It all began with the uprising of the Western Russian population under the authority of Bogdan Khmelnitsky. A huge part of the Russian land was conquered by Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which, united, created the state of Rzeczpospolita. The Russian and Orthodox population was under the most severe ideological (religious), national and economic oppression. This constantly led to brutal uprisings and riots, when the population brought to an extreme responded to the oppression of the Poles and Jews (they carried out most of the economic exploitation of the local population) with massacres. The Polish troops, in response, "cleaned" entire areas, destroying Russian villages and terrorizing the survivors.
As a result, the Polish "elite" was never able to integrate the Western Russian regions into a common Slavic empire, to create an imperial project that would satisfy all groups of the population. This eventually killed the Commonwealth (Decomposition of Polish statehood. Kosciuszko Uprising). Throughout the first half of the seventeenth century, rebellions raged in Little Russia. The most active (passionary) group were the Cossacks, who became the instigators and the core of the insurgent masses.
The reason for the new uprising was the conflict between the Chigirinsky centurion Bohdan Khmelnytsky and the Chigirinsky sub-counties of Daniel (Daniel) Chaplinsky. Shlyakhtich seized the property centurion and kidnapped Khmelnitsky mistress. In addition, Chaplinsky ordered the carving of 10-year-old son Bogdan, after which he fell ill and died. Bogdan tried to achieve justice in the local court. However, the Polish judges found that Khmelnytsky did not have the necessary documents for possession of Subotov. In addition, he was not properly married, the abducted woman was not his wife. Khmelnitsky tried to find out the relationship with Chaplinsky personally. But how the “instigator” was thrown into the prison of the Old Church, from which his comrades released him. Bogdan, not finding justice in the local authorities, at the beginning of 1646, went to Warsaw, complaining to King Wladyslaw. The Polish king Bogdan knew in the past, but the appeal was unsuccessful. Documents about the content of their conversation is not preserved. But according to a rather plausible legend, the aged king explained to Bogdan that he could not do anything (the central government in the Commonwealth was extremely weak) and finally said: “Do you have no sabers?” According to another version, the king even presented Bogdan with a saber . In the Commonwealth most disputes of the nobles ended in a duel.
Bogdan went to the camp - and away we go. Quite quickly, a detachment of hunters (as volunteers were called) gathered around the offended centurion to settle accounts with the Poles. All Little Russia then looked like a bundle of dry wood, and even soaked with combustible material. It was enough to spark a powerful fire. Bogdan and became this spark. In addition, he showed good managerial skills. People followed the successful leader. And the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was in a state of "kinglessness". This predetermined the outcome of the scale of the uprising, which instantly grew into a liberation and peasant war.
However, the Cossacks, although they entered into alliances with the Crimean Tatars, who, taking advantage of the moment, hijacked entire villages and districts in full, clearly lacked the strength to cope with the Commonwealth and achieve the desired (initially they wanted to achieve maximum independence and privileges in a single state). Pansky arrogance did not allow Warsaw to find a compromise with the Cossack foreman. Realizing that Warsaw will not make concessions, Bogdan Khmelnitsky was forced to look for an alternative. Cossacks could become vassals of the Ottoman Empire, having received a status like the Crimean Khanate, or submit to Moscow.
The Little Russian foreman and clergy from the 1620-ies have repeatedly asked Moscow to accept them into their citizenship. However, the first Romanovs repeatedly rejected such proposals. Tsars Michael, and then Alexey politely refused. At best, they hinted that the time had not yet come. Moscow was well aware that such a move would cause a war with Poland, which at that time, despite all its troubles, was a powerful state. Russia also departed from the consequences of a long and bloody Troubles. The desire to avoid the war with Poland was the main reason for the refusal of Moscow from any intervention in the events on the territory of the Commonwealth. In 1632-1634 Russia attempted to repel Smolensk, but the war ended in failure.
But in the fall of 1653, Moscow decided to go to war. Khmelnitsky uprising took on the character of the national liberation war. Poland suffered a series of heavy defeats. In addition, significant military transformations (regular army regiments created) and preparations were carried out in Russia. Domestic industry was ready to supply the army with everything necessary. In addition, large purchases weapons were held abroad, in Holland and Sweden. They also issued military specialists from abroad, reinforcing the personnel. In order to eliminate local disputes (on the topic of "who is more important") in the army, and they repeatedly led Russian troops to defeat, on October 23 of the year, the king in the Assumption Cathedral of the Kremlin declared: "Voivods and all military officials without places ... ”In general, the moment was a good one in order to free the West Russian lands from the Poles. In January, 1653, the Pereyaslav Rada took place.
For the troops of Bogdan, the situation was difficult. In March-April, the Polish army occupied Lyubar, Chudnov, Kostelnya, 1654, and was “driven out” to Uman. The Poles burned down 20 cities, a lot of people were killed and captured. Then the Poles went to Kamenetz.
Banner of the Big Gosudarev Regiment 1654 of the Year
Campaign 1654 of the year. The siege artillery ("outfit") under the command of the boyar Dolmatov-Karpov was the first to march. 27 February 1654, the guns and mortars moved along the "winter path". April 26 from Moscow were the main forces of the Russian army under the command of Prince Alexei Trubetskoy. May 18 with the rearguard made by the king himself. Alexey Mikhailovich was still young and wanted to acquire military glory.
May 26 king came to Mozhaisk, where two days later he spoke in the direction of Smolensk. The beginning of the war was successful for the Russian troops. The Poles had no significant forces on the eastern border. Many troops were distracted by the Cossacks and insurgent peasants. In addition, the Russian population did not want to fight with their brothers, often the townspeople simply handed over the city.
On June 4, Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich received news of the surrender of Dorogobuzh to Russian troops. The Polish garrison fled to Smolensk, and the townspeople opened the gates. 11 Jun also surrendered Nevel. 14 June came the news of the surrender of White. June 26 held the first clash of the Front Regiment with the Poles at Smolensk. 28 June the king himself was near Smolensk. The day came news on the surrender of Polotsk, and July 2 - on the surrender of Roslavl. July 20 received news of the capture of Mstislavl, and July July 24 - about the capture of the small fortresses of Disna and Druya by Matvey Sheremetev.
2 August Russian troops occupied Orsha. The army of the Lithuanian hetman Janusz Radziwill left the city without a fight. On August 12, in the battle of Shklov, Russian troops under the command of Prince Yury Baryatinsky forced the army of Hetman Radzivil to retreat. 24 August Russian troops under the authority of Trubetskoy defeated the army of Hetman Radziwill in a battle on the river Donkey (the Battle of Borisov). The Russian army stopped the attack of the Lithuanian troops, and the attack of the “winged” hussars did not help either. The Russian infantry, built in three lines, began to crowd the army of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. At the same time, the cavalry of the left flank, under the command of Prince Semyon Pozharsky, made a roundabout maneuver by entering from the flank. In the Lithuanian troops began to panic, and they ran. Radziwill himself, wounded, barely left with several people. Poles, Lithuanians and Western mercenaries (Hungarians, Germans) were smashed to smithereens. About 1 thousand people were killed. About 300 people were taken prisoner, including 12 colonels. Hetman seized the banner, other banners and signs, as well as artillery.
Almost simultaneously Gomel was captured. A few days later, Mogilev surrendered. August 29 Cossack detachment Ivan Zolotarenko took Chechersk, New Bykhov and Propoisk. 31 August surrendered Shklov. 1 September, the king received the news of the surrender of the enemy Usvyat. Of all the Dnieper fortresses, only Old Bykhov remained under the control of the Polish-Lithuanian forces. The Cossacks besieged him and from the end of August to November 1654, and could not take it.
Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich, planning to add to the Russian kingdom not only Smolensk lost in the years of the Troubles, but also other Western Russian lands seized in the XIV - XV centuries. Lithuania and Poland, took measures to permanently gain a foothold in the lands recaptured from the Poles. The sovereign demanded from the governor and the Cossacks not to offend the new subjects, “the Orthodox Christian faith, who did not learn to fight,” was completely forbidden to be taken and ruined. The Orthodox gentry from Polotsk and other cities and lands were offered a choice: to enter the Russian service and go to the tsar for a salary, or to freely go to Poland. Quite a significant contingent of volunteers joined the Russian troops.
In a number of cities, such as Mogilev, residents retained their previous rights and privileges. So, the townspeople could live under the Magdeburg Law, wear old clothes, not go to war. They were forbidden to evict them to other cities, city courtyards were exempt from military standing, Lyaham (Poles) and Jews (Jews) were forbidden to live in the city, etc. In addition, the Cossacks could not live in the city, they could only visit service.
I must say that the Cossacks among many local townspeople and peasants had a wary attitude. They condemned, often subjected cities and settlements to plunder. We dealt with the local population as enemies. Thus, the Zaporozhian Cossacks Zolotarenko not only robbed the peasants, but also began to take tolls in their favor.
Russian archers XVII century
Soon besieged Smolensk fell. August 16 Russian governors, wanting to distinguish themselves in the presence of the king, staged a premature, poorly prepared assault. An attack of the Poles reflected. However, the success of the Polish garrison ended there. The Polish command could not organize citizens to defend the city. Shlyakhta refused to obey, did not want to go to the walls. The Cossacks almost killed the royal engineer who tried to drive them to work, deserted in droves. The townspeople did not want to participate in the defense of the city, etc. As a result, the leaders of the defense of Smolensk voivode Obukhovich and Colonel Korf 10 of September began negotiations on the surrender of the city. However, the population did not want to wait and opened the gate itself. Citizens flocked to the king. September 23 Smolensk became Russian again. The Polish command was allowed to return to Poland. The nobility and the commoners got the right to choose: to stay in Smolensk and swear allegiance to the Russian Tsar or to leave.
On the occasion of the surrender of Smolensk, the king gave a feast with the governors and hundreds of heads, and the Smolensk gentry was admitted to the royal table. After that, the king left the army. Meanwhile, the Russian army continued its offensive. November 22 (December 2) army under the command of Vasily Sheremetev took Vitebsk after a three-month siege.
The campaign began with a number of minor failures of the Russian troops, who could not change the strategic situation in favor of Poland. At the end of 1654, the 30-thousand counteroffensive began. Army Lithuanian Hetman Radziwill. He laid siege to Mogilev. Orsha residents went over to the side of the Polish king. Residents of the town of Ozerische revolted, part of the Russian garrison was slaughtered, another - captured.
Radziwill was able to occupy the suburbs of Mogilev, but in the inner fortress there was a Russian garrison and townspeople (about 6 thousand people). 2 (12) February, Russian troops made a successful sortie. The attack was so sudden for the Lithuanian army that the Radziwill troops retreated several miles from the city. This allowed the soldiers' regiment of Hermann Fanstaden (about 1500 soldiers), who came from Shklov and captured several dozen carts with supplies, to get into the city.
6 (16) February Radziwill, without waiting for the approach of all forces, began to storm the city. He hoped for a quick victory, since Colonel Konstantin Poklonsky (a nobleman from Mogilev, who swore allegiance to the Russian Tsar with his regiment at the beginning of the war), promised to surrender the city. However, most of the Poklonsky regiment remained loyal to the oath and did not follow the traitor. As a result, instead of a rapid capture of the bloody battle came out. For the whole day heavy street battles took place. The Poles were able to capture part of the city, but the fortress survived.
February 18 Poles went on the assault again, but he was repelled. Then the great hetman began the siege, ordered to dig undermines and lay mines. 8 March, 9 and 13 April, followed by three more assaults, but the Russian troops and the townspeople repulsed them. The assault, which was staged on the night of April 9, was particularly unsuccessful. The defenders of the fortress blew up three digs, the fourth collapsed itself and crushed many Poles. At the same time, the Russians made a sortie and beat many Poles, confused by the beginning of the assault.
At this time, a Cossack detachment, together with the forces of voivode Mikhail Dmitriev, came to the aid of Mogilyov. Radziwill did not wait for the approach of the Russian troops and 1 May went away with "shame away" for Berezina. With the departure of the hetman took with him many citizens. However, the Cossacks were able to crush part of the Radziwill army and beat 2 to thousands of people. As a result of the siege, the city was badly damaged, and up to 14, thousands of citizens and residents of the surrounding villages who died from lack of water and food died. However, the heroic defense of Mogilev was of great strategic importance. The Polish-Lithuanian forces for a considerable time were under siege and refused to take serious actions in other areas. The hetman’s army suffered heavy losses and was demoralized, which in general had a negative impact on the Polish army’s campaign of 1655.
To be continued ...