{short description of image}  

The Actions on the Pruth.


The flight of Charles XII to Bender with his supporters brought about a new phase of the war. During the siege of Poltava, he was conducting negotiations with Turkey hoping on its support. And after defeat at Poltava Charles considered Turkish forces as a real and single means with which he intended to continue the struggle against Russia. He promised Sultan Ahmed III at the head of his "valiant cavalry" to carry his arms into the heart of Muscovy. On the other hand Peter pressed the sultan to prevent the king from leaving his territory. Peter protested against the voyage of Charles with a large escort through Poland to join the Swedish army in Pomerania. Golitsyn was ordered to halt a possible invasion of Poland. But later the anti-Russian party led by Devlet-Girei was in control in Constantinople and in November of 1710 Turkey declared war, justifying its action by protesting against the strengthening of Azov and building of the forts.


Meanwhile Peter had signed an agreement with gospodar of Moldavia Demetrius Kantemir, which made the principality part of the Russian empire. Officially it a was military alliance which affirmed the possible success and provided the help from both Moldavia and Wallachia. The Russian forces with Peter himself advanced through Ukraine and crossed the Danube only in June 1710. But the Turkish army moved with unexpected speed. And the vizier succeeded to take a suitable position. And when Russians reached Stanelishte on the Pruth they found themselves blockaded by the greatly numerous Turkish force. The position of Peter was rather desperate and Russians seemed about to become prisoners of the sultan. Moreover the supplies of his army were restricted and the lack of provision and forage was not available. Peter's attempts to break through the Turkish ring were a failure. After that Peter appointed his most able subordinate in foreign policy Baron Shafirov to conduct the peace negotiations with Mehmed Pasha. Peter was agreed to all Turkish demands apart from slavery. But Shafirov displayed his wisdom and diplomatic skillfulness. He succeeded to make the terms imposed by Mehmed Pasha much less disastrous. Besides that the important role in this actions played contradictions between Crimea Khan Devlet-Girey and sultan and also some sum, which was given to Turkish officials as a bribe. The Russians were obliged to abolish the fortress in Azov, Taganrog and forts on the Dnieper. This meant the loss of the fleet. As a result of the events on the Pruth Peter had suffered humiliating military and political defeat. His high hopes which he relied upon Orthodox Christians of the Balkans were deceptive. But in the end Peter applied the terms agreed on the Pruth with extreme reluctance. And in April 1712 Shafirov was able to sign another peace treaty, that made Peter free to embark into the actions in Pomerania, where a strong Swedish army was placed.


The Struggle in Pomerania and Holstein


After defeats and crushing in Finland and Karelia, the Swedes possessed the single remaining army of Krasau, which Charles left in Poland to cooperate with him. In February 1710 at Helsingborg the Swedish units of Gen. Steinbock routed the splendidly dressed and equipped Danes capturing 3,000 of them. But it was moment of comfort indeed the Swedes on the brink of the defeat. On the contrary enemies believed Sweden to be much stranger then she was. They tried to make local war actions. European maritime powers Holland and England feared that, if Sweden attempted to engage to guarantee the neutrality of Charles' German possessions, such contingency had confirmed in Hague in March 20th 1710. But in August Danish troops had disturbed neutrality and invaded Pomerania. Russians and Saxons (16,000) marched to join them. They were closely investing Stralsund. Unfortunately for the Swedes the units of Grudzinski upon whom they relied had been routed. The Army of Stenbock was not strong enough to relieve Stralsund. Meanwhile allies besieged Vismar. But mutual pretensions dragged out the decisive actions. In addition storm had made return the Danish vessels with siege artillery. So the aliens had to raise the siege of Stralsund and to leave about 6,000 Danish soldiers in nearby Wismar. The plans of the future actions which were worked out by Saxon, Danes and Peter differed greatly each one from another. Peter attempted to win over to his side Prussia and wanted to siege Stetin. Danes and Saxons proposed to continue besiege of Stralsund and Wismar. Russian forces of Menshikov had not sufficiently siege artillery and actions near Stralsund were ineffective. At last Menshikov set out towards Stralsund which was already blockaded by Saxon and Danes. Meanwhile the Swedes decided to take advantage of the indecision of allies. They succeeded to land troops of Stenbock (18,000) started to Stralsund and broke through the blockade. Then he had undertaken march towards Rostock and occupied it. But his difficulties increased regiments were exhausted and he had consented to an armistice offered by the Saxon Commander in Chief and Minister, Fleming. So Peter not having any information about it was in an ambiguous situation.


The king of Denmark was displeased with this truce and he wrote to his allies "We must unite all our forces to crush Stenbock and his 18,000 men". A large Danish army commanded by King Frederic was approaching Stenbock from the west. The Russian - Saxon units were marching from the east. Stenbock determined to anticipate them and attack the Danes before they joined the allies. He had broken down all the bridges behind himself. Passing the Wismar he came suddenly upon the Danish camp at Gadebusch and fell upon the Danes without any delay, because the Russian and Saxon squadrons were following hard upon his heels. The Swedish artillery handled by C. Cronstedt wrought fearful havoc. A few charges of the Danish cavalry were repulsed by fire of the Swedish batteries and infantry regiments. During two hours both quarters several times came too close.


Many of the Swedish regiments lost all their officers. Danes were compelled to retreat towards Holstein. This victory improved for a time the position of Sweden but she did not succeeded to bring about a fundamental improvement charge.. Sweden found herself face to face with the necessity of surrendering part of her dominions in order to save the rest. But Charles remained immovable and was determined to resist to the death rather then make the slightest concession. But Stenbock's army was his last force. But its position was almost desperate. Stenbock was surrounded by some 36,000 allies's troops who prepared to attack him. He determined to make an impetuous march to Altona in Holstein. This city was set on fire, only a hundred of the poorest houses and the churches remained. This so-called "victory" had not improved the Swedish position. Stenbock had not succeeded to strengthen his army because the shifted wind drove the Swedish fleet back to Sweden. Stenbock could not hope in a hard winter, which might enable him to cross to the Scaw or Lunen. But the weather became mild and that compelled him to abandon this project. At last his units were driven into the western corner of the Slezwick. He was attacked by the Russians and had to take cover in the fortress of Tonning. He hoped on the help of England but in May 1716 was forced to surrender to Frederic IV. On 4 July the Russian-Danish forces captured Rugen Island and Menshikov began the siege of Stetin. After intensive artillery bombardment, this strong point surrendered and then was transferred to Prussia as a temporary possession. Indeed Prussia strove to isolate Russia from her alliance, composing a project of helping Sweden. Charles agreed to lose all of Pomerania rather than give up Stettin.

But indeed the situation for Sweden herself was pitiful. In spite of this the Swedish king was determined to continue to fight. He attempted to raise troops in Germany and contrived to collect 17,000 men about Straslund. Charles tried to prevent the Russian landing and bade to pitch and entrench nearby Stresow. But his communications were cut off and desperate attacks were beaten off with the terrible loses. Swedes were forced to carry back to Stralsund, which was captured in December 12th 1715. The day before Charles had quitted Pomerania in a little boat.


The Campaign in Finland - and the end of the war


The very important phase of the Northern war was connected with the operations in Finland, where the Russian command attempted to develop a massive offensive. According to this plan, the Baltic navy ought to have played the decisive role. By 1713 in the Finnish Gulf had been concentrated more then 15 ships of line and frigates not to mention landing crafts and barges. In spring the Russian squadrons of galleys with 16,000 men on board moved towards Finland. Owing to the combined attack the Russians succeeded to capture Helsingfors, but the Swedish troops were not crushed and Gen. Armfeld with his regiments could retire. However by this action he opened the route to Borgo. At same time the Swedish army (15,000) led by Gen. Libeker did a forced march and really threatened the Russian communications and rear. Taking into account this maneuver, the Russian command decided to leave Helsingfors and start to Borgo. After a successful storm or blockade the Russian units must have come back and entered Helsingfors once again.

This plan could be realized only partly. So the Swedish squadrons were not defeated. Moreover the units of Admiral Lillie had a very good chance to escape any combat with the Russians. During the chase, 3 Russian ships, including the flagship, Kryise, ran aground, while the rest had to stop fire. But later the Russians assembled their units and on July 15th the rowing fleet under the command of F.M. Apraksin attacked and captured Helsingfors. This victory was of great importance because as a result the Swedes had lost the last strong point in this region. After the surrender of Helsingfors, the offensive actions of Peter continued. The separate unit of 12,000 men led by M. M. Golitsyn marched along the coastline, while the galley's squadron of Bocis moved towards Abo through the skerres. On August 28th the Swedish regiments of rear guard were defeated and forced to withdraw and the Russian detachments captured the fortress. Simultaneously the corps (16,000) of Apraksin continued to press the enemy, who attempted to use their favored position near the Pnlkina River. October 6th Golitsyn carried out the turning movement and having crossed by floats over Mallesvesi lake surprised the Swedes. They attempted to arrange a countercharge but their dragoons were dispersed by the Russian artillery. In their turn the Russian cavalry charged the both flanks of the Swedish position, which forced them to withdraw loosing almost all artillery and train. By the end of 1713 the most part of Finland was captured by the Russians.


The full defeat of the Swedish troops occurred near v. Lappola. Golitsyn formed his regiments in two lines placing artillery on flanks. The Swedish infantry attempted to break through the center of the Russian position but was repulsed by fire and bayonets. In their turn the Swedish lines stemmed the attacks of the Russian infantry. This combat lasted yet for several hours and only when the Russian cavalry charged the rear of the foe were the Swedes forced to retire. In August this year the garrison of Nejshlot, which was considered really the last Swedish fortress in Finland, surrendered and the main theater of war was removed to sea.


In summer 1714 the famous sea fight near Hangut Cape took place. Not long before the Russian reconnaissance fixed the movement of the Swedish squadrons led by Admiral Watrang to Hangut. This unit comprised 15 ships of line, 3 frigates and rowing vessels. Soon Watrang took a suitable position near extremity of the cape waiting approach march of the Russians. Peter decided to overreach the Swedish command and to escape a combat with their main forces. With that end in view he ordered to drag his galleys over the cape from one side to another. But the Swedes succeeded to discover this intentions and they prepared to attack the Russians during their crossing. For this purpose the Swedes had divided their navy in two parts and this blunder was used by Peter. Taking into account this maneuver and also calm seas the Russians turned round the Swedish ships, which stayed motionless and really blockaded them. It was the unit of Erenshild who was sent to attack the Russians. That way the issue of the future battle had been predetermined. July 27th more then 30 Russian galleys attacked 10 Swedish ships. However this action was stopped twice but in the third time the Russians succeeded to approach for boarding, while Watrang was a simple witness of this crushing. After 3 hours of fierce artillery fire and hand to hand fight the most part of the Swedish squadron was captured or sunk. It was the first marine victory of the Russians in the war and they got a real opportunity to begin operations in the nearby Aland isles. Meanwhile the Russian forces had occupied Umeo on the Gulf of Bothnia and stayed there for a month. As a result a possibility to make a land on the Swedish coastline became real. At the same time the Swedes began to reinforce and fortify their shores.


The Russians acquired new allies and on May 1st, 1715 Prussia at last declared war on Charles XII and in October Hanover joined the Northern Alliance. But however the anti-Swedish coalition became more heterogeneous and it was very difficult to hold all members of this union together. For instance the Danes were against the participation of Holstein Gottorp and Prussians wished to gain Stettin without almost any effort and risk. Partly this reason made clear sluggishness of the Danish fleet what forced Peter to give up landing actions on the south shores of Sweden. Moreover European countries were seriously worried by making Russia a great power, especially a strong naval state.

As a result of some distractions and uncertainties inside of the anti-Swedish coalition, Denmark and Hanover refused to wage a war against Swedish realm. The hostility of England to Russia was genuine. In this situation Peter decided to become good with France and the treaty between them and Prussia was signed in August 1717 in Amsterdam. Charles XII refused to conclude a treaty with England, whose demands were very ambitious, and simultaneously he put claims on Verder and Bremen, which were considered the possessions of King of England George I. In its turn England wished to frustrate the possible negotiations between Russia and Sweden, perspective of which became real after the Amsterdam treaty. British diplomacy tried to disrupt the Northern Alliance and this policy angered Peter. Besides establishment of the Russia army in Mecklenburg, where troops of Prince Repnin were evacuated to after unsuccessful enterprise with Danes to invade the Swedish coastline. The position of Peter inspired the additional hostility to Russia. At last in summer 1717 Peter bade his army to withdraw from this German state. But this action did not assuaged itself the alarm in Europe. The main aim of Augustus II, Charles IV, emperor of the Holy Rome Empire, and George First was to drive Russian forces from Poland. They proposed to return to Sweden all the territory which were captured by Russia. But the real anti-Russian coalition never came into existence. The Polish Republic and Prussia indeed refused to help Sweden to oppose Russia. At the same time the possibility of negotiations between Russia and Sweden was available. Only in May 1718 Russian-Swedish peace talks opened on the Aland isles. Osterman, head of the Russian delegation, skillfully conducted the talks with A. Gots. After a strain discussions had reached ostensible agreement. According to this treaty Russia lawfully became possessor of the Baltic provinces. In his turn Peter promised auxiliary corps of 20,000 to act under Swedish command against England. Charles XII was allowed to take Norwegian territory from Denmark. But these conditions could not be realized because there was powerful opposition in Sweden to treaty and later the opportunity to conclude the peace treaty finally missed.


In December 1718 Charles XII was killed while besieging the Norwegian fortress of Frederiksen and the political group in Sweden, which come out in favor to continue fight for the Littoral was in the saddle. Meanwhile the economic and military potential was practically exhausted, its casualties were about 100,000 men. But in spite of these unfavorable circumstances was determined to continue a war. On the contrary Russian regular army and navy were strong. At least more then 100,000 men were disposed in the Baltic provinces.

Upon May 1719 the Russian navy on Baltic numbered 23 ships of line, 6 frigates and 6 "shniavas" with crews and boarded 10,711 men and 1,672 guns. Prussian command planned to make a landing nearby Evle and Norchoping and after march towards Stockholm. The Swedes tried to drug out negotiations hoping on a support of France and England. They were fortifying strong points along the coast and disposed their main forces near the capital. In May 1719 occurred fight sea near Esel Island and after fierce skirmishing lasted about 4 hours 35 Swedish ships were captured. In the summer the Russian command was determined to strike a blow at Stockholm and galleys of Baltic navy began to act along the Swedish coastline. However Swedes formed strong unit of 19 ships of line, which protected the access to their capital. In July 1719 Russian Military Council has confirmed the plan according to which there was arranged large-scale landing operations on the territory of Sweden. The Russian squadron under command of F.M. Apraksin was raiding through skerres along the Swedish shores. Sometimes Russians succeeded to make landing. For instance in August the Russian detachments led by Barjatinsky and Strekalov attacked the Swedish vanguard of Duke Hessen Kassel who had 2 infantry and 1 cavalry regiments. The combat lasted about 1 hour and at last Swedes were forced to retire.


During July and August 1719 the Russian forces made landing ravaging the country side to within a few miles of Stockholm itself. The main loss for realm was destroy of metal factories which provided the Swedish industry and army.

By autumn 1719 talks on Aland Isles had been finally frustrated and in August the British squadron joined the Swedish fleet and in January 1720 England and Sweden concluded the treaty implying the participation of the British navy in actions against Russia. Prussia, pressed by George I, signed the treaty with Sweden promising not to support Peter. But however Sweden did not give in easily. The agreement signed with England gave Swedes only formed hope of it's support. And indeed the position of Sweden was almost hopeless. In Britain there was dislike of Baltic entanglements that could be partly explained by Peter's declaration, which stimulated development of trade between Russia and England. In spring after ice flood, war actions became more active. Peter was determined to make large-scale landing near Vase, Umeo and Evle. At the same time he bade to strengthen Revel in case of possible attack of the Swedish-British squadron. Only in May 1720 this formation appeared near Revel. And while the united squadron was toiling there the Russian landing party attempted to invade the Swedish coastline. This action compelled them to start towards Stockholm. Peter ordered his navy to cruise between Hangut and Rogervick. In July the Russian formation led by Golitsyn moved to Abo. Near Lemland Island there were concentrated two Swedish squadrons of Shobland and Wachmeister. A strong wind prevented the Russians from attacking them. In a Council of the Russian Command it was decided to withdraw to Grengam island and wait for approach of enemy. The Swedish frigates tried to pursuit galleys and boats of Golitsyn, but they could hardly act in the narrow strait abounded in shoals and reefs. As a result 2 Swedish frigates run aground and were attacked by the Russian galleys. The confidence and promptitude of the Russians presented a marked contrast to the passivity of the Swedes. After the fierce fight, these vessels were boarded. The 2 another frigates attempted to tear themselves away to open sea but flagship of Shobland hampered to do it by its position and maneuver. This frigates were captured too but Shobland succeeded to outstrip the Russian pursuer. It was the last significant battle of the Northern war and the Swedes were on the verge of political and economic disaster. Besides that George I urged the Swedish government to conclude peace treaty with Russia. In April 1720 the Swedish ambassador in Paris had discussed perspectives of treaty with Schleinis, the Russian minister there. At the beginning of 1721 representatives of Russia and Sweden arrived at Nystad, a little town in Finland. The Russian government strongly adhered to the conditions which had been laid down in Alands. The Russian diplomats were unwilling to discuss the terms, connected with giving up Baltic provinces. At the same time Russia refused Finland. The numerous army of Peter (150,000) was disposed in Livonia and Estland. By the end of July all the main terms had been discussed and mostly settled and in September on the night of 10-11 Nystad treaty was signed. According to its points Livonia, Estland, Ingria, and Karelia became Russian possessions. Peter agreed to pay Sweden 2 million Reichstaler for Livonia. Poland and Britain were to be admitted to these conditions as the allies of the both sides. Russia also promised not to intervene in domestic struggle in Sweden.

This treaty meant not only the end of the Northern war. This event marked the end of any pretence that Sweden was still a great power and simultaneously it showed the fact Russia leapt to a startling new level of wealth and turning into Empire.