In early March 1701 Charles XII decided to create naval forces for the lakes Ladoga and Peipus. Of the two lakes Peipus presented the biggest challenge. The force would have to be created locally and the only possible place was Dorpat. However, as Dorpat was situated about 30 km inland the ships would be forced to use the river Embach to reach the lake. Apart from being vulnerable for attacks during the passage there was always the danger that the enemy captured the estuary while the ships were out to sea. The attempted solution to second problem was to station a floating battery (a pram) at the mouth of the Embach and to support it by a redoubt. The first problem was more tricky and could only be solved by having army units escorting the fleet on land both on the way out and on the way in. This was not a problem in 1701, but it became an issue after the main army had left the area and the Russian forces began to make large raids into Livonia. Especially after the battle of Hummelhof in July 1702 Schlippenbach's weak army could not be expected to defend the border, so the only available force in the area was the garrison at Dorpat. But what sort of risks could be taken with it?
The story of the Peipus squadron is mainly told in two articles by the archivist and military historian Lars Otto Berg and in Carl von Rosen's Bidrag till kännedom om de händelser... (1936). Berg mainly focuses on shipbuilding, while v Rosen briefly describes the naval campaigns in the context of Schlippenbach's attempts to defend Livonia. Berg's sources are mainly found among Admiralty records in Krigsarkivet, while v Rosen relied heavily on the Schlippenbach archive and other collections in Riksarkivet. The Schlippenbach archive is very large and it's very time consuming to search for items dealing with naval matters outside a key group of correspondents - Governor Gustaf Adolf Strömfelt, Colonel Carl Gustaf Skytte, Admiral Gideon von Numers and the two naval captains Jonas Hökeflycht & Carl Gustaf Löschern von Hertzfelt. Who else, among litterally hundreds of correspondents, could have anything to say about the Peipus squadron?
For the last couple of weeks I have attempted to put together a basic index of the relevant letters and documents I have come across in Swedish and in Baltic archives and right now I am at about 110 for 1701 and 200 for 1702. The more I look the clearer it becomes that this is literally only the tip of the iceberg - the Peipus squadron was given a lot of attention by a large number of people, not least Charles XII himself. It was no small matter to build and equip these ships in Dorpat, where almost everything except the timber had to be found elsewhere and in a time when the constant lack of funds was an enormous problem.