Home Forums Horse and Musket 18th Century Battle Klissow

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  • #48173
    Neil Scott
    Participant

    As part of my interest in the Great Northern war i am trying to piece together some accounts of this battle between the Swedes and the Saxons. Most accounts i have found give the date and that it was a Swedish victory, the only exception being the appearance of the Polish Crown army during the battle. There seems to be little description of what actually happen. I’m hoping someone can point me in the direction of any suitable accounts

    cheers

    Double six! I need a double six

    #48220
    Hwiccee
    Participant

    Neil,

     

    I don’t think that there is a particularly good and balanced account of the battle in English. The Northern Wars book by Frost has a short academic account of the battle. The recent GNW compendium book has an account by a German writer and there is the wikipedia entry – both of these are quite general and suffer from a lack of balance. A bit more difficult to find (assuming the price of the compendium hasn’t put you off that) is an account by a Swedish officer of the time – Alderfelt’s History of Charles XII. This is very much from the Swedish side but is ‘pure’ – the guy was writing it on the campaign and died at Poltava.

    I think the general details are well know/established. The Saxon and Swedish armies had been moving towards each other for some time and on the evening before the battle they were close. The Swedes stood to arms overnight and in the early morning of the battle expecting an attack but that didn’t come. So leaving all his artillery behind except 4 light guns he marched towards the Saxons to force a battle. This caught the Saxons by surprise but they had plenty of time to deploy into a strong position by their camp. They were behind some streams and marsh, on high ground and they deployed cheveaux de frise. Numbers are debatable but the Swedes were probably about 4,000 cavalry, 8,000 infantry and 4 light guns. The Saxons had about 9,000 cavalry, 7,500 infantry and 48 guns – they were very confident in victory, they had a strong position & outnumbered and outgunned the Swedes. Both sides deployed conventionally and the Swedes prepared to assault the Saxon position but before they could start the Poles arrived.

    It is not clear how much the Saxons/Swedes knew they were coming or when, etc. Probably the Saxons knew they were near but didn’t expect them to be as close as they were. While it was at a minimum more of a surprise to the Swedes. Their were about 6,000 Poles (maximum 500 infantry and the rest cavalry and 4 to 6 guns) and they  extended the line to the right of the Saxon line. So it was now about 4,000 cavalry, 8,000 infantry and 4 guns vs. 15,000 cavalry, 8,000 infantry and 53-55 guns. The  Swedes responded to this by realigning their left to confront both the Saxon right and the Poles. They also moved about half their infantry from the centre to their left to strengthen it. Finally a spoiling attack was made by a few Swedish squadrons on their left to cover the redeployment or possibly to goad the enemy into attacking, depending on who you believe.

    Whichever was true this attack resulted in the death of the Swedish left wing commander and was soon called off. Again depending on who you believe this might have provoked a Polish attack or maybe they were just ready to go. So the Poles moved into the attack and the Saxons followed suit. The Poles made 2 or 3 big attacks which didn’t really get anywhere. The reasons for this are debatable and often very much depending on the nationality/prejudices of the writer. At this point the Poles started to leave the battlefield. Again why is open to question but almost certainly had more to do with politics than military reasons. Whatever the reason it was a withdrawal, and not a rout, by a more or less intact army.

    The Saxon left wing cavalry had moved up to support the Poles  and also attacked but had to squeeze up to do it and it was ahead of the rest of the Saxons. So when the Poles started to withdraw the Saxon left was relatively isolated. The Swedes reacted quickly and sent a few squadrons to watch the Poles withdraw but the rest fell on the Saxon left.

    The Saxon right and centre also attacked but ironically were slowed by the difficult terrain and defences that they had relied on to blunt the expected Swedish attack. The advance from the defensive position also meant that many of the guns couldn’t reach where the combat happened. They pushed forward and were making progress, the Saxon left wing cavalry in particular, when events on the right overtook things. The Swedes defeated and routed the Saxon right cavalry and then stated working down the line. Soon the Saxon centre was also routed as the victorious Swedish left joined the troops of the Swedish centre and the whole Saxon army fled.

    It was a major Swedish victory and the Saxon infantry in particular were greatly hit.

     

    The top picture here is the deployment when the battle proper started – http://www.wfgamers.org.uk/resources/images/Gallery/GNW/KliszowSheffield.htm – the Swedes are on the left, the Saxons/Poles on the right with the Poles at the top of the table.

    #48371
    Neil Scott
    Participant

    Thanks mate. I might try and check out that officers account. much admit I’m put off by the price of the Compedium

    Double six! I need a double six

    #54773
    Neil Scott
    Participant

    Well I finally got around to fighting this battle. Seems I have been collecting the Saxons for most of my wargaming life. For this re- fight we didn’t use the Poles as we were busy testing out rule adaptions and there were only the 2 of us.

     

    Part 1 of the report is here Part 1

    and part 2 here Part 2
    enjoy

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 2 months ago by Neil Scott.
    • This reply was modified 4 years, 2 months ago by Neil Scott.
    • This reply was modified 4 years, 2 months ago by Neil Scott.

    Double six! I need a double six

    #54786
    Victoria Dickson
    Participant

    Very impressive. 🙂

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