Prepare to Recieve Cavalry! Poles versus Turks, early 16th century

This week I settled on playing a quick, Spanish Fury: Actions game, between Polish cavalry and Turkish infantry, probably set in the early 16th century, using BattleChronicler, since I don’t have appropriate figures.

16th century engraving of the Polish hussars

16th century engraving of the Polish hussars

The scenario called for a small Turkish infantry detachment (with two cavalry squadrons) to escort two limbered falconets (large cannons) across the board, in spite of an small intercepting Polish cavalry force. Both armies fielded interesting and famous troops- the Turks their dreaded Janissaries, and the Poles their famous “Winged Hussars”. However, the Turkish army was entirely made of ranged troops- men armed primarily with arqubuses, rather than pikes or swords. Even the courageous Janissaries were not specifically melee troops. And they were facing equal numbers of elite melee cavalry!

Clearly, this was not going to end well for the forces of Islam.

Arraying their companies for battle

The Turks and Poles array their companies for battle

The Turks were anxious to use their only asset (firepower) to maximum advantage. The arqubus-armed Tufeckis were placed on the flanks, the elite and verstile Janissaries in the centre, and the cannons protected in the rear. Meanwhile the Poles lined up their various cavalry companies in line with their Turkish opponent. Their battleplan was pretty simple- charge the enemy and smash them in hand-to-hand combat!

The Turkish firepower actually had some affect at first, particularly from the Janissaries, who were targeting the Poles’ own elite cavalry, the Hussars. They even killed one squadron (base) whie the Poles manouvered into position. The (Polish) Tartar horse hit the Turkish right, which began to accumulate terror markers rapidly, but held their ground for several turns.

The Turkish firepower spreads disorder among the Christian ranks

The midway point

The midway point!

Finally, the Poles managed to rush the rest of their cavalry against the infidel centre and left, where hand-to-hand combat continued for a few turns, until the Turks decided upon a desperate ploy.

Several of the Turkish commanders were extremely fierce men who excelled at leading from the front. If they so chose, they could rush at the enemy with such ferocity and savagery that they inspire their men to follow suit. The entire company (unit)’s combat factor is doubled, but the officer has a 50% of getting killed. Devoid of their source of inspiration, the headless company would then rout. It is quite a gamble…

And the Turks needed to gamble. Left to their own devices, the Polish cavalry would grind them down, despite a surprisingly stubborn resistenance. Both the Janissaries (fighting the deadly Polish Hussars) and the Tufeckis on the left flank threw themselves at the enemy- only for their commanders to be gutted on a Polish lance, and the rank and file stream back in terror…

Run for your lives!

The Turks break and run, only to be mopped up by an efficient mounted operation.

Whoops. Game over! The last of the Turkish infantry broke soon after that, the Turkish colonel (overall commander) having been slain while attached to this stubborn unit quite early on (only for the local Polish officer to also fall victim to the vengeful infidels a little later).

With the Turks streaming back in rout, it didn’t take too long for the Polish cavalry to chase them down and capture both artillery pieces as they sat there. No Turkish squadrons escaped, even though the fanatical Janissaries fought to the death, rather than surrender. For the loss of one cavalry squadron (admittedly of the priceless Winged Hussars) the Poles had achieved a resounding victory.


The Turks actually did surprisingly well, considering that they had no melee support to match the deadly Polish cavalry. I expected them to be dead meat for the Christian horse, and they were. It just took a few turns to do it, instead of being all over in the first wild charge.

The rules worked beautifully, as normal. Simple, fun and historical. The role that officers played was particularly appreciated, and I doubt I could have achieved this game, or noticed all the historical nuances (the Poles boasted 4 different types of cavalry!) if I had used some generic 1500-1800 wargame.

Although it was hopelessly one-sided, I was actually quite satisfied with this game. Few military encounters are hard-fought epic affairs, most I imagine are small skirmishes with the odds heavily weighted on one side. Just like this one.


About Joshua Letchford

I'm a 23-year old Christian from far north Western Australia. I'm interested in philosophy, logic, politics, history, military history, strategy, board games, wargaming and reading. I recently completed a Bachelor of Arts in politics and ancient history through Macquarie University, which I studied externally so I could stay connected with my family and my small town community.
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