The official description of the Battle of Austerlitz, according to Napoleon’s instructions
Starting during the Consulate, Napoleon Bonaparte ordered the Dépôt général de la guerre to write the history of his campaigns. The Consul, and later Emperor, gave the first 'instructions', and then corrected the proofs written by others. The aim was to create works similar to those written by Berthier for Egypt and Marengo, accompanied by a set of maps.
The description of the Battle of Austerlitz was begun as the beginning of 1806. Philippe Tranchant, comte de Laverne, held to be the main writer, had the honour of being described as the author. Born in 1769 into an aristocratic family with a strong military tradition, he began his career aged 14, emigrated to Germany and then Russia during the Revolution, returning to France in 1800. He was employed as a translator of German by the military administration.
In 1810, the manuscript was sent to the Imprimerie nationale (national printers) which published a set of proofs which were to be corrected one more time. General Bertrand and the Emperor made several modifications. However, in 1812, the Imprimerie travaillait further altered the text … and the definitive edition was never printed!
Thus, what should have been a magnificent folio never saw the light. It was only in 1843 that the text alone was published in the series entitled “Mémorial du dépôt général de la guerre”, using copies found in the depot. This impression was reprinted in 1879 by the Librairie militaire J. Dumaine, with a commentary by the military historian, Léon Hennet.
In 1998, Jacques Garnier gathered together the principal 'official' texts relating to Austerlitz in a single volume entitled “Relations et rapports officiels de la Bataille d'Austerlitz”, published by La Vouivre. He chose to publish a copy of the description where the proofs had been corrected held at the Service historique des Armées.
This work can be consulted at the Bibliothèque M. Lapeyre, Fondation Napoléon : B 0 COLLE relat
Title: Relations et rapports officiels de la bataille d'Austerlitz – 1805-
Editor: Jacques Garnier
Publisher and date: Paris, La Vouivre, 1998
Physical description: p. 71-107
Author: LHEUREUX-PRÉVOT, Chantal
Review: Revue du Souvenir Napoléonien