Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung April 1849

From the Theatre of War

Source: MECW Volume 9, p. 292;
Written: by Engels on April 18, 1849;
First published: in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 276, April 19, 1849.

The Hungarians’ plan of operations after Windischgrätz was pushed back by them to the Danube is now fairly clear. While Dembinski kept the Austrian centre under Schlick “fully occupied” (Augsburg Allgemeine Zeitung), Görgey with greatly increased strength turned on the imperial army’s left wing at Waitzen, commanded by Windischgrätz himself, beat him back and took Waitzen. Almost every report maintains complete silence about what has become of Jellachich and the Austrian right wing. As we wrote already yesterday, one report makes him stationed at Szent Endré, between Ofen and Waitzen on the right bank of the Danube. This is today confirmed directly from Pest. He can only have marched there to cover the threatened left wing by abandoning his earlier position on the right wing. Besides the great strength of the Hungarians at Waitzen, the fact that the Croats can no longer be brought into the firing line by the “chivalrous” Ban and show a daily growing respect for the Hungarian hussars, may perhaps explain this otherwise quite inexplicable movement. At the same time, they have been plundering and raping in Pest and its neighbourhood with such gusto that the Croat Don Quixote felt compelled to have a number of those keenest on plundering shot summarily. Also we are still hearing of desertions among the Croats. Evidently, this most charming of all the corps gathered at Pest can therefore only be used as a reserve. This is also confirmed in a Vienna report of the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, according to which 5,000 to 6,000 Croats are said to have been sent to Pest to serve as a reserve.

On the other hand, the Magyars have by no means kept their left wing, facing the Austrian right wing, inactive. It is beyond doubt that they have already crossed the Danube at least at one point below Pest, and that without meeting with any significant resistance, since all the imperial troops of this area have marched to Pest. Vetter, who is here in command (he was previously a major in the 37th imperial infantry regiment), is operating against Pentele and Földvar, and is according to consistent rumours already on the march to Stuhlweissenburg. In the Bacska Batthyány’s and Perczel’s main force seems also to be pressing ahead against the Danube and Drava, so as to cut off Nugeni and the Serbs from direct contact with the Austrian main army, or to force Nugent to make a hurried retreat to Esseg or Agram.

Thus, Windischgrätz is threatened on all sides and outflanked both on the left and the right. Tonight we may receive definite information that Görgey is at Gran and Vetter at Stuhlweissenburg. God knows what will become of the imperial troops when both their lines of retreat are thus cut off.

Now that the Magyars have had time to train, the imperial side speaks with one voice of how they fight. The Ost-Deutsche Post says:

“The fanaticism of our opponents and the money which is apparently at their disposal, attract to them masses where we only have ranks. Like an impetuous mountain torrent they break through the strong wall facing them.”

And the Augsburg Allgemeine Zeitung:

“The hussars fight with a bravery which makes any advance of the imperial army impossible without considerable reinforcements. These Magyars are no Piedmontese (!), even Radetzky’s entire army would find it hard going here.”

The Black-and-Yellows in Pest, on the other hand, are completely demoralised. They flee from Pest in droves, some to Ofen, others in the direction of Gran or even so far as Raab.

Benedek has arrived in Vienna. He is to command the advance guard of Hammerstein’s corps which, according to the Austrian martial-law boasts, is already in Kaschau! Haynau’s corps will not go to Hungary. We said at once that it could not be spared in Italy.

Herr Welden, remembered for his incendiarism, the man who wanted to take Komorn by storm like an Italian village, is now to help the imperial troops in their predicament. He has departed for the theatre of war.

In the Banat and in the Bacska things are likewise daily getting worse for the imperial side. The Südslavische Zeitung bewails the fall of Szent Thomas, christened Srbobran (Serb Bulwark) by the Serbs as the scene of their hero’ ic deeds of last year. The Bacska has been abandoned altogether by the imperial troops; Nugent is on the defensive beyond the Danube and will be glad if he can keep Syrmien. The mood of the Serbs is becoming more and more “sinister”; if they formerly hated the Magyars, now this has given place to hatred of the Germans. The bad turn the war has taken is directly ascribed to a deliberate, planned abandonment of the Serbs by the Austrian officers. Knicanin is again expected with Serb auxiliaries; according to others the well-known Vucic is to command them. Moreover, the Austrian Government has at last recalled Rukavina and pensioned him off, and thus initiated a series of concessions to the Serbs.

Not a word from Transylvania. Yesterday the Kölnische Zeitung had the Russians and Puchner march in again. The news came from the Bukurester Zeitung, it passed from there into the Wiener Zeitung and finally into the Kölnische. But it merely gave the positions which Puchner and the Russians occupied after the capture of Hermannstadt by Bem, before they fled through the Roterturm Pass. The Kölnische Zeitung could have known that as well as we; but in its pleasure at seeing the imperial troops at last advance again at any point, it fell into the trap and promptly reprinted this ardent news, deliberately put into the Wiener Zeitung to confuse the reader. That is how history is made.