Definitions

field battle

Battle of Świecino

The Battle of Świecino (named for the village of Świecino, near Żarnowiec Lake, northern Poland) also called the Battle of Żarnowiec or in German Battle of Schwetz, took place on September 17 1462 during the Thirteen Years' War. The Poles commanded by Piotr Dunin, consisting of some 2000 mercenaries decisively defeated the Teutonic Knights, having some 2700 mercenaries, commanded by Fritz Raweneck and Kaspar Nostyc. Auxiliary forces sent by duke Eric II of Pomerania, ally of the Polish king, did not enter the battle.

Polish forces

The Polish forces consisted of the mercenaries hired by the Polish king, Casimir IV the Jagiellon and the Hanseatic city of Danzig (Gdańsk). His force consisted of some 1000 cavalry, including 112 heavy cavalry, and another 1000 of infantry. These numbers include 1000 cavalry and 400 infantry were mercenaries hired by Polish king, the rest were units from Danzig.

Teutonic forces

Most of the Teutonic army, under the command of Fritz Raweneck and Kaspar Nostyc, were mercenary soldiers gathered from the nearby castles Mewe (Gniew), Stargard (Starogard Gdański), Nowe, Skarszewy and Kiszewy. This army totalled 1000 cavalry and 400 infantry. Raweneck also had the supply chain (tabors), cannons and up to 1300 auxiliary infantry of Pomeranian peasants, used mainly for fortification works.

Battle

The battle started in the evening. Adopting a relatively new tactic, Polish units built a fortified camp on the Hussite model consisting of wagons linked by a chain surrounded by a deep ditch (tabor). Also, units of Raveneck and his subordinate, Kaspar Nostyc (commander from Conitz (Chojnice) created tabor. Piotr Dunin decided not to wait for the enemy and attacked first, setting infantry with crossbows at left, defended by cavalry between the tabor and the coast of the nearby lake of Rogoźnica. Raveneck placed cavalry in front of his tabor, and infantry behind it, without any strategic plan. The first phase of the battle was started by a charge of Polish heavy cavalry under Paweł Jasieński. Fierce fighting continued for three hours and ended without a clear winner. After a short pause at midday, Teuton units were able to push the Poles back; however, they found themselves under very heavy fire from crossbows of the Polish infantry, which caused huge losses and withdrawal. During this fight Raveneck was wounded. Raveneck stopped his soldiers and tried to attack again, but this charge ended with total defeat - Raveneck died and the rest of the cavalry surrendered or escaped. The Teuton infantry tried to defend at tabor, but its resistance was broken by a sudden attack of Polish cavalry.

Casualties

The Teuton army lost around 1000 soldiers, including some 300 cavalrymen. Fifty soldiers were captured. The Teutonic commander was also killed in battle and was buried in the Żarnowiec chapter church.

The Poles lost just 100 soldiers, but 150 later died from wounds. Among the dead on the Polish side was Maciej Hagen from Danzig (Gdańsk). Piotr Dunin was twice wounded.

Aftermath

The direct result of the battle of Schwetz/Świecino was that the city of Danzig and Pomerania were freed from Teutonic Order danger so that the royal and municipal armed forces could be used elsewhere in the war, mainly to protect the Vistula waterway and to capture the Teutonic held strongholds. This way that Teutonic forces in Prussia, on the rights bank of Vistula were cut off from the supplies form Western Europe.

The psychological significance was that this was the first open field battle won by the royal forces, so it increased the morale of the Polish forces, and lowered the morale of the Teutonic Knights. Many military historians say that the battle of Schwetz/Świecino was the turning point of the Thirteen Years' War, leading to the final victory in 1466.

External links

References

  • Janusz Sikorski, Zarys historii wojskowości powszechnej do końca wieku XIX. [Universal history of military operations till 1900], Wojskowy Instytut Historyczny, Wydawnictwo Ministerstwa Obrony Narodowej, Warszawa 1972. - description of the battle of Świecino: pp. 287-288, map of the battle of Świecino: p. 288
  • Janusz Sikorski (ed.), Wiesław Majewski, Tadeusz Marian Nowak, Jerzy Teodorczyk, Polskie tradycje wojskowe. Tradycje walk obronnych z najazdami Niemców, Krzyżaków, Szwedów, Turków i Tatarów X-XVII w. [Polish military traditions. Tradition of defence struggles with the invasions of the Germans, Teutonic Knights, Swedes, Turks and Tartars in 10th-17th centuries]. Wojskowy Instytut Historyczny, Wydawnictwo Ministerstwa Obrony Narodowej, Warszawa 1990. - description of the battle of Świecino: p. 127, map of the battle of Świecino: p. 114
  • Stanisław Herbst, Wojna Trzynastoletnia - O bitwie pod Świecinem. [The Thirteen Years' War - About the Battle of Świecino], Przegląd Historyczno-Wojskowy, vol. 7: 1934/1935, issue 2, pp. 309-311, reprinted in: Stanisław Herbst, Potrzeba historii czyli o polskim stylu życia. Wybór pism. Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, Warszawa 1978
  • K. Górski, Pomorze w dobie wojny trzynastoletniej. [Pomerania during the Thirteen Years' War], Poznań 1932 - description and 3 maps of the battle of Świecino: p. 308
  • Marian Biskup, Druga faza wojny trzynastoletniej (1462-1466). [Second phase of the Thirteen Years' War 1462-1466], in: Gerard Labuda (ed.), Historia Pomorza. [History of Pomerania], Wydawnictwo Poznańskie, Poznań 1972, - description of the battle of Świecino: p. 738
  • Świecino, in: Róża Ostrowska, Izabela Trojanowska, Bedeker Kaszubski, Wydawcnictwo Morskie, Gdańsk 1974
  • Świecino, in: Tadeusz Bolduan, Nowy bedeker kaszubski, Gdańsk 1997

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