Battle of Ulm

Last updated
Battle of Ulm
Part of the Ulm Campaign
Ulm capitulation.jpg
The Capitulation of Ulm by Charles Thévenin. Oil on canvas.
Date15 to 20 October 1805
Location
Ulm, in present-day Württemberg, Germany (at the time part of the Electorate of Bavaria)
Result Decisive French victory
Destruction of the Austrian Army in Bavaria, French control of Bavaria ensues.
Belligerents
Flag of France (1794-1815).svg  France Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor (after 1400).svg  Holy Roman Empire
Commanders and leaders
Napoleon I Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor (after 1400).svg Karl Freiherr Mack von Leiberich   (POW)
Strength
80,000 40,000
Casualties and losses
500 dead,
1,000 wounded
4,000 dead,
27,000 captured,
66 cannons

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.

Ulm Campaign

The Ulm Campaign was a series of French and Bavarian military maneuvers and battles to outflank and capture an Austrian army in 1805 during the War of the Third Coalition. It took place in the vicinity of and inside the Swabian city of Ulm. The French Grande Armée, led by Napoleon Bonaparte, comprised 210,000 troops organized into seven corps, and hoped to knock out the Austrian army in the Danube before Russian reinforcements could arrive. Through rapid marching, Napoleon conducted a large wheeling maneuver that captured an Austrian army of 23,000 under General Mack on 20 October at Ulm, bringing the total number of Austrian prisoners in the campaign to 60,000. The campaign is generally regarded as a strategic masterpiece and was influential in the development of the Schlieffen Plan in the late 19th century.

Electorate of Bavaria

The Electorate of Bavaria was an independent hereditary electorate of the Holy Roman Empire from 1623 to 1806, when it was succeeded by the Kingdom of Bavaria.

Contents

Background

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

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom, officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland but more commonly known as the UK or Britain, is a sovereign country lying off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state‍—‌the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi), the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world. It is also the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

Austrian Empire monarchy in Central Europe between 1804 and 1867

The Austrian Empire was a Central European multinational great power from 1804 to 1867, created by proclamation out of the realms of the Habsburgs. During its existence, it was the third most populous empire after the Russian Empire and the United Kingdom in Europe. Along with Prussia, it was one of the two major powers of the German Confederation. Geographically, it was the third largest empire in Europe after the Russian Empire and the First French Empire. Proclaimed in response to the First French Empire, it partially overlapped with the Holy Roman Empire until the latter's dissolution in 1806.

Sweden constitutional monarchy in Northern Europe

Sweden, formally the Kingdom of Sweden, is a Scandinavian Nordic country in Northern Europe. It borders Norway to the west and north and Finland to the east, and is connected to Denmark in the southwest by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund, a strait at the Swedish-Danish border. At 450,295 square kilometres (173,860 sq mi), Sweden is the largest country in Northern Europe, the third-largest country in the European Union and the fifth largest country in Europe by area. Sweden has a total population of 10.2 million of which 2.4 million has a foreign background. It has a low population density of 22 inhabitants per square kilometre (57/sq mi). The highest concentration is in the southern half of the country.

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. This simple but implausible explanation for the Russian army being far behind the Austrian is dismissed by scholar Frederick Kagan as "a bizarre myth." [1]

The Gregorian calendar is the most widely used civil calendar in the world. It is named after Pope Gregory XIII, who introduced it in October 1582. The calendar spaces leap years to make the average year 365.2425 days long, approximating the 365.2422-day tropical year that is determined by the Earth's revolution around the Sun. The rule for leap years is:

Every year that is exactly divisible by four is a leap year, except for years that are exactly divisible by 100, but these centurial years are leap years if they are exactly divisible by 400. For example, the years 1700, 1800, and 1900 are not leap years, but the year 2000 is.

The Julian calendar, proposed by Julius Caesar in 46 BC, was a reform of the Roman calendar. It took effect on 1 January 45 BC, by edict. It was the predominant calendar in the Roman world, most of Europe, and in European settlements in the Americas and elsewhere, until it was refined and gradually replaced by the Gregorian calendar, promulgated in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII.

Frederick Kagan American historian

Frederick W. Kagan is an American resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and a former professor of military history at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Napoleon had 177,000 troops of the Grande Armée at Boulogne, ready to invade England. They marched south on August 27 and by September 24 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. On October 7, 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. Unable to stop the French avalanche, Michael von Kienmayer's Austrian corps abandoned its positions along the river and fled to Munich.

The Grande Armée was the army commanded by Napoleon I during the Napoleonic Wars. From 1805 to 1809, the Grande Armée scored a series of historic victories that gave the French Empire an unprecedented grip on power over the European continent. Widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest fighting forces ever assembled, it suffered terrible losses during the French invasion of Russia in 1812 and never recovered its tactical superiority after that campaign.

Boulogne-sur-Mer Subprefecture and commune in Hauts-de-France, France

Boulogne-sur-Mer, often called Boulogne, is a coastal city in Northern France. It is a sub-prefecture of the department of Pas-de-Calais. Boulogne lies on the Côte d'Opale, a touristic stretch of French coast on the English Channel between Calais and Normandy, and the most visited location in the region after Lille conurbation. Boulogne is its department's second-largest city after Calais, and the 60th-largest in France. It is also the country's largest fishing port, specialising in herring.

Mannheim Place in Baden-Württemberg, Germany

Mannheim is a city in the southwestern part of Germany, the third-largest in the German state of Baden-Württemberg after Stuttgart and Karlsruhe with a 2015 population of approximately 305,000 inhabitants. The city is at the centre of the larger densely populated Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region which has a population of 2,400,000 and is Germany's eighth-largest metropolitan region.

The II Corps in Augsburg. 2ndcorps augsburg.jpg
The II Corps in Augsburg.

On 8 October 1805, 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. 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.

Joachim Murat Grand Duke of Berg and King of Naples

Joachim-Napoléon Murat was a Marshal of France and Admiral of France under the reign of Napoleon. He was also the 1st Prince Murat, Grand Duke of Berg from 1806 to 1808, and King of Naples from 1808 to 1815. Murat received his titles in part by being Napoleon's brother-in-law through marriage to his younger sister, Caroline Bonaparte, as well as personal merit. He was noted as a daring, brave, and charismatic cavalry officer as well as a flamboyant dresser, for which he was known as "the Dandy King".

I Cavalry Corps (Grande Armée)

I Cavalry Corps was a French military formation that existed during the Napoleonic Wars. For one month in 1806–1807, Emperor Napoleon split his Reserve Cavalry Corps into the I and II Cavalry Corps. At that time, Marshal Joachim Murat took command of the short-lived I Cavalry Corps before resuming leadership over Napoleon's Reserve Cavalry when the experiment ended. The I Cavalry Corps was not recreated until 1812 for the French invasion of Russia when command was exercised by Étienne Marie Antoine Champion de Nansouty. The formation fought at Borodino and Tarutino. After being destroyed during the retreat from Russia, I Cavalry Corps was reconstituted in 1813 and Marie Victor de Fay, marquis de Latour-Maubourg was appointed to lead it. The corps fought at Lutzen, Bautzen, Dresden, and Leipzig. At Leipzig, Latour-Maubourg was seriously wounded and replaced by Jean-Pierre Doumerc who led the corps for the remainder of the War of the Sixth Coalition which ended with Napoleon's abdication in 1814. After Napoleon returned from exile and retook power in France in 1815, the main French army was baptised Armée du Nord. The army included a I Cavalry Corps led by Pierre Claude Pajol which fought at Ligny and Wavre, while one detached division fought at Waterloo.

Jean Lannes Marshal of France

Jean Lannes, 1st Duc de Montebello, Prince de Siewierz, was a Marshal of the Empire. He was one of Napoleon's most daring and talented generals. Napoleon once commented on Lannes: "I found him a pygmy and left him a giant". A personal friend of the emperor, he was allowed to address him with the familiar "tu", as opposed to the formal "vous".

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.

The IV Corps of the Grande Armée was a military unit during the Napoleonic Wars. It consisted several different units and commanders.

Landsberg am Lech Place in Bavaria, Germany

Landsberg am Lech is a town in southwest Bavaria, Germany, about 65 kilometers west of Munich and 35 kilometers south of Augsburg. It is the capital of the district of Landsberg am Lech.

County of Tyrol former county of Austria

The (Princely) County of Tyrol was an estate of the Holy Roman Empire established about 1140. Originally a jurisdiction under the sovereignty of the Counts of Tyrol, it was inherited by the Counts of Gorizia in 1253 and finally fell to the Austrian House of Habsburg in 1363. In 1804 the Princely County of Tyrol, unified with the secularised Prince-Bishoprics of Trent and Brixen, became a crown land of the Austrian Empire in 1804 and from 1867 a Cisleithanian crown land of Austria-Hungary.

Battle

Mack surrenders to Napoleon at Ulm by Paul-Emile Boutigny Boutigny-Surrender at Ulm.jpg
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. 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 three days later Mack surrendered with 25,000 men, 18 generals, 65 guns, and 40 standards.

Some 20,000 escaped, 10,000 were killed or wounded, and the rest made prisoner. About 500 French were killed and 1,000 wounded, a low number for such a decisive battle. 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." [2] [3] [4] Mack was court-martialed and sentenced to two years' imprisonment.

Aftermath

Napoleon I saluting the wounded Austrians. Napoleon rend hommage au courage malheureux..jpg
Napoleon I saluting the wounded Austrians.

The Ulm Campaign is considered one of the finest examples of a strategic victory. The campaign was won with no major battle. The Austrians fell into the same trap Napoleon had set at the Battle of Marengo, but with greater success. Everything was made to confuse the enemy.

In his proclamation in the Bulletin de la Grande Armée of the 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."

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

Like the Battle of Austerlitz, the Ulm Campaign is still taught in military schools worldwide.

The Ulm Campaign September-October 1805. Ulm campaign - French strategic envelopment, 26 September-9 October 1805.jpg
The Ulm Campaign September–October 1805.

Notes

  1. http://dcjack.org/kagan%20on%20ulm.html
  2. Blond, G. La Grande Armée. Castle Books, 1979. pg.59.
  3. Haythornwaite, Philip J. (1990). The Napoleonic Source Book. London: Guild Publishing. p. 68. ISBN   978-1-85409-287-8.
  4. Nafziger, George F. (2002). Historical Dictionary of the Napoleonic Era. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press. p. 282. ISBN   978-0-8108-6617-1.

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References

Coordinates: 48°23′00″N9°59′00″E / 48.3833°N 9.9833°E / 48.3833; 9.9833