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The Great Northern War
Sunday, 21 August 2016
Vellingk's second thoughts : part 1
Topic: Battles

On 12 May 1700 Otto Vellingk wrote to Charles XII, stating that he was on his way to join the relief corps. Major General Maydell, who was in charge of the lead units, had attacked the Saxons and made them go back across the Düna. Vellingk was very pleased with this development and assured the King that rumours about strong Saxon reinforcements most likely were untrue. As the Polish Republic apparently did not want to have anything to do with the war it was likely that Augustus could find no other support than Oginski's forces. No matter what the Saxons brought, Vellingk stated, he would put up such a resistance that they could not cross the Düna again even if they managed to gather a force three times as strong as Vellingk's. He would even, Vellingk assured Charles XII, seek out those places where the glorious Gustav II Adolf had crossed the river and make an attack on the enemy (these proud boasts are quite similar to the ones made by Major General Cronhjort in Ingria when he took charge after the battle of Narva. The results there were also quite similar to the ones Vellingk managed to produce....)

Vellingk reached his army on 17 May. On the 21st he wrote the King again. All was well and the enemy back on the south side of the river. The fear among them was great. The duchess of Courland and many citizens of Mitau had already brought their possessions to safety, while some nobles had requested letters of protection from Vellingk. The general has assured everyone that no harm would come to them who respected the Treaty of Oliva. Three bridges were being built in order to make an attack across the river possible and Vellingk stated that he would soon make the Saxons regret their attack on Riga. In Vellingk's opinion the Saxons enterprise was a speculation, attempted in the hope of receiving support from Hetman Sapieha, Brandenburg and the Czar. But these hopes were all in vain. According to rumour Lt. General Flemming had been arrested in Warsaw and Patkul had gone into hiding. Prince Ferdinand of Courland had tried to raise three regiments, but the nobility had refused. The recruitment attempts by the Saxons had completely failed. Colonel Göhr had promised to recruit 400 but had arrived in camp with just 40. Everything was going fantastic!

A couple of weeks the mood was a bit different. On 4 June Vellingk wrote that he needed more supplies before he could cross as the Saxons already had taken everything on the other side. It would also send bad signals if Vellingk went into Courland and had his army live off the land when the Polish Republic remained neutral. 


Source: Riksarkivet, Skrivelser till Konungen. Karl XII, vol. 29  

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:25 PM MEST
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Sunday, 14 August 2016
Personal initiative
Topic: Factoids

In 1975 Roland Persson published a dissertation called Rustningar i Sverige under det stora nordiska kriget. When studying how the effort to raise more troops at the outbreak of the war he discovered that some of the county governors in Finland acted quite independently from the government in Stockholm, in fact in some cases actually going directly against previous orders because they evaluated the situation differently. Persson states that this shows that local authorities in reality was given much more leeway than they theoretically had. 

Another example of the same thing is the decision in February 1700 by Governor General de la Gardie in Reval to order the mobilization of the Finnish regiments without waiting for orders from Stockholm. In a letter to Erik Dahlbergh in Riga, dated 9 March, Governor Vellingk mentions this decision by de la Gardie. Vellingk says that he personally will not dare to follow the example in absence of a direct request from Dahlbergh. The impression he had received from Dahlbergh's letters was that Riga was under no immediate threat. Hopefully the King's orders would soon arrive. Vellingk believed these would not only contain instructions to drive the Saxons back to Courland, but also permit an advance into the duchy. Surely the Polish Republic would welcome the removal of the Saxon forces?

In his letter to Dahlbergh Vellingk enclosed a copy of a letter he had written to de la Gardie.  Vellingk noted de la Gardie's actions and suggested that the Finnish regiiments should be quartered in the vicinity of Narva until orders from the King arrived. Small cavalry detachments could meanwhile operate against the Saxon raiding parties in Livonia.

On 13  April Vellingk again wrote to Dahlbergh. 12000 infantry and cavalry had passed through Narva and two more regiments were expected shortly. The entire force would number 18000 and that would be far more than Charles XI ever had in Scania during the war 1675-79, Vellingk wrote. This should be more than sufficient to handle the Saxon forces for quite some time and Vellingk had already reached agreements with Lt. Colonel Albedyhl, Lt. Colonel Schlippenbach and Captain Liewen for the recruiting of three new regiments. Vellingk would personally raise two more and de la Gardie was in the process of recruting one. So, Vellingk wrote, what could King Augustus do? He couldn't raise any more regiments in Saxony and had because of this been forced to get Danish regiments in. The Polish Republic had refused all cooperation and Brandenburg would not help him either. The only problem was that no firm orders had yet arrived from Stockholm as to how the campaign was to be conducted. 


Source: Uppsala University Library, Riga-Tartusamlingen, vol. 1. (nowadays rearranged as "Livonica" with different numbering) 

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 7:17 PM MEST
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Sunday, 7 August 2016
Lindehielm 1700 : the end
Topic: Battles

Lindehielm sent his next report on 12 December. All was now quiet in the Keksholm area and Abraham Cronhjort had on the 10th passed through on his way to Nyen, where he was to take charge of the forces in Ingria. A lot of the soldiers under his command had already arrived and and another 2,000 were expected soon. This would give Cronhjort a force of about 6,000. Lindehielm enclosed a summary of the units which had gone to Nyen, in all about 2,100 cavalry and 1,900 infantry. He also included a letter from Colonel Appoloff in the camp at Duderhof, written on the 7th. Armfeldt had been sent to Narva eight days ago and was expected back with news. Jacob Höök from Sarishoff had visited the camp the previous day with news from Russia. According to Höök the Russian generals fleeing from Narva had plundered on their way back, taking people and cattle and anything else they could get their hands on. Everything which they had been unable to take had been burnt. The Czar had reportedly hastily gone back to Moscow, travelling both night and day. General Repnin, who had been ordered to Narva with 7,000 soldiers and ammunition, but failed to get there in time for the battle was now in hiding. Two other prominent Russians had been arrested and jailed in Novgorod.

Lindehielm wrote his next letter on the  21st. The news was scare, but the King had left Narva on the 13th in order to chase some Russian detachments near Dorpat. Marauders had also been appearing near Keksholm and in Ingria. 

Source: Riksarkivet, ÄK 243, vol. 77 

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:01 PM MEST
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Sunday, 31 July 2016
December 1700
Topic: Battles

Anders Lindehielm sent his next letter to Stockhpolm on 4 December. He reported that no more news had arrived from Narva, but travellers coming from Nyen claimed that Charles XII had pursued the Russians and on 23 November inflcted a heavy defeat on them near Jamo. According to rumours there had been 6,000 Saxons at Narva. They had fought very hard, but most of them were killed. 

According to another rumour the Czar had held a large council of war before invading Ingria. During this meeting his Russian advisors had suggested an attack on Nyen and Nöteborg, but his German officers had voted against. According to them Narva would not be able to hold out very long. Nyen and Nöteborg would then fall more or less automatically, while Narva could serve as protection against the Swedish army. The Czar had been persuaded to choose the latter option, thereby saving Nyen and perhaps even Finland as it gave the Swedish side time to mobilize more forces. According to Lindehielm this fortunate escape clearly demonstrated the need for strengthening Nyen and Viborg. Lindehielm also suggested that the victory at Narva should be followed up by an invasion of Russia and the creation of a buffer against future attacks. The peasants in Viborg county held the same opinion, saying that they would never feel safe within the present borders.

Lindehielm closed by reporting that more troops were passing Viborg on their way to Nyen.

On the 7th Lindehielm wrote a new letter, enclosing an account of the Narva battle which he had received two days before from a man who came from Narva. He could also report a Russian attack near Salmis, where a Swedish officers had been captured and five guard houses been burnt. The garrison commander at Keksholm had requested reinforcements and Lindehielm had forwarded the request to Govenor Vellingk. 27 men of the Life dragoons had arrived at Viborg after having been shipwrecked.

The account of the Narva battle contained the following: the Swedish army had broken camp early on the 20th. At about noon it had reached the field where the Russian camp was. The King had been in overall command, with Rehnskiöld on one flank and Vellingk on the other. The assault began at 2 pm and lasted until after 5. It had been very successful, forcing the Russians back. Some had tried to flee across a bridge, but many of them had drowned. The Czar's most prominent generals, such as the "Prince of Siberia, Knees Dolgoruka and Knees Golowin" had eventually surrendered. General Weide had asked Vellingk for terms and the King had replied that the Russians would be free to go after laying down their arms and promising not to burn or plunder anymore. The Swedes had captured 130 guns and 30 mortars, provisions, ammunition and 150 colours. 

It had been said that the Czar had left 300000 thalers in the Russian camp, but the generals had only handed over 64000. The King had because of this arrested them. Sheremetev had fled before the attack. The victory was enormous, almost impossible to describe. The Swedes had lost 2,000 men, among them Major General Ribbing and Colonel Hans Henrik Rehbinder.

Source: Riksarkivet, ÄK 243, vol. 77. 

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:48 PM MEST
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Sunday, 24 July 2016
After Narva
Topic: Battles

Lindehielm sent his next report from Viborg on 27 November. No more details had arrived frpm Narva, but the previous report had been confirmed. The Russians were defeated and the road to Narva from the west open. They had also abandoned Koporie and the Czar had gone back to Russia. The road between Viborg and Narva was still unsafe. More soldiers were arriving from Finland and continuing to Nyen.

Lindehielm sent his next letter on the 30th. Finally more details were available. Colonel Aminoff had on the 25th gone from Reval to Porkala and sent a letter which arrived in Viborg on the 29th. Just as Lindehielm was writing more news arrived by way of Nyen. 

First the report from Reval: On the 24th one of General Vellingk's servants had arrived with a letter from Carl Gustaf Wrangel to Vellingk's wife. According to this report the King had on the 17th defeated 12,000 Russians at Pyhäjoggi and then continued towards Narva. When the Swedish army approached the Russian camp 10,000 Russians advanced against it, but these were immediately repulsed and the Swedes had followed up with an assault on the Russian camp. The battle continued until evening, when the Russians were forced to retreat towards their bridges. Some of them had drowned. Vellingk had Rehnskiöld had pursued, but had been forced to abandon this enterprise when night fell. Many houses in Narva had been destroyed by the Russian bombardment.

The second report came from the camp at Duderhof: Two officer's servants from Rehbinder's regiment had arrived from Narva. They said that the battle had continued until midnight. The King had attacked the Russian camp. The Russians had initially defended well, but had eventually been forced to yield. The King had let 1,800 prisoners go, but these had later been attacked by peasants and mostly been killed. Appoloff had recaptured churchbells at Koporie and he was going to give them back to the church at Duder. Armfeldt, his aide-de-camp, would be sent to the King in order to request permission for Appoloff to come to Narva. The Russian artillery at Narva had been captured - 150 guns and various mortars as well as a lot of ammunition. Judge Rosenmüller's corpse would be transported from Koporie to Nyen. 

Just as Appoloff was finishing his letter a few horsemen arrived from Narva. According to them 10,000 Russians had been killed in the battle and many more had drowned. 6,000 had surrendered. Major General Maydell and two colonels Rehbinder had been killed on the Swedish side, along with 3,000 soldiers.

Source: Riksarkivet, ÄK 243, vol. 77. 


Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:12 PM MEST
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Sunday, 17 July 2016
Topic: Battles

Lindehielm sent his next report on the 13th. A lieutenant by the name of Knorring had arrived from Nyen, stating that the enemy had retreated beyond Duderhof. Colonel Appoloff intended to march towards Koporie with a few hundred men in order to collect information and see if it would be possible to attack the Russians, who appeared to fear something as they had withdrawn. Appoloff had requested that Lindehielm move towards Nyen with a force in order to be at hand if needed. Lindehielm had as result ordered those units and soldiers who were arriving at Viborg to move on. 

Next report was sent on the 16th. No more news had arrived from Narva, but reports from Nyen did not suggest any cause for concern. The feeling was that the arrival of the King and his force had made the Russians more careful. Appoloff was advancing towards Koporie.

On 20 November Lindehielm sent his next letter to Stockholm. Appoloff had crossed the Neva on the 15th and 16th. No more firing had been heard for 12 days, but last Sunday (the 18th) heavy gunfire had again been heard from the direction of Narva. According to a rumour from Keksholm the Russians had killed a leaseholder and his entire entourage, but the information was unreliable. It was claimed that the peasants at Sordavala had offered to march into Russia on a revenge mission if they were given muskets, powder and a good leader.

Letters from Nyen arrived just as Lindehielm wrote. They  said that peasants had captured a Russian who was carrying a lot of letters back to Russia. According to him there had only been one assault (on Ivangorod), which had resulted in heavy losses. 200 Russians had attacked Loppis and plundered two estates. There was no way of stopping them due to the shortage of soldiers.

On the 22nd Lindehielm wrote again. 106 infantry had arrived the previous evening, but their clothes were very poor so it was hardly påossible to let them continue to Nyen. 333 cavalry, which had not been able to get to Reval, were continuing to Nyen. The clergy was supposed to produce 30 dragoons, but there had been much delay despite the fact that the clergy should set a good example. Letters from Nyen stated that Appoloff was advancing towards Koporie and had yet to encounter any regular forces. 

Next letter was sent on the 25th. In this Lindehielm reported that a courier from Appoloff had arrived with a very pleasing report. At Duderhoff the Colonel had captured a peasant and a Russian soldier. These had said that the Czar had marched towards the King's army and there had been a heavy battle some 20 km west of Narva.  The Swedish had attacked so fiercely that the Russians had been thoroughly defeated, Narva relieved and many thousand of the enemy drowned when fleeing across a bridge. The Czar was supposedly at Jama. Koporie had been abandoned, leaving plenty of supplies and ammunition. A strong Swedish cavalry force was according to rumour already east of Narva. The King was safe. 

Source: Riksarkivet, ÄK 243, vol. 77. 

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 9:04 PM MEST
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Sunday, 10 July 2016
On the eve of Narva
Topic: Battles

Lindehielm sent his next report on 5 November 1700. In the morning following his previous letter on the 2th heavy firing had been from the direction of Narva. It had lasted several hours and been so intense that the earth trembled in Viborg. The feeling was that it must have come either from a battle or from an assault. No more firing had been heard thereafter apart from five shots in the evening and some more during the night. No news had arrived, so everyone was anxiously waiting for an explanation. Hopefully it meant that the Swedish army had arrived and forced the Russians to withdraw.

The "dubblering" from Nyland was ready to march and was expected at Viborg within two weeks. County Governor Cronhiort had received the King's orders to take charge of the forces in Ingria.  

Lindehielm's next report was sent on 9 November. No more heavy firing had been heard from the direction of Narva, only a few occasional shots now and then. Nothing had been heard from Nyen about the enemy's actions and no enemy activity had been reported from Nyslott or Keksholm. This hopefully meant that the enemy had not been able to achieve anything of consequence before the arrival of the King's army and had been forced to withdraw. 

The Swedish forces at Nyen were getting stronger and two companies from Nyland were expected at Viborg any day. Soldiers from Savolax and Viborg were also gathering, so if properly handled the Swedish forces would soon be able to go on the offensive. The Russians were however keeping a strong guard everywhere and were being assisted by the Russian peasants in Ingria. This made it very difficult get information about the enemy's real strength. 

Just as Lindehielm was about to send the letter some news arrived from Nyen. The most important piece of information was that one of Governor Vellingk's men had managed to escape from captivity. According to him there had been no assault on Narva, but there was supposedly more than 100 000 Russians outside the town. A recently arrived peasant had said that the enemy had already lost 10 000 men. Many were dead and others had deserted. The latter were complaining about the lack of supplies - nothing to eat but boiled rye. There was no hay for the horses, so they had to make do with chopped branches of willow.

Source: Riksarkivet, ÄK 243, vol. 77

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 8:49 PM MEST
Updated: Sunday, 17 July 2016 8:19 PM MEST
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Sunday, 26 June 2016
November 1700
Topic: Battles

Lindehielm sent his next letter on 30 October. In it he noted that his plan to keep "tripleringen till häst" in Viborg instead of sending it by sea to Reval. The situation was getting worse: storms and cold weather had made any attempt to send more troops by sea very perilous. Lindehielm had consequently decided to unload the ships and sent the cavalry to Nyen instead. County Governor Cronhjort in Nyland had assured Lindehielm that he would send more cavalry to Reval, thereby filling the quota set by the King. Lindehielm asked the councillors in Stockholm to inform Charles XII of his actions and explain the reasoning behind them.

The latest news from Nyen was that the Russian raiding party had withdrawn. It had only consisted of 300 men. The only news from Narva was that heavy firing had been heard from that direction.

On 2 November Lindehielm wrote again. The news from Nyen were that the Russians had withdrawn beyond Duderhoff and that the Swedish forces were planning to move in that direction in order to create a supply depot for the forces that were gathering. At this point more than 1 200 men had gone from Viborg to Nyen. No firing had been heard from Narva since the 28th. What did this mean? Had the Russians been repulsed? Had the relieving army arrived?

Just as Lindehielm was finishing his letter news dated 1 November arrived from Nyen. According to them the Russians had a couple of days earlier made an assault on Narva, but been repulsed with heavy losses. 

Source: Riksarkivet, ÄK 243, vol. 77.

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 8:23 PM MEST
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Sunday, 19 June 2016
Russian ships
Topic: Battles

On 23 October 1700 Anders Lindehielm sent his next report to Stockholm. He began by acknowledging the arrival of instructions from Stockholm, dated 10 October, to seize Russian property and Russian citizens within the County of Viborg and Nyslott. No Russian ships had yet been seized within Lindehielm's jurisdiction, but two lodias had been forwarded from Nyen. 23 Russians had been arrested and put in chains, among them four merchants who had come to the market at Willmanstrand with gloves, hats, boots, honey and all sorts of other merchandize.

The two Russian ships were also carefully studied and inventories made. On one of them was found a broken table made of stone, five Russian books (the imprisoned Russians were given one for reading), two compasses, two Russian "afguda beläten" (icons), a Russian calender, two small crosses, some grain and flour and various other items and equipment.

Next report was sent on the 26th. The weather had become colder, with temperatures below zero. Colonel Lode had left by ship on the 20th, but it was unclear how far he had been able to travel as major Pistolkors (who had left the following day) was forced to turn back because of ice. Recently a violent storm had broken up the ice, but the ships had still not been able to leave due to adverse winds. Lindehielm doubted that further transports by sea would be possible as the days became shorter and the weather colder. A possible solution was to keep the remaining soldiers at Viborg for the time being and have County Governor Cronhjort send the same number of troops from Helsinki, a port likely still open. The units gathered at Viborg could then march to Ingria instead.

Lindehielm also enclosed a lengthy letter from Nyen, dated 22 October. It stated that a small force of Russians had appeared on the other side of the Neva two days earlier. A few cannon shots from the fortress had driven them off. Appoloff did not believe that the town was in any danger for the time being, but if the Neva froze the situation would change. The shortage of soldiers, particularly cavalry and dragoons, remained a problem and Appoloff was concerned for Ingria. There was also a lack of horseshoes at Nyen and no blacksmith - could Lindehielm help?

There had been heard heavy firing from the direction of Narva the previous day. If something bad happened there, the possibility of holding Nyen was small and there would be no other option than having the defenders falling back to Finland, Appoloff concluded.

Source: Riksarkivet, ÄK 243, vol. 77.

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 6:04 PM MEST
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Sunday, 12 June 2016
There will be no entry today. Back next Sunday!

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 12:01 AM MEST
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