János Damjanich

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János Damjanich
Damjanics János.jpg
Native name Јован Дамјанић
Born (1804-12-08)December 8, 1804
Lagerdorf, Banat Military Frontier, Habsburg Monarchy
Died October 6, 1849(1849-10-06) (aged 44)
Service/branch Army
Years of service ????-1849
Rank general
Commands held
  • 3rd Honved Battalion (1848)
  • 3rd Army Corps (1849)
  • Fortress of Arad (1849)
Hungarian Revolt of 1848
  • Battle of Alisbrunn
  • Battle of Lagerdorf
  • Battle of Szolnok
  • Battle of Isaszeg
  • Battle of Nagysallo

János Damjanich (Serbian: Jovan Damjanić / Јован Дамјанић, December 8, 1804 – October 6, 1849) was an Austrian military officer of Serb origin who became general of the Hungarian Revolutionary Army in 1848. He is considered a national hero in Hungary.

Early life

Damjanich was born in Lagerdorf (Serbian: Straža, Hungarian: Strázsa) in Banat Military Frontier of Habsburg Monarchy (today in Serbia) or in Staza in Croatian Military Frontier (today in Croatia). His mother was a daughter of general Taborović.[1] His wife Emilija Čarnić was related to the Čarnojević family.[2]

Military career

Damjanich entered the army as an officer in the 61st regiment, and on the outbreak of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848 was promoted to be a major in the third Honvéd battalion[3] at Szeged. Although an Orthodox Serb, he was from the beginning a devoted adherent of the Hungarian liberals.[4]

His ability and valour at the battles of Alisbrunn (Serbian: Alibunar, Hungarian: Alibunár) and Lagerdorf in 1848 led to his promotion to colonel. In early 1849, he was appointed commander of the 3rd Army Corps in the middle Tisza, and quickly gained the reputation of being the bravest man in the Hungarian army. In March 1849 he annihilated an Austrian brigade at Szolnok, which was perhaps his greatest exploit.[4]

He was elected deputy for Szolnok to the Diet of Hungary, but declined the honour. Damjanich played a leading role in the general advance upon the Hungarian capital of Buda under Artúr Görgey.[4]

The engagements of Hort and Hatvan, along with the bloody battle of Isaszeg turned Damjanich into a national hero. At the ensuing review at Gödöllő, Lajos Kossuth expressed the sentiments of the whole nation when he doffed his hat as Damjanich's battalions passed by. Damjanich uncompromisingly supported the views of Kossuth, and was appointed commander of one of the three divisions which, under Görgey, entered Vác in April 1849. His fame reached its height when, on April 19, he won the battle of Nagysalló, which led to the relief of the fortress of Komárom.[4]

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 Hungarians had to abandon the capital for the second time. He recovered sufficiently, however, to accept the post of commandant of the fortress of Arad.[4]

After the Surrender at Világos (now Şiria, Romania), 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 Dmitry Buturlin, by whom he was handed over to the Austrians,[4] and he became one of the 13 Martyrs of Arad on October 6, 1849. Damjanich was last in the line to be executed because his enemies wanted him to watch hanging of his generals.[5] His famous last words were: I believed I would be the last, because I was always the first in battle. My poor Emily! Long live Hungary!

Execution of the Martyrs of Arad. Work by János Thorma.


Damjanich is a controversial historical figure. Hungarians consider Damjanich a national hero who led the Hungarian revolutionary army against the Habsburg Monarchy, while Serbs consider him a national traitor, who despite the fact that he was ethnic Serb by origin, fought on the Hungarian side against his own people, i.e. against the Vojvodinian Serb army that was on the side of the Habsburgs during the revolution. Therefore, the Serbs gave him a nickname "ljuta guja, srpski izdajica" ("furious snake, Serbian traitor"). The following quote is accredited to him, "Serbs shouldn't exist; I won't be still until the last Serb on this earth is dead and once that is done, I shall kill myself."[6][7][8] Other sources say that Damjanich was actually proud of his Serb origin.[9]


  1. Ignjatović, Jakov (1953). Rapsodije. Matica Srpska. p. 206.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Gligorijević, Milo (1987). Izlazak Srba. Književne novine. p. 140.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Povesnica slobodne kraljeve varoši Vršca: sv. Novo doba (1848-1886). B. Jovanović. 1886. p. 27. ...Новембра 1. потпуковник Јован Дамјанић прими команду над вршачким логором. Он је довео са собом 3 компаније 3. хонведског батаљона и 370 народних гардиста на коњима заједно са 2 топа. Овом војском и још са 450 ...<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Public Domain One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainBain, Robert Nisbet (1911). "Damjanich, János". In Chisholm, Hugh. Encyclopædia Britannica. 7 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 789.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> This cites Ödön Hamvay, Life of János Damjanich (Hung.), (Budapest, 1904).
  5. Gligorijević, Milo (1987). Izlazak Srba. Književne novine. p. 214.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Tutorov, Milan (1995). Seva munja biće opet buna: istorika Zrenjanina i Banata. Gradska narod. biblioteka Žarko Zrenjanin. p. 353. ... је омраза према својим сународницима и браћи била толика, да је у једној при- лици изјавио како ће убијати Србе док и последњег не буде убио, а онда ће убити и себе, јер ниједан Србин не треба да живи на кугли земаљској.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Kovačević, Duško M. (2006). Jakov Ignjatović: politička biografija : 1822-1889. Zavod za udžbenike i nastavna sredstva. p. 90. Пуковник Јован Дамјанић, за кога је Игњато- вић говорио да је у револуцији 1848-1849. „Србима код Мађара образ осветлао", био је врло суров према Србима. Дамјанићу се приписује да је изговорио речи: „Да могу да искореним ...<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Žebeljan, Petar. Jednom u Perlezu i Ždralovi nad Perlezom. Media Art Content Ltd, Novi Sad, Serbia. p. 93. ISBN 978-86-6397-037-3. Među pogubljenima je bio i mađarski nacionalni junak, pomađareni Srbin Jovan Janoš Damjanić, koji je još početkom 1848. govorio: „Da mogu da iskorenim Race, pa da sebe, kao poslednjeg Raca ubijem!“<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Krestić, Vasilije (1983). Srbi i Mađari u revoluciji 1848-1849. godine. Srpska akademija nauka i umetnosti. p. 150.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>