1757 - Swedish campaign in Pomerania

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The campaign lasted from March to December 1757

Introduction

During the winter of 1756-1757, Sweden entered into the war as an ally of France, Austria and Russia.

Description of Events

In May 1757, Field Marshal Baron Mathias Alexander von Ungern-Sternberg took command of a Swedish army consisting of 18,000 fott and 4,000 horse for a total of 22,000 men. These troops were very badly prepared: no commissariat, no magazine, no pontoon and no light troops... From June 1 to September, this army was gradually transported across the Baltic towards Swedish-Pomerania.

Meanwhile, Sweden also assembled a small naval squadron at Stralsund. In June, this squadron appeared in front of the Island of Rügen and established a blockade of the Stettin Lagoon, capturing or sinking several merchant ships. The captured ships were brought back to Stralsund where their owners could buy them back against ransom.

In July, when Frederick II realised that Sweden would get involved in the war, he ordered the state general of Pomerania to raise and keep on foot, at their own expense, 10 militia battalions (500 men each). Brandenburg did the same and raised 5,000 men while Magdeburg and Halberstadt raised together 2,000 men. These troops were not part of the regular Prussian army (see Prussian Militia for a detailed breakdown of these units). These provinces also furnished a number of hussars who served throughout the war under the command of Werner and Belling. On July 16, Frederick also ordered the creation of a small flotilla to operate at the mouth of the Oder, in the Stettin Lagoon (present-day Szczecin in Poland). This flotilla consisted of 3 brigs, 2 galleys and 9 gunboats.

At the end of August, the Swedish Army of Pomerania consisted of :

The Swedes were to be joined by 6,000 men belonging to the Duke of Mecklenburg.

In the night of September 12 to 13, the Swedish army under Lieutenant-General Count Hamilton, deployed in three columns, crossed the Peene and advanced into Prussian-Pomerania. The Prussians could oppose them a small force under Major-General Heinrich von Manteufel:

Because of his total lack of cavalry, Manteuffel remained at Stettin. The first Swedish columns took Demmin, the second Anklam and the third advanced through Wolgast upon the Island of Usedom.

On September 23, a Swedish artillery detachment under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Karl Ehrensvärd opened fire from the other side of the Peene on the Fort of Peenemünde, guarding the western exit of the Oder basin on Usedom Island. After a four hours bombardment, the Prussian commander surrendered to the third Swedish column.

All columns then assembled at Anklam and Swinemünde (present-day Świnoujście in Poland). Uckermünde, Prenzlau and Pasewalk were soon occupied by Swedish troops and, within 6 weeks, a corps under General Horn levied heavy contributions (twice the annual tax levied by Prussia) throughout Uckermark, a small province counting only 6 towns and 180 villages.

Throughout September, the Prussian main army on this theatre of operation (Lehwaldt's army) was busy opposing a Russian invasion of East Prussia.

Order of Battle
Detailed order of battle of the Swedish army at the end of October.

On October 6, when Frederick II realised that the Russian army was in full retreat towards Poland, he sent order to General Lehwaldt to redirect his efforts against the Swedes in Pomerania.

On October 10, Field Marshal Ungern-Sternberg finally arrived on the theatre of operation and took command from Hamilton.

On October 17, Lehwaldt, who was now at Tilsitt (present-day Sovetsk in Russia), received Frederick's order. Lehwaldt left two battalions to guard Königsberg (present-day Kaliningrad) and Pillau (present-day Baltiysk), deployed a cavalry cordon along the Memel and immediately marched towards Pomerania with a force of 24 battalions and 50 squadrons (about 25,000 men) consisting of:

  • 4 grenadier battalions
  • 10 musketeers battalions
  • 10 garrison battalions
  • 30 dragoons squadrons
  • 20 hussars squadrons

On his way, Lehwaldt left 2 garrison battalions, 80 hussars and some garrison artillery in Prussia.

On October 26, Field Marshal Ungern-Sternberg moved his headquarters from Anklam to Ducherow.

On October 27, Ungern-Sternberg advanced once more from Ducherow to Ferdinandshof on the road towards Pasewalk. He then stayed in Ferdinandshof for three weeks without making any attempt against the Prussian positions around Stettin nor against Berlin. Indeed, any advance on Berlin would have been seriously impeded by the small Prussian force that could threaten Swedish flanks from Stettin.

On November 12, the Swedes started to retreat from Prussian-Pomerania, redeploying behind the Peene with detachments at Anklam and Demmin. They also left troops to occupy the Island of Wollin and the entrenchments at Peenemünde.

On November 22, the head of Lehwaldt's column reached Stettin.

On November 24, Prussian troops captured two Swedish gunboats at Dievenow. These gunboats were incorporated into the small Prussian flotilla of Stettin as the Esping Nr. 3 and Esping Nr. 4.

Between November 28 and December 3, Lehwaldt's covering force took position along the Peene River between Anklam and Demmin.

On December 3, Ungem-Sternberg retired towards Stralsund with the Swedish main army. Ungern-Sternberg established his headquarters in Grünhufe.

By mid December, Lehwaldt had his entire army (about 28,000 men) assembled at Stettin.

On December 24, a detachment of Lehwaldt's cavalry, assisted by garrison troops from Stettin, recaptured Wollin.

On December 26, Swedish General Hessenstein retired from Usedom with his force.

Meanwhile, the Prussian covering force previously deployed along the Peene advanced on Dargun under the command of General Prince von Holstein.

Skirmish on the Trebel

On December 27 along the Trebel River, a Swedish detachment of cavalry and infantry was sent out to chase away a force of Prussian cavalry reconnoitring the Swedish positions. During its approach of the Prussian scouting party, the Swedish force was attacked by a large body of cavalry. The Swedish cavalry fled the field after firing a single volley. Västmanlands Infantry was left on its own and fought back bravely, loosing 18 men and 2 officers before returning to the camp.

The units involved in this skirmish were:

  • on the Prussian side
    • a detachment of hussars belonging to Duke of Holstein's Corps (350 men)
  • on the Swedish side

Prussian counter-attack on the Peene

On December 29, General Prince von Holstein managed to cross the Trebel at Beestland with his cavalry. The Swedes were obliged to abandon their line of defence along the Peene and to redeploy between Richtenberg and Greifswald.

On December 30, the advancing Prussians took Demmin on the Peene River. The Swedish garrison of this town had no time to retire and had to capitulate. Nevertheless, the captured Swedes were allowed to retire with the honours of war.

Lehwaldt had now recovered most of Prussian-Pomerania. During their advance, the Prussian columns had captured important depots, 42 vessels and 3,000 Swedes.

Fighting retreat at Nehringen

On December 30, the Swedish party defending the crossing at Nehringen was ordered to retreat on Triebsees in front of an attacking Prussian force. The Swedes undertook a fighting retreat in good order without casualties.

The units involved in this action were:

  • on the Prussian side
  • on the Swedish side (under the command of Gustaf Reinhold Stjerneroos)
    • a detachment of Västmanlands Infantry (120 men)
    • a detachment of the Smålands Horse (60 men under Rittmeister Johan von Gertten)
    • 1 gun and artillerymen under Lieutenant Anders Tollstedt

End of the campaign

By the end of the year, the Swedish army had retired to Rügen Island, leaving a small garrison in Stralsund and a small force in the entrenchments of Peenemünde. Mecklenburg was now left alone to feel the wrath of Prussia.

Lehwaldt's army wintered in Swedish-Pomerania, blockading Stralsund.

The Swedish force entrenched at Peenemünde resisted until March 13 1758 but it finally abandoned the position.

The Prussian army remained in Swedish-Pomerania until June 18 1758 when another Russian invasion of East Prussia forced it to abandon the blockade of Stralsund and to march eastwards. It was now under the command of General Count zu Dohna.

References

This article incorporates texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:

  • Anonymous: The History of the Present War from its Commencement in 1756 to the End of the Campaign of 1760 , London
  • Anonymous: The Annual Register or The History of the Present War from the Commencement of Hostilities in 1755; and continued during the Campaigns of 1756, 1757, 1758, 1759, 1760 and to the End of the Campaign, 1761, London, pp. 207
  • Anonymous: A Complete History of the Present War, from its Commencement in 1756, to the End of the Campaign, 1760, London, 1761, 224-225
  • Archenholz, J. W.: The History of the Seven Years War in Germany, translated by F. A. Catty, Francfort, 1843, pp. 69-70, 101-103
  • Carlyle, T.: History of Friedrich II of Prussia, vol. 18
  • Grosser Generalstab: Geschichte des Siebenjährigen Krieges, Vol. 1, Berlin: 1824, pp. 457-459

Other sources

Cremer, Peter: Die preussischen Landregimenter & -milizen, die Stettiner Haff-Flotille und das Verpflegungswesen der Armee 1756-1753, KLIO-Arbeitgruppe, Heimbach, 1987

Frederick II: Posthumous Works of Frederic II King of Prussia, vol. 2, pp. 217-218

O'Hara, Danny: Eighteenth Century Wargaming Resources On-Line

Pajol, Charles P. V.: Les Guerres sous Louis XV, vol. IV, Paris, 1891, pp. 40-42

Säve, Teofron: Sveriges deltagande i Sjuåriga Kriget Åren 1757-1762, p. 57, 111, 121 ff. Stockholm 1915

Sharman, Alistair: Sweden's Role in the Seven Years War: A Brief Chronology 1756-1761, Seven Years War Association Journal Vol. XII No. 4

Wilson, Peter: Swedish Politics and Armed Forces in the Seven Years War, Seven Years War Association Journal Vol. X No. 1

Wilson, Peter: Swedish Mobilization and Strategy, Seven Years War Association Journal Vol. X No. 1

Wilson, Peter: The Campaign in Pomerania 1757-1762, Seven Years War Association Journal Vol. X No. 1

Acknowledgments

Gunnar W. Bergman for additional information on the Swedish artillery and on winter operations

Traveller for the description of the skirmish on the Trebel.