War of the Third Coalition

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  • March 06, 2022
War of the Third Coalition
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The Third Coalition War[note 1] was a European battle that lasted from 1803 to 1806. During the war, Napoleon I pitted France and its client nations against the Third Coalition, which consisted of the United Kingdom, the Holy Roman Empire, the Russian Empire, Naples, Sicily, and Sweden. Throughout the conflict, Prussia remained neutral.

Following the breakdown of the Peace of Amiens, Britain had previously been at war with France and remained the only country still at war with France after the Treaty of Pressburg. Between 1803 and 1805, Britain was constantly threatened by a French invasion. The Royal Navy, on the other hand, gained control of the seas in October 1805, when it decisively defeated a Franco-Spanish fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar.

Napoleon's activities in Italy and Germany (particularly the arrest and execution of the Duc d'Enghien) prompted Austria and Russia to join Britain against France in 1804–05, resulting in the formation of the Third Coalition. The Ulm Campaign, a large wheeling manoeuvre by the Grande Armée that captured an entire Austrian army from late August to mid-October 1805, and the decisive French victory over a combined Austro-Russian force led by Tsar Alexander I at the Battle of Austerlitz in early December were the major land operations that sealed the quick French victory. Austerlitz effectively ended the Third Coalition, however a short side war against Naples followed, which ended in a decisive French victory at the Battle of Campo Tenese.

The Treaty of Pressburg was signed on December 26, 1805, and it removed Austria from both the war and the Coalition, while also reinforcing the previous accords of Campo Formio and Lunéville between the two powers. The treaty confirmed the Austrian cession of lands in Italy and Bavaria to France, as well as lands in Germany to Napoleon's German allies, imposed a 40 million franc indemnity on the defeated Habsburgs, and granted defeated Russian troops free passage through hostile territory with their arms and equipment back to their homeland. Napoleon's victory at Austerlitz also inspired him to form the Rhine Confederation, a group of German client nations who committed to assemble a force of 63,000 troops. The Holy Roman Empire ceased to exist as a direct result of these events when Francis II abdicated the Imperial throne in 1806, becoming Francis I, Emperor of Austria. However, these victories did not result in a durable peace on the continent. Neither Russia nor the United Kingdom, whose forces had safeguarded Sicily from a French invasion, had agreed to settle because of Austerlitz. Meanwhile, Prussian concerns about French expansion in Central Europe ignited the Fourth Coalition War in 1806.


When the War of the Third Coalition began and ended is disputed by historians. The war began for the British when they declared war on France on May 18, 1803, although they were still on their own. Sweden did not join the United Kingdom's alliance until December 1804; Russia did not join until 11 April 1805; Britain and Russia did not ratify their treaty of alliance until 16 July; and Austria (9 August) and Naples–Sicily (11 September) formed the fully-fledged coalition only after that. (On the other hand, on August 25, Bavaria sided with France, and on September 5, Württemberg sided with Napoleon.) Until the Ulm Campaign (25 September – 20 October 1805), there were no major wars between France and any member of the alliance other than Britain (Trafalgar campaign March–November 1805). This was partly due to Napoleon's decision to utilize his invasion army stationed at Boulogne against Austria instead of his planned invasion of the United Kingdom, which he did not call off until August 27, 1805. After the Battle of Austerlitz and the signing of the Peace of Pressburg on December 26, 1805, which compelled Austria to leave the Third Coalition and end hostilities against France, there were no major conflicts. Austria's resignation, according to some historians, "shattered the frail Third Coalition" and "finished the Third Coalition War." The ensuing French invasion of Naples (February–July 1806), which the occupying Anglo-Russian troops soon evacuated and the surviving Neapolitan forces quickly surrendered, is not mentioned in this account. Other researchers contend that the southern Italian war should be included in the War of the Second Coalition, and that focusing just on land conflicts in Central Europe and the Trafalgar campaign neglects the Mediterranean front.


Europe had been embroiled in the French Revolutionary Wars since 1792. After five years of war, the French Republic subdued the armies of the First Coalition in 1797. A Second Coalition was formed in 1798, but this too was defeated by 1801, leaving Britain the only opponent of the new French Consulate.

From Amiens to the Third Coalition

The Treaty of Amiens, signed in March 1802, promised to end hostilities between France and the United Kingdom. All of Europe was at peace for the first time in ten years. However, several issues between the two parties persisted, making the treaty's implementation increasingly difficult. The fact that British troops had not fled Malta enraged Bonaparte. When Bonaparte deployed an invasion force to re-establish control over Haiti, the tensions only grew. Despite Bonaparte's acceptance of the British possession of Malta, Britain declared war on France on May 18, 1803 due to its continued intransigence on these matters.

The First Consul was persuaded to abandon his plans to rebuild France's New World empire after Bonaparte's expeditionary force was devastated by sickness in Haiti. The large area of Louisiana in North America was of little use to him without substantial profits from sugar plantations in the Caribbean. Despite the fact that the transfer of Louisiana to France under the Third Treaty of San Ildefonso had not yet been completed, a conflict between France and Britain was looming. Bonaparte planned to sell the entire area to the United States for 68 million francs ($15 million) out of rage towards Spain and the unusual opportunity to sell something that was useless and not fully his yet. On April 30, 1803, the Louisiana Purchase Treaty was signed.

Despite orders to spend the over 60 million francs on the building of five new canals in France, Bonaparte used the entire sum to fund his planned invasion of England.

The fledgling Third Coalition was formed in December 1804 when an Anglo-Swedish agreement was struck, allowing the British to utilize Swedish Pomerania as a military base against France in exchange for money (explicitly, the nearby French-occupied Electorate of Hanover, the homeland of the British monarch). After the arrest and execution of Louis Antoine, Duke of Enghien, a royalist émigré who had been accused (on dubious evidence) in an assassination plot against First Consul Bonaparte, the Swedish government severed diplomatic connections with France in early 1804. The execution of Enghien outraged Europe's nobles, who still recalled the Revolution's bloodletting and so lost any conditional respect they may have had for Bonaparte.

British Prime Minister William Pitt spent 1804 and 1805 in a flurry of diplomatic effort oriented toward forming a new coalition against France, fanning the flames of the uproar stemming from d'Enghien's death and the growing concern of increasing French supremacy. Pitt pulled off a major coup by enlisting the help of a rising rival. The Baltic was governed by Russia, which made Britain uneasy because the region offered rich goods like timber, tar, and hemp, which were critical supplies to the Royal Navy. Furthermore, Britain had backed the Ottoman Empire in its fight against Russian advances into the Mediterranean. In the wake of multiple French political gaffes, mutual animosity between the British and the Russians waned, and on April 11, 1805, the two signed an alliance pact in Saint Petersburg. The Anglo-Russian alliance's avowed purpose was to subjugate France to her 1792 borders. Prussia remained neutral, while Austria, Sweden, and Naples eventually joined the coalition.

Meanwhile, Bonaparte was able to cement his political power base in France during the break in intensive military warfare from 1801 to 1804. In 1802 he was named Consul for Life (as a prize for making a brief peace with Britain), as well as the founder of the Legion of Honour, a prestigious order. Then, in May 1804, Bonaparte was proclaimed Emperor of the French and crowned on December 2, 1804 in Notre Dame Cathedral. He also appointed eighteen Marshals of the Empire from among his top generals to ensure the army's commitment. In May 1805, Napoleon added the crown of (Northern) Italy to his mantle, bringing a traditional Austrian zone of influence under his control (via his stepson Eugène de Beauharnais). Austria joined the Third Coalition a few months later, eager for vengeance after being defeated twice in recent memory by France.

La Grande Armée at Boulogne

Napoleon had amassed the Army of England, an invading force aimed at England, from roughly six camps at Boulogne in Northern France, prior to the formation of the Third Coalition. Napoleon's forces received meticulous and invaluable training for any imaginable military campaign, while never setting foot on British territory. Boredom developed in among the troops from time to time, but Napoleon paid frequent visits and held costly parades to keep the men' spirits high.

The men at Boulogne became the nucleus of what Napoleon eventually dubbed La Grande Armée (The Great Army). This French army began with approximately 200,000 troops divided into seven corps, each capable of acting independently or in conjunction with other corps. Corps were large combined arms military forces of 2-4 infantry divisions, a cavalry division, and approximately 36 to 40 cannons. Napoleon added a cavalry reserve of 22,000 men, divided into two cuirassier divisions, four mounted dragoon divisions, and two dismounted dragoon and light cavalry divisions, all supported by 24 artillery pieces, to these troops. By 1805, the Grande Armée had swelled to 350,000 men, was well-equipped, well-trained, and had a capable officer corps.

Russian and Austrian Armies

The Russian army in 1805 had many of the characteristics of an ancien régime military organization: there was no permanent formation above the regimental level, senior officers were mostly recruited from aristocratic circles (including foreigners), and the Russian soldier was regularly beaten and punished to instill discipline, as was the practice in the 18th century. Furthermore, many lower-level leaders lacked training and struggled to motivate their men to perform the sometimes intricate manoeuvres required in battle. Nonetheless, the Russians had a formidable artillery force, staffed by soldiers who fought valiantly to keep their weapons from falling into enemy hands.

In 1801 Archduke Charles, the Austrian Emperor's brother, began to restructure the Austrian army by removing power from the Hofkriegsrat, the military-political council in charge of making decisions in the Austrian armed forces. Charles was Austria's best field commander, but he was unpopular with the royal court and lost a lot of power when Austria went to war with France against his advise. Karl Mack was named the new chief of the Austrian army, and on the eve of the war, he instituted infantry reforms that required a regiment to be made up of four battalions of four companies rather than the previous three battalions of six companies. As a result of the abrupt change and the lack of corresponding officer training, these new units were not led as well as they may have been. The cavalry forces of Austria were recognized as the greatest in Europe, but the detachment of many cavalry units to various infantry formations limited their hitting capability compared to their massed French counterparts.

Finally, a major divergence between these two apparent friends is sometimes blamed for catastrophic outcomes. The Russians continued to use the old Julian calendar, while the Austrians had embraced the new Gregorian calendar, resulting in a 12-day discrepancy between the two systems by 1805. Different schedules for when the Allied forces should meet are said to have caused confusion, resulting in an eventual breakdown in mutual cooperation. This story is contradicted by a contemporaneous account from an Austrian army major-general, who describes a joint advance of Russian and Austrian forces (in which he participated) five days before the battle of Austerlitz, and it is explicitly refuted in Goetz's recent book-length study of the battle.

Ulm Campaign

In August 1805, Napoleon, Emperor of the French since May of the previous year, turned his army's sights from the English Channel to the Rhine in order to deal with the new Austrian and Russian threats. The War of the Third Coalition began with the Ulm Campaign, a series of French and Bavarian military manoeuvres and battles designed to outflank an Austrian army under General Mack.

Austrian Plans and Preparations

General Mack believed that Austrian security hinged on closing the gaps in the rugged Black Forest region of southern Germany, which had seen a lot of combat during the French Revolutionary War campaigns. In Central Germany, Mack predicted that there would be no activity. Mack chose Ulm as the focal point of his defensive strategy, which called for the French to be contained until the Russians under Kutuzov arrived and changed the odds against Napoleon. The massively fortified Michelsberg heights shielded Ulm from outside invasion, giving Mack the idea that the city was virtually invincible.

Unfortunately, the Aulic Council opted to make Northern Italy the Habsburgs' major theater of operations. Archduke Charles was given 95,000 troops and told to cross the Adige River with the initial goals of Mantua, Peschiera, and Milan. Archduke John was allocated 23,000 troops and given the task of securing Tyrol while acting as a link between his brother, Charles, and his cousin, Ferdinand; Ferdinand's 72,000-strong force was to invade Bavaria and hold the defensive line at Ulm, which was effectively controlled by Mack. Individual corps were also removed by the Austrians to serve with the Swedish in Pomerania and the British in Naples, albeit this was done to confuse the French and divert their resources.

French Plans and Preparations

Napoleon had envisioned the Danube theatre as the focal point of French efforts in both the 1796 and 1800 battles, but the Italian theatre emerged as the most crucial in both cases. Napoleon was expected to strike again in Italy, according to the Aulic Council. If General Mack's vulnerable Austrian army continued marching towards the Black Forest, Napoleon had other plans: 210,000 French troops would be pushed eastwards from the Boulogne camps, encircling General Mack's exposed Austrian army. Meanwhile, Marshal Murat would deploy cavalry screens throughout the Black Forest to deceive the Austrians into believing the French were moving west–east. Masséna would meet Charles in Italy with 50,000 men, St. Cyr would march to Naples with 20,000 men, and Brune would guard Boulogne with 30,000 troops against a hypothetical British invasion.

While Savary, the chief of the planning department, drew out extensive road studies of the areas between the Rhine and the Danube, Murat and Bertrand conducted reconnaissance between the Tyrol and the Main. The Grande Armée's left wing would move from Hanover and Utrecht to Württemberg, while the right and center, comprising troops from the Channel coast, would concentrate along the Middle Rhine around Mannheim and Strasbourg. While Murat was making demonstrations in the Black Forest, other French forces would invade the German heartland and swing towards the southeast by capturing Augsburg, isolating Mack and disrupting Austrian communication routes.

The French Invasion

Mack decided to keep the Iller line moored on Ulm on September 22nd. The French began the relentless marches that would lead them to the Austrian rear in the last three days of September. Mack believed the French would not infringe on Prussian territory, but when he learned that Bernadotte's I Corps had marched through Prussian Ansbach, he made the crucial decision to stay and defend Ulm rather than retreating to the south, which would have given him a better chance of saving the majority of his forces. Napoleon had little reliable information on Mack's plans or maneuvers; he knew Kienmayer's Corps had been dispatched to Ingolstadt, east of the French lines, but his informants vastly overstated its size. On the 5th of October, Napoleon sent Ney to Donauwörth to assist Lannes, Soult, and Murat in concentrating and crossing the Danube. The French encirclement, on the other hand, was insufficient to prevent Kienmayer's escape: the French corps did not all arrive at the same time – instead, they deployed on a broad west–east axis – and the early arrival of Soult and Davout at Donauwörth incited Kienmayer to be cautious and evasive. Napoleon became increasingly convinced that the Austrians were massed at Ulm and ordered large elements of the French army to congregate around Donauwörth; on October 6, three French infantry and cavalry corps marched to Donauwörth to cut off Mack's escape path.

Battle of Wertingen

Mack decided to go on the offensive after realizing how dangerous his situation was. On the 8th of October, he ordered the army to concentrate near Günzburg in the hopes of striking at Napoleon's communication lines. Mack told Kienmayer to direct Napoleon's attention eastward, towards Munich and Augsburg. Napoleon did not fully consider the likelihood that Mack would cross the Danube and leave his core stronghold, but he did see that capturing the Günzburg bridges would provide a significant strategic advantage. To achieve this goal, Napoleon dispatched Ney's Corps to Günzburg, entirely unaware that the Austrian army was en route to the same location. However, on the 8th of October, the campaign's first major fight took place at Wertingen, between Auffenburg's forces and those of Murat and Lannes.

Mack ordered Auffenburg to move his division of 5,000 infantry and 400 cavalry from Günzburg to Wertingen on 7 October for unknown reasons in preparation for the main Austrian advance out of Ulm. Auffenburg was in a perilous situation, unsure of what to do and with little hope of assistance. Murat's cavalry divisions - Klein's 1st Dragoons, Beaumont's 3rd Dragoons, and Nansouty's cuirassiers – were the first to arrive. They attacked the Austrian fortifications, shortly being joined by Oudinot's grenadiers, who hoped to outflank the Austrians from the north and west. Auffenburg attempted a southwest retreat, but he was too late: the Austrians were crushed, losing virtually their whole force, with 1,000 to 2,000 captured. The Battle of Wertingen had been a foregone conclusion for the French.

The events at Wertingen persuaded Mack to operate on the Danube's left bank rather than retreating eastwards on the right bank. This would necessitate the Austrian army crossing the Rhine at Günzburg. On the 8th of October, Ney was following Berthier's orders, which called for a direct attack on Ulm the next day. To seize the Günzburg Danube bridges, Ney dispatched Malher's 3rd Division. This division's column came across some Tyrolean jaegers and captured 200 of them, including their commander General d'Apsré, as well as two cannons. Following these developments, the Austrians reinforced their defenses surrounding Günzburg with three infantry battalions and twenty cannons. Malher's division launched a number of valiant attacks against Austrian positions, but they all failed. Mack immediately sent in Gyulai with seven infantry battalions and fourteen cavalry squadrons to rebuild the bridges, but the French 59th Infantry Regiment charged and swept them away. After fierce battle, the French were able to gain a footing on the Danube's right bank. While the Battle of Günzburg was being waged, Ney dispatched General Loison's 2nd Division to capture the Austrian-held Danube bridges at Elchingen. Mack marched his force back to Ulm after losing most of the Danube bridges. By the 10th of October, Ney's corps had made substantial gains: Malher's division had crossed to the right bank, Loison's division had taken Elchingen, and Dupont's division was on its way to Ulm.

Haslach-Jungingen and Elchingen

The dejected Austrian army landed at Ulm early on October 10th. The Austrian army remained idle at Ulm until the 11th, while Mack deliberated on a line of action. Meanwhile, Napoleon was acting on faulty assumptions: he thought the Austrians were retreating to the east or southeast, and that Ulm was undefended. This misunderstanding was picked up by Ney, who wrote to Berthier to inform him that Ulm was, in fact, better protected than the French had assumed. During this period, Napoleon's attention was drawn to the Russian threat from the east, and Murat was assigned command of the army's right flank, which included Ney's and Lannes' corps. At this time, the French were divided into two huge rings: to the west, the forces of Ney, Lannes, and Murat were tasked with confining Mack, while to the east, the forces of Soult, Davout, Bernadotte, and Marmont were tasked with defending against any prospective Russian or Austrian assaults. On the 11th of October, Ney renewed his assault on Ulm; the 2nd and 3rd divisions were to march to the city along the Danube's right bank, while Dupont's division, backed by a dragoon division, was to march straight to Ulm and conquer the entire city. Because Ney still didn't realize that the entire Austrian army was stationed at Ulm, the instructions were futile.

Dupont's division's 32nd Infantry Regiment marched from Haslach to Ulm and encountered four Austrian units defending Bolfingen. The 32nd launched three furious assaults, but the Austrians stood steady and repulsed each one. The Austrians inundated Jungingen with more cavalry and infantry regiments, expecting to encircle Dupont's force and deliver a knockout blow to Ney's corps. Dupont sensed what was going on and used it to his advantage, mounting a surprise attack on Jungingen that resulted in the capture of at least 1,000 Austrians. These soldiers were driven back to Haslach by renewed Austrian attacks, which the French were able to hold. Dupont was eventually forced to retreat to Albeck, where he joined the forces of d'Hilliers. The impact of the Battle of Haslach-Jungingen on Napoleon's objectives is unclear, but it's possible that the Emperor finally realized that the mass of the Austrian force had gathered at Ulm. As a result, Napoleon dispatched the corps of Soult and Marmont to the Iller, giving him four infantry and one cavalry corps to deal with Mack; Davout, Bernadotte, and the Bavarians remained in charge of the Munich region. Napoleon did not want to engage a river battle, so he ordered his marshals to seize the main bridges in the Ulm area. He also began repositioning his forces to the north of Ulm, anticipating a confrontation there rather than an encirclement of the city. As Ney's men marched on Albeck, these dispositions and actions would lead to a conflict at Elchingen on the 14th.

The Austrian command staff was in complete disarray at this point in the battle. Ferdinand began to openly criticize Mack's command style and actions, accusing him of spending his days issuing inconsistent instructions that caused the Austrian army to march back and forth. On the 13th of October, Mack dispatched two columns from Ulm in preparation for a breakout to the north: one under General Reisch traveled north to capture the bridge at Elchingen, while the other under Werneck headed north with the majority of the heavy artillery. To regain contact with Dupont, Ney pressed his forces forward. Ney marched his soldiers to the right bank of the Danube, south of Elchingen, and launched an attack. The partially wooded flood plain to the side rose sharply to the hill town of Elchingen, which offered a broad field of view. The French dislodged the Austrian pickets, and a regiment stormed and took the abbey at bayonet point at the top of the hill. The Austrian cavalry was also defeated, and Riesch's men withdrew; as a result of his great win, Ney was given the title "Duke of Elchingen."

Battle of Ulm

On the 14th, there were other events. Murat's men arrived at Albeck just in time to repel an Austrian onslaught from Werneck; together, Murat and Dupont drove the Austrians north toward Heidenheim. Two French corps were stationed near the Austrian encampments at Michelsberg, just outside of Ulm, by the night of the 14th. Mack was now in a terrible situation: there was no longer any possibility of escaping via the north bank, Marmont and the Imperial Guard were hovering south of the river on the outskirts of Ulm, and Soult was moving from Memmingen to prevent the Austrians from fleeing to the Tyrol. The Austrian command's problems worsened when Ferdinand overruled Mack's concerns and ordered the evacuation of all cavalry from Ulm, a total of 6,000 troops. Only eleven squadrons joined Werneck at Heidenheim because Murat's pursuit was so successful. Murat proceeded to harry Werneck, forcing him to surrender with 8,000 soldiers on October 19th near Trochtelfingten; he also took an entire Austrian field park of 500 vehicles, then rushed on to Neustadt and captured 12,000 Austrians.

The events in Ulm were coming to a close. The Michelsberg encampments were successfully stormed by Ney's troops on the 15th of October, and the French commenced bombarding Ulm on the 16th. Austrian morale was at an all-time low, and Mack realized there was little chance of being rescued. Napoleon's ambassador, Ségur, negotiated a treaty with Mack on October 17th, in which the Austrians pledged to surrender on October 25th if no aid arrived by that date. Mack eventually learned of the surrenders at Heidenheim and Neresheim and consented to surrender five days ahead of schedule on October 20. 10,000 Austrian garrison troops escaped, but the vast majority of the Austrian force marched out on the 21st and surrendered without incident, with the Grande Armée formed up in a wide semicircle to see the surrender.

Battle of Trafalgar

After the short-lived Peace of Amiens, the Third Coalition resumed war on France, Napoleon Bonaparte was resolved to attack Britain. To do so, he needed to make sure the Royal Navy couldn't stop the invasion flotilla, which meant controlling the English Channel.

The main French fleets were stationed in Brittany and on the Mediterranean coast at Toulon. Smaller squadrons were stationed in several locations around the French Atlantic coast. Due to the alliance between France and Spain, the Spanish navy located in Cádiz and Ferrol was also accessible.

The British had a well-trained and experienced naval officer corps. During the early years of the French Revolution, however, the majority of the greatest officers in the French navy were either executed or expelled from service. As a result, Napoleon's Mediterranean fleet was led by Vice-Admiral Pierre-Charles Villeneuve, the most capable senior officer available. Villeneuve, on the other hand, had showed little desire to fight Nelson and the Royal Navy following his humiliation at the Battle of the Nile.

Napoleon's naval plan for the Mediterranean and Cádiz in 1805 was for the French and Spanish fleets to break through the blockade and join forces in the West Indies. They'd then return to help the navy in Brest break the blockade and, together, clear the English Channel of Royal Navy ships, allowing the invasion barges to pass safely. On paper, Napoleon's plan sounded sound, but as the conflict progressed, the French were plagued by Napoleon's lack of maritime strategy and ill-advised naval commanders.

West Indies

Admiral Lord Nelson commanded the British navy that was blockading Toulon in early 1804. Unlike William Cornwallis, who used the Channel Fleet to maintain a tight blockade of Brest, Nelson used a lax siege in the hopes of luring the French out for a great engagement. When Nelson's soldiers were pushed off station by storms, Villeneuve's fleet managed to elude him. Villeneuve passed through the Straits of Gibraltar, met up with the Spanish fleet, and headed to the West Indies as planned as Nelson searched the Mediterranean for him. Nelson sailed out in pursuit of the French after learning that they had crossed the Atlantic Ocean. Due to the slowness of communications at the time, admirals were granted great liberty in making strategic and tactical decisions.


Villeneuve returned from the West Indies to Europe with the intention of breaking the blockade at Brest, but after two of his Spanish ships were captured by a squadron led by Vice-Admiral Sir Robert Calder during the Battle of Cape Finisterre, Villeneuve abandoned his goal and went back to Ferrol.

Napoleon's invasion plans for England were wholly dependent on having a large enough number of line ships before Boulogne, France. Villeneuve's force of 32 ships would have had to join Vice-Admiral Ganteaume's force of 21 ships in Brest, along with a squadron of five ships under Captain Allemand, giving him a total force of 58 ships of the line.

On the 10th of August, Villeneuve set sail from Ferrol under Napoleon's tight orders to proceed northward for Brest. Instead, he was concerned that the British were watching his maneuvers, so he sailed south on August 11th, heading for Cádiz on Spain's southern coast. By the 26th of August, the three French army corps invasion force in Boulogne had broken camp and marched to Germany, where it would be fully engaged.

Nelson returned to England in the same month, after two years at sea, for some well-deserved rest. He stayed ashore for 25 hectic days, receiving a hearty welcome from his fellow countrymen, who were understandably worried about a probable French invasion. The united French and Spanish navy in Cádiz harbour was reported to England on September 2nd. Nelson had to wait until September 15th to set sail with his ship, HMS Victory.

Cornwallis made the unfortunate decision on August 15 to detach 20 line ships from the fleet protecting the channel and send them south to confront the enemy forces in Spain. With only eleven ships of the line present, the canal was somewhat depleted in ships. This dispersed force, on the other hand, became the nucleus of the British fleet that would fight at Trafalgar. This fleet was initially under the command of Vice-Admiral Calder, and it arrived in Cádiz on September 15th. Nelson assumed command of the fleet on September 29th.

The British fleet kept a continual watch on the port with frigates, while the main force remained 50 miles (80 kilometers) west of the beach. Nelson hoped to entice the combined Franco-Spanish force out of hiding and fight them in a "pell-mell" combat. Captain Blackwood, commanding HMS Euryalus, was in charge of the force keeping an eye on the harbor. On October 8, he was raised to a strength of seven ships (five frigates and two schooners).

Supply Situation

Nelson's fleet was in desperate need of supplies at this moment. Under the command of Rear-Admiral Louis, five ships of the line, the Queen, Canopus, Spencer, Zealous, Tigre, and the frigate Endymion, were ordered to Gibraltar for supplies on October 2nd. These ships were later diverted to the Mediterranean for convoy duty, despite Nelson's expectations that they would return. Other British ships kept arriving, and by the 15th of October, the fleet was fully equipped for the conflict. Despite the fact that it was a serious defeat, Nelson allowed Calder to return home in his flagship, the 98-gun Prince of Wales, once the first-rate Royal Sovereign arrived. Calder's lack of action during the battle off Cape Finisterre on July 22 had prompted the Admiralty to summon him for a court martial, and he would have been returned to Britain in a smaller ship.

Meanwhile, Villeneuve's fleet in Cádiz was suffering from a severe supply deficit that the cash-strapped French were unable to resolve. The British fleet's blockades made it impossible for the allies to procure supplies, and their ships were ill-equipped. Villeneuve's ships lacked more than two thousand men, which meant they couldn't sail. The Franco-Spanish fleet had other issues to deal with as well. The British blockades had held the line's principal French ships in port for years, with only brief excursions. The hurried crossing of the Atlantic and return depleted essential supplies and was no match for the British fleet's years of expertise and training at sea. Because most of the crew had to be taught the elements of seamanship on the few occasions when they did get to sea, gunnery was neglected by the French crews. In October, Villeneuve's supply position improved, but rumors of Nelson's approach made him hesitant to leave port. Indeed, his captains had convened a meeting to discuss the situation and had chosen to remain in port.

On the 14th of September, Napoleon issued orders for the French and Spanish ships at Cadiz to sail as soon as possible, join seven Spanish line ships at Cartagena, sail to Naples, land the soldiers they carried to reinforce his troops, and fight a decisive action if they encountered a British fleet of inferior numbers.

On the 18th of October, Villeneuve got word that Vice-Admiral François Rosily had arrived in Madrid and had been given orders to take charge. At the same time, he received word that a detachment of six British ships (Admiral Louis' squadron) had arrived in Gibraltar. Villeneuve, fearful of being shamed in front of the fleet, decided to depart to sea before his successor could reach Cadiz. Following a gale on October 18, the fleet began a mad dash to get underway.


Following a week of gales, the weather suddenly calmed down. The fleet's departure from the harbour was slowed as a result, giving the British plenty of warning. Villeneuve had devised a plan to organize four squadrons, each of which would include both French and Spanish ships. The captains were hesitant to leave Cádiz after their earlier vote to stay put, and as a result, they did not strictly execute Villeneuve's orders (Villeneuve was apparently loathed by many of the fleet's officers and crew). As a result, the fleet dispersed out of the harbor in a haphazard manner.

Villeneuve spent much of the 20th of October organizing his fleet before setting sail in three columns for the Straits of Gibraltar to the south-east. The ship Achille sighted a fleet of 18 British line ships in pursuit that same evening. The fleet proceeded to prepare for war, and they were commanded to form a single line during the night. Nelson's fleet of 27 line ships and four frigates was observed pursuing from the north-west with the wind behind them the next day. Villeneuve ordered his fleet into three columns once more, but quickly altered his mind and ordered a single line instead. As a result, the formation became sprawling and irregular.

The British fleet was sailing under signal 72, hoisted atop Nelson's flagship, indicating they would fight. The British were around 21 miles (34 kilometers) north of Cape Trafalgar at 5:40 a.m., with the Franco-Spanish fleet between them and the Cape. Nelson gave the command to prepare for battle at 6 a.m. that morning.

Villeneuve ordered the fleet to gather at 8 a.m. and return to Cádiz. The Allied line was now reversed, with the rear division, led by Rear-Admiral Pierre Dumanoir le Pelley, in the forefront, or "van." At this point, the wind began to change direction often. Manoeuvring was nearly impossible for even the most experienced personnel because to the little wind. The inexperienced personnel struggled with the changing conditions, and Villeneuve's order took about an hour and a half to fulfill. The French and Spanish fleets had now formed an irregular, angular crescent, with the slower ships leeward and closer to the coast. Villeneuve was acutely aware that the British fleet would not assault him in the traditional manner, by descending in a parallel line and engaging from van to rear. He knew they'd try to focus on a specific section of his phrase. But he was too aware of his officers' and men's inexperience to consider counter-movements.

Nelson's whole fleet, strung up in two parallel columns, was visible to Villeneuve by 11 a.m. Within an hour, the two fleets would be within range of each other. Villeneuve was concerned about forming a line at this point since his ships were unevenly spaced and arranged in an irregular pattern. As Nelson's fleet neared, the Franco-Spanish fleet was nearly 5 miles (8 kilometers) long.

As the British got closer, they noticed that the enemy was sailing in irregular groups rather than in a tight formation. The French and Spanish were not flying command pennants, so Nelson couldn't see the French flagship right away.

Nelson would have to fight without the six British ships that had been despatched to Gibraltar earlier. With roughly 30,000 men and 2,568 guns to his 17,000 men and 2,148 guns, he was outmanned and outgunned. The Franco-Spanish fleet also had six extra line ships, allowing them to coordinate their fire more easily. Some of Nelson's ships were unable to avoid being "doubled on" or even "tripled on."


The combat went mostly according to Nelson's strategy. "England expects that every man will perform his duty," Nelson issued the flag signal at 11:45 a.m. Lieutenant John Pasco, his signal officer, was to send the word "England confides [i.e. is confident] that every man will do his job" to the fleet. Because the former term was in the signal book and confides would have to be spelled out letter by letter, Pasco suggested that expects be changed for confides; Nelson agreed.

Though the British fleet contained considerable contingents from Ireland, Scotland, and Wales as well as England, the name "England" was popularly used at the time to refer to the United Kingdom. This signal, unlike the photograph, would have only been visible on the mizzen mast and would have required 12 'lifts.' In two columns, the fleet approached the French line. Nelson headed the windward column in Victory, while Collingwood led the leeward column in Royal Sovereign.

The French and Spanish were in a ragged line heading north as the conflict began, while the two British columns approached from the west at almost a straight angle. Nelson's 100-gun flagship Victory led the northern, windward column of the British fleet. Vice-Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood's flagship, the 100-gun Royal Sovereign, headed the leeward column. Nelson led his line in a feint against the Franco-Spanish fleet's van before turning toward the main attack point. Collingwood shifted his column slightly, bringing the two lines together at the attack line.

"Now, gentlemen," Collingwood said to his officers just before his column confronted the allied forces, "let us do something today that the world will write about tomorrow." Because of the feeble breezes, all of the ships moved very slowly during the engagement, and the lead British ships were under fire from numerous enemy ships for nearly an hour before their own guns reach bear.

At 12 p.m., Villeneuve signaled Fougueux to "attack the enemy," and Fougueux fired her first trial shot at Royal Sovereign. Royal Sovereign had all sails out and outran the rest of the British fleet after having her bottom cleaned recently. She came under fire from Fougueux, Indomptable, San Justo, and San Leandro as she approached the allied line, eventually breaking it just astern of Admiral Alava's flagship Santa Ana, into which she delivered a deadly double-shotted raking broadside.

Belleisle, the second ship in the British lee column, was attacked by Aigle, Achille, Neptune, and Fougeux; she was quickly dismasted, unable to manoeuvre, and largely unable to fight, as her sails blinded her batteries, but she kept flying her flag for 45 minutes until the following British ships arrived to save her.

Victory was shot at for 40 minutes by Héros, Santisima Trinidad, Redoutable, and Neptune; while many rounds went awry, others killed and injured a number of her crew and shot away her wheel, forcing her to be directed from her tiller belowdecks. Victory was still unable to answer. The enemy line between Villeneuve's flagship Bucentaure and Redoutable was cut at 12:45. The Bucentaure came dangerously close to being destroyed when Victory fired a devastating raking broadside through her stern, killing and wounding many on her gundecks. Villeneuve anticipated boarding and informed his sailors, "I'll throw it onto the enemy ship and we'll take it back there!" with the Eagle of his ship in hand. Admiral Nelson of Victory, on the other hand, engaged the 74-gun Redoutable. The next three ships in the British windward column, Temeraire, Conqueror, and Neptune, were left to cope with Bucentaure.

Victory locked sails with the French Redoutable during the widespread melee that erupted. The crew of the Redoutable gathered for an attempt to board and seize the Victory, which included a formidable infantry corps (with three captains and four lieutenants). Nelson was hit in the left shoulder by a musket bullet fired from the Redoutable's mizzentop, which traveled through his body and lodged in his spine. "They finally succeeded, and I am dead," Nelson cried. As the combat that would make him a legend was finishing in favor of the British, he was dragged below decks and died around 16:30.

The gunners had been summoned to the deck to combat the capture, but had been repelled to the lower decks by French grenades. As the French prepared to board Victory, the Temeraire, the second ship in the British windward column, arrived from the starboard bow of the Redoutable and opened fire with a carronade on the exposed French crew, killing several.

Captain Lucas of the Redoutable was forced to surrender at 13:55, with 99 fit men out of 643 and himself seriously wounded. The Victory and Temeraire isolated the French Bucentaure, who were subsequently assaulted by Neptune, Leviathan, and Conqueror; similarly, the Santisima Trinidad was isolated and overwhelmed, surrendering after three hours.

The allied center and rear ships were gradually overpowered as more British ships entered the conflict. After a long period of silence, the allied van made a useless display and then sailed away. The British captured 22 ships from the Franco-Spanish armada, losing none. The Aigle, Algésiras, Berwick, Bucentaure, Fougueux, Intrépide, Redoutable, and Swiftsure were among the French ships captured. Argonauta, Bahama, Monarca, Neptuno, San Agustin, San Ildefonso, San Juan Nepomuceno, Santsima Trinidad, and Santa Ana were among the Spanish ships captured. Redoutable sank, Santsima Trinidad and Argonauta were scuttled and later sank by the British, Achille exploded, Intrépide and San Augustn burned, and Aigle, Berwick, Fougueux, and Monarca were wrecked in a gale following the conflict.

As he lay dying, Nelson ordered the fleet to anchor due to the impending storm. Many of the seriously damaged ships, however, sunk or went aground on the shoals when the storm blew up. A few were recaptured by French and Spanish captives who outmanoeuvred the small prize crews or by ships sallying from Cádiz.

Battle of Austerlitz


The Grande Armée's main body followed the Austrian army's remnants towards Vienna. Following the Austrian army's defeat at Ulm, a Russian force led by General Mikhail Kutuzov began retreating east, reaching the Ill river on October 22nd, where it joined the retreating Corps Kienmayer. They held a successful rearguard action in Amstetten on November 5th. The Russians arrived in St. Pölten on November 7th, and crossed the Danube the next day. They demolished the Danube bridges late on November 9th, holding the final one, at Stein, near Krems, until late afternoon.

Mortier ordered Gazans to attack what they thought was a Russian rear guard in the village of Stein the next day. This was a trap set by Kutuzov to deceive Mortier into thinking he had retreated farther into Vienna, when in fact he had crossed the Danube in force and was hiding behind the ridges above the settlement. Three Russian columns circled the First Division of the Corps Mortier and attacked Gazan from the front and rear in the Battle of Dürenstein that followed. Gazan could not begin evacuating his forces to the other side of the Danube until Dupont's division arrived late at night. Nearly 40% of Gazan's division was lost. In addition, he lost five guns, the eagles of the 4th Infantry Regiment, and the eagle and guidon of the 4th Dragoons, as well as 47 officers and 895 men. The Russians also lost 4,000 troops, or around 16% of their army, as well as two regimental colors. In the confusion of the battle, Austrian Lt. Field Marshal Schmitt was slain, most likely by Russian musketry.

A week after the Battle of Duerenstein, the Battle of Schöngrabern (also known as the Battle of Hollabrunn) took place. On November 16, 1805, in the Lower Austrian town of Hollabrunn. Before Napoleon's French army, Kutuzov's Russian army was retreating north of the Danube.

Marshals Murat and Lannes, leading the French advance guard, had conquered a Danube bridge at Vienna on November 13, 1805, by falsely stating an armistice had been signed and then assaulting the bridge while the soldiers were distracted. Kutuzov sought to buy time before making contact with Buxhowden's troops near Brünn. He told his rearguard, led by Major-General Prince Pyotr Bagration, to keep the French at bay.

The soldiers gathered in the fields east of Brno after Hollabrun. For the approaching fight, Napoleon could collect 75,000 men and 157 guns, but Davout's 7,000 forces were still far to the south, heading for Vienna. The Allies had 73,000 soldiers, 70% of whom were Russians, and 318 cannons. Both sides took up their major positions on December 1st.


The 700-foot (210-meter) Santon hill and the 850-foot (260-meter) Zuran hill, both overlooking the crucial Olmutz-Brno road that ran across a west–east axis, dominated the northern section of the battlefield. The settlement of Bellowitz stood to the west of these two hills, and between them the Bosenitz Stream traveled south to join the Goldbach Stream, which flowed astride the communities of Kobelnitz, Sokolnitz, and Telnitz. The Pratzen Heights, a gently sloped hill around 35 to 40 feet (11–12 m) in height, were the focal point of the entire area. "Gentlemen, investigate this area carefully, it is going to be a battlefield; you will have a part to play on it," the Emperor informed his Marshals several times, according to an aide.

Allied Plans and Dispositions

On the 1st of December, an Allied council gathered to consider battle plans. The majority of Allied strategists had two main goals: making contact with the enemy and defending the southern flank leading to Vienna. Although the Tsar and his immediate entourage pushed for a battle, Emperor Francis of Austria was more cautious, and Kutuzov, the primary Russian commander, backed him up. The Russian aristocrats and Austrian commanders put too much pressure on the Allies to fight, so they approved Austrian Chief of Staff Weyrother's strategy. This necessitated a strong assault against the French right flank, which the Allies had noted was poorly guarded, as well as diversionary operations against the French left flank. The Allies organized their men into four columns to strike the French right flank. While Russian troops under Bagration guarded the Allied right, the Russian Imperial Guard was held in reserve.

French Plans and Dispositions

Napoleon had given the Allies the idea that his army was in a poor position and that he preferred a negotiated peace days before any actual battle. In actuality, he was hoping they would assault, and he purposefully weakened his right flank to encourage them on this mission. Napoleon met with his marshals at Imperial Headquarters on November 28th, and they expressed their concerns and misgivings about the approaching fight, even advocating a withdrawal, but he dismissed their complaints and returned to work. The Allies were supposed to encircle Napoleon's right flank with so many troops that their center would be badly weakened, according to Napoleon's strategy. He then planned a massive French drive through the center, led by 16,000 troops from Soult's IV Corps, to weaken the Allied army. Meanwhile, Napoleon sent Davout's III Corps all the way from Vienna to join General Legrand's men on the extreme southern flank, which would take the brunt of the Allied attack. Soldiers from Davout had 48 hours to march 110 kilometers (68 mi). Their arrival would be critical in determining whether the French proposal succeeds or fails. The Imperial Guard and Bernadotte's I Corps were kept in reserve, while Lannes' V Corps patrolled the battle's northern sector.

Battle is Joined

The combat started approximately 8 a.m., when the first allied column attacked Telnitz, which was defended by the 3rd Line Regiment. Several violent Allied charges ousted the French from the town and forced them to the other side of the Goldbach in the following minutes. At this point, the first men of Davout's army arrived and drove the Allies out of Telnitz before being attacked by hussars and abandoning the town. French artillery countered additional Allied attacks from Telnitz.

The Allied columns began pouring onto the French right, but not at the expected rate, thus the French were able to halt the attacks for the most part. In reality, the Allied deployments were erroneous and ill timed: cavalry detachments under Liechtenstein on the Allied left flank were forced to move to the right flank, where they collided with and slowed down part of the second infantry column pushing towards the French right. The planners felt it was a disaster at the time, but it later proved beneficial to the Allies. Meanwhile, the second column's lead forces were attacking Sokolnitz, which was defended by the 26th Light Regiment and French skirmishers, the Tirailleurs. After the initial Allied attacks failed, General Langeron ordered the settlement to be bombarded. The French were driven away by this lethal barrage, and the third column stormed the citadel of Sokolnitz at the same moment. The French, on the other hand, counterattacked and reclaimed the settlement, only to be expelled once more. When Friant's division (part of III Corps) retook the settlement, the conflict in this area came to an end. Sokolnitz was possibly the most contested sector on the battlefield, changing hands multiple times throughout the day.

"One Sharp Blow and the War is Over"

Around 8:45 a.m., satisfied with the German center's vulnerability, Napoleon asked Soult how long his soldiers would take to reach the Pratzen Heights, to which the Marshal answered, "Less than twenty minutes, sire." Napoleon authorized the attack 15 minutes later, saying, "One strong blow and the battle is finished."

The advance of St. Hilaire's division was hampered by a dense fog, but as they climbed the slope, the famed 'Sun of Austerlitz' broke the mist apart and spurred them on. The sight of so many French forces approaching Russian soldiers and commanders on the heights astounded them. Allied commanders were now able to incorporate some of the fourth column's delayed detachments into this bloody battle. Much of this unit was destroyed beyond recognition after more than an hour of horrific warfare. The rest of the second column, primarily inexperienced Austrians, joined in the combat and swung the numbers game against one of the French army's greatest fighting divisions, forcing them to retreat down the hills. St. Hilaire's men, though, were gripped by desperation and struck hard once more, bayoning the Allies from the ridges. To the north, General Vandamme's division attacked Staré Vinohrady and broke numerous Allied battalions with skilled skirmishing and lethal volleys.

Although the conflict had clearly shifted in France's favor, there was still a lot of fighting to be done. Bernadotte's I Corps was assigned to support Vandamme's left flank, and Napoleon relocated his command center from Zuran Hill to St. Anthony's Chapel on the Pratzen Heights. The decision to send in the Russian Imperial Guard, commanded by Grand Duke Constantine, Tsar Alexander's brother, and counterattacked in Vandamme's part of the field, requiring a bloody effort and the loss of the only French flag in the battle, underlined the Allies' precarious situation (the unfortunate victim was a battalion of the 4th Line Regiment). Napoleon, seeing difficulties, sent his own strong Guard cavalry forward. These warriors annihilated their Russian equivalents, but with both sides sending in massive numbers of cavalry, no clear winner could be determined. The Russians held a numerical advantage at this point, but the tide soon turned as Drouet's Division, the 2nd of Bernadotte's I Corps, deployed on the action's flank, allowing French cavalry to seek sanctuary behind their lines. The Guard's horse artillery also took a heavy toll on the Russian cavalry and fusiliers. The Russians broke and several died as they were chased for a quarter of a mile by the re-energized French cavalry.


Meanwhile, significant fighting was taking place in the battlefield's northernmost reaches. After arriving at the correct location in the field, Prince Liechtenstein's heavy cavalry began attacking Kellerman's weaker cavalry forces. The French initially fared well in the battle, but Kellerman's soldiers took refuge behind General Caffarelli's infantry division after it became evident that the Russian numbers were overwhelming. The Russian assaults were halted by Caffarelli's men, allowing Murat to throw two cuirassier divisions into the conflict to knock off the Russian cavalry for good. The ensuing brawl was long and arduous, but the French eventually triumphed. Lannes then led his V Corps against Bagration's forces, successfully driving the skillful Russian commander off the field after a fierce battle. He intended to pursue, but Murat, who was in charge of this battlefield zone, was against it.

Napoleon's attention was now drawn to the battlefield's southern end, where the French and Allies were still fighting over Sokolnitz and Telnitz. St. Hilaire's division and part of Davout's III Corps blasted through the Germans at Sokolnitz in a successful double-pronged assault, persuading the commanders of the first two columns, generals Kienmayer and Langeron, to evacuate as quickly as they could. Buxhowden, the Allied left's commander and the man in charge of the attack, was utterly inebriated and fled as well. Kienmayer's departure was supported by the O'Reilly light cavalry, who valiantly defeated five of the six French cavalry units before being forced to escape as well.

The Allied force was now in a state of general panic, and it fled the battlefield in every direction conceivable. Russian forces who had been routed by the French right retreated south via the Satschan ice ponds to Vienna. The French cannon pummeled the troops, according to legend, but Napoleon switched his gunners to fire at the ice. The guys drowned in the freezing ponds, and dozens of artillery pieces perished with them. The number of guns captured is unknown; it could have been as few as 38 or as many as 100. Sources also range on the number of people killed, with estimates ranging from 200 to 2,000. Because Napoleon overstated this episode in his combat report, the low figures may be more accurate, though there is still some debate about their accuracy. Many consider this to be one of Napoleon's most heinous war crimes. However, only a few bodies were alleged to have been discovered in the spring of 1806, and the occurrence is most likely a hoax.

Italian Campaigns

Venetian Front or Italian Campaign of 1805

Meanwhile, in Italy, Archduke Charles' Austrian Armee von Italien battled against Marshal Masséna's French Armée d'italie. On the 18th of October, the French gained a bridgehead across the Adige River near Verona, and on the 29th and 31st of October, the outnumbered French beat the larger Austrian army in the battle of Caldiero. The Austrians withdrew in November, encountering the French vanguard of d'Espagne in a series of rear-guard battles. St.Cyr led a force of French and Italian troops to blockade Venice. On November 14, Charles' army eventually crossed the Isonzo, stopping the French from doing so.

At the Battle of Castelfranco Veneto on November 24, 1805, Jean Reynier and Laurent de Gouvion Saint-Cyr fought and captured a 4,400-strong Habsburg force that lingered behind.

Anglo-Russian Occupation of Naples

The French force led by St. Cyr then maneuvered towards the Kingdom of Naples' border. An Anglo-Russian army tasked with the kingdom's defense was keeping a close eye on the French. The Russians withdrew from Italy after the Battle of Austerlitz, and the British, unable to defend Naples alone, abandoned the mainland and returned to Sicily. Meanwhile, the French force in Bologna was renamed the Army of Naples and placed under the nominal leadership of Napoleon's brother Joseph Bonaparte. André Masséna, who commanded the I Corps and was entrusted with the invasion by Joseph, was the de facto commander.

French Invasion of Naples

Masséna invaded the Kingdom of Naples on February 9, 1806, and two days later, Ferdinand IV, the Bourbon King of Naples, escaped to Sicily, protected by the British fleet. Naples was quickly taken over by the French, and by the end of February, just two places in the kingdom remained. The Royal Neapolitan Army was stationed in two locations: Gaeta, a fortress city north of Naples, and Calabria, in the far south of Italy, where the majority of the army was stationed.

Ferdinand hoped for a recurrence of the events of 1799, when a popular uprising in Calabria led to the demise of the Parthenopaean Republic, a French client state established after the Neapolitans were beaten for the first time during the Second Coalition War. However, there was no such revolt at first, and on March 3, General Jean Reynier, commander of the 10,000-strong II Corps of the Army of Naples, invaded Calabria. The Royal Neapolitan Army was decisively defeated at the Battle of Campo Tenese on March 10, 1806. Only a few Calabrians stood up to the invading French troops. Ferdinand had no choice but to hand over the throne of Naples to the French. Joseph was installed as the new King of Naples a day after Campo Tenese. Except for the citadel of Gaeta, which had been under siege since February 26th, the remaining regular troops of the Neapolitan army had fled to Sicily, and the French controlled the whole Italian mainland. On July 18, Gaeta surrendered, bringing the invasion to a close with a resounding French triumph.

Calabrian Insurrection

However, things did not go as planned for the French. Reynier's II Corps in Calabria was forced to live off the land due to supply issues. The region's peasants had been supporting the Neapolitan troops for nearly a month and were on the verge of starvation. Joseph appeared to be completely oblivious to the issues and the consequences of revolution. As a result, no additional supplies were supplied to the south of Italy. By the end of March, Reynier had taken the initiative and grabbed supplies from the local inhabitants, resulting in a revolution. What began as tiny groups of partisans grew into entire communities revolting against the French. Joseph was unable to send more men to Calabria due to the citadel of Gaeta's resistance, forcing Reynier to reinforce his army with native troops gathered from the bigger towns and cities.

Due to poor logistical management of the French artillery, minor reinforcements from the British via sea, and a series of successful forays by the Neapolitan garrison against the French sappers, Masséna had failed to seize Gaeta by July. With only Reynier's tiny force fighting the insurrection in Calabria, the British sent an expeditionary force under Sir John Stuart to Sicily to forestall a possible invasion and possibly spark a full-scale rebellion against the French across Italy. Although the British had some early successes, particularly at Maida, they failed to either reinforce Stuart's expedition or attempt to relieve the Siege of Gaeta. The Neapolitans eventually surrendered on July 18th, liberating Masséna's I Corps, after the French artillery was finally able to assault the walls to their full extent.

Following the surrender, Joseph sent Masséna south to assist Reynier's II Corps in fighting the British and the Calabrian insurgency. The British retreated to Sicily after being seriously outmanned in mainland Italy. The uprising was not put down until 1807, by which time Masséna had already asked for permission to hand over command. The French faced a severe guerilla battle waged by a rebellious population for the first time during the Napoleonic Wars. The French realized that the only viable method to deal with a rebellion like this was to use Reynier's terror tactics. This foretold the issues that the French, particularly Joseph Bonaparte, would confront during the Peninsular War in Spain.


The nature of European politics was forever changed by Austerlitz and the preceding battle. The French had conquered Vienna in three months, devastated two armies, and brought the Austrian Empire to its knees. These occurrences stand in stark contrast to the 18th century's fixed power arrangements, when no major European metropolis was ever held by an opposing army. Austerlitz set the ground for a near-decade of French dominance across Europe, but one of its more immediate consequences was to provoke Prussia into war in 1806.

On December 4, France and Austria signed a truce, and the Treaty of Pressburg, signed 22 days later, ended the war. Austria agreed to recognize French territory seized by the Treaties of Campo Formio (1797) and Lunéville (1801), surrender land to Napoleon's German allies Bavaria, Württemberg, and Baden, and pay a war indemnity of 40 million francs. The Kingdom of Italy was also handed Venetia. It was a difficult conclusion for Austria, but it was far from a disaster. The Russian army was allowed to return to their homeland, while the French set up camp in southern Germany.

In July 1806, Napoleon established the Rhine Confederation, a group of German client nations that agreed to build a force of 63,000 troops if France became their ally. The confederate states were forced to leave the Holy Roman Empire, which was dissolved shortly later, with Napoleon as their "Protector." Prussia, seeing these and other actions as an assault to its place as Central Europe's dominant power, declared war on France in 1806.

The political situation in Italy remained constant until 1815, with British and Sicilian forces guarding Bourbon King Ferdinand in Sicily and Napoleonic King of Naples in charge of the mainland. After Joseph Bonaparte became King of Spain, Joachim Murat became King of Naples in 1808. Despite initially gaining a foothold in Sicily, Murat attempted several times to cross the Strait of Sicily, all of which failed.

Casualties and Losses

In 1805, the French suffered a total of 12,000 deaths, 22,200 injuries, and 5,000 captures, with 5,300 killed and 22,200 injured in the Austrian Campaign against the Habsburgs and Russians, 2,100 killed and 5,300 wounded in the Italian Campaign, 4,300 killed and 3,700 wounded in the naval war, 200 killed and 400 wounded in the colonies, and 100 killed and 400 wounded in coastal defense duties. The French suffered 1,500 casualties and 5,000 wounds during the 1806 Naples Campaign. In the naval war, the Spanish lost 1,200 men killed and 1,600 wounded; in the Austrian Campaign, Bavaria lost 300 men killed and 1,200 wounded; and in the Italian Campaign, the Kingdom of Italy lost 100 men killed and 400 wounded; and in the Naples Campaign, the Kingdom of Italy lost 250 men killed and 1,500 wounded.

20,000 Austrians were killed or injured, and 70,000 were taken prisoner. 25,000 Russians were killed or wounded, while another 25,000 were captured. In 1806, the French swept out the Neapolitan army of 22,000 men, with barely 2,000 being evacuated to Sicily.