Battle of Călugăreni
|Battle of Călugăreni|
|Part of the Long War (Ottoman wars)|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Michael the Brave||Sinan Pasha|
c. 5,000 mercenaries.
|Casualties and losses|
|1,000||10,000-15,000|
The Battle of Călugăreni was one of the most important battles in the history of early modern Romania. It took place on 23 August (13 August on old style calendar) 1595 between the Wallachian army led by Michael the Brave and the Ottoman army led by Sinan Pasha. It was part of the Long War, fought between Christian and Ottoman forces at the end of the 16th - beginning of the 17th centuries.
The whole Ottoman forces were estimated at about 100,000 men, but not all of their troops were on the battlefield at Calugareni. It seems that about 30,000-40,000 Ottoman soldiers were involved in the battle.
Michael the Brave had in total about 16,000 men  and 12 large field cannon, with Transylvanian (Székely) detachments. Being heavily outnumbered, Michael the Brave strategically positioned his forces near a swampy field (near Neajlov River) that would negate the Ottoman's military superiority. South of the village of Călugăreni, where the Câlniştea river flows into Neajlov river, the terrain is a muddy marsh, surrounded by forests. A narrow bridge over the Neajlov river was a mandatory pass point. The battle had three different phases.
First phase of the battle
The day of 23 August 1595 started with probing cavalry attacks. The Wallachian cavalry surprised the Ottoman cavalry in front of the village and pushed it over the Neajlov river. Michael the Brave positioned himself with 10,000 troops and 10 cannons north of the Neajlov river and south of the village. The Székely mercenary Captain Albert Király was in charge of the reserve of 6,000 Székely troops. The reserve was positioned rather far, north-west of the village, to stop any possible attack from the direction of the village of Singureni.
After the cavalry skirmish, Sinan Pasha sent forward a force 12,000 strong. Michael the Brave waited for the Ottoman forces to cross the river and, after a heavy artillery bombardment, attacked fiercely pushing the Turks back over the river. The first phase of the battle ended favorably for the Wallachians.
Second phase of the battle
The second phase started at noon, when Sinan Pasha launched a decisive attack with all the forces he had at that moment. Janissaries made a frontal attack over the bridge while other forces made a double flanking maneuver (Mehmet Satirghi Pashha in the east and Hasan Pasha (beylerbey of Rumelia) in the west). Janissaries attacked not only on the bridge, but also used logs and planks to help them cross the marsh. Initially their attack was stopped, but Ottoman cavalry managed to cross the river via a ford in the east and threatened the Wallachian left wing. Michael retreated, abandoning all his cannons. He rallied his troops north of the village where he stopped the Ottoman advance. The second phase of the battle ended favorably for the Ottomans.
Third phase of the battle
The third and last phase of the battle took place in the afternoon of the day and started with a strong frontal Wallachian attack, led by Michael the Brave. Captain Cocea had just returned from a scouting mission with 400 cavalry and his fresh forces were used in this attack in a flanking maneuver. Mehmet Satîrgi Pasha's troops were pushed into the Janissaries and the Ottoman forces were crowded in a narrow space north of the Neajlov River. The Wallachian counterattack reached the bridge and the cannons were retaken and used to inflict many casualties to the Ottomans. Sinan Pasha tried to restore the situation by advancing with his personal guards, but the Ottoman forces went in disarray when captain Cocea's cavalry attacked them in the rear. Wallachians attacked simultaneously the Ottoman camp, which was near the Hulubeşti village. In the disorganized retreat, here legend has it that Michael the Brave true to his name took a battle axe and (as Robert the Bruce had done to sir Henry de Bouhen at the battle of Bannockburn) threw Sinan Pasha from his horse and into the marsh, but he was saved by one of his slaves. The Wallachians were unable to pursue the fleeing Ottomans because Hasan Pasha appeared on their right flank. Michael the Brave turned with all his men against Hasan Pasha and routed his forces.
Aftermath of the battle
The casualties are estimated at least 1,000 men for Wallachians, while the Ottoman casualties are thought to be in the range of 10,000 to 15,000. Michael the Brave knew that he still was greatly outnumbered, and during the night he retreated northward. He abandoned both Bucharest and Târgovişte, stopping at the winter camp in Stoieneşti, near the Rucăr-Bran Pass.
Sinan Pasha captured the Capital, Bucharest and left there Mehmed Pasha with 10,000 troops, then captured Târgovişte where he left another 1,500 troops and 30 cannons. The bulk of the Ottoman army advanced to Stoieneşti, where it took positions in front of the Wallachian army, but didn’t attack.
On 6 September, the Transylvanian prince Sigismund Báthory arrived with around 7,500 cavalry to support Michael the Brave. Early October another 1,500 troops from the Habsburg empire and 300 cavalry from Toscana arrived. These combined forces attacked the Ottomans and eventually defeated them at Târgovişte (18 October), Bucharest (22 October), and Giurgiu (26 October).
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