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The Great Northern War
Sunday, 25 January 2015
New uniforms for Skytte's regiment
Topic: Livonia

The modern Swedish standard work when it comes to uniforms during the GNW is undoubtedly Höglund & Sallnäs Stora nordiska kriget 1700-1721 : fanor och uniformer (2000), published in English as The Great Northern War 1700-1721 : colours and uniforms. Uniforms and colours is generally a subject I stay away from, but in this particular case I came upon a few items which should not be available elsewhere.

The story starts with an item I found in LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 288 (p. 78). It's a specification dated 21 October 1700, signed by Col. Carl Gustaf Skytte. It states what type of cloth his regiment needs for new uniforms. According the Höglund & Sallnäs the regiment was dressed in blue and yellow both in the late 1690's and in 1705 - yet in this document Skytte requests cloth for blue coats with red lining, red breeches and red stockings. So what's the story here?

Well, the specification was sent by Skytte to Governor General Dahlbergh in Riga as well as to the manufacturer in Stockholm (the heirs of Jacob Lagerstedt or "Barnängen") and Dahlbergh also forwarded it at about the same time - Dahlbergh's letter to the Lagerstedt heirs is dated 25 October 1700 (LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 72, p. 575). Then nothing seems to have happened for quite some time. On 28 March 1701 Dahlbergh reminded the Lagerstedt heirs about the specifications he had sent in October and requested information about the how far the work had progressed. (LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 73, p. 234 f.) A month later he sent a new letter, this time more urgent (Ibid., p. 322) and finally on 15 May (Ibid., p. 397) an angry letter demanding a definite clarification of the situation. 

Not even this seems to have yielded an immediate response, as it was not until 25 June that Dahlbergh could inform the King about the situation (Ibid., p. 559 f.). The firm had finally simply told Dahlbergh that nothing could be done until they had been paid for previous orders. The situation was very difficult, Dahlbergh said, and if the regiments did not receive new uniforms before winter they would suffer badly. On 9 October 1701 the King wrote to Dahlbergh, telling him that he had received information that cloth would be sent from Sweden as soon as possible (LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 150, p. 810 f.). The wheels of the Swedish bureacracy turned slowly...

On 1 December 1701 Skytte took the matter into his own hands, writing directly to Charles XII (Riksarkivet, M 753). The soldiers of his regiment were now, he wrote, more or less incapable of serving due to their poor clothing. They had received nothing new since 1696/97 and were now "naked". The King, who at this point had reached Courland, replied on 2 January 1702. As far as he recalled material had been sent from Stockholm to Riga so Skytte should send his request to Dahlbergh. So the story continues...

On 19 February 1702 Skytte wrote to Paul von Strokirch, an official in Riga, telling him that the regiment was simply unable to perform its duties until new uniforms arrived (EAA 278.1.XX-12c, p. 140 f.) On 3 April he again wrote Strokirch, wanting to know when new uniforms would arrive in Riga (Ibid., p. 146). Unless something happened very soon Skytte would, he wrote, have to send a courier to the King with information about the situation. On 11 April he again brought the issue to Strkirch's attention (Ibid., p. 151 f.). Same thing on 20 April (Ibid., p. 152). Finally, on 29 April 1702 Skytte again wrote to Strokirch, thanking him for the information about the arrival of uniforms and pointing out the King's decision in January. But the matter was not settled yet. On 7 May 1702 Skytte again wrote to Strokirch, thanking him for his advice to bring the matter to the attention of Governor Frölich (Ibid., p. 159). This he must have done immediately as Frölich on 10 May asked Skytte for a specification and promised to find out what was available (LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 74, p. 481 f.) On 17 May the issue had anvanced to a point where Skytte expected to soon get what he needed (EAA 278.1.XX-12c, p. 163 f.). On the 21st Frölich wrote to Skytte, telling him that if the regimental quartermaster came to Riga he would get the new uniforms (LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 74, p. 528). This was likely done shortly afterwards as on the 26th Skytte reported that he was in the process of sending the regimental quartermaster to Riga (EAA 278.1.XX-12c, p. 165 f.)

If this was the end (and it appears to have been) it took Skytte almost two years to get new uniforms for his regiment. It says, I think, something about the Swedish bureaucracy but even more about the financial difficulties caused by the war and how they very soon started to cause major problems. 

 

 


Posted by bengt_nilsson at 7:22 PM CET
Updated: Sunday, 25 January 2015 11:17 PM CET
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Sunday, 4 January 2015
The attack on Riga in 1700 - part 2
Topic: Livonia

The presence of Saxon troops in the vicinity of Riga becomes more apparent in Dahlbergh's correspondence when 1699 becomes 1700. On 29 January he wrote to De la Gardie in Reval, informing him that rumours were saying that the Saxons had been transferred to the King of Denmark, i.e. would be used for some kind of diversion after a Danish attack on the Duke of Holstein. There was not much cavalry in Livonia, Dahlbergh wrote, but the small force available had been sent to the shores of the Daugava. Dahlbergh would be much obliged if de la la Gardie put the cavalry companies in Estonia on alert. 

Two days later Dahlbergh sent a long report to Charles XII. There were no firm information yet, he wrote. One set of rumours suggested that the Saxons had been given to the King of Denmark and would be picked up by Danish ships for use in Holstein. However, Dahlbergh believed that this could well be an attempt to convince him that there was no danger to Riga. As the fortress Dünamünde was very weak he had sent an additional 360 men with 8 guns in order to discourage the Saxons, but as he did not dare to weaken the garrison at Riga Dahlbergh had ordered them to sneak back the same evening. Dahlbergh also told the King that a merchant in Riga had received word from Lithuania that Hetman Sapieha had told his people to abstain from transporting goods to Riga. The Governor General also pointed out that he had on two occasions appealed for the strengthening of Riga's defences.

The actions by Dahlbergh are also traceable in the orders he sent to various commanders. On the 27th of January he wrote to Major Haij at Kokenhusen, telling him to keep his eyes open. To von Ceumern, the leaseholder of Bersohn and Lubahn, Dahlbergh wrote that he was grateful for the information received, i.e. that once the Saxon troops advanced the local peasants would stop obeying the Swedes. Dahlbergh would be very grateful if Ceumern could  obtain accurate information about the Saxons. On the 29th Dahlbergh wrote to Col. Skytte in Dorpat, telling him that Saxon units were gathering near the border, but it was still unclear what their intentions were.

Sources:

LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 52, Letterbook for 1700 (in German)

LVVA, fond 7349, op. 1, vol. 72, Letterbook for 1700 (in Swedish) 


Posted by bengt_nilsson at 10:21 PM CET
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Sunday, 21 December 2014
The attack on Riga in 1700 - part 1
Topic: Livonia

The archive of the Livonian Governor General contains a lot of material concerning the surprise Saxon attack in February 1700. Let's start from the very beginning:

On 11 january 1699 Governor General Dahlbergh informed Charles XII that some units from "The Royal Polish Army" had been quartered at Birzai, close to the Courland border. In order to find out more about this Dahlbergh had sent an officer to the area. A month later the Governor General reported that Lt. General Flemming had visited Riga for the purpose of buying various items for his regiment of dragoons. However, Dahlbergh remarked, Flemming appeared to be a better statesman than soldier and had a gift for "intrigues". 

Another indication can be found in a letter from Dahlbergh to the commander at Kokenhusen major Haij, dated 9 May 1699. Haij had apprently reported troop movements in Courland. The matter did not appear to be cause for concern, Dahlbergh replied, but it would do no harm if Haij very discreetly made inquiries. However, no spy should be sent.

More worrying signs started to appear towards the end of 1699. On 27 December wrote to Charles XII, telling him that seven Saxon regiments were quartered on the other side of Mitau, while one regiment was at Polangen. A lot of rumors were going around, but Dahlbergh was making preparations for an outbreak of hostilities following a "rupture" in Holstein.


Posted by bengt_nilsson at 10:11 PM CET
Updated: Sunday, 21 December 2014 10:12 PM CET
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Sunday, 9 November 2014
The action at Vinni 16 June 1708
Topic: Livonia
Some weeks ago Vlad Velikanov wrote about the action at Vinni on 16 August 1708. The Swedish literature on the subject is pretty meagre, basically just a few pages in Fredrik Hjelmqvist's Kriget i Finland och Ingermanland 1707-1708 (1909) and Fredrik Arfwidsson's Försvaret av Östersjöprovinserna 1708-1710 (1936). Both relied heavily on Kelch's Liefländische Historie and reports from Governor General Nils Stromberg rather than on testimony from actual Swedish participants. Such do exist, although fairly well hidden. Most detailed is a letter from Lt. Colonel J. F. von Liewen to Stromberg, dated 19 August 1708 (most likely an important source for Stromberg's own reports), which was copied and on 3 September forwarded to Deputy Governor of Riga Rembert von Funcken by Hans Henrik von Liewen (LVVA, fond 7349, op. 2, vol. 248, pp 1-6). Contrary to the descriptions by Hjelmqvist and Arfwidsson the report by J. F. von Liewen does not suggest poor behavior by any Swedish unit. Everybody did their outmost, Liewen writes, and the only reason for the defeat was the overwhelming numerical superiority of the enemy.

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 8:58 PM CET
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Sunday, 22 June 2014
Dahlbergh and Frölich
Topic: Livonia

On 7 April 1702 Charles XII finally granted Erik Dahlberg's request for retirement and appointed the Governor of Riga Carl Gustaf Frölich as his successor. However, the new Governor General of Livonia was not given the same powers as his predecessor. Frölich was told that he would rule over Riga and Neumünde, while the rest of Livonia was to be divided between the two "Economy Governors" Michael von Strokirch and Gustaf Adolf Strömfelt. When the historian Sven Grauers in 1966 wrote a biographical essay about Frölich he suggested this was caused by a lack of confidence in Frölich, but why then appoint him in the first place? Why not follow the pattern when Governor General Hastfehr died in 1695, i.e. let the Governor of Riga remain at his post and find a new Governor General?

It seems to me that the more likely explanation is the one given to Strokirch and Strömfelt - that the war made it desirable to speed up the decision making and remove the delay caused by Strömfelt and Strokirch having to put matters before Frölich. Especially Strömfelt, who mostly stayed in Dorpat and was heavily involved with both Schlippenbach's army and the Peipus naval squadron, should have felt relieved by the new arrangement. Colonel Skytte in Dorpat was perhaps less enthusiastic as Strömfelt was one of the many people he did not see eye to eye with.


Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:44 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, 19 January 2014
Otto Arnold von Paykul and Johann Reinhold Patkul
Topic: Livonia

In the standard Swedish biographical dictionary (Svenskt Biografiskt Lexikon) it is suggested that the Livonian nobleman Otto Arnold von Paykul (1662-1707), who was executed for serving in the enemy's forces during the GNW, may have been the son of Johann Friedrich von Paykull and Elisabeth Lode. This information is taken from Genealogisches Handbuch der baltischen Ritterschaften. Teil Estland, 1, pp 717-720. However, it appears to be incorrect, as letters from 1692 which concern him and the Koskullshof estate (LVVA, fond 7349, op. 2, vol. 217) indicate that he had inherited it from cavalry captain George Paykul (died 1688) and that his stepmother had lived there since his father's death. This corresponds well with records from the same year in Estonian Historical Archive: Otto Arend Paykell contra seine Stiefmutter geb. Anna von Wolfframsdorf in puncto Vermögens-Auseinandersetzung (EAA.915.1.249). 

The LVVA fond 7349 is also enormously rich in material about Johann Reinhold Patkul (1660-1707). This is particulary true of opis 2, volumes  191-204, where one finds a lot of material both about Patkul's military service and his political activities in the first half of the 1690's. One example is a letter from Governor General Hastfehr to Governor Soop, dated 14 March 1693. Hastfehr writes that captain Patkul has complained to him about being sent to Kokenhusen. Patkul has indicated that this would cause him so much trouble that he would feel forced to ask for a discharge. But as Charles XI now had decided to remove Patkul not only from Hastfehr's regiment but also from Livonia and place him in Finland (as captain in the Åbo infantry regiment). So, Hastfehr writes, this had taken the matter entirely out of his own hands. If Patkul still wanted to resign he should request his discharge through the proper channels (LVVA, fond 7349, op. 2, vol. 217, pp. 62-63)

 

 

 

 


Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:26 PM CET
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Friday, 21 June 2013
The state of Livonia 1697
Topic: Livonia

On 30 May 1697 the Governor General of Livonia Erik Dahlbergh, in light of the recent death of Charles XI, sent a long report to Stockholm about the situation in Livonia. Here is a summary of what he had to say:

1. The Church: It had not yet been brought to perfection as there were too few churches and to few clergymen. This, together with the very bad roads, made it difficult for people to come to church and as a result superstition and idolatory was common among the peasants.

2. The Judiciary: It was generally satisfactory.

3. The Economy: It was handled by Strokirch (Latvian district) and Strömfelt (Estonian district) and they understood their tasks well.

4. The Chancery: Dahlbergh had built offices for the staff, so it worked quite well.

5. The Military: The situation was, considering the dangerous times, not satisfactory. In the large and important province of Livonia there were only six cavalry companies, in all 350 men. Their horses were poor and the equipment even worse. The pistols and the carbines were so bad that they coudn't be fired even twice. The "Adelsfana" in Livonia and on Ösel (Saaremaa) had not been mustered during the last 15 years, but numbered 207 men. New uniforms had been ordered and would soon be delivered, but the unit lacked guns and swords. In March Charles XI had ordered that it should be divided into four companies, but their were not yet a sufficient number of officers. It was obvious, Dahlbergh concluded, that such a weak cavalry force could not be of any use in case of an attack. A system similar to the one in place in Sweden was needed and Dahlbergh hoped to present such a proposal in the near future.

6. The infantry: The Riga garrison had been mustered on 1 May. At that time Dahlbergh's own regiment numbered 993 common soldiers,  Governor Soop's 901, Colonel von Campenhausen's 874, Colonel Funck's 164 - in all 2 932 men. This was sufficient in time of peace, but totally inadequate of war broke out as there were 6 large bastions, the citadel, the works around the castle and also the large town fortifications. 6- 8000 men would be needed for Riga to be fully defended and it was necessary to use "national troops" as only they could be fully trusted. The inhabitants of Riga could be expected to assist in the defense, but there was a substantial jealousy between them and the garrison. 

The Neumünde garrison was very weakened and it was necessary to bring in new recruits from Finland to Budberg's regiment. The garrisons and Pernau and Dorpat were also weak. Kokenhusen was manned by just 70 men and Kobron by 40.

7. The artillery: Dahlbergh enclosed a list of the needs.

8.  Provisions: The food situation in Livonia was difficult. Since the cavalry could be expected to have to abandon the countryside in case of war there was a need for larger magazines in the towns.

9. The Fortifications: Dahlbergh gave along and detailed description of the situation at Riga, what had been done and what was needed. Kobron was very weak and not even worty of a garrison, but because of the strategically important position it should be strengthened. Neumünde was unfinished, but it could be developed into a nice fortress. More work was also needed at Pernau. Dorpat was "bizarre", i.e. the position was unsuitable. However, as it was the only major fortification near the Russian border it seemed wise to continue with improvements. Kokenhusen was poor and should really be torn down, but there were no resources to build a new fortress. The fort at Ewst (Aiviekste) should be rebuilt and garrisoned. Dahlberg also wanted to tear down the many old, half ruined castles in the countryside as they could be used by an invader.

Finally Dahlbergh suggested remedies for the ongoing famine and pointed out the vulnerability of the postal communications if the German mail was cut off. Last winter the Finnish mail had failed to appear for three consecutive months.

 

Source: LVVA, Fond 7349, op. 1. vol. 69, Copy book of outgoing letters in Swedish.

 

 


Posted by bengt_nilsson at 8:29 PM MEST
Updated: Friday, 21 June 2013 9:12 PM MEST
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