From the Theatre of War, April 3, 1849

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Author(s) Friedrich Engels
Written 2 April 1849


MIA-bannière.gif
Source: Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 9, p. 185;
First published: in Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 262, April 3, 1849.
Collection(s): Neue Rheinische Zeitung
Keywords : Hungary, Austria, War

The latest news completely confirms our report printed yesterday that the Magyars have advanced to the vicinity of Neograd. In the Miskolcz area, Görgey has broken through the dispositions of the imperial army and thereby — according to the Lithographierte Correspondenz from Vienna based on a message from Pest dated the 26th — forced Lieutenant-Field Marshal Ramberg to withdraw as far as Waitzen on the Danube, 20-25 miles beyond Miskolcz.

This report at last tells us something of Götz’s and Jablonowsky’s corps, which have been missing for so long, for it is precisely these two brigades which are commanded by Ramberg. They have thus moved to the Theiss by way of Kaschau, and here they have been driven back over the Hernad by the Magyars. While in Vienna the story has been put about that they were in Tokai they have had to withdraw to Miskolcz — four miles further to the west, to avoid losing contact with the main army. And here all at once they are thrown back to 20-25 miles from Miskolcz thanks to a new, bold march by Görgey. Instead of advancing along the Theiss, the only alternative open to them is to try to obstruct the Magyars in their march on Komorn at the bend of the Danube where it leaves its easterly course to turn south.

A peculiar fate of all imperial units marching towards the Theiss from the High Carpathians is to be thrown out of their predetermined line of operations and back on to the main army operating from Pest. Schlick was the first to march down the Hernad to Tokaj. He had scarcely arrived when he was expelled by Görgey, who in the course of his brilliant retreat or rather triumphal march through Upper Hungary managed to get into Schlick’s rear. Lieutenant-Field-Marshal Schlick had no alternative but to withdraw down the Theiss, unite with Windischgrätz and abandon eastern Upper Hungary to the Magyars. Ramberg thereupon descended the Hernad, and we have seen that he shared the same fate.

The great strategic advantage which the Magyars have thus gained is the liberation of by far the greatest part of Upper Hungary as far as the mountain towns and the Jablunka, the extension of their right wing to the Carpathians, the connection established with the volunteer corps in North-Eastern Slovakia and the opening of a road for the relief of Komorn. Even if they could not achieve all this without simultaneously bringing about a greater concentration of the imperial army, it is hardly a disadvantage for them in a country like Hungary where, owing to the terrain both in the mountains and on the plain, much more depends upon strategic combinations and success in guerilla warfare than upon large-scale battles. Precisely the deployment of the imperial army into a long battle-line outflanking the Magyars is the danger here, and precisely this deployment of the imperial troops is always disrupted; indeed, the position at present is that the Magyars are threatening to outflank the imperial troops.

Here, nothing can help the imperial forces once and for all, except reinforcements from Galicia strong enough to hold the Upper Theiss. And these can only be provided by the Russians, either by occupying Galicia and thus giving the royal imperial forces there a free hand, or by participating themselves in the march into Hungary. We recall that Hammerstein was supposed to have marched over the Carpathians with 12,000 Austrians and advanced to the Upper Theiss, and that this rumour proved to be false. Now it is being repeated, and indeed in an improved version.

The Russians themselves are supposed to be on their way to Hungary. The Österreichischer Correspondent writes from Pest:

“A traveller who arrived here by train assured us that he had learned from a reliable source that the Russians had entered Galicia and intended to march immediately from there into Hungary.”

This may help — nothing else will so easily. Whether these rumours are true or not, in any case they demonstrate the great significance the imperial generals attribute to the possession of Upper Hungary.

In the course of this new expedition of Görgey’s the estates of several Hungarian magnates, among others the Pallavicini estates and those of Count Szirmay, have been utterly devastated. These gentlemen had betrayed their countrymen and intended to organise volunteer corps against the Magyars.

60,000 Russian troops are said to have marched into Transylvania.

On the 25th, there were reports in Pest that the fortress of Arad had been stormed and captured by the Magyars under the Frenchman Duchatel. 3,000 Magyars are said to have been killed.

Moreover, a number of martial-law inspired rumours are circulating in Vienna and Pest. Bem is said to be dead, Dembinski to have lost his right arm etc.

The following additional report is taken from the Constitutionelles Blatt aus Böhmen which once again only reached us this morning:

“In Pest on the 25th, there was not the slightest news either of Schlick or of Jellachich. They were presumed to be remaining inactive and awaiting reinforcements. Moreover, the current state of the weather is too unfavourable to permit a campaign to be undertaken through the sea of mud of the Hungarian pusztas. The day before yesterday it snowed incessantly, while today and yesterday, a fine rain drizzled from the skies with great persistence. Already yesterday the post was delayed by ten hours.”

On the other hand the regular navigation between Pest and Esseg on the Danube is said to have been re-opened — it remains to be seen for how long. In any case, Jellachich’s march on Kecskemét as resulted in cutting off the Tolna comitat insurgents from the main force of the Magyars and apparently frustrating the movement the Magyars certainly intended to make from Szegedin towards the Danube. This movement was designed to achieve the same outflanking on the right wing of the imperial forces as the one Görgey has as good as executed on the left.

Komorn is still being unsuccessfully bombarded. A battle was fought in the fortress itself; the party inclined to surrender was defeated, and the revolutionary Magyars have now introduced a reign of terror, shooting every traitor. The Austrian siege troops have to endure the greatest hardship, snow and rain. On March 24 the snow lay 4 feet deep.

The Augsburg Allgemeine Zeitung has published an article, “Three Months of the Hungarian War”, containing admissions all the more important given the dyed-in-the-wool black-and-yellow views of the author. We shall return to it.