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Sunday, 12 July 2020
The march to Prussia : part 2
Topic: Archives

Governor General Horn stated that in his view it would be best to discuss the pros and cons. Charles XI had in his letter emphasized the importance of relieving Stettin and as the city had now fallen. Should the army march anyway?

The Councillor of the Realm Fleming said that he had been invited, but felt this was really a question for the Governor General (who was also a Field Marshal) and the generals. However, as the fall of Stettin had changed the situation considerably it was important to carefully consider the options. 

The secretery Segebaden read a letter from the King of Poland, who asked that Courland shouldn't be harmed as the army passed through. Segebaden also read a letter from the King to ambassador Lilliehöök, in which the former stated that what can be done today will be impossible tomorrow. If the Swedish army had marched in November 1677 it would have taken a few towns in Prussia and the Lithuaninan army had not been prepared to stop it. The Elector would also have been forced to abandon the siege of Stettin. Now it was too late and there was no chance for any sort of success. The Lithaunian army under the command of Hetman Pac was in Samogitia and all of the nobility was under arms. 

To be continued...

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 7:25 PM MEST
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Sunday, 5 July 2020
Off topic : the march to Prussia
Topic: Archives

I have been rather lazy for a very long time, but I'll try and and make some amends from time to time. 

In 1912 Nils Wimarson published the final volume of his large work Sveriges krig i Tyskland 1675-1679. Most of it is devoted to events in Germany (as the title indicates), but he also touched upon the preparations for the ultimately failed plan to support the Swedish forces in Pomerania by sending a relief corps from Livonia. In volume III (p. 195 ff.) Wimarson mentions a council of war held in Riga at the beginning of February 1678. He did not have access to much in terms of sources, only a letter from Governor General Christer Horn dated 7 February and some summary from 2 February.

In the Estonian National Archives there are extensive records from these deliberations (EAA.278.001-XIX-21). They apparently were held both on the 4th and the 5th. It was a large gathering: Governor General Horn, the President of the Court of Appeals in Dorpat Lars Fleming, Governor Hans von Fersen, Major General Jacob von Yxkull, Major General Gustav von Mengden, Major General Christoffer von Güntersberg, almost ten colonels and Jacob Sneckensköld, who was in charge of financial matters. 

The Governor General started the discussion by pointing out that the troops had been brought together and could not remain so for very long. Should the army march or was there some other alternative? The aim had been to relieve Stettin, but the city had fallen i late December. The appointed commander Bengt Horn (the Governor General's brother) was ill so if the army was to march someone would have to take his place. Christer Horn declared that he was ready to do so. 

The Governor General then proceeded to read a number of letters from Charles XI, all written long before Stettin fell. Then he posed the question: Should the army march? Major General Mengden replied that he wanted to know what the Swedish Envoy Lilliehöök had reported from Poland. The Secretary Segebaden stated that Lilliehöök had written that there were very small Brandenburger forces in Prussia, only about 2,000. The Lithuanian Hetman Pac claimed that he would oppose a Swedish intrusion, but his forces were also small. If the Swedish army showed its usual resolve he would yield. The news from Pomerania showed what the Swedish army was capable of - Königsmarck had beaten an enemy force of 7-8,000 men with just 5,000 and had lost only about 15. 

Major General Mengden then pointed out two things:

1. If Governor General Horn decided to march everyone present was ready to follow him.

2. If there were to be further discussions it was important to consider what would be most beneficial to Livonia - to march immediately or to wait some time. 

(To be continued). 


Posted by bengt_nilsson at 4:53 PM MEST
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Sunday, 5 May 2019
An inquest
Topic: Battles
On 29 July 1702 three soldiers who had participated in the Hummelhof battle were interrogated in Riga. They all belonged to Governor Frölich's regiment. Jörgen Busch belonged to the Colonel's Company, Heinrich Sassau to the Major's Company and Hans Schwartz to the late Captain Pontus Company. 

Busch stated that as the army left the camp in order to march towards Hummelshof a force of 150 horse and 100 foot were ordered to hold a bridge. They were accompanied by two guns under the command of a captain of artillery. Busch didn't know the name of the cavalry commander, but lieutenant Campenhausen was in charge of the infantry. They remained at the bridge the entire night. At about 6 the following morning the enemy was so close that skirmishes broke out with the outposts. At that point the cavalry commander wanted to remove the guns and reported to Major General Schlippenbach how the situation was developing. The enemy was pressing very hard and the cavalry commander decided that he could not wait for Schlippenbach's instructions. Order for retreat was given and the cavalry was supposed to cover the infantry, but as the enemy kept pushing forward the cavalry started fleeing through the infantry. Lieutenant Campenhausen and ensign Nöding, who were on horseback, were caught up in this. 

Some of those on foot were cut down, others tried to save themselves by running away and hiding in the bushes. Busch and his companions were hiding for three days and two nights before they made their way back to Riga. Five other soldiers from their regiment had been hiding with them, but they became separated. 

Sassau stated that Busch had told the truth and Schwartz added that they on the third day saw the enemy burning a lot.

Frölich ordered that the three men should be searched. How much ammunition did they have? Busch had 23 cartridges in his bag and his musket was loaded. He also had a number of musket balls of various sizes. Schwartz had 20 cartridges, 30 full-sized musket balls and several smaller ones. Both stated that neither the guns nor the cavalry had fired a single shot and no one had given any orders to resist. Sassau was a pikeman and he said that the pike had been broken by a fleeing horseman. He had no ammunition. 

Source: EAA.278.1.XV-0-50 (Rahvusarhiiv, Tartu)

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:46 PM MEST
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Sunday, 28 April 2019
Kruse's regiment
Topic: Regiments

On 2 April 1701 Col. Carl Gustaf Kruse wrote to Governor General de la Gardie in Reval, outlining the details for how his regiment (Upplands tremänningsregemente till häst) was going to be transported across the Baltic Sea.

From Stockholm:

169 men from Uppland
144 men from Västmanland
104 men from Närke
42 men from Södermanland

They were accompanied by: 

Colonel Kruse
Major Reuter
4 cavalry captains (ryttmästare)
3 lieutenants
5 cornets
2 chaplains
5 quartermasters
13 corporals
4 muster scribes
1 feldsher's apprentice
6 trumpeters
10 farriers and provosts

The regimental quartermaster
The regimental chaplain
1 judge advocate or scribe
The regimental aide-de-camp
1 feldsher
1 drummer
1 gunsmith
I saddler 

From Skenäs:

42 men from Västergötland
229 men from Ösergötland

They were accompanied by:

Lt. Colonel Wennerstedt
1 cavalry captain (ryttmästare)
3 lieutenants
2 cornets
1 chaplain
2 quartermasters
8 corporals
1 muster scribe
1 feldsher's apprentice
2 trumpeters
3 farriers and provosts

From Västervik:

104 men from Östergötland

They were accompanied by:

1 cavalry captain (ryttmästare)
1 lieutenant
1 cornet
1 quartermaster
3 corporals
1 muster scribe 
1 feldsher's apprentice
1 trumpeter
1 farrier
1 provost

To this was added a large number of servants and horses. 1 horse for each soldier, 14 horses for the colonel, 12 for the lieutenant colonel, 9 for the major and so on. The colonel had 9 servants, the lieutenant colonel 6 and the major 5 etc. The total sum of men and horses was:

100 officers, non-commissioned officers etc., 123 servants, 240 horses for the officers, non-commissioned officers etc., 834 soldiers and 834 horses. In total 1,057 men and 1,074 horses. 

Source: EAA.1.2.286, pp. 83 ff, Rahvusarhiiv, Tartu 


Posted by bengt_nilsson at 8:14 PM MEST
Updated: Sunday, 28 April 2019 8:15 PM MEST
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Sunday, 21 April 2019
Albedyhl's dragoons
Topic: Livonia

On 18 June 1700 General Otto Vellingk wrote to Charles XII, informing him that Col. Gustaf Ernst Albedyhl had agreed to raise a regiment of dragoons (600 men). During the first months of the war the Saxon dragoons had clearly showed the value of such units, so Vellingk wanted to make Albedyhl's unit a permanent one. Charles agreed.

On 1 March 1701 Major General Spens inspected the regiment at Ronnenburg (Rauna). It consisted of 570 corporals and privates and was divided in 12 companies (Colonel's, Lt. Col's, Major's, Capt. Bellingshausen's, Captain Patkul's, Capt. Taube's, Capt. Trautvetter's, Capt. Schreiterfeldt's, Capt. Hammelstierna's, Capt. Vitinghoff's, Capt. Freijmann's and Capt. Albedyhl's).

The regiment was later taken over by Gustaf Carl Schreiterfeldt and it subsequently carried his name. 

Source: LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 298, p. 97


Posted by bengt_nilsson at 6:48 PM MEST
Updated: Sunday, 21 April 2019 7:03 PM MEST
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Sunday, 24 March 2019
Livonian garrisons in August 1696
Topic: Livonia

Riga with Kobron and Kokenhusen:

Two companies of Rembert von Funcken's Åbo Infantry Regiment (Lt. Col. Posse's and Captain von Schmitten's). 205 men.

Eight companies of Johan von Campenhausen's Österbotten Infantry Regiment (Campenhausen's, Lt. Col. Silfversparre's, Major Stålhammar's, Captain Witting's, Captain Gyldenhoff's, Captain Borg's, Captain Meijerfeldt's and Captain Weidenhielm's). 1043 men.

23 soldiers from Col. Hans Isak Ridderhielm's regiment.

Eight companies of Erik Dahlberg's regiment (Dahlbergh's, Lt. Col. Helmersen's, Major Ranck's, Captain Brandt's, Capt. Lilliiestierna's, Captain Beckern's, Captain Helmersen's and Captain Hägerflycht's).1089 men.

Eight companies of Erik Soop's regiment (Soop's, Lt. Col. Roos', Major Wrangel's, Captain Schlippenbach's, Captain Rosencron's, Captain Sperling's, Captain Ribbing's and Captain Engelhardt's). 1079 men.



Four companies of Gotthard Wilhelm von Budberg's Nyland Infantry Regiment (Budberg's, Major Rehausen's, Captain Lode's and Captain Staël von Holstein's). 468 men.



Four companies of Erik Pistolekors' regiment (Pistolekors',  Major Schwengeln's, Captain M. G. Pistolekors' and Capt. Löwenburg's). 672 men.



Four companies of Tiesenhausen's regiment (Tiesenhausen's, Major Berg's, Captain Meijercrantz' and Captain Brömsen's). 572 men. 

Source: EAA. 278.1.XXI-62, Rahvusarhiiv Tartu




Posted by bengt_nilsson at 10:48 PM MEST
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Sunday, 17 March 2019
A very long hiatus
Topic: Battles

For various reasons I have not posted since November. I'll try and improve upon that during the coming months. 

Recently I found myself in a discussion focused on the Poltava battlefield. Some ten years ago a group of Swedish archaeologists went to Poltava in order to "solve" the many remaining questions once and for all. At the time I expressed considerabler skepticism, being under the impression that too much had happened to the battlefield since 1709 for such a project to be successful. 

As far as I can tell from written reports the investigations yielded very limited results. The only real cluster of ammunition was for example retrieved in an area which traditionally has been seen as the western part of the fortified Russian camp. Most of the retrieved ammunition was judged to have been Russian, but the presence of a couple of "Swedish looking" musket balls resulted in the conclusion that the Russian camp was smaller than it's shown on most plans and looked more like it appears on the well-known Husson plan 

The Husson plan is indeed among the oldest, as it was printed in the Netherlands already in 1709. From some letters found by Anna Croiset van der Kop it would seem that the Russian envoy Andrey Matveyev was involved in the publication, i.e. it had some sort of Russian source. But where does that leave the official Russian plan?

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:29 PM MEST
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Sunday, 11 November 2018
Ingria : part 3
Topic: Miscellaneous

Som bits and pieces about the garrisons:

Koporie seems to have had a very small garrison (12 soldiers) when the Russians entered Ingria, but the fortress was apparently abandoned almost immediately - Rullor 1620-1723, , SE/KrA/0022/1700/20 (1700), bildid: A0054479_00344

Nyen: Two companies of Horn's regiment in Narva were stationed there - Rullor 1620-1723, , SE/KrA/0022/1700/20 (1700), bildid: A0054479_00317

Nöteborg: The garrison seems to have consisted of about one company and a compliment of "soldiers' sons". In 1702, before the siege started, the garrison consisted of slightly more than 200 men. 

Additional units:

When Otto Vellingk took over as Governor in 1699 he wrote that three companies of Tiesenhausen's Cavalry regiment were stationed in Ingria (Vellingk to Charles XII, 12 August 1699, Livonica II, vol. 192)

When the news from Riga arrived Vellingk began raising more troops. On 31 March he reported that he was intent on rasing a regiment of dragoons in Kexholm County. He wanted, he wrote on 21 April, to make it a permanent regiment. 

Vellingk also wanted to raise a regiment of infantry (also permanent). He wanted to begin by using two existing companies from Skytte's regiment, one stationed in Kexholm and the other in Nöteborg. This the King rejected, but the regiments were created (1,000 infantry, 600 dragoons), 

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 8:53 PM CET
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Monday, 22 October 2018
Ingria : part 2
Topic: Miscellaneous
Otto Wilhelm von Fersen, Governor General 1691-1698, sent a report on the fortresses of Ingria on 7 June 1697.

Kexholm: Insignificant and poorly built. A small island called Kalasaari nearby dominated the fortress and it should be moved to that island. 

Koporie: Four good towers and walls. A deep valley surrounding the castle. Fersen believed Koporie should be preserved as it was situated between Narva and Nyen. It could serve as protection for the poor peasants who had no other place to go in time of war. It could also serve as a stronpoint for Swedish detachments. 5 or 6 5-pounders and a garrison of 20-30 men would be sufficient. The fortress would be useless for the enemy as it was very small. 

Nöteborg: Mostly as it were, but one tower had been built. Nöteborg ought to be repaired and preserved.

Nyen: The place was beautiful and well chosen and the population was considerable. Many beautiful ships had been built there. Nyen was preferable to Narva, but was poorly fortified. It was a key spot for commmunication between Ladoga and the Baltic sea and the Baltic provinces and Finland. It was absolutely imperative to strengthen Nyen, even if it meant stopping work on other fortresses. In it's present state 1 lieutenant (or possibly a captain) along with 50 men would be sufficient as garrison. At present there were two companies and some artillery.

Narva: The key to Estonia as far as Reval and Livonia as far as Dorpat or Pernau. The present state of Narva was poor. The ongoing work went too slow. 

Ivangorod: It had been strengthened, but much work was still needed. 

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 7:42 PM MEST
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Thursday, 18 October 2018
Karl XII : kungamord (once more)
Topic: Literature

The newspaper article I discussed in the previous entry is a key piece of evidence in the book. I would argue that an experienced historian with knowledge of the events of 1718 who found such a sensational item would react in two ways:

1. Could it be a false rumour going round Europe, much as there in 1709 had been a rumour that the Swedish army had been victorious in the battle of Poltava (a lengthy account of the victory even found its way into the official Swedish newspaper)? The experienced historian would then proceed to check some Dutch, French and German newspapers to see if they contained the same story. 

2. The experienced historian would carefully analyze the other news reports on the same page and look at the paper very closely. Could it be that those pages weren't from 1718? 

Why would he/she be incredulous? Well, because an event  of this magnitude (a revolution in Sweden and an official proclamation of the King's death more than a month before he actually was killed) would surely have left traces everywhere. The new authorities would have had to inform the county governors, the bishops and so on - there would be letters everywhere. Not only that, there would be a need to explain how a small British paper in Lincolnshire would know something which for example the Danish government or their commanders in Norway didn't. How come the Czar knew, but Goertz who negotiated with the Russians didn't? It is, in short, very hard work to build a theory which would explain all of this. 

Now to what Nordenkull on page 72 calls evidence of Frederick's guilt:

1. The coup: as explained above and in the previous post this is based on a British newspaper item which has been incorrectly dated. 

2. That Frederick managed to surround the King with people loyal to him: it's not clear that all of them were or that this in itself would mean anything. Above all it's not clear who the replaced people were.

3. There was a Swedish artillery battery on Oskleiva, which fired the lethal bullet. The King's body was then carried to the trenches etc: No evidence for the existence of such a battery is presented. No evidence for the theory that the King was hit by a number of canister balls is presented. No evidence for an alternative place of death is presented. (what I mean by evidence is witness accounts, maps, drawings etc. - any sort of contemporary documentation). No discussion about the possibility of making precision shots with canister at such a distance or what the likely spread of such a volley would be etc. No discussion of why "murder by artillery" was chosen ahead of a simple gunshot at close range etc.

4. Kaulbars and Maigret by mistake disclosed the plot in their testimonies: Kaulbars (if Anonymous is indeed him) points to Overberget - how can this be an evidence of murder? Maigret speaks of a large projectile and dismisses the idea that someone on the Swedish side killed the King - how can this be evidence of murder?

5. Frederick manipulated the Council of War on 1 December: it's far from obvious why "an unfortunate and very lamentable event" should be interpreted as referring to a shot from the Swedish side. Surely it would be possible to use the same words about a stray norwegian bullet?

6. The participants in the plot were rewarded in various ways: well, it was quite natural for officers to be promoted. My "old friend" Gustaf von Psilander went from being the son of a minor official to baron and head of the Admiralty. Was he also involved in a plot or was he (like Cronstedt) good at his work? 

In short: I would label a lot of the book pure speculation. One example: the author suggests that Charles XII in October made a trip to Armfeldt's army. Has she studied "Riksregistraturet" (copies of outgoing letters from the King's field chancery)? No evidence of this is presented. Has she looked for Royal letters written to county governors or various government bodies in Stockholm during this period to check where and when they are dated? No evidence of this is presented. Has she checked if there are records from the King's kitchen, i.e. evidence of where he spent days and nights, who dined with him etc? No evidence of this is presented...

I have spent hundreds (if not thousands) of hours during the last twenty years pouring over actual documents sent to Charles XII and his officials and letters and documents signed by him. I have visited quite a few archives in several different countries and bought copies from many, many more. I have today scans or photos of more than one thousand volumes from mostly Swedish, Baltic, Danish and Norwegian archives, i. e. I have done real archival research many, many times and spent a very considerable amount of my private money (and vacation days) doing it. Why? Because it is a fascinating period. I have made an index of about 15,000 incoming letters in the archive of the Swedish Governor General of Livonia. I have bought hundreds of books published in Poland, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and other relevant countries in order to keep up with research abroad. I have also fact checked a significant number of book manuscripts before publication and I have been heavily involved in other ways in a couple of book projects, including Peter From's "Karl XII:s död". So I do know something about the period and the events in 1718, perhaps even more than most people do. Based on all of this I must say that I rather resent being "lectured" by some who have done very little of such hard, time consuming and costly work (see above). 

This will, barring unforeseen events, be my final statement about this strange book. 

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 6:50 PM MEST
Updated: Monday, 22 October 2018 3:08 PM MEST
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