This past week, I visited family in Moravia, which is a farming region in eastern Czech Republic. Fields of green border forests and sloping hills, with many a fruit tree lining roads and villages in this sleepy part of the country. However, Moravia wasn't always sleepy. It is the site of one of the greatest battles in European history, which took place during the Napoleonic Wars. Napoleon was a French Emperor who led a huge army through most of Europe, killing hundreds of thousands of people. In Moravia, his army met the forces of the Austrian and Russian Empires at the Battle of Austerlitz on December 2, 1805.
Napoleon commanded an army of over 500,000 men. His soldiers fought with muskets, bayonets, pistols, and cannon. Ordering an army that big to march must have been a huge challenge. Just think about all of the food that everyone would need to eat!
Still, Napoleon was a very smart commander, and his army moved over 600 miles in 8 weeks, all walking. He finally got to Moravia in November. Everyday people, many of them poor, were forced to give the army food, money, and other supplies. Finally, the army reached the place that Napoleon wanted to fight.
The Battle of Austerlitz was long, one of the bloodiest in history. Napoleon's army took on the combined forces of Austria and Russia, which tried to break through and surround him. In the end, the French won a huge victory.
Today, people remember the wars every year on Napoleon's birthday. Some dress as French, Austrian, or Russian soldiers and re-enact the battle, which means act it out just like it happened (but without real weapons). Many Moravians have found artifacts from the armies, like pistols or clothing, in their backyard.
Adam De Gree
I am a senior in college, studying philosophy, and am visiting family in the Czech Republic and travelling and studying in Europe and Asia.