Battle of Polonka

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Battle of Polonka
Part of the Polish-Russian War (1658-1667)
Date June 29, 1660
Location Polonka, in modern Belarus
Result Polish-Lithuanian victory
Belligerents
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Muscovy
Commanders and leaders
Stefan Czarniecki
Paweł Jan Sapieha
Ivan Khovansky
Strength
9,000 Lithuanians
4,000 Poles
2 cannons[1]:186
24,000 troops 60 cannons
Casualties and losses
1-2,000 14,000-16,000 60 cannons

The Battle of Polonka (Połonka) took place near Połonka (modern Belarus) during the Polish-Russian War (1658-1667) on June 29, 1660 between Polish-Lithuanian and Russian forces. Polish-Lithuanian army under Stefan Czarniecki and Paweł Jan Sapieha forced a Russian retreat through a carefully planned hussar ambush and several tactically effective flanking maneuvers.[1]:186 The Russian defeat also meant they had to abandon the Siege of Lyakhavichy (Lachowicze).

Background[edit]

In late June 1660, after the Treaty of Oliva, a Lithuanian army commanded by Paweł Jan Sapieha attacked Russians, who occupied most of the territory of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.[1]:186 The Lithuanians were supported by Polish units under Stefan Czarniecki,[1]:186 and their target was to end the siege of Lachowicze. Polish - Lithuanian units, which altogether had 13,000 men and 2 cannons,[1]:186 set off from Słonim. Facing them was a Russian army under Ivan Andreyevich Khovansky (Tararui),[1]:186 who had unknown number of soldiers (some estimates claim 24,000; while some claim only 8,500).

In the morning of June 28, Polish front units, marching towards Baranowicze, crossed the Połonka river, east of the town of Połonka. Here, Poles encountered a Russian unit, and a skirmish began. When main Russian forces arrived, the Poles withdrew behind the river, and Polish - Lithuanian army began preparations for the battle. Poles were placed on the right flank, Lithuanians on the left, while central front was protected by mixed, Polish-Lithuanian units, together with artillery.

The Battle[edit]

First to attack were the Russians, who stormed the Polonka river levee. They were met with a heavy fire of the Polish-Lithuanian dragoons, and then a hussar unit counterattacked, pushing the Russians back to their starting positions. Khovansky then decided to attack Lithuanian flank, using his cavalry. The Lithuanians, however, fiercely resisted the assault, and did not retreat to the river swamp.

When dragoons of Stefan Czarniecki captured eastern bank of the levee, whole Polish - Lithuanian army carried out a frontal assault. Cavalry unit of Colonel Gabriel Wojnillowicz, which had been hidden behind Polish lines, bypassed the swamp and attacked left wing of the Russians. The hussars and pancerna cavalry forced the Russian foot out of prepared positions, while the Commonwealth cavalry on the right attacked the Russian rear, which drove off the Muscovite horse and left the Russian infantry exposed.[1]:186 The Russians retreated towards Polock, and on the way they were chased by the Lithuanians, who killed hundreds. Khovansky himself managed to survive,[1]:186 together with a small cavalry group. Russian infantry, which remained at the battleground, was massacred or captured by the Commonwealth forces.[1]:186

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Frost, R.I., 2000, The Northern Wars, 1558-1721, Harlow: Pearspn Education Limited, ISBN 9780582064294