Marx-Engels Correspondence 1864

Engels To Marx
In London

Source: MECW Volume 41, p. 558;
First published: in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913.

Manchester, 4 September 1864
86 Mornington Street, Stockport Road

Dear Moor,

Your telegram arrived yesterday even before I had opened your letter, my attention having first been claimed by all kinds of business. You can imagine how surprised I was by the news. Whatever Lassalle may have been in other respects as a person, writer, scholar — he was, as a politician, undoubtedly one of the most significant men in Germany. For us he was a very uncertain friend now and would, in future, most certainly have been our enemy; but nevertheless, it’s very galling to see how Germany destroys all those in the extreme party who are in any way worth their salt. What jubilation there will be amongst the manufacturers and amongst the Progress swine, for L. was indeed the only man actually inside Germany of whom they were afraid.

But what an extraordinary way to lose one’s life: To go and fall seriously in love with a Bavarian envoy’s daughter — this would-be Don Juan —, ask for her hand, clash with an ex-rival, not to say Wallachian swindler, and get himself shot dead by the same. Such a thing could only happen to L., with his strange and altogether unique mixture of frivolity and sentimentality, Jewishness and chivalresquerie. How could a political man like him exchange shots with a Wallachian adventurer?

You can see with what speed the news travelled from the fact that his death had already been announced on Thursday evening in the Kölnische Zeitung, which arrived here at midday yesterday — 2 hours after your telegram.

What do you think of things in America? Lee is making masterly use of his fortified camp at Richmond, and small wonder, this being already the third campaign to revolve around it. He is pinning down Grant’s massive force with comparatively few men and is employing the better part of his own troops for offensive action in West Virginia and as a threat to Washington and Pennsylvania. A first-class object-lesson for the Prussians, who could learn from it down to the last detail how to conduct a campaign centred upon the fortified camp of Coblenz, but who are, of course, far too arrogant to learn anything from these improvised generals. Grant — discharged from the army for drunkenness 6 years ago when a lieutenant, subsequently a bibulous engineer in St. Louis — has much unity of purpose and considerable contempt for the lives of his cannon-fodder; he would also seem to be very resourceful as a small-scale strategist (i.e. day-to-day operations), but I look in vain for any signs that he has enough breadth of vision to be able to survey the campaign as a whole. It seems to me that the campaign against Richmond is on the point of collapse; the impatience with which G. is attacking now in one place now in another, but nowhere proceeding methodically with saps and mines is a bad sign. Altogether, so far as the Yankees are concerned, the engineering branch would seem to be in a poor state; for this calls, not only for theoretical knowledge, but also for a tradition of practice which cannot be readily improvised.

Whether Sherman will cope with Atlanta seems doubtful, but his chances are, I think, rather better. Skirmishing by guerrillas and cavalry to his rear are unlikely to do him much harm. The fall of Atlanta would be a hard blow for the South, Rome would fall at the same time and that’s where their gun foundries, etc., are; in addition, the railway connection between Atlanta and South Carolina would be lost.

Farragut is the same as always. The fellow knows what he’s about. But whether Mobile itself will fall is very doubtful. The town is very strongly fortified and can, so far as I know, only be taken from the landward side, since vessels of deep draught can’t approach near enough. But how stupid to split up the attacking forces on the coast, where Charleston and Mobile are being attacked simultaneously instead of one after the other, but each time with all available forces.

I don’t set much store by the peace-talk that is now so prevalent. Not even by the negotiations allegedly conducted direct by Lincoln. All this I regard as an electioneering ploy. As things now stand, I should say that Lincoln’s re-election is fairly certain.

My mother is at Ostende and will be going home again on Saturday, as a result of which news I have changed my travelling arrangements and shall be leaving for Ostende on Thursday evening. I'm afraid I shall only be able to catch the night train to London which gets in before 6 a.m. But, if I can manage it, I shall take the 4.15, thus getting to Euston station at 9.15, when I shall either go straight on to Dover (s'il y a moyen), or spend the night at the hotel at London Bridge Station. If the latter, I shall write to you beforehand, in which case we might be able to meet. Meanwhile, write and tell me what you think about America.

Best wishes to the girls.

F. E.