Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung April 1849

Austrian Lamentations

Source: MECW Volume 9, p. 250;
Written: by Engels about April 9, 1849;
First published: in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 268, April 9, 1849.

Not the smallest news item from anywhere, especially since the Breslau newspapers, generally the best informed, did not arrive today because of the recent holiday.

From Komorn the Wiener Zeitung officially reports the following unenlightening fact:

“In connection with the operations and events at Komorn announced on April 3, we learn from the latest reports:
"Closer encirclement began on April 2; the remaining heavy guns were brought into No. 8 battery during the night of April 1, and at daybreak the 24-pounders of this very aptly sited battery began firing hot shots against the old fortress. The enemy returned the fire only moderately from the Palatine line, the old fortress, and the bridgehead.”

Now even the Constitutionelles Blatt aus Böhmen has to admit that the army on the Theiss has been substantially decimated by fever:

“The incidence of sickness in the flooded areas on the Theiss is said to be enormous.”

The same paper reports “From the Drava, March 30” that in the Banat things are also beginning to take a disagreeable turn for Austria. Listen to the lamentations of the royal imperial martial-law correspondent on this most unwelcome “concurrence” of circumstances:

“The terrain of operations has special difficulties; moreover, among the border troops the army has also less experienced ranks and has been weakened by garrisoning, The size of the area of Hungary and Transylvania should likewise be considered and taken into account. The rebels, on the other hand, are more concentrated and are pushing towards the Banat. Hence, the imperial Serbian corps of Major-General Todorovich, which, as I reported last time, had marched from the area of Theresiopel towards Kikinda, is in serious trouble, or even — if the news about Karlowitz is not misleading — dispersed.
"The siege corps at Peterwardein has received 3 battalions as reinforcements, and is working hard on the entrenchments. When (!) Komorn is taken (!) a considerable number of troops will no doubt be moved to this point, for next to Transylvania no area needs reinforcements more urgently than this one, not only because of the fortress but because of the probability of enemy pressure. The mood in the Voivodina is very black, not among the lower orders, but in the middle and upper strata of society. The extent to which this makes itself felt in the Mitrowic Odbor [202] and the atmosphere there may be judged by the fact that Lieutenant-Colonel Puffer, who when a captain distinguished himself by his resolution during the well-known outrage in Reichenberg, does not think it advisable for him as a German to take up the regimental command of the Peterwardein regiment, although a section of the regiment has petitioned for his appointment as colonel.”

In conclusion, here is the deeply affecting distress call of a Vienna correspondent of the same paper who has at last seen a glimmer of light and already has an inkling of what is going on:

“Now blows are coming thick and fast from Hungary! What used to be whispered here in the night can now be read in plain words in the evening edition of the Wiener Zeitung: the valiant Puchner has been pushed into Wallachia — he does not even appear to have kept his entire corps together, otherwise he would surely have been able to hold his ground at the Roterturm Pass. Where are our friends, the Russians? And why do our troops not push into Transylvania from Hungary? The areas on the Theiss are said to be completely impassable, but how is it that the Magyars find a way through the areas on the Theiss and across it? In Szegedin bread is very dear and in Komorn it is said to be very had — such is the pass we have come to — but Honveds are still to be had cheaply, in mates, and, it appears, of tolerable quality. ‘Oh, Lord in Heaven, behold!’ If this goes on, then — ah well, we must not prophesy!”

This is “the Austria of old,
For feats and victories oft extolled!”