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Artúr Görgei

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Artúr Görgei de Görgő et Toporc (born Arthur Görgey; Hungarian: görgői és toporci Görgei Artúr, German: Arthur Görgey von Görgő und Toporc; 30 January 1818 – 21 May 1916) was a Hungarian military leader renowned for being one of the greatest generals of the Hungarian Revolutionary Army.


Artúr Görgei

de Görgő et Toporc
Görgei Artúr by Miklós Barabás.jpg
Artúr Görgei, painting by Miklós Barabás
Dictator of Hungary
Acting civil and military authority
In office
11 August 1849 – 13 August 1849
MonarchFrancis Joseph I
Prime MinisterBertalan Szemere
Preceded byLajos Kossuth
Succeeded byRevolution suppressed
Minister of War
In office
7 May 1849 – 7 July 1849
Prime MinisterBertalan Szemere
Preceded byLázár Mészáros
Succeeded byLajos Aulich
Personal details
Arthur Görgey

(1818-01-30)30 January 1818
Toporc, Kingdom of Hungary, Austrian Empire
(today Toporec, Slovakia)
Died21 May 1916(1916-05-21) (aged 98)
Budapest, Austria-Hungary
Spouse(s)Adéle Aubouin
Military service
AllegianceFlag of Hungarian Revolution of 1848.png Hungarian Revolutionary Army
Battles/warsBattle of Ozora
Battle of Bruck
Battle of Schwechat
Battle of Tétény
Battle of Szélakna
First Komárom
Siege of Buda
Battle of Pered
Battle of Győr
Second Komárom
Second Vác

In his youth Görgei was a talented chemist, with his work in the field of chemistry being recognized by many renowned Hungarian and European chemists; however, he is more widely known for his role in the Hungarian Revolution and War of Independence of 1848–1849, as the most successful general and greatest military genius of the Hungarian army, the leader of the victorious Spring Campaign, which liberated almost all Western Hungary from the Austrian occupation. As a recognition of his military successes, he was decorated by the Hungarian Government, and given him also political positions: he became Minister of War, and in the last few days of the revolution, he was appointed the dictator of Hungary, which meant that he gathered in his hands all military and political powers of Hungary. Seeing that he could not withstand the numerically and technologically 4-5 times superior Austrian and Russian armies, on 13 August 1849 he surrendered his troops to the Russians at Világos, thus ending the Hungarian revolution.

Görgei's relationship and conflicts with Lajos Kossuth, the foremost politician and president-governor of the revolutionary Hungary, influenced the course of the war of independence and his military career but also his post-revolutionary life until his death. During his campaigns in the Winter and summer of 1848-1849, he entered in conflict with Kossuth, because of their different opinions about the military movements, and because Görgei disapproved the Declaration of the Hungarian Independence, the architect of which was Kossuth. The latter avoided many times to name Görgei to the Main Commandement of the Hungarian army, naming instead of him weak commanders, like Henryk Dembiński or Lázár Mészáros, weakening the military actions against the enemy armies.

After his surrender to the Russian army, he was not executed, like many of his generals, but, thanks to the Russian demand for his forgiveness, he was taken by the Austrians in Klagenfurt in Carinthia, and kept under surveillance, until 1867, when, thanks to the amnesty issued as a result of the Hungarian-Austrian Compromise, and founding of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, he could return in Hungary. After a several years of hardships in different parts of Hungary, where he tried to find, without success, a suitable job, his brother, István Görgey, provided him a home in Visegrád, where Artúr Görgei lived the last decades of his life.

After his returning in Hungary, during almost all his life, the Hungarian public opinion was hostile to Görgei, because some false accusations. Kossuth's Letter from Vidin, written in the aftermath of Görgei's Surrender, instilled a long-lasting hatred for Görgei amongst the Hungarians, many of whom came to believe that he was a traitor. In the 20th century, this characterization was challenged by modern research. As a result, Görgei is less often considered treasonous, and his reputation as one of the most talented and successful Hungarian generals of the 19th century has been restored, being regarded as one of Hungary's greatest historical heroes.

Görgey or Görgei?Edit

The earlier books and articles about Artúr Görgei, usually used his surname as Görgey. For example, Sándor Pethő's bibliographical book: Görgey Artúr (Budapest, 1930), or Artúr's younger brother István Görgey: Görgey Arthur ifjusága és fejlődése a forradalomig (The youth of Artúr Görgey, and his development until the revolution, Budapest, 1916), Görgey Arthur a száműzetésben 1849–1867 (Artúr Görgey in exile, Budapest, 1918). But the newer historiography uses the form Görgei (for example Róbert Hermann's and Tamás Csikány's works). Artúr Görgei had born with the surname Görgey.

Artúr Görgei's signature

In the Hungarian surnames the "y" instead of an "i" (used today), as last letter of the name (as a locative adverb suffix, for example Debreceni, meaning "from Debrecen") usually appear on the nobles names, because their names appeared earlier than the common peoples names, so the nobiliary surnames kept the archaic writing style of the period they first were written down. The surnames of the common people which appeared later, after the Hungarian writing style changed, received an "i" as the last letter. Being noble by origin, initially Görgei had an "y" at the end of his surname, but during the 1848-49 revolution, a period of an anti-nobiliary reaction, many Hungarians from noble families changed the last letter of their surnames from "y" to "i". For example, the renowned novelist Mór Jókay became Mór Jókai. Görgei made the same change to his name, because of his progressive liberal views. Even after the revolution was suppressed, he kept using the form Görgei instead of Görgey. Although in some works which appeared after his death, and that the translation to Hungarian of his works Mein Leben und Wirken in Ungarn in den Jahren 1848 und 1849 (My life and work in Hungary in 1848 and 1849) made by in 1911 by his younger brother István Görgey, appeared with the form Görgey, Artúr kept using the Görgei form until his death.[1] This is why in this article we are also using this form.

Early lifeEdit

He was born as Johannes Arthur Woldemár Görgey at Toporc in Upper Hungary (today Toporec, Slovakia) on 30 January 1818 to an impoverished Hungarian noble family of Zipser German descent who immigrated to the Szepes (today Spiš) region during the reign of King Géza II of Hungary (1141–1162). During the Reformation they converted to Protestantism. The family name refers to their origin from Görgő village (Hungarian: görgői, lit. "of Görgő"), today Spišský Hrhov in Slovakia.

Equestrian statue of Artúr Görgei

In 1832 Görgey enrolled in the sapper school at Tulln, profiting from a tuition-free place offered by a foundation. Because his family was poor, this was a great opportunity for him, but initially he did not want to be a soldier. During this period he wrote to his father that he would rather be a philosopher or scientist than a soldier.[2] He spent almost thirteen years in this school, receiving a military education. He decided not to accept money from his family, and ate very little and wore poor clothes in an effort to train himself for a hard life.[1] Records from the school show that his conduct was very good, he had no errors, his natural talents were exceptional, and his fervency and diligence were constant, being very severe with himself but also with the others.[3] Despite this, in his letters he wrote that he despised the life of a soldier because he had to obey officers whom he did not respect, and that he dreamed about a free and active life that he could not find in the army.[4] Following graduation, he served in the Nádor Hussar regiment, undertaking the role of adjutant. By 1837 he had reached the rank of lieutenant and entered the Hungarian Noble Guard at Vienna, where he combined military service with a course of study at the university.[1]

Start of a promising career in chemistryEdit

In 1845, on his father's death, Görgey happily left the army, feeling that the military life did not suit him, to be a student of chemistry at the University of Prague.[2] He loved chemistry, writing this to his friend, Gusztáv Röszler, who recommended him to professor Josef Redtenbacher, a great chemist at that time. Görgey wrote to Röszler:

[Y]our recommendation to Redtenbacher made me very happy. I am gaining life as never before. The science of chemistry itself, but also the leading of it by such a great professor as Redtenbacher, totally conquered me.[5]

His works in chemistry from this period are worthy of note: he conducted research into coconut oil, discovering in it the presence of decanoic acid and lauric acid.

Görgey's article about chemistry in the Annalen der Chemie und Pharmazie (Annals of Chemistry and Pharmacy) from Heidelberg, 1848

He started his research in the spring of 1847 in Prague but finished the experiments at home in Toporc, sending the results to the Imperial and Royal Academy of Vienna on 21 May 1848.[2] His method for the separation of the fatty acids homologues was not the traditional way of using fractional distillation, but instead used the solubility of barium salts. His research can be summarized as follows:

  • He detected the presence of lauric acid (C12) and decanoic acid (C10) in coconut oil.
  • He produced lauric ethyl ether.
  • He determined some physical properties of the distillation of lauric acidic barium.
  • He discovered that, in coconut oil, the undecylic acid (C11) was a mixture of lauric and decanoic acids.[6]

Right before Görgey started his study, a French chemist named Saint-Évre wrote an article in which he announced the discovery of the undecylic acid. At first Görgey was disappointed that with this announcement his work would be pointless, but then he noticed that the French chemist was wrong in thinking that the undecylic acid was an original undiscovered acid rather than a mixture of lauric and decanoic acids, which he demonstrated in his study.[6]

His results were published by Redtenbacher with the title: Über die festen, flüchtigen, fetten Säuren des Cocusnussöles (Sitzungsberichte der mathematisch-naturwissenschaftlichen Classe der k. Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien. 1848. 3.H. p. 208–227), by Justus von Liebig in Heidelberg (Annalen der Chemie und Pharmazie. 1848. 66. Bd. 3.H. p. 290–314), and again, more than 50 years later, by Lajos Ilosvay in 1907 in the Magyar Kémiai Folyóirat (Hungarian Chemistry Magazine). Görgey's skills and achievements in chemistry were praised by Vojtěch Šafařík and Károly Than.[7] Redtenbacher wanted to hire Görgey as a chemist at the University of Lemberg, but in the end he retreated to the family domains at Toporc because his uncle Ferenc had died and his widow had asked him to come home and help the family.[7] After the defeat of the revolution, in 1851, he received an award and 40 Hungarian pengős as an honorarium for his achievements in chemistry, during the two and a half years he worked in this field, from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.[2]

Görgei's military careerEdit

Becoming a generalEdit

In March 1848, during the early days of the Hungarian revolution, Görgey was in Vienna and Prague preparing to marry Adéle Aubouin, a Huguenot-French girl, who was the lady companion of a maiden relative of Redtenbacher. He married her in the Lutheran church in Prague.[1] After he finished his research in chemistry in his home at Toporc, he went to Pest, hearing about the demand of the Hungarian government from 17 May 1848 to decommissioned officers, to join the newly established Hungarian army, and he was conscripted at the rank of captain in the 5th Hungarian battalion from Győr, to train newly enlisted men. Shortly after that, one of his former companion-in-arms, Lieutenant Imre Ivánka, Prime Minister Lajos Batthyány's secretary, recommended him to Batthyány to work in the ministry.[1] He was given the assignment to go to Istanbul and Smyrna (today, Izmir), to buy weapons for the newly conscripted Hungarian troops, but soon it became clear that the local merchants were not trustworthy. Instead, Görgey was sent to the state factory in Wiener Neustadt to buy percussion caps, and to Prague to buy primers from the Sellier & Bellot factory. Görgey accomplished his mission successfully.[1] The egalitarian ideas of the revolution made him change his noble surname from Görgey to Görgei. He first met Kossuth on 30 August 1848, when he proposed building a factory to produce percussion caps and primers, for which the politician promised to obtain funds.[8]

Entering the Honvéd Army with the rank of captain, Görgei worked with Ivánka on a plan to organize the voluntary mobile national guards into four camps, and was named the captain of the national guard camp at Szolnok.[1]

In August 1848 the imminence of an imperial attack against Hungary grew day after day. Finally, at the beginning of September, King Ferdinand V of Hungary, the Habsburg emperor under the name Ferdinand I of Austria, dismissed the Batthyány Government, authorizing the Ban of Croatia Josip Jelačić to occupy Hungary, the latter invading the country on 11 September 1848. When the troops of Jelačić crossed the Dráva river to enter Hungary, Görgei's national guards were ordered to come from Szolnok to Csepel Island to keep an eye on the movements of the Croatian supplies. Here, Görgei organized the villagers from the region to observe and capture the envoys and supply carriages sent from Croatia to Jelačić and vice versa. On 29 September the Croatian ban sent the wealthy pro-Habsburg Hungarian noble, Count Ödön Zichy, to inform the commanders of the Croatian reserve troops led by Major General Karl Roth and Major General Nicolaus Philippovich von Philippsberg about his decision to attack the Hungarian capitals. Görgei's troops captured and arrested Zichy, who was charged with treason for his pro-Austrian activities, court-martialed, and hanged.[1] This bold act of Görgei impressed Kossuth, who saw in him a great future leader of the Hungarian armed forces, promoting the 30-year-old major to the rank of general. Later, when a conflict between the two arose and started to become serious, Kossuth tried to prevent Görgei from becoming the leader of the main Hungarian forces because he saw in the independent general his greatest opponent, and this conflict caused difficulties in the Hungarian struggle for independence.[1]

In the Autumn and the Winter CampaignEdit

After the Battle of Pákozd, in which on 29 September 1848 the Hungarian troops led by János Móga defeated the troops of Jelačić, saving the Hungarian capitals (Buda and Pest), Görgei's 2,500 troops, reinforced with 16,500 peasant militia from Tolna county, watched the movements of the Croatian reinforcements troops led by Roth and Philipovich, blocked their retreat, and eventually forced them to surrender. Görgei's superior was General Mór Perczel, a nobleman with almost no military experience, lacked Görgei's knowledge in the theory and practice of warfare. Seeing that some of Perczel's orders were wrong, and could allow the escape of the enemy, Görgei gave the right orders, issuing them directly to his troops, thus contradicting Perczel's orders. Perczel became angry, and wanted to put Görgei in front of an execution squad, but when the latter explained to the officers' council the reasons for his actions, Perczel pardoned him and accepted his plans, putting them into effect, but he did not like him afterwards. On 7 October 1848, thanks to Görgei's plans, the Croatian troops led by Roth and Philipovich were forced to surrender at Ozora, the Hungarians taking almost 9,000 prisoners, together with their weapons, 12 guns, and ammunition, this being the most successful pincer maneuver of the Hungarian Freedom War.[9][10]

The Ozora-campaign of Artúr Görgei and Mór Perczel, which resulted in forcing the troops of Karl Roth to surrender
- Red: Croatian troops,
- Black: Hungarian troops
The Croatian troops surrender at Ozora at 7 October 1848

After the defeat of Jelačić, the people of Vienna revolted on 6 October, forcing the emperor to flee to Olmütz. The Hungarian troops led by János Móga, who had defeated Jelačić at Pákozd, advanced to the Hungarian-Austrian border, and many people thought that it should come in aid of the revolutionaries from the imperial capital, which was at that time surrounded only by the troops of Jelačić, but the officers from the Hungarian army, many of whom were foreign and unsure what to do, said that they would agree this only if the people of Vienna asked them to do it. But although the Viennese revolutionaries thought about this, they were reluctant to officially ask for Hungarian aid. In the meantime, the Austrian commander Windisch-Grätz crushed the revolution from Prague, then came with the imperial army to Vienna to crush the revolution there, bringing the overwhelming superiority of the imperial army (80,000 Austrian soldiers against 27,000 Hungarians). Kossuth, waiting in vain for the Hungarian troops to cross the Austrian border, decided to personally go there to convince them. In the war council the old commanders, led by Móga, declared that an assault on the Austrian border would bring with it a Hungarian defeat, pointing at the superiority of the enemy. Kossuth argued, "Our cause is linked with Vienna – separated from it, nobody will give us any importance." He also said that the conscription period of the national guards from the Hungarian army would be over soon, and if they did not engage the Austrians, they would go home without any fighting. He also said that if only one of the Hungarian commanders would say that he would attack, showing a plan by which success could be achieved, he would give the leadership to that person. At that moment Görgei stood up and said, "We have no other choice than to advance, because if we do not advance, we will lose more than losing three battles." Hearing that Kossuth wanted to give him the main command, Görgei refused. So in the end Móga remained the main commander until the end of the battle. In the Battle of Schwechat the troops of Windisch-Grätz and Jelačić routed the Hungarian army, which was composed mainly of inexperienced national guards and peasants. Görgei led the advance guard, and achieved some success, but the lack of experience of the soldiers and the commanders made all his actions useless, and the panic of the volunteers who started to flee sealed the fate of the battle.[11]

During the skirmishes before the battle of Schwechat and the battle, Görgei, although he was mostly in the second plan, by his successful engagements with the enemies vanguards, than by successfully protecting the retreat of the Hungarian troops, preventing their disaster.[12]

On 9 October, Görgei was named colonel. After the battle of Schwechat, on 1 November Görgei, only 32, was named general and appointed commander of the army of the Upper Danube, charged with protecting Hungary's western frontier against the imperial army's imminent attack.[13] While he waited for the attack which ultimately came on 14 December 1848, Görgei reorganized his army, sending home the national guards and the peasant militias (who had been the first to flee from the battlefield after some enemy shooting, in the battle of Schwechat), which had a very low value in fighting against a highly professional army such as the imperial army, and increased the number of the battalions of the Hungarian Honvéd army, training them for future battles. He debated with Kossuth about how to organize an effective defense of the border, and was forced to accept Kossuth's idea of aligning his units along the border, although he thought that grouping them further back from the border would be a much better choice.[1] But when, in the middle of December, the Austrian troops under Windisch-Grätz advanced across the Lajta (the border between Austria and Hungary) to attack Hungary in order to crush the revolution, Görgei slowly retreated,[14] thus angering Kossuth, who thought that he should fight for every inch of Hungarian territory.[1] Görgei understood that if he would have followed Kossuth's wishes, he would certainly have been crushed by the much superior imperial army (he had 28,000 inexperienced soldiers against Windisch-Grätz's 55,000 imperial troops).[15] Kossuth urged every general to engage in a fight with the enemy, so when Mór Perczel, before Görgei had arrived, entered into battle with the imperial troops led by Josip Jelačić, he suffered a heavy defeat on 30 December 1848 in the Battle of Mór, thus leaving Görgei alone in a hopeless struggle against the hugely superior Austrian army.[16]

Lajos Kossuth 1848 Prinzhofer

During his retreat from the Hungarian border to Pest, can be named as partly successful, but this is understandable because this campaign was his first in which he was the high commander of such a great army, and in the same time the main army of Hungary, having on his shoulder such a great responsibility (retreating from the numerically and technologically superior enemy forces, without suffering a decisive defeat), and in the same situation were also his subordinates and the majority of his soldiers. Although so far strategically his decisions were not faultless, but tactically he was mostly successful. The maximal goal of defending the border and repulsing the enemy it was impossible to achieve, even if Perczel's troops would have joined him at Győr, but the minimal goal: to save his troops from the destruction by the superior forces of Windisch-Grätz, he managed to accomplish, suffering only two defeats which can be named important, at 16 December at Nagyszombat, and at 28th at Bábolna, but these too were mostly caused by the inattention of his brigade commanders.[17]

The Winter Campaign of Artúr Görgei against the Austrian army, from December 1848 to February 1849
- Red: Austrian troops, red ⚔: Austrian victory,
- Black: Hungarian troops, black ⚔: Hungarian victory

Görgei understood that with his inferior troops he could not stop the main Austrian army, and if he would engage in battle, he would have suffered a decisive defeat, which would have sealed the fate of Hungary's bid for independence. In the war council held on 2 January 1849 Görgei convinced the other commanders that there was no other way than to retreat from the capitals.[18] In spite of remonstrations from Kossuth, who wanted him to accept a decisive battle before the Hungarian capitals, Görgei maintained his resolve and retreated to Vác, letting Buda and Pest fall into the hands of the enemy, who entered the cities on 5 January 1849, forcing the Hungarian government to retreat to Debrecen. This caused a negative effect among the officers of the Hungarian army of foreign origin, who left the Hungarian army in great numbers, which threatened to cause the total dissolution of the Hungarian army. In Vác, irritated by these events, and blaming his defeats on the interference with his strategy to defend Hungary, Görgei issued (5 January 1849) a proclamation (known as the Proclamation of Vác), throwing the blame for the recent defeats and the evacuation of the capitals upon the government (which was at once understood by Kossuth as a revolt against his authority), but also declaring that he, along with his army, would not put down their weapons, and that he would fight with all his energy and power against the imperials to defend the Hungarian revolution and the April laws. This proclamation stopped the dissolution of the army, convincing the majority of the foreign or wavering officers and soldiers to remain in the Hungarian army, and to defend Hungary with all determination.[19][20] After the proclamation Görgei chose to retreat towards the east through the Northern Gömör-Szepes Ore and Tátra Mountains and to conduct operations on his own initiative, forcing the Austrian commander Windisch-Grätz, to send many troops to follow and encircle him, and to remain with the bulk of his army around Buda and Pest (because he did not know about the plans of Görgei, and he feared that the latter could turn towards the west and attack Vienna),[21] preventing them from attacking Debrecen, where the Hungarian government had retreated, and providing time to the Hungarian troops east of Tisza to reorganize. He also gathered the monetary and ore supplies from the so-called Mining towns (Körmöcbánya, Selmecbánya, Besztercebánya, etc.) and sent them to Debrecen, providing the supplies needed in Hungary's struggle against the imperial army.[1] One of Görgei's goals was to relieve the fortress of Lipótvár, which stood near the Austrian border from the enemy siege, and to take the defenders and the provisions from this fort with his troops towards Debrecen, but he understood that this would be a very risky plan, because he could have been encircled by the enemy. So he renounced to this plan, and Lipótvár was forced to surrender to the Austrians at 2 February 1849.[21] Despite of this, he succeeded to accomplish other goals, mentioned earlier. In the harsh winter, marching in the mountains, several times Görgei and his troops escaped the encirclement by the Austrian troops (at one point they escaped by opening a formerly closed mine tunnel, crossing it to the other side of the mountain),[22] then on 5 February 1849 broke through the mountain pass of Branyiszkó, defeating General Deym in the Battle of Branyiszkó [hu], and uniting with the Hungarian troops led by György Klapka on the Hungarian plains.[23]

According to the military historian Róbert Hermann, the one and a half months of Görgei's campaign to the East through Northern Hungary was a strategical success, because: thanks to his way towards North, he prevented Windisch-Grätz to attack with all his forces towards Debrecen, where the Hungarian Committee of National Defense (which temporarily functioned as an executional power in Hungary after the resignation of the Batthyány-Government at 2 October 1848) took refuge, and put an end to the Hungarian revolution, providing enough time to the concentration of the Hungarian forces behind the Tisza river, "cleaned" the Szepes region from the enemy troops, assuring with this the whole territory between Szeged and the Galician border as a Hungarian hinterland for the future counterattack. During his retreat he fought five noticeable battles, from which he won two (Igló at 2nd, and Branyiszkó at 5 February 1849), lost two (Szélakna at 21st, and Hodrusbánya at 22 January 1849), and scored a draw at Turcsek 17 January 1849).[24]

The troops of Görgei crossing the Sturec pass

The supreme command was conferred upon Henryk Dembiński by Kossuth, who did not want in any way to give the main command to Görgei. Many officers from Görgei's Army of the Upper Danube (György Kmety, Lajos Aulich) were astonished at Kossuth's decision and sought to protest, but Görgei ordered them to accept it.[25] One of the first decisions of the Polish commander were to order to many of the Hungarian units under the lead of Görgei and Klapka, to retreat, enabling the Austrian troops of General Franz Schlik to escape from their encirclement.[21] But when Dembiński, after making mistake after mistake, lost the Battle of Kápolna on 25–27 February 1849 (in which Görgei's VII corps could not participate, because of Dembiński's wrong placement of the troops, the VII corps arriving at the battlefield only after the battle ended),[26] the Hungarian officers revolted against the Polish commander, demanding his dismissal and a Hungarian general in his place.[27] Among the generals who the Hungarian officers would accept as main commander, Görgei was the most popular, and in the officers meeting, held in Tiszafüred, in the presence of the government's chief commissary Bertalan Szemere, they elected Görgei as main commander, with the decision also signed by Szemere. When he heard about this, Kossuth was angered and rushed to the military camp, declaring that he would order that Görgei be executed for this revolt, thinking that Görgei was its organizer, but when he arrived at Tiszafüred and saw that the majority of the officers supported Görgei, Kossuth was forced to accept the situation, but he declared that the final decision about who would be the main commander, would be given after he presented the events to the Parliament.[28] In Debrecen Kossuth, and the politicians who were on his side, ignored the wish of the Hungarian generals to name Görgei and designated Antal Vetter as main commander,[29] and as a way of consolation, on 8 March Görgei was decorated with the Second Class Military Order of Merit.[30]

Leader of the victorious Spring CampaignEdit

In the middle of March, Vetter planned a Hungarian campaign in order to defeat Windisch-Grätz, and to chase his troops out of Hungary. On 16–17 March the Hungarian troops crossed the Tisza river, but due to some unfounded rumours, Vetter decided to retreat to their starting position. During these events Görgei was the only military commander who achieved noticeable successes, by advancing from North through Tokaj to Gyöngyös through Miskolc and Mezőkövesd, which he succeeded, to divert Windisch-Grätz's attention from the crossing of the main Hungarian forces at Cibakháza, and forcing the Austrian commander to take a defensive position, thus giving up the initiative to the Hungarians before the start of their Spring Campaign.[31]

At the end of March 1849, Görgei was named as main commander (only temporarily) by Kossuth, because Vetter fell ill. Before this, Kossuth again hesitated, trying to find somebody else, even thinking of taking the main command of the army himself, but when the generals, who were in charge of the Hungarian army corps of the main army (György Klapka, Lajos Aulich, János Damjanich), declared that Görgei was the most able commander for that job, he had to accept it. So Görgei became temporary supreme commander, only a few days before the start of the spring campaign.[32]

The military operations conducted in Central Hungary, by Artúr Görgei in April-May 1849, which resulted the liberation of much of Hungary from the Habsburg rule, and the liberation of the Buda castle.
- Red: Austrian army,
- Black: Hungarian army, black ⚔: Hungarian victory

The plan of the Spring Campaign was based on the fact that the enemy troops were numerical superior to the Hungarians So they decided to defeat them in detail.[31] The plan was that the VIIth Hungarian Corps with deceiving movements to divert the attention of the Austrian commanders, while the other three Hungarian army corps (the Ist, the IInd, and the IIId) had to advance from the South, getting around them, and falling on their back, or forcing them to retreat through the northern banks of the Danube, letting the Hungarian capitals (Pest and Buda) on the hands of the Hungarian army. The minimal objective of the Hungarians was to force the Austrians to retreat from the Danube–Tisza Interfluve. During these operations, do to some of Görgei's corps commanders faults (György Klapka and András Gáspár), as well to Windisch-Grätz cautiousness, the latter managed to escape the trap of being surrounded, but nevertheless, because of his defeats at Hatvan (2 April), Tápióbicske (4 April), Isaszeg (6 April), he was forced to retreat from the Danube–Tisza Interfluve, taking refuge in the Hungarian capitals.[33] In two of these battles (Tápióbicske and Isaszeg), the intervention of Görgei on the battlefield, who spoke personally to the hesitant Klapka, ordering to hold his position and to counterattack, decided the victory for the Hungarian weapons.[34]

Görgei commanding the Hungarian troops in the Battle of Isaszeg

The second part of the Spring Campaign resulted other three important successes for the Hungarian armies: Vác (10 April), and Nagysalló (19 April), and Komárom (26 April). The plan was similar to the first part: this time the IInd corps led by General Lajos Aulich, and two brigades led by the colonels György Kmety and Lajos Asbóth had to demonstrate, diverting the attention of Windisch-Grätz from the Ist, IIId, and VIIth corps pincer maneuver through North-West, in order to relieve the fortress of Komárom, besieged by the Austrian army, force them to retreat from the capitals, and eventually to encircle the enemy troops around Buda and Pest. This maneuver ended also with a great success, except the encirclement of the enemy troops, which escaped, retreating from all Hungary, except of a landstrip near the Austrian border.[34] These Hungarian successes were achieved despite of the changing of three Austrian high commanders (Alfred zu Windisch-Grätz, Josip Jelačić and Ludwig von Welden), or the sending of reinforcement troops under Ludwig von Wohlgemuth from the Austrian hereditary provinces to Hungary.[35]

The Battle of Komárom on 26 April 1849

As a result of the Spring Campaign led by Artúr Görgei, combined with the successes of the Hungarian armies in the other fronts, forced the armies of the Austrian Empire and its allies, which at the beginning of March had controlled around three quarters of Hungary, to evacuate almost all Hungary, except for a narrow strip of land in the west, Croatia, and a few land pockets and forts. In the battle of Isaszeg, Görgei had been close to encircling and completely destroying the main Austrian army led by Windisch-Grätz (which could have brought with it a decisive victory for Hungary in the war), but the refusal of one of his army corps commanders, András Gáspár, to attack from the north, made possible the escape of the enemy. Görgei shared some responsibility for the failure to make the best of this opportunity because, thinking that Gáspár had already begun, he did not urge Gáspár to attack.[36] Also playing an important role in the liberation of the country were the troops of Józef Bem, who liberated Transylvania,[37] and Mór Perczel, who liberated much of southern Hungary, except for Croatia.[38] However, Görgei was the commander who achieved the greatest success by defeating the main Austrian army, which constituted the most operational, and best equipped forces of the Austrian Empire, and its commanders, regarded as among the best which Austria had at that time, forcing them to retreat from the most developed central and western parts of the country, including the capitals.[citation needed]

Görgei achieved his successes with a numerically and technologically inferior army (47,500 Hungarian soldiers, having 198 cannons vs 55,000 Austrian soldiers with 214 cannons and rockets),[39] which lacked heavy cavalry (relying almost completely on the light Hussar cavalry), and having very few soldiers fighting in the other types of units common in the armies of that period (chasseurs, grenadiers, lancer cavalry, dragoons, cuirassiers) in comparison with the Austrian army,[40] which had plenty of these, and with constant shortages of weapons and ammunition.[41] Several times these shortages caused the Hungarian infantry to not to engage in long shooting duels with the imperials but to start bayonet charges, which were repeated if the initial attempt to break through was unsuccessful, causing the Hungarian infantry heavy casualties.[42]

During the spring campaign, the military attitude of Görgei changed drastically, from an extremely cautious commander with slow movements, who calculated every move, to a general full of energy, quick in action, ready to take risks if necessary to achieve his goals. Görgei understood that the main cause of Dembiński's failure was his slowness and extreme cautiousness, which prevented him to gather his troops before the Battle of Kápolna in such a way that they could help each other; fearful of being encircled, Dembiński had put his units so far from each other that they could not help each other when attacked.[31] Görgei started the spring campaign as a mature commander, who let his generals (János Damjanich, Lajos Aulich, György Klapka, András Gáspár), who led his four army corps, make independent decisions (but following the campaign plan), and intervening only when needed, as he did at Tápióbicske and Isaszeg, and turning, with his personal presence and decisions, the tides of battles that had started faltering.[34] He took great risks at the start of both phases of his spring campaign, because he let only a few troops in front of the enemy, sending the bulk of his army to make encircling maneuvers, which, if discovered, could have caused a frontal attack of the enemy, which might have resulted in the breaking of the weak Hungarian front line, cutting of his supply lines, and the occupation of Debrecen, the temporary Hungarian capital.[43] But Görgei later wrote in his memoirs that he knew that he could take these risks against such a weak commander as Windisch-Grätz.[34]

Hungarian Spring Campaign in 1849

According to József Bánlaky and Tamás Csikány, Görgei failed to follow up his successes by taking the offensive against the Austrian frontier,[44] contenting himself with besieging Buda, the Hungarian capital, taking the castle of Buda on 21 May 1849 instead of attacking Vienna and using that strategical opportunity, which the Hungarian victories from the Spring Campaign created, to win the war.[45][46]

Kossuth and Görgei in a meeting in 1849

Some of the representatives of the new generation of Hungarian historians, like Róbert Hermann, believe that the siege of Buda was not a mistake by Görgei, because at that point he had not enough troops to attack towards Vienna, because the Austrians had concentrated around Pozsony a fresh army that was two times the size of Görgei's troops, and also far better equipped. To achieve a victory with his tired troops, who had almost completely run out of ammunition, would have been virtually impossible.[47] Görgei hoped that while he was conducting the siege of Buda, new Hungarian troops would be conscripted, the Hungarian generals who were operating in Southern Hungary would send him reinforcements, and the issue of lack of ammunition would be resolved, and that then he would have a chance to defeat the Austrian troops. He also knew that the castle of Buda had a 5,000-strong Austrian garrison that controlled the only stone bridge across the Danube, the Chain Bridge, which disrupted the Hungarian supply lines[48] and threatened to attack the Hungarian troops and supply carriages, causing the Hungarians to make a huge detour, which caused weeks of delay, and preventing their use of the Danube as a transport route. Besides that, he had to deploy a considerable portion of his force in order to monitor the Austrian troops in Buda, thus weakening his troops which could attack westwards. Also the presence in southern Hungary of the 15,000-strong Austrian troops led by Josip Jelačić, which might come north by surprise to help the garrison of Buda, presented a big threat, threatening to cut Hungary in two, and only the liberation of Buda could diminish this danger. Kossuth also urged Görgei to take the capital; he hoped that such a success would convince the European powers to recognize Hungary's independence, and prevent a Russian invasion.[49]

Siege of Buda on 21 May 1849

All the military and political advice seemed in favor of taking Buda first, rather than moving towards Vienna. According to Hungarian Historian Róbert Hermann, the capture of Buda after three weeks of siege (the only siege of the Hungarian Freedom War that ended in the taking of a fortress by assault; the remaining fortresses and castles were taken, by one or the other side, only after negotiations and then surrender) was one of the greatest Hungarian military successes of the war.[50]

Görgei was not in sympathy with the new regime, and he had refused the First Class Military Order of Merit for the taking of Buda, and also Kossuth's offer of the field-marshal's baton,[51] saying that he did not deserve these and did not approve of the greed of many soldiers and officers for rank and decorations, wanting to set an example for his subordinates. However, he accepted the portfolio of minister of war, while retaining the command of the troops in the field.[52] Meanwhile, at the Parliament in Debrecen, Kossuth formally proposed the dethronement of the Habsburg dynasty,[44] which the Parliament accepted, declaring the total independence of Hungary on 14 April 1849.[53] Görgei was against the dethronement (although he did not oppose it when Kossuth divulged his plan at Gödöllő after the battle from Isaszeg) because he thought that this would provoke the Austrians into demanding Russian intervention. He thought that declining to demand dethronement and using the significant military successes he had achieved as arguments in an eventual negotiation with the Austrians might convince them to recognize Hungary's autonomy under the rule of the House of Habsburg, and the April Laws of 1848. He believed that this was the only choice to convince the Habsburgs not to ask Russia's help against Hungary, which he thought would cause destruction and a national tragedy. This is why Görgei even attempted to initiate secret talks with the Hungarian Peace Party (who were in favor of a compromise with the Austrians), to help him stage a coup d'état to overthrow Kossuth and the Hungarian government led by Szemere, to achieve the position of leadership necessary to start talks with the Habsburgs, but the Peace Party refused to help him, fearing that a military dictatorship would take power, so he abandoned this plan.[54][55] However, Görgei was wrong when he thought that the Hungarian Declaration of Independence had caused the Russian intervention, because the Austrians had asked for it, and the Czar agreed to send troops to Hungary before they had learned about the Declaration of Independence of 14 April.[8]

Main Commander, then General of the Summer Campaign and dictator of HungaryEdit

The Russians intervened in the struggle and made common cause with the Austrians, and in mid-June 1849 the allies advanced into Hungary on all sides.[44] Görgei found himself before a greatly superior united enemy army. The reinforcements that Kossuth had promised did not came because on 7 June general Perczel, the commander of the southern Hungarian army, had suffered a heavy defeat in the Battle of Káty from the Austro-Croatian army, reinforced with Serbian rebels, led by Josip Jelačić;[56] Perczel could not send the reinforcements because he needed them there.[57] Another problem was that many of his experienced generals, who had proved their talent in the Spring Campaign, were no longer available: (János Damjanich had broken his leg; Lajos Aulich became ill;[58] and András Gáspár had resigned from the Hungarian army because of political reasons.[59]) Görgei was forced to put in their place other officers who were capable soldiers, but were not experienced as army corps leaders, many of them lacking the capacity to act independently when needed.[52] Another problem was that being at the same time high commander and head of the war ministry, he could not adequately fulfill both duties at the same time, being forced to move frequently between Pest and his general staff office from Tata.[60]

Battle of Vác, 15–17 July 1849

Nevertheless, Görgei decided to attack Haynau's forces knowing that he had no other opportunity to defeat them before the main Russian troops led by Paskevich arrived from the north – hoping to break them and advance towards Vienna, but despite an initial victory in the Battle of Csorna on 13 June,[61] his troops were not so successful afterwards. In the next battle, fought at Zsigárd on 16 June 1849, while he was in the capital to participate in the meeting of the ministry council, his troops were defeated, although his presence in the battle could had bring a better result.[60] In the next battle at Pered, fought at 20–21 June, he was present, but, despite all his efforts, the intervention of the Russian division of more than 12 000 soldiers led by Lieutenant General Fyodor Sergeyevich Panyutyin in behalf of Haynau, decided the fate of this engagement.[62]

The beginning of the Summer Campaign on the Western Front from 13 June to 11 July 1849.
- Red: Austrians, red ⚔: Austrian victory
- Broken red: Russians.
- Black: Hungarians, black ⚔: Hungarian victory

On 26 June he was again in the capital at a ministry council, and tried to convince Kossuth to concentrate all the Hungarian troops, except those from Transylvania and Southern Hungary, around Komárom, to apply a decisive strike on Haynau's troops, before the main Russian forces arrive. This plan was maybe the only rational way to end, if not with full success, but with at least a compromise this war against the overwhelmingly superior enemy forces. The place for the Hungarian concentration, the fortress of Komárom (one of the strongest fortresses of the empire), was also the best choice, if they wanted to face with a chance of success, the enemy armies, instead of retreating to the Ottoman Empire.[60] The ministry council accepted Görgei's plan, but unfortunately because of his presence in the ministry council, Görgei was unable to concentrate his troops to face Haynau's army, freshly deployed from the northern to the southern banks of the Danube, when they attacked Győr on 28 June. Görgei arrived only at the end of the battle, when already it was too late to change the situation for the hugely overwhelmed Hungarian forces (17 000 Hungarians against 70 000 Austro-Russian soldiers), but he managed nevertheless to successfully cover their retreat towards Komárom, by personally leading hussar charges against the advancing enemy forces.[63]

After learning about the defeat from Győr, and the advancement of the main Russian forces led by Field Marshal Ivan Paskevich from North, the Hungarian government in the lead of Kossuth, in another ministry council, held this time without Görgei, changed its decision to follow the latters plan of concentration of the troops around Komárom, ordering him to lieve the fortress and move with the bulk of his troops to Southern Hungary, to the confluence of the rivers Maros and Tisza. Görgei found this plan completely wrong, that the region which they wanted to concentrate the troops was completely sacked by the war, that the most important fortress of the region, Temesvár was in the hands of the enemy, and that this retreat will provide enough time for Haynau and Paskevich to unite their forces against the Hungarians, creating a huge numerical superiority. Despite of this he agreed on following the governments plan, in order to avoid an open conflict or a break of relations with them.[64] So he promised to lead his troops to Southern Hungary starting with 3d July, hoping that until that day all the scattered units of his army will be able to gather and join his army.[65]

But before he had the chance to accomplish this task, his troops were attacked by Haynau's twice superior army, reinforced with Panyutyin's Russian division, twice his troops size at Komárom on 2 July, but he defeated them, upseting Haynau's plan to quickly conquer the capitals. But at the end of the battle Görgei suffered a severe head wound (a shell splinter shot by an enemy cannon made a 12-centimeter (4.7 in) long cut on his skull, opening it, making his brain visible, and despite this he remained conscious, leading his troops until the end of the battle, and only then he fainted), which caused him to lose consciousness for several days (during which time he underwent several surgeries) preventing him from taking advantage of his success which he achieved on the battlefiels.[66]

Mór Than: Görgei and his general staff after he was wounded in the Battle of Komárom at 2 July 1849, wearing, because of that, an Arabic style headscarf

But before the battle, another unespected event happened. Because of a misunderstanding, Kossuth revoked Görgei from the high commandment demanding that he go to Pest, and named Lázár Mészáros, the former minister of war, who was a weak general, in his place,[65] but when the latter went towards Komárom to inform Görgei of the change, he heard along the way the sound of the cannonade of the battle of Komárom, and returned to Pest.[1] The cause of Kossuth's drastic act was as follows. Görgei on 30 June, wrote two letters to Kossuth. In the first he reaffirmed his decision to remain in Komárom and fight with the main Hungarian forces the decisive battle against Haynau. The second letter he wrote later that day, after the meeting with the governments delegation, who came with the order for Görgei to leave Komárom and march towards Szeged, in Southern Hungary. In this letter, as shown before, he accepted to follow the governments new order. The two letters of Görgei were sent on the same day, Kossuth did not notice their registration number, but he read the letters in the wrong order, reading the second one (in which Görgei had written that he would march towards Szeged) first, then the first letter (in which Görgei had written that he would engage in battle at Komárom) second. Thinking that Görgei had changed his mind, and chose not to obey to the order about the concentration around Szeged, probably remembering Görgei's refusal in the Winter Campaign to follow his orders and the proclamation of Vác from 5 January, which he considered an act of revolt, or his critique to the dethronement of the Habsburg dynasty issued by Kossuth on 14 April 1849, the governor called Görgei a traitor and he revoked Görgei from the high command and demanded that he come to Pest to take over the war ministry and let Mészáros lead the army.[65]

Because Mészáros returned to Pest, Görgei did not learn about his revocation, and, because of Haynau's attack on 2 July, he had to postpone temporarily the retreat towards Szeged, being forced to enter in battle with the enemy, and, as described above, he managed to force the greatly superior opponent to retreat, but in the end, as it was shown before, he lost consciousness for several days. In the meantime, the letter with Görgei's revocation arrived on 3 July, while Görgei being in unconscious, but his officers led by György Klapka, were against this decision.[8] In the meantime, Kossuth understood that Görgei had not disobeyed him, but he lacked the courage to formally admit his mistake and revoke Görgei's dismissal. In spite of this, Görgei remained the commander of the Northern Danube Army until he had the opportunity to hand it over, which meant until he would arrive at the concentration point from Szeged,[8] but the disastrous military events that unfolded at the beginning of August in southern Hungary, where he had to lead his army, caused quite the opposite situation for Görgei. On the other hand, Kossuth's silence about his mistake towards Görgei casts a shadow on the reputation of the great politician.[8]

The campaign from Northern Hungary of Artúr Görgei, and his fights with the Russian army from 17 July to 2 August 1849
- Red: Russian army, red ⚔: Russian victory
- Black: Hungarian army, black ⚔: Hungarian victory

In the meanwhile Klapka, the senior officer who took over Görgei's duties, during the time he was unable to do these, because his injury, was reluctant to fulfill the governments order to lead the troops to Southern Hungary. He decided to lead an attack against Haynau's forces, hoping to defeat them. But in the third battle of Komárom on 11 July the troops led by Klapka suffered a defeat. The yet not fully recovered Görgei watched the battle from the fortress. The result of this battle was that Görgei, who then took again the command of his army, was forced to retreat eastwards and let the capitals to fall again into enemy hands.[67] In the meantime the Hungarian Parliament demanded from Kossuth and the government to appoint again Görgei to the high commandment of the army, but Kossuth and prime minister Bertalan Szemere, because of their hatred and envy against Görgei, were against this, and instead of him, appointed and dismissed one after another Lázár Mészáros, Henryk Dembiński and Mór Perczel, but one after another they failed to oppose to Haynau's advancement.[1]

Leaving the capitals, although suffering because of his head wound, Görgei managed to stop the greatly superior forces of the Russian main commander Ivan Paskevich in the second battle of Vác on 15–17 July,[68] then, because his way to south, towards Szeged, was closed by the Russian army, in almost the same way as he had done in the winter of 1848–1849, he retreated to the North-East, luring after himself five times greater Russian forces,[64] diverting them for almost a month from attacking the main Hungarian troops from the Hungarian plain, through forced marches (40–50 km per day) avoiding their repeated attempts to encircle him, or to cut him from the main Hungarian troops from Southern Hungary.[69] He succeeded to do this first after the second battle of Vác, although using a roundabout mountain route, Görgei managed to arrive in Miskolc earlier than the Russians, who used a shorter and plain route between the two cities.[1] Secondly it happened when, after defending successfully the Hungarian positions along the banks of the Sajó and Hernád, Görgei heard that the Russian troops crossed the Tisza river and are heading towards the main Hungarian army from the South. Görgei again, using a much longer rout, marched round the Russian army, outrun them, and arrived to Arad with four days before them.[1]

During his march through Northern Hungary he defeated the Russian troops in seven defensive engagements:[70] (Miskolc, 23–24 July,[71] Alsózsolca, 25 July,[72] Gesztely, 28 July,[73] etc.), losing only one, Debrecen, 2nd August, slowing their advancement and winning time for the rest of the Hungarian army to prepare itself for the decisive battle, creating the opportunity for the main commander, to defeat Haynau's Austrian forces, with which his troops were equal in numbers.[70]

The last Hungarian ministerial council held on 10 August 1849 in Arad, in which Kossuth (in the middle) hands over political and military power to Görgei, naming him the dictator of Hungary

Czar, Nicholas I of Russia was impressed by Görgei's brilliant manoeuvers, comparing him twice to Napoleon,[74] writing this to Paskevich:

The fact that Görgei, after retreating from Komárom, got first around our right then around our left wing, making such a huge circle, then he arrived south and united with the main troops, blows my mind. And he managed to do all these against your 120,000 brave and disciplined soldiers.[75]

With the Russian intervention the fate of Hungarian independence seemed to be sealed. As a last try to save the Hungarian freedom, the Hungarian government tried to enter in negotiation with Paskevich, trying to lure him with different proposals in a conflict with Austrians, one of them being even to offer the Holy Crown of Hungary to the Russian Czar or to a Russian prince, but the Russian commander declared that he came in Hungary to fight and not to do negotiations with politicians, and he will accept to discuss only about the unconditional surrender of Hungary, which meant that he will talk with no politicians but only the leaders of the Hungarian army.[1] So, with the knowledge and encouragement of the Hungarian government, Görgei began negotiations with the Russian commanders about an eventual Hungarian surrender. So, during his operations and continuous battles with the Russians, he also negotiated with Paskevich and his generals, hoping that he could reach an agreement with the Russians in order to start a conflict between the Austrians and the Russians, or to obtain favorable conditions from them, all the while keeping the Hungarian government informed (there were unfounded rumors about an alleged Russian plan to hire Görgei and his generals for the Russian army),[76] but the Russian commander responded that they would talk only about unconditioned surrender.[77]

In spite of Görgei's successes, in other theaters of operation the other Hungarian generals were not so successful, and they were defeated by the enemy. Dembinski (who, as seen before, proved in the battle of Kápolna to be a weak commander), after being defeated on 5 August in the Battle of Szőreg by Haynau,[78] instead of moving his troops towards north to Arad (despite being asked to do this by the Hungarian government),[79] to meet with Görgei, who won a four days distance from the pursuing Russians, and together engage in a battle with Haynau again, he moved south, where the Hungarian main troops suffered a decisive defeat in the Battle of Temesvár on 9 August.[80] Thus, Dembinski's decision prevented Görgei to take part with his 25,000 troops in the decisive battle for Hungary on 9 August. After this defeat, Kossuth saw the impossibility of continuing the struggle and resigned from his position as regent–president.[81]

Görgei and Kossuth met for the last time in their lives on 10 August 1849 at Arad. During their discussions, according to Görgei, Kossuth said that he will commit suicide, but the general convinced him not to do this, and to escape and take refuge in another country, and, using his reputation, which he had won as the leader of the revolution, to fight for Hungary's cause there.[82] From Görgei's declarations from that period, and also from his later writing, we can understand that he wanted to become Hungary's only martyr, hoping that this will save his country from other retributions.[1] Then Kossuth handed over all political power to Görgei giving him the title of dictator, while he and many of his ministers, politicians, and generals went south and entered Ottoman territory, asking for refuge.[83]

Like in the Spring Campaign, in the Summer Campaign too Görgei's personal intervention on the battlefield was crucial in the important battles, preventing the defeat (as in the second battle of Vác) or even deciding the victory (as in the second battle of Komárom). From the three Hungarian operational plans elaborated during the Summer Campaign two were made (the plan of the concentration around Komárom) or decided in haste (the plan of the pincer maneuver towards North-East after the second battle of Vác) by him, and both were strategically correct. When he personally led his troops, he was able to force his will on the much superior enemy, like when his troops stationed around Komárom, Haynau could not move towards Pest, or when he campaigned through Northern Hungary, Paskevich's main forces could not move towards Szeged.[84] During the Summer Campaign Görgei reached its peak as a military commander. His last campaign in Norterh Hungary against the five times larger Russian main forces can be named a tactical masterpiece do to his audatious decisions, quick troop movements, rapid forced marches around and between enemy troops, than ahead of them, outrunning them, winning several days distances over them, cleverly slipping out in the last moment from the enemy encirclements, perfectly chosen positions, surprising counter-strikes, and accomplishing all these with a big sized army, show us a great military tactician, unique among the Hungarian generals of the Freedom War.[1]

His surrender at Világos/NagyszöllősEdit

On 11 August Görgei gathered his officers to a military council about what to do next. The military council almost unanimously (excepting two officers) decided that the only option in the grave situation in which the Hungarian army was, is to surrender in front of the Russian army, because they hoped milder conditions for them from the Russians than from the Austrians.[1]

The Bohus manor from Világos during the 1890s

Görgei was of the same opinion as his officers. He taught that if he surrenders to the Austrians, they will show no mercy to his troops and officers, of which fate, because he was their leader, he cared the most. He believed that surrendering to the Russians, the czar will ask Franz Joseph I to pardon them, and his hope was supported by the promise of Paskevich too, who declared that he will use all his influence in this matter. Görgei taught that with the surrender in front of the Russians will save his troops, and the only man executed by the Austrians will be himself. And he declared that he is ready to accept this sacrifice in order to save the others.[1] Görgei also believed that he would be able to convince Paskevich to ask mercy for the people of Hungary too.[1] Görgei wanted to surrender in front of the Russians also because. He taught that if he would surrender to the Austrians, he will give the message to the worlds public opinion, that the Hungarian revolution was unlawful uprising, and the rebels surrendered to their lawful ruler. The surrender before the Russians symbolized the protest of the Hungarians against the suppression of the Hungarian freedom by the united armies of two of the world's most powerful empires, and although Austria's and Russia's numerical and technological superiority emerged victorious, the Hungarians didn't renounced to their idea of national freedom.[1]

Days before the surrender Görgei wrote a letter to the Russian general Theodor von Rüdiger in which he presented his wish to surrender before the Russian general, whom he respected very much for his bravery and military talent, explaining, among other things, why he decided to surrender before the Russian troops and not the Austrians:

You will agree with me, when I declare it solemnly, that I prefer to let my army corps to be destroyed in a desperate battle by a no matter how much superior army, than to put down my weapons in front of such an enemy [the Austrians], who we defeated so many times, and almost at every turn.[85]

On 11 August Görgei sent his envoys to Rüdiger about his wish to surrender, and that he will bring his troops to Világos. On 12 August Görgei arrived with his troops in Világos, and was housed in the mansion of Antónia Szögény Bohus from there. Here he was visited at noon of the same day by Rüdiger's military envoys, which whom he agreed about the place and time of the surrender, and to prevent any Austrian presence at the surrender. The Russian Lieutenant Drozdov, who was present on the discussions at Világos wrote a description of Görgei:

Görgei looked 25. Tall, svelte, harmoniously proportioned man. His mustache was sparse, his face surrounded by a short beard, showed a gentle and kind character. The mysterious look of his big, lustrous blue eyes denoted that he was aware of his power and superiority. A bandage was bound on his head: a bright silk scarf, one corner of which covered his upper head, while the other corner fell back on his shoulder, covering the wound from the back of his head. His gentle, amiable face looked even more delicate. His clothing was as it follows: a simple dark brown attila with red lacing and trimmings on its collar, and his constant companion: a small leather bag slung over his shoulders, on his feet huge boots (which ended way over his knees) made of the coarsest leather. His speech was simple: his resonant voice showed a strong will. You could feel on his appearance and voice that he was born to command...[1]

During the discussions, Görgei pointed that the Russian troops have to position themselves between Görgei and the direction from which an Austrian advance could be expected.[1] He wrote in his letter to Rüdiger on 11 August, that it is out of discussion for him to surrender in front of Austrian troops, and he will rather fight until the total annihilation of his army, and his death in battle, instead of surrendering in front of Austrian units.[1]

Görgei surrenders before Rüdiger at the Szőlős plain near Világos.

On 13 August morning the Hungarian troops (30 889 soldiers, 9839 soldiers and 144 guns, with only 1,5 cartridges per rifle left) at the meadows at Szöllős surrendered (not at Világos as is often believed). The soldiers put down their arms, and the hussars said farewell to their horses crying. Then General Rüdiger rode to the aligned Hungarian soldiers and officers and reviewed them.[1] After the Russian general left, Görgei rode to his soldiers, who all shouted: Long live Görgei! Hearing this the Hungarian general wept. The army then shouted repeatedly Farewell Görgei![1]

On the next day Rüdiger held a dinner to Görgei and the Hungarian officers, warmly praising their bravery and raising his glass to them. But that evening, he was separated from his army and brought to Paskevich's headquarters in Nagyvárad. The commander of the Russian army received him courteously, but told him that he can assure him only his life, while the Austrians will decide about the fate of the other officers and soldiers of his army. Görgei argued that his army and officers have no fault, and they only followed his orders, thus he is the only one who bears every responsibility for their actions, but Paskevich replied that he cannot do anything, promising only that he will advocate on their behalf.[1] The Russian high commander indeed wrote letters to Field Marshall Haynau, Prince Felix of Schwarzenberg the minister-president of Austria and to Franz Joseph I, and even Czar Nicholas I wrote a letter to the emperor, trying to convince them to be merciful, but the answer is that the current situation necessitates bloodshed.[1] Their answer was: Görgei will not be court-martialed and executed, and will be kept in confinement at Klagenfurt, but they did not pardon his generals, who were executed on 6 October 1849 at Arad. Because of the execution of his 13 generals, Görgei was accused by the Hungarians of betraying them, and of causing their deaths, immediately after the executions.[86]

Görgei's qualities, skills as military commander, and military methodsEdit

Görgei once discussed the cause of his military successes:

I didn't have any military genius in me. That is nothing else than a fairytale, a Hungarian legend, like so many other things. I just kept orderliness among my soldiers, that's all, and the fellows on some occasions behaved bravely. Everything else is fiddlesticks.[87]

Artúr Görgei lithography by Miklós Barabás

Of course these very modest words are not completely true, but he pointed out one of his most important principles in war: the discipline. But for Görgei, to achieve the military successes which he obtained, he had to possess much more specific qualities, which were required for a general of his time. To analyse and evaluate Görgei's military and strategical qualities, we have find out which were accepted as the best qualities for a successful commander of the historical period in which he activated? We cannot take him out from his time, and compare with the military commanders of our times, the medieval era or the antiquity. One of the greatest military theorists of the 19th century, Carl von Clausewitz pointed that a good commander must have the following qualities: he has to be courageous, determined but not stubborn, he had to have presence of mind in dangerous situations to take quick but correct decisions, the straight eye of a military commander, thoughtfulness, ability of orientation, imagination, to take quickly, from the many contradictory informations, the correct decision, and finally an intellect which can synthesize all these qualities and abilities.[87]

During the Winter Campaign, when he was the commander of the army of the Upper Danube, was remarkably firm and independent. His consistent, harsh, peremptory leading method was accepted by his subordinates and soldiers. They respected, loved him and feared him in the same time.[88] One of his artillerymen wrote: I was afraid of him more than from a whole Austrian army, when he rode towards me, looking at me through his glasses.[88] In his youth, when he was a simple soldier, Görgei wrote that he wants to be an officer, whose simple glance will be enough to force even the most unruly [soldiers] to obedience and respect. Once, when a major of the hussars started to curse and insult Damjanich and the supply service of the army in front of Kossuth, Görgei appeared, looked severely at his officer, who instantly became quiet and peaceful, than a guard came and took him to arrest.[88] This rigorousness and consistency made possible for him to organize from newly conscripted, inexperienced soldiers with low quality, outdated weapons[89] after the defeat of Schwechat, a disciplined, combat-worthy army.[88] He was against any improvisations made hastely in the moment of the battle, being in favor of carefully preparing every step of it long before it happened. He organised an army in which the spheres of action of every officer and soldier were exactly determined, the training, the leading, the armies supplies were well organized, like in every professional army of Europe of that period. Like Leiningen, one of his most talented generals, wrote: the revolutionary army needed a Görgey too, in order to dominate over the passions.[88]

He regarded the discipline as one of the most important requirements for a successful army. He demanded order in the army and unconditioned obedience from his soldiers and officers. And he tried to show example for them. Very often he wore his old major uniform coat, sojourned among his officers and soldiers even in harsh cold, heat, rain or snow. For this he prepared himself from his young age spent in the sapper school.[90] When, after the capture of the Buda castle, the Hungarian Government wanted to award him with the First Class Military Order of Merit and the rank of Lieutenant General, he refused both, saying that he do not deserve these and he do not agree with the rank and order hunger of many of the soldiers and officers.[51] He punished very severely those who were not following his orders: he punished those who forgot or defaulted to fulfill their smallest duty, or were undisciplined, with degradation, but many times also with execution. He required heroism in battle from his soldiers, and himself showed examples of this in battle, often being quite reckless, if the situation of that moment required this act to encourage his troops, or to force, in a critical moment, a positive outcome. Unlike the majority of the commanders of his time, he showed himself in the first line giving orders to his troops, or even, for example in the Second Battle of Komárom, he took the lead of the hussar regiments, leading himself their charge against the enemy cavalry and artillery, in the end being heavily wounded by them.[91]

Görgei in red, leading the Hungarian hussars to attack before he was wounded, in the Second Battle of Komárom. Painting of Mór Than

When in the 1890s he was asked by the Hungarian writer and journalist Kálmán Mikszáth about the secret of his successes, he replied: it is certain that I never knew what is fear. The nature forgot to bless me with this feeling, unlike the other people.[87]

Because he showed this example to his officers and soldiers, he required from them the same heroism and recklessness in fulfilling his orders, often punishing those who showed cowardice in a very brutal mode, like it happened in the Second Battle of Komárom (2. July 1849), when Görgei, after he tried first unsuccessfully to stop them verbally, stopped those units who were fleeing in disorder from the enemy, with ordering the artillery to unleash a grape-shot cannonade on them which stopped the fleeing soldiers caught between the two fires, and with this forcing them to stop, regroup and start a counter-attack, which ended with success.[92] He required courage not only from the soldiers and officers, but from every man in his army. For example, he obliged the war medics to be on the battlefield in order to help the wounded soldiers right there.[90] From the officers of his army, he required creativity, ability to decide what to do, when they were on their own. He wrote to major Kálmán Ordódy, who had the duty of defending a mountain pass: ... Act according to your own discretion, and do not ask too much [what to do] The Austrian army would had not lost so many battles if they would have allowed their autonomous generals to be free to act as they considered being the best option. You are on the field, you know the placement and strength of the enemy, and the field. Don't expect from me, who do not know none of this, from my desk, to which I am bound, to send you detailed orders, from six miles away. Your brigade was trusted to you in order [to be able] to use it.[90] Görgei required from his officers independence in decisions or in creating strategies, as well as in applying them. On 3 April 1849 Kossuth wrote about him: He don't envies the glory from nobody, but offers occasions for others to achieve glory - [despite] he enforces fully his authority, he is not power-mad, but he accepts without objection what is [a] good [ideea].[90] He applied this principle on himself too. If he considered that an order from his superiors is wrong, and obstructs or prevents his army to achieve the success against the enemy, he was the first to object against it, and if he was not listened, than he refused to follow that order but he acted according to his own decision, which he taught that it was the better choice. After the Battle of Kápolna lost because of the disastrous decisions of Henrik Dembinski, Görgei wrote to him that he was obliged to make his own decisions, instead of following those given by the Polish commander, because he saw them highly uncertain and unclear. In the end of his letter he writes that he is ready to defend the decisions he took independently in front of the Hungarian court-martial.[93]

It is true that the majority of the strategical plans which he used were not made personally by him, but by his general staff, but in the war councils he was the one who chose from the plans presented to him by the staff. Despite of this on the battlefield, in every occasion, even facing unexpected situations, Görgei was able to make quick correct decision after a short thinking, being very determined in his decisions, showing no hesitation.[94] But when it was needed he himself elaborated strategical plans, and the majority of those (except of the plan of the offensive in the Vág region) had a successful outcome.[84]

He chose his most important colleagues with a good sense, like for example the chief of his general staff, József Bayer, who elaborated, in front of the maps in detail the strategical plans which Görgei and his general staff made.[95] Görgei in March 1849 wrote to Antal Vetter, then the interim main commander, that he was aware off not being very skilled and having no patiente to elaborate, with a table full of maps and papers, the campaign strategies, so he relied on József Bayer on this, who was very good in this, and the general staff, which was led by the latter.[94] So they were those who decided the directions and the distances which the army corps had to achieve every day. But then Görgei used these plans to lead the marches.[95] During the battles he wrote his decisions on slips of paper, and gave them to the orderly officers, who were around him, ordering them to take these to the deputy officers from the field, but when it was needed, he went personally to the critical place, often, when the situation was dramatic, and needed his presence, he went from one military unit to another, encouraging the officers and even the soldiers to attack.[95] For example, in the second battle of Komárom, after some trenches of the fortress had been occupied by the enemy, he went to his infantry, which stood under a rain of bullets and cannonballs, shot from those trenches, and addressed loudly to their commander, Samu Rakovszky: Mr. major! Do you trust in your battalion that they would chase out the enemy from our trenches? Because they completely occupied them. Rakovszky then addressed to the soldiers: Did you heard what said mr. General? The soldiers shouted: We will [re]occupy them! We will chase out the enemy! Long live our land! Long live the freedom! Long live Görgei![96] Or in the same battle, during the famous hussar-charge led by him and Ernő Poeltenberg, Görgei who was wearing a red coat, seeing that the left wing of his attacking 3000 hussars, because of the heavy enemy artillery fireing, which caused them heavy losses, started to slow down and turn in a wrong direction, he quickly rode to them, shouting: Boys, you not [want to] follow the red coat in attack? (Fiúk hát nem gyüttök a vörös hacuka után atakba?) Hearing this, the hussars quickly reorganised, and followed him, heading towards the enemy lines.[97]

Because in his youth he served both at the infantry as well in the cavalry, he was well experienced and qualified to give the right orders to them, and to position them in the most effective way possible, but because he had less knowledge in the field of the artillery fight, he entrusted with this his excellent artillery chief, Mór Psotta.[95] His engineering corps were led by Szodtfried Ferdinánd.[95]

As conclusion we can say that Görgei was an erudite soldier, a man with logical thinking, who was able to recognize in the moment the importance of a situation or opportunity, capable of taking quick decisions, and direction of their application in the best way, even if he had to make changes on them in the course of the events, because of the changing situation on the battlefield required them. His personality was characterized by autonomy, eccentric behaviour, but also by a disciplined, emotionless attitude, and lot of cynicism.[93] This cynicism, lack of sympathy, sincereness, quick decisions, which on personal questions not always were the correct ones, made him many enemies among the officers or politicians, who later played the main role in his stigmatization as traitor of Hungary[98] but despite of this his soldiers worshiped him.[99] He was characterized by the Russian military historian Ivan Ivanovitch Oreus (1830-1909) in his book Описание Венгерской войны 1849 года (Description of the Hungarian War of 1849): Görgei was by nature hot tempered, but still he was not an enthusiast: he hated the swaggerers and he scourged them with relentless mercilessness.[98]

Artúr Görgey leading his troops

Róbert Hermann summarized Görgei's talent, activity as a military commander as it follows:
1. Görgei's strategical decisions, except of the Vág offensive in June 1849, were correct and ended with success;
2. His reactions in unexpected situations were quick and correct in almost every situation;
3. His personal interventions often turned the fate of the battle in the favour of the Hungarians, or stopped the retreet of his troops. The only occasion in which he was unable to do this, was the battle of Hodrusbánya from 22 January, when he too was nearly killed;
4. From all the Hungarian generals, Görgei managed to create the most organised army, which was the most compatible with the rules of the regular warfare, being against any participation in it of irregular units, which were common in many other Hungarian armies of that war. This resulted from the fact that he had a clear organizational conception, and he was able to carry through, against all attempts of intervention and influence from the inside or the outside (for example from the political leadership). Besides of this, he chose well his closest assistants (for example the chief of the general staff József Bayer, his chief intendant János Danielisz, etc.). Regarding the corps and the division leaders, the situation is more complicated, because he had to take in consideration also the predetermined order of promotions and some political guidelines as well.[100] And sometimes he made wrong decisions too, regarding this matter, for example before the second day of the battle of Pered, according to Hermann, it was a mistake, to replace Lajos Asbóth, the commander of the II. corps, who was the most successful from all the corps leaders, with the weak József Kászonyi;[101]
5. Görgei was accused of five important mistakes.
- First because, when the Austrian invasion started in December 1848, he let half of his troops on the Northern banks of the Danube. But Hermann's opinion is that even if he would had group all his troops on the Southern banks, the outcome of the campaign would have been the same.
- Secondly Görgei is accused, that in February 1849 when he arrived around Kassa, he lost one day before he attacked the troops of Franz Schlik, which prevented the total destruction of the latters forces. But Hermann argues that even if he did so, Klapka's fail of closing the retreat of the Austrian troops would have prevented anyway their encirclement.
- As the third mistake is shown the omission of Görgei in the battle of Isaszeg, to order to general András Gáspár to attack with the VIIth corps the troops of Franz Schlik, which, in many peoples opinion, would had brought the encirclement and destruction of Windisch-Grätz's army. Hermann argues against this, that during the battle Görgei received an information that Gáspár's troops are actually advancing against Schlik, this is why he did not sent him an order to attack. He also points, that even if the VIIth corps would have attacked, the imperial troops could not be encircled, although their losses would have been definitely heavier.
- He is also accused that during the campaign at the Vág river he was absent from the battle of Zsigárd, where his presence would have been decissive for the winning of that battle. Görgei, by way of an excuse wrote that he wanted with this to try his new corps commanders. But this excuse is weak, because during the Spring Campaign he always was near the battlefield, and helped his corps commanders of that time (Klapka, Damjanich, Aulich, Gáspár), who were much more experienced than the new ones (Knézich, Nagysándor, or Asbóth) in June 1849. And furthermore the plan of the campaign at the Vág river was much more complicated, thus harder to accomplish than the Spring campaigns, so the presence of Görgei was much more needed.
- As the fifth mistake of Görgei is shown that, after he successfully resisted to the Russian attack at the Sajó river he did not rushed towards the Tisza river, but sojourned at the Hernád river, losing precious time, instead of rushing to join his troops with Dembinski's main army. But Hermann excuses Görgei under this accusation, writing that with his sojourn at Hernád, he tried to win time for the main army, and that then, with a forced march, he reached Arad, where they supposed to meet, but instead of this, Dembinski moved to south, to Temesvár where his troops, led then by Bem, suffered the final defeat from Haynau. So Görgei repaired this supposed mistake.[102]
6. Among Görgei's greatest skills we can mention also the ability to lead huge armies, avoid the traps, the reasonable risk-taking in order to achieve his great successes, as well as great interest for surprising technical ideas (like the reopening of a closed mine tunnel to escape his encircled troops in January 1849, the construction of a base bridge over the Danube on 23–26 April 1849, or the way how he organised of the siege of Buda).[103]

Summary of Görgei's battlesEdit

The following table shows those battles in which Görgei himself, or those troops and units of which he was their chief commander, took part, even if he did not directly participate in every battle, but he designated their positions, commanded their movements, and gave them orders what to do, sending troops to the critical localtions, or intervening personally if it was needed.[104][105][106][107]

After the defeat of the RevolutionEdit

Görgei's exile in KlagenfurtEdit

The Austrians brought Görgei and his wife, Adéle in Klagenfurt, where he lived, chiefly employed in chemical work,[150] under constant and strict police supervision, being prohibited to leave the town and its surroundings.[151]

Later, from a part of his wife's inheritance, Görgei bought a house in the village Viktring, near Klagenfurt, with harsh work he made a garden from an assarted skip, and started to grow vegetables and fruits to feed his family.[152]

Castle Welzenegg in Klagenfurt around 1850

Görgei, in order to assure an income, thus freeing himself and his family from the dependence of the Austrian subsidy, decided to write a book about his role in the Hungarian Freedom War. He spoke with the Viennese publisher Friedrich Manz, who agreed to print his book. Görgei wrote his book, with the knowledge of the Austrian secret police. The Austrians hoped that Görgei will write a book which will criticize Kossuth, their enemy in exile, but will present the Habsburgs in a positive way, hoping for a milder treatment from them, and because of this they didn't tried to stop him to write the book. But Görgei's work Mein Leben und Wirken in Ungarn in den Jahren 1848 und 1849 (My Life and Works in Hungary in the Years 1848 and 1849) didn't showed any moderation when he talked about the Austrian government and military leadership, showing their streaking weaknesses and errors, but also their inhuman policies. When Manz read the manuscript, he understood after the first pages, that this book cannot be published in Austria, because the state censorship will not allow it. So he smuggled out the manuscript in the Kingdom of Saxony to Leipzig, where the publishing house F. A. Brockhaus AG published the book in the summer of 1852. When the Austrian authorities learned about the book and its contents, they were outraged, many of the Austrian politicians and military leaders whom Görgei presented a negative way (among them Windisch-Grätz), demanding his punishment, and the Police Minister Johann Franz Kempen von Fichtenstamm, was eager to start a prosecution against him, but in the end he renounced, being forced by Austria's agreement with the Russians from 1849. But Manz was arrested and sent to prison, and all the books which were brought to the Habsburg Empire were destroyed.[1]

Unlike Artúr Görgei, his wife and his children, who were born in exile, could move wherever they wanted. So in 1856-1857 Adéle and the children went to Hungary, staying a year at Artúr's younger brother, István in Pest, and in Szepes county at the other relatives of Görgei.[151]

In another occasion Adéle and their daughter Berta, went to Paris to see her relatives, and Görgei, knowing that the son of one of Adéle's sister, Edouard Boinvillers, is a confidant of Napoleon III, gave to Adéle a memorandum, in which he tried to convince the French emperor that Kossuth and his entourage of Hungarian politicians and officers in exile, have contrary interests, and in his opinion Napoleon should support a Hungarian-Austrian compromise. After reading Görgei's memorandum, Boinvillers wrote to him, asking some questions, and Görgei replied quickly, but it seems that the memorandum was never forwarded to Napoleon III.[151]

Görgei Artúr with his son 1856 in Klagenfurt

He followed with great attention the political developments in Hungary, reacting to every important event of the Hungarian politics. The main cause of this was that Görgei believed that he could return to Hungary only if the oppressive Austrian policy towards Hungary will change into a more friendly approach, and those moderate Hungarian politicians will lead the politics in Hungary, which want a compromise with Austria. This is why he was filled with hope when he heard about the moderate politics of Ferenc Deák. He started to look to Deák as to his future savior from his exile. He photographed himself with the copy of the Hungarian newspaper Pesti Napló which published Deák's petition about the necessity of a compromise with the Austrians, if they accept the April Laws of the Hungarian Revolution, as the basic laws of Hungary.[151] In one of his letters to Gábor Kazinczy, one of the former leaders of Peace Party from 1848-1849, Görgei wrote to him that he had the portraits of István Széchenyi and Ferenc Deák (two most proeminent figures of the Hungarian moderate politicians) on his desk.[151] He wrote an article in Pesti Napló in which he asked the Hungarians to try to make a compromise with the Austrians, demanding that the latters to accept the Hungarian laws from 1847-1848.[151]

At the end of 1863, Görgei sent his wife and children to Hungary, and his son to a Hungarian public school. He hoped that his wife would have the opportunity to get acquainted with Hungarian politicians, important persons, whom she would convince to support her husbands return to Hungary. But many of these politicians, as a result of Kossuth's false accusations of treason, were malignant towards Görgei. She still found some personalities which did not believed in Kossuth's accusations, like Antónia Bohus-Szőgyény, who knew him, because in her castle from Világos Görgei, on 13 August 1849, signed the surrender of the Hungarian army, or politicians who were ready to support his return, like Sr. László Szögyény-Marich, Baron Miklós Vay, royal commissioner of Transylvania from 1848, and court chancellor of 1860-1861, Ágoston Trefort or Béni Kállay. She met also with the wholesaler Frigyes Fröhlich, a friend of Görgei's father, who presented her and her children to Ferenc Deák, who showed to be sympathetic with Görgei's qish to return home. She assured Deák that Görgei's political views are similar to his, and if he would have a chance to come home, will support him in every way. She also begged him to fight against the false accusations about high treason of which Görgei was accused a by a big part of the Hungarian people.[151] Görgei's younger brother, István, in 1866 also sent him encouraging news about another politician whom he knew from 1848-1849, Pál Nyáry, who was sympathetic with Görgei's cause, and believed that after the Hungarian-Austrian compromise, he would return, and his image in Hungary will also improve.[151]

From 1862 Görgei had a Hungarian fellow in Klagenfurt, László Berzenczey, a radical politician of the 1848-1849 Hungarian revolution and war of independence, who, after returning from the exile, was sent in internment to Klagenfurt, with whom Görgei argued about the daily Hungarian internal politics, among others Ferenc Deák's role in the domestic affairs, Berzenczey very critical about him, while Görgei defended Deák's policy.[151]

When the Austro-Prussian War broke out, Görgei declared that he is affraid of Kossuth's interference from outside in the Hungarian politics, and that he is against any idea of a "Garibaldist" revolution against the Austrians, which, in his opinion, Kossuth wanted to start, and liberate Hungary with French help.[151] After the Austrian defeat in the Battle of Königgrätz against the Kingdom of Prussia, and the Peace of Prague, the chances of a Hungarian-Austrian compromise started to materialize.[151]

Görgei's memorandum about the reform of the Hungarian armyEdit

After the battle of Königgrätz was lost by the empire, and as a result of this the probability of a Hungarian-Austrian compromise started to materialize (1866), Görgei was asked by his old friend from the war of independence, Imre Ivánka, now a member of the Hungarian parliament, to say his opinions about the bill about general liability for military service of the Hungarian military units, and their unification in a common army, which was planned to be issued as law after the eventual compromise. He started to work on this, and finished it in the first months of 1867, sending it to Deák.[151]

At the beginning of the 31 pages manuscript Görgei expressed his fundamental ideas as it follows:
- To keep the system of the offering of the recruits [by the counties],
- To avoid to stir up the anger of the Austrian military commandment to achieve the goals of the Hungarian army reform,
- To awake again in the Hungarians the sympathy for the army, which was lost after the defeat of the War of Independence, and convince them to become soldiers,
- To make possible for the soldiers to marry earlier if they want, removing the bureaucratic obstacles which prevented this, and to increase the virtuousness,
- To accustom the Hungarian youth to learn and study, and to do any thing of public utility at an early age,
- To increase the defense power of Hungary to the highest level.[151]

In this memorandum, Görgei first criticised the new law proposal which wanted to take away a part of the internal organization of the Hungarian army from the Hungarian war ministry, while letting other duties by them. He believed that this would cause the incapacity of the emperor to control the army. He proposed instead to the Hungarian and Austrian war ministries to forward, to the ministry council a joint proposal about the national defense, to the legislation. Secondly Görgei pointed that the cause of the defeat of the imperial army against the Prussian troops in 1866 was caused by the shortage of weapons and manpower, the wrong organization of defense forces. He showed that the Prussians had mostly modern breech-loading rifles, while the Austrians still used the outdated muzzle-loading rifle, and it was a mistake to send the troops on open field to charge the Prussian soldiers, protected by trenches, who, with their breech-loading riffles caused catastrophic damages to them.[151] Based on contemporary sources, Görgei concluded that the Austrians were numerically superior in the majority of the battles, but the outdated weapons and the wrong tactics used by them, led to their defeat.[151] Görgei's opinion was that not the soldiers numbers give the power of an army, but their love and attachment to their country.[151] In the third part of the memorandum Görgei criticized the bill in question, which proposed to recruit, and to put under military jurisdiction, all men who turned 20-22 for 12 years, of preventing the young intellectuals in their best, and most productive ages, to exercise their political rights and duties. He wrote that with this bill the government wants to neutralize the Hungarian intellectuals with democratic political credo.[151]

He proposed the followings:
- In the regular army the men must serve six years, the first and the second reservists three years. The national guards, as well as those who had to participate in the general uprising (When the country was attacked and it was in grave danger, it was a Hungarian tradition that the nobles "upraised", gathered together and fought the enemy. After 1848 those who had to uprise, were not only the nobles, but all the nation.)[153], must be conscripted until they were 45,
- The most important duty of the army in the peace time must be the military exercises of the recruits and reservists. This training has to be done in every autumn. During these military exercises, they must continue to remain under the civil law. Besides of this the armed units has to perform a Ceremonial general national review,
- The regular army will be composed by the volunteers, recruits, soldiers on leave, those who are conscripted as punishment, and the students of military academies. The recruits who can write and read, can prove their unimpeachable character, if they are peasants, work on their parents lands, they can live from their work if they are craftsmen or merchants, they are civil servants, junior clerks, they finished with success the university or courses of equal value, will serve only a year. The people who are not in these categories, will serve two years.
- If the old traditions of harsh military discipline must be loosened, and increase the educative activities in the army, because this will convince more and more young people to join the army, and this will make possible that the army to be brought up only by volunteers,
- The Parliament has the duty of the recruitment of the troops, if the number of the volunteers is not enough, and in special cases it must conscript soldiers for three years of service,
- The military companies and regiments must remain in the countries in which they were conscripted. And the king has to send home all Hungarian troops which were brought outside of Hungary,
- As regiment districts, from where each regiment will receive its recruits, Görgei proposed to be the same as the parliamentary electoral districts,
- The possibility that somebody to replace a recruit must be abrogated, but it must be made possible the redemption with a specified amount of money of the military service,
- The volunteers and the recruits under 21, can chose the branch of service in which they want to serve,
- In military education must be introduced in the high schools,
- In case of a war, in the attacking army must participate all the units, the 1. reservists included, while the 2. reservists will assure the defense of the hinterland. If needed, also the National Guards and the National Insurrection must be called to duty. The clerks, civil servants, those who assured order and the security (police, firemen, etc.), as well as those who work in the transport, catering service, education, must be exempted.[151]

In the same time with Görgei, also Klapka, Antal Vetter and Imre Ivánka made their memorandums about the reform of the Hungarian army. When count Gyula Andrássy went to the discussions about the future military organization of Austria-Hungary, the Hungarian plan included Görgei's modern intellectual-friendly and pro-socialization views. Görgei's proposition about the right of the Hungarian Parliament to decide the recruitment of the new troops, and the remaining of the recruits and reservists, during their military exercises, under the civil law, entered in the future Law of the Defense of Hungary.[151]

Görgei's return homeEdit
Görgey in 1867

After the Austro-Hungarian compromise from 1867, it was well known that an amnesty will be promulgated for the Hungarian soldiers and politicians, and this meant a chance for Görgei to finally return home. Although he wanted very much to return home, Görgei was pessimistic about this.[152] His brother, István proposed to ask Ferenc Deák to help Görgei to obtain the permission to return home, but his brother said that he consider that the constitutionalism will be considered as restored in Hungary only after the coronation of Franz Joseph as king of Hungary, so he believes that after this event he will be granted to return to his country. He also pointed that for the time being his only income is the subventions which he receives from the Austrian government, which will stop after he will go back to Hungary. He told that he must find a job in Hungary to sustain his family, before he will return home, because he wants not to live on the mercy of others.[151]

On 9 June 1867 finally the amnesty came out, but when he read its text, Görgei didn't found in it any reference about what will happen with somebody who is in his situation. He taught that those politicians who formulated the text of the amnesty deliberately omitted him, in order to prevent his return to Hungary. He even heard about the words of Ferenc Pulszky, one of Kossuth's closest friends, newly returned from exile, who said about him: "Let him [to remain] there (in Klagenfurt)".[151]

Before 20 June Görgei's wife, Adéle Aubouin went to an audience to the new Hungarian prime minister, Gyula Andrássy.[152] She asked him if her husband received amnesty or not? Andrássy replied that he does not know anything about this, because the amnesty was the kings decision, but he promised that he will ask the Austrian prime minister Friedrich Ferdinand von Beust about this.[151] During this time, his daughter Berta married with László Bohus, the son of Antónia Szögény Bohus, his hostess when he signed the surrender of the Hungarian army at her castle from Világos.[151]

Finally on 16 July the chief of the police from Klagenfurt announced Görgei that his internment ended, and he can return to Hungary. On 19 July, the day in which he received the official decision of his amnesty, he took the train to Hungary.[151]

Görgei the scapegoat of the lost causeEdit

On the military council held in Arad on 11 August 1849, two days before he surrendered to the Russians, Görgei made a speech in which he foresaw that he will be regarded as a traitor of his nation for his surrender:

My friends! I foresee the fact that, because of their infatuation, or because they do not know the immense misery in its entirety, maybe millions who cannot size up the situation, that without any aid we are too weak to defend our fellow-citizens and their rights - I say millions will accuse me of treason. Despite that I know that maybe already tomorrow somebody, blinded by hatred, will take a weapon in his hands to kill me, with a firm conviction, and, believing that any further bloodshed is harmful, I still consider and beg you all [the officers in his army], who cannot be accused of cowardliness, to reflect about my proposal [to surrender], which, before long, can bring at least the peace to our country in dire straits.[154]

The surrender, and particularly the fact that his life was spared while his generals and many of his officers and men were hanged or shot, led to his being accused of treason by public opinion.[44] The main cause of these accusations was a letter written by Kossuth, already in exile, from Vidin on 12 September 1849, declaring unfairly that Görgei had betrayed Hungary and its nation, when he put his weapons down.[1] In his letter Kossuth wrote: ...I uplifted Görgei from the dust in order to win for himself eternal glory, and freedom for his fatherland. But he cowardly became the executioner of his country..[155]

The accusations of the circle of Kossuth against Görgei were:
- From the beginning of his career as a general, Görgei wanted to be a dictator,
- He organized a real camarilla around him,
- After the victorious Spring Campaign, instead of attacking towards Vienna, he attacked Buda, and with this he lost the opportunity to defeat the Habsburgs once and for all,
- He was against the concentration of the Hungarian troops at Szeged,
- He used his extorted dictatorship to commit high treason,
- He did not respected and loved his country and nation,
- He had pro-aristocratic views.[156]

Political cartoon by Don Pirlone: Görgei presenting Hungary's cut-off head to Russia, 1853

The letter from Vidin misled many people: one of Hungary's greatest poets, Mihály Vörösmarty, who played also a role in the revolution as a member of the Hungarian Parliament, wrote on 10 October 1849 an angry poem about Görgei, with the title Átok (Curse), naming him a "worthless villain", "worm", and "traitor", and cursing Görgei for his "treason" of the Hungarian land, to be chased by hate and misfortune and his soul to be damned after his death.[157] These accusations, have their root in the letter from Vidin of Kossuth, who after the revolution, became one of the most respected and beloved politicians and the symbol of the Hungarian revolution and independence, reached even the international public, too. Many newspapers and books depicted Görgei as a traitor of the revolution and freedom. For example, in the Italian book with allegorical drawings Don Pirlone a Roma. Memorie di un Italiano dal 1 Settembre 1848 al 31 dicembre 1850 (Don Pirlone in Rome: Memories of an Italian from 1 September 1848 to 31 December 1850), Görgei is presented as a traitor who hands over Hungary's head to Russia, and receives sacks of gold in return.[158]

In the end of December 1849, two months after Kossuth's letter of Vidin and execution of the 13 Hungarian generals of his army at Arad, in a letter to his younger brother, István, Görgei wrote:

Do you remember my brother my words that - however it will be the fate [of the war of independence] of our country - my role will be that of a martyr. And indeed it happened [like I told you]: but I didn's taught that it will be so full of torments. – I waited [to be brought to] the gallows or eternal prison - the final rest after short sufferings. But my present condition is a hundred times worse than all of these! Exposed to the donkey kicks of every stupid animal, with broken strength, without any protection and shelter... And, what is the most painful thing? To see that I am condemned by exactly those, for whom I put my life so many times in danger... My condition is of a man, suffering of numbness, in suspended animation, who hears his friends discussions about [his future] burial.[159]

During his exile in Klagenfurt and Vitring Görgei heard about the accusations in Kossuth's circle against him, which spread also in Hungary, but he learned about the details of these accusations only after he met with László Berzenczey in August 1862.[151] First Berzenczey was under the influence of Kossuth's accusations and confronted Görgei, but after long discussions with the general, he became the ardent supporter of his innocence, and he continued to support Görgei even after they returned to Hungary. Berzenczey convinced Görgei to respond to these accusations. So he wrote a booklet in German, called Briefe ohne Adresse (Letters without Address). He responded to the above-mentioned accusations in Briefe ohne Adresse as it follows:
- If he does not loved his country and nation, why did he put his life in danger so many times during the war?
- If he was pro aristocracy why did he executed Ödön Zichy?
- He accepted the accusation that he had the right to surrender as a general, but as a dictator no,
- But he said that Kossuth and his circle of Hungarian politicians and commanders, had no right to leave the country, so they too were guilty in the same way as him.[156]

Political cartoon by Don Pirlone: Görgei taking the money from Austria and Russia for his "treason" of Hungary while the ghost of his country hunts him

Briefe ohne Adresse and its Hungarian translation Gazdátlan levelek were published in Hungary in 1867.[156] In Leipzig the book was published by F. A. Brockhaus AG in German, while, after Görgei wrote a Preface and an Epilogue to it, his younger brother István Görgey published the booklet at the end of May also in Hungary.[151] In Hungary the newspapers did not wrote almost anything about this book, so it didn't improved the Hungarians negative opinions about Görgei too much.[151] And the majority of those writings which mentioned Görgei's book, were negative. Some Hungarian officers who fought in the War of Independence as Colonel Lajos Asbóth or Colonel Lajos Zámbelly attacked the Gazdátlan levelek, while others like Colonel Ferenc Aschermann (Asserman) defended Görgei. The Hungarian literary critic Ferenc Toldy congratulated in a letter to Görgei, naming him a great writer, and asking him to write another, more greater book, in which he would refute and destroy all false accusations against him.[151]

Hearing about the approaching Hungarian-Austrian compromise, from Paris, Lajos Kossuth wrote on 22 May 1867 his famous Kassandra Letter in which he accused Ferenc Deák, that he will seal Hungary's doom if he accept this compromise. Once again in this letter Kossuth alluded to Görgei's "treason", by surrendering to the Russians instead of continuing the fight, to which Görgei responded with an article called Nyílt kérelem Kossuth Lajos úrhoz (Open Request to Mr. Lajos Kossuth) published in Pesti Napló, pointing that at 11 August 1849 Kossuth himself wrote that it is no chance to continue the fight. In this open letter Görgei begged Kossuth to stop misleading the Hungarians with false statements, and to let Deák to lead the Hungarians in the right direction: the compromise with Austria.[151] Pesti Napló published Görgei's letter with the note in which the editors tried to excuse themselves from publishing Görgei's letter by saying that they felt obliged to give him the right to defend himself if he felt offended by Kossuth's letter.[151] István Görgey protested against this note, saying they did not said him or his brother nothing about this note before they published it together with Görgei's letter.[151]

Seeing that almost no Hungarian newspaper or magazine wrote about his Gazdátlan levelek and his other articles, Görgei said that the generation of today do not want me in any way.[151]

During his first return to Hungary he was visited by a group of men, among which some old revolutionary soldiers were also to be found, and gave him a crumpled image of the 13 Martyrs of Arad symbolizing with this that in their opinion they were executed because he betrayed them and the country.[151]

After he returned to Hungary for good, he played no further part in public life, but had to suffer many attacks from his countrymen who believed that he was a traitor.[8] He faced all these accusations with stoicism and resignation.[8]

He was many times attacked by the people who believed in the slanders against him. Once, when he was working on the railroad near Torda in Transylvania, he lied down on a bench from a railway station to sleep after a hard work, but he was recognized by some people, and a crowd quickly gathered around him, screaming that he must be beaten to death for his treason, but he didn't moved, pretending to sleep, and the people calmed down, and left him alone. On another occasion, near Pozsony, when he worked also on the railroad, a worker attacked him with a spade, calling him "traitor", but Görgei parried the hit, and replied: I forgive him, because he do not knows what is he doing.[160]

Once he was invited by the literary critic Pál Gyulay to a meeting of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest. When the meeting ended and he tried to come down from the gallery on the spiral staircase, he was blocked by an angry mob of students who looked threatening at him, and shouted: "here is the traitor"! The aging Görgei was prepared to defend himself, because he had and iron brass knuckles in his pocket, so he put his hand in his pocket, grabbed it without taking it out from his pocket, and continued to descend, staring in their eyes, while they stepped back stair by stair, as he advanced. They cursed and slandered him, but did not attacked.[161]

Ferenc Deák related that Görgei once went to Budapest to meet with him, and asked him to officially refute all those slanders and accusations which the Hungarian media and public opinion is filled about the "treason" of the general, and to make clear for the nation that in the summer of 1849, facing the superior Russian and Austrian armies, Görgei had no other choice than to surrender. Deák replied to him that although he knows that Görgei is right, and he feels compassion with him, but he said, that he, as a Hungarian, cannot destroy the belief of his nation, that the Hungarians could be defeated only because of a treason, rather because the strength of the enemy forces. He said that he does not want to shatter the belief of the Hungarians in their invincibility. So he advised Görgei to live in seclusion and accept the fate of a man sacrificed for a greater cause, which is the pride of the nation and honor of the country.[151]

After, starting with 1874, Görgei lived in Visegrád, and here also he had to suffer the attacks of the Hungarians. The beautiful historical city was often visited by schoolchildren, who, stimulated by their teachers, booed and catcalled him when they passed by the house in which he lived, or met him in their way. Once Görgei heard a young mother saying to her child: "Look my boy, this is the man who betrayed our country". Görgei replied to her, maybe remembering Deák's words to him: Madam, maybe its not totally true what you said about me, and perhaps that's for the better. Let the Hungarians to believe that he could be defeated only because of treason. This belief, even if I suffer because of it, maybe it's a guarantee for a [bright] national future.[161]

Despite the accusations from Kossuth, who never retracted his words about him, Görgei respected the former Governor–President of Hungary, declaring that in 1848 Kossuth was a great man, without whom nothing would have happened, while he (Görgei) was only a bubble thrown on the surface by the wave of events.[8]

In 1885 an attempt by a large number of his old comrades to rehabilitate him was not favorably received in Hungary. For decades he had been considered a traitor, often humiliated in public places, but in the last years of his life, his very important role during the war and unique military talent became widely acknowledged by his compatriots. Only after his death was he definitively discharged of the accusations of treason by historians.[162] General Görgei wrote a justification of his operations (Mein Leben und Wirken in Ungarn 1848–1849, Leipzig, 1852), an anonymous paper under the title Was verdanken wir der Revolution? (1875), and a reply to Kossuth's charges (signed Joh. Demar) in Budapesti Szemle, 1881, pp. 25–26. Amongst those who wrote in his favor were Captain István Görgey (1848–1849 bol, Budapest, 1885), and Colonel Aschermann (Ein offenes Wort in der Sache des Honved-Generals Arthur Görgey, Klausenburg, 1867).[44]

Görgei's life after returning homeEdit

His years of hardshipsEdit

After returning home, Görgei visited Ferenc Deák, the architect of the Hungarian-Austrian compromise of 1867, who played an important role in allowing him to return home.[152] As a gratitude for this great politician, in his later years, when he, after his summering in Visegrád, returned to Budapest, he put every year fresh violets on Deák's grave.[163] After Görgei went again to Viktring, to resolve his remaining things there, then returned in Hungary.[152] In Hungary, only after a long searching, he could find a job, which assured the existence of his family. First he was hired at the Chain Bridge in Budapest, because his diploma made him suitable for this job. Unfortunately after a year, the bridge was nationalized and his work was not needed anymore.[152] After this he was hired to a stone-coal and mining company, but this job too didn't lasted too long.[152] Then his friends suggested him to go to Transylvania, to work in the railway constructions, so he went there, to work at the railroad between Alvinc and Bene, but, in his letters, he complained about the inhuman conditions from there, which made his work very difficult.[152] After a while, he was hired to an Austrian bank at Lunka (which was not far from Alvinc), where he became virtually their utility-man. Görgei liked this job. Unfortunately after a year, the Austrians sold their property, so Görgei had to leave.[152] At this time Görgei's younger brother, István worked as notary public, and he hired his brother as a clerk.[152]

In 1874 Görgei went to Visegrád, to István Görgey's property, to the custodian of the house, the gardener and the viticultor of his wineyards. In reality István gave that property totally to his older brothers use. Thus Visegrád became the home of Görgei for the rest of his life, ending his long years of exile, searching and vicissitudes.[152]

His last 42 years in VisegrádEdit
Artúr Görgei while gardening in Visegrád

In Visegrád Görgei finally found tranquility and a circle of sincere, educated, helping friends, who refused to fall under the influence of the accusations about treason with which the country was filled against him. As aforeseid, Görgei settled in his brothers property, and started to take care of his garden and wineyards. One of his neighbours, dr. Frigyes Latinovits offered some chambers of his palace for Görgei to live there and to receive his guests.[152]

Ferenc Markóː Visegrád (middle of the 19 century)

Görgei liked very much to farm, developing on his brothers property a real model farm. He bought the latest books and magazines about horticulture and viticulture to be on the top in this domain. His friends admired his garden. The famous medic Dr. József Szohner, when he visited Görgei, he exclamed at th sight of the garden: This is a real Bulgaria![152] In those times the Bulgarian horticulture was renowned in Hungary. This is why he named Görgei's garden Bulgaria.[152] Until his last years, in the garden of his brother, Görgei tried to apply the most modern agricultural techniques, and searched for the seeds of new vegetable species to grow them there.[152]

To thank him all these, his brother, István, built him a big and beautiful house in the garden-suburb of Visegrád.[152] The architect made a plan of the house in 1888, and the works started, but the foreman who was leading the construction, faced problems with the making of the difficult roofing of the house. So István Görgey, asked his brother, Artúr, to lead the construction, and the old general finished with success this task, so he and István's second wife and three daughters could move there.[152] In this new house the circle of friends and admirers around Görgei became greater and greater, including two prime ministers: István and Kálmán Tisza, writers and poets like Pál Gyulai, Andor Kozma, Emil Ábrányi or Kálmán Mikszáth, journalists like Sándor Pethő, who in 1930 will write the biography of the general, artists like Philip de László, Mór Than, who earlier in 1849, working in his camp, painted many of Görgei's battles (Isaszeg, Tápióbicske, Komárom), actors and actresses like Mari Jászai, but also great medics, like Sándor Korányi or Lajos Markusovszky who also treated him when he was ill.[152] Besides of the important people also Görgei's old soldiers visited him frequently. Also the citizens of Visegrád respected Görgei very much, refusing to believe in the frame-ups about his treason, in which the majority of the people of Hungary believed until the end of the 19 Century.[152]

Artúr Görgei by Fülöp László

Among the people who respected and admired Görgei was also the young writer Zsigmond Móricz who visited the general, when he spent the winters in Budapest in the castle of the renowned factory owner Manfréd Weiss. Later Móricz bought a house in Leányfalu, near Visegrád, so he could visit Görgei more often, sometimes with his wife and three daughters.[152] Later Móricz wrote an article in the Nyugat literary journal about one of his meetings and conversation with the ageing general.[164]

The death in 1912 of his younger brother István Görgey who, starting with his young age, was beside Artúr, participating in his campaigns as one of his best officers, after 1867 writing several books and articles in which he tried to convince the Hungarians that his brother is not a traitor (Görgey Arthurról 1889, Kossuth és Görgey 1891, Görgey Arthur ifjusága és fejlődése a forradalomig 1916, Görgey Arthur a száműzetésben 1849–1867 1918), and supported and helped him, after he returned to Hungary from Vitring, giving him even one of his houses in which Görgei spent the last part of his life, was a painful and harsh blow for the old general.[152] Initially he was cared by one of the daughters of István, but, because Görgei was too old to work, the income of the property slowly disappeared, so he was moved off in a smaller house near the Danube, where he spent his days under the surveillance of a valet. The widow of István Görgey demanded subsidies from the government, but the new labour party government refused to help.[152]

After the First World War broke out in 1914, Görgei received the last honours during his life. In April 1915, he was visited by a group of German officers and soldiers, showing their respect for the Hungarian general who fought with glory against the Russian armies. They formed into a line before his house and sung Die Wacht am Rhein in honor of him. The people from the streets also joined the celebration, singing and cheering together with the German soldiers. Görgei was pulled before them in a wheelchair, and with tears in his eyes he thanked for this voluntary salute.[152]

Görgei's family lifeEdit

Görgei Artúr's wife, Adéle and their daughter Berta

As mentioned above, in 1848 Artúr Görgei married with a French girl, named Adéle d'Aubouin. She was born in 1822 in Alsace in an impoverished family, and remained orphan very early. She became lady companion of the daughter Josef Redtenbacher.[165] In her memoirs she remembered Görgei's modesty in his behavior, but when he talked, he quickly became the leader of the discussion with his mild warm, but in the same time cutting look with sarcastic and sharply critic remarks, which showed, in her opinion, very peculiar and extraordinary personality.[165] Before their marriage Görgei didn't courted her, but when he was preparing to go back to Hungary, out of the blue he proposed her to marry him, right when she was preparing to go back to her country.[165] She accepted. They made the wedding in Prague in March 1848, then they went to Toporc, to the domains of the Görgei family.[165] Görgei instead of Adéle, called her in the Hungarian name of Etelka.[165]

Görgei's daughter Berta in the 1860s

From June 1848, when Görgei started his career in the Hungarian revolutionary army, she lived the usual life of the soldiers wives, waiting for news, writing letters to him, and time to time having the occasion to meet him for short periods.[165] After a while she decided to go to Pest, where they had more occasions to meet than in Toporc. Starting with the Winter Campaign, she followed her husband and the Hungarian army in its retreat through the mountains of Northern Hungary, and she even participated in a ball in Lőcse, made by the towns council in the honor of the Hungarian army, which just arrived there.[165] In May 1849, when Görgei liberated Central and Western Hungary, with the capitals, she was with her husband on the peak of his glory, when the people cheered his husband everywhere he went. In this period Görgei repeatedly told her to dress modestly.[165]

After the Hungarian surrender from 13 August 1849, they were sent to Klagenfurt, then in Viktring, in exile. In 1850 their daughter, and in 1855 their son Kornél had born.[165] The harsh conditions of life, their poverty and the continuous police supervision, slowly deteriorated the relations between the two.[165] Although, in 1867, Adéle played an important role in the convincing of Ferenc Deák and Gyula Andrássy to grant them the rihgt to return to Hungary, their relation didn't improved.[165] From 1876, when Görgei started to work in the building of railways in Transylvania, Adéle moved to Toporc, on the dominions of the Görgei family, and they never lived together ever after. In the beginning they exchanged some letters, but after a while they stopped the conversations.[165] When,in 1900, Adéle died, Görgei didn't went to her funeral.[165] In 1912, when the writer Zsigmond Móricz made an interview with Görgei, and asked about his wife, he shouted with tears in his eyes: That didn't counted... I don't want to talk about that! That was nothing![165]

Róbert Hermann claims that the main cause of the worsening of their relations were their children. Görgei was angry because Adéle every time defended their children when he complained to them because of their weaknesses and failures in their studies, lives and careers. Artúr Görgei called the result of his wranglings with his wife and children one of his greatest defeats, comparable only with his military defeat at Hodrusbánya in the winter of 1849.[165] Because of these, Görgei didn't helped his children, which both ended their lives in misery.[165] In the last years of her life, his daughter, Berta, accused Görgei of helping his illegitimate daughter from the years spent in Klagenfurt, Klára Gambelli, whom he later adopted, more than his legitimate children.[165] Berta accused her father even that he had a relation with the wife of his younger brother, István.[165]

Görgei's death and funeralEdit

Artúr Görgei in a newsreel (1910)

In his last years, Görgei was often ill, his sight and hearing deteriorated, and, usually during the springs, he pulled through heavy illnesses.[163] In January 1916 he came through a serious influenza, but when in May he came down with Pneumonia, he couldn't resist to it.[163] A month before his death he was brought from Visegrád to Budapest to the home of his sister in law, and he was treated here by two medics.[163] On the morning of 20 May, his state of health worsened seriously. According to the obituary notices, Görgei passed away on 21 May 1916, Sunday, at 1 Hour AM[163] (67th anniversary of one of his greatest victories: the taking of the Buda castle) at the age of 98 in Budapest.[166][167] When his lowed ones took notice of his death, they dressed him in his favourite black díszmagyar (the elaborate court dress of Hungarian aristocracy) and covered him with a white shroud. His catafalque was decorated with violets, Görgei's favourite flovers, brought from Visegrád.[163] Two artists were let to enter to see him before his funeral: the wife of the painter Gyula Glatter, and Alajos Stróbl. Gyula Glatter made a painting about the general on the catafalque and Alajos Stróbl made a statue of his head with the deep scar received on 2 July 1916 visible.[163]

The funeral of Artúr Görgei 1916 in Budapest

The whole nation, starting with the celebrities (the actress Mari Jászai, the historian Henrik Marczali, prime minister István Tisza, literary historian Zsolt Beöthy), and ending with the common people, expressed its sorrow on the death of the soldier, detested, and called traitor, only a few decades earlier by almost every Hungarian.[163] His body was carried to the Hungarian National Museum, where at 23 May 1916 the Hungarian government and army celebrated the liberation of the castle of Buda, and where, earlier, the bodies of important politicians like Lajos Kossuth, Ferenc Kossuth or László Teleki, received the last honours.[163]

In the National Museum, before his catafalque a flag of his army, a shako of a Hungarian soldier and a cavalry officers sword of 1848-1849 and two of his decorations were exhibited.[163] His funeral was conducted on 25 May at 3 o'clock, according to the Lutheran liturgy. At the funerals attended many of the ministers and state secretaries of the Tisza-Government, led by the prime minister himself, the mayor of Budapest István Bárczy, but also 12 Honvéd's (veteran soldiers), who fought in his army in 1848-1849. The Museum, the Museum garden and all the side streets which headed to it were filled by people. Ferenc Erkel's composition Gyászhangok (Funeral Sounds) was played and after that the speeches of the priest and some politicians were held.[163] After that his body was carried to the Kerepesi Cemetery, escorted by the chorus of the Hungarian Opera, the Lutheran priests and tens of thousands of Hungarians, to a cript, designated for him by the government and Budapest's mayors office.[163] After the farewell speech, made by Zsolt Beöthy, Artúr Görgei was buried there, but only temporarily, because his family wanted to bury him in Visegrád.[163] As a result of these disagreements, and discussions, Görgei's final resting place is neither in the crypt offered by the government, nor Visegrád, but a simple tomb from the National Kerepesi Cemetery.[163]


During his life Artúr Görgei wrote a several articles and books.
During the Revolution and Freedom War of 1848-1849 he wrote several proclamations to the army and the nation:

  • Katonák és nemzetőrök! (Soldiers and National Guards!) - Pozsony 3 November 1848 (in Hungarian),
  • Szózat. (Appeal) - Pozsony 3 November 1848 (in Hungarian),
  • A felállítandó magyar honvéd építész-kar érdekében. (On Behalf of the Faculty of Architecture, which Will be Founded) - Pozsony 5 November 1848 (in Hungarian),
  • Szózat. Önkéntes nemzetőrök! (Appeal. Voluntary National Guards!) - Pozsony 23 November 1848 (in Hungarian),
  • Szózat a magyar hadsereghez! (Appeal to the Hungarian Army) - No location and date (in Hungarian),
  • Aufruf an die Herren Ober- und Unteroffiziere und Kadetten der Armee (Appeal to the High- and the Non Commissioned Officers of the Army) - No location and date (in German),
  • A feldunai magyar királyi hadsereg nyilatkozata. (The Declaration of the Royal Hungarian Army) - Pozsony 10 December 1848 (in Hungarian),
  • Vitézek! (Brave Warriors!) - No location January 1849 (in Hungarian),
  • A magyar hadsereghez. (To the Hungarian Army) - Vác 10 April 1849 (in Hungarian),
  • A magyar hadsereghez. (To the Hungarian Army) - Komárom 29 April 1849 (in Hungarian),
  • A magyar hadsereg főparancsnoka a néphez. (The High Commander of the Hungarian Army to the Nation) - Budapest end of April 1849 (in Hungarian),
  • Fölszóllítás! Henczihez (Warning! To Henczi) - Buda 4 May 1849 (in Hungarian),
  • Görgei to György Klapka - Buda 6 May 1849 (in German),
  • Görgei a miniszteri tanácshoz. (Görgei to the Ministry Council) - Komárom 2 July 1849 (in Hungarian),
  • Görgei to Rüdiger - No location Jul 1849 (in German),
  • Görgei to Paskevich - Rimaszombat 21 Jul 1849 (in German),
  • Görgei to the Following Generals: Nagysándor, Leiningen and Pöltemberg - No location 21 Jul 1849 (in German),
  • Görgei Rüdigerhez (Görgei to Rüdiger) - Óarad 11 August 1849 (in Hungarian and German),
  • Polgárok! (Citizens!) - Castle of Arad 11 August 1849 (in Hungarian and German),
  • Görgei Klapkához (Görgei to Klapka) - Nagyvárad 16 August 1849 (in Hungarian),
  • Görgei to Baron Stein, the High Commander of the Armies of Transylvania - Nagyvárad 16 August 1849 (in German),[168]

His articles were as it follows:

  • Without title. Márczius Tizenötödike. 1848 (70) 5 June (signed Egy quietált huszár főhadnagy = A resigned Hussar lieutenant) (in Hungarian),[169]
  • Görgei Artúr levele a szerkesztőhöz (Artúr Görgei's Letter to the Editor). Pesti Napló. 1861 február 1 (31/XII) (in Hungarian),
  • Görgei Artúr nyílt kérelme Kossuth Lajoshoz (Artúr Görgei's Open Demand to Lajos Kossuth). Pesti Napló. 1867 május 29 (126/XVIII) (in Hungarian),
  • Történészeti megjegyzések, Jókai válaszával (Remarks of a Historian, with the response of Mór Jókai). Hon. 1867 (231/V) (in Hungarian),
  • Dembinszki emlékiratairól (About Dembinski's Memoirs). Budapesti Szemle. 1875 (XIV) (with János Demár's pseudonym) (in Hungarian),[170]
  • Kossuth és Görgei. Nyílt levél a szerkesztőhöz és észrevételek Kossuth Irataira. (Kossuth and Görgei. Open Letter to the Editors, and Observations to Kossuth's Writings). Budapesti Szemle. 1881. (XXV) (in Hungarian),[171]
  • Még egyszer Kossuth és Görgei. Nyílt levél a szerkesztőhöz és észrevételek Kossuth Irataira. (Again about Kossuth and Görgei. Open Letter to the Editors, and Observations to Kossuth's Writings). Budapesti Szemle. 1881. (XXVI) (in Hungarian),[172]

Before 1848 his first

His books were as it follows:

  • Über die festen, flüchtigen, fetten Säueren des Cocusnussöles (About the Solid, Volatile, Fat Acids of the Coconut Oil) Offprint from Sitzungsberichte der kais. Akademie der Wissenschaften (1848),[173]
  • Mein Leben und Wirken in Ungarn in den Jahren 1848 und 1849 (My Life and Works in Hungary in the Years 1848 and 1849). [1] - [2] II. Leipzig, 1852. (in German, released later also in Hungarian and English) (full text)
  • Gazdátlan levelek Kiadja Ráth Mór, Pest 1867 (in Hungarian) (full text)
  • Mit köszönünk a forradalomnak? Franklin Társulat, Budapest 1875 (Anonymously) (in Hungarian) (full text)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af Görgei Artúr Életem és működésem Magyarországon 1848-ban és 1849-ben, (2004)
  2. ^ a b c d Szentgyörgyi István / A kémikus Görgey, Korunk. (2004 VII/11)
  3. ^ Pethő 1934, pp. 15.
  4. ^ Görgey István 1916, pp. 230, 235.
  5. ^ Görgey István 1916, pp. 262.
  6. ^ a b Riedel Miklós / Görgey a vegyész-tábornok, Magyar Kémikusok Lapja. (2016 LXXI/12)
  7. ^ a b Móra László / Katonai sikereit elősegítették kémiai tanulmányai 175 éve született Görgey Artúr, Korunk. (2004 VII/11)
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Hermann Róbert, Kossuth és Görgei, Korunk. (September 2002)
  9. ^ Hermann 2004, pp. 94–98.
  10. ^ Hermann 1999, pp. 5.
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Political offices
Preceded by
Lázár Mészáros
Minister of War
Succeeded by
Lajos Aulich
Preceded by
Baron Ignaz von Plener
Oldest living state leader
17 February 1908 – 21 May 1916
Succeeded by
Alejandro Deustua