Battle of Kircholm
While many of us know quite a lot about some of the major conflicts of the past, like the Thirty Years’ War, we often know much less about other wars. Poland and Lithuania were actively engaged in warfare with Charles IX of Sweden between 1600 and 1629, called the Polish-Swedish War. The conflict had grown out of an earlier dispute within Sweden; Poland-Lithuania had allied itself with the loser in that civil war.
In 1605, Charles IX was besieging the city of Riga, in Poland. He had approximately 14,000 men in his force at the siege of Riga. In September of 1605, he left only a token force of 3,000 at Riga and went on the offensive, going after a smaller force of Polish-Lithuanian troops led by Jan Karol Chodkiewicz. Chodkiewicz had only 3,600 men at his disposal.
The two armies initially met on a hilltop at Kircholm on September 27, 1605, but Chodkiewicz refused to attack. After a few minor skirmishes, he feigned a retreat. Charles ordered his men to advance on the retreating troops. While the hilltop had provided Charles with an advantage, the open field improved the chances for the Polish-Lithuanian forces.
The Swedish cavalry was quickly defeated, and the infantry separated into several distinct, and more manageable groupings. The hussars of Chodkiewicz’s army successfully defeated the Swedish infantry.
Records suggest that 9,000 members of the Swedish army perished that day, while Chodkiewicz’s lost only 100 men.