1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Czarniecki, Stephen
CZARNIECKI, STEPHEN (1590–1665), Polish general, learnt the science of war under Stanislaw Koniecpolski in the Prussian campaigns against Gustavus Adolphus (1626–1629), and under Wladislaus IV. in the Muscovite campaign of 1633. On the 15th of April 1648 he was one of the many noble Polish prisoners who fell into the hands of Chmielnicki at the battle of “Yellow Waters,” and was sent in chains to the Crimea, whence he was ransomed in 1649. He took an active part in all the subsequent wars with the Cossacks and received more disfiguring wounds than any other commander. When Charles X. of Sweden invaded Poland in 1655, Czarniecki distinguished himself by his heroic defence of Cracow, which he only surrendered under the most honourable conditions. His energy and ability as a leader of guerillas hampered Charles X. at every step, and though frequently worsted he from time to time inflicted serious defeats upon the Swedes, notably at Jaroslaw and at Kozienice in 1656. Under his direction the popular rising against the invader ultimately proved triumphant. It was he who brought King John Casimir back from exile and enabled him to regain his lost kingdom. It was against his advice that the great battle of Warsaw was fought, and his subsequent strategy neutralized the ill effects of that national disaster. On the retirement of the Swedes from Cracow and Warsaw, and the conclusion of the treaty of Copenhagen with the Danes, he commanded the army corps sent to drive the troops of Charles X. out of Jutland and greatly contributed to the ultimate success of the Allies. On the conclusion of the Peace of Oliva, which adjusted the long outstanding differences between Poland and Sweden, Czarniecki was transferred to the eastern frontier where the war with Muscovy was still raging. In the campaign of 1660 he won the victories of Polonka and Lachowicza and penetrated to the heart of the enemy’s country. The diet of 1661 publicly thanked him for his services; the king heaped honours and riches upon him, and in 1665 he was appointed acting commander-in-chief of Poland, but died a few days after receiving this supreme distinction. By his wife Sophia Kobierzycka he left two daughters. Czarniecki is rightly regarded as one of the most famous of heroic Poland’s great captains, and to him belongs the chief merit of extricating her from the difficulties which threatened to overwhelm her during the disastrous reign of John Casimir. Czarniecki raised partisan-warfare to the dignity of a science, and by his ubiquity and tenacity demoralized and exhausted the regular armies to which he was generally opposed.