The Napoleonic Swedish Army
The following has consists of four basic articles compiled by Björn Bergérus Stockholm, Sweden. The basic articles are:
In addition there are other articles here which include comments from Björn Bergérus and others. These include:
During the Napoleonic Wars Sweden was in war with:
France and her allies 1805-1810:
Fighting between Swedish and French troops in Swedish Pomerania (northern Germany). After having taken Greifswal the French beleaguered the Swedish at Stralsund. Swedish troops made two break-out attempts. The second successful. The Swedish retakes Greifswald, advances boldly (too boldly and exposed) with two separated formations and wins some minor victories. The French defeats them, when Mortier arrives with 15.000 men of reinforcements marched from Stettin. A truce is negotiated, saving the trapped Swedish.
A "quicky" - no large engagements. Prussian troops retreating from the advancing French (after fighting at Halle and Gadebusch) runs into withdrawing Swedish troops on their way to Stralsund from the Lauenburg-region, which Sweden had occupied despite the dislike of the Prussians. It seems that after a minor clash the Prussians capture most of the Swedish, and the Prussians, with their Swedish captives, are in turn captured by the French. The Swedish officers are, however, very well treated by the French Marshall Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte (which so much impresses them that they remember him when Sweden later on are on the look-out for a new Monarch). Anecdote: did you knwo Gebhard Blücher was in Swedish service with the "Mörner's Hussars" until he was captured by the Prussians in 1760!
Nasty, nasty... Russia has signed a treaty (Tilsit) with Napoleon to force Sweden to accept the French "Continental Blockade". Tzar Alexander wants to annex Finland with Russia - Napoleon gives him free hands. The war results in Sweden loosing a third of its territory with Finland to Russia. Fierce but fairly small engagements. Swedish-Finnish troops lack good central leadership, and suffers from bad planning and poor intelligence service. Sweden's finances are in a poor state, having depended on British subsidies for Swedish support against the French and the strenghtening of the fortifications in Stralsund. Having hidden their true intentions, the Russian advances on the ill-prepared and not so supecting Swedish, who is ordered to leave their defensive positions and redraw, leaving many of the soldiers' families and homesteads behind enemy lines (causing much gloom among the soldiers). The Russians' strengh seem to have been much overestimated by the Swedish central command. Much supplies, many towns, and much territory quickly ends up in Russian hands without much resistence. After having regrouped the Swedish-Finnish counterattack quite successfully. Many times performing excellently, also with the strong help of uprisings and civillian organised resistence. The Swedish command many times seem to perhaps rely too much on old military doctrines, being perhaps overly concerned about being overrun on the flanks and having supply lines cut off, making them "too" careful, advancing only slowly. The Swedish-Finnish Army still wins many small engagements, but are eventually outnumbered and demoralised against the stronger Russian forces. This in combination with cunning Russian diplomacy, which partly would include the almost "unbelievable and treacherous" surrender of the "Gibraltar of the North", Sveaborg - an impressive see-base-fortification outside Helsinki, which much of the Swedish-Finnish resistence and morale would have depended on. The mainland of Sweden is now seriously threatened. Many officers and others are very discontent with the appearingly inept Monarch, Gustav IV Adolf. In a coup he is arrested and dethroned. Peace is negotiated. Finland is lost to Russia. Previous Swedish-Finnish officers and officials are offered generous conditions and the "grand-duchy" of Finland granted a special status under the Tzar.
As part of Napoleon's and Alexander's negotiations, Sweden was to be forced to accept the Continental Blockade not only from the East, by Russia, but also from the west by France and Denmark. Denmark was neutral at first, but England feared that the French should overrun the country and take control of its strong Navy. The English chose a "pre-emptive" strike with its own navy bombarding the Danish capital of Copenhagen and destroying or taking its fleet. This, of course, threw the Danish in the arms of Napoleon who had French and Spanish troops deploy in Denmark (under Bernadotte) for a campaign against the stubborn Swedish king. Much fighting occured in the boarder-regions between Norway and Sweden (then under the Danish Crown), with both Swedish and Norwegian advances, but the attack from the Danish mainland never got off ground. Especially not after the Spaniards had revolted and sailed home to Spain on English ships, leaving the French commander with too few troops for an invasion. The Danish king, Fredrik VI, had seen an opportunity to bolster some aspirations to perhaps become the king of a united Scandinavia and balloons with attached propaganda, written in poor Swedish, were sent over the Sound (Öresund Strait) to Sweden. The Swedish in turn flowed Norway with propaganda telling them to turn against the Danish and become independent. With the Swedish peace with Russia and with French interests declining (and own Danish worries/suspicion about the French troops intentions and aspirations in their country) the conflict ended.
A formal war with Britain followed (although I don't think there was any actual fighting), as Sweden was eventually forced to accept the Contintental Blockade.
French and her allies 1813-1814:
Without going in to lengthy details, Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, the former French Marshal was chosen Crown prince of Sweden and adopted by the old senile Charles XIII, who had replaced the dethroned Gustav IV Adolf. With Bernadotte Sweden got a new vigorous leadership with military and strategic insight. Bernadotte anticipated that Napoleon's days were numbered and started secret negotiations with Britain (which came to include a treaty with Spain), Austria, Russia and Prussia, who all had their score to settle with Napoleon. Napoleon didn't bide his time but opened hostilities by beating the Russian-Prussian forces. A French contingent started marching on Hamburg, and the Swedish General von Döbeln (in Sweden well known for his charismatic leadership for the defence in Finland) engaged the enemy on his own initiative during a couple of small engagements, but was removed from his command and reprimanded for acting on his own. The Austrian Emperor Frans, Napoleon's father-in-law, was able to get a truce and negotiations started. In the meantime, in the Silesien town of Trachenberg Bernadotte unfolded his plans to trap and enclose Napoleon, by forming three large Armies: one southern Austrian (some 200.000) under Schwarzenberg, one eastern "Silesian" of Prussian and Russians under Blücher and then the Northern Army with 150.000 comprised of Russians, English, Prussians and Swedish, led by Bernadotte himself. Bernadotte had his own intentions with the Swedish contingent (why he usually tried to keep them away from the major engagements), and had in negotiations all ready been promised the support for Swedish claims on Norway, if Denmark did not agree to join them with 25.000 men against Napoleon, which they didn't. When the hostilities again started, the French moved north to capture Berlin. Heavy fighting occured at the village of Grossbeeren (Aug. 23 1812), where the Prussians stood the ground till Bernadotte's Northern Army arrived to win the day for the allies. The Swedish Horse Artillery under its commander Cardell was here able to show its abilities. From another direction Marshall Ney advanced on Dennewitz with some 80,000 men. Against twice their own number the Prussians again held the ground under most bitter fighting, until Bernadotte could arrive with his Northern Army to again seal a victory. Here the Swedish Cavalry played part under Skjöldebrand. Eventually the final battle stood at Leipzig, where the Austrians fended off the French, until first Blücher came to their assistence after having to fight his way there. Then finally also Bernadotte, who with his Northern Army definitely tipped the scale in favour of the Allied. Fierce fighting followed. The Swedish only joined in more actively at the final stages, when Leipzig itself were being stormed, performing well and getting away with only 200 men and 11 officers lost. Napoleon retreated and the allied followed in pursuit, except Bernadotte who made the excuse that he wanted to clear Germany of the French - which he did, but his true intentions was directed towards Denmark. The French and Danish evacuated. At Bornhöved Skjöldebrands Swedish cavalry made a dashing attack against a Danish contingent, who was forced to retreat. Denmark was forced to sue for peace and Norway was the price that Bernadotte had in mind.
The Norvegians had no intention of just being handed over without a fight. In secret the Danish Crown prince had also made his way to Norway to inspire them to make resistence and to become independent, chosing him as their king, which they did. Bernadotte was promised troops from his allies, according to the previous agreements. Negotiations didn't lead anywhere so Bernadotte's Army of some 40.000 gathered along the borders to Norway, who had some 30.000 men, but not as well equipped and well led as the now experienced Swedish. Without so much help of Prussians and Russians the Swedish advanced and the Norvegians had to fall back. A northern Swedish contingent (entering from the county of Värmland) was, however, stopped at Lier and Skotterud (Matrand). Bernadotte changed plans and now decided to surround and trap the Norvegians fighting the retreating battle along the Glommen-river. Bernadotte wanted a peace quickly, and didn't want more blood-shed than necessary why very good terms for peace was offered with fairly much of Norvegian independence keeping their own constitution. The Norwegians' was hard-pressed and finally agreed. The Union that followed was to show brittle, however, as also many Swedes seem to have feared. In 1905, less than a hundred years later, Norway decided to leave the Union to become an independent state, chosing its own king. The situation then was quite tense, but fortunately the whole matter was able to be solved peacefully.
This concludes the general outlines for Sweden and Swedish troops involvement during the Napoleonic Wars.
The book I have mainly chosen to read for the above summary is: "Sveriges historia" ("Sveriges historia från äldsta tider till våra dagar för svenska folket") no. VIII and IX, by Otto Sjögren, printed in Malmö, Sweden by "Bokförlaget Norden", 1938. PS It is an *old* and general work on Swedish history, but which offers quite pleasent reading. More new, specialised or scientific books on the period should possibly have more accurate numbers concerning troop strenghts etc., and perhaps even some new theories on this or that, but as a general outline as to the Swedish involvement in the Napoleonic wars, I think this would suffice.
The following is the Swedish Army's 'Permanent' Organisation in Finland at the outbreak of the Russo-Swedish war in 1808. (I have attempted to translate all names/titels into English).
Total strength: 11,550 infantry, 950 cavalry, 1000 artillery, or all in all 13,500 men. To this should be added 600 men not mentioned below, which was apparently detached to defend Svartholm).
The General Commissaryship
(Total strenght: 5 1/8 batallions and 4 squadrons with 12 cannons = 2.950 men infantry, 350 men cavalry, 200 men artillery).
Nyland's Infantry Regiment - Colonel G. C. von Döbeln
Björneborg's Infantry Regiment - Lieutenant-colonel C. J. Stjernvall
Of the Nyland's Jager Battalion - Major G. Uggla
Of the Nyland's Dragoon Regiment (Cavalry)
Af - Finnish Artillery Regiment
(Total strenght: 6 1/8 batallions and 4 squadrons with 12 cannons = 3,550 men infantry, 350 men cavalry, 200 men artillery).
County of Abo Regiment (Åbo läns regemente) - Baron H. Fleming (colonel)
Tavastehus' Regiment - Colonel G. B. von Platen
Of the Nyland's Jager Battalion - Major G. A. Arnkihl
Of the Nyland's Dragoon Regiment (Cavalry)
Of the Finnish Artillery Regiment (Af Finska artillerireg:tet)
Savolaks-Karelia Brigade (Savolaks-karelska Brigaden) - 3RD Brigade:
(Total strength: 10 halfbatallions infantry of the line, 1 1/4 batallions of vargering (reserves/reserve pool) and 2 squadrons with 10 cannons, and 2 companies of volunteers (in Swedish: volontärer=people trained to become a reserve-pool for non-commissioned officers) = 3,500 men infantry, 250 men cavalry, 150 men artillery and 100 men from the Army's Navy)
Savolaks Infantry Regiment - (the commander of the 1st batallion was in charge of financial affairs etc., otherwise the batallions was directly under the Brigade commander).
Savolaks Jager Regiment - Colonel J. A. Sandels
Karelian Jager Corps (Karelska jägarekåren) - Lieutenant-colonel G. Aminoff
Infantry Reserves (Reserves Pool) - (infanterivargering)
The Karelian Dragoon Corps (cavalry) (Karelska dragonkåren) -
Dragoon Reserves (Dragonvargering)
Savolaks Brigade Artillery Company - Captain S. F. von Born
Of the Army's Navy (Af Arméens flotta)
Troops Outside the Brigades:
(Total strenght: 3 batallions with 12 cannons = 1.450 men infantry, 450 men artillery)
Österbotten's Regiment - Colonel G. von Numers
Of the Finnish Artillery Regiment
Reserve Artillery (400 men)
"Vargerings" Troops (Reserves) according to af Klerckers' order to march of Feb. 1st 1808:
(Total strenght: 3,119 men - to which could be added Kajana Batallion's militia of 14 men = 3,133 men)
The permanent disposition of the Russian Army in Finland at the start of operations in 1808. [Names are from Swedish translations: Source "Sveriges krig åren 1808 och 1809, published by "Generalstabens krigshistoriska afdelning", Stockholm, Sweden 1890, printed by "kongl. boktryckeriet P.A. Norstedt & Söner]
Without dealing with each and every regiment and special notes:
The numbers given in brackets after each regiment is the total number: i.e. all officers, non-commissioned officers, musicians and non-combatants.
5th Division - Commander: Lieutenant General Tutshkoff I.
Total strenght: 12 Batallions, 2 Squadrons, 200 Cossacks with 8 Heavy and 16-18 Light Field Artillery pieces; or 6.200 men Infantry, 400 men Cavalry and 400 men Artillery.
17th Division - Commander: Prince (in Swedish "furst") Gortschakoff I., Lieutenant-General
Total strenght: 12 Batallions, 8 Squadrons, 200 Cossacks and 1 Company of Sappers with 12 Heavy and 16 Light Field Artillery pieces; or 6.250 men Infantry, 1.200 men Cavalry, 600 men Artillery and 150 men Sappers (Engineers).
21st Division - Commander: Prince Bagration, Lieutenant-General
Total strenght: 12 Batallions, 3 Squadrons, 200 Cossacks with 18 Light Field Artillery pieces; or 8.050 men Infantry, 550 men Cavalry and 200 men Artillery.
At the beginning of the war the different troops would have been somewhat spread out, and ordered to redraw from the advancing Russians, to first converge and then attack and retake lost territory. There were numerous small engagements. Below is all the fights/battles that occurred with name and date:
Peace signed in Fredrikshamn - September 17th - the worst peace in Sweden's history; with Finland, who had been united with Sweden since the Middle Ages, the Swedish kingdom lost a 3rd of its territory and a 4th of its population. Stockholm, the Swedish capital, was no longer in the centre of the kingdom. Finland was allowed to keep its laws and became a "grand-duchy" with a special status within the Russian Empire, until 1917, when Finland declared its independence, as an outcome of the Russian revolution the same year.
The information is taken and translated from "Sveriges krig åren 1808 och 1809" published by Generalstabens krigshistoriska afdelning (no. 1-9), Stockholm, Sweden 1890. Printed by Kongl. boktryckeriet P.A. Norstedt & Söner. The books are found at Krigsarkivet (War Archives) in Stockholm, Sweden.
Q. What headgear did the Swedish infantry wear in 1813. Was the earlier headgear still in use or had Swedes began to receive Russian headgear in 1813?
A. The Swedish Army that landed in Germany for the 1813-campaign would have appeared old fashioned and also somewhat ragged in comparison to some of the more modernly equipped Prussian and Russians, which would have worn the more modern shako and more modernly cut double breasted tunics. As Andrew mentions, the Swedish troops - being somewhat embarrassed about their old fashioned uniforms (for which they would even have been somewhat ridiculed by allied and foes alike) - would probably have pinched and adopted shakos and perhaps even other stuff as they were available through the "unfortunes of war", before they got their own issues. Actually, I did read (in Erik Bellander's "Dräkt och Uniform") that the Shako might only have been generally adopted by the *whole* Army as late as 1815! The Swedish Army during the German Campaign would, however, have been the first to adopt the new uniforms and the shako, which most, if not all, would have been wearing at the time of their return to Sweden after the German (and Danish/Norwegian) campaign in 1813-14 - the troops that had remained in Sweden, however, would still have been wearing the hat and the older uniform. If I find some more specific info about the appearence of the specific regiments etc. present at Leipzig and/or when new items were introduced I shall try to include it later. Still, if your figs have the hat - the better - as they can then also be used for the 1808-09 Russo-Swedish War and definitely not be un-historic at the opening of the German campaign. If you then feel like throwing in a few Swedish troops with the new uniform you can just take a Russian figure and more or less paint it with a dark-blue tunic instead of a green one.
Q. It would seem that the early (1802) uniform was blue, the 1807 uniform was grey, and the 1810 uniform was blue again.
A. There is a story to this! The traditional colour of the Swedish Army's uniform was blue. A national blue uniform for all units was introduced as early as in the late 17th century I believe. In any case in 1808-09 Sweden's finances wasn't in a great state, why someone came up with the bright idea that grey uniforms should be cheaper than blue ones. However, it proved extremely difficult to dye the uniforms in a single and uniform shade of grey... why costs instead increased as uniforms perhaps had to be redyed or more attention had to be spent to try to get the proper mixture for the "right" shade of grey. Thus, the idea of the "cheaper" grey uniform was fairly soon discarded and blue, which was more liked anyway, re-introduced.
I would suppose most of the regular infantry fighting in Finland would have been fighting in the grey uniform (both the single-breasted tunic, as well as the trousers) and wearing their characteristic black hats. Still, at the outbreak of the war, as Mr Schorr mentions some units would not have had the time to receive their new issues, then still appearing in blue, as indeed some of the Guards etc still also would have done.
Q. What uniform did the Mörner's Hussars (Light Cavalry) wear in 1813?
A. As far as I can see in the books I have (Erik Bellander: "Dräkt och Uniform", Stockholm 1973), I cannot find anything that supports that they would have changed appearence for the 1813 campaign (the uniforms that resembled the SYW Prussian "Death" Hussars), but it is of course not entirely impossible that some of the independently spirited hussars, officers in particular, might perhaps have "borrowed" or changed parts of their uniforms, as to their liking and to fit in with any of the other countries' hussars they might have fought with? Perhaps even some trooper *may* have done this, but mind you, I find no information whatsoever to support this! As the mirliton was also used in Sweden long after the Napoleonic Wars had ended, as Mr Schorr also mentions, I think it is most likely from every aspect that, if these troops are to be painted, to use the Prussian Hussar figures *in* the mirliton headgear. [Note in 6mm Heroics and Ros Figures "MSY10 SYW Prussian Hussars" are wearing the Mirliton.]
I did find, however, that the Swedish Horse Lifeguards (Livgardet till häst) most likely would have worn a shako as early as the summer 1814 (Bellander again). I take the liberty to include a line from a friend who commented this to me in a private mail: "I believe they [Mörner's Hussars] still wore the mirliton in 1813. I believe he is confusing it with the Skånska Hussars who wore the Russian kiwer in 1813." - Any truth in this perhaps?
Sweden was in the middle of reforming its Army (and Fleet), why new regulations, ideas and uniforms was tried and discarded during the Napoleonic Wars - the economy also putting restraints as to how quickly new regulations/uniforms were put into effect, and not the least the many wars, that effectively can mess up any budget and nice planning! Still, there would be some general guidelines to follow, how to paint the Swedish Army - and I'll try to write some on that later. However, if one would have figures in the regular hats - somewhat resembling the Corsican hat (worn by the Brunswickers and others) but with less wide and high brims (on the left, as with the Corsican hat) - not exceeding the height of the hat - more like an ordinary top hat, I suppose - and some Russian figures (which can be painted in a Swedish colour scheme) - you then should have what it takes to paint the Swedish regular infantry for the whole period. The figures in hats can have their tunics in dark blue as well as in grey (see above and earlier comments by Mr Nicholl and Mr Schorr) - not exceedingly dark I suppose (especially not after some campaigning). The later "Russian style infantry" would have the double-breasted tunics in blue only. The Guards, Cavalry and Artillery would need some special comments.
The following has been compiled with reference to Nafziger's "Napoleon at Leipzig" & Frank Chadwick's army lists for VB&G. All errors courtesy Keith McNelly. Note that Prussian and Russian Formations have generally been excluded.
Army of the North under Bernadotte, Crown Prinnce of Sweden, (AC)
Swedish Army, Field Marshall Stedingk, (CC)
1st Division, Generalllieutenant Skjoldebrand, (DC), Exhaustion = 10
(The 1st and 2nd Brigades have a total strength of 6,557 men)
2nd Division, Generallieutenant Sandels, (DC), Exhaustion = 9
(The 3rd, 4th & 6th Brigades have a total strength of 9,060 men. Nafziger suggests the 6th Brigade is considerably smaller, possibly around 1400 effectives, for simplicity however I have made each brigade a simialir size.)
Cavalry Division, Generallieutenant Skjoldebrand, (DC), Exhaustion = 2
(The total strength of this formation was 1,753 men)