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Friday, 21 June 2013
The state of Livonia 1697
Topic: Livonia

On 30 May 1697 the Governor General of Livonia Erik Dahlbergh, in light of the recent death of Charles XI, sent a long report to Stockholm about the situation in Livonia. Here is a summary of what he had to say:

1. The Church: It had not yet been brought to perfection as there were too few churches and to few clergymen. This, together with the very bad roads, made it difficult for people to come to church and as a result superstition and idolatory was common among the peasants.

2. The Judiciary: It was generally satisfactory.

3. The Economy: It was handled by Strokirch (Latvian district) and Strömfelt (Estonian district) and they understood their tasks well.

4. The Chancery: Dahlbergh had built offices for the staff, so it worked quite well.

5. The Military: The situation was, considering the dangerous times, not satisfactory. In the large and important province of Livonia there were only six cavalry companies, in all 350 men. Their horses were poor and the equipment even worse. The pistols and the carbines were so bad that they coudn't be fired even twice. The "Adelsfana" in Livonia and on Ösel (Saaremaa) had not been mustered during the last 15 years, but numbered 207 men. New uniforms had been ordered and would soon be delivered, but the unit lacked guns and swords. In March Charles XI had ordered that it should be divided into four companies, but their were not yet a sufficient number of officers. It was obvious, Dahlbergh concluded, that such a weak cavalry force could not be of any use in case of an attack. A system similar to the one in place in Sweden was needed and Dahlbergh hoped to present such a proposal in the near future.

6. The infantry: The Riga garrison had been mustered on 1 May. At that time Dahlbergh's own regiment numbered 993 common soldiers,  Governor Soop's 901, Colonel von Campenhausen's 874, Colonel Funck's 164 - in all 2 932 men. This was sufficient in time of peace, but totally inadequate of war broke out as there were 6 large bastions, the citadel, the works around the castle and also the large town fortifications. 6- 8000 men would be needed for Riga to be fully defended and it was necessary to use "national troops" as only they could be fully trusted. The inhabitants of Riga could be expected to assist in the defense, but there was a substantial jealousy between them and the garrison. 

The Neumünde garrison was very weakened and it was necessary to bring in new recruits from Finland to Budberg's regiment. The garrisons and Pernau and Dorpat were also weak. Kokenhusen was manned by just 70 men and Kobron by 40.

7. The artillery: Dahlbergh enclosed a list of the needs.

8.  Provisions: The food situation in Livonia was difficult. Since the cavalry could be expected to have to abandon the countryside in case of war there was a need for larger magazines in the towns.

9. The Fortifications: Dahlbergh gave along and detailed description of the situation at Riga, what had been done and what was needed. Kobron was very weak and not even worty of a garrison, but because of the strategically important position it should be strengthened. Neumünde was unfinished, but it could be developed into a nice fortress. More work was also needed at Pernau. Dorpat was "bizarre", i.e. the position was unsuitable. However, as it was the only major fortification near the Russian border it seemed wise to continue with improvements. Kokenhusen was poor and should really be torn down, but there were no resources to build a new fortress. The fort at Ewst (Aiviekste) should be rebuilt and garrisoned. Dahlberg also wanted to tear down the many old, half ruined castles in the countryside as they could be used by an invader.

Finally Dahlbergh suggested remedies for the ongoing famine and pointed out the vulnerability of the postal communications if the German mail was cut off. Last winter the Finnish mail had failed to appear for three consecutive months.


Source: LVVA, Fond 7349, op. 1. vol. 69, Copy book of outgoing letters in Swedish.



Posted by bengt_nilsson at 8:29 PM MEST
Updated: Friday, 21 June 2013 9:12 PM MEST
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