The Thirteenth Regiment

: Winning A Cause World War Stories

The World War has shown clearly that all peoples are not alike, that

they do not think alike, that they do not feel in the same way about

the great things of life and death, and that they do not live alike.

England felt very differently from Germany about invading a state whose

neutrality both nations had guaranteed.

The difference is largely due to education in the home, the church, and

the school; but i
is also the result of heredity. Races seem to

differ naturally in regard to these things. The Germans have always

been cruel, hard, and unmerciful, while the French are tender and

inclined to be too easy, even with wrongdoers. The Slav is dreamy,

musical, and poetic, while the Bulgarians seek to gain their ends by

deceit and brute force. In thinking of the nations and the peoples of

the Balkan peninsula, we must be sure to distinguish clearly between

them, for they are not at all alike.

Only at the beginning and at the end of the World War have we heard

much of Serbia. At the beginning, two Serbians, who were, however,

Austrian subjects, assassinated the Crown Prince of Austria, Archduke

Franz Ferdinand, and his wife, on June 28, 1914, at Sarajevo, the

capital of Bosnia, an Austrian province. Whether the war had been

already planned or not, this assassination was used as a reason for

Austria's attack upon Serbia.

General Putnik, a great commander, was put in charge of the Serbian

troops. As General Joffre did in France, he retired before the greatly

superior numbers of the enemy, until he was in a position to

counterattack and win a victory. Joffre was thus able to save his

country from being entirely devastated and defeated, but General Putnik

was not. Instead the Serbian army disappeared as a determining force,

until near the end of the war when it helped to bring Bulgaria to her


The Serbians sing as they go into battle, for, as has been said, they

are an imaginative and a musical people. The heroes of today are

blended in their visions with the Serbian heroes of ancient days, and

their battle songs are of them both, or first of one and then of the


As they went into their last victorious battles in 1918 against the

brutal and lying Bulgarians, they sang a sad but spirited song, the

words of which may be translated into English as follows:--

Colonel Batsicht, the Austrians are a thousand to one, but what does

it matter? You are only one, yourself, but you are Colonel Batsicht!

Were the Austrians as many as the leaves in the forests and their rush

to attack more violent than the flood of the Vardar in the spring time,

you would even then be their equal, Colonel Batsicht!

And the marvelous thing about the words of this wonderful battle song

is that they are true, and that one man fighting for the right with the

spirit and devotion of Colonel Batsicht is always the equal of

thousands seeking to establish the wrong. In all the history of the

world, nothing has proved this so fully and so clearly as the story of

Belgium in the World War. Standing like one man against thousands, she

saved the world and herself.

Colonel Batsicht was in command of the Thirteenth Regiment of Infantry

in the Serbian army at the opening of the war in 1914. When the

Austrians attacked in force, General Putnik decided upon a general

retirement to save his armies.

On the evening of the 27th of November, 1914, while this retirement was

being carried out, the commanding general sent the following orders to

Colonel Batsicht, If possible, hold your ground for twenty-four hours.

If necessary, sacrifice your regiment to save the Serbian army.

Colonel Batsicht sent back word to the commanding general, I have your

orders and they will be carried out. Then he set about preparing to

defend the heights which his regiment was holding.

At seven o'clock the next morning, sixteen battalions of Austrian

infantry, ten batteries, and four squadrons of cavalry attacked the

position. At the firing of the first gun, Colonel Batsicht looked at

his watch and exclaimed, The twenty-four hours for which we must hold

our ground have now begun!

The Austrians were ten against one and the battle was a furious one.

Three times the Austrians were driven back; but from their great

numbers and from reinforcements coming up, they soon reformed and

renewed the attack and were finally successful in pushing back the

Serbian right wing for a short distance. But Colonel Batsicht quickly

rallied his forces, and they stood their ground. Then the left wing

wavered and the colonel hurried to the left end of his line to

reorganize it and encourage the men. He was wounded himself, but this

did not stop him and his presence was enough to make his soldiers

invincible. So all through the day, Colonel Batsicht directed and

encouraged, and at evening the Thirteenth Regiment of Infantry of the

Serbian army still held the line although most of their number had been

killed and their colonel twice wounded.

The Austrians were much disturbed by the heroic resistance of the small

body of Serbian soldiers and determined in the early morning of the

next day to finish the matter quickly. At dawn they attacked and the

Serbians gave way, first on one wing and then on the other, and at last

in the center. The reserve was thrown in but could not prevent the

Austrians from slowly advancing. It was six o'clock and the Serbians

had held the line for twenty-three hours. The few officers that were

uninjured urged Colonel Batsicht to order a retreat.

It is no use to struggle longer, replied the colonel. Order the men

to retire.

Come with us, said the officers.

No, replied the colonel, I cannot. I promised to hold this ground

for twenty-four hours, and I must remain for one hour longer.

But we cannot go without you, cried the officers.

Obey my orders! Return to your troops and retire with them! said the

colonel sternly.

Military discipline permitted the officers to do nothing but obey.

The colonel was left with his orderly upon the top of the hill up which

the Austrians were advancing. The orderly continued firing until the

first platoon of the enemy were upon them, when he fell, and the

colonel was left standing alone.

Where is the Thirteenth Regiment? asked the Austrian officer.

I am the Thirteenth Regiment, replied the colonel with a smile.

Then surrender, cried the officer.

You insult me by asking me, a colonel in the Serbian army, to

surrender, replied the colonel as he raised his revolver. But the

Austrians were watching sharply and fired first, and the brave colonel

fell mortally wounded.

He was carried back of the Austrian lines in an ambulance. When the

Austrian general was told the story, he hurried to the hospital and

found Colonel Batsicht still alive.

The Austrian told him that it was sad indeed to see such a brave man

dying and that he was sorry the colonel had not surrendered.

I am not sorry, General, replied the colonel.

A few hours later he died, and was buried with military honors.

The Serbian soldiers and the Serbian people will never forget him. He

has now become one of their national heroes. Their imaginative and

poetical natures see him now as one greater than a mere man, as a sort

of superman with the attributes of a god. So they sing in the valley

of the Vardar and in the meadows and mountains of Montenegro and

Albania the sad but spirited song of which the words in English are:--

Colonel Batsicht, the Austrians are a thousand to one, but what does

it matter? You are only one, yourself, but you are Colonel Batsicht!

Were the Austrians as many as the leaves in the forests and their rush

to attack more violent than the flood of the Vardar in the spring time,

you would even then be their equal, Colonel Batsicht!