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Sunday, 15 November 2015
Carl Gustaf Wrangel and the battle of Femern 1644
Topic: Navy

Among the many miscellaneous volumes in archive of the Livonian Governor General quite a few from the 1640's stand out. In one of them is preserved a letter from Carl Gustaf Wrangel (1613-1676), written shortly after the naval battle of Femarn on 13 October 1644. Wrangel's letter book from this period is available online (subscription needed), but this report is not included. 

In the letter Wrangel describes how he after leaving Kalmar searched for the Danish fleet first near Bornholm and then near Mön, but without success. He then sailed to Wismar, where the fleet anchored on 8 October. In the evening of the 9th some of Wrangel's scout ships returned with the news that the Danish fleet was stationed between Langeland and Laaland. Due to unfavorable winds Wrangel was unable to sail until the 11th. He soon discovered the Danish fleet near Femern. It consisted, Wrangel writes, of 18 ships. As the hour was late he anchored. The following day there was a storm, so Wrangel was unable to attack. On the 13th the weather cleared up. Wrangel set sail and went away from shore, trying to gain the advantage. He then attacked the Danish Admiral (Pros Mund on Patientia). The battle was fierce, Wrangel writes, and lasted from10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Patientia and Oldenburg were captured by the Swedes and the rest of the Danish fleet fled and were pursued by the Dutch. They soon captured four ships. The Danes lost about 1,000 men, Wrangel writes, and the Swedes only 60. The Dutch had lost one ship. 

Source: LVVA, fond 7349, op. 2, vol. 155 

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 8:59 PM CET
Updated: Sunday, 15 November 2015 9:00 PM CET
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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, 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, 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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Monday, 20 August 2012
Emanuel Werner
Topic: Navy

The collection "Meritförteckningar Flottan" in Krigsarkivet contains a substantial number of "CVs" from the years just after the GNW. Some of them are quite detailed and almost like short memoirs. One example is the one for Emanuel Werner, who joined the Swedish navy as an apprentice mate on 1 May 1700. In the summer he participated in the operations against Denmark and the landing at Humlebaek. The following year Werner was sent to Ladoga, where he served on the Astrild. In April of 1703 he was again on the same ship, which at the beginning of May was ordered to enter the Neva river together with Gieddan to investigate the situation at Nyen. During this expedition a superior Russian force was encountered and the small Swedish ships were overpowered. Most of the crew of the Astrild was either killed or wounded, Werner writes. The ship's commanding officer, Lieutenant Kilian Wilhelms, then gave instructions that the Astrild was to be blown up. His last words were, Werner writes, "Låt springa i Jesu nampn" (In the name of Jesus let her explode). Werner says that he did as Wilhelms requested, but survived and was taken to Czar Peter. The Czar treated him kindly and ordered that Werner be sent to Moscow.

In January 1704 Werner's wounds had healed. He was then put in prison and tortured in attempt to persuade him to convert and join the Russian navy. When this failed Werner was sent to Kolomna and put in a tower together with "robbers, thieves and scoundrels" for a year. In January 1705 Werner was sent back to Moscow and put in solitary confinement. He was then again asked to convert and enter Russian servic, but still refused. Werner was then sent away again, this time to a town 300 km from Moscow. There he was put in another tower until August, when he again was sent back to Moscow. Werner was then released and given to a boyar he calls "Michael Iwanowitz Chaputoff", with whom he stayed until the summer of 1707. Werner was then sent to the "house of the prisoners", where Major General Henning Rudolf Horn was kept and placed together with the cavalry captain Fabian Schütz. The Swedish prisoners were shortly thereafter sent away from Moscow and Werner came to a town he calls "Sabacksahr" (probably Cheboksary). On 31 May 1710 he and the other non-commissioned officers and soldiers were sent to Kazan to work on fortifications. On 29 March 1711 all the prisoners were put in jail and the following day "deported to Siberia" (or rather to the town of Khlynov). Werner spent the next decade there, returning to Sweden in July 1722


Source: Meritförteckningar Flottan, Krigsarkivet

Posted by bengt_nilsson at 10:33 PM MEST
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