The Campaign for the German Imperial Constitution, Frederick Engels 1850
Nur im Sturz von sechsunddreissig
Kann die deutsche Republik gedeihn;
Darum, Bruder, sturzt sie ohne Schonen,
Setzet Gut und Blut und Leben ein.
Fur Republik zu sterben,
Ist ein Los, hehr und gross, ist das Ziel unsres Muts!
[Only through the overthrow of thirty-six thrones
Can the German republic prosper;
Therefore, brothers, overthrow them without mercy,
And stake property, life and limb.
To die for the Republic
Is a lofty and great destiny, the aim of our courage.]
Thus sang the volunteers on the train when I was on my way to Neustadt to seek out Willich's temporary headquarters.
So from now on to die for the republic was the aim of my courage or at least was supposed to be. It seemed strange to me to have this new aim. I looked at the volunteers, young, handsome, lively lads. They did not at all look as if death for the republic was just now the aim of their courage.
From Neustadt I travelled on a requisitioned peasant's cart to Offenbach, between Landau and Germersheim, where Willich was still to be found. Just the other side of Edenkoben I came across the first sentries, posted by the peasants on his orders, who were from now on to be found at the entrance and exit of every village and at every cross-road and who allowed nobody through without a written authorisation of the insurgent authorities. It was clear that one was getting a little nearer to war conditions. Late in the night I arrived at Offenbach and at once took up duties as Willich's adjutant.
In the course of that day (it was June 13) a small part of Willich's corps had fought a brilliant engagement. A few days previously Willich had got reinforcements for his volunteer corps in the shape of a Baden people's militia battalion, the Dreher-Obermuller Battalion, and had moved up some fifty men of this battalion to Bellheim against Germersheim. To their rear, in Knittelsheim, there was still a company of volunteers together with a few scythe-men. A battalion of Bavarians with two cannon and a squadron of Chevaulegers made a sortie. The Badeners fled without putting up any resistance; only one of them, overtaken by three mounted gendarmes, defended himself furiously until finally, hacked to pieces by sabre blows, he fell and was finished off by his assailants. When the fugitives arrived at Knittelsheim the captain [Loreck –Ed] stationed there set out against the Bavarians with a little less than fifty men, some of whom were still armed with scythes. He expertly divided up his men into several detachments and advanced in extended order with such determination that after two hours' fighting the Bavarians, who were over ten times more numerous, were driven back into the village abandoned by the Badeners and finally, when some reinforcements arrived from Willich's corps, thrown out of the village again. They retreated with a loss of some twenty dead and wounded to Germersheim. I am sorry to say that I cannot give the name of this bold and talented young officer, since he is probably not yet in safety. His men had only five wounded, none seriously. One of these five, a French volunteer, had been shot in the upper arm before he himself had fired a shot. Nevertheless he fired all his sixteen cartridges and when his wound prevented him from loading his gun he got one of the scythe-men to load it for him so that he could just fire. The next day we went to Bellheim to look at the battlefield and make new arrangements. The Bavarians had fired at our skirmishers with round shot and case-shot but hit nothing except the twigs on the trees, with which the whole road was strewn, and the tree behind which the captain was standing.
The Dreher-Obermuller Battalion was now present in full strength with the intention of establishing itself firmly in Bellheim and the surrounding area. It was a splendid, well-armed battalion and the officers especially, with their turned-up moustaches and their tanned faces full of seriousness and enthusiasm, really did look like man-eaters endowed with reason. Fortunately, they were not so dangerous, as we were to become more and more aware.
To my amazement I discovered that there was almost no ammunition whatever available, that most men only had five or six cartridges, and in a few cases twenty, and that the stock in hand would not be enough even to replenish the now completely empty cartridge-pouches of the men who had been under fire the day before. I at once volunteered to go to Kaiserslautern and fetch ammunition, and set out the same evening.
The peasants' carts were slow; the necessity of requisitioning new carts at regular stages, unfamiliarity with the roads, etc., also helped to slow things down. It was daybreak when I arrived at Maikammer, about halfway to Neustadt. Here I came across a detachment of Pirmasens people's militia with the four cannon sent to Homburg, which in Kaiserslautern were already believed lost. By way of Zweibrucken and Pirmasens, and then by the most wretched mountain tracks, they had succeeded in getting as far as here, where they at last came out into the plain. The gentlemen from Prussia were in no great hurry to pursue them, even though our men from Pirmasens, excited by exertions, night marches and wine, believed they were right on their heels.
A few hours later (it was on June 15) I arrived at Neustadt. The whole population was on the streets, among them soldiers and volunteers, as all people's militiamen in tunics were indiscriminately called in the Palatinate. Carts, cannon and horses blocked every approach. In short, I had landed up in the middle of the retreat of the entire Palatinate army. The Provisional Government, General Sznayde, the general staff, the office staff, everyone was there. Kaiserslautern had been abandoned, the Fruchthalle, the "Donnersberg", the beerhouses, the "strategically best located point in the Palatinate", and for the moment Neustadt had become the centre of the Palatinate's confusion, which reached its climax only now that it came to fighting. Suffice it to say, I made myself acquainted with the facts, took as many kegs of gunpowder, lead-shot and ready-made cartridges as I could (what further use was this ammunition to an army which had gone to pieces without even a battle?), after countless vain attempts finally got hold of a wain in a neighbouring village and left in the evening with my booty and a small escort.
But before doing so I went to Herr Sznayde and asked if he did not have any message for Willich. The old gourmand gave me a few meaningless instructions and added with an air of importance: "You see, we are now doing just as Kossuth did."
How the Palatinate came to do just as Kossuth did, however, was to be explained as follows. In the heyday of the "rebellion", that is to say, on the day before the Prussians marched in, the Palatinate had roughly 5,000 to 6,000 men armed with weapons of all sorts and about 1,000 to 1,500 scythe-men. These 5,000 to 6,000 possible combatants consisted firstly of Willich's and the Rhenish Hessian volunteer corps and secondly of the so-called people's militia. In the area covered by each provincial commissariat was a military commissary whose task was to organise a battalion. The defected soldiers belonging to each district were to serve as nucleus and as instructors. This system of mixing regular troops with raw recruits, though it could have had excellent results during an active campaign with strict discipline and continual military exercise, ruined everything under the circumstances. The battalions did not materialise owing to lack of arms; the soldiers, having nothing to do, neglected all discipline and military bearing and for the most part melted away. Eventually a battalion of sorts came together in some districts but in the others only armed crowds existed. There was absolutely nothing to be done with the scythe-men; everywhere in the way and never really of any use, they were partly left with their respective battalions as a provisional appendage until such a time as guns could be acquired for them, and partly concentrated in a special corps under the half-crazy Captain Zinn. Citizen Zinn, the most perfect Shakespearean Pistol [character in Shakespeare's Henry V] one could ever meet, who on bolting from Landau under hero Blenker stumbled over his scabbard and broke it and afterwards swore blind that a "fiery 24 lb. cannon-ball" had rent it asunder, this same invincible Pistol had hitherto been employed in executions of fractionary villages. He had applied himself with great zeal to this office, so that the peasants held him and his corps in very great respect, but they gave him a sound thrashing every time they caught him by himself. On their way back from such trips the men had to beat their scythes to smithereens and when he arrived in Kaiserslautern he would relate murderous Falstaffiads about his fights with the peasants.
Since it was obvious that little could be accomplished with such forces, Mieroslawski, who only arrived at the Baden headquarters on the 10th, ordered the Palatinate troops to make a fighting withdrawal to the Rhine and if possible win the Rhine crossing at Mannheim; otherwise they were to go over to the right bank of the Rhine at Speyer or Knielingen and then defend the Rhine crossings from Baden. At the same time as this order, the news came in that the Prussians had penetrated the Palatinate from Saarbrucken and after a few musket-shots driven back towards Kaiserslautern the meagre forces we had drawn up at the border. At the same time all the more or less organised units were concentrating in the direction of Kaiserslautern and Neustadt; an unbounded confusion ensued and a large number of the recruits melted away. A young officer, Rakow, from the 1848 Schleswig-Holstein volunteer corps, went out with thirty men to round up the deserters and in the space of two days had rallied 1,400 of them. He formed them into a "Kaiserslautern Battalion" and led them until the end of the campaign.
The Palatinate, strategically speaking, is such a straightforward terrain that not even the Prussians could make any blunders here. Along the Rhine lies a valley four to five hours' journey across and completely free from any natural obstacles. In a comfortable three days' march the Prussians came from Kreuznach and Worms as far as Landau and Germersheim. The "Kaiserstrasse" leads over the mountainous hinterland of the Palatinate from Saargemund to Mainz, mostly on the mountain ridge or through a broad gully. Here too there are as good as no natural obstacles behind which a numerically weak and tactically unschooled army could hold out to any extent. Close by the Prussian border, near Homburg, there is at last an excellent road which leads from the "Kaiserstrasse" to Landau via Zweibriicken and Pirmasens, running partly through river valleys and partly over the ridge of the Vosges. It is true that this route presents greater difficulties, but it cannot be blocked with few troops and no artillery, especially when an enemy corps manoeuvres on the plain and can cut off the retreat via Landau and Bergzabern.
In the light of this, the Prussians' offensive was a very straightforward matter. The first thrust was from Saarbrucken against Homburg; from here one column marched directly on Kaiserslautern and the other on Landau via Pirmasens. Thereupon a second corps immediately attacked in the Rhine valley. In Kirchheimbolanden this corps met its first violent resistance from the Rhenish Hessians stationed there. The Mainz riflemen defended the castle garden with great doggedness and in spite of considerable losses. They were eventually outflanked and retreated. Seventeen of them fell into the hands of the Prussians. They were forthwith put up against trees and shot without further ado by these heroes of the "glorious army", who were drunk on schnaps. With this piece of villainy the Prussians began their "short but glorious campaign"[From the order issued by Frederick William IV on July 28, 1849, on the occasion of the end of the Baden-Palatinate campaign (Preussischer Staats-Anzeiger, Berlin, No. 21).–Ed.] in the Palatinate.
This meant that the whole northern half of the Palatinate was won and the link-up effected between the two main columns. Now they only needed to advance in the plain and relieve Landau and Germersheim to secure the rest of the Palatinate and capture all those corps that might still be holding out in the mountains.
There were some 30,000 Prussians in the Palatinate, equipped with numerous cavalry and artillery. On the plain, where the Prince of Prussia and Hirschfeld were pressing forward with the strongest corps, nothing stood between them and Neustadt except a few people's militia detachments, incapable of resistance and already half disbanded, and a section of the Rhenish Hessians. A swift march on Speyer and Germersheim, and all the 4,000 to 5,000 troops of the Palatinate concentrated or rather chaotically entangled at Neustadt and Landau would have been doomed, routed, scattered and captured. But the Prussian gentlemen, who were so active when it came to shooting unarmed prisoners, were extremely cautious about fighting and extremely somnolent in pursuit.
If throughout the campaign I am frequently forced to return to this decidedly strange lukewarmness which the Prussians and the other imperial troops displayed in attack as well as in pursuit, against an army mostly six times and never less than three times smaller, badly organised and in parts pitifully commanded, it should be understood that I am not blaming it on some singular cowardice on the part of the Prussian soldiers, all the less so since I had absolutely no illusions, as will already have become clear, that our troops were especially brave. Neither do I ascribe it, as reactionaries would do, to some sort of magnanimity or the desire to avoid the inconvenience of too many prisoners. The Prussian civil and military bureaucracy has from time immemorial gloried in gaining striking victories over weak enemies and taking its revenge on defenceless men in a frenzy of blood-lust. It did this also in Baden and the Palatinate. Proof: the executions by firing squad in Kirchheim, the night-time shootings in the Karlsruhe peasantry, the countless instances on all the battlefields of the wounded and those who had surrendered being butchered, the ill-treatment of the few who were taken prisoner, the murders by summary justice in Freiburg and Rastatt and lastly the slow, secret and therefore all the more inhuman killing of the Rastatt prisoners through ill-treatment, hunger, overcrowding in damp, suffocating dungeons and the typhus that resulted. The Prussians, lukewarm prosecution of the war was certainly rooted in cowardice, and indeed in that of the commanders. Quite apart from the slow, faint-hearted precision of our Prussian martinets and manoeuvre heroes, which is enough in itself to inhibit any bold move or quick decision, quite apart from the complicated service regulations intended to prevent in a roundabout way a recurrence of so many ignominious defeats–would the Prussians ever have conducted a war in a manner so insufferably boring for us and so downright disgraceful for them if they had been sure of their own men? Therein lay the key. Messrs the Generals knew that a third of their army consisted of recalcitrant army reserve regiments who after the first victory of the insurgent army would go over to it and very soon bring after them half the regular troops and in particular all the artillery. And it is not very difficult to see what the prospects would then have been for the House of Hohenzollern and the unimpaired crown.
In Maikammer, where I was forced to wait until the morning of the 16th for a new cart and escort, the army, which had set out from Neustadt very early in the morning, caught up with me again. The previous day there had still been talk of a march on Speyer, but this plan had evidently been abandoned and they were making directly for the Knielingen bridge. With fifteen Pirmasensers, half-wild peasant lads from the virgin forests of the Palatinate hinterland, I marched off. It was not until I reached the vicinity of Offenbach that I learned that Willich had marched off with all his troops to Frankweiler. a place situated to the north-west of Landau. I therefore turned round and arrived towards noon at Frankweiler. Here I found not only Willich, but once again the entire advanced guard of the Palatinate, which had taken the route to the west of Landau in order not to have to march between Landau and Germersheim. In the tavern Sat the Provisional Government with its officials, the general staff and the large numbers of democratic hangers-on who had attached themselves to both of these. General Sznayde was having breakfast. Everyone was rushing around in great confusion – in the inn the regents, the commandants and the hangers-on and in the street the soldiers. Gradually the main body of the army moved in: Herr Blenker, Herr Trocinski, Herr Strasser and whatever their names were, all mounted on horseback at the head of their valiant troops. The confusion grew and grew. Little by little it became possible to send individual corps further on in the direction of Impflingen and Kandel.
One would not guess from looking at it that this army was on the retreat. Disorder was from the very beginning as if at home in it, and even if the young warriors were already starting to grumble about the unaccustomed marching, that still did not stop them from carousing in the taverns to their hearts' content, talking big and threatening the Prussians with imminent extinction. Despite their certainty of victory, one regiment of cavalry with some horse-artillery would have sufficed to blow the whole merry company to the four winds and totally disperse the "liberation army of the Rhenish Palatinate". It needed only a quick decision and a dash of boldness; but in the Prussian camp there was no question of either.
The next morning we set out. While the main body of the fleeing troops moved off towards the Knielingen bridge, Willich marched with his corps and the Dreher Battalion into the mountains against the Prussians. One of our companies, some fifty Landau gymnasts, had advanced right up into the highest mountains, to Johanniskreuz. Schimmelpfennig and his corps were likewise still on the road from Pirmasens to Landau. The idea was to hold the Prussians up and bar the roads to them in Hinterweidenthal to Bergzabern and the Lauter valley.
Schimmelpfennig, however, had already abandoned Hinterweidenthal and was in Rinnthal and Annweiler. The road makes a curve here, and it is precisely here that the mountains enclosing the Queich valley form a sort of defile beyond which lies the village of Rinnthal. This defile was manned by a sort of picket. In the night his patrols had reported that they had been shot at; early in the morning ex-Civil Commissary Weiss from Zweibrucken and a young Rhinelander, M.J.Becker, brought the news that the Prussians were advancing and demanded that reconnaissance patrols be sent out. However, no reconnaissance was undertaken nor were the heights on either side of the defile manned, so that Weiss and Becker decided to go reconnoitring on their own initiative. As further reports came of the approach of the enemy, Schimmelpfennig's men began to barricade the defile; Willich arrived, reconnoitred the position, issued some orders to man the heights and had the completely useless barricade removed. He then rode quickly back to Annweiler and fetched his troops.
As we were marching through Rinnthal we heard the first shots. We hurried through the village and saw Schimmelpfennig's troops drawn up on the highway, many scythe-men and few flintlocks, some already advancing into action. The Prussians were pushing forward on the heights, shooting as they went; Schimmelpfennig had calmly allowed them to get into the position that he was supposed to occupy himself. No bullets fell into our columns yet; they all went flying high over our heads. Whenever a bullet went whistling over the heads of the scythe-men the whole line swayed and everyone started shouting at the same time.
Only with difficulty did we get past these troops, who blocked almost the whole of the road, brought everything into disorder and anyway were quite useless with their scythes. The company commanders and lieutenants were just as helpless and confused as the soldiers themselves. Our riflemen were ordered to the front, where they were to advance on the heights, some to the right, some to the left; on the left were two additional companies to reinforce the riflemen and outflank the Prussians. The main column stayed where it was in the valley. Some riflemen posted themselves behind the remains of the barricade in the curve of the road and shot at the Prussian column, which was positioned a few hundred paces back. I went with a few men up the mountain to the left.
We had scarcely climbed the bushy slope when we came to an open field from the opposite wooded edge of which Prussian riflemen were loosing off their elongated bullets at us. I fetched up a few more of the volunteers, who were scrambling around the slope helpless and rather nervous, posted them with as much cover as possible and took a closer look at the terrain. I could not advance with these few men over a completely exposed field 200 to 250 paces across, as long as the outflanking detachment sent ahead further to the left had not reached the Prussians' flank; at the very most we could hold out, since we were badly covered in any case. In spite of their elongated-bullet guns, incidentally, the Prussians shot extremely badly; we stood for over half an hour with next to no cover in the fiercest possible skirmish fire, and the enemy sharpshooters hit only one shotgun barrel and the lappet of one tunic.
At last I had to go and see where Willich was. My men promised to hold their ground and I climbed back down the slope. Down below everything was fine. The Prussian main column, shot at by our riflemen on the road and to the right of it, was forced to retreat a little further. All of a sudden our volunteers came leaping down the slope to the left, where I had been positioned, and abandoned their ground. The companies which had advanced on the extreme left flank, weakened by having left behind numerous skirmishers, considered that the route through a coppice lying further on would take too long; with the captain who had won the battle of Bellheim at their head, they advanced across the fields. They were met with a hail of fire; the captain and several others fell; the rest, leaderless, yielded to the superior forces. The Prussians now advanced, attacked our skirmishers in the flank, shot down on them from above and thus forced them to retreat. The whole mountain was soon in the hands of the Prussians. They shot into our columns from above; there was nothing more to be done, and we started to retreat. The road was blocked by Schimmelpfennig's troops and the Dreher-Obermuller battalion, which in accordance with the laudable Baden custom marched not in sections of four to six but in half-platoons of twelve to fifteen abreast and took up the whole breadth of the highway. Our men had to march through swampy meadows to get to the village. I stayed with the riflemen to cover the retreat.
The battle was lost partly because Schimmelpfennig had disobeyed Willich's order and not manned the heights, which we could not retake from the Prussians with the few troops at our disposal; partly because of the utter uselessness of Schimmelpfennig's troops and the Dreher Battalion; and last of all partly because of the impatience of the captain who had been ordered to outflank the enemy, and that impatience almost cost him his life and exposed our left flank. It was, incidentally, lucky for us that we were beaten; a Prussian column was already on the way to Bergzabern, Landau was relieved, and thus we would have been surrounded on all sides in Hinterweidenthal.
We lost more men during the retreat than in the battle. From time to time Prussian musket bullets hit the dense column, which was progressing, for the most part a model of disorder, shrieking and bawling. We had about fifteen wounded, among them Schimmelpfennig, who had received a shot in the knee soon after the beginning of the battle. Once again the Prussians showed no great eagerness to pursue us and soon stopped shooting. Only a few skirmishers on the mountain slopes came after us. In Annweiler, half an hour away from the battlefield, we were able to take some food quite undisturbed and then marched to Albersweiler. We had the most important thing: 3,000 guilders payment towards the forced loan which had been waiting for us in Annweiler. Afterwards the Prussians called it robbery. They also maintained in the elation of victory that at Rinnthal they had killed Captain Manteuffel, a member of our corps, cousin of Ehren-Manteuffel [A pun on Ehrenmann (man of honour) and Teufel (devil). The Manteuffel in Berlin refers to Otto von Manteuffel, Minister of the Interior–Ed] in Berlin and a Prussian N.C.O. who had come over to us. Herr Manteuffel is so far from being dead that he has since even won a prize for gymnastics in Zurich.
In Albersweiler two Baden guns joined up with us, part of the reinforcements sent by Mieroslawski. We wanted to use them to make one more stand in the vicinity; but then we were brought the news that the Prussians were already in Landau, so we were left with no choice but to march straight to Langenkandel.
In Albersweiler we were safely rid of the ineffectual troops that had been marching with us. The Schimmelpfennig corps had already partially disbanded following the loss of its leader and on its own initiative was branching off to Kandel. At every step it left behind in the taverns exhausted soldiers and other stragglers. In Albersweiler the Dreher Battalion started to become rebellious. Willich and I went there to ask what they wanted. They all remained silent. At last a volunteer, already pretty advanced in years, cried out: "They want to lead us to the slaughter!" This exclamation was highly comical coming from a corps that had not even once seen battle and had sustained two or at the most three light casualties during the retreat. Willich bade the man step forward and surrender his rifle. The greybeard, rather the worse for drink, did so, staged a tragi-comic scene and snivelled his way through a long speech, the gist of which was that no such thing had ever happened to him before. This gave rise to general indignation among these very good-natured but badly disciplined warriors, so that Willich ordered the whole company to march off at once, saying he was sick of chatter and grumbling and did not intend to lead such soldiers one moment longer. The company, which needed no second bidding, wheeled to the right and started marching. The rest of the battalion, to which Willich had further allocated two cannon, followed suit five minutes later. It was more than they could bear that they should be "led to the slaughter" and expected to keep discipline! We let them go with pleasure.
We turned right into the mountains in the direction of Impflingen. Soon we arrived in the proximity of the Prussians; our riflemen exchanged a few shots with them. Throughout the evening shots were fired from time to time. I stayed behind in the first village we came to in order to send news by messenger to our company of gymnasts from Landau; whether or not they received it, I do not know, but they got safely to France and from there went over to Baden. Because of this I lost the corps and had to make my own way to Kandel. The roads were crowded with army stragglers; all the taverns were full; the whole splendour seemed to have faded into complacency. Officers without soldiers here, soldiers without officers there, and volunteers from all corps hurrying in colourful confusion on foot and by wagon in the direction of Kandel. And yet the Prussians never gave a thought to serious pursuit! Impflingen is only an hour away from Landau, and Warth (which is just before the Knielingen bridge) only four to five hours from Germersheim; yet the Prussians made no hurry to dispatch troops to either of the two positions, here to cut off the stragglers, there to cut off the entire army. The Prince of Prussia certainly won his laurels in an odd way!
In Kandel I found Willich but not the corps, which was billeted further back. Instead, I once more found the Provisional Government, the general staff and the large retinue of hangers-on. The same cram of troops, only a much greater disorder and confusion than yesterday in Frankweiler. There was a continuous stream of officers making enquiries about their corps and soldiers making enquiries about their leaders. Nobody could tell them anything. The disintegration was complete.
The next morning, June 18, the entire gathering defiled through Warth and over the Knielingen bridge. In spite of the large number of troops who had been cut off from the main body or gone home, the army, with the reinforcements arrived from Baden, still numbered some 5,000 to 6,000 men. They marched as proudly through Worth as if they had just conquered the village and were pushing on to fresh triumphs. They were still doing as Kossuth did. A Baden battalion of regulars was the only one to display any military bearing and march past a tavern without some of its number diving in. At last our corps came. We stayed behind as cover until the bridge could be carted off; when everything was in order we marched over to Baden and helped carry out the piles.
The government of Baden, in order to spare the valiant Karlsruhe philistines who had made such a courageous stand against the republicans on June 6, billeted everyone from the Palatinate in the surrounding districts. We had explicitly insisted on coming to Karlsruhe with our corps; we needed a lot of repairs and articles of clothing, and we also considered the presence of a reliable, revolutionary corps in Karlsruhe very desirable. But Herr Brentano had taken care of us. He directed us to Daxlanden, a village an hour and a half away from Karlsruhe, which was pictured to us as a veritable Eldorado. We marched there and discovered the most reactionary den in the whole area. Nothing to eat, nothing to drink, scarcely any straw; half the corps had to sleep on the bare floor. Added to that, scowling faces at all the doors and windows. We acted quickly. Herr Brentano was warned: unless he had by then assigned us other and better quarters, we would be in Karlsruhe the next morning, June 19. We kept our word. We marched off at nine o'clock in the morning. Not a rifle-shot away from the village Herr Brentano came up to us with a staff officer and summoned up all his powers of flattery and eloquence to keep us away from Karlsruhe. The town was already putting up 5,000 men, he said, the wealthier class had departed and the middle-class was overburdened with billeted soldiers; he would not tolerate bad accommodation for the valiant Willich corps, he continued, whose praises were on everybody's lips, etc. But nothing helped. Willich demanded a few empty palaces belonging to the departed aristocrats, and when Brentano refused we went to Karlsruhe for our billets.
In Karlsruhe we acquired rifles for our company of scythe-men and some cloth for topcoats. We had our shoes and clothes mended as quickly as possible. Fresh forces came to us too, several workers whom I knew from the Elberfeld uprising, then Kinkel, who joined the Besancon workers' company as a musketeer, and Zychlinski, adjutant to the supreme command in the Dresden uprising and leader of the rearguard during the retreat of the insurgents. He joined the students' company as a rifleman.
While we were replenishing our equipment, we did not neglect tactical instruction. Drill was assiduously carried out and on our second day there we undertook a mock storm of Karlsruhe from the castle yard. The philistines demonstrated by their universal and deeply-felt indignation at the manoeuvre that they had fully understood the threat.
Eventually the bold decision was taken to requisition the Grand Duke's arms collection, which had up to now remained inviolable like something holy. We were just on the point of having twenty of the guns thus obtained fitted with pistons when the news arrived that the Prussians had crossed the Rhine near Germersheim and were in Graben and Bruchsal.
We marched off at once (on the evening of June 20) with two Palatinate cannon. When we arrived at Blankenloch, an hour and a half from Karlsruhe in the direction of Bruchsal, we found Herr Clement and his battalion there and learned that the Prussian advanced posts had pushed forward to about an hour's march from Blankenloch. While our men were taking their evening meal under arms, we held a council of war. Willich was for attacking the Prussians at once. Herr Clement declared that with his untrained troops he could not make a night-attack. It was therefore decided that we should immediately go ahead to Karlsdorf, attack shortly before daybreak and try to break through the Prussian line. If we were successful, then we intended to march on Bruchsal and throw in our forces wherever we could. Herr Clement was to attack at daybreak by way of Friedrichsthal and support our left flank.
It was about midnight when we set out. Our venture was fairly risky. We had not quite 700 men with two cannon; our troops were better drilled and more reliable than the rest of the Palatinate troops, and also pretty accustomed to fire. With them we intended to attack an enemy corps which was at all events much better experienced and staffed with more experienced subalterns than ours, among whom were some captains who had scarcely even been in the civic militia; a corps whose exact strength we did not know, but which numbered not less than 4,000 men. Our corps had already fought more unequal battles, however, and there was certainly no hope of less unfavourable odds in this campaign.
We sent ten students a hundred paces ahead as an advance guard; then followed the first column, at the head of which were half a dozen Baden dragoons allocated to us for courier service, and behind them three companies. The artillery, along with the three other companies, were a little further back and the riflemen brought up the rear. The order was given not to shoot under any circumstances, to march as quietly as possible and, as soon as the enemy showed himself, to attack him with the bayonet.
Soon we saw in the distance the glow of the Prussian watch-fires We got as far as Spöck without being challenged. The main body halted; only the advance guard pushed forward. All at once there were shots; on the road at the entrance to the village a blazing straw-fire flared up and the tocsin rang. To the right and to the left our skirmishers circumvented the village and the column marched in. Large fires were also burning inside; at every corner we expected a volley. But everything was quiet and only a sort of guard of peasants was encamped in front of the town hall. The Prussian guard had already made off.
In spite of their colossal numerical superiority, the Prussian gentlemen did not consider themselves safe, as we saw on this occasion, unless they had carried out the pedantic service regulations covering outpost duties to the last boring detail. This outermost post was a whole hour away from their camp. If we had wanted to tire our own men, unaccustomed to the exertions of war, with outpost duties, just as the Prussians did, numbers of them would have been unfit to march. We relied on the Prussian nervousness and were of the opinion that they would hold us in more respect than we did them. And rightly so. Our outposts were never attacked the whole way to the Swiss frontier and our quarters never raided.
At all events the Prussians had now been warned. Ought we to turn back? We decided not, and marched on.
At Neuthard once more the tocsin; this time, however, neither beacons nor shots. Here too we marched in fairly closed order through the village and the heights up to Karlsdorf. Our advance guard, now only thirty paces ahead, had scarcely reached the high ground when it saw the Prussian outpost close in front of it and was challenged by it. I heard the "Who goes there?" and leapt forward. One of my comrades said: "He's a goner, we won't see him again." But it was precisely my going forward that saved me.
For at the same moment the enemy outpost loosed off a volley and our advance guard, instead of despatching them with the bayonet, fired back. The dragoons, alongside whom I had been marching, did an immediate about-turn in keeping with their customary cowardice, charged at a gallop into the column, rode down a number of men, totally dispersed the first four to six sections and galloped off. At the same time the enemy's mounted guards posted in the fields to right and left fired at us and to put the finishing touch to the confusion some blockheads in the middle of our column started firing on our own men at the head, whereupon other blockheads followed suit. In next to no time the first half of the column was routed, some scattered across the fields, some put to flight, and some caught up in a confused tangle on the road. Wounded men, knapsacks, hats and flintlocks lay in motley confusion amidst the young corn. All this was interspersed with wild, distraught cries, shots and the whistle of bullets in all possible directions. And as the noise subsided a little, far to the rear I heard our cannon trundling off in headlong flight. They had performed the same service for the second half of the column as the dragoons for the first.
Though at that moment I was seized with rage at the childish terror that had gripped our soldiers, I felt equal contempt for the behaviour of the Prussians who, notified as they had been of our arrival, stopped firing after a few shots and likewise bolted off at top speed. Our advance guard was still in its old position and had not been attacked once. A cavalry squadron or a tolerably sustained skirmish fire would have put us to headlong flight.
Willich came rushing up to us from the advance guard. The Besancon company was the first to be formed up again. The others, more or less ashamed, closed ranks. Day was just breaking. Our losses amounted to six wounded, among whom was one of our staff officers: he had been trampled underfoot on the same spot that I had left the moment before to hurry to the advance guard. Several others had clearly been hit by the bullets of our own men. We carefully collected up all the discarded accoutrements so that not even the slightest trophy would fall into the hands of the Prussians, and then retreated slowly to Neuthard. The riflemen took up a position behind the first houses as cover. But there was no sign of the Prussians; and when Zychlinski went reconnoitring again he found them still on the other side of the heights, whence they fired a few shots without hitting anything.
The Palatinate peasants who had been conveying our artillery had taken the one cannon right through to the other side of the village; the other had overturned and the men in charge had ridden off with five horses, whose traces they had removed. We had to get the cannon upright and shift it with just the one wheel-horse.
When we arrived at Spöck we heard rifle fire to our right, in the direction of Friedrichsthal. It was gradually getting more intense. Herr Clement had at last attacked, an hour later than arranged. I proposed supporting him with an attack on the flank, in order to make up for his mistake. Willich was of the same opinion and gave the order to take the first path to the right. A part of our corps had already taken the turning when one of Clement's orderly officers reported that Clement was retreating. We therefore went to Blankenloch. Soon Herr Beust of the general staff met us and was most surprised to see us alive and the corps in such fine trim. The blackguardly dragoons had spread the word everywhere on their flight, which took them as far as Karlsruhe, that Willich was dead, the officers all dead, and the corps scattered to the four winds and annihilated. We were said to have been shot at with case-shot and "fiery cannon-balls".
Outside Blankenloch we were met by troops of the Palatinate and Baden and finally Herr Sznayde and his staff. The old codger, who had probably spent a very comfortable night in bed, had the impudence to call over to us: "Gentlemen, where are you going! The enemy is that way!" Needless to say we gave him a fitting reply, marched on past him and saw about getting some rest and refreshment in Blankenloch. After two hours Herr Sznayde returned with his troops, naturally without having seen the enemy, and had breakfast.
Counting the reinforcements received from Karlsruhe and the surrounding area, Herr Sznayde now had approximately 8,000 to 9,000 troops under his command, including three Baden regular battalions and two Baden batteries. All in all there were probably some twently-five pieces of ordnance. As a consequence of Mieroslawski's rather vague orders and even more of the total incompetence of Herr Sznayde, the entire army of the Palatinate stayed put in the region of Karlsruhe until the Prussians had made their way across the Rhine under the cover of the Germersheim bridge-head. Mieroslawski (vid. his reports on the campaign in Baden) had issued the general order to defend the Rhine crossings from Speyer to Knielingen after the withdrawal from the Palatinate and the special order to cover Karlsruhe and to make the Knielingen bridge the assembly point of the entire army corps. Herr Sznayde interpreted this as meaning that he should stay at Karlsruhe and Knielingen until further notice. If, as Mieroslawski's general orders implied, he had sent a strong corps with artillery against the Germersheim bridgehead, then the absurdity would never have occurred of sending Major Mniewski, with 450 recruits and no artillery, to capture the bridge-head, 30,000 Prussians would never have got over the Rhine unchallenged, communications with Mieroslawski would never have been broken and the Palatinate army could have appeared in good time on the battlefield of Waghausel. Instead of this, on the day of the battle of Waghausel, June 21, it wandered around aimlessly between Friedrichsthal, Weingarten and Bruchsal, lost sight of the enemy and wasted its time marching in all directions.
We received the order to set out for the right flank and skirt the mountains via Weingarten. We started out at noon on the same day, June 21, from Blankenloch and about five in the afternoon from Weingarten. The Palatinate troops at last began to get uneasy; they noticed that the odds were heavy against them and they lost that boastful certainty which up to now they had at least had before battle. From now on the people's militia of the Palatinate and Baden, and gradually the regular infantry and artillery too, began to smell Prussians everywhere, and false alarms, which now became a regular daily occurrence, threw everything into disorder and gave rise to the most amusing scenes. At the very first piece of high ground beyond Weingarten patrols and peasants came rushing up to us with the cry: "The Prussians are here!" Our corps formed up in battle order and advanced. I went back to the little town to have the alarm sounded and in doing so lost the corps. The whole fuss was without foundation, needless to say. The Prussians had withdrawn towards Waghausel and the same evening Willich marched into Bruchsal.
I spent the night in Obergrombach with Herr Oswald and his Palatinate battalion and marched with him the next morning to Bruchsal. Outside the town we met wagons full of stragglers coming in our direction: "The Prussians are here!" At once the whole battalion started to waver and could only with difficulty be made to advance. Of course it was another false alarm; Willich and the rest of the Palatinate advance guard were in Bruchsal; the others came marching in one after the other and there was no trace of the Prussians. Besides the army and its leaders, d'Ester, the ex-government of the Palatinate and Goegg were there. Since Brentano's dictatorship had become indisputable; Goegg had stayed almost exclusively with the army and helped to look after the day-to-day civil affairs. The victualling was bad and the confusion was great. As usual, only the headquarters lived well.
Once again we obtained a considerable number of cartridges from the Karlsruhe supplies and marched off in the evening, the entire advance guard with us. The latter took up quarters in Ubstadt, while we marched off to the right to Unterowisheim to cover the flank in the mountains.
To all appearances we were now quite a respectable force. Our corps had been reinforced with two new units. The first of these was the Langenkandel Battalion, which had dispersed on the way from its home town to the Knielingen bridge and whose beaux restes [Beautiful remains.–Ed] had joined up with us; they consisted of a captain, a lieutenant, a standard-bearer, a sergeant, an N.C.O. and two men. The other was the "Robert Blum Column" with a red flag, a body of approximately sixty men who looked like cannibals and had performed heroic deeds in requisitioning. Besides that we were allocated four Baden cannon and a Baden people's militia battalion, the Kniery, Knüry or Knierim Battalion (it was impossible to discover the correct reading of the name). The Knierim Battalion was worthy of its leader and Herr Knierim worthy of his battalion. Both were staunch-minded, both were braggarts and roisterers and both constantly drunk. The famous "enthusiasm" kindled their hearts to deeds of the most prodigious heroism, as we shall have occasion to see.
On the morning of the 23rd Willich received a note from Anneke, who commanded the advance guard of the Palatinate in Ubstadt. It announced that the enemy was advancing, a council of war had been held and the decision made to withdraw. Willich, flabbergasted at this strange piece of news, rode over at once and managed to persuade Anneke and his officers to give battle at Ubstadt. He reconnoitred the position himself and specified the deployment of the artillery. He then returned and had his troops stand to their arms. While our troops were forming up we received the following order from the Bruchsal headquarters, signed by Techow: the main body of the army was to proceed along the road to Heidelberg and should expect to get as far as Mingolsheim the same day; at the same time we were to march via Odenheim to Waldangelloch and spend the night there. Further news as to the successes of the main corps and instructions as to our subsequent course of action were to be sent there.
In his fanciful Geschichte der drei Volkserhebungen in Baden, pp. 311-17, Herr Struve published a report on the operations of the Palatinate army from June 20 to 26 which is nothing more than an apologia for the incompetent Sznayde and teems with inaccuracies and misrepresentations. The following points emerge from what was said above: firstly, it is not true that Sznayde "received reliable news of the battle of Waghausel and its outcome a few hours after marching into Bruchsal (on the 22nd)"; secondly, it is therefore not true that "because of this he changed his plan and, instead of marching to Mingolsheim, as at first had been the plan, decided" (as early as the 22nd) "to stay with the main body of his division in Bruchsal" (the note from Techow which is referred to was written during the night of the 22nd to the 23rd); thirdly, it is not true that "on the morning of the 23rd a large-scale reconnaissance was to be carried out" – on the contrary, it was the march on Mingolsheim which was to take place; and to say that fourthly "all detachments received the order to march in the direction of the firing as soon as they heard that firing"; and fifthly that "the detachment on the right flank (Willich) excused its failure to turn up at the battle of Ubstadt by saying that it had heard nothing of the firing", is a gross lie, as will be seen.
We marched off at once. We were to have breakfast in Odenheim. Some Bavarian Chevaulegers, who had been attached to us for dispatch duties, rode around the village to the left to reconnoitre possible enemy corps. Prussian hussars had been in the village requisitioning fodder, which they intended to collect later. While we were confiscating this fodder, and wine and food was being distributed to our men under arms, one of the Chevaulegers came dashing in and shouted: "The Prussians are here!" In next to no time the Knierim Battalion, which was nearest, broke ranks and stampeded in all directions in a wild tangle, screaming, cursing and lumbering, while the major was forced to leave his men in the lurch because his horse shied. Willich came riding up, restored order and we marched off. Needless to say there were no Prussians there.
On the heights beyond Odenheim we heard the roar of cannon coming from the direction of Ubstadt. The gunfire soon became more intense. More experienced ears were already able to distinguish between the sound of bullets and the sound of case-shot. We deliberated whether to continue our march or to go in the direction of the firing. Since our order was positive and since the firing seemed to be moving in the direction of Mingolsheim, which indicated an advance by our side, we resolved on the more dangerous march, the march on Waldangelloch. If the forces of the Palatinate were defeated at Ubstadt, we would be as good as cut off up there in the mountains and in a fairly critical position.
Herr Struve maintains that the battle of Ubstadt "could have led to brilliant results if the flank detachments had attacked at the right moment". The gunfire did not last an hour and we would have needed two to two and a half hours to reach the battlefield between Stettfeld and Ubstadt, that is an hour and a half after it had been abandoned. That is the way Herr Struve writes "history" A halt was called near Tiefenbach. While our troops were refreshing themselves, Willich sent out some dispatches. The Knierim Battalion discovered a kind of municipal cellar in Tiefenbach, slapped a confiscation order on it, fetched out the barrels of wine and within an hour everyone was drunk. Annoyance at the Prussian scare of that morning, the cannon-roar from Ubstadt, the lack of confidence that these heroes had in one another and their officers – all this, aggravated by the wine, suddenly broke out in open rebellion. They demanded an immediate retreat; they said they did not care for eternally marching through the mountains in the face of the enemy. As this was of course out of the question, they faced about and marched off on their own. The man-eating "Robert Blum Column" joined them. We let them go and marched to Waldangelloch.
Here, in a deep basin-shaped valley, it was impossible to pass the night in any safety. Therefore a halt was called and intelligence collected about the conditions of the terrain in the area and the position of the enemy. In the meantime a few vague rumours of the retreat of the army on the Neckar had been spread by peasants. It was claimed that considerable Baden corps had marched on Bretten via Sinsheim and Eppingen, that Mierosiawski himself had passed through in strictest incognito and that people in Sinsheim had wanted to arrest him. The artillerymen became uneasy and even our students started to murmur. So the artillery was sent back and we marched on Hilsbach. Here we learned further particulars about the retreat of the Neckar army 48 hours earlier and about the Bavarians stationed in Sinsheim, an hour and a half away from where we were. Their number was given as 7,000, but in fact, as we later discovered, it was about 10,000. We were at the most only 700 strong. Our men could not march any further. We therefore quartered them in barns, as we always did when we had to keep them together as much as possible, detailed strong outposts and lay down to sleep. As we marched out the next morning, the 24th, we could hear quite distinctly the sound of the Bavarians' marching step. A good quarter of an hour after we had marched off the Bavarians were in Hilsbach.
Two days before, on the 22nd, Mieroslawski had spent the night in Sinsheim and was already in Bretten with his troops when we marched into Hilsbach. Becker, who was commanding the rear-guard, was likewise already through. It follows that he cannot, as Herr Struve maintains [on page 308,] have passed the night of the 23rd to the 24th in Sinsheim, for the Bavarians, who the evening before had fought a small engagement with Mieroslawski, were there at eight o'clock in the evening and probably even earlier. Mieroslawski's retreat from Waghäusel via Heidelberg to Bretten is depicted by the men who took part in it as a highly dangerous manoeuvre. Mieroslawski's operations from June 20 to 24, the rapid concentration of a corps at Heidelberg, with which he hurled himself against the Prussians, and his speedy retreat after losing the battle of Waghausel certainly constituted the most brilliant episode of his entire activity in Baden; but the fact that this manoeuvre in the face of such a lethargic enemy was by no means so dangerous is proved by the fact that 24 hours later our little corps effected its retreat from Hilsbach without once being molested. We even passed through the Flehingen defile, where Mieroslawski had already expected an attack on the 23rd, without being attacked and marched on Biichig. Here we intended staying in order to cover against a first attack the camp Mieroslawski had set up at Bretten.
Everywhere on our march, which led through Eppingen, Zaisenhausen and Flehingen, we were the object of amazement, since all the corps of the Neckar army, including the rearguard, had already marched through. When we marched into Buchig and our bugler started to play, we panicked people into thinking that the Prussians had arrived. A commando of the Bretten civic militia, requisitioning victuals for Mieroslawski's camp, took us for Prussians and were the very picture of confusion until we turned the corner and the sight of our tunics reassured them. We at once confiscated the victuals and had barely consumed them when the news that Mieroslawski had set out from Bretten with all the troops caused us to withdraw to Bretten.
We stayed overnight in Bretten, the civic militia providing outposts. Wagons were requisitioned for the next morning to carry the whole corps to Ettlingen. Since Bruchsal had already been taken by the Prussians on the 24th and we could not afford to engage in a battle in case the road via Diedelsheim to Durlach was occupied by the enemy (it actually was, as we later discovered), this was the only route to the main army open to us.
In Bretten a deputation of students came to us with a declaration that they did not like constantly marching in the face of the enemy and they asked to be discharged. Needless to say they were told by way of reply that no one is discharged in the face of the enemy; but if they wished to desert, then they were free to do so. Thereupon about half the company marched off; the number of those remaining soon dwindled so much due to individual desertions that only the riflemen were left. During the course of the entire campaign the students generally showed themselves to be malcontent and timid young gentlemen; they always wanted to be let into all the plans of operation, complained about sore feet and grumbled when the campaign did not afford all the comforts of a holiday trip. Among these "representatives of intelligence" there were only a handful who through their truly revolutionary character and shining courage proved themselves exceptions.
We were later informed that the enemy had marched into Bretten half an hour after we left. We arrived at Ettlingen, and there Herr Corvin-Wiersbitzki directed us to march to Durlach, where Becker was to hold up the enemy until Karlsruhe had been evacuated. Willich sent a Chevauleger with a note to Becker in order to find out whether he intended to stay for a while; the man returned in a quarter of an hour with the news that he had met Becker's troops already in full retreat. We therefore marched off to Rastatt, where everyone was concentrating.
The road to Rastatt presented a picture of the most splendid disorder. Any number of the most varied corps were marching or camping in motley confusion, and we had difficulty in holding our troops together under the blazing sun and amidst the universal disarray. The Palatinate troops and a few Baden battalions were encamped on the Rastatt glacis. The Palatinate forces were severely depleted. The best corps, the Rhenish Hessian, had been assembled in Karlsruhe by Zitz and Bamberger before the battle of Ubstadt. These bold freedom-fighters had declared to the corps that all was lost, the odds were too great but there was still time to get home in safety; that they, the parliamentary windbag Zitz and the valiant Bamberger, did not want innocent blood or any other calamity on their hands and thereupon declared the corps disbanded. The Rhenish Hessians were naturally so indignant at this infamous presumption that they wanted to arrest the two traitors and shoot them; d'Ester and the government of the Palatinate were also after them to arrest them. But the honourable citizens had already fled and the valiant Zitz watched the further course of the campaign for an Imperial Constitution from the safety of Basle. As in September 1848, in his Frakturschrift, so also in May 1849, Herr Zitz was among those parliamentary braggarts who did most to incite the people to rise up, but on both occasions he occupied a prominent place among those who during the uprising were the first to leave the people in the lurch. At Kirchheimbolanden too Herr Zitz was among the first to bolt, while his riflemen were fighting and being shot.
The Rhenish Hessian corps, in any case seriously weakened by desertion, as all corps were, and disheartened by the retreat to Baden, at once lost its balance completely. Part of it disbanded and went home; the remainder constituted itself anew and fought on until the end of the campaign. The rest of the Palatinate troops were demoralised at Rastatt by the news that all those who returned home before July 5 were to be amnestied. More than half of them dispersed, battalions dwindled to company size, the subaltern officers were for the most part gone and the 1,200 or so troops still remaining were now hardly of any more value. Our corps, although not in the least disheartened, had also dwindled to little more than 500 men through losses, illness and the desertion of the students.
We went to Kuppenheim, where other troops were already present, for our billets. The next morning I accompanied Willich to Rastatt and there met Moll once again.
There have been memorials from all sides in the press, in the democratic clubs, in verse and in prose to the more or less educated victims of the Baden uprising. But no voice is raised on behalf of the hundreds and thousands of workers who fought out the battles, who fell on the field, who rotted alive in the Rastatt casemates or who now, alone of all the refugees, must drain to the dregs the cup of exile. The exploitation of the workers is a traditional affair, too familiar for our official "democrats" to consider the workers as anything else than raw material for agitation, for exploiting, for causing trouble, as anything but cannon-fodder. Our "democrats" are far too ignorant and bourgeois to comprehend the revolutionary position of the proletariat, the future of the working class. That is why they hate those genuinely proletarian characters who, too proud to flatter them and too discerning to allow themselves to be used by them, are none the less always there, arms in hand, whenever it is a question of overthrowing an existing authority, and who in every revolutionary movement directly represent the party of the proletariat. But if it is not in the interests of the so-called democrats to recognise such workers, it is the duty of the party of the proletariat to honour them as they deserve. And among the best of these workers was Joseph Moll of Cologne.
Moll was a watchmaker. He had left Germany years ago and in France, Belgium and England played his part in all the public and secret revolutionary societies. He helped found the German Workers' Society in London in 1840. After the February Revolution he returned to Germany and with his friend Schappelsoon took over the leadership of the Cologne Workers Association. A fugitive in London since the Cologne riots of September 1848, he soon returned to Germany under an assumed name, agitated in all sorts of districts and undertook missions so dangerous that everyone else shrank back from them. I met him again in Kaiserslautern. Here too he undertook missions to Prussia which if he had been found out, would have incurred the summary grace of a firing squad. Returning from his second mission, he got safely through all the enemy armies to Rastatt, where he immediately joined the Besancon workers' company in our corps. Three days later he had fallen. I lost in him an old friend and the party one of its most unflagging, intrepid and reliable champions.
The party of the proletariat was quite strongly represented in the army of Baden and the Palatinate, especially in the volunteer corps, as for example in our own, in the refugee legion, etc., and it can safely challenge all the other parties to find even the slightest fault with any one of Its members. The most resolute Communists made the most courageous soldiers.
On the next day, the 27th, we were moved somewhat further into the mountains, to Rothenfels. The detailing of the army and the distribution of the various corps was gradually established. We belonged to the right-flank division, which was commanded by Colonel Theme, the same as had wanted to arrest Mieroslawski in Meckesheim and who had childishly been allowed to retain his command, and then from the 27th onwards by Mersy. Willich, who had refused the command of the Palatinate forces which Sigel had offered him, was acting as chief of divisional staff. The division was located in the area stretching from Gernsbach and the Wurttemberg frontier to the other side of Rothenfels and leaned on its left side against the Oborski division, which was concentrated around Kuppenheim. The advance guard was pushed forward to the frontier as well as to Sulzbach, Michelbach and Winkel. The victualling, at first irregular and bad, improved from the 27th on. Our division consisted of several Baden regular battalions, the remainder of the Palatinate forces under hero Blenker, our corps and one or one and a half batteries of artillery. The Palatinate forces were stationed in Gernsbach and the surrounding area and the regulars and ourselves in around Rothenfels. The headquarters were in the hotel in Elisbethenquelle opposite Rothenlels.
On the 28th we – the divisional staff and that of our own corps together with Moll, Kinkel and other volunteers – were just taking coffee after our meal in this hotel when the news arrived that our advance guard near Michelbach had been attacked by the Prussians. We at once set out, although we had every reason to suppose that the enemy had nothing more than a reconnaissance in mind. It indeed proved to be nothing more. The village of Michelbach situated down in the valley which had momentarily been captured by the Prussians had already been re-taken by the time we arrived. There was shooting across the valley from both mountain-sides and much ammunition was expended to no purpose. I saw only one dead and one wounded. While the regulars were pointlessly shooting off their cartridges at distances of 600 to 800 paces, Willich bade our troops quietly pile their rifles and take a rest close by the alleged fighters and in the thick of the alleged firing. Only the riflemen went down the wooded slope and, supported by a handful of regulars, drove the Prussians from the heights opposite. One of our riflemen shot a Prussian officer off his horse at about 900 paces with his colossal heavy rifle, a veritable portable cannon; the officer's entire company at once did a right-about turn and marched back into the wood. A number of Prussian dead and wounded as well as two prisoners fell into our hands.
The next day the general attack on the whole line took place. This time the Prussian gentlemen disturbed us at our midday meal. The first attack of which we were notified was against Bischweier, that is, against the point at which the Oborski division linked up with ours Willich urged that our troops should be held in the greatest possible readiness at Rothenfels, since the main attack was expected in any case in the opposite direction, at Gernsbach. But Mersy replied that we knew how things were, that if one of our battalions were attacked and the others did not come to its aid at once and in force, then the cry of treason would go up and everyone would take to their heels. We therefore marched towards Bischweier.
Willich and I advanced with the rifle company along the road to Bischweier on the right bank of the Murg. Half an hour away from Rothenfels we came across the enemy. The riflemen spread out in extended order and Willich rode back to fetch the corps, which stood a little way in the rear, up into the fighting line. For a while our riflemen, taking cover behind fruit-trees and vineyards, stood up to some quite heavy fire, which they returned in good measure. But when a strong enemy column advanced along the road in support of its skirmishers, the left flank of our riflemen gave way and no amount of talking to could persuade them to stand their ground. The right flank had advanced further towards the heights and was later taken into our corps.
When I saw that nothing was to be done with the riflemen I abandoned them to their fate and went towards the heights, where I could see the flags of our corps. One company had stayed behind; its captain, a tailor, usually a brave fellow, was all of a dither. I took the company along to join the others and met Willich, just as he was pushing the Besancon company forward in extended order and drawing up the rest behind them in two battle lines, together with a company pushed forward on the right towards the mountains to cover the flank.
Our skirmishers were met with a hail of fire. Facing them were Prussian riflemen, and against their elongated-bullet rifles our workers only had muskets. However, they advanced so resolutely, reinforced by the right flank of our riflemen who joined up with them, that the inferior quality of their arms was soon made up for by the closeness of the range, especially on the right flank, and the Prussians were dislodged. The two battle lines kept quite close on the heels of the skirmishers. In the meantime two Baden artillery pieces had also been brought up on our left, in the Murg valley, and they opened fire on the Prussian infantry and artillery occupying the road.
The battle here had probably been going on for an hour or so with intense rifle and musket fire, the Prussians continually retreating (some of our riflemen had already penetrated as far as Bischweier), when the Prussians received reinforcements and pushed their battalions forward. Our skirmishers retreated; the first line gave platoon fire and the second moved to the left into a defile and also started firing. But the Prussians pressed forward in serried masses along the entire line; both the Baden artillery pieces covering our left flank had already retreated. On the right flank the Prussians came down from the mountains and we were forced to fall back.
As soon as we were out of the enemy cross-fire we took up a fresh position on the mountain range. If up to now we had been facing the Rhine plain, and Bischweier and Niederweier, we were now facing the mountains which the Prussians had occupied from Oberweier. Now the regular battalions at last joined the fighting line and gave battle, together with two companies of our corps which were once more pushed forward in extended order.
We had suffered heavy losses. About thirty men were missing, including Kinkel and Moll and not counting the dispersed riflemen. The two above-named had advanced too far with the right flank of their company and some riflemen. The riflemen's captain, head forester Emmermann from Thronecken in Rhenish Prussia, who marched against the Prussians as if he were hunting hares, had led them into a position from which they fired into a Prussian artillery section and forced it to beat a speedy retreat. However, a company of Prussians at once emerged from a defile and fired upon them. Kinkel fell to the ground, hit in the head, and he was dragged along until he could once more walk unaided; soon, however, they came under cross-fire and had to hurry to get out of it. Kinkel was unable to keep up and went into a farm-house, where he was taken prisoner by the Prussians and ill-treated; Moll received a shot in the abdomen, was also taken prisoner and died later of his wound. Zychlinski too had been hit in the neck by a ricochet, but this did not stop him staying with his corps.
While the main body remained where it was and Willich rode to another part of the battlefield, I hastened to the Murg bridge lower down than Rothenfels, which formed a sort of assembly point. I wanted news of Gernsbach. But even before I reached there I saw the smoke rising from Gernsbach which was in flames,and on the bridge itself I learned that they had heard the cannon-roar from there. Later I returned to this bridge a few more times; each time the news about Gernsbach was worse and each time there were more Baden regular troops assembled behind the bridge, demoralised already even though they had scarcely been under fire. Eventually I learned that the enemy was already in Gaggenau. It was now high time to face up to him. Willich marched over the Murg with the corps in order to take up position opposite Rothenfeis and took with him another four artillery pieces which had just happened to come his way. I went to fetch our two companies of skirmishers, who in the meantime had pushed far ahead. Everywhere I met regular troops, mostly without officers. One detachment was led by a doctor, who made use of the occasion to introduce himself to me with the following words: "You must know me, I am Neuhaus, chief of the Thuringian movement!" These good fellows had beaten the Prussians on all fronts and were now on their way back because they could no longer see any of the enemy. Our companies were nowhere to be found – they had made their way back through Rothenfels for the same reason – and I returned to the bridge. Here I met Mersy with his staff and troops. I begged him to give me at least a few companies with which to support Willich. "Take the whole division if you can still do something with them," was the reply. The same soldiers who had driven back the enemy at all points and who had only been on their feet for five hours now lay around in the meadows, dispersed, demoralised and fit for nothing. The news that they had been outflanked in Gernsbach had done for them. I went my way. A company I came across on its way back from Michelbach was not to be moved either. When I found the corps again at our old headquarters, the fugitive forces of the Palatinate–Pistol Zinn and his gang, now with muskets, by the way–came pressing on from Gaggenau. While Willich had been looking for and had found a position for the artillery, a position that dominated the Murg valley and offered considerable advantages for simultaneous skirmishing, the artillerists had run away with the cannon and the captain had been unable to do anything to stop them. They were already back with Mersy at the bridge. At the same time Willich showed me a note from Mersy in which the latter informed him that everything was lost and that he was going to pull back to Oos. We had no other choice but to do the same and we marched into the mountains at once. It was about seven o'clock.
At Gernsbach things had taken the following course. Peucker's imperial troops, whom our patrols had already sighted the day before at Herrenalb on Wurttemberg territory, had taken the Wurttemberg troops drawn up at the frontier with them and attacked Gernsbach on the afternoon of the 29th, after using treachery to make our advanced troops withdraw; they approached them with the call not to shoot, saying they were brothers, and then fired off a volley at eighty paces. They then shelled Gernsbach, setting it on fire, and when the flames got out of hand Herr Sigel, who had been sent by Mieroslawski to hold the position at any price, Herr Sigel himself gave the order that Herr Blenker should make a fighting retreat with his troops. Herr Sigel will no more deny this now than he did in Berne, when one of Herr Blenker's adjutants related the curious fact in his, Herr Sigel's, and Willich's presence. With this order to make a "fighting"(!) surrender of the key to the whole Murg position, the battle along the whole line, and with it the Baden army's last position, was needless to say lost.
The Prussians incidentally did not particularly enhance their reputation by winning the battle of Rastatt. We had 13,000 troops, for the most part demoralised and with few exceptions abominably led; their army, together with the imperial troops that marched on Gernsbach, numbered at least 60,000 men. In spite of this colossal superiority they did not venture a serious frontal attack, but defeated us through cowardice and treachery by encroaching upon the neutral territory of Wurttemberg, which was closed to us. But even this piece of treachery would not have done them much good, at least to begin with, and in the long run would not have saved them the necessity of a decisive frontal attack, had not Gernsbach been so incredibly badly manned and had not Herr Sigel given the priceless order spoken of above. There cannot be any doubt that the by no means formidable position would have been snatched from us the next day; but victory would have cost the Prussians many more casualties and would have done endless harm to their military reputation. For this reason they preferred to violate Wurttemberg's neutrality, and Wurttemberg calmly let it happen.
By now barely 450 men strong, we marched back through the mountains to Oos. The road was covered with troops in the wildest disarray, with wagons, artillery, etc., all in the greatest confusion. We marched through and rested in Sinzheim. The next morning we assembled a number of fugitives the other side of Buhl and spent the night in Oberachern. That day the last battle took place; the German-Polish Legion, alongside some other troops from Becker's division, beat back the imperial troops at Oos and captured from them a (Mecklenburg) howitzer which they got safely into Switzerland.
The army was completely disbanded; Mieroslawski and the other Poles laid down their commands; Colonel Oborski already on the evening of the 29th left his post on the battlefield. However, this momentary disbandment did not really mean much. The Palatinate forces had already been disbanded three or four times and each time had formed up anew tant bien que mal. A retreat spun out as long as possible, accompanied by the call-up of all the age groups in the territories to be ceded and a rapid concentration of the conscripts from Upper Baden at Freiburg and Donaueschingen, were two measures still to be tried. This would soon have restored order and discipline to a tolerable level and made possible a last hopeless but honourable battle on the Kaiserstuhl near Freiburg or at Donaueschingen. But the chiefs of the civil as well as the military administration were more demoralised than the soldiers. They abandoned the army and the entire movement to their fate and fell further and further back, dejected, distraught and shattered.
Since the attack on Gernsbach, the fear of being outflanked through Wurttemberg territory had spread everywhere and contributed greatly to the general demoralisation. Willich's corps now went to cover the Wurttemberg frontier, taking two mountain howitzers through the Kappel valley into the mountains–several other artillery pieces assigned to us did not want to go any further than Kappel. Our march through the Black Forest, in which we did not sight the enemy, was a veritable pleasure tour. On July 1 we arrived at Oppenau via Allerheiligen and on the 2nd at Wolfach via the Hundskopf. Here we learned on July 3 that the government was in Freiburg and that the abandonment of that town also was being considered. We therefore set out for there at once. We intended to force Messrs.the Regents and the high command, which hero Sigel now led, not to relinquish Freiburg without a fight. It was already late when we marched off from Wolfach, and so it was not until late that evening that we arrived at Waldkirch. Here we learned that Freiburg had already been relinquished and that government and headquarters had been removed to Donaueschingen. At the same time we received the positive order to occupy and entrench ourselves in the Simonswald valley and set up our headquarters in Furtwangen. We therefore had to go back to Bleibach.
Herr Sigel had now drawn up his troops behind the Black Forest mountain ridge. The defence line was supposed to stretch from Lorrach via Todtnau and Furtwangen to the Wurttemberg frontier, in the direction of Schramberg. The left flank was formed by Mersy and Blenker, who marched through the Rhine valley towards Lorrach; then followed Herr Doll, a former commis voyageur, who in his capacity as one of Hecker's generals had been appointed divisional commander and was posted in the region of the Hollental; then our corps in Furtwangen and the Simonswald valley and, lastly on the right flank, Becker at St. Georgen and Triberg. On the other side of the mountains at Donaueschingen was Herr Sigel with the reserve. The forces, considerably weakened by desertion and not reinforced by any contingents of conscripts, still amounted to 9,000 men and 40 cannon.
The orders which reached us one after the other from headquarters in Freiburg, Neustadt on the Gutach and Donaueschingen breathed the most resolute defiance of death. Though the enemy was expected to come through Wurttemberg again and attack us in the rear via Rottweil and Villingen, there was a determination to defeat him and to hold the Black Forest ridge come what may, in fact to do so, as it said in one of these orders, "almost without any regard for the movements of the enemy", in other words, Herr Sigel had ensured for himself a glorious retreat in four hours from Donaueschingen onto Swiss territory; he could then sit back in Schaffhausen and wait in perfect calm for news of what had become of us, encircled in the mountains. We shall soon see what a merry end this defiance of death came to.
On the 4th we arrived at Furtwangen with two companies (160 men). The rest was employed to occupy the Simonswald valley and the passes of Gutenbach and St. Margen. Via the last-mentioned place we were in contact with Doll's corps, via Schonwald with Becker. All the passes were blocked. We stayed in Furtwangen on the 5th. On the 6th news came from Becker that the Prussians were advancing on Villingen, together with the request to attack them via Vohrenbach and thus support Sigel's operation. At the same time he informed us that his main corps was duly entrenched in Triberg, whither he himself would go as soon as Villingen was occupied by Sigel.
There could be no question of an attack from our side. With fewer than 450 men we had three square miles to occupy and therefore could not spare a single man. We had to stay where we were and informed Becker to this effect. Soon afterwards a dispatch arrived from headquarters: Willich was to go to Donaueschingen at once and assume command of the entire artillery. We were just getting ready to hurry over there when a column of the people's militia, followed by artillery and several other battalions of the people's militia, came marching into Furtwangen. It was Becker with his corps. His men had grown rebellious, it was said. I made enquiries of a staff officer who was a friend of mine, "Major" Nerlinger, and learned the following: He, Nerlinger, had the position at Triberg under his command and was having the trenches dug when the officer staff delivered him a written declaration, signed by them all. It said that the troops were rebellious and that unless the order to march off were given at once, they would leave with all the troops. I took a look at the signatures. It was the valiant Dreher-Obermüller Battalion again! Nerlinger had no choice but to inform Becker and march to Furtwangen. Becker set out at once to catch them up and so arrived with all his troops at Furtwangen, where the faint-hearted officers and soldiers were received with immense laughter by our volunteers. They were ashamed of themselves and in the evening Becker was able to lead them back to their positions again.
In the meantime we went to Donaueschingen, followed by the Besancon company. There were already swarms of Prussians right up to the highway; Villingen was occupied by them. We nevertheless got through unchallenged and towards ten o'clock in the evening the Besancons arrived as well. In Donaueschingen I found d'Ester and learned from him that in the Constituent Assembly in Freiburg Herr Struve had demanded an immediate move to Switzerland, saying everything was lost, and that hero Blenker had followed this advice and had already crossed over onto Swiss territory that morning at Basle. Both of these reports were quite correct. Hero Blenker had gone to Basle on July 6, though it was he that was farthest from the enemy. He had paused only to make a final number of requisitions so odd that they put him in bad odour with Herr Sigel and later with the Swiss authorities. And hero Struve, the same hero Struve who even on June 29 had declared that Herr Brentano and all those wanting to negotiate with the enemy were traitors to the fatherland, was so shattered three days later, on July 2, that he was not ashamed to put the following motion to a session in camera of the Baden Constituent Assembly:
"In order that Upper Baden will not suffer the same horrors of war as Lower Baden and to prevent a great deal more precious blood being spilt, and since it is necessary to save what can be saved(!), therefore everyone participating in the revolution, together with the Provincial Assembly, should have his salary or wage paid up to July 10 with appropriate travelling expenses and all should withdraw to Swiss territory together with cash, provisions, arms, etc.!"
The valiant Struve proposed this fine motion on July 2, when we were in Wolfach up in the Black Forest, 10 hours away from Freiburg and 20 hours away from the Swiss frontier! Herr Struve is naive enough to relate this incident himself and even to boast of it in his Geschichte. The only consequence that the acceptance of such a motion could have was that the Prussians would press us as hard as possible in order to "save what could be saved", that is, to do us out of our cash, artillery and provisions, since this resolution assured them that there was no danger in vigorous pursuit, and that our troops would then immediately disband en masse, and whole corps make off on their own to Switzerland, as actually happened. Our corps would have come off worst; it was on Baden territory up to the 12th and was paid up to the 17th.
Herr Sigel, instead of re-taking Villingen, at first resolved to take up position at Hufingen the other side of Donaueschingen and await the enemy. The same evening, however, it was decided to march to Stuhlingen, close by the Swiss frontier. We hastily sent dispatch-riders to Furtwangen, to inform our own corps and that of Becker. Both were likewise to make their way to Stuhlingen via Neustadt and Bonndorf. Willich went to Neustadt to meet his corps and I stayed with the Besancon company. We spent the night in Riedbohringen and arrived at Stuhlingen on the afternoon of the next day, July 7. On the 8th Herr Sigel held a review of his half-disbanded army, recommended it not to ride in future but to march (at the frontier!) and departed. He left behind for us half a battery and in order for Willich.
In the meantime news of the general retreat had been sent from Furtwangen first to Becker and then to our own companies stationed to the fore. Our corps gathered first in Furtwangen and met Willich in Neustadt. Becker, who was closer to Furtwangen than were our outlying troops, still did not arrive till later and took the same road. He ran into entrenchments which held up his march and which were later said in the Swiss press to have been dug by our corps. That is incorrect; our corps only blocked the roads on the other side of the Black Forest ridge, and not on the way from Triberg to Furtwangen, which it never occupied. Besides, our volunteers did not march off from Furtwangen until Becker's advance guard had arrived there.
In Donaueschingen it was agreed that the remains of the entire army should gather on the other side of the Wutach, from Eggingen to Thiengen, and there await the approach of the enemy. Here, with our flanks abutting upon Swiss territory, we could attempt a last battle with our considerable artillery. We could even wait and see whether the Prussians would violate Swiss territory and thus bring the Swiss into the war. But how amazed we were when Willich arrived and we read in the valiant Sigel's order:
"The main body of the army is to proceed to Thiengen and Waldshut and take up a firm position there(!!). Endeavour to maintain the position (at Stuhlingen and Eggingen) as long as possible."
A "firm position" at Thiengen and Waldshut, the Rhine to the rear and heights accessible to the enemy in front! The only possible interpretation of this was: We intend to cross the Sackingen bridge into Switzerland. And this was the same hero Sigel who had said on the occasion of Struve's motion that if it were passed then he, Sigel, would be the first to rebel.
We now occupied the position behind the Wutach itself and distributed our troops from Eggingen to Wutöschingen, where our headquarters were. Here we received the following even more priceless document from Herr Sigel:
"Order. Thiengen headquarters, July 8, 1849. – To Colonel Willich in Eggingen. Since the canton of Schaffhausen is already taking up a hostile stance towards me, it is impossible for me to take up the position we discussed. You will order your movements accordingly and move in the direction of Griessen, Lauchringen and Thiengen. I am marching off from here tomorrow, either to Waldshut or beyond the Alb" (i.e. to Sackingen). "General-in-Chief Sigel."
That capped it all. That evening Willich and I went to Thiengen, where the "General Quartermaster" Schlinke admitted that they really were going to Sackingen and thence over the Rhine. At first Sigel tried to come the "general-in-chief", but Willich did not fall for that and eventually prevailed upon him to give the order to turn round and march on Griessen. The pretext for the march to Sackingen was a junction with Doll, who had marched thither, and an allegedly strong position. The position, evidently the same one from which Moreau gave battle in 1800, had only one drawback: it faced in quite another direction from that where our enemy was coming from; and as for the noble Doll, he did not hesitate to prove that he could go to Switzerland even without Herr Sigel.
Between the cantons of Zurich and Schaffhausen lies a small strip of Baden territory, with the villages of Jestetten and Lottstetten, completely closed in by Switzerland apart from a narrow access at Baltersweil. Here the last stand was to be made. The heights on both sides of the road behind Baltersweil presented excellent positions for our artillery, and our infantry was still numerous enough to cover them if necessary until they had reached Swiss territory. It was agreed that we should wait here and see whether the Prussians would attack us or starve us out. The main body of the army, to which Becker had attached himself, went into camp here. Willich had selected the position for the artillery (we later found their park where their battle-position was to be). We ourselves formed the rearguard and slowly followed after the main body of the army. On the evening of the 9th we went to Erzingen, on the 10th to Riedern. On that day a general council of war was held in the camp. Willich alone spoke for continued defence, Sigel, Becker and others for a withdrawal onto Swiss territory. A Swiss commissioner, Colonel Kurz, I believe, was present and declared that Switzerland would not grant asylum if another battle were fought. When it came to the vote Willich was alone with two or three officers. Apart from him, no one from our corps was present.
While Willich was still in the camp the half-battery posted with us received orders to move off; it departed without so much as a mention being made to us. All the other troops apart from us also received orders to go into the camp. During the night I went once more with Willich to the headquarters in Lottstetten; when we were on our way back, at daybreak, we met on the road all those who had struck camp and were trundling towards the frontier in the most frantic confusion. The same day, early on the morning of the 11th, Herr Sigel crossed onto Swiss territory with his troops near Raft and Herr Becker with his near Rheinau. We concentrated our corps, followed into the camp and from there to Jestetten. While we were there, at about midday, an orderly officer brought us a letter Sigel had written from Eglisau. In it he said that he was already safely in Switzerland, that the officers had retained their sabres and that we should join them as soon as we could. They did not give us a thought until they were on neutral ground!
We marched through Lottstetten to the frontier, bivouacked that night still on German soil, discharged our rifles on the morning of the 12th and then set foot on Swiss territory, the last of the army of Baden and the Palatinate to do so. On the same day and at the same time, Constance was abandoned by the corps stationed there. A week later Rastatt fell through treachery and the counter-revolution had for the moment reconquered Germany down to the last corner.
The campaign for the Imperial Constitution foundered because of its own half-heartedness and its wretched internal state. Ever since the defeat of June 1848 the question for the civilised part of the European continent has stood thus: either the rule of the revolutionary proletariat or the rule of the classes who ruled before February. A middle road is no longer possible. In Germany in particular the bourgeoisie has shown itself incapable of ruling; it could only maintain its rule over the people by surrendering it once more to the aristocracy and the bureaucracy. In the Imperial Constitution the petty bourgeoisie, in alliance with the German ideology, attempted an impossible arrangement aimed at postponing the decisive struggle. The attempt was bound to fail: those who were serious about the movement were not serious about the Imperial Constitution, and those who were serious about the Imperial Constitution were not serious about the movement.
This does not mean to say, however, that the consequences of the campaign for the Imperial Constitution were any the less significant. Above all the campaign simplified the situation. It cut short an endless series of attempts at reconciliation; now that it has been lost, only the somewhat constitutionalised feudal-bureaucratic monarchy or the true revolution can be victorious. And the revolution can no longer be brought to a conclusion in Germany except with the complete rule of the proletariat.
The Imperial Constitution campaign in addition contributed considerably to the development of class antagonisms in those German provinces where they were not yet sharply developed. Especially in Baden. In Baden, as we have seen, there existed hardly any class antagonisms at all before the insurrection. Hence the acknowledged supremacy of the petty bourgeois over all other classes in the opposition, hence the apparent unanimity of the population, hence the speed with which the Badeners, like the Viennese, pass from opposition to insurrection, attempt an uprising at every opportunity and do not even shy away from a battle in the field with a regular army. But as soon as the insurrection had broken out, the classes emerged in definite outline and the petty bourgeois separated themselves from the workers and peasants. Through their representative Brentano they disgraced themselves for all time. They themselves have been driven to such despair by the Prussian dictatorship of the sabre that they now prefer any regime, even that of the workers, to the present oppression; they will take a much more active part in the next movement than in any previous one; but fortunately they never again will be able to play the independent, dominant role they played under Brentano's dictatorship. The workers and peasants, who suffer just as much as the petty bourgeois under the present dictatorship of the sabre, did not go through the experience of the last uprising for nothing; they who besides having their fallen and murdered brothers to avenge will take care that when the next insurrection comes it is they and not the petty bourgeois who get the reins in their hands. And even though no experience of insurrection can substitute for the development of classes, which is only achieved by the operation of large-scale industry over a period of years, Baden has none the less through its latest uprising and its consequences joined the ranks of those German provinces which in the coming revolution will play one of the most important roles.
Looked at from the political point of view, the campaign for the Imperial Constitution was a failure from the very start. The same is true from the military point of view. Its only prospect of succeeding lay outside of Germany, in the victory of the republicans in Paris on June 13, and June 13 came to nothing. After this event the campaign could be nothing but a more or less bloody farce. And that is all it was. Stupidity and treachery ruined it completely. With the exception of a small handful, the military chiefs were either traitors or intrusive, ignorant and cowardly place-hunters, and the few exceptions were everywhere left in the lurch both by the others and by the Brentano government. In the coming convulsion anyone who can produce no other title than that of one of Hecker's generals or an officer of the Imperial Constitution deserves to be shown the door at once. As the chiefs, so the soldiers. The people of Baden possess the very finest fighting elements; during the insurrection these elements were from the start so demoralised and neglected that there arose the wretched situation which we have broadly described. The whole "revolution" was reduced to a veritable comedy and the sole consolation was that the opponent, although six times as strong, had six times as little courage.
But this comedy came to a tragic end, thanks to the blood-thirstiness of the counter-revolution. The same warriors who on the march or on the battlefield were more than once seized by panic, died in the ditches of Rastatt like heroes. Not a single one of them pleaded, not a single one of them trembled. The German people will not forget the executions and the casemates of Rastatt, they will not forget the great gentlemen who ordered these infamies, but neither will they forget the traitors who through their cowardice were responsible for them: the Brentanos of Karlsruhe and of Frankfurt.
170 This refers to Frederick William IV's New-Year message "To My Army" ("An mein Heer") signed in Potsdam on January 1, 1849, and published in the Preussischer Staats-Anzeiger of January 3, 1849. The Neue Rheinische Zeitung used this document to expose the counter-revolutionary actions of the Prussian military (see Marx's article "A New-Year Greeting", present edition, Vol. 8).
171 An allusion to the statement made by Frederick William IV in his speech at the opening of the First United Diet on April 11, 1847, that he was "heir to an unimpaired crown" and must pass it on unimpaired to his successors (see Der Erste Vereinigte Landtag in Berlin 1847, erster Teil).
172 The Club of Resolute Progress, founded in Karlsruhe on June 5, 1849, was the more radical wing of the petty-bourgeois democratic republicans (Struve, Tzschirner, Heinzen and others) discontented with the conciliatory policy of the Brentano Government and the increasing strength of the Rightist elements within it. The Club suggested that Brentano should extend the revolution beyond Baden and the Palatinate and introduce radicals into his government. Brentano refused, so the Club tried, on June 6, to force the government to comply by threatening an armed demonstration. The government, however, supported by the civic militia and other armed units, proved the stronger party in the conflict. The Club of Resolute Progress was disbanded.
173 This refers to a speech Franz Heinrich Zitz, an extreme Left-wing deputy to the Frankfurt parliament, made at a meeting in Frankfurt am Main on September 17, 1848, on the eve of the popular uprising sparked off by the parliament's ratification of the Malmo armistice, which jeopardised the liberation movement in Schleswig-Holstein and Germany's national interests. Zitz condemned the parliament's stand and objected to sending petitions to it, declaring that the time had come for resolute action.
175 The Cologne Workers' Association–a workers' organisation founded by Andreas Gottschalk on April 13, 1848. By early May its members numbered about 5,000, mostly workers and artisans. The Association was led by the President and the committee, which consisted of representatives of various trades, and had several branches.
Most of the Association's leaders (Gottschalk, Anneke, Schapper, Moll, Lessner, Jansen, Roser, Nothjung, Bedorf) were members of the Communist League. After Gottschalk's arrest, Moll was elected President (on July 6). On October 16, Marx agreed to assume this post temporarily at the request of Association members. From February to May 1849 the post was held by Schapper.
In the beginning, the Workers' Association was influenced by Gottschalk, who, ignoring the proletariat's tasks in the democratic revolution, pursued a policy of boycotting elections to representative bodies and came out against an alliance with democratic forces. He combined ultra-left talk with very moderate actions (petitions, etc.) and support for the demands of the workers affected by craft prejudices. From the outset, Gottschalk's sectarian attitude was challenged by the supporters of Marx and Engels. At the end of June 1848 they brought about a radical change in the Association's activities, making it a centre of revolutionary agitation among the workers, and from the autumn of that year, also among the peasants. By studying Marx's works, members of the Association familiarised themselves with scientific communism. The Association maintained contacts with other workers' and democratic organisations.
In January and February 1849, Marx, Schapper and other leaders reorganised the Association with a view to strengthening it. On February 25, new Rules were adopted, proclaiming the Association's main task as raising the class consciousness of the workers.
The mounting counter-revolution and intensified police reprisals prevented the Cologne Workers' Association from continuing its work of rallying and organising the working masses. After the Neue Rheinische Zeitung ceased publication and Marx, Schapper and other leaders of the Association left Cologne, it gradually turned into an ordinary workers' educational society.
176 On September 26, 1848, the authorities, frightened by the upsurge of the revolutionary and democratic movement in Cologne, declared a state of siege in the city to ensure "security of property and person". An order of the military command prohibited all associations pursuing "political and social aims", banned meetings, disbanded and disarmed the civic militia, introduced courts-martial and suspended publication of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung and several other democratic newspapers. A protest campaign forced the Cologne military authorities to lift the state of siege on October 2. On October 12, the Neue Rheinische Zeitung resumed publication.
177 On June 23, 1849, during the retreat of the Baden-Palatinate insurgent army, one of its units mutinied. The soldiers, led by their commander Thome, made an attempt to arrest Mieroslawski and Sigel and turn them over to the Prussian army.
178 The Baden Constituent Assembly held its sittings in Freiburg (the last on July 2, 1849) after moving there from Karlsruhe at the end of June.
179 This refers to the battle of Hohenlinden (December 3, 1800), in which General Jean Victor Moreau of the French Republic defeated the Austrian army.