A country in despair

Sweden, winter 1801

The new army reorganization so close to the just finished army reorganization meant that new committees, investigations, meetings and briefings needed to take place. Krigskollegium held their briefing for the members of the government, general staff, admiralty and officers of higher command. Although the Swedish navy was smaller than the navies of the possible enemies it was still viewed as having sufficient numbers, had not the heavy Swedish frigates been armed enough to function to some degree in the line of battle the navy would have been too small. But if things changed or the other naval powers started a naval build-up Sweden must be prepared to build more ships and recruit more sailors.

Krigskollegium presented the number of guns in the field army, as the guns in the army were of the size and number for the former brigade composition new pieces needed to be made. There was 228 3-pdr´s in the army, and 88 had been built during 1800 bringing the number to 316. For 6-pdr´s the number in the army and the ones built last year was 162, for 12-pdr 58, for 24-pdr 52. There was 18x-12-pdr howitzers, 14x24-pdr howitzers and 24x32-pdr mortars.

With the decision to increase the size of the field cannons in the brigade batteries from 3-pdr to 6-pdr the next natural decision was to have guns above 12-pound in the artillery regiments. Regiments that from now on would have 1 medium heavy battalion, 1 heavy battalion and 1 mortar battery. The guns in each artillery regiment would be 18x12-pdr field cannons, 9x12-pdr howitzers, 12x24-pdr field cannons, 6x24-pdr howitzers and 6x32-pdr mortars, a total of 51 guns. The brigade’s total number of guns would be 156x3-pdr light field cannons, 237x6-pdr field cannons and 24x12-pdr field cannons. So, the army had 160 more 3-pdr and 4 more 24-pdr than needed. It had 75x6-pdr, 38x12-pdr, 18x12-pdr howitzers and 10x24-pdr howitzers less than it needed. A total of 141 guns to arm the army. The needed guns and a small reserve would be in place during the year as the manufactories hardly needed to focus on producing 3-pdr light field cannons as a reserve larger than what the field army needed was a large reserve.

The reserve of small arms was over 55,000. But many of the army´s almost 200,000 small arms was beginning to be old. Since the government already had expressed its wishes for a reserve of 100,000 small arms that were relatively modern the production of small arms was to continue at a high rate. Last year only muskets had been produced and that would be the case this year to, with about 19,000 muskets produced during the year.

The generals could inform that the command structure in the brigades was in place. The existing troops that was to relocate was now in their new units, but had not trained for their new assignment or in their new units, only some regiments had been able to exercise in their new form. As the jägers consisted of recruited soldiers and many more jägers was to exist in this organization of the army than in the former only a third of the brigades had a battalion of jägers attached to it. The recruiting of more jägers was ongoing and within 18 months the generals thought all new soldiers would have been recruited.

Northern Europe, spring 1801

The spring of 1801 became known as the spring of dark tidings in Sweden. Great Britain appeared to view the alliance Sweden joined along with Russia, Prussia and Denmark-Norway as an alliance with France. And for that Great Britain had entered Kattegatt. Reports from lookouts in the west said Great Britain had sail through Kattegatt with about 20 ships of the line, 5 frigates and maybe 15 smaller vessels. To aid the Danes the Swedish fleet sailed out from Karlskrona in an effort to reach the Danish fleet before the British reached København. HMS Ulla Fersen was sent to Russia to warn the Russians and request their aid. If Denmark-Norway could not be aided the fleet was to return home awaiting either the arrival of the Russian Baltic navy or the moment the royal navy sailed east, then sail after them to fight them together with the Russian Baltic navy.

The winds did not blow in the Swedish fleets favor. Admiral Cederström felt certain that the British would reach the Danish fleet long before he could. 2 ships of the line and 2 heavy frigates was in Göteborg, 3 ships of the line, 2 heavy frigates and 2 frigates was in Stockholm and 1 frigate had sailed to Russia. Leaving him with 10 ships of the line and 8 heavy frigates, a force half as large as what the British had sent.

On the 10th of April the Swedish fleet was approached by a Danish squadron of 3 frigates sailing east. The Danes did not bring good news. The royal navy had attacked København, the Danish fleet losing some 15 ships, among them 9 ships of the line while the only British casualties had been some ships run aground, ships they could later free. The Danish and Swedish officers discussed what to do. As the remainder of the Danish fleet had surrendered when the royal navy threatened to bombard København their 10 ships of the line and 11 frigates would face 50 ships now with the ships the royal navy had captured from the Danish-Norwegian navy. That was impossible odds and they decided to part, the Danish ships sailing to southern Denmark and the Swedish ones making their way back to Karlskrona.

A couple of days later the Swedish fleet was sailing in the waters outside of Karlskrona when they saw the royal navy approach. Rather than fighting a superior force admiral Cederström ordered the ships to port. The coastal batteries outside of Karlskrona along with blockships would surely prevent the royal navy from sailing after them into the harbor. A smaller British vessel flying a flag of truce entered Karlskrona, onboard was the British admiral Hyde Parker who started to negotiate with admiral Cederström of Sweden to leave the league of armed neutrality. To what Cederström honestly answered that he as an officer did not have the mandate for such negotiation. The British did not try to force their way into the harbor of Karlskrona, neither did they blockade the port nor sail to deal with the Russians, instead they seemed to sail back to København. A months later the royal navy returned and left a squadron of ships of the line outside of Karlskrona besieging the naval port. The rest of the royal navy sailed east.

At the middle of May HMS Ulla Fersen returned to Stockholm, carrying horrendous news. Emperor Pavel had been assassinated, and Alexander was the new emperor. HMS Ulla Fersen was nearly captured by British ships, but favorable winds made her avoid the British ships as she sailed at full sails back to Stockholm. The murder of his father-in-law tore up emotional wounds of old for king Gustav, and queen Alexandra was devastated. Some days later news of Russia leaving the league of armed neutrality reach Stockholm, Denmark-Norway had already been forced to leave and Prussia could do nothing against the royal navy. So, Sweden declared that it to would leave the league, effectively ending its existence.

Sweden, summer 1801

Heartbroken, Alexandra wrote a letter to her brother asking him if he had anything to do with the assassination of their father. Perhaps not the wisest of things to accuse a new emperor of, but to her he was still her protective older brother and she needed to hear from him that he was innocent, as she truly believed him to be. A long-time later Alexander sent a short reply where he stated that he off course had nothing to do with the assassination of their father. That his sister now represented the Swedish crown and should choose her words more carefully, but he forgave her since the news surely affected her judgement. He ended the letter that he was happy to hear she had given him a niece.

Emperor Pavel had after the death of empress Catherine renewed the alliance between Russia and Sweden. Emperor Alexander had ended the alliance with Sweden when he ended Russia’s membership in the league of armed neutrality. If he meant to end the defensive alliance with Sweden or if it was an oversight no one in Sweden knew, but as he had not renewed it once he became emperor, Sweden was officially not in an alliance with Russia. The age-old alliance between Denmark-Norway and Russia had also effectively ended once emperor Pavel had been assassinated.

Denmark-Norway would most likely rebuild their navy, perhaps build it even larger to prevent a similar defeat from accruing. Despite the lost Danish ships Denmark-Norway still had a larger navy than Sweden, and so did Russia. The admiralty showed with all clearness what they saw as a dire need, more ships and a larger navy. What would happen if Great Britain decided to “do a København” to Sweden, or if Russia went from friend to foe. Or Denmark-Norway deciding to join the French if France supported Danish claims to Skåneland or Norwegian claims to Bohuslän and Jämtland.

For the first time when possible costly investments in the armed forces was discussed the head of treasury eagerly spoke of building new ships. The halls of the government fell in silence by sheer surprise when his deep voice proclaimed that he wanted to strengthen the navy. With the person believed to be the hardest one to convince onboard the admiralty and Krigskollegium presented what they wanted, a high sea fleet of 18 ships of the line and 18 heavy frigates. It was only 9 more ships but going from 30 to 36 ships in the navy was a strong improvement. As HMS Gripen, the former ship of the line was beginning to reach a respectable age the government decided for 7 new frigates of Bellona-class and 3 ships of the line of Kronprins Gustaf Adolf-class. With the start of next year, the 10 ships was to be delivered over a 5-year period.

Sweden, autumn 1801

King Gustav did not have the time to visit military exercises all over his realm this year. Instead, he corresponded with the brigade command in each brigade to have himself updated in how the new brigade structure was coming along, and to show his interest in the army. He was pleased to learn that his troops, now truly experienced in army reforms, had adopted the new structure smoothly. Some bickering came from officers losing the command when their regiment was disbanded, but Gustav reassured every officer complaining to him on that subject that there was a large number of units they could apply for. Show competence and your current rank of colonel and former job as regiment commander could result in the rank of brigade general and command over a brigade.

Some of the officers reaching a higher age wanted to retire or take an officer position with less frequent service. This was a golden opportunity to relocate them to the Lantvärn, who needed competent officers. With the relocation of older officers there was no shortage of vacant positions to relocate officers whose units had been disbanded.

The mounted brigades in Sweden had remained at 3 brigades, but the infantry brigades had gone from 20 to 17. Decreasing the army was not what his father had intended, but the capabilities of each brigade had most likely increased, as had the number of soldiers in each regiment. Perhaps it would be possible in the future to once again field 20 infantry brigades. He saw comfort in that the Lantvärn had not existed during his father’s reign, nor had Gotlands brigade nor many other changes his realm had done over these last almost 10 years with him as king. “-I hope you feel proud of what I have done, father.” The king said looking at the night-sky through his window. Katarina waking up as he did so and forcing his mind to focus on other obligations closer to home.
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