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

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

    Author: Spartan JKM
    Original Thread: Gustavus Adolphus in Livonia and Polish Prussia, 1617-1629

    Gustavus Adolphus in Livonia and Polish Prussia, 1617-1629I 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.

    I want to state firmly that I carry no predilection towards Sweden over Poland and Lithuania, nor do I carry an agenda. I simply believe, the best I can obtain, the events of this war occured more likely from how the Swedes have basically presented it, in terms of the details. But we can never know for certain.

    "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."

    - Gustavus Adolphus

    We are presented with a problem, a problem within the bounds of historical tradition, regarding the wars waged by Gustavus Adolphus against the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from 1617-1629: the details of this war are indeed very nebulous. History is based on both truth and deception, and is certainly colored by nationalistic bias. But I will never believe that events can be thoroughly concocted.

    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). Among other things, Gustavus gave war a new look by altering the equipment and tactics of his cavalry. Whether his cuirassiers galloped or sped at a trot (they perhaps galloped then trotted upon impact, as formation is more easily maintained at a trot), they often achieved success when charging home, firing their pistols in a very tight formation with cold steel, and they were supported by infantry fire. These squadrons functioned as an effective battering ram. The discipline of the Swedes became exemplary, religious duties strictly observed, and crime virtually non-existent. Basically, it was the actions of Gustavus Adolphus during the 30 Years War which determined the 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 would become a paradigm of a specific element from the classic military Byzantine manual, the Strategikon, written, according to tradition, by the emperor-general Flavius Maurikios Tiberius (Maurice),

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

    Basically, Gustavus formed military tactics which involved increased firepower, including mobile artillery. His army was in peak form by 1631, and his system of cavalry charges (influenced by the Poles) with intitial pistol fire, in conjunction with infantry and field artillery, all supporting each other in self sustaining small combat groups was the 1st time this had ever been seen in modern warfare. Much like Philip II of Macedon and Chinggis Khan in their day, Gustavus was the greatest forger of an army for his time. But perhaps more than any other great commander of history, his reforms (he didn't quite invent any single element) touched on every area of military science, from weaponry, to logistics, to uniforms, to doctrine. But it was primarily Maurice of Nassau who impressed upon Gustavus.

    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); 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 said 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 diplomacy involved. They probably were defended by the trace italienne system. The town of Zamosc, to cite an example, though further to the south-east, saw the construction of new walls and 7 bastions by 1602. It seems quite accurate the Swedish onslaught in the 1620s initially made good progress because of an overall vulnerable scenario. One expert on the 30 Years War, Dr. Geoffrey Parker, who researched Polish accounts with the help of translators (Robert Frost), 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 (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), fought in 1622. Perhaps Brzezinski means post-Mitawa? Excellent details are provided by experts on the Zaglobastavern Group (google on 'Zaglobastavern discussions'). Radoslaw Sikora, who denounces Brzezinski and is perhaps the best source for information (and Daniel Staberg), seems to be assiduously working to right what he thinks are wrongs. 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."

    When can it be that one can admire something without it being a vice of 'partiality'? The battle of Mitawa (Mitau) was fought before Gustavus' great reforms took significant effect. Poland ultimately lost this war (yes, I would say more on a political than military scale), and the husaria never defeated Gustavus (soem skirmishes throughout the war and his tactical rebuff at Trzciana, a situation akin to an ambuscade, notwithstanding). The Battle of Mitawa was fought before Gustavus' reforms took significant effect, and the Swedes defeated (or circumvented) the husaria at Gniew (Mewe) ans Tczew (Dirschau). I don't know the details of the Swedish victory at Konese (Kokenhausen). 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. Sorry, 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. We must never forget, as I stated earlier, much history is based on perspective, as well as deception. It works both ways. Perhaps I am misconstruing Sikora in some manner.

    From a political standpoint, the death of Gustavus amid the fog at Lutzen, 1 month before his 38th birthday, was a disaster. Looking back, perhaps we can blame him for that element of his leadership which involved a heroic self-indulgence. But his death removed the 1 man who seemingly was capable of imposing an end to the fighting. Instead, the 30 Years War dragged on for 16 more years, witnessing hellish circumstances of disorganized and impoverished conditions. As the Dutch legal 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' 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 invaluable are from Ulf Sundberg, Richard Brzezinski,Radoslaw Sikora, and Daniel Staberg. I cannot recommed enough this great site:

    One can make good use of the 'search' box they provide; you'll see. But the trivia is scattered, and I couldn't find some material, in which I had to look elsewhere. The correspondence between Radoslaw Sikora and Daniel Staberg (and others) is exemplary, both for scholarship and amicableness.

    Many Gustavus detractors, 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.

    The campaigns fought by Gustaf II Adolf, more commonly known to us outside of Sweden as Gustavus Adolphus, the king of Sweden, invLivonia and Polish Prussia between 1617 and 1629 recieve comparitively little attention. This disappoints me, as the military reforms of Gustavus, those of utilizing his country's patriotic fervor with a draft of manpower and combining arms of shock power with cavalry charges (intiated by pistol fire) in conjunction with infantry firepower, and lighter and more mobile field artillery, were surely influenced by the fact 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 (medium cavalry) and the kozak (light cavalry), 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. As it turned out, it worked, albeit Gustavus never tactically overwhelmed them. It is erroneous when pro claimed that he was 'crushed' by the Poles, and these defeats fo him are what taught him some lessons. Sorry, but patriotism, for all its positive indications, can at times prohibit objectivity (it works both ways). No question though: the Polish War here impacted his theories and practices for his later, more famous campaign.

    Gustavus' father, king Karl (Charles) IX of Sweden, repulsed an incursion into Sweden by Zygmunt (Sigismund) III at Stangebro (near modern Linkoping) in 1598. Sigismund III desired to establish a permanent union between Sweden and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, but instead created hostilities which led to intermittent war between the 2 nations lasting until 1660 (1721, technically, if we include the fall of [b]Charles XII). He was, however, terribly unsuccessful when he invaded Livonia in 1600; his army was smashed by Jan Chodkiewicz's cavalry, of which about 1/3 was the husaria, at Kircholm in 1605. Another army of 30,000 Muscovites under Dmitry Shuisky and maybe 5,000 Swedish mercenaries under Jakob De la Gardie was defeated 5 years later at Klushino by a much smaller Polish army composed mainly of ferocious husaria. 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. Because of 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 War of Kalmar, which broke out the previous April, was looking inauspicious 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.

    At 16 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, with its trade there being 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 difficulties.

    Hostilies had already begun in 1617, though a truce had been formally agreed upon in 1613 and prolonged for 2 years the following year. The king of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Sigismund III, whose unfortunate and 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, 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 certainly, but 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 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 Vasa (Zygmunt III Wasa), the son of the Swedish king John III (d. 1592) and Catherine Jagiellon (Katarzyna Jagiellonka d. 1583), lost his title as the Swedish king in 1599 (officially deposed in 1604), 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.

    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 (Christopher) Radziwill to conclude an armistice until 1620. The 30 Years War had begun 2 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 158 ships and about 24,000 men (some accounts say 19,000), took the fort commanding it, Dynemunt (Dunamunde), and opened the siege of Riga on August 13. He offered terms to the garrison before opening a bombardment. A belated relief army under Radziwill was attacked and beaten (Swedish sources say 10,000 men, Polish sources say 3,000; the Poles are more credible here). Radziwill withdrew by August 31, and after mining was resorted to by the Swedes, in which Gustavus threatened to explode all the mines at once, Riga surrendered on September 25, 1621. To isolate Poland still more from the sea, he marched south across the Dvina, conquered 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 1/3 of her exports. With it Gustavus gained political and strategic advantages and a base for equipping his fleet.

    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 peace to grudge Sigismund III the title of King 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 (Mitua), and 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 2 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 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. Though the tactical edge was seemingly with Radziwill in this clash, he 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 16 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 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 Sejm (Polish diet) 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 resolved to begin again 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 relief army at Riga; he wouldn't have been able to take the city if he hadn't overcome this force, probably not 10,000 men (Swedish accounts), but closer to 3,000 (Polish accounts). 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. 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.

    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 76 ships (?), his army now in a rapidly-advancing phase of a newly forged instrument of war. His forces attacked at 3 points - (1) Courland, taking the ports of Ventspils (Windau) and Liepaja (Libau), (2) Koknese (Kokenhausen), and (3) Dorpat (modern Tartu). No major field engagements occured, but Koknese was taken on July 15, 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 2nd 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 Gusaf Horn from capturing Dunaberg (modern Daugavpils).

    By 1626, reloading speeds in Gustavus' army were improved to the point where 6 ranks of musketeers could maintain a continuous barrage; his musketeers were trained to fire by salvo - the discharge of an entire unit's supply in 1 or 2 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 a copiuos field artillery. Probably in 1626, the 3 lb. leather guns were introduced, which 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 2 men and 1 horse. It possessed the asset of mobility to the highest degree, and albeit it was a major technological development, it turned out to have 1 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 not a success in the field. Once Gustavus entered Germany in 1630, the 'leather gun' had been replaced by the 4lb. piece Suedoise, made of material of slightly more substance, if slightly less mobile (a 3rd man was required with but still 1 horse to handle it). This regimental gun was supreme, and could fire 8 rounds of grapeshot to every 6 shots by an enemy musketeer. This was effected because its design involved a new artillery cartridge, in which the shot and repellant charge were wired together to expedite holding. The science of field artillery may be arguably said to have been invented by Gustavus.

    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 and assisited 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 (Swedish parliament) 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 15 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 recieved 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.

    For all in all, Gustavus co-ordinated the activity of innovated 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 Gusatvus - the superiority of mobility over weight, something the likes of Alexander and Hannibal showcased amid their triumphs from 2 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 infnatry 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.

    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 Wallmoja (Wallhof), near Birze (modern Birzai), in a forced march with 3,100 men (2,000 light Finnish Hakkapeliitat 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 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). Gustavus, now with complete control of Livonia, and the fortified line south of the Dvina no longer threatened, 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 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. The truce agreed in late 1622 was in actuality to gain time to prepare for 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 20 miles seperated them (one force is claimed to have been 6 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? There is no explanation that I can find. Why would Gustavus be compelled to ambush a force about 1/2 of his size (1/4 the size according to some Polish claims)? He constantly tried to achieve truces. No, his force seems to have been about 2,000 cavalry, including the light Finnish Hakkapeliitat (plural for a Hakkapeliita), and 1,100 musketeers. From the accounts I have studied, the consensus has the Poles and Lithuanians with 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, with the infantry in the center and cavalry on the flanks. The Poles were scattered from Gustavus' amalgam of cavalry charges supported by musket fire. The Poles/Lithuanians were indeed surprised by Gustavus' formation, and he exploited some disorder in their ranks, but I don't believe they were surprised in a non-fortified position, with only 1,500-2,000 men. To believe this would be to believe they were incredibly stupid, 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 each. Thus I believe the figure of approx. 6,000 attributed to Jan Sapieha's force by Swedish accounts is perhaps the number for all 3 combined, and Sapieha's defeated army at Wallhof numbered probabaly no more than 4,000. Thus it was Gustavus who was outnumbered: marching SW from Koknese ( Kokenhausen) to the region around Wallhof, he achieved the decisive victory after a forced march of over 30 miles in 36 hours in difficult terrain. 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, whose morale was superb. He took 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 sagacity amid war. 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 attcking while the Polish/Lithuanian forces were dealing with Ottom (until 1621) and Tatar (Tartar) threats. Koniecpolski didn't arrive on the scene against Gustavus until November, 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 (still on Wallmoja), 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. But it is certainly fair to keep an open mind. Moreover, they must have had forces available, as the Ottoman threat was certainly now seemingly subordinate to Gustavus' invasion. However, pro-Swedish claims that Gustavus lost not one man seems incredulous. But it may illustrate that, if he was negligibly scathed, he did indeed surprise them.

    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 about 150 ships. He took Pillau after negotiations failed with his brother-in-law, Georg Wilheml, 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 (criticizinh him 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 4 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 mentioned in one of my sources (Theodore Dodge) that Gustavus reconnoitred the fortress of Wisloujscie (Weichselmunde), which lies a little south of Danzig, and that 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 Ake (Achatius) Tott and John Hepburn, won an impressive victory. The terrain around Gniew would surely be utilized by Gustavus to neutralize any devastating effect the Polish cavalry could usually rely upon. It was in late September, 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). 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. Clearly, the terrain did not lend itself well to the Poles against Gustavus' deployments. Gustavus had an assembled force around Tczew of about 7,600, including nearly 1,300 cavalry. He headed for threatened Gniew (Mewe) with about 3,500 men (3,000 foot and 500 horse). The relief of Gniew was a necessity for carrying out the campaign he intended, so he devised a tactic to effect it. 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 Heinrich Matthias von 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 their lighter kozacs - probably the 'Cossack Cavalry', though not necessarily ethnic Cossacks. 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. Perhaps they should have attacked sharply in significant numbers and closely observe the region to ascertain Gustavus' real intentions. If they had, 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 with heavy 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; but a deadly fire, mostly musketry, opened upon them from all points, compelling them the to fall back from the trenches. But now they were charged upon by armored husaria. Hepburn drew off his men 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 (Fr. = 'Frisian horses'), and the Scweinfedder ('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 7ft. 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 2 days. Soon, however, they would certainly be overcome by an amalgam of fire and shock from a preponderance of forces, so they withdrew, both sides being proportionately scathed very little.

    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. 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 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.

    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 was a success - 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 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. 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, 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 2 days later into capitulation. Earlier sources state this force numbering 8,000, but this is probably a magnification. I have recently read it was 4,000, and some say the figure of 2,500 was the total number, others saying 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 recruits. When he reached the army entrenched around Tczew (Dirschau), he found his total troops strength in Poland had been increased to over 20,000 by heavy recruitment. Georg Wilhelm, the Elector of Brandenburg, took up arms against him, but Gustavus made short diplomatic work of the small force, about 2,000 men, positioned near Mohrungen (modern Morag), enlisting them under his own standard. Wilhelm would thereafter remain neutral. After some cavalry skirmishing in early May, 1627, in which Gustavus was nearly cut down, he began to reconnoitre the redoubts around the western mouth of the Vistula, a strip of land held by the citizens of Danzig. Viewing the works from a boat, he was shot in the hip on the 25 of May, 1627. This laid him up, delaying operatons, and the Poles began to concentrate their forces. Sigismund III threatened Jakob De la Gardie's position in Livonia, and Gustaf Horn was sent 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). Danzig (modern Gdansk) now could only be threatened from the east, 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. Koniecpolski began to reconnoitre the Swedish works around Tczew (Dirschau) in early August, 1627 with about 9,000 men, of which nearly 6,000 were cavalry. Gustavus' army was slightly over 10,000, of which over 4,000 were cavalry (many accounts say his army was 14,000 total). He possessed maybe 20 guns at most. The Swedes crossed over the Vistula River and garrisoned Tczew (Dirschau) with about 1,600 men. 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 (Dirschau) ran through the defile of the marshy Motlawa river. The Polish moved to block the Swedes from breaking out, encamping 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. But he also was keenly aware that his cavalry was vulnerable. He had to be careful. 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 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 a standoff with both armies fortified on either side of the river. Both generals knew that an all-out attack by either side would be a disaster; the answer was to probe and hopefully draw the other side out, of force them to withdraw. 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's, successfull in Germany at this time, promised Sigismund III assistance. The Poles left themselved vulnerable, 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 hussars was genuine, and that fear fear of them understandably influenced his operational strategy. 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. When Gustavus invaded in 1621, many fortresses throughout Livonia and Poland 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, and retired into his entrenchments when Koniecpolski counter-attacked in force. He did attack the husaria here at Tczew - simply not when Koniecpolski wanted, or expected, him to. Again, the Swedes had learnt their lessons from Kircholm, and now a much better force than in 1605: never again would they be drawn out of a strong position, only to fall into a terrible trap. Here at the battle of Tczew (Dirschau), Gustavus' unit of cavalry under Henry Matthias Thurn attacked 6 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. The Polish counter-attack would have beaten them, as Thurn's right wing was on the verge of collapse. But such a contingency Gustavus was prepared for a reserve unit under Erik Soop was on hand, and came in and, combined with Thurn's stabilizing of his unti, sent the husaria (and 2 Choragiew of lighter cavalry) into flight. The husaria were the most formidable heavy cavalry of their day, but Gustavus' reformed cavalry was hardly 3 times worse than the husaria; if the Poles had been outnumbered by such vast odds, as they claim, they would have been crushed. As it happened, they were repulsed, but not scattered terribly. A Choragiew numbers about 200 men. Thus, 1,800 Swedes defeated 1,200 Poles that 1st day around Tczew (Dirschau). The Poles' counter-attack would have handled the 1st wave, but Gustavus was prepared. Also, I have read from 1 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, they couldn't fight the Swedes with their sabres? True, a hussar's kopia was constructed with its center bored out to lighten it, and its length, over 15ft. (5+ meters), made it pliable to the point it would often break. But a broken kopia can still be 10ft., certainly still useful, and a hussar carried more than 1 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 6 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 the Hussars' 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 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..."

    We are indeed talking about the earlier years, specifically here at Tczew, thus it is more likely the 1,800 horsemen under Henry Matthias Thurn and Erik Soop faced 1,200 husaria (maybe more), 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 3 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 to repulse them. They pursued them until the Irishman Jakob Butler's (or Walter Butler's?) musketeers, well placed, prevented any overwhelming rout of the withdrawing hussars. What a novelty: the husaria withdrawing after a fight with enemy horsemen, even if not a scattered and wildly broken retreat. In another clash of horsemen, Herman Wrangel, positioned in conducive terrain for what he was up against, held up against Marcin Kazanowski. 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 1st day was a tactical success for the Swedes, not a draw; 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 Cannaes and Sajo Rivers have occured throughout military history? But again, perhaps I am misunderstanding Sikora, whose native language is not the same as my own (and he is the historian, not me).

    The 2nd day, despite descriptions I have read that the Polish guns were in a better position and their position well protected, they never did inflict upon the Swedes with any significant battering, and Gustavus' leather guns could have probably, with a little time, circumvented any defilades around the Polish camp. 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 14-15mm 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). 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, a little to the west of Tczew (Dirschau), it ws 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 sustained with the maneuverability of Gustavus' artillery units, and combined with the distrust of the German troops, the Polish troops came close to panic. Koniecpolski held cohesion intact and pulled out of there.

    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..."

    Actually, it 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.

    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 one at Dirschau in 1627 (Gustavus was seriously wounded in the second of them); but nothing like a Polish collapse, either military or economic..."

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

    "...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 disagree with 'the larger sense', but Hull (or Sikora) perhaps has a point worth considering, in terms of immediate result. Koniecpolski did not prevent a Swedish breakout, 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 Skernskjold. When Gustavus was healthy enough to return to field duty, Putzig (Puck) was recaptured (unless my source is wrong), cutting communications with Germany once 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 10 ships total against the Swedes' 6, but only 4 galleons against the Swedes' 5. Dickman and Skernskjold 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.

    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 2 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 clearly 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.

    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, 2 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 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 the reputable Hakkapeliitat, who were prominent at Gustavus' first field victory at Wallhof 2 1/2 years earlier. 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, 1627, which is the same area. Tott broke out though being heavily 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, 4 guns and 14 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 in which he was heavily outnumbered, and the loss of 3,000 Poles in the ensuing clash, 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), Strassburg (modern Brodnica), Nowe (Neuenburg), and Swiecie (Schwetz). Moreover, 1 cavalry detachment of reiters under 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. 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 Rheingraf (Rhinegrave) Otto Ludwig. 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 Gusatvus 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 2 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 about 6,000 men, fell upon a Polish army of a similar number in its winter quarters to the east of Brodnica (Strasburg). A battle was fought near Gorzno (Gurzno), in which the 6 Choragiews, composed of husaria and lighter kozac cavalry, initially made some headway, but the Polish commander, Stanislaw Potocki, withdrew with the rest of his army, some 4,000, towards Torun (Thorn), to the south-west. A Swedish pursuit inflicted between 500-1,500 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 military significance, the political repurcussions were considerable. Wrangel was compelled to withdraw before the walls of Torun, but Swedish prestige was revivied, and Polish self-confidence began to languish. Many of Polish magnates desired peace, but [b]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.

    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 10,000 and some artillery under Hans Georg von Arnim to join the Poles. Koniecpolski arrived back into the field, and he and Arnim junctioned at Grudziadz (Graudenz) in June, 1629. 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: Koniecpolski now confidently sought confrontation, and Gustavus, who had arrived back in Poland also in June, concluded to retire to his strong position at Malbork (Marienburg), and to keep control of the Vistula delta and the coastal areas around the Frishes Haff, which he hoped to achieve by operating from his entrenchments. It was now Gustavus who faced numerical odds. 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.

    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 to reinforce his garrison at Kwidzyn (Marienwerder), which lay a few miles directly south of Malbork, Gustavus on June 27, 1629, defiled north in the region of Sztum (Stuhm) and Trzciana (Honigfelde) with about 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), were approaching from the south, hoping to bear off to Sztum and turn Gustavus' left flank. Upon learning of their position, Gustavus sent the Rheingraff Otto Ludwig with around 800 horse to protect the narrows between the lakes near Sztum; the object was to head off the Catholic force from the marching column, hopefully forcing them to make a long detour. Ludwig was ordered by Gustavus to avoid an engagement, and simply occupy the enemy's attention within the confined terrain. But Ludwig impetuously attacked the enemy near Trzciana, fell into a well-prepared ambuscade (Ludwig was perhaps fooled into thinking he had an advantage), and threatened with destruction. Gustavus may have received some reinforcements, but if so, it didn't help: In his effort to sustain the Rheingraff and protect his infantry, Gustavus led in his cavalry to engage the forces of Koniecpolski and Arnim, and in a bloody cavalry clash, Gustavus was beaten back, narrowly escaping death or capture (his hat was lost and became a Catholic prize). Otto Ludwig perished, and the Swedish king would later remark,

    "I have never been in a hotter bath!"

    However, the defile at Sztum was held, and he and his army safely reached Malbork. 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.

    But the sharp reverse for Gustavus, whose forts remained strong, was 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 had the advantage of a united command and ordered provisioning. 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 French mediatiors finding both Sweden and Poland in favor of negotiation. 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, all from which he would collect customs, which would strengthen his finances for the great upcoming venture. Sweden 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, on February 18, 1630, to pay 2/3 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.

    The Polish War served well for Gustavus to realize his theories of military reform, and thus forge a better army. But also, his success here resulted in the Prussian ports delivering for Sweden the necessary revenue to march into Germany. Gustavus controlled the main trade routed through the Baltic. On June 24, 1630, he landed at Peenemunde with merely 13,000 men and 800 guns of all calibers, but the quality and balance of his army was unmatched by any other in Europe. 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). 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 beleived 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. But the terrible imperial destruction of Magdeburg on May, 1631, caused many wavering factions in Germany to embrace the Protestant cause (Magdeburg was a controversial event, for both the brutality and in terms of who was entirely culpable). 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.

    Thanks, Spartan JKM
    Last edited by Settra; December 31, 2013 at 01:53 PM. Reason: fixed author hyperlink

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