Poland during the Jagiellonian dynasty

Battle of Orsha
Hussars during the Battle of Orsha (1514) ©Image Attribution forthcoming. Image belongs to the respective owner(s).
1514 Sep 8

Battle of Orsha

Orsha, Belarus

On 8 September, shortly after dawn, Ivan Chelyadnin gave the order to attack. The Muscovite forces attempted to outflank the Lithuanians and Poles by attacking their flanks, which were manned by Polish, Lithuanian light hussar, and Tartar troops. One of the pincers of the attack was commanded by Chelyadnin personally, while the other was led by Prince Bulgakov-Golitsa. The initial attack failed, and the Muscovites withdrew toward their starting positions. Chelyadnin was still confident that the odds, almost 3:1 in his favor, would give him the victory. However, preoccupied with his own wing of the Muscovite forces, he lost track of the other sectors and failed to coordinate a defense against the counterattack by the Lithuanian light and Polish heavy cavalry, which until then had been kept in reserve.


The Lithuanian and Polish light horse and Tartars attacked the overstretched center of the Muscovite lines in an attempt to split them. At the crucial moment the Polish cavalry seemed to waver, then went into retreat. The Muscovites pursued with all their cavalry reserves. The Lithuanian Tartars and Polish cavalry, after retreating for several minutes under chase from the Russians, suddenly turned to the sides. The Muscovite cavalry now found themselves confronted by artillery concealed in the forest. From both sides, Lithuanian forces appeared and proceeded to surround the Muscovites. Ivan Chelyadnin sounded retreat, which soon became somewhat panicked. The Muscovite forces were pursued by the army of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania for five kilometres. The Muscovite defeat is often attributed to repeated failures by Ivan Chelyadnin and Mikhail Golitsa to coordinate their operations.

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