Military Wiki
Skirmish at Bender
Part of Great Northern War
Charlex XII at Bender crop.jpg
The skirmish as depicted in 1894
DateFebruary 1, 1713
LocationBendery in the Ottoman Empire (present day Moldova)
Result Ottoman victory
Naval Ensign of Sweden.svg Swedish Empire  Ottoman Empire
Commanders and leaders
Sweden Karl XII  (POW)
Sweden Axel Sparre  (POW)
43 men 10,000 men[1]
13,000 men[2]
24+ cannons
Many fire arrow launchers
Casualties and losses
4 killed
39 captured

Civilian casualties:
500 captured[1]
50-100 killed
100 wounded

The Skirmish at Bender (Swedish language: Kalabaliken i Bender ) was devised to remove Charles XII of Sweden from the Ottoman Empire after his military defeats in Russia. It took place on February 1, 1713 on Ottoman territory, in what is now the town of Bender, Moldova.


After the Swedish defeat at the battle of Poltava on 27 June 1709 and the surrender of most of the Swedish army at Perevolochna three days later, Charles XII of Sweden fled together with a few hundred Swedish soldiers and a large number of cossacks to the Ottoman Empire, where they spent a total of five years.

The events of the Skirmish at Bender officially began on 31 January 1713 with the firing of Turkish artillery on the Swedish camp. On February 1, the Ottoman forces attacked the camp.

Together with some 40 soldiers, Charles XII stood against many hundreds of Turks. The life guard Axel Erik Roos in particular distinguished himself during the skirmish and accounts tell that he saved the king's life three times during the day. The king himself killed at least one Ottoman soldier with his sword in hand to hand combat when he and Roos came under attack by 3 Ottomans. During parts of the fighting Charles was also actively sniping with a carbine against the assaulting enemy from a window in his sleeping quarters, positioned in the building where the Swedes had taken up their defense. The fighting lasted for over 7 hours and the Ottomans eventually used both artillery and fire arrows when the initial assaults were beaten back and the later method proved to be effective. The fire arrows caught the building's roof on fire and forced the defenders to abandon it, the fighting then came to an abrupt end when the king tripped on his own spurs while exiting the burning house. He was assaulted by scores of Ottoman soldiers who managed to capture him and the remaining fighters.[3] After some time as a prisoner, Charles XII and his soldiers were released when news about the Swedish victory in the battle of Gadebusch reached the Ottomans. Charles then started to plan his trip back to Sweden.

List of participating soldiers

Only 43 Swedes participated in the Skirmish at Bender, although Karl XII originally had 1,000 to 1,500 men at his disposal.[4] The following 43 Swedish soldiers participated in the battle:

  • King Charles XII
  • General Axel Sparre
  • Royal guard Karl Carpelan
  • Royal guard Axel Erik Roos
  • Royal guard Jobst Henrik von Tschammer
  • Royal guard Mathias Wohlberg
  • Gustaf Clysendorff
  • Free lord Johan von Palmenberg
  • Royal secretary Karl Didrich Ehrenpreuss
  • Royal servant Fredrik Krus
  • Colonel Cyprianus Urbanowicz (Polish army)
  • First lieutenant Olof Åberg
  • Sergeant Karl Magnus Krusell
  • Artillery officer Mårten Paulsson
  • Cavalryman Jon Berg
  • Cavalryman Michael Bonde
  • Cavalryman Peter Gädda
  • Cavalryman Mårten Frimodig
  • Cavalryman Olof Kjerström
  • Cavalryman Måns Palm
  • Cavalryman Johan Tiugstedt
  • Dragoon Nils Nordstrand
  • Corporal Eric Tillberg
  • Private Henrik Baur
  • Private Bertil Block
  • Private Eric Brun
  • Private Pehr Carlsson
  • Private Per Eneroth
  • Private Adam Flink
  • Private Lars Frimodig
  • Private Anders Frisk
  • Private Peter Holm
  • Private Georg Ludvig
  • Private Fabian Meiss
  • Private Jacob Mårtensson
  • Private Eric Sadman
  • Private Georg Sehman
  • Private Johan Smitt
  • Private Georg Spring
  • Private Georg Sånge
  • Private Sefre Winter
  • Sailor Olof Bohm
  • Chef of Axel Sparre (name unknown) †


In Turkish the word for "crowd" or "tumult" is kalabalık, which after the incident has become a Swedish loanword, kalabalik, with the meaning "confusion" or "great disorder".

In popular culture

The Skirmish at Bender was the inspiration for Mats Ahren's 1983 film comedy Kalabaliken i Bender. Even in the early 1920s a major motion picture was produced with scenes from the skirmish.

See also



  1. 1.0 1.1 Liljegren, B., 2000. Karl XII: En biografi. p 233.
  2. From, P., 2009. Kalabaliken i Bender. p 194.
  3. Karl XII i Turkiet
  4. From, P., 2009. Kalabaliken i Bender. p 203.


  • Massie, Robert K. (October 1981). Peter the Great: His Life and World. New York City: Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-29806-3. 

Coordinates: 46°50′N 29°29′E / 46.833°N 29.483°E / 46.833; 29.483

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