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The Budapest Observer

Bucharest, Wallachia.12th of March 1814

By your military correspondent in the field - Lehal Michaelis Lendvay
The village of Slobodsia on the River Yalomitsa in eastern Wallachia saw further fighting recently
as dissident Christians repelled an incursion of Ottoman Janissaries and Sipahis under the newly
promoted Kolagashi Meyvaci Ali (the Fruiterer). This latest setback - one amongst many
inconclusive or failed punitive expeditions by the forces of Sublime Porte in Wallachia in the last
twelve months, raises once again the spectre of the Eastern Question : - Has Turkey, unable to
enforce Imperial decrees within her own borders, become, in fact, the 'Sick Man of Europe'?

The engagement, like so many in the

recent western Ottoman Empire, was
engendered by the perennial controversial
question of non-Muslim taxation. The
poverty- stricken inhabitants of
Slobodsia, enraged by new taxation levels
(and still nursing certain long term
grievances handed down from
grandfather to grandson over the loss of
the Devsirme) declined to pay the new
'Unbelievers' Poll Tax' on their property
and despite protracted negotiations with
the local Bey, seized the tax collector,
thrashed him and imprisoned him in their village.

Hearing of the advance of the Turkish punitive force the majority of villagers lay hidden in the
wooded hills nearby while a grizzled ex-soldier, known as Baybon the Bosnian, and five
companions were left to guard the village.

The Ottoman attack began with a movement of the sipahis to capture the village herds and secure
for the government side some sort of negotiating advantage with the villagers. However, the
dissidents on the rooves of the village opened a steady fire and one of the sipahis was struck almost
immediately. Incensed by this the Kolagashi ordered his some of his janissaries forward to set fire
to a house at the edge of the village while the rest exchanged fire with the dissidents.

Meanwhile, the two remaining sipahis, enraged at the loss of their companion and utterly
contemptuous of the notion of mere armed civilians, charged forward to engage two of the more
adventurous dissidents. One of the dissidents was immediately knocked to the ground and was
fortunate to escape with his life while the other was seriously wounded.
The downed dissident, however was able to regain his feet and the shocked sipahi was felled to the
ground and then despatched. Almost simultaneously the other sipahi was shot and fell seriously
wounded to the ground.

This surprising reverse inspired Meyvaci Ali (the Hour Brings Forth the Fruiterer) to charge
forward in order to encourage his remaining janissaries but was immediately knocked to the ground
by a musket ball which pierced his turban. He started to struggle to his feet and was immediately
knocked down by a second ball which passed through his trousers and he discretely withdrew to
dead ground.
A further blow for the attacking forces came as a shot from the village downed a further janissary
and with signs of movement and probable reinforcements from the nearby woods, Kolgashi Ali
called for a gradual withdrawal to the south to which the remaining janissaries readily complied. As
they withdrew the villagers attempted to douse the fire in the burning house.

Personal note : From my personal experience as an officer in the 17th Honved Regiment and using
my copy of Garabowsky's Assessment of Small Unit Military Engagements (2nd Edition) I estimate
that the skirmish ended with an 11 points to 3 advantage to the defenders.