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Sunday, 25 October 2015
Topic: Navy

The sudden Saxon attack on Riga on 11 February 1700 seems to have resulted in widespread panic among those outside the walls. There is a small testimony of this in an account book kept by Johan Furubohm, an official of the Admiralty who was stationed in Riga. He writes (rough translation):

"Through the sudden outbreak of hostilities and the invasion of Saxon troops on 11 February 1700 there was such a terror and anxiety when the guns fired the alarm shots, drums began to sound and bells started ringing that everyone who was outside the walls dropped everything and in panic ran towards the town. This resulted in the following items being lost at the shipyard..."

12 axes

7 shovels of iron


3 crowbars


1 pair of handcuffs

3 iron collars


1 sloop

6 locks 


Source: EAA (Tartu), EAA.278.1.XXV-52


Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:51 PM MEST
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Sunday, 18 October 2015
Johan Brask and Otto Magnus Wolffelt
Topic: Factoids

In Swedish history books it's often stated that the news about the Saxon attack on Riga reached Charles XII through a courier sent by Governor General Dahlbergh. This was long ago proven to be wrong (see my blog entry for 6 December 2012). Because of some incoming letters in the archive of the Estonian Governor General it is possible to follow the "winner", Captain Otto Magnus Wolffelt a bit further. 

On 7 March 1700 Charles XII sent out his first orders for the mobilization of the army. The daring Wolffelt was given the task of bringing the orders to Finland. On 19 March Johan Ribbing, commander of the Nyland and Tavastehus cavalry regiment, wrote to Governor General de la Gardie that he had just received the King's orders through Captain Wolffelt. Captain Brask seems to have been far behind - on 24 April 1700 Otto Vellingk informed Charles XII that Brask had arrived in Reval on the 19th with the King's letter dated 29 March. 



EAA (Tartu), EAA  1.2.284

Riksarkivet (Stockholm), Livonica II, vol. 192


Posted by bengt_nilsson at 7:49 PM MEST
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Sunday, 11 October 2015
Otto Vellingk and the new regiments : part 2
Topic: Regiments

On 18 June 1700 Vellingk wrote a new report about the raising of new regiments. He informed the King that Col. Magnus Wilhelm Nieroth had agreed to recruit 200 foot soldiers. If the King gave his permission Vellingk believed it would be possible to transfer 200 men from Campenhausen's regiment in Riga, 100 men from the garrison in Dorpat and another 100 from the garrison in Pernau to Nieroth's unit, creating a regiment of 600 soldiers. This regiment could eventually become permanent and stationed in either Dorpat or Pernau.

The King replied on 9 July. He did not like Vellingk's method very much. Charles XII concluded that it weakened the already existing units and gave too profitable terms to Nieroth and others - they would only have to recruit a minor part of the regiments and then they would be presented with additional men on the Crown's expense. Surely these officers could do better? 

Vellingk replied on 13 August. He noted that the King had not approved of transferring 400 men to Nieroth and another 400 to Lt. Col. Helmersen. Vellingk assured the King that his intention had not been to weaken the existing units, but rather the opposite. Unfortunately there was a shortage of recruits, so it was necessary to pay them 8-10 "riksdaler" to sign up. However, Vellingk would do his best to persuade Helmersen and Nieroth to agree to modified terms, but both officers were in the besieged Riga. As for the agreement with Schlippenbach there were problems. The Lieutenant Colonel was not prepared to accept the terms offered to Albedyhl, so Vellingk had been forced to rewrite the agreement three times. Eventually Schlippenbach had written directly to the King. However, Vellingk would get in touch with Schlippenbach once more and inform him of the King's wishes. 


Riksarkivet (Stockholm), Skrivelser till Konungen. Karl XII, vol. 29

Riksarkivet (Stockholm) Riksregistraturet 

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 4:17 PM MEST
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Sunday, 4 October 2015
Otto Vellingk and the new regiments : part 1
Topic: Regiments

On 14 March 1700 Charles XII wrote to Governor Vellingk about the situation after the Saxon attack on Riga. At the end of the letter the King pointed that out that it would be most welcome if more regiments could be raised. Unfortunately the financial resources were limited and the mobilization of the army and navy meant that there were many needs. If someone from private means would undertake such recruitment the King could promise very good terms. 

Vellingk replied to this letter on 30 March. He wrote that he had already during a visit to Reval made an agreement with Colonel Gustaf Ernst Albedyhl about a dragoon regiment of 600 men to be ready within four months. He had also concluded a similar deal with Captain Hans Henrik von Liewen, who had promised to raise a battalion of infantry (500 men) within four months in exchange for an appointment as Lieutenant Colonel. Vellingk himself promised to recruit a regiment of dragoons in Kexholm.

On 21 April Vellingk again wrote to the King about the situation. Ingria was large and as 5,000 men were needed just for defending Narva and Ivangorod, it was very important to raise more soldiers. Vellingk offered to recruit a dragoon regiment, which would become a permanent part of the province's defenses (in peace and war). To form a trained basis for such a regiment the Governor wished to take five men from each company in six the Finnish regiments that were at hand (240 men in all). The King rejected this part of Vellingk's proposal, but agreed to another part of it - to put 300 men light cavalry which traditionally were raised in the province during wars by the nobility and the leaseholders (these soldiers were not part of the so called "adelsfana"). 

Vellingk also asked permission to raise a regiment of infantry. There were two companies of Skytte's regiment (Dorpat) in the province - one in Nöteborg and the other i Kexholm. The Governor proposed to remove them from Skytte's unit and have them form the basis for the new regiment, but again the King refused. The rest (700 men) would be raised in Kexholm county, where there were both men and a will to contribute to the defense of the province. This part was accepted by Charles XII.

In the same letter Vellingk updated the information about his previous agreements. Lt. Col. Schlippenbach and Lt. Col. Albedyhl hade agreed to reach 600 dragoons each and Captain von Liewen 500 musketeers. They had not yet signed the papers, but were prepared to do everything possible in His Majety's service even though their economic means were rather modest.  

Vellingk gives more details about Liewen's regiment in a letter to Governor General De la Gardie on 10 April.  Liewen had in the agreement been giiven permission to recruit in the districts of Weissenstein, Wesenberg, Hapsal and Leal, but the regiment would rendezvous at Hapsal. Vellingk asked de la Gardie to give all possible assistance to Liewen and his officers during the recruitment phase and find quarters and provisions for the soldiers.



Riksarkivet (Stockholm), Livonica II, vol. 192
EAA (Tartu), EAA 1.2.284


Posted by bengt_nilsson at 12:01 AM MEST
Updated: Saturday, 3 October 2015 9:46 PM MEST
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Sunday, 27 September 2015
New regiments
Topic: Regiments

On 6 July 1700 Charles XII instructed Governor General Dahlbergh to send in a list of those regiments which had been created in Livonia, Estonia and Ingria since the beginning of the war. The King knew that Axel Julius de la Gardie had agreed to recruit an infantry regiment and Governor Otto Vellingk one dragoon regiment and one infantry regiment, while Hans Henrik von Liewen and Carl Adam Stackelberg where to recruit an infantry battalion each. Had Dahlbergh made any such agreements with other officers?

The Governor General got the King's letter on 27 July and replied immediately. As far as he knew Stackelberg and Liewen had concluded their agreements with Governor General de la Gardie, while Wolmar Anton von Schlippenbach, Gustaf Ernst Albedyhl, Magnus Wilhelm Nieroth, Liewen (which one?) and Magnus von Helmersen had made their agreements with Governor Vellingk, commander of the relief army. Dahlbergh had concluded an agreement with Wolmar Anton Meyerfeldt, who later had agreed to recruit for Nieroth as his Lieutenant Colonel (draft of the original agreement in LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 335). 


LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 72 

LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 149 

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 10:20 PM MEST
Updated: Wednesday, 30 September 2015 7:49 PM MEST
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Sunday, 20 September 2015
Francis Sheldon
Topic: Navy

I have the during the weekend been fact checking a book manuscript with focus on the Swedish navy. In the course of that work I happened to take an interest in the shipbuilder Francis Sheldon, who according to the article in Svenskt Biografiskt Lexikon by Jan Glete probably was born in the 1610's. This would seem to be very unlikely (if not outright impossible). Sheldon was more likely born somewhere around 1630 (possible slightly before) as the son of another Francis Sheldon, who in 1630 became Clerk of the Cheque at Woolwich. In the will of the latter, dated 1646, the son is described as being not yet 21 years of age and learning to become a shipwright. This means that when Sheldon arrived in Sweden inte late 1650's he was not in his 40's (as Glete believed), but a young man possibly not yet 30 years old. 

Sheldon also turns up in the archive of the Livonian Governor General as he worked in Riga for some time. On 23 June 1683 the Admiralty asked Governor General Christer Horn to assist in an inquiry concerning some accusations against Sheldon.


LVVA. fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 167 

London, National Archives, PROB 11/199/749

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 10:29 PM MEST
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Sunday, 13 September 2015
Otto Vellingk vs Erik Dahlbergh
Topic: Generals
When General Otto Vellingk after the Saxon army had crossed the Düna in mid-July 1700 decided to retreat northwards he blamed Governor General Dahlbergh in Riga. Dahlbergh had failed to provide adequate supply of provisions, which had made it impossible for the army to take up the most suitable position on the northern shore.  Charles XII received Vellingk’s report on 15 August and promptly wrote Dahlbergh, expressing his surprise at the turn of events. Vellingk had previously sent optimistic reports and suddenly the General had been forced to retreat due to lack of provisions? How could this have happened? Dahlbergh and his colleague in Reval Axel Julius de la Gardie had shown an amazing negligence. 
The letter reached Riga on 16 September and Dahlbergh rapidly wrote back. The criticism was simply unfair. It had been very difficult to gather supplies during the period Riga was blocked by the Saxon forces and their raiding parties were roaming the countryside. Despite this a considerable amount of bread was ready for the army when it began arriving, but as Vellingk had inflated its size in his report some of the bread had turned bad before it could be consumed. But there had been no shortage of bread – Vellingk had even been forced to burn some before retreating. Other provisions had been brought into Riga.
The mistakes were entirely Vellingk’s, who had failed to cross the Düna himself. Large preparations for such an enterprise had been made, for instance were boats for 2,500 men built. In Dahlbergh’s opinion Vellingk had all along been looking for excuses for not going on the offensive. The General had also acted very arrogantly in his dealings with presumptive recruiters of new regiments, promising them more money than necessary.
Riksarkivet (RA), Riksregistraturet
RA, Skrivelser till Konungen. Karl XII, vol. 29
LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 72

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 10:14 PM MEST
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Sunday, 6 September 2015
The Czar in Riga 1697
Topic: Diplomacy

This subject has been extensively covered by Alexander Bergengrün and others. Perhaps a few odd bits and pieces from the archive of the Livonian Governor General are worth noting:

On 16 December 1700 Erik Dahlbergh wrote to Olof Hermelin, who was working on a refutation of the Russian complaints against Sweden, i.e. the reasons for attacking Narva. One of the items on the agenda was the supposed maltreatment of the Great Embassy when it passed through Livonia in 1697, notably the fact that Dahlbergh did not acknowledge the presence of the Czar and failed to show him the necessary courtesy. This was a point Dahlbergh found hard to accept. As far as he had been informed Peter was travelling incognito and had threatened to execute anyone who failed to keep his secret. How could the Russians possibly complain about this, the Governor General wrote. The Czar had made a point of staying among the servants and the "riffraff". Yes, Peter had even served wine to Lefort, the nominal head of the Embassy. When Lefort and Captain Johan Brask were playing card the Czar had stood behind Brask's chair just like another servant, Dahlbergh wrote to Hermelin. The Russian manifesto deserved a very harsh reply as their complaints were totally unfounded. They know no honour, the enraged Dahlbergh exclaimed. 

Source: LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 72 

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 8:56 PM MEST
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Sunday, 30 August 2015
Topic: Food

In LVVA, fond 7439, op. 2, vol. 285 one can find something as exotic as menues from September 1696. It lists about a dozen dishes for each day. Among them are such delicacies as "laxvälling (salmon gruel), "kabeljo i huuset" (literally: dried cod in the house), "två gäddor med rovor i huuset" (two pikes with turnips in the house) and "förlorade ägg med corinther" (poached eggs with corinth raisins).

It's obvious that these menues were written for the higher officials as they end with a list of food to be served if something extra was needed - on Monday "fresh tongues of oxen" and on Friday "an English pudding". The menues are followed by lists of food for the "commoners" - very few dishes each day, mostly grain and fish.

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:09 PM MEST
Updated: Sunday, 30 August 2015 9:09 PM MEST
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Sunday, 23 August 2015
Dorpat 1656
Topic: Livonia

In 1896 Friedrich Bienemann jr published a collection of documents concerning the siege of Dorpat (Tartu) in 1656. Among them are a series of letters from Governor Lars Fleming to Magnus Gabriel de la Gardie, the Governor General of Livonia. They are dated 3 April, 14 May, 28 May, 28 May, 8 June, 18 June, 9 July, 15 July, 28 July, 27 October and  10 November. Rainer Fagerlund mentions a few others: Fleming to de la Gardie 4 June, 21 June and 11 July. To this list of letters in Stockholm and Riga can be added the following, preserved among the Malmberg papers in Uppsala University Library: Fleming to de la Gardie 25 June, 19 July and 23 July. In the first of these Fleming reports that many peasants have run away and are plundering the estates of the nobility. He also reports problems with the guns - some are without carriages. In the letter dated 19 July Fleming gives details about the approaching Russians. They had crossed the border during the night between the 15th and 16th. Some units had headed directly for Neuhausen. If Neuhausen fell, Fleming wrote, the enemy would soon attack Dorpat. Reinforcements were urgently needed. In the last of the three letters, dated 23 July, Governor Fleming informs de la Gardie that he has not received any recent reports from Neuhausen. In a hastily written note at the end of the letter he writes that a detachment of cavalry just had returned. They had seem many fires in the direction of Neuhausen. The castle was supposedly still holding (apparently incorrect), because the enemy had not yet been able to bring up the heavy guns. 


Uppsala University Library, Dorpat-Rigasamlingen, vol. 2 and 3 (subsequently rearranged and renamed Livonica

Briefe und Aktenstücke zur Geschichte der Verteidigung und Kapitulation Dorpats 1656 // Mittheilungen aus der livländischen Geschichte. - 16:2. - Riga, 1896. P. 515-606

Fagerlund, Rainer, Kriget i Östersjöprovinserna 1655-1661. - Stockholm, 1979 

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:18 PM MEST
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