The Battle of the Buglers (Vaslui)

10 January 1475


Refusing to pay tribute to the Ottomans or to cede Cilia to them, Stephen the Great confronted the large Ottoman army of around 120,000 men and artillery. Stephen's own force totaled at least 40,000 and in addition to this he commanded 5,000 Szeklers, 1,800 Hungarian and 2,000 Poles as well as 20 cannons. The battle is described as having taken place 'on a foggy day, in a marshy place'. Stephen drew up his troops in a narrow valley on the flood-plain of the river Birlad, with Moldavian infantry and Szeklers in two lines behind defensive ditches with ten guns on each flank. Most of his cavalry he concealed in reserve in woods behind the left flank, sending a small body of light cavalry out into the fog to lure the Turks on, which they succeeded in doing.


The Ottoman cavalry attacked the infantry in the centre while their infantry attacked the flanks of Stephen's force. After heavy fighting the Moldavians fell back to the second defensive ditch and only when it appeared they were about to break did Stephen launch his counterattack. This involved his heavy cavalry charging out against the Ottoman right flank, preceded by seven volleys from his 20 guns. Simultaneously buglers that Stephen had hidden at various points in the woods started blowing loudly on the trumpets, confusing the Turks as to which direction the attack was coming from through the fog. Turning to face the buglers behind them they were therefore facing the wrong way when the cavalry hit them (now from behind) and before long the Turk's had been utterly routed. The pursuit of the fleeing troops continued for three days.


According to (optimistic, Italian and Austrian sources) the Turks lost 45,000 men which included 4 pashas, 100 standards and all their artillery The Ottoman chronicler Sa's ed-Din actually wrote that the majority of the Turkish army was killed and another contemporary admitted that 'never had a Turkish army suffered such a defeat'.


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