How the Hussars Took Moscow

By the time the leopard-pelt donning Serbian mercenaries arrived in the commonwealth, the ferrous mines of Europe were in full bloom. No longer would the ancestral ingot change from plowshare to spearhead and back again under the same village smithy.

The 17th century would see the rise and fall of heavy cavalry. The panoply of the mighty Polish Hussar would only come to rust when the musket was capable of penetrating plate mail, but this falls after our incursion into events past at this moment in time.

Today citizens fear the idea of fighting two wars at the same time. In our peek into rustic Poland we shall find that the peasant is generally indifferent to the szlachta’s three to five wars being undertaken at any one point in time.

The idea of taking Moscow is not yet sirocco to the rational northern winds. On the Western side we have the superior force, the spartans of the Enlightenment, and how frighteningly oriental they appear! Long wings behind the steel plates, and long javelins – trained at charging pikemen and musketeers.

What would it take to allow foreigners to simply walk through the gates of Moscow? A proper routing? And how could we define that?

Picture the open field before dawn. The Polish side brims with over 5,000 of the aforementioned shock troops, and their esquires. The Russian side has almost 50,000 men, conscripted from Russians and Swedes, including mercenaries from England, and the Netherlands.

The Hussars charge into the field like a swarm, and as they approach the finest of the Muscovites their formation narrows into an impenetrable spiked hive of penetrative might. 5 hours later both sides are gathering their dead, The Poles losing 400 (only 100 Hussars), the Russians, over 5,000 giving up the ghost in those terrible five hours. Sounds like a true routing and not, as Shakespeare proclaimed in Henry V “a royal fellowship of death.”

The Polish army was lucky to clash in an open field. Every since Herodotus, historians and tacticians have known that thou cannot squeeze the desert (or the steppe). Boyar Shuisky’s men could not disappear over the Don and regroup like so many Tatar forces of previous battles. The mercenaries traded safe passage for an honorary promise not to rejoin the army. Some even switched sides and went on to loot the Muscovites.

Everyone loves a winner and the Russian boyers took an oath to the brave Hetman and followed him onwards towards Moscow.