Janos Damjanich - Encyclopedia




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JANOS DAMJANICH (1804-1849), Hungarian soldier, was born at Stasa in the Banat. He entered the army as an officer in the 61st regiment of foot, and on the outbreak of the Hungarian war of independence was promoted to be a major in the third Honved regiment at Szeged. Although an orthodox Serb, he was from the first a devoted adherent of the Magyar liberals. He won his colonelcy by his ability and valour at the battles of Alibunar and Lagerdorf in 1848. At the beginning of 1849 he was appointed commander of the 3rd army corps in the middle Theiss, and quickly gained the reputation of being the bravest man in the Magyar army, winning engagement after engagement by sheer dash and daring. At the beginning of March 1849 he annihilated a brigade at Szolnok, perhaps his greatest exploit. He was elected deputy for Szolnok to the Hungarian diet, but declined the honour. Damjanich played a leading part in the general advance upon the Hungarian capital under GOrgei. He was present at the engagements of Hort and Hatvan, converted the doubtful fight of Tap16-Bicsk into a victory, and fought with irresistible elan at the bloody battle of Isaszeg. At the ensuing review at Godollo, Kossuth expressed the sentiments of the whole nation when he doffed his hat as Damjanich's battalions passed by. Always a fiery democrat, Damjanich uncompromisingly supported the extremist views of Kossuth, and was appointed commander of one of the three divisions which, under GOrgei, entered Vacz in April 1849. His fame reached its culmination when, on the 19th of April, he won the battle of Nagysarl6, which led to the relief of the hardly-pressed fortress of Komarom. At this juncture Damjanich broke his leg, an accident which prevented him from taking part in field operations at the most critical period of the war, when the Magyars had to abandon the capital for the second time. He recovered sufficiently, however, to accept the post of commandant of the fortress of Arad. After the Vilagos catastrophe, Damjanich, on being summoned to surrender, declared he would give up the fortress to a single company of Cossacks, but would defend it to the last drop of his blood against the whole Austrian army. He accordingly surrendered to the Russian general Demitrius Buturlin (1790-1849), by whom he was handed over to the Austrians, who shot him in the market-place of Arad a few days later.

See Edon Hamvay, Life of Janos Damjanich (Hung.), (Budapest, 1904). (R. N. B.)

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