Autograph Letter Signed from Sir William Russell to George, Duke of Cambridge, containing a long detailed account, written on the spot with keyed plan, of the 1849 Siege of Comorn [Komárno, Slovakia], which ended the Hungarian Revolution of 1848.

Author: 
Sir William Russell (1822-1892), army officer, Liberal MP and author [Prince George (1819-1904), Duke of Cambridge; Hungarian Revolution of 1848; Siege of Comorn [Komárno, Slovakia]]
Account of the 1849 Siege of Comorn
Publication details: 
20 September 1849; Acs [Ács], Hungary.
£1,250.00
SKU: 10833

LETTER: 4to, 4 pp. 81 lines of closely-written text. Written on the spot, and posted in England, with redirection address from Dublin to Gedling Lodge, Nottingham in another hand. Two penny red stamps, and four English postmarks, with Russell's small seal in red wax. PLAN: Folio (42.5 x 27.5 cm), 1 p. Clearly drawn and keyed to the letter, showing Comorn and environs, the rivers Danube and Waag, and the positions of the various parties. Captions include 'hills strongly entrenched by Rebels' and 'High Ground old French Entrenchments where the Troops are now posted in Tents & Huts'. Both plan and letter on aged paper. Letter in fair condition, with a few words slightly damaged through wear to fold lines; map in good condition. A vivid eye-witness account, filled with useful information. The recipient's interest in these matters would have been keen; Cambridge was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the British Army seven years later. Russell is staying at Acs with the Austrian commander-in-chief General Count Nugent, who has been 'most exceedingly kind to me having given me a room in his House & invited me to live with him during my stay here'. On his arrival the commander of Nugent's Russian allies General Grabbe 'offered to have a Review to show me the Russian Army on Sunday next when I am going over there.' He has the Prince to thank for this, as 'it was the result of Count Collerado's letters which he gave me because of your letter to Baron Koller.' He is writing to provide the Prince, who seems 'anxious' on the subject, with as much information as possible 'of the movements of the Austrians': 'I send you all the information I have been able to collect since I came here'. He is also leaving the letter 'open to the last moment to see if the Hungarians do surrender tonight'. He describes the accompanying plan as 'a sort of very rough outline of Comorn the River Fortifications &c from what I have been able to see in the two days I have been here & from what I have learnt from various officers'. Gives details of positions, troop numbers and commanding officers for the Austrian and Russian forces on both sides of the Danube, before turning to the Hungarian 'fortifications of Comorn', 'the old & very strong fortress which completely commands the other works so that even if they are taken they are untenable being commanded by the heavy guns of the fortress itself'. This description of Comorn is keyed to the plan. Revealing where his sympathies lie, he describes how 'The Austrians are raising new field works at G. G. G. from which to bombard the line of hillocks. They have also placed a new very fine bridge of boats over the Danube at H. The large wood marked in the plan as K is where the disastrous battle of Acs took place a short time ago when Imperialists were obliged to retreat beyond Raab.' Later he states that he has 'ridden along the Austrian videttes & seen the Hussars although there happened to be no skirmishing going on.' Speculates on the Austrian course of action if the Hungarians fail to surrender. The 'unhealthiness of the neighbourhood from the great bogs all round' is 'one great strength of Comora', and cholera 'is exceedingly bad here amongst the [Austrian and Russian] men', while the Hungarians within the fortress are 'well provided'. Nevertheless, 'it is expected they will surrender as the Emperor has promised good terms'. Describes his passage from Cologne to the theatre of war: 'When I arrived at Vienna I obtained leave to go into Hungary although they had refused several Englishmen but the letter from Count Collerado to Prince Schwarzenberg got me leave at once.' Describes his stay at Vienna, where he received a letter 'in which Lord Clarendon offered me the Master of the Horse vacant by Poor Turners death which will necessitate my return to Ireland soon'. (Russell held the post from 1849 to 1850; and that of aide-de-camp to Clarendon from 1850 to 1852.) Ends by stating that 'the Magyar deputation were here yesterday evening from 5 o'clock until 1 this morning & took back with them the Emperors ultimatum. They are to send an answer tomorrow morning.' The surrender of Comorn, on 28 September 1849, is reported in The Times, 3 October 1849.