Articles by Marx & Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung

The 27th Bulletin.-- Military Reports

Source: MECW Volume 9, p. 27;
Written: Written by Engels about March 9, 1849;
First published: in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 242, March 10, 1849

We have today a new Austrian Bulletin. Before we examine it more closely, however, we should like to return briefly to the battle at Kapolna and to mention some observations taken from the pro-Metternich Augsburg Allgemeine Zeitung which, coming from that newspaper, are altogether highly "indicative". This paper, which usually supports so enthusiastically the black-and-yellow cause, comes out with the following complaints:

"As is the case with most of the army's communiques from Hungary, in the communique dealing with Kapolna (see below) we unfortunately find that very important points are again missing: one learns nothing about the strength of the respective combating armies, the previous movements of the enemy, the divisions comprising the enemy's forces, the names of their leaders, not even the name of their commander-in-chief. And yet the report otherwise contains many details which are to some extent trivial."

And it goes on to say:

"It is equally remarkable that the Bulletin dealing with the battle at Kapolna also talks of the enemy's numerical superiority, although the combined forces of Windischgrätz and Schlick were involved in the fighting there. The Field Marshal can hardly have fewer than 100,000 to 120,000 men under his command in Hungary. It is true that they are widely dispersed throughout the country, and Windischgrätz has to try to encircle the enemy in a wide are with his various army corps. But neither can the Magyars operate with their combined forces from one central point; Komorn, Peterwardein, Szegedin etc. are still holding out, and there is still fighting in the Banat, in Transylvania and on the Theiss. We have searched in vain through the Vienna, Agram and Temesvar newspapers for information on the questions which thrust themselves upon one in this context."

Such doubts expressed by the Augsburg Allgemeine martial-law paper make any further comment from us superfluous. Now to turn to the 27th Army Bulletin:

"On February 26 and 27 the head of the column of the advancing main army under His Highness Field Marshal Prince zu Windischgrätz attacked the rebels from behind the Tarna between Kapolna and Kaal and drove them back. The columns of Lieutenant-Field Marshal Schlick, which had advanced towards Verpeleth and Erlau, had taken the enemy in the flank and, as a result of this successful move, threatened his line of retreat towards Miskolcz and Tokaj. On February 28 the Field Marshal advanced all along the line and on that day moved his headquarters to Maklar, just after the enemy had left it and retreated towards Mezö-Kövesd.

"Quickly following the hurried retreat of the enemy the cuirassier regiment of Prince Karl of Prussia came upon the rearguard of the enemy which was concentrated near Mezö-Kövesd, a fierce cavalry battle took place, this being supported by the Wyss and Montenuovo brigades which were moving forward. In this first battle Major Prince Holstein and two officers were wounded. On March 1 the Field Marshal undertook large-scale reconnaissance along the whole line across the whole of the plain, which stretches from Mezö-Kövesd via Istvin to the Theiss, however this did not produce the desired results because of the heavy fog and the snow.

"In the meantime the corps of Lieutenant-Field Marshal Schlick was operating on the right flank of the enemy, who was thus obliged in the course of that day to evacuate Mezö-Kövesd and retreat via Szemere and Eger Farmos towards Poroszlo. The Deym brigade, from the corps under the command of Lieutenant-Field Marshal Schlick, occupied Mezö-Kövesd.

"About midday, when the fog had lifted somewhat, the reconnoitring vanguard reported that the enemy had moved off in the direction of the Theiss and his crossing-point at Tisza-Füred. The Field Marshal at once dispatched three brigades along the enemy's line of retreat, and his rearguard was contacted at Szemere.

"At Eger Farmos the enemy tried once more to offer resistance but was thrown back, and in the evening the place was occupied by our victorious troops. At the same time the Field Marshal had dispatched a brigade of the first army corps, under the command of Major-General Zeisberg, from Besenyij along the road to Poroszlo, and on the morning of March 2, the date of the last report from the headquarters at Maklar, the whole army was advancing towards the Theiss."

As was to be expected, the Magyars have once more withdrawn beyond the Theiss. We have said it a hundred times: it would have been irresponsible and reckless of them if they had engaged in a decisive battle on the right bank of the Theiss without being quite sure of victory. The superior strength of the Austrians was still too great, a fact which is borne out by the above report from the Augsburg Allgemeine Zeitung. The Austrians were able to concentrate their main forces, whilst the Magyars had had to leave a strong reserve force behind, in particular a large part of their young troops at Debreczin, and generally beyond the Theiss. They have demonstrated to the Austrians that they are dealing neither with "cowards" nor with a motley "rabble", and they did well to retreat once more beyond the Theiss after having achieved their aim.

Just how much respect Herr Windischgrätz now has for the Hungarian army is clear from all his operations. On February 28 he occupies Maklar, i.e. advances by only one hour. On March 1 he has reached Mezö-Kövesd, i.e, he is yet again one mile further on. There he does not attempt anything like a general attack but merely "large-scale reconnaissance"!! We notice that after his immense victory at Kapolna Windischgrätz pursued the Magyars with such vigour that after two or three miles he had already lost trace of them and had to reconnoitre to establish where they were!

Meanwhile Schlick was operating "on the right flank of the enemy"—and his great achievement, as a result of this, was that the "enemy" retreated to the very point to which he would have had to retreat without this splendid manoeuvre, namely to Tisza-Füred, his main crossing-point on the Theiss. All in all, Schlick, in his flanking movement, which incidentally looks highly peculiar on the map, has apparently treated the withdrawing Magyar army with just as much respect as Windischgrätz has at the front. In short, on March 2 the headquarters of the courageous Windischgrätz was still at Maklar, i.e. exactly one mile further on from the position held by Windischgrätz on the morning of February 26, six days before his great two-day victory!

From this position, on March 2, the whole army was "advancing towards the Theiss". We know that this is the third time that the imperial troops are "advancing towards the Theiss", and presumably they will have the same success this time that they had previously, and that will mean stopping at the Theiss and having to confine themselves to casting longing glances over to the unattainable Debreczin heath.

From the north we hear:

"The division of Lieutenant-Field Marshal Ramberg had already pushed its vanguard from Kaschau along the road which forks at Hidas-Nemethy, leading to Tokaj on the left and Miskolcz on the right."

In plain language: the above-mentioned division has pushed forward its vanguard exactly four miles, and this along a road where no large enemy forces are roaming about, but at most enemy guerillas, Kossuth hussars. Immense progress, achieved with remarkable bravery!

The Bulletin goes on to tell of several battles before Komorn, [25] which are more evidence of the courage of the Komorn garrison than of progress on the part of the Austrians. The reader will recall that as early as January the Kölnische Zeitung had the Komorn garrison hoisting the white flag at least ten times. And the alleged "initial bombardment" of Komorn, which was said already to have taken place, is now shown to have meant that, not the Austrians were firing bombs at Komorn, but on the contrary the Komorn garrison fired shells at the Austrians. The Bulletin says:

"At Komorn several battles occurred on the right bank of the Danube between the insurgents and the troops of the Lederer brigade—thus, as early as February 17, the garrison at Komorn made a sortie with nine companies, two guns, and half a squadron of hussars, and protected by brisk cannon-fire launched an attack from the bridgehead upon the left flank of the detachment occupying O-Szöny, under the command of Major Kellner of the Khevenhüller infantry. Major Kellner attacked the insurgents and drove them back, killing seventeen of them.—The garrison attempted a similar sortie on February 24, this time with two battalions of infantry, half a squadron of hussars and three guns. The enemy opened fire briskly on the position of Major Kellner, who was occupying O-Szöny with the second Khevenhüller battalion, half a squadron of Fiquelmont dragoons and half a battery of twelve-pounders. Forty shells hit the place causing fires in five points, as a result of which several houses were burned to the ground. Thanks to Major Kellner's expedient measures and the determination of his troops it was possible to check the fire. When, later, the offensive was begun, actively supported by a division under Captain Schmutz's command from the same regiment, which was dispatched with two cannon to the enemy's right flank, the insurgents, who lost fifty men, were driven back within the range of the garrison's cannon by the brave battalion, which thus managed to repulse this sortie as well.—Now Lieutenant-Field Marshal Simunich's division has arrived there on the left bank of the Danube. The Veigl brigade, which is part of it, is stationed on the left bank of the Waag. The Sossay brigade, which already arrived in N. Tany several days ago, is occupying the island of Schütt, and at Gönyö they are busy trying to construct a pontoon bridge in order to link up the two banks of the Danube for the besieging troops. As the battering train from Leopoldstadt has arrived at Komorn the bombardment of the fortress will begin within the next few days."

Finally we learn the following, something which, printed in a royal imperial Army Bulletin, must astonish us:

"According to official reports from Cracow, which are dated March 3, 600 Cossacks are occupying the Russian border on their own territory from Michalovice to the Weichsel and from there to the Pilica. Cracow, which according to other reports was said to have been bombarded and even occupied by the Russians, was quiet, although numerous emissaries and gun-runners were bent on disturbing the peace. Lieutenant-Field Marshal Legeditsch there was perfectly prepared for any eventuality."

So Cracow is now also part of the theatre of war. When the official royal imperial bulletins start declaring this themselves, one is obliged to draw strange conclusions!

So much for the official news. From the unofficial sources we report the following:

The Karlowitz Napredak reports from the Banat:

"Subotica (Theresiopel) has been taken by the Serbs. The battle was fierce. The troops consisted of detachments from Todorovich's forces and a section of the Serbian auxiliary corps under the command of Knicanin. The Serbs lost 144 men, the number of Magyar dead is not yet known. The Magyars have suffered their most significant defeat here."

From Transylvania only one report from Malkowsky has come in, telling of the curious operations at Bistritz. As we have already examined this we do not need to touch on it again today. The only thing of interest to us is the following naive aphorism, which appeared in the Augsburg Allgemeine Zeitung, referring to the Germans' surprise at the arrival of the Russians:

"The Austrian army wishes, of course, to wage this battle without outside aid, but the Austrian and Russian armies ore old comrades in war and have fought side by side countless times on German battlefields. This is something those people apparently wish to forget who talk in such exaggerated terms of Russian support"!!?

Finally, for the amusement of our readers, we include the letter written by the Vladika of Montenegro to the Serbian leader Knicanin, to accompany the decoration sent to him:

"To the illustrious Mr. Stephan Knicanin,

"Oh pride of our nation! You have totally justified the reputation of the heroes of Dushan and Karageorge. I, and every true Serb, owe you the deepest gratitude. Your noble spirit prompted you to sacrifice yourself for your nation and to hasten to the aid of your suffering comrades. For these reasons I shall always love you and hold you in great esteem, and in deepest gratitude for your untiring efforts I am sending you this likeness of the immortal Obilich. It will most fittingly adorn the breast of the victor of Tomasevec and the deliverer of Pancsova. Receive it then, heroic young scion of heroic forefathers, receive it with the same sincerity and delight with which, accompanied by fraternal greetings, it is sent.

Cetinje, January 28 (February 9), 1849

Vladika of Montenegro, P. Petrovic Njegos, m.p.

Moreover, just how close to the verge of bankruptcy Kossuth has brought the Austrians is evident from the following "proclamation":

"Since the news that Hungarian banknotes in Austria were to be withdrawn from circulation and confiscated has reached wide sections of the public, we wish to reassure the public and to announce that withdrawal or confiscation of Hungarian banknotes does not apply to private transactions in Hungary. Ofen, March 2, 1849. Royal imperial army general headquarters."

To sum up: At most Windischgrätz will reach the Theiss, the Serbs are at the Maros, Malkowsky is outside Bistritz.—All of them are just as far as they were four weeks ago. This is the "second stage" that, according to yesterday's Kölnische Zeitung, the Hungarian war has entered.