General Buxhöwden’s Report to General Kutuzov on the Battle of Austerlitz

Buxhowden of all the written reports does a fair bit of finger pointing.

He also claims to have’won’ or in the process of winning the battle. We would have expected his victory given the odds.

Whereas French reports clearly showed the arrival of the III 3rd Corps driving back, recapturing the town of Telnitz and stabilizing the French Right flank.

In our play this will be an interesting area to focus on.

Could the Austrian/Russo force have won the day? What would Box howden have required to carry the day on his wing?

If the Right Wing and Center had held versus’s attacking  would this have changed the situation?

Translated By Alexander MikaberidzeFINS

[date not indicated] December 1805

If a battle, successful in all points, distinguishes the best, where one [thing] draws another to the enemy’s decisive victory, then courage, firmness and success in one place have a right to particular honors while the superior enemy have scattered and pursued all other forces. [1] Thus were…. [missing word] actions of the Russian troops of the 1st Column in the battle of 20 November compared to other columns, which though firmly attacked the superior enemy but were soon overwhelmed and fled, while the 1st Column continued to fight [porazhala] victorious enemy for seven hours.

The regiments of the 1st Column, with which I served, broke the camp at 7:00 a.m. … [missing word] descending from the heights and, passing through the village of Aurest, they entered …. [missing word] Tellitz… [missing word] by Marshal Soult and Devust [Davout] comprising of the division of Generals Vindalie, Senkt-Gilarie and Legrand. After a resolute fighting we forced the enemy to retreat to the village of Tellitz, where it left tirailleurs [strelkov] and part of its infantry while the remaining forces took position behind the village. I dispatched a battalion of the 7th Jager regiment to dislodge the enemy from the village; following it, I also sent a brigade under command of Major General Lowis, who, facing intense musket fire from both sides, observed enemy line increasing and receiving reinforcements, led a bayonet attack, overwhelmed and routed it.

The enemy rallied fleeing troops by reinforcing them with several regiments; having rallied, they attacked the Austrian front and routed it; as a result, the New Ingermanland Regiment became disordered so I rushed to rally it and, after reorganizing it, I turned it against the enemy. Thus, this strong column began its gradual attack against resolute enemy, who was still vanquished everywhere. Further reinforcing their already superior troops, [the French] tried in vain to [halt our advance] and hold ground. The vigorous attacks of the Russian troops trounced [rasseialo] them anyways.

We drove them back for the second time and captured the village of Tellitz and defiles. On [the other] side of the [defiles] on elevated … [missing word] regiments, following disposition order to proceed to the right in direction of the village of T… [missing word] or towards the Turas woods, where they were led by Major General Gergard of His Imperial Majesty’s Suite on the Quartermaster Service, who demonstrated excellent efficiency and exemplary courage.

The withdrawing enemy forces were soon reorganized and reinforced with fresh troops. They attacked the 1st Column but were routed [oprokinuti] by the Russian forces for the third time with such success that the column, following the disposition, pursued the thrice-vanquished enemy and final success was anticipated on our side.

Meantime, the 2nd Column under command of Lieutenant General Count Langeron descended from the heights at 8:00 a.m. and, approaching the village of Sokolnitz, it initially drove the enemy back but later found its flanks turned, was attacked from all sides, disorganized and routed with heavy casualties; the Fanagoria Grenadier Regiment under command of Major General Count Kamensky I defended itself with remarkable gallantry and, despite enemy superiority and fierce fire, it retreated in order.

Despite the defeat of the 2nd Column, the success of the 1st …[missing words]… victory over the enemy when at 2:00 p.m. I received news from Your Excellency that all other columns were routed, retreated from the battlefield and …[entire sentence missing]…; facing enemy forces directed against me, which occupied all heights and paths of retreat, and left with a lone column exposed by the flight of other columns, I was forced to direct all my efforts not on pursuing and defeating the enemy that was in front of me, but rather to extricate regiments of [my] column, which advanced so far following their success, from the heat of this fierce action that was [already] waged for 7 hours, and to avoid enemy attacks.

Therefore, I ordered my column to retreat at around 3:00 p.m. and ordered Lieutenant General Dokhtorov, with 9 battalions, to protect our retreat from the Turas direction through the village of Tellitz, and then turn left from the latter village and proceed on particular paths [putiami osobimi]. The remaining forces under my commanded withdrew near Augest over the canal and both our detachments were constantly attacked by the enemy infantry, cavalry and artillery, but all their attacks were repulsed with effective musket and artillery fire.

In the course of the battle and the retreat, Lieutenant General Dokhtorov, Major General prince Urusov, Liders and Lowis commanded with exceptional dedication and excellent gallantry, arousing soldiers with fearlessness with their personal examples. Major General…. [several words missing]… with … [several words missing]… Musketeer Regiments attacked twice, and receiving my order, he drove the enemy from the village and dispersed an enemy column behind the village. Major General Lowis kept troops in order during a forceful enemy attack and, as a result, many troops [voinskie chini] in other columns that were already disorganized were rescued [from destruction]; during retreat [Lowis] covered the column with the Moscow and Yaroslavl regiments, halted the [French] several times with his stanch resistance and prevented them from cutting off the column, offsetting the dangers of our circumstances with his [military] skills and firmness.

Artillery Colonel Count Sievers, under command and personal direction of courageous … [missing word]… and commendable Artillery Major General Bogdanov II, successfully engaged twice superior enemy batteries on the heights and inflicted considerable casualties on the enemy artillery, which during our retreat attempted twice to flank the battery of the 1st Column and attack our infantry, but was always countered by effective fire of our artillery and beaten to complete disorder [oprokidivaema v krainei besporiadok]

The 2nd Column drove the enemy from the village of Sokolnitz, where Major Generals Olsufiev and Count Kamensky I distinguished themselves, decisively repulsing the enemy attacks from every direction and successfully retreating with regiment… [unfinished sentence]…

[The following] are of particular notice… [three lines missing]… Zhilinski, Kozhin, Life Guard Staff Captain Zass and my Inspector Adjutants Lieutenant Colonel Prince Khovansky and Major Aderkas. In the course of this bloody battle, I constantly trusted them with various orders and they carried my instructions with exceptional fearlessness and devotion, rallied dispersed lower ranks, inspired them to gallantry, brought everything in order and thus greatly contributed to maintaining the column in order.

Lieutenant Colonels Vistitsky III and Vistitsky IV of His Imperial Majesty;s Suite on the Quartermaster Service were our column guides, greatly contributed to rallying troops, that sometimes got mingled after vigorous enemy attacks and particularly during the retreat, maintained order in units, and demonstrated their fearlessness and competence.

Khorunzhii Voinov of the Gordeyev Cossack regiment, Uriadnik Yakovlev of the Malakhov I [regiment] and Uriadniak Gorbunkov of the Isaev [regiment], who were assigned to me, carried out my orders with precisions and efficiency, disregarding all dangers.

As for other ranks of the 1st and 2nd Columns that distinguished themselves [in the battle], I present a list with explanations of their actions deserving your attention and humbly ask Your Excellency… [missing words]… to His Imperial Majesty … [missing word]… battle that was yielded to the enemy under current circumstances, but I flatter myself with a hope that His Majesty would reward them for their actions and, under authority given to me by His Imperial Majesty as the commander of the former Army of Volhynia, I present to you the following [recommendations for awards]:

The Order of St. Vladimir of 2nd class to Lieutenant General Dokhtorov; The Order of St. Anna of the 1st class to Major Generals Lowis, Bogdanov, Count Kamensky I, Gergard, Liders and Prince Urusov. The Order of St. Anna of the 2nd class to Major General Olsufiev. The Order of St. Vladimir of the 3rd class to Artillery Colonel Count Sievers. The Order of St. Anna of 2nd class to Flugel Adjutants Colonels Shepelev and Udom. The Order of St. Vladimir of the 4th class with bow to Zhilinski, Kozhin, Staff Captain Zass, my Inspector Adjutant Lieutenant Colonel Prince Khovansky, Major Aderkas, Lieutenant Colonels Vistitsky III and [Vistitsky] IV of the Quartermaster Service and Lieutenant Venersky of the [Imperial] Suite; promotion to the next rank to Khorunzhii Voinov, Uriadniks Yakovlev and Gorbunkov.

As for rewards for other troops, my recommendations are discussed in a special list attached [to this letter]

……. [several words missing] to report to Your Excellency that, in this tenacious and bloody fighting, both senior and lower ranks of the 1st Column fought the enemy with firmness and exceptional [preizbitochnoi] courage, deserving His Imperial Majesty benign attention. All senior and lowers ranks of the 2nd Column attacked the enemy with incredible gallantry, repulsed the enemy attacks as hard as they could but unfortunately were overwhelmed by the much superior enemy.

General of Infantry Count Buxhöwden

Source: RGVIA f. 26, op. 152, sv. 563, d. 1. Printed version is available in M.I. Kutuzov: sbornik dokumentov [M.I. Kutuzov: Compilation of the Documents], (Moscow, 1954) volume II.

Notes:

[1] Even in Russian it is unclear what Buxhöwden meant by this sentence.

3 thoughts on “General Buxhöwden’s Report to General Kutuzov on the Battle of Austerlitz

  1. I’d say the intended meaning of sentence [1] is that even in a battle where the enemy wins a decisive victory, a part of the beaten side that fought hard and well deserves notice from the high command.

    From what I recall of the battle, for most of the early morning he had little in front of him and if he had been more deft or energetic Nappy would not have been as free to organize the blow in the center that cut his wing off and led to its destruction.

    On the other hand, if he had advanced very far he would have had great difficulty maintaining a link with the rest of the army and perhaps the huge victory would have been Nappy eating him up with his reserves, say near Turas and Marxdorf. Notice how if an east-west line (Turas-Marxdorf-Koeblensk-Pratzen-Austerlitz) had been set up the rivers and lakes cut it up into segments making it hard to move troops laterally. If he doesn’t advance the river and lakes in back make it impossible to retreat, as happened in the actual battle.

    It really just looks like a bad position to fight from for the Russians and Austrians, except along the Brunn-Olmutz road.

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