The field of the battle of Orsha

Orsha is one of the district centers of Vitebsk region. There is a distance of 80km from the regional center to Orsha. To get to Orsha from the capital of Belarus you should cover a distance of 200 km. The city stands on the Dnieper River, in the place of flowing into it the river Orshitsa.

Information about Orsha first appeared in chronicle sources in 1067. Later the city belonged to the lands of Minsk Principality and in 1119 it became a part of Polotsk Principality. In the mid-14th century the city was included in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In 1514 near Orsha near the village of Gatkovschina, which belongs to Krapivensky village Council, took place a battle between the troops of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Russian state.

After the first partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Orsha became a part of the Russian Empire. Next it was occupied by the French in 1812 and soldiers of Hitler's army in 1941. Orsha was awarded the Order of the Patriotic war I degree for bravery and courage shown by residents of the city in 1941-1945.

Near Orsha, not far from the village of Gatkovschina, on September 8, 1514 took place a battle, which was the result of a decade of confrontation between the Russian and Lithuanian principalities. This battle was decisive in the war, which was led by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania for its independence.

Russian troops were commanded by Ivan Chelyadin and Michael Bulgakov-Golitsa. The army of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was united with the army of the Kingdom of Poland and obeyed the Polish and Lithuanian Hetman Konstantin Ostrogski and Janusz Sverchovsky.

Before the battle on August 27 the Polish-Lithuanian troops shot down Russian soldiers from the position. Then the attacking army crossed the Dnieper. On September 8, 1514 the enemy troops lined up opposite each other, and the mute silence hung in the air. Soldiers of the Russian Army were the first who began to attack. The commander Michael Bulgakov single-handedly made a decision about the offensive without discussing it with Ivan Chelyadin. According to chronicles there were personal disputes among them. For a long time the attack was successful, however, Janusz Sverchovsky made a prompt decision on a counter-attack, which dramatically changed the course of the battle.

As a result, the strategic victory was won by the Polish-Lithuanian troops. According to King Sigismund, almost a half of the 85 000 of the enemy army was killed or captured. However, the latter data presented by the Lithuanian king, was criticized. According to modern historians it was about 600 prisoners among the soldiers of noble origin. Drutsk, Dubova, Krichev, Mstislavl were returned in the result of the battle. However, they failed to win back Smolensk.

In memory of the battle of Orsha since 1991 it was decided to hold the bard song festival “Orsha Battle” on the territory of Krapivensk field. Besides that, a memorial cross and stone on a bank of the river Krapivna keep the memory of the bloody battle.

The field of the battle of Orsha is a place with special atmosphere. Looking at the modern landscape of this area, each tourist can feel the human tragedy that war brings. Although more than five centuries has passed since the battle, it seems that recently soldiers of the armies of two great Duchies met in a deadly confrontation of courage and bravery.