As the Russian prince stood upon this pyramid and contemplated his army, there was spread before him such a spectacle as mortal eyes have seldom seen. A hundred and fifty thousand men were marshaled on the plain. It was the morning of the 8th of September, 1380. Thousands of banners fluttered in the breeze. The polished armor of the cavaliers, cuirass, spear and helmet, glittered in the rays of the sun. Seventy-five thousand steeds, gorgeously caparisoned, were neighing and prancing over the verdant savanna. The soldiers, according to their custom, shouted the prayer, which rose like the roar of many waters, “Great God, grant to our sovereign the victory.” The whole sublime scene moved the soul of Dmitry to its profoundest depths; and as he reflected that in a few hours perhaps the greater portion of that multitude might lie dead upon the field, tears gushed from his eyes, and kneeling upon the summit of the mound, in the presence of the whole army, he extended his hands towards heaven in a fervent prayer that God would protect Russia and Christianity from the heel of the infidel. Then, mounting his horse, he rode along the ranks, exclaiming,
“My brothers dearly beloved; my faithful companions in arms: by your exploits this day you will live for ever in the memory of men; and those of you who fall will find, beyond the tomb, the crown of martyrs.”
The Tartar host approached upon the boundless plain slowly and cautiously, but in numbers even exceeding those of the Russians. Notwithstanding the most earnest remonstrances of his generals, Dmitri led the charge, exposing himself to every peril which the humblest soldier was called to meet.
“It is not in me,” said he, “to seek a place of safety while crying out to you, ‘My brothers, let us die for our country!’ My actions shall correspond with my words. I am your chief. I will be your guide. I will go in advance, and, if I die, it is for you to avenge me.”
Again ascending the mound, the king, with a loud voice, read the forty-sixth Psalm: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.” The battle was immediately commenced, with ferocity on both sides which has probably never been surpassed. For three hours the two armies were blended in a hand to hand fight, spreading over a space seven miles in length. Blood flowed in torrents, and the sod was covered with the slain. Here the Russians were victorious and the Tartars fled before them. There the Tartars, with frenzied shouts, chased the Russians in awful rout over the plain. Dmitri had stationed a strong reserve behind a forest. When both parties were utterly exhausted, suddenly this reserve emerged from their retreat and rushed upon the foe. Vladimir, the brother of Dmitri, led the charge. The Mogols, surprised, confounded, overwhelmed and utterly routed,