Sunday, July 04, 2010

The Battle

At long last the Battle of Klushyn! Of course, there were a few details to work out. Saturday we went to the site on the edge of the city. It was a strange affair because the site was open to the public as well as the reenactors. This meant that some of the cool vendors we've seen at market days like bread and ale and hand made swords were next to tacky tchotchkes, modern militaria etc.

We wandered onto the field but the rehearsal was mostly for the horseman and organized field units. The battle is a fairly complex one and these guys weren't going to oversimplify it. After half a day Rossana and I opted to skip a parade to Polands unknown soldier tomb and return to the hotel. I had fulfilled the promise I'd made to my wife and not taken off my Zupan or jacket despite the heat. I returned later for the "sarmatian feast" which no one could find.

Being a hungry lad I foraged for sausages and tasty pierogi on my own. The "feast" turned out to be a kind of stew which my fellow pollacks described as "curious". Things picked up when we learned that a group of visiting Vikings were selling mead in the back of the camp. We stopped by and talked a while and sampled their product which was super tasty. By this time we had picked up some Russians and the drinking began. We settled at a table near the battle field and made many toasts as the sun slowly set. Some kind of folk band played nearby and modern world melted away into the darkness. Upon returning to the hotel Hussar traditions had to be upheld so. It was off to the bar for vodka served on the blade of a cavalry saber. The favorite vodka of Poland is named after a native bison and has several blades of grass in the bottle. It is not for the feint of heart. I wobbled off to bed after midnight but the rest of the troup stayed until 2.

Today we arrived at the battlefield like everyone else, slightly rough. The public was pouring into the park to see the battle. There was a demo of horse archery and then it was. Time to get our battle on. I'd like to state that the situation struck me as a bit of a cock up on our part. We stood under a tree on the "Polish" side of the field and the Hussar began to arrive in real numbers. Maybe 80 in all, decked out in full armor with lances. They were an awesome site. And that was it. No infantry. In the actual battle the Russians and Swiss outnumbered the Poles about 6 to 1 and the infantry was very small in numbers so some Poles had to play Russians, including our group leader. Having no idea what to do we just stayed near the trees and tried not to get trampled. Easier said than done since there were about a hundred muskets and arquebuss on the field in a addition to several cannon. The Hussars made many charges down the field to engage the enemy , sometimes sword to sword. This is something that would NEVER be allowed in the US. Eventually some Polish infantry showed up but they were a well drilled unit so we just stayed put. Make no mistake, we had a very good view of the battle, the only better one would be in the ranks of the Russians. I'm told by the three guys who left our group to play Russians that it was pretty damn scary to stare down a cavalry charge. I just felt like we were in the way. There were only 5 or 6 other reenactors in the area. All of us were taking pictures. I mean it would be a crime NOT to. But I felt like a tourist.

Given the noise and poor condition of the field I'm amazed that there weren't any serious injuries. A few horses got spooked by very loud shots and a few riders were tossed but nothing serious. I'm glad I didn't invest on the lovely, but expensive, saber. I was eyeing. Overall it was a great learning experience. This was a new event and with time I think it could be awesome. The people we met were all very nice, despite the language barrier.

Tomorrow we leave Warsaw and head into the country.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Frr-EAKing cool! Gawd I'd love to be there as well... Go get 'em you guys! Can;'t wait to see your pics later on!