Page images
PDF
EPUB

sures to protect his own line of communications in the north, and then proceeded to secure the passage of the Theiss, at which point he awaited the enemy; for he had committed the mistake of sending in pursuit of Görgei a very inadequate force;-and the retreating army reached Miskolz before any Russian corps had had time to fall back on that place. Nothing could exceed the adroitness with which the movements of Görgei were now conducted through this difficult region, and on the 28th of July he succeeded in crossing the Theiss without opposition above the principal passage of Tisza-Fured, at which the Russians awaited him. The Hungarians, being unable to follow the direct line from Miskolz to Tisza-Fured, had occupied the valleys of the Sajo and the Hernad, in which latter position Görgei remained for three days, partly to rest his troops after the forced march they had made, and partly from an erroneous notion that by detaining the Russians in the north he was facilitating the position of the army on the Southern Theiss and the Maros. This delay was the principal fault he appears to have committed in his extraordinary march, for if it had not taken place it is not impossible that the junction of the armies might have been effected before the decisive action. The Russians crossed the Theiss as soon as the Magyars, and the theatre of war was removed to the left bank of that river; but in spite of several collisions, some of which were imprudently and needlessly occasioned by General Nagy-Sándor, who commanded the rear-guard of the army, no decisive blow was struck against it, and it effected its march by Debreczin and Vamos Peres to Arad, where the communication was reopened with Kossuth's government and with the forces at its disposal. In a military point of view we know of nothing more remarkable than this march of eighteen days over such a country as Hungary, in presence of several armies, all of greatly superior strength, which was accomplished by Görgei without the loss of any considerable portion of his artillery or his troops.

It will be borne in mind that the object of this great manœuvre was, if possible, to bring the army of the Upper Danube, which Görgei commanded, to co-operate on the Theiss and the Maros with the army of Southern Hungary under the command of Dembinski, Vetter, and Guyon. The distance from Comorn to Tokay, by the road Görgei was compelled to take, certainly exceeded 200 miles. A further distance of 200 miles was still to be traversed from Tokay to Szegedin, and this in presence of hostile armies of superior force. As it turned out, the combination failed by the difference of three or four days. Had General Haynau advanced with less rapidity to the south he

would

would have found the insurgents at Szegedin reinforced by Görgei's army, and the entrenchments which had been hastily thrown up on the right bank of the Theiss would in a few days more have opposed a formidable obstacle to his progress. The whole force under Dembinski on the Theiss at this time was estimated by the Austrians at 63,600 men and 176 guns-of these at least 35,000 were concentrated in the lines at Szegedin, where they were to be attacked by Haynau on the 3rd of August. Strange to say, however, in the night of the 2nd of August Dembinski evacuated these lines and the town of Szegedin without firing a shot, not venturing to sustain the attack of Haynau with the Theiss in his rear. On the following day the Jablonowski brigade crossed the river, and the Magyars were driven out of the tête-de-pont at Alt-Szegedin, on the left bank of the Theiss, which place was set on fire by the rocket batteries. On the 5th another battle was fought at Szöreg, and on the 9th the main body of the Austrians were within sight of Temesvár, where a last effort was made to oppose their progress. The battle of Temesvár was in fact no more than a cannonade of about seven hours' duration, followed by charges of cavalry; for Haynau himself states that the infantry was never regularly engaged. But the consequences of this action were decisive. Bem, who had already been beaten three days before some 200 miles to the east, arrived with his usual celerity to take part in this action. But in vain-the Magyars were dispersed thousands of prisoners fell into the hands of the victorious Austrian-baggage waggons, cannons, and ammunition waggons all galloped pell-mell towards Lugos—and the infantry was disbanded. That same evening Haynau entered Temesvár, which had held out under Lieutenant-General Rukavina during the whole war with a gallantry and perseverance worthy of the highest fame. It is a remarkable circumstance that a portion of the garrison consisted of Hungarian troops, who had remained unshaken in their fidelity to the Imperial colours during the whole of the siege; they were, however, mingled with detachments of the Sifkovics, Bianchi, and Leiningen regiments, which are chiefly Wallachian and Polish-for every province and every race of the vast empire of Austria is united and identified under the common standard of the Imperial

army.

On the 9th of August Görgei had reached Arad on the Maros-Temesvár being situated about thirty miles to the south of that river. If Dembinski, on evacuating Szegedin, and having been beaten at Szöreg, had retreated on Arad, following the right bank of the Maros, instead of retreating on Temesvár,

it is probable that the junction of the two armies might have been effected before the decisive action was fought. But before Görgei, or any part of his force, could reach Temesvár, the contest was over. In the course of the night of the 10th of August a despatch arrived at Arad, from Guyon, stating that Dembinski's army no longer existed.

On the afternoon of that day, and some hours before the arrival of this intelligence, a private conference had taken place between Kossuth and Görgei in the fortress of Arad, at which they discussed the conduct to be pursued under either of the events then impending over them.

"Kossuth wished to know what I intended to do, in case the news he had received of the victory of Dembinski's army at Temesvár should be confirmed the junction of the army under my orders with Dembinski's effected-and the chief command over both armies were to devolve upon me." In that case"- I replied " I should combine the whole of our forces, and direct my attack against the Austrians alone."-" But if the Austrians have been victorious at Temesvár ?" Kossuth finally asked. "Then I will lay down my arms," was my answer. "And I shoot myself!" replied Kossuth.'— ii. p. 378.

A few hours later Kossuth sent for my information a report of General Guyon relative to the issue of the battle fought at Temesvár. According to this report, written by Guyon himself, Dembinski's army no longer existed.

By this final result of Dembinski's retrograde operation from Szöreg to Temesvár (instead of to Arad) the last probability of successful offensive operations against the Austrians was destroyed. The further continuance of our active resistance to the armies of the allies could now at most promote personal, no longer any national interests. Therefore, directly after the receipt of Count Guyon's report to Kossuth, I resolved, with the army under my command, which had been strengthened in Arad by a division of reserve, to lay down our arms, that a bloodless end might be put as speedily as possible to a contest henceforth without purpose, and that the country, which I could no longer save, might at least be freed from the horrible misery of war.

'I took this resolution with the full conviction of performing no half deed in executing it: for the army under my command was now the principal army of Hungary, and its conduct must prospectively the more certainly become the guide for all the isolated lesser bodies of active forces still existing elsewhere in the country-not excepting the garrisons of the fortresses-as Kossuth himself agreed with my resolution to lay down our arms, and there was consequently no reason to apprehend that he would agitate against a general imitation of the example I was determined to set.

[ocr errors]

My supposition that Kossuth would agree to the laying down of our arms was by no means an arbitrary one. At the moment when I explained to Kossuth that I was determined to lay down our arms as soon as the news which I had received about the defeat of Dembinski's

army

Since the

The gar

army was confirmed, he was in the strictest sense of the word master of my life. The interview at which I made this declaration took place, as is known, in his own apartment in the fortress of Arad. The commander of the fortress was Damjanics. Comorn differences he was among my decided adversaries. rison of the fortress consisted of troops that scarcely knew me by name. There could not exist the slightest sympathy on the part of these troops for my person. The suite with which I had hastened on Kossuth's summons into the fortress consisted of one adjutant. Kossuth nevertheless allowed me unobstructed to return from the fortress to the head-quarters in Alt-Arad. He had not even attempted to dissuade me in any way from the eventual resolution of laying down our arms. It is true he had declared he was resolved to shoot himself if I laid down our arms. This declaration, however, considering the little personal sympathy I had shown him since the 14th of April 1849, could not be expected to shake me in my resolution; I considered this pathetic declaration, rather, only as a natural consequence of Kossuth's repeated asseverations, that he could neither live out of Hungary nor in it if it sunk into slavery.

If Kossuth had been decidedly opposed to the laying down of our arms, he could not possibly have allowed me to quit the fortress of Arad.'-vol. ii. p. 381-383.

It was therefore with a distinct knowledge of Görgei's intention that Kossuth and his colleagues formally transferred the supreme, civil, and military power to Görgei on the following day, whilst they provided for their own safety by flying to the Turkish frontier.

With these facts before us, the charge of treachery which the spirit of disappointed faction has attempted to attach to Görgei's surrender at Vilagos, cannot be supported. As long as there

was a possibility of carrying on the war with a chance of success, he had done his part towards it. As early as the 19th of July Count Rudiger, commanding a division of the Russian forces, had made overtures to Görgei for a negotiation, which was declined in suitable language, though even Kossuth and Count Casimir Batthyany were at that time ready to have placed the Duke of Leuchtenberg, or any other Russian prince, upon the Hungarian throne. But when the combination of the two armies was rendered absolutely impracticable by the defeat of the more considerable body of troops under Bem, Dembinski, and Meszáros, and when Görgei found himself surrounded by overwhelming forces, whilst his own army hardly exceeded 25,000 men, with no basis of operations and no attainable object before it: when, in short, that contingency had happened upon which Kossuth had said that he should blow out his brains, but upon which he did in reality lay down the government and take to

flight,

flight, without even handing over the insignia of office to his successor-it is a gross injustice to charge Görgei with the loss of a cause which was already ruined.

It has not been our purpose on this occasion to renew the discussion on the political causes of the Hungarian contest, which we conceive to have been singularly misconceived by a certain class of enthusiastic politicians in this country; and we have here confined ourselves to the narrative of military operations, which command in many respects our admiration. Had these courageous efforts really been those of a whole people struggling to defend their ancient constitution against the aggressive forces of modern despotism, we know of no contest in history which would more have deserved our sympathy. But the Hungarian insurrection is to be traced to a totally different origin. It was closely connected, as we have shown in a former article, with the revolutionary outbreak in Vienna of March, 1848, which convulsed the Austrian monarchy. It destroyed the ancient constitution of the realm by the first blow it inflicted: and the subsequent policy of the provisional government was dictated by the artifices of a mountebank, rather than by the heroism and firmness of a patriot. Kossuth's two great civil resources were an unlimited issue of paper-money and a wholesale recognition of tenant-right. His eloquence undoubtedly exercised extraordinary influence over a people as ignorant, as imaginative, and as servile as the natives of Hungary; but Kossuth himself appears frequently to have laboured under the intoxication of oratory, and to have mistaken words for things. He either had no plan at all for the permanent emancipation of his country, or the plan he did pursue was utterly inconsistent with the genius, the resources, and the position of Hungary. It was held to be so by all that was most rational in the councils of his own government and most valuable in the army; and if an exterminating angel had swept every Russian and Austrian soldier from the plains of Hungary in a single night, it would still have been impossible to construct or maintain a stable government for that country and its dependencies on the principles which M. Kossuth had adopted. After what had occurred, the only rational object of the war was to bring the Austrian authorities to treat on moderate terms for the constitutional independence of the kingdom, retaining its ancient and indissoluble connexion with the Imperial Crown. That object Görgei appears to have kept steadily in view, and success itself could have effected no other arrangement. On the other hand the Imperial Ministers, and especially Prince Windischgrätz and Prince Schwarzenberg, may justly be reproached with having ignored this obvious distinction, and driven the war

to

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »