Battle of CHOCIM 1673

Polish Version  Home  Chocim 1621                                       (Khotyn) 

                      Outline of Polish-Turkish relations to the mid 17th C.

Maintenance of proper relations with Turkey was a fundamental foreign policy objective of the Kingdom of  Poland and later the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth.  This continued effective traditions. From the beginning of the 15th  C. Poland deemed Turkey generally friendly, and plans were formed to establish an Ottoman-Polish alliance (never realized). There was a common boundary, interests often coincided, and lively trade contacts favored good relations. Slow changes in attitude began at the end of the 15th C. when Turkey took control over the Crimean Khanate and the coast of the Black Sea (with cities of Kilian and Białogrodem).

Moldavia  was most affected by the loss of these cities, and henceforth was entangled with Polish-Turkish interests, and aggressive Tatar invasions (together with Turkish expansion in Europe) caused Poland to sense a threat. This did not prevent generally polite relations between both countries. Turkey was occupied in strengthening its power and consolidating its expansion in Asia and in Europe, and had enough enemies without searching for a new one. Poland in turn was not eager to be entwined with a “holy war" against the Turks. It was expected that any such burden would be borne by the Poles, and other European states would tend to offer only passive support. A lot of the advantages to such a war would accrue to the Hapsburgs, which had been engaged directly in a rivalry with the Turks about Hungary. The last Jagiellons were also able to maintain good relations. Friendly treaties (1533, 1553) arranged that they would be friends of his friends and enemies of his enemies. They have been now that times did not meet the events. So Europeans still clearly placed the interests of their nation over religious fanaticism.

The period between the Union of Lublin and the beginning of the governance of elected Kings brought fundamental changes. Even Stefan Batory, deeply desiring to liberate his native Hungary from under Turkish rule, was careful to create great alliances of European superpowers and insisted on their direct participation in any war against the Ottomans, as essential preconditions

 His successor Sigmund III Vasa led the Commonwealth in the 17th C. toward maintaining relations with it powerful neighbor. At the beginning of that Century he foiled the ambition of Michael Waleczn who wanted to confederate Siedmiogród, Wallachia and Moldavia into one State. Poland took care to maintain influence in those lands. Turkey respected this posture, and did not propose forming new actions, directed against these lands.  

Subsequent relations became worse yet. With on one hand the pro-Hapsburg politics of the Sigmund III, and on the other fighting Tatar raids on Polish ground, and Cossacks raiding Turkish ground causing aggravations to the relationship. It led finally (in the face of expected Turkish invasion) to preventive expeditions by the Moldavian Żółkiewski (ended defeat at Cecorą) and in next (1621) year with a powerful Turkish invasion of Poland. Battle at Chocim in 1621 was probably the largest battle ever set in Europe. Engaged were about 170,000. soldiers (counting the retainers in camp). An approximately 55,000 strong Polish-Cossack army defended a palisaded camp over one and a half month. After that, the Ottoman armies retired and confirmed treaties maintaining the  existing status quo. That most senseless war (largely to satisfy the ambition of the hardly teenage sultan Osman II) had been as if " intoxicant " on still entirely tolerable Polish-Turkish relations. Subsequently also relationships worsened between those countries based on mistrust. A probe by Turkey of the situation after to the death of Sigmund III officially was a private initiative of some Turkish officials (thanks to armed readiness of the Commonwealth unraveled " to the bone "), and the plans of Wladyslaw IV’s great discourse with the Turkish Empire that he wove over 40 years, that the Poles met with irresistible force the enemies until finally they were burned on the frying pan.

It may be said, that from then to the mid 17th C. Polish-Turkish relations were not bad. Until then Turkish aggression had been directed against other European states, Poland was able to maintain indifferent or neutral relations with the Turks. It is nevertheless worth underlining that the Poles were convinced of the inevitability of a conflict with Turkey, as their destiny. 

Genesis of the conflict:

Unfortunately the run of the events led to continuous war over 30 years. This was a result of a braid of manifold events. The 17th C.saw a major reorientation of the Turkish basis of power. In the structure of political society the Ottoman empire begun reforms to attempt the slow healing of deficiencies. They illness had various reasons: reducing productivity of industry, a conservatism that made it  difficult to change to superior forms of production, the feudal system on which rested power of the states, weakening national sovereignty. In to the half 17th C. effectiveness was restored over a period of a dozen or so years because of three strong Grand Viziers from the family Köprülü. They were able to rationalize the national machinery and to strengthen the army considerably. Which is why in the war years 1660-1683 with Habsburg, with Poles, with Venice and finally with Russia, Turkey appeared to have power not seen since the times of Suleiman the Magnificent. The fundamental political hallmark of the Köprülüs was war. To them, war -offensive and invasive- was not only for increasing the power of the State but was also the best remedy against every sort of internal ache and pain.

The Commonwealth in turn reached the point of outbreak of war with Turkey having already experienced several rounds of disastrous conflicts. Beginning with the Chmielnicki Cossack rebellion in 1648., then the war with Russia, the Swedish deluge, the Siedmiogrodian invasion, again reignited war with Russia and constantly conflicts over Ukraine. The final blow in the series was the Lubomirski rebellion. All these wars caused great destruction and wastage (Population of the Commonwealth was estimated to have dropped as much as 40 %) and was harmful to the Polish position on the international arena.

This was reflected in the truce of Andruszow (1667r.), which, among others factors, responded to the growing Turkish threats against Poland and Russia. This divided the Polish Ukraine into two parts. The eastern part (demarked by the Dniepr river) went to Russia, while the western part remained with Poland. This treaty was intended by Poland and Russia to constitute the base of future treaties making possible alliances against the Ottoman Empire and Crimean Khanate, who had been involved from early time in wars over the Ukraine. This caused a very sharp reaction from the Cossacks, discontent with the division of the Ukraine and disrespect from former allies. Faithful up to this point to Poland, Hetman Peter Doroszenko in November 1666 r. allied with the Tatars and turned against the Polish Crown. Several months later he organized a mission to Istanbul requesting the protection of the Sultan. The Cossacks dreamed of many benefits from this, first of all the unification of both parts of the Ukraine into one state, free to pursue economic interests and their own culture, as well as acceptance of the Orthodox religion. For an example they saw Siedmiogrodzie, which under the favor of the Sultan had experienced a "golden age".

Turkey was then occupied with the war with Venice over Crete, so responded somewhat tepidly, but sent Doroszenki a force of Tatars to help. In August 1667 sultan kałga (i.e. the vice-khan) Gerej of Crimea poured into the Ukraine with a powerful army, which in September joined with Doroszenki. Both advanced on the Polish camp in Podhajcach, defended by Hetman Sobieski. They were defeated and on 17 October they made a new treaty with the Poles. Doroszenki again recognized authority of the Polish king, and the Tatars became again allies of the Commonwealth. The treaty of Podhajcach was to be treated by  Doroszenki as a temporary expedient. The Hetman of the Cossacks intended to struggle against Poland and Russia, to unify all of Ukraine under his authority, for which he intended to ally himself closely with Turkey. In January 1668. he again entered contact with the Turks and Tatars, and worked out a plan to capture by treachery Zadniepr, where hetman Ivan Brzuchowiecki  was posted facing Russia. Soon he has invaded there as his the ally, he drove away the Moscow forces, after which he murdered Brzuchowiecki. He did not stay at Zadniepr, where the local Cossack offered him an oath of loyalty. On December 1669. on the advice of Czehryniu, requested the protection of the sultan for the boundaries of the Ukraine. As a result in July 1671 the Ukraine Succession wars began.


Sobieski at Battle of Cochim 1673, Contemporary painting by Andrzej Stech

The campaign of 1671 brought a series of victories orchestrated by Sobieski by Crown armies over Tatars and Cossacks. But by that time Turkey had won the war at Crete and could apply its whole force against the Commonwealth. In December 1671 Sultan Mehmed IV and Grand Vizier Fazyl Ahmed Pasha officially informed the Polish court about Turkish sovereignty over the Cossacks and demanded withdrawal of Crown armies from the Ukraine.  

The Commonwealth was meanwhile in a state of internal conflict, and the King and Magnates found themselves facing a civil war. The Polish Sejm (Parliament), instead of debating the defense of the country, concentrated on internal dissension, and the incompetent king Michael Wiśniowiecki directed his energy leading the opposition against Sobieski. When in August 1672  a great Turkish invasion fell upon Poland, the Commonwealth was totality unprepared for war. Commanded by Mehmed IV the Ottoman army gained Kamieniec Podolski easily enough, then marched on Lvow. The city defended itself bravely, but the advantage of the Turks was huge. Sobieski’s excellent victories over the Tatars did not help.  The Commonwealth lost the war and 18 October 1672 signed the disgraceful treaty of Buczaczu, in which it lost the Ukraine and Podole with Kamiencz and undertook payments of tribute to the sultan. Also Lvow had to pay a ransom to the Turks.


Before battle of Chocim:

Only this fearful defeat awoke the Poles from lethargy. Not at once, because for several months longer the threat of civil war hung over the country. Finally, in March 1673 the opposition came to a reconciliation with the King, and the Polish Parliament that Spring rejected the conditions of the treaty dictated by the Turkey and decided to continue the war, while voting for appropriate taxes. Sobieski presented his memorandum in to the case foreign policy Polish and the wars from with the Turkey. He debated forming the anti-Turkish leagues including Poland, the Austria and Moscow, calling for a rebellion against the Ottomans by all the people of the Balkans, and enticing over to the Polish side Doroszenki’s Cossacks. A 60 thousand man army was planned, professionals organized and armed in a modern style. But soon it became apparent that reckoning on outside help was in vain, and the taxes were not collected as hoped. In the end, instead of 7 million złoty, only 4 million were collected, which permitted raising only 37,500 Crown soldiers from Poland and 9000 Lithuanians.

Despite the difficulties, in 1673 r. the Commonwealth has passed the test of realpolitik, cultural political and civil. They invested money on necessary military strength ". Poland was well prepared for war. The Turkish situation was different. Exhausted after to the 1672 campaign, the Ottomans had stayed armed to face the armies of the Commonwealth. Indeed Mehmed IV had decided on continuing the war and he had already begun the mobilization of the army, but this time proceeded carelessly. On 8 July the Sultan marched to Adrianople (today Edirne) with relatively strengths, the march hold himself but in to free pace. Lastly September Ottoman forces had reached at last the Danube. Because the time on beginning actions has been already irrelevant, and the army rather small, the Turkish leadership had given up the offensive and billeted the army for the winter at Lezajsk. At the same time he decided to split his forces to defend his loot from the previous year. Therefore already from the beginning of July Beyerbey Sylistrii Husein Pasha together with the army from his province had occupied the former Polish camp at Chocim.  Gradually his units were strengthened. Also, a strong ten thousand man garrison waited in nearby Kamiencz Podolski under the command of Halila Pasha. In 1673 they did not call on the Tatars for aid. They had anyway little interest in fighting on the side of the Turks. Ukraine was treated as a domain under Tatar influence, a source of the booty and slaves. Subordinating Ukraine to the sultan deprived the Crimean Tatars of those advantages; it supplanted the influence of the Tatars. Therefore the horde acted passively. Also Doroszenki did not commit his Cossacks to fight, or anyway did not hurry overmuch to help the Turks. The only setback for Sobieski was when the ataman Michael Chanenki , who had been loyal thus far to Poland, crossed over to the Moscovites’ side.

The Crown armies converged first at Hrubieszow, then at Gliniank and Skwarzaw near Lvow. On 8 October an ill king Michael inspected the armies arrayed on parade. Only the Lithuanians were missing, which had marched to Beresteczki. On 9 October on the advice of the war council, the armies of the Crown started marching toward Trembowli, to join with the Lithuanians and jointly invade Moldavia, to break the Turkish strength there. Conception of the offensive was much influenced by the arguments advanced by Sobieski. On 11 October the Crown army marched to Glinianka. March hold while threatening himself in order insured because of the danger from the garrison of Kamienc Podolski.

Although the Lithuanians were late, the grand hetman of the Crown did not wait and on 26 October ordered the crossing of the Dniestr. There he waited 4 days at the village Łuka. Poles had at that time already enough accurate intelligence about the enemy. They overestimated only the forces of the Beyerbey of Aleppo (today Haleb in Syria) Mustafa Pasha, around Cecora, which actually was only several thousand soldiers. Sobieski decided to strike the strongest group of his opponent at Chocim, and after this was destroyed returning to strike against the Syrian Pasha. He planned to take advantage of internal lines of communication.  On the road, during the passages across Dniestr, he met the deputy Mehmed IV while carrying letters and the caftan, sign of subordination, for King Michael. He treated the Turk kindly and directed him to Lvow, where the King was. At Łuką the Poles met up with the Lithuanians, commanded by Sobieski’s rival, Grand Hetman Michael Paca. The Lithuanians demanded rest for their tired long-marching units; Sobieski opposed delay because of the autumn season and promise of cold weather.

"I will advance on enemy soil, and will not be pushed back but will gladly with god’s blessing with our nation’s enemies strive, or for the fatherland I will be honored to lay down my head"

he stated decisively. Paca had to yield. Polish-Lithuanian Army marched now to Bojan by Prute, there they made a detour to the North and advanced by the Jass road to Chocim. Conditions of the march were difficult. The army passed through a "dangerous and terrible forest", through muddy and rough terrain, in heavy rain, with hunger and cold. Because the terms of enlistment had begun to expire, many malcontents had begun to demand to return to their country. Many deserted. Sobieski did what he could to elevate morale, he promised food, pasture and rich plunder in the Turkish camp, and he assured them that they all will return soon from the expeditions famous and victorious. 

Nearing the enemy, the mood of the soldiers changed, all having been taken by the wish to fight. Pace of the march had been fast and long, the route from Gliniank to Chocim totaled approximately 300 km, which the army covered in a month. On 9 November the Polish-Lithuanian army reached Chocim. They were welcomed by the sound of Turkish cannons.

Battle Terrain

Husejn Pasha’s camp lay on flat plateau soaring over the whole area. The front was South West, on the right wing the border reached the small towns Chocim and its fortress. Earlier strengthened by the Poles in 1621 r. it was further restored and stores replenished by the Turks. The camp controlled the roads to Jass and to Czerniowiec.

Defensive position had been selected well.  The east of the camp was defended by the Dniestr, from the North and from the south deep the ravines about steep, bold braes. The Western Side was most exposed, so they had raised and strengthened the walls with palings, and improved the fosses or moats. A few months permitted the Turks to make improvements by deepening moats and reinforcing walls; they pour  "barely not by Hollander or Swede ". For better protection a fence was built by the ravine on northern and southern sides. Over the Dniestr had been constructed a pontoon bridge in order to maintain communication with Kamiencz and this was supported by fieldworks on the left riverside. to the North drawbridge, deployed over ravine, he combined the camp with parts of the old masonry castle, surviving from the 14th C. 

                                                                                                                      Chocim 1673, R. de Hooghe scan0005.jpg (1428992 bytes)

Strengths of opponents :

Both sides had approximately 30 thousand soldiers, but unlike the Poles the Turks were fresh, fed, and well provided with ammunition. They could also count on cooperating with nearby forces (in Kamiencz Podolski 8-10 thousand., not far from Jass further 3-4 thousand.). They also had 50 cannon. The Poles, although they began the march with a considerably more numerous army, at Chocim totaled less than 30 thousand and 65 cannon. Some units manned communication points along the road from Podolu and in Moldavia, some after they marched to Jass, to pin there the forces of Mustafa Pasha. Also desertions and influenza and other diseases decreased the size of the Polish army.

Order of Battle Polish army, numbers are approximate (following John Wimmer):


"The Turks did not want to risk the army in the field, only shooting with bow from camp and skirmishing from which perished a few dozen horses. After that our army went down to the field to their tabor wagon train a quarter mile after leaving a rear guard - her yardage on to those place, where army [during skirmishing) stood ". Under cover of the arquebusiers more units reached Chocim, marching many kilometers in column. 10 November the Polish artillery responded, directed efficiently by General Marcin Kątski. Under cover of the fire of the cannons Sobieski placed the army in battle order.

The Turkish camp was in the form of a wide bow, or curve, which wings reached to the Dniestr. From the right were ordered in turn these regiments: Crown Strażnik Stefan Bidziński, Ruthen province governor (Voiewode) Stanislawice Jabłonowski, John Sobieski, Field Hetman Dimitri Wiśniowiecki. Before the cavalry regiments stood the infantry, dragoons and artillery. On the left wing they had drawn up from the right these regiments: Kiev Voiewode Andrzej Potockiego, Sieradzki Voiewode Szczęsnego Potockiego, the Lithuanian Grand Hetman Paca and field hetman Michael Casmir Radziwiłł (Sobieski’s brother-in-law). To the front of these also stood infantry and artillery. Because the Turks intended to not deploy in the field but rather preferred to defend behind walls, Sobieski decided to take their camp by storm.

Achieving this would prove very difficult. Husain Pasha manned the walls with the infantry and cannon, the cavalry he placed in the camp as reserve. The camp was a trap for the attackers.

" Turkish tabor train and camp by the maze of tents, numerous lines, stakes, latrine pits and blind alleys presented a true labyrinth, in which only the Turks could orientate themselves. He served that very sometimes too the trap for enemy, when that he has fallen to pillage the camp he has distracted himself too prey, because then Turk after abandoning the camp retreated and of they carried down his singly ".

Placed in order with combative units they have neared to camp opponent from. Then the Moldavians of Hospodar Stefan Petriceicu came over to the Polish side. Sobieski told them to leave the battlefield, which they quickly did though they wanted to fight against their oppressors.

Husain Pasha’s army now had less than 5 to 6 thousand soldiers. Before battle the Turkish leader had sent to Kamiencz the unnecessary carts and tabor wagons, to have more room in camp. Still the Turks were penned in tightly, which made it difficult to regroup and react, and also risked large losses from the Polish artillery

Before evening part of the Cossacks and Crown infantry on the right wing attacked the Turkish camp. This attack, not supported by other units and the artillery, was broken up soon enough, and their commander Col. John Motowidło fell during battle. In the evening the Polish units and artillery were positioned closer to the Turkish walls. It could be seen that the Turks quickly reinforced the walls with troops, and were awaiting an imminent Polish attack. Sobieski did not order the attack. Soon darkness brought the deep cold of the night, unleashing wind and heavy snowfall.

All night long the Polish-Lithuanian army waited patiently in formation despite the very bad weather. Sobieski also spent the night by the cannon, occasionally walking to warm up among the formations of his soldiers. The Turks suffered considerably worse than Poles through the cold night. The morning of 11 November offered a view of the Turkish walls with few Turks.  Apparently, many Turks could not bear the cold and abandoned positions for their warm tents and meals.

Sobieski gave the order to attack. About 7.00 AM he personally escorted the Crown units to the walls, he advanced to about the distance of a pistol shot from the enemy position where he took up position to direct the attack. First the infantry and dragoons attacked on the right wing, where the Hetman had assembled his best units. Surprised by the sudden attack the Turks were quickly pushed back from the perimeter works and deep into their camp. Then the infantry and the dragoons opened several gaps in the walls, to open a way for the cavalry to attack.

Part fought counterattacking Ottoman cavalry. That fight proved to be a melee of unorganized groups. Because of the lack of space in which to marshal the Turkish formations, they could not assemble so as to attack one point with the concentrated force of several units.  Therefore the infantry attacks succeeded fairly easily.  Seeing the success of the foot, the Grand Hetman fed into the fight cavalry from Bidziński’s and Jabłonowski’s regiments. Chocim 1673 mal. Jerzy Kossak

Both those commanders approached the ravine, in which stood their units, and suddenly they fell upon the Turkish camp, sowing panic and destruction. The tangle of pavilions, lines and pegs complicated fighting for the cavalry, but the Poles managed to maintain order and proper orientation. The Turks did not break and continued counterattacks. Soon they heard the left wing’s victorious whoops. The Lithuanians under Paca and Radziwiłł on front had penetrated into the Turkish camp, and waving their pałasz swords they pushed forward.                                     

ChochimDetail.jpg (2053201 bytes)                 Laurent Krzczonowicz, 11 July 1673

At this point the Turks broke and moved as an incoherent mass toward the bridge over the Dniestr. The Lithuanians hounded them closely and drove them toward the river. It appeared that the outcome of the battle had been settled. But in that moment came the unexpected, desperate counterattack of the Bosnian cavalry, commanded by Beyerbey Suleiman Pasha. The Turks, or rather Islamic Slovines, attacked the gate on the road leading to Jass, where they  happened upon the cavalry regiments of Wiśniowiecki and Andrej Potocki, who had been standing all this time in reserve. A violent counterattack by the Poles drove the Bosinians back into the camp. A large body of fleeing Turks approached and threatened to overrun Sobieski’s post, but four reserve hussar banners immediately charged forward to him with help. The Bosnians stayed trapped by a deep and narrow gully. Now the broken Turkish army threw themselves toward the safety of the bridge on Dniestr. But this route was cut off by Radziwił’s Lithuanians, which reached here first.

Soon the bridge was bombarded by the Polish cannon, plunging into the cold current hundreds of cavalry. Many of these terrified men tried to save themselves, but the high bank of the river had been flooded by autumnal rain. Vainly they tried.  "I was there to see, how they perished on the hard rocks in the rushing Dniestr"  wrote John Tuszyński. Thus Husain Pasha’s army fell under the sword of the victors, their disgrace washed clean by the blood its soldiers.

The Turkish losses were huge.  “Janissaries, of which there had been eight thousand, were almost all cut down”, wrote the Imperial ambassador in Warsaw, J. Stoma. – “Twenty-plus cannon, numerous standards and banners , the  whole camp complete" were now the spoils of war. Eight thousand elite Spahi cavalry, the noble ethnic Turks which were the heart of the Turkish military, perished also.. In the rout approximately 5 thousand Spahis managed to save themselves, crossing the bridge before it was downed, and also a dozen or so thousand "common folk ", and retainers escaped. Fallen on the battlefield included the Beyerbeys of Rumelii, Siwasu, Bosnia and Solonik. Alone among senior leaders Husain Pasha escaped, but soon he received from the sultan the silk cord, understood as an order to commit suicide. For the Poles, victory did not come cheaply. "From our army, in these heavy times, many good men perished”  the hetman wrote after the battle to his wife. “To our lances sadly fell more than half (...) because so manly and valorous a force, as had been this Turkish army, I know, the ages never have seen, and already while being among the wagons, after twice having us near defeat. But because of our men’s extraordinary resolution in our good cause, specially among the hussar banners, we held on and won (...)  Nevertheless the enemy was defeated in two hours. Their senior leaders almost all perished, three Pashas’ bodies already have been found on the site, others were taken (...)

Pavilions, Turkish horses, camels, mules, silver, gold beyond measure fell as spoils into the laps of the men, who’s great valor, strength and resolution everyone must admit, and for days did not have sufficient provisions, now in the enemy camp they feasted in an end to their hunger and in thanksgiving". Victory in this battle cost the Poles and Lithuanians 1200-1500 casualties, including numerous officers, and also many wounded. Very many horses had been lost. On 13 November the Chocim fortress surrendered together with non-combatants that had been spared the battle, which within the walls they had found shelter. On word of the Turkish defeat Mustafa Pasha retired quickly to Cecora. Victorious armies of the Commonwealth marched deeply into Moldavia and they have reached to Prut, but with cause vacuities in treasure and leaving Lithuanians they had to soon from here to retire. The armies received already the news about the death of Michael Korybut Wiśniowiecki (10 November in Lvow), which meant new free elections. Sobieski had to be present! Therefore, after leaving garrisons in to several Moldavian cities and some units blockading Kamienc Podolski, he returned with the rest of the army to the Commonwealth. This wonderful victory of Chocim did not prove to be militarily decisive, nor politically, but did result in handing the throne to John Sobieski. War with Turkey continued. In 1674 r. John III beat back the Turks from a considerable part of the Ukraine, including Bar, Braclaw and Winnice. But in 1675 r. saw the invasion of a large Ottoman force. Enemy occupied a considerable part pf Podola, but was stopped by a brave defense of Trembowlą. Instead the main Tatar forces were directed toward Lvow, where the King had assembled his army. Here on 24 August Sobieski inflicted a heavy defeat. Turks had to withdraw from Polish lands. In 1676  John III again succeed in besting the enemy at Zorawina. The lengthy defense of the Polish camp ended as a success. 17 October Turks concluded a truce with the Commonwealth and gave tribute. But Podole, Kamieniec and the Ukraine remained in their hands. Poland got back only several small towns. Conflict with the Ottoman Empire was settled.

Analysis of the battle

Sobieski he has taken the initiative in that war and was able to maneuver along internal lines against his opponents, he was able to surprise the Turks. Agree with old polish art of war he aimed to winning the wars by eliminating enemy’s effective forces. While choosing as the target of his main attack the largest enemy force, he aimed to inflict a decisive blow. Job he had was extremely difficult. It is worth remembering, that in to the place in which the Turks now entrenched themselves, not many years ago (i.e. in 1621r.) the Polish armies were able to fend off over 6 weeks a twice more numerous opponent. Then the Turks were unable to break the Polish defense and had to retreat.

Sobieski was able to superbly command under these circumstances. Taking advantage of his strengths and relying on the low resistance to cold by the Turkish soldiers on a cold November night (with strong cold wind and falling snow), coordinated an attack at a suitable moment (when some of the Turks had left their posts to warm themselves and eat) it became a major success. Despite the valor and sacrifice of the Turkish soldiers, Sobieski in less than 2 days was able to capture a well fortified and provisioned enemy camp, with approximately equal numbers of men!

Role of the hussars

In the battle of Chocim the number of hussars was around 2000.

After the dramatic drop in number of hussars in the years of the wars with the Cossacks and Swedish "deluge" when the quantity of hussars totaled often hardly a few hundred horses, Sobieski, knowing their inestimable value, undertook the reconstruction of that formation (the fewness of hussars in previous period was the result of long-lasting actions of war and spoilage of the countryside, while causing poverty among the nobility, which already spent huge sums necessary to outfit the hussar 'posts').  First as Hetman, later as Polish King -to the efforts, the series hussars regularly they rise. Too times Sobieski just, he survives hussars rebirth, again while astonishing the world with his virtues. At Chocim they revealed themselves as a fulfillment of the vision. Agree with his destining she has carried out while striking. For this to be possible, the infantry had to carry the walls and to prepare the ground to rank. This job was carried out superbly, opening the path for the cavalry banners. While penetrating into the camp and  destroying  enemy formations, hussars again succeed in revealing their aptitude. They received special commendation from Sobieski. But it is necessary to underline, that this was possible only though  compatible cooperating various kinds of units jointly. Sobieski trained them to cooperate to perfection. This was a fundamental source of his great success.

      * *


Leszek Podhorodecki "Sławne bitwy Polaków"  1997

Janusz Pajewski "Buńczuk i koncerz"

Jan Wimmer "Materiały do zagadnienia organizacji i liczebności armii koronnej w latach 1673-1679" - artykuł zamieszczony w "Studiach i Materiałach do Historii Wojskowości" t.VII, cz.2



Leszek Podhorodecki " Famous battles of the Poles " 1997

Janus Pajewski " Buńczuk and pool "

John Wimmer the " Materials to problem organization and liczebności to the army crown in year 1673-1679 "   article in " Study and Material to the History of War " t.VII, cz.2  


Please cite this article as follows:

Battle of CHOCIM 1673, anon. extract from Leszek Podhorodecki "Sławne bitwy Polaków"  Mada 1997, translated by Rick Orli, 2006

English translation r.orli ©2006 

Turk stuff