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The Great Northern War
Sunday, 23 April 2017
The fall of Dünamünde
Topic: Sieges

On 13 March 1700 the fortress Dünamünde surrendered after a Saxon assault during the night between the 11th and 12th had ended in a spectacular failure. According to Kungl. Fortifikationens historia 3:2 Charles XII on 19 April ordered Dahlbergh to investigate the circumstances surrounding Col. Budberg's decision to hand over the fortress. Munthe further states that the King countermanded this order on 26 November. 

Munthe's statements are not entirely accurate. What the King did on 26 November was to permit Dahlbergh to postpone the inquest until Governor Frölich returned from a visit to the headquarters and some officers from the garrison were back in Riga.

The inquest does in fact appear to have gone on for some time. In a letter to Charles XII on 24 August 1701 the prosecutor Ingel Biörndahl notes that he had reminded the King about this issue on 25 March. Charles had replied that the inquest had to be postponed for the time being. In his new letter Björndahl, stating that he considered the matter to be of great importance, asked for new orders. The King this time agreed and on 22 November ordered that a certain Lt. Westman (who had been present at Dünamünde) be instructed to cooperate with Biörndahl.

On 14 December Biörndahl wrote to Governor General Dahlbergh, reporting that the commission had met for the first time the previous day. They had then discovered that important witness Westman (now promoted to captain) had been arrested and Biörndahl requested that Dahlbergh permitted an interrogation.

On 16 January 1702 Biörndahl wrote again. Colonel Budberg had claimed that he had not received any instructions from Dahlbergh. If instructions had indeed been sent, the Commission wanted to have a look at them. They were also interested in seeing the explanation given to Dahlbergh by Budberg.

The inquest seems to have continued in February, but it's unclear to me how and when it ended.  

Sources:

EAA 278.001.XV-50 

LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 149

LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 294

LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 316 

Munthe, L., Kungl. Fortifikationens historia 3:2. - Stockholm, 1909-1911 


Posted by bengt_nilsson at 7:06 PM MEST
Updated: Sunday, 23 April 2017 8:15 PM MEST
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Sunday, 15 January 2017
Dünamünde
Topic: Sieges

On 11 December 1701 Colonel Gustaf Ernst Albedyhl wrote to Governor General Dahlbergh in Riga. The Saxon commander of the fortress Dünamünde, the only remaining prize from the campaign of 1701, had offered to give up on honorable terms. Albedyhl was noncommittal, but pointed out the rather poor situation for the Swedish forces outside. He had held a council of war and the officers favored accepting the Saxon offer. In Albedyhl's opinion it would be unwise to refuse because it could result in the commander blowing up Dünamünde, destroying not only the fortress but also all presumptive trophies.

In his immediate reply Dahlbergh assured Albedyhl of full support. It would serve the King better to capture the fortress quickly and it made no sense to risk having it blown up by desperate Saxons. A destruction of trophies would damage the glory of King Charles. So Albedyhl should by all means enter into an agreement, but also make sure that it allowed him to take quick possession of Dünamünde.

In a subsequent report to the Chancery in Stockholm Dahlbergh outlined his thinking. The commander Colonel Kanitz had been cut off from alla support for 21 weeks. He had shown his fidelity to King Augustus and deserved to be treated honorably by the Swedes. Albedyhl had several days ago sent a courier to Charles XII to ask for orders, but no reply had yet been received. In this situation Dahlbergh had called all his generals and colonels to a council of war. The view of the majority had been that it was necessary to wait for the King's orders as he had previously declared that the garrison must surrender unconditionally. Reports from the army suggested that Charles had broken camp on the 3rd and Dahlbergh hoped that this would not mean further complications with the Polish republic. On the 12th Dahlbergh wrote to the King, informing him that an agreement had been signed.

The King's position on the matter did not become clear until the beginning of January 1702. On the first day of the new year he sent a letter to Albedyhl. Upon returning from an expedition into Lithuania he had been informed that Albedyhl had made an agreement without waiting for orders. Charles expressed his deep dislike of this. Had he not already shortly after the Düna crossing informed the Saxon commander that if he did not immediately turn over Dünamünde he would be considered as a rebel? Because of these circumstances Charles had every right to refuse to accept the agreement made by Kanitz and Albedyhl, but since some time had passed he would not make an issue of it. However, Albedyhl would do well to avoid a repetition and remember not to make such decisions without express orders. 


Sources:

LVVA, fond 7349, op 1, vol.  73

LVVA, fond 7349, op. 2, vol. 235 

Riksarkivet, Riksregistraturet

 


Posted by bengt_nilsson at 5:26 PM CET
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