Little Bits of History

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Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 1, 2015
Skirmish at Bender

Skirmish at Bender

February 1, 1713: The Skirmish at Bender takes place. Bender was, at the time, part of the Ottoman Empire (today it is part of Moldova). In Swedish, it is called Kalabaliken i Bender and in Finnish it is Benderin kalabaliikki. King Charles XII of Sweden took refuge in the region after his defeat at the battle of Poltava on June 27, 1709. Most of the Swedish army surrendered and the King, a few hundred Swedish soldiers and a large number of Cossacks fled to the Ottoman Empire where they stayed for five years.

Having overstayed their welcome, the Skirmish officially began on January 31, 1713 when the Turkish artillery fired on the Swedish encampment. On this day, the attack on the camp began in earnest when the Serasker of Bender led the troops. Serasker was a title in the Ottoman Empire for a vizier who commanded the army and eventually came to be the Ottoman Minister of Defense. The sides were completely unmatched with the Swedish forces totaling 43 men and the forces under Ismail Pasha and Devlet II Giray numbering between 10,000 and 13,000 men. The Turks also had 24 cannons and fire arrow launchers.

The story of the attack and defense of the Swedes is more likely apocryphal in detail. The brave deeds of the Swedish Army seem overstated and at best, somewhat dubious. It is known that the skirmish was fought on this day and the Swedes were fighting from a defensive fortress position, giving them some advantage. The King’s Life Guard, Axel Erik Roos, behaved in superhuman fashion if the legends from this day are to be believed. He was said to have saved the King’s life on three separate occasions. At one point in the  more than seven hours long battle, Roos and the King were approached by three Turks and while the King dispatched one in arm to arm combat, Roos killed the other two.

Charles was also credited with sniping with a carbine from a window of his sleeping quarters in the building where the Swedes had taken refuge. Cannon fire did not bring down the building and eventually fire arrows were also launched. The Swedes did not surrender until the building’s roof caught fire and they were forced to abandon it. The Swedes were forced to flee and were captured as they exited the burning building. The Swedes lost four men in the battle and 39 (including the King) were captured along with about 500 civilians. The Turks lost between 50 and 100 men and perhaps another 100 were wounded. King Charles XII was a prisoner of the Ottoman Empire until the Swedes were able to win a battle at Gadebusch (December 20, 1712) and news of the victory finally reached the Ottomans. The king was released and made ready to leave for Sweden.

When you’re surrounded by people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible. – Howard Schultz

We’re surrounded. That simplifies the problem! – Chesty Puller, USMC

Surrounded by the enemy…low on ammunition…but will hold position. Situation good. – military proverb

They are in front of us, behind us, and we are flanked on both sides by an enemy that outnumbers us 29:1. They can’t get away from us now! – 1st Marine Division

Also on this day: Big Bangs – In 1814, the Mayon Volcano erupted.
Police – In 1920, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police began working.
Grand Central Terminal – In 1913, Grand Central Terminal opened in New York City.
The Hajj – In 2004, a stampede took place at the holy pilgrimage.
Well, It’s a Start – In 1884, the first fascicle of the OED was published.

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5 Responses

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  1. hairballexpress said, on February 1, 2015 at 11:21 pm

    I love your history posts!!

    • patriciahysell said, on February 2, 2015 at 7:05 am

      I’m glad you enjoy them. Makes me feel better since I steal your pictures for Facebook sharing. 🙂

  2. Sherry said, on February 2, 2015 at 5:50 am

    Good ol’ Marine Corps bravado (you’ll notice I didn’t say “false-), gotta love it. OOH-RAH!!!

    • patriciahysell said, on February 2, 2015 at 7:06 am

      You can really keep your eye on the enemy from that angle.

      • Sherry said, on February 2, 2015 at 4:27 pm

        But of course. That’s the entire point!


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