When General Otto Vellingk after the Saxon army had crossed the Düna in mid-July 1700 decided to retreat northwards he blamed Governor General Dahlbergh in Riga. Dahlbergh had failed to provide adequate supply of provisions, which had made it impossible for the army to take up the most suitable position on the northern shore. Charles XII received Vellingk’s report on 15 August and promptly wrote Dahlbergh, expressing his surprise at the turn of events. Vellingk had previously sent optimistic reports and suddenly the General had been forced to retreat due to lack of provisions? How could this have happened? Dahlbergh and his colleague in Reval Axel Julius de la Gardie had shown an amazing negligence.
The letter reached Riga on 16 September and Dahlbergh rapidly wrote back. The criticism was simply unfair. It had been very difficult to gather supplies during the period Riga was blocked by the Saxon forces and their raiding parties were roaming the countryside. Despite this a considerable amount of bread was ready for the army when it began arriving, but as Vellingk had inflated its size in his report some of the bread had turned bad before it could be consumed. But there had been no shortage of bread – Vellingk had even been forced to burn some before retreating. Other provisions had been brought into Riga.
The mistakes were entirely Vellingk’s, who had failed to cross the Düna himself. Large preparations for such an enterprise had been made, for instance were boats for 2,500 men built. In Dahlbergh’s opinion Vellingk had all along been looking for excuses for not going on the offensive. The General had also acted very arrogantly in his dealings with presumptive recruiters of new regiments, promising them more money than necessary.
Riksarkivet (RA), Riksregistraturet
RA, Skrivelser till Konungen. Karl XII, vol. 29
LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 72