Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung May 1849

From the Theatre of War

Source: MECW Volume 9, p. 390;
Written: by Engels on May 2, 1849;
First published: in the special supplement to the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 288, March 3, 1849.

Cologne, evening of May 2. The Hungarians are taking advantage of the Austrians’ hasty retreat and confusion to make a rapid advance on Vienna, on the one hand, and, on the other, to occupy the whole of Upper Hungary up to the Jablunka Pass and the Moravian border. The Slovakian mountain towns are in their hands, and from there they have advanced to the Jablunka Pass. The Pass itself seems to have been taken by them already, for the thunder of artillery has been heard in Neutitschein (near Teschen), indicating that fighting has already occurred on this side of the Carpathians.

As a result of this swift operation Slovakia has been entirely cleared of imperial troops, the Hungarians thereby gaining an area of 300-350 square miles, with more than 2 million inhabitants providing a source of fresh recruits. The Slovaks, who were formerly in part indifferent, in part even anti-Magyar, are now definitely on the side of the Magyars, since the latter have abolished the feudal burdens of the Slovak peasants and made a number of concessions with regard to language and nationality.

It is expected that the Magyars will cross the Little Carpathians (border range between Moravia and Hungary) and direct the spearhead of their attack against Olmütz. By dispatching a corps over the Jablunka they could also destroy the railway line to Vienna, thus considerably delaying the Russians’ march on that city. Almost all regular troops have been withdrawn from the whole of Moravia; the national guard has replaced them everywhere.

On the other flank, the Magyars are advancing directly on Vienna and have, according to our Breslau correspondent, already occupied Raab. The Austrian headquarters has been transferred to Oedenburg, and the commissariat from Pressburg to Hainburg (6 miles from Vienna). Here the Austrians are expected to make another stand. Indeed, this position, between the Danube and Neusiedler Lake and behind the Leitha, is the only possible one remaining before Vienna.

The line along which the Austrians are attempting to rally their forces for a fresh battle is as follows: the right wing is concentrated around Oedenburg, from the southern tip of Neusiedler Lake nearly up to Güns and the Styrian mountains which it touches on the right; the centre stretches from the northern tip of Neusiedler Lake up to the Danube near Hainburg, blocking the road to Vienna; the left wing, Wohlgemuth’s corps, on the other side of the Danube near Pressburg, is in a position it cannot possibly hold and from which it will certainly have to withdraw across the River March. As a result the war will be carried into the territory of Austria itself, and Kossuth will continue to wage it there as well. Kossuth has declared his intention of forestalling the Russians and being in Vienna on May 10. And Kossuth has shown that he knows how to keep his word. He wanted to be in Pest on April 24 and he entered it on that very day.

There is complete obscurity about what has happened to Jellachich. Some sources state that he is already near Mohacs, not far from the Slavonian border (an impossibility since the distance from Pest to Mohacs is much too great). According to other rumours, from black-and-yellow sources, he has again taken up his position on the Rakos plain [308] near Pest. The latter is, of course, even less true than the former.

From the south no direct confirmation has as yet been received of the capture of Semlin by the Magyars. The rest of the news from this area is contradictory; so is that about the arrival of the Russians. All that is certain is that the Russian troops encamped on the Cracow border have been concentrated and are on the point of marching into Austria.