Haiduk Veljko

I am giving my life, but not Krajina (the Frontier), are the well-known words of the First Serbian Uprising most popular hero, Veljko Petrović. Veljko was born in the village of Lenovac, Crna reka, nearby Zaječar. Killing two Turks who assaulted his sister, he had to flee, joining the haiduks, the brigands. He was a member of the Stanoje Glavaš band, and then of the Smederevo voivode Đuša’s band, and later on he joined Vujica Vulićević. From the start he fought in the First Uprising, participates in liberating Belgrade and in many other battles in Serbia. He soon became popular by his extraordinary bravery for which he was decorated with a golden Russian medal. But also everyone new him for his volatile temper, which prevented him to get along well with any of his commander, even with Karađorđe. In 1811 he became the Krajina Voivode and was sent to Negotin Krajina (Frontier). Fierce fights started around Negotin in 1813, 16,000 Turaks besieged it. Veljko was digging trenches and building towers. When the ammunition ran out, they started collecting tin objects around Negotin to smelt them, and from cannons they fired even metal coins. Day and night he went around, lifting spirit of his fighters. It was said that his wife, Čučuk Stana, fought alongside him. After some twenty days of fighting, on 20 July morning, a cannonball hit him right in the chest. His brother, Milutin, buried him that evening by the Negotin church. After Haiduk-Veljko’s death, the Turks occupied Negotin and Krajina.


The common folk sang many songs about Haiduk-Veljko. The best known are: Raslo mi je badem drvo (An Almond Tree Grew)and Bolan mi leži Kara-Mustafa (Kara-Mustafa Lying in His Sickbed).


Čučuk Stana, a petit and fragile Haiduk-Veljko’s wife, is also remembered as a heroine. Even his horse, Kušlja, is a remembered hero. Kušlja knew how to change directions while running, so that his master could avoid being shot, he could stop put in full gallop so that a sabre would swing through empty air, he knew when to duck. Once, in a fight, Kušlja kicked his hind legs, killing Soko-Pasha who fell from his own agitated horse.