170 years ago, in the summer of 1849, the Hungarian campaign was undertaken. The Russian army under the leadership of Paskevich suppressed the Hungarian uprising and saved the Austrian Empire from collapse. Petersburg already during the lifetime of Emperor Nicholas I will experience "Austrian gratitude", when exactly the hostile position of Austria will lead to defeat in the Crimean War.
The revolutionary wave that rocked Western Europe in 1848 swept through the Habsburg Empire. The whole of Hungary was in revolt and declared independence. The uprisings also covered the Slavic regions, except for Croatia, where they hated the Hungarians and remained loyal to the Habsburgs. Also, Vienna at this time was waging a war in Italy with Sardinia, which weakened the army's ability to restore order within the empire.
At first it seemed that the Austrians themselves would be able to restore order in the empire. In October 1848, the Austrian army repelled the attack on Vienna. In December, Austrian troops under the command of Prince Windischgrez and Jelacic invaded Hungary. In January 1849, the Austrians stuck Pest, the Hungarians retreated to Debrecen and Weizen. However, they were able to regroup their forces and in April 1849 launched a counteroffensive, recaptured Pest. Lajos Kossuth proclaimed the independence of Hungary, the deposition of the Habsburg dynasty, the republic, and himself - its dictator. On April 28, Hungarian troops occupied Gyёрr, located halfway between Budapest and Vienna. In early May, the Hungarians occupied all of Slovakia. Kossuth announced that the Hungarians would soon take Vienna.
Thus, by the spring of 1849, the situation in Austria had become disastrous. The young Emperor Franz Joseph, who had just ascended the throne after the abdication of his uncle Ferdinand, in April began to beg for help from the Russian Tsar Nicholas. On May 21, 1849, the Warsaw Pact was signed. Russia has promised military aid to Austria.
Russia was Austria's ally within the Holy Alliance, which, after the victory over Napoleon's empire, maintained legitimacy and legality in Europe, crushing revolutionary movements. For this, Russia was called the "gendarme" of Europe. " The main provision of the Holy Alliance was that all monarchs are obliged to provide each other with fraternal assistance. This knightly rule was forgotten in the West, but Petersburg continued to adhere to it. To the detriment of Russian national interests.
The vague wording of the Holy Alliance allowed different interpretations of aid, which was taken advantage of by Russia's Western "partners" to use Russian "cannon fodder" to solve their problems. In particular, Vienna used the Russians to save the Habsburg empire from collapse. Thus, only Russia of Alexander I and Nicholas I sincerely believed in the provisions of the Holy Alliance and, as a knight, defended order in Europe. Other countries used the union to solve their political problems. As a result, in the period from 1815 to 1853. Petersburg abandoned the solution of national problems in the name of alien mystical (religious) ideas and religious-monarchical internationalism. The vital interests of the Russian state and the people were sacrificed to monarchical internationalism, senseless and even dangerous. Russians paid in blood for other people's interests.
This anti-national policy was embodied in Karl Nesselrode, who became the governor of the foreign collegium in 1816 and was the minister of foreign affairs of Russia from 1822 to 1856 (he held the post of foreign minister of the Russian Empire longer than anyone else). Under his leadership, Petersburg followed in line with the policy of Vienna and came to the Crimean catastrophe. On his conscience, and the inhibition of the development of Russia in the Far East, which ultimately led to the loss of Russian America.
In 1821, a national uprising against the Turkish yoke began in Greece. The Ottomans and their mercenaries committed terrible atrocities, drowning the uprising in blood. It was a real genocide. Christians expected Russia to save Greece. In Russia itself, the patriotic community was on the side of the Greeks. But the St. Petersburg government, pursuing a pro-Western, internationalist policy, remained indifferent to the heroic and unequal struggle of the Greeks. Although from the point of view of national interests, it was a very favorable moment to implement the program of Catherine II to resolve the "Greek question". Russia could easily defeat Turkey (then the Russian army, which defeated the empire of Napoleon, had no equal opponents in Europe), radically expand its possessions in the Northern Black Sea region, take the straits, Constantinople, free the Balkans from the Ottomans, including Greece, create a pro-Russian alliance of Slavic and Eastern Christian states. However, at the Verona Congress in 1823, Emperor Alexander refused to support the uprising of Greece, he considered the uprising of the Greeks against their "legitimate sovereign" - the Sultan, a harmful and lawless deed. Since that time the British have taken the natural place of Russians in Greece.
But when in 1822 unrest began in the Italian possessions of the Habsburgs, Emperor Alexander immediately offered Vienna to help the Russian army under the command of Ermolov. Fortunately, the Austrians put out the fire themselves. The Russians did not have to crush the Italian uprising. Nicholas I, who ascended the throne, pursued a more national policy and helped Greece. The Ottoman Empire was defeated. However, finishing it off and hoisting a Russian flag on Constantinople in 1829 (Adrianople is ours! Why the Russian army did not take Constantinople) was again prevented by the commitment to the Holy Alliance (the interests of the Vienna Cabinet). As a result, the Ottoman Sultan remained the “legal monarch” for the Balkan Slavs. And the Balkans remained under the yoke of the Turks until the war of 1877-1878.
In 1833, Russian bayonets saved Turkey from collapse. The Egyptian ruler Muhammad Ali rebelled against Istanbul and the war with powerful Egypt threatened the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Russia stood up for Istanbul, sending the Black Sea Fleet with an amphibious assault to the straits. The Egyptian ruler immediately obeyed. Russia saved Turkey. The profitable Unkar-Iskelesi treaty on peace, friendship and a defensive alliance between Russia and Turkey was concluded with the Porta. The Turks pledged to close the straits for the powers at war with Russia. However, England already in 1840 at the London Conference forced the "flexible" Russian Foreign Ministry to abandon this single and major success.
Finally, in 1849, Russia saved the Habsburg Empire, its future mortal enemy. During the Eastern (Crimean) War, it is the hostile position of Austria that will lead Russia to defeat. In the Russian-Turkish war of 1877 - 1878. the position of Austria will not allow Russia to receive all the fruits of victory. In the First World War, Austria-Hungary will oppose Russia. Thus, it was in the Russian interests to turn a blind eye to the collapse of the Habsburg empire, even to support it by providing patronage to the Slavic regions so that they would pass under the protectorate of Russia.
The Russian Empire was then considered the most powerful military power in Europe. The Russian army was put on alert in the second half of 1848. The first intervention of Russia in Austro-Hungarian affairs took place in the winter of 1849. The Transylvanian Hungarians, under the leadership of Behm, raised an uprising. The Austrian authorities could not suppress the uprising, which threatened the security of the loyal German and Romanian population of Transylvania. The Austrians asked the Russians for help. The 5th corps, under the command of General Leaders, then occupied the Danube principalities. With the permission of St. Petersburg, Leaders sent detachments under the command of Colonel Engelhardt and Skaryatin (5 battalions) to Transylvania. However, the Austrian troops did not help the Russians, and soon the superior forces of the Hungarians drove our troops back to Wallachia.
In April 1849, 120 thousand army with 450 guns under the command of Field Marshal Paskevich (2nd, 3rd and 4th corps, a total of 9 infantry and 4 cavalry divisions) were concentrated in the southern part of Poland. On April 23, the Austrian Chancellor Prince Schwarzenberg asked to urgently send a Russian detachment to Vienna. Paskevich sent a combined division of General Panyutin (11 thousand soldiers with 48 guns) to the Austrian capital. She was transferred from Krakow to Vienna by rail (this was the first experience of the transfer of Russian troops by rail). The division spent the entire campaign with the Austrian army.
The Russian command decided to move the main forces from Poland, through Galicia and the Carpathians, to Hungary, to Budapest. The Russian army, thus, went to the rear of the main forces of the enemy army, operating against the Austrians in western Hungary (in the Vienna direction). With one decisive blow, the Russians could end the war. At the same time, General Leaders with the 5th corps - 35 thousand people with 80 guns (2, 5 infantry and 1 cavalry divisions) had to clear Transylvania of Behm's troops, preventing their transfer to the main operational direction.
By the time the Russian army marched, the situation in the theater of war was as follows. In western Hungary, on the Upper Danube, 70 thous. the Austrian army of Baron Julius von Heinau could not do anything with 58 thousand. the main Hungarian army of Görgey, an energetic and talented commander. In southern Hungary, in Banat and Vojvodina, 40 thousand people Jelacic's army (mostly Yugoslavs loyal to the Habsburgs) opposed 30-thousand. the Dembinsky army. The Polish commander had already fought against the Russians under Napoleon's command during the Polish uprising of 1830. In Transylvania, Bem, with 32 thousand people, was the complete master of the region. Jozef Boehm was also a Polish political émigré. He fought against the Russians under the banner of Napoleon, during the Polish uprising of 1830 he commanded the artillery of the Polish army. In addition, in northern Hungary, Slovakia and Carpathian Rus (these Slavic regions were then part of Hungary), there were 17 thousand militias, mostly with low combat capability and scattered over a large territory. It is clear that they could not interfere with the march of the Russian army, so it passed without any resistance.
The campaign of the Russian army
The main forces of the Russian army moved through Galicia and on June 3 (15), 1849, the vanguard - the 3rd corps under the command of General Ridiger, passed the Dukel Pass. On June 5 (17), the main forces descended into the Hungarian valley. On June 8 (20), our troops reached the Slovak city of Bardejov, and on June 11 (23) - Presov. Hungarian troops retreated without a fight to Miskolc. The Russian army numbered 100 thousand people, 14 thousand people under the command of Osten-Saken were left in Galicia (then the military leaders loved to put up barriers for any reason, separate detachments, although even Suvorov taught to beat the enemy with all his might. 12 (24) June Russian troops They occupied Kosice without a fight, and soon after that an epidemic of cholera broke out in Paskevich's army, knocking 14,500 people out of action in two weeks.
Prince Varshavsky ordered the main forces - the 2nd and 3rd corps of Kupreyanov and Ridiger - to go to Budapest, and the 4th corps of Cheodaev (20 thousand people) to move to the Tissa valley, to the main center of the revolution - Debrecen. On June 18 (30), our troops occupied Miskolc and made a stop. The epidemic and lack of food forced Paskevich to stop the troops until the arrival of the late transports.
Cheodaev's corps completed the assigned task: on June 16 (28), under enemy fire, our troops crossed the Tissa near Tokay and on June 21 (July 3) occupied Debrecen (Debrechin). Meanwhile, the Austrian army, with the support of the Russian division of Panyutin, fought with the army of Görgey in the area of the village of Pered and Gyor. After stubborn battles, the Hungarians were forced to retreat to the Komorn fortress. In these and subsequent battles, the Russian division of Panyutin showed itself excellently, becoming the most combat-ready part of the Austrian army of Gainau.
On June 26-27, the Russian army set out from Miskolc for Budapest. At the same time, the main Hungarian army of Görgey (about 40 thousand people), having received information about the approach of Paskevich's troops, moved from Comorne (a garrison was left there under the command of Klapka) down the Danube, towards Pest. The Hungarians understood the danger of the appearance of the Russians in the rear and wanted to cover the capital. Having learned about the movement of Görgey's army, the Russian commander-in-chief ordered the 4th corps to move from Debrecen to Miskolc in order to become the rearguard of the main army forces and cover them from the north if the Hungarians go north and threaten our communications. Paskevich was going to attack the enemy, believing that the main Austrian army was pursuing Görgey. However, this calculation was not justified, the Austrian army of Gainau stood still. The Austrian command was in a hurry to blame the entire conduct of the war on "Russian mercenaries" (as they called their disinterested saviors).
Görgei's army maneuver
The Hungarian army was located at Weizen among the hills and forests, which made it difficult to combat. Paskevich decided to lure the enemy into the plain and give battle, taking advantage of the quantitative and qualitative superiority of the Russian army. In the form of a bait, 12 thousand people were pushed forward. detachment under the command of Zass. On July 3 (15), 1849, Russian troops attacked the enemy near Weizen. The battle ended in a draw, but due to the superiority of the enemy forces, the Zass detachment retreated. Our losses amounted to about 400 people, the Hungarians have about the same. The Russian detachment fought stubbornly, which suggests that Zass did not understand the task assigned to him. Görgei realized that the main forces of the Russians were nearby and the Hungarians were threatened with a general battle under the most unfavorable conditions for them - the Russians were advancing from the east and southeast, there were Austrians in the west, it was impossible to retreat in the south because of the Danube, through which from Comorne to Pest had no bridge crossings.
The Hungarian commander made the only correct decision - to immediately withdraw the army in the only free direction, to the north, with fast flank marches through Miskolc to Tokaj to go to Tissa. Further, Görgei planned to join up with the Transylvanian army of Bem, then with the army of Dembinsky in Banat. With such forces (up to 120 thousand people) it was possible to measure strength with the Russians. Görgei thought that there were only 60 thousand Russians. Thus, the Hungarian army moved to the march Weizen - Miskolc - Debrechin - Arad, bypassing Paskevich's army around.
On July 4, while Paskevich's troops were at Weizen, clarifying the situation, the Hungarians began their march, and on the 5th, when the Russians reached Weizen for battle, the enemy was already gone. Upon learning of the enemy's maneuver, Paskevich was worried about his communications. In addition, if the Hungarians underestimated the strength of the Russians, then ours exaggerated them. The Russian commander-in-chief ordered the 4th corps to speed up the movement from Debrechin to Miskolc, and led his troops parallel to the Hungarians in order to forestall the enemy on the Upper Tisza.
The Russian army was closer to the target. However, it was tied up by a huge wagon train, hospitals - due to the need to carry supplies due to a lack of local funds and a large number of patients. Therefore, it was not possible to overtake the Hungarians. On July 10 (22), Görgei's army reached Miskolc, which had previously been abandoned by Russian troops. Without stopping in Miskolc, Görgei moved towards Tissa. At that time he had 27 thousand people with 86 guns.
Paskevich then decided to force the Tissa below - at Tissa-Fured, intercepting Görgey's path to Banat and Transylvania. The 4th corps received the task of delaying the enemy on the right bank. On July 13 (25), Cheodaev's corps entered battle with the enemy in the Tokay area. The Russian commander acted sluggishly, bringing in small forces into the battle and sending a small number of troops bypassing. As a result, it was not possible to detain the Hungarian army, on July 17 (29) it crossed over to the left bank of the Tisza. Gergey went to Debrichin, destroying the bridge and slowing down the movement of the 4th corps.
Meanwhile, the vanguard of the Russian army under the command of Prince Gorchakov made a difficult crossing at Tissa-Fured on July 14 (26). On July 15, the main forces of the army crossed over to the other side. Paskevich had no information about the enemy, although there were four light cavalry divisions in the army. It should be noted that the numerous Russian cavalry was used ineffectively. Paskevich's army moved almost blindly, not knowing where the enemy was and what was going on in one or two passages. As a result, Paskevich's army lost four days. Only on July 19, Prince Varshavsky received news of the movement of Görgei to Debrichin and again tried to cross his path. On July 21 (August 2), 1849, at Debrichin, a battle of the Russian army (62 thousand people and about 300 guns) took place with the side Hungarian vanguard - the Nagy Sandor corps (8 thousand people with 41 guns). The Hungarian corps was defeated and escaped complete destruction only thanks to the managerial mistakes of the Russian command. Our losses - 337 killed and wounded, Hungarian - about 4 thousand people. The decisive General Ridiger with the 3rd corps and cavalry continued the pursuit of the enemy.