1652: The Battle of Batih, Decider of Ukraine’s Fate

On June 1-2, 1652, the Battle of Batih took place. It was one of the biggest battles between the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Zaporozhian Cossack army during the rebellion of Bohdan Khmelnitsky. This event is often compared with the battle of Cannes, in which Carthage defeated the Roman army in spite of the Romans’ superior material strength. Khmelnitsky was one of the most important Ukrainian leaders in history, although his reputation is stained by the massacres of tens of thousands of Jews that took place under his rule.

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A year before the Battle of Batih was the Battle of Bila Tserkva, which was fought between the allied Crimean-Cossack army and the army of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Cossacks were defeated amd Khmelnitsky signed the Treaty of Bila Tserkva, which put the people of Zaporozhia in a very difficult position. In particular, the treaty required Khmelnitsky to break off relations with the Crimean Khanate.

In the Spring of 1652, the Cossacks had decided to begin preparations for more military operations against the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, but they needed a pretext. Soon the occasion came along: the son of Bohdan Khmelnitsky, Timos, went to Moldova to marry the daughter of the ruler and form an alliance against the Poles. Having learned about the Cossacks’ intentions, the Pole Marcin Kalinowsky went to meet the enemy.

The troops met at Mount Batih. The 20,000-man army of the Commonwealth was pitted against the army of Khmelnitsky, which included the Chigirinsky, Cherkasy, Korsun and Pereyaslav Cossack regiments. On June 1, 1652 the battle began. At first the Poles pressed on the Crimean-Cossack detachments, but Khmelnitsky’s army was able to force the enemy to retreat. Only towards the night did the hostilities cease.

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Coin depicting the battle. Source: wikipedia.com

Among the ranks of the Polish army, rumors spread about the numerical superiority of the Cossacks, and thereby fear was spread among the soldiers. This was a traditional Mongol/Tatar strategy going back to the days of Genghis Khan. Panic was combined with unhappiness with the actions of Hetman Kalinowsky, who could not reliably know the number of Cossacks and did not order a retreat in time. At the onset of dawn, scuffles broke out within the army, and a fire broke out somewhere in the camp. For the Cossacks this was a great time to attack – they came at the Polish camp from different directions. A part of Kalinowski’s army fled, and a part showed resistance. But with a divided army, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth’s army stood virtually no chance.

Hetman Kalinowsky and a brother of the Polish king perished in the battle of Batih. The road to Moldova was open to the Cossacks. Khmelnitsky kept several hundred prisoners, and executed the rest. The victory of the Cossacks in the Battle of Batih raised the spirits of the people. By the way, the marriage of Khmelnitsky’s son Timos did not happen.

This victory led to Ukraine’s independence from the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which was followed by absorption into the Russian Empire.

Translated from http://diletant.media/articles/41240083/