On to Moravia Synopsis (1 of 2)

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<p>The French army continued to pursue Russian and Austrian forces north and into Moravia after Kutuzov's crossing of the Danube on November 8 and the defeat of Mortier's VIII Corps on November 11 at Dürnstein. On November 14 the French occupied Vienna and managed to capture intact the bridges across the Danube. It became increasingly clear, however, that French forces would not be able to prevent the junction of the Russian armies. On November 19 Kutusov joined Buxhöwden at Wischau and on November 23 they moved to Ölmutz, where the Russian Emperor Alexander I had arrived the week before.</p>

<p>In the meantime Napoleon gathered his army around the town of Brno. He now faced a problem. Although the campaign had gone his way, with the winter looming he was now deep in enemy territory facing an army that he had no means of forcing into battle. While he occupied the Austrian capital of Vienna, the length of his supply lines required him to disperse his forces throughout the theatre of operations. Meanwhile, Archduke John's corps had escaped the pursuit of Ney's corps in the Alps and the army under the command of Archduke Charles was fast approaching Vienna. Finally, Prussia was mobilizing its armies with the intention of joining the Third Coalition in its war against Napoleon.</p>

<p>Napoleon had several options but none of them any good. He could retire to winter quarters in Austrian territory and continue the campaign the following year but against an enlarged coalition. Alternatively, he could withdraw altogether but with little to show for his efforts. Instead, having failed to separate the allies by diplomatic means, he determined to try to bait the Russians and Austrians into giving him the battle he so desired. It was his good fortune that they took the bait.</p>

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