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During the beginning hours of the Battle of Mohi, Coloman of Slavonia was able to repulse the Mongol attempt to secure the bridge for their safe crossing over the river.

But within two hours after that, the Duke returned to Hungarian encampment after leaving a small force to defend the bridge.

It was clear that Mongols were invading and the bridge was crucial for their plans. It doesn't make sense to me as to why would a seasoned commander like Coloman leave the bridge weakly held.

The bridge was narrow enough (It took the Mongols 4 hours to cross with their army even when they were unopposed after retreat of the small Hungarian guard detachment). Any good military commander would have seen the opportunity to make the Mongols bleed right there like the Scots did with the English at Battle of Stirling Bridge.

So why would an undoubted excellent commander like Duke Coloman just pack his stuff and leave to celebrate victory? I know there were still some doubts about Mongol intentions among the Magyar but I still can't see why Coloman was so oblivious to the danger and the opportunity.

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According to the wikipedia article on the topic:

The Mongol vanguard was killed nearly to a man, with Thomas of Split writing: "the Hungarians immediately charged into them and did battle. They cut down a great many of them and pushed the rest back over the bridge, causing them to be drowned in the river." The Hungarians left some soldiers to guard the bridge and returned to the camp, unaware that the main Mongol army was nearby. Arriving at the camp at around 02:00, they celebrated their victory.

Citing: Sverdrup, Carl. "The Military Operations of Genghis Khan and Sube'etei." Helion and Company (May 4, 2017). Page 318.

In other words, they weren't aware there was a larger army roaming nearby.


Edit: That being said, as raised by Twelfth, the same article goes on to say:

When the fleeing Hungarians arrived at the camp they woke the others. Coloman, Ugrin and the Templar master then left the camp again to deal with the attackers. Others remained there, believing this was also a minor attack and that Coloman would again be victorious. But as Coloman and Ugrin witnessed the horde of Mongols swell, they realised that this was not a minor raid but an attack by the main Mongol force. After some heavy fighting they returned to the camp hoping to mobilise the full army. They were badly disappointed, as the King had not even issued orders to prepare for the battle. Archbishop Ugrin reproached the King for his faults in public. Finally the Hungarian army sallied forth, but this delay gave Batu enough time to finish the crossing.

With the caveat: citation needed. But this being Wikipedia, I'd wager the citation needed was added by someone who didn't bother reading the various sources in the page (chiefly the above and the one below).

It also mentions a slave as you pointed out:

A Ruthenian slave of the Mongols escaped to the Hungarians and warned them that the Mongols intended a night attack over the bridge over the Sajó.

Source: J.J. Saunders, The History of the Mongol Conquests, (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001) [No page provided, but presumably around p 222.]

Either way, both hint at some amount of hubris on top of being unaware that a bigger army was nearby.

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    As an addendum, military science was less evolved than nowadays and Coloman was probably not aware of the mighty strength of the Mongol Empire. Moreover, they severly defeated that opponent, so it is far easier to underestimate your ennemy. Coloman only strategical mistake was to not scout before retiring from the field of battle. – xrorox Feb 2 '18 at 8:32
  • Yeah now re-reading the article, it does seem obvious. Mongols were already fighting small action all across the border and when King Bela decided to give them battle, they retreated. And because of the wooded terrain on the other bank, Hungarian scouts failed to report the whereabouts of Main Mongol force. So the fault, if we have to place a fault, lies with the scouts, not Coloman. For all he knew, It was just another small action unit, not the Vanguard of main Mongol Army. – NSNoob Feb 2 '18 at 8:34
  • There was intel of this escaped Ruthenian slave but Hungarian King did not take it seriously. Even the first Battle at the bridge was Coloman's own initiative rather than the King's plan. The presence of an army on bridge confirmed the slave's reports but I guess anyone would be wary of a trap there. They may have suspected that the slave was a Mongol agent, sent to mislead the Hungarians. – NSNoob Feb 2 '18 at 8:36
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    Not worthy as it's own answer, but the same wiki page has this line : "After some heavy fighting they returned to the camp hoping to mobilise the full army. They were badly disappointed, as the King had not even issued orders to prepare for the battle. Archbishop Ugrin reproached the King for his faults in public. Finally the Hungarian army sallied forth, but this delay gave Batu enough time to finish the crossing." I suspect they didn't intend on leaving the bridge that long either and were getting reenforcements...which weren't prepared by then, leaving the small force on the bridge alone. – Twelfth Feb 2 '18 at 19:33

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