The skirmish at Bender is a famous battle, where the Swedish King Charles XII and 40 of his men came into a conflict with the 600 Turkish soldiers in current Moldova (Transnistria). The year was 1713. Here is what the place and the stronghold look like today.
After the defeat at Poltava in 1709, where most of the Swedish army perished, fled Charles XII with 1500 men towards the west. They camped outside the town of Bender, which at that time had a significant fortress.
Bender lay in the then Ottoman Empire and was ruled by Turks. Initially, they accepted the Swedes’ visit. The Ottians were pleased that Sweden was at war with Russia, as Russia was also an enemy of the Ottoman Empire.
During a four-year period, Sweden was governed by what is today Moldova (and the breakout republic of Transnistria). Countless ordinances traveled the 1600 kilometers to Sweden with different orders from the king. The fact that the king did not return to Sweden was due to the fact that he only waited for an opportunity to attack Russia again. At the same time, the itinerary back to Sweden was too dangerous.
Several attempts to rescue the king
Attempts were made to rescue the king. In Sweden, it was considered a major failure that the king could not follow the political currents in Western Europe from the camp in Bender. They simply wanted to have at him home. Among other things, an attempt was made in 1712, but the army that came to the king’s rescue was brutally defeated in Tönning.
The Turks are getting enough
The Turks began to get tired of Charles XII. Previously, they had seen the Swedish king as an asset, but later they realized that Sweden’s invasion army was largely destroyed in Poltava. They began to regard him as a parasite.
February 1, 1713, the Turks got enough. Charles XII was to be chased away with weapons. The Turks attacked King Charles camp with 600 men. In the camp, there were about 40 Swedish soldiers besides the king. An intense battle began.
The Swedes had the advantage of improving their camp for several years. Charles XII’s house was made in stone and around the house stood six arrow-shaped redenders. This delayed effective the Ottoman deportation that had just old artillery available.
Among the king’s soldiers, there was a strong discipline, training and modern equipment that the Turks had not counted on. The Turks also had orders to take Charles XII alive, which meant they had to turn down with reduced power.
In the end, the defense of the camp could no longer be held. The enemy was too powerful and the king fled. However, he did not come so far before he stumbled and was captured.
After over a year in captivity, Charles XII had finally negotiated a release. But the way home was dangerous. The king needed guarantees not to be kidnapped, and he also needed someone who provided food and shelter on the long road to Sweden.
The king was allowed to borrow money from the Ottomans and also received contributions from Europeans living in Constantinople (today Istanbul). To ensure that the money was refunded, Osmans also followed.
The Swedish language got a new word
As a result of the skirmish (swe: kalabaliken) in Bender got the Swedish language a new word. “Kalabalik” meant in Turkish “crowd”, but in the Swedish context, the word became “confusion” or “big mess”. What an adventure!