The Turkish army slept uneasily beneath the star-speckled Wallachian sky. Less than two weeks before they had lost 300 elite troops as they crossed the Danube. They now rested south of Târgovişte.
The campaign had not been easy. Vlad Tepes had instituted a scorched earth policy. For a week or more the Ottoman army under the sultan Mehmed advanced through a desolate land, devoid of life, human or animal. The army encountered many traps along the way. Rivers were diverted into fields creating swamps where none had existed. Pits covered by timber and leaves injured men and beasts creating havoc and delays as equipment, now damaged had to be pulled from them. Worse yet were the diseased humans, suffering from the black death, leprosy, tuberculosis and other deadly diseases that Vlad drove into the camps.
It is no wonder the army did not rest easy.
The attack began three hours after the sun had set. Vlad himself led half the Wallachian forces into the Turkish camp, intending to assassinate Mehmed by his own hand. The Wallachians advanced with great noise and even bore torches with which to illuminate the battle. One can only wonder that the Turks were caught unaware by such a voice.
For the most part the Turks only engaged when the Wallachians took the fight into their very tents. The Sultan it seems had ordered his troops to remain within their tents. Some say this may have been to prevent panic and disorder in the event of an attack. Is it possible Mehmed feared something else that stalked the night? Something that couldn’t enter a soldier’s “home” no matter how temporary without permission?
Certainly Vlad seemed to know of the Sultan’s orders. His troops advanced without fear. They raced through the camp unopposed leaving havoc and disorder in their wake. Whether it was a great slaughter of Ottoman troops or just their animals remains a matter of debate since a boyar going by the name of Galeş whose forces should have been the nail in the coffin of the Turkish army failed to attack for unknown reasons.
Vlad Tepes also failed in his plan to murder Mehmed. Despite reported familiarity with the layout of the Ottoman encampment and the location of the Sultan’s tent, during the attack he mistakenly went for the tent shared by Mehmed’s two grand viziers.
Just before dawn around 4 a.m. the Wallachians broke off the attack retreating to the mountains and their our camp.
The Turks gave chase with the rising sun, killing a thousand or more of the Wallachian troops. This was enough of a victory to encourage the Sultan to lay siege to the capital, Târgovişte.
What they found can barely be described.
Along the main road some 20,000 Turks and Muslims from the area of Bulgaria were impaled. Their bodies rotting food for scavenger birds upon the stakes where they had slowly and painfully died. This forest of the impaled broke what remained of the Turkish spirit. Discouraged and defeated by the horrors they had seen and experienced, they left Wallachia in Dracula’s brutal hands.