The group was founded on the 14 March 1998 and was named after the heroes of the war of independence of 1848/49. The 15 founding members consisted of adults, high school and elementary school children. Our goal is to present the actions of the legendary heroes, show their fights, and bring their equiptment and everyday life closer to today’s world. We also aim to inform as many young people as possible about military life, history and the ideas of the war of independence. In order to fulfill our undertaking, we tour the old battlefields of historical Hungary, both within and beyond the Trianon borders, pay our respects at the memorials of fallen heroes and try to experience the battles at their original places.
We were among the first reenactment groups to celebrate 15 March in Transylvania’s towns and villages and provided substantial help to the formation of reenactment groups in Kézdiszék and Csíkszék. We are also regular participants of commemorations in former territories of northern and southern Hungary, now pertaining to neighbouring countries. Our members take part in reenactment events of the Napoleon era with groups from other countries and events like the beatification ceremony of former Hungarian king Charles IV in Rome.
Up to the recent past we had the largest membership among hungarian reenactment groups, we were stripped of the title however by the Kiskun Hussar and Military Reenactment Group of Kecskemét. Beyond keeping historical and military traditions we also function as a sport shooting association, whereby our members can learn the handling, operation and use of 19th century muzzle-loading weapons. Our soldiers have won national first place in pistol and musketoon shooting.
Our artillery unit, created by donations of our members, has four 3 pounder cannons, the bodies of which were made in the Szeged foundry according to drawings and drafts of the Museum of Military History.
- - - The heroes of the past
The 3rd, ’white feather’ battalion of Szeged
In June 1848 the town of Szeged was chosen to be the centre for the recruitment of the 3rd battalion. Young people from Csongrád, Bács, Békés, Torontál counties rallied here to freely enlist to protect the nation. In three weeks, 1280 men gathered, thus completing the battalion. The Minister of Defense appointed major János Damjanich as commander, who served in Italy at that time.
The town of Szeged undertook the task of equipping the troops, which was not easy to accomplish. As there were no supplies of cornflower blue fabric, from which trousers for soldiers were to be made according to military standards, the Town Council decided to offer the sailcloth used on salt transport ships for this purpose, then the cloth was dyed indigo blue by the Dyers’ Guild of Szeged for free. From this denim-like fabric the girls and women of the town sewed the trousers for the soldiers. Training proceeded fast, on 26 June the recruits took oath on Szeged’s main square and the flag donated by the town was consecrated. On 28 June they embarked towards the south borders to fight the Serbian rebels. The soldiers underwent baptism of fire at Szenttamás in the south. From summer until December of 1848 they participated in every important battle of the southern front. During the night of 15 December 1848 Serbians surprised the sleeping soldiers at Jarkovác and, according to legend, their dignity was saved by the rooster’s crow at midnight which awakened the battalion and could prevail in a desperate fight. The white rooster feather is beleived to be present on the soldiers’ shakos from this day on.
In January 1849 the battalion marched from the southern borders to Szolnok along the river Tisza, travelling 30 kilometres every day in chilling weather, wearing wooden soled, straight last boots (straight last means that the left and right boot was identical so they needed to be changed between the left and right foot daily). The White Feather Battalion became legendary on 5 March 1849 at the battle of Szolnok, where they courageously stormed an artillery battery (6 cannons), which was a significant accomplishment given the shortage of weapons at the time. The troops from Szeged participated in every battle of the spring campaign, and with such glory that they were awarded a second order of Merit by Lajos Kossuth, which was pinned on their flag.
On 24 April 1849 at dawn, the battalion was the first to cross the pontoon bridge on the Danube, then, in order to surprise the enemy in secret, attacked and captured the fortress of Monostor on the command of General Görgei without ammunition, using only bayonets. On 21 May 1849 the battalion flag was waving in the spring wind over the Vienna Gate of Buda Castle. Following the summer battles at Komárom, on 13 July 1849 the battalion set off to join the force concentration at Arad, led by the wounded General Görgei. During the next three weeks the soldiers travelled almost 600 kilometres on foot in the intense summer heat. Their efforts however were in vain, the Russian and Austrian overpower made it impossible to continue the war of independence. On the evening of 12 August 1849 the battalion gathered for the burial of the war flag. The soldiers stood in a square, made a fire from the drums and backpacks, the flag, bearing 52 bullet holes, was taken around, every soldier kissed it and then it was burned in order to avoid it being captured by the enemy. The next day, 13 August 1849, the battalion surrendered to the Russian troops. Of the 1280 men who set off from Szeged in the summer of 1848 only 197 were alive at this time, the others rest eternally on the numerous battlefields. One of the aims of this website is to honor their memory.
The History of the 3rd Battalion of 1848/49 by Márton Hegyesi, published by Históriaantik Publishers (Budapest) in 2012. The History of the 3rd Battalion of 1848/49 by Márton Hegyesi, published by Históriaantik Publishers (Budapest) in 2012.