On friday, 2nd december, at 3 p.m., the premiere of a new short film „Napoleon’s retreat of Austerlitz” directed by David Bonaventura took place in the Old post of Pozorzitz, in presence of special guests, journalists and Mark Schneider aka Napoleon and his officers. The guests were recieved by Jiří Podlský, coowner of the Old post and initiator of the project, and uhlan of the austrian uhlan regiment no. 1. The film is a part of the first phase of the new exposition dedicated to the birth of Napoleon’s battle plan. At 5.30 p.m. the „fires of Girzikowitz” were set up on the Zuran hill and at 6.30 p.m. Napoleon was recieved in the town hall of Austerlitz by the mayor, Mr. Ivan Charvat, and has been given the symbolic key of Austerlitz.
At the same time hundreds of participants from many european countries were arriving to Austerlitz, Tvarozna, Krenovice, the Old post, Jirikovice or Kobylnice. The commanders of the french troops were than invited by Napoleon, by courtesy of Mr. Ales Silhanek, director of the castle, to the Rubens hall of the Austerlitz castle for an opening soirée. During the event Napoleon recieved a beautiful and delicious birthday cake (Mark Schneider celerbrated his birthday in november, shortly before Austerlitz).
On saturday morning the troops were formed in all places where they stayed. There were approx. 900 re-enactors in uniforms of France, Austria, Russia and Duchy of Warsaw, and they came from the Czech republic, Slovakia, Poland, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Lithuania, Hungary and from Virginia (Mark Schneider). In infantry the French were slighty superior in numbers, the artillery of both sides was equal, and concerning the cavalry there’s been a high superiority of nearly 40 austrian and russian uhlans, hussars, cuirassiers and cossacks against a dozen of french guard chasseurs à cheval.
After 9 a.m. the french battalions started their maneuvers in the castle park to get prepared for the battle. Not all of the participants of the commemorative events may come to all re-enactment events during the year and saturday morning is their last opportunity to form functional tactical units that may be effectively directed during the action. Theory is grey but life is green.
After 1 p.m. the president of the Project Austerlitz Miroslav Jandora welcomed the respectable guests in the tempered tent placed near the tribune on the battlefield under the Santon hill, near the village of Tvarozna, the traditional place for the Austerlitz battle re-enactments. Many important persons have accepted the invitation, among them ambassador of France in the Czech republic, his excellence Mr. Pierre Lévy, ambassador of Belgium in Slovakia, his excellence Mr. Walter Lion, attachés of defence of Germany, Austria, USA, France, India, Poland, Romania, Russia, and a delegation of diplomats of France from embassy in Vienna or UN mission, MAA, deputy of the czech minister of defense, Mr. Michael Hrbata, deputy of the czech minister of transport, Mr. Lukas Hampl. According to the estimations there were approx. 8000 spectators around the battlefield.
The battle re-enactment, directed by Vojtech Fatka, was commented by the czech historian and author of many popular books on the napoleonic wars Jiri Kovarik. The scenario was inspired by the most important part of the real battle: the fight for the Pratzenberg between the french infantry division Saint-Hilaire, the russian brigade Kamenski and the austrian brigade Jurzcek. In more than 60 minutes both armies consumed more than 300 kilos of gunpowder and several units were finally in lack of ammunition at the end of the intensive action. The spectators were offered several interesting tactical situations, skirmish chains, formation of the french square against the cavalry that has been repulsed and the square was than charged by austrian infantry and forced to retreat in disorder, different kinds of infantry fire, cavalry charged, a surprising revelation of an artillery battery and repulse of the coalition attack, as described in the memoirs of general Thiébault. No re-enactor was seriously injured, no horse was harmed, and the Emperor Napoleon crowned his „jump of lion” with perfect victory.
After the final defilé the French returned back to Austerlitz. At 6.30 p.m. the austrian units have layed down a wreath in the tomb of Wenzel count Kaunitz-Rietberg (owner of the austrian infantry regiment no. 20 during the coalition wars) and at 7.30 p.m. the drums announced the solemn defilé on the main square of the town of Austerlitz. The units needed to march through thousands and thousands of visitors, and after a short speach the most impressive fireworks by artificier Ivan Martínek terminated the program of the day.
Sunday belonged to the piety. Before the act of piety at the Peace monument the austrian troops layed down a wreath to the monument dedicated to the austrian troops fighting on the Pratzenberg. A minute of silence was held for Frantisek Gale, one of the founders of the modern commemorative events who died this year. Than the mayor of Prace, Mr. Jan Vovesny, and the vice-governor of the South Moravian region, Mr. Vaclav Horak, adressed a few words to the present troops and visitors, and many wreaths and flowers were layed down in the chapel of the Peace Monument. In the end, accompanied by drummers and fifres, the troops marched into the chapel to honor the dead of the battle of Austerlitz.
The commemorative events of the 206th anniversary of Austerlitz ended with success. The battlefield was visited by several dozens of thousands of poeple and the first feedback is very positive. The organizers wuold like to thank all who participated in the preparations of the event or who supported it. In the first place the members of the re-enactment groups, without their enthousiasm, discipline and skills the event may not be held.
The events of this year were organized thanks to the support of the South Moravian Region. The general partner was the Czech tourist authority, CzechTourism. We thank the sponsors of the event, without their support we would be unable to organize it:
General sponsor who traditionally is: Českomoravský cement a.s., and sponsors: Sita CZ a.s., Cement hranice a.s., Obchodní domy IRO, Van Gansewinkel s.r.o. and Technický a zkušební ústav stavební Praha, s.p., Ledopa Group s.r.o.
We thank the partners of the event:
Austin Powder Service CZ s.r.o., Explosia s.p. , Moravská banka vín, Stará pošta Pozořická and Czech centers administration, Tourist authority of the South Moravia and the communes of the Austerlitz battlefield
We thank the Technical services of the town of Austerlitz, the schools Komenskeho and Tyršova for the possibility to accomodate the participants of the event, and the restaurant Rohlenka.