From the Theatre of War, April 24, 1849

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Author(s) Friedrich Engels
Written 23 April 1849


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Source: Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 9, p. 330;
First published: in Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 280, April 24, 1849.
Collection(s): Neue Rheinische Zeitung
Keywords : Hungary, Austria, War

In the welter of contradictory rumours, some of which are evidently invented by the imperial side, we can be certain of only two facts: firstly, the Magyars have crossed the Gran, and on the left bank of the Danube at Parkány, opposite Gran, have defeated the corps assembled there under Simunich; secondly, they have disappeared from Pest for the second time, and nobody can say where they have gone.

Hence, little can be said about their present position or intentions. It is most likely that they will station themselves along the left bank of the Danube from Waitzen to Komorn, so as, after successfully relieving Komorn, to cross the Danube under the protection of this fortress’s guns and to cut off the retreat of the main imperial army.

The corps defeated at Parkány was made up of the remnants of the Götz brigade, the Simunich division and troops drawn from the corps besieging Komorn that could be spared there.

According to remarks made by Austrian officers in Pest, it is more doubtful than ever that Waitzen has been re-occupied by the imperial forces.

The imperial side is spreading the rumour that Jellachich has defeated the Magyars at Pest and forced them to retreat to Gödöllö. But this rumour is deprived of all significance by the simultaneous and much better established news that the Magyars left Pest during the night, while the peasants in the area kept their watch-fires burning till daybreak to deceive the Austrians.

One part of the Magyar army is said to have moved to the north from Parkány via Ipolyság, so as to be able together with the volunteer forces raised all over Upper Hungary to prevent the entry of Vogl’s corps. According to reports received via Pest and Pressburg, Vogl is at Zboró (six miles’ from Eperies); direct reports via Cracow and those in the Bohemian and Moravian papers which are best informed on these areas know nothing of this so far. Vogl’s entry has moreover been reported so often that by now no one believes in it any longer. In Pest and Ofen, and also among the troops, the rumour is being disseminated by the imperial side that Kossuth has resigned his post as President of the Hungarian Defence Council and taken to flight so as not to stand in the way of the negotiations which are now said to be about to begin (Welden’s proclamation may be remembered).

Two days ago it was reported that an imperial sharpshooter on patrol had shot Kossuth in the Hungarian camp. This report appears to have found no credence, hence this new invention.

The Magyars will take care not to waste precious time on negotiations so that the defeated and weakened Austrians can gather their reinforcements at their leisure and then, supported by 50,000-60,000 Russians, throw their adversaries back across the Theiss again!

Böhm in Vienna has published the report that Komorn continues to be encircled, and that even the bridge from the citadel to the bridgehead on the right bank of the Danube has been destroyed by the royal imperial artillery. What truth there is in that remains to be seen.

Transylvania is still in the hands of the Magyars. Under Bem’s direction, it has been converted into a gigantic fortress, unassailable from the Moldavian-Wallachian-Bukovina border. The Magyars make sorties from there into the Bukovina. Thus, on April 9, six companies of Szeklers with two guns advanced as far as Pojana-Stampi, beat the Austrians and retreated across the border with 14 oxen and some horses as booty. Clearly, these raids keep the movement among the peasants in the area very much alive. Kobylica has promised to bring in a Hungarian army on the 12th and to make the peasants masters of all the land.

Perczel still continues to advance in the Bacska. He has invaded the territory of the Chaikist battalion, [1] occupied Gospodincze, and is now in Tschurug on the Theiss, the largest base of the battalion. The Chaikist territory occupies the extreme angle between the Danube and the Theiss, east of Peterwardein.

Both Puchner and the Russians are said to have arrived at Orsova on the borders of the Banat; 10,000 Russians are expected there. In addition, Stratimirovich has emerged again and is rallying volunteer forces against the Hungarians in the Chaikist battalion.

On the other hand, a report from Semlin, dated April 13, says:

“The arrival of the steamboat passengers yesterday presented a sorry sight. The entire personnel of the general command of Transylvania, among them General Pfersmann and General Appel, disembarked. Their shabby garments and their pale countenances betrayed their misfortunes. After an hour’s rest, they continued their journey to Vienna by way of Agram. They carried with them the substantial war-chest and the archives.”

In the Voivodina, Rajachich is to assume the civil and Mayerhofer the military administration. The Serbs intend to hold a grand National Assembly on May 20 and to elect a new voivode. Knicanin has the best chances. We have the draft Constitution of the Voivodina before us; long faces will be pulled over it at Olmütz. We shall return to it.

We have just received a letter from Lemberg dated April 16; it says nothing at all of Vogl’s entry into Upper Hungary.

  1. Chaikists — Austro-Hungarian infantrymen who served on small sailing vessels and rowing boats (chaikas) in the Military Border area. They built pontoon bridges and transported troops along the Danube, Theiss and Sava. Recruited mainly from among the Serbs, inhabiting the Chaikist Area in Slavonia, from 1764 onwards they formed a special battalion.