Battle of Sisak 1593

Croatia 1593

Hasan Pasha, the Ottoman military Governor of Bosnia, raiding into Croatia found himself facing a large Imperial force led by Michael of Wallachia and Sigismund Bathory of Transylvania outside Sisak, on the Kupa and Save Rivers. Hasan was killed in a terrible defeat. Grand Vizier Sinan Pasha was later sent to avenge the loss and in October he laid siege to Veszprem (20 June 1593).

The inconclusive, unpredictable, and expensive nature of large campaigns, low-level border conflicts and raids (kleinkrieg) gained importance and became the essential part of the battle environment and lifestyle of the Ottoman- Habsburg frontier after the long reign of Süleyman. This situation was exaggerated by frontier populations, which consisted of thousands of mercenaries who sought employment through war. Within certain limits both sides tolerated these raids and conflicts within. Occasionally, events spiraled out of control, however, provoking large campaigns. The Long War (Langekrieg) of 1593 to 1606 was a good example of this type of escalation. In 1592, the governor of Bosnia, Telli Hasan Pasha, increased the level of raids and began to conduct medium-sized attacks against specific targets by using his provincial units only, although he probably had the tacit support of some high-ranking government officials. Initially, he achieved a series of successes but suffered a decisive defeat near Sisak in which nearly all his army was wiped out and he himself was killed. The new Grand Vizier, Koca Sinan Pasha, used this incident as well as a popular mood inclined toward war to break the long peace.

In spring 1593, without a declaration of war, the Governor-General of Bosnia, Hasan Pasha, with his provincial army crossed the Kupa River, then the border between Ottomans and Austria as agreed upon in a treaty concluded between Habsburg and the High Porte at Adrianople (present day: Edirne) only a year earlier.

The ceasefire in the Austro-Turkish wars, concluded in 1568, and extended until 1593, did not bring peace to the Croatian border. The Turks still raided Croatia and Kranjska and Stajerska from Bosnia. The defence of Croatia was removed to the rivers Kupa and Korana. For some time Croatia still held the exposed, but strongly fortified Bihac. From Sisak to the fortified Karlovac the kraina of Kupa (Confinia Colapiana) was defended by castles with permanent garrisons of haramias, who received their permanent captain 1589.

Ban Toma Erdedi actively sought to secure the reliquiae reliquiarum of the kingdom of Croatia. In the first year of his reign he defeated Turkish raiders returning from Kranjska at Slunj. Two years later he defeated the sanjak beg of Cernica-Pakrac at Ivanic. But the victories did not ease the pressure on Croatia.

In 1591 Hasan pasha Predojevic became the Bosian beglerbeg. He has strengthened the Turkish forces, equipped them with better horses and erected a bridge at Gradiska so that he could maneuver between Bosnia and Slavonia with greater ease. In the beginning of August he attacked Sisak, but retreated after a four day bombardment before the forces led by ban Erdedi and the supreme captain of the Slavonian kraina, Stefan Grasswein.

After receiving permission from the sultan Murat III for more serious actions against Croatia, in the spring of 1592 he built a fort Jeni Hisar (later named Petrinja) at the confluence of Petrisnjica into Kupa. It was to be a base for attacks on Sisak. The cehaja (deputy) of Hasan pasha, Rustem beg, erected a bridge across Kupa at Brest, while Hasan pasha assaulted Bihac and captured it on the 19th of June. Upon his return to Slavonia he defeated the troops from Stajerska and the Croatian ban on the 19th of July at Brest, and again bombarded Sisak on 24th July. He lifted the siege on the 29th.

By the beginning of June 1593, Hasan pasha moved on Sisak for the third time. The large guns and the train was carried by 29 shajkas by the Sava to Gradiska. In just several hours he captured Drencina on the 14th June. On the next day he made camp on the right bank of the Kupa.

The sources disagree considerably on the size of his army. He most probably did not have more than 12000 combatants – janissaries, azaps, spahis, akindjis. Only a small number could have been armed with firearms.

In this campaign participated the sanjak begs of Zvornik, Klis-Livno, Lika, Hercegovina, Cernica-Pakrac, Pozega, Orahovac, Bihac and Vucitrn, and the captains of Petrinja and Gradiska.

The army probably also contained some troops from the sanjaks of Osijek and krka.

After receiving the news of Hasan pasha’s move on Sisak troops began to gather at Sveta Klara, near Zagreb. About 5000 feudal troops of Croatia and Kranjska, Kraisniks, Imperial troops, and uskoks. Ban Toma Erdedi came with his company and feudal troops, in all 1240 troops. Colonel Ruprecht Eggenberg with Reitenau imperial regiment of 3 companies – about 1500 men. Colonel Andria Auersperg Turjacki, the supreme captain of Croatia, with 300 arquebusiers (armoured horsemen) of Karlovac, 100 arquebusiers of Koruska under captain Kristof Obrucan, 200 feudal horsemen of Kranjska under captain Adam Rauben and 160 musketeers from Karlovac and Koruska under captains Georg and Sigismund Paradeiser. Colonel Melhior Redern with 500 Silesian horsemen (archers? armed with firearms?). Lieutenant Colonel Grasvajn, captain of the Slavonian kraina with 400 soldiers. Petar Erdedi, captain of Uskoks, with 500 uskoks. Martin Picnik with about 100 horsemen of the Montecuccoli regiment.

To this number several hundred more light horsemen can be added(hussars) and irregular infantry.

The Croatian-German forces had 1760 arquebusiers or musketeers, not counting musketeers that must have been present in other units.

The army of Hasan pasha was numerically superior, but the Christians had the edge in firepower, efficiency and strength.

Only the unified command gave some advantage to the Turks.

The Christian army moved on Sisak. After defeating a Turkish detachment of 300 men it reached the castle Zelina on the 19th June. It remained there on the next day, awaiting Juraj Zrinski from Medjumurje. Since he did not arrive, the army proceeded on the 21 to Novigrad on the Sava. After a dispute in a council it was decided to fight the battle immediately, without reconnaissance.

Sisak was defended by Blaz Djurak and Matijas Fintic with 300 soldiers, and some recruited men and volunteers from the vicinity, and about 100 men Egenberger from Slovenia. In all, 800 men.

After erecting a bridge over the Kupa, Hasan has positioned his guns on the left bank of the river, and targeted the gate and the tower by the Kupa. He soon breached a segment of the wall. Scaling assault was repulsed, but the garrison was demoralized.

On the move from Novigrad to Sisak Auersperg positioned the Christian force in two battle lines, as was usual in the imperial army. In the first line went Croatian soldiers, light horsemen (hussars), infantry and Auerspergs troops, and in the second line Redern’s and Montecuccoli’s horsemen and rajtenau’s infantry. In such order the army moved on.

After crossing to the right bank of the Sava Hasan moved on the Christian army with about 10 000 men. On the left wing, by the Odra, were foot archers, in the center and on the right cavalry. The battle began around noon. The Croats (horsemen) under Erdodi were the first to attack. After they have been repelled, the arcquebusiers went into action, and then other troops with firearms. For a time it seemed that Turkish cavalry could outflank and envelop the Christians, but their second line stopped them. The Turks were under pressure and retired from fire. Then the garrison attacked their rear and captured the bridge. The Turks could not retreat. Only several hundred saved themselves. The remainder was killed, captured or drowned in Kupa or Odra.

The whole battle lasted less than an hour. The Christian losses were insignificant, 40 to 50 dead according to their own records.

The Turkish sources admit losing 8000 killed, among those Husein pasha and 4 sanjak begs.

The Turks on the opposite bank of the Kupa burnt their camp and retreated. The way to Petrinja lay open, but Egenberg could not attack it without imperial permission.Christian Europe, which after relieving Spain of the Arabic Muslims had identified the Ottoman Empire with the Islamic menace, was delighted at the reports of such an allegedly grandiose victory. King Philip II of Spain congratulated and Pope Clement VIII praised the Christian military leaders. The traditional daily ringing of the small bell of Zagreb cathedral at 2 p.m. is in memory of the battle as it was the bishop of Zagreb who had born the major part of the costs of the fortress of Sisak.

When Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II (1552–1612) unilaterally terminated tribute payments to the Ottoman Empire for possession of Austrian Hungary in 1591, threats were issued and skirmishing broke out, but the Ottomans actually lost ground in central Hungary and Romania. War began in earnest in 1594 when Grand Vizier Sinan Pasha (d. 1596) led 100,000 troops into northern Hungary. The following year on October 28, 1595, Sigismund Báthory (1557–1606), prince of Transylvania, led Austro-Hungarian forces against the invaders at Guirgevo. Sinan was defeated.

Order of Battle for Sisak

Habsburgs:

Commander: Andreas v. Auersperg

1) Count Don Plaggei – 300 mounted, armored arquebusiers (Auersperg’s life guards)

2) Adam Rauber zu Weineck u. Kreutberg (Krainisch-ständischer Rittmeister) – 200 mounted arquebusiers

3) Christoph v. Obrutschan zu Altenburg (Kärnten Rittmeister) – 100 mounted arquebusiers (both the Carinthian and Carniolan companies were in cuirass and `tiger hides’)

4) Ruprecht v. Eggenberg (k.k. Kriegskommissär) – 300 men or 3

banners of German fußknechts

5) Thomas Erdödy (Ban of Croatia) – 350 hussars, 900 infantry

6) Melchior von Rödern auf Friedland – 500 Silesian “Schützen zu Pferd” (mounted arqubusiers)

7) Alban Grosswein – 400 foot and horse (soldier-peasants of the Zagrab cathederal)

8) Peter Erdödy (Captain of the Uskoks) – 500 uskoks and Hussars

9) Stefan Tachy von Stättenberg – 80 Hussars

10) Martin Pietschnik zu Altenhof – 100 men

11) Sigmund Paradeiser v. Neuhaus and George Paradeiser – 160 Carinthian musketeers

12) Ferdinand Weidner – one banner of German knights – 100 men

Ottomans:

Commander: Hassan Dervis, Pasha of Bosna

1) Hassan Dervis – 4000 foot and horse

2) Ferhad beg – 1000 men

3) Opardi Beg of Clissa – 3000

4) Mesni Beg – 2500

5) Zeffar Beg of Svornik – 700

6) Mehemed Beg of Hercegovina – 3000

7) Kurd Beg – 1500

8) Rustan Beg of Petrina – 500

9) Ibrahim Beg of Likka – 2000

10) Gradiska Captain – 1000

11) 2000 Siphai, unknown akindjis, 9 large cannon

References:

Alfred H. Loebl, “Das Reitergefecht bei Sissek vom 22. Juni 1593,”

Mitteilungen des Instituts für Österreichische Geschichtsforschung IX (1915): 767-787.

Peter Radics, Die Schlacht bei Sissek, 22. Juni 1593 (Ljubljana: Josef Blasnik, 1861).

In September 1596 the new sultan, Mohammed III (d. 1603), renewed the invasion, again with 100,000 men. They targeted the fortress town of Eger [Eğri]. The massive force succeeded in taking the town, whereupon a force of 40,000, including Austrians, Germans, Transylvanians, and Hungarians, advanced to regain it. Twice the Ottomans sent forces to intercept the advance, and twice, on October 24 and October 26, 1596, they were repulsed. Then the Hapsburg forces counterattacked, penetrating the camp of the sultan and capturing some 50 artillery pieces. However, the Ottomans replied with a devastating surprise cavalry attack on the German-Hungarian flank. This was sufficient to create panic in the entire force, and the Hapsburgs lost some 23,000 men. Ottoman losses were also heavy—probably 20,000 killed or wounded— and the army was in such a state of exhaustion that it did not capitalize on its victory. The result was that warfare within the Ottoman-Hungarian borderlands continued sporadically until 1606, when, on November 11, the Treaty of Zsitva-Torok ended hostilities.

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