[Footnote 5: Proverbs of Solomon, ix. 9.]
This letter, instead of giving the king offense, inspired him with new zeal and courage. He immediately abandoned all idea of peace. A fortnight had now passed in comparative inaction, the Russians and Tartars menacing each other from opposite sides of the stream. The cold month of November had now come, and a thin coating of ice began to spread over the surface of the stream. It was evident that Akhmet was only waiting for the river to be frozen over, and that, in a few days, he would be able to cross at any point. The grand prince, seeing that the decisive battle could not much longer be deferred, ordered his troops, in the night, to make a change of position, that he might occupy the plains of Borosk as a field more favorable for his troops. But the Russian soldiers, still agitated by the fears which their sovereign had not been able to conceal, regarded this order as the signal for retreat. The panic spread from rank to rank, and, favored by the obscurity of the night, soon the whole host, in the wildest confusion, were in rapid flight. No efforts of the officers could arrest the dismay. Before the morning, the Russian camp was entirely deserted, and the fugitives were rushing, like an inundation, up the valley of the Moskwa toward the imperial city.
But God did not desert Russia in this decisive hour. He appears to have heard and answered the prayers which had so incessantly ascended. In the Russian annals, their preservation is wholly attributed to the interposition of that God whose aid the bishops, the clergy and Christian men and women in hundreds of churches had so earnestly implored. The Tartars, seeing, in the earliest dawn of the morning, the banks of the river entirely abandoned by the Russians, imagined that the flight was but a ruse of war, that ambuscades were prepared for them, and, remembering previous scenes of exterminating slaughter, they, also, were seized with a panic, and commenced a retreat. This movement itself increased the alarm. Terror spread rapidly. In an hour, the whole Tartar host, abandoning their tents and their baggage, were in tumultuous flight.
As the sun rose, an unprecedented spectacle was presented. Two immense armies were flying from each other in indescribable confusion and dismay, each actually frightened out of its wits, and no one pursuing either. The Russians did not stop for a long breath until they attained the walls of Moscow. Akhmet, having reached the head waters of the Don, retreated rapidly down that stream, wreaking such vengeance as he could by the way, but not venturing to stop until he had reached his strongholds upon the banks of the Volga. Thus, singularly, providentially, terminated this last serious invasion of Russia by the Tartars. A Russian annalist, in attributing the glory of this well-authenticated event all to God, writes: “Shall men, vain and feeble, celebrate the terror of their arms? No! it is not to the might of earth’s warriors, it is not to human wisdom that Russia owes her safety, but only to the goodness of God.”