1758 - Swedish campaign in Pomerania

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The campaign lasted from June to December 1758

Map

Prussian, Swedish and Russian manoeuvres in Pomerania from June to September 1758.
 
Source: Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, volume III by the German Grosser Generalstab
 
Courtesy: Tony Flores

Description of Events

The operations in Pomerania in 1758 started as a nightmare. Winter was so rude that thick ice formed over the strait separating the Island of Rügen from Western Pomerania, thus making the small Swedish force (2,000 men with 20 field guns) occupying the island very vulnerable. They continuously had to break the ice between Rügen and the mainland to prevent the passage of the Prussians.

Swedes retire to Stralsund

On January 2, Lehwaldt crossed the Peene at the head of a small Prussian army and advanced into Pomerania.

On January 4, Anklam capitulated and the Swedish garrison, consisting of 3 officers and 94 men, surrendered as prisoners of war.

By January 6, Lehwaldt had completely bottled up the Swedes in Stralsund and Rügen Island. A small Swedish force also remained in the entrenchments of Peenemünde. Mecklenburg was now left alone to feel the wrath of Prussia.

On January 7, Field-Marshal von Ungern-Sternberg was replaced by General von Rosen at the head of the Swedish Army. Rosen remained idle at Stralsund awaiting reinforcements.

On January 10, Lehwaldt invested Stralsund, blockading the town. Furthermore, a Prussian force under the Prince of Holstein advanced into the Duchy of Mecklenburg, which had allied to the Swedes, and levied considerable contributions.

By January 19, some 400 guns were mounted on the walls of Stralsund because von Rosen expected a Prussian attack.

Indeed, by January 20, the Prussians had completely surrounded Stralsund on the land-side. The foremost Prussian line outside of Stralsund went through the villages of Niederhof, Elmenhorst, Steinhagen, Starkow and Barth. Lehwaldt had established the Prussian headquarters at Greifswald. The Swedish field army had to improve the fortifications of Stralsund. This work had already been initiated in the last months of 1757 under the supervision of Lieutenant-Colonel Karl Adam von Blessingh. The old bastions were repaired, new batteries were erected and walls were elevated with wooden palisades whenever wood could be transported to Stralsund. Redoubts were erected near the Tribseerthor (one of the gates), other redoubts added, and entrenchments built on the "Franken side" of the fortress. The Marquis Marc René de Montalembert, the current French attaché to the Swedish army, supervised the construction of modern redoubts, which the Swedish officers did not appreciate, on the "Knieper side" of the defence works.

On January 26, von Rosen sent out one of his best generals, Augustin Ehrensvärd, at the head of 400 horse and 1,200 foot to reconnoitre the Prussian positions. The Prussians retired from some of their outposts and a small skirmish took place at Kedenhagen between a detachment of the Upplands Liv Regiment and a squadron of Prussian hussars which was driven away. Ehrensvärd, who was a careful general, didn't advance farther than Parow, 5 km north of Stralsund. Strangely enough, this was the only reconnaissance action of the Swedish field army during the winter and spring of 1758. Lehwaldt anyhow contented himself of besieging Stralsund. He considered that the place was too strongly defended to try an attack. In fact, Lehwaldt simply had insufficient resources for such an endeavour.

On January 27, the Prince of Holstein's Corps took possession of Wismar.

On February 6, the Prince of Holstein entered into Rostock.

About the middle of February, the Prince of Holstein and Major-General Count Finckenstein advanced into the Duchy of Lüneburg with 2 rgts of dragoons (Holstein and Finckenstein), 3 sqns of Ruesch Hussars and 2 sqns of Malachowski Hussars and finally made a junction with the Allied Army of Ferdinand of Brunswick in Hanover.

Meanwhile, the Prussian blockade of Stralsund continued (it would last till June 18). During this blockade, the Swedish garrison was reduced from 7,000 men to only 4,000 men fit for service.

At the beginning of March, unsatisfied by the poor results obtained by Lehwaldt, Frederick II replaced him by General Count zu Dohna.

On March 9, Dohna began the siege of the fort of Peenemünde.

On March 13, after a heavy bombardment, the Swedish garrison at Peenemünde finally capitulated.

Swedes assault on the Peenemünde redoubt

On April 5 (or 3 ???), eager to reconquer the position a small Swedish force tried to take the redoubt of Peenemünde by surprise from the shore. The Swedes scaled the walls but were expelled after fierce hand-to-hand fighting.

The units involved in this skirmish were:

During this action, the Swedes lost 1 captain and 16 men killed and 1 officer and 63 men taken prisoners.

Dohna leaves for Brandenburg

In April, Dohna detached Major-General Platen with the Alt Platen Dragoons and some infantry to Stolp (present-day Slupsk) to check the incursions of cossacks sent forward after the Russian invasion of East Prussia. The same month, the Swedish Böhnens Fribataljon of light troops was raised from värvade soldiers in the country around Danzig.

On June 13, the Prussian troops blockading Mecklenburg-Schwerin were ordered to raise the blockade.

On June 15, all Prussian regiments who had been in winter-quarters in Mecklenburg were recalled in Pomerania.

On June 18, the Prussian force blockading Stralsund was recalled to oppose the Russian invasion of Brandenburg led by Fermor. Dohna left only a small force of 300 hussars behind at Brandshagen to act as a rearguard and to tempt the Swedes out of their fortified positions, hoping to defeat them before leaving for Brandenburg.

On June 19, Dohna encamped at Treuen near Loitz.

On June 20, Major Baron Georg Gustaf Wrangel signed a contract to raise a new regiment of hussars: the Gula Hussars (yellow hussars); in order to bring the full establishment of Swedish hussars to 10 squadrons (of 100 men each).

On June 21, the Prussian hussars detachment appeared outside the walls of Stralsund to steal some horses and cows. Immediately, 50 men from Blå Hussars and 50 men from the Upplands Liv Regiment were sent over to Brandshagen. According to von Rosen, the Swedes under MKajor von Platen (one of the founders of the Blå Hussars together with Count Putbus) drove back the 300 Prussian hussars, although the number of Prussian hussars was probably much overestimated.

On June 26, Dohna departed from Loitz and marched towards Schwedt. Only a tiny Prussian force remained in Pomerania. It consisted of:

On June 27, von Rosen, who considered that this war was not for him, sent a letter to ask to be relieved of his command. He explained that he was too sick and too tired to be able to lead the Swedish field army. Lieutenant-general Count Gustaf David Hamilton, the oldest Swedish general in Pomerania, assumed command of the field army, in accordance with the Swedish seniority-system.

At the end of June, a large part of the Swedish force concentrated in Stralsund suffered from food-poisoning cause by salted pork. Swedish command managed to send these soldiers to "take the waters" at Knieperdam.

By July 1, some 5,093 foot and 757 cavalrymen were ill. Hamilton could rely only on 8,761 men to take part in the operations, of these 1,434 had to remain in Stralsund as garrison. Altogether, Hamilton could field less than 2,500 cavalrymen because horses had starved during the long siege conducted by General Lehwaldt. The lack of horses was even worst in the field artillery and train.

On July 4, the Swedish Rådet (council) authorised von Rosen to quit his charge.

In July, the Swedish army, counting 14,000 men, then received a reinforcement of about 8,000 consisting of:

These reinforcements disembarked at Perd on Rügen.

In preparation for the incoming campaign, grenadiers were then converged into two battalions commanded respectively by Majors Anton Reinhold Wrangel and Johan August Meijerfelt. Furthermore, Nylands Infantry was attached to the Artillery which was reorganised into 8 brigades with 36 heavy and 60 light guns. Similarly, a corps of 50 foot had been added to the Blå Hussars in the Autumn of 1757. Corruption in the "Hats Party" allowed suppliers to provide very poor quality equipment: bad rifles, bad shirts and shoes. A lot of wagons supplied by the firm Finlay & Jennings carrying pontoons were unusable, because the axis were too weak and made of bad wood, and were left behind when the army finally advanced.

In July, Hamilton's Army (about 16,000 men) crossed the Peene River and occupied Anklam and Demmin. Meanwhile, Hamilton detached Hessenstein with 2,000 men to seize Usedom.

On July 22, von Rosen left Stralsund.

In August, the treaty of alliance between Sweden and Russia was renewed for 12 year. The same month, Hamilton's vanguard reached Ferdinandshof. In the mean time, Hessenstein had captured the Peenemünde and Swinemünde (present-day Świnoujście) entrenchments and a Swedish squadron had entered into into the Lagoon Of Stettin.

On August 22, a first engagement took place off Anklam between the Swedish squadron and the Prussian flotilla. The Swedes won this initial action.

On August 25, an important Russian cavalry corps (12,000 men) under the command of Rumyantsev camped at Schwedt, but no attempt was undertaken to make a junction with the Swedish Army.

Swedish advance on Berlin

In September, the Swedish Army of General Hamilton, having no opponents facing it, penetrated into the Uckermark to get closer to the Oder and act jointly with the Russian Army. In fact the Russo-Swedish joint operations previously planned had already been seriously compromised by the indecisive Battle of Zorndorf. The Russians were no more interested in such a cooperation. Hamilton had problems to keep in touch with them. Fromhold Armfelt, the Swedish envoy to the Russian Army had problems to forward letters to him. Hamilton wished to make a junction with the Russian Army but this appeared to be impossible because Fermor and his army, still counting 40,000 men, were licking their wounds in Landsberg on the River Warthe. Fermor did not wish to fight the Prussians anymore and would have preferred to move closer to his magazines at Weichsel (present-day Visla) in Poland. However, Empress Elizabeth Petrovna insisted that he undertook more active operations against the Prussians. As a compromise, Fermor decided after a discussion with his generals to march northwards with his army to East Pomerania and to take his winter-quarters at Stargard, some 40 km east of Stettin, while a detachment was sent against the fortress of Colberg. This put an end to any hope Hamilton could have to conduct joint operations.

To complicate things further, a letter from Armfelt to Hamilton, criticizing Fermor, was intercepted by the Prussians who published it in the Berlin newspapers, thus making Fermor furious. Armfelt left the Russian Army and went to the Austrian Army to assume the same role of liaison.

On September 6, Hamilton's Army arrived at Prenzlau.

On September 11, the Swedish Army moved out from Prenzlau towards Neuruppin. During its advance, it was harassed by Prussian detachments coming from Stettin (present-day Szczecin).

On September 14, informed of the advance of the Swedes towards Berlin, Frederick detached Wedell from the main Prussian army then stationed at Schönfeld near Dresden in Saxony with a small corps (8 bns and 5 sqns) to contain their advance.

On September 15, the Prussian forces sent out from Stettin, being too weak to attack in force, prepared an ambush in the forest between Boitzenburg and Lychen. Carpelan, the Swedish commander, neglected to send out any flanking patrols believing the Prussians to still be far away. The Prussian infantry and dismounted cavalry hid among the trees and let the long train of wagons and troops pass by, waiting for the baggage train to appear. This was guarded by Böhnens Fribataljon consisting of inexperienced German recruits. At a point blank range of 10 paces the Prussians opened a devastating fire. Within minutes more than 80 men were wounded or killed among the wagons and trees. The slaughter would have continued if Älvsborgs Infantry had not come to the rescue chasing away the Prussian skirmishers with musket fire.

The units involved in this skirmish were:

  • on the Prussian side
    • FreiGrenadier Kompanie Hüllesem (1 coy)
    • FreiGrenadier Kompanie Wussow (1 coy)
    • Kompanie Seebach (1 coy)
    • Grabowski's Hussars
    • Stülpnagel's Jägers
  • on the Swedish side

On September 20, Wedell's corps reached Berlin.

By September 22, Hamilton had reached the region of Neuruppin where he learned of the march of Wedell on Berlin. The same day, Wedell left Berlin and advanced towards the Swedish positions.

On September 23, Hamilton marched towards Oranienburg but his vanguards met opposition by Prussian hussars at Fehrbellin. Seeing this Hamilton returned to Neuruppin.

On September 26, a Swedish foraging party was attacked by a Prussian mounted force in an engagement at Tarmow. The Swedish cavalry routed by the infantry retired in good order.

On September 28, Wedell advanced against the Swedish Army. The Prussian lost the ensuing Battle of Fehrbellin.

After this engagement, Hamilton considered that he could not field enough light troops to protect his extended lines of communication with Stralsund. Accordingly, he retired to Neuruppin where he encamped while Wedell retired to Dechtow between the Swedish Army and Berlin. The Swedish command estimated that it would be possible to take their winter-quarters.

Wedell then used his cavalry to attack Hamilton's lines of communication while the Duke of Bevern launched similar attacks from Stettin. Soon, the Prussians were master of Anklam, Demmin, Loitz, Pasewalk, and Prenzlau. With his lines of communication seriously threatened, Hamilton changed his mind and prepared to abandon his camp at Neuruppin, managing to recapture Demmin to reopen his lines of communication.

On October 11, Hamilton's Army retired from Neuruppin and marched to Prenzlau due to the poor condition of its supply lines. It was closely followed by Wedell's Corps which surprised a Swedish detachment at Boitzenburg, capturing 170 men and 300 horses. By then Hamilton's Army had been reduced to 14,000 men.

Now that the Swedes were retiring towards their winter-quarters in Pomerania, Frederick resolved to recall most of Wedell's Corps to reinforce the small Prussian army defending Saxony while he was trying to relieve the besieged fortress of Neisse in Silesia.

On October 28, Wedell, according to Frederick's orders, quit Suckow in Pomerania and marched towards Berlin.

On October 31, Wedell arrived at Berlin where he waited for Dohna's Corps.

As soon as Dohna made a junction with Wedell's Corps at Berlin, they both took the road towards Torgau in Saxony with 23 bns and 32 sqns. Only 8 bns under Manteuffel were left in Northern Germany.

Campaigning continues in Western Pomerania

On November 15, Manteuffel marched Angermünde to Gramzow. A Swedish detachment of 250 horse under the command of Major Platen occupying Güstow was pushed back to Bietkow (unidentified location)

On November 18, a Swedish force led by General von Lingen vainly attempted to recapture Güstow. After this costly affair, the Swedish force moved towards Pasewalk and built a redoubt at the village of Werbelow. Manteuffel screened this Swedish force.

On November 25, Manteuffel sent forward a General Platen with a force of grenadiers and cavalry to reconnoitre the Swedish position. Outside Werbelow they ran into a Swedish patrol of 40 men from Skaraborgs Infantry. The Swedes retreated in good order towards the redoubt, which was defended by 160 men of Kalmar Infantry. Platen opened up with artillery at the redoubt and sent the cavalry forward. At the same time, a Swedish party consisting of Wrangel's Grenadiers, closely followed by 7 cavalry squadrons, moved up in support. Outnumbered the Prussians withdrew suffering more than 50 casualties from musketry fire when retreating past the redoubt.

The units involved in this small action were:

Later in the Autumn, the Prussian flotilla defending Stettin Lagoon counted 12 vessels, 20 captains, 72 helmsmen and 344 sailors. A detachment (2 captains, 8 lieutenants, 12 NCOs, 1 drummer, 8 surgeons,144 privates and 8 artillerymen) of Garrison Regiment No. I also served aboard the flotilla.

At the end of November, Dohna left Eulenburg in Saxony, advanced through Leipzig and returned to Pomerania with 21 bns and 35 sqns to repulse the Swedes.

On December 19, Hamilton was relieved of his command by the Swedish Rådet (Council).

General Jacob Abrekt Lantingshausen, who had succeeded Hamilton at the head of the Swedish army, retired up to Stralsund, leaving 1,300 men to occupy Demmin and another 1,400 to hold Anklam.

Anklam and Demmin were soon abandoned to the Prussians and Dohna took his winter-quarters in Pomerania and Mecklenburg.

References

This article contains abridged and adapted excerpts from the following books which are now in the public domain:

  1. Jomini, Henri, Traité des grandes opérations militaires, 2ème édition, 2ème partie, Magimel, Paris: 1811, pp. 252-253, 256, 264-266
  2. Tielke, J. G., An Account of some of the most Remarkable Events of the War between the Prussians, Austrians and Russians from 1756 to 1763, Vol. 2, Walter, London, 1788, pp. 67-72
  3. Carlyle T., History of Friedrich II of Prussia, vol. 18
  4. Anonymous, A Complete History of the Present War, from its Commencement in 1756, to the End of the Campaign, 1760, London, 1761, pp. 318
  5. Archenholz, J. W., The History of the Seven Years War in Germany, translated by F. A. Catty, Francfort, 1843, pp. 200-203

Other sources

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

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

Säve, Teofron, Sveriges deltagande i Sjuåriga Kriget Åren 1757-1762, pp. 147 ff., 187 ff., 224 ff. Stockholm 1915

Schantz, G von, Försök till en historia öfver det förra Pommerska kriget p. 38 f., 51 ff. Stockholm 1811

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

Sulicki, Marschall von, Der Siebenjährige Krieg in Pommern und in den benachbarten Marken, Berlin, 1867

Traveller, "Small actions during the Pomeranian Campaigns"

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 this campaign