Russo Swedish war of 1808 - 09
Scandinavian Campaign

During the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars of 1792 - 1815 many famous campaigns were undertaken, and many famous battles fought. Yet in such a large series of conflicts it is perhaps inevitable that some aspects are overlooked. In this article I will examine one such campaign, the Russo - Swedish war of 1808 -09. I will also look how this conflict could have easily blossomed into a wider conflict, particularly if the planned invasion of mainland Sweden had proceeded. Scandinavia was somewhat of a backwater during these wars, but this conflict offers some interesting prospects for the gamer. With unusual Napoleonic armies such as the Norwegians featuring along side some famous names from the period such as Sir John Moore, Bernadotte and Ney. In this article I will briefly outline the real events and some of the interesting possibilities of the situation. In addition I will also outline the Swedish, Finnish, British, Norwegian, Danish, Russian, Dutch, Spanish and French forces that were, or might have been, involved in the events of 1808 / 09. Lastly I will briefly outline some of the interesting scenarios that could be fought against the background of these events.

THE BACKGROUND

A three pronged attack on Sweden / Finland was envisioned. First of all the Russians would invade Finland with 3 Divisions under General Buxhoevden. Russia's considerable, but mostly oar powered, naval forces would support this attack. In the event further Russian reinforcements were dispatched as the campaign progressed and Finnish resistance proved stronger than expected. The second prong would consist of Norwegian forces defending there country and operating over the border if possible in support of the other operations. Finally an invasion would be undertaken from Denmark of Southern Sweden. This would consist of a combined French, Dutch, Spanish and Danish force under the overall command of Marshall Bernadotte and with Ney in charge of the French troops.

To counter this the Swedes and Finns could muster considerable forces themselves. The Finnish part of the army, with a few Swedish units, was deployed to defend Finland. Swedish forces were mainly kept back to counter the expected invasion from Denmark, although there was also considerable small-scale action on the Norwegian border. To supplement these forces a British contingent was despatched to aid the Swedes, under Moore, who was later to earn fame in Spain. While a squadron from the British Royal Navy also arrived to help the Swedish navy secure the Baltic.

The War in Finland

I do not propose to go into great detail about the war in Finland. A very good account of the events in Finland are given at The War in Finland, while there is a more detailed description of the initial forces available at Initial Forces. In short then the Finns planned to retreat away from the invading Russians. This would draw them into Finland, stretching their supply lines and letting attrition do its work. They relied on the strongly garrisoned fortress of Sveaborg, the 'Gibraltar of the north', to provide an additional thorn in the Russians side and deny them control of southern Finland. Once the Russians had been stretched to the limit, the Finnish army would counter attack and drive the Russians out of Finland. The Russian army crossed the Finnish border on February 21st 1808. So on the arrival of the commander, General Klingspor, at the beginning of March the main field army started withdrawing north, fighting a number of rear guard and delaying actions as they went. Through March and April a number of sharp, but small-scale engagements were fought as the Russians pursued the Finnish army. While the Finnish civilians and guerrilla groups made life difficult for the Russians and provoked savage reprisals. Unfortunately it was at this stage that things started to go wrong. On May 6th the
extremely strong, well-garrisoned and well-provisioned fortress of Sveaborg inexplicably surrendered to the surrounding Russians! Causing its commander, Cronstedt, to be damned in the annals of Finish history.

With the plan in total ruin, and a considerable part of the army now in captivity, the Finnish army turned to the counter attack as the only viable option left to them. At first this proved successful with a lone detached Brigade under Sandels managing to push all the way back to the border. While in the main theatre the Russians reeled back under this surprising turn of events. The Russians reacted to quickly to the change of tactics and the going got tougher, as more Russian troops were committed to the campaign. The decisive battle came on September 14th at Oravais. It was a small battle by contemporary standards, but fiercely fought, and led to the Swedish / Finnish forces retreating again. From then on the Russians continued pressing their enemies as they once again retreated north. In this later phase of the fighting various Swedish units joined the Finns, but they were never enough and the Russians succeeded in clearing Finland during the rest of the campaign season. During the winter of 1808 / 09 peace negotiations were held but the Swedes were still not ready to admit defeat. So in 1809 the Russians attacked northern Sweden and the Swedish coast, making a number of amphibious raids along the exposed Swedish coastline. The Swedes had possessed a strong coastal fleet, but most of it had been lost at Sveaborg. Meanwhile the Swedes, who with their British allies still controlled the high seas, raided into Finland.

These attacks were the last straw and Sweden sued for peace, as discontent with the conduct of the war and the King grew. This discontent was to lead to the overthrowing of the Swedish King in mid 1809, who was showing increasing signs of madness. Perhaps the most ironic turn of events though was the eventual choice of replacement for the deposed Swedish king. The Swedes choose Bernadotte, the commander of the proposed invasion force in 1808, to be their new King indeed his descendants still occupy the Swedish throne to this day.

THE SWEDISH / NORWEGIAN BORDER

Part of the Swedish response to the crisis was to mass the bulk of their forces in southern Sweden to await the expected invasion from Denmark. Meanwhile it was thought an opportunity existed to strike out by attacking Norway, at that time part of the Danish Crown and a traditional Swedish foe. The Swedes launched an attack across the border but were soon forced to retrace their step by a determined Norwegian resistance. So after some small actions and skirmishes the Swedes withdrew back across the border, with the Norwegians harassing them. Cross border raids were to continue for the rest of the war, with the Norwegians seemingly having the best of things. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this conflict, and one of the Norwegian advantages in these actions, was the Norwegians use of ski equipped light troops. These proved extremely effective in the cross border skirmishing that continued during and after the Swedish invasion.

THE INVASION OF SWEDEN

So having looked briefly at the 2 elements of the plan that did happen let us now turn to the final part, which didn’t. So why didn’t the proposed invasion of Sweden occur. First of all the prospect of potentially being cut off in Sweden by the large scale intervention of British forces caused some caution, particularly so the Royal Navy. The short distance between Denmark and Sweden meant that it would be very difficult to prevent an invasion by the French and their allies. The Swedish navy was quite strong and had a sizeable British fleet’s assistance as well. This was sufficient to strongly contest command of the sea under normal circumstances, but favourable weather or a number of other eventualities left a ‘window of opportunity’ for the French and their allies. More problematic was keeping lines of communication and supply open in the face of an equal or superior enemy naval force.

It was though to be events elsewhere that proved decisive in the abandonment of the invasion plans, namely events in Spain and Austria. While Spain was at the time an ally of France, but there were problems within the relationship. Soon a revolt would break out that would lead to the famous Spanish / Peninsula Campaign of 1808 - 14. When news of this reached Denmark there was immediate discontent amongst the Spanish troops. Some of the Spanish units mutinied and were disarmed, while others deserted or were taken back to Spain by the British navy during August 1808. All this understandably disrupted the proposed invasion and it was postponed. The developing situation in Spain, and disagreements with the Swedes, would lead to Moore and the British leaving for Spain on 5th July. While it also led to many of the French and Allied forces being withdrawn for use in Spain or elsewhere. In 1809 the approaching campaign against the Austrians and continuing problems in Spain led most of the forces to be drawn away and the planned invasion was now practically impossible. Although the Danes still planned an invasion for 1809, but in the end this too was abandoned as it’s impracticability became increasingly obvious.

THE AVAILABLE FORCES

The French

In overall control of the Allied forces based in Denmark was Marshal Bernadotte, while the French Corps was under the command of Marshal Ney. Ironically enough Bernadotte, who was to lead the attempt to conquer Sweden, would later on become King of Sweden, but at the invitation of he Swedes. The following is a breakdown of the available French troops.

I have 2 sources for these forces, one French and the other Swedish. These unfortunately do not agree on details of this force. Therefore the number in brackets after the divisional commander is the number of infantry according to the Swedish source. While after the units I have put the numbers quoted in the French source and my estimation of the number of units this represents. Except for the cavalry for which the first number is from the French source and the second from the Swedish.

French Corps: Marshal Ney

1st Division: General Dupas (5,556 infantry)

Two Brigades - Generals Neuf and Grency with the following units.

  • 5th Legere Regiment (1,648 men - 3 btns.)
  • 19th Line Regiment (1,681 men - 3 btns.)
  • 58th Line Regiment (1,458 men - 2 or 3 btns.)
  • 14th Chasseur a Cheval Regiment (390 or 746 men)
  • Divisional Artillery (379 men - 2 Foot batteries of 8 and 1 of Horse battery of 6)

2nd Division: General Comte Boudet (6,986 infantry)

Two Brigades - Generals Fririon and Valery with the following units

  • 3rd Legere Regiment (1,670 men - 3 btns.)
  • 56th Line Regiment (2,664 men - 4 btns.)
  • 93rd Line Regiment (1,737 men - 3 btns.)
  • 23rd Chasseur a Cheval Regiment (707 or 1067 men)
  • Divisional Artillery (208 men - 2 batteries of 8)

The Dutch

The Dutch contributed a division to the invasion force. They were based in Denmark and were under the overall control of Bernadotte. They were organised and equipped the same as French units. The notes above apply for the numbers in brackets.

Dutch Division: General Gratein

Two Brigades - Generals Nicolssen and Von Hasselt with the following units.

  • 6th Dutch Line Regiment (1,401 men - 2 btns.)
  • 7th Dutch Line Regiment (1,168 men - 2 btns.)
  • 8th Dutch Line Regiment (1,326 men - 2 btns.)
  • 9th Dutch Line Regiment (1,920 men - 3 btns.)
  • Divisional Artillery (191 men - 2 batteries of 8)
  • Cavalry - 321 (Identified in the Swedish source only. Possibly 2nd Cuirassier Regt. - 3 sqns, with these units in 1809)

The Spanish

Spain provided a Corps for the Allied invasion of Sweden. It was based in Denmark and was under the overall control of Bernadotte. It was largely evacuated to Spain or interned in August 1808 following the Spain revolt. The same notes as for the French forces apply.

The Spanish Corps: Lieutenant General de Romana

Corps Artillery: 2 Foot batteries of 8 guns. 1 Horse battery of 8 guns.

1st Division: General Kindelau (7,292 Infantry and 2,054 Cavalry)

  • Asturias Line Regiment of 3 btns. (2,021 men)
  • Zamora Line Regiment of 3 btns. (1,835 men)
  • Barcelona Light Regiment of 1 btn. (1,222 men)
  • Belgian Cavalry Regiment (933 men and 915 horses)
  • Rey (1st) Cavalry Regiment (653 men and 915 horses)
  • Infante (4th) Cavalry Regiment (618 men and 599 horses)

2nd Division: General de Sacedo (6,560 Infantry and 1,619 Cavalry)

  • Princessa Line Regiment of 3 btns. (1,826 men)
  • Guadalajara Line Regiment of 3 btns. (1,855 men)
  • Catalonia Light Regiment of 1 btn. (1,065 men)
  • Algarve (9th) Cavalry Regiment (585 men and 522 horses)
  • Almanza (3rd) Dragoon Regiment (596 men and 566 horses)
  • Villaviciosa (5th) Dragoon Regiment (633 men, 531 horses)

This Corps represents what was probably the cream of the Spanish army at the time. Therefore the ‘normal’ gamers classifications of them are not really appropriate when using this force. Instead if your rules allow it I would classify these as ‘average’, C class troops (on a scale of A = very good and E = very bad), with very bad commanders. Otherwise I would rate them as ‘normal’ Spanish for this period.

The Danes

The Danish contribution to the war effort was to be in two parts. First the forces based in Norway, which will be detailed below. Secondly a division based in Denmark, under the control of Bernadotte, it is this formation that I will detail next. I do not know the exact composition and numbers of this division. The following is my estimation of the numbers involved.

Danish 1st Division: Prince Frederich Von Hessen

Cavalry Brigade: Prince Kristian Von Hessen

  • Garde Ryttere Regiment (2 sqns of 160 - Guard Cavalry)
  • Liv Regiment (4 sqns of 160 - Unknown regiment, probably a heavy cavalry regiment)
  • Sjaelandske Ridene Jaegerkorps (1 sqn / company of 160 / 140 mounted jagers)
  • Danske Horse Bty. (1 battery of 6 or 8 guns)
  • Livjaegerkropset (2 btns of 700 jagers, possibly rifle armed)

1st Brigade: Baudissin

  • Garde Fod Regiment (1 btn of 700 foot guard)
  • Kongens Fod Regiment (2 btns of 700 - Crown Princes Regiment)
  • Holstanske Fod Regiment (2 btns of 700)

2nd Brigade: Prince Kristian Frederiks of Denmark

  • Norske Fod Regiment (2 btns of 700 - Norwegian Life Regiment)
  • Prince Kristians Fod Regiment (3 btns of 700 - Hereditary Princes Regiment)

3rd Brigade: Falbe

  • Marine Regiment (3 btns of 700 - Unknown, possibly marines from the fleet)
  • Kjobenhavnske Fod Regiment (2 btns of 700 - Danish Life Regiment)

Divisional Artillery: Danska Artillery Brigade (??) - 3 Foot Batteries of 6 or 8 guns.

The Danes also had enough forces scattered around Copenhagen to form an additional Division and still leave an adequate garrison. These troops might have been committed to the campaign as later reinforcements. For gamers this would be similar to the division above and may arrive as reinforcements or may be assumed to help garrison any allied conquests.

The Danish army was a very ‘average’ army of the period. The Garde Fod and Garde Ryttere regiments could perhaps be rated as B class, with the bulk of the others being about half C class and half D class.

The Norwegians

Norway at this time was part of the Danish Kingdom, but maintained it's own armed forces. These forces proved in the event more than capable of defending there home land. Indeed they even carried the war to the Swedes. The Norwegian army consisted of a small number of full time ‘Regular’ units and a larger number of partially trained ‘Militia’ units, which were raised at the start of a war. Below I will detail the forces available in Norway.

Commander: Prince Christian August of Augustenburg

Cavalry:

4 Light Dragoon Regiments of 8 sqns of about 110. They were the Akerhus, Smaland, Opland and Trondjem Regiments.

The Akerhus Regiment had a regular squadron, which was 65 strong. While the others could have 20 reserves attached, the Opland certainly did.

Regular Infantry:

The Sondenfjaeld and Nordenfjaeld line regiments. These units had 10 companies of regulars (2 were Grenadiers) and 12 companies of militia. They appear to be about 150 strong and to be organized into battalions of 4 or 6 companies.

The Norske Jager Corps, a possibly rifle armed light infantry regiment. In total it had 3 battalions. 1 battalion was of regulars, 480 men in 4 companies. 1 battalion was 900 militia light infantry, 6 companies of 150. The final battalion was 450 strong, 3 companies of 150, and consisted of ski equipped militia light infantry.

Militia Infantry:

The following regiments were available.

Line Regiments:

4 units with 14 companies (2 were Grenadiers) of about 150, in battalions of 4 or 6 companies. Forsta Akerhus, Andra Akerhus, Opland & Telemark Line Regiments:

3 units with 18 companies (2 were Grenadiers) of about 150, in battalions of 4 or 6 companies. Vesterland, Forsta Trondheim & Andra Trondheim Line Regiments:

Light Infantry Units:

1 unit with 27 companies (2 were Grenadiers, 1 was light infantry) of about 150, in battalions of 4 or 6 companies. Bergenhus Light Regiments:

Nordenfjaeld (A ski regiment) - 3 companies of about 150 men

In addition there was the Kings Rifle Corps of 2 companies, approx. 300. Roras Mountain Corps and Leirdal Corps

Organisation of the Norwegian army 10th April 1808

Southern Command
(Prince of Slesvig-Holstein-Sonberborg-Austenborg)

Holsts Brigade: 3892 Infantry, 64 Cavalry, 14 guns (& 4 * 1pdr)

  • Grenadier Btn, Sondenfjaeld Regt (632 men) – had 2 small 1pdr guns attached
  • 2nd Musketeer Btn, Sondenfjaeld Regt (629 men) – had 2 small 1pdr guns attached
  • Grans Detachment, Sondenfjaeld Regt (371 men)
  • Grenadier Btn, Nordenfjaeld Regt (607 men)
  • 1st Musketeer Btn, Nordenfjaeld Regt (604 men)
  • Sharpshooter Co, Nordenfjaeld Regt (137 men)
  • Grans Detachment, Nordenfjaeld Regt (428 men)
  • Jager Btn (Regular), Norske Jager Corps (474 men)
  • Regular Sqn, Akerhus Lt Dragoons (64 men)
  • Horse Battery – 8 * 3pdr gun & 2 * 10pdr Howitzer
  • Foot Artillery – 4 * 3pdr gun

De Seues Brigade: 2411 Infantry, 8 guns

  • Grenadier Btn, Andra Akerhus Regt (839 men)
  • Grenadier Btn, Forsta Akerhus Regt (679 men)
  • Light Btn (Militia), Norske Jager Corps (893 men)
  • Foot Artillery – 8 * 3pdr gun

Staffeldts Brigade: 1412 Infantry

  • Grenadier Btn, Andra Trondheim Regt (669 men)
  • Sharpshooter Co, Forsta & Andra Trondheim Regt (161 men)
  • Light Co, Bergenhus Regt (110 men)
  • Ski Btn (Militia), Norske Jager Corps (312 men)
  • Ski Co, Nordenfjaeld Ski Btn (160 men)

Lowzows Brigade: 1660 Infantry

  • Musketeer Btn, Opland Regt (830 men)
  • Musketeer Btn, Forsta Akerhus Regt (830 men)

Kroghs Brigade: 1660 Infantry

  • Musketeer Btn, Andra Akerhus Regt (830 men)
  • Musketeer Btn, Telemark Regt (830 men)
  • Foot Battery – 8 * 3pdr gun & 2 * 10pdr Howitzer

Cavalry: 2667 Cavalry

  • Akerhus Lt Dragoon Regt (-1 Sqn) (781 men)
  • Smaland Lt Dragoon Regt (871 men)
  • Opland Lt Dragoon Regt (1015 men)

Frivilliga Trupper (Volunteer Troops): 203 Infantry, 8 guns (1pdr pieces)

  • Drammens borgerliga Jagers (150 men)
  • Barum-Bogstads Jagers (53 men)
  • Kristiania borgerliga Artillery – 8 * 1pdr gun

Northern Command
(General Krogh)

Bangs Brigade: 1458 Infantry, 12 guns (& 2 * 1pdr pieces)

  • 1st Musketeer Btn, Andra Trondheim Regt (644 men)
  • Landwehr Co, Andra Trondheim Regt (156 men)
  • Grenadier Btn, Forsta Trondheim Regt (658 men)
  • Artillery: 6 * 6 pdr guns, 6 * 3 pdr guns & 2 * 1pdr guns

Schmettows Brigade: 1224 Infantry, 741 Cavalry, 10 guns (& 2 * 1pdr pieces)

  • 1st Musketeer Btn (part), Forsta Trondheim Regt (329 men)
  • Landwehr Co (?), Forsta Trondheim Regt (574 men)
  • 2 Ski Co’s, Nordenfjaeld Ski Btn (321 men)
  • Trondheim Lt Dragoon Regt (3 ½ Sqn – 485 men)
  • Trondheim Lt Dragoon Regt (Landwehr Sqn – 256 men)
  • Artillery: 6 * 6 pdr guns, 4 * 3 pdr guns & 2 * 1pdr guns

The Norwegians proved more than capable of the task in hand, with the light troops proving particularly effective. The army should then perhaps be rated as all C class, with the Norske Jager Corps and the Nordenfjaeld regiment being B class. If operating in Sweden the line infantry troops should drop to D class, as the Norwegians showed little enthusiasm for much other than raids into Sweden.

The Russians

Initially the Russians committed 3 divisions to the invasion of Finland, under General Buxhoevden. These were probably the 5th, 17th and 21st Divisions. When these ran into trouble a further 4 divisions were sent to Finland. While Barclay de Tolly took over command of the invading forces which now consisted of the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 14th, 17th and 21st Divisions.

Each of these divisions theoretically consisted of 6 regiments of infantry in 3 brigades, although with all the Russian forces involved in this war theory was not practice! A foot regiment was supposed to be of 3 battalions of 652 men. Generally Russian Divisions had 5 batteries of artillery attached to them. The 'average' being, 2 Position and 2 Light batteries of 14 guns each, and 1 Horse battery of 12 guns. Although I strongly doubt that all of these were deployed in Finland. Terrain and the weather in Finland must have made moving and using artillery difficult. The 12 pounders of the Position batteries, in particular, must have been left behind.

Russian Divisions also nominally had 20 squadrons of cavalry attached. Yet often these were stripped of into independent cavalry formations. In addition the full complement of cavalry theoretically available does not appear to have been used. Perhaps again the climate and terrain of Finland did not encourage their use. Generally the cavalry attached to Divisions was 2 heavy and 1 light regiments. The heavy regiments were either Cuirassier (5 sqns - 783 men) or Dragoon (5 sqns - 825 men) Regiments. While the light regiments were of Ulans or Hussars and were of 10 sqns, 1501 men. Although in the field 600 for the heavy regiments and 1200 for the light were more usual. Additionally Cossacks were available, these were generally in regiments (Pulks) of 5 sqns (sotnias), approx. 500 men. I recommend that a maximum of 10 sqns or sotnias of cavalry be deployed per Division used. These should be no more than 1/3 heavy cavalry, 1/3 or more light cavalry and 1/3 or more Cossack.

The following Divisions were used in the war. Along with the infantry detailed, accompanying artillery and cavalry would be present. For the initially deployed units I have indicated the probable support units available. There is a more detailed break down of the initial Russian force at Initial Forces.

2nd Division: St. Petersburg Grenadier, Eletz, Pavlov Grenadier, Polotsk, Lithuania and 1st Jager Regiments.

4th Division: Tobolsk, Vilna, Volhynia, Kremenchug, Minsk and 4th Jager Regiments.

5th Division: (Lt.Gen Tutschkoff)

Permska (2 btns – 1055 men), Mohilevska (2 btns – 1176 men), Siafska (2 btns – 1228 men), Kalugska (2 btns – 948 men), 23rd Jager (2 btns – 962 men) and 24th Jager (2 btns – 775 men) Regiments.

Gorodnoska Hussar Regt (2 sqns -186 men) and 2 sotnias of Cossacks (189 men).

Artillery: 16 – 18 Light and 8 Heavy Field Artillery pieces.

Or Perm, Mohilev, Sievsk, Kaluga, 23rd Jager and 24th Jager Regiments. Plus 2 sqns of Dragoons and 2 sotnias of Cossacks. Artillery: 3 Light Batteries = 42 guns

6th Division: Azoz, Nisov, Uglich, Reval, Sofia and 3rd Jager Regiments.

14th Division: Rostov (Arakcheyev), Teguinsk, Tula, Navajinsk, 25th Jager and 26th Jager Regiments.

17th Division: (Lt.Gen Gortschakoff, later Kamenski)

Minska (2 btns – 1100 men), Brestska (2 btns – 973 men), Krementschugka (2 btns – 1032 men), Vilmanstrad (2 btns – 981 men), 30th Jager (2 btns – 1104 men) and 31st Jager (2 btns – 1009 men) Regiments.

‘Life’ Cossack Regt (2 sqns – 243 men), Finnish Dragoon Regt (4 sqns – 654 men), Grodnoska Hussar Regt (2 sqns – 189 men), Cossacks (officially 18?, but about 200 actually)

Artillery: 16 Light and 12 Heavy Field Artillery pieces.

Or Riazhan, Brest, Bielosersk, Vilmanstrad, 30th Jager and 31st Jager Regiments. Plus 5 sqns of Dragoons and 4 sotnias of Cossacks. Artillery: 2 Light batteries = 28 guns.

21st Division: (Lt.Gen Bagration)

Velikij-lutiska (2 btns – 1259 men), Nevska (2 btns – 1552 men), Libausak (2 btn – 1548 men), 2nd Jager (2 btns – 1435 men), 25th Jager (2 btns – 1103 men) and 26th Jager (2 btns – 1071 men) Regiments.

Grodnoska Hussar Regt (3 sqns – 325 men) and 2 sotnias of Cossacks (204 men).

Artillery: 18 Light Field Artillery pieces.

Or Velikilutz, Petrovsk, Neva, Libau, Pernov and 2nd Jager Regiments. Plus 5 sqns of Dragoons and 2 sotnias of Cossacks. Artillery: 1 Light battery and 1/3 of a Horse battery = 18 guns.

The British

The British contingent that was sent to Sweden in 1808 consisted of the following units. In overall command was Sir John Moore and arrived outside Gothenburg on May 17th 1808. Unfortunately the Swedish King never allowed these troops to disembark. 

The sources I have differ only in the numbers of men present and then only a little. They perhaps reflect the strength at different times during the campaign.  I have given two strengths for the units, the first perhaps being the original strength and the second a later strength.

 

 

Force Commander: Lt. Gen. Sir John Moore

 

1st Division: Lieutenant General Alexander Mackenzie Fraser

 

Clinton's Brigade: Brigadier General Henry Clinton

1st Battalion / 4th Kings’ Own Regiment (971 / 889)

1st Battalion / 28th North Gloucestershire Regt. (1020 / 926)

 

Highland Brigade: Colonel Alan Cameron

1st Battalion / 79th Cameron Highlander Regiment (995 / 932)

1st Battalion / 92nd Gordon Highlander Regiment (934 / 912)

 

2nd Division: Major General John Murray (Division has a total of 3585 men or as below)

 

Langwerth's Brigade: Colonel Ernest Baron Langwerth

1st K.G.L. Line Battalion (725)

2nd K.G.L. Line Battalion (761)

 

Drieberg's Brigade: Colonel George de Drieberg

5th K.G.L. Line Battalion (753)

7th K.G.L. Line Battalion (679)

 

3rd Division or Reserve: Major General Edward Paget

 

1st Battalion /52nd Oxfordshire Light Regiment (951 / 862)

3 companies of 1st Battalion / 95th Rifle Regiment (300 approx)

 

Alten's Brigade: Colonel Charles Baron von Alten

1st K.G.L. Light Battalion (907 / 871)

2nd K.G.L. Light Battalion (903 / 880)

3rd K.G.L. Light Dragoon Regiment (570 / 643)

K.G.L. Garrison Company (48)

 

 Artillery: Lieutenant Colonel George Wood

Drummond's and Wilmot’s Companies, 3rd Battalion

Major Julius Hartmann KGL (829 men)

1st Company [Gesenius's]

4th Company [Heise's]

The artillery consisted of four medium 12 pounders, five heavy or long 6 pounders, sixteen light 6 pounders, two 8 inch howitzers, three 5½ inch heavy howitzers, four 5½ inch light howitzers, four 3 pounder mountain guns with two 10 inch iron mortars and six 5½ inch brass mortars on beds.

There were only limbers for five heavy or long 6 pounders, five light 6 pounders, one 5½ inch heavy howitzer and one 5½ inch light howitzer. Whether it was planned that Swedish sources would provide the others needed is unknown.

The supporting British fleet was commanded by Sir James Saumarez I do not have complete details of its composition. But I have identified the following as being present in the Baltic at this time.

 

Victory (100 guns) –Saumarez’s flagship, St. George (98 guns) – may have arrived in 1809, Prince of Wales (96 guns), Audacious (74 guns), Bellerophon (74 guns), Brunswick (74 guns), Centaur (74 guns), Defence (74 guns), Goliath (74 guns), Implacable (74 guns), Mars (74 guns), Monitaur (74 guns), Orion (74 guns), Princess Caroline (74 guns), Vanguard (74 guns), Africa (64 guns), Ardent (64 guns – 1809 only), Dictator (64 guns), Salsette (44 or 28 guns), Melpomene (38 guns), Tribune (36 guns), Alexandria (32 guns?), Cerberus (32 guns), Proselyte (28 guns), Daphne (22 guns), Cruizer (18 guns), Fama (18 guns), Prometheus (18 guns), Curlow (16 guns), Fury (16 guns), Hound (16 guns – Bomb), Kite (16 guns), Ranger (16 guns? – Gun brig), Tartarus (16 guns), Minx (14 guns - Gun brig), Piercer (14 guns), Charger (12 gun - Gun brig), Hearty (12 guns – Gun brig), Redbreast (12 guns – Gun brig), Salorman (12 guns – Cutter), Tickler (Gun brig), Tigress (12 guns – Gun brig), Turbulent (12 guns), Brisels (10 guns – 1809 only), Aetna (8 guns – bomb), Devastation (8 guns – Bomb), Magnet (Cruizer – unknown number of guns), Rosamond (Gun brig – unknown number of guns) and Thunder (Bomb – unknown number of guns).

 

The Swedes and the Finns

Finland was at this time part of the Swedish Kingdom. Although it was in reality semi independent and maintained it’s own army, under the command of General Klingspor. This army was though organised and equipped the same way as the Swedish army was so they will be considered together. Some units of the Swedish army were recruited in Finland, these and other units helped to defend Finland during the war. While the war in Finland progressed the majority of Swedish units stayed and operated in Sweden. Sweden could deploy 8 cavalry regiments and an independent squadron, 42 ‘Regular’ infantry battalions and an independent company and 27 ‘Reserve’ infantry battalions. While Finland maintained 2 cavalry regiments, 27 ‘Regular’ infantry battalions and 10 ‘Reserve’ infantry battalions. In addition to these forces various ‘Militia, and ‘Volunteer’ units were raised during the war.

The organisation of these Swedish and Finnish forces can be very confusing as a unique system of recruitment was used. For a more detailed look at the Swedish and Finnish system and army during this period go to Swedish & Finnish Organisation. The regular army was divided into two parts, the Varvade and the Indelt. The Varvade were the permanent full time soldiers in the army. Usually there duties were to garrison various positions, but during the war these would be freed from this duty by other formations of the army. While the Indelt were a sort of part time army, that had annual training sessions and were mobilised at the start of a war. The Indelt formed the bulk of the Swedish field army. These two sections of the army would be available from the beginning of the war. Battalions were generally supposed to be 500 to 600 men. Organised as 4 companies of 150 men, but as can be seen in the table below this was not always the case. While the cavalry organisation varied considerably and is outlined in the table below.

In addition to these forces there existed a reserve organisation called the Vargering. These were meant to have some training during peacetime and act as a reserve to the regular during a war. Unfortunately few of these organisations had received any training when the campaign opened. The main exception to this being the Finnish units these were trained and immediately available for active service. In Sweden it was only the Skanska units that were anything like ready for active service at the start of the war. The other units were trained during the spring and were ready for duty in the summer. Once trained, they proved to be the equal of the ‘regular’ forces and there record during the war was good. Initially they operated as battalions and were usually attached to the regular unit of the same name. The ‘cavalry’ units though were used as independent infantry units and so could not be attached to their ‘parent’ unit. Over the course of the campaign though these battalions were run down and disbanded as the personnel were transferred into the regular forces to replace loses. In Finland this happened quite early on as the losses there were greater, the last Finnish Vargering unit, the Karelska dragoncorpsen Vargering, being disbanded late December 1808. The Swedish units suffered a similar fate with all the non-‘cavalry’ Vargering units being disbanded in November 1808, although the ‘cavalry’ Vargering served as infantry units until the end of the war. Units were supposed to be organised the same as the regular forces, but once again there were many variations and the theoretical units sizes were never reached.

On the day that the Danes declared war the Swedes started organising a Lantvarn or militia. This was to be 30,500 men strong, although only 27,000 were actually raised in the event, organised in 49 infantry battalions and 3 artillery battalions. Individual battalion were to conform to the standard Swedish organisation as much as possible and were for a short time organised into 13 independent brigades. These units of this organisation that took part in combat soon proved to be absolutely useless and were soon relegated to second line and garrison duties. From June 1808 individuals from these units were sent to the other parts of the army to replace losses, etc. So that rapidly the units dwindled in size and half of the units were disbanded at the end of 1808. See table below for details of these units.

In addition a number of volunteer units were raised, although most of them enjoyed a short life and did very little. In Finland, where no Lantvarn was organised, these were there equivalent and they were used for non-combat duties. The most important units were the Gyllenbögells fribataljon (four companies strong), Skarpskyttebataljonen (two, later three companies strong), Malaks lanvärnsbataljon (two companies strong), Närpes lantvärnsbatalajon (two companies strong), Sahlsteins frivillga kompani and Heintzi frivilliga kompani (both single companies). These units were disbanded and the personnel placed in other units towards the end of 1808. In Sweden the only important unit raised was the Dalfriskyttekåren. It served from the spring of 1808 until the end of the war; the original strength of 300 soon dwindled to about 100. The unit was attached to Dalregementet for most of the war.

Swedish and Finnish Cavalry

Unit Name

No. Of Squadrons

Strength

Vargering strength
(used as Infantry) 1

Notes

Lifgardet till häst

6

420

-

Fs2, V

Mörnerska husarregementet

8

600

-

V

Lifregementbrigadens kyrassiercorps

4

505

257

Lifregementbrigadens husarcorps

8

500

252

Västgöta dragonregemente

8

1000

495

Smålands dragonregemente

8

1000

500

Skånska husarregementet

8

1000

500

Skånska karabinierregimentet

8

1000

500

Jemtlands hästjägaresqvadron 2

1

100

-

Karelska dragoncorpsen

2

200

100

F

Nylands dragonregemente

8

550

275

F

1Cavalry Vargering units were trained and fought on foot.
2This squadron was used to patrol the border.

Swedish and Finnish Infantry:

Unit Name

No. of Cmps (Btns).

Strength

Vargering strength

Notes

Lifregementetsbrigadens grenadiercorps

4 (1)

500

261

 

Lifgrenadierregementets rothållsfördelning 

8 (2)

1200

600

 

Lifgrenadierregementets rusthållsfördelning 

8 (2)

1000

500

 

Uplands regemente

8 (2)

1200

600

Fs1

Skaraborgs regemente

8 (2)

1200

600

 

Södermanlands regemente

8 (2)

1200

600

 

Kronobergs regemente

8 (2)

1100

548

 

Jönköpings regemente 

8 (2)

1100

550

 

Dalregementet

8 (2)

1200

1200 (2 btns)

 

Helsinge regemente

8 (2)

1200

600

Fs

Elfsborg regemente

8 (2)

1200

600

 

Vestgötadals regemente

8 (2

1200

600

 

Bohuläns regemente

8 (2)

904

904 (2 btns)

 

Vestmanlands regemente

8 (2)

1200

600

Fs1

Vesterbottens regemente

8 (2)

1056

528

Fs1

Kalmar regemente

8 (2)

1100

550

 

Nerike och Vermlands regemente

10 (2)

1674

837

 

Jemtlands regemente

8 (2)

1048

-

 

Lifgardet till fot

10 (1)

534

 

V

Svenska gardesregementet

10 (1)

533

 

V

Finska gardesregementet

6 (1)

533

 

V

Kungens eget värfvade regemente

10 (1)

800

 

V

Drottningens lifregemente

12 (1)

600

 

V

Engelbrechtenska regementet

12 (1)

600

 

V

Vermlands fältjägarebataljon

3 (1)

300

 

V *

Regiment du Roi 3

1

105

 

V

Åbo läns regemente

8 (2)

1025

512

F

Åbo läns regimentes rusthållsbataljon

4 (1)

500

250

F

Björneborgs regemente

8 (2)

1025

512

F

Björneborgs regimentes rusthållsbataljon

4 (1)

500

250

F

Tavastehus regemente

8 (2)

1025

512

F

Tavastehus regementes jägarebataljon

4 (1)

500

250

F

Savolaks infanteriregemente

8 (2)

954

476

F

Nylands infanteriregemente

8 (2)

1025

512

F

Nylands jägarebataljon

3 (1)

292

46

F, Mix

Österbottens regemente

8 (2)

1197

-

F

Kajana bataljon

4 (1)

711

355

F

Vasa regemente 4

6 (2)

753

-

F

Österbottens nya rotering/ Uleåborgs läns bataljon 4

2 (1)

278

-

F

Enkedrottningens lifregemente

8 (1)

640

 

F, V

Jägerhornska regementet

8 (1

640

 

F, V

Savolaks jägareregemente

8 (2)

1200

 

F, V *

Karelska jägarecorpsen

4 (1)

600

 

F, V *

Adlercreutzska regementet

12 (3)

1800

 

F, V

3 This unit dates from Sweden’s campaign in Pomerania in1807. The following is a quote from the excellent article at Swedish & Finnish Organisation .

“Le régiment du Roi, undoubtedly the most unlikely unit to serve in the Swedish army during the Napoleonic wars. The idea to form this unit was King Gustavus’, who thought that many righteous soldiers in the French army were still loyal to the Bourbons, and could be tempted to turn against Napoleon, the blood-soaked tyrant of France. A manifesto was therefore smuggled into French army camps, promising not only good pay and service conditions to those who would join the unit, but also the possibility to fight for a righteous cause and thereby save their immortal souls for eternity! The magnitude of Gustavus’ delusions can be seen in that only about one hundred Frenchmen ever joined Le regiment du Roi; it had a number strength of 105 men in one company in 1808.”

It was never used in any serious combat role and disappeared some time during this period, fate unknown.

4 These units were in the process of being formed when the war started. They were originally scheduled to be for a second Osterbottens regiment. Instead they were deployed as separate formations under these names.

Notes:

V = Varvade unit.

Mix = Unit consisted of 2 Varvade companies and 1 Indelt company.

F = Unit is Finnish and was deployed in Finland.

Fs = The unit is Swedish and was deployed in Finland.

Fs1 = Unit is Swedish and 1 battalion or more was deployed in Finland at sometime during the war.

Fs2 = The unit is Swedish and 2 squadrons were deployed in Finland at sometime during the war.

* = Permanently available for field service (i.e. not initially employed in garrison duty).

There is a detailed break down of the Finnish field force early in the war at Initial Forces

 The Lantvarn 1808 - 09:

County, district or city (Other or collective names)

Strength

Battalions

Companies

Blekinge läns lantvärn (Kronobergs lantvärn)

900

1 Inf

6

Elfsborgs läns lantvärn

2400 

4 Inf

 16

Gottlands läns lantvärn

600 (400) 

1 Inf (1 Inf)

 4 (4)

Gäfleborgs läns lantvärn

600 

1 Inf 

 4

Göteborgs och Bohus läns lantvärn (Göteborgs lantvärn)

1800 

2 Inf, 1 Art

12 

Hallands läns lantvärn (Göteborgs lantvärn)

1200 

2 Inf

8

Jönköpings läns lantvärn

 1800

3 Inf 

12 

Kalmar läns lantvärn

 1800

3 Inf  

 12

Kopparbergs läns lantvärn(Dallantvärnet)

 1800

3 Inf  

 12

Kristianstad läns lantvärn (Skånska lantvärnet)

 1650

 2 Inf, 1 Art

 11

Kronobergs lantvärn

 1200

2 Inf 

 8

Malmöhus läns lantvärn (Skånska lantvärnet)

1950 

3 Inf, 1 Art 

 13

Skaraborgs lantvärn

 1800

3 Inf

12

Stockholms läns lantvärn (Upplands lantvärn)

 1200

2 Inf 

 8

Stockholms stads lantvärn

600 

1 Inf

4

Södermanlands län lantvärnv

 1200

2 Inf 

 8

Uppsala läns lantvärn (Upplands lantvärn)

 1200

2 Inf 

 8

Värmlands läns lantvärn

 1800

3 Inf

12

Västerbottens läns lantvärn

 400

1 Inf

4

Västernorrlands läns lantvärn

 400

1 Inf

4

Västmanlands läns lantvärn

 1200

2 Inf 

 8

Örebro län (Närikes lantvärn)

 1200

2 Inf 

 8

Östergötlands läns lantvärn

 1800

3 Inf

12

Ratings of Swedish & Finnish troops:

Varvade: At the start of the war these units would be of a higher standard than rest of the army. The Guard units and the Mörnerska husarregementet should be B class and possible the Grenadiers also. All other units will be C class.

Indelta: At the start of the war these units will be about ½ C class and ½ D class, upgrading to all C class as the war progresses.

Savolkas Brigade: The units of this formation were the only permanent formation in the army and they enjoy a good reputation. The brigade was the Savolaks Infantry and Savolaks Light Infantry regiments, the Karelska Light Infantry corps and the Karelska Dragoon corps, along with there own artillery company. All of these units should be rated as B class.

Vargering: Initially they should be D class, with up to ½ being C class as they gain in experience.

Landvarn: Always rated as E class.

Commanders: The Swedish / Finnish high command proved itself to be severely lacking in the crisis of 1808 – 09. Admittedly having a King such as Gustav IV Adolf did not help, but generally the leadership was poor. Klingspor, the general in charge of the Finnish army, is still regarded in Finland as at best a buffoon, at worst a coward! While the reputation of the commander of the garrison of Sveaborg, General Cronstedlt, is similarly tainted, with the traditional Finnish view being that he was a traitor. Many of the lower level commanders in Finland though proved to be of a higher calibre and officer such as Adlercreutz, Dobeln & Sandels proved to be at least the equal to the Russian commanders.

GAMING POSSIBILITIES

 The events in Scandinavia 1808 - 09 could provide a number of interesting possibilities for the gamer. In this section of the article I will briefly outline some possibilities that occurred to me, although of course many other may occur to you.

Skirmishes:

Small figure to man ratio and concentrating on individual actions / small-scale actions.

Sweden: 

On a small scale you could run an interesting, but fictional, skirmish game pitting the various light troops against each other. You could have a mixed group of British (and German, i.e. the K.G.L units) light infantrymen and rifles, and perhaps reinforced with Swedish jagers, on one side. You could even include the famous characters from the ‘Sharpe’ novels! I believe that one of the novels is set during the Corunna campaign, it was this campaign that many of the British units in Sweden were destined for. So maybe Sharpe’s fictional unit could have made it to Scandinavia too. They could be say contesting a vital village or gap between lakes against the oncoming forces of their enemies. Ranged on the other side would be the light troops of one or more of there enemies. A combination of Spanish lights, French Legere and Danish jagers might be nice.

Norway:

 Here I think the scenario crying out to be played would be with the Norwegian ski troops. The Swedes could be the isolated, snow bound and sleepy garrison of a border village or a weary column of troops, perhaps guarding a supply train or maybe advancing into Norway. Whichever particular scenario you chose there should be snow and lots of it, we are trying to use ski troops after all. The Norwegian troops will be highly mobile and motivated, if not necessarily highly proficient. While the Swedes would be very immobile and probably not very well motivated, although they will probably share their enemy’s lack of high proficiency. As a fictional alternative you could substitute or add British forces to the Swedish defenders. Just how would the 95th Rifles, or even Sharpe, cope with fast moving ski equipped opponents?

Finland: 

In Finland the activities of the Finnish guerrilla groups could be played. The guerrilla could be holed up somewhere having been caught by a Russian column or defending their home village against a punitive expedition. Perhaps they are expecting units of the regular Finnish army to come to there assistance. Or perhaps they are working with the regular forces to slow down a Russian advance or withdrawal, or raid a supply train. They could form a ‘third’ force and be unknown to the Russians until they emerge from the ‘friendly’ / ‘pacified’ village the Russians have just passed through!

The Swedish / Finnish coast:

During the war both sides made raids / attempted invasions by sea. The Swedes covered by their own fleet and the British squadron made landings on the occupied Finnish coast, while the Russians in their galley fleet landed on the Swedish coast. Either of these situations and the reaction to them could make an interesting game. The attackers perhaps being given the task of landing and securing an objective. Or perhaps they are withdrawing back to their landing craft loaded with ‘requisitioned’ supplies. Maybe the landing itself would be fun! Is the beach empty or are the heavily armed defenders massing to destroy your troops as they land? Once again their potential allies could join the historical forces or indeed you could do the allied landings in Southern Sweden instead.

Battles:

Historically the battles in this conflict were small and information about them is difficult to find (in English at least). There are some details of the battles in Finland at The War in Finland. The largest of these battles are about 5 to 6,000 a side and the battles in Norway were even smaller. This having been said there is plenty of scope to pit the forces available against each other in representative battles. The forces involved would be brigades or small divisions and this is the typical force used with many rules. For larger battles you could use the intervention of the British and the forces in Denmark to provide an interesting battle with unusual forces. The French led invasion forces could do battle against a suitable Swedish force with their British allies. Alternatively the scenarios outlined above could be expanded to give a larger game.

 Campaigns:

Obviously the historical campaigns in Finland and along the Norwegian border could be re-fought, but perhaps the full possibilities of the conflict would make a better campaign if the invasion from Denmark is allowed. If either of these campaigns is fought I suggest that the availability of the Swedish units be determined by random chance. For both campaigns there would be the ‘core’ units – the Finnish army in Finland and an appropriate number of Swedish units along the Norwegian border. To this the ‘erratic’ Swedish King would assign units or take them away for other pressing needs.

If doing a full campaign, with the invasion from Denmark, then the following is a guideline to the objectives of the various contingents.

Sweden: To retain Sweden’s, not Sweden and Finland’s, independence and integrity. If possible to acquire additional territory, perhaps in Norway or on the German Baltic coast. Note the umpire might like to feel free to add other ‘strange’ objective to reflect the ‘leadership’ of the Swedish King. Also perhaps difficulties with troop allocation, etc could be a factor for similar reasons.

Finland: To retain Sweden and Finland’s independence and integrity. If this is not possible to put up the strongest possible fight this will secure a favourable position for Finland in Russia.

Britain: To retain Sweden and Finland’s independence and integrity as long as they continue the anti French blockade. Also to not lose the forces committed to Scandinavia or naval control of the Baltic Sea. Britain should be given control of all Swedish naval forces.

France: To force Sweden to accept the anti British blockade and to place a pro French leader on the throne of Sweden, while keeping Sweden as intact as possible. The French should be in overall control of the allied land forces, except the Russians.

Russia: To conquer Finland and if possible parts of Sweden. To provide the minimum assistance possible to the French and their allies, without antagonising them too much.

Denmark: To retain possession of all Danish and Norwegian territory and if possible gain possession of additional territory. The ex Danish provinces in southern or western Sweden would be nice! Resources though are tight, so any gains will hopefully be at the expense of your allies. The Danish player should be in charge of the naval assets of the invasion force.

Norway: To defend Norway and cause as much damage to Sweden as possible. Big loses are not acceptable to secure extra territory.

Spain: Spanish objectives are two fold. At first they are unwilling participants. They must not directly disobey any instructions, but must try to be as awkward as possible and try to avoid combat. Once the news from Spain, about the revolt, arrives they should attempt to switch sides and join the British & Swedes. From then on they want to cause as much damage to the French as possible and may wish to be transported to Spain to do this.

Holland: Holland is in danger of being absorbed into France as just another ‘Department’ (this happened in 1810). Just possibly a good military performance will convince the French to leave things as they are. Therefore try to gain as much glory as possible for Holland.

 

If you have any comments / criticisms / correction, etc please get in touch with me at nick@nick-dorrell.co.uk.