At the battle of Lesnaya, 28 & 29 September 1708
by Vlad Gromoboy
At the start of battle Lewenhaupt had about 5 500 infantry and 3 000 cavalry with 16 pieces. The rest of his Corps (2 000 infantry and 2 500 cavalry) were sent to Propoisk to cover the retreat of the train and returned on battlefield gradually.
Peter the Great had 10 infantry battalions (4 830) and 9,5 dragoon regiments (6 795), total 11 625 with 19 3-pdr pieces on the morning September 29 and also waited for a Corps under General Bour (8 dragoon regiments, 4 876) but it was not at time for a start of the battle. Russians attacked Swedish positions at 8 a.m. and the bloody struggle continued with variable success till 5 p.m. when Bour arrived with reinforcements. Swedes were repulsed from battlefield and covered at wagenbourg. The fight abated only late at night. Russians stayed at battlefield while Swedes were thrown in their train. The most of Swedish troops were dispirited after all-day battle and severe losses and Lewenhaupt decided to burn his train and retreat to the Carl's army.
Dark night helped Swedes to lose contact with Russians but on the morning Peter continued the pursuit of the retreating Swedes. On 29 September Russian Brigadier Pflug destroyed a 500-men detachment at Propoisk and captured about 2,000 waggons. On 9 October general-major Inflant caught 318 retreating Swedes at Starodub and took 1 colour.
Carl XII received news about defeat at Lesnaia on 1/2 October. On 12/13 Lewenhaupt joined Main army with a rest of his Corps at Rykhovo. From 13 000 survived only 6 503 without any supplies and artillery. The train was either captured by Russians or destroyed during retreat. Russians also took 16 pieces, 34 infantry colors, 10 cavalry standards and about 800-900 captives.
Corps under General Adam Lewenhaupt
Helsinge (2 batt-s), Abo (1st battalion), Osterbotten (2nd battalion), Nyland (2nd battalion), Bjorneborg (2 batt-s), Uppland or A. Lewengaupt (2 batt-s), Smoland or P. Barner (2 batt-s), Abo-Bjorneborg-Nyland or G.J. Wrangel (2 batt-s), Nerke-Varmland or Stael v. Holstein (1 bat.), C.A. De la Gardie (2 batt-s), J.G. von der Osten-Sacken (1 bat.). Total 17 battalions.
Livland Adelsfan (2 coys,), Abo Rytter regiment (8 coys), Karelska Rytter regiment (8 coys), Uppland Standsdragon regiment (8 coys), A.J. v. Schlippenbach dragoon regiment (8 coys), G.C. Schreiterfelt dragoon regiment (8 coys), G.R. Skoghe dragoon squadron (4 coys), Karelska or B.F. Zoge lantdragon squadron (4 coys), Oselska or J. Kaulbars lantdragon squadron (4 coys). Total 54 coys.
Total strength was about 13 000 (7 500 infantry and 5 500 cavalry) with 16 pieces.
Distribution of the Lewenhaupt's troops among regiments of the Main army on 16/17 October 1708.
Lewenhaupt joined Main army with 3 052 mounted and 3 451 foot soldiers. Total losses were about 50% from total Corp's strength and largest losses suffered infantry (55%). Taking into account shortage in Lewenhaupt's regiments Carl decided to disband all infantry and weakest cavalry regiments to reinforce troops of the Main army. Total were distributed 3 451 infantrymen and 551 dragoons.
Remained only 6 cavalry regiments, total 2 501:
These troops joined Main army and continued the Russian campaign till the final on the banks of Dnepr on June 30, 1709.
The Lewenhaupt's Corps included 3 types of troops:
- Indelta or national troops
- Varvade or enlisted troops
- Land militia from Swedish Baltic provinces
Indelta regiments were native provincial troops maintained using a unique allotment system known as the Indelningsverk. Indelta conscription applied only on Swedish and Finish provinces and didn't include German and Baltic lands. Each province was eternally to maintain one regular regiment and raise one more temporary regiment called tremmaning in a case of war. Indelta regiments were called after district they formed from, while tremanning (reserve) regiments were also called after chiefs. In Lewenhaupt's campaign 1708 took part following indelta infantry regiments:
- Helsinge - 2 batt-s
Swedish infantry regiment consisted of 2 battalions, 4 companies each.
National mounted units were raised through a system similar to Indelta known as Rusthalleres (freeholders) who undertook to provide for a horse and a rider in exchange for exemption from basic taxes.
- Abo Rytter regiment (8 coys),
Besides Rusthaller conscription some estates (tenant farmers on crown lands, households of clergy and persons of rank) were to maintain dragoon troops on their own. In Lewenhaup's Corps were:
- Uppland Standsdragon regiment (8 coys),
In addition to the Indelta or native provincial troops Sweden also had enlisted or Varvade troops in its Baltic and German provinces. They were called after their colonels and had the same organization as indelta. In Lewenhaupt's campaign took part following Varvade troops (in the brackets are name of provinces they raised from):
- De la Gardie Infantry Rgt. (Livland) &endash; 2 batt-s.
Livland dragoon regiments were organized after 1700 Regulation and consisted of 8 coys of 86 each: 1 captain, 1 lieutenant, 1 ensign, 8 NCO's, 2 corporals, 75 privates. In the 1st, 2nd and 3rd companies commanders were colonel, lieutenant-colonel and major respectively.
Land Militia Troops
Swedish Baltic provinces (Estland, Livland, Ingeria) didn't have Indelta system but maintained own provincial militia troops. In Lewenhaupt's campaign 1708 took part only one land militia unit: Osten-Sachen battalion raised in Saaremaa (Osel) district. It had standard battalion organization.
Abo: Karpus, blue coat with yellow lining and cuffs. Blue breeches and yellow stockings.
Helsinge: blue karpus with yellow lining. Blue coat with yellow lining and cuffs. Yellow cloth breeches and stockings.
Osterbotten: blue karpus, blue coat with brass buttons, yellow lining and cuffs, yellow stockings.
Nyland: blue karpus, blue coat with yellow lining and cuffs, yellow stockings.
Bjorneborg: Blue karpus, blue coat with yellow lining and cuffs, blue breeches and yellow stockings.
Upplands tremanningsregemente till fot (Lewenhaupt): blue karpus (cap). Blue coat with brass buttons, yellow lining and cuffs, Leather breeches and blue cloth breeches, yellow stockings.
Smalands tremanningsregemente till fot (Baner): Hat with yellow lace. Blue coat with brass buttons, yellow cuffs and lining. Blue and black neckcloth, leather or blue cloth breeches, yellow stockings.
Abo, Bjorneborg ach Nylands tremanningsregemente till fot (Wrangel): Karpus (cap) or hat, blue coat with yellow cuffs, blue breeches and yellow stockings.
Narke-Varmlands tremanningsregemente till fot (Posse, 1704 Stael von Holstein): Blue karpus (cap), blue coat with yellow lining and cuffs, blue breeches and yellow stockings.
C.A. De la Gardie: blue karpus with yellow lining, braid and tuft. Blue coat with pewter buttons, yellow lining and cuffs, yellow stockings.
J.G. von der Osten-Sacken: hat with yellow braid. Blue coat with brass buttons, yellow lining and cuffs. Yellow vest, breeches and stockings.
Livland Adelsfan: dark gray hat with blue and yellow lace. Gray cloak with yellow lining, grey coat with yellow lining and cuffs, leather vest and breeches. Yellow schabraque and pistol covers.
Abo och Bjorneborg Rytter: hat, blue coat.
Karelska Rytter: hat, blue coat.
Uppland Stands Dragoons: hat with silver lace. Blue pajrock. Blue coat with brass buttons, yellow lining and cuffs. Blue and white neckcloth, leather vest and breeches. Yellow schabraque and pistol covers.
A.J. v. Schlippenbach Dragoons: hat with yellow lace. Blue coat with brass buttons, blue kamisol and leather breeches. Blue cloak with yellow lace on collar. Blue schabraque and yellow pistol covers.
G.C. Schreiterfelt Dragoons: hat, blue coat, leather vest and breeches, blue schabraque.
G.R. Skoghe Dragoons: hat with braid, blue coat, leather vest and breeches.
Karelska (B.F. Zoge) lant dragoons: blue coats.
Oselska (J. Kaulbars) lant dragoons: hat, blue cloak with brass clasp and yellow lining. Blue coat with brass buttons yellow lining and cuffs. Leather vest and breeches, yellow schabraque.
For further information about Swedish organization, uniforms and colours during the Great Northern War 1700-21 see:
L.-E. Hoglund, A. Sallnas. The Great Northern War 1700-1721. Swedish Colours and Uniforms.
Available from Dan Schorr's and Peter Berry's sites.