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The Napoleonic Wars 1792-1815

Scandinavian Wars.

For all discussions relating to the War between Britain and others (including France, Spain, Holland, Denmark etc.) of 1803-1814. Please see below for the Peninsular War.

Re: Scandinavian Wars.

Postby Josh&Historyland » January 31st, 2016, 11:03 pm

Skarpskytten wrote:
"Life and Letters of Sir John Moore"

Thank you, I may have to take a look at that. One of my unfinished projects is an analysis of how visitors from abroad saw the Swedish army during our period. I did start on it, a long time ago, and perhaps I will one day finish it.

But broadly they said the usual things they used to say about everyone bar the Prussians, basically that they were poorly organised and badly lead and were being walked over by the Russians. The truth is not so much that they had no fighting spirit or were poor soldiers, far from it, rather the opposition party to King Gustav, which included much of the nobility and army, saw the Russian invasion as an excuse to oust him, therefore there are hints that they didn't put their heart into the defence of Finland as much as they might a decade earlier. Likewise most of their best troops I believe were already fighting in Norway.

I would say that the best troops in the Swedish army - apart from the Mörner hussars and the artillery (which was excellent) - were the units of 3rd or Savolax-brigaden, which was very much fighting in Finland. The Guards did rather poorly, but then again, they were misused.

It is also my contention that whatever flaws and weaknesses of the Swedish army, the failure to protect Finland was not a failure on the battlefield. If you look at the major "battles" in Finland, it is clear that the russians did not win a single one of them with a numerical inferiority. The swedes won two battles - Rouna and Virta bro - despite heavy odds. All other major engagements was wo by the side with the most troops. In short, the armies were evenly matched on the battlefield. Given that the russians had been improving since thier last scrap with the French and had a lot of veterans and experienced commanders (who later did great things), I think that does the Swedish army credit.

Of course, Sweden was poor and led by an idiot. Strategy during the War of 1808-09 was a disaster. Only one officer - Sandels - showed any real flair for the operational level of war. At least two, Adlercreutz and Sandels, were excellent tacticans. Döbel might qualify there too, but I think he is overrated.

I think that is fair to say sharpshooter, from what I've read it wasn't failure on the battlefield that hamstrung the army rather the chaos in its upper echelons. It is clear the Swedish had a good army because they performed well in 1813-14 with Bernadotte at the helm. Moore's brother wrote that he formed a great attachment to the Swedish people by the time he left and felt bad that he hadn't been able to help, he was also angry at the British government for sending him to deal with Gustav though.
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