Articles by Marx & Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung

An Austrian Report Published in the Augsburg Allgemeine Zeitung

Source: MECW Volume 9, p. 55;
Written: Written on March 12, 1849;
First published: in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 245, March 14, 1849

There are no direct reports. The post from Vienna, which was due yesterday, failed to arrive even in Breslau and Berlin, and the post expected for today is missing once again together with all postal deliveries from Berlin. We are therefore printing today several extracts from an article published in the Augsburg Allgemeine Zeitung which is well suited to cast a good deal of light on the black-and-yellow bragging in which certain German newspapers indulge:

"After the slight resistance which the imperial troops encountered as they proceeded through Hungary as far as Pest, the news of the two-day battle at Kapolna, which ended without a decisive result after fierce fighting, came as a considerable surprise. This was the first important battle with the insurgents, who for the first time brought their regular troops into action, men whose acknowledged bravery, under the leadership of a skilful commander like Perczel, was further increased by the fanaticism of the hussars. The battle proved that with more training and discipline the Magyars are fighting with a courage and contempt for death which has characterised this nationality for centuries. Yet, apart from demonstrating this, the battle did not alter matters in any other way, for, according to reports of March 2, the insurgents moved from Maklar to MezöKövesd on February 28 and went back on the road from there to Poroszlo and Tisza-Füred, in orderly line but with the intention of crossing the Theiss; their rearguard fought with imperial troops at Kövesd and then later at two other places, in order to cover their retreat. Prince Windischgrätz brought his headquarters forward as far as MezöKövesd and dispatched General Zeisberg to Tisza-Füred via Besenyö in order, if possible, to cut off the insurgents' retreat across the bridge there; should this manoeuvre prove successful then their leader, General Dembinski, would have to engage his troops in a second general battle in order to force the crossing of the Theiss; otherwise they could cross the river without any trouble, join, forces with the corps of insurgents which was constantly engaged in skirmishes with the imperial Ottinger brigade at Szolnok, and once more offer resistance to the Field Marshal. Anyone who puts together in his mind the present bitter clashes with the hints in the November edition of the Kossuth newspaper, and has read Kossuth's warnings that a retreat on the part of the Hungarian army into the interior of the country, were it to occur, should not be regarded as flight but rather as a strategic plan, anyone who has read his proclamation to the peasants telling them to arm themselves in the rear of the imperial troops, to cut off all supplies and to ambush individual units, and anyone who has read his instructions on conducting guerilla warfare etc., will understand the reasons for the speedy retreat to Pest and for the striking circumstance that Prince Windischgrätz was faced with a force of only 24,000 insurgents under Görgey. The insurgents had abatises and entrenchments built at Pressburg, Wieselburg and Raab, anticipating that these defensive measures would induce the imperial army to procure a fairly large artillery park and the necessary horses for it, and that they themselves would gain time to bring up their recruits from the Slav comitats in the area of the Theiss, to obtain the rifles ordered from Belgium and to train their army The insurgents retreated as far as Pest almost without striking a blow because they intended to raise a Landsturm in the rear of the imperial troops and to weaken their strength by means of the garrisons left behind at Pressburg, Oedenburg and Raab and of the besieging troops at Komorn."

The Augsburg Allgemeine Zeitung then proceeds to a naturally one-sided, Austrian review of the war, and then goes on:

"In the meantime 8 brigades of imperial troops had joined forces at Rimaszombat and advanced on the insurgents—50,000 men with 120 cannon—who had joined forces at Mezö-Kövesd and Kapolna. Prince Windischgrätz brought several cavalry regiments from Pest to Gyöngyös and took charge of approximately 40,000 imperial troops and, as we are told, 140 cannon for the attack on the insurgents, who had taken up an advantageous position. The hussars fought stubbornly and recklessly, and it was they who for some time held the victory of the imperial army in the balance; the regular infantry, which consisted of barely 8,000 men, fought with courage and tenacity; the men of the army reserve held good for longer than usual but were soon however abandoned by their inexperienced and cowardly officers; the Italian Zanini battalion, which had deserted, was captured by the imperial troops at Kapolna; and the result was that the regular insurgents who continued fighting were no longer a match for the on-rushing columns of imperial troops and had thereupon only to cover the retreat of the whole insurgent force, thus preventing a rout. Just how much such troops can achieve when led by skilful and courageous officers is shown by the Hungarian infantry in Italy which incontestably belongs to the most courageous section of the Austrian army; it is a great pity that in their delusion they are fighting here for an insurrection which causes more harm in Hungary the longer it lasts. Baron Jellachich has gone to Temesvar to assume supreme command over the imperial and Serbian troops; his authority and energy will succeed in restraining the Serbs, who wish to regard the districts occupied with the assistance of the imperial army as their own property, and will succeed in containing their arbitrary behaviour. The Serbs under Knicanin are positioned outside Szegedin, two successive attacks have been repulsed by the Magyars who are weaker in number. In Transylvania Bem appears to have recovered and to be advancing on Hermannstadt, Lieutenant-Field Marshal Gläser, however, is said to be approaching him, in which case his corps could not escape being taken prisoner"(!).

As to other news items, the following is worth mentioning:

"Pesth, March 3. The Solt district has received an order from Debreczin stating that all men between 18 and 30 years of age are to take up arms and march against the Raizen.[54]

"Several Honved [55] officers, who had promised never again to fight against the imperial troops and were released from the fortress of Esseg, are said to be engaged in organising a popular uprising " (Lloyd).