Articles by Marx & Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung

From the Theatre of War

Source: MECW Volume 9, p. 24;
Written: Written by Engels on March 8, 1849;
First published: in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 241, March 9, 1849

Yesterday we already presented an extract from the last (26th) Army Bulletin published in the Vienna Lithographierte Correspondenz. Today we have the complete text of the Bulletin before us.

However hard Windischgrätz endeavours to give the action at Kapolna the character of a major battle, however violently he flings about bayonet-charges, cavalry attacks and bombardments—he is soundly defeated in his aim by the figures he himself gives of the dead and captured. 200-300 killed on the Magyar side in a major two-day battle in which "we had to deal with the main force of the enemy at all points"! It can be seen that the Magyars for their part threw no more than a few corps into the fighting which, as we said already yesterday, were at the most intended to cover the retreat of the main army and keep the Austrians at a respectable distance. For a battle between two large armies, particularly one lasting two days, results in far greater losses than a few hundred men.

But Windischgrätz exaggerates even more ridiculously when he speaks of the "numerical superiority" of the Magyars. The war in Hungary would have been over long ago if the small Magyar nation could even achieve "numerical" equality with the imperial troops—but numerical superiority! The superiority of 5 million over 31 million!!

One report goes as far as to maintain that 27,000 Austrians defeated twice as many Magyars at Kapolna! But this report is, in addition, so remarkably skilfully and credibly written that it relates in the same breath that, having retired to Erlau, the Magyars were met there by Götz. It is known, however, that Götz is wandering around some 30 miles away in the area of Kaschau and Eperies, and now he is suddenly supposed to have marched all the way to Erlau!

Otherwise the Bulletin contains nothing new, and we can safely put it aside.

Now to Transylvania. Here it is true that Bem has not taken Hermannstadt, and that for very simple reasons. After absorbing the 4,000 strong column from Hungary, he marched along the Maros in order to join up with the Szekler Landsturm. [20] While he was advancing from Mühlbach by way of Mediasch, the Szeklers from the opposite direction came to meet him and took Schässburg with 7,000 men on the 16th. The garrison and a part of the civic militia escaped to Hermannstadt; Bem pursued them and is now once again in the vicinity of this town, as a letter of the 18th from Hermannstadt relates. According to one report it is said to have already been evacuated by Puchner.

From this it is evident that Bem has executed another of those victorious advances across Transylvania in which he has already greatly distinguished himself several times. His connections with the intrepid Szeklers, who live close by the Moldavian border, after being momentarily threatened by Puchner and the Russians, have been restored; Sachsenland [21] is in extreme peril, he "now has the keys of Sachsenland in his hands".

The Saxons moreover complain of the lack of good leadership from above, and of the Romanians' lack of courage. The latter are said to be displaying extreme cowardice. One report says:

"The only trouble is the lack of good leadership from above and the lack of courage and endurance on the part of the Wallachian troops. All the unsuccessful engagements have hitherto been lost through the fault of the Wallachians. At Salzburg the regular Wallachian army threw itself flat on its belly at the first cannon shot, and at Kronstadt the Russians had to form up behind the Wallachians to prevent them from running away. But if the battle is won, they are always the foremost and cruellest in looting, and spare neither the enemy nor their wounded comrades lying on the battlefield."

This shows what gangs of brigands the royal imperial regime is employing to maintain its authority. Moreover, the Siebenbürger Bote is awaiting the following royal imperial reinforcements:

"According to reports received the corps heading for Transylvania under generals Gläser, Todorovich and Mengen is said to comprise the following troops: 8 battalions 22 of infantry, Leiningen, Rukavina, men from Peterwardein, Romanians, Illyrians, and German-Banat Borderers; 5 squadrons of Uhlans, 300 mounted Serbs, 80 Serezhans; one Congreve battery, one mounted foot-battery, two ordinary foot-batteries, 5 Serbian cannon. A total of 15,000 men.

The Transylvanian Flemings [23] will have to pray many a Lords Prayer before these alleged 15,000 men get through. Unfortunately Damjanich and Vetter on the Lower Maros are still giving them more than enough to do, accordingly they are leaving Transylvania to the Russians.

From the Banat theatre of war, little news. [24] The Serbs boast of the following heroic deeds:

"Theresiopel has been taken by the Serbs, and on the 25th it is reported from the Sava that a skirmish has occurred at Futtak between the Syrmien provincial battalion and the Magyar garrison of Neusatz as a result of which the former town was reduced to ashes by the Magyars."

The truth or otherwise of this we leave as a matter for conjecture. At the same time we hear that the great hero Nugent, whom we have assumed to have long since reached the Lower Theiss or the area of Peterwardein, has still not even crossed the Danube, but is only now "thinking of crossing" this river "near Mohacs"!!

And while he is amusing himself with these thoughts the Magyars are taking the greatest liberties in his close vicinity, in the Tolna comitat, on the right bank of the Danube, at the rear of Ofen. Here, in a region which was—how many times—"cleaned up" by the royal imperial troops, the long-lost Perczel suddenly turns up as a guerilla leader and sets the whole area in motion. Just listen:

"In Battaszek an imperial officer was taken prisoner as a result of this agitation, in Paks an imperial courier was stopped and his escort of two men disarmed. In Dombovar district all cattle belonging to Prince Esterhazy were slaughtered. In Laczhaza, too, just as the market was being held, 50 insurgents appeared from Duna Vecse and Solt with their lead-studded whips and seized ah the cattle driven there for sale."

That was today's news. The victory of Windischgrätz reduced to a pointless and ineffectual attack, Bem's operations in Transylvania as skilful as they are successful, the Serbs in the Banat still standing on the banks of the Maros at a loss what to do, Nugent still unable to cross the Danube and move into the Banat, the area between the Drava and the Danube preparing to revolt against the imperial authorities--that is the resume of the position of the warring parties according to the latest reports.