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Thread: Gustavus Adolphus in Livonia and Polish Prussia, 1617-1629

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    Default Gustavus Adolphus in Livonia and Polish Prussia, 1617-1629

    I hope this OK with the moderators; this post comprises about 90% from another post of mine from the thread begun by Pandora - Gustav II Adolf a military genius?. I posted this over there recently in an impromptu manner, but always intended for it to be a topic starter.

    This is a tough one, as the written history of this great subject is tainted with much 'coloring', so to speak.

    I want to state that I have no predilection of Sweden over the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (in its heyday known as Rzeczpospolita Krolestwa Polskiego i Wielkiego Ksiestwa Litewskiego), nor do I have an agenda beyond a study of this tense period; I feel that the great Swedish monarch Gustaf II, or Gustav II (anglicized as Gustavus Adolphus) was one of history's greatest figures, establishing a veritable confidence between king and people. His domestic reforms of his country, and military reforms were exemplary and affecting by the time of his death in 1632, cultivating the primary aspects of tactics (mobility, shock, and defensive capacity) as well as any other in history. He didn't 'invent' anything, something his critics jump on, thinking the false 'innovations' somehow militate against his skill as a comamnder; Gustavus synthesized existing practices into a harmonious doctrine. Never before had an army been executed with all arms supporting each other in such viable conjunction as at the battle of Breitenfled in September of 1631. But in this prior conflict he was still working out things with weaponry and troop reforms, and he was not the outright winner, at least militarily. The Polish armed forces had the greatest cavalrymen ever seen (non-horse archers), and even in displaying punctiliously vigilant conduct, he still almost got flattened; he showed up to fight the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth with a shovel in his hands at Riga, and didn't put it down until the Treaty of Altmark! Let us take a look.

    "Here strive God and the devil. If you hold with God, come over to me. If you prefer the devil, you will have to fight me first."



    Gustav II Adolf (1594-1632), king of Sweden.

    We do have a problem, one within the bounds of historical tradition, regarding the wars waged by Gustavus Adolphus (Gustaf II Adolf) against the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from 1617-1629: the acute details of this war are indeed very nebulous. History is based on both truth and deception, and certainly colored by nationalism. But I will never believe that events can be thoroughly concocted. The war ended in a Swedish victory, but one of a political and economic nature, not a military one; tactical successes offset one another, and attrition bogged things down miserably. Thus it's easy for both sides to claim and denounce things, as nothing was inexorably decisive. But the disparity is 'worse' than usual. The Swedes claim a 'skirmish' occured when the action was undoubtedly worse for them, and the Poles claim a victory when the Swedes merely retired due to an injury to their king (a failed operation yes, but not due to being bested by the enemy). But the Polish view has not been given a fair go, it seems from my research of material not of the Polish view.

    Sweden indeed had a standing army by the mid 1620s, but its population was about an eighth of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1620 (1.25 million people in Sweden, over 10 million in the latter). Among other things, Gustavus gave war a new look by not altering the tactical doctrine any arm (or even two), but by synthesizing existing practices, improving upon them (Mauritz van Nassau and [b]Henri IV, for example), and forging a nationally conscripted army of combined arms, and drilled with precision under his assiduous guidance. Whether his 'new' cuirassiers galloped or sped at a trot (they perhaps galloped then trotted upon impact, as formation is more easily maintained at a trot), they achieved success when charging home, firing their pistols in a tight formation with cold steel, supported by infantry fire. In essence, they were often an effective battering ram assaulting an already softened foe from supporting firepower. Swedish discipline became exemplary, religious duties strictly observed, and crime virtually non-existent. Gustavus Adolphus' actions during his involvement of the Thirty Years War greatly influenced the political and religious balance of power in most of Europe at this time.

    Before 1626, Gustavus' army was still basically, as he put it,

    "My troops are poor Swedish and Finnish peasant followers, it's true, rude and ill-dressed; but they smile hard and they shall soon have better clothes."

    Gustavus' army became a paradigm of one element from the classic military Byzantine manual, the Strategikon, written, according to tradition, by the emperor-general Flavius Maurikios Tiberius,

    "Constant drill is of the greatest value to the soldier."

    Gustavus formed military tactics centered around increased firepower, including mobile field artillery. His army was in peak form by 1631, and his system of cavalry charges, influenced by the Poles, initiated with pistol fire, integrated with infantry (pike and shot) and field artillery, supporting each other in self-sustaining combat groups, was the first time this had ever been seen in modern warfare. Much like Philip II of Macedon and Chinggis Khan in their day, Gustavus was arguably the greatest developer of a balanced army for his time. But perhaps more than any other great commander of history, his reforms touched on every area of military science, including the administrative and logistic branches.

    But a topic of Gustavus' reforms must include the influence impressed upon him by the great Maurice of Nassau: the brilliant Dutch innovator and his staff created a military system of drill to train officers and soldiers, and began to move away from the dense column of the omnipotent tercio, developing a more extended and elastic formation. He equipped his cavalry with pistols and began to concentrate artillery pieces in batteries. Moreover, Maurice put supply, training, and pay on a regular basis. The tercio, an innovation for its time, was restructured to be smaller after the Battle of Rocroi in 1643, in which the stout tercios were blasted away by the maneuverability and superior firepower of Louis II de Bourbon (the Great Conde). But it was Maurice at Nieuwpoort (1600), then Gustavus at Breitenfeld (1631), who presaged that doom. Basically, Gustavus refined what Maurice did to a broader scale.

    But things take time, and not without trial and error; Amrogio Spinola, another brilliant leader of this age, reversed this innovative trend for a while against the Dutch, and the Swedes, sans Gustavus, suffered a defeat at Nordlingen in 1634 against an army with the Spanish tercio on hand. But Johan Baner won victories thereafter.

    The Swedish disasters at the hands of the Poles/Lithuanians at Kircholm (modern Salaspils, about twelve miles SE of Riga) and Klushino (Kluszyn) were in the past, and Gustavus would not let that happen again; no Swedish force would ever again be fooled by a feint to pull them out of a strong position (at least under him); his earthworks were not to 'hide' behind, in my opinion, but to provide security to fall back on if things went awry. This was sound war-making. It is opined by some that he waltzed into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth while their backs were turned, and easily captured towns to set up his entrenchments. But I am inclined to think the Baltic ports of Pilawa (Pilau) and Konigsberg (modern Kaliningrad) could not have been vulnerable to the degree it was child's play for the Swedes to take them, and there was also much diplomacy involved. They probably were defended by the trace italienne system. The town of Zamosc, for example, though further to the SE, saw the construction of new walls and seven bastions by 1602. But it seems quite accurate the Swedish onslaught in the 1620s initially made good progress because of an overall vulnerable scenario of the enemy.

    Dr. Geoffrey Parker, an expert on the Thirty Years War, wrote in his The Military Revolution, Pg 37,

    "...Several outraged books and pamphlets were promptly written by Polish propagandists, excoriating the invaders for their 'unchivalrous deceit' in raising ramparts around their camps 'as though they needed a grave-digger's courage to conceal themselves', and deploring their painstaking siege techniques as 'Kreta robota (mole's work)'. But, mole's work or not, Crown Prince Wladislaw was immediately dispatched to the Netherlands to learn about these deceitful tactics at first hand. he was followed by Polish engineers, such as Adam Freitag who, in 1631, published at Leiden an international classic on developments in military fortification..."

    This is from Richard Brzezinski, an authority on this chapter of history, who wrote a book on the Polish Hussars (possible red flag: Osprey Publishing),

    "...if you take an UNBIASED (as in non-patriotic) view of Polish-Swedish actions from 1622 onwards through to the Great Northern War they are characterised by a consistent reluctance of the Poles to charge when the Swedish cavalry is deployed in formal battle-order backed by their infantry and artillery firepower. Take away the fire support, and the hussars are far less hesistant, and generally victorious..."

    That may not be completely true, as some husaria did penetrate Swedish musketry formations at the battle of Mitawa (Mitau, modern Jelgava) in 1622, and again at Gorzno (Gurzno) in 1629 - but only initially; the threats were quickly closed. Excellent details are provided by experts on Zagloba's Tavern. Radoslaw Sikora, who denounces Brzezinski, and is a prime source for this topic, is working to right what he thinks are wrongs etc. He provides figures from the Polish army register, and Daniel Staberg, the Swedish expert, gives figures from some battle draws by Gustavus himself. But Sikora writes something peculiar, on the topic of the Polish husaria fighting Swedish regiments of musketeers,

    "...Unfortunately I noticed that this selective and partial treatment of primary sources appear in Richard Brzezinski's work quite often. It is most apparent in the quoted descriptions of the hussaria fighting against the Swedish army (Kokenhausen, Mitawa/Mitau or Tczew/Dirschau). Anyone who knows what truly happened there grabs his head when reading how these battles are used to support false thesis of alleged considerable efficiency of firearms of the Swedish cavalry against the husaria."

    What truly happened? Well, I feel one can admire something without it being a vice of 'partiality'. The battle of Mitawa was fought before Gustavus' efficient reforms took significant effect. Poland ultimately lost this war (I would say more on a political than military scale), and the husaria never defeated Gustavus (his tactical rebuff at Trzciana, in which he counter-attacked twice to protect his infantry, notwithstanding). Koknese was a Swedish victory, and Gustavus clearly overcame the husaria at Gniew (Mewe) and Tczew (Dirschau), via method. Sikora's opinion as to why the Sejm (Polish diet) acquiesced to favorable terms for Sweden in 1629, if they were not losing the military aspect of this war (as some Polish apologists believe) - one in which he compares the feeling of the people of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth to that of the American people in regards to Vietnam (late 1960s/early 1970s) is incredulous. Perhaps I am misconstruing him, but Polish soldiers were fighting in their own land against an invader. I am the last poster who wishes to insult people, and Mr. Sikora, clearly a civil and intelligent man, is invaluable for providing much trivia for this period.

    From a political standpoint, the death of Gustavus amid the fog at Lutzen, a month before his 38th birthday, was a disaster. Looking back, perhaps we can blame him for that element of his leadership of heroic self-indulgence, and he was getting a little impetuous, it seems. But his death might have removed the one man who seemingly was capable of imposing an end to the fighting. But that must be based on private convictions over any solid evidence; he may have come too late. Instead, the Thirty Years War dragged on for sixteen more years, witnessing hellish circumstances of disorganized and impoverished conditions. As the Dutch philosopher Hugo Grotius, who paid much attention to the concept of 'humane' warfare, tells us,

    "...I saw prevailing throughout Europe a licence in making war of which even barbarous nations would have been ashamed..."

    Gustavus Adolphus' War in Livonia and Polish Prussia 1617-1629

    I have done the best I can to present a balanced view of this conflict (I am still a student with opinions); modern works which are very helpful are from Michael Roberts, Robert I. Frost, Ulf Sundberg, Richard Brzezinski, Radoslaw Sikora and Daniel Staberg. If you can find it, the Sveriges Krig 1611-1632 II Polska Kriget (Stockholm, 1936) is found as the source in most of Roberts' footnotes. But if you do, don't use it without any Polish sources to cross-reference this great topic. This site is invaluable for our topic:

    Zagloba's Tavern, Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth 17th Century Living History

    The correspondence between Sikora and Staberg is exemplary, both for scholarship and amicableness.

    Many of Gustavus' detractors (or some who are simply indifferent), perhaps mostly German and Polish Catholics etc., have the right to view him as a master propogandist. But in his mind he justified himself in terms of contemporary ideals, and plotted each move with the care of a diamond cutter. He was a champion of his cause, but doubtless a Realpolitiker as well. They all were/are!

    The campaigns fought by Gustavus in Livonia and Polish Prussia between 1617 and 1629 receive comparitively little attention. This disappoints me, as the substantial military reforms of Gustavus were surely influenced by the fact that the superior Polish-Lithuanian cavalry, most notably the vaunted husaria (plural for hussar, or husarz), the crack heavy Polish cavalry, fighting with support from the medium/light cavalry, the Cossack (kozacy) horsemen (this name would be later changed to pancerni to distinguish them from rebellious ethnic Cossacks in 1648), could not be beaten at this time in the early 17th century, at least in an open area, without utilizing combined arms and terrain not conducive to their style, which would diminish their ability to fight to the degree that ensured them victory. These great Polish cavalrymen were as light as most classified 'light' cavalrymen, but could strike in concentration with their 15 ft.+ lances at the gallop (perhaps longer, to outreach enemy pikes)! They could carry their charge through the enemy ranks. This tactical asset was one result of the organizing skills of the redoubtable Stefan Batory (d. 1586).

    Gustavus never tactically overwhelmed the Poles, but he certainly got the better of them, except for one substantial time - when he was caught in a manner he painstakingly tried to avoid. It is not accurate, from my view, when claimed by some that he was 'crushed' by the Poles. But minor defeats of his cavalry, particularly units caught out in the open, by Polish cavalry are what affected some of his theories, reforms, and practices, which were realized throughout his later, more famous campaign.

    Gustavus' father, duke Karl (Charles) IX of Sweden (king as of 1604), ousted Catholic officials, and repulsed an incursion into Sweden by Sigismund (Zygmunt) III at Stangebro (near modern Linkoping) in 1598. Sigismund III, officially crowned as the Swedish king in 1594, but reluctant to accept Protestantism as the state religion, desired to establish a permanent union between Sweden and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, but instead created hostilities which led to intermittent war between the two nations lasting until 1721 (if we include up to the fall of Karl (Charles) XII). Charles was, however, unsuccessful when he invaded Livonia in 1600; his army was smashed by Jan Chodkiewicz's cavalry, of which about a third was the husaria, at Kircholm in 1605. Another army of 30,000 Muscovites under Dmitry Shuisky, supported by approx. 5,000 Swedish mercenaries (probably more so Scottish and German) under Jakob De la Gardie, was defeated five years later at Klushino by a much smaller Polish army, again with the ferocious husaria proving to be too strong. But Sweden's power was rising in the Baltic, as her fleet appeared outside Danzig (modern Gdansk) and Riga, capturing and searching ships trading with these prominent ports. Due to Danzig's neutral status at this time, the Swedes were able to provision their troops in Livonia from there. Aging and overwrought, Karl IX died in October, 1611, while war with Christian IV of Denmark, known as the Kalmar War, which broke out the previous April, was looking bad for Sweden. As a ruler, Karl IX, basically a practical man, was the link between his great father Gustavus Vasa and his even greater son. The Vasa kings in the 16th century laid the foundation of a national regular army. Gustavus perfected it.

    At sixteen years of age, Gustavus Adolphus inherited the wars his father began, and only by exerting himself to the utmost was he able to achieve peaceful settlements with Denmark (Treaty of Knarod, January, 1613) and Russia (Treaty of Stolbova, February, 1617). He had to restrict himself due to the terms involving indemnity with Denmark, but his treaty with Russia altogether shut out Muscovy from the Baltic, and its trade became dependent on Sweden. It was clear that Gustavus would resolve to take up the struggle with the Poles in Livonia if necessary. The Sveriges Riksdag (Swedish parliament) consented to this in spite of financial concerns.

    Hostilies had already begun in 1617, though a truce had been formally agreed upon in 1613 and prolonged for two years the following year. The king of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Sigismund III, whose unwavering claims to the throne of Sweden (by birth he was united along the royal lines of the Vasa and Jagiello) would involve Poland in a whole series of unprofitable wars with Sweden spanning 6 decades, instructed his government to not renew the truce. The Swedes captured Pernau (modern Parnu), and by the autumn of 1618 Gustavus was willing to arrange an armistice, but Sigismund III rejected every proposal in that course, keeping unflinchingly to his claim to be acknowledged King of Sweden. Finally a truce was arranged on September 23, 1618, and Jan Chodkiewicz, who had conducted himself with such esteem on the Livonian front, was sent against the Ottoman threat from the south. The great Polish hetman died in September of 1621, amid his successful entrenched defense against the sultan Osman II's huge invading army, perhaps numbering 100,000, at Khotyn (Chocim), in the Ukraine. During this time the rivalry between Gustavus and Sigismund III transposed into a very different and higher plane.

    Another blow for the Poles was the death of Jan Zamoyski in 1605. It had been the firm conviction of this great szlachcic and magnate that Poland could not achieve any long term success against Sweden without a navy. But his efforts to prevail upon Danzig (modern Gdansk) to produce a fleet were in vain, as the neutral city didn't want to displease the Swedish sovereign at the time (among other reasons).

    A Protestant coalition, including the Dutch Republic, Lubeck (the anchor of the Hansaetic League), and Sweden, was formed amongst the Northern countries, while Sigismund III fixed his attention on the Hapsburg monarchy, a land power firmly Catholic in its policy. An 'eternal' alliance, very vague in principle, was concluded. Sigismund III now geared his thoughts to far-reaching plans for winning Sweden back (he always believed Sweden was rightly his). Attacking Gustavus by propaganda in his own kingdom, he endeavored, with the help of Spain and other external enemies of Sweden, to create a constant menace to his adversary. Gustavus proposed peace, including the right for Sigismund III to use the title 'King of Sweden', but this was rejected. Gustavus then obtained from the Sveriges Riksdag the funds for renewing the war.

    Essentially, Gustavus' war against Poland was for control of the Baltic coast. He viewed Catholic Poland as a threat to Protestantism - a threat that perhaps barely existed, but one he thought existed, and the Scandinavian monarchies certainly symbolized the pillars of Protestantism. It was very prudent on the part of Gustavus to form an alliance with Denmark in 1628 to defend Stralsund (NE Germany), as a divided Protestant Scandinavia would result in their defeat by the Catholic states. Like Danzig (modern Gdansk), Stralsund was a principal strategic base on the Baltic. Sigismund III, the son of the Swedish king John III (d. 1592) and Catherine Jagiellon (Katarzyna Jagiellonka, d. 1583), lost his title as the official Swedish king in 1599, deposed by the Sveriges Riksdag. His politics of support for Catholic Reformation (counterreformation) and personal ambition were among the reasons for the wars to come. This, of course, can be viewed in other ways by his apologists, which is totally understandable.

    In 1617, Gustavus indeed took advantage of Poland's involvement with the Muscovites and Ottomans, gaining hegemony on the eastern Baltic in Livonia, compelling the Poles under Prince Krzysztof Radziwill to conclude an armistice until 1620. The Thirty Years War had begun two years earlier, and Gustavus clearly saw Sweden would be drawn into the vortex. He vainly tried to renew the truce with Poland, as Sigismund III, influenced by the Jesuits and feeling safe from the central and north-east with a newly agreed truce with Russia, could not be influenced. After thorough preparations, Gustavus sailed for the mouth of the Dvina (Duna) in July, 1621 with about 18,000 men aboard 76 ships. The fort commanding the mouth of the Dvina, Dynemunt (Dunamunde), was taken, and the siege of Riga began on August 13. Terms were refused by the garrison, which numbered 300 and supported by a citizen militia of 3,700. Gustavus was thus compelled to open a bombardment. On August 30, a small relief force under Radziwill, perhaps just 1,500 men, was beaten back; Swedish entrenchments were too firm and gunfire too solid to overcome, and Radziwill withdrew by August 31. After mining was resorted to, in which Gustavus threatened to explode all the mines at once, Riga surrendered on September 25, 1621. To isolate Poland even more from the sea, he marched south across the Dvina, took Mitawa (Mitau, modern Jelgava), and, leaving ravaged Livonia to its fate, stationed his troops in Courland. The conquest of Riga meant there was no longer any possibility for Poland to establish herself as a Baltic power. Through Riga passed a third of her exports. With it Gustavus gained political and strategic advantages and a base for equipping his fleet. At the same time, the Poles and Ottomans opened talks, and a mutual peace was agreed upon (for now).

    The east part of Livonia and the important town of Dorpat remained, however, in Polish hands. In the autumn of 1622 both sides were again ready to accept an armistice. Gustavus was too eager for a truce to grudge Sigismund III the kingship of Sweden, so long as he did not call himself Hereditary King. Krzysztof Radziwill had advised Sigismund III to ask for an armistice, but, as usual, he hesitated to the very last. This gave Sweden's Chancellor, Axel Oxenstierna, an opportunity to seperate the interests of Poland and Lithuania, and to offer the latter peace and neutrality in the struggle between Sweden and Poland. This was the first Swedish attempt to drive a wedge between the two halves of the Polish-Lithuanian Monarchy. But the plan did not succeed, and Gustavus personally conducted the campaign in the summer of 1622. Radziwill retook Mitawa, and a battle was fought on August 3, 1622. Initially, it seems Swedish infantrymen, positioned in thickets with swampy ground between them and the Lithuanians, fired upon the enemy, refusing to come out in the open, a condition which Radziwill proposed. The Swedes overwhelmed the outnumbered haiduks (mercenary foot-soldiers of mostly Magyar stock from Hungary) in an infantry clash. Some companies of husaria then displayed some recalcitrance, as there existed serious financial problems with the Lithuanian forces, which was more a private army than a state one at this time, which led to a lack of loyalty and morale amongst many. But two banners, perhaps about 400 husaria (numbers for these banners, more properly known as Choragiews, vary) did intrepidly charge into the Swedish ranks and, despite unfavorable ground, penetrated through with minimal loss (the Swedish army was not yet the drilled, disciplined force of a few years away, but vastly improving). The Swedes reinforced their positions which precluded the husaria from turning around (there was also no support for the husaria either). Radziwill built solid fortifications around Mitawa (Mitau) which precluded a resolved effort by the Swedes to recapture it by military means. But Radziwill was again forced to conclude an armistice, as adequate forces could not be sent to stop Gustavus from continuing his conquest, as the serious war with the Ottomans was too recent to not keep forces on the lookout further south. From a Swedish viewpoint, this establishment by Gustavus wiped away much of the shame caused by the disaster of the Battle of Kircholm sixteen years earlier, and Mitawa (Mitau) was occupied on October 3, 1622 by Gustavus. But so severe was the sickness which afflicted the Swedish forces that some 10,000 reinforcements had to be called. Renewed in November, 1622, the truce was prolonged year after year until 1625, though the sole object of each side was to gain time to prepare for more impending war.

    A few years earlier Gustavus had found support in Brandenburg-Prussia, which might, under favorable conditions, become very useful. East Prussia had been inherited in 1619 by the Elector of Brandenburg, and his sister, Hedvig Eleonora, had married Gustavus in 1620. But the Elector Georg Wilhelm was himself afraid of Poland and not yet willing to comply immediately with the demands made by Gustavus, now his brother-in-law. Inactive and not willing to be decisive, Georg Wilhelm tried to avoid difficulties and therefore added an element of uncertainty to the political situation amongst the Northern countries. Sigismund III's phlegmatic temperamant had a similar effect, who carried a fear of losing the leading elements of Prussia into the arms of Sweden. For Gustavus, it was very important that Sigismund III didn't gain a firm footing in Ducal (East) Prussia.

    When Gustavus renewed hostilities against Poland, it was partly for national reasons and partly to assist the German Protestants. During the preceding years, Sigismund III had constantly showed a desire to attack Sweden on a large scale, although the Polish Sejm at this time expressed no desire to support him and the funds at his disposal were insufficient. Two factors important for Gustavus were the change of James I of England's policy and his desire to arrange, with the help of Cardinal Richelieu of France, a coalition of Protestant powers against the Hapsburgs and their Catholic allies. Christian IV of Denmark, whose relations with Sweden had again, in the fall of 1623, been strained to the utmost, and with the support of England and the Dutch Republic, he led Protestant action against the Hapsburg coalition in Germany, and this at last made Gustavus feel safe with regard to Denmark. He would have preferred to land in Polish Prussia, but probably out of consideration for his brother-in-law and the Dutch, who grudged him Danzig (modern Gdansk), he resumed the struggle in Livonia. Gustavus' earlier strategic successes in 1621-1622 marked a shift in the balance of forces within the Baltic, and denied Sigismund III a port from which he could launch a legitimist invasion of Sweden, though he was fortunate he was able to establish this valuable footing here in Livonia and Courland scarcely opposed. But he did beat back the small relief force at Riga; he wouldn't have been able to take the city if he hadn't overcome this force, perhaps just 1,500 men; the garrison of Riga was very valiant in its defense, spurred by the hope for Radziwill to make some headway. Polish apologists stress the Ottoman threat as being more serious. While this is true for before the autumn of 1621, the Ottomans were repulsed (as I already mentioned) with great loss by Jan Chodkiewicz in September-October, 1621, at the fortress of Khotyn (Chocim), and internal strife soon broke amongst the janissaries, during which the sultan Osman II was murdered. A peace was agreed upon and the Polish/Lithuanian-Ottoman border would be fairly quiet until 1633. Gustavus was now seemingly the threat to be dealt with. But Stanislaw Koniecpolski, a superb commander, was busy dealing with the Tartars from 1624-1626, to the east.

    A permanent peace could not be reached between Gustavus and Sigismund III to replace the existing truce, so Gustavus again arrived with his army at the mouth of the Dvina in May of 1625 with some 20,000 men aboard 148 ships, his army now in a rapidly-advancing phase of a newly forged instrument of war. His forces attacked at three points - (1) Courland, on the Baltic shore, taking the ports of Ventspils (Windau) and Liepaja (Libau), (2) Koknese (Kokenhausen), further inland, and (3) Dorpat (modern Tartu), to the north. No major field engagements occured, but Koknese was taken on July 15 of 1625, followed by the castle of Birze (modern Birzai) a month later, after a valiant defense by the garrison. The attempt of a Polish colonel to retake Riga with 2,000 men was repulsed, and a second attempt by the Chancellor of Lithunia, Jan Stanislaw Sapieha, with 3,000 men (these figures are not confirmed) was driven off with a loss of all their guns. Around the same time, Dorpat was taken by Jakob De la Gardie, and in late September Mitawa was taken by Swedish forces. But Polish forces prevented Gusav Horn from capturing Dunaberg (modern Daugavpils). Gustavus would now resolve to take the initiative against enemy ground forces, concentrated to his south.

    In 1624, Gustavus decreed a lighter design to replace the matchlock musket for standard issue - the wheel-lock pistol and musket, reputedly invented in 1517 by one Johann Kiefuss, a German gun maker from Nuremburg. These firearms did not entail a smoldering match, thus there would be no more stressing about it going out when precipitation rolls in, or the danger of handling gunpowder around the match. The idea of this mechanism is simple; think of a modern lighter which has a flint pressed up against a roughened little metal wheel - when the wheel is spun with your finger, the flint pressed against its surface throws off sparks. The same system was used in these firearms to create sparks as needed to ignite the gunpowder to fire the gun. It's all evolutionary. But it was more expensive: surely not everyone received the better design (dragoons must have been given priority, as they carried their muskets across the back in a leather strap. But even those of Gustavus' men retained the matchlock, they increasingly received lighter ones. By 1626, reloading speeds in Gustavus' army were improved to the point where three ranks of musketeers, reduced from six when all loaded, could simultaneously maintain a continuous barrage; his musketeers were trained to fire by salvo - the discharge of an entire unit's supply in one or two volleys to produce a wall of bullets, and they waited until their enemy was not more than a distance of 35-70 yards. Firepower was greatly increased by the addition of copiuos field artillery pieces. In 1626, the 3 lb. 'leather guns' were introduced, which were developed by a Scottish engineer, Robert Scott, and a heavier model ushered in by an Austrian officer, Melchior von Wurmprandt; these little guns were the first regimental guns to fire fixed ammunition with wooden cases, and they could fire at a rate not much slower than a musketeer. It was named the 'leather gun' because the external casing (frame) of the barrel was made of leather. The bore (tube) of the gun was made of copper. Every effort was made to curtail weight, and without its comparitively light carriage, and the gun weighed 90 lbs. (about 400 lbs. including the carriage). The 'leather gun' could easily be manuevered on the battlefield by two men and one horse. It possessed the asset of mobility to the highest degree, and albeit it was a major technological development, it turned out to have a major drawback: the gun sacrificed too much to lightness and mobility, and upon repeated fire it became so hot that a new charge would often ignite spontaneously, which could lead to disaster amongst its crew, who could still be in the recoil path. Ultimately, the 'leather gun' was a failure as a regimental field piece, but certainly the advent of light mobile artillery in the field. Once Gustavus entered Germany in 1630, the 'leather gun' had been replaced by the 4 lb. Piece Suedoise, made of heavier substance, if slightly less mobile; a third man was required, along with two horses to handle it. This regimental gun was supreme, and could fire eight rounds of grapeshot to every six shots by a musketeer. This was possible because its design involved a new artillery cartridge, in which the shot and repellant charge were wired together to expedite holding. Moreover, a 9 lb. demiculverin, produced by Gustavus' bright young artillery chief, Lennart Torstensson, was introduced. This weapon was classed as the feildpeece - par excellence. The science of mobile field artillery (ie, movable amid battle) may be arguably said to have been first utilized substantially by Gustavus and his engineers. But we can always find precedents; in this case, Babur and Charles V of Spain identified the value of field guns.

    The 4 lb. cast-iron regimental gun

    In late 1625, Gustavus could be fairly sure of his ground. Sweden was more prepared for war than ever; the unity of king, ministry, noble class, and people was in marked contrast to the condition of any other European state. The ordinary soldiers were given a personal stake in their country, as Gustavus provided land as compensation for service, and for the officers, usually farms on crown lands, form which they collected rent from the tenant-farmer. When not on campaign, the soldier worked on these farms in exchange for board and lodging. I'll spare these details, but basically the soldiers of Sweden under Gustavus' reign became bound to the land, assisiting with its maintenance. Thus the civilian population was involved with the army and its support, and Gustavus was supported to utilize Swedish commerce and industry to fully subsidize the wars he would fight. Moreover, a system of regulated conscription and administration was established, in which each province raised regiments which were supported by local taxes. These provincial regiments would remain permanent. Also by 1625, the Sveriges Riksdag was operating on a regular annual budget with a reformed fiscal system. Drafts to supply men to the regular army were drawn from the militia, which was the home-defence force in which all able-bodied men over the age of fifteen were liable to serve. However, the population of Sweden was too small to provide all the soldiers Gustavus needed, once war thinned his ranks; after all, he would be fighting countries vastly outnumbering Sweden in population. This void was filled by soldiers of fortune (mercenaries), but not the cut-throat bands which ravaged central Europe; the professional mercenaries who fought for Gustavus accepted the stern discipline in return for treatment as good as that received by native Swedes. The Green Brigade (brigades in Gustavus' army were named after the color of their flags), composed mostly of Scottish soldiers, was among the finest units of the Thirty Years' War, and led by the likes of Robert Munro, John Hepburn, Alexander Leslie, and Donald Mackay.

    To reiterate, Gustavus integrated the activity of lighter mobile artillery, cavalry, and infantry to a science which produced a radically different, balanced, and superior army than any other in Europe (probably anywhere at the time). Artillery was no longer an insitutional appendage, but a regimental branch of his balanced army. The Battle of Breitenfeld, fought on September 17, 1631, against the able Johann Tserclaes von Tilly, brilliantly realized the basic military theory of Gustavus - the superiority of mobility over weight (and combined arms), something the likes of Alexander and Hannibal showcased amid their triumphs from two millennia earlier. But now Gustavus applied the concept with the technology of his day. It took some time, and not without trial and error (he didn't turn field artillery into a battle-deciding arm, but a significant support to his cavalry and infantry in the field). But the heroic example of Gustavus' Alexandrian style of leadership would later cost him his life. Some may say he was too rash, but leading by personal example will do wonders for the moral of one's troops.

    But the supreme army it became we was still in its developing stages in late 1625, where we left off the chronoligical narrative.

    The Polish forces in the region of Wallmoja (Wallhof, modern Valle in what is today Latvia) probably numbered some 6-7,000 men, between Jan Sapieha (the son of the Lithuanian chancellor), Radziwill, and Aleksander Gosiewski. Marching swiftly SW from Koknese (Kokenhausen) to the region around Wallmoja (Wallhof), around 30 miles SE of Riga, in a forced march with some 3,000 picked men (2,000 Finnish Hakkapeliitat, plural for a Hakkapeliita, and about 1,000 musketeers), of over 30 miles in 36 hours in difficult terrain, Gustavus swiftly fell upon the larger force of about 4,000 (at most) under Sapieha, and routed them in what B. H. Liddell Hart describes as perhaps the earliest example in modern military history of the principles of concentration, both strategical and tactical, and of the combination of fire and movement, which forms the burden of every military manual nowadays (Hart wrote this in 1927). Basically, he surprised the Polish-Lithuanian force in wooded terrain, which precluded them from outflanking his dispositions - a condition he effectuated, using his infantry in the woods to deliver musketry volleys upon them while still in enfilade. The 'rapid redeployment' of Gustavus' infantry was maturing with each operational campaign. Now with complete control of Livonia, and the fortified line south of the Dvina no longer threatened, Gustavus wanted to make peace (albeit favorable to his position), and sent an embassy to Warsaw. But part of it was seized, and due to the difficulty to procure their release, peace was not in the cards. Jakob De la Gardie, who would later advocate peace with Poland, was left in Livonia to secure the Swedish position, and Gustavus returned to Stockholm.

    Important note: Polish accounts claim Jan Sapieha's army was surprised in a non-fortified position with merely 1,500-2,000 men, and that the total troop strength numbered merely 5,000. But that 1st figure is more likely the casualties he suffered. Sapieha fled, understandably, from the field (the victorious cavalry charge was reputedly enormously effective), and the Swedish hold on Birze (modern Birzai) was never compromised. Shame can lead a man to downplay his potential infamy (I would). Radoslow Sikora, the current Polish historian, provides Polish army records which state that it was possibly a higher number than Sapieha claimed - 2,000, but no higher. Well, it could very well have been higher, and Sapieha clearly didn't give an accurate count - a count smaller than the probable amount from the Polish view. There were no longer some 45,000 Poles/Lithuanians fighting the Ottomans to the south, and the truce agreed in late 1622 was certainly to gain time to prepare for near-assured upcoming hostilities; this comes from one from F. Nowak in his contribution to the Cambridge History of Poland to 1696, Pg. 480,

    "...summer of 1622, a preliminary agreement was concluded in August. Renewed in November, the truce was prolonged year after year until 1625, though the sole object of each side was to gain time for war preparations."

    Thus, unless one chooses to disbelieve professor Nowak, Krzysztof Radziwill and Sapieha would surely not have divided their forces (unless they were mobilizing them for the 1st time) after Gustavus' invasion with such miniscule numbers. After all, not more than twenty miles seperated them (one force is claimed to have been six miles away from Sapieha), and if we are to believe the scenario that Gustavus destroyed a force of merely 2,000 at most, what became of the other forces in the region, numbering another 3,000 (according to them)? No explanation is afforded. Why would Gustavus compel himself and his men to force-march and ambush a force just two-thirds thier quantity? He constantly tried to achieve truces. I believe his force was about 2,000 cavalry, including the terrific, light Finnish Hakkapeliitat, and upwards of 1,000 musketeers. From some accounts I have studied, the Poles and Lithuanians numbered about 2,600 cavalry and about 1,300 infantry. I have read some accounts claiming their infantry alone numbered more than 3,400, but this is perhaps an elaboration to sweeten Gustavus' victory. One account states that Jan Sapieha's army was deployed on a ridge with the expectation the Swedes would would emerge in march formation. But Gustavus appeared in battle formation, probably with his infantry in the center and cavalry on the flanks. The Lithuanians were scattered from Gustavus' amalgam of a cavalry charge followed by musket fire (not yet the specific act of the 'commanded' musketeers, who were attached in support to fire in support of the cavalry). If here at Walmoja the infantry conduct involved the Swedish salvee (the salvo), it was a crude and not accounted for. The Poles/Lithuanians were indeed surprised by Gustavus' formation, and he exploited some disorder in their ranks, but I don't believe they were totally surprised in a non-fortified position, with only 1,500-2,000 men no less. To believe this would be to believe they were incredibly fatuous, knowing an invader had recently come, even though it was the winter.

    The other commanders in the area were Radziwill and one Aleksander Gosiewski, who commanded smaller forces of perhaps 1,000 or so troopers each. I do believe the figure of 6-7,000 attributed to Jan Sapieha's force by some accounts is perhaps the number for all three combined, and they were divided, but close to each other; Sapieha's defeated army at Wallhof probably numbered no more than 4,000. Thus it was Gustavus who was outnumbered, and he achieved the decisive victory with calculated and resolved surprise. The other Polish/Lithuanian forces, comparitively small, must have retired further south. The Ottoman threat was now subordinate to Gustavus' presence, and to leave such a scant amount of troops in the wake of Gustavus' invasion was manifestly inviting disaster. Gustavus' army was swiftly becoming a disciplined, balanced force, in which morale was increasing. He took acute measures to properly plan for transport and supply; the fact Gustavus was better equipped to conduct a winter campaign than his enemy, in their own territory no less, illustrates his strategic and logistic sagacity. During the siege of Riga in 1621, he enthusiastically dug the trenches with his men. True, Gustavus established his position in Livonia and Polish Prussia by attacking while the Polish/Lithuanian forces were dealing with Ottomon (until 1621) and Tatar (Tartar) threats. Koniecpolski didn't arrive on the scene against Gustavus until November of 1626, due to his fighting with the Tartars, whom he crushed. Though Gustavus' entrenched positions in Polish Prussia wavered back and forth, his grip was never completely lost.

    Furthermore, the Poles and Lithuanians knew Gustavus had just taken the towns of Mitawa (Mitau, modern Jelgava)) and Bauske (modern Bauska). They must have been in a 'time of war' frame of mind, regardless of the winter conditions. However, claims that Gustavus lost not one man is untenable. But it suggests that, if he was barely scathed, he did indeed surprise them. We can almost always extract an element of truth from rhetorical predilections.

    When the way was clear for a new theater of operations for Gustavus in Polish Prussia, he resolved to secure control of the Vistula, as he had already secured the Dvina. The mouth of the Vistula poured into the Baltic at Danzig (modern Gdansk), and was the vital artery of Poland's economy. With the Vistual blocked, and Danzig captured or neutralized, the Polish magnates would certainly compel Sigismund III to make peace. This campaign would also relieve much stress, hopefully, on the Protestants in Germany, as Imperialists would come to the aid of Sigismund III. Gustavus landed near Pillau (modern Baltiysk) on the Vistula Lagoon (the Zalew Wislany, or Frisches Haff)) on June 25, 1626 with about 14,000 men, aboard some 150 ships. He took Pillau after negotiations failed with his brother-in-law, Georg Wilhelm, the Elector of Brandenburg. This action threatening Poland's access to the Baltic. He discerned that he needed to occupy as much of the Baltic coast as he could before joining the struggle in Germany, and do it quickly; the Poles had been lax in concentrating forces to deal with him, and this he would take full advantage of. After the fall or surrender of Braniewo (Braunsberg), Elblag (Elbing), Frombork (Frauenburg), Orneta (Wormditt), Tolkmicko (Tolkemit), and Malbork (Marienburg) by early July, 1626, he was in possession of the fertile and defensible delta of the Vistula in Prussia, which he viewed as a permanent conquest. Axel Oxenstierna was commissioned as the region's first governor-general. Communications between Danzig (modern Gdansk), which was his hope for a valuable base and depot, and the Polish interior were cut off by the erection of the first of Gustavus' famous entrenched camps around Tczew (Dirschau). Putzig (modern Puck), NW of Danzig was captured, and by storming Gniew (Mewe) on July 12, 1626, the Poles were further threatened with losing access to Danzig from the interior. Again, the terrific Koniecpolski was at this time fighting the Tartars in the Ukraine, and Zygmunt (Sigismund) III was slow (such criticism is in hindsight, of course) to mobilize against Gustavus' landing on June 25, 1626 at Pilawa (Pillau, modern Baltiysk).

    Gustavus never attempted a major storm or siege of Danzig, but remained content to try to blockade the great port, which clearly was viable, being he cut its communications from both sides. But he could never completely prevent it being provisioned by the sea, and the city's ability to hold out practically neutralized Gustavus' successes throughout the four year campaign. Due to the impracticability that the city could be reduced to straits, he sought to secure its neutrality. This is where he might have been a little rash and lost patience; he was already eyeing the situation in Germany nad might have been hoping to bring the Polish war to a speedy end, which depended on the submission or neutrality of Danzig. A less hectoring style of diplomacy might have procured Danzig's neutrality. It is indeed mentioned in one of my sources that he reconnoitred the fortress of Wisloujscie (Weichselmunde), and he began recruiting from his newly acquired territories, including the procurement of valuable, indigenous horses.

    At the battle of Gniew (Mewe), fought in September, 1626, Gustavus and his officers, most notably Heinrich Matthias von Thurn and John Hepburn, won an impressive but not overwhelming victory. The wooded terrain around Gniew was utilized by Gustavus to neutralize any devastating effect the Polish cavalry could usually rely upon, augmented by a flooded field. It was in late September of 1626 when Sigismund III finally arrived upon the theater of operations, now commanding a field army in the vicinity of Grudziadz (Graudenz). After conscriptions were carried out from Grudziadz and Torun (Thorn), his force totalled some 15,400, of which about 9,000 were cavalry (about 4,000 husaria). These written down figures are always, of course, paper-strengths. Torun lies on the Vistula about 30+ miles south of Grudziadz. Sigismund III resolved to blockade Gniew, with the intention of drawing Gustavus further south, away from his base at Tczew and the vicinity around the Danzig perimeter. The Poles had recently retaken the fortress of Orneta (Wormditt), perhaps proving other fortresses Gustavus had easily taken earlier could not serve as a permanent defenses. Thus he had to march out against Sigismund III. Led by Sigismund III and his son Wladyslaw, the Poles advanced towards Malbork; on meeting the Swedes, whom they outnumbered, some skirmishes broke out, and the Poles withdrew south, crossed the Vistula at Nowe (Neuenburg), and began to siege Gniew from the town's south side. Though Sigismund III established himself on high ground to the west. Though a strong position, Gustavus set himself up at no disadvantage: he assembled a picked force of 3,500 men (500 horse), drawn from the vicinity of Tczew (Dirschau). His troop strength for the relief of Gniew numbered 7,661 men, of which nearly 1,274 was cavalry, and with 12-20 guns. He headed for threatened Gniew (Mewe), and to challenge Sigismund III's position, he both disposed his men in wooded terrain along the Vistula and behind an anti-flood embankment, good for reconnoitering. The relief of Gniew was a necessity for carrying out the campaign he intended, so he devised a tactic to effectuate its relief. With some light horse and artillery, the Poles had occupied a position athwart his path. Gustavus resorted to a ruse, making his movements appear as a reconnaisance, and proceeded to withdraw. After this clever disposition apparently deceiving the Poles, he then ordered Thurn and John Hepburn to create another diversion and cut a passage over a strongly fortified hill defended by the Poles, who vastly outnumbered them. Thurn and his cavalry diverted the Poles' attention by demonstrative actions, and held up in some serious skirmishing with the lighter kozacy. The Poles were given the impression the Swedish garrison was going to be drawn from within Gniew, and that the place would fall to them in any event, so they made no immediate advance and charged, but failed in a cavalry charge against Gustavus' carefully prepared infantry positions layed in terrain, which was bogged down, which negated much of the ability to charge forward in order, and his new methods of firepower was first realized - the triple rank Swedish Salvee; though loss of Polish life was apparently minimal, the Swedes were trained to fire more at horses, thus many more were dismounted. In all, three charges of the husaria were thrown back. Perhaps they should have attacked sharply in significant numbers at certain points, and closely observe the region to ascertain Gustavus' real intentions. If they had, perhaps the campaign for Gustavus might have ended here for good. But that's 20/20 hindsight.

    Simultaneous with Thurn's diversionary activity, the infantry column commanded by Hepburn, which had started at dusk and unseen by Sigismund III's men, approached the enemy position by working around it and ascending the hill by a narrow and winding path, which was encumbered by difficult terrain. Weighed down with muskets, cartridges, breastplates, helmets, and defense obstacles (I'll explain in a bit), they made their way up through the enemy's outposts unobserved, and reached the summit, where the ground was smooth and level. By tactical surprise, here they fell at once upon the Poles, who were busy arranging their trenches. For a time, Hepburn and his men gained a footing here, utilizing Scweinfedders; but a deadly fire, mostly musketry, opened upon them from all around, compelling them the to fall back from the trenches. And soon found themselves charged upon by armored husaria under Tomas Zamoyski, and would have soon been scattered. Hepburn was compelled to retire, drawing his men off till they reached a rock on the plateau, and here they made their stand, the musketeers occupying the rock, the pikemen forming in a wall around it.

    Gustavus had provided them with valuable defense items, which were utilized effectively here on this emminenece held by the Poles - a portable Cheval de Frise (French for 'Frisian horses'), and the Scweinfedder (the 'Swedish feather', or 'Swine feather'). The bayonet was not yet in use, and musketeers often adopted defensive weapons to protect themselves from cavalry. This small version of the Cheval de Frise consisted of a portable frame, probably a simple log, with many long iron spikes protruding from it. It was erected more in camp and principally intended to stop cavalry dead in its tracks, but was not a serious obstacle to the passage of mobile infantry. But here Hepburn was using smaller versions. The Scweinfedder was a pointed stake (a half-pike about seven feet long) and musket-rest combination, which had replaced the more cumbersome fork-firing rest. The stake was planted pointing toward the enemy cavalry (the musket rested upon a loop) to act as a defensive obstacle, particularly against shock cavalry. Gustavus' Swedish army used the Scweinfedder in the Polish campaign more so than against their enemies in Germany later probably because the terrain offered better cover against cavalry, and there was less cavalry in Germany than Poland. They quickly placed these obstacles along their front (remember, they were portable), and it aided the pikemen greatly in resisting the desperate charges of the Polish horsemen. Their German allies, armed with muskets, aided immeasurably in the effectuated defensive. Hepburn and his force withstood the Polish army for two days. Soon, however, as I stated, they would certainly be overcome by an amalgam of fire and shock from a preponderance of enemy forces (the time between reloading rendered them extremely vulnerable), so they withdrew, both sides being proportionately scathed very little. Clearly, though screened by field fortifications and good discipline and management, fighting the Polish cavalry was still a tall order.

    While this desperate action was taking place, and the attention of the Poles entirely occupied on Hepburn, Gustavus himself managed to pass a strong force of men and a store of ammunition into the town from the north side, and then turned to protect Thurn's withdrawal, at which point the husaria could make no headway before Gustavus' triple-lined infantry firepower - the Swedish Salvee; two husaria charges were unsuccessful. Sigismund III, seeing that Gustavus had achieved his purpose of relieving Gniew, retired with the loss of some 500 men. It is quite possible that Sigismund III could have thought Gustavus was in force the entire time, and with his artillery, thus they may have thought he was trying to draw them from their good position. The Swedes did not outright beat the Poles and compel them to flee scatteringly, but the town of Gniew was re-victualed and the garrison substantially strengthened by Gustavus. Moreover, the terrain around Gniew would surely be utilized by Gustavus to neutralize any devastating effect the Polish cavalry could usually rely upon. Nevertheless, it was a superbly handled operation on the part of Gustavus. The Polish historian Jerzy Teodorczyk calls this battle the first defeat of the husaria, but I think it should more appropriately be called the first prevention of a defeat at the hands of the husaria. It will not do to say firepower stopped the husaria; the Swedes were the best drilled musketeers with the lightest wheel-lock muskest available, but the time that a riflemen in a pit was invulnerable against horsemen was more than two centuries away. Gustavus' new system of salvos proved effective, but in large part because he utilized flooded terrain and palisades etc. to nullify the charging Polish horsemen.

    Though Gustavus would begin to endure some severe harassing from better-led enemy forces, with the terrific Stanislaw Koniecpolski coming onto the scene in November, 1626, the object of his campaign so far a success (albeit he was barely challenged militarily, and he wasn't gaining what he wanted with his prime object, Danzig) - to secure a base of operations encircling Danzig; the Swedes' main holdings were Putzig (modern Puck), Tczew (Dirschau), Gniew (Mewe), Elbing (modern Elblag), Brunsberga (Braunsberg, modern Braniewo), and Pillau (modern Baltiysk). Oxenstierna was placed in overall command in October, as Gustavus returned to Sweden to organize reinforcements. It seems Sigismund III overtured peace, but the ministry and people of Sweden supported Gustavus' refusal to what he deemed were unacceptable conditions, which included the kingship be returned to Sigismund III.

    At the end of 1626, probably in November, Koniecpolski, who had arrived with great celerity from the east with a little over 6,000 men, began a counter-offensive to reopen the Vistula and relieve the blockade of Danzig. Now, the Swedes would be up against a superb commander, commanding the vaunted husaria. Cavalry action took place around Neuteich (modern Nowy Staw) on January 7-17 of 1627, resulting in Swedish reiters heavily scattering Polish foragers. But Koniecpolski swiflty retook Putzig and captured Gniew by stout diversionary moves, and entrenched his forces. He had quickly captured Putzig in early April, 1627, which reopened Danzig's communications with Germany. But the Swedes' lines to Pillau remained intact. Moreover, the Swedes defeated a Lithuanian force near Koknese (Kokenhausen) in December, 1626, detracting a threat to their position there. On April 13 of 1627, Stanislaw Koniecpolski decisively intercepted a force of about 2,500-4,000 recruited from Germany, marching east from Hammerstein (modern Czarne) through Pomerania for Gustavus, and drove them back to Hammerstein, which he forced two days later into capitulation. Earlier sources state this force numbering 8,000, but this is certainly a magnification. I have recently read it was 4,000, and some say the figure of 2,500 was the total number, others say 2,500 was the casualty figure. Radoslaw Sikora says Koniecpolski's force outnumbered the force coming from Germany by very little, thus, if we sustain Sikora's information, 8,000 is certainly incorrect. Whatever the actual number, few Swedes, if any, took place in the battle, and the captured infantry were incorporated into the Polish army. Much of the surviving cavalry rode back to Germany. As it turned out, the Swedes' plans to strike at Koniecpolski from the other direction was foiled by the flooding of the Vistula.

    Gustavus returned to Poland, landing at Pilawa (Pillau, modern Baltiysk) on May 8, 1627 with about 7,000 infantry, followed a month later by 1,700 cavalry. When he reached the army entrenched around Tczew (Dirschau), he found his total troop strength in Poland had increased to over 22,000 by heavy recruitment. But they were scattered in garrisons, and Koniecpolski could move freely. Georg Wilhelm, the Elector of Brandenburg, took up arms against Gustavus, but Gustavus made short diplomatic work of the small force of about 2,000 men ('blue coats') near Mohrungen (modern Morag), and enlisted them under his own standard. Wilhelm would henceforth remain neutral. After some cavalry skirmishing in early May of 1627, in which Gustavus was nearly cut down, he approached the defensive works around the Danziger Haupt, a large mound at the west mouths of the Vistula. On the Vistula adjacent from Kiezmark (Kasemark, about eight miles SE of Danzig), Gustavus had his eye on a redoubt, which he sought to secure. In the course of a night attack across the Vistula in flat-bottomed boats, he was shot in the hip on the night of 22-23 of May. He was forced to retire, the action halted, the 'Danziger Head' was reinforced and secured, and he was laid up for a month. Koniecpolski began to concentrate his forces just south of the Swedish positions and Sigismund III threatened Jakob De la Gardie's holds in Livonia. As a result, Gustaf Horn was sent there with men to ready themselves for any contingencies. The Swedish operational goal now was seemingly to buttress the region of the eastern side of the Vistula they held, and to defend their hold on Tczew (Dirschau), about fifteen miles down the Vistula. Danzig now could only be threatened from the east by Gustavus, as Putzig was in Polish hands. Koniecpolski didn't possess enough infantry and artillery to threaten Tczew (Dirschau) itself, so his operational aim was to deny the Swedes access to the eastern routes to Danzig, and lure Gustavus into the open field quick enough to do battle before Swedish artillery could be effected, a situation which would certainly favor his husaria. At the beginning of June, Marcin Kazanowski led a forceful cavalry swoop towards Brunsberga (Braunsberg, modern Braniewo); Gustavus arrived to prevent its capture, but Kazanowski got clear before getting lured out of safety. It was a clever diversion, as Koniecpolski was free to strike at Gniew: within a month, Gustavus had attempted again to capture Kiezmark, and succeeded. Thus, Danzig was deprived of a rich supply region. However, this gain was offset by Koniecpolski's seizure of Gniew (Mewe) on July 5, 1627, and with it a vital crossing-point on the Vistula.

    Koniecpolski began reconnoitring the Swedish works around Tczew (Dirschau) in early August with about 7,800 men, of which about 4,500 were cavalry; Koniecpolski was facing east. Gustavus' field army for the upcoming battle was slightly over 10,294, of which 4,100 were cavalrymen. He possessed maybe twenty guns at most. A Swedish force for the garrison of Tczew, numbering 1,658 soldiers, crossed the Vistula from the eastern side, and into the stronghold. Knowing that the Polish cavalry was virtually impossible to beat on open ground, the Swedes expanded their bridgehead with a longline of fortifications. The route west of Tczew ran through the defile of the marshy Motlawa river. The Poles moved to block the Swedes from advancing beyond this point, encamping close on the western side of the river. But Gustavus knew that the Poles didn't have enough infantry to storm his fortifications, thus he didn't need to 'breakout', as some critics imply he failed at doing so. But he also was keenly aware that his cavalry was vulnerable if not utilized properly. He had some success against the Poles by using fortifications, artillery, and defiles to prevent the Poles from using their cavalry to its full potential, but he had to be cautious. Koniecpolski was a very experienced soldier and despite his limited resources he had put the Swedes on guard. His army was faster on the march and had shown remarkable ability to outmaneuver the Swedes in the open. The Poles fortified their encampment, so it was going to be a standoff with both armies fortified on the west side of the river, slighlty north of Tczew. Both generals knew that an all-out attack by either side would not be advisable; the answer was to probe and hopefully draw the other side out, or force them to withdraw completely. The Battle of Tczew (Dirschau) was set to be fought, beginning on August 7, 1627.

    The Poles deployed pickets as Dutch negotiators were in Koniecpolski's camp. These negotiations were not bilateral, as the Dutch were mostly in disfavor of Gustavus' campaigning in Poland because it disturbed their trade with Danzig, and Albrecht von Wallenstein, successfull in Germany at this time, promised Sigismund III assistance. The Poles left themselves a vulnerable spot, a situation any good commander will exploit - to strike at one's Achilles Heel, particularly when the enemy will destroy you with their vaunted weapon if fought under conditions viable for the utilization of that weapon. In this case with the husaria, an open field. Gustavus' concern of the husaria was genuine, and that fear of them understandably influenced his operational strategy. As devastating and impressive the Battle of Kircholm, the Swedish catastrophe in 1605 at the hands of the redoubtable Jan Chodkiewicz, was as a display of the formidability and prowess of the husaria in the open field when drawing out an impetuous opponent (Karl (Charles) IX) came off the higher ground, fooled into believing they were retreating), it induced a false sense of security. When Gustavus invaded in 1621, many fortresses throughout Livonia and Ducal Prussia on the Baltic were not defended adequately. Gustavus took advantage of this situation very smartly, and coupled with his army revisions, he would never again allow, to reiterate, a defeat like Kircholm to afflict his army.

    Gustavus attacked the Polish picket lines with his skirmishers, and had his attackers retire back to his entrenchments when Koniecpolski counter-attacked in force with much of his cavalry. Gusatvus was attempting to lure them into his infantry positions, conditions under which he could blast them with firepower. But once they chased away his skirmishers, they refused to be lured out, and Koniecpolski refused to be lured in, as Sigismund III had at Gniew the previous year. But Gustavus did attack the husaria here at Tczew - simply not when Koniecpolski wanted, or expected, him to; the remaining six Choragiews withdrew west along the marshy causeway, and Gustavus fell upon them swiftly with his cavalry, catching them off-guard. Here at this point of Battle of Tczew (Dirschau), Gustavus' unit of cavalry under the direct command of Henry Matthias von Thurn attacked six Choragiews (Banners) of Polish cavalrmen, after Koniecpolski left with the bulk of his horsemen when it reached a point Gustavus seemingly wouldn't come out to fight. But the stout Polish counter-attack, which included the arrival and attack of a unit under Marcin Kazanowski, would have most likely beaten them, as Thurn's right wing was seriously threatened. But such a contingency Gustavus was prepared for, as he held a reserve unit under Erik Soop on hand, and came in and, combined with Thurn's stabilizing of his own unit, sent the husaria (and two Choragiew of lighter cavalry) into flight. The husaria were the most formidable heavy cavalry (though 'heavy', they could move darn fast!) of their day, but Gustavus' reformed cavalry was hardly three times worse than the husaria; if the Poles had been outnumbered by such vast odds (three to one), as they claim, they would have been crushed. As it happened, they were thrown back, but not scattered terribly. By whatever they were outnumbered upon Gustavus' surprise salvo, the arrival of Kazanowski closed that gap, and they still were repulsed. A Choragiew numbers about 200 men, but the numbers vary. Thus, I think it is possible 1,800 Swedes defeated 1,200 Poles that first day around Tczew (Dirschau). The Poles' counter-attack would have seemingly handled the first wave, but Gustavus was prepared. Also, I have read from one account that the Poles retreated because all their lances broke. With respect to who wrote that, this is not credible. All their lances (kopias)? Every one of them? If this was true, could they not fight the Swedes with their sabres (szablas)? True, a hussar's kopia was constructed with its center bored out to lighten it, and its length, over 15 ft. (5+ meters), made it pliable to the point it would often break. Moreover, it was considered a dishonor for a hussar to return from combat with an intact kopia. But a broken kopia can still be 10 ft., certainly still useful, and a hussar carried more than one into battle. I realize this is all rationalization, though.

    Gustavus was merely exercising more patience then they were. Sure he wanted to leave his camp, but, again, not under their expectations or terms. For all he knew (again), they were trying to draw him out, feign a calculated retreat, and attack him in the manner that befell his father 22 years earlier. The Poles claimed six banners were 600 men in this battle. From what I have read, a banner, or Choragiew, contains around 200 horsemen (sometimes 240). This is from Radoslaw Sikora, amid his article on husaria tactics,

    "...A banner with 200 Hussars attacks a regiment of infantry with 600 men (400 musket and 200 pike)...",

    This is comes from one Marciej Rymarz's description of the Polish/Lithuanian attack on Swedish-held Warsaw in 1656,

    "...The Hussars totaled approximately 1,000-1,100 men, in eight banners (six Crown and two Lithuanian), so were quite few in number especially compared to the force that might have been raised in earlier years..."

    Well, I'm guilty of over-rationalization, as I should consider there was no fixed number for a Choragiew; it seems they could be as low as 60.

    But we are indeed talking about the 'earlier years', specifically here at Tczew (Dirschau), thus it is more likely the 1,800 horsemen under Henry Matthias von Thurn and Erik Soop faced 1,200 or so husaria (maybe more, with Kazanowski coming onto the scene, if he wasn't counted in the enumerations), who were left behind after Koniecpolski thought they weren't coming out of their camp. Maybe some Choragiews numbered 100 or less at other times, but in this case, 600 husaria against three times their number of Swedish cavalry, now only slightly less formidable per se, would have been crushed at a much quicker level than what happened. Koniecpolski's quickly administered counter-attack indeed would have seemingly overwhelmed Thurn, but Soop was placed to stabilize such a contingency, which he did. This 1.5:1 (or a little less) ratio was enough for Gustavus' reformed cavalry, with supporting musketeers (for the first significant time), to repulse them. They pursued them until the Irish mercenary leader James Butler and his musketeers, well placed, prevented any overwhelming rout of the withdrawing husaria. What a novelty for the Swedes to witness: the husaria withdrawing after a fight with their own horsemen, even if not a scattered and wildly broken retreat. In another clash of horsemen, Herman Wrangel, positioned with conduciveness, held up against the counter-attack by Kazanowski. But this also halted any Swedish futher advance. If not thoroughly beaten back, the fact Kazanowski withdrew and Wrangel did not clearly indicates the Poles conceded. Both sides may have been in the same position when they started, but the first day was a tactical success for the Swedes; it was the Poles who withdrew and returned to their camp, not a mutual scenario. Radoslaw Sikora's implication that because the Poles weren't destroyed means they didn't lose that first day (he thinks the battle was a draw) is not tenable, in my opinion. Why must one destroy the enemy to qualify as a defeat of that enemy? How many victories akin to Cannae and Mohi have occured throughout military history? But perhpas there's a translation problem: Sikora's words have been misconstrued before (click here).

    With all that opined, though, one thing is certain: the Polish husaria were still too strong for Gustavus on their terms. He could only beat them with a method of supporting firepower for his cavalry, and entrenchments with his infantry, as well as careful maneuvering, including catching them unawares with his cavalry. The claim that Gustavus' reformed cavalry could match the Poles on equal terms is, in my opinion, overall superficial. But his mounted arm was improving by the year, and if the husaria and other enemy horsemen were forced to fight without the benefit of their charges, the cuirassiers under Gustavus proved a tough foe: according to the State Archive of Gdansk (formerly Danzig), the Danziger secretary, one Johann Chemnitz, stated,

    "...the (hussar) lances were able to do little against the (Swedish) breastplates, whereas so many of them broke that they (the Poles) were encumbered by wood when they needed to come away again..."

    From this assessment, it seems the hollowed kopia of the husaria was a more effective and efficient killer against less well-armored opponents, such as Turkish and Russian lighter horsemen and infantry; it seems here it was more a psychologically morale-breaking weapon than a multiple-killing or maiming one against armored heavy horsemen opposed to them. But the same can be stated for the advanced Swedish artillery and firepower of the day. it would be substantial if we had more recorded statements like that of the Danziger Secretary.

    The first day had been a cavalry duel, with some of Gustavus' horsemen supported by musketeer fire, and on the Polish side, James Butler firing on the pursuing Swedes. The Battle of Tczew (Dirschau) commenced on a second day on August 8, and despite the descriptions I have read that the Polish guns were in a better position, and this position well protected, they never did inflict upon the Swedes with any significant battering, and Gustavus' leather guns and other cannons could have probably, with a little time, circumvented any defilades around the Polish camp (assuming the guns would not have high proportional problems of premature igniting, as was often the case). But the Swedes had twelve 24 lb. guns to bombard the Polish camp in addition. But a serious wound to Gustavus occured, in which a bullet hit his shoulder and then lodged into his throat, and another suffered by Johan Baner, who was in command of the important bombardment, precluded a thorough Swedish victory. Following his serious injury, Gustavus placed Herman Wrangel in overall command, and for some reason Wrangel, reputed to have been a more cautious commander than Johan Baner, halted the Swedish attack and ordered the Swedish troops to hold their postions in the Motlawa Valley. Once darkness approached, the Swedish army returned to it's fortifications at Tczew (Dirschau). But why did the attack stop, as victory seemed imminent? It has been theorized that Gustavus believed his wound was mortal; he had been shot in the shoulder with a 14-15 mm ball, which permanently dislodged into his neck, causing pain for the rest of his life. He perhaps didn't want to risk the loss of his army on this day of his death.

    Theodore Dodge's description of the Battle of Tczew (Dirschau to Dodge, as he used German-language sources) is brief. He tells us the Polish cavalry was beaten back through the village of Rokitken (modern Rokitki), which was to the SW of the main area of the fighting. The Swedes cleared Polish pickets, much like the day before with their Finnish allies. They also seemingly cleared Rokitken of enemy troops, or, as other accounts say, perhaps the village of Lunau (Lunowo). Whichever village (Rokitken to the west of Tzcew, Lunau closer to the north-west), it was set ablaze. The smoke from the village provided a useful screen for Gustavus to advance his guns. The husaria were reluctant to move. Some Swedish apologists may say because they were worried about Gustavus' potential with tactics of firepower; Polish sources may state they hesitated due to the loss of all their kopias (lances). The consensus holds that there was concern among them that their German infantry allies were on the verge of defecting. If so, one can assume that they were in an inauspicious situation in this battle against Gustavus. The Swedes moved their guns forward to bombard the Polish camp while the infantry of both sides skirmished along the river. The Polish camp was in defilade from the Swedish guns, so the initial Swedish bombardment had little effect. But that wouldn't have lasted with the maneuverability of Gustavus' artillery units, and combined with the growing distrust of the German troops, the Polish troops came very close to mass panic. Koniecpolski held cohesion intact, and it was the Swedes who actually withdrew, following the injuries to their top two commanders.

    This is from Franklin D. Scott's Sweden: the Nation's History, Pg. 172,

    "...Gustav Adolf's leather-wrapped guns worked effectively, and the Battle of Dirschau (Tczew) showed the Swedes had finally learned the lesson of their humiliating defeat at Kircholm in 1605; now their cavalry bested the Polish - reputedly the best in Europe. However, the outcome of the 1627 season still failed to convince the Poles they were beaten; and they took heart from the prospect of imperial support..."

    To imply Tczew was a full 'exorcising of the demons of Kircholm' is an overstatement. I think the Swedes had indeed learned their lesson from Kircholm, but it actually didn't reach a point where the leather guns worked effectively to win the battle completely, due mostly to the injuries to Gustavus and Baner. It was not a complete victory.

    From Michael Robert's Gustavus Adolphus, Pg. 55,

    "...Polish resisitence in 1627 began to organize itself, and proved tougher than had been expected. The run of fighting was indeed in Sweden's favour: a victory at Mewe in 1626 and two at Dirschau in 1627 (Gustavus was seriously wounded in the second of them); but nothing like a Polish collapse, either military or economic..."

    In saying 'two victories' at Dirschau, Roberts is presenting the duels on the 7th and 8th of August as a victory apiece.

    This is from Brent Hull, who put together the wargames for Gustavus' battles, apparently consulting Radoslaw Sikora (my source is Sikora, not a 'board game'),

    "...In a tactical sense the Swedes had been victorious on the first day of the battle, and had it not been the King being seriously wounded the second day may have ended differently. The choice of ground, fortifications, and implemented combined arms had allowed the Swedes to successfully fight the vaunted Polish cavalry. Pulling these factors together required great caution and made decisive action unlikely. In a larger sense the outcome was a major strategic success for the Poles. Koniecpolski had prevented a Swedish breakout, thus securing the overland routes to Gdansk. Within weeks the construction of the eastern fortifications of Gdansk were completed and the window of vulnerability closed."

    I somewhat disagree with what is assessed concerning 'the larger sense', but Hull (or Sikora) perhaps has a point worth considering, in terms of the immediate result. Koniecpolski did not prevent a Swedish breakout (Gustavus wasn't trying to conquer further into the interior), in the sense the Swedes were trapped within their works, thus trying to escape, and if the overland routes to Danzig were secured by the Poles, this situation hardly lasted. Gustavus convalesced for a few months, and the blockading of Danzig (Gdansk) continued by his fleet under Nils Stiernskold.

    When Gustavus was healthy enough to return to field duty, Putzig (Puck) was recaptured (unless my source is wrong), cutting communications with Germany again. His fleet did suffer defeat on November 28 off Oliwa from the Polish under Arend Dickman and the Scotsman James Murray. The Poles had ten ships total against the Swedes' six, but only four galleons against the Swedes' five. Dickman and Stiernskold both perished. Though a compliment to the prowess of these privateers organized by Sigismund III, it was an empty naval victory, in a strategic sense; a stronger Swedish fleet was brought up, and Gustavus drew his lines closer to the city. He achieved this by expanding his base of operations towards the south-east by recapturing Orneta (Wormditt), and Guttstadt (modern Dobre Miasto) was captured by Ake (Achatius) Tott before the winter set in. The former was stormed, the latter surrendered. From my view, the main thing Koniecpolski accomplished from the battle fought around Tczew (Dirschau) was to prevent the destruction of his smaller army by superb maneuvering and handling of his troops, when morale dropped. By December, 1627, Gustavus was back in Stockholm, mainly for the benefit of his health. I think his grand strategy against the Polish-Lithuanian was about controlling the Baltic, particularly blocking the Vistula, not significantly breaking out of his quadrilateral in Ducal Prussia, as claimed by some. He did control area as far south as Brodnica (Strasburg).

    Danzig's trade reached a point of becoming paralyzed, and the Polish nobility was suffering financially by having to store crops of corn one after the other while waiting to export it. Though Gustavus became more and more filled with anxiety by the actions of the Imperialists under Wallenstein in Germany, his commanders in Livonia were holding up against the enemy. This enabled Gustavus to feel confident to resume the offensive into Polish Prussia in the summer of 1628. But Sigismund III felt brighter hopes were on the horizon with the developments to the west favoring the Catholics. The Protestant were supplicating to Gustavus, and he could afford just 1,100 men, in two detachments, and some munitions for the defense of Stralsund. Gustavus didn't want to risk an attack upon Koniecpolski unless favorable to do so, with Koniecpolski thinking likewise, and the war became one of maneuver, with neither side willing to face each other without advantages of terrain or fortifications. More often than not outnumbered, the Poles began pillaging their own land to impede the Swedish source of supply. On July 15, upon moving towards Danzig, Gustavus sank a few ships of Danzig's fleet with his leather guns, including the flagship. Danzig could possibly have been reduced by hunger, but again the floods came, which forced the Swedes out of their positions along the Vistula. Gustavus was thus compelled to lift the land blockade of Danzig completely.

    In the late summer of 1628, around the vicinity of Grudziadz (Graudenz), the armies of Gustavus and Stanislaw Koniecpolski, according to Polish sources, were opposite on another a few times, but with no battles taking place. Koniecpolski's dispatches to his government stated his attempts to provoke Gustavus to come out and fight, with the Swedish king refusing to come out of his earthworks. What Koniecpolski, or the Polish chroniclers didn't mention, or didn't realize, was that the excellence in the Swedish army was largely influenced by the presence of Gustavus himself, their personal commander as well as their king, at least for the Swedes themselves; he led by personal example, with no task too small or menial, even grabbing a spade himself to lessen the feeling of indignation amongst some of his mercenaries about the digging of trenches. Gustavus greatly realized the importance of field fortifications, and soon employed sappers to dig troops entrenchments and cannon positions. Thus he gave battle only when he believed appropriate. Attacking ready husaria in the open was not appropriate, as the only way for an enemy to avoid destruction by the husaria was to keep to terrain in which cavalry formations could not operate fully, evidenced at Gniew (Mewe). But Koniecpolski prudently stayed at a distance out of range of Gustavus' artillery. But the Swedes operated in the open too, though not without risk and loss, and were neither able to force a decision under their terms, and the Polish campaign of harassment throughout 1628, influenced in part by the lack of support form the Sejm for Koniecpolski, cost Gustavus some 5,000 men (some deserted). Of note is that the Swedes and their allies suffered more from pestilence throughout this war than by enemy weaponry. In October of 1628, Gustavus did successfully storm Osterode (modern Ostroda) with a force of about 4,000 men, equally divided between musketeers and cavalry.

    By this time Gustavus was clearly eyeing the conflict in Germany, as Denmark became his ally, albeit not completely without reservations, and he aided in the successful defense of Stralsund, though much credit goes to the Danes, who saved the port in early July, 1628. This success would soon open for Gustavus an important foothold in Germany, as well as protect his position in the Baltic. The 1,100 men sent by Gustavus to Stralsund under Leslie, of which about 500 first arrived in late June, along with the Danish fleet's destruction of several vessels sent by Sigismund to aid Wallenstein, were instrumental in the defence of the important stronghold; Tilly and Wallenstein, two noteworthy leaders who had run ragged over the Protestants since 1626, appeared to be bringing a certain overall Catholic victory. But the imperial reverse at Stralsund should not militate against Wallenstein's skill; had Gustavus not failed before Danzig?

    Theodore Dodge drew on Swedish sources, most notably a German translation of the Svenska folkets historia by Erik Gustav Geijer, and letters from Gustavus himself, which Dodge said were very modestly put. Dodge emphasis the Swedish accounts have many gaps, due mostly to a terrible fire in Stockholm in 1697, which destroyed a huge amount of important documents. He also wrote in a time (1890s) which since has seen superior texts. But he tells us of a battle occuring in 1628 before the serious flooding of Vistula, which compelled Gustavus to lift the blockade (from inland) of Danzig:

    Beginning in the late spring or early summer of 1628, Koniecpolski interrupted the Swedish grip around Danzig by assorted diversionary actions, in which he retook Putzig (Puck) again and captured Gniew (Mewe). Ake Tott, the Finnish commander under Gustavus, was ordered to watch these operations with a cavalry force, certainly his reputable Hakkapallites, who were prominent at Gustavus' first field victory at Wallhof over two years earlier. Tott had now been joined by one Torsten Stalhandske, a fine colonel who would figure prominently later in Germany. Tott apparently fell into an ambush west of a town Dodge names as Grebin, which must be modern Grabiny-Zamec (Monchengrebin). Radoslaw Sikora mentions a clash fought around Legowo in July of 1627, which is the same area. Tott broke out though being outnumbered, both capturing some prisoners and procuring valuable news of the Polish force. Koniecpolski was unwilling to attack the Swedish army, which outnumbered him and was well fortified, so he annoyed it materially. Gustavus was resolved to rid himself of this interference, and marched with the bulk of his force on the Polish army, leaving part of them before Danzig. Gustavus attacked the Poles near their camp, as Dodge tells us,

    "...- the exact locality, curiously, is not known, - and by his sharp initiative well kept up, the mobility of his foot and his vastly superior artillery, defeated them with a loss of 3,000 men, four guns and fourteen flags, and drove them well up the Vistula. Koniecpolski fell, heavily wounded...Here was a general engagement with a high percentage of loss, and yet even the battlefield is neither named, nor can be identified. This war was the monarch's schooling, as Gaul was Caesar's, or Spain Hannibal's; but we know as much of Hannibal's Iberian, and much more of Caesar's Gallic, battles than we do of these..."

    I believe Dodge read sources claiming this, and it is possible that a reverse upon Koniecpolski took place, but I think the scenario of Tott breaking out of an ambush is credible, being he led fast-moving cavalry, even if he was heavily outnumbered. But a loss of 3,000 Poles in the ensuing clash, in which they suffered a reverse, is almost certainly magnified. But I would hate to think people could completely concoct battles. It makes sense to me: from Dodge's description, Gustavus aggressively attacked by tactical surprise when the situation favored his combined arms. We also know that Koniecpolski withdrew from his positions at Gniew (Mewe) and Grudziadz (Graudenz), while Gustavus occupied Marienwerder (modern Kwidzyn), Brodnica (Strasburg), Nowe (Neuenburg), and Swiecie (Schwetz). Moreover, one cavalry detachment of reiters under one Heinrich von Baudissin undertook a gallant raid to the gates of Warsaw, while Wrangel made a bold foraging expedition inland from Elbing (modern Elblag). But Baudissin was captured and exchanged, and the Poles could manuever and gain, but not to the same degree (in terms of gain), and couldn't follow up small tactical surprises, which were achieved by guerilla-style attacks; they simply didn't possess the quantity of troops, particulalry infantry. But when the winter of 1628 approached the situation was practically unchanged from the previous year, and Gustavus had had serious difficulty in provisioning, a predicament due mostly to Koniecpolski's pillaging of the land. Basically, if we can believe the battle described by Dodge, Gustavus had been skillful in his maneuvering by compelling Koniecpolski to a campaign of harassment, but this in turn gained fruit for Koniecpolski, in that he effectivley began impeding Swedish offensive operations and freedom of movement. But the balance was restored by this aggressive field victory by Gustavus, which I want to believe occured (though no other account I have seen seems to mention it), though not completely what Gustavus had desired for his strategic purpose - the destruction of the Polish army. Sigismund III became more implacable than ever, providing some reinforcements for Koniecpolski's army and refusing Dutch mediations to bring about a peace. With the auspicious conditions of the Catholic situation in Germany, along with their promised aid to him in the form of Imperial auxiliaries, the prospect of Spanish naval presence in the Baltic, extant support from the Sejm, and Danzig's continued holdout against Gustavus, Sigismund III was emboldened to not only drive the Swedes out of Poland and Livonia, but eventually carry the war into Sweden itself, and again attain one of his initial goals, to lay claim (reclaim, technically) to the Swedish throne of his ancestors.

    However, the Holy Roman Emperor, Ferdinand II, educated by the Jesuits and a Catholic zealot, did not monetarily sustain Sigismund III as had been agreed, and the Polish treasury was regressing, thus Gustavus' ability to maintain his footing around Danzig was facilitated, so he resumed the blockade. He was also helped by reinforcements - including about 2,000 reiters from Germany under the Rheingraff (Rhinegrave) Johann Wilhelm, the Count of Ren, who was the son of Herman Wrangel. But Koniecpolski was able to confine himself to guerilla-style operations and occupy strong positions, and Gustavus would not be goaded into fighting the Poles on their terms, in the open field before he could deploy infantry and artillery support, which he did achieve once, if we can believe Dodge, who also tells us Gustavus was,

    "...fain to content himself with half measures...".

    Basically, neither side could bring about a field engagement on terms one would accept, a sign of two terrific commanders who each identified the strength of the other.

    In January of 1629, Gustavus was in Stockholm discussing foreign politics with his council, and Koniecpolski was in Warsaw with the Sejm, probably for similar reasons. It was fully determined in Sweden by this time that Gustavus should at no distant date move in to assist the Protestant cause in Germany. On February 1, 1629 Herman Wrangel, with a force of 5,337 men, of which 3,400 cavalry were cavalry, was determined to relieve pressure on the isolated garrison of Brodnica (Strasburg); he fell upon the threatening Polish army, some 5,000 in number under Stanislaw Potocki, in its winter quarters to the east of the town. A battle was fought near Gorzno (Gurzno), where six Choragiews, composed of husaria and their supporting lighter kozac cavalry, initially made some headway, but the Swedes didn't break, and well-drilled musketeers drove off the enemy horsemen. Potocki had no pikemen to protect his cavalry. Wrangel, not being pulled into a frontal attack wished for by Potocki, boldly outflanked the Poles with his own cavalry. After suffering many losses, Potocki withdrew with the rest of his army (the casualties he suffered amounted to half his force) towards Torun (Thorn), to the south-west. A Swedish pursuit inflicted between 500-2,000 Polish losses (depending on the source), with 30-300 losses suffered by the Swedes (again, depending on the source). Akin to every other battle fought in this war, the clash around Gorzno (Gurzno) is filled with controversial details. What we do know for certain is that it was a Swedish victory, and though it carried little strategic significance; Wrangel was too far south with a relatively small force, thus couldn't take Torun. Wrangel hastily headed back northwards. But Swedish prestige was revived, and Polish confidence began to languish. Many of Polish magnates desired peace, but Sigismund III, under pressure from the Dutch and Brandenburg ministers, was willing to consent to only a tenuous truce, one which could easily be broken. Again, Swedish cavalry, and thier allies, was improving, but it still required advantageous format, numbers, and maneuver to best the Polish cavalry. They were about to learn in the upcoming summer that without this asset, they would get beat.

    Gustavus met Christian IV of Denmark in Februaury, 1629, with the meeting achieving nothing, in terms of the Danish king's further involvement in the Protestant cause, as he concluded a peace with Ferdinand II, at Lubeck on May 27,1629; Christian IV was given very permissive terms. Though he was forced to renounce all his territorial ambitions in Germany, he was allowed the recovery, without indemnity, all the territory occupied by the Imperialist armies. Ferdinand II was ensuring that Denmark was now out of the conflict, thus the task of supporting the Protestants of northern Germany and protecting Stralsund now devolved upon Gustavus alone. Not only did the Protestants disdain the settlement between Christian IV and the emperor, but even Pope Urban VIII denounced the act as scandalous. But Gustavus, whose delegates were refused admission at Lubeck, saw it coming, and realized that Christian IV had forfeited all credibility as a champion of Protestantism or a protector of the German princes. If the Edict of Lubeck left Gustavus alone, it also enabled him with his hands free. He was now prepared to let the war in Polish Prussia slowly subside, but Wallenstein, resolving to prevent Gustavus from entering the German theater, changed that for the time being. The Poles had no love for the German Hapsburgs, and had expressed an unwillingness to accept substantial auxilliary forces of Imperialists from the West. But the recent debacle at Gorzno caused them to think better of the Imperialists from Germany; Wallenstein persuaded the Sejm to admit an army of no more than 12,000 men and some artillery under Hans Georg von Arnim to join the Poles. Gustavus, arriving back in Poland in June of 1629, had a total troop strength in Ducal Prussia now numbering some 23,000 men (over 15,000 infantry, over 7,000 cavalry), but they were dispersed throughout many garrisons. Koniecpolski commanded 18,742 men (7,942 cavalry); confident, Koniecpolski arrived back into the field. Gustavus learned of the approaching Arnim and marched south to intercept him with 5,450 horse and 1,900 foot, thus the amount under Arnim was probably the approx. 5,000 figure many sources claim. But Gustavus failed, and Koniecpolski and Arnim junctioned at Grudziadz (Graudenz) on June 25, 1629 (about 3-4,000 imperial infantry were still on the way). They agreed to attack Marienwerder (modern Kwidzyn), some thirty miles north of them, but two days later, Koniecpolski then insisted to immediately go after Gustavus in a cavalry pursuit; now vastly outnumbered here in the region, Gustavus had concluded to cut-and-run north to Malbork (Marienburg), to the safety of his forts, where he could sustain his control of the Vistula delta and the coastal areas around the Frishes Haff, which he hoped to achieve by operating from his entrenchments. I have read that Gustavus retired towards Malbork only after a sally of his was repulsed by Polish positions around Grudziadz, but other accounts state this action occured in September, 1628 (unless a different incident).

    At this time, Gustavus was at peace with Ferdinand II, which led this action to be seen by the Swedes as a gratuitous act of war and a breach of the comity of nations, to which Gustavus sent a protest to Wallenstein. But it wasn't a breach of any treaty, and the act achieved its purpose - to retard Swedish interference in Germany. Having sent a body of foot and horse to reinforce his garrison at Kwidzyn (Marienwerder), which is some twenty miles directly south of Malbork, Gustavus, on June 27, 1629, retreated north with his force disposed in four battle groups: advance guard, battle guard, artillery guard, and rearguard. He and Wrangel had 2,150 cavalry at the advance; Zakarias Pauli led the battle guard with 700 horsemen; the artillery guard of 750 cavalry and 1,260 musketeers guarding eight heavier guns (6 and 12 pounders), and the rearguard comprised 1,950 cavalry with about sixty musketeers and ten smaller 3 lb. guns, led by the Rheingraff Johann Wilhelm (or Otto Ludwig; sources differ between the two names), heading through the region of Trzciana (Honigfelde) towards Sztum (Stuhm). His Trossen och artilleriet was ahead of his cavalry slightly to the SE so they could be covered. Again, Koniecpolski insisted on an immediate attack, and Arnim, though wanting to wait for the Polish and imperial infantry to arrive, acquiesced. A Catholic force of dragoons beat the Swedes to a vital crossing on the River Leba, which runs east-west through Gniew. Koniecpolski and his men led the way, approaching swiftly from the south with about 2,500 Polish cavalry, comprised of 1,300 husaria and 1,200 kozacy (some dragoons incorporated), with the heavier 2,000 cuirassiers of Arnim not far behind; Arnim himself 'suggested' the husaria numbered just 700 and the kozacy about 1,000, with his 2,000 horse coming up behind. This is possible, if the Polish numbers were calculated by number of companies (which are never up to full strength) but a little more unlikely, as he certainly magnified his role in the battle, which came valuably at the end. The 1,700 Polish figure probably wouldn't be sufficient to afflict the initial damage that they actually did (that's armchair deductive logic, though) against the Rheingraff, particularly that the dragoons who were integrated with the lighter contingent would not be very effective in pure cavaly action against Wilhelm's reiters. Their object was probably to bear off to Sztum and turn Gustavus' right flank. Upon learning of their position, Gustavus sent the Rheingraff, who had been keeping up the rear to protect the narrows between the lakes near Sztum; the object was seemingly to head off the Polish/Imperial force from the marching column, hopefully forcing them to make a long detour. Wilhelm was supposedly ordered by Gustavus to avoid an engagement, and to simply occupy the enemy's attention within the confined terrain. But Wilhelm impetuously either attacked the enemy, in an outflanking attempt of his own, or was effectively distracted (Wilhelm was perhaps fooled into thinking he had an advantage, with only then kozacy in front of him, composed of lesser numbers than what he had with him). Whatever the details, Koniecpolski achieved a devastating flank attack on the Rheingraff's left, and Wilhelm was threatened with destruction, as his men fled. But Gustavus came back and tried to rally the fleeing rearguard, which he did somewhat. But he and his two companies were pushed back with the rallied rearguard. But many regrouped near Straszewo, and Hermann Wrangel's twenty-one companies arrived and furiously counter-charged, which temporarily turned the fortunes of those in the rearguard; they were showing success against their clash with the pursuing kozacy, but were stopped with the arrival of some husaria and their allied reiters (this was the point where Arnim first appeared into the action). Amid a sharp melee, Gustavus was receiving the worst of the fighting, but he retired in relatively good order north of Trzciana (Honigfelde). Here he regroups his units and heads to Pulkowitz (Pulkowice), with the Polish cavalry hot on his tail. At Pulkowitz five companies under Jan Streiff, and another of cuirassiers, are in a defensive position. Just about all of Gustavus' infantry have now reached Neudorf (Nowa Wies) a little to the NW of Pulkowitz. Streiff attacks Gustavus' pursuers while Gustavus rallies his withdrawing cavalry with fresh men, and led them in to engage the enemy. In a bloody cavalry clash, Gustavus was beaten back near Pulkowitz, narrowly escaping death or capture (his hat was lost and became a Catholic prize). Johann Wilhelm perished, and the Swedish king would later remark,

    "I have never been in a hotter bath!"

    Swedish propaganda has possibly succeeded in downplaying this clear defeat of Gustavus. However, the defile around Sztum was held, and Gustavus and the rest of his army safely reached Malbork. He succeeded in protecting his infantry, of just twelve were lost in the battle. He lost, according to 'friendly' sources, 396 cavalrymen, and 1,052 wounded men made it out of there. Six leather guns were captured. Polish sources state 1,467 Swedes and their allies were killed (including thirty senior officers) in all, 200 taken prisoner, and ten leather guns, plus five other heavier guns. Polish losses, according to them, were 150 killed and 200 wounded, which is quite tenable. Unlike at Tczew (Dirschau), they were ready this time in force against the Swedes, and, from their view, not fighting these 'moles' when they were entrenched. Contrary to some claims, Gustavus was not 'ambushed'; the Rheingraff got himself into a very precarious situation, and the king went in blazing to salvage what he could. But he fought his way out of there relatively well, and reputedly repulsed several Polish/Imperial attacks upon him once he was entrenched, including a swift sally on the Polish rearguard off the Nogat River, an eastern distributary of the Vistula. But the Battle of Trzciana was doubtless a tactical victory for Koniecpolski and his allies over him, and they didn't outnumber him in the actual three-part clash itself, albeit Gustavus was not looking for a fiasco. Polish morale now heightened as a result.

    But the sharp reverse for Gustavus, whose forts remained strongly held, was partly retrieved: the Poles and their allies advanced a little west to the Nogat River, a part of the Vistula delta. What soon ensued is where the high standards of discipline and morale effected upon his men by Gustavus beared fruit. The Swedes maintained the solid advantage of a united command, and ordered provisioning, which wasn't too difficult, being it was now the summer. Contrarily, dissent and problems with supply were seriously problematic among his Catholic enemies. A pestilence which broke out in the allied camp prevented the country people from bringing in supplies. Gustavus swiftly sallied upon the Polish rear-guard, scattering them and capturing many wagons, including most of their gunpowder supply.

    The combination of this last ill-success, the 'barbarous' presence of Arnim's troops, the pestilence amid the army, and Gustavus' unrelenting entrenched holdings, made even Sigismund III more tractable. Negotiations were opened in August, 1629, with mediating envoys from France, England, and Brandenburg finding both Sweden and Poland in favor of negotiation (but they were not neutral, certainly favoring Gustavus). On September 26, 1629, the Treaty of Altmark ended this conflict. Sweden reaped considerable financial profits; save for Danzig, every river-mouth in Polish Prussia was in Gustavus' hands, a 3.5 % tax was to be collected from Polish shipping for Sweden, and from six ports (Pillau (Pilawa, now Baltiysk), Memel (Klaipeda), Elbing (Elbląg), Braniewo (Braunsberg), Fischhausen (now Primorsk) and Lochstadt) Sweden would collect all customs. This would strengthen Gustavus' finances for the great upcoming venture, as Sweden's income grew by 50% because of the tolls collected from the Prussian ports. Sweden also retained all of Livonia except the south easterly-part, and Courland was restored to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Danzig remained neutral, but was induced by a seperate treaty at Tiegenhoff (February 18, 1630) to pay two thirds of its customs to Sweden's treasury. Importantly for the Sejm, Poland retained the valuable grain trade along the Vistula, which greatly gratified the Polish nobility. But it must be noted the Swedes were being drained, too, much by pestilence and the fact the riches of Ducal Prussia (the Danziger Werder, specifically) were not paying for the war (bellum se ipse alet) as much as Gustavus had hoped. This was due in large part to Koniecpolski's strategy of avioding battle when the Swedes wanted it, coupled with cavalry harassment, restricting the Swedes' freedom of movement. The truce came at a good time for both sides, as the country was devastated from by three years of war. Militarily, it was pretty much a stalemate, but Gustavus came out of Ducal Prussia quite favorably.

    The Polish War served well for Gustavus to realize his theories of military reform, and thus forge a better army. He also realized that pursuing a defensive strategy could cause his army to melt away. But his success here resulted in the important Prussian ports delivering for Sweden the necessary revenue to march into Germany (a subsidy from France also helped). It seems he gained more than his success would indicate in Polish Prussia, but Gustavus now controlled the main trade routes through the Baltic. On June 24, 1630, he landed at Peenemunde with merely 13,500 men and 800 guns of all calibers, but the quality and balance of his army was unmatched by any other in Europe, and another 31,500 soon followed with an additional 20,500 in 1631 before Breitenfeld was fought; it was after the great victory in which German military entrepreneuers substantially provided help. The bulk of Gustavus' army (around 60%) before 1632 in Germany was composed of his native Swedes/Finns and crack Scots. True, as with in Livonia and Polish Prussia, his invasion was not met seriously with sufficient forces, due to campaigns elsewhere, but he wasted no time in strategically establishing himself and made many good soldiers of disbanded men hitherto spoiled by fearful indiscipline (the cause of German soldier by this time had become more centered around subsistence). Moreover, the Poles could not levy enough infantry (fighting Sweish 'moles' was not viable with cavalry) due to problems with taxation, which were wrought from recent internal politics (Wladislaw IV and Koniecpolski balanced things soon after Gustavus left). Gustavus' garrison under Alexander Leslie at Stralsund numbered about 6,000. Alexander Leslie had been knighted by Gustavus, and he and his nephew, David Leslie, would later fight for another military leader who believed in the standing army, and one influenced by Gustavus - Oliver Cromwell. Within a few months, 25,000 German Lutherans and mercenaries flocked to Gustavus' banner. The Protestant princes, however, were initially more apathetic to his presence than welcoming. The armies of Wallenstein and Tilly totalled some 100,000 men, but Gustavus was fortunate that Wallenstein's personal ambitions, which had reached an unsupportable plateau, had recently led to his temporary dismissal by Ferdinand II, and ultimately his murder. But this campaign is another story....

    With all that said, however, I must say this treatise was drawn more heavily from accounts which were drawn from Swedish works. I am certain I couldn't have gotten 'it all correct'.

    Thanks, James
    Last edited by Spartan JKM; September 30, 2008 at 01:44 AM. Reason: Added images
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  2. #2
    Edmonton's Avatar Miles
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    Default Re: Gustavu Adolphus in Livonia and Polish Prussia 1617-1629

    You forget to mention one important thing GA whatever he did was a first and foremost a mercenary for French prime-minister Richelieu he was getting one million luidor a year which was an incredible sum of money at that time .France wanted to use him against catholic Austrian Emperor of HRE in order to annex German territories namely Saar-Alsase and Bavaria latest French couldn't attain though .The impact of GA on 30-years war was immence when in the begining Germans didn't want to kill each other arrival of GA and introduction of wide use of mercenaries lead this war to more brutal stage with looting of civilians(or shooting their heads of for fun;that case registred before Lutzen) and such in a result the progressive part of Germans were annigilated while war-liking nations like Prussia and Austria took over changing the politics to their like.Yes in North German provinces the toll was up to 90% of population eliminated.And we are talking about high cultural people who are with North Italian cities were one responsible for spread of Renessance and democracy.After the 30 years War the Militarism took over in Germany.With all the consequences.
    • P.S.
    The morale of my post is though that with such money as one million luidors a year free Custaf had it far better then his opponents.Well in this thime a pig costed 10-15 santimes, a chicken 2-3 santimes and there many santimes in one frank and many francs in one luidor.
    Last edited by Edmonton; December 23, 2006 at 06:41 PM.
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    cegorach's Avatar Artifex
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    Default Re: Gustavu Adolphus in Livonia and Polish Prussia 1617-1629

    Good, detailed post, but I still must add something here and there.
    I am a member of Zagloba's Tavern too so I am well aware of the discussion about the latest R.Brzezinski's book, which I must add is a big disappointment, but I will write about it below, where important.

    Sweden indeed had a standing army, but their population was 1/5 of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (perhaps 1/8 of Germany in the 1620s).
    However Poland-Lithuania was federal, democratic state which had little desire at that time in aggressive expansion - it was very large already.
    So we have the situation of relatively poor and aggressive country attacking its neighbours - exactly as it was with Prussia.



    "My troops are poor Swedish and Finnish peasnat followers, it's true, rude and ill-dressed; but they smile hard and they shall soon have better clothes."
    That is why the Swedes used numerous mercenaries in earlier campaigns. Their mistake they did so in the terrain suitable for cavalry.





    The days of the Swedish disasters at the hands of the Poles/Lithuanians at Kircholm (modern Salaspils, about 12 miles SE of Riga) and Klushino (Kluszyn) were in the past, and Gustavus would not let that happen again; no Swedish force would ever again be fooled by a feint to pull them out of a strong position (at least under him)
    This happened only once - at Kircholm. ONCE for over 10 battles and clashes before G.A appeared.
    At Klushino we had even the 'fortified' position which still didn't help much.
    The question was to use those well, which he did.
    It is not a question of foolishness, but much more careful approach he did implement.

    I am inclined to think the Baltic ports of Pilawa and Konigsberg (modern Kaliningrad) could not have been vulnerable to the degree it was child's play for the Swedes to take them, and there was also diplomacy involved. They probably were defended by the trace italienne system.
    It is in general assumed that the Duke of Brandenburg simply faked combat and let G.A to take the cities. At least he didn't put much effort as we know.




    "...Several outraged books and pamphlets were promptly written by Polish propagandists, excoriating the invaders for their 'unchivalrous deceit' in raising ramparts around their camps 'as though they needed a grave-digger's courage to conceal themselves', and deploring their painstaking siege techniques as 'Kreta robota (mole's work)'.

    It was propaganda, nothing more. Poles used field fortifications almost every time when in defense, so they were well aware of such tactics.
    It was clearly the lack of infantry at that time which was responsible.
    After all it changed in 1630s dramatically in Polish favour.

    This is from Richard Brzezinski, an authority on this chapter of history, who wrote a book on the Polish Hussars (Osprey Publishing),

    "...if you take an UNBIASED (as in non-patriotic) view of Polish-Swedish actions from 1622 onwards through to the Great Northern War they are characterised by a consistent reluctance of the Poles to charge when the Swedish cavalry is deployed in formal battle-order backed by their infantry and artillery firepower. Take away the fire support, and the hussars are far less hesistant, and generally victorious..."

    He is quite biased himself. I mean -read the first page of the 'Winged Hussar' where he denounces almost all Polish historians as nationalists, even if he based himself on the well-known works of Jerzy Teodorczyk who was challenged only recently.
    Apparenly Mr.Brezinski doesn't like the fact.
    The quote should be further supported with the simple fact that field fortifications were used very often and those helped more than firepower alone. The battle at Mewe ( Gniew) is the best example.




    Sikora's explanation as to why the Polish Sejm acquiesced to extremely favorable terms to Sweden in 1629, if they were not losing the military aspect of this war (as some Polish apologists believe) - one in which he compares the feeling of the people of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth to that of the American people in regards to Vietnam (late 1960s/early 1970s) is incredulous. Polish soldiers were fighting in their own land against an invader.
    Hmm... Well you should add without money payed to them. Zygmunt III was 'popular' almost as Charles I of England before excution and the way he handled the situation gives him little credit.
    Basically the Commonwealth lost war becaause constant shortage of cash created by constant quarrels of Sigismund with the parliament, which DID try to reform the taxation in the state.
    Basically Sigismund tried to achieve certain personal goals using the war.
    He wanted to win ALONE - that is why he dismissed the numerous ideas from Krzysztof Radziwill of Lithuania and other people who happened to be his political opponents.
    That is why it was seen as 'Vietnam' - the war was lost by politicians - especially the king himself.



    that the superior Polish-Lithuanian cavalry(...), most notably the vaunted husaria (plural for hussar), the crack heavy Polish cavalry, fighting in conjunction with the pancerni, the medium cavalry, and the kozak (light cavalry), could not be beaten at this time in the early 17th century
    + there was supporting infantry either Haiduk style or 'German', or both. THe Polish army never left infantry at home. Of course they were less numerous, but had the part of mechanised infantry supporting the panzers - essential, even if not so spectacular.
    Of course they never should not be forgotten.

    unsuccessful when he invaded Livonia in 1600; his army was smashed by Jan Chodkiewicz's cavalry
    Well... there were numerous other battles, all lost by Karl IX - it was incredible that he insisted on fighting in the open field again and again in 1600, 16001, 1603, 1605, 1609, 1610 losing every single battle...
    G.A. had to be wiser...


    his successful entrenched defense against the Sultan Osman II's huge invading army, perhaps numbering 100,000, at Khotyn (Chocim)
    Most likely much more, but about 100 000 were the real combatants. The Commonwealth mobilised huge army of 112 000 (including reserves - militias etc) for the war, so the danger was serious.

    Another blow for the Poles was the death of Jan Zamoyski in 1605. It had been the firm conviction of this great szlachcic and magnate that Poland could not achieve any long term success against Sweden without a navy. But his efforts to prevail upon Danzig (modern Gdansk) to produce a fleet were in vain, as the neutral city didn't want to displease the Swedish sovereign at the time (among other reasons).
    The constitutions to limit the power of Danzig was abandoned much earlier.
    In general it was known that the fleet woulfd be used to INVADE Sweden... which of course noone really wanted. After all the king was elected to end any hostilities with Sweden and building a large fleet would only serve the king's purpose - to attack Sweden, which was not giving any profit to the Commonwealth.

    Gustavus proposed peace, including the right for Sigismund III to use the title "King of Sweden", but this was rejected.
    Against the will of the Polish parliament. Sigismund was notorious in his 'ability' to cause disruption.

    He viewed Catholic Poland as a threat to Protestantism - a threat that perhaps barely existed, but one he thought existed, and the Scandinavian monarchies certainly symbolized the pillars of Protestantism.
    That was a problem, because Poland actually had a large community of Protestants including refugees from less tolerant countries.
    So he was driven by quite blind devotion not any real danger.
    As one of Polish historians noted : 'all Vasas were at least slightly mad'.


    his politics of support for Catholic Reformation and personal ambition were primary impetuses for the wars which would come. This, of course, can be viewed in other ways by his apologists.
    I don't know any apologists of this man. His intolerance was causeing much annoyment inside the Commonwealth...

    (Swedish sources say 10,000 men, Polish sources say 3,000).
    3000 for sure. The Commonwealth demobilised the army some time earlier.

    Through Riga passed 1/3 of her exports.
    MUch less, but maybe it was 1/3 of the export sent through the sea.

    The Swedes overwhelmed the outnumbered haiduks (mercenary foot-soldiers of mostly Magyar stock from Hungary)
    Hungarian-fashion, but most likely not Hungarians. There were several types of Polish infantry using the same equipment and uniforms - Polish infantry, Lithuanian infantry, Polish-Hungarian infantry and so on.


    although the Polish Sejm at this time expressed no desire to support him and the funds at his disposal were insufficient.
    Because he was notorious to use the money to different effect than expected e.g. in 1609 he spent the amount he got to rise new army and start the war against Russia which was seen as completely useless.

    and denied Sigismund III a port from which he could launch a legitimist invasion of Sweden,
    He never could launch such invasion anyway. He wasn't given any support in that even much earlier. In 1599 for example he only got some artillery (for a price) - the rest cash camed from his private sources.

    Polish apologists stress the Ottoman threat as being more serious. While this is true for 1621, the Ottomans were repulsed with great loss by Jan Chodkiewicz in September/ October, 1621, at the fortress of Khotyn (Chocim), and internal strife soon broke amongst the janissaries, amid which the sultan Osman II was murdered. A peace was agreed upon and the Polish/Lithuanian-Ottoman border would be fairly quiet until 1633.
    Except the constant Tatar danger and the need to pay the huge army which was rised to stop the Ottomans... It took at least next 2 years to pay them.

    Certainly, Gustavus was now the threat to be considered. Stanislaw Koniecpolski, a superb commander, was busy dealing with the Tartars from 1624-1626, but certainly not 100,000 of them.
    Up to 45-50 000 was the maximum number the Tatars could mobilise, but the nomands were always hard to stop and the 10 000 or so soldiers were constantly invlved ( including the whole standing army).


    The Polish forces in the region of Wallmoja (Wallhof) numbered some 6,000 men, between Jan Sapieha (the soon of the Lithuanian chancellor), Radziwill, and Aleksander Gosiewski. Marching swiftly SW from Koknese ( Kokenhausen) to the region around Wallhof, near Birze, in a forced march with 3,100 men (2,000 Finnish Hakkapallites and 1,100 musketeers), of over 30 miles in 36 hours in difficult terrain, Gustavus swiftly fell upon the larger force of about 4,000 (at most) under Sapieha
    Yes, at MOST, but most likely it was up to 1 500 because the force was smaller and split before the battle - the fact is often ignored by Swedish sources.
    It might be also the case that they counted the baggage servants which always joined any army at that time.

    Important note: Polish accounts claim Jan Sapieha's army was surprised in a non-fortified position with merely 1,500 men. But that figure is more likely the casualties he suffered. Sapieha fled, understandably, from the field and the Swedish hold on Birze (modern Birzai) was never compromised (unless I am mistaken). Shame can lead a man to downplay his infamy (I would). Radoslow Sikora, the current Polish historian, provides Polish army records which state that it was possibly a higher number than Sapieha claimed - 2,000, but no higher. Well, it could very well have been higher, and Sapieha clearly didn't give an accurate count - a count smaller than the probable amount from the Polish view.
    And the victors always overrate the numbers of the enemies they defeated. Why aren't the Swedish 'apologists' equally unreliable ?
    Simply Sapieha couldn't field large army and he couldn't lose so many - it would be norted as one of greater defeats ever suffered by the Commonwealth. It is quite impossible to escape the responsibility for such in a state with free speech - no censorship was present in Poland.


    Thus, unless one chooses to disbelieve professor Nowak, Krzysztof Radziwill and Sapieha would surely not have divided their forces (unless they were mobilizing them for the 1st time) after Gustavus' invasion with such miniscule numbers.
    1. There were constant anmosities between them (Radziwill was not king's most favourite commander so he often sent 'minders' to undermine his efforts).
    2. Sapieha made the mistake not to send enough recon troops ahead.
    3. Why was the camp not fortified if he knew the nenemy is close ?


    At the battle of Gniew (Mewe), fought in September, 1626, Gustavus and his officers, most notably Ake (Achatius) Tott and John Hepburn, won an impressive victory.
    More modern opinions tend to see it as a draw or minor victory, but no further.
    It was defeat to Sigismund III though because he wanted to crush G.A. in battle.


    probably the 'Cossack Cavalry', though not necessarily ethnic Cossacks.
    For sure not ethinc Cossacks. Cossac cavalry was just a name of the unit, not the ethnic origin of the soldiers.


    The Polish historian Jerzy Teodorczyk calls this battle the 1st defeat of the husaria, but I think it should more appropriately be called the 1st prevention of a defeat at the hands of the husaria.
    And Teodorczyk was challenged only recently, because some of his conclusions were proved to be completely wrong.

    Basically your description of the battle at Mewe describes either the second phase of the battle ( when it was decided to fortify and wait for Koniecpolski) or I didn't understand it.
    I have much more detailed sources where the battle itself takes more than 50 pages so I can only assume you have described the second phase.
    Two notes - 'fresian horse' wasn't in general mentioned by the Poles - after all they didn't reach the Swedish line (basically, but with exceptions).
    Two - there is nothing about 'retreat', but rather about rout of the Swesdish pikemen who were broken and run away, but second line formed from Swedish musketeers stopped the charge at this point after the husaria moved over the edge of the hill which made the in full view of the position the Swedish musketeers occupied.


    4,000, and some say the figure of 2,500 was the total number, others saying 2,500 was the casualty figure.
    Most likely the second figure, because the 4000 was the number of all soldiers. Some of those run away earlier (other clashes) or joined the Polish army after the capitulation or slightly earlier.

    As it turned out, the Swedes' plans to strike at Koniecpolski from the other direction was foiled by the flooding of the Vistula.
    Which was the reason why he could move so swiftly and intercept the mercenaries at Hammerstein.

    the Poles didn't have enough infantry to storm most fortifications
    Constant problem at that time. The money gathered were used to pay the soldiers already present and only irregular cavalry was willing to come without much need for it.
    The squabble in the parliament with the king made created disruption for the entire reign of Sigismund III.

    As devastating and impressive the Battle of Kircholm in 1605 was a display of the Hussars' formidability and prowess in the open field when drawing an impetuous opponent (Karl IX) into their favorable conditions and off their high ground (Karl thought they were retreating), it induced a false sense of security.
    I read it as the universal excuse. In fact Karl IX was so sure of the victory one day before that the wanted to attack only with half of his army and only when had seen the enemy started thinking that it might not be so certain victory.

    A Choragiew numbers about 200 men.
    There was never any FIXED number. It was between 100 and 200 with single exceptions such as King's Court husaria's Choragiew at beresteczko in 1651 where there were probably 600 of them in one unit.
    The safe number is around 150-140.



    Also, I have read from 1 account that the Poles retreated because all their lances broke. With resect to who wrote that, this is not credible. All their lances (kopias??
    It is. The lancs were hollowed, one-shot weapons and suaually lasted one charge only. Since only first 2 ranks ( average) were armed with those it was essential to charge - retreat and re-arm to charge again. It was not heavy western lancer cavalry, but medium, agile, shock cavalry.


    Every one of them? If this was true, they couldn't fight the Swedes with their sabres?
    They could, but it would mean a stalemate and the usual tactic was to retreat while another unit could charge and break the enemy.
    There is no point to have lances to stay locked in combat where husaria loses impetus.
    After all we all know the numerous cases when the fighting units can't break the tight formation of the enemy.



    "...A banner with 200 Hussars attacks a regiment of infantry with 600 men (400 musket and 200 pike)..."[/i][/color],
    An example not the rule...


    ...The Hussars totaled approximately 1,000-1,100 men, in 8 banners (6 Crown and 2 Lithuanian), so were quite few in number especially compared to the force that might have been raised in earlier years..."
    Yes, but COULD. After all they were in the field for some time and there is no rule for that.
    For example at Mewe there were 18 units of this type with 2 930 hussars ( detailed and reliable data).


    accomplished from the battle fought around Tczew (Dirschau) was to prevent the destruction of his smaller army by superb maneuvering. By December, 1627, Gustavus was back in Stockholm, mainly for the benefit of his health.

    Well, actually the main thing was to help Danzig to finish the fortifications, any blockade the Swedes could impose was not enough to take Danzig after all and that was the most important consequence.
    Of course Koniecpolski wanted a victory, however he couldn't storm a fortified camp so the only thing was to lure the Swedes to a fight he could win or at least to make them busy and help Danzig.

    More often than not outnumbered, the Poles began pillaging their own land to impede the Swedish source of supply.
    Lack of cash as I said before. But this pillaging was made by irregulars 'lisowczycy' cavalry which was ideal for harrassment.

    Danzig could possibly have been reduced by hunger, but again the floods came, which forced the Swedes out of their positions along the Vistula. Gustavus was thus compelled to lift the land blockade of Danzig completely.
    As every single year - Vistula did that and there was nothing exceptional in those floods.

    Gustavus greatly realized the importance of field fortifications, and soon employed sappers to dig troops entrenchments and cannon positions. Thus he gave battle only when he believed appropriate. Attacking ready husaria in the open was not appropriate, as the only way for an enemy to avoid destruction by the husaria was to keep to terrain in which cavalry formations could not operate fully, evidenced at Gniew (Mewe).
    This was the reason for the stalemate. Noone could win the war purely by military might. Of course if the Sejm could introduce the reforms which opposition proposed ( 60 % of the army in infantry) it would be different, but at that time it was stopped.



    Of note is that the Swedes and their allies suffered more from pestilence throughout this war than by enemy weaponry.
    So did the Poles.





    Some accounts state this Imperial force at just 5,000 men, but the higher number is more credible, judging by the subsequent actions of the opposing forces:
    The number and condition of Arnim's soldiers deteriorated quickly and since they marched across a large area it was probably around 7000 or rather less.

    It was now Gustavus who faced numerical odds.
    Questionable, how large. Koniecpolski generally was happy that there was some sizable number of infantry coming under his command which he demanded all the time.

    5,000 infantry and 4,700 cavalry. Koniecpolski and Arnim, procuring intelligence of the Swedish actitvity, and numbering about 15,000-18,000 men (again, sources vary),
    According to my memory it was about 12 000, but I will consult the sources.



    He succeeded in protecting his infantry, of just 12 were lost in the battle. He lost, according to 'friendly' sources, 553 cavalry, and 6 leather guns. Polish sources state Gustavus lost 1,200 killed, 400 taken prisoner, and 10 leather guns being obtained. Polish losses, according to them, were 150 killed and 200 wounded.
    That is true. But it is important to add that the Poles and imperials did leave infantry away from the battlefield. It was the battle of equal or slightly larger number on Swedish side, though took 3 or so phases with imperial cavalry left behind (most of them).

    On September 26, 1629, the Treaty of Altmark ended this conflict.
    Not completely. There were plans for another invasion in 1632 coordinated with the Russians and the Ottomans, but the newly reformed Polish army defeated the Russians and the Ottomans and G.A was already dead so the Swedes left their prizes from 1629 without a single shot.




    With all that said, however, I must say this treatise was drawn more heavily from accounts which were drawn from Swedish works.
    That is the obvious consequence of the language barrier - i.e. Polish isn't the easiest to master.
    Englishlanguage sources vary from good to terrible, though brilliant ones almost never happen.


    I can continue, but in 2007


    My regards Cegorach
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    Default Re: Gustavu Adolphus in Livonia and Polish Prussia 1617-1629

    double post...
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    Default Re: Gustavus Adolphus in Livonia and Polish Prussia, 1617-1629

    MERRY XMAS EVERYONE

    Thank you for the responses Edmonton and cegorach. I apologize, however, that I could not read them, as I'm not supposed to be on the computer. My mother is admonishing me - 'enough for now about a war between Poland and Sweden from 500 years ago!!'

    Shall I tell her it was really 377-380 years ago? :laugh:

    I came over to edit some little stuff. I am very detail-oriented I was incorrect on the composition of the Finnish Hakkapeliitat: they were not dragoons, and armed with 2 pistols, not a small carbine, as I initially thought. Perhaps you 1 of you already addressed that.

    Edmonton, quickly, I skimmed some of your words: Gustavus did not enter Germany as a pawn of France; that Cardinal de Richelieu subsidized his operation was indeed a boost, but the major advantages Gustavus had amid his clash with the Imperialists were created by himself, including superior military organization and his personal magnetism.

    cegorach, you are indeed one of the experts from the Zaglobastavern I was referring to. I couldn't read anyhting you wrote for now, other than the beginning with 'good, detailed post...'. Thank you. Again, I realize this war is full of controversy, even if Gustavus really 'won', from a military standpoint. I think he did, but I respect the opposing views.

    Happy holidays and thanks, Spartan JKM
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    Default Re: Gustavus Adolphus in Livonia and Polish Prussia, 1617-1629

    Moved to Musaem.

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    Default Re: Gustavus Adolphus in Livonia and Polish Prussia, 1617-1629

    Could you perhaps list your sources? I've been looking for a good source on The Lion, but I just haven't been able to find one im pleased with. Help would be appreciated.

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    Default Re: Gustavus Adolphus in Livonia and Polish Prussia, 1617-1629

    Unlikely you will find too many, or rather you will find some, but full of mistakes and showing only Swedish point of view.
    You can always join the discussion at yahoo's zaglobastavern.





    Adding more to my earlier answer.

    I am not sure if you do realise the difference between Polish 'heavy' cavalry and that of western europe.

    Husaria was much lighter than shown by some sources.

    Basically cavalry could be divided the following way:

    western cuirassier = courland/livonian cuirassiers (elite of Swedish cavalry, vassal of Poland in the first case
    -> three-quarter heavy armour, heavy steeds,

    Polish husaria, polish reiters = half-cuirassiers, swedish reiters
    -> armour no heavier than 12 kg, lighter and faster steeds,

    Polish 'cossacks' = swedish reiters (without armour)
    -> no armour or very little, faster than above,

    Polish 'tartars' and lisowczycy = finnish cavalry
    -> similar to the point above, but it was clearly even lighter cavalry usually acting as support of earlier, 'heavy' horsemen,


    It all matters in case of prolonged combat. Simply husaria ws not for staying locked in a fight, but to charge with their lances using the speed of the horse and power of the weapon to break enemy formation - not the weight of armour and horse as western cuirassiers.


    No wonder that the hussars are treated as medium cavalry in Poland and the fact is sometimes forgotten in western sources, after all at Kircholm Polish cavalry was lighter than that in mercenary units employed by the Swedes - it was designed for rapid actions, intercepting quickly moving forces of the enemy in diverse environments where three-quarter armoured reiters couldn't dream of it.
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    Default Re: Gustavus Adolphus in Livonia and Polish Prussia, 1617-1629

    very interesting
    I have one question - are Polish 'cossacks' early modern continuation of Polish medieval cavalry unit Strelcy(armed with crossbows) ?

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    Default Re: Gustavus Adolphus in Livonia and Polish Prussia, 1617-1629

    Yes, even very early 'cossack' units had crossbows - at least some of them.

    Strzelcy disappeared together with heavy cavalry (Polish of Demi-lancers) around 1560-70 and were replaced by husaria and the 'cossacks' ( kozacy in Polish). In Lithuanian GD a part of 'cossacks' was called petyhorcy and was armed with rohatyna lances.
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    Default Re: Gustavus Adolphus in Livonia and Polish Prussia, 1617-1629

    Quote Originally Posted by cegorach View Post
    Yes, even very early 'cossack' units had crossbows - at least some of them.

    Strzelcy disappeared together with heavy cavalry (Polish of Demi-lancers) around 1560-70 and were replaced by husaria and the 'cossacks' ( kozacy in Polish). In Lithuanian GD a part of 'cossacks' was called petyhorcy and was armed with rohatyna lances.
    thx for info
    I guess they were armed with sabre and light cavalry arquebus(or bow, though this item seems to be more petyhorcy type of armament) for skirmishing matters?

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    Default Re: Gustavus Adolphus in Livonia and Polish Prussia, 1617-1629

    Both + pistols - general-use-support-light cavalry - excellent in actions such as Radziwill's raid through Russia in 1581-82 which shattered Russian morale and finished the knock-out of Russia started in 1579.
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    Default Re: Gustavus Adolphus in Livonia and Polish Prussia, 1617-1629

    thx for clarification
    Recently I have fallen in love with renaissance warfare. My particular interest lies on Livonian (Latvian and Estonian) military formations and their role in wars between Polish-Lithuanian state, Muscovy and Sweden. There is so much I have to know

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    Default Re: Gustavus Adolphus in Livonia and Polish Prussia, 1617-1629

    Hey everyone. I have revised much of the latter part of my account; many details are becoming clearer with the help of the NYC Library's microfilm department.

    My apologies Kscott.

    cegorach is quite correct. Sources on the Lion himself are scant, particulary compared to those of Napoleon or Alexander the Great.

    The two primary biographies are from Theodore Dodge and Michael Roberts. Dodge was a veteran officer with astute military judgement. His bio on Gustavus is very comprehensive, and deals with the art of war of the 17 century. However, it's old (1890s) and we have since been delivered superior texts, in terms of accuracy: within the context of the Polish war, Dodge was as objective as one could ask for his time, but he drew on Swedish sources which glamorized the war. There were certainly not 10,000 Lithuanians under Radziwill who beaten back by the Swedes at Riga; more like 1,500-2,000. Some of the 'battles' Dodge describes in the Polish war were probably skirmishes in which Swedish cavalry scattered Polish foragers. Thus, his works shouldn't be studied by itself.

    But beyond the topic of this thread, Dodge's work is invaluable.

    Michael Robert's biography on Gustavus, translated and augmented from the work of one Nils Ahnlund, is as sophisticated as it is reputable.

    As for the military angle of the war with Poland, Roberts also wrote a study concerning the debate of the theory of the 'Military Revolution' of the 17 century, and one Geoffrey Parker compiled The Military Revolution: Military Innovation and the Rise of the West, 1500-1800. Gustavus comprises one of B.H. Liddell Hart's accounts in his Great Captains Unveiled, which is valuable not only strategical and tactical thoughts but also on 'lessons' about them.

    Robert Frost's The Northern Wars 1558-1721 is a terrific account of the contention for hegemony within the Baltic states spanning over more than a century and a half, not to mention very (seemingly) balanced. But, specifically, he opines that Gustavus could never 'break out' of his quadrilateral in Ducal Prussia once the Poles mounted good resistence. I don't think he was trying to. Even if he wanted to, he hadn't the resources: his war in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was primarily about controlling the mouths of the Baltic, and checking the aggressive claims to the Swedish throne by Sigismund III, not advancing into the interior. Moreover, he had hoped to divert Catholic forces out of Germany to relieve the Protestants there. But he certainly was a Realpolitiker, among many things.

    Other works I used for information on Gustavus' contribution to the art of war are from Russell Weigley, J.F.C Fuller and one Frederic J. Baumgartner. Though no fan of Gustavus Adolphus, the great Johann Schiller wrote an historical research of the Thirty Years War.

    But for our topic, as cegorach stated, Zagloba's Tavern will be the best to pluck out details of the war. They are very tendentious, but no more or less than pro-Swedish sources. As Marcus Aurelius said,

    "Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth."

    Thanks for all your input cegorach; many revisions have been made. Klushino was certainly just as valuable as Kircholm as assessing the military prowess and efficiency of the husaria; Jacob De La Gardie was there with some Swedish troops. Poland did intervene into the Russian civil strife in 1605, with their troops entering Moscow by 1610 (I think Wladyslaw IV was elected Tsar, no?). But you certainly know more than I about all this, and I realize much had to with the personal ambitions of the szlachta and boyars, not to mention private armies and mercenaries.

    As it turned out, Sigismund III's claims to the Swedish throne amounted to no more than dust in the wind, but he had a legitimate beef. But Sweden itself was in the nascent stages of an electoral kingdom (?). But his intractable attitude, coupled with his aggression in Russia, was another reason which probably prompted Gustavus' actions. However, the 'incursion' into Sweden in 1594 by Sigismund III was by far more an army of loyal Swedes and Finns than one of Polish/Lithuanians. For the most part, the people of the Commonwealth certainly didn't carry any imperialistic motives. Of course, these issues are never simple.

    But the more I dig into this chapter, the more it seems to me that Swedish successes in 1621-1629 has been overstated and Polish resistence understated - something Polish apologists are constantly evincing. Gustavus expected war to pay for itself, and it didn't as much as he ahd figured due to Koniecpolski' own strategy of attrition. The battle of Tczew was not illustrative of Swedish cavalry rising to the same level as the husaria; fortifications, format, catching them unawares, and superior numbers utilized efficaciously by Gustavus led to his repulsing of them. This is a prudent method by Gustavus, but it should be identified as such. The battle of Trzciana was hardly an 'ambush' upon Gustavus, as some would have us believe. He failed to intercept the junction of Arnim and Koniecpolski, and they caught him and flat out beat him. True, he did boldly throw himself into a situation he would not have chosen to. But they caused such a scenario.

    The military rise of Sweden was very unique because, directly stimulated by Gustavus Adolphus, a brillaintly forged national standing army fought solely out of its homeland. But it also melted away in the immediate years following his death. In 1630, for all in all, mercenaries comprised perhaps 1/2 the Swedish army; by 1631, 3/4; by 1632, when Gustavus' total forces in Germany were about 150,000 (I have read also up to 200,000), maybe as many as 9/10 were non-Swedes. After his death, in which attritional war would become more prominent, the domestic conscriptions functioned erratically, and the native replacements and mercenaries could not deliver the superb standards of drill and discipline required to effectuate the tactics of Gustavus. The Swedish Brigade was a brilliant instrument of war; never before had one faced an army utilizing its cavalry, artillery, pikemen and musketeers in self-sustaining little combat units with such cohesion, speed, and adaptability. It was worse for the Imperialists, as not only were they outgunned in quantity, the Swedish regimental guns contained fixed-ammunition cartridges, which resulted in 3 shots to 1 - on even terms! So the imperialists were really, potentially, outfired by a count of 6 to 1! But it must be stated that Gustavus' methods were quickly adopted and adapted by his enemies, as everyone began strengthening their artillery, and the Battle of Nordlingen of 1634 proved that traditional methods could still win the day if such assets were not utilized.

    But this demanded a high degree of discipline and a superb officer corps (NCO), not to mention that such a structure was remarkably effective only under a cerebral commander capable of juggling the arms in positive conjunction. The fact the Swedish Brigade was gone by 1634 illustrates that these very qualities were absent, a result primarily wrought from the economic issues. Remember, it was mostly an economic deterioration that brought the Roman Empire down; the 'barbarians' who marched into Italy at the beginning of the 5th century were scarcely opposed by field armies.

    In his famous historical study of the 30 Years War, Johann Schiller, no fan of Gustavus (as I said), tells us that 6,000 Swedes came directly from Sweden to join Bernhard and the Palatinate Christian of Birkenfeld, whom in turn were to junction with 4,000 from Saxony, all to meet up with the now-fugitive Wallenstein, who had recently lost the support of his army. This would have occured in early 1634.

    For all his qualities as the finest, in my opinion, commander of his age, Gustavus' ambition for Sweden may have been sought at an unsustainable cost; his system of conscription (Utskrivning), which brought about 10,000 men to the colors every year, saw the numbers of men betweeen the 15-60 age range fall by half - in a country vastly underpopulated for its military objective. Gustavus could have made a difference had he lived, but he certainly would have outlived, if not killed in battle or an 'accident', the condition of Germany as a Swedish province: the thought of Sweden controlling Germany for long is like a cat digesting an elephant! I'm sure he knew that.

    But as we know, hindsight is 20/20, and maybe those embrolied in these events we discuss have cataracts. Maybe Gustavus should have marched on Vienna after Breitenfeld, and not chase Tilly. But Hapsburg power didn't center around Vienna as it did in Napoleon's time, and he had to stop the junction between converging Catholic forces (something he had failed to do in Ducal Prussia in 1629. He succeeded brilliantly this time). Maybe had he not been killed the war would have ended sooner, as he must have known that the extravagances of his recruitments by 1632 could not be supported unless a rapid end to hostilities was achieved. The power of his commanding person was not unlike that of Hannibal, Caesar, or Suvorov. Maybe...maybe...maybe...

    Thanks, Spartan JKM
    Last edited by Spartan JKM; March 01, 2007 at 07:44 PM.
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    Default Re: Gustavus Adolphus in Livonia and Polish Prussia, 1617-1629

    [quote=Spartan JKM;1549445]


    But, specifically, he opines that Gustavus could never 'break out' of his quadrilateral in Ducal Prussia once the Poles mounted good resistence. I don't think he was trying to. Even if he wanted to, he hadn't the resources: his war in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was primarily about controlling the mouths of the Baltic, and checking the aggressive claims to the Swedish throne by Sigismund III, not advancing into the interior.
    To some degree I agree completell, but there is one factor which is missing here i.e. Danzig. The city was always the main target, the ultimate prize the Swedes wanted. The biggest Baltic port called Amsterdam of the North was their 'holy grail'.
    Ironically it even the 'invincible' Charles X Gustav who almost reached Lviv/Lww during the ill-fated, winter camapign of 1655-56 was unable to take the city.

    Another interesting note I can add here - the war of 1626-29 (-35 actually) remids the conflicts with the Ottomans.
    In 1672 after semi-official war of 1667-68 the Ottoman army invaded the Commonwealth which was unprepared to the incoming war, mainly by the pathetic Korybut Wisniowiecki. They managed to take the mighty fortress of Kamieniec Podolski after badly prepared defence and started the war which lasted for another 27 years.
    There are numerous similarities to the conflict with Swedes.
    The initial defence was doomed to fail because of non-military factors.
    The whole war lasted many years and was ended after long, exhausting conflict.
    Just put Korybut Wisniowiecki in place of Sigismund III and hetman Jan Sobieski (the later king) in place of Koniecpolski and you have it all with one major difference :
    Kamieniec Podolski ( i.e. Danzig) was taken by the invader and kept to the end of the war.
    If the Swedes took it in 1626 it would be equally difficult to reclaim it... or perhaps not - the humilation might trigger far more complete and lasting reforms than those of Wladislaw IV and Koniecpolski, but this is hard to discuss.:hmmm:

    But for our topic, as cegorach stated, Zagloba's Tavern will be the best to pluck out details of the war. They are very tendentious, but no more or less than pro-Swedish sources. As Marcus Aurelius said,

    "Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth."

    Some are, but it is the result of limited access to more recent works of Polish historians.
    I would say that the Americans of Polish origin are a little too 'rash' in some conclusions, but at least there are not many teenagers with no knowledge who plague the more popular forums.

    Poland did intervene into the Russian civil strife in 1605, with their troops entering Moscow by 1610 (I think Wladyslaw IV was elected Tsar, no?). But you certainly know more than I about all this, and I realize much had to with the personal ambitions of the szlachta and boyars, not to mention private armies and mercenaries.

    It is quite complicated subject. The majority of the population seen the chaos in Russia as respite from earlier conflicts and were not keen on getting into the whole affair.

    But dues to the recent conflict with the king and a demographic 'wave' coming as the result of prosperity and peace there were many willing to engage the whole Russian 'conquista'.
    This is the best term to explain why Poland entered the conflict - bands of adventorous nobles were willing to join pretenders' armies or fight in the new private war of the king which the initial phase of the war started in 1609 (earlier presence was limited to thhose self-appointed conquistadors) really was - it came against the law of the state, Sigismund literally stole the money collected to pay the army in Livonia to engage himself in the conflict and the entire country as well.

    It was highly controversial because even after the battle at Klushino and after the tzar was captured and shown in the parliament as a trophy it still demanded to end the war as soon as possible.

    the people of the Commonwealth certainly didn't carry any imperialistic motives. Of course, these issues are never simple.
    So true, though it was the highly successfull policy of 'voluntary annexation' which caused that. After all both Royal Prussia and Livonia joined the Commonwealth because it was better to be in than out with other, more aggressive states.
    It was similar in Moldavia, Wallachia and even Crimea and Russia - though these were much harder to exploit and to some degree, even useless ( Russia).
    Recently I have read about intriguing plans to attack Finland in 1599 and 1600, but it was based on the assumption there will be notable support for Sigismund - the Commonwealth wasn't going to waste resources on dubious adventures in Scandinavia.

    fortifications, format, catching them unawares, and superior numbers utilized efficaciously by Gustavus led to his repulsing of them.
    True. Interesting was the comparision made by Radek Sikora who described numerous of those Gustavus actions as 'almost Tatar' in swiftness and employing the factor of a suprise assault.


    Thanks, Spartan JKM

    Great work indeed ! It is rare to see such effort and ability to question well-established opinions which sadly still is the problem of many written sources, at least in English - currently in Poland the new generation of historians creates very intriguing works in the subject of XVI-XVIIth century military.

    I am getting almost all of such books and if you need some support feel free to ask me.
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    Default Re: Gustavus Adolphus in Livonia and Polish Prussia, 1617-1629

    My pleasure cegorach.

    I'm happy to say I'm not the only one; a couple of fellow students of mine where mentioning recently, while they were 'editing' my treatise here , how underappreciated the Polish leaders, from Boleslaw I to Jozef Pilsudski, have been throughout history.

    I think because Gustavus is so revered for his reforms and brilliant successes in Germany, many assume - many who don't have a deep interest in the subject - that he did the same thing in Polish Prussia. It should be realized that it was more his military apprenticeship, and he did well to not get beat.
    To some degree I agree completell, but there is one factor which is missing here i.e. Danzig. The city was always the main target, the ultimate prize the Swedes wanted...
    Yes, but Danzig was induced to to submit to the collection of the lion's share of the toll levied on the prosperous shipping trade of the great port by Sweden. Moreover, Danzig agreed to not allow any naval arming on its territory possibly aimed against Sweden. But yes, Danzig was always a hurdle for Sweden, and when Gustavus and his army were outside the walls of Danzig in 1626, Michael Roberts tells us,

    "...Upon the attitude of Danzig Gustavus' hopes of bringing the Polish war to a speedy end depended. Those hopes were now destroyed by Gustavus himself. A little more patience in negotiation, a less hectoring style of diplomacy, and he might have secured Danzig's neutrality, for the burghers were as anxious to avoid a breach as he was. But at the crucial moment, he lost patience and issued a rasping ultimatum which the city could not accept. Instead of becoming neutral, Danzig became an open enemy; and this was fatal to Sweden's chances of a quick success in Polish Prussia. In later years Axel Oxenstierna was wont to say that of all Gustavus' enemies Danzig had done him the most damage..."

    Thanks, Spartan JKM
    Last edited by Spartan JKM; March 05, 2007 at 10:40 AM.
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    Calvin and Osceola, may you both henceforth remain in everlasting tranquility

  17. #17

    Default Re: Gustavus Adolphus in Livonia and Polish Prussia, 1617-1629

    Greetings everyone.

    I just joined this great history forum. I don't possess nearly the knowledge many of you do, but that will improve by reading threads like this!!

    Kudos to Spartan JKM and cegorach (with respect to everyone else): this reads like something from a sophistcated textbook.

    Many thanks Spartan. I admire your balanced view - Gustavus is praised as one of history's best, but it looks like he got a little fortunate in this war. Maybe the Poles would have succumbed had he not ben hurt at Tczew, but in 1629, it looks like his army was melitng away because of all the attrition. You clearly admire Gustavus Adolphus, but you identify that history has indeed been kind to him. I have never heard of Stanislaw Koniecpolski, but it looks like they were about even. What became of him? Poland has had many great commanders not mentioned in the mainstream in the 'west'. Sobieski, Bolesalw the brave. Didn't a Pole/Lithuanian win the famous battle of Tannenberg in the 1400s?

    Didn't Sweden and Poland continue to fight though? The Treaty at Altmark didn't last long, did it?

    Thanks again. Fantastic read!!

  18. #18
    cegorach's Avatar Artifex
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    Default Re: Gustavus Adolphus in Livonia and Polish Prussia, 1617-1629

    Quote Originally Posted by Excelsior View Post
    I have never heard of Stanislaw Koniecpolski, but it looks like they were about even. What became of him?
    Died after overdosing aphrodisiac - his new young wife was quite demanding I guess.

    Of course before managed to reform the army and winn several battles against Cossack rebells, Tatrs and finally against Turks during the 'private', unofficial war with Abasy Pasha.

    Because he died just before the terrible time of the 'Deluge' i.e. before Khmielnicky Uprising was started his name 'end of Poland' almost became a prophecy.
    His great skill was that he maneged to keep extravagant Wladyslaw IV in the real world stopping his too ambitious plans when these were not to the benefit of the state - just like the war against Sweden in 1635 - as many others seen that the fact they leave everything they took in 1629 without a shot (after the reformed army of circa 80 000 was prepared I am not suprised they did) as better than waging war to actually invade swedish mainland (another Wladyslaw's extravagant idea).


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  19. #19
    Spartan JKM's Avatar Semisalis
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    Default Re: Gustavus Adolphus in Livonia and Polish Prussia, 1617-1629

    Thanks Excelsior.
    ...Didn't Sweden and Poland continue to fight though? The Treaty at Altmark didn't last long, did it?
    Well, this is where cegorach can help more than I can, but the 'Deluge', or Potop, which cegorach mentioned in the prior post, was the 'occupation' of Poland by Sweden and Russia in the late 1650s, which was wrought by the Khmelnytsky (spelled in multiple ways) Uprising, led by Bohdan Khmelnytsky, who was a Cossack leader; he was attempting to establish an independent state in what was then known as Zaporizhia, in modern Ukraine around the Dneiper River. He did end the monopoly of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth's influence over the region, but merely transferred these Cossack lands from Polish to Russian influence.

    Basically (this warring period is a complicated one), in 1655 Sweden exploited a vulnerable condition afflicted on the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (again); Russia had invaded the eastern part of the Commonwealth, and Sweden bid for control of the opposing shore of the Baltic. The forces of Sweden and Brandenburg defeated the Poles at Warsaw in 1656 (this was under Charles (Karl) X's realm). But the Swedes and Germans didn't last long in holding Warsaw, and the Swedes were ultimately ejected from Ducal Prussia by Friedrich Wilhelm I, the Elector of Brandenburg: look up the the 'Great Sleigh Drive' of 1678.

    Russia and Sweden fought from 1656 to 1658, with Russia, without a substantial navy, negotiating, and by 1661 another treaty confirmed the territorial accords laid down from the Treaty of Stolbovo in 1617. Moreover, Cossacks under one Ivan Vyhovsky had allied themselves with the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth by the end of 1658. In 1659, a massive clash around Konotop, Ukraine, culminated in the defeat of the Muscovites. But there was plenty of pro-Muscovite feelings among many Cossacks, and Vyhovsky fell victim to the fratricidal power struggles that devastated the Cossack lands at this time.

    There's sooo much to all this. Check out Robert Frost's The Northern Wars 1558-1721. Much specific googling will avail much information, but much of it may be unreliable.

    I wrote of Stanislaw on a thread of 'underrated' generals, which saw valuable editing by cegorach.

    Stanislaw Koniecpolski (d. 1646) ultimately became the Grand Crown hetman (second in rank to the king) of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. One would have to be a scrooge not to respect this man; his entire life from about 15 years of age was involved in war, and it was all about the defense of his people. Like his great rival Gustavus (Gustaf II), Stanislaw was a wordly and educated man, though afflicted with an apparent speech impediment, who spent time in western Europe to learn foreign cultures and languages etc. Stanislaw fought in the wars against the Muscovites, and was present at both the smashing Polish victory at Klushino (Kluszyn) in 1610 and the siege of Smolensk a year later. In 1614 Stanislaw put down a rebellion amongst the Commonwealth army (kwarta army), and the next year he began fighting the Tartars, defeating them at Rohatyn (SW Ukraine). In 1617 he was a subordiante to his mentor Stanislaw Zolkiewski, and they pushed back the Ottomans in 1618, after some failed negotiations, and it seems he suffered a defeat in 1619 at the hands of Tartars, and his first wife, Katarzyna, died in labor with his first son. The details of the Muscovite and Moldavian Wars involving the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth are very complicated, and beyond the grasp of my immediate knowledge.

    In September of 1620, the Poles suffered a decisive defeat at the hands of the Ottomans at Tutora (Cecora) in 1620, where Zolkiewski was killed and Stanislaw, after saving much of the army in an ordered retreat, was caught and taken prisoner, along with many magnates. Their freedom was paid for four years later. Stanislaw began fighting Tartars almost immediately, repulsing raids into southern Poland, particularly in two significant clashes, one at Dzwinogrod, the other at Martynow. Stanislaw's efficacious use of fast and light kozak cavalry (this name would be later changed to pancerni to distinguish them from rebellious ethnic Cossacks) was sublime against the Tartars, who were forced back east. However, he had some trouble in October 1625 with rebellious Cossacks, but a ceasefire was achieved, with the Cossacks agreeing to terms, including no provoking of the Tartars by raids along the Black Sea. But the Tartars invaded in 1626 again in the modern regions around L'viv (Lwow). Stanislaw pounced on the rear-guard of their army, and prepared for a second invading wave, but they never came.

    By this time the Swedes had rekindled the Polish-Swedish War (our thread topic), quickly conquered Livonia and, Gustavus, were entrenched in Ducal Prussia. Stanislaw swiftly marched NW to face them after handling enemy Tatar forces, quickly neutralizing much of Gustavus' earlier success; he took back Puck (NW of Danzig), and repulsed a reinforcing attempt by German Protestants at Hammerstein (now Czarne) in the spring of 1627. To reiterate, the war with the Swedes saw more attrition than battlefield action; Gustavus beat Stanislaw at Tczew in September of 1627, but Stanislaw, finally with some help from Catholic allies from Germany, returned the favor at Trzciana nearly two years later. Gustavus surmised that war would pay for itself in the fertile and rich lands of Ducal Prussia; he was partly right, but he was impeded from Stanislaw's own strategy of raiding and pillaging his domains. In both major battles fought between them, the winner caught the other in an unfavorable position, and the loser maneuvered well to prevent a disaster. The Truce of Altmark was agreed with the political maneuverings of Cardinal Richelieu carrying much weight. Both sides were exhausted from attritional war in a land devastated, and Gustavus, still working out his great theories and reforms of warfare, got out of there with favorable conditions. In my opinion, Stanislaw, fighting without sufficient infantry due to tax problems within his state, was his finest opponent.
    The Swdes were gone for now, but a rising Cossack rebellion ('unregistered' Cossacks) under Taras Fedorovych, overcome Stanislaw in late May of 1630. But negotiations were never to Fedorovych's wishes, as the Cossacks lacked supplies and energy for a mass uprising. Basically, an increase in the number of registered Cossack soldiers (ie, ethnic Cossacks part of the Polish-Lithuanian army) was rejected; the Cossack register was enlarged from just 6,000 to 8,000.

    In 1633 Stanislaw defeated invading Turkish armies near the river Prut (July), and again over a larger force under the regional Ottoman governor Mehmed Abazy, near the city of Kamianets-Podilskyi (October); Stanislaw was outnumbered nearly two to one in the second clash. The Ottomans agreed to terms in September of 1634 (a new governor the following year was ordered by the sultan Murad IV to not make trouble with the Commonwealth; the sultan had ambitious plans for Persia). In August of 1635, Stanislaw retook the Kodak fortress, which had been captured by one Ivan Sulima, a Cossack hetman. Sulima was executed in Warsaw four months later. The taking and re-taking of the fortress occured near modern Dnipropetrosvk, in the Ukraine.

    Stanislaw Koniecpolski effectuated measures to improve the quality and quantity of infantry units of his forces, modernize the army, concentrate on the development of artillery, and draft mercenaries learned in the western methods of war; but it was the reform of making extant western style Polish infantry (non-mercenary) which brought the army to its peak between 1633-1648. Stanislaw also added dragoons to his forces, and supported plans to create a Commonwealth Fleet for the Baltic, primarily to disrupt Sweden's naval power (Gustavus was now dead), but the king wasn't supported by the szlachta (Polish nobility) enough. For the most part, the people of the Commonwealth certainly didn't carry any imperialistic motives.

    Polish apologists are not far-fetched if they claim that the army under Stanislaw in the late 1630s/early 1640s was as balanced and strong as any other in Europe; he destroyed Tatar forces which were faster and more elusive than any other enemies of the Commonwealth. Imagine, Stanislaw Koniecpolski, now with good artillery and infantry, matched against Gustavus at his peak (1630-1632), or Louis II de Bourbon, the Prince of Conde (peak, 1643). Stanislaw would have possessed superior mobility than the defeated armies at Breitenfeld and Rocroi.

    Koniecpolski's health was not good by 1637, and another commander, one Mikolaj Potocki, crushed Cossack and Tartar uprisings between 1637-1639. However, in the years following Koniecpolski's death, both Potocki and one Marcin Kalinowski were not inspiring against the Cossacks, to say the least. In 1644 Stanislaw commanded a sizeable army of some 20,000 men against the Ottomans under Tuhaj-bej, crushing them at Ochmatow in wintry conditions; Stanislaw quickly destroyed them before they could divide and utilize their mobility. This dazzling success spurred king Wladyslaw IV to consider an offensive strike against the Ottoman Empire, but Stanislaw prudently suggested such a venture was unrealistic to succeed (as cegorach was stating), and though Wladyslaw was obstinate, he never received the internal support for it to amount to anything. But Stanislaw sought to campaign against the Crimean Tartars in a limited capacity, and supported conciliatory measures with Moscow, which would make more secure such an objective. An astute statesman, he also foresaw the real danger of Cossack discontent, and advocated conciliation with them too, but it didn't foster with significant success. Stanislaw died in March, 1646. Indeed, according to the diary of one Joachim Jerlicz, Stanislaw overdosed on an aphrodisiac. I guess his new young wife, Zofia Opalinska, was a nubile young woman. Seldom has a man fought consistently for so long with all of it about defending his country. He was a great man, as a contemporary (name unkown?) of his wrote,

    "Stanislaw Koniecpolski was a man of great courage and noble character. In company, he was polite and sociable. He was no hasty to engage in a fight, and in every military undertaking he acted with caution, like his former commander, Stanislaw Zolkiewski. Due to his stuttering habit his friends used to say: 'his actions come sooner than his words.' Physically he was a very strong man. This was evident in the way he handled the bow and arrow. When he let the arrow go it would easily pierce steel armor."

    Thanks, Spartan JKM
    Last edited by Spartan JKM; May 30, 2007 at 04:53 PM.
    "A ship is safe in the harbor; but that's not why ships are built"



    Under the patronage of the revered Obi Wan Asterix

    Calvin and Osceola, may you both henceforth remain in everlasting tranquility

  20. #20

    Default Re: Gustavus Adolphus in Livonia and Polish Prussia, 1617-1629

    Isnt Gustav Adolf not the king who wanted help from Turks after he lost against Russia?and then the Turks won Russia?


    Busy!!!

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