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Artillery personnel
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The Great Northern War
Sunday, 27 April 2014
Military courts
Topic: Judiciary

Among the records of the Swedish Governor General of Livonia there is a substantial amount of judicial material, including about 15 volumes of records from military trials between 1662 and 1709. I recently had one of them scanned (EAA.278.1.XV-50). It covers the period between 1701 and 1709 and contains many odd bits and pieces such as occasional documents concerning the investigation of the surrender of Dünamünde fortress in 1700 and the captured library and archive of the Dukes of Courland. One document concerns three soldiers who were separated from their unit during the battle of Hummelhof and were suspected of desertion. A case from 1705 deals with a case where the body a fallen officer had been plundered during a battle and it was suspected that someone within his unit was responsible. Eventually it was discovered that the culprits were one of the fallen officer's servants and a soldier. One of them had managed to escape, but the other was sentenced to nine "gatlopp" (running the gauntlet) through 300 men and one year of hard labour.

In another case a soldier called Påvel (of Tokamåla, Småland) belonging to Per Banér's regiment was accused of trying to commit suicide. Påvel testified to the court that he had been convicted of beating one of the recently arrived recruits and as result lost his position as vice corporal despite being entirely innocent. This has resulted in a lot of thinking about his fate and how he was being persecuted. One morning Påvel had been drinking and after that he couldn't remember how he got hold of a musket and shot himself in the chest. Påvel stated he very much regretted what he had done and asked for the court's mercy. The regimental priest testified that Påvel must have been temporarily insane. The court decided that this was most likely the case and sentenced him to three "gatlopp" and three Sundays of "kyrkoplikt" (public penance in church).

In this case the votes are also present. The more unforgiving members of the court wanted to punish him with nine "gatlopp", while the more lenient ones (among them most of the officers) suggested 14 days of "water and bread" and 3 Sundays of "public penance". 

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 8:24 PM MEST
Updated: Sunday, 27 April 2014 11:54 PM MEST
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Sunday, 20 April 2014
The Peipus squadron
Topic: Navy

In early March 1701 Charles XII decided to create naval forces for the lakes Ladoga and Peipus. Of the two lakes Peipus presented the biggest challenge. The force would have to be created locally and the only possible place was Dorpat. However, as Dorpat was situated about 30 km inland the ships would be forced to use the river Embach to reach the lake. Apart from being vulnerable for attacks during the passage there was always the danger that the enemy captured the estuary while the ships were out to sea. The attempted solution to second problem was to station a floating battery (a pram) at the mouth of the Embach and to support it by a redoubt. The first problem was more tricky and could only be solved by having army units escorting the fleet on land both on the way out and on the way in. This was not a problem in 1701, but it became an issue after the main army had left the area and the Russian forces began to make large raids into Livonia. Especially after the battle of Hummelhof in July 1702 Schlippenbach's weak army could not be expected to defend the border, so the only available force in the area was the garrison at Dorpat. But what sort of risks could be taken with it? 

The story of the Peipus squadron is mainly told in two articles by the archivist and military historian Lars Otto Berg and in Carl von Rosen's Bidrag till kännedom om de händelser... (1936). Berg mainly focuses on shipbuilding, while v Rosen briefly describes the naval campaigns in the context of Schlippenbach's attempts to defend Livonia. Berg's sources are mainly found among Admiralty records in Krigsarkivet, while v Rosen relied heavily on the Schlippenbach archive and other collections in Riksarkivet. The Schlippenbach archive is very large and it's very time consuming to search for items dealing with naval matters outside a key group of correspondents - Governor Gustaf Adolf Strömfelt, Colonel Carl Gustaf Skytte, Admiral Gideon von Numers and the two naval captains Jonas Hökeflycht & Carl Gustaf Löschern von Hertzfelt. Who else, among litterally hundreds of correspondents, could have anything to say about the Peipus squadron?

For the last couple of weeks I have attempted to put together a basic index of the relevant letters and documents I have come across in Swedish and in Baltic archives and right now I am at about 110 for 1701 and 200 for 1702. The more I look the clearer it becomes that this is literally only the tip of the iceberg - the Peipus squadron was given a lot of attention by a large number of people, not least Charles XII himself. It was no small matter to build and equip these ships in Dorpat, where almost everything except the timber had to be found elsewhere and in a time when the constant lack of funds was an enormous problem. 

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 10:13 PM MEST
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Sunday, 13 April 2014
Schlippenbach's Army of Livonia
Topic: Generals

On 28 July 1701 Wolmar Anton v. Schlippenbach sent Charles XII a detailed account of the Army of Livonia. Total number (corporals & soldiers) was 3, 188 plus a detachment of unspecified strength in Marienburg. Slightly more than a month later Schlippenbach sent a new list, which showed that he on 31 August had at his immediate disposal just under 2,000 men (corporals & soldiers), while another 890 were stationed at various outposts. In the same letter, dated 9 September, he also reported on the Russian attack a couple of days earlier. At Kasaritsa and Rauge, Schlippenbach wrote, 10,000 Russians had attacked the Swedish positions and a much greater force had appeared at Rappin. He had, Schlippenbach continued, personally directed the defense and after a fierce struggle the Russians had been driven back with losses of at least 2,000 men, including two colonels (not counting those dead bodies the retreating Russians had brought off).

At Rappin, Schlippenbach wrote, the Russians had been more successful, but more than 1,000 killed had been found on the battlefield or in the stream nearby. Eventually the Swedish defenders succumbed and two old, more or less useless, cannons had been lost. Of the 500 Swedes not much more than 100 had returned. At Pechory and Pskov the enemy had about 30,000 men, Schlippenbach reported, so it was quite impossible for him to defend everything. Reinforcements were urgently needed.

Schlippenbach also enclosed the testimony of a Russian prisoner, who had been taken on the road to Pechory on 7 September. He was a clergyman by the name of "Ivan Fiedoroffschin Koroboff". He had worked in the town of "Lushi", but then been drafted into Col. "Ussiakou's" regiment. According to the prisoner this regiment was stationed at Pechory and had taken part in the attack at Rauge. "Koroboff" didn't know how strong the Russian force was, but it was commonly said in Russia that the army at the border consisted of 100,000 men. So how strong was the Russian force that had attacked? "Koroboff" said that he had been told that 30,000 were to attack the post at Rappin. He did not know the total strength at Rauge and Kasaritsa, but he was certain that the dragoons had been 3,000. Who had been in in charge? At Rappin Sheremetev's son and at Rauge and Kasaritsa a certain "Jacob Michititz". 

In the minutes of the interrogation it was also noted that two letters found on the battlefield confirmed that Colonel "Ussiakou" had been killed along with Colonel "Kakoskau". 

It's of course worth mentioning that Russian sources give very different numbers. According to Sheremetev's journal the total loss in dead and wounded at Kasaritsa, Rauge and Rappin was 85 - 23 killed and 62 wounded.  Not so easy to reconcile with Schlippenbach's body count, that's for sure. 


Riksarkivet, Skrivelser till Konungen. Karl XII, vol. 23 

Palli, H., Mezhdu dvumya boyami za Narvu. - Tallinn, 1960

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 10:23 PM MEST
Updated: Sunday, 13 April 2014 10:42 PM MEST
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Sunday, 6 April 2014
The Ketten affair
Topic: Diplomacy

When the Great Northern War broke out in 1700 the main Swedish fortresses in Ingria were Narva, Nyen and Nöteborg, in Estonia Reval and in Livonia Riga, Neumünde, Pernau and Riga. In Ingria substantial amounts had been spent on Narva, while the only major work done at Nöteborg during the latter part of the 17th century was the rebuilding of the so called "Black Tower". One cannot help wonder what would have happened if Czar Peter in 1700 had attacked Nöteborg and Nyen rather than the much more formidable Narva. Most likely had been able to capture them both rather quickly, totally changing the situation facing Charles XII when he landed at Pernau in early October. In such a scenario a foray into Courland and involvement in the Lithuanian civil war could well have appeared less appealing to him, but on the other hand it would have been both expensive and difficult to supply a large army in Livonia (and even more so in Ingria) for operations against the Russians. 

It is worth noting that the Saxon's did not particularly like the Czar's decision to attack Narva as they considered the fortress to be part of Estonia, which according to the agreements made before the war was off limits. However, Peter could rightly point out that Narva administratively belonged to Ingria. When Russian forces in 1704 captured Dorpat there was no question - the Czar had reached beyond what the agreements said. For the time being the matter was settled by a manifesto in which Peter stated that he had taken the town on behalf of the Polish Crown and assurances that the matter would be settled in the promised fashion.

Perhaps some of this uncertainty around the Czar's real intentions were a contributing factor in the peculiar episode called "the Ketten affair". In late 1702 Johan Reinhold Patkul visited Vienna, where he received a letter from a close associate of Jakub Sobieski, a clergyman called Ketten. Ketten asked Patkul about the Czar's view of Sobieski and suggested that Charles XII was prepared to grant Patkul amnesty if the latter could convince Peter to make peace with Sweden. Patkul replied with the interest, suggesting a personal meeting between him and Ketten. Apparently this went well enough and Patkul later wrote to Ketten saying that he was prepared to make an attempt to carry out his part of the deal if he received written assurances from Charles XII. However, no such document was issued (and it's unlikely that Charles was informed of Ketten's action). The mysterious incident ended with King Augustus warning the Czar about Patkul's intrigues - he was a man who only worked for his own benefit and couldn't be trusted. 



Erdmann, Y., Der livländischen Staatsmann Johann Reinhold von Patkul. - Berlin, 1970.  

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 10:16 PM MEST
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Sunday, 30 March 2014
Governor General Frölich
Topic: Generals

When Erik Dahlbergh retired in early 1702 he was replaced by Lieutenant General Carl Gustaf Frölich (1637-1714), a highly original and very colourful man. On the positive side it could perhaps be said that he wasn't afraid of taking the initiative and always was prepared to offer suggestions on how to solve difficult problems, but in some cases his methods and proposals bordered on the bizarre. In the summer of 1711 Frölich suggested that a native Swede should be sent to the Danish king with the message that "the evil spirit" had inspired him to make war on Sweden and a couple of months later he offered to transport an army to Zealand without using any ships. In December 1711 Frölich stated that the plague could be stopped by prayers and juice from juniper berries, which was "a wonderful thing for both internal and external use". 

Frölich is more perhaps more famous for the innovative monetary reform he carried out in late 1705. Without any sort of authorization from Charles XII he on 5 December 1705 issued a proclamation concerning "doppelte, eintzele und halbe Carolinen auch die fünff Oehr-Stücke". They should be handed in to a committee appointed by Frölich (Captain Daniel Leijonancker, the commissioner Johan Hilleboldt and Lieutenant Johan Wilhelm Max). The idea behind seems to have been that people would only receive half of their coins in return, but these would after stamping be worth twice their original value so nobody would (in theory) lose anything. Needless to say Frölich's actions did not appeal to Charles XII, who shortly dismissed him and sent an angry letter ordering the immediate abolishment of the monetary reform.



LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 57 (German Letter book of 1705)

LVVA, fond 7349, op. 2, vol.  242 (documents concerning the monetary reform)

LiSB, H 79:2, nr 7 (Frölich's printed proclamation of 4 December 1705)

Grauers, S., Arvid Bernhard Horn. - Göteborg, 1920. - P. 126 ff.

Grauers, S., Generalen och presidenten Carl Gustaf Frölich // Karolinska Förbundets Årsbok. - 1966. - P. 86-128

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 1:32 PM MEST
Updated: Monday, 31 March 2014 9:30 AM MEST
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Sunday, 23 March 2014
The siege of Selburg 1704
Topic: Archives

As I have mentioned many times before the military historian Hugo Uddgren (1876-1955) in 1919 published the first volume of his Lewenhaupt biography. During the preparations for this volume Uddgren made use not only of the most important archives in Riga, but also went to Saint Petersburg where the archive of the Dukes of Courland was kept at that time. This collection in 1929 came to Riga and is now fond 554 in Latvijas Valsts vestures arhivs. From the perspective of the GNW it is a very relevant archive because the records of the Swedish administration of Courland 1701-1709 have at some point been attached to it. Generally speaking this means that letters to Lewenhaupt as Deputy (and acting) Governor of Courland or as commander of the Courland army can most likely from 1703-1706 (when he was appointed Governor of Riga) be found in LVVA, fond 554. Letters from Lewenhaupt and other officers in the Courland army to the Governor General of Livonia can be found either in LVVA, fond 7349 or in EAA, fond 278. This latter fact can sometimes be really confusing, as Uddgren gives no details about the volumes in which the documents he used were found, only "Swedish archive, Riga" or "Courland archive, Petersburg). 

Let me give an illuminating example: On pages 206-210 Uddgren describes the short siege of Selburg (Selpils) by the Wisniowiecki forces in the summer of 1704. His main sources of information for the situation at Selburg before and during the siege are a couple of letters from the garrison commander Carl Lindschöld to Governor General Frölich in Riga. They are dated 7 June, 16 and 28 July. Of these, Uddgren states, the first is found in the "Swedish archive", the second in the "Courland archive" and the third in the "Swedish archive". Considering who they were addressed to it's a peculiar combination, but Frölich may of course have forwarded a copy to Mitau. Anyway, the situation today is as follows:

1. Lindschöld to Frölich, Selburg 7 June 1704 (EAA 278.1.XX-31, p. 156 f.)

2. Lindschöld to Frölich, Selburg 16 July 1704 (LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 292, p. 88 f.)

3. Lindschöld to Frölich, Selburg 28 July 1704 (EAA 278.1.XX-31, p. 158 f.)

This is in no way a unique situation and things get even more complicated if one is looking for Selburg letters older than the summer of 1704. Then there is also at least LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 315 and the Malmberg papers in Uppsala University library (which contain about a dozen letters from 1701 and 1702).


Posted by bengt_nilsson at 4:46 PM MEST
Updated: Sunday, 23 March 2014 5:26 PM MEST
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Sunday, 16 March 2014
The Embassy of 1684
Topic: Diplomacy

In 1684 a large Swedish embassy was sent to Russia. Among the notable members was the young Count Adam Ludvig Lewenhaupt (1659-1719) and the linguist Johan Gabriel Sparwenfeld (1655-1727), whose diary from the journey was published in 2002. Some documents concerning this embassy have found their way into the archive of the Livonian Governor General (LVVA, fond 7349, op. 2, vol. 72). This volume bears the rather misleading title "Briefe von verschiedene Personen (H. Zimmermann, J. Kenning, H. Halmfeldt u.a.) über die Kampfhandlungen 1670-1684", but is reality a rather artificial collection of miscellaneous letters dealing with Swedish-Russian relations. Some of them are from Governor General Grundel-Helmfelt in Narva, others from Dorpat. With one or two exceptions they are all dated 1684. However, the bulk of the rather thin volume (less than 100 pages) consist of letters from the leader of the Swedish delegation Konrad Gyllenstierna, letters to him and material concerning Swedish complaints. One document, dated Narva 10 March 1684, gives a list of the complaints received by the embassy up to that point. No 1 is "The town of Narva's two memorials about the troubles caused on the Russian side contrary to the treaties", while others go back to damages caused during the war in the 1650's. No 19 is two letters written by the leaseholder Schubben regarding the fact that the Russians had strengthened a certain border post and would not allow Swedish subjects to cross, while no 21 is "Major Maidel's list of 19 peasants who have escaped..." Of the various complaints some seem to be included in the volume (but they are unfortunately undated). There is one from the city of Riga and others from Nyen and Narva.

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:54 PM MEST
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Sunday, 9 March 2014
The GNW in Courland, Livonia, Estonia and Ingria
Topic: Literature

Generally speaking the Swedish literature about the war in the above mentioned areas is very limited. The operations of the Courland army under the command of Adam Ludvig Lewenhaupt is described in some depth by Hugo Uddgren (1876-1955) in his two volume biography of the General (Karolinen Adam Ludvig Lewenhaupt), published in 1919 and 1950. Uddgren was among the first Swedish researchers to use the archives in Riga and he is possibly the only one to have used the archive of the Dukes of Courland (at that time in Saint Petersburg), which also contains the records of the Swedish administration between 1701 and 1709.

The Livonian theatre of war is partially covered by a couple of short works by Otto Sjögren, who was involved in arranging the large Schlippenbach collection in Riksarkivet. 

Count Carl von Rosen's Bidrag till kännedom om de händelser om de händelser..., vol II (1936) covers the entire area, but only until 1704. On the other end is Fredrik Arfwidsson's dissertation Försvaret af Östersjöprovinserna 1708-1710 (1936), which he much later supplemented by a few articles in Karolinska Förbundets Årsbok

Worth mentioning is also the Finnish historian Eirik Hornborg's biography of Carl Gustaf Armfeldt (Karolinen Armfelt och kampen om Finland under stora nordiska kriget), which appeared in 1952. 

This handful of works have until today pretty much dominated the field, so whenever modern Swedish historians write about the GNW in the Baltic provinces it's often easy to recognize their sources. Often the interpretations are very similar as well and heavily influenced by v. Rosen. 

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:30 PM MEST
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Sunday, 2 March 2014
Carl Gustaf Skytte
Topic: Livonia

On a couple of occasions I have touched upon the fate of the Peipus squadron, lost at the beginning of May 1704. One of the more prominent figures in this story was Colonel Carl Gustaf Skytte (1647-1717), Commander of the garrison in Dorpat. Skytte was very experienced soldier, having served since the 1660's, but he appears to have been a rather difficult man who frequently got into conflicts. One man who didn't see eye to eye with Skytte was Andreas Löschern von Hertzfelt (1663-1734), who appears to have been a man with a hot temper. On 4 April 1704, a month before the loss of Peipus squadron, Skytte informed Major General Schlippenbach about an incident in the Swedish church in Dorpat. According to Skytte, cavalry captain Löschern and his brother (who commanded the ships) had tried to sit in the pew where the regimental officers of the garrison used to sit. This had caused disorder and Skytte had felt it necessary to issue regulations which Andreas Löschern did not like. One night, Skytte reports, Löschern arrived at his house (visibly drunk) and entered without removing his hat. Löschern then proceeded to accuse Skytte of trying to stop him from going to church. Skytte replied that he only wanted to restore order. Seeing that Löschern was both drunk and extremely agitated Skytte suggested that it was better for him to wait until he was sober. This upset the captain even more, who replied: "No honest man calls me drunk!" Skytte then went to to the door and told the soldier outside to fetch an officer of the guard. In the mean time Löschern had drawn his sword and lunged at Skytte, who twice managed to escape being struck. The commotion alerted Skytte's wife, who came running. Upon entering she was hit by Löschern's arm as he turned around and fell to the floor. Löschern then put his sword back and hastily left the house, trying to escape on his horse. He was however rapidly arrested. 


 Source: Riksarkivet, M 1439.

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:01 PM CET
Updated: Wednesday, 18 June 2014 10:09 AM MEST
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Sunday, 23 February 2014
The Fellin Regiment
Topic: Archives
In LVVA, fond 7349, op. 2 is included a few volumes with rather cryptical titles. One example is no 240, which in German is called "Journal der ausgehenden Schreiben des Fellinschen Regiments 1704" (Journal of outgoing letters for the Fellin Regiment". If one looks at the actual volume something entirely different appears - Letter book of the Nyland Infantry Regiment 1704 to February 1710. In it one finds for example details about the batallion which was included in Lewenhaupt's army and left Riga in the summer of 1708 and the size of the supplies they would bring: Dry bread for one month, meal (flour) for two months, salt for four months and tobacco for one month. Later appear details about the men who returned from the Lesnaya battle - in early December 1708 6 corporals and 29 soldiers had arrived without muskets and swords

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 10:42 PM CET
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