A country in despair

Stockholm, winter 1798

Alexandra’s pregnancy was not free of complications, as some of the women’s who was with child, Alexandra also felt some sickness from the pregnancy and she had lost some of her appetite. Gustav did not fear for his wife health nor for the health of his unborn child. The court made sure that the best physicians the realm could muster took good care of the kingdoms young queen. The physicians could ease the worst of Alexandra´s symptoms and she regained almost all of her strength and appetite, with some aid from the two Russian chefs who did their best to please the queen in what they served her. Her belly grow and when Gustav felt the first kick from his unborn child he felt like the luckiest ruler in the world. He ruled a kingdom at peace, his people was pleased, he had found a woman more attractive than he could describe that he deeply loved and soon he would be a father.

Despite the boringness that was the yearly briefing of the past years events Gustav for the first time felt truly interested in what the governmental branches had to inform him about. Perhaps he was finally adult, or perhaps it was the fact that he would soon have a small child in his home, whatever it was he listened to them all with all his interest. The army now had almost 65,000 small arms in their reserve and Västgöta-Dals regiment had successfully spit in two and both Västergötlands and Dalslands regiments was in full strength. Together with Västgöta artillery company they formed Västgöta Brigade. The navy’s four new frigates and the mothballing of the three oldest frigates was no news to the King, as he himself had named the ships, but he non the less listened to the Admiralty briefing him. Sveaborg was now at full strength, with 1612 guns. Replacement of older guns had started and during 1803 the fortress would have replaced all the older guns.

The income for the state for the year of 1797 was 7,400,000 Rd, and with the new frigates and all other investments the costs had risen to 7,500,000 Rd, resulting in a deficit of 100,000 Rd and decreasing the monetary reserve to 3,550,000 Rd. The governments long term plan was that the project to improve the infrastructure was to start in 1798, but the head of treasury stated several times over that sadly the road project had to be postponed. There simply was no finances for that unless the state borrowed money, something none in the government wanted to do if it was possible to avoid it. The head of treasury suggested to sell the 3 now mothballed frigates and the 64-gun ship of the line HMS Hertig Ferdinand that was to be mothballed later this year when the new ship of the line was launched. Something the Admiralty objected heatedly, the only ones that could potentially buy those four warships was potential enemies. The argumentation ended when king Gustav suggested a compromise, mothball the ships until a suitable buyer was found and sell all 6 redundant ships.

The French war continued, but it was no longer a coalition fighting France. Great Britain was the only one still fighting the revolutionaries since Austria sued for peace early in 1797, ceding Belgium to France and partitioning Venice between themselves and France. As it was now Sweden could not do anything else than to accept the situation. It was highly unlikely that Russia would change its mind and emperor Pavel ordering the Russian armies to march all the way to France now that no other power on the European continent was at war with France. As France stopped at the Rhine and seemed content with the annexation of Belgium and the Batavian republic as a client state there was no immediate threat to neither Wismar nor Swedish Pomerania from France.

Since the 3 new ships of the line would cost well over a million Riksdaler together and a yearly sum of 100,000 Rd would be released once both Sveaborg and Svartholm was completed and rearmed funds to increase the armed forces even more would exist. So far, no build up in neither Wismar nor Swedish Pomerania had been conducted. It was time for the German provinces to have their share of increased numbers. The German provinces nearly paid for themselves in trade duties and larger forces there could be done by allocating some funds from the state. By recruiting garrison regiments in Stralsund, Greifswald and Wolgast the 2 regiment currently in Swedish Pomerania could be allocated to a Pomeranian field army. Recruiting and raising forces in Lantregiments, a blend between regular troops and militia the numbers in the Pomeranian field army could increase at a cheap cost. Lantregiments should be raised and recruited in Rügen, Stralsund, Greifswald and Wolgast. Those 6 regiments with the recruitment of a dragoon battalion and a footjäger battalion would form Pommerska armefördelningen, with Wendes artillery regiment there was a possibility that it could hold until reinforcements could arrive. In Wismar the population was not large enough to support a buildup of equal numbers, but the 2 regiments in Wismar would be reinforced with a Lantregiment and a strengthened artillery company from Wendes artillery regiment. Emptying all garrisons in the German provinces and the theoretical forces would be a strengthened brigade in Wismar, 5 brigades and an artillery regiment in Pomerania. No force to deter a French invasion or to hold against a Prussian invasion, but a stronger force than what was now in place. With a swift reinforcement across the Baltic maybe it would be enough. It would take a couple of years to complete the build up and retrospectively it should have been started at the same moment Prussia and France went to war.

Västmanland, March 1798

In March Gustav attended in a large army exercise in Västmanland. The Guard brigade, the Liferegimental brigade, Dala brigade, Upplands brigade, Värmlands brigade and Södermanlands brigade made Västmanland packed with soldiers. It was the largest military exercise Gustav had participated in and the generals were given several opportunities to lead large formations of troops. Most of the highest-ranking officers in the kingdom participated in the exercise. Even the general staff was present, tough their exercise was not the same as for the rest of the generals.

The general staff saw the gathering of Swedish generals as an out most important opportunity for discussing possible wars. During the summarization on how to wage those possible wars it was important that the high command of the kingdom had the basics in their memory. The king felt like a competent and in exercises experienced commander, but the strategic level of war that the general staff talked and planned about was still beyond his current knowledge.

A war with France would most likely take place in the German possessions, and the forces stationed there could not hold against a French invasion. Such a war needed troops from Sweden to be shipped to Germany while large enough forces was kept in the fatherland. The forces still in Sweden could possibly face a French naval invasion and needed to be large and strong enough to crush such an invasion, preferably before France established a beachhead. And the troops at home was needed to act as a deterrent to both Denmark-Norway and Russia. Russia was an ally but to leave Finland undefended must never happen.

A war against Great Britain was similar to a war with France that only a naval invasion could threaten the Swedish mainland. And neither the combined French-Batavian navy nor the Royal navy could easily be defeated by the Swedish navy. A war with Great Britain would not need large Swedish reinforcements in Germany and Great Britain would need to fight the entirety of the Swedish army once it disembarked somewhere in western Götaland.

A war with Prussia would most likely mean that the troops in Swedish Pomerania would need to be evacuated, since the Prussian army was much larger than the Swedish. A Prussian navy was virtually non-existent and the Swedish navy and archipelago navy could blockade the Prussian ports in the Baltic, with the downside of angering Great Britain. Even if Sweden sent all forces it could to Pomerania, it was not enough to defeat a dedicated Prussian invasion. A status quo peace was possible if Prussia felt that the impossibility to conduct trade through sea was too costly. The general staff informed the king and the parts of the government present that keeping the German possessions might not be possible if Prussia saw the conquest of them as a vital interest.

A war with Denmark-Norway was more even. The Danish navy was larger than the Swedish, but the Swedish army was larger than the Danish. For Denmark to invade Skåne was a high possibility, as was Sweden’s ability to defeat that invasion force. An invasion coming from Norway could be stopped and defeated. By reinforcing the troops in Norrland with forces from Finland and keeping the southern forces to deal with the Danes while concentrating the western forces to southern Norway, Norway could possibly be invaded and occupied, at a high cost in casualties.

A war with Russia would need almost all possible reinforcements to be sent east. Only if the Russians overextended their supply-lines and the Swedish troops preyed on them could the invasion be halted. If Sweden was Russia’s only enemy it would be very hard to defeat them, if that was possible. The Russian manpower was simply too high. The Russian Baltic navy was comparably in size with the Swedish navy, with the Swedish one slightly stronger with the improvements of the ships and construction of new ones. If Sweden defeated Russia decisively on the seas and could hold on land Russia might tire of the war and ask for peace.

As things looked now France and Great Britain was highly unlikely to join forces to attack Sweden. The same could not be said about Denmark-Norway and Russia. They were allies, as were Sweden and Russia. But if Sweden attacked either part the other would come to aid its ally. Russia would most likely not attack Sweden when both countries was at peace and in an alliance with each other and Denmark-Norway would most likely not attack Sweden if Sweden was in an alliance with Russia. Not to mention that Denmark could not defeat Sweden by itself. Worst case scenario was a simultaneous attack from Denmark-Norway, Russia and Prussia. Such a war was unwinnable and would at best result in Sweden pushed back to the borders of 1523 minus Finland.

Stockholm, spring 1798

1798, April 26, Drottningholm Castle.

Gustav walked back and forth, worried and impatient. He could hear Alexandra´s screams, at one point he thought he heard her curse him in Russian, but he hoped that was just his imagination. Tough Alexandra’s health had improved he was still worried for her, and for his still unborn child. It had started in the middle of the night when the water broke, he called for aid and was relentlessly pushed out of his own bedchambers by the women experienced in aiding birthing mothers to be. This was excruciating, already late in the afternoon and all he could hear was Alexandra´s painful screams of agony. He wished he could help, that he could do something.

“-Seems to me that even a king most step aside like a servant when the queen is about to increase the size of the royal family.” He said starring at a young servant. The servant flickering with his eyes when mistaking Gustav´s worried facial expression for anger and running in fear when Gustav raised his arm to grab the servant in the shoulder to calm the nervous servant. “-So, this is my destiny? To stand alone in the halls of my castle as stewards run in terror from me while my wife curse my name?” He spoke loudly in the empty hall.

Suddenly Alexandra screamed louder than ever before and fell silent. Gustav was certain that the child tore open his wife and that he just heard them both die. Seconds later he heard the screams of an infant and felt a tremendous relief. The doors to his chambers opened and a woman in blood-stained clothes waved for him to enter.

In Alexandra’s arms the most beautiful being he had yet to see suckled on the left breast of his wife. His child, the miracle of life for him to witness. “-It’s a boy, a healthy boy.” Alexandra told him in Russian, smiling happier than he had ever seen her. The new parents did not get much sleep this first night with a baby, the baby slept most of the time while his parents admired his infant body.

Gustav´s first choice was to name his son after his father, to which Alexandra protested, their son should not have the same name as her husband. She stroke her son on his head and whispered “Fredrik”. Gustav looked at her and she repeated the name louder. Fredrik, a name both of Gustav’s grandfathers bore, and both grandparents on Alexandra´s mothers side had the male and female version of that name. Yes, Fredrik a name from both of their royal families. The boy looked like a Fredrik. Gustav opened the doors to their bedchambers and shouted “Prince Fredrik the terrible needs more diapers!” and shutting the doors laughing.

The entire kingdom celebrated the birth of the new crown prince. Congratulation from all over Europe came to the new parents. Emperor Pavel of Russia sent a heartwarming letter to his daughter congratulating her and stating how proud he was to be a grandfather, agreeing to what a suitable choice it was to name him after their grandparents. Hoping the first son of the future king of Sweden would be named Pavel, or Paul if the Swedes struggled to pronounce the name. As Alexandra replied to her father’s letter while still breastfeeding her son she already felt like a truly capable mother.

Sweden, summer 1798

Gustav was reluctant to leave his home, wife and son. Not for the reason that he was congratulated wherever he went, but because of him not wanting to do anything else than to spend all his time with his family. But father as he now was, he was also king, and a king must tend to all the children in his kingdom. As a way to shorten the time he was away he ordered to be sailed in the fastest ship. Good winds made his trip to Karlskrona somewhat shorter than last year. In port lay the magnificent lady, the newest addition to the navy. A 78-gun ship of the line, carrying 32x36-pdr long guns, 38x24-pdr and 8x6-pdr guns. At the naming ceremony he named her “HMS Drottning Alexandra” as he had promised his wife at their engagement ceremony.

When asked if he would follow on her maiden voyage, he answered that only if they sailed for Stockholm and tested how fast she could sail. To what the sailors and officers was most eager to do if it pleased their king. The trip back to Stockholm was not nearly as fast as the trip from Stockholm to Karlskrona, but that was expected. This was the largest warship in the Swedish navy and not a fast schooner or a frigate. Entering Stockholm harbor HMS Drottning Alexandra saluted the city firing all her guns repeatedly, one at a time directly after each other.

To Gustav´s surprise his wife carrying his infant son greeted him when he disembarked. The queen stated that she could not miss the occasion when a ship carrying her name made its maiden voyage carrying her husband back to her. Alexandra was still a little confused that a large ship made for war was to have her name, but she had been informed that 3 newly rearmed ships in the navy carried names from the royal family and she had her suspicions on what the 2 remaining ships currently being built would be named. Leaning forward whispering to her son “Soon your name will sail the seas”. As usual when speaking directly to her child she spoke Russian. Her son was not to have difficulties talking to his relatives back home, she would see to that.

Sweden, autumn 1798

There had been a bad harvest in Sweden and the government feared it would be a famine during winter. They could not sit idly by and do nothing. There was a small reserve of food with long durability in the depots of the army and navy, but that could also be needed if war broke out. It was the king himself who took the decision to buy at least 200,000 Rd worth of grain from Russia, and if such amount could not be bought in Russia, buy from Prussia. Norway would most likely have dried fish and perhaps grain could be bought in Denmark. Merchants was sent to the three neighbors. To risk a famine with many unnecessary dead citizens would mean a lower income in the long run as well as a lower pool of manpower, neither was a good thing and spending some of the surplus money would be a good investment for the state.

Grain from Prussia and Denmark but mostly from Russia was bought as was fish from Norway, distributed to the counties for the governors to distribute among the population if the need for it came. The most remote areas had trouble receiving the aid, but a famine was avoided. Only a handful more people than a usual year died. The government realized that the king acted correctly and took a decision that depots of food with long durability should also be in the counties supervised and rotated by the governors in a system similar to the armed forces food depots. If a bad harvest struck the kingdom when it was not possible to import food, it would be disastrous.
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Nice to hear.
Glad that you enjoy the story.

In my part of the world 250,000 people participate in the annual moose-hunt, and somewhere around 50,000 people also hunt for bears.
I am one of those "crazy people". So, much time during the autumn I will be in the wilderness. Might influence my frequens in updates negatively.
But I will try my best to keep this story alive.
Early 1799
Sweden, winter 1799

The Russian ambassador in Sweden met with the Swedish King, minister of foreign affairs and a few chosen members of the government. Russia had entered in alliance with Great Britain, Austria, Naples and surprisingly with Russia’s hereditary enemy the Ottoman empire. Russia called Sweden to join them in war. The terms of the alliance between Sweden and Russia was clear, Sweden was to aid Russia in a war against France and was not allowed to sign a separate peace with France. For as long as Russia was to fight, so long was Sweden also to fight. If Russia signed peace, they would make sure that they negotiated on behalf of Sweden and not sign a separate peace were Sweden was left to continue the war for themselves. The Russian requirements was that Sweden increased its forces in the Swedish possessions in Germany, as to act as a deterrent to Prussia the same way the Russian forces near Prussia’s eastern border would act as well as for preparation should Prussia join their cause, then joining the Prussian forces along with a Russian expeditionary force and march west. Sweden was to send a strong detachment of its navy west and be reinforced with a similar detachment from both the Russian Baltic navy and White Sea flotilla.

Later in January the Swedish minister of foreign affairs together with the Russian ambassador handed the French ambassador in Sweden its declaration as co-belligerent to Russia in this war. The French ambassador did not seem surprised at all and accepted the declaration smiling before stating “-Maintenant le temps est venu pour les Français de venger ce que les hommes du nord d'autrefois ont fait à Paris”, (“Now the time has come for the French to avenge what the north men of old did in Paris”). The minister of foreign affairs made his leave to hastily inform the government of the disturbing reaction from the French ambassador. As it looked now France had anticipated that Sweden would go to war and perhaps taken precautions, and that knowledge needed to exist at the high command.

It was time for the minister of war to have all ears of the government, and he made sure that they all heard everything he said. He asked the head of treasury to in the least number of words possible present the finances of the state. “- Although we purchased food and a new ship of the line along with all other expenses, last years surplus was just over 300,000 Riksdaler and we now have a monetary reserve of slightly over 4 million Riksdaler.” The head of treasury said, struggling not to end up in a long and complicated exposition as he usually presented the finances of the former year. The minister of war took to words:

“- As you all heard, our finances are in order, and we can afford what I now will suggest. For almost a decade the government have talked about a Swedish militia, but that has ended with talks and no action every time. This must be the time we once and for all settle that discussion. You have all seen what the committees in charge of investigating the possibility of a militia has found. I say we take that to the Riksdag posthaste and vote for it. If we are to send large forces abroad, we need to have large forces at home, and a militia is the only way if we want to avoid draining the rotes of manpower with männinge regiments as during the great northern war. What say you?”

The government was in agreement and would call for an assembly of the Riksdag as soon as it was possible. Loosely based on the French levee en masse the Swedish Lantvärn was to be formed by conscripting all capable men between 18 and 30, with the exception of self-owning farmers and workers with a profession to important to leave vacant. It was to be formed in Lantvärns-brigades consisting of 4 to 5 battalions with 450 to 550 men in each battalion, with the battalions in Finland be increased to 600 to 650 men. It would consist of 25 Lantvärns-brigades with 6 of those in Finland. All in all around 55,000 men. The Lantvärn was to be a fully domestic force, only to leave Swedish soil in a war with a country with a land-border with Sweden if the Lantvärn was needed for guard duties in occupied areas. The Lantvärn would train for a total of 6 weeks annually in peacetime divided by 2 weeks early spring, 2 weeks midsummer and 2 weeks late autumn. The regular troops in the allotment system´s peacetime training was to be increased with an additional 6 weeks annually, giving them an opportunity to aid in the training of the Lantvärn, or exercise with or against them.

As the large island of Gotland could neither be left undefended, nor send forces to other parts of the kingdom the island needed a standing force and some Lantvärn to strengthen its numbers. “Gotlands brigade” needed to be formed, consisting of 1 battalion of line infantry, 1 battalion of light infantry, 2 companies of jägers, 2 squadrons of dragoons, 1 company of field artillery, 1 company of howitzer and 2 battalions of Lantvärn.

With all brigades of regular troops having 3,000 small arms to have redundancy the reserve of muskets currently in Sweden was 65,000. If the Riksdag voted for a formation of a Swedish Lantvärn all those 65,000 muskets was to be transferred to the Lantvärn, giving the 55,000 men strong militia redundancy in small arms. Ordering the arms manufactories to produce all arms they could, would give the army about 18,000 new muskets and about 500 guns during the year. The older guns on the fortresses who had been replaced and was to be replaced should be used, pieces larger than 24-pdr should be sent to the manufactories to be recasted and 24-pdr and smaller of the old pieces was to be sent to Pomerania and Wismar.

Västgöta brigad and the Grenadier brigade was to be sent to Pomerania along with the order of filling the ranks in the garrison regiments of Stralsund, Greifwald and Wolgast and the Lantregiments of Stralsund, Greifwald, Wolgast and Rügen. A militia, or Landwehr was to be formed and 2 battalions of those was to be attached in each Lantregiment, increasing those to 4 battalions in total. Each Lantregiment would recruit an artillery company armed with 8 old guns previously on the fortifications of Sveaborg and Svartholm. The guns were big and cumbersome old pieces, but since the Lantregiments was to stay within the provinces and not march long distances it would be good enough. Similarly, the Lantregiment in Wismar was to fill out its ranks swiftly and raise 2 battalions of Landwehr and recruit a company of artillerymen, receiving 8 old former fortification guns.

In February the Riksdag gathered and besides the usual topics of discussion accepted the declaration of co-belligerency with Russia and voted on 2 new and unusual propositions. Lantvärnsakten of 1799 was passed with 68% for, 18% against and 14% refrained from voting, passing the governments proposition to raise a militia. The Riksdag also voted in favor for decriminalizing vagrancy. And instead of captivating those men, use them as forced laborers or as forcibly recruited soldiers and non-commissioned officer. Other minor offences up until now resulting in jailtime would from now on result in forced labor or recruitment. It was seen as a treatment effort and not as a punishment by the Riksdag and government.

Swedish Pomerania, spring 1799

The one-armed lieutenant general Gustaf Wachtmeister were appointed to commander-in-chief in Swedish Pomerania and took command when he arrived in March. He received a letter from the governor in Wismar that the forces in Wismar was at full strength, even the artillery company in Wismar´s Lantregiment, who had to train with the artillerymen and cannons in the detachment from Wendes artillery regiment stationed in Wismar until their own pieces had arrived.

In Pomerania general Wachtmeister was relentless in his efforts to shape up the Pomeranian forces and governor general Philip von Platen was not given any rest until he made sure all raised and recruited forces had its numbers in full strength. Engelbrechtenska regiment had recently been renamed to the German life regiment of foot and together with the Queen´s life regiment of foot, the Pomeranian dragoon battalion, the Pomeranian footjäger battalion and Wendes artillery regiment made up the Pomeranian army division. Västgöta brigade and the Grenadier brigade was to temporarily make up the third Pomeranian army division, and the 4 reinforced Lantregiments made up the second Pomeranian division. Together the 3 army divisions formed the Pomeranian army, with general Wachtmeister as commander.

In April the obsolete guns intended for the Lantregiments arrived and general Wachtmeister continued his tireless work to train the Pomeranian forces. Each Lantregiment was given 8 guns, a blissful mixture in size, caliber, weight and form. They did their best to at least have a uniform caliber within each artillery company. If the government and Krigskollegium was true to their words these huge old pieces, poorly adapted for the field, would be replaced with new 6-pdr guns sometime late summer to early autumn. And then these guns who seemed older than his father could be stored in Stralsund as reserve guns, but for now they must make do with what they had.

General Wachtmeister gave silent tanks to himself for learning the German language in his youth, as a tribute for his family’s legacy from old when they were part of the Teutonic Order in Livonia. It meant that he could speak directly to the rough and coarse men that made up the Swedish forces in Pomerania. It seemed that they held him in higher respect when he did not need a translator like so many other Swedish officers, and he hoped and believed that these poor souls would follow his orders if it came to battle.

Neither Wachtmeister nor von Platen had any idea on how Prussia would view the Swedish buildup in Pomerania. Surely, they would not deem this as an invasion force, to that it was simply too meager. But would this rugged excuse for an army be capable to hold should Prussia decide Pomerania was an easier target then French-held territory? And would Prussia want to restore some of its lost glory from its defeat by France just a few years ago? Of those things they were not certain. But as the two of highest command, both civilian and military they decided to do whatever necessary to hold Pomerania to their best efforts. Von Platen stated that the population, although worried for war seemed pleased that the scum of the people no longer tormented them by their presence , as they were now the soldiers with orders to protect them. Wachtmeister was less pleased that von Platen had filled the ranks with thieves, vagabonds, beggars and drunkards. But with a high discipline and rigorous exercises he might be able to make this sorry lot capable of firing once or twice before they break rank and flee for their lives, he told von Platen with a grim expression in his face.
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Good chapter.
I liked the answer that the french ambassador gave on the war declaration.
Thank you kind sir/miss/mrs.
My school-french is not what it once was (currently non-existent I would say) , so I might have constructed the sentence wrong. If so, my apologies to french-speaking readers.
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The Riksdag also voted in favor for decriminalizing vagrancy. And instead of captivating those men, use them as forced laborers or as forcibly recruited soldiers and non-commissioned officer. Other minor offences up until now resulting in jailtime would from now on result in forced labor or recruitment.
Wachtmeister was less pleased that von Platen had filled the ranks with thieves, vagabonds, beggars and drunkards. But with a high discipline and rigorous exercises he might be able to make this sorry lot capable of firing once or twice before they break rank and flee for their lives, he told von Platen with a grim expression in his face.
"...our friends—I may say it in this room—are the very scum of the earth. People talk of their enlisting from their fine military feeling—all stuff—no such thing. Some of our men enlist from having got bastard children—some for minor offences—many more for drink; but you can hardly conceive such a set brought together, and it really is wonderful that we should have made them the fine fellows they are."

--- The Duke of Wellington on the British army.

Maybe it will work for Sweden as well?
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"...our friends—I may say it in this room—are the very scum of the earth. People talk of their enlisting from their fine military feeling—all stuff—no such thing. Some of our men enlist from having got bastard children—some for minor offences—many more for drink; but you can hardly conceive such a set brought together, and it really is wonderful that we should have made them the fine fellows they are."

--- The Duke of Wellington on the British army.

Maybe it will work for Sweden as well?
Thank you for that Wellington quote.

It might work for Sweden, but as with all new changes a traditional old-fashioned noble officer is expected to view it with scepticism.
With the regular battalions in the Lantregiments almost exclusively consisting of "the scum of the earth" general Wachtmeister's first impression is expected, but so far he seems to believe he can shape them in to a fighting unit.
Early autumn 1799
Sweden, summer 1799

The Swedish high command moved their headquarters to Göteborg, from there they would be closer to the main theater of war for the Swedish side. Success for this second coalition against France during spring, primarily by Russia in Italy, pushing as far as Switzerland made Great Britain eager to open a new front. The British already paid subsidies to Russia for the 45,000 Russian soldiers at the disposal of the coalition in central Europe and had negotiated to give more subsidies if Russia could aid them in an invasion of the Netherlands. Sweden was also promised subsidies if they participated in that invasion.

Russia would send 17,500 men, mostly infantry besides a half-battalion of artillery, a squadron of cavalry and some engineers. The Swedish contribution would be smaller, a force of 16,500 men. From Sweden 5 infantry brigades, 1 cavalry brigade and 1 artillery regiment would be sent, giving the Anglo-Russo-Swedish army some needed mounted troops and additional firepower in artillery. Great Britain herself would contribute 13,000 men making “the army of Holland” 47,000 men strong. Russia would receive a subsidy of £88,000 and a further £44,000 each new month the troops was in the field, for Sweden the subsidies would amount to £86,000 and a monthly amount of £41,000. Great Britain would provide a large number of transports and some escorts for the invasion, aiding Russia in transporting its troops. Sweden would transport its force by itself on transport ships, military and civilian cargo ships and on merchant ships. The Russo-Swedish escort would consist of 5 ships of the line from each country, 5 frigates from Sweden and 25 from Russia.

Preparations for embarking and sailing west was at full blast, the outskirts of Göteborg was packed with soldiers. The forces Sweden would send consisted of Göta artillery regiment, Göta mounted brigade, Östgöta brigade, Södermanlands brigade, Åbo Brigade, Björneborgs brigade and Västerbottens brigade, of whom half was light infantry. Östgöta and Södermanlands brigades would form the Swedish army division while Åbo and Björneborgs brigades would form the Finnish army division.

Few Swedish soldiers and officers spoke Russian, few Russian soldiers and officers spoke Swedish or Finnish and virtually no Swedish or Russian soldiers spoke English, while the British force most likely did not have anyone capable of speaking either Russian, Swedish or Finnish. Communications would be a huge problem, and it was a high risk the officers would have to communicate using French, which seemed ironic by the combined officer corps. With the two Russian officers in highest command being of German descent the Swedish decision was to have officers capable of speaking German and French and if possible, English and Russian. Lieutenant general Johan Christopher Toll was appointed to commander-in-chief of the Swedish parts of the army of Holland. Major general Hans Henric von Essen were promoted to lieutenant general and appointed to second in command in the Swedish forces. Major general Armfelt almost begged the king for a commanding role in this war and was to lead the Finnish division by account of being born in Finland and being able to make himself understood in Finnish. Lieutenant general Gustaf Adolf von Siegroth was reinstalled to service and took up command over the Swedish division. Colonel Gyllengranat commanded Västerbottens brigade and colonel Horn commanded Göta mounted brigade.

King Gustav sailed south to Karlskrona, were he felt a little silly naming the 78-gun ship of the line built with Russian timber after himself. HMS Konung Gustav IV Adolf was as magnificent as the sister-ship HMS Drottning Alexandra. After the naming ceremony he boarded HMS Gustaf III and sailed for Göteborg. Gustav would take his place at the high command and the ship would join HMS Vladislaff, HMS Konung Adolf Fredrik, HMS Wasa and HMS Prins Fredrik Adolf in the naval escort for the upcoming invasion. The frigates that was to sail to the Batavian republic was HMS Gripen, HMS Galathea, HMS Thetis, HMS Diana and HMS Eurydice. Gustav had been concerned by the British promise of supplies brought in by the British as he could not trust the wellbeing of his soldiers entirely in the hands of the British. He had ordered all the dried fish possible to be bought in Norway and used as food in the Swedish baggage trains. Fermented herring, pea soup, potatoes, grain, smoked meat, salted meat, butter, salt and bread enough for 3 weeks for the whole Swedish contingent was to be brought along by the invasion force. With Norwegian dried fish and a supply run of 2 additional weeks of food after the transport returned and it would most likely be enough to feed his soldiers for 2,5 to 3 months. Add that to what the British would supply, and they could have enough to last through the winter.

At the first of September the Swedish expeditionary fleet carrying the Swedish contingent towards the Netherlands sailed out from Göteborg. The date had been agreed upon earlier. Great Britain would establish a beachhead south of Den Helder and the Swedish contingent would arrive and disembark at the 9th or 10th of September, while Russias contribution would arrive 2 to 3 days later, if all went according to plan. For many of the soldiers who lived inland this was their first sea voyage, second for the in sailing inexperienced Finnish soldiers since they had sailed from Åbo to Göteborg. Many were sea-sick, some vomited from the railings, others wherever they stood and a few over their brothers in arms. The troops would need a few days rest before they could be considered combat ready once disembarked. The journey went along smoothly, and they could soon see the coast of northern Holland. Close to the landing site smoke could be seen south, and the ships farthest to the west could hear gunfire echoing over the sea. They had arrived, and it was indeed to a war.

The Netherlands, September 1799

It took almost 4 days for the Swedish contingent to disembark with all troops, animals, carts, equipment and supplies. On the last day of unloading the British and Russian vessels containing the Russian contingent arrived making the whole unloading taking well over a week. The Swedish officers learned from their British counterparts that the British had mustered much more troops than they previously thought possible, making the British contingent almost 23,000 men strong. A couple of hard-won battles had already been fought and the allied force now controlled the area north of Lage Oude Veer - Schagen – De Putten. A Batavian squadron of 12 ships had surrendered to the superior British fleet, 8 of those being ships of the line. The expeditionary fleet was reinforced with an additional 10 ships of the line and 40 frigates, and the combined fleet now had full naval superiority north of the strait of Dover. The Helder fortresses had been abandoned by the French and Batavian forces and was selected as a fortified base. Headquarters as well as a supply base was established in the fortresses.

Even when leaving a strong enough garrison at the fortresses the army of Holland could put over 45,000 men in the field and duke Frederick, who had assumed supreme command of the combined forces, wanted to utilize his superior numbers at the earliest possible opportunity. The army was to attack in a broad front marching in 6 columns. The Russian forces took up the western flank, British in the center and the Swedes in the east. The westernmost, or first, column of 7,000 men marched along the coast, then came the second column of 11,000 men marching for Bergen. The third of 5,500 men towards Schoorldam, the fourth with 7,000 men to Heerhugowaard and marching south to Oterlek when the fifth and sixth columns had started to turn northwest. The fifth of 10,000 men headed towards Spanbroek and then to Hoorn, and finally the sixth column with 4,500 men marching to Medemblik, turning southeast to Hoogkarspel then southwest to Hoorn. The two easternmost columns would then turn south to Purmerend and Edam then turn northwest towards Alkmaar while the remaining four columns marched towards Alkmaar from three directions. The strategic objective was to trap the half as large Franco-Batavian army in a double envelopment in the area around Alkmaar.

Early on the 20th of September the second column, consisting mostly of Russian troops made battle contact with a Batavian brigade north of Bergen. The Batavian brigade retreated south to Bergen with the Russians in hot pursuit. This made the second column end up further south than the rest of the army. Batavian and French reinforcements quickly changed the superiority in numbers to the Russians disadvantage, almost encircling them and threatening their route of retreat. The second column was in a bad position and the commander general von Fersen knew he might be forced to surrender if he was cut of from the rest of the coalition army.

Sound of battle and stressed, almost panicked messengers made the commanders of the first and third columns march their troops as swiftly as they could. Fourth column started a forced march to Heerhugowaard to secure the area and prepare a counterattack westward. The third column was bogged down in a battle with a Batavian brigade near Koedjik. The skirmish at Koedjek did not last more than half an hour before the Batavian brigade had to retreat before the twice as large coalition force. The commander of the first column, general von Essen abandoned his southbound march along the coast and made a turn east to aid his superior von Fersen. The second column had reached further south than von Essen realized, and the first column ended up to far north of the battle for it to be an attack on the French-Batavian left flank as von Essen had intended. He turned his forces facing southwest and marched in battle-order towards his enemies.

Von Fersen´s second column still held; tough they had suffered heavy casualties up until they saw the banners from the first column marching at quick pace to their aid. The republicans stopped their encircling movement, retreated and turned north to face the oncoming first column of the monarchial army. The coalition forces was again larger than the Franco-Batavians but soon the numbers turned when two additional brigades marched north and increased the pressure on the second columns left flank. Von Fersen had to retreat some distance and turn, overextending his lines in the process.

As the Batavian brigade from Koedjek was seen coming from the east the men in the second column felt all hope leave, surely this was the vanguard of a larger Batavian force. The two most eastern battalions broke rank and fled towards the center of the Russian force, closely chased by a French brigade. Only von Fersen´s order to his artillery to abandon the duel with the French-Batavian artillery opposing them and fire upon the French brigade in pursuit of his fleeing battalions managed to halt their advance. Other Russian battalions took up the fight with the artillery bombarded French brigade and the Russian cavalry rode ahead of the fleeing battalions, managing to rally them so that the Russian commanders in charge of the battalions regained control of their troops and marching them yet again to face the enemy head on. The second columns artillery bombardment managed to save the column but had been decimated by their French-Batavian counterpart who could fire shot upon shot unchallenged by the Russian artillery. Loosing more and more guns, the 15,000 Russians still standing faced at least 20,000 French and Batavian soldiers and was now utterly outgunned.

To von Fersen´s surprise the Batavian brigade closing in on his positions did not take up their own positions against his left flank, instead they turned half a lap when reaching the French-Batavian right flank and took up a defensive position at his extreme left. Over a small hill he saw the King´s Colours, the British had arrived!

No longer outnumbered the morale among the Russian soldiers quickly rose as they fired ranks as swiftly as they could. The French and Batavian commanders appeared to aim for a breakthrough in the Russian center as they stopped their slaughter of the Russian artillery and instead repaid the hapless Russian soldiers in the same coins the Russian artillery had done to the French brigade routing the Russian battalions. Casualties amounted to a higher number than von Fersen thought his column could endure if it was to remain in the field. The coalition did have about the same number of soldiers in the field as the French-Batavians did, but they were still outgunned despite the arrival of the third column with their guns. Von Fersen knew it was just a matter of minutes until his forces started to rout, cleaving the coalition force in half.

Standing on their knees von Fersen and his staff tried to come up with a plan on what they should do to remain in the field, they were losing this battle and if his column broke the first column would be encircled, having only the way towards the sea as a road to retreat, risking their annihilation. A loud cheer could be heard from the British column, spreading to his own and then to the first column. He remounted his horse and looked east southeast, flashes from 8 guns could be seen as cavalry charged from both sides of the 6-pdr´s giving fire. The Swedish mounted brigade had arrived, leaving the fifth column arriving in Hoorn and riding hard to Bergen when news of this battle reached them. General Toll ordered the mounted brigade to as fast as horses could run ride to aid the Russians at Bergen. The brigade passed north of the fourth column at Heerhugowaard and turned straight westward.

The Swedish dragoons made a circling motion towards the French-Batavian artillery positions closest to them while the hussars rode straight to the far-right flank of the infantry giving battle to the British. General Brune ordered his last reserves to run east and take up positions protecting his guns. The Batavian battalion farthest to the east did not want to form a square so close to British infantry, instead they regrouped southwest and formed a line facing the charging hussars. Their first volley was fired at a too long distance to have effect, but their second volley hit about 200 men and horses. At just over 50 meters the first battalion of the hussar regiment fired their carbines then swinging them over their shoulders. 800 hussars drew their sabers and charged straight into the already decimated battalion, annihilating it.

When the first volley from the Batavian battalion fired at the charging hussars the dragoons turned north, beelining to the back of the French-Batavian right flank. The second battalion of the hussar regiment continued towards the next Batavian battalion and fired their carbines at 100 meters before turning back to the guns of the Swedish mounted brigade. Just as they turned the dragoons rode behind the Batavian brigade fighting the British and fired their short muskets in a caracole and turned and rode to the Swedish guns. Guns who now fired as fast as they could at the French-Batavian reserve taking positions east of the Republicans artillery.

General Brune was worried, 2,000 cavalrymen at his right flank was not good. More guns among his enemy was not good. But the sheer aggressiveness the Swedish cavalry acted with could only mean one thing; a Swedish infantry division was close behind them. And that meant the second British column was also nearby. Soon he would be outmanned, outgunned and outmaneuvered. He took the only decision he thought possible; ordered his troops to disengage and start an orderly retreat from the battlefield. The coalition force did not offer pursuit, the Russians was too tired and had suffered to many casualties, the British too tired after chasing the Batavian brigade and fighting for hours and colonel Horn did not want to risk losing more of his cavalrymen.

The battle had been hard fought with high casualties, a tactical draw but a strategic win for general Brune. He had lost about 1,800 dead and about the same in wounded but avoided to fight the bulk of the invasion force at once as well as he avoided to be encircled. The coalition lost almost 4,000 in dead and over 2,500 in wounded. Almost a third of the initial numbers of the 3 columns and a fourth of all involved troops in casualties. With 39,000 still fit for service in the field army in Holland for the coalition against 21,500 on the French side the coalition still had the upper hand in numbers, but France had much closer for its reinforcements and supplies. The lightly wounded among the coalition amounted to almost 1,000 that could serve to a degree in the Helder fortresses and was sent there so that 1,000 unharmed troops could be relocated to the field army.
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good chapter i just love it when the French get kicked in the teeth like that :extremelyhappy:
Thank you.
But 3,500 vs 6,500 casualties despite superiority in numbers and failing to commit their almost 20,000 men further east.

The coalition did okey but they could have done alot better considering the balance of power was heavily in favor for the coalition.
Best of luck for Sweden! Going against that juggernaut that is post-French Revolution France after all...
Well to be honest, Sweden did not contribute that much in the battle of Bergen.
Their arrival had a decisive inpact on general Brunes decition to withdraw, but that is basically what they contributed with.

Fear not, the French juggernaut will make the Swedes know the era of being a great power is long over.
Mid autumn 1799
The Netherlands, September 1799

To general Brune the enemy’s inability to pursue him was a godsent. He had inflicted heavy casualties on the invaders and now was the time to give them more of the same, break their will and have them flee back home. The second Batavian division was already constructing a fortified defensive line between Beverwijk and Wijk aan Zee. 2 French divisions from Belgium had arrived to counter the numbers of the invaders, he had given orders for the first to construct a defensive line from Akersloot to the sea and the second to construct a defensive line from the south side of the lake Alkmaardermeer and Wormerver.

But before they took up defensive positions he wanted to strike at the enemy. The British and Russians where tending their wounds, retreated to Schoorl and Oudevaart after the battle of Bergen. A chain is never stronger than its weakest link, and the weakest link among his enemies was the Swedes. Unlike the Ruskies and the Lobsters the Swedes had its entire contingent in the field while the Russians and British had troops further north, garrisons and occupation forces, that could be utilized to replace casualties. And both Russia and Great Britain could send reinforcements to the Batavian republic, the same could not be said for Sweden. The Swedish mounted brigade was an enemy not to be underestimated, of that he had been an eyewitness. Fortunate for him that brigade was now even further north than Schoorl. More fortunate was the British force in Heerhugowaard had retreated to Oudkarspel when the rest of the forces he fought retreated north. This left the two Swedish divisions at Purmerend and Edam vulnerable, why they had not withdrawn north he did not know, but he had no plans to let the opportunity vanish. He decided to give up Alkmaar, leaving just one Batavian brigade to march back and furth to look like he was still there, and with the remaining two and a half divisions march southeast to give battle to the Swedes.

General Toll knew he was in a bad position, duke Frederick gave him orders to withdraw back to Hoorn. With the rest of the coalition forces withdrawing north his positions so far south was exposed and he ordered the Swedish force to march back to Hoorn. The Finnish division in Purmerend marching northeast until they came to the coastal road between Edam and Hoorn and the Swedish division in Edam following the coastal road back to Hoorn. He sent word to duke Frederick that he would take up positions at Hoorn and Wognum, advising the duke to have a division relocated to Spanbroek, thus enabling the coalition to try for a double envelopment once more when the reinforcements from Russia and Great Britain had arrived. 2 brigades from both countries was enroute and soon it would be possible to field an even stronger force than the one in the field during the battle of Bergen.

At midday on the 28th of September, just south of the farmstead Beets the Finnish division was intercepted by a strong French-Batavian force. General Armfelt opted for an immediate offensive against the opposing force, but he was abruptly silenced by general Henric von Essen who ordered defensive positions east among ditches, underbrush, few trees and small hills. Word was sent to general Toll to come to their aid with the Swedish division and Göta artillery regiment as soon as they could. The mounted brigade was nowhere close and only a handful of horsemen used as ordinances was with them.

The landscape offered a scarce protection when the French-Batavian artillery started to bombard them, firing at a distance far to long for their light 3-pdr guns to reach them. Both generals agreed to concentrate their artillery on the advancing infantry instead of trying for an artillery duel they could not take part in. The Finnish divisions semi cover offered them some protection from the cannonballs landing in their proximity. The autumn rain had turned the soil to mud, what made the soldiers curse when they got stuck now acted as a protection for them as the cannonballs did not bounce, instead the balls penetrated the mud. Only direct hits on the units resulted in casualties, but when that happened the cannonballs took a heavy toll. The French and Batavian soldiers marched without taking cover and the Swedish guns took a heavier toll than the French-Batavian ones when the republican army reach 400 meters from the Swedish positions and the light 3-pounders could reach them.

150 meters from each other the Swedish soldiers started to give fire and the guns switched to canister shots, and then the French-Batavian line opened fire. Trying to take cover the Swedish soldiers could not reach even half the rate of fire as their enemies, and the enemy slowly came closer. Had it not been for the accurate fire from the light infantry and jägers from Västerbottens brigade, in position south of the Finnish division as Västerbottens brigade had acted as the rearguard, the French-Batavians would have overrun them in their first assault. The republican charge slowed down, came to a halt and retreated once the fire from Swedish muskets and guns started to increase the casualties.

As the two Swedish divisions was close, as the birds fly, the Swedish division and Göta artillery regiment reached the bogged down Finnish division in just over an hour. Göta artillery regiment took over the positions held by the Finnish division as both Swedish divisions and Västerbottens brigade advanced against the retreating French-Batavian force. A retreat that soon became clear for the Swedes was no real retreat. Advancing at them from the west, southwest and northwest it was all to clear to general Toll that he had fallen in the French trap. Enemy fire from cannons and muskets killed, maimed and wounded more soldiers than general Toll could stomach, he ordered a general retreat to avoid the army starting a complete rout.

The Swedes retreated under heavy fire. It was a slow retreat with the 3-pdr guns between the companies of each battalion firing at the advancing enemy, reloading while moving in retreat and stop shortly to give fire once more. Several small guns were struck by cannonballs from the republican side, cannonballs who tore through men like a hot knife through butter when they struck the infantry. Innards, legs, arms, heads and other parts of the bodies from former comrades lay in the fields the Swedish troops left behind them.

Rigorous use of anmarschbommar at both light and heavier guns allowed the Swedish forces to always point the barrel of the guns at the enemy. Göta Artillery regiment was spread out among the infantry to add to the firepower of the divisions as they continued their retreat north once they reach the coastal road to Hoorn. The light troops from Västerbottens brigade covered their west flank in roadless terrain. Reaching De Hulk, it became clear to them that they were no longer followed and could take up defensive positions west of Hoorn. Counting the troops revealed a catastrophic result for Sweden in the battle of Beets, almost 5,400 men missing from the 14,000 who had left Purmerend and Edam early this morning. Of the remaining 9,600 men about 1,800 were wounded, most lightly wounded and could return to active duty in the closest weeks. How many of the missing 5,400 that were taken prisoners and how many had died they had no clue about. The battle of Beets resulted in 7,200 casualties on the Swedish side, over half of the force taking part of the battle, this was disastrous.

For general Brune it did not seem like a good idea to continue his chase of the Swedish army. Every kilometer north they came the more likely it was for a British force coming to the Swedes aid. Better they return to Alkmaar with no more casualties. He had achieved his objective, striking a devastating blow to the Swedish part of the invading army. Over 4,000 Swedish soldiers lay dead or dying in the field they left behind, he had taken just over 1,300 prisoners, among who many were wounded. The two Swedish divisions could now at best muster men enough for one division, and reinforcements coming from the low populated Swedish lands was unlikely. His own casualties was 850 dead and 1,150 wounded, a great victory. Their own casualties came almost exclusively from the Swedish cannons, their small cannons could not compete with real artillery, and it seemed more like a way to increase the firepower in the infantry. Or perhaps that was just the case in this battle when the Swedes took desperate actions to avoid their annihilation.

The Netherlands, early October 1799

Duke Frederick was furious, the republicans proved harder to defeat than he first thought after the initial British success in the invasion. Now when he theoretically should be able to swipe over Holland and brush all French resistance from the country the republicans had first almost won the battle of Bergen and just days earlier inflicted heavy casualties on the Swedish contingent at the battle of Beets. Two Russian and two British brigades had arrived as reinforcements, increasing his field army to 40,000 men after the Swedish losses. Opposing him was an army of equal numbers divided by 2 Batavian divisions, 2 French divisions in the Batavian republic and 2 French divisions from Belgium. Three of those was at Alkmaar, one southwest of Alkmaardemeer and one southeast of Alkmaardemeer and the last division was at Beverwijk. His own forces was closer to the three enemy divisions at Alkmaar than the rest of the enemy´s forces in Holland. He had to act now, before the enemy could combine its forces and force him from Holland.

They opted for a similar plan that had led to the battle of Bergen, but this time the entire field army and not half of it would be committed. The Swedes with their mounted brigade who had returned to them would march towards Purmerend and turn west and attack Alkmaar from the southeast, in two columns advancing close to each other. The Russians would take the western approach, one division at the seaside turn east to Alkmaar at Egmond aan Zee, one from Schoorl to Bergen then Alkmaar and one in between them. The Russian attack would fall from west, northwest and north northwest. The British would also attack in 3 columns, one division from Heerhugowaard, one from Langedijk and one from Langedijk west to Koedijk then south to Alkmaar.

At the fifth of October in the darkness of the night the columns of the coalition marched to their objectives. The Russians was the first to make battle contact with the enemy. Once again in the area around Bergen. This time the coalition was more prepared, marched closer to each other, making the Batavian brigade at Bergen retreat shortly after finding 2 Russian divisions in front of them. This second battle of Bergen was no more than a skirmish lasting only a few moments before the Batavians made their way to Alkmaar.

Two more skirmishes was fought before the main battle took place. At Stompetoren a French brigade tried its best to stop the Swedish units coming their way. The furious Swedes was looking for vengeance and they committed all of their 12,000 men in this skirmish, sending the French brigade running before them. At Heerhugowaard a French regiment offered symbolic resistance to the British infantry division and cavalry battalion entering the area before they too made their way back to Alkmaar.

General Brune still thought that the Swedes was the weakest link in the coalitions chain and sent a French division to deal with them while his second French division and his Batavian division took up their prepared defensive positions on the northern semicircle around Alkmaar. At Oudorp the Swedes run in to the defensive positions of France second Batavian division. Heavy fire from the French guns first slowed down then stopped the Swedish advance. The muddy farmlands made all Swedish movements real slow, offering fine opportunities for the French gunners to aim in on them. The Swedish 3-pounder guns could not compete with the heavier French guns and the 6-pounders in Göta artillery regiment tried their best to break the French earthworks, with limited success. Casualties started amounting on the Swedish side, the mud and defensive positions of the French made it impossible to utilize the cavalry without risking their annihilation. There was only one thing general Toll could do; retreat and regroup somewhere between Oudorp and Stompetoren taking up defensive positions to close this road of retreat for the French when the British and Russians where upon the republicans. He sent word to duke Frederick of what had occurred and his further intentions.

The Russians and the British, having closer road of communication managed to start their attacks on Alkmaar almost at the same time. Both the British and the Russians had fewer but heavier guns than their Swedish allies. Here the French and Batavian earthworks did offer resistance but soon begun to crumble. At the same time as the first French cannon was destroyed the westernmost Russian division reached De Hoef. General Brune knew that if he was to stop the Russians at his southwestern flank, he had to send the entire division guarding against a renewed Swedish assault at Oudorp, enabling the Swedes to break his resistance at Oudorp. Which would mean that he would be encircled.

The French-Batavian army gave up their positions in the north and east, sending their entire force against the Russian division at De Hoef. The Russian division could not hold against the dedicated assault from three divisions, almost a third closest to the enemy routed and general von Essen ordered his men to retreat north of Egmondermeer, rally the routing men and form a strong defense.

The rear guard, one Batavian brigade must raise their arms and surrender when 3 British and 2 Russian divisions entered the town. General Brune had once again saved the bulk of his army as he retreated south to the Akersloot-Castricum aan Zee defensive line. His army was just over 3,000 fewer when he reached his countrymen at Akersloot, some dead and his Batavian rearguard most likely in captivity. On their way south they broke every dam and dike along the way, flooding the farmlands and turning the area almost into a marsh.

The coalition had not lost a single soldier as captured and had captured an entire brigade of 2,200 Dutch men, some 800 dead and wounded enemies could be found scattered over the area from Alkmaar and in a 7-kilometer radius. The British had suffered 200 dead and 250 wounded, the Russians 900 dead and 700 wounded while the Swedish lost 450 dead and 400 wounded. 2,900 casualties of 40,000 committed troops, almost a tenth of the army. If these losses would continue even when the coalition won battles they could not remain in the Netherlands and the invasion had to be aborted.
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Late autumn 1799
Swedish Pomerania autumn 1799

The 40x6pdr guns arrived as promised to Wismar and Pomerania. The old, huge fortifications pieces in Wismar was shipped to Stralsund. As general Wachtmeister inspected them he felt it was a huge waste of potential to just store them away, there just had to be a way they could still use them.

“-Governor general von Platen, how are the manpower-situation? Is there room enough to recruit another battalion?”

“-There sure is, general, and more so.”

“-Good. We will recruit an artillery battalion and use the most suited old fortification guns to that battalion, attach the battalion to the second Pomeranian division. These huge old beasts may be cumbersome, but they do indeed deliver our greetings.”

An artillery battalion of 3 batteries was attached to the second Pomeranian division, each battery armed with 8 guns. Tough the second Pomeranian division consisted of second- and third-rate soldiers, with 56 guns it would be able to bombard anything that came within reach to oblivion. Wachtmeister had managed to shape up the soldiers in the Pomeranian army and he actually believed they would perform well. But he was utterly convinced that Pomerania could not be held if it was the target of a dedicated invasion. To small, to few natural defenses and with only Stralsund as a “real” fortress. The more he planned for defending the province the clearer it became to him; Sweden could not hold Pomerania and there was no logical explanation that Sweden still held it.

Sweden, autumn 1799

At home there was no signs of the kingdom being at war. Commerce and daily work continued without hindrance. The common men belonging to the Lantvärn was the most obvious sign of war, training for 2 weeks, home for 4 weeks and the cycle started over. A third of the Lantvärn was at training any given time. And the 18,000 Lantvärnsmen in training did make an impression among the daily life. If not for the unusual sight of your neighbors, co-workers or friends in uniform then at least for the lack of them in your neighborhood, place of work, at church or the local tavern. Taverns in the proximity of training soldiers of the Lantvärn did also notice the increased number of soldiers in how fast the taverns storages of beer needed a refill. The 2 weeks training 3 times a year was only applicable in peacetime, now Sweden was at war and the military commanders seemed relentless in their goal to form the Lantvärn into units that could be used in battle.

Among the regular troops it was training and active service the entire time, but as regulars they knew war meant active service away from the soldier-croft and the family. Most of the soldiers were married and had children, their service meant that the wife and kids must tend to the small patch of farmland they called home. And if they died their wife and children would be evicted when a new soldier took their place. A widow could always find a new husband, work as a servant to a wealthier farmer or end up in the poorhouse. The life of a soldier’s wife was good if her husband lived, much worse if her man died.

Some preparations for the road project Sweden had decided upon started with the use of soldiers or Lantvärnsmen, clearing the trees from where the road was to be built. Giving timber and firewood as a biproduct, the peasants would not freeze this winter. The largest road that was to be built would connect the two capitals of Sweden, Stockholm and Åbo to each other. Going around the Gulf of Bothnia, stretching for almost 2,000 kilometers. To reduce the risk that the road was attacked from the sea it stretched between 20 and 40 kilometers inland from the coast. That road was the most important and the one that would take the longest time to complete. Had it not been for Västerbottens, Björneborgs and Åbo brigades waging war in the Netherlands the longest stretch of the road could have been cleared using regular troops, that job now fell upon the Lantvärn in the region. It turned out to be the best solution as many Lantvärnsmen were used to work as lumbermen, especially in the northern Lantvärnsbrigades.

The king and the war council in Göteborg was worried, ashamed and some angry. Reports of tremendous losses was brought before them. Only half of the men they sent could still serve, over 4,000 were dead, many of those found after Purmerend had been recaptured. 2,000 wounded and almost 1,500 unaccounted for. This was a disaster. The war council made it their highest priority to find out what went wrong and what could be improved to diminish the risk of a similar number of casualties in the future, once the war ended and the soldiers returned home, if they returned home. From Pomerania came reports that the troops was as ready as they ever would be, that was the good news, as was Wachtmeisters reports of recruiting an artillery battalion to the second Pomeranian division. The bad news was that Wachtmeister was certain that Pomerania could not be held if it was invaded, the war council decided to investigate that statement further.

Great Britain wanted Sweden to send more troops to the Netherlands, claiming Sweden did not live up to the terms given with the current size of its contingent. Seemed that Great Britain expected Sweden to honor the 16,500 men promised if Great Britain was to continue sending subsidies to Sweden. Replacing the known losses had already started within the allotment system, but to send fresh recruits intended for bringing the already sent regiment up to strength was not something Sweden wanted to do, especially since that meant a high risk of them suffering the same faith as the soldiers they were to replace.

The king, always the good administrator, offered a solution to the dilemma; use Lösdriveriakten (the vagrancy act) and train troops from the unemployed, less fortunate and unlucky as von Platen had done filling the ranks in the Lantregiments in Pomerania. An estimated 8,000 men could swiftly be sent to the training camps using the existing laws of the kingdom. It was decided to do as the king suggested, training 8,000 men recruited by Lösdriveriakten and sending them to the Netherlands when their training was completed.

The Netherlands, late October

Although the coalition had won at Alkmaar and now occupied the northern half of the north Holland peninsula the situation had not improved, it had worsened. The French had flooded the area as they withdrew, depriving the forces of the coalition of much needed farmland they could have foraged for supplies. Strong autumn winds and high seas made it difficult for the Royal navy to supply the troops in the invasion force enough of what it needed. If the supply situation did not improve, they risked starvation. The extra food brought along with the Swedes eased the risk of hunger to some degree, tough the men, especially the British ones, did not appreciate the cuisine of the Swedish army. Rotten fish, stinking so terribly that one vomited just by the scent of it, a pea soup with chopped pork in it that looked like it was made directly from the fish induced vomit, bread so dry and hard that one’s teeth fell of trying to chew it. The Swedes seemed to love this uneatable pig feed, washing it down with ale or something that with imagination could be called spirits, tough it stank of fusel oil these northern madmen loved it. Duke Frederick felt happy he did not have to share the Swedish supplies as some of his men did.

The coalition command in Holland decided that the only way to improve their situation was to launch yet another attack, trying once more to envelop the enemy and force their surrender. The British and Russian division marched to the French defensive line from Akersloot and west while the Swedish would bind the Batavians in an assault on the defensive line between Alkmaardemeer and Wormerveer. The attack was to start at daybreak on the 18th of October. The different columns of the coalition made camp an hour’s march from their objectives on the 17th.

The two reduced Swedish divisions, mounted brigade and light brigade assaulted two Batavian divisions entrenched behind earthworks, their 3-pounder guns proved once more to be almost entirely ineffective against an entrenched enemy. On the field they did add to the firepower of the brigades but not against earthworks. The 6-pounders fared a little better, tough it was apparent heavier guns was needed. When the Swedish side came to close, they were brutally beaten back by an onslaught of cannonballs, not once did they manage to come within the range of muskets. General Toll tried all cards he had hidden up his sleeves, but nothing seemed to work in bringing the earthworks down and forcing the Batavians of their entrenched positions.

After bombarding the weaker positions close to the sea, the Russians managed to break through the French lines. Brushing all resistance aside as their three divisions pushed south. They turned east to press the French against Alkmaardemeer and encircle their army when the British made it over the earthworks at Akersloot

The British had similar problems as the Swedes, here at Akersloot the French defensives was the strongest and most heavily armed. Every assault was met with a murderous fire from the assembled French artillery. Three times the British assaulted the French positions and three times they were beaten back. The fourth time they managed to breach the earthen walls of a redoubt only to have two battalions almost wiped out by French musket fire. Without sending ordonnances to make sure, duke Frederick assumed the Russians encountered the same problems as him, as the reports from the Swedish assault made it clear they were in no position to threaten the French defenses. Frederick ordered the assaults to cease, concentrating on bombarding the earthworks with artillery instead of overrunning them with infantry.

As the British withdrew from close combat the Russians had almost reached Bakkum northwest of Castricum when one French division from the east opened fire upon them, from the south another French division was closing in on them. As the British was nowhere in sight, and they had lost their communications with them general von Fersen ordered his men to retreat. Turning northwest and marching back to the recently taken redoubts while von Essen´s division offered rearguard battle a third French division was coming at them at double pace from the south. It was already to late for von Essen´s division but he tried to save that third of his army as he turned. The battle was over shortly, French artillery with good aim made his lines brake one after another. All he could do was to order the retreat to continue less all of his army would rout.

Von Essen fought valiantly, quickly moved troops to where they were needed the most. Giving the French more casualties than he took with swift fire at close range before he retreated. But it was all in vain. At mid afternoon he was certain, he was surrounded by a superior force and risked being annihilated if he continued to fight. He sent a flag of truce and ordered his men to cease fire. General von Essen surrendered along with his 6,000 men still standing.

Over 7,000 Russian soldiers did not make it back to land held by the coalition. Almost 1,800 British soldiers was dead or dying in the mud around the French earthworks and 300 Swedish soldiers would never see the northern lights again. The men were tired and weak from lack of food. Soon field deceases would spread among the soldiers living in the Dutch mud.

Duke Frederick was discussing what their next actions should be with general von Fersen when they were interrupted by messengers. The Swedish force was retreating north, pursued by a superior force. Their own men was most likely too tired to wade through the muddy and marshy terrain to reach Schermerhorn before both the Swedish and pursuing Batavians made it past the village. Their own scouts reported a strong French force marching their way. They could not stay here; the French would catch them in a double envelopment. A general retreat was ordered, sending word to all occupational forces to retreat, ordering the garrisons and troops in the north to form a defensive line along Hooge Oude Veer and stretching to Callantsoog. They would give up all land taken since the Swedish and Russian contingents disembarked, but it was likely the only way to avoid losing even more forces encircled by the French.

The retreating coalition did not stop their retreat during the night. Walking and crawling through mud during the night. Many men were missing once they reached their decided positions, hopefully most lived as captives. The Swedish troops was the first to reach Hooge Oude Veer, using the mounted brigade as a rearguard the Batavians stayed at a proper distance, worried to be run over by horsemen in the darkness of night. In the evening of the 19th of October all coalition forces had been pushed back to the initial beachhead of the invasion.

Food was scarce, most tents had to be left behind along with baggage trains that fell behind and was now in the hands of the French. 35,000 men in this condition, running out of supplies and with too few tents to house them. It was an impossible position. Diseases and starvation would break this army even if they managed to hold their position. General von Fersen had tired of this failed invasion, and he made it all too clear to duke Frederick that he deemed their position as untenable. General Toll agreed to von Fersen, they must ask for terms.

The disappointment duke Frederick felt could not be described with words. He was certain the Dutch people would rise, take up arms at his side and drive the French from this land, not even a hundred Dutch souls had joined him. If he returned to England as a failure, he would be a disgrace, but his fellow generals were correct, they could not maintain this position for long.

The French and Batavian forces besieged the trapped coalition for half a week until duke Frederick negotiated for safe passage back to England. Knowing a trapped beast was dangerous, and desperate men could cause all kind of trouble general Brune accepted to offer the coalition safe passage from the Batavian republic, stating that this endeavor had already resulted in enough bloodshed. His objective was to drive the coalition from Batavian land and now they wanted to leave, there was no need to fight them to the last man.

Both sides exchanged their prisoners of war and the evacuation of coalition forces from the Batavian republic started at the 29th of October. The Swedish forces was the first ones to leave. Barely 10,000 of the 16,500 that sailed from Göteborg returned to the city. The coalition had suffered a total of almost 30,000 men in casualties if the men now released from captivity was counted. 14,000 had died and over 9,500 had been wounded in battle, it could not be summarized as anything else but an utter failure for the coalition as their sacrifices did not hinder French success elsewhere.
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Sweden, winter 1800

Despite Russian success in Germany, Switzerland and Italy the failure in the Netherlands aided in Russia’s decision to leave the coalition and sign peace with France. Russia and Sweden signed a joint peace agreement with France, a status quo peace with no border-changes nor any monetary payment. Great Britain was of course not happy loosing its northern and eastern ally, but the British diplomats could do little to keep Russia and Sweden in the coalition.

For Sweden this was yet another disappointing proof that the glorious days as a respected and somewhat feared great power was long gone. Every battle, troop-movement and deployment of the war in the Netherlands was studied to find what went wrong, and why. The army had been reformed, but it was evident that the reforms had not been nearly enough. All commanders, the general staff, war council, king, government and people of knowledge, mostly retired officers, debated and discussed what needed to be improved. There was similarities in every battle on what was the biggest failures. The brigades could not fight as independent units as they were intended to do, the artillery was of a too small caliber, no mounted troops made communications, foraging and scouting more difficult. Too few light infantry and jägers made it hard to control the terrain around the marching columns and proved to aid in the brigades ineffectivity to flank and outmaneuver the opposing force. Not to mention the sever lack of a skirmishing screen in front of the main force when battle commenced.

The reformations had not been a total failure, as it had increased the number of soldiers. But to raise new regiments instead of increasing the number of troops in the existing regiments as had been done at first during the reformation seemed to have been the wrong way to go. Despite taking place during months decisions on how to once more reform the army came in a, for Sweden, short period of time. Hallands, Västernorrlands, Åbo & Österbottens and Björneborgs & Tavastehus regiments along with Bohus dragoon corps and the newly raised Blekinge regiment was to be disbanded. Dalslands and Västergötlands regiments was to be disbanded and once more form Västgöta-Dals regiment. Närke and Värmlands regiments was to be disbanded and once more form Närke-Värmlands regiment. All troops from disbanded units was to be part of a third battalion consisting of light infantry in each remaining regiment.

With the disbanding of Bohus brigade the number of western border brigades was now the same as the number of eastern border brigades. The third battalion in the infantry regiments of those 4 brigades was the only change to those brigades. As the 3-pdr guns proved to light to match larger pieces but still aided in the overall firepower of the infantry each line infantry battalion was to have an artillery platoon attached to it, armed with 3x3-pdr light field guns. An infantry regiment was to have 2 battalions of line infantry, each with an artillery platoon, and a battalion of light infantry. Light infantry trained to act as line infantry if the need arose.

Each infantry brigade was to consist of 2 infantry regiments, 1 jäger battalion, 1 squadron of cavalry and 1 battery of 9x6-pdr field guns with a total of about 4,550 men. A western border brigade was to consist of 1 infantry regiment, 1 jäger battalion, 1 dragoon corps and 1 battery of 9x6-pdr field guns, numbering around 2,750 men. An eastern border brigade was to consist of 1 infantry regiment, 1 jäger regiment, 1 jäger battalion, 1 dragoon corps and 1 battery of 9x6-pdr field guns, all in all about 4,500 men. A mounted brigade was to consist of 1 dragoon regiment, 1 hussar regiment and 1 battery of 9x6-pdr pieces. Each cavalry regiment having a platoon of artillery with 3x6-pdr guns, making the mounted brigade’s number around 2,300 men. The liferegimental brigade was to recruit more troops increasing the 2 mounted corps to battalion size, the dragoon corps became the heavy dragoon battalion, the light infantry battalion was reformed to a light dragoon battalion, a hussar battalion was recruited as was a battalion of horse artillery fielding 18x6-pdr pieces and 6x12-pdr pieces. The liferegimental brigade fielded about 2,500 men.

The number of brigades decreased, but the number of soldiers and the overall firepower and ability to act independent for a brigade increased. As a colonel seemed to be to low rank to command a brigade of this size, and a major general appeared to be an unnecessary high rank. However distasteful it was to copy French innovations non could contest their success on the battlefield. The French brigade general, in rank between a colonel and a major general was a good rank to implement to commanders of the brigades, distinguishing them from the colonel’s commanding regiments. Suitable commanders was promoted to the rank of brigade general and by the end of the year each brigade had a brigade general as commander.

To give the Finnish army a backbone of guards the Finnish life regiment was detached from the guards brigade and together with the widow queen´s life regiment, a newly recruited jäger battalion and a battalion of artillery with 18x6-pdr and 6x12-pdr field guns formed the Finnish liferegimental brigade. The guards brigade also had a similar artillery battalion. The brigades consisting of recruited regiments did not have platoons with 3-pdr light field guns nor a brigade battery of 9x6-pdr's, instead they had a artillery battalion. As the Stackelbergska regiment consisted of too few soldiers to garrison both Sveaborg and Svartholm it was increased to 8 battalions of 500 men each and renamed to Sveaborgs garrison brigade. The 8 battalions would rotate which fort they garrisoned. Colonel Carl Nathanael af Klercker, currently commander at Sveaborg was promoted to brigade general and given command of both fortresses.

Sweden, spring 1800

Although the war had been costly, despite the short time Sweden fought in it, the state showed a surplus for the former year. Much to the subsidies supplied by Great Britain. The monetary reserve was now over 4.1 million Rd. In king Gustav´s mind this was one of few good news from last year. The king was relentless in his efforts to aid in the new reform of the army, devoted to make general Wachtmeister´s outstanding performance in shaping up the Pomeranian troops look pale in comparison to his and his fellow commanders work at home. The failures on the battlefield and the other European power’s view of Sweden as a weak former power must come to an end. The high command in Sweden was convinced that the reform would be a success this time, he was not as convinced as them nor as his father had been, but he was utterly committed to aid to his best effort in making the Swedish arms ready for battle and war in this new century.

At the home front things was good, he and Alexandra was as in love and happy as ever. Little Fredrik had just celebrated his second birthday and was a lively little toddler, running around causing havoc in the castle with servants in hot pursuit. And his lovely wife was with child for the second time, estimated to give birth sometime late autumn. She had insisted to follow on this journey, demanding to be part of the naming ceremony to a ship of the line that was to carry the name of her son. Gustav remembering her nausea from her pregnancy with Fredrik was worried what a journey by sea would do to her, but his objections was met by the strong will of his queen. To keep the time at sea to a minimum he arranged several military exercises from Stockholm to Karlskrona, stating that they must travel by land if he, king as he was, were to inspect, train and lead the troops. Alexandra fully aware of her husband's fondness of military exercises never suspected why Gustav arranged for those military maneuvers.

People from all over Blekinge and southeastern Småland flocked to Karlskrona, the entire royal family was to visit this naval town and since it might be the only chance in their life to see the royal family, they made the trip to Karlskrona. Flags waved in the air, musicians performed several magnificent melodies and the people cheered. When the 78-gun ship of the line HMS Kronprins Fredrik saluted the town, naval dockyards and people firing its guns in rapid pace most commoners covered their ears, never had they herd the big guns of a warship fire its guns so close to them. It was a sight most would remember for the rest of their lives.

During the voyage back to Stockholm onboard HMS Kronprins Fredrik Gustav could see and hear that his beloved wife was not bothered even the slightest by the slowly bouncing ship. In fact, the fresh sea breeze seemed to make her good. As a precaution 4 frigates followed closely if something was to happen to the ship carrying the entire royal family. Luckily the trip to Stockholm was without even the smallest incident and the king, queen and crown prince could disembark at the capital. Some days to sea should have made the 2-year-old Fredrik tired of ships, but in port he pointed at every vessel shouting “Boat! Boat, look papa. Boat there” eagerly trying to drag his father to a new ship and climb aboard.

Europe, summer 1800
The powers in the baltic sea had grown tired of Great Britains policy to search all ships for French troops and French contraband. In respons to Great Britains agressive stance against merchant ships from what was neutral contries the baltic powers signed a defensive alliance aimed at protecting the merchant fleets of those kingdoms. Russia had initiated the alliance and Prussia, Sweden and Denmark-Norway joined that alliance.

Sweden, autumn 1800

Despite the kingdom currently being at peace the arms-production was kept at its highest rate. Old guns and small arms needed to be replaced by newer ones and a reserve needed to be built up. Almost 500 guns of varying size along with at least 19,000 muskets was estimated to be produced during the year. At 55,000 small arms in reserve the kingdom was not unarmed but including all regular troops and lantvärn the army consisted of 130,000 men. And a reserve of at least in the same number as the troops would give the kingdom redundancy in case of a long war when production of new arms might not be possible.

All people recruited by the vagrancy act intended as reinforcements to the Netherlands was with the vagrancy-recruited workers put to work on the road project. A project that was going smoothly. Civilian and military engineers along with all manner of laborers was given many opportunities to excel in their field with crossing of vast forests, rivers, lakes, marshes, mountains, streams and hills that filled the landscape between Stockholm and Åbo. The road would take many years to complete, but in the end of the year 1800 it was possible to travel between the two cities by land, if comfort during your trip was not of importance.

Early morning of the 19th of November queen Alexandra gave birth to a healthy girl. A girl given the name Katarina. Alexandra wrote a letter to her parents, informing them on the addition to their family. Hoping the letter would reach Saint Petersburg before the Baltic froze. She felt certain her parents letter in return would not reach her until the thaw of spring made the ice release its grip from the only way of communication she still had to her homeland.
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