Akıncı ( _tr. akıncı, literally, "raider", plural: "akıncılar") were irregular
light cavalryof the Ottoman empire's military. When the preexisting Turkish ghazis were incorporated into the Ottoman empire's military they become known as "Akıncı." They were one of the first divisions to face the opposing military and were known for their prowess in battle. Unpaid, they lived and operated as raiders on the frontiers of the Ottoman empire, subsisting totally on plunder.
In battle their main role was to demoralise the opposing army and put them in a state of confusion and shock. [Islam at War: A History By George F. Nafziger, Mark W. Walton, pg. 95] They could be likened to a scythe in a wheat field. They would basically hit the enemy with arrows. When attacked in
melee, they would retreat while still shooting backwards. They could easily outrun heavy cavalrybecause they were lightly armed and their horses were bred for speed as opposed to strength. Akıncı forces carried swords also, so that in a field war, they could face the enemy first and fight melee. In some Ottoman campaigns, such as the Battle of Krbava field, Akinci forces were the only units utilized without any need for Ottoman heavy calvary or infantry.
Because of their mobility Akıncı were also used for
reconnaissanceand as a vanguard force to terrorize the local population before the advance of the main Ottoman forces.
Akıncı forces were led by certain families. Best known Akıncı families were Malkoçoğlu, Turhanlı, Ömerli,
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