Before the battle
At a time when the Polish squad was destroyed in the Yellow Waters by the Cossacks of Khmelnitsky, Nikolai Pototsky, a coronet hetman of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, stood with an army near Cherkasy. Knowing nothing about the defeat of their avant-garde, the Polish army slowly moved south to secure the supposed victory of the young Potocki.
The promotion was very slow and interspersed with feasts and booze. Yes, and how to go quickly, when it is difficult to budge. It seemed that they were not going to war, for a holiday. Each tycoon and sir came to the camp not only with their banners (detachments, detachments), but also with numerous servants, carts. Here there were stocks of food, wine, and dishes, and clothing, and carpets. It seemed no one thought about the war. Revels were held daily, pans boiled before each other in wealth, past exploits. Yes, and with whom to fight something? With flakes, slaves, hicks? And they are the mind, pride and power of the Commonwealth. The army of Poland was one of the most powerful in Europe. Therefore, time flew by unnoticed; no one worried about how many days had passed, and there was no rumor about the young Potocki’s detachment. Feasted and walked day and night.
3 May 1648 passed Chigirin slowly. Before the Yellow Waters, there were more than one hundred versts, and there was no news from the forward detachment. After the usual disputes, they decided to send reconnaissance units around and prepare positions for artillery. Soon, the camp had terrible news of the death of the vanguard. She was brought by a wounded soldier who managed to escape. At first they didn’t believe him, they didn’t want to believe in the defeat of the Polish troops against the “beggars. And when they realized that it was true, the Polish camp was confused. They learned that Khmelnitsky is already close with countless troops and a Tatar horde, the fugitive assures. The confusion of the Poles was increased by the behavior of Potocki Sr., he was in anger, he broke and smashed everything that came under his arm, and got drunk before feeling insensitive.
The military council decided to go for the enemy. The Polish army moved to Korsun and White Church. 10 May arrived under Korsun and took a vantage point. Polish camp stood on a small hill. On three sides he was surrounded by earthen ramparts, which, at the insistence of Kalinovsky, were poured by soldiers, and also dug deep trenches. On the fourth side, the camp was defended by the Ros River. On the shafts put guns. The Polish army numbered more than 20 thousand people with 40 guns (according to other sources - about 14 thousand people).
Meanwhile, the Cossacks were going to meet the enemy. After the victory under the Yellow Waters, Bogdan Khmelnitsky gathered a military council. At the Rada, everyone was unanimous - immediately go to the army of Potocki. Khmelnitsky conducted a reorganization of the greatly grown troops. The army consisted of 15 - 17 thousand Cossacks and 4 thousand Tatars (according to other data - 18 - 19 thousand Cossacks, 6 thousand or even more Tatars). Bogdan divided the artillery into three batteries, headed by Sych, Ganzha and Vernigor. Sulima was appointed the general train. Zaporizhzhya Cossacks led the cat Nebab. All registrants and other soldiers who had gone over to the side of the rebels were divided into six regiments - Chigirinsky, Cherkassky, Korsunsky, Kanevsky, Belotserkovsky and Pereyaslavsky. Krivonos, Bohun, Czarnota, Nechai, Mazyr and Veshnyak were appointed colonels. The new general captain was appointed Teteria.
Julius Cossac. Meeting Tugay Bey and Khmelnitsky near Korsun
14 (24) May 1648, Khmelnitsky sent forward the regiment of Krivonos and part of the Crimeans with the order to detain the enemy before the arrival of the main forces of the Cossack army. In the evening, the regiment under the command of Krivonos was beyond Ros, in the rear of Potocki. Under Steblev, a mile to the west of Korsun, the Cossacks zagatili river Ros, to facilitate access to the Polish camp.
The 15 (25) of May under Korsun appeared the main forces of the rebels. They settled down to the south of the Poles on the banks of the Ros River, engulfing an enemy camp located on the right bank of the river and taking up a position to the south. There was so much dust that the Poles thought that there were at least a hundred thousand enemies, and there were only fifteen thousand of them. The leading Polish detachment — the dragoons recruited from the population of Little Russia — were transferred to Bogdan here too, they did not want to fight with their own. The Polish army began to lose heart. But the Poles were on strong positions, had strong artillery, and decided to defend themselves. The Tatars tried to attack the enemy on the move, but were repelled by coordinated artillery fire.
Khmelnitsky arranged his regiments in a semicircle and pretended that he wanted to attack the Poles with all his might. However, the assault on well-fortified positions with a strong army led to great losses, or even defeat (the forces were approximately equal). Therefore, Bogdan was looking for a way to destroy the entire Polish army without great losses for his own. One clever and courageous Cossack Nikita Galagan, ready for anything, he instructed to make his way around the Polish camp so that he would be noticed and grabbed. He was taught to speak during interrogation. At the same time, the ambush squad was strengthened, guns were set up in convenient places, the road was dug over by moats, and they were set aside to catch the retreating enemy under the cover of the forest. Khmelnitsky military trick failed. During the raids Galagan was captured and brought to the Polish commanders. In the custom of that time, they began to torture him with fire, interrogating about the number of Cossacks and Tatars. “I don’t know our bills,” he said, “but as you will find out, с with every hour they arrive, and the Tatar are fifty thousand; Soon Khan himself with the Horde will be here ... ". And without that, the Poles were already in great anxiety, but now they have come to a complete confusion, fearing not only the great strength of the Cossacks and the Tatars, but also a possible siege and famine.
Disputes began among the lords. Many believed that it was necessary to retreat as quickly as possible, until the enemy received reinforcements. Kalinowski offered to continue fighting in a well-fortified camp. But the majority, which Pototsky himself supported, was in favor of the retreat. Getman Pototsky decided not to accept the battle, but to retreat and join up with the troops of tycoon Vishnevetsky, from whom the messenger arrived. He reported that 6-th. Vishnevetsky detachment goes to meet Potocki.
On the night of 16 (26) in May, intelligence reported to Khmelnitsky about the preparation of the Poles for retreat. Dodge Cossacks failed. On the same night, this news was confirmed by the Cossack intelligence officer Samoyla Zarudny, who served as the conductor of the Polish troops. 16 (26) May, before dawn, the Poles marched along the Bohuslav road. The pans did not abandon their huge wagon train to go light, the pans' carts with all kinds of goods, carts with supplies, horses and guns, were guarded by infantry. Polish cavalry was in the forefront and covered the rear. Khmelnitsky gave the Poles a few miles to pass calmly, then his cavalry began to rapidly raid enemies: Cossacks fired shots from rifles, the Tatars fired clouds of arrows and then quickly flew back. Thus, the Cossacks and Tatars tired the Poles with constant alarm from the flanks and rear. A few miles away the Poles passed, fighting off their enemies, and finally, already tired, they entered the fateful forest. They hoped that it would be easier in the forest. There the light cavalry of the Tatars and Cossacks lost its advantages.
However, the forest was no better. The Cossacks had already prepared for the attack and shot the enemy with cannons of muskets and self-mates. Then Khmelnitsky ordered to hit the Polish wagon train from the rear and the Cossacks repulsed many carts. But the main trouble was waiting for the Poles at the end of the grove. Here the road went steeply down the valley and then climbed the mountain. In this valley, which the villagers called the Steep Beam (Curved Beam or Pea Dubrava), the Cossacks dug a deep ditch, made abutments and rubble. The Poles, not suspecting anything, began to descend into the valley. When the moat was noticed, it was too late. Carts and guns rolled into the ditch. “Stop, stop!” - the front ones shouted back, but they shouted in vain: a significant part of the carts were already on the way down, the horses could not contain their weight, and everything was rolling into the ditch. Other drivers tried to escape in the side, but there were also pits and ravines. In addition, from the opposite mountain, the Cossacks beat the Poles with cannons, and from the rear, the Cossacks and Tatars of Tugay Bey were pressing in with all their might. As a result, the Poles turned out to be swamped to the left, to the right, steep slopes, and to the front, with a moat and rubble. Expand the artillery to the battle because of the narrowness and disorder did not work, the narrowness did not allow the rearguard cavalry banners to turn around either.
In the report to the king about the Korsun battle it was noted: “At the entrance to the swampy grove many carts loaded and turned over; Tatars and Cossacks ran up to them. Ours fired from shot-guns and muskets; they are enemies, from both sides attacked us hard blow. Tabor entered this oak grove, like a sack, he could not move further, because the roads were dug up and blocked. Behind the camp, the Tatars were squeezed by the whole weight, the Cossacks inflicted great damage in front and from the sides, using the arranged trenches. Our bravely fought ... but, having fallen into the trap, they could not overcome the superior enemy forces. "
Pototsky ordered cavalry, which could not fight in the equestrian ranks, dismount and take up muskets. But the Polish cavalrymen, not accustomed to foot combat, did not even manage to form themselves in battle formation. Cossacks crushed them. A panic began, numerous Polish servants ran. For some time, only the center reflected attacks. But soon he collapsed. Part of the head forces of the Polish army led by Prince Koretsky was able to break through and flee, throwing carts and the main forces. As a result, the Polish army fell into complete frustration and confusion. It was not the battle that began, but the slaughter. The Poles tried to escape, who in the forest, who in the swamp. Cossacks and Tatars shot, chopped, stabbed the dispersed Polish army. Many were captivated. It was a complete rout. Most of the soldiers of the Polish army died. 80 noble grandees were taken prisoner, along with both hetmans Potocki and Kalinowski, 127 officers, 8520 accomplices. Cossacks seized a wagon train, 41 gun, a lot of firearms and cold weapons, military supplies and various goods. Crimean cavalry pursued fugitives over 30 km. Of all the troops, only 1,5 thousands of people were saved from captivity and death.
Pototsky himself, seeing that the matter was lost, was sitting in his carriage, did not do anything, and many other gentlemen did the same. All of them were brought to the Cossack camp. “You see, Pototsky,” said Khmelnitsky, “as God arranged: you went to take me into bondage, but you yourself got into it!” “Clap,” exclaimed Pototsky, “what will you pay for the glorious Tatar knighthood?” It defeated me, not you with your predatory bastard! ”“ You, ”answered Khmelnitsky,“ you, who call me slam, and others like you! ”By decision, they were pleased both the hetman and the most distinguished gentlemen, as well as several thousand prisoners were given to the Tatars. Moreover, the Cossacks shared rich booty with them.
18 (28) May Khmelnitsky spoke to the Cossack Rada (Korsunskaya Rada). Getman spoke about the need to continue the struggle for liberation, to organize a strong army in order to confront a strong enemy. Cossacks supported Bogdan. They unanimously spoke out against the world with the pans and supported his idea of unification with Russia. That is, the very beginning of the war of liberation Khmelnitsky and his comrades clearly set the main goals - an irreconcilable struggle against Polish domination and the reunification of the people of Western and Southern Russia and Russia.
May 22 Khmelnitsky became under the White Church. The people solemnly met the Polish winners. Thus, the Cossacks, with the support of the Crimeans in a decisive battle, completely destroyed the Polish army assembled to eliminate the uprising. Poland lost the army in the Ukraine. Vyshnevetsky and other tycoons, having learned of the defeat of the crown troops under Korsun, did not begin to tempt fate and retreated to their estates or went farther still, to the lands of Crown Poland. The Polish authorities were at a loss. In addition, a few days before the Battle of Korsun, King Vladislav IV died. Poland lost control of Little Russia and lost the monarch. This strengthened the position of the rebels. The news of the terrible defeat of the Poles quickly spread throughout the lands of the Commonwealth and became a signal for the uprising of the broad masses of the peasants, Cossacks and philistinism. Throughout Western and Southern Russia begins a peasant, popular war. Even in such a remote area as Galicia. Khmelnitsky rebels receive massive popular support. The masses, who have been accumulating hatred for oppressors for centuries, are given the opportunity to throw it out. The massacre of Polish gentry, wealthy citizens, Catholic clergy and Jews began (Jews, like usurers, tax collectors and managers of Polish estates, were among the hated oppressors and social parasites). And Poland finds itself in a precarious situation of the imperial, fraught with the struggle of the magnate parties and the internecine war.