Topic: Source criticism
In 1952 the Finnish historian Eirik Hornborg (1879-1965) published a biography of Carl Gustaf Armfeldt (1666-1736), in 1718 leader of the unsuccessful campaign to take Trondheim. In the book Hornborg, who was no admirer of Charles XII, paints a grim picture of the situation on the Ingrian front during the first years of the war. He is critical, but yet sympathetic, to the first Swedish commander, Major General Abraham Cronhjort. Cronhjort may have been a poor general, but the main fault lay with Charles XII who wandered away into Poland instead of giving proper attention to the defense of the Baltic provinces.
In January 1701 Cronhjort made an excursion into Russia across the eastern border of Ingria, arriving at a village called Saari (nowadays Shum). There he found a wooden manor, defended by a few hundred Russians. For nearly two weeks Cronhjort tried to force them to surrender, but could make no headway despite a large numerical advantage. Then, late one night, the garrison managed to elude the Swedish posts and escape - a real embarrassment for Cronhjort. Hornborg briefly touches upon the struggle for Saari, but places the emphasis on the reaction by Charles XII. The King, upon hearing of Cronhjort's initial difficulties, got quite upset and pointed out that the Major General a few weeks earlier had written about possible forays as far as Novgorod. Such promises and now he could not capture even "a simple wooden manor"? Hornborg found this reaction deeply unfair as the forces at Cronhjort's disposal were quite untrained, poorly equipped and the weather conditions difficult. But what about the embarrassing outcome? Well, Hornborg only says that the garrison secretly abandoned the manor in the night between the 28th and the 29th. Did he perhaps find this fact a bit "disturbing", i.e. not in line with his interpretation of where the real responsibility for the failure lay?