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Artillery personnel
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The Great Northern War
Sunday, 29 May 2016
October 1700
Topic: Battles

On 2 October 1700 Governor Lindehielm sent a new report to Stockholm. The news from Narva was almost non-existent, but a soldier who claimed to have been in the Russian camp had said that two assaults on the town had failed. It's hard to know what to think about this, Lindeheilm added.

Lindehielm was meanwhile reinforcing the garrisons at Nyen and Nöteborg. He had previously sent 108 infantry and 175 horse and the same day another 308 men. The quality was good and they were well-equipped, but the shortage of officers was still a major problem. None of the colonels appointed by the King had yet arrived. 3 Russian ships returning from Stockholm had been apprehended at Nyen and in the Gulf of Finland. The merchandise had been sent to Reval, but all the money (a very considerable amount) would be kept in Nyen and used for purchasing food for the soldiers.

Lindehielm sent his next report three days later.  There were still no news from Narva as the Russians had sealed all the roads in that direction. A soldier had been sent from Nyen to try and find out what was happening and he claimed that the Russians had made three unsuccesful assaults (15, 17 and 19 September), losing 4,000 men. The Czar had then proclaimed to his soldiers that if they did not take Narva within three days he would kill them all. The soldier had also reported that Koporie had a garrison of 500 and many Ingrian peasants had gone over to the Russians. 7 Russian vessels returning from Stockholm had been stopped at Nyen. One of them, along with some Russians merchants and their servants, had been brought to Viborg. The Russians had on arrival been put in jail. Lindehielm had already sent 400 horse and 400 foot to Nyen and more soldiers were gathering. Appoloff at Nyen had asked for a reprisal attack across the border, which Lindehielm in principle was in favour of. However, he felt it important to first organize the defense.

Lindehielm also included the latest report from Nyen. Appoloff stated that judge Rosenmüller was out with the 150 horse sent from Viborg, attempting to bring back the peasants who were hiding in the forests and organize a defense. A captured Russian peasant had said that cavalry from Narva had surprised a large Russian supply train and brought it into the fortress. He had also said that some people returning from the Russian camp had assured him that no assault had yet been made on Narva. The Russians were just building batteries and waiting for heavier guns.

Source: Riksarkivet, ÄK 243, vol. 77.

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 5:58 PM MEST
Updated: Monday, 30 May 2016 7:29 AM MEST
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Sunday, 22 May 2016
Further developments
Topic: Battles

On 25 September Lindehielm sent a very extensive report, accompanied by several attachments. The main points were that no more news had arrived from Narva, while the word from Nyen was that the Russian force outside Narva was growing by the day. Worrying reports had also arrived from Nöteborg, where it was rumoured that 4, 000 Russians were marching towards the fortress. The fear was that the enemy intended to advance further and cut communication between Nyen and Viborg. Both Appoloff at Nyen and Schlippenbach at Nöteborg urgently requested reinforcements and Lindehielm had felt it necessary to help them as much as he could - 100 infantry and 100 horse were already on their way and more would follow. Lindehielm was still lacking higher officers - the only one he had was Major Rohr (infantry). He had sent requests to both Governor General de la Gardie and General Vellingk and if they could assist in this regard Lindehielm believed he could keep the Russians at bay. Money was however urgently needed, both for officer's wages and for buying supplies. Lindehielm also wanted a few small warships, fearing that the Russians might get past Nöteborg and out into the Gulf of Finland. 

On the 28th Lindehielm sentb a new report to Stockholm. The news about the Russian army were few, i.e. only said that the preparations for a siege was under way. The Orthodox peasants were mostly helping the Russians, while the Lutherans had fled to the forests. Upon hearing about the arrival of reinforcements at Nyen some had reported in and expressed a willingness to fight the invaders. Lindehielm was sending more men to Nyen and said that if he just had more weapons, powder, ammunition and officers he believed it possible to create such a powerful diversion that the Russian siege of Narva would be affected. Lindehielm had sent orders to intercept Russian vessels returning from Stockholm, hoping that they were loaded with something useful. 8 Russian ships had already been taken at Nyen. 

In a hastily added PS Lindehielm added that he had just received letters from Nyen requesting more reinforcements as Appoloff had felt it necessary to send most of the previous ones to Nöteborg. According to the letters there had been two failed assaults on Narva. 

Source: Riksarkivet, ÄK 243, vol. 77.  

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 12:01 AM MEST
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Sunday, 15 May 2016
Lindehielm again
Topic: Battles

On 18 September 1700 Lindehielm again reported to Stockholm. After his letter from the 14th no mail had arrived from Narva or Nyen. A large number of people had fled from Nyen to Viborg and they had confirmed the news about the Russian invasion. One part of the invading force had gone towards Narva and another was marching back and forth through Ingria in order to bring the peasants under Russian control. Particularly the Orthodox had been well treated, but it was claimed that if the Lutherans among the peasants had been given muskets, powder and a leader they would have been willing to fight. 100 muskets and two barrels of powder had been sent from Viborg for support and Lindehielm was expecting a report from Colonel Apolloff. If this was positive he would send more, but it was important that the stores at Viborg was resupplied from Stockholm. Lindehielm had gathered the peasants and any regular soldiers he could find and sent them to Nyen in order to protect Viborg by setting up a line of defence on the shores of the Neva. Perhaps this force even might persuade the Russians to withdraw some of the army outside Narva. A major problem for Lindehielm was the lack of officers. 

In his next report, dated 21 September, Lindehielm stated that more people had arrived from Nyen and other parts of Ingria. They said that the Russian force was very large. The invaders had sent out proclamations assuring that everybody who remained would be treated well. The attack on Narva had begun, but no details were known. The panic had also spread to the Keksholm area. The source was said to be deserters from the Swedish army in Livonia, who had taken refuge in the forests. Lindehielm had instructed the bailiffs to keep the peasants from fleeing and make them guard the borders, telling them that regular units were marching to the relief of Nyen so as to keep the Russians occupied. Lindehielm had also been forced to send muskets and powder to Savolax. Colonel Rehbinder had sent a letter from Reval, saying that he would come to Viborg as soon as he could. A man who had fled from Ingria claimed that Johan Sjöblad, commander of the Swedish artillery, and 40 men had managed to get into Narva, while Charles XII had landed with a large force at Reval. These rumours (which were false) had caused much joy in Viborg and increased moral significantly. However, two days later there came letters from Reval and they said nothing about this. This incident showed, Lindehielm said, that the people were willing to fight if they just received assurances of support.

Source: Riksarkivet, ÄK 243, vol. 77

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 7:21 PM MEST
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Sunday, 8 May 2016
Not so quiet anymore
Topic: Diplomacy

On 14 September 1700 Lindehielm sent a new report to Stockholm. In this he referred to a letter from Lt. Col. Appoloff in Nyen, who had written about the panic which had spread in Ingria because of the Russian advance. Lindehielm had immediately returned to Viborg, where he on the 11th received similar news from Narva. According to the report about 100 Russian horse had crossed the border and attacked an estate, wounded two men and plundered the manor. Lindehielm had immediately taken steps to mobilize the units available and had sought to appoint suitable officers and non-commissioned officers. He had also instructed the bailiffs to make the peasants ready to fight any raiding party. The peasants had declared their willingness to do so, but were asking for muskets and gunpowder. Lindehielm had immediately written about this to Krigskollegium in Stockholm and reiterated this request - the local stores were small and unless more arrived from Stockholm the consequences might be dangerous. Lindehielm was also attempting to find more men for the garrison. The town's defenses were in a poor state because the inhabitants had neglected them, but Lindehielm was attempting to plug the holes with palisades and chevaux de frise so as to make an immediate storming impossible. 

A peculiar detail, Lindehielm added, was that as the Russian traders who had visited during the summer gradually had left, five russian vessels had arrived in a small port 40 km from Viborg to trade at the local market which was held at this time every year. When the locals had asked why they came now that there was a war between Sweden and Russia, the Russian traders had replied that they knew nothing about a war. This, and the relative quiet since the first news came from Narva, seemed to suggest that the danger perhaps wasn't as great as had been feared (i.e. that the attack had been an isolated incident).

Just as Lindehielm finished his letter a visitor arrived. A man, who had been sent from the army, said that when he passed Narva there were firm reports that the Russian army was advancing. The war had begun...

Source: Riksarkivet, ÄK 243, vol. 77


Posted by bengt_nilsson at 10:00 PM MEST
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Monday, 2 May 2016
All quiet
Topic: Diplomacy

On 3 September 1700 the County Governor in Viborg Anders Lindehielm sent a letter to Stockholm and enclosed a summary of the latest reports from the border. One of these stated that the Ottomans were besieging Azov, which suggested that there was no danger of a Russian attack on Sweden. The second came from a spy, who had visited the border area and spoken with a Russian official. The latter had told him that there were no worrying news from Russia. The forces that were gathering near the borders were in preparation for a war with Poland. Lindehielm wrote that all sorts of rumours circulated, but he hoped that nothing serious would happen. It seemed unlikely, he added, that the Czar would take action on a new front as long as the war with the Ottomans was ongoing.

On 9 September Lindehielm wrote again, this time saying that the Russian forces gathered near the border were rumoured to be mainly intended as support for King Augustus, but also to attack the Swedish borders. These reports had caused such fear among the inhabitants of Nyen that they had started to pack their things. A local official had come from Nyen to Viborg to request soldiers, muskets and ammunition in order to mobilize the peasants. Lindehielm had replied that he couldn't believe the Czar would break his assurances in such a way. Anyway, without orders from the General (likely Governor Otto Vellingk) Lindehielm could not help.

Source: Riksarkivet, ÄK 243, vol. 77 

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 4:43 PM MEST
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Sunday, 24 April 2016
A new website
Topic: Battles

A website dedicated to events in 1718 (and 1716) has recently opened:

The project seems ambitious enough with several prominent institutions and organizations in Sweden and Norway working together. It is understandable that some of the material is fairly provisional at this point, but it seems to me that some of it has been published a bit prematurely. It is for example quite disappointing to read that Peter I of Russia, Frederick IV of Denmark and August II of Saxony-Poland declared war on Sweden in 1700. The fact that Denmark attacked only the Duke of Holstein and Sweden got involved in that particular conflict only to uphold the Treaty of Altona in 1689 ought to be common knowledge - it is after all one of the keys for understanding the events in 1700. The text then goes on to suggest that the Swedish army subsequently was shipped across the Baltic to relieve the besieged Narva - a decision which was only made once the army got across and Charles XII found that Riga was less threatened.

Another rather preculiar detail is the attempt to explain the difference between the Julian and the Gregorian calender without even once mentioning the unique Swedish calender in use 1700-1712. 

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:38 PM MEST
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Sunday, 17 April 2016
Johann Jacob Bach in the Swedish army : part 2
Topic: Musicians

Some weeks ago I touched upon the story of Johann Jacob Bach and his service in the Swedish army. It was originally my intention to publish an article on the subject in some suitable journal, but other subjects have a tendency of getting in the way. So I'll do it here instead. 

One of the versions is that Bach joined the Swedish army in 1704, another that he did so in 1707. Let us start with the first one. What happened in 1704? Well, a few new dragoon regiments were recruited, one of the them under the command of Gustaf Adam Taube. So let's check the oldest muster rolls for 1704-1705 for the regiment's hautboists. And there he is as no 1: Johann Jacob Pach (Generalmönsterrullor, Arkiv med löpande volymnumrering, SE/KrA/0023/0/1603 (1704), bildid: A0029803_00009). 

Despite the spelling there is no question about the identity as Bach also turns up in the records from Bender as hautboist from the Taube dragoons, in one case even with his own signature.

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 8:02 PM MEST
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Sunday, 10 April 2016
The silver legend
Topic: Factoids

One of the most famous Swedish stories from the GNW period is the one about how the clergyman Christian Georg Notmann saved the Communion Set belonging to the Västmanland infantry regiment by hastily burying it near a big oak on the battlefield at Poltava. After more than a decade as prisoner of war he then, the story goes, returned after being released, dug it up and brought back to Sweden. This version of the story goes back at least to the poet Carl Snoilsky (1841-1903) and his Regementets kalk, but has since found its way into more scientific literature. So what did Notmann himself say on the subject?

In 1724 Notmann lived in the parish of Kvillinge just outside Norrköping. The vicar had just died and Notmann sought to succeed him. In a letter to the bishop in Linköping he outlined his achievements, particularly after the disaster of 1709: he became a vicar in the German parish of Yaroslavl and also served parishioners in nearby Kostroma. After his release in 1722 he went via Narva to Norrköping and Kvillinge. So nothing about a visit to Poltava...

However, Notmann does tell a story about a Communion Set. At Toruń in 1703 Charles XII personally gave him a chalice and a paten, saying that Notmann should use them when he received his own parish in the future. Notmann apparently sent them to his mother in Riga for safekeeping and when she fled to Sweden she ended up in Kvillinge, where she gave them to the church. So, Notmann writes, if he was appointed vicar in Kvillinge he would be able to use the chalice and the paten in the way the late King had wished. 

This part of the story is confirmed by an inventory from the early 18th century: "On 2 August 1711 Catharina Eleonora Stenhammar of Kvarntorp presented the church of Kvillinge with a gilded chalice and a paten...". 

Unfortunately for Notmann the parishioners preferred the late vicar's son and he never got his own parish, dying in Kvillinge in 1739. It mattered very little that King Frederick I in 1723 had recommended Notmann, stating that it would be gratifying if the latter received some sort of promotion after having endured so many difficulties during GNW. 


Landsarkivet i Vadstena, Domkapitlet i Linköpings arkiv E IV : 193

Landsarkivet i Vadstena, Kvillinge kyrkoarkiv C I : 2


Posted by bengt_nilsson at 10:13 PM MEST
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Sunday, 3 April 2016
Short break
There will be no new post today as I have had to spend the weekend immersing myself in the workings of mid-18th century bureaucracy in preparation for an article on the poet, clergyman and collector Samuel Älf (1727-1799). Perhaps something later in the week or else next Sunday.

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 10:40 PM MEST
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Sunday, 27 March 2016
The General's servant
Topic: Generals

In December 1703 Reverend Daniel Rydelius in Vinnerstad parish wrote to his superiors in Linköping. There were rumours circulating that General Lewenhaupt's bailiff Simon Larsson Hesselgren at the estate of Charlottenborg was having an extramarital relation with the late reverend Frodelius daughter Greta. Rydelius had tried to find out the truth, but with little success. What should he do?

The issue soon came to Hesselgren's attention and he lodged a complaint. There was absolutely no truth to the rumours. He had for a long time been friends with the Frodelius family. Hesselgren's own wife had been very ill for more than six years and their children were young. The war meant difficult times so it was only natural that he sought out friends for help and advice. Hesselgren lamented that his reputation had been tarnished by Rydelius report. Had he not, Hesselgren wrote, since he left school been in the service of Major General Lewenhaupt and accompanied the General on journeys through Germany, France, Italy, England, Holland, Persia and Russia? Would Lewenhaupt have kept Hesselgren in his service for so long if Rydelius view of him was correct?

Had Lewenhaupt and Hesselgren really visited all those countries? Well, the question mark is around Persia. Hesselgren and Lewenhaupt took part in the Swedish embassy to Russia in 1684, but there is nothing to suggest that they went further. Hesselgren's own journal is silent on the subject.


Landsarkivet i Vadstena, Domkapitlets i Linköping arkiv E IV:303 (Vinnerstad parish 1701-1725) 

Uppsala Universitetsbibliotek, X  418 (Simon Hesselgren's travel journal)

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:32 PM MEST
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