Articles by Marx & Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung

From the Theatre of War[6]

Source: MECW Volume 9, p. 9;
Written: Written by Engels on March 6, 1849;
First published: in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 239, March 7, 1849

Yesterday's news of Magyar victories has been followed today by an Austrian assurance of victory. The Österreichischer Correspondent reports from Olmütz:

"The following telegraphic dispatch has just reached Olmütz: Field Marshal Prince Windischgrätz defeated the insurgents at Kapolna [7] on February 26 and 27. The enemy fled in two directions. An entire battalion was taken prisoner."

The commentary to this report may be found in the following lines, which have also been corroborated from other quarters:

"In Vienna the news of the imperial victory was known on March 2 only as a stock exchange rumour: the letters which arrived by the Post from Pest on that day were not released"

It can be seen that the news of the imperial victory bears all the marks of a Windischgrätz triumph: the letters which are supposed to confirm it are withheld by the post-office in Vienna, This is the first time that the Vienna Government has had to resort to such methods. The victory must have been a brilliant one indeed!

Still no news from Transylvania about the battle on the 15th between Bem and Puchner.[8] The latest reports stop at the 14th but indicate that a Magyar victory is likely the following day. An issue of the Lithographierte Correspondenz from Vienna writes:

"At last we again have received letters direct from Hermannstadt up to the 14th, they are however anything but reassuring.

"Lieutenant-Field Marshal Puchner is evidently still not strong enough to take the offensive against the fanatical bands of the Szeklers [9] and the hordes of Bem. There seems to be some reluctance, for political reasons, to employ Russian aid to the extent that the sorry state of the Grand Duchy demands. The commercial letters from Hermannstadt and Kronstadt sound very miserable. From Temesvar it was reported to Hermannstadt that the Serbs have refused to come to the aid of Transylvania. This is also evident from the irresolute movements of generals Rukavina, Gläser and Todorovich."

The Austrians have suffered a fresh defeat at the hands of Kossuth, not on the battlefield but at the shopkeepers' counters and the portable stands of the Jewish pedlars. Kossuth saw that the imperial authorities were compelled to redeem his one- and two-gulden notes and immediately arranged the production of 15- and 30-kreutzer notes.[10] Windischgrätz, outraged at this high treason against the royal imperial exchequer, has now issued the following proclamation:

"The rebels, who have fled to Debreczin, tireless in confusing even further the already severely disrupted conditions of the country, have, in addition to the banknotes already issued without right or authority, produced 30- and 15-kreutzer notes which are already beginning to circulate. These notes are mainly coming into the hands of the poorer classes of artisans and country people who, almost entirely lacking a livelihood, are already hard-pressed, and should be particularly preserved from harm. For the time being, therefore, and until an order is issued concerning the Hungarian banknotes as well, I declare these completely illegal notes for 30 and 15 kreutzers null and void, and prohibit their acceptance both at public cash-offices and in private exchange."

As if Herr Windischgrätz could prevent the circulation of the Magyar banknotes as long as Austria is unable to issue any ready money and especially small coins!

According to Austrian reports, Görgey, whom the Constitutionelles Blatt aus Böhmen calls a man "with no talent for generalship" (!!), is said to have resigned the command. We need not point out how absurd such rumours are. In the meantime we present the following report from the Austrian Lloyd on the latest operations of this skilful partisan in the Zips:

"Until the 18th of last month Lieutenant-Field Marshal Ramberg, who commanded the two brigades of royal imperial troops under General Götz and Prince Jablonowsky in the Zips areas, was continuously engaged in skirmishes with Görgey's insurgent forces. [...] For Görgey had sent his baggage trains with a small escort from Kaschau, an area from which royal imperial troops had withdrawn, to the Theiss in the direction of Debreczin, and in order to protect this transport he used all his forces to halt the troops pursuing him, and therefore retained scarcely two squadrons of hussars in Kaschau. After his rearguard had been forced back from Wallendorf to Margitfalva—when the royal imperial fusiliers captured five cannon (!)—he concentrated his main strength on this road, which, forming a narrow defile in the valley of the River Hernad, severely impeded the advance of the royal imperial troops. On the road to Eperies the smaller corps of Hungarians withdrew hastily, fearing to be cut off on the mountain road by the former garrison of Kaschau. [...] The infantry of the Hungarians is generally appalling, not only because it is neither trained nor disciplined—for these shortcomings would be to some extent compensated for in battle by the physical agility peculiar to the Magyars and their proven scorn for death—but chiefly because their officers are incompetent and cowardly, collected from all corners of the world, and inspire no confidence in their men. [...] On the other hand, the hussars whose officers, although mostly promoted NCOs, are ignorant, but at least courageous men, retain their inherent bravery; here in the mountains they could not often be used, but they frequently dismounted from their horses to cover the cannon and encourage the others; on outpost duty they are reckless in their daring and cause the royal imperial troops a good deal of trouble. [...]

"The engagements between the insurgents and the royal imperial troops were limited in this area to skirmishes and artillery salvoes; as the battalions drew nearer the insurgents retired; on the 19th, they assembled in Kaschau and then tried to reach the Theiss by forced marches in order either to effect a meeting with Dembiriski or to flee to Debreczin. (!) [...]

"The town of Kaschau was illuminated to greet the insurgents, and received Görgey with a torchlight parade, thus saving itself from a levy such as was imposed on Eperies. Now the evil guests have fled, and on the 19th of last month Eperies was re-occupied by the royal imperial troops; and Kaschau, the day before yesterday. In the village of Petrovian between Eperies and Kaschau, where the peasants had captured several hussars and taken them over the mountains to the royal imperial troops, the rebels had the local magistrate and a juryman shot as a punishment. We, the Zipsers, got off with a black eye; only the towns and villages on the Kaschau mountain road incurred severe damage during the various skirmishes. The earlier-mentioned attack by the imperial Major Kiesewetter was made on the town of Neudorf to punish it for its treachery, and it is now occupied by four companies of the Slovak Landsturm under Stur, which naturally cannot be compared with the pleasantness of an occupation by the imperial troops. We are all however disturbed by the presence of a rebel force under the insurgent Colonel Aulich in Lublau, which by all appearances intends to operate in the rear of the imperial army, for men are claiming to have seen hussars first in one place, then in another; meanwhile, to our consolation, General Vogl has advanced from Galicia with 4,000 men via Bartfeld, and he will probably drive these hordes out of the border mountains before long (?)."

As a counterpart of this we present the following report from Agram of the Constitutionelles Blatt aus Böhmen on the South-Slav complications:

"Agram, February 25. In its latest issue, the Napredak [HanpeAak] discusses the causes of the state of siege which was imposed on Karlowitz; it endorses the view that the activities of the Central Committee[11] gave rise to this military measure. The Napredak excuses the Patriarch by whose order the state of war was proclaimed in Karlowitz; the above newspaper further reports that at present the Patriarch is ruling alone, while the Odbor (Central Committee) has relinquished its duties and refrains from intervening publicly in the administration of the voivodeship. The differences between Rajachich and Stratimirovich are—judging by this newspaper—by no means eliminated yet. This is also averred by a member of the Serb constitutional commission recently arrived here, who hardly described things in the Voivodina as being at their best. From the information supplied by this member I am able to report the following to you on the situation there. The majority of the people is for Stratimirovich, only Syrmien and the Peterwardein borders [12] are opposed to him, there Radosavljevich, who was elected regimental commander and confirmed by the Patriarch, has totally paralysed the efforts of Stratimirovich. The Patriarch is reported to have been appointed civil governor, and—which sounds rather strange—also military head of the voivodeship. It has been confirmed that Rajachich has been having repeated conflicts with the commanding officer at Temesvar, with whom he used always to be on friendly terms. The latter is said to be working with all his energy to bring the Banat border under his control, and to restore the old military authority there. In fact several senior officers have apparently banded together whose endeavours are aimed solely at everywhere placing obstacles in the path of the Serbs. Rukavina and Todorovich are said to be at the head of this anti-Serb coterie. The latter is said to have lost the sympathies of all through his gruff, offensive conduct and his exaggeratedly 'black-and-yellow' sentiments; his intolerance of everything that does not carry the royal imperial port d'epee apparently goes so far that he intended to grant the Serb national officers only corporals' pay.—The Serb constitutional commission recently commenced its work; the first result of its deliberations is an electoral law for the Voivodina, the draft of which is already completed."

The "united monarchy" (Gesamlmonarchie) still has a number of strange experiences in store if the pan-Slavist uproar[12] that is now fermenting throughout Slav Austria breaks out some day!