerlitz). 1:1,600,000. Whitehall Campaign Series. Cartography by Forster Groom & Co. Ltd. Canberra, Australia: Forster Groom & Co. Ltd. Vol. 11. Retrieved 6 October 2021 – via Trove (National Library of Australia).
  22. ^ a b c Chandler 2009, p. 400, 35. Strategic Triumph-Ulm (Part Seven. From the Rhine to the Danube).
  23. ^ Gerges, Mark T. (2016). "Chapter 5 – 1805: Ulm and Austerlitz". In Leggiere, Michael V.; DeVries, Kelly; France, John; Neiberg, Michael S.; Schneid, Frederick (eds.). Napoleon and the Operational Art of War: Essays in Honor of Donald D. Horward. History of Warfare. Vol. 110 (1st ed.). Leiden, South Holland, Netherlands: Brill Publishers (published 26 November 2020). pp. 221–248. doi:10.1163/9789004310032_007. ISBN 978-90-04-43441-7. LCCN 2015042278.
  24. ^ Horne 2012, p. 105, 7. Ulm: 2 September–21 October (Part Two: Austerlitz).
  25. ^ Blond, G. La Grande Armée. Castle Books, 1979. p. 59.
  26. ^ Haythornthwaite 1995, p. 68.
  27. ^ a b Horne 2012, pp. 116–128, 8. On to Vienna and Austerlitz: 21 October–28 November (Part Two: Austerlitz).
  28. ^ Chandler 2009, p. 402, 36. The Warriors of Holy Russia (Part Seven. From the Rhine to the Danube).
  29. ^ Macgregor, Douglas A. (1 December 1992). Matthews, Lloyd J.; Todd, Gregory N.; Stouffer, Phyllis M.; Brown, John E.; Stone, Michael P.W.; Stofft, William A. (eds.). "Future Battle: The Merging Levels of War" (PDF). United States Army War College (USAWC). Parameters: Journal of the US Army War College. Carlisle Barracks (Carlisle, Pennsylvania): United States Department of Defense. XXII (4): 33–46. ISSN 0031-1723. Archived (PDF) from the original on October 6, 2021 – via Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC).
  30. ^ Thompson, Philip S. (9 April 1991). "III. The Lessons of History" (PDF). In Barefield, Robert L.; McDonough, James R.; Brookes, Philip J. (eds.). U.S. Army Deception Planning at the Operation Level of War. School of Advanced Military Studies (Monograph on operational deception at the Ulm Campaign of 1805 and Operation Mincemeat of 1943). Fort Leavenworth, Kansas: United States Army Command and General Staff College. pp. 11–23. Retrieved 6 October 2021 – via Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC).
  31. ^ Brooks 2000, p. 156
    "It is a historical cliché to compare the Schlieffen Plan with Hannibal's tactical envelopment at Cannae (216 BC); Schlieffen owed more to Napoleon's strategic maneuver on Ulm (1805)"
  32. ^ Dupuy, R. Ernest; Dupuy, Trevor N. (1993) [1977]. The Harper Encyclopedia of Military History: From 3500 B.C. to the Present (4th ed.). New York: HarperCollins. p. 816. ISBN 0062700561.


External links[edit]

Preceded by
Battle of Elchingen
Napoleonic Wars
Battle of Ulm
Succeeded by
Battle of Verona (1805)