Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung February 1849

Military Art of the Royal Imperial Army

Source: MECW Volume 8, p. 412;
Written: by Engels on February 18, 1849;
First published: in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 226, February 19, 1849.

Cologne, February 18. Windischgrätz is exceptionally unlucky. He could have become one of the greatest generals of the century if he did not always have the most unpredictable accidents. Schwanbeck has already proved that he would have done incomparable heroic deeds if the Hungarians had only stood their ground against him. But the worst thing that has happened to the great Windischgrätz is now revealed by the royal imperial semi-official correspondence in the Augsburg Allgemeine Zeitung. For in its supplement of February 15 of this year, that newspaper says word for word the following:

“Concerning the operations of Prince Windischgrätz in the month of January, I must recall that eight army columns were intended to march into the interior of Hungary in the middle of December and at that time were ten to twelve days from Buda-Pest. This disposition of the Field Marshal had been made in anticipation of a rational form of warfare. The Magyars thwarted this anticipation by putting up a fabulously superior force everywhere except where it could have produced the most favourable outcome, if such were at all possible. Of the columns to which Windischgrätz had given dates at the Hungarian capitals, only those of the Ban, of Lieutenant-Field Marshal Wrbna and the reserve corps led by the Field Marshal were able to carry out their orders; the superiority of the Magyar forces prevented the other formations from doing so.”

Windischgrätz had counted on the Magyars pursuing a “rational form of warfare”. If they had conducted this rational warfare, Windischgrätz would have signally defeated them. But what they did was to put up a “fabulously superior force everywhere except where” it could have been at all effective. And in consequence of this boundless irrationality all the dispositions of the great Windischgrätz came to nothing.

Just because the Magyars made one blunder after another, and because even the gods themselves fight in vain against stupidity, Windischgrätz’s most learned combinations foundered on the Magyars’ ignorance of strategy!

Did ever a fellow have luck as bad
As Burgomaster Tschech has had —

and Field Marshal Windischgrätz, who could not beat his enemies simply because they were too stupid for him?!