The Campaign for the German Imperial Constitution, Frederick Engels 1850

III. The Palatinate

From Karlsruhe we went to the Palatinate [Marx and Engels left Karlsruhe for the Palatinate on May 24, 1849.–Ed] first stopping at Speyer where d'Ester and the Provisional Government were said to be. They had, however, already left for Kaiserslautern, where the government finally took up its seat at what it considered to be the "strategically best located point in the Palatinate". In its stead we found Willich and his volunteers in Speyer. With a corps of a few hundred men he was holding in check the garrisons of Landau and Germersheim, altogether over 4,000 men, cutting their lines of supply and harassing them in every possible way. That very day he had attacked two companies of the Germersheim garrison with about eighty riflemen and driven them back into the fortress without firing a single shot. The next day we accompanied Willich to Kaiserslautern where we met d'Ester, the Provisional Government, and the very flower of German democracy. Here also there could, of course, be no question of official participation in the movement, which was quite alien to our party. So after a few days we went back to Bingen, were arrested on the way, in the company of several friends, by Hessian troops, on suspicion of being implicated in the uprising, transported to Darmstadt and from there to Frankfurt, where we were finally set free.

Shortly after this we left Bingen and Marx went with a mandate from the Democratic Central Committee to Paris, where a crucial event was about to take place, as representative of the German revolutionary party to the French social-democrats.[164] I returned to Kaiserslautern to live there for the time being as a simple political refugee and perhaps later, should a suitable opportunity offer itself, take up at the outbreak of fighting the only position that the Neue Rheinische Zeitung could take up in this movement: that of soldier.

Anyone who has seen the Palatinate even once will understand that in this wine-producing and wine-loving province any movement inevitably assumes a most cheerful character. The ponderous, pedantic, Old-Bavarian beer-souls had at long last been shaken off and merry Palatinate wine-bibbers appointed in their place. One had finally seen the last of that pompous pettifoggery practised by the Bavarian police which was so delightfully parodied in the otherwise dull pages of the Fliegende Blätter and which lay more heavily than anything else on the hearts of the gay people of the Palatinate. The first revolutionary act of the people of the Palatinate was to restore the freedom of the taverns; the entire Palatinate was transformed into one enormous pot-house and the quantities of strong drink which were consumed "in the name of the people of the Palatinate" during those six weeks were beyond all calculation. Even though active participation in the movement in the Palatinate was nowhere near as widespread as in Baden, and even though there were many reactionary districts here, the entire population was as one in this general wine-bibbing and even the most reactionary philistine and peasant was carried along on the general wave of merriment.

One did not need an especially penetrating glance to recognise how bitterly the Prussian army was to disillusion these cheerful Palatinate souls in a few weeks' time. And yet the number of people in the Palatinate who did not revel in the most carefree manner could be counted on one's fingers. Scarcely anyone believed that the Prussians would come, but everyone was quite sure that if they did come they would be thrown out again with the greatest of ease. There was no trace here of that staunch gloominess whose motto "Ernst ist der Mann"[Seriousness above all things. –Ed] is engraved on the brow of every Baden people's militia officer and which still did not prevent all those wonderful things happening which I shall have to relate presently - that respectable solemnity which the philistine character of the movement in Baden had impressed on the majority of its participants. In the Palatinate people were only "serious" by the way. Here "enthusiasm" and "seriousness" only served to gloss over the universal jollity. But people were always "serious" and "enthusiastic" enough to believe themselves invincible before any power in the world, and especially the Prussian army; and if in the quiet hours of reflection a faint doubt raised its head, it was brushed aside with the irrefutable argument that even if it were true, one still should not say it. The longer the movement dragged on and the more undeniable and massive the concentration of Prussian battalions between Saarbrucken and Kreuznach, the more frequent became these doubts, and the more vehement the bluster, precisely among the doubters and the timid, about the invincibility of a "people enraptured with its freedom", as the people of the Palatinate were called. This bluster soon grew into a regular soporific system which, encouraged only too readily by the government, had the effect of relaxing all work on defence measures and exposing everyone who opposed it to the danger of arrest as a reactionary.

This carefree attitude, this bluster about "enthusiasm" carrying all before it, in view of its minute material resources and the tiny corner of land where it asserted itself, provided the comic side of the Palatinate "uprising", and gave the handful of people whose advanced views and independent position permitted a detached judgment more than enough cause for hilarity.

The whole outward appearance of the movement in the Palatinate was cheerful, carefree and spontaneous. Whereas in Baden every newly appointed second lieutenant, in the regular army or the people's militia, laced himself into a heavy uniform and paraded with silver epaulettes which later, on the day of the battle, immediately found their way into his pockets, people in the Palatinate were much more sensible. As soon as the great heat of the first days of June made itself felt all the worsted coats, waistcoats and cravats disappeared to make way for a light tunic. It seemed as if all the old unsociable constraints had been thrown off along with the old bureaucracy. People dressed in a completely free-and-easy fashion, dictated solely by comfort and the season of the year; and together with differentiation in clothing disappeared in a moment every other differentiation in social intercourse. All social classes came together in the same public places and in this unrestrained intercourse a socialist dreamer would have glimpsed the dawn of universal brotherhood.

As the Palatinate, so its Provisional Government. It consisted almost exclusively of genial wine-bibbers, who were never so astonished as when they suddenly found themselves having to be the Provisional Government of their Bacchus-beloved fatherland. And yet there is no denying that these laughing regents conducted themselves better and accomplished relatively more than their Baden neighbours under the leadership of the "staunch-minded" Brentano. They were at least well-intentioned and in spite of their carousing had a more sober understanding than the philistine-serious gentlemen in Karlsruhe; and hardly any of them became angry if one laughed at their easy-going fashion of making revolution and their impotent little decrees.

The Provisional Government of the Palatinate could not get anything done as long as it was left in the lurch by the Baden government. And it completely fulfilled its obligations towards Baden. It sent envoy after envoy and made one concession after another solely in order to come to an understanding, but all in vain. Herr Brentano was obdurate.

While the Baden government found everything ready at hand, the Palatinate government found nothing. It had no money, no weapons, a number of reactionary districts and two enemy fortresses on its territory. France at once banned the export of arms to Baden and the Palatinate, and all arms dispatched thither were impounded by Prussia and Hesse. The government of the Palatinate sent agents forthwith to France and Belgium to buy up arms and send them back; the arms were purchased but they never arrived. The government can be reproached with not proceeding with sufficient energy in the matter and in particular with failing to organise the smuggling in of rifles through the large number of contrabandists along the frontier; the greater blame, however, lies with its agents, who acted very negligently and in part allowed themselves to be fobbed off with empty promises instead of getting the French arms at least as far as Saargemund and Lauterburg.

As far as funds were concerned, not much could be done with bank-notes in the little Palatinate. When the government found itself in pecuniary embarrassment it at least had the courage to take refuge in a forced loan on a progressive, albeit gently graduated, scale.

The only reproaches which can be made against the Palatinate government are that in its feeling of impotence it allowed itself to be too much infected by the universal light-heartedness and the related illusions about its own security; and that therefore, instead of energetically setting in motion the admittedly limited means of defending the state, it preferred to rely on the victory of the Montagne in Paris, the taking of Vienna by the Hungarians or even on actual miracles which were to happen somewhere or other to save the Palatinate –uprisings in the Prussian army, etc. Hence the remissness in procuring arms in a country where even a thousand serviceable muskets more or less would have made an infinite amount of difference and where finally, on the day the Prussians marched in, the first and last consignment of forty rifles arrived from abroad, namely from Switzerland. Hence the frivolous selection of civil and military commissaries, who consisted mainly of the most incompetent and confused dreamers, and the retention of so many old officials and of all the judges. Hence finally the neglect of all the means, even those immediately at hand, of harassing and perhaps taking Landau. To this question I shall return later.

Behind the Provisional Government stood d'Ester, like a sort of secret General Secretary or, as Herr Brentano put it, like a "red camarilla which surrounded the moderate government of Kaiserslautern". Moreover, this "red camarilla" included other German democrats too, in particular Dresden refugees. In d'Ester the Palatinate regents found that broad administrative vision which they lacked, together with a revolutionary understanding which impressed them because it always confined itself to what was immediately at hand, to that which was unquestionably practicable, and was therefore never at a loss for detailed measures. Because of this d'Ester acquired a significant influence and the unconditional confidence of the government. If even he at times took the movement too seriously and thought for example that he could achieve something worthwhile through the introduction of his for the moment totally unsuitable municipal regulations, it is none the less certain that d'Ester impelled the Provisional Government to each comparatively vigorous step and in particular always had appropriate solutions at hand when it came to conflicts over details.

If in Rhenish Prussia reactionary and revolutionary classes stood facing each other from the very outset and if in Baden a class which was initially in raptures about the movement, the petty bourgeoisie, gradually allowed itself at the approach of danger to be won over first into indifference and later into hostility towards the movement it itself had provoked, in the Palatinate it was not so much particular classes of the population as particular districts which, governed by local interests, declared themselves against the movement, some from the first and others little by little. Certainly the townspeople of Speyer were reactionary from the start; in Kaiserslautern, Neustadt, Zweibrucken, etc., they became so with the passage of time; but the main strength of the reactionary party was to be found in agricultural districts spread over the whole of the Palatinate. This confused configuration of the parties could only have been eliminated by one measure: a direct attack on the private property invested in mortgages and mortgage-usury, in favour of the debt-ridden peasants who had been sucked dry by the usurers. But this single measure, which would immediately have given the whole of the rural population a stake in the uprising, presupposes a much larger territory and much more developed social conditions in the towns than is the case in the Palatinate. It was only feasible at the beginning of the insurrection, simultaneously with an extension of the uprising to the Moselle and the Eifel, where the same conditions obtain on the land and find their complement in the industrial development of the Rhenish towns. And the movement was directed outwards just as little in the Palatinate as it was in Baden.

Under these conditions the government had only limited means of combating the reactionary districts: isolated military expeditions into the refractory villages, arrests, especially of the Catholic priests, who placed themselves at the head of the resistance, and so on; appointment of energetic civil and military commissaries, and last of all propaganda. The expeditions, mostly of a very comical nature, only had a momentary effect, the propaganda none at all, and the commissaries mostly committed blunder upon blunder in their pompous ineptitude or confined themselves to the consumption of vast quantities of Palatinate wine and the inevitable bluster in the taverns.

Amongst the propagandists, the commissaries and the officials of the central administration, the democrats, of whom even more had gathered in the Palatinate than in Baden, played a very considerable role. Here, in addition to the refugees from Dresden and from Rhenish Prussia, a number of more or less enthusiastic "men of the people" had turned up to consecrate themselves to the service of the fatherland. The government of the Palatinate, which unlike its Karlsruhe counterpart understood instinctively that the resources of the Palatinate alone were not equal to the demands even of this movement, received them gladly. It was impossible to spend more than two hours in the Palatinate without being offered a dozen of the most varied and on the whole very honourable posts. The democrats, who saw in the Palatinate-Baden movement not a local uprising which was becoming daily more local and more insignificant, but the glorious dawn of the glorious uprising of all Germany's democrats, and who everywhere in the movement saw their more or less petty bourgeois tendency prevailing, fell over themselves to accept these offers. At the same time, however, each felt he owed it to himself only to accept a post which satisfied his naturally very lofty pretensions of the part he should play in an all-German movement. At first this was possible. Whoever came along was at once put in charge of an office or made a government commissary, a major or a lieutenant-colonel. Little by little, however, the number of rivals increased, the positions became fewer and there started a petty, philistine place-hunting which presented the disinterested spectator with a highly diverting spectacle. I imagine I do not have to underline the fact that in this strange hotchpotch of industry and confusion, importunacy and incompetence which the Neue Rheinische Zeitung has so often had occasion to wonder at among the German democrats, the officials and propagandists of the Palatinate faithfully mirrored the whole unpleasant medley.

As a matter of course I also was offered any number of civil and military positions, positions which in a proletarian movement I would not have hesitated for a moment to accept. As things were, I turned them all down. The only thing I agreed to was to write some agitational articles for a small paper of which the Provisional Government had large quantities distributed in the Palatinate. I knew that this too would come to nothing, but I finally accepted the offer upon the urgent request of d'Ester and several members of the government in order at least to demonstrate my good will. Since I naturally felt few constraints, exception was taken to the very second article I wrote because it was too "inflammatory"; I wasted no words, took the article back, tore it up in d'Ester's presence and that was the end of the matter.

The best of the foreign democrats in the Palatinate were, incidentally, those who had come fresh from the struggle in their home provinces: the Saxons and the Rhenish Prussians. The handful of Saxons were mostly employed in the central offices, where they worked hard and distinguished themselves by their administrative knowledge, their calm, clear understanding and their lack of any pretensions or illusions. The Rhinelanders, mostly workers, joined the army en masse; the few who initially worked in the offices later also took up the musket.

In the offices of the central administration in the Fruchthalle[165] at Kaiserslautern there was a very easy-going atmosphere. What with the general laisser aller, the complete lack of any form of active intervention in the movement and the uncommonly large number of officials, there was on the whole little to do. It was a matter of hardly more than the day-to-day business of administration, and this was disposed of tant bien que mal. Unless a courier arrived, some patriotic citizen came with a profound proposal concerning the salvation of the fatherland, some peasant brought a complaint or some village sent a deputatlon, most of the offices had nothing to do. People yawned and chatted, told anecdotes and made bad jokes and strategic plans and went from one office to another trying as well as they could to kill time. The main topics of conversation were naturally the political events of the day, about which the most contradictory rumours were circulating. The intelligence service was greatly neglected. The old post-office officials had almost without exception stayed at their posts and were needless to say very unreliable. Alongside them a "field-post" was set up, superintended by the Palatinate Chevaulegers[166] who had come over to our side. The commandants and the commissaries of the border areas paid not the slightest heed to what was happening on the other side of the border. The government took only the Frankfurter Journal and the Karlsruher Zeitung and I still remember with delight the astonishment it gave rise to when I discovered in the officers' club, in an issue of the Kolnische Zeitung which had arrived several days before, the news of the concentration of 27 Prussian battalions, 9 batteries and 9 regiments of cavalry, together with their exact location between Saarbrucken and Kreuznach.

At last I come to the main point, the military organisation. About three thousand Palatinate soldiers from the Bavarian army had defected with bag and baggage. At the same time a number of volunteers, from the Palatinate and elsewhere, had placed themselves under arms. In addition to that the Provisional Government issued a decree calling up the first age group, in the first instance all unmarried men between the ages of eighteen and thirty. This call-up, however, only took place on paper, owing partly to the incompetence and negligence of the military commissaries, partly to the lack of arms and partly to the indolence of the government itself. Wherever the lack of arms was the main obstacle to the whole defence, as it was in the Palatinate, every means had to be used to muster arms. If none were forthcoming from abroad, then it was necessary to fetch out every musket, every rifle and every sporting-gun which could be unearthed in the Palatinate and place them in the hands of the active fighters. However, there were not only large numbers of private weapons at hand, but on top of that at least another 1,500 to 2,000 rifles, not counting carbines, in the hands of the various civic militia units. One could at least have demanded the handing over of private arms and rifles in the hands of those civic militiamen who were not obliged to join the first call-up and did not intend to volunteer. But nothing of the sort happened. After much insistence a resolution along these lines was finally adopted regarding the arms held by the civic militia, but never put into effect the Kaiserslautern civic militia over three hundred philistines strong, paraded at the Fruchthalle every day in uniform, shouldering their arms, and the Prussians, when they marched in, had the pleasure of disarming these gentlemen. And thus it was everywhere.

In the official newspaper an appeal was issued to the forestry officials and the keepers of the woods, asking them to report to Kaiserslautern in order to form rifle corps; of these it was the forestry officials who did not turn up.

Throughout the whole land scythes were forged, or at least a call went out to that effect; a few scythes were actually produced. In the Rhenish Hessian corps at Kirchheimbolanden I saw several casks of scythe-blades being loaded and sent to Kaiserslautern. The journey takes roughly seven to eight hours; four days later the government was forced to abandon Kaiserslautern to the Prussians and the scythes had still not arrived. If the scythes had been given to those civic militiamen not yet mobilised, the so-called second age group, as compensation for giving up their guns, then the affair would have made sense; instead of this the lazy philistines kept their percussion-guns and the young recruits were expected to march against the Prussian cannon and needle-muskets with scythes.

While there was a general lack of fire-arms, there was by contrast a just as remarkable profusion of cavalry sabres; those who could not lay hands on a gun strapped on all the more eagerly a clattering broadsword, believing that by merely so doing they stamped themselves as officers. Precisely in Kaiserslautern these self-stamped officers were too numerous to count and the streets rang day and night to the clatter of their fearful weapons. It was the students in particular who by this new manner of intimidating the enemy and by their pretension of forming an academic legion entirely of cavalry on foot rendered great service for the saving of the fatherland.

In addition there was half a squadron of defected Chevaulegers at hand; however, they were so scattered due to their work for the field-post, etc., that they never came to form a special combat corps. The artillery, under the command of "Lieutenant-Colonel" Anneke, consisted of a few three-pounders whose horses I do not recall having ever seen, and a number of mortars. Lying in front of the Fruchthalle at Kaiserslautern was the most beautiful collection of old iron cannon-barrels one could ever wish to see. Needless to say, most of them remained lying there unused. The two biggest were laid on colossal home-made gun-carriages and carried off. The Baden government finally sold the Palatinate a shot-out six-pound battery together with some ammunition; but without a team of horses, a crew of sufficient ammunition. The ammunition was as far as possible manufactured; the team of horses and riders was made up tant bien que mal with requisitioned peasants and horses; for the crew a few old Bavarian artillerymen were gathered together to train men in the ponderous and complicated Bavarian drill.

The top leadership of military affairs was in the worst hands. Herr Reichardt, who had taken over the military department in the Provisional Government, was active, but lacked vigour and professional knowledge. The first commander-in-chief of the military forces of the Palatinate, the enterprising Fenner von Fenneberg, was soon dismissed on account of his ambiguous conduct; he was temporarily replaced by Raquilliet, a Polish officer. At last it was learnt that Mieroslawski was to take over the supreme command of Baden and the Palatinate and that the command of the troops of the Palatinate was to be entrusted to "General" Sznayde, also a Pole.

General Sznayde arrived. He was a small, fat man, who looked more like an elderly bon vivant than a "Menelaus, caller to battle"." General Sznayde took over the command with a great deal of gravity. He had a report made on the state of affairs and at once issued a whole series of orders of the day. Most of these orders related to uniform (tunics and marks of rank for officers – tricolour armbands or sashes), or appeals to veteran cavalrymen and riflemen to come forward as volunteers (appeals which had already been made ten times without success) and things of a similar nature. He himself set a good example by immediately procuring a hussar tunic with tricolour braid, in order to inspire the army with respect. The really practical and important things in his orders of the day were merely repetitions of orders long since issued and proposals already made earlier by the handful of good officers present, but never carried out, and which only now, through the authority of a commanding general, could b be put into effect. As for the rest, "General" Sznayde placed his trust in God and Mieroslawski and dedicated himself to the pleasures of the table, the only reasonable thing that a so totally incompetent individual could do.

Amongst the other officers in Kaiserslautern was the uniquely capable Techow, the same Techow who as a Prussian first lieutenant with Natzmer and gave the Berlin arsenal over to the people after having taken it by storm [167] and, sentenced to fifteen years detention in a fortress, escaped from Magdeburg. Techow, chief of the Palatinate general staff, proved in all things to be knowledgeable, circumspect and calm, perhaps a little too calm to be trusted to make the rapid decisions on which everything often depends on the battlefield. "Lieutenant-Colonel" Anneke proved to he incompetent and indolent in organising the artillery, though he rendered good services in the ordnance shops. At Ubstadt he won no laurels as commander-in-chief and from Rastatt, where Mieroslawski had put him in charge of the materials for the siege, he escaped across the Rhine under strange circumstances already before the investment, leaving his horses behind.

There was not much to be said for the officers in the various districts either. A number of Poles had appeared, some in advance of Sznayde and some with him. As the best of the Polish emigres were already in Hungary, one may suspect that these Polish officers were a pretty mixed bunch. Most of them made haste to obtain an appropriate number of saddle-horses and give out a few orders, paying only scanty attention to their execution. They tended to lord it over people and wanted to treat the peasants of the Palatinate like cringing Polish serfs. They were not familiar with the country, the language or the command, and hence accomplished little or nothing at all as military commissaries, i.e. organisers of battalions. In the course of the campaign they soon strayed into Sznayde's headquarters and shortly afterwards, when Sznayde was assailed and roughly handled by his soldiers, disappeared altogether. The better ones among them arrived too late to be able to organise anything.

There was not much talent of any use among the German officers either. The Rhenish Hessian corps, though it included elements who could have developed militarily, was under the leadership of a certain Hausner, a completely useless man, and under the even more lamentable moral and political influence of the two heroes Zitz and Bamberger, who later in Karlsruhe extricated themselves so successfully from the situation. In the Palatinate hinterland a former Prussian officer, Schimmelpfennig, organised a corps.

The only two officers who had already distinguished themselves in active service before the Prussian invasion were Willich and Blenker.

With a small corps of volunteers Willich took over the observation and later the siege of Landau and Germersheim. A company of students, a company of workers who had lived with him in Besancon, three weak companies of gymnasts (from Landau, Nerrstadt and Kaiserlautern), two companies formed from volunteers from the surrounding villages and lastly a company of Rhenish Prussians armed with scythes, most of them fugitives from the Prum and Elberfeld uprisings, gradually mustered under his command. In the end they amounted to between 700 and 800 men, certainly the most reliable soldiers in the whole Palatinate; most of the N.C.O.s had seen service and some of them had been familiarised in Algeria with guerrilla warfare.[168] With this scanty force Willich took up a position halfway between Landau and Germersheim, organised the civic militia in the villages, using them to guard the roads and do outpost duty, beat back all the sorties from the two fortresses in spite of the superior forces, in particular of the Germersheim garrison, blockaded Landau so effectively that almost all its supplies were intercepted, cut off its water-supplies, dammed up the Queich so that all the fortress cellars were flooded, and yet there was a lack of drinking-water, and harassed the garrison every night with patrols which not only cleared out the abandoned outworks and auctioned the guardroom stoves they found there for five guilders each, but also pushed forward even into the fortress trenches and frequently caused the garrison to open fire on a corporal and two men with a cannonade of twenty-four-pounders which was as intense as it was harmless. This was by far the most brilliant period during the existence of Willich's volunteer corps. If only a few howitzers had been at his disposal at that time, or even only field-guns, according to the reports of the spies who daily went in and out of Landau, the fortress, with its demoralised, weak garrison and its rebellious inhabitants, would have been taken in a few days. Even without artillery a continuation of the siege would have compelled capitulation in a week. In Kaiserslautern were two seven-pound howitzers, good enough to set fire to a few houses in Landau during the night. Had they been on the spot, then the unheard of, the taking of a fortress like Landau with a few field-guns, would have become a probability. Every day I preached to the general staff in Kaiserslautern the necessity of at least making the attempt. To no avail. One of the howitzers stayed in Kaiserslautern and the other found its way to Homburg, where it almost fell into the hands of the Prussians. Both came over the Rhine without having fired a shot.

"Colonel" Blenker, however, distinguished himself even more than Willich. "Colonel" Blenker, a former travelling salesman for a wine-firm, who had been in Greece as a philhellenist and later set himself up as a wine-merchant in Worms, can in any case be numbered among the most outstanding military personalities of the whole glorious campaign. Always on horseback, surrounded by a numerous staff, big, strong, with a defiant face, an impressive Hecker-type beard, a stentorian voice and all the other characteristics that go to make up a South German "man of the people", and among which, as everybody knows, intelligence does not exactly feature, "Colonel" Blenker gave the impression of a man at the mere sight of whom Napoleon would have to sneak away, a man worthy to figure in that refrain with which we opened these accounts. "Colonel" Blenker felt he had it in himself to overthrow the German princes even without "Hecker, Struve, Zitz and Blum" and immediately set about the task. It was his intention to fight the war not as a soldier but as a travelling wine-salesman, and to this end he resolved to conquer Landau. Willich was not yet there at that time. Blenker got together everything at hand in the Palatinate, both regular troops and people's militia, organised foot-soldiers, cavalry and artillery that had all been jumbled up together, and moved off in the direction of Landau. A council of war was held in front of the fortress, the assault columns formed up and the position of the artillery fixed. The artillery, however, consisted of a few mortars whose calibre varied from 1/2 lb. to 1 3/8 lb., and was brought up on a hay-cart which at the same time served to carry the ammunition. The ammunition for these various mortars consisted of one, I repeat one, 24 lb. cannon-ball; there was no question of any gunpowder. After everything had been organised, everyone moved forward full of contempt for death. The glacis was reached without meeting any resistance; the march continued, right up to the gate. At the head were the soldiers who had defected from Landau. A few soldiers appeared on the ramparts to parley. They were called upon to open the gate. There began already a quite good-natured exchange and everything appeared to be going according to wish. All at once a cannon-shot rang out from the ramparts, case-shot whistled over the heads of the assailants and in no time the whole heroic army broke into wild flight together with their Palatinate Prince Eugene. Everyone was running, running, running, with such irresistible momentum that the couple of cannon-balls loosed off soon afterwards from the ramparts were already no longer whistling over the heads of the fleeing men, but only over their discarded guns, cartridge-pouches and knapsacks. A few hours away from Landau a halt was finally made and the army was gathered together again and led home by Herr "Colonel" Blenker, without the keys of Landau but none the less proud for that. Such is the story of the conquest, of Landau with three mortars and a 24 lb. cannon-ball that never happened.

The case-shot was fired off in all haste by some Bavarian officers, when they saw that their soldiers wanted to open the gate. The gun was brought off the target by soldiers themselves, and it was because of this that nobody was hit. But when the Landau garrison saw what an effect this random shot had, there was naturally no more talk of surrender.

Hero Blenker, however, was not the sort of man to take such a piece of bad luck lying down. He now resolved to conquer Worms. He moved up from Frankenthal, where he commanded a battalion. The handful of Hessian soldiers stationed in Worms made themselves scarce and hero Blenker marched into his home town with drums beating and trumpets sounding. After the liberation of Worms had been celebrated with a solemn luncheon, the main ceremony began, that is, the rendering of an oath of allegiance to the Imperial Constitution to twenty Hessian soldiers who had stayed behind sick. During the night after this prodigious success, however, the imperial troops under Peucker brought up artillery on the right bank of the Rhine and gave the victorious conquerors a most violent awakening with the early thunder of cannon. There was no mistake about it: the imperial troops were sending over round shot and shells. Without uttering a word hero Blenker gathered together his brave men, and stole away from Worms back to Frankenthal. The muse will report further particulars of his later heroic deeds in the appropriate place.

While in the districts the motliest collection of characters were each in their own way giving themselves vent and the soldiers and people's militiamen, instead of drilling, sat in the taverns and sang, the gallant officers were in Kaiserslautern busy thinking up the most profound strategic plans. It was a question of nothing less than the possibility of holding a small province like the Palatinate, accessible from several sides, with almost wholly imaginary forces against an extremely real army of over 30,000 men and 60 cannon. Precisely because in such a situation every project was equally useless and equally absurd, and precisely because all the conditions for any strategic plan were absent, precisely for those reasons these profound military men, these thinking heads of the Palatinate army, were all the more resolved to concoct some strategic miracle which would bar to the Prussians the way into the Palatinate. Every freshly baked lieutenant, every sabre-trailer from the academic legion finally established under the auspices of Herr Sznayde, with the rank of lieutenant for every member, every administrative pen-pusher, stared pensively at the map of the Palatinate in the hope of finding the strategic philosophers stone. It is easy to imagine the amusing results this had. The Hungarian method of warfare was especially popular. From "General" Sznayde down to the as yet least recognised Napoleon in the army one could constantly hear the phrase: "We must do as Kossuth did, we must give up a piece of our territory and retreat, here or there, into the mountains or onto the plain according to the situation." "We must do as Kossuth did," the cry went up in every tavern. "We must do as Kossuth did," echoed every corporal, every soldier and every street-urchin. "We must do as Kossuth did," echoed the Provisional Government goodnaturedly, for they knew better than anyone else that it was best not to meddle in these things, and in the long run it was all the same to them how it was done. "We must do as Kossuth did, or we are lost."– The Palatinate and Kossuth!

Before I go on to describe the campaign itself, I must briefly mention a matter which has been touched on in various newspapers: my momentary arrest in Kirchheim. A few days before the Prussians marched in I accompanied my friend Moll on a mission he had undertaken to Kirchheimbolanden, on the border. Here was stationed a part of the Rhenish Hessian corps, in which we had acquaintances. We were sitting in the evening with these and several other volunteers from the corps in an inn. Among the volunteers were a number of those serious, enthusiastic "men of action" of whom mention has been made on more than one occasion and who foresaw no difficulties in beating any army in the world, with few arms and much enthusiasm. These are men whose experience of the military does not extend beyond the changing of the guards, who never pay the slightest heed to the material means of attaining a given purpose and who for this reason mostly experience such a shattering disillusion in their first battle, as I was later to observe on more than one occasion, that they make off as fast as their legs can carry them. I asked one such hero if he really intended to defeat the Prussians with the thirty thousand cavalry sabres and three and a half thousand fire-arms, including several rusty carbines, available in the Palatinate, and I was in proper train to enjoy the holy indignation of a man of action wounded in his noblest enthusiasm when in stepped the guard and declared me under arrest. At the same time I saw two men rush upon me from behind foaming with rage. One of them announced that he was Civil Commissary Müller and the other was Herr Greiner, the only member of the government with whom I had never entered into more intimate contact, on account of his frequent absence from Kaiserslautern (he had been turning his wealth into movable property on the quiet) and his suspicious-looking, snivellingly sullen appearance.[169] At the same time an old acquaintance of mine, [Victor Schily.–Ed.] a captain in the Rhenish Hessian corps, stood up and declared that if I were to be arrested, he, together with a considerable number of the best men in the corps, would leave it at once. Moll and others were for defending me there and then with force. Those present split into two parties, the scene promised to become interesting and I declared I would naturally allow myself to be arrested with pleasure: it would finally be clear for all to see what the colour of the Palatinate movement was. I went with the guard.

The next morning, after a comical interrogation which Herr Zitz put me through, I was handed over to the civil commissary and by him to a gendarme. The gendarme, on whom it had been impressed to treat me as a spy, handcuffed me and led me on foot to Kaiserslautern, accused of disparaging the uprising of the Palatinate people and inciting against the government, which, by the way, I had not mentioned. On the way I succeeded in getting a carriage. In Kaiserslautern, where Moll had hurried on ahead of me, I found the government highly bewildered at the valiant Greiner's bevue and even more bewildered at the treatment meted out to me. Needless to say I carried on quite a bit at the gentlemen in the presence of the gendarme. Since no report from Herr Greiner had yet arrived, I was offered freedom on parole. I refused to give my parole and went into the cantonal gaol–without an escort, which condition was agreed to at d'Ester's request. D'Ester declared that he could stay no longer after such treatment had been meted out to a party comrade. Tzschirner, who arrived just at that time, also took a very resolute stand. The same evening the news spread throughout the town and everyone who belonged to the resolute trend immediately sided with me. On top of that, news arrived that disturbances had broken out in the Rhenish Hessian corps on account of this affair and that a large part of the corps intended to disband. It would have taken less than that to demonstrate to the provisional regents, in whose company I had been daily, the necessity of giving me satisfaction. After I had spent 24 quite amusing hours in gaol, d'Ester and Schmitt came to see me; Schmitt explained to me that I was unconditionally free and that the government hoped that I would not be deterred from continuing to take part in the movement. Besides this, I was told, the order had been given that in future no political prisoner was to be brought in handcuffed, and the investigation against the investigator of this infamous treatment as well as of the arrest and its cause was proceeding. After the government had taken these steps to give me all the satisfaction that it could for the moment, since Herr Greiner had still not sent in a report, the solemn faces on both sides were discarded and the company had a few drinks together in the Donnersberg. The next day Tzschirner departed for the Rhenish Hessian corps in order to appease it and I gave him a short note to take with him. When Herr Greiner returned he made such a snivelling exhibition of himself that his colleagues gave him a doubly severe dressing-down.

At the same time the Prussians marched in from Homburg. Since things thus took an interesting turn, since I had no intention of letting slip the opportunity of gaining some military education, and lastly since the Neue Rheinische Zeitung also had to be represented honoris causa in the army of Baden and the Palatinate, I too buckled on a broadsword and went off to join Willich.


164 The Central Committee of German Democrats was elected at the Second Democratic Congress, held in Berlin from October 26 to 30, 1848. It included d'Ester, Reichenbach and Hexamer. Marx was handed a mandate of the Central Committee by d'Ester at the end of May 1849.

The French social-democrats – the party of petty-bourgeois democrats and socialists grouped round the newspaper La Reforme.

At the time of Marx's trip to France a clash was brewing between the Montagne, which represented the Reforme party in the Legislative Assembly, and conservative circles. The Montagne took action on June 13, 1849.

165 The Fruchthalle – a covered fruit and vegetable market in Kaiserslautern where the central administration of the Palatinate revolutionary Provisional Government had its offices in 1849.

166 Chevaux-ligers (literally: light horses) – light cavalry armed with sabres, pistols and carbines in some West-European countries.

167 On June 14, 1848, Berlin workers and craftsmen, outraged by the national Assembly's renunciation of the March revolution, took the arsenal by storm in an attempt to uphold the revolutionary gains. This action, however, was spontaneous and unorganized, and army reinforcements and units of the bourgeois civic militia were soon able to push back and disarm the people.

168 An allusion to the participation of some of the N.C.O.s of Willich's German refugee volunteer corps in France's colonial war in Algeria, which ended on the eve of the February 1848 revolution.

169 An allusion to "wailers" (Heuler) – the name the republican democrats in Germany applied to the moderate constitutionalists who, in turn, called their opponents "agitators" (Wuhler).