Ancient history

"They let the Turks approach... they emptied their pistols on them"

After their defeat in Vienna, in 1683, the Turks accepted the counterattack of the Austrians, retreating to present-day Serbia. After the conquest of Belgrade by the Imperialists (the army of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, led by the Habsburg ruler of Austria), the Turks made Nice their main base of operations.

Nis was not well fortified. The Turks had built an earthen enclosure reinforced with a wooden wall and stakes. In front of the enclosure was a ditch. Nevertheless, after their continuous defeats, the Turks did not even think of trying their luck fighting in an open field despite the fact that their forces dramatically outnumbered their opponents.

After their defeat in Batochina the Ottoman army took a position in Nis and the surrounding hills where it was fortified. It is not clear how many men the Turkish army numbered. The sources state that the Turks had at least 40,000 men, while some speak of up to 70,000 men.
On the other hand the Imperials, Austrians and Germans, had only 16,000 warriors.

But their army had the good fortune to be commanded by the second best, after Prince Eugene of Savoy, imperial general, the Elector of Baden (Vade) Louis , also known as "Türkenlouis" (Louis of the Turks, so to speak, the "Turk-eater", so to speak). Louis had been fighting against the Turks since he was almost a teenager, under the command of the great imperial general Montecucolli . He excelled in the battles to save Vienna and then in the counterattack against the Turks in Hungary and Serbia.

Waiting for the "infidels"...

The Turks had, as mentioned, fortified themselves around Nis. They had established a line of fortifications on the banks of the river Nisava and the village of Pantelei, a suburb of today's Nis, to Vinik, northeast of the city. The head of the seraskeris (commander-in-chief) Recep Arap Pasha took up positions in the center of the site along with troops from Egypt and Aleppo, janissaries and many cannons. On the right were the forces of the Beylerbey of Roumeli Mustafa Zournapa Pasha, while the Turkish left flank was covered by the Beylerbey of Anatolia with 15,000 Arnaoutis. The Nisava line was covered by Tatar horsemen.

Louis of Baden's small imperial army crossed the Morava River on 16 September 1689 and marched unopposed towards Nice. On 22 September he reached the village of Topolnitsa within heavy gun fire of the Turkish position. The next day the Imperials approached the bank of the Nisava where they were attacked by the Turkish cavalry but they repelled it while the captured Turks proved to be particularly useful... Based on information from a prisoner, Louis decided to attack Vinik with his entire force, effectively leaving the flanks of his army exposed, counting on low Turkish morale. If his maneuver succeeded, the Turkish army would be cut off and annihilated.

Supply of biceps…

On September 24, 1689 the imperial army with double-headed eagle flags flying and drums beating the beat. After cannonading and some skirmishes the Imperials brought their left wing first under the brave general Guido Stareberg . Mahmut Pasha's forces there could not stand the sight of the coordinated enemy and put it to their feet before contact. Only 2-3,000 more spirited Turks remained in their positions but they were not enough... On the imperial right commanded by the equally worthy general Aineia Piccolomini , the Turks attacked with their cavalry. The Holstein cuirassier regiment and a hussar regiment bore the brunt of the attack.

The Cuirassiers let the Turks approach and then emptied their pistols and short-barreled muskets on the Turkish mass. Disorganized by the losses, the Turkish horsemen could not withstand the immediate counterattack of the Christian cavalry and retreated. Only the fire of the Turkish infantry saved them from complete disintegration as they stopped the Christian horsemen. At the same time an imperial infantry brigade under General Heister charged with six battalions against the Turks crushing the janissaries. It was the final blow. The panicked Turks began to flee trying to cross a Nisava bridge.

At least 5,000 drowned there trying to get through. At least that many Turks were mercilessly slaughtered by the Imperials. The dead Turks exceeded 10,000 men , while 30 guns and hundreds of carriages with money, food and ammunition fell into the hands of the victors. The casualties of the victors are also indicative of the progress of the battle. A mere 300 Imperial soldiers were killed or wounded in battle… It was a collision of annihilation. The seraskeris was also among the dead as he paid with his head for the shameful defeat.

Louis of Baden shortly before his death.