Introduction page Battles and campaigns 1450 to 1697 Army composition
main conflicts 1450-1697 Maps of Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth Army's development 1450-1697

Summary of Conflicts

Part 1 - from
1454 to 1510

Part 2 - from
1512 to 1577

Part 3 - from
1577 to 1618

Part 4 - from
1618 to 1647

Part 5 - from
1648 to 1655

Part 6 - from 1655 to 1660

Part 7 - from
1660 to 1672

Part 8 - from
1672 to 1699


1672-1699                                       (links to map of Poland)

The Turkish and Tartar Wars
1667-1676 (Continued)
Kamieniec PodolskiIn August 1672 the Turks entered the conflict proper. An army of 80,000 crossed the Dniestr and besieged Kamieniec Podolski, which although it was an old fort with a small garrison it was in a naturally powerful defensive position quite capable of withstanding a long siege. The weak commander, however capitulated after only seven days. The Turks devastated Pokucie and moved on towards Lvov, which was poorly defended. In the Sejm King Michael was having problems with the nobles and no new forces were forthcoming. All the king could do was send commissars to sue for peace with the Sultan.

Cavalry Attack - Jozef Brandt (excerpt)On the 26th of August the Tartars reached Lvov. Sobieski too weak to aid Lvov began his famous 'raid on the czambuls' (Tartar army). With 2,500-3,000 cavalry and dragoons he traveled some 450 Km in nine days (5-14 October 1672), and with the help of local peasants defeated two large and a number of smaller tartar forces, totaling some 20,000 men, and releasing 44,000 prisoners! His aim had been to reduce the Tartar ravaging and improve Poland's bargaining position in the peace talks. Although it was a brilliant success it could not make up for losses elsewhere and did not effect the shameful Buczacz agreement, which gave up a large slice of the Ukraine to Turkey and required Poland to pay a tribute. Only now did the nobles realise the seriousness of the situation.

This treaty, at last, awoke the nobles of the Sejm who would not ratify the treaty and agreed to a massive expansion of the army. The actual forces were fewer than proposed but resulted in 37,250 troops with 65 cannons.

In Lvov on the 11th November 1673 the King died.

Storming of Chocim 1673 - painter unknownIn 1673 the Turks prepared to defend their gains leaving three main forces 30,000 men at Chocim, 10,000 at Kamieniec Podolski and 15,000 at Jassam (capital of Moldavia). Sobieski decided to destroy the largest force, slicing through their communication lines and the turning on Chocim. The Turks held the Chocim castle which had been strengthened since the Poles and Cossacks successfully defended it against the Turks in 1621. Sobieski with 30,000 men attacked on arrival but failed to break in, his forces then waited throughout the bitterly cold night forcing the enemy to stay at the ready. As dawn broke the Poles attacked, surprising the Turks, and with close artillery support the dragoons and infantry forced their way into Chocim castle. They then cleared a way through the debris for the cavalry, who burst into the Turkish camp. The victory was decisive and complete. In an attempt to capitalise on this victory Sobieski invaded Moldavia and the Turks at Jassam retreated as the Poles approached. However Sobieski was seriously hampered by the Lithuanian Hetman Pac, who soon left to return home with his forces, while distance from home and low pay dramatically increased desertions.

On news of the King's death Sobieski returned to Poland leaving garrisons in the major strongholds. In January 1674 new Turkish forces evicted the Poles from Moldavia and also broke the blockade on Kamieniec Podolski, which was close to capitulation.King Jan III Sobieski - by Jan Matejko

The victorious Hetman Jan Sobieski
was elected King on 19th May 1674.
So began the reign of the
' scourge of the Tartars'.


In mid 1674 the Turks directed their main attack towards the Muscovite army in the Ukraine. Jan III Sobieski decided to take advantage of the situation and attack the enemy in the rear. Unfortunately an early attack by part of his forces warned the Turks who made a hasty retreat. In October Polish forces aided by the local Ukrainian population recaptured all of the Ukrainian strongholds, except for the well defended fortress of Kamieniec Podolski.

In 1675 a 200,000 strong Turkish army crossed the Dniestr and captured a series of strongholds. The Poles were mobilising slowly at Lvov and Sobieski repeated his tactics of 1667 in order to gain valuable time. In mid August the Turks reached Zborow and the Turkish commander, realising Sobieski's problem sent a 20,000 strong czambul to disrupt the Poles. At the Battle of Lvov (24 August 1675) Sobieski, with 5,000, crushed the Tartars and destroyed them in a vigorous pursuit. With the advance of the concentrated Polish army (32,000), the Turkish army turned back from its advance on Lvov destroying Pomarzan and Podhajce on the way. At Trembowl (defended by Jan Samuel Chrzanowski with 80 dragoons and 200 townsmen) the Turkish attacks were repulsed inflicting on them heavy losses and when Sobieski approached and threatened their rear the Turks retreated.

Sobieski planned to bring the war to aFight over a Turkish banner (excerpt) - Jozef Brandt decisive end in 1676, but the large army he forced through the Sejm could not be raised, due to the lack of funds. The Turks invaded again, but were held back at the fortified camp at Zurawno (25 September to 14 October 1676). After three weeks of attacks the Turks (16,000 with 77 canon) and Tartars (30,000) gave up and agreed to a truce. While only a fraction of the 8,000 Polish forces had been involved in the fighting. The truce ended the long war and although Turkey retained a substantial part of the Ukraine large numbers of Polish prisoners were released.

1683 Campaign
The war in 1683 was a coalition of Christian countries, with Poland allied to the Emperor and the Papacy. Turkey was close to capturing Vienna as the Poles approached. Sobieski was given command of the allied army (29,500 Austrians, 18,000 Imperialists and 27,000Battle of Vienna - Jozef Brant Poles) and his plan was to hem in the Ottoman army and pin it against the Danube and Vienna's walls. He did not only want to defeat the Turks, because this would bring little advantage to Poland, but he aimed at destroying them. Sobieski divided the army into three columns several days before the battle, as it sped towards Vienna to catch the Turks unawares. The left column moved along a road next to the Danube, while the other two columns' approach was slower along the mountain roads. As the left and centre columns tied up the main Turkish forces in battle, the mainly Polish cavalry right column charged onto the Turks aiming to cut off their escape. The battle of Vienna's (12 September 1683) result did not meet Sobieski's aim, as due to the large size of the allied army and the difficult terrain, the right column could not get enough distance between itself and the main body of the army and the enemy perceived the manoeuvre, though their only defence against the encirclement lay in retreat which soon turned to rout. The victory made the allies overconfident and Sobieski was caught in an attack on the Polish advance guard at Parkany. Return from Vienna - By Jozef BrandtIt was a shameful defeat since the attack succeeded as far as the Polish infantry and German cavalry, breaking through even the hussars, and Sobieski was almost killed. However two days later the triumphant Turks fought the second battle of Parkany (9 October 1683) with a river to their rear. The allies crushed them and Sobieski felt that this victory was greater than that at Vienna.


1686 Moldavian Campaign
In July 1686 Sobieski set out with a force of 40,000 to Moldavia, on the 16 August he reached Jassam, but the Turks avoided battle and provisions and water was scarce. When in the capital a large quantity of munitions caught fire and much of the city was burned, the Poles had no other choice but to return.

1691 Moldavian Campaign
In 1691 a second Moldavian campaign was undertaken, though it was similar to the first with an evasive enemy and arid weather. There were some modest gains, but Sobieski succumbed to an illness a 'germ of death' which he could not recuperate from.

On 17 June 1696 Jan III Sobieski died.

Previous Page8


Previous Page
Page 8