Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung March 1849
Source: MECW Volume 8, p. 477;
Written: by Engels on March 5, 1849;
First published: in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 238, March 6, 1849.
Cologne, March 5. The Magyar reports on the war in Hungary, according to the Kölnische Zeitung, are nothing but “fantasies” and “ridiculous exaggerations”. It is the more remarkable that up to now the brave Kölnerin has not yet proved a single case of exaggeration. But how could it, indeed? Up to now confirmation of the Magyar news has invariably arrived three days later!
We did not proceed as the Kölnische Zeitung did. From the beginning we decidedly took the side of the Magyars. But we have never allowed our bias to influence our judgment of the Magyar reports. We have not declared these reports to be either exaggeration or gospel; we have compared them with the rest of the news and established their trustworthiness critically. And thus we found, indeed, that in the main they contained correct news, that a few days later they were invariably confirmed, directly or indirectly, by the Austrian bulletins.
After this preamble, we open our Hungarian report for today with the news that according to the Magyar correspondence (Breslauer Zeitung) Bem won a brilliant victory over Puchner and on February 15 took Hermannstadt by storm. This news is taken from the official Hungarian Moniteur (Közlöny) of February 21. In Debreczin this victory was celebrated on the 20th with a gun salute and Te Deum. During the battle, Bem received two shots in the left hand, as a result of which he had to have three fingers amputated. “There is no longer any trace of the Russians in Transylvania.” Puchner is said to have fled to Temesvár.
We see that this news bears the stamp of complete trustworthiness. Yesterday, the news from Transylvania about Bem covered events up to the 12th, on which day Puchner tried to reassemble his troops that had been driven back in wild flight from Deva to Szászváros, from Szfiszvfiros to Mühlenbach, from Mühlenbach to Hermannstadt, in position before Hermannstadt. In Hermannstadt itself, as we know, he found only 4,000 Russians for his reinforcement, who, however, were evidently insufficient, with the rest of his army, to hold the ground against Bem’s army. It is therefore absolutely credible that Bem — “unfortunately a good soldier”, as the Augsburg Allgemeine Zeitung says — delivered there the last decisive blow to the admittedly incapable Puchner and stormed the town itself.
With this victory Bem is again master of all Transylvania. Only Kronstadt, situated in the extreme south-eastern corner, and the environs of Bistritz in the extreme north-east are still in imperial environs. Malkowsky has made an incursion into the Bistritz area from Bukovina. We know that this noble hero evacuates the whole of Bukovina and retreats close to the Russian border whenever Bem merely shows up in the distance. Now, when Bem is 30 to 40 miles away, the brave Malkowsky has again taken the offensive and has been operating for three weeks in the Carpathians. The result of this daring enterprise is that Malkowsky has occupied Bistritz, a Saxon town, and thereby has in three weeks occupied precisely five miles of Transylvanian territory. The 25th Army Bulletin just arrived (see below), reports that his troops have “once again fought a very lucky battle”, so lucky that after the battle “they returned to their positions in Bistritz”, that is, they did not even retain the battlefield. Very lucky, indeed!
In the south the Hungarians, according to the same Magyar report, have also won at Arad a significant victory, at which 300 men of the Leiningen regiment went over to them.
From the Theiss the news is as follows. According to the Bulletin, Windischgrätz transferred his headquarters to Hatvan on the 24th, and to Gyöngyös on the 25th, which does not mean, however, that he was in Gyöngyös on the 25th. On this the Magyar correspondent, again a day in advance of the Austrian news, reports:
“From Pest we learn from a reliable source that Windischgrätz was beaten at Zibakhaza on the 26th, and that, therefore, in Ofen everything is held in readiness for retreat. The pontoon equipment has already left for Raab. The artillery park, however, was taken from the General Meadow at Ofen into the fortress itself. Two thousand men are said to have gone over to the Hungarians from the Croats. A great sensation has been caused in Pest by the arrest of Mr. A. Wodjaner, the son of the richest banker in Hungary.”
On this arrest, which has caused the greatest scandal in Pest and which shows the Hungarian bourgeoisie what it has to expect from the imperial army, another report says the following:
“Kossuth had founded a cloth factory on shares, without himself being a shareholder. Wodjaner was appointed its director. The factory was endowed with a working capital of 60,000 florins. When Pest was occupied by imperial troops, 20,000 florins of this were requisitioned without regard to the representations that the enterprise was one of private industry. In spite of this objection, and although the 20,000 florins had already been paid, on February 25 the demand was made that now the entire 60,000 florins should be paid over. When the partner, Albert Wodjaner, opposed this demand, he was publicly arrested on February 26, which created much stir. Thereupon the 60,000 florins were paid, and on the next day he was released.”
The division of Hungary in the interest of the Southern Slavs is confirmed. The Pesther Courier reports the following:
“Pest, February 22. Yesterday a manifesto of His Majesty the Emperor was published in the Pest comitat, according to which in future the Kameralgüter  of Croatia, the Serbian Voivodina, of the Bács, Torontal, Temes and Csanád comitats and of Transylvania are to be administered separately from the other estates belonging to the Hungarian Crown. According to the same manifesto, passports must in future be issued in German and the work of the Hungarian customs offices which formerly existed at the frontiers, will have to cease.”
To complete the above news we now give, first, the remaining reports of the Magyar correspondence, from which one can see how little Debreczin dreams of defeat:
“From a reliable source I can report to you that Count Erbach, the second aide of Prince Windischgrätz, has been taken prisoner and brought to Debreczin. In the Debreczin Moniteur (Közlöny), of February 13, Ernst Kiss is named as Field Marshal and resident in Debreczin. The Wiener Zeitung made out long ago that this Hungarian hero had gone over to the imperial side. General L. Mészáros is again Minister of War. The same issue also contains the proceedings of the House of Representatives of February 12, in which an excerpt from Kossuth’s speech is very remarkable for its indication that the Court in Olmütz appears to have condescended, behind the back of Windischgrätz, to take part in peace negotiations. In the night of February 25-26 many wagons of wounded men were taken to Pest from Szolnok. Windischgrätz is now in Gödöllö near Pest, but Jellachich is still in Pest. In the place of General Ottinger, Lieutenant-Field Marshal Count Schlick, whose previous army corps was almost wiped out at Tokaj and in the Zips, has taken over command of the imperial army at Szolnok.”
Furthermore, we give a report of the Constitutionelles Blatt aus Böhmen on the conduct of the war in the south, which is the more trustworthy as it appears in a paper written in the Slav interest:
“According to authentic reports, Szegedin is in the hands of Serbs, who have imposed on this poor town a contribution of 500,000 florins C. M.; but it is to be feared that the payment of this sum, a considerable one for Szegedin, will not be the only blow to strike the inhabitants. The Serbs have much to avenge, and we have no reason to believe that they will be generous in revenge. Many refugees have already arrived here from the Banat area and their accounts amply confirm these sad conjectures. The streets are everywhere crowded with their poor comrades in misfortune, who, not knowing where to turn, roam about hungry, desperate and without shelter; for their huts, where they slept calm and carefree only yesterday, have now become heaps of rubble! I spoke to one of these refugees, who vividly described the sufferings he had undergone during the flight; while he barely escaped death in one place, in another he nearly lost his hand, since some Serbs, who assaulted him in rapacious fury, wanted to hack off his hand because they could not pull the signet ring from his finger quickly enough. But I will not trouble you further with accounts of similar cruelties and atrocities.”
Finally, the official Bulletin No. 25 itself, which tells us further only that Götz and Jablonowsky have again occupied the towns of Eperies and Kaschau abandoned by General Görgey as he moved on:
“His Excellency Field Marshal Prince Windischgrätz started out on the 24th inst. from Ofen and on that day transferred his headquarters to Hatvan and, on the 25th to Gyöngyös. Thereby communications with the corps of Lieutenant-Field Marshal Count Schlick were restored. According to reports received from Transylvania, the most active and careful Colonel Urban has again survived a very happy skirmish with the insurgents in Baiersdorf, in the neighbourhood of Bistritz. To obtain precise information on the position of the insurgents, Colonel Urban started from Jad on the 18th inst., marched through Bistritz via Heidendorf to the junction of the roads to Baiersdorf and Szeretfalva, where he sent off an outflanking column under Major Wieser against Szeretfalva. With the main force he advanced against Baiersdorf, there encountered the Polish Legion and stormed the place with bayonets. After this heated and victorious battle the enemy was driven back towards Magyaros. In this battle the seriously wounded insurgent Colonel Riczko, two officers and 200 men were taken prisoner; three guns, a cart, an imperial and an insurgent standard, ammunition and baggage were captured. Unfortunately, we on our side lost Senior Lieutenant Count Baudissin of the Savoy dragoons, who there met a hero’s death for Emperor and fatherland. After the purpose of this enterprise had been achieved, Colonel Urban returned to his position in Bistritz. Colonel Urban speaks with high praise of the courage and endurance of all his troops, of the Rumanian auxiliaries as well as of the Galician cordon battalion, the regiments of the Karl Ferdinand infantry and the Savoy dragoons. In Upper Hungary, the division of Baron Ramberg, consisting of Götz’s and Jablonowsky’s brigades, occupied Eperies and Kaschau on the 21st inst.”