From the Theatre of War, April 17, 1849

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Still no decisive news from the Rakos plain. On the 8th there appears to have been little fighting; the main battle was expected on the 9th. The most contradictory rumours have been circulating in Vienna. According to one the Hungarians have marched victoriously into Pest; according to another they were beaten and Schlick had encircled 5,000 Honveds[1] and taken them prisoner. What is certain is that neither a Bulletin nor a telegraphic dispatch, nor any other official report has arrived, and that, for the time being, is sufficient proof that as far as the imperial side is concerned matters are not going very well. Moreover, Windischgrätz is said to have sent his son with his resignation to Olmütz. The Supreme Command in Hungary has been offered to both Hess and Welden; both have so far rejected the offer as they have not been given a completely free hand.

The black-and-yellow side in Pest relies on the Hungarians not wishing to subject their own capital to bombardment and flames. Dembinski, moreover, is said to have declared against it, saying that Poland had been vanquished in 1831 [2] only because much too great strategic importance had been ascribed there to Warsaw, the capital.

In the Bacska the Magyars are pressing irresistibly forward. It is confirmed that Perczel and Batthyány have marched into Neusatz. Neusatz lies directly opposite Peterwardein on the other (left) bank of the Danube, and like Peterwardein itself is occupied by the Magyars. The fortifications of Sz. Thomas, so stubbornly defended by the Serbs last year, have been stormed by the Magyars; Zombor and Becse (Base) are also in their hands. They are threatening the left bank of the Theiss; Patriarch Rajachich has had to leave Becskerek and is going via Pancsova to Semlin. Knicanin has suddenly reappeared on the battlefield to help the Austrians in their predicament.

Transylvania is safe. The Constitutionelles Blatt aus Böhmen reports the following from Czernowitz:

Czernowitz, April 5. It has been settled, 60,000 Russians are to occupy Galicia and remain there as a garrison. Lieutenant-Field Marshal Baron von Hammerstein is going to Hungary with 25 battalions and a proportionate number of cannon. Today Lieutenant-Field Marshal von Malkowsky is departing to relieve Lieutenant-Field Marshal Puchner who is ill. All Transylvania is barricaded, Bem is commanding an army of 100,000 men, including 10,000 men of the Polish Legion, a legion of Vienna academics [3] and proletarians. The Bukovina is again afraid of an incursion of Hungarians who, according to recent travellers, have a particular sympathy for the Bukovina. Moreover, the departure of the 4th battalion of Baron Sivkovich’s regiment has indeed been stopped for the time being, because there appears, after all, to be some, inclination to resistance.”

For Bem is recruiting very actively among the Transylvanian Wallachians and Saxons. Anyone able to carry arms is put into the Honveds, trained and used against the Austrians. Clearly, Bem is taking heavy vengeance for the Austrian recruiting system which forced Viennese prisoners to fight against Magyars, and Hungarian prisoners to fight against Italians. In Hermannstadt a great banquet was held to celebrate the fraternisation of Wallachians and Magyars.

As a result of the news from Hungary all the Ministers have been summoned to Olmütz by telegraph.

Yesterday’s Abend-Lloyd reports as authentic that Lieutenant-Field Marshal Wohlgemuth has taken over the command of the army corps which is concentrated at Komorn.

  1. Honved — literally: defender of the homeland; the name given to the Hungarian revolutionary army of 1848-49, which was set up by the decision of the Hungarian revolutionary Government on May 16, 1848, to form ten battalions of Honveds.
  2. The reference is to the final stage in the suppression of the 1830-31 Polish national liberation uprising by Tsarist troops supported by Prussia and Austria. After Warsaw was outflanked from the west and on September 6 its western suburb seized, the Tsarist command succeeded in forcing the city to capitulate on the night of September 7, 1851. Early in October, the remnants of the Polish insurgent army crossed the border for Prussia and Austria, where they were interned.
  3. The reference is to the men of the Vienna mobile guard and the Academic Legion who survived after the capture of Vienna by counter-revolutionary troops (November 1, 1848) and, as part of Bem’s army, participated in the revolutionary war in Hungary. The Vienna mobile guard was formed by Bem during the October uprising in Vienna. It consisted mainly of artisans and workers and proved itself to be the most disciplined, efficient and audacious section of the insurgents’ military forces. The Academic Legion was a student militarised organisation set up in March 1848 in Vienna. It also included university lecturers and other intellectuals, mostly radical democrats. The Legion played a significant part in the Austrian revolutionary movement in 1848. When the October uprising in Vienna was suppressed, it was dissolved