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    Anonymous

    I wanted to create thread of greatest and most legendary battles of our Slavic nations (both victories and defeats). I will start with Poland's greatest battles.

    [size=24pt]Battle of Grunwald[/size]

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    Battle of Grunwald by Jan Matejko (1878)

    It was 1226 when the Polish Duke of Mazowsze, Konrad Mazowiecki invited the Palestine – based Teutonic Order into the lands of Chelmno, on the river Wisla (Vistula), expecting the Order's help in their struggles against pagan Prussians.
                Grand Master Hermann von Salza had brought his first German knights to Poland that same year, with the presumed intention of staying a year or two. Nearly two hundred years later they owned most of the Baltic coast, including the lands of Latvia and Estonia, and showed every intention of soon controlling Lithuania, Poland and Russia.

                The Teutonic Knights achieved excellent diplomatic relations with other western countries, and developed a particularly good relationship with the papacy. They seemed destined to control and occupy the whole of Eastern Europe, and acted under a commission signed by the Pope, ordering them to Christianise the pagan lands in the Baltic Region. No matter how they behaved, they could always claim that they acted under Papal authority, and with the approval of God Himself.

                Their first Christianising mission in the 13th century involved the Prussians, a tribe which controlled the amber trade along the Baltic. The Teutonic knights dealt with them in a most effective way: they eliminated them almost completely. Those who remained alive were forbidden to marry so that no further Prussian children would be forthcoming. Centuries later, when Prussia was a proud and famous name among Europeans, there was hardly a true Prussian alive, and the archaic Prussian language slowly died out under Teutonic occupation.

      The Teutonic Knights continued their occupations and captured Pomorze (1308-1309), Chelmno, Kujawa, Dobrzyn, and Kalisz in Poland. Every time Polish land was captured, the population was massacred, and Germans were brought to live in the captured lands. For example, in 1308 when the knights marched on Gdansk singing "Jesu Christo Salvator Mundi" they killed most of the Polish citizens, about ten thousand in number, and replaced them with German immigrants, who gave them full allegiance.That same year the biggest, most powerful fort in Europe was finished,Malbork – built by the Knights in the occupied Prussian area.

              The 14th century Order's attacks were mainly against the pagan Lithuanian State, combining  the mission to spread Christianity, and the desire to capture Lithuanian lands, especially the area around Zemaitija (Zmudzi or Samogitia). The Knights of the Teutonic Order needed reinforcements to fight effectively in this region. Well-armed knights from France, England, Luxembourg, Austria, Hungary, Bohemia and the Low Countries arrived every year to participate in "Lithuanian Crusades". Although these mercenaries were never allowed to become full members of the Teutonic Order, they were granted an honourable affiliation, and fought alongside the Teutonic Knights. For two centuries, the Krzyzacy attacked, but the Lithuanians resisted hard.

                In 1385 Lithuania entered into a union with the Polish Kingdom, and the following year The Grand Duke of Lithuania, Vladyslav Jogaila, married the Queen of Poland and acceded to the Polish throne.  He became a Christian, and changed his name to Wladyslaw Jagiello.

                Jagiello brought Christianity to the last pagan European country, Lithuania in 1387. It was understood by both nations that only by uniting, could they handle the powerful Knights. It was obvious that war could not be avoided between the two enemies.

                In 1401 Jagiello left the title of Grand Duke of Lithuania to his cousin Vytautas the Great, so that he (Jagiello), could be free to concentrate on Polish affairs. King Jagiello and Lithuanian Grand Duke Vytautas the Great (Witold) had difficulty in reconciling with the occupation of their lands, the massacres of innocent citizens in villages near the Polish-Lithuanian-Teutonic borders. They were also conscious that the Order was gaining power year by year, preparing to conquer Eastern Europe. There was peace for a time after the union of Lithuania and Poland, but in 1398 the Teutonic knights invaded Lithuanian and Polish territory, and occupied the areas of Zemaitija (Zmudzi), Santok, and Drezdenko.The Polish-Lithuanian State considered Zemaitija to be part of its own territory, of course, and a cold war started between the Polish-Lithuanian State and the Teutonic Order.

                The Poles and Lithuanians realised they were not strong enough to oppose the terror which the knights visited on the far fringes of their land, and had to bear the invasions and insults in silence.

                But on 14 August 1409, Teutonic Grand Master Ulrich von Jungingen declared war on the Polish-Lithuanian State. He also proposed an armistice with his neighbours, as neither side was ready for war, and for the time being, Jagiello and Vytautas accepted that.It was obvious that this state of affairs could not last for ever, and Jagiello said:
                "Next year we either conquer the Crossed Knights or we perish as a nation, and as individuals"

                The truce was to last from 8 October 1409 until sunset on 24 June 1410. During that time Jagiello sent spies to the occupied lands to learn all they could about the powerful enemy. All across Poland and Lithuania that winter of 1409, preparations were made for military action. Pikes were gives new shafts, swords were sharpened or annealed if they had lost their temper, horses were shod and armour was closely fitted. But the same happened in the lands occupied by the Teutonic Knights, assembling from the farthest reaches of their territory, and from France and England and Holland as well.
    Both sides understood that a titanic battle would follow.

                In the meantime Jagiello sent some of his own people to Kiev, seeking help from the Tartars, who agreed to send 1500 cavalrymen after May 1410. The Bohemians would send 3000 men under the leadership of Jan Sokol, and help would also come from Moldova and Russia, since they understood the importance of this battle. In December 1409, Jagiello, Vytautas, and Dzala-ed-din, the leader of Tartars, met in Brzesc Litewsk, and formulated a plan of how to go to Malbork, and crush the Teutonic Order once and for all.

                In the second week of June 1410, only eleven days before the armistice was due to end, the Polish forces were surprised by the arrival of three Teutonic Knights in full armour and bright trappings. They sought to speak with King Jagiello, proposing to him that the armistice should be extended for three  weeks. Jagiello asked why, and the knights answered that knights from other nations of Europe wished to participate in the crusade, and that honour should not be denied to them.
    Jagiello accepted that proposal, not out of consideration for the Order, but because these extra days would be useful for better preparing his army.

                Soon Jagiello and Vytautas the Great with their armies and their colours assembled in Mazowsze on 2 July, at Czerwinsk on the river Wisla. On July 3 they started moving towards the enemy. On 8 July the huge army of Jagiello and Vytautas crossed the borders, with the intention of marching against Malbork. But Grand Master Ulich von Jungingen, a brilliant leader and fearless warrior, tried to trap the enemy. He knew from his own spies where the enemy would pass, and positioned his Krzyzacy on the opposite side of the river from Jagiello's army, near the small village of Drwecy. But the Polish King and Vytautas did not want to fight in that area, where the Krzyzacy would have an advantage, and decided to approach Malbork from the other direction, via the occupied town of Dabrowno.

                The Krzyzacy would take another route, to head them off, with the intention of opposing the huge enemy army in Grunwald, or in Frygnowo, or Rychnowo. On 13 July the Polish-Lithuanians reached the city of Dabrowno, occupied by the Krzyzacy, and now populated by German citizens. Within a few hours of storming the city, the Poles and Lithuanians captured it. No defending Crusader managed to survive. They were all killed. So strong was the hate for the Krzyzacy, and the feeling of revenge in the army of Poles and Lithuanians, that the town was totally burned, in the full knowledge that this would be seen by Krzyzacy who were kilometres away, following the army of Vytautas and his cousin. The fire and heavy smoke was indeed seen that night by the Grand Master and his army, who observed that Dabrowno had been captured and burned, and he predicted that a wild battle could not be avoided? We should not let them cross our borders, said one Crusader Commander to his Grand Master.?
                The Krzyzacy watched the town burn without saying anything.

                The huge army of Poles and Lithuanians left Dabrowno before dark on 15 July, and by sunrise they had reached Lake Lubien. This time the Grand Master found the army of Jagiello and Vytautas, and for second time planned to oppose the enemy, on Tuesday 15 July, at the villages of Grunwald, Stebark and Lodwigowo near Lake Lubien. The land around here was heavily forested with wood suitable for concealing the Polish-Lithuanian army.

                When the sun rose on that fateful day, 15 July, one could have imagined all Europe holding its breath to see who would win the titanic battle that had so long been expected. Everyone understood its tremendous significance, since the winner would occupy all of Eastern Europe.

                The Krzyzacy positioned their headquarters near the little village of Grunwald, while some three miles distant, the Polish and Lithuanian Commanders had their headquarters near to the equally small village of Stebark (Tannenberg).
    In subsequent history the Poles would call this the Battle of Grunwald, the Lithuanians the Battle of Zalgiris, and the Germans and other western allies, the Battle of Tannenberg.

                When the priest finished on the Polish-Lithuanian side, Jagiello spoke to the Commanders:
    "Brothers, we move this day to end the tyranny which has oppressed our lands. The Krzyzacy will come against us with the blessing of the church, and the cross of Christ upon their bosoms. But they also come clothed in lies. We ride forth with trust in our banner, and the deep love of Jesus Christ as our shield. To Freedom! To victory!"
    Soon a Commander asked the King when they would move into a battle position, and the King simply replied: -"We don't"

      Jagiello was 60 years old that day. He was senior to any of his commanders or to any enemy leaders, and together with his equally capable cousin Vytautas the Great, made a plan which would give them every possible advantage against the Krzyzacy. The disadvantages of Jagiello's and Vytauta's army were many and a small mistake could destroy once for all Polish-Lithuanian State.

                The Poles had provided a formidable army of 18.000 knights, 11.000 retainers and 4000 foot soldiers, to which must be added 11.000 Lithuanian knights and foot soldiers, 1100 Tartars and about 6000 Bohemians, Russians, Moravians and Moldavians who came to help the Polish-Lithuanian State. But only a precious few were heavy cavalry. Most of the Lithuanian and Polish foot soldiers were armed with clubs, and their equipment was inferior to that of the Krzyzacy.

                The Krzyzacy could assemble that day 21.000 excellent heavy cavalrymen, 6000 massively armed infantry, and 5000 servants trained in battle, and better-armed than most of the Lithuanian and Polish foot soldiers. Most of these Krzyzacy would be Teutonic Knights/Germans, but from all Western Europe knights had come to help their brothers against the "pagan" Lithuanians (some of them were indeed still pagans), and the Poles who dared to support the pagans instead of the Christians. English, French, Hungarians, Austrians, Bavarians, Thuringians, Bohemians, Luxembourgians, Flamands, Dutch and even some Poles would help the Teutonic Knights, but the Grand Master had expected more help from western Europe. The Krzyzacy had 100 cannons capable of throwing balls larger than a head, while the Polish-Lithuanians had only 16 cannons.

    image

                The Poles and Lithuanians had another problem. The Germans had the best field leaders in the world – men tested in many battles with Lithuanians and Tartars. Ulrich von Jungingen as Grand Master, Frederick von Wallenrode as Grand Marshal, Kuno von Lichtenstein, one of the finest swordsmen of the century, as Grand Commander, and Albrecht von Schwarzenberg, a marshal serving as Commander of Supply. Each of these men wore a full suit of armour like most of the Krzyzacy. This was of the chain-link type, and not the massive plates favoured by the Poles and Lithuanians. Each Crusader had a huge black cross upon the front of his white tunic, and all of them looked impressive enough with their huge horses and armour, to scare the enemy from a long distance.

                Although outnumbered in bodies, (more than 50.000 Poles, Lithuanians and Allies to 32.000 Krzyzacy  – mostly Germans), the Krzyzacy were vastly superior in armour, horses, and experience and in battlefield leadership. This was going to be one of the most decisive battles of the world, and of all times – an immense clash of arms which would determine the history of Eastern Europe and the destiny of the two emerging nations, Lithuania and Poland.

                By 5 o' clock in the morning of 15 July, massed Krzyzacy with flags and huge horses dressed in white could be seen waiting on the horizon, but no Poles and Lithuanians appeared to oppose them. It was an amazing sight.  Never in previous battles could anyone have seen such a formidable army, all dressed in white, wearing helmets, brandishing swords, and flying huge flags.
                At 6 o'clock the sun rose. Three Polish Champions went to meet the King and requested permission to lead the army in an attack against the Krzyzacy.

                "No!" Was the answer of the King, and then he revealed his strategy:
                "Let them wait there in the hot sun. Let them wait all morning while we stay here among the cool trees. When they are exhausted by the heat and lack of water, only then do we engage them in battle"

                The three Polish Champions, including the formidable knight Zawisza Czarny (Black Zawisza), known on many battlefields as the premier knight of the east, were impatient, and did not like their King's strategy. But when the sun became hotter and hotter, they understood their King's wisdom in staying in the forest, while the Krzyzacy in full armour were "burned" by the hot sun. In the meantime Vytautas the Great was checking the regiments/flags of Lithuanians, Poles, Bohemians, Russians etc and with his strong voice, gave morale to the soldiers. Vytautas would participate in the battle as one of the Allied commanders, but actually he would be the Leader of the army.

                Vytautas did not like to wait, since the Krzyzacy, according to spies, had marched more than 25 km in heavy rain the previous day, to reach and block the enemy at Grunwald. The Krzyzacy would be tired, and one attack in the early hours of the morning could have crushed the exhausted Krzyzacy, but Jagiello considered that making them wait in the heat of the day would make the Krzyzacy nervous, and irritable. It was known that Krzyzacy in the past on many battlefields of Europe, won battles because of their psychology and clear mind. Unlike Vytautas' participation in the battle, Jagiello would be placed on the hill to watch the battle and see how he could use the army to the best tactical advantage.

                At 8.30, when the Krzyzacy were dripping with sweat, Grand Master von Jungingen engaged in a super manoeuvre, sending two of his finest knights to the opposing side with a clever purpose. When the two knights reached about twenty yards from the Poles, one of them cried in a loud voice:
                "Lithuanian and Poles, Dukes Vytautas and Jagiello, if you are afraid to come out and fight, our Grand Master sends you these additional weapons"
                And with contempt they threw their swords, point down, into the earth, where they quivered.
    "Also, you cowardly ones, if you feel you require more room for your manoeuvres, the Grand Master says that he will now withdraw our troops one mile to aid you."
                And suddenly from a signal by one of the knights, the Krzyzacy on the distant field did turn about and retreat a full mile.

                The insult made warriors like Black Zawisza angry, but Jagiello remained unperturbed and sent one of his aides to recover the swords. Brandishing one, he said:
                "I accept both your swords and your choice of battleground, but the outcome of this day I entrust to the will of God".
    At this challenge the heralds withdrew. Everything was ready for the great battle, maybe the greatest that ever happened in all time.

                On the left side, there were Poles, Bohemians, Moravians and Moldavians.
    On the right side Vytautas the Great had a Tartar platoon, Russian troops and his Lithuanian knights. The foot soldiers, along with the Poles, were hidden in the trees. The Krzyzacy were conventionally opposed to the Polish-Lithuanians. They just had a line of cannon and infantry at the front of their lines.

        Jagiello suddenly gave the signal to attack "Krakow-Vilnius," and soon a strong voice "Lietuva" came out like the roar of a lion from the mouth of Vytautas the Great. Many voices and horses were heard as the Lithuanians, Russians and Tartars started to move forward to the first line of Krzyzacy. The Krzyzacy' cannon only managed to fire twice against the mainly light, and of course quick, cavalry. Soon Vytautas' knights reached the line with very few casualties, since they were cleverly spaced so as not to be too close to each other, and brought chaos to the Krzyzacy' infantry.

    Von Jungingen, seeing the failure of his cannons and infantrymen to stop the Lithuanians, immediately ordered some of his  cavalry to be sent to engage the Lithuanians.  "Our cavalrymen will run down our own men Sire!" Said von Wallenrode to his Grand Master. Attack the Lithuanians! shouted angry von Jungingen, without considering his foot soldiers, and soon the horsemen started advancing towards the enemy. The unlucky foot soldiers, trying to escape from the enemy, saw sand rising from the horses of the heavy cavalry, and were taken by surprise. From behind, the Lithuanians and Tartars were chasing them, and as they ran back towards their own rear lines, the mounted Krzyzacy were coming directly at them. Soon most of the infantrymen were trampled to death by the horses. Some who were more afraid of the cavalry, turned back and found death from the Lithuanians. The first line of the Krzyzacy' infantry was almost wiped out. A few foot soldiers managed to escape and hide in the Krzyzacy' tents, but most of them who were massed in the middle, pressed by the cavalrymen, did not survive.

                It was a clever manoeuvre by Jagiello and Vytautas the Great, to throw only their mainly light cavalry against the cannons, to eliminate them, and prevent them causing problems for the heavy Polish cavalry. It also forced the Krzyzacy to commit their heavy cavalrymen so soon to the battle.

    image

                But now things have changed. When the Tartars looked up the hill and saw giant horses and equally giant Krzyzacy coming towards them, they fled, leaving the Lithuanians and Russians alone. It was a chaotic and undisciplined retreat, and some Krzyzacy followed them, cheering and shouting battle cries. After a chase of four miles, when more than 50 Tartars had been killed, the Krzyzacy returned to their fellows who were fighting with the Lithuanians, but they were engaged in an entirely different kind of battle.

                Soon the Grand Master sent a large force of Krzyzacy to the battle, to engage the Polish knights who were waiting on the other side. Trumpets sounded. Cheers rose. And the Polish knights waited for the savage charge of the Krzyzacy who came over a slight rise waving their banners and singing "Christ has risen" as they came against the "Pagans"…
                The right side of the Poles also started to move slowly, and they sang Ojczysta Piesn (their homeland song) "Bogurodzice" (God's Mother). Both sides, with flags flying, and the sounds shouting and singing, came to join the wild battle that the Lithuanians and Krzyzacy were engaged in.

                The battle was furious. The incessant clash of swords was like the rolling of thunder across a field. Horses whinnied and went down, throwing their masters under the hooves of other horses, and a wild confused and terrible hand-to-hand battle raged inconclusively for nearly half an hour. The reserve regiments of Allies and Krzyzacy, with terror in their eyes, could see dust rising to the sky, non stop voices of men, horses, helmets, swords, prayers, understanding how terrible was that battle without mercy. When Kuno von Lichtenstein fought clear against the side of the Lithuanians, and rejoined his Grand Master, who was watching the battle from his quarter said: "The Tartars proved craven, but those damned Lithuanians have learned to fight. It is going to be a fierce battle to the end, Sire".
                "We will crush them!" said the Grand Master, who always underestimated the Poles and Lithuanians, confident in the belief that his army was better armed and experienced.

                The Grand Master seeing that the Lithuanian army was less numerous than the Poles, and less well armed, diverted some Krzyzacy who were engaged in fighting the Poles, to crush the dangerous Lithuanians of Vytautas the Great, who was the Allied Commander in the battle. Indeed Krzyzacy started to press the Lithuanians. Vytautas the Great realised his men were under pressure, and ordered a tactical retreat, to bring the Krzyzacy to the forests. A big force of Lithuanians started to withdraw, and the Krzyzacy happily started to chase them. Only a small force, mainly of Russians from Smolensk and some Lithuanians who were very close to the Polish knights, stayed to fight. One Russian regiment was smashed completely by the Krzyzacy, but the rest were fighting desperately against the better-armed Krzyzacy.

                But not many Krzyzacy chased the Lithuanians. Some of them were afraid of the sight of the forests, suspicious that this may be a trap. Indeed it was, because when the Lithuanians went into the Zevaldas forest across the narrow river Morence, a reserve force of fresh Polish knights suddenly came out of the trees like lions and started to kill the surprised Krzyzacy without mercy. The retreating Lithuanians made an immediate about-turn, and assisted the Poles.

                But the Lithuanians' tactical withdrawal was dangerous for the Polish lines, as it left them with an exposed left flank. Nine Crusader regiments were able to attack the Polish knights from that side, and some succeeded in getting behind the Polish front. A complete surrounding of the Poles was prevented by three regiments from Smolensk, and some Lithuanians who had not retreated.

                It was now that Krzyzacy would gain some successes and even they were close to the end of this battle.

      In the Krzyzacy' favour, Marcin from Wrocimowic, the Chamberlain of Krakow had been awarded the honour of bearing aloft at the heart of the battle, a big Polish flag marked with the sign of a white Eagle. When the Krzyzacy saw this, they supposed that King Jagiello must be nearby, fighting at the head of his troops in the European fashion. They did not realise that Jagiello had stationed himself atop a small hill to watch the battle, as the Grand Master did – a tactic that was followed by Genghis Khan and his successors.

                With enormous courage and determination, a squadron of German knights crashed into Marcin, wounded him, cast down the Polish flag, and triumphantly sang "Christ ist erstanden" (Christ has risen). In a normal battle this would have signalled the defeat of the army to which the flag belonged, and the Krzyzacy so interpreted it, with hundreds of knights rushing to kill the hypothetically fallen king, and disperse his immediate entourage.

                Jagiello heard the singing, and asked if it was the Krzyzacy who were singing. The knights near their King, protecting him, assured him that it was the Krzyzacy. He was worried since maybe the Krzyzacy would win the battle. It was like they were celebrating  victory.

                They obviously thought that would be the end of the battle, but this was no ordinary battle. Knights from Krakow, including Czarny Zawisza, went to defend the flag, and another wild battle broke out. The Polish knights, more determined than the Krzyzacy, saved their flag and drove back the crashing Krzyzacy who expected to finish the battle, which actually got worse and wilder. Their singing stopped, and the sounds of war could be heard again.

                On the other side while the Krzyzacy were singing, Vytautas' Lithuanians did not sleep. The great leader was fixing his regiments to reform the Lithuanians and Tartars – who did not abandon the battle area – and to rejoin the battle. -The Krzyzacy are celebrating too early! Let's show them what we Lithuanians can do. They can  start praying for their souls, because they won't have enough time to do that when we arrive! Shouted Vytautas to his knights, and with great speed went back to the battle like a real storm. Vytautas in the first line immediately killed two Krzyzacy with his sword.

                The voices of returning Lithuanians were heard by the Poles and Bohemians, boosting their morale. It was now two in the afternoon, the hottest time of that long brutal day and Jagiello's and his cousin's strategy, started showing results. The German and other knights, among the bravest men in the world, had been sweating in the saddle since dawn and some were beginning to tire, especially those who had chased the Tartars.

                When Jagiello saw his cousin coming back to the battle, he released a contingent of his knights who had not yet seen battle, and when these fresh warriors joined the battle, the line of Krzyzacy was slowly driven back.

                But the Grand Master saw this, and threw a reserve of his own in to help his men in the battle. The fight was now a general melee, with individual swordsmen fighting each other, and one horseman galloping after another and cutting him down from the rear. The battle was so formidable with the advantage swinging from one side to the other and back again.

                A worried German commander reported to his Grand Master, "I have ridden everywhere, Sire, and I assure you the Polish and Lithuanian foot soldiers have not been involved yet. They must be hiding in these damn dark forests. We have to eliminate them".
                "Don't worry, we are winning. I feel that, and soon we will join in the battle to crush them. The foot soldiers will not join, they are afraid of us".

                It was almost 6 o'clock and Jagiello moved to another position on the hill near Lodwigowo, closer to the battlefield, to give orders. Suddenly the Polish King gave a signal, and from the dark woods the Polish and Lithuanian peasants began to emerge, walking gingerly at first, then half-running with their pitiful wooden weapons in the air, and finally surging forward with cries they might have used in hunting bear. On and on they came closer, the cries growing louder and more shrill, scaring the Krzyzacy who this time could not see could not see white horses and white dressed Knights, but many foot soldiers advancing on the Krzyzacy like a mass of irresistible ants. The Krzyzacy killed many of them, but the vast army of foot soldiers never stopped advancing.

                Now the Krzyzacy had to face knights and foot soldiers. Blood and bodies were everywhere, hampering the movements of the knights. Desperate voices of those dying in agony could be heard everywhere. The Poles and their allies were gaining ground. The stubborn foot soldiers made the Crusaders nervous, and they did not know whom to fight first.
    The Krzyzacy' infantry had been crushed early, because of the bad tactic of von Jungingen. A desperate screaming could be heard to the Krzyzacy. "God who guides us", shouted Kuno von Lichtenstein, "free me of these damned flies!"
                Von Jungingen's face was ashen and his throat suddenly parched, realising that this was going to be a battle to the death and that his knights might lose. The allies were winning and the Krzyzacy were being driven back everywhere. Many of them had lost their nerve, and the allies killed more and more Krzyzacy.
                "Now comes the time when we defend the cause of Jesus Christ with our own lives! After me!"
    Without hesitation, he spurred his horse to the battle and 16 German regiments/flags followed him.

    [img width=700 height=501]http://www.pinakoteka.zascianek.pl/Kossak_W/Images/Grunwald.jpg” />

                This raid was dangerous for Jagiello as it was close to him, and the White Eagle flag could betray him as the King. There were fewer knights near him than those the Grand Master had desperately thrown into the battle. The Krzyzacy may have noticed the flag, but they hurried to follow their commander to help their embattled fellows. But one knight, Leopold von Kokeritz (or Dypold Kokeritz von Dieper), broke away from his fellows to make a lone attack on Jagiello, probably noticing the flag.
                Perhaps von Kokeritz recognised Jagiello's face, or possibly his uniform, and rode to attack him. The King was prepared to defend himself, but the King's secretary, Zbigniew of Olesnicy, who was unarmed, managed, with his horse, to trip the German's horse and threw him down. Other knights killed the German before he could rise from the ground and shout to his fellows that the Polish King was there.

                In the meantime the 16 regiments of Krzyzacy reached the battle to help their pressed fellows against the enemy.
    The pressed Krzyzacy were retreating to join their Grand Master, but Vytautas the Great immediately ordered his troops to weaken the centre and strengthen the sides, so as to surround the Krzyzacy who were speeding towards the centre of the allied line. Many Polish regiments fell to the Krzyzacy now, and the final stages of the deadly battle began. Slowly, like the remorseless tentacles of a giant octopus, the various bands – Lithuanian, Polish, Bohemian, Russian, Tartar, Moravian, Moldavian – closed in upon the Krzyzacy. When the circle was complete, the slaughter began. Lances, daggers, pikes, scythes, poignards, the hoofbeat of horses, the strangling force of maddened hands, all combined to crush the German power which only the day before had seemed so impregnable.

                Foot soldiers, mainly villagers, were fighting fanatically, full of hate and revenge, as they had seen  their villages destroyed by raiding Krzyzacy, and many of their friends had been killed by these People of God.

                The encirclement was complete now. Even the 16 new regiments could not help the situation for the Krzyzacy. Vytautas the Great was dealing out death to every Crusader who opposed to him. He was shouting and giving more encouragement to the allies, who, like bees, were pressing the unfortunate Krzyzacy more and more. But the battle was still deadly. The Krzyzacy with their long swords killed many lightly-armed soldiers, but most of the Krzyzacy were confused now, their white clothes turned to red, because of the amount of blood that was on the ground, and on the horses. Those Krzyzacy who wanted to see better threw away their heavy restricting helmets, only to have their heads crushed by the Poles' numerous weapons.

                The Lithuanians were on the left wing attacking the Krzyzacy, and Poles on the right. The circle was so strong that no one could escape from it. The Krzyzacy were fighting bravely and very stubbornly, refusing to accept defeat, and continuing the desperate battle. The Grand Master, aided by Von Wallenrode and six of his bravest knights, tried to hold back the peasants and determined knights. But there were too many of them and he was overcome. The masses fell with extreme force on the German leader, hitting him from all directions. He was fatally injured, and cried out "Jesus save me!" As he perished, he must have known that his crusade to crush the Polish-Lithuanian State and grab Eastern Europe had failed.

    In the meantime a brave Pole grabbed the Teutonic Order flag from the hands of Von Wallenrode. Vytautas the Great, who was near the action when the Grand Master was killed, threw up his hands and shouted "Victory!"

                From his vantage point, Jagiello had a good view, and could see the wild slaughter continue, and could hear some of the Poles and Lithuanians singing this time. Desperate prayers from the surrounded Krzyzacy could also be heard, asking for help from God. Now that the Grand Master was killed, many lost their nerve and threw their weapons down, looking for  a way out, but there was no hope for these unlucky men, who had come from all over Europe to fight the "pagans".

                At twenty past seven, when half an hour of daylight still remained, the last phase of the battle ended with the complete crushing of these 16 regiments, and those who were connected with them. Now the hunt started for those few who had survived and sought help at the Krzyzacy' base of tents, where some infantry and a few knights were preparing to help their fellows.

                The army of Poles and Lithuanians very quickly overran the Krzyzacy' base. The Krzyzacy did not expect the tired enemy would be able to reach their base so soon, but Jagiello had more fresh reinforcements to throw into the battle, even at this late stage. Again a new slaughter began, and those who were unarmed and begging for their lives were taken  prisoner.
    Some Krzyzacy, alone or in small groups, tried to escape through the woods, but they lost their way and were captured or killed by the allies.
                Only around 1400 Krzyzacy managed to leave the battlefield and reach Malbork.

                In the base, there was lots of wine, and many handcuffs which had been brought to take the defeated Pagans like dogs back to Malbork, so sure had the Krzyzacy been of victory. Vytautas ordered everything belonging to the Krzyzacy to be burned, and that the handcuffs should be put on the few prisoners. "Put them on so that they know how it feels to be chained like a dog, to see how poor and useless our countrymen felt, when they were caught as prisoners in their raids on our villages, and taken to these terrible prisons of Malbork", shouted Vytautas the Great. Jagiello ordered the wine to be poured on to the ground, because he did not want his men drunk, but to have power for the next day, when the flags of the Krzyzacy would fall on the earth, at the feet of the victors. And so the wine combined with the blood on the earth. According to some knights, there was so much blood that it covered all the beautiful green landscape of Grunwald. Over whole landscape thousands of bodies could be seen lying on the ground, and Priests praying for their souls. It was a sad view for all.

                The next day was a big one for the victors. First the King went to see injured men, from both sides.  The enemies were no longer handcuffed, because to the victors, these people were human beings and not animals, no matter how they hated them. The knight spirit was full among the brave Lithuanians and Poles.

                Soon the two great leaders Vytautas the Great and Jagiello, surrounded by their splendid captains, moved to the battlefield and saw one enemy flag after another fall to the ground. 39 flags would be taken by the Poles, and 10 by the Lithuanians. The lucky 1400 Krzyzacy who escaped only managed to take 7 flags with them, and for them it was a success taking at least these flags.

                Later some of the prisoners were taken to identify the bodies.
                The Grand Master's body was there, and Jagiello looked at him saying:
                "So this is the man who wanted to conquer us and make us slaves of his Order. Let his corpse be covered with purple and buried with honour".

                The body of their greatest hero von Lichtenstein was there, Schwarzenberger's, von Wallenrode's,  and from the foreign knights was Jaromir of Prague, Gabor of Buda, leader of Hungarians, Richard of York and some others also.

                28000 Crusaders and their helpers had been slain the previous day. Of 60 leaders of the Order, more than 50 perished.
                It was a complete defeat for the Teutonic Knights, who will never recover after that important battle. 209 Crusader knights died. Only 12 Polish knights were killed, along with a few other allied knights. Of the Lithuanians and Polish foot soldiers, more than two thirds died, along with over 100 Tartars. The total number of casualties in the Polish-Lithuanian army is unknown, but it is almost certain that over 20.000 died to save their beloved homeland from the barbarian Krzyzacy.

                The Tartars, who were relatively few in number, became a scandal, because priest Anton Grabener of Lubeck, who did not participate in the fighting, sent a report to all the capitals of Europe, informing the courts that the Teutonic Knights were defeated only because the pagan Jagiello and his heathen cousin Vytautas, had imported 100.000 Tartars who overwhelmed the defenders of Christianity.
                This, of course, was completely untrue. There had only been les than 1500 Tartars present, and they had fled!
    But the main powers then, England and France, had problems with each other, and left Poland alone now, made wary by the terrible defeat inflicted on the Krzyzacy. The Pope had not expected that to happen.

                On 1 February 1411 a peace treaty was signed by both sides. The Poles and the Lithuanians regained some territory, including Zemaitija, and part of Pomorze (Pomerania), but Malbork remained in German hands. Of course the Teutonic Order would pay money in compensation to the Poles, and all the prisoners would be freed. After this the weak Teutonic Order would not cause any problems to Poland-Lithuania, but they continued to occupy the formidable fortress of Malbork.

      Vytautas the Great would be known in subsequent Lithuanian history as saviour of the nation and Eastern Europe, while in the eyes of Polish historians, Jagiello is regarded in the same way. The Battle of Grunwald is the most important battle in history for both nations. Another determined battle took place in Wienna in 1683 when the Poles managed to save Europe once again when the hussars of Jan Sobieski crushed the Ottomans, but the battle of Grunwald remains the most important for the Poles.In that formidable battle, possibly the most deadly battle that ever happened, Eastern Europe was not Germanised, and Polish and Lithuanian culture advanced in the next centuries.

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    Many things have happened over the centuries – battles and meetings – but no one can remember such a terrible crushing defeat. It fell under the eyes of the Great King Jagiello, not only the Teutonic Order but the whole of Germany, whose greatest knights were in the front line of the Teutonic Order, which was more and more entering to the Slavic  land…

    – HENRYK SIENKEWICZ, "Krzyzacy"

    EDIT – Maybe not most objective source in way of writing, but all facts are there so I think it is still good link.

    #374999

    Anonymous

    [size=24pt]Battle of Warsaw (1920)[/size]

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    The Battle of Warsaw sometimes referred to as the Miracle at the Vistula, was the decisive battle of the Polish–Soviet War. That war began soon after the end of World War I in 1918 and lasted until the Treaty of Riga resulted in the end of the hostilities between Poland and Russia in 1921.

    The battle was fought from August 12–25, 1920 as Red Army forces commanded by Mikhail Tukhachevsky approached the Polish capital of Warsaw and nearby Modlin Fortress. On August 16, Polish forces commanded by Józef Piłsudski counterattacked from the south, disrupting the enemy's offensive, forcing the Russian forces into a disorganised withdrawal eastward and behind the Neman River. Estimated Russian losses were 10,000 killed, 500 missing, 30,000 wounded, and 66,000 taken prisoner, compared with Polish losses of some 4,500 killed, 10,000 missing, and 22,000 wounded.

    Before the Polish victory at the Vistula, both the Bolsheviks and the majority of foreign experts considered Poland to be on the verge of defeat. The stunning, unexpected Polish victory crippled the Bolshevik forces. In Vladimir Lenin's words, the Bolsheviks "suffered an enormous defeat". In the following months, several more Polish follow-up victories saved Poland's independence and led to a peace treaty with Soviet Russia and Soviet Ukraine later that year, securing the Polish state's eastern frontiers for the next twenty years.

    Prelude

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    Polish defences at Miłosna, near Warsaw.

    In the aftermath of World War I, Poland fought to preserve their newly regained independence, lost in the 1795 partitions of Poland, and to carve out the borders of a new multinational federation (Intermarium) from the territories of their former partitioners, Russia, Germany, and Austria–Hungary.

    At the same time, in 1919 the Bolsheviks had gained the upper hand in the Russian Civil War, having dealt crippling blows to the Russian White Movement. Vladimir Lenin viewed Poland as a bridge to bring communism to Central and Western Europe, and the Polish–Soviet War seemed the perfect way to test Bolshevik strength. Bolshevik speeches asserted that the revolution was to be carried to western Europe on the bayonets of Russian soldats and that the shortest route to Berlin and Paris lay through Warsaw.

    The two sides were embroiled in the Polish–Ukrainian War, amidst competing territorial claims. After early setbacks against Poland in 1919, the Bolsheviks were overwhelmingly successful in a counter-offensive in early 1920 that nullified the Polish Kiev Operation, forcing a Polish retreat. By mid-1920, Poland's very survival was at stake and foreign observers expected it to collapse at any moment. The Russian strategy called for a mass push toward the Polish capital, Warsaw. Its capture would have had a major propaganda effect for the Russian Bolsheviks, who expected the fall of the Polish capital not only to undermine the morale of the Poles, but to spark an international series of communist uprisings and clear the way for the Red Army to join the German Revolution.

    The Russian 1st Cavalry Army under Semyon Budyonny broke through Polish lines in early June 1920. The effects of that were dramatic; Budyonny's success resulted in a collapse of all Polish fronts. On July 4, 1920, Mikhail Tukhachevsky's Western Front began an all-out assault in Belarus from the Berezina River, forcing Polish forces to retreat. On July 19 the Red Army seized Grodno and on July 28, it reached Białystok. On July 22, the Brześć Fortress was captured.

    Orders of battle

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    Graves of Polish soldiers fallen at the Battle of Warsaw, Powązki Military Cemetery, Warsaw.

    Polish Army

    1. Northern Front – Haller


      [li]5th Army – Sikorski[/li]
      [li]1st Army – Latinik[/li]
      [li]2nd Army – Roja[/li]

    2. Central Front – Rydz-Śmigły


      [li]4th Army – Skierski[/li]
      [li]3rd Army – Zieliński[/li]

    3. Southern Front – Iwaszkiewicz


      [li]6th Army – Jędrzejewski[/li]
      [li]Ukrainian Army – Petliura[/li]

    Fronts:

    1. Northern Front: 250 km., from East Prussia, along the Vistula River, to Modlin:


      [li]5th Army[/li]
      [li]1st Army – Warsaw[/li]
      [li]2nd Army – Warsaw[/li]

    2. Central Front:


      [li]4th Army – between Dęblin and Kock[/li]
      [li]3rd Army – between south of Kock and Brody[/li]

    3. Southern Front – between Brody and the Dniester River

    Bolshevik

    1. North-Western Front – Tukhachevsky

    2. 4th Army – Shuvayev

    3. 3rd Cavalry Corps – Bzhishkyan

    4. 15th Army – Kork

    5. 3rd Army – Lazarievich

    6. 16th Army – Sollohub

    7. 1st Cavalry Army – Budyonny

    Battle plans

    Polish

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    Polish commander: Józef Piłsudski.

    By the beginning of August, the Polish retreat had become more organized, as their supply lines were steadily shortened. At first, Józef Piłsudski wanted to stop the Soviets at the Bug River and the city of Brest-Litovsk, but the Soviet advance resulted in their forces breaching that line, making that plan obsolete. On the night of August 5–6, Piłsudski, staying at the Belweder Palace in Warsaw, conceived a revised plan. In the first phase, it called for Polish forces to withdraw across the Vistula River and defend the bridgeheads at Warsaw and at the Wieprz River. A quarter of the available divisions would be concentrated to the south for a strategic counteroffensive. Next, Piłsudski's plan called for the 1st and 2nd Armies of General Józef Haller's Central Front (10½ divisions) to take a passive role, facing the Soviet main westward thrust and holding their entrenched positions, Warsaw's last line of defence, at all costs. At the same time, the 5th Army (5½ divisions) under General Władysław Sikorski, subordinate to Haller, would defend the northern area near the Modlin Fortress; when it became feasible they were to strike from behind Warsaw, thus cutting off Soviet forces attempting to envelop Warsaw from that direction, and break through the enemy front and fall upon the rear of the Soviet Northwestern Front. Additionally, five divisions of the 5th Army were to protect Warsaw from the north. General Franciszek Latinik's 1st Army would defend Warsaw itself, while General Bolesław Roja's 2nd Army was to hold the Vistula River line from Góra Kalwaria to Dęblin.

    The crucial part, however, was assigned to the approximately 20,000 strong, newly formed "Reserve Army" (also translated as the "Assault Group", from Polish Grupa Uderzeniowa), under the personal command of Piłsudski. This unit, composed of the most elite Polish units from the southern front, was to be reinforced by General Leonard Skierski's 4th Army and General Zygmunt Zieliński's 3rd Army. After retreating from the Bug River River area, those armies had not moved directly toward Warsaw but had crossed the Wieprz River and broken off contact with their pursuers, thus confusing the enemy as to their whereabouts. The Assault Group's assignment was to spearhead a rapid offensive from their southern position in the Vistula-Wieprz River triangle. They were supposed to advance north, targeting a weak spot that the Polish intelligence thought to have found in between the Soviet Western and Southwestern Fronts, where their communications relied on the weak Mazyr Group. The aim of this operation was to throw the Soviet Western Front into chaos, and separate it from its reserves. According to the plan, Sikorski's 5th Army and the advancing Assault Group would meet near the East Prussian border, leaving the Soviets trapped in an encirclement.

    Although based on fairly reliable information provided by Polish intelligence and intercepted Soviet radio communications, the plan was called 'amateurish' by many high-ranking army officers and military experts, from Polish officers to the advisors from the French Military Mission to Poland who were quick to point out Piłsudski's lack of formal military education.

    Criticism was levied on the logistical side, as suggested concentration points were as far as 100–150 miles (150 to 250 km) from many Polish units, most of them engaged on the frontlines, and all of that a mere week before the planned date of the counterattack. All regrouping was within striking distance of the enemy; if Piłsudski and his staff mistimed when the Soviet offensive would begin, Polish counter-attack and even the cohesion of the entire Polish front would be in chaos. Piłsudski himself admitted in his memoirs that it was a risky gamble; he decided to go forward with it due to the defeatist stance of politicians, fear for the safety of the capital, and the prevailing feeling that if Warsaw were to fall, all would be lost. Only the desperate situation persuaded other army commanders to go along with it, as they realized that under the circumstances it was the only possible way to avoid a devastating defeat. The plan seemed so desperate and inept, that when a copy of it was intercepted by the Soviets, it was discarded as a poor deception attempt.

    The authorship of the plan is a matter of some controversy. Due to Piłsudski's political image, he was largely unpopular with the right wing of Polish politics. Because of this, after the battle many journalists suggested that the plan was in fact prepared either by the Frenchman Maxime Weygand or by the Polish Chief of Staff Tadeusz Jordan-Rozwadowski. According to recent research, the French Military Mission proposed only a minor tactical counter-attack of two divisions towards Mińsk Mazowiecki. Its aim would have been to push the Bolshevik forces 30 kilometres back in order to ease subsequent ceasefire negotiations. On the other hand, General Rozwadowski's plan called for a deeper thrust into Russian lines from the area of Wieprz. However, Piłsudski proposed a large-scale operation, with significant forces committed to beating the enemy forces rather than merely pushing them back. The plan was opposed by the French mission, which did not believe that the Polish Army would be able to regroup after a 600 kilometre retreat. Nonetheless for many years, a myth persisted that it was the timely arrival of Allied forces that had saved Poland, a myth in which Weygand occupied the central role.

    Bolshevik

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    Soviet commander: Mikhail Tukhachevski.

    Mikhail Tukhachevsky planned to encircle and surround Warsaw by crossing the Vistula River, near Włocławek, to the north and south of the city and launch an attack from the northwest. With 24 divisions in four armies under his command, he planned to repeat the classic maneuvre of Ivan Paskevich, who in 1831, during the November Uprising, had crossed the Vistula at Toruń and reached Warsaw practically unopposed, crushing the Polish uprising against the Russian Empire. This move would also cut the Polish forces off from Gdańsk, the only port open to shipments of arms and supplies.

    The main weakness of the Russian plan was the poorly defended southern flank, secured only by the Pinsk Marshes and the weak Mazyr (Mozyrska) Group. That unit consisted of the 57th Infantry Division, 8,000 strong, and acted as the link between the Soviet two fronts (the majority of the Russian Southwest Front was engaged in the battle of Lwów)

    Battle

    First phase

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    Positions prior to the battle

    Meanwhile, Bolsheviks pushed forward. Gayk Bzhishkyan's Cavalry Corps together with the 4th Army crossed the Wkra River and advanced towards the town of Włocławek. The 15th and 3rd Armies were approaching Modlin Fortress and the 16th Army moved towards Warsaw. The final Russian assault on Warsaw began on August 12. The Soviet 16th Army commenced the attack at the town of Radzymin (only 23 kilometres east of the city), and captured it the following day. This initial success of the Red Army prompted Piłsudski to move up his plans by 24 hours.

    The first phase of the battle started on August 12, with a Red Army frontal assault on the Praga bridgehead. In heavy fighting, Radzymin changed hands several times and most foreign diplomats left Warsaw; only the British and Vatican ambassadors chose to remain. On August 14, Radzymin fell to the Red Army, and the lines of Władysław Sikorski's Polish 5th Army were broken. The 5th Army had to fight three Soviet armies at once: the 3rd, 4th, and 15th. The Modlin sector was reinforced with reserves (the Siberian Brigade, and General Franciszek Krajowski's fresh 18th Infantry Division—both elite, battle-tested units), and the 5th Army held out until dawn.

    The situation was saved around midnight when the 203rd Uhlan Regiment managed to break through the Bolshevik lines and attack a Soviet command post, which resulted in a destruction of the radio station of A.D. Shuvayev's Soviet 4th Army. The latter unit had only one remaining radio station fixed on one frequency which was known to the Polish intelligence. Since the Polish code-breakers did not want the Bolsheviks to find out that their codes were broken, but still neutralize the other radio station, the radio station in Warsaw recited the Book of Genesis in Polish and Latin on the frequency used by the 4th Army. It thus lost contact with its headquarters and continued marching toward Toruń and Płock, unaware of Tukhachevsky's order to turn south. The raid by the 203rd Uhlans is sometimes referred to as "the Miracle of Ciechanów."

    At the same time, the Polish 1st Army under General Franciszek Latinik resisted a direct Red Army assault on Warsaw by six rifle divisions. The struggle for control of Radzymin forced Józef Haller, commander of the Polish Northern Front, to start the 5th Army's counterattack earlier than planned.

    During this time, Piłsudski was finishing his plans for the counter-offensive. He decided to supervise the attack personally handing in a letter of resignation from all state functions, so that he could concentrate on the military situation, and so that his eventual death would not paralyze the state. He succeeded in raising the morale of the troops, between August 12 and August 15, visiting units of the 4th Army concentrating near Puławy, about 100 kilometres south of Warsaw.

    At that time, Piłsudski also commented on the dreadful state of logistics of the Polish Army: "In 21 Division, almost half of the soldiers paraded in front of me barefoot." The newly created Polish army had little choice in its equipment; its rifles and artillery pieces were produced in at least six countries, each of them using different ammunition.

    Second phase

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    Second phase of the battle: Polish counterattack

    The 27th Infantry Division of the Red Army managed to reach the village of Izabelin, 13 kilometres from the capital, but this was the closest that Russian forces would come.

    Tukhachevsky, certain that all was going according to plan, was actually falling into Piłsudski's trap. There were only token Polish troops in the path of the main Russian advance north and across the Vistula, on the right flank of the battle (from the perspective of the Soviet's advance). At the same time, south of Warsaw, on the battle's left front, the vital link between the North-Western and South-Western Fronts was much more vulnerable, protected only by a small Soviet force, the Mozyr Group. Further, Semyon Budyonny, commanding the 1st Cavalry Army of Semyon Budyonny, a unit much feared by Piłsudski and other Polish commanders, disobeyed orders by the Soviet High Command, which at Tukhachevsky's insistence, ordered him to advance at Warsaw from the south. Budyonny resented this order, influenced by a grudge between commanding South-Western Front generals Alexander Ilyich Yegorov and Tukhachevsky. In addition, the political games of Joseph Stalin, at the time the chief political commissar of the South-Western Front, further contributed to Yegorov's and Budyonny's disobedience. Stalin, looking for personal glory, aimed to capture the besieged Lwów (Lviv), an important industrial center. Ultimately, Budyonny's forces marched on Lwow instead of Warsaw and thus missed the battle.

    The Polish 5th Army counterattacked on August 14, crossing the Wkra River. It faced the combined forces of the Soviet 3rd and 15th Armies (both numerically and technically superior). The struggle at Nasielsk lasted until August 15 and resulted in near complete destruction of the town. However, the Soviet advance toward Warsaw and Modlin was halted at the end of August 15 and on that day Polish forces recaptured Radzymin, which boosted the Polish morale.

    From that moment on, Sikorski's 5th Army pushed exhausted Soviet units away from Warsaw, in an almost blitzkrieg-like operation. Sikorski's units were given the support of almost all of the small number of mechanized units – tanks and armoured cars – that the Polish Army had, as well as the support of the two Polish armoured trains. It was able to advance rapidly at the speed of 30 kilometres a day, disrupting the Soviet "enveloping" northern manoeuvre.

    Third phase

    On August 16, the Polish Reserve Army commanded by Józef Piłsudski began its march north from the Wieprz River. It faced the Mazyr Group, a Soviet corps that had defeated the Poles during the Kiev operation several months earlier. However, during its pursuit of the retreating Polish armies, the Mozyr Group had lost most of its forces and been reduced to a mere one or two divisions covering a 150-kilometre front-line on the left flank of the Soviet 16th Army. On the first day of the counter-offensive, only one of the five Polish divisions reported any sort of opposition, while the remaining four, supported by a cavalry brigade, managed to push north 45 kilometres unopposed. When evening fell, the town of Włodawa had been liberated, and the communication and supply lines of the Soviet 16th Army had been cut. Even Piłsudski was surprised by the extent of these early successes. Reserve Army units covered about 70 kilometres in 36 hours. As planned, it split the Soviet fronts, disrupting the offensive, all without encountering any significant resistance. The Mozyr Group had been already defeated in the first day of the Polish counterattack. Consequently, the Polish armies found what they expected – a large opening between the Soviet fronts. They exploited it ruthlessly, continuing their northward offensive with two armies following and falling on the surprised and confused enemy.

    On August 18, Mikhail Tukhachevsky, in his headquarters in Minsk some 300 miles (500 km) east of Warsaw, realized the extent of his defeat, quickly issuing the orders for the Red Army to retreat and regroup. Tukhachevsky wanted to straighten the front line improving his logistics, regain the initiative and push the Poles back again, but the situation had progressed beyond salvage. His orders either arrived too late or failed to arrive at all. Soviet General Bzhishkyan's 3rd Cavalry Corps continued to advance toward Pomerania, its lines endangered by the Polish 5th Army, which had finally managed to push back the Bolshevik armies and gone over in pursuit. The Polish 1st Legions Infantry Division, in order to cut the enemy's retreat, carried out a forced march, being on the move for up to 21 hours a day, from Lubartów to Białystok – covering 163 miles (262 km) in only 6 days. Throughout that period, the Division engaged the enemy twice. The division's rapid advance allowed it to intercept the 16th Soviet Army, cutting it off from reinforcements near Białystok, and forcing most of its troops to surrender.

    The Soviet armies in the centre of the front fell into chaos. Some divisions continued to fight their way toward Warsaw, while others turned to retreat, lost their cohesion, and panicked. The Russian commander-in-chief lost contact with most of his forces, and all Soviet plans were thrown into disorder. Only the 15th Army remained an organised force and tried to obey Tukhachevsky's orders, shielding the withdrawal of the westernmost extended 4th Army. However, it was defeated twice on August 19 and 20th and joined the general rout of the Red Army's North-Western Front. Tukhachevsky had no choice but to order a full retreat toward the Western Bug River. By August 21, all organized resistance ceased to exist and by August 31, the Soviet South-Western Front was completely routed.

    Aftermath

    Although Poland managed to achieve victory and push back the Russians, Piłsudski's plan to outmaneuver and surround the Red Army did not succeed completely. On July 4 four Soviet armies of the North-Western Front began to advance on Warsaw. After initial successes, by the end of August, three of them – the 4th, 15th and 16th Armies, as well as the bulk of Bzhishkyan's 3rd Cavalry Corps – had all but disintegrated, their remnants either taken prisoner or briefly interned after crossing the border to German East Prussia. The 3rd Army was the least affected, due to the speed of its retreat, as the pursuing Polish troops could not catch up with it.

    Russian Red Army losses were about 15,000 dead, 500 missing, 10,000 wounded, and 65,000 captured, compared to Polish losses of approximately 4,500 killed, 22,000 wounded, and 10,000 missing. Between 25,000 and 30,000 Soviet troops managed to reach the borders of Germany. After crossing into East Prussia territory, they were briefly interned, then allowed to leave with their arms and equipment. Poland captured about 231 pieces of artillery and 1,023 machine guns.

    The southern arm of the Red Army's forces had been routed and no longer posed a threat to the Poles. Semyon Budyonny's 1st Cavalry Army besieging Lwów had been defeated at the Battle of Komarów (August 31, 1920) and the Battle of Hrubieszów. By mid-October, the Polish Army had reached the Tarnopol-Dubno-Minsk-Drisa line.

    Tukhachevsky succeeded eventually in reorganizing his eastward-retreating forces, but not in regaining the initiative. In September he established a new defensive line near Grodno. In order to break it, the Polish Army fought the Battle of the Niemen River (September 15–September 21), once again defeating the Bolshevik armies. After the Battle of the Szczara River, both sides were exhausted and on October 12, under heavy pressure from France and Britain, a ceasefire was signed. By October 18, the fighting was over, and on March 18, 1921, the Treaty of Riga was signed, ending hostilities.

    Bolshevik propaganda before the Battle of Warsaw had described the fall of Poland's capital as imminent, and the anticipated fall of Warsaw was to be a signal for the start of large-scale communist revolutions in Poland, Germany, and other European countries, economically devastated by the First World War. For example, the Soviet attempts to overthrow the government of Lithuania (planned for August) had to be canceled after the loss of this battle. The Soviet defeat was therefore considered a setback for Soviet leaders supportive of that plan (particularly Vladimir Lenin).

    A National Democrat Sejm deputy, Stanisław Stroński, coined the phrase, "Miracle at the Wisła" (Polish: "Cud nad Wisłą"), to underline his disapproval of Piłsudski's "Ukrainian adventure." Stroński's phrase was adopted with approval by some patriotically or piously minded Poles unaware of Stroński's ironic intent.

    Breaking of Russian ciphers

    According to documents found in 2005 at Poland's Central Military Archives, Polish cryptologists broke intercepted Russian ciphers as early as September 1919. At least some of the Polish victories, not only the Battle of Warsaw but also other battles, are attributable to this. Lieutenant Jan Kowalewski, credited with the original breakthrough, received the order of Virtuti Militari in 1921.

    #375000

    Anonymous

    [size=24pt]Battle of Vienna[/size]

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    The Battle of Vienna (German: Schlacht am Kahlenberg, Polish: Bitwa pod Wiedniem or Odsiecz Wiedeńska, Turkish: İkinci Viyana Kuşatması), Ukrainian: Віденська відсіч (Viděns'ka Vidsič) took place on September 12, 1683 after Vienna had been besieged by the Ottoman Empire for two months. The battle broke the advance of the Ottoman Empire into Europe, and marked the political hegemony of the Habsburg dynasty in central Europe.

    The large-scale battle was won by Polish-Austrian-German forces led by King of Poland John III Sobieski against the Ottoman Empire army commanded by Grand Vizier Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Pasha.

    The siege itself began on 14 July 1683, by the Ottoman Empire army of approximately 138,000 men (although a large number of these played no part in the battle, as only 50,000 were experienced soldiers (Turks), and the rest less-motivated supporting troops. The decisive battle took place on 12 September, after the united relief army of 70,000 men had arrived, pitted against the Ottoman army.

    King John III Sobieski of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth had been made Commander in Chief of

    – his own 30,000-man Polish forces (Lithuanians did not take part in the battle),
    – 18,500 Austrian troops led by Charles V, Duke of Lorraine,
    – 19,000 Franconian, Swabian and Bavarian troops led by Prince Georg Friedrich of Waldeck,
    – 9,000 Saxon troops led by John George III, Elector of Saxony.

    The battle marked the turning point in the 300-year struggle between the forces of the Central European kingdoms and the Ottoman Empire. Over the sixteen years following the battle, the Habsburgs of Austria gradually occupied and dominated southern Hungary and Transylvania, which had been largely cleared of the Turkish forces.

    Prelude

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    The capture of the city of Vienna had long been a strategic aspiration of the Ottoman Empire, due to its inter-locking control over Danubean (Black Sea-to-Western Europe) southern Europe, and the overland (Eastern Mediterranean-to-Germany) trade routes. During the years preceding the second siege (the first one was in 1529), under the auspices of grand viziers from the influential Köprülü family, the Ottoman Empire undertook extensive logistical preparations this time, including the repair and establishment of roads and bridges leading into Austria and logistical centers, as well as the forwarding of ammunition, cannon and other resources from all over the Empire to these logistical centers and into the Balkans.

    On the political front, the Ottoman Empire had been providing military assistance to the Hungarians and to non-Catholic minorities in Habsburg-occupied portions of Hungary. There, in the years preceding the siege, widespread unrest had become open rebellion upon Leopold I's pursuit of Counter-Reformation principles and his desire to crush Protestantism. In 1681, Protestants and other anti-Habsburg forces, led by Imre Thököly, were reinforced with a significant force from the Ottomans, who recognized Imre as King of "Upper Hungary" (eastern Slovakia and parts of northeastern present-day Hungary, which he had earlier taken by force of arms from the Habsburgs). This support went so far as explicitly promising the "Kingdom of Vienna" to the Hungarians if it fell into Ottoman hands.

    Yet, before the siege, a state of peace had existed for twenty years between the Habsburgs and the Ottoman Empire, as a result of the Peace of Vasvár.

    In 1681 and 1682, clashes between the forces of Imre Thököly and the Habsburgs' military frontier (which was then northern Hungary) forces intensified, and the incursions of Habsburg forces into Central Hungary provided the crucial argument of Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa Pasha in convincing the Sultan, Mehmet IV and his Divan, to allow the movement of the Ottoman Army. Mehmet IV authorized Kara Mustafa Pasha to operate as far as Győr (Turkish: Yanıkkale, German: Raab) and Komarom (Turkish: Komaron, German: Komorn) castles, both in northwestern Hungary, and to besiege them. The Ottoman Army was mobilized on January 21, 1682, and war was declared on August 6, 1682.

    The wording of this declaration left no room for doubt what would await in case of Turkish success. Mehmed IV. wrote to Leopold I verbatim, "Primarily we order You to await Us in Your residence city of Vienna so that We can decapitate You… (…) We will exterminate You and all Your followers… (…) Children and grown-ups will be exposed to the most atrocious tortures before put to an end in the most ignominious way imaginable…"

    The forward march of Ottoman Army elements did not begin until April 1, 1683 from Edirne in Thracia. The logistics of the time meant that it would have been risky or impossible to launch an invasion in August or September 1682 (a three month campaign would have got the Turks to Vienna just as winter set in). However this 15 month gap between mobilisation and the launch of a full-scale invasion allowed ample time for the Habsburg forces to prepare their defense and set up alliances with other Central European rulers, and undoubtedly contributed to the failure of the campaign.

    During the winter, the Habsburgs and Poland concluded a treaty in which Leopold would support Sobieski if the Turks attacked Kraków; in return, the Polish Army would come to the relief of Vienna, if attacked.

    In the spring, the Ottoman army reached Belgrade by early May, then moved toward the city of Vienna. About 40,000 Tatar Forces arrived 40km east of Vienna on 7 July, twice as many as the Austrian forces in that area. After initial fights, Leopold retreated to Linz with 80,000 inhabitants of Vienna.

    The King of Poland prepared a relief expedition to Vienna during the summer of 1683, honoring his obligations to the treaty. He went so far as to leave his own nation virtually undefended when departing from Kraków on 15 August. Sobieski covered this with a stern warning to Imre Thököly, the leader of Hungary, whom he threatened with destruction if he tried to take advantage of the situation — which Thököly did.

    Events during the siege

    image

    The main Turkish army finally invested Vienna on July 14. Graf Ernst Rüdiger von Starhemberg, leader of the remaining 11,000 troops and 5,000 citizens and volunteers, refused to capitulate.

    The Viennese had demolished many of the houses around the city walls and cleared the debris, leaving an empty plain that would expose the Turks to defensive fire if they tried to rush the city. Kara Mustafa Pasha solved that problem by ordering his forces to dig long lines of trenches directly toward the city, to help protect them from the defenders as they advanced steadily toward the city.

    As their 300 cannon were outdated and the fortifications of Vienna were up to date, the Turks had a more effective use for their gunpowder: undermining. Tunnels were dug under the massive city walls to blow them up with explosives, using sapping mines.

    The Ottomans had essentially two options to take the city: the first, an all-out assault, was virtually guaranteed success since they outnumbered the defenders almost 20-1. The second was to lay siege to the city, and this was the option they chose.

    This seems against military logic, but assaulting properly defended fortifications has always resulted in very heavy casualties for the attackers. A siege was a reasonable course of action to minimise casualties and capture the city intact, and in fact it nearly succeeded. What the Ottomans did not take into account however was that time was not on their side. Their lack of urgency at this point, combined with the delay in advancing their army after declaring war, eventually allowed a relief force to arrive. Historians have speculated that Kara Mustafa wanted to take the city intact for its riches, and declined an all-out attack in order to prevent the right of plunder which would accompany such an assault.

    The Ottoman siege cut virtually every means of food supply into Vienna, and the garrison and civilian volunteers suffered extreme casualties. Fatigue became such a problem that Graf Ernst Rüdiger von Starhemberg ordered any soldier found asleep on watch to be shot. Increasingly desperate, the forces holding Vienna were on their last legs when in August, Imperial forces under Charles V, Duke of Lorraine beat Imre Thököly of Hungary at Bisamberg, 5km northeast of Vienna.

    On 6 September, the Poles crossed the Danube 30km north west of Vienna at Tulln, to unite with the Imperial forces and additional troops from Saxony, Bavaria, Baden, Franconia and Swabia who had answered the call for a Holy League that was supported by Pope Innocent XI. Only Louis XIV of France, Habsburg's rival, not only declined to help, but used the opportunity to attack cities in Alsace and other parts of southern Germany, as in the Thirty Years' War decades earlier.

    During early September, the experienced 5000 Turkish sappers repeatedly blew up large portions of the walls, the Burg bastion, the Löbel bastion and the Burg ravelin in between, creating gaps of about 12m in width. The Austrians tried to counter by digging their own tunnels, to intercept the depositing of large amounts of gunpowder in subterranean caverns. The Turks finally managed to occupy the Burg ravelin and the Nieder wall in that area on 8 September. Anticipating a breach in the city walls, the remaining Austrians prepared to fight in Vienna itself.

    Staging the battle

    image

    The relief army had to act quickly to save the city from the Turks and to prevent another long siege in case they would take it. Despite the international composition and the short time of only six days, an effective leadership structure was established, indisputedly centered on the King of Poland and his heavy cavalry. The motivation was high, as this war was not as usual for the interests of kings, but for Christian faith. And, unlike the crusades, the battleground was in the heart of Europe.

    Kara Mustafa Pasha, on the other hand, was less effective, despite having months of time to organize his forces, ensure their motivation and loyalty, and prepare for the expected relief army attack. He had entrusted defence of the rear to the Khan of Crimea and his cavalry force, which numbered about 30,000.

    There are serious questions as to how much the Tatar forces participated in the final battle at Vienna. Their Khan felt humiliated by repeated snubs by Kara Mustafa and reportedly refused to make a strike against the Polish relief force as it crossed the mountains, where the heavy cavalry would have been vulnerable to such an assault from the lighthorse Tatars. Nor were they the only component of the Ottoman army to openly defy Mustafa and to refuse assignments.

    This left vital bridges undefended and allowed passage of the combined Habsburg-Polish army, which arrived to relieve the siege. Critics of this account say that it was Kara Mustafa Pasha, and not the Crimean Khan, who was held responsible for the failure of the siege. Also, the Ottomans could not rely on their wallachian and moldavian allies. These peoples had a significant hatred of the ottomans who were bleeding their countries dry of all their resources. In the years prior to the siege, the turks intervened many times to change the princes in these countries, so as to keep a tight grip on them. Knowing of the turkish plans, the princes of Moldavia and Wallachia try to warn the Habsburgs. Initially they tried to stand up to the ottomans and not join the campaign, but they were pressed-ganged into the joint strike force. There are a great deal of popular legends about the involvement and comittement of these principalities in the siege. Almost invariably, these legends describe the wallachian and moldavian forces loading their cannons with straw balls,so as to make no impact upon the walls of the besieged city.

    The Holy League forces arrived on the "Kahlen Berg" (bare hill) above Vienna, signaling their arrival with bonfires. In the early morning hours of 12 September, before the battle, a mass was held for King Sobieski.

    The battle

    image

    The battle started before all units were fully deployed. Early in the morning at 4:00, Turkish forces opened hostilities to interfere with the Holy League's troop deployment. A move forward was made by Charles, the Austrian army on the left, and the German forces in the center.

    Mustafa Pasha launched a counter-attack, with most of his force, but holding back parts of the elite Janissary and Sipahi for the invasion of the city. The Turkish commanders had intended to take Vienna before Sobieski arrived, but time ran out. Their sappers had prepared another large and final detonation under the Löbelbastei, to provide access to the city. While the Turks hastily finished their work and sealed the tunnel to make the explosion more effective, the Austrian "moles" detected the cavern in the afternoon. One of them entered and defused the load just in time.

    At that time, above the "subterranean battlefield", a large battle was going on, as the Polish infantry had launched a massive assault upon the Turkish right flank. Instead of focusing on the battle with the relief army, the Turks tried to force their way into the city, carrying their crescent flag.

    After 12 hours of fighting, Sobieski's Polish force held the high ground on the right. At about five o'clock in the afternoon, after watching the ongoing infantry battle from the hills for the whole day, four cavalry groups, one of them Austrian-German, and the other three Polish, totaling over 20,000 men, charged down the hills. The attack was led by the Polish king in front of a spearhead of 3000 heavily armed winged Polish lancer hussars. This charge broke the lines of the Ottomans, who were tired from the long fight on two sides. In the confusion, the cavalry headed straight for the Ottoman camps, while the remaining Vienna garrison sallied out of its defenses and joined in the assault.

    The Ottoman army were tired and dispirited following the failure of both the sapping attempt and the brute force assault of the city, and the arrival of the cavalry turned the tide of battle against them, sending them into retreat to the south and east. In less than three hours after the cavalry attack, the Christian forces had won the battle and saved Vienna from capture.

    After the battle, Sobieski paraphrased Julius Caesar's famous quote by saying "veni, vidi, Deus vicit" – "I came, I saw, God conquered"

    Aftermath

    image

    The Turks lost about 15,000 men in the fighting, compared to approximately 4,000 for the Habsburg-Polish forces. Though routed and in full retreat, the Turkish troops had found time to slaughter all their Austrian prisoners, with the exception of those few of nobility which they took with them for ransoming.

    The loot that fell into the hands of the Holy League troops and the Viennese was as huge as their relief, as King Sobieski vividly described in a letter to his wife a few days after the battle: "Ours are treasures unheard of … tents, sheep, cattle and no small number of camels … it is victory as nobody ever knew of, the enemy now completely ruined, everything lost for them. They must run for their sheer lives … Commander Starhemberg hugged and kissed me and called me his savior."

    This emotional expression of gratitude did not distract Starhemberg from ordering the immediate repair of Vienna's severely damaged fortifications, guarding against a possible Turkish counterstrike. However, this proved unneccessary. The victory at Vienna set the stage for Prince Eugene of Savoy's reconquering of Hungary and (temporarily) some of the Balkan countries within the following years. Austria signed a peace treaty with the Ottoman Empire in 1697.

    Long before that, the Turks had disposed of their defeated commander. On 25 December 1683, Kara Mustafa Pasha was executed in Belgrade (in the approved manner, by strangulation with a silk rope pulled by several men on each end) by order of the commander of the Janissaries.

    image

    EDIT – Enough for now with Polish ones, I am looking forward to other contributions to this thread. ;)

    #375001

    Anonymous

    The Russian (Soviet) historeography insisted that it were three Smolensk regiments (with one smashed completely) that by their desperate defence saved the whole battle by buying time for Vytautas to gather his forces again and for the Poles to launch their counterattack. ::)

    #375002

    Anonymous

    The Battle of the Ice was a battle between the Republic of Novgorod and the Livonian branch of the Teutonic Knights (whose army consisted mostly of Estonians) on April 5, 1242, at Lake Peipus. The battle is notable for having been fought largely on the frozen lake.
    The battle was a significant defeat sustained by Roman Catholic crusaders during the Northern Crusades, which were directed against pagans and Eastern Orthodox Christians rather than Muslims in the Holy Land. The crusaders' defeat in the battle marked the end of their campaigns against the Orthodox Novgorod Republic and other Russian territories for the next century.

    image

    The Battle of Kulikovo was fought between Tatar Mamai and Muscovy Dmitriy and portrayed by Russian historiography as a stand-off between Russians and the Golden Horde. However, the political situation at the time was much more complicated and concerned the politics of the Northeastern Rus'. The battle took place on September 8, 1380, at the Kulikovo Field near the Don River (now Tula Oblast) and resulted in victory for Dmitri Donskoi.

    imagehttp://www.cozy-corner.com/history_eng/images/bes7ds.jpg” />

    The Battle of Poltava on 27 June 1709 was the decisive victory of Peter I of Russia over the Swedish forces under Field Marshal Carl Gustav Rehnskiöld in one of the battles of the Great Northern War. It is widely believed to have been the beginning of Sweden's decline as a Great Power; the Russians took their place as the leading nation of northern Europe.

    [img width=700 height=525]http://img15.nnm.ru/7/a/4/8/1/ff1799902b1f2e54c6bdc7fc54d.jpg” />

    The Battle of Borodino fought on September 7, 1812 was the largest and bloodiest single-day action of the French invasion of Russia and all Napoleonic Wars, involving more than 250,000 troops and resulting in at least 70,000 casualties. The French Grande Armée under Emperor Napoleon I attacked the Imperial Russian Army of General Mikhail Kutuzov near the village of Borodino, west of the town of Mozhaysk, and eventually captured the main positions on the battlefield, but failed to destroy the Russian army despite heavy losses. About a third of Napoleon's soldiers were killed or wounded; Russian losses were also heavy, but her casualties could be compensated since large forces of militia were already with the Russian Army and replacement depots which were close by had already been gathering and training troops.

    image

    The Battle of Stalingrad was a major and decisive battle of World War II in which Nazi Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad (now Volgograd) in southwestern Russia. The battle took place between 23 August 1942 to 2 February 1943. t is among the bloodiest battles in the history of warfare, with the higher estimates of combined casualties amounting to nearly two million. The heavy losses inflicted on the German army made it a significant turning point in the whole war.After the Battle of Stalingrad, German forces never recovered their earlier strength, and attained no further strategic victories in the East.

    image

    #375003

    Anonymous

    [size=14pt]Battle on the Marchfeld[/size]
    Czech king Ottokar II of Bohemia lost against German king Rudolph I of Habsburg.

    image

    The Battle on the Marchfeld (i.e. Morava Field; Czech: Bitva na Moravském poli) at Dürnkrut and Jedenspeigen took place on 26 August 1278 and was a decisive event for the history of Central Europe for the following centuries. The opponents were a Bohemian (Czech) army led by the Přemyslid king Ottokar II of Bohemia and the Imperial army under the German king Rudolph I of Habsburg in alliance with King Ladislaus IV of Hungary. Although both sides had in their units also infantry, the battle itself was primarily a great collision of heavy knights cavalry, though the Cuman horse archers in the Hungarian army played a vital role. The battle was finally won by an ambush attack of the united Imperial-Hungarian forces, which was in those times considered dishonourable and against the rules of knighthood.
    [pre][/pre]After three hours of continued fighting on a hot summer day, Ottokar's knights in their heavy armour were exhausted, many of them suffered from circulatory failure and were not able to move. At noon Rudolph ordered a fresh heavy cavalry regiment he had concealed behind nearby hills and woods to attack the right flank of Ottokar's troops. Such ambushes were indeed commonly regarded as dishonourable in warfare and Rudolph's commander Ulrich von Kapellen apologized to his own men in advance. Nevertheless the attack prevailed in splitting and stampeding the Bohemian troops. Ottokar realized the surprise attack and tried to lead a remaining reserve contingent in the rear of von Kapellen's troops, a maneuver that was misinterpreted as a rout by the Bohemian forces. The following collapse resulted in a complete victory of Rudolph and his allies. Ottokar's camp was plundered, and he himself was found slain on the battlefield.

    #375004

    Anonymous

    Honouring our warrior ancestors, glorious!

    I'll post one of Croatia's greatest military moments, which was sadly a defeat, though a glorious defeat. I'll leave other battles for other Croats to post.

    [img width=700 height=504]http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/95/Johann_Peter_Krafft_005.jpg/800px-Johann_Peter_Krafft_005.jpg” />
    The Final Charge of Zrinski and his Soldiers

    Siege of Szigetvár

    In January 1566 Sultan Suleiman I had ruled the Ottoman Empire for 46 years and went to war for the last time. He was 72 years old and, although having gout to the extent that he was carried on a litter, he nominally commanded his thirteenth military campaign. On 1 May 1566 the Sultan left Constantinople at the head of one of the largest armies he had ever commanded.

    His opposite number, Count Nikola Šubić Zrinski, was one of the largest landholders in the Kingdom of Croatia, a seasoned veteran of border warfare, and a Ban (Croatian royal representative) from 1542 to 1556.[21] In his early life he distinguished himself in the Siege of Vienna and pursued a successful military career.

    Suleiman's forces reached Belgrade on 27 June after a forty nine day march. Here he met with John II Sigismund Zápolya who he earlier promised to make the ruler of all Hungary. Learning of the Zrinski's success in an attack upon a Turkish encampment at Siklós, Suleiman decided to postpone his attack on Eger and instead attack Zrinski's fortress at Szigetvár to eliminate him as a threat.

    image

    Siege
    The advanced guard of the Turks arrived at on 2 August 1566 and the defenders made several successful sorties causing considerable loss to the Turks. The Sultan arrived with the main force on 5 August and his big war tent was erected on the Similehov hill, giving him a view of the battle. The Sultan had to stay in his camp where he received verbal battle progress reports from his Grand Vizier Sokollu Mehmed Pasha, the real operational commander of the Ottoman forces.

    Count Zrinsky found himself besieged by a hostile army of at least 150,000 soldiers with powerful artillery. Zrinsky had assembled a force of around 2,300 Croatian and Hungarian soldiers prior to the siege. These consisted of his personal forces and those of his friends and allies. The majority of the defenders were Croatian, with a significant Hungarian contingent represented in both the men-at-arms and the leadership.

    Szigetvár was divided into three sections divided by water: the old town, the new town and the castle—each of which was linked to the next by bridges and to the land by causeways. Although it was not built on particularly high ground the inner castle, which occupied much of the area of today's castle, was not directly accessible to the attackers. This was because two other baileys had to be taken and secured before a final assault on the inner castle could be launched.

    When the Sultan appeared before the Fortress he saw the walls hung with red cloth, as though for a festive reception, and a single great cannon thundered once to greet the mighty warrior monarch. The siege began on 6 August when Suleiman ordered a general assault on the ramparts, although the attack was successfully repulsed. Despite being undermanned, and greatly outnumbered, the defenders were sent no reinforcements from Vienna by the imperial army.

    After over a month of exhausting and bloody struggle the few remaining defenders retreated into the old town for their last stand. The Sultan tried to entice Zrinski to surrender, ultimately offering him leadership of Croatia under Ottoman influence, Count Zrinsky did not reply and continued to fight.

    The fall of the castle appeared inevitable but the Ottoman high command hesitated. On 6 September the Suleiman died in his tent and his death was kept secret at great effort with only the Sultan's innermost circle knowing of his demise. A courier was dispatched from the camp with a message for Suleiman's successor, Selim. The courier may not even have known the content of the message he delivered to distant Asia Minor within a mere eight days.

    [img width=700 height=546]http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/57/Szigetv%C3%A1r_a_16._sz%C3%A1zadban.jpg/767px-Szigetv%C3%A1r_a_16._sz%C3%A1zadban.jpg” />

    Final Battle
    The final battle began on 7 September, the day after Suleiman's demise. By this time, the fortress walls had been reduced to rubble by mining with explosives and wood fueled fires at the corners of the walls. In the morning an all-out attack began with fusillades from small arms, "Greek fire", and a concentrated cannonade. Soon the castle, the last stronghold within Szigetvár, was set ablaze and cinders fell into the apartments of the count.

    The Ottoman army swarmed through the city, drumming and yelling. Zrinski prepared for a last charge addressing his troops:

    “ …Let us go out from this burning place into the open and stand up to our enemies. Who dies – he will be with God. Who dies not – his name will be honoured. I will go first, and what I do, you do. And God is my witness – I will never leave you, my brothers and knights!… ”

    Zrinski did not allow the final assault to break into the castle. As the Turks were pressing forwards along a narrow bridge the defenders suddenly flung open the gate and fired a large mortar loaded with broken iron, killing 600 attackers. Zrinsky then ordered a charge and led his remaining 600 troops out of the castle. He received two musket wounds in his chest and was killed shortly afterwards by an arrow to the head. Some of his force retired into the castle.

    The Turks took the castle and most of the defenders were slain. A few of the captured defenders were spared by Janissaries who had admired their courage, with only seven defenders managing to escape through the Ottoman lines. Zrinsky's corpse was beheaded and his head taken to the Emperor while his body received an honourable burial by a Turk who had been his prisoner, and well treated by him.

    Powder magazine explosion
    Before leading the final sortie by the castle garrison, Zrinski ordered a fuse be lit to the powder magazine. After cutting down the last of the defenders the besiegers poured into the fortress. The Ottoman Army entered the remains of Szigetvár and fell into the booby trap, thousands perished in the blast when the castle's magazine exploded.

    The Vizier Ibrahim's life was saved by one of Zrinski's household who warned him of the trap when the Vizier and his troops searched for treasure and interrogated the survivors. While inquiring about treasure the prisoner replied that it had been long expended, but that 3,000 lbs of powder were under their feet to which a slow match had been attached. The Vizier and his mounted officers had just enough time to escape but 3,000 Turks perished in the explosion.

    image
    Nikola Subic Zrinski

    #375005

    Anonymous

    For Slovenes I'll go with the Battle of Doberdob

    Fought in August 1916 on "Soška fronta" (Isonzo front), it was one of the most bloody battles in ww1. Austro-Hungarian forces – mostly Slovenes and Hungarians – repeled Italian attacks on higher ground positions. The battle, part of the 6th Battle of the Isonzo, was fought on the Kras plateu, north of Tržič (Monfalcone). Italian infantry attacked from the lowlands and was always 10x or even 20x the power of defending troops. The 87th Infantry Regiment of Celje fought for 12 days on top of the plateu. The loses of its 10th battalion were around 1000 at the end of the fights. Italians, who tried to gain control over Triest and Gorica, failed several times to break the line although having greater manpower and superiority in ammonition and canons. In the end they, however, the Italians managed to seize the plateu, but for the cost of heavy casualties and they didn't force their way to Triest or Gorica.

    image

    The Slovene 87th regiment of Celje had a important role in defending Doberdob. The 10th battalion left only 76 men of over 1000 killed and wounded. Historians Veith and Weber state the 87th managing successfully the hardest fight, which was ever faught by an Austrian unit. Also, the men of the 87th were known for having the sharpest handweapons. At Doberdob they sharpened their knifes, bayonets, axes and shovels even during the battle, which made it easier to repel the Italians and reports were given that often hands flew away at the first strike whith an axe or shovel.

    image

    It is probably the bloodiest battle fought by a Slovene unit but maybe not the biggest. Anyhow, it made honor to the name of 87th IR.

    image

    #375006

    Anonymous

    Well in case of Slovaks they were always just comrades (fights against Ottoman Empire, fights during WW1 etc.)
    Excluding revolution in 1848, I know only one fight where fought Slovaks versus another nation.

    [size=16pt]Little war[/size] (hun. Kis háború, svk. Malá vojna)
    (also known as Slovak-Hungarian War)
    Wikipedia page

    Who want to know more, can read article right on Wiki, but info that I wrote is from here.

    Little War was fought for 8-12 days in year 1939 (nine days after estabilihment of First Slovak Republic). Already in first day was bombed town Spišská Nová Ves, 13 people died and about 30 were hurt.
    Hungary (it was already after Munich Agreement, in which H. took S. southern regions) without declaration of war attacked Slovakia and from East to West they tried to occupy it. It is said that part of Hungarian troops even reached town Žilina (I have no idea if it's true or not), however Slovak troops (only few days old) were able to repress them back to eastern borders, and if they would continue, maybe they would be able to repress them even from already occupied southern areas. Hungary turned on The Third Reich and Italy, and they forced countries to peace negotiation. In the end were areas on Eastern border conencted to Hungary (70 000 inhabitants, from that about 5000 Hungarians)
    Even after peace conclusion Hungary continued attacking Slovakia

    [img height=400]http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f6/Slovakia_borderHungary.png” />
    Blue area was connected to Hungary during Little War. Red area was connected to Hungary during Munich Agreement.

    #375007

    Anonymous
    Quote:
    For Slovenes I'll go with the Battle of Boderdob

    Good choise but Boderdob u sure thats the right name? :D

    #375008

    Anonymous
    Quote:
    Good choise but Boderdob u sure thats the right name? :D

    Damn, of course not. It's Doberdob. Shame on me… :-[ Can you correct it?

    And the song:

    Oj Doberdob, oj Doberdob,
    slovenskih fantov grob.

    Kjer smo kri prelivali
    za svobodo domovine,
    kjer smo jih pokopali,
    slovenske fante.

    Oj Doberdob, slovenski grob!
    Oj Doberdob, slovenski grob!

    #375009

    Anonymous

    bitka na neretvi where the partisans utterly beat the chetniks ustashas germans and italians

    oh and of course bitka kod bilece where the bosnian army beat the turks

    #375010

    Anonymous

    since no Serbs replied, I'll do it for them. The Greatest battle (also most tragic one) of Serbian nation is, in my opinion Battle of Kosovo on Vidovdan (15/28th june) 1389. In that battle Serbian army lead by Tsar Lazar ( He was acctualy Knez, but people call him Tsar), defeated Ottoman army and stoped Turks of invading Europe, but Serbian losses were great, so Serbia could not resist Turkish invasions anymore. Both Tsar Lazar and Turkish Sultan Murat died in that battle and Vuk Brankovic was declared as traitor among the people, but  historical researches show that he longest resisted the Turkish army, but the people couldn't blame the dead ones and he was one of few survivals.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Kosovo

    one of the Greatest is certainly Battle of Cer, fought between Kingdom of Serbia and Austro-Hungary, 16-20th Aaugust 1914.
    Serbian army was outnubmered, but still managed to defeat austrians.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Cer
    well that's my opnion on Greatest battles of Serbian nation.

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