Baroque Macedonia and the Macedonian Revolts/Chapter 5 : Battle of Kriva Palanka
Battle of Kriva Palanka
During the Ottoman-Macedonian wars, the Karposh uprising started on the 20th of October, 1689 and centered around an area or region between Skopje and Kriva Palanka. Karposh's uprising began with the commencement of the Macedonian revolutionaries attacking the Ottoman positions within Kriva Palanka. Kriva Palanka was a town that formed in 1633, at that time it was well known for its distribution of natural resources of iron ore. Iron ore was transported along the roads of Kriva Palanka heading towards Ottoman Bulgaria, where it was refined and was distributed further north. During this time the town of Kratovo had developed into a mining town and was strategically and economically important to the Ottoman Empire. The Battle of Kriva Palanka started near the Kriva river and continued into the centre of the town. The Macedonian revolutionaries firstly attacked the Ottoman guardpost, on order of Karposh, the cavalry units charged through the river and into the town. At that time, there were only 60 to 80 Ottoman troops stationed within Kriva Palanka, most of them were foot soldiers. Karposh had thought that the Ottoman forces consisted of dragoons however there were no dragoons and this greatly increased the Macedonian rebels chances of gaining a victory in Kriva Palanka. After two hours of fighting the guardpost was destroyed by a fire, the use of gunpowder by the rebels had proved successfully in the outcome of the battle. Buildings that were destroyed during the battle were : a postal services building, a bank, and the small headquarters that consisted of offices and bedrooms that were used by the Ottoman soldiers and officers.
Some residential properties were also ransacked and robbed during the battle. The local townspeople ran from their homes fearing for their lives. Many of the Ottoman Turkish families become homeless due to the battle. Karposh with his 200 rebel force had captured the town of Kriva Palanka. The main purpose of the Ottoman Empire was expansion, as it's conquests, campaigns suggests and it's most important institution was it's army. The early Ottoman forces had consisted of Turkish cavalry known as sipahis, however there were no sipahis forces stationed within Kriva Palanka at the time. Sipahis were paid by grants of government revenues usually land revenues, also known as timars. The Ottoman Empire later decided to remove the old armies and replace them with a new European-style force. The Ottoman Empire decided to destroy the janissaries and in their place put a paid disciplined conscript force.
Towards the end of the battle, the Ottoman commander who was sitting on his horse atop a grassy hill witnessed that the battle was heading towards a Macedonian victory and ordered for his officers to withdraw, after a great loss on the Ottoman side the commander was forced to dismount from his horse and continue fighting using his sword, he was placed in a difficult position and in the end with his lieutenant started running for his life, following them were three other officers and with no where to go they entered a cottage courtyard and within minutes the Macedonian rebels surrounded the courtyard. The Ottoman commander was injured and in no position to continue to fight. His officers were later killed and the Ottoman commander was captured by Karposh's rebels. Karposh's victory at the Battle of Kriva Palanka signified and instigated a great support from the local people of Kriva Palanka.
After capturing the stronghold, Karposh declared it liberated rebel territory and made it his centre of resistance. Among the items captured at the stronghold were six cannons, a real prize for the rebels. After securing Kriva Palanka the rebels built and secured a new stronghold near Kumanovo.After the battle the people of Kriva Palanka celebrated with joy, Karposh was hailed a hero, the victory was even known to the Austrian Emperor Leopold I who named Karposh as "King of Kumanovo" for his efforts at defeating the Ottoman armies.
As a commander and an uprising leader Karposh was under enormous amounts of stress, an important factor for Karposh was how long could he hold on to Kriva Palanka. He was for certain that the Ottoman Empire, would send further re-inforcements to suppress the uprising and get back the town of Kriva Palanka. With the continuation of the uprising he concentrated on getting his army to the city of Kumanovo. Upon hearing the news that the Kumanovo Fortress was ready, Karposh had ordered his men to head for Kumanovo. Two days later Kriva Palanka was abandoned by Karposh and his forces, in order to avoid any Ottoman patrols Karposh proceeded through a densely forested region, if he followed a gravel road or a footpath he was more likely to came across Ottoman troops. So he decided that it will be much safer if he travelled through the forests of Kumanovo region.
In order to reach Kumanovo, Karposh and his men had to travel 63 kilometres, that's if he had taken the normal gravel road, however he took a different route and this involved going through a number of forests and the approximate distance from Kriva Palanka to Kumanovo was roughly 85 kilometres. He also did not have a horse-driven carriage and was only riding his horse so he had to stop a number of times because the horses would become extremely exhausted and required water and food. Karposh had left Kriva Palanka leaving behind a few of his revolutionaries to continue the fight if another Ottoman garrison or group was to retake the town.
The historical accounts for the Battle of Kriva Palanka, as depicted or described in this wikibook is a work of fiction, however the battle did occur and the overall number of troops involved is a rough estimation. It is most likely that there were less then 80 troops involved as part of the Ottoman forces up at Kriva Palanka. While Karposh's revolutionaries numbered about 180 men.
- History And Archaeology Through Laboratory Examinations, Tome Egumenoski & Aleksandar Donski, University of Goce Delchev, 2012 p.51
- History of the Macedonian people - Ottoman rule in Macedonia, Risto Stefov, Part 19, p.1-25.