From the Theatre of War, March 18, 1849 (2)

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The Vienna papers are missing again tonight. Frankly, we cannot explain this limitless muddle, which is becoming worse every day.

We have received news from Pest via Breslau up to the 11 th of March. No official word from the theatre of war; but Magyar and Austrian reports, though not official, are in the main in complete agreement.

It is becoming more and more evident every day that for the last fortnight the imperial troops have suffered one defeat after another. At least half the royal imperial Austrian generals have proved to be sheer dolts and WindischgrĂ€tz, though no less incompetent, is now throwing them out of the command. Zeisberg has completely disappeared, Karger and Deym, who compromised themselves at Szolnok, are the subject of an enquiry; Wrbna, who according to Magyar reports was chiefly to blame for the defeat of the Austrians at Mezö-Kövesd, is also said to be involved in an enquiry, and, as all reports indicate, has “fallen into disgrace” and ‘likely to be pensioned off’.”

The nature of the so-called victory at Kapolna is revealed in the following report of the Vienna Lithographierte Correspondenz:

“According to the report of the Kapolna notary, who had to arrange for the burial of the fallen in the battle there, the number of dead on the Hungarian side was 1,500 and on the imperial side 4,000.”

Moreover, it is evident from Austrian reports that Schlick attended a war council in Ofen and that he is to take over the command of the Northern Army, Ban Jellachich that of the Southern Army, and that Field Marshal WindischgrÀtz will remain in Ofen. It seems that people are not completely satisfied that the twin capitals [1] will be maintained.

The following reports of the Magyar correspondent of the Breslauer Zeitung show what impression WindischgrĂ€tz’s latest measures regarding the Hungarian banknotes[2] have made in Pest:

“Commercial circles in Pest wanted to hold a meeting to consult about this measure, but Prince WindischgrĂ€tz would not allow it. The excitement in Pest was so great that the Prince found himself compelled to send 40,000 guldens in small Austrian banknotes to pay the workers’ wages. — The Pest Commercial Bank also wanted to issue a circular saying that it would accept Hungarian notes as before, but WindischgrĂ€tz prohibited the Bank from accepting these notes. The Josephi Fair now being held in Pest is as good as non-existent because of the confusion over the banknotes, and in the end it is the Austrian merchants who are most bit by this, since they can neither sell nor collect outstanding amounts.”

New evidence of the quite extraordinary measures which the imperial army finds itself compelled to introduce simply to retain the positions it now holds, is to be found in a decree of WindischgrÀtz from Ofen on March 10, which subjects the nobility and the citizens and also the cities and villages which join the rebellion to military requisitions without claim to compensation; next those sections of the nobility and the citizens which proved inactive in the imperial cause are required to bear the cost of provisioning the army; but in this case receipts will be issued and the claim to compensation is reserved. The faithful and loyal inhabitants have a special claim to full compensation; those who cause damage will incur sequestration of property.

The Magyar correspondent reports from the comitats of Tolna and Baranya:

“Yesterday the Mohacs mail was returned; Mohacs and FĂŒnfkirchen were occupied by the Hungarians. The Hungarian General Perczel has marched with 10,000 men into Pentele on the Ofen bank of the Danube. Pentele is about 8 miles distant from Ofen. 400 imperial soldiers were driven out of F6ldvar on the Danube by the village peasants. On the Pest side operations proceed slowly and it appears that the main force of the Hungarians is crossing over to the Ofen bank of the Danube. The Hungarians seem very anxious to save Pest from bombardment, and must therefore direct their main offensive against Ofen, and when that is taken, Pest will fall automatically.”

Reports that FĂŒnfkirchen is in the hands of the Magyars and that a strong Magyar corps is marching to the right bank of the Danube certainly require confirmation.

The following (Austrian) report comes from Komorn:

“Six thousand sixty-pound bombs have been brought up for the bombardment of Kornorn; communication trenches are being dug around the fortress and water is run into them so as to flood the subterranean buildings of the fortress (!). The garrison consists of 10 battalions. The inhabitants must hand over food mostly for nothing, since they cannot give change for the Kossuth 100-florin notes with which the men pay.”

“Communication trenches” by means of which “subterranean buildings are flooded” have hitherto been unknown and must be an entirely new royal imperial Austrian invention, rather like the famous balloons which were to bombard Venice.

The following report comes from Transylvania; it must surely be very painful to the neighbouring journalist who is such a Russophile:

“News has arrived in a roundabout way from Transylvania which brings us up to the 4th of the month. The cities of Kronstadt and Hermannstadt have to produce a sum of 1,000 florins per day for the billeting of Russian troops, about which they have complained to the general in command. Bem is still at Mediasch and Puchner is limited to his previous forces. Without significant Russian support (?) or a diversion from the Banat (!) the pacification of unhappy Transylvania is unthinkable.”

A diversion from the Banat! As if the Serbs had not been refusing for six weeks to leave their homeland to save the haggling Flemish Jews in the Transylvanian Sachsenland![3] And even if they wanted to, as if 40,000 Magyars on the Maros did not give them more than enough to do!

According to the Ost-Deutsche Post Dembinski is said to have resigned because of a dissension with Görgey, and Görgey is supposed to have become Commander-in-Chief on the Theiss. This news, which must have been sent from Pest on the 10th at the latest, appears to be a pure martial-law rumour, and is not even remotely confirmed by anyone. We give it only for the sake of completeness.

  1. ↑ The reference is to the cities of Buda (Ofen) and Pest which at the time were virtually twin capital cities of Hungary. After a successful counter-attack by the Hungarian revolutionary army and the liberation of the two capital cities from the Austrian invaders on June 24, 1849 the Hungarian authorities announced the unification of Buda and Pest into one city. However, subsequent events prevented this decree from being implemented. The official unification of Pest and Buda and the formation of a single city of Budapest took place on January 1, 1873
  2. ↑ The reference is to the paper money issued in 1848-49 by the Hungarian revolutionary Government. The notes were first issued in May 1848. Despite the Austrian authorities' repeated ban on the "Kossuth notes", the Hungarian paper money was a serious competitor to Austrian money, not only within Hungary but also in Austria proper. The "Kossuth notes" were in circulation until almost the end of 1849.
  3. ↑ A considerable section of the population of Transylvania (over 200,000) were German colonists who had come from Saxony, Flanders and the Rhine lands (known as Teutons, Flemings, Saxons, later all German colonists came to be known as Saxons); they had been settled there by the Hungarian kings and Austrian emperors. The majority of the Saxons, who were well-to-do townspeople, came out agaillst the Hungarian revolution and sided with the imperial troops in the armed struggle.