Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung April 1849

From the Theatre of War
Peasant War in The Bukovina

Source: MECW Volume 9, p. 288;
Written: by Engels about April 17, 1849;
First published: in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 275, April 18, 1849.

The Magyars have suddenly broken off the fighting at Pest and marched off to Waitzen, leaving their outposts behind. Waitzen is situated north of Pest on the Danube just at the corner where it leaves the eastern direction and turns south. Waitzen, the key to the road to Komorn, has been taken by the Hungarians. Jellachich is on the right bank of the Danube at Szent Endré!

This news was known in Vienna on the 13th at midday and had a “very depressing effect”. As early as the 14th Welden was supposed to go to the army fighting in Hungary.

Further details on this new turn in the fighting and this strategically most important success of the Hungarians are still lacking. Hence we cannot know whether the Hungarian army is really marching to Komorn to relieve it or whether it simply wants to entice the imperial troops from their fortified positions at Pest and engage them in battle in the open field without exposing Pest to the danger of bombardment.

The rest of the news is contradictory to the highest degree. Nothing at all is known either about the position of the Magyar army in the recent battles at Pest, or about the details of the battle itself. Windischgrätz is not allowing anybody to leave the Pest lines. We know only that nothing happened on the 8th (Easter Sunday) except some outpost skirmishes. Nor were any guns fired on the 9th. This was the day when the Magyar main force appears to have started for Waitzen. Two Austrian brigades marched off in the same direction.

South of Pest, at Raczkeve, the Magyars under Vetter are said to have attempted to throw a bridge over the Danube, but to have been prevented from doing so.

Otherwise the most fantastic and contradictory rumours are circulating. The fear of the Black-and-Yellows makes Bem arrive from Transylvania with 20,000 men and operate against Kalocsa on the Danube (on the border of the Bacska), so as to go from there to the right bank and to advance in the rear of the Austrians. In this area, by the way, Perczel is taking one important position after another from the Serbs. Peterwardein, recently besieged, is now the main support point of his operations.

Another rumour born of the Austrians’ fear makes Görgey stand already at Bruck on the Leitha, a few hours’ march from Vienna!

Incidentally, the Serb Voivodina has at last been promised by the Government that it shall join the ranks of the independent crown lands. It may be doubted whether this will tend to make the mood of the Serbs — now moving daily further towards unity with the Magyars — more favourable towards the Government. The Serbs no longer trust a Government which has so often tried to trick them. The correspondent of the Constitutionelles Blatt aus Böhmen writes from the Drava:

“Perhaps I shall soon write to you while in flight!”

From Transylvania not a word. Just as little news from Galicia concerning the alleged entry of the Russians. On the other hand the long lost nation of the Huzuls[230] has reappeared in the Bukovina, with its peasant king, Kobylica, at its head. Here, in this most remote corner of the united monarchy, the struggle is developing between peasants and nobility which the implementation of the imposed redemption laws[231] is bound to produce everywhere in Austria. Kobylica is directly allied with the Magyars — just listen to the Bucovina (which appears in Czernowitz) of April 4 on this subject:

“The notorious Kobylica with his dangerous agent Birla Mironiuk has reappeared in the mountains among the (Ruthenian[232]) Huzuls and is deluding the villages with dangerous misrepresentations; he is egging them on to trespass on the baronial woods and pastures and maintain a rebellious attitude: he would soon come with a Hungarian army to help them. The excitement this has induced has taken on a dubious character particularly in the neighbourhood of Berhometh, hence the District Office has seen fit to dispatch a complete company to this area and to take other energetic measures. In accordance with the instructions of the local District Office the company has been stationed in and around Berhometh. District Commissioner Wex is in charge of the official action which is to comprise, first, prevention of trespass and damage to baronial woods and fenced pastures in the area, questioning and punishing the guilty severely, the instruction and surveillance of the villages, the harshest and most relentless treatment of all disturbers of the peace and agitators, keeping an eye and a tight rein on rural people and capturing Kobylica and his agent Birla Mironiuk. — These strong measures should at last bring about the definitive pacification of the Ruthenian mountain villages.”

Good luck to the Austrian peasant war!