How did the famous Polish Winged Hussars fair against pikemen? This question came up at a couple Clann Tartan events in 2009, so I looked up some of the history.
Polish Winged Hussar. From Wikimedia commons.
From Polish Winged Hussar: 1576-1775, By Richard Brzezinski and Velimir Vuksic, page 49:
“In fact the few successes of hussars against pikeman occurred before 1629. There are far fewer of them than than the legend suggests, and the hussars rarely achieved victory unassisted. For example, at Lubieszów (1577) during the Danzig Rebellion, 3,000 landsknechts were routed by hussars, but only after they had been engaged frontally by 600 Hungarian haiduk infantry of the the royal guard. Nor were other famous victories such as Pitschen (1588) and Klushino (1610) achieved by the direct charges of hussars on steady pikemen.
The single exception is Kircholm (1605), where about 3,500 Lithuanians managed to trounce a Swedish army of nearly 11,000. But these were not the immaculately trained troops of Gustavus Adolphus. The native Swedish infantry were virtually unarmoured, still reluctant to ‘trail’ the pike and poorly trained in its use
….it would be quite wrong to generalize from a single battle that the Polish lance was a super-weapon never seen anywhere else in the history of warfare, which allowed hussars to break pikemen as a matter of routine.”
See also the Battle of Kircholm.
The Battle of Kircholm, 1605. From Wikimedia Commons
The battles referenced from Polish-Swedish Wars 1600-1629 support Brzezinski. The Poles beat the Swedes on some other occasions, but Kircholm was the only case of Hussars alone defeating pikemen.
In the Clann Tartan period Poland (actually Poland-Lithuania) was at war on multiple fronts, but Sweden was its only enemy with a with a modern pike and shot force. The Ottoman Turks were still powerful, but they did not use pikemen. Russia was still backward—this is well before the time of Peter the Great.