Topic: Source criticism
One of the most popular sources for the history of the Great Northern War is Histoire militaire de Charles XII, roi de Suède (1741), presented as a work by Gustaf Adlerfelt (1671-1709). As the late historian Hans Villius showed in his dissertation Karl XII:s ryska fälttåg (1951) it is nothing of the kind, especially as far as the campaign of 1707-1709 is concerned. Histoire Militaire is in fact an extremly "dangerous" source in the sense that it, contrary to what is explicitly stated in the introduction, was heavily edited by Adlerfelt's son (who had no firsthand knowledge of the events). This resulted in many mistakes which are not present in the Gustaf Adlerfelt's original Swedish manuscript (published in 1919 under the title Karl XII:s krigsföretag).
The preserved manuscript is accompanied by various letters to Gustaf Adlerfelt, which bear testimony to the fact that he sought to collect information from various theatres of war. Another example of this can be found in a small collection of Lewenhaupt papers in Riksarkivet, Stockholm (E 4645). On 18 May 1706 Gustaf Adlerfelt wrote to Lewenhaupt from Pinsk about the latest developments, thanking the General for his willingness to send a copy of his journal. "My curiosity is legitimate and has to be excused", Adlerfelt writes. If it was possible to send the journal over Königsberg he would be much obliged. Later contacts between the two can also be established. On 23 February 1707 Adlerfelt wrote to Lewenhaupt from Altranstädt (LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1., vol. 296, pp. 253-255). The wish this time was very different: a relative by the name of Ernst Magnus von Hargen, who was serving in the garrison at Wismar, was interested in obtaining a vacant spot in the Österbotten infantry regiment. The Colonel of the regiment, a friend of Adlerfelt, was favorably disposed and had promised to write to Lewenhaupt about it. Adlerfelt hoped this would settle the matter and assured the General that his relative was a very experienced officer. So how did it go? Well, according to a note on Adlerfelt's letter it arrived in Riga on 11 March. On the very same day Lewenhaupt appointed von Hargen to the vacant position and on 2 April Charles XII confirmed the appointment (Krigskollegium, Militiekontoret, Avlöningshandlingar., SE/KrA/0009/A/G IV b/59 (1707), page 509).