- The Year 1849
is happening in Baden. During
the fifth decade of the 19th century, poor harvests and the dangers of
flooding alternated. The
farmers became poor. After
a long and cold winter, the clover and summer harvests suffered.
After a dry summer, there was little hope for hay and potatoes. In 1848, Hecker offered his slogans across the country.
He announced wealth, education, and freedom for all.
His ideas found many followers among the rafters and pilots, and
they discussed them in their local establishments.
Then, in 1849, soldiers mutinied in Rastatt.
The revolution had arrived, and it was accompanied by a lot of
hope. In Steinmauern, volunteers moved in. They came from Switzerland and had a plan to organize young
village men into military regiments.
They made captains of two of the most eager men in Steinmauern,
Harlfinger and Kronewirt, and they exercised every day outside on fields
and by the river. This went
on until June 29, 1849.
witnesses report: Karl Julius
Späthe, Mathias Strumpf's son, barely eleven years old, was sent to gather
hay. With his rake and a sack, he stood and watched as artillery
approached from Rastatt. Horses
pulled cannons, soldiers readied their guns.
The young boy ran back to his village and spread the news to soldiers
and citizens who stood around talking.
It was a hot, June day, and it was no wonder that wineglasses were
emptied rapidly. On June
29th, Prussian troops entered the village.
the live shooting really began.
What went on that day was recalled for a long time by Nickolaus
Hatz, who at the time was seventeen years old.
He retained these impressions as follows:
"That morning, we went out in threes at around 3 a. m.--it
was still night and pitch dark--into the Kirschenbrechen area.
When we got to the woods near Elchesheim and Illingen, we saw that
it was fairly crawling with Prussian soldiers.
I hurried back to the village to report it to Captain Harlfinger,
who had been assigned there by the freedom fighters.
Occasionally, an enemy spy crept through the town's gardens.
I found Captains Harlfinger and Kronenwirt wearing knit tunics
without any unit insignias such as the volunteers wore. 'But, yesterday, you were still wearing a captain's tunic and
saber,' I stated, and added firmly, 'And now what's become of your enthusiasm
for freedom all of a sudden?' The
captain was about to box my ears for this impertinence, but I ducked and
ran off. But then, when the
Prussians came into the village, the captain
of the freedom-fighters undoubtedly found it much more comfortable to
greet the helmeted soldiers who arrived while wearing a peaceful housecoat
rather than wearing a revolutionary captain's uniform!
9 o'clock church service was about to begin when the Prussians took our
village, coming in from the north through the gardens, alleys, and fields.
When the church bells began ringing, word went out:
"No service today, the pastor is gone again."
But the freedom-fighters had pulled out the night before and had
withdrawn to back beyond the Murg dam, breaking off toward the bridge
at Hoffeld. Then, a cannonade
began spreading fear and terror.
With their long-range fllnt locks, the Swiss opened wild firing
back upon the Prussians.
Julius Späth told us: "In
my neighbor's house, in the line of the street from Plittersdorf, twelve
people found refuge in the cellar.
At mid-day, at about 11:30, a cannon shot crashed outside by the
Murg. A second crash in the
area of my parents' house, where our family had just sat down together
at lunch, told us, with booming ears, that it had landed in the area."
shell had hit the corner posts of the neighbor's house, knocked the doors
in, and struck down the joists of the cellar under the anteroom, where
the twelve trembling and crying people were kneeling on the floor and,
as the best of their abilities, praying.
Schrapnel, lead balls, and acrid gunpowder smoke filled the stuffy
room with the smell of sulphur, and it is no wonder that everyone had
an ungodly fright, and that 18 year-old Maria Anna Lang was covering her
exposed breast, around which hung strips of her bodice.
Because the cannonades were now getting ever worse, my father took
the family and fled with us to Illingen the next day, where we could find
safer lodging with relatives. The freedom fighters delayed coming to the fortress in Rastatt.
shots were reminders of this combat at Steinmauern, found shot into the
stone walls and there to remain.
They were also found at the base of the parish house, in the window
niches over the altar of the Blessed Virgin in the church, in the Schiff
tavern, and in the house at Rheinstrasse 2.
In 1925, when Nickolaus Becker wanted to go after a piece of the
money that had rolled out of the collection bag, he lifted up the floorboards
of the choir loft, and there he found a gun with a flintlock and bayonet
in the cavity. It most certainly
belonged to one of the freedom fighters that had fired upon the retreating
Prussians from the church tower.
the fortress in Rastatt capitulated, the revolutionaries held a bloody
account. None of the Steinmauern
Franctieur (French soldiers serving as light infantry and scouts) were
charged with anything and were not executed.
But the community had large expenses.
The housing and delivery of supplies to the Franctieur and the
Prussians who followed were heavy burdens.
The total expenses ran about 5000 Gulden.
To cover these expenses, one hundred oak trees from the forest
were cut in the vicinity of Hintere Reut.
the Murg flows into the Rhine, near the customs house, the Franctireur
set the Seilremis up in flames.
This was the place where the Prussians took their wounded and sick
to recover. After the Rastatt
capitulation on July 28, 1849, the Franctireur were seen in town again,
but this time they were refugees who crossed the Rhine on a ferry boat
to French shores. In Münchhausen,
they sold their weapons for cash to finance their trip and begged for
bread and meat. When Prussian
officers received information of this, they rode to inspect the shores
of the Rhine, and they searched the towns and all surrounding islands
these sentry posts, there was someone, however, who was successful in
his flight across the Rhine to France.
He reported it in his memoirs.
This man was Carl Schurz.
word of explanation about his memoirs:
the twenty year-old student from the Rhineland arrived with his
professor, Kinkel, from Bonn, in the whirlpool of the revolution of 1848-49.
Kinkel was wounded and fell into the hands of the Prussians, and
Schurz belonged to those revolutionaries who were held in the Rastatt
fortress. Because Schurz
was a Prussian, he could not expect any mercy.
Therefore, he hid and thought of possibilities for escape.
It occurred to him that he had heard about an underground channel
of sewers under the fortress that came from the urban district and could
lead him to freedom.
the rebelling soldiers from the fort marched to the gate to lay down their
weapons, a strong shower of rain came down over Rastatt.
Schurz wanted to use this opportunity to slip into the sewer, where
he planned to sit on a board and wait for nightfall, and then try to escape. But the rain did not stop, and the waters started rising, threatening
Schurz's life. He returned
to his hiding place in the town.
For three days, he hid in the roof of a garden shed.
Then he tried his luck at escaping again.
his memoirs, he reports, "It was a clear moonlit night, and we stayed
in the shadows of the hedges to ensure that we weren't seen.
This worked until we reached the mouth of the sewer....a watchman
was marching up and down opposite the mouth, and when the man turned his
back to walk in the opposite direction, we slipped into the sewer, one
by one...we crawled through and soon found our old bench.
Then we found the wire mesh...climbed through and soon saw a light
ahead of us...this showed us that the exit to the fields was ahead...a
low whistle from our side was answered immediately...our man stepped out
of the wheat. He reported
that the way forward was clear.
We walked along briskly and reached the village of Steinmauern
in less than an hour. Our
friend led us down to the shore of the Rhine and showed us a boat, in
which a man lay fast asleep. He
was awakened quickly, and our friend told him that we were the people
who were to be taken across the Rhine.
'That will cost five Gulden,' replied the oarsman.'
He also told us that he was from Koblenz."
handed him the amount of money demanded and offered some more money to
our worthy guide. He said, "You've given me enough already.
What you have left, you will need yourselves.
My name is Augustin Loeffler.
God watch over you."
We refugees climbed into the boat; and our back turned toward Rastatt.
After a short journey by water, the boatman landed us on a thickly
overgrown meadow. As dawn
broke, we headed off to find the nearest Alsatian village. We soon discovered that we had landed on an island, and we
found a small house approximately at the middle of the island, which seemed
to be the house of a toll collector for the State of Baden. The house was closed up tighter than a drum, and the island
appeared devoid of humans. As
the sun rose, we saw two men across on the Alsatian shore, whom we recognized
as Douaniers (French toll collectors).
We called across to them.
Without much pleading on our parts, one of the Douaniers, an honest
Alsatian, climbed into a skiff and brought us over to Alsatian ground.
We surrendered our weapons and assured them that we had brought
nothing taxable with us from Rastatt.
We had landed near a small village called Muenchhausen, and then
we turned our steps toward the small city of Selz.
to the Memories of a Revolutionary of 1848/49: Karl Schurz escaped from Alsace and journeyed on to Switzerland,
and in the summer of 1850, he secretly entered Berlin.
There, in an adventurous way, he freed his Professor Kinkel from
the Spandau prison. In 1852,
he emigrated to America, became a Senator in 1868, and served as U. S.
Secretary of the Interior from 1877 until 1881.
He died on May 14, 1906 in New York.
back to the events in our hometown.
There, they began to list the damages caused by the Partisan episode.
Johann Becker, innkeeper and timber-trader, submitted a claim for
damages to his rafting equipment caused by the fires of the war, the battles
of the Prussian support troops, and also by the Partisans.
He had previously received 1,400 Gulden from the office of the
General Staff Treasury for wood he regularly furnished to the support
troops. Therefore, they denied
his claim and entered the remark:
"...he wants to take advantage of the situation, and therefore
no further restitution will be made"...Principle teacher, Mai, reported
a damage amount of 179 Gulden and 24 Kreuzer, claiming that the volunteer
corps stole chattel and diverse equipment.
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