1759 - Swedish campaign in Pomerania

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The campaign lasted from August to November 1759

Description of Events

Prussian Offensive

At the end of 1758, Dohna, the Prussian general in charge of this theatre of operation, planned an offensive against the Swedish forces (about 15,000 men) in Pomerania. His own army consisted of 26 bns and 55 sqns.

On January 1 1759, Dohna's vanguard passed the Recknitz River at Damgarten.

Meanwhile, the Prussian corps of Manteuffel passed the Peene at Stolpe (present-day Slupsk) heading westwards.

On January 4, the Swedish Army, under the command of Jacob Albrekt Lantingshausen, retired from Grimmen.

On January 5, elements of Manteuffel's Corps made a junction with Dohna's vanguard at Greifswald.

On January 6, the two Prussian corps completed their junction. The Swedish Army was now deployed between Lake Krümmenhagen (present-day Niepars) and the Baltic.

On January 9, the Swedish Army retired to Stralsund. Manteuffel immediately surrounded the town of Demmin and laid siege to it while Lieutenant-General Wenzel Anton von Kanitz received orders to capture the fortified city of Anklam in a joint Prussian attack to retake some important strongholds on the Prussian border with Swedish Pomerania. Lieutenant-Colonel Count Johan Sparre af Söfdeborg, at the head of 1,400 Swedes at Anklam, was at first expecting reinforcement by a party of Green Dragoons (maybe Bohusläns Dragoons) led by Captain Karl Hård. However, the dragoons got surrounded by Prussian troops on the road from Wohlgast to Anklam.

On January 11, additional Prussian forces gathered around Anklam. Kanitz summoned Sparre, threatening to conduct reprisals against Swedish towns in Swedish Pomerania. Sparre refused to surrender, answering that it was too early to start to speak about capitulation. The Prussians then bombarded Anklam for several days and stormed Schülerberge but Sparre had already withdrawn his cannon from this hill when he had realised that his garrison was to weak to defend it.

By January 17, the Prussian battery on the Nonnenberg had made a gap in the Swedish defences around Demmin. The Prussians then launched an amphibious attack and drove the Swedes out of their outpost on the Meyenkrebs side of the Peene.

On January 18, short of ammunition, Colonel Lillienberg surrendered the town of Demmin. His troops were allowed to march out of the town with their colours, fifers and drummers before becoming prisoners of war.

By January 21, the Prussians had brought some very heavy guns from Stettin (24 pdrs and heavy 12-pdrs) for the siege of Anklam. Sparre had only two 12-pdrs, four 6-pdrs, two mortars and two howitzers and some lighter 3-pdrs at his disposal.

On January 21, the Prussian artillery opened a continuous bombardment on Anklam. Sparre tried to gain time by negotiations but finally capitulated, obtaining free departure to Sweden. Three Swedish infantry regiments were taken prisoners.

The last strongholds of the Swedish Army were now Stralsund, which was soon blockaded, and the Rügen Island.

During the winter of 1758-59, some Prussian fishing boats and small merchant ships had been converted into military vessels to protect the mouth of the Oder. This small flotilla was based in Stettin (present-day Szczecin in Poland).

On April 5, the Prussian flotilla was finally launched into the Lagoon of Stettin.

On April 10, Dohna stormed the Swedish entrenchments of Peenemünde. Frederick instructed his generals to demolish the fortifications of Demmin, Anklam and Peenemünde.

The Swedish army, now reduced to some 12,000 men, remained in its position behind the Peene. Lantingshausen created 2 battalions from his existing troops to garrison Stralsund and Wolgast and to man his galley flotilla.

By May 1, Dohna had advanced up to Greifswald while Kleist had been left behind at Schwerinsburg.

On May 15, the Prussian Army (about 24,000 men) lifted the blockade of Stralsund to redirect its attention against the Russian operations against Brandenburg. Indeed, the Russian Army had wintered at Thorn (present-day Toruń) in inner Poland and was about to advance towards Posen (present-day Poznań) thus threatening Brandenburg and Silesia. Dohna left a small observation corps of 5,000 men (6 bns, 7 sqns, 22 guns) behind at Bartow on the Peene to contain the Swedish Army. This observation corps was placed under the command of Kleist.

On May 18, Manteuffel, assuming command during Dohna's sickness, marched eastwards from Loitz for Stargard (present-day Starogard Gdanski).

For many months, the Swedish Army and Kleist's Corps remained on their positions and no noticeable military action took place in this theatre of operation.

At the start of August, a Swedish galley flotilla under Carpelan advanced towards the Stettin Lagoon.

On August 8, the Swedish flotilla forced the defences of Peenemünde and penetrated the western half of the lagoon (Kleines Haff).

During the following days, the Swedish galley flotilla quickly became master of this part of the lagoon.

On August 13, after the disastrous Battle of Kunersdorf where the Prussian Army suffered very heavy losses, the observation corps of Kleist was recalled to reinforce Frederick's Army in Brandenburg. From this moment, Prussian tactic in Pomerania became more defensive relying mostly on ambushes. Above all, Prussian commanders wanted to prevent Swedish forces from making a coordinated attack with the Russians on the strong line of Prussian fortresses: Kolberg, Stettin, Schwedt and Cüstrin.

Swedish Offensive

After Kleist departure, a Swedish corps (6,000 men) under Lantingshausen advanced from Stralsund towards Pasewalk on the Ucker while a second corps (4,000 men) under Fredrik Axel von Fersen, supported by the galley flotilla (4 galleys, 4 half-galleys, 1 bomb-galiot, 1 special galiot, 1 unarmed hospital ship, several barges, Hector gunboat and Achilles gunboat), was directed against the islands of Usedom and Wollin at the mouth of the Oder. The plan was to capture these two islands and then to enter in the eastern part of the Stettin Lagoon with the galley flotilla.

On August 18, Fersen's Corps was ferried from Wolgast to Usedom where he drove away some Prussian hussars, established a bridgehead and then brought his artillery.

On August 21, Fersen encamped at Kamminke. The Prussian detachment (450 men) on Usedom, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Prentz, concentrated in the unfortified town of Swinemünde (present-day Świnoujście) where it entrenched behind a palisade and a few redoubts. The same day, Lantingshausen crossed the Peene River marking the border between Swedish and Prussian Pomerania.

On August 22, an engagement took place off Anklam between the two naval forces. The Swedes won this initial action.

On August 24, Fersen launched an attack on Swinemünde to test its defences.

On August 26, the Swedes took the Prussian harbour of Ückermünde where they confiscated 15 Prussian coastal vessels.

On August 27 at 4:00 a.m., the Swedish galley flotilla and the artillery opened against the palisade and redoubts of Swinemünde. Soon after, the Swedish Drottningens Livregemente and the Meijerfelt Grenadiers, under the command of Major Anrep, assaulted the town, covered by Åboläns Infantry and Västgöta Horse. The Swedes were soon master of the town, capturing Lieutenant-Colonel Prentz, 80 men and 4 guns. However, part of the Prussian defenders managed to take refuge in the "West Redoubt" which Fersen was forced to besiege in forms.

Fersen planted 2 gun batteries (4 and 6 guns respectively), one mortar battery (2 pieces) and one howitzer battery (2 pieces) around the "West Redoubt" of Swinemünde.

On September 1, the Swedish batteries opened on the "West Redoubt" of Swinemünde.

On September 2, the Prussian force defending the "West Redoubt" of Swinemünde surrendered. The Swedes captured Major Menardier, about 400 men and 12 guns. Early in the morning of the same day, a squadron of Prussian hussars along with a couple of infantry companies with 2 field guns surprised a Swedish reconnaissance party (100 hussars, 100 free corps infantry and 80 jägers for a total of 280 men) conducted by Major Johan Psilanderhjelm near Pasewalk, cutting their road of retreat. Psilanderhjelm with 80 hussars and jägers swam to Pasewalk across the Ücker River. Almost 200 men were taken prisoner because Psilanderhjelm had neglected to guard the bridge on the Ücker.

On September 3, Fersen turned his attention to the fortifications across the Swine, bombarded them and set them afire. The Prussian defenders were forced to evacuate this position.

On September ?, Lantingshausen, hunting for revenge, launched a surprise attack on Löcknitz, located between Pasewalk and Stettin, capturing more than 100 Prussians.

On September 4, Fersen planned to have troops ferried across the Swine at Kaseburg but the Prussians reacted promptly to this attempt and the enterprise was abandoned.

On September 10, the Swedish flotilla (28 vessels) led by captain-lieutenant Carl Ruthensparre, penetrated into the eastern part of the Stettin lagoon and attacked the Prussian flotilla (12 vessels). During the ensuing combat of Neuwarp, the Swedes annihilated the small Prussian flotilla. The Swedes were now master of the entire Stettin lagoon at the mouth of the Oder, thus isolating the Prussian forces defending the island of Wollin.

On September 12, the Prussian detachment on the Island of Wollin retired to the town of Wollin (present-day Wolin). In the evening, 4 Swedish bns landed between Plötzin (present-day Płocin) and Soldemin (present-day Sułomino) on the Island of Wollin.

On September 13, the rest of Fersen's Corps was ferried from Swinemünde to the Island of Wollin. Fersen soon concentrated his corps in front of the fortified town of Wollin which was defended by Land Militia Battalion Nr. 4 Watzmer and one battalion of Garrison Regiment Nr. I Puttkammer, totalling some 600 men, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Schafstädt.

On September 15, Fersen launched Åboläns Infantry and Meijerfelt Grenadiers against the Prussian outposts, forcing their defenders to retire to the town of Wollin.

On September 16, after a preparation of artillery, Fersen launched 5 columns against the walls of Wollin:

Meanwhile, a few half-galleys advanced up the Divenow but soon became immobilized and played no part in the action. The attacks on the Wicker Gate, the Amthaus and the bridge were all successful and the Prussian defenders were forced to surrender. In this action, the Swedes lost 1 officer and 14 privates killed and 7 officers, 4 NCOs and 95 privates wounded while the Prussians lost 1 lieutenant-colonel, 1 major, 9 captains, 19 NCOs and 651 privates taken prisoners and 29 guns captured.

Learning of the capture of Wollin, the Prussian despatched the Pomeranian Land Militia Battalion Nr. 10 to Hagen to oppose them.

On September ??, now that the Russian army was no more a threat for Brandenburg, Frederick II instructed Lieutenant-General Manteuffel to return to Pomerania with 9 bns and 10 sqns (Belling Hussars, Meinicke Dragoons, Frei-Infanterie von Hordt, 7 bns of convalescents).

On October 1, Fersen quitted the Oder islands with most of his corps, leaving the Volunteers (detachments of Skaraborgs Infantry and Västmanlands Infantry) and a battalion of Jönköpings Infantry to defend the islands. The Swedish galley flotilla remained stationed in the Stettin Lagoon. Fersen then marched to Pasewalk where he made a junction with Lantingshausen's main Swedish army.

The garrison of Stettin (1,400 men), under the command of Horn, made an unsuccessful attempt against Lantingshausen's Army who had taken position at Pasewalk.

Lantingshausen sent his vanguard up to Prenzlau into the Uckermark, levying heavy contributions, while a Swedish corps pushed the Prussian garrison of Stettin back behind the Löcknitz.

Swedish Retreat

In mid October, Manteuffel's Corps arrived at Pasewalk. He sent Major Knobelsdorf at the head of 1 bn of Frei-Infanterie von Hordt and 100 hussars behind the Swedish lines.

On the morning of October 22, when the gates of Demmin were opened, Knobelsdorf launched a surprise attack on the town which was defended by only 60 men of Posseska Infantry under the command of Captain Kjell Kristoffer Baron Barnekow and Lieutenant Ehrencrona. The small garrison threw itself into houses and bravely defended itself for an hour, losing 25 men dead or wounded, and was finally forced to surrender. The Swedish hussar who was supposed to warn the garrison of the approach of Knobelsdorf's force had gotten drunk on his way and had been captured by the Prussians. Knobelsdorf seized the Swedish war chest and retired to Malchin closely followed by Swedish light troops commanded by Wrangel and Sprengtporten.

On October 25, Wrangel and Sprengtporten forced their way across the Peene at Mühlentor where they drove back 60 Prussian infantry supported by 2 field guns. The Swedes tried to break the gate of Malchin by artillery fire and axes. Finally, the brave Second-Lieutenant Fredrik Rydell climbed over the town wall and opened the gate from behind. Von Knobelsdorf overestimated the size of the Swedish force and started a retreat in all haste, leaving 100 men of Frei-Infanterie von Hordt as a rearguard in a churchyard in an attempt to slow down the Swedish advance. When Wrangel and Sprengtporten pushed through the central parts of Malchin and surrounded the enemy troop in the churchyard and forced them to give up the fight. In this engagement, the Swedes lost Sprengtporten wounded at the left shoulder (he had to go home to Sweden to heal his wound), Second-Lieutenant Anders Illström of Dalarnas Infantry heavily wounded, Lieutenant Vestfelt of Västgöta Cavalry lightly wounded, 8 soldiers killed or wounded. After the engagement, 200 Prussians deserted to Loitz and Tribsees on the Swedish side of the Peene river.

After this raid, the Swedish Army retired to Anklam, harassed by Belling Hussars.

By November 6, the Swedish Army was deployed behind the Peene.

By the end of November, the Swedish Army had retired from Demmin, Anklam, Usedom and Wollin and concentrated at Greifswald.

The contingent of Mecklenburg wintered in the island of Rügen.

Swedish cantonments

The commander of the Swedish field army, General Jacob Albrekt Lantingshausen, and his second-in-command, Lieutenant-General Fredrik Axel von Fersen established their headquarters in Greifswald. Swedish troops took their cantonments as follows (from west to east):

The Jönköpings Infantry (6 coys) under Colonel Karl Fredrik Pechlin encamped on the Island of Usedom, with 40 men in advanced positions in the town of Wohlgast.

The Swedish Artillery had built redoubts in various locations, especially at important river crossings.

References

  • Jomini, baron de, Traité des grandes opérations militaires, Vol. 3, 2nd ed., Magimel, Paris, 1811, pp. 66-67, 84, 97, 109, 135,
  • O'Hara, Danny, Eighteenth Century Wargaming Resources On-Line
  • Säve, Teofron Sveriges deltagande i Sjuåriga Kriget Åren 1757-1762, Beijers Bokförlagsaktiebolag, 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 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 and on Swedish cantonments in November and December 1759