Topic: Source criticism
One of the most hotly debated Swedish sources is the Lewenhaupt memoirs, written while the author was a prisoner of war in Russia. They were first (partially) published in the 1750's by Carl Gustaf Boije, married to one of the late General's daughters. A complete edition appeared as late as in 1952. Historians traditionally formed two different camps - one which considered Lewenhaupt a tragic victim of a stubborn monarchs disregard for common sense and another which viewed the memoirs as an attempt to rewrite history and place blame for the author's own mistakes on everybody but himself.
One of the most contested items in the memoirs is the description of the prelude to Lewenhaupt's march eastwards in the summer of 1708. The historian Ernst Carlson (1854-1909), who was firmly in the first camp, relied heavily on the memoirs and apparently believed that the first order to collect supplies for three months was given on 26 May - in the same letter which ordered Lewenhaupt to march in early June! This was of course not the case. The order to collect supplies for three months was given on 24 February 1708 and reached Lewenhaupt in early March (see for instance letter from B. O. Stackelberg to Nils Stromberg 10 March 1708). So how could Carlson have been so mistaken? Well, there is no mention of the February order in Lewenhaupt's memoirs. Instead the General gives the King's letter of 26 May and comments: I sent a courier to the King and reported that it would be impossible for me to leave so soon and how my departure would leave Estonia and Livonia open to the enemy. But as I received no new orders the march continued...
So when did this courier leave with Lewenhaupt's report and his request for different orders? The memoirs are vague on this point, but Carlson naturally assumed that it was done immediately. Well, the letter dated 26 May arrived in Riga on 3 June, but Lewenhaupt's doubts and worries were not translated into action until three weeks later. On 25 June Lewenhaupt wrote to Gustaf Adolf Strömfelt (who a few days before had appealed to him to leave some units behind) that he "now" was sending an extensive report about the situation and that this "perhaps" would result in different orders.
Bernt Otto Stackelberg to Nils Stromberg, Mitau 10 March 1708, Riksarkivet, Livonica II, vol. 313.
Gustaf Adolf Strömfelt to Adam Ludvig Lewenhaupt, Pernau 19 June 1708, LVVA, Fond 7349, op. 2, vol. 247.
Karl XII to Adam Ludvig Lewenhaupt, Radoszkowicze 26 May 1708, Uppsala Univ. Library, F. 103
Swedish letter book 1708, LVVA, Fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 79.
Carlson, Ernst, Sveriges historia under Karl den tolftes regering. D. 3. - Stockholm, 1910.
Lewenhaupt, Adam Ludvig, Adam Ludvig Lewenhaupts berättelse... Stockholm, 1952.