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"Austerlitz Battlefield Question" Topic

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856 hits since 13 Jan 2021
©1994-2021 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

6mmACW13 Jan 2021 11:49 a.m. PST

Hoping a fellow gamer on here might be more of an expert on Austerlitz. Does anyone know the state of the main road on the battlefield in 1805? It was known as the Olmutz Road, connecting Brunn to Olmutz. Do we know if it was a dirt track or improved in any way? Looking to set up an accurate Austerlitz tabletop for a wargame at the club!

BillyNM13 Jan 2021 1:36 p.m. PST

As a main road / postal route I'm sure it would've been a bit more than just a dirt track but where you could find out is a mystery.

Personal logo SHaT1984 Supporting Member of TMP13 Jan 2021 9:16 p.m. PST

Well I was hanging back…

It was a major road, not a track.
It had a post-house a few kilometres from Brünn on the way to Olmütz, perhaps because of the bifurcation of the road there to Austerlitz proper.
Russian artillery easily manoeuvred along it and across the slopes except the Raussnitz (stream) defile where it's crossed by a bridge (and the surrounding area is referred to in Goetz I think as a ravine)- so a deep cutting.
A modern motorway is built along it now- giving emphasis to it's importance in history.
Think 'chaussee' in French terms- a broad road made level and flat and traversable.
Hope this helps, d

bgbboogie13 Jan 2021 10:19 p.m. PST

Cobbled and paved main routes some were Roman roads.

BillyNM14 Jan 2021 3:38 a.m. PST

To some extent regardless of its construction it will, like most roads viewed from above, probably appear a pale dust colour. I recommend you view some non-tarmac roads in the US using Google Earth or similar and you'll see they look much paler than the surrounding countryside.

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP14 Jan 2021 4:09 a.m. PST

BillyNM is generally right although there can be exceptions. The north-south road through the Waterloo position was used to move coal and apparently the verges were black from coal dust.

With unmetalled roads you probably need pot-holes as well as dust.

Captain Siborne15 Jan 2021 6:15 a.m. PST

The ground was also frozen, so mud less of a problem.

ChrisBBB2 Supporting Member of TMP15 Jan 2021 8:10 a.m. PST

Apparently it was indeed a stone-surfaced chaussée:

"From the first half of the 18th century there were systematic efforts within the Habsburg Monarchy to create waterways and high-quality stone-surfaced roads known as chaussées. These roads were straight, with hard surfaces and ditches at either side. They were the first roads in modern European history whose technical parameters were governed by official regulations. […] In 1724 the Emperor Karl VI issued a decree ordering the repair (de facto the construction) of five main roads linking Vienna with Trieste, Bohemia, Moravia, Hungary, Upper Austria, and Silesia. In the Bohemian Crown Lands, these roads included the Vienna–Prague route (via Znaim/Znojmo and Iglau/Jihlava) and the Vienna–Breslau route (via Brünn/Brno and Olmütz/Olomouc, known as the Silesian Road)."
(Petr Popelka, 'The Transport Revolution and Austrian Silesia 1742-1914' (conference paper, 2015))


Bloody Big BATTLES!
BBB on FB:

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP15 Jan 2021 9:31 a.m. PST

Interesting Chris, thanks.

The inevitable question is then why on the same high quality roads the Austrian army could only march 6 miles a day and the French 20….

Personal logo SHaT1984 Supporting Member of TMP15 Jan 2021 2:32 p.m. PST


The north-south road through the Waterloo

Also the Roman road (to the coast) that crossed at, where-else? Quatre Bras- still existed quite nicely when I walked a piece of it in '84.


The ground was also frozen, so mud less of a problem.

Yes frozen where there wasn't running water.
'If' it were so easy, there would have been little need for the French to use the defiles and roadways as much crossing the 'stream'.

Yes it was frozen ground after several very cold but dry days (snow was rarely mentioned except lying), that just made the firmer footing better, not worse. However the swampy ground that surrounded the streams and rivulets (and the villages et al.) coming down the slopes were still liquid to some extent and were clearly barriers to movement. There's very few comments on anything other than defiles.

Strange that such a strategic barrier went unrecognised by the allied planners it seems.

As has been shown, the 'lakes' (actually just ponds) were merely a lacquer of ice on top. When the Russian routers left the causeway they came a cropper. Stupidly expecting artillery to cross a 'frozen' lake was a panic caused accident and bad decision. [Of course you'd probably have been 'Siberia'd or worse for losing guns].

3/ 6mm- Use this scaled engineers map to determine comparing other roads of advance/ retreat used during the battle.
Plan de la bataille d'Austerlitz

4/ 4th Cuirassier> Systems and processes, simple as that.

cheers d

BillyNM16 Jan 2021 9:00 a.m. PST

The ponds (not lakes as SHaT1984 pointed out) were very shallow. You literally have to get down at ground level to appreciate what are now fields are just a tad lower than the surrounding area. They would have been very difficult going but no-one who wasn't injured was going to drown in them.

Prince of Essling16 Jan 2021 2:01 p.m. PST

@ SHaT1984,

Also another useful map is one held by Ville de Paris (again fully scalable) which was put on-line in 2017 at: link

Mike the Analyst16 Jan 2021 4:33 p.m. PST

4th C, I would dare to suggest that the Austrians were assembled to march and kept closed up in order to deploy quickly from the march ( quickly in Austrians thinking).
I think the French corps system meant more effective movement, less time spent getting ready to start the march and end it, and ready to deploy from the march awaiting support from other corps.

ChrisBBB2 Supporting Member of TMP17 Jan 2021 6:17 a.m. PST

I am more au fait with the Austrian armies of 1796 and 1799 than of 1805, but still, some of the factors from those earlier campaigns could still have contributed in some degree to the Austrians' ponderousness:

- intrinsic and endemic caution ("if in doubt, send out a reconnaissance in force" – and they were nearly always in doubt)
- an army driven by nobility and hierarchy and duty, discouraging initiative
- the hierarchy itself creating delays, eg when a battalion got transferred from one brigade to another (which happened often), all the brigade's battalions' positions needed to be adjusted to reflect the seniority of the commanders
- the Austrian army being encumbered with far more useless baggage than the French (eg, things to make the noble officer corps's life in the field more comfortable), all of which takes up road space, moves slowly, and takes time to pack away each morning and set up again each evening
- a doctrinal affection for cordon positions and outposts which take time to deploy and time to pull back in before marching
- being too ready to regard a bit of rain and discomfort as a good reason to stop marching (witness Suvorov's furious and scathing rebuke of Melas in 1799)

There are some critical things to be said about the Austrians' use of multiple march columns too, but I've said enough for now.

Clausewitz on 1796:
Clausewitz on 1799:

Personal logo SHaT1984 Supporting Member of TMP17 Jan 2021 4:16 p.m. PST

>>I think the French corps system meant more effective movement, less time spent getting ready to start the march and end it, and ready to deploy from the march awaiting support from other corps.

Yet reading these histories and documents, and books, all over again, you see that very few [contrary to games depictions] are set-piece battles, even when 'inferred' by the combatants.

Most are encounters on campaign, slow build up of forces and straggling set up- Davouts Austerlitz march an extreme, yet repeated at Auerstadt a year later, albeit a vastly different terrain yet he knew he had to be aggressive with his small number of troops immediately available.

As a contrast, some of the Austrians showed far more vigor than their own 'superiors' and Russian counterparts- albeit fighting for their homeland and not able to 'retire' as leisurely as the Russians could.

Sergeant Joe18 Jan 2021 2:38 a.m. PST

it took a litle time membership got lost but
i am back

Sergeant Joe18 Jan 2021 2:53 a.m. PST

i went there in2005 did not see any piece of roman road b. t.w. roman rqads east of of the barbarians land

Personal logo SHaT1984 Supporting Member of TMP18 Jan 2021 2:01 p.m. PST

Yes very nice. Great to get these NOW!
Couldn't have been when I was in full search mode- this generation has it so easy !!!
troll d cup

Prince of Essling18 Jan 2021 2:04 p.m. PST

@ SHaT1984,

So much easier to look for things nowadays compared with one's youth. The internet was a great creation (provided it is used properly).


Sergeant Joe22 Jan 2021 7:22 a.m. PST

WHAT? SHAT 1984 De noord-zuidweg door de Waterloo

Personal logo SHaT1984 Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2021 1:32 p.m. PST

Yes I reject the 'premise' of Waterloo actually as well, and even 1812, though it has its' interesting combats.
1813-14 I find interesting to fascinating in that order. I spent a week driving and examining the 1814 campaign area.

I rejected any further research or interest in '1815' (other than its physical presence) because I came to understand what an abstract and asymetric campaign it was.

That is why I chose 1805 and my year to model and research- of course there was hardly any resource, Duffy had just been published; practically no 'correct' models of the period and a hodge-podge of illustrated books- my first Funckens c1980s !

Luckily I had a reasonable income to afford all I needed from the UK booksellers and model manfrs etc.
Along the way I have 'refined/ redefined' my interests- in late 90s it was hard to find opponents with armies, so I decided to start creating my own 'enemy' by modelling, thanks to WF, the Austrian component of the same era.
cheers d

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