The Battle of Chojnice -1454
The Battle of Chojnice (Battle of
Konitz) occurred on 18 September 1454 near the town of Chojnice, between Poland and the Teutonic
Knights during the Thirteen Years' War. The battle was won by the Teutonic Knights.
The Teutonic army had around 9,000 cavalry and 6,000 infantry under Bernhard von Zinnenberg. The
Polish army had 16,000 cavalry, a few thousand servants (who could and usually were used in battles), a few hundred infantry
plus 500 mercenaries and burghers from Gdańsk and 2,000 mercenaries hired by the Prussian Confederacy, all under the
command of King Casimir IV, advised by chancellor Jan Koniecpolski and Piotr from
Szczekociny. The Polish commanders were counting on the battle being won by the Polish heavy cavalry, not caring much
about either artillery or infantry. They had not thought that their opponents could change their traditional strategy, or
that the Teutonic soldiers besieged in Chojnice could be anything more than spectators. Bernard von Zinnenberg, nonetheless,
had planned a totally different kind of battle.
At the beginning everything went as expected, following the pattern of many other
battles between the Poles and Teutonic Knights. The Polish cavalry charged, breaking the Teutonic lines, killing Duke Rudolf
of Sagan and even capturing Bernhard von Zinnenberg. The Teutonic cavalry tried to break through the Polish lines and escape
to Chojnice; however, infantry grouped at the Teutonic Wagenburg broke with tradition and
offered a very good defense against the mounted troops. Then a sudden sally from Chojnice at the back of the Polish army
caused panic. Bernhard von Zinnenberg managed to release himself and organised the pursuit; hundreds of Poles, including
Piotr from Szczekociny, were killed during the rout or drowned in nearby marshland. The Polish King fought on with great
personal courage and his knights had to force him to leave the battlefield.
The Polish defeat was complete. 3,000 bodies were left on the
battlefield, 300 knights were captured by the Teutonic Knights, including three main commanders: Mikolaj Szarlejski, Łukasz
Górka, and Wojciech Kostka from Postupice. The Teutonic Knights lost only around 100 men. Bernhard von Zinnenberg,
was however, formally a Polish prisoner, since he gave a knight's word.