A country in despair

Our story begins
  • Stockholm, autumn -1790

    King Gustav III of Sweden did not know what he felt. Was he furious, miserable, hopeless, angry, sad or a mixture of all emotions known to mankind?
    He thought he had planned it all, thought he would achieve all that he had wished for in his war against Russia. Instead he nearly lost the eastern part of his country. He was not stupid, he knew full well that had it not been for the sufficient performance by the navy and the outstanding performance of the archipelago navy at Svensksund Finland might indeed have been a Russian province after this failed war.
    He had done the same mistake as the Hat-party, a party he dissolved 18 years earlier, did in the war with Russia 1741 to 1743. He had underestimated Russia and both the Russian army and navy while at the same time overestimated the abilities of his own country and army.
    "-That worthless army with its useless officers". He thought for himself, they had nearly betrayed its country and king. "-I should have executed the hole bunch instead of just Hästesko." He pondered on his fury almost taking full control over him. With hands trembling of his hard grip on the back of his chair he finally managed to calm down.

    Was this the country he would leave for his son to rule? A country unable to defend itself? And what of Russia? If another war with Russia broke out was the third time the charm? Would she take Finland and keep it, Sweden incapable of defending it or recapturing in it? The past two wars with Russia, his own included he reluctantly admitted, was testimony that Sweden could not retake lands lost to Russia.
    No this could not, most not be the case! He could not let his beloved son inherit such a country. Things had to change!

    Some week later Gustav assembled the government. He said what he wanted them to hear. After hours of discussion they felt that they were in agreement on some topics.
    Most important one was Russia. This was no longer 1690, it was 1790. Russia was no longer a rival of less or comparable power. With the lands Sweden lost to Russia in the past century, and land gained by Russia in the expense of others along with a modernization of both Russian society and armed forces Russia was truly not a equal rival to Sweden, she was a existential threat.
    The economy of the nation was the next topic with the cabinet in full agreement: Sweden was poor, the income was low and the country bled money by the cause of corruption.
    And not to forget, the nation was divided. Officials looking for their own interest, corrupt officials. A nobility that almost hated their king, peasants and burgess with no trust to either the nobility, their government or their king.

    One thing could not change without the other. The nation needed to heal, corruption needed to be rooted out, taxing sadly needed a small raise, but most importantly the holes from where the money bled most be sealed! All of the country needed to feel unity, that they were one people in one country facing hardship and success together.
    The government decided that several committees was to be formed, to locate where the problems was and to come up with solutions to fix those problems.

    Stockholm, december 1790
    The general staff and war collage presented some solutions to strengthen the army just two months after the committee for the army was formed. reorganization of the army had already begun during the war with Russia.
    The overall composition of the army was not optimal, by far. To begin with the cavalry was to large in comparison with the infantry. Technical and tactical changes had happened since the Great Northern War, but the army composition of the Swedish army had roughly stayed the same. Some cavalry regiment needed to reform to infantry regiments, some of this had already started but more could be done. And the number of infantry regiments had to increase, along with more and less centralized artillery. Not to forget that replacing infirm and weakly gifted soldiers and officers was important. Higher requirements and a higher degree of control with inspections was necessary. Rooting out corrupt and down right disloyal officers was high up in the agenda, something that might cause internal trouble they warned the government, careful not to aim the statement directly to the king though they knew he as a absolute ruler would be the subject of that internal "trouble".

    The reorganizations of the army committee presented was this:
    -The life regiment on horse was to reorganize to a reduced brigade, with one cuirassier corps, one light dragoon corps and one light infantry corps, named the liferegiment brigades "cuirassier corps", light dragoon corps" and "light infantry corps" respectively.
    -Östgöta cavalry regiment was to reorganize to a grenadier regiment, renamed to the "first lifegrenadier regiment".
    -Smålands cavalry regiment was also to reorganize to grenadier regiment, renamed to the "second lifegrenadier regiment".
    -Åbo & Björneborgs cavalry regiment was to reorganize to two jäger battalions, named "Åbos jäger battalion" and "Björneborgs jäger battalion".
    -Nylands & Tavastehus cavalry regiment along with the Karelian dragoon squadron was to reform and reorganize to two dragoon corps named "Nylands dragoon corps" and "Karelian dragoon corps" and one jäger battalion named "Nylands jäger battalion".
    -Bohusläns light dragoon regiment was to reorganize to a infantry regiment, named "Bohusläns infantry regiment"
    -Västgöta cavalry regiment was to reorganize and rename to a dragoon regiment.
    -The northern Scanian cavalry regiment was to reorganize to a hussar regiment and be renamed to Scanias hussar regiment.
    -The southern Scanian cavalry regiment was to reorganize to a dragoon regiment and be renamed to Scanias dragoon regiment.
    -All hussars and dragoons should practice dismounted fighting as light infantry, mounted fighting, both cavalry charges and firing of short muskets/carbines and pistols from horseback.
    -The garrison regiment in Stralsund, at garrison in Malmö the past 24 years was to be renamed to "Malmö garrison regiment".
    -The artillery regiment was to reform in to four artillery regiments, "Svea artillery regiment", "Göta artillery regiment", "Finlands artillery regiment" and "Wendes artillery regiment".

    For increasing the size of the army the committee suggested this:
    -A foot jäger battalion of the same type as Värmlands foot jäger battalion should be recruited in Jämtland, along with formalizing the mounted soldier of Jämtlands regiment to a dragoon corps.
    -Two infantry regiments should be raised in Scania, taking over the names of the cavalry regiments as "northern and respectively southern Scanias infantry regiment".
    -A light infantry battalion should be recruited in Scania.
    -A light infantry battalion should be raised in Västernorrland.
    -A dragoon corps should be raised in Värmland.
    -Some form of levy of the population to strengthen the army’s numbers during war instead of the männings regiments utilized during the Great Northern War should be looked in to.

    The suggestion on how to organize the army the committee opted for brigades capable of performing individual military operations.
    Two regiments with a artillery company as a standard brigade. Reinforced with a light infantry or a jäger battalion for some. Reinforced with a cavalry corps in others.
    The decentralization of the artillery would help in the implementation of this brigade composition.

    The king and cabinet was pleased at the suggested changes, but less pleased with the timeframe for the reorganization, guesses was that it would take five years until the reorganization was completed.
    And their suggested timeframe for the completion of the eastern fortifications was outrageous, 20 years!
    Time might not be what Sweden had, no wars was on the horizon but such could easily change in short time. More money was needed, a lot more money.
    The government could do nothing about that until the other committees had finished their investigations.
    The reorganization of the army was to start immediately.
    Gustavs hopes on the army was high, but he had overestimated the army before. God willing it would not be a overestimation this time. "-The future existence of my country depend upon it" Gustav thought for himself as he exited the meeting hall of his government.

    How was he supposed to increase the income of the state? Raising taxes had resulted in rebellions. To have Sweden for a national assembly as in France and have him in house arrest as the French king was nothing he wished to create. He was king of god grace and ruled supreme, perhaps his head would rule supreme besides a revolutionary Swedish flag at the top of Stockholm castle if he pushed things to far?
    No he had to take things in the right order, had to compromise however distasteful such things was. If his son was to rule a unified nation he as his sons father could not be the reason the country fell deeper in despair.
    Winter 1791
  • Stockholm, January 1791

    The young prince was truly excited. He was to participate in the festivities the crown arranged to honor the heroes of a war. Stories of war had always excited him, listening, and reading of heroic battles, and now he was to mingle with actual heroes, veterans, and commanders from the war with Russia.

    Yesterday he got to meet what his father described as the navy’s and army´s most distinguished commanders. His fathers most trusted counsellor colonel Gustaf Armfeldt and the hero of the battle of Svensksund Colonel Carl Olof Cronstedt. His father had asked the two men to act as mentors to him, to teach him the tactics, strategy et cetera of the army and navy. To educate him to a competent field commander. Gustav felt prouder and more privileged than he thought to be possible, he was to learn from great commanders and happily accepted to learn and listen to these men.

    Stockholm castle was filled with dignitaries, soldiers, sailors, nobility, officers and rich merchants. This was truly an amazing occasion and the young boy could not stop smiling. Medallions were given to soldiers who had performed good during the war. Some soldiers and sailors were promoted to officers or noncommissioned officers. His father the king and field marshal Johan Meijerfeldt was the ones awarding medallions and giving promotions. The most exiting promotions and distinctions in young Gustav´s mind was the officers who was in higher command, the leaders and true heroes in Gustav´s childish opinion.

    First came the distinction of the hero among heroes, colonel Cronstedt. He was appointed to secretary of the navy, he was not promoted having been promoted to colonel after the battle of Svensksund, but Gustav could hear his father whisper to Cronstedt that higher ranks was not far away. Cronstedt was appointed to commander of the Archipelago navy´s eastern squadron. The awarding and promotions of other naval officers followed and the ones Gustav remembered was Rudolf Cederström´s promotion to major and the Archipelago navy´s commander Salomon von Rajalin´s promotion to rear admiral.

    Then it was time for the king´s adjutant general colonel Armfelt. He accepted medallions for valor and courage along with a promotion to major general. Among the officer´s of the army it was just as with the officer´s of the navy the ones in higher command or distinguished actions Gustav remembered. Major general Gustaf Wachtmeister, who after the battle of Valkeala was given a field promotion from the king from colonel to major general. He was wounded in the battle and his arm was amputated. He was given several handsome and stylish medallions by the king and field marshal. Curt von Stedingk was also promoted to major general. Carl Adlercreutz, Georg von Döbeln and Eberhard von Vegesack was promoted to major´s. The three men was a little low in rank to really make a impression on the prince, but von Döbeln had been wounded in the war an wore a black ribbon around his head, the three men was promoted at the same time and a hero who took a musket ball to the forehead and lived to tell the tale was not something a prince should forget.

    Making friends out of enemies - 1791

    King Gustav along with his advisors and the government soon realized that a continuation of hostile relations with Russia was a bad thing, a really bad thing if truth be told. They came up with a surprising yet bold idea.

    They would try to form an alliance with their former enemy. The French revolution was spreading and the European powers had started some probing among each other to band together in response. Gustav wrote a letter to his cousin czaritza Catherine the Great of Russia. He asked her to let bygones be bygones and if she could find it in her heart to see the past war as passing clouds in the sky. To see the reasons in an alliance among neighbors and solidate a strong defensive pact in northeastern Europe.

    Catherine to the surprise of the Swedish cabinet responded with interest of the suggestion. The following months negotiations took place. Catherine sarcastically stated that the performance of the Swedish army hardly impressed the Russian general staff, perhaps Russia should be the one training the Swedish troops if Sweden was to be a dependable ally? King Gustav did not waste a minute too long for that subtle invitation and started negotiating for Russian financial support. Instead of actually training the Swedish arms, perhaps Russia could aid in funding the improvements of the Swedish arms?

    The negotiations took a new turn when the Russian leaders had an opportunity to tie Sweden closer, and more dependent on Russian influence. But the Russian side was unwilling to pay subsidies to Sweden. Russia claimed that the existing trade deal agreed upon at the peace negotiations at Värälä was financial support enough from Russia. At the same time Russia saw it as a, for now, good idea that Sweden wanted to improve its forces, should the revolution in France spread or the national assembly of France start looking for expansion Russia could indeed benefit from a friendly Sweden that could aid them in such a war instead of taking opportunity when Russia was preoccupied elsewhere. The negotiations stalled, neither side willing to give in.

    In a private conversation ruling cousin to ruling cousin Catherine talked about her granddaughters and where they should live, preferably rule.

    “-Your son is still available for engagement, is he not?” she asked Gustav.

    “-He is, though he is not yet 13. A little early to take a wife. Better he grows to more of a man first”- he answered with a wink.

    “-And Alexandra is just 8. But when your boy is a man in 5 years she is 13 and a young woman. And such a union would bring our nations closer together”

    “-True, they would make a good match. But to officially engage them now might be too soon, don´t you agree?”

    “-Yes, that is also true. Perhaps if we wait until your son is 15 and my granddaughter is 10 before we start official negotiations of marriage?”

    “-That sound like a splendid idea my dear Catherine! However, if your granddaughter is to be queen in a allied country, would you not prefer it was in a strong country? Perhaps if we could come to an agreement on the financial issues……”

    “-Well, well, well Gustav, you surely do not waste a moment when it comes to money, do you? Alright, I will see what I can do”.

    They continued their talks until the darkness forced them to wish each other a good night. Gustav hoped that some financial support was possible, he had grand plans on how to use them. Catherine had already made up her mind. Alexandra was to wed prince Gustav and become the future queen of Sweden. And her new land was to be a country highly influenced by the Russian empire. But formally an ally, and an ally that could field a more impressing force than it had in the war of 1788-1790.

    A breakthrough in the stalled negotiations came when general Armfelt opted for a solution. Perhaps if a small changing in the term” defensive” of the alliance was at place? Seeing the trouble in France, would Russia be willing to give Sweden an economic compensation if the alliance was valid in an offensive war started by Russia against France? That Swedish compromise changed the Russian willingness to pay for forming an alliance.

    In September a defensive alliance between the Russian empire and the kingdom of Sweden was officially signed. The terms of the alliance summarized as:

    -Both countries was obligated to come to the others aid if either country was attacked.

    -Neither country was obligated to aid the other in an offensive war started by either country.

    -If Russia declared war against revolutionary France, Sweden was obligated to do the same and aid Russia in that war.

    -In a war against France Sweden was not allowed to sign a separate peace with France.

    -In the trade deal from the treaty of Värälä. Sweden was allowed to annually, duty free from Russian ports buy 200,000 rubles worth of hemp and 50,000 rubles worth of grain. The deal would be extended 8 years beyond the 8 years from the treaty of Värälä. The trade deal would be applied to the end of the year 1806.

    -Russia would give Sweden subsidies of 40,000 rubles annually for 12 years.

    The Russian goal was to make Sweden a dependable ally that could actually aid Russia in a war. The Russian side saw the alliance and the subsidies with the extended trade deal as an excellent way to make Sweden a semi client state. Sweden saw the alliance as an excellent way for Sweden to receive aid should it be attacked and a helpful financial support in the reorganization and build up that had started.

    Few was the military leaders who thought a strengthening of the navy and army could transform the Swedish forces to a feared and powerful force as it was before the great northern war, that was reserved to the dreamers. But most agreed that a larger, better trained and better equipped army could result in that the long period of losing lands would hopefully end.
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    Spring 1791
  • Stockholm, April 1791

    In March the committee for oversight of the financial and administrative agency (Kammarkollegiet) as well as the committee for oversight of the council of the realm and state (Riksrådet) both contacted king Gustav and the government stating that they had partially completed their work and wanted to brief the head of state and his government on their work so far. Gustav called in an assembly of the government to take place in the first Tuesday of April.

    The committee for realm and state did not surprise the king with their first statement, the form of government from the year 1772 had to change. To have a king with almost absolute power was not the way forward if king Gustav was true to his wishes of transforming the country from a poor and divided country to a unified and if not rich then at least not poor country. Changing the form of government was nothing that could be done in short time, further investigations in a lot of areas and consultations with most of the agencies of the state was needed. They agreed to that Gustav´s popularity had improved some after the Swedish-Russian war of 1788-1790 and the papers writing of the ongoing army reorganization and increasing of the size together with the negotiations with Russia over a possible defensive alliance had indeed helped in improving the king’s popularity, at least among the lower classes of the population. To show his good intentions they proposed that the king made it official to change the government to that of a constitutional monarchy with power distributed among the classes of the land and not remaining with the present distribution of power with the king and privy council having almost all the power. A good start would be that the king at the same time as the publications of intentions for a governmental reform revoked the freedom of press ordinance of 1774 with its restrictions and issue a new one with a true freedom of press.

    The committee for finance and administration had begun to look over the current taxes, pondering of new taxes or a complete reformation of the tax system. Corruption did exist as did inefficiency in the bureaucratic apparatus from government level down to parish level. By rooting out all the corruption possible and streamlining the agencies and administrations of the state as well as administrations for counties, parishes, cities and boroughs they estimated that the possible release of financial resources was somewhere around 15% of the total tax funds.

    The king, privy council and government thought the amount of money lost to corruption and inefficiency would be higher but was at the same time happily surprised it was not higher, even though they had hoped for more money for the state by a meticulous cleaning of the state apparatus. The meeting adjourned for an hours of lunch before the briefings continued. The discussions held during lunch made it clear that the government did not believe that a total stop of private enrichment at the expense of the state would be nearly enough to pay of the foreign loans, pay for a reorganization and increment of the army and completion of the eastern fortresses, more was needed.

    After lunch the committee for finance and administration continued their presentation. It was time for the taxes. The current tax on land could increase some but should not suffer a big increment if the rulers and guardians of the realm wanted to avoid a starvation among the peasants. The lands owned by the nobility were almost entirely exempt from taxation, taxing those lands would indeed increase the income of the state. Further taxes could be found by taxing the landless workers and merchants. A form of income tax could and would be preferable among those classes of the population. To hinder the outflow of money from the country and encourage domestic trade and exports of domestic goods an import tax should be imposed, except for goods that could not be domestically produced.

    To implement such changes was nothing neither the king with the privy council or the government thought possible, at least not if the crown did not give other things back. King Gustav knew he could not force such changes if he did not start making huge distasteful compromises. He was almost an absolute king, but to force the changes the committees suggested down the throat of the people and the nobility could not lead to anything but a revolution. He only saw two possible outcomes of this: Provoking the nobility and be disposed and replaced in a coup or provoking the people and be disposed and become a puppet in a Swedish variant of the French national assembly, if they let him live. No if he were to take, he had to give in this case. The two committees received new orders, they were to work together in finding solutions on how the suggested changes could be implemented and accepted by the classes.

    Stockholm, May 1791

    Prince Gustav was disappointed, his tutelage did not become the adventure he had hoped. He had to continue to learn from the tutors he had before Cronstedt and Armfelt became his additional tutors. “You must learn the ways of a king if you are to become one” as his father often told him. The officers did not take him to field or naval exercises, nor did they recount for him heroic stories of battle. So far, the studies was of practical and theoretical nature, Gustav thought he already had that kind of studies in excess. But they both insured him that studies out there in the real world would come in due time.

    His father had lately started talking with him as if he were already a man, or soon to be one. Talking about how the time to find him a wife grew closer each month. Telling him the paramount importance to keep friendly relationship with Russia. And why on earth did he say that? Was not Russia the enemy, the one Cronstedt and Armfelt the last few months had started to educate him on how he was to defeat them in battle? Why this change suddenly about a country who barely a year ago they where at war with? And to make matters worse, his father implied that it would be a Russian princess that one day would become young Gustav’s wife!

    He could not make sense on this new view of Russia. To his own stupidity Gustav started arguing against his father and stating that an enemy is not a friend. That was a huge mistake he soon realized. Now he had yet another tutor, one that did his best to teach Gustav the Russian language. To Gustav´s surprise learning a new language was fun, and he learned quickly. Seems that he had a natural talent for foreign languages.

    “-Vasilii is a good tutor, a pity the balding old man speaks worse Swedish than the most uneducated farmers in the wilderness of Lappland do” Gustav thought for himself as Vasilii started yet another lesson of the Russian rulers of old, in Russian none the less.

    In the last week of May it was time for the committee of population development to hold their briefing for the government. The population in the realm excluding Swedish Pomerania was just above 3 million. The colonization of Norrland with settlers and in the wooded areas of Svealand had increased farmland in those areas. The committee knew where the army had started their increasement of regiments and battalion and now they presented complementary information of areas possible for new allotted soldiers.

    The population and numbers of farms in Norrland had indeed increased since the new allotment system assessed the numbers of regiments Norrland could support. Västerbotten, Ångermanland and Medelpad could possibly support more allotted soldiers if the allotted sailors of Ångermanland and Medelpad were to relocate to Hälsingland who also could support a higher number of troops than the ones in Hälsinge Regiment alone. Western Svealand had also grown enough in population and farms to support more troops. Neither Blekinge nor Halland was part of the current reorganization even though they had rich farmland. Finland was in a similar situation as Norrland.

    The committee claimed that they had a full understanding that the army probably wanted to implement the ongoing changes before raising new units. And that the committee would present the conclusions to both the army and the navy after this briefing with the government.

    King Gustav immediately wanted propositions on where new units and how many could possible be raised. But he was soon interrupted and silenced by the head of treasury.

    “-The current reorganization and recruitment is more than the treasury could afford. To start yet another build up before the finances are in order will start a debt spiral that will surely lead to our bankruptcy!” the head of treasury said with a laud voice and hard tone directly to the king.

    Gustav realized that precisely as with a possible change in form of government, change of taxation and all other things he wanted to improve he had to take things slowly and in the right order. It was not in the king´s personality to slowly change things. He was an impulsive, driven man but with an inadequate ability complete his undertakings. He knew that about himself. But this was different, this was for the future of his realm and his son. He only had one child still alive, a son who he loved with all his hearth. And for the sake of both Sweden´s and young Gustav´s future he must stay focused on the things to come and listen to his advisors, however difficult that might become.
    Early summer 1791
  • Stockholm, early June 1791

    The joint committee of infrastructural affairs and military arms production gave the Swedish government their briefing on the tasks they were given. Firstly roads needed to be improved and built basically everywhere. For the harbors and docks there seemed to be no real problem, Sweden had more than enough capable ports. Transportation by sea was not a limitation. Same could not be said for the transportations by land. As Sweden for quite a large part of the year could not utilize its ports roads was indeed needed during the winter months. Roads would also improve the overall transportation’s capability in the Kingdom. Soldiers was a potential workforce for this, as was prisoners of war, but Sweden did not have any of the latter. The landless unemployed people was increasing, to utilize them would give them a meaning in their life and it would be a cheap workforce since soldiers, farmers, miners, merchants and all other employed or land-owning people would most likely be needed elsewhere.

    The committee’s oversight of the production capacity of arms showed that the capacity was sufficient for the current army and navy. However a reform program had started with the aim of increasing the size of the army, and not to forget examining the possibility for some form of levy of troops was currently in investigation. To supply and resupply a larger army the current capacity was not enough, if a part of the population also should be armed in times of war the capacity was no way near enough to manufacture weapons in sufficient numbers.

    The current capacity for yearly production of cannons was about 350 to about 450 pieces, depending on size and type. For small arms the capacity was about 12,000 to 15,000 depending on if it was muskets, short muskets, carbines, rifles or others. The capacity had to increase for an enlargement of the army to be possible, not to forget that fortifications and the navy also needed weapons. To import the needed weapons would be more expensive, and in case of war might not be possible. The committee was in strong agreement that domestic production needed to increase.

    Finland was virtually without arms production but was a large part of the Kingdom. Suggestions by the committee was to establish one manufactory for cannons and one manufactory for small arms in Sweden prober. One manufactory for cannons and one manufactory for small arms in Finland, as well as one manufactory for black powder. In cooperation with the army and war college the places suitable for production sites would in infrastructural respect be either Åboland or Nyland, in nearness to raw materials Savolax, Tavastehus or Björneborg. In strategic terms weapon manufactories that could easily be reached by Russian forces in case of war was not an optimal solution. Österbotten was the best compromise between strategic terms, nearness to raw materials and infrastructural respects.

    The government released a proclamation from the crown. 2 iron works in Sweden proper and 3 in Österbotten needed to be rebuilt to arms manufactories. The crown would aid with a 5 year tax exemption for those that could provide a suitable site and had the financial means to build arms manufactories in the nearest future. A lot of applications was sent to the government, who let the committee for infrastructural affairs and military arms production chose the final locations. In Sweden prober the location for the new cannon production would be Karlskoga and the location for the new small arms production would be Gävle. In Finland, all three locations was as decided in Österbotten. Canon manufactory just outside of Wasa, small arms manufactory at Kimo and black powder production in Östermyra.

    The theoretical increasement of arms production brought the capacity of about from 450 cannons to about 550 cannons yearly depending on type and size. For small arms the new capacity would be somewhere around 15,000 to 19,000 weapons yearly. And an increase of black powder at 3,000 to 4,000 kilograms yearly.

    Stockholm, late June 1791

    At the end of June the government was briefed on how the reformation and change in taxes along with changing the form of government could be implemented. The assessment was that the nobility would protest the changes the loudest. For them to accept that their lands was no longer exempted from taxes seemed almost an impossibility. To compromise some the rule of Gustavian absolution would end, and some of their former right would return.

    Taxing income from the landless workers and merchants as well as a minor increase of taxes for the land-owning peasants was believed to be easier implemented. The people would be given a right to vote. All males above the age of 20 with a taxable value of their lands of at least 1,000 Riksdaler or a yearly income of at least 800 Riksdaler would have the right to vote for parliament. This was compromising that the government agreed with the committees could be accepted by the general population. Perhaps the nobility could accept their contribution to the crown with the compromises given to them if the rest of the people showed a great acceptance to the reform of taxes and form of government.

    Stockholm, early July 1791

    King Gustav held one of his lessons to his son when they were interrupted by the minister of foreign affairs.

    The French king had attempted to escape with the royal family but was seized before they could leave France. They had been taken back to Paris and put under strict and well-guarded house arrest. Some violence had erupted in France. Should the French queen be harmed the Austrian emperor might go to war for his sister´s sake.

    King Gustav was shocked by this news. The ongoing negotiations of an alliance with Russia suddenly felt really important to come through, if a major war broke out he did not wish for Sweden to stand alone without support. The reorganization of the army had only just begun and it was in most aspects still the same army as in the Swedish-Russian war of 1788-1790. Not yet a force to fight it out with the major powers in Europe. Swedish Pomerania could easily force Sweden to be involved in a potential war.

    Gustav immediately called the government post haste. When the government had been briefed on the situation Gustav declared his intention to make the changes in form of government and taxation public. Some protested but Gustav stayed firm in his opinion.

    “-When our continent begins to tremble by the risk of war, we as a Kingdom must unite. I see no other way to end the division in our realm. We must unite, now more than ever. It is our firm belief that the people will rally and start to unify if they know I no longer intend to rule supreme.”

    Some days later the papers wrote much of the situation in France, but also much of king Gustav´s intentions for the future of Sweden. Among the lower classes the reform in taxes was generally well accepted, not only would they have the right to vote, but those greedy nobles would also have to pay taxes. It was a new era that most of the common people accepted, perhaps the king was not nearly as bad as people said?

    Among the nobility it was the completely opposite. They almost to a man did not accept that their land would be taxed. Not only had that inflated madman of a king decided to take away their inherited wealth. He had also started to sack noble officials for completely normal things like improving one’s own interests or arrange business opportunities for friends by law given means as an official. That insane brat had even had the audacity to put men of noble birth in jail for something as trivial as taking some of the abundance of the trivial peasants paid taxes. And now that crazy fool had the intention to give the filth of the people the right to vote?! No this could not be. They would see to it. Some of the more radical elements of the nobility suggested a dethroning to put one of them on the throne, some even went so far as suggest they kill the bastard to be rid of his painful rule once and for all. There was no unity in how things should change, only that they had to change. The majority of the nobles wanted to reason with the king, surely his plans was horrible, but to commit treason? No better he listens to their demands and change his mind.
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    Late summer 1791
  • Outside of Uppsala, end of July 1791

    Prince Gustav was thrilled, enthusiastically exited. All the late winter´s, springs and early summers theoretical studies about the art of warfare had finally reached the one thing he had longed for the most. Battle! “-Not a real battle of course, but the closest thing” prince Gustav thought for himself. Major general Armfelt had arrange for a military exercise on the fields outside of Uppsala. Gustav was given command over Upplands infantry regiment with the orders of holding Uppsala against an attacking force. The opposing side was Hälsinge infantry regiment. Those two regiments together with Upplands artillery company was to form Upplands brigade during war but for this occasion they would exercise against each other. That was at least the long-term plan if he was to believe general Armfelt, apparently they was not part of the same brigade now, but was to be in the near future, it was a little confusing to Gustav but he did not give the topic any big thoughts, it was time to command in a battle and that was the only thing of importance for now. The artillery company spit in two and each regiment had 6 cannons, 3-pounders, at their disposal. Cartridges without a ball for both cannon and musket was to be fired to make the exercise more realistic. Armfelt followed Gustav to act as his mentor, the colonel in Upplands regiment became second in command for this exercise while the command structure in Hälsinge regiment remained unchanged.

    To Armfelts disliking Gustav ordered Upplands regiment to march forward, to engage the enemy head on in an offensive assault. The prince had learned that cannons was valuably and had them at the back while the regiment marched forward, each battalion forming one column. Hälsinge regiment answered with forming a line, gaps between companies and a 3-pounder cannon in the gaps. The guns of Hälsinge fired fast at the oncoming Upplanders, and not before echoes from at least 5 blasts from the cannons had roared over the fields did prince Gustav order to form a line. His own guns still in the rear, unable to respond to the cannonade behind the infantry in the flat landscape. Upplands regiment formed a line and marched on, under heavy fire from the Hälsinge side giving 3 ranked salvoes before the first salvo from Upplands regiment came.

    Armfelt suggested to the prince that perhaps he should try to put his guns in position so they could be used. But the enthusiastic prince ordered a general melee charge instead. The Upplanders charged straight into 2 more ranked salvoes from the Hälsinglanders, second one at 20 meters. The commands of “cease fire, cease fire!” and “halt!” was given by officers and repeated by the non-commissioned officers. All halted, all smiling though the soldiers from Uppland was tired. The exercise ended with Hälsinge regiment ruled as the winner in this battle.

    “Well, my young prince. How do you think that played out?” the general asked his student.

    “Honestly? It was fantastic! But I think that I might just have lost a battle” the prince answered.

    General Armfelt together with the colonels and lieutenant colonels from both Hälsinge and Upplands regiments along with the major from the artillery company held a lesson after lunch with the intention of educating the prince more on warfare. They all agreed that the prince acted with courage sounding the attack. But even the prince agreed that it was unwise to attack a line of infantry reinforced with cannons, especially since his orders was to defend and hold Uppsala. To the officer’s surprise prince Gustav himself said what he should have done different. He should have waited to see what the opposing side would do, perhaps retreat a little and take up position along a stone wall that was half a kilometer behind his first position. Placing the cannons either on a small tree-lined hill northwest of the stone wall or place them among the infantry as the colonel from Hälsinge had done. He could have used his small force of light infantry to harass the enemy as they advanced. If he marched against the enemy, he should have marched with the guns in front, perhaps letting them fire every now and then while advancing. He said he knew now that he should have acted more defensively but he was to excited during the battle and just ordered the men forward.

    The officers was a little impressed that a boy not yet 13 of age showed tactical knowledge and that he, prince as he was, actually listened to their words and tutelage. The prince might very well turn up to be a competent field commander when he was a grown man. General Armfelt was pleased with his student and already pondered on what his next assignment for the prince would be. Perhaps he should give him command over an entire brigade or even a larger force in the practical parts of his education next summer, or was that to big of a step for the boy to take?

    Stockholm archipelago, August 1791

    Prince Gustav felt a taint of seasickness as the archipelago frigate slowly bounced in the waves, he did not feel he had a clear mind. He saw colonel Cronstedt standing in the prow, looking entirely unaffected by the waves. Well, what could the prince expect from a naval officer, that he would puke hanging from the railing? Gustav was not given command of several ships in this, his first naval exercise. Instead, he was to captain this archipelago frigate and engage another archipelago frigate of the same size. Which did not go so well, no matter how Gustav tried to command the ship to move he was not fast enough to respond to the movements of the other ship. He was totally outmaneuvered and when he chased the other vessel in a strait between two islands his adversary swiftly used sail and oars to present its port side to Gustav´s ship and delivered a devastating broadside at close range. Before Gustav´s ship could turn and respond she took yet another broadside. After Gustav ordered the first broadside fire from his ship, he ordered his ship to as fast as humanly possible turn half a lap to fire a broadside from the other side of the ship. Colonel Cronstedt struck his own face with a palm but remained silent. Instead of the fast second volley Gustav hoped for the other vessel had the time to fire 3 broadsides before he could deliver his second and moments later received the sixth broadside from his “enemy”.

    With screams and flags colonel Cronstedt ordered a cease fire and aborted the exercise.

    “-My prince, what was your thoughts on turning the ship in a half circle?” the colonel asked with both eyebrows lifted.

    “-Well, I thought I should start spinning the ship round and round and fire all cannons when they came in reach of the other frigate” was the prince somewhat confusing answer.

    “-I believe, your highness, that such a maneuver would only result in the sailors becoming light-headed and our ship blasted to pieces. Not to mention we have to withdraw our oars before giving fire”

    6 full broadsides against 2 made all participants agree that the prince had lost this battle. But Gustav was neither disappointed or angry, he knew he had a lot to learn and tried to remember all tips and pointers he heard from the naval officers.

    Cronstedt decided this was enough of naval exercises for now and that the prince needed more theoretical studies, a lot more, if he was to command a squadron in an exercise next summer. The prince was not too happy for more books and long lectures, but he was truly motivated to become a commander who people would sing songs and write books about, for that he needed to learn more. Perhaps he could one day invent a maneuver that could actually work, yes he was certain that he would have a naval maneuver named after him.

    Back in port Gustav could not help noticing the sheer amount of equipment and supplies in the storages of the naval port. He asked his tutor if all of these was necessary. Cronstedt answered that war ships needed a lot of supplies and equipment, least not in times of war. The young prince had however planted an idea in the colonel’s mind, and he would indeed like to be one of the kings favored ones, like major general Armfelt. He asked the court for a meeting with the king.

    Stockholm, September 1791

    The king was pleased, now he could realize some of his grand plans for his nation. Colonel Cronstedt´s suggestion was simple, would only increase the income slightly, but still it would increase it. 200,000 rubles worth of hemp each year for 8 years from the trade deal with Russia might be more hemp than the navy needed, at least some of the years. The colonel suggested that the crown would sell the excess hemp bought at a discount from Russia to the always interested British navy. Perhaps the results would be not a single pound of hemp could be sold, but just the possibility to make money made the king interested.

    He talked with the army officials, war college, general staff and commanders of fortresses. They said that with the current funding it would take somewhere around 20 years to complete Sveaborg and Svartholm to the original plans of Ehrensvärd and Wrede, as they stated in the briefing with the government earlier this year. The king asked if they could be completed sooner if the funds increased, the army commanders was prepared for such a question and answered that if more money were spent on the fortifications and a high number of cannons was built for the fortresses it could be possible to complete them in 12 years. That was all the king needed to hear.

    King Gustav assembled the government for a meeting about the eastern fortifications. The king declared that Sveaborg and Svartholm was to be finished to the original plans, land fortifications, connections between the island forts and all guns needed. There was some protest, mostly from the head of treasury, that such a grand project was not within what the state could afford. Gustav asked if the prolonged trade deal with Russia they just signed, the rooting out of corruption in the over all bureaucracy, streamlining said bureaucracy and increased tax revenue would not be enough to pay for some stone and labor? The head of treasury answered that the increased tax and decrease of costs for the state apparatus had so far given a small amount of money, not to forget that the tax reformation was just a theory now. But he agreed that income for the state appeared to be increasing and that a tax reform would increase it further.

    With that the ever-spontaneous king issued a royal decree: Sveaborg and Svartholm should be finished to the original plans, if improvements to the defensive abilities could be made, small changes in the plans was allowed. War was the only acceptable reason to paus the constructions. Soldiers and unemployed people from all over the realm was to be used as workforce. He made every single member of government and Riksdag as well ass all officers above the rank of colonel and represents from Riddarhuset sign the decree. Nothing besides war could stop the constructions of Sweden’s greatest fortress now, and king Gustav was pleased. To take “The lock in the east” by force would be a nearly impossible task. For now the only possible power who might try the fortifications strengths was Russia, who was an ally.

    “Hopefully, Catherine will not see this as a hostile move” Gustav thought, and he had his first doubts about the project. To anger Russia was not why he wanted to strengthen the fortifications, and if that would be Russia´s reaction he could use some skilled diplomats.
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    Winter and spring 1792
  • Stockholm, early winter 1791

    Heated arguments relieved exhausting arguments round and round in what to king Gustav seemed like a never-ending cycle of governmental disagreement. That the commoners seemed to accept the suggested reformation in government and taxes was all but overlooked by most of the government as the nobility did not accept the suggestions. The strengthening of the army and fortifications was apparently only a good thing if the funds came from the current taxes, improvements of the infrastructure was the same. The government was in almost unison that all changes except the tax reform was good things, but things the king should pay for himself. That the changes would make Sweden richer and stronger meant nothing if the nobility had to contribute to the realizations of those projects.

    King Gustav started to doubt himself, had he made a terrible mistake? He desperately needed the nobility onboard in the new era to come. He did not know how much more of these argumentations and debates he would have the strength to participate in. If they only could see the greater good in his plans for the future of the realm. But that seemed more and more like an impossibility as the unfulfilling meetings dragged on and on. It was not as much the government that disagreed with him as the government’s knowledge in the opinions of the nobility.

    When the king received a letter of disproval from the commander of Sveaborg´s fortress with the commander refusing to start constructions of new forts before funds for those constructions actually came in real riksdaler and not promises. Further the commander had the audacity to demand artillery in sufficient numbers to the existing forts before even a single tree was cut down on a site for a new fort. Luckily the commander would continue the works of connections between the existing forts and improvement to the dockyard within the current funds to the fortress.

    That was the last setback the king managed. No more pointless arguments with the government. He was to talk directly to the ones opposing his grand plans. He must speak to the collected nobility in his realm, he was certain they would listen to him and see the reason in the changes. Together with his advisors they pondered on when and where such a meeting should take place. To gather the Riksdag at the same time was seen as a good idea, if they all could be persuaded to change their minds the first step to implement the reforms would be in place. And in November he called for an assemble of the Riksdag to take place in Gävle at the start of the next year.

    Gävle, February 1792

    For almost a month the Riksdag gathered in Gävle. The small town almost had its population doubled during the occasion and a new hall to house the high number of participants had to be built since no building of sufficient size existed in Gävle. In prince Gustavs mind Gävle was truly a small city, but it was part of his future realm and he visited almost all corners of the coastal town. Sadly, even a trip to Norrland was not enough to save him from his studies. But this time it was not just the usual studies, on top of all other studies a degree examination for the prince took place. God willing, he would soon be free of some of his studies.

    For the king the Riksdag was a mixture of success and failure. The peasantry, the bourgeoisie and the clergy agreed to most of the king and governments wishes. The chivalry´s and nobility´s views on the topics could at best be summarized as inconclusive. Gustav held several passionate speeches for the assembled Riksdag and the different social classes and managed to persuade several of the members who had not decided already. A few numbers among the nobility seemed to loosen their rock-hard resistance, others upright refused to listen to him. When the votes was counted a majority in the Riksdag was for the governmental and taxation reform, but a majority within the nobility was against it. Neither the king nor the government wanted to act against a majority of the nobility, afraid they might take more active actions against them should they force the changes. A formal decision on the reformations had to happen later, it was still too soon with not enough support.

    Stockholm, March 1792

    King Gustav attended a masked ball at the Royal Opera House. During a superb dinner among close friends, he received an anonymous letter describing that he was most likely to be murdered in the hours to come. Gustav who had received numerous threats to his life thought nothing special about this threat.

    He showed the letter to his friends who begged him not to attend the ball and instead leave the opera house. “-Should they be allowed to believe that I am afraid?” was the king’s response as he took of his disguise and walked out to an open opera balcony where he silently stood several minutes before he said “- This was their opportunity to shoot. Come let us go, the ball seems bright and merry” and then walked down to the ball, his friends in close pursuit.

    When the king reached the dancing participants several masked men approached him, the king stopped and began to turn around when one of the masked men shot him with a pistol, the bullet went in in his back and continued towards the hip. The king twitched by the shot and when his lifeguards was by his side he said “-I am wounded, take me away from here and catch him!” before he was taken to his quarters.

    All exits to the Opera House was sealed and several of the culprits could be captured. The list of potential culprits was to long and they had to narrow it down to a manageable number. The king did not die by the shot, but he was seriously wounded.

    From his sickbed king Gustav knew he would die. He asked his most trusted advisors and friends to act as mentors and guardians to his son, to make sure young Gustav was protected. His deathbed seemed to have made his mind clearer as he asked the officials from the war collage to implement the suggested changes but keep them within reason. If things proved to expensive or seemed nearly impossible to complete, find the best solution. When asked of the kings beloved project of Sveaborg he answered them to strengthen it to their best effort. “-If you must choose between a large and strong army or a large and strong fortress, choose the army but make the fortress strong”.

    To his son he yet again made it clear that Russia was to be kept as a friend, that Gustav must make a Russian princess as his wife. “-I have heard that they are all beautiful and fair, you will manage” he said with a fatherly smile upon his face. “-Stand by Russia in the wars to come and Russia will stand by your side”. The king spent all time he could with his son in the hopes of having the time to let him hear all he wanted to say to him. “-And Gustav, heal our kingdom. What happened to me must never happen to a ruler of our realm again” the king stated again and again to his son.

    On the 29th of March King Gustav died from his wound moments after his last words "-I feel sleepy, a few moments' rest would do me good". The kingdom of Sweden mourned their murdered king.

    Sweden, spring 1792

    The nobles in the kingdom of Sweden that had stood by their king did their best to let everyone with ears know they were loyal subjects. The ones who opposed the reforms but wanted to reason and talk with the king instead of committing treason loudly claimed they never would have supported such a disgusting deed as to murder their king. And the ones formerly suggesting dethroning or a murder like what had happened tried their best to hide.

    The kingdom boiled. Commoners demanding that the age of nobles must come to an end. Screaming for blood. Protest gathered huge amount of common people carrying nooses and chanting of the hanging of the nobility. The king had showed that he wanted the blue-blooded man to share the burden with paying for the state, shared that he wanted to reform the government and give the people the right to vote and started to strengthen the Swedish arms. And those privileged nobles had refused and instead of reason they had murdered the king.

    To the nobles wanting to claim the throne or impose a noble rule with the underaged king as a puppet it became clear that such an act would not be easy. The noble officers testified that the common soldiers would not follow if the order to take power by force came, no they wound most likely murder every noble officer in the army should they issue such an order. Some nobles pondered on using the forces in Finland to take power if the troops in Sweden proper would not follow. About half a dozen relatively high-ranking officers had made the mistake to talk of such action to loudly and was found one morning hanging from the buildings around the city square in Åbo, the word “Traitor” carved over their chest and stomach.

    It became apparent to the nobility that if they tried to act against the current rule there would be a revolution, the masses would tear them to pieces. There was only one way if they wanted to stay alive and stop the masses from demanding their heads. They must agree to the governmental and taxational reform the majority in the Riksdag in Gävle agreed upon. Paying taxes was after all the preferred option if the other options would result in the loss of their lives.

    In April Gustav was crowned as Gustav IV Adolf. The young king was heartbroken by the loss of his father, he nearly refused to be crowned out of fear that they would kill him as soon as he had the crown on his head. The lifeguard had taking what actions they could to prevent such a tragedy from occurring. Svea livgarde, Göta livgarde and Finnish liferegiment together with the liferegiment brigade held Stockholm in an iron grip during the coronation.

    At the end of May, the tax reform and new form of government was implemented.

    The executive power was with the king.

    The taxing power with the Riksdag.

    The legislative power: in joint legislative power divided by the king and Riksdag, taxes and appropriations with the Riksdag, economic legislation on authorities with the king, judicial power with the supreme court.

    The freedom of press ordinance had all censorship revoked.

    Noble land was no longer tax-exempt.

    Landless workers and merchant was to be taxed based on income.

    Goods that could be domestically produced was to have an import tax.

    All males above the age of 20 with a taxable value of their lands of at least 1,000 Riksdaler or a yearly income of at least 800 Riksdaler would have the right to vote for parliament.
    Summer 1792
  • Stockholm, June 1792

    King Gustav IV´s uncle duke Karl became the regent in Sweden until Gustav came of age. Both had a full time to learn all that was needed to rule the country. To keep himself occupied and not think to much of his father’s assassination Gustav decided to learn how to speak Finnish. With French, Swedish and Russian in the progress Finnish seemed like the next natural step, many of his subjects did after all speak Finnish and the ability to speak with all his subjects seemed like a good thing in Gustav´s mind. Later he even started to learn Latin, Gustav was to be one of the most multilingual kings in Swedish history.

    In May, just after the new form of government had been applied, Gustav together with his uncle Karl attended a briefing with the head of treasury. The income for the state for the year 1791 had been 6,400,000 Riksdaler with a surplus of barely 200,000 Riksdaler. Still not the real ruler Gustav asked if the funds to complete his fathers grand project of having Sveaborg and Svartholm finished to Ehrensvärds plans was within what the state could afford. The head of treasury honestly answered that it was not, ongoing construction for several decades and it was possible, but not in the 12-year plan Gustav III wanted. The workforce was available but not the finances. There was a royal decree to complete the fortresses, so they decided to for now go along with a low-scaled construction program.

    40,000 rubles in Russian subsidies was to come for the first time this year. Gustav and Karl were informed of the existing trade deal with Russia and for the first time during his rule as king Gustav showed that he understood economy when he suggested an improvement that most likely would benefit both Sweden and Russia. Instead of selling 200,000 rubles worth of hemp annually to Sweden and giving Sweden 40,000 rubles annually, in reality giving Sweden money to buy the hemp. Would it not be a better solution to give Sweden 40,000 rubles worth of hemp and selling 160,000 rubles worth of hemp duty free? The head of treasury said he would contact the Russian ambassador with this solution.

    The governmental assembly in June became a heated meeting. War had broken out in Europe. France had declared war on Austria. Prussia and Sardinia joined the Austrian side in the conflict. If Russia decided to join, Sweden most be ready. None wanted to actively start preparations as that might be seen as a hostile move and force the kingdom in to war. The best solution was seemed to be to plan for war but no reinforcements to Swedish Pomerania or Wismar was to be sent, for now.

    When the government discussed the workforce for the fortresses and upcoming road-project the unemployed landless people seemed to be the best ones to utilize. However, the two regiments currently stationed at Sveaborg was more than enough for the small-scale improvements currently taking place. The decision became that the unemployed was to be used when the states finances improved enough to commence large-scale constructions on the fortresses and for when the project for improving of the current road system and for building new roads.

    Stockholm, July 1792

    The Russian ambassador in Sweden called for a meeting with the king, regent and minister of foreign affairs. The Swedish government was certain Russia would join the war against France and now came to activate their alliance. The meeting took place at Stockholm castle. And after welcoming the Russian ambassador regent Karl wanted to show Sweden’s dedication to the cause by saying.

    “Ambassador, Sweden is ready to join in a war against France. We can ship forces to the continent in short time. Together we will crush the republic and reinstall the Bourbon dynasty.”

    “I appreciate your dedication duke Karl”
    the ambassador answered “but that is not why I called for this meeting, Russia will not be going to war, at least not now.”

    The ambassador continued “The reason why I called for this meeting is that it has come to our knowledge that you have undertaken or at the very least plan to undertake large constructions on your fortresses closest to our border. May I ask why you feel inclined for such actions at the very border to your ally? The Russian leadership is concerned by these actions, and if you are to continue, we will view it as a severe provocation”

    The room fell silent, this was not what the Swedish government thought would be discussed during this meeting. After several silent minutes duke Karl took to words.

    “Honored ambassador, is it the Russian empires view that we cannot construct fortifications of defensive nature? I assure you that the completion of Sveaborg and Svartholm are nothing but the kingdom fulfilling the dying wish of our murdered king, and not in any way a provocation aimed at our ally”

    “Well of course not your royal highness”
    the ambassador stated “obviously Russia is not to command you on what forts you build and where. The forts on the islands near our borders was there when we formed this alliance. And if you were to complete, strengthen or modernize those we would see that as you merely doing maintenance, and that could hardly be seen as a provocation. It is your plans to construct new forts at land close to our borders we have objections about”

    There was a few moments of silence once again before the young king decided to speak.

    “Honored ambassador, I assure you that our plans for the fortifications is as my uncle stated, us fulfilling the last wish of my father. Our good relation with the Russian empire is of high importance to us, and we will obviously not partake in projects that could damage our good relations. We will of course reconsider how and what we improve on our eastern fortifications. I thank you for addressing this issue in good time before we started something that Russia could not accept.”

    A warm smile came over the face of the ambassador as he said “I will send words to the empress that our trusted ally has changed their minds and listened to our reasonable objections. I assure you she will be placed to hear this. As a sign of good faith, we agree on giving Sweden hemp instead of money as subsidies, and we will give you 45,000 rubles worth of hemp each year for the 12-year duration of the subsidies. And you will still have the opportunity to buy 160,000 rubles worth of hemp each year for the duration of the subsidies, the last years of our trade deal you can once again buy 200,000 rubles worth of hemp yearly.”

    Stockholm, August 1792

    Some weeks after the meeting with the Russian ambassador the government was assembled along with the army’s and navy’s high officials and officers to discuss how to deal with this new information. At one side they had the royal decree to complete the fortresses, on the other side they did not want to provoke Russia, and the king had in his deathbed changed his mind some on the fortifications, as well as the statement in the royal decree that small changes to was allowed if it improved the defensive abilities. Not angering Russia was indeed an improvement to the overall Swedish defensive ability.

    There was indeed a consensus in the government that forts on the land side of neither Sveaborg nor Svartholm was possible as that apparently would provoke Russia, possible ending the alliance. As Russia did not see total completion, improvements and modernization of the forts on the islands as a provocation they agreed that constructions, armament and improvements was to be confined to the island forts, and no fortifications on land was to be built. The head of treasury was rejoiced as that meant the cost of the project would decrease by a huge amount of money. The army and navy was pleased that more resources could be spent on the fleet and army instead of draining them of funds to pay for a huge fortress. And all of the government was pleased since Russia could accept improvements on the existing forts, maintaining the good relations and the alliance.

    When the armament of the forts came up for discussion a total of 1,100 guns was needed for both fortresses, and more fortifications, ships and army units needed more and newer guns. The eastern fortifications was to have one forth of the yearly production of guns, meaning it would take about 10 years to arm them fully, only then could a replacement of the older guns start, which probably would take some more years.

    It was at this time rear admiral Rajalin, who by being the general superintendent of the navy was present during this governmental meeting, presented a solution. 10 ships of the line was to have their lower gundecks rearmed from 24-pdr´s to 36-pdr long guns and 4 hemmema class archipelago frigates was to be rearmed to 36-pdr long guns. This would free 260 24-pdr, 64 12-pdr and 16 3-pdr guns. The 324 heavier guns could go to Sveaborg, decreasing the time needed to fully arm the fortress while the 3-pdr easily could be refitted and sent to the army´s brigade artillery companies who was to be armed with 3-pdr´s.

    The government decided to complete all bastions on the island forts in the east, complete the dockyard and storages in Sveaborg as well as have all forts properly armed. One forth of the gun production was to be allocated to the fortresses and the left-over guns from the upcoming rearmament of the ships was to be sent to Sveaborg and the smaller pieces to the army. The states finances would indeed greatly improve by this new decision as would the relations with the Russian empire.
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    End of 1792
  • Eastern Götaland and Svealand, September and October 1792

    King Gustav visited Östergötland to inspect the newly reformed first- and second life grenadier regiments autumn exercise. The life grenadier regiments together with the life grenadier artillery company formed the life grenadier brigade. Though formerly cavalry units, Gustav could not see that they were any less of infantrymen than the other infantry units he had seen. He asked is always trusted advisor general Armfelt if these grenadiers was as good of infantry as he thought. The general confirmed the king’s thoughts, they were indeed good infantrymen. Having served as cavalry they were still soldiers and the reform had gone along smoothly.

    Gustav visited the towns of Nyköping, Norrköping and was currently in Linköping, preparing to travel south to Jönköping by Mjölby. They traveled through Nässjö and Växsjö before stopping in the fields outside of Nybro in Kalmar County. On the western side of the field Östgöta brigade had lined up, on the opposing side Smålands brigade faced them. The exercise played along for an entire day and the king realized just how inadequate of a field officer he was. He knew full well that he was not officer enough to replicate the movements, taking up of positions, withdrawal and offenses played out before his eyes. He asked general Armfelt if this was more experienced troops than they inspected in Östergötland to what the general replied that they were indeed, this was units of old lineage who had fought in all wars since Gustav II Adolf spread fear and death in Germany.

    A loud thundering noise roared over the fields, ever increasing in loudness. Over a small hill Gustav saw cavalry galloping in. They charged the southern flank of Smålands brigade and fired their carbines and short muskets as they rode by. Retreated at full speed before they spread out, dismounted, formed lines and advanced, this time at foot. Artillery drawn by horses advanced past the advancing cavalrymen and unlimbered their guns, who started to fire as fast as the infantry brigades own cannons. The cavalrymen marched until they came in range of Smålands brigade and started to release volleys. Smålands brigade retreated and withdrew from the battlefield.

    At dinner the commanding officers ate a field meal with the king and the king´s entourage. They discussed the day´s exercise and explained to their king what had happened. Smålands brigade played the part of an invading force, first met by Östgöta brigade who conducted a form of delay battle, always slowly retreating and taking measures to not be outmaneuvered. The arrival of Götalands mounted brigade, who was a complete surprise to the king, aimed to reflect reinforcements from the rest of the kingdom. And in a real war the mounted brigades was the ones who could reinforce different part in the shortest time. Gustav was amazed by the exercise and the officers explaining it. Once again it was clear to him that he did indeed have a lot more to learn of warfare. And once again he felt a dedication to learn and in the future master the art of warfare.

    The trip back to Stockholm took the king through Kalmar, Mönsterås, Oskarshamn and Västervik before returning to Norrköping. After that they arrived to Örebro where he inspected the autumn exercise of Värmlands brigade, Dala brigade and Upplands brigade. Värmlands brigade did its best to conduct delay warfare against the attacking Dala and Upplands brigades. An art that the king thought they did well in the wooded landscape. General Armfelt explained to his king that the main assignment for Värmlands brigade was to delay and if possible, hold an invading force from Norway, and offensive warfare in the roadless terrain in Norway if Sweden took to the offensive in such a possible war. So, it was no surprise that the men from Värmland and Närke excelled in this type of warfare. After the exercise they visited Västerås and Enköping before finally returning to Stockhom. Gustav´s Finnish started to come along, and he asked if they could partake in exercises in Finland and visit the eastern fortifications for next years field exercises, as he by that time probably could speak with his subjects in the eastern parts of the kingdom.

    Stockholm, November 1792

    Krigskollegium and the general staff held a meeting with the government. The war on the continent continued and it was not in the favor of “their” side. Prussia had some success, invading French territory and taking some fortresses, but had by now started to retreat away from French territory. Nice and Savoy along several towns in the Rhineland’s was occupied by France. There was no preparation to go to war by the Russians, but Sweden still held territory in Germany and had to take some measures, without provoking either side.

    Krigskollegium had asked commanders of fortifications, navy, archipelago navy and army on what could improve their ability to conduct war and could be fixed in short time. The short answer was weapons. Both navies wanted to rearm ships to larger guns, they wanted more and newer small arms. The fortifications wanted more and newer guns, more and newer small arms. And the army wanted more and newer guns and small arms. The reserve armament for the army had reduced when the army raised and recruited more units, who needed to be armed.

    With the wish for a population-based levy or militia that would mean that a levy or militia had to be armed the same way Denmark-Norway armed the people of Iceland when they needed arms to protect against pirates, arm them with pikes, halberds and clubs. To have enough small arms to replace those which broke in active service, arm replacement soldiers and a militia all units needed to have the number of arms they needed and the arms reserve needed to increase to at least 100,000 muskets, short muskets, carbines and rifled muskets.

    The Krigskollegium suggested that arms production should increase to the maximum capacity until all arms needed was in place. The arms production manufactories in Finland should be able to start production early next year. The canon manufactory in Finland should focus on 36-pdr long guns for the archipelago navy, rearming and strengthening of the archipelago frigates for the heavier guns taking place at Sveaborg and opening the possibility to transfer the former armament on the frigates directly to the fortress. HMS Dygden had already been rearmed to 36-pdr long guns and its 26 24-pdr´s had been sent to Sveaborg.

    The general staff agreed with Krigskollegium that armament production needed to increase to the highest capacity. The government felt a consensus that producing more arms for domestic use would most likely not be seen as a provocation. And if another power protested it could easily be explained as they were producing new arms to replace the old once, which was true. The government agreed and was to send orders to the manufactories. Somewhere around 17,000 small arms and almost 500 guns was estimated to be manufactured yearly.

    The different military units was to receive newly made weapons successively and the older weapons was to be transferred to the national arms reserve, for replacement, rearmament and the possible militia. A militia who was still just a theory. Changes in the law needed to be approved by the Riksdag before such a force could be raised. And before that was possible the committee of population development, Risksrådet, Kammarkollegiet and Krigskollegium had to come to an agreement on how such a system could be formed.

    Stockholm, December 1792

    The regency was informed on how far the ongoing changed had gone. Of the army units all former cavalry units that was to reform to infantry had been reformed. All units that was to be recruited had been recruited. The army continued with raising of the new units within the allotment system. Taxational reform had started, but that would take a couple years until it was properly implemented and started to increase the tax revenue. Sveaborg had completed all connections between the different forts formerly decided upon. With the new guns produced for the fortress and the replacement guns from HMS Dygden it now had a total of 812 guns, still a long way to the more than 1,600 it should have but the armament situation was improving.

    The 14-year-old king felt he was almost fluent in Swedish, French and Russian. He could make himself understandable in Finnish but could barely speak Latin. Languages was fun to learn. As was the art of war, now winter was upon the kingdom and Armfelt and Cronstedt could spend more time tutoring him. He was a little disappointed that he could not participate in a naval exercise this summer. But he had to skip something now when he was the new king. Part of his Eriksgata was possible to combine with army exercises, and he was lucky to inspect 3 exercises. He had an idea on how to compensate Cronstedt when the king could not follow him out on the sea and to reward him for his loyalty and good lessons. He took up the idea with his uncle, regent duke Karl, who thought it was a good idea of Gustav to reward his loyal subjects when such was justified. The week before Christmas colonel Carl Olof Cronstedt was promoted to rear admiral by the regent in a ceremony held by the young king.
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  • Stockholm, January 1793

    The head of treasury held is briefing of the economy for the state for the past year for the regency and government. The total income for the state for the year of 1792 was about 6,800,000 Riksdaler with a surplus of about 500,000 Riksdaler. When asked of funds for the increasement of arms production the head of treasury could not see that it would be a problem, money to pay for more guns and small arms did exist. The assessment of future finances was that the income would continue to slowly increase for some years. The government allocated an additional 100,000 Riksdaler yearly for the completement of the bastions and armament at Sveaborg and Svartholm.

    Stockholm, April 1793

    There was an eerie silence among the assembled Swedish government. King Louise XVI of France had been executed. Europe seemed to have banded together to crush the French revolution, threatening France with war. In February France declared war on Great Britain, the Netherlands and Spain and in response the Holy Roman Empire, Portugal, Tuscany and Naples declared war on France in March and early April. The Holy Roman Empire, Austria, Prussia, Great Britain, Sardinia, Naples, Tuscany, Spain, the Netherlands and Portugal formed a coalition against France. When the silence finally broke several members of the government stated that now was the time for Sweden to join the coalition. The European powers did not crush the French revolution in its cradle and now they paid the price.

    The minister of war opted for an immediate declaration of war against France and sending forces to Swedish Pomerania and Wismar to aid Prussia in the northern theater, surely Prussia would welcome 30,000 Swedish troops with open arms. But it slowly became clear that the loud ones that wanted war was a minority in the government, and surely the Riksdag would not vote for a declaration of war. The reason was Russia, who seemed reluctant to go to war, and if Sweden declared war against France, Russia would not join. The alliance was one-way in terms of offensive war against France and Sweden needed Russia’s support in such a war. The governmental meeting ended with the decisions to speed up the reform of the army and rearmament of the ships.

    King Gustav was a wreck, the news about the French king’s execution opened the wounds of the death of his father. Once again, he feared for his life, feared that he would be murdered like his father or executed like the French king. His advisor did their best to calm the king. The always calm and wise general Armfelt was the one who managed to calm the king.

    “-My king, there is no threat upon your life from the nobility of the same reason as there is no threat to your life from the people. You are well liked by the people. The situation in France is not applicable here” he said with a fatherly voice.

    The king who had been greeted with full honors and cheered upon during his Eriksgata realized that the generals’ words held some truth. The people seemed to like him and from all the military exercises he had participated in he know he had the support of the armed forces. “-Yes, Armfelt was probably right, my people did not want me dead.” The young king thought for himself.

    Sweden, Summer 1793

    King Gustav inspected and commanded several exercises of the army. The largest one was held in Scania were the king commanded Scanias mounted brigade conducting delay battle against Östgöta, Smålands and the grenadier brigades. The infantry on Gustav´s side was Scanias brigade, consisting of the newly raised Northern and Southern Scanias regiments. The green troops in Scanias brigade was no match for the 3 other brigades to “defeat”. Gustav had according to the generals performed well commanding the mounted brigade.

    The king commanded a small squadron of frigates in the navy´s summer exercise in the waters south of Karlskrona, at which he did not excel. And back in Stockholm boarded a ship and sailed east to command the entire western squadron of the archipelago navy conduction archipelago battle against the eastern squadron. The exercise took place in the archipelago between Åland and Åbo. The “battle” was a draw and Gustav felt proud as it was a testimony that his ability to command naval vessels had improved. Tough his subordinates had contributed the most, he reluctantly admitted.

    After the naval exercises Gustav and his entourage disembarked in Åbo and started the eastern part of his Eriksgata. He inspected the western half of the Finnish army conduction exercises. Visited both Sveaborg and Svartholm before trying to command a light brigade in an exercise for the first time. Commanding Nylands brigade in woodland warfare against Savolax brigade in the eastern parts of Finland. Soldiers and officers alike seemed pleased that their king spoke to them in their native tongue as the king felt confident enough to actually speak Finnish in these parts of his kingdom. Savolax brigade consisted of an entire regiment more than Nylands brigade and the king discussed this with the commanding officers in the Finnish army. As both Savolax and Nylands brigade had similar missions during war it would be a good idea to strengthen Nylands brigade to the same size as Savolax brigade.

    Fortunately, regent duke Karl among with half the government arrived in Åbo in official errant just days before the king returned to the city. With both the king and his advisors and the officers in the Finnish army wanting the same thing duke Karl and the government agreed to order the change. The increase of farms since the allotment system came in place was enough to increase the number of soldiers the allotment system in Finland could support. Disbanding Åbo and Björneborgs independent jäger battalions and shifting of what areas supported what troops made it possible to raise 2 new infantry regiment. Åbo & Österbottens regiment and Björneborg & Tavastehus regiment was to be raised and together with an artillery company form Österbottens & Tavastehus brigade. The increasing tax revenue was more than enough to pay for more troops and a jäger regiment of the same type as Savolax jäger regiment was to be recruited in Nyland to increase the size of Nylands brigade and give that brigade the same composition as Savolax brigade with one infantry regiment, one jäger regiment, one independent jäger battalion, one dragon corps and one artillery company. The Finnish army would next year be capable of fielding 5 instead of 4 brigades. The army was to look over the possibility for similar increasement in the western part of the kingdom but stated that since the ongoing reform had not yet been fully implemented the next step of the reformation could not start until at least 1795.

    Saint Petersburg, autumn and early winter 1793

    The Russian capital held festivities. Grand duke Alexander Pavlovich wed Princess Louise of Baden and the entire capital celebrated. During the festivities count Stenbock congratulated the new spouses on behalf of the Swedish court. He stayed in Saint Petersburg after the wedding ceremony and started to officially talk about a marriage between the young Swedish king and grand duchess Alexandra Pavlovna. Catherine II had already decided that her grand daughter was to be the future queen of Sweden and the Russian court showed great interest in count Stenbock´s suggestion from the Swedish court.

    Grand duchess Alexandra was just 10 years of age when her grandmother informed her of the negotiations of a marriages between her and the 15-year-old Swedish king. Count Stenbock had brought a newly made painting depicting the Swedish king and given it to the grand duchess, Alexandra thought that the young Swedish king looked really handsome. She began to think of herself as queen in the old kingdom in the north. She felt rejoiced when she learned that king Gustav of Sweden could speak Russian and she took that information as a statement that he really wanted to make her his wife. To reciprocate the kindness and good intentions she started to learn Swedish. If her future husband could speak with her in her native tongue, she should be able to do the same to him. And to be able to speak the language of her future realm would indeed not be a bad thing at all.

    Stockholm, December 1793

    The Swedish court was informed on how the Russian court received the suggested marriage and negotiations started from both parties. The Russian court repaid king Gustav´s sent painting with sending a painting depicting grand duchess Alexandra, so freshly made that the paint had almost not had time to dry. King Gustav thought his future wife looked really young, almost like a child. But she looked cute and pretty. His advisors praised her beauty and stated that this Russian princess would grow into a truly beautiful young woman in the closest years. Gustav felt that his father had been correct, the Russian princess would look beautiful and fair when she grew up to a woman, and he would indeed manage.

    The armed forces held their briefing on how the forces had developed during the year. The two infantry regiments that was to be raised in Scania had been raised but was not a well-trained force yet. The army had received 14,000 new small arms and 300 guns. The reorganization started in 1792 would be completed next year, as would the new reorganization in Finland started this year.

    The navy had rearmed 3 ships of the line to 36-pdr long guns, HMS Dristigheten, HMS Manligheten and HMS Försiktigheten sending their 78 replaced 24-pdr guns to Sveaborg. The navy received 1,000 small arms beyond the new guns. While the archipelago navy had not yet rearmed their frigates, who was to be rearmed. Strengthening of the hulls and rearmament of 2 frigates would be conducted during this winter and estimated to be completed when summer came. The archipelago navy also received 1,000 small arms.

    Sveaborg had completed half of the new bastions, received 78 guns from the navy and 86 new produced guns, bringing the fortress to 976 guns in total. Svartholm still awaited the completion of Sveaborg before constructions and increasement of arms started on that fortress. Sveaborg received 400 small arms and 100 was sent to Svartholm.
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    1794 and 1795
  • Stockholm, January 1794

    Even tough his kingdom was at peace Gustav attended a war council, that was not the name this meeting had been given, but it was nevertheless a council of war. The war against France raged on. Some good things had happened in the former year, like some areas in France rebelling against the revolutionary rule of the country and Austria winning a battle early in the year. However, that did not stop the victorious French forces. Austria, Great Britain and German countries lost several battles against France, to add worse news, the French queen had been executed.

    The situation did not look good for the “Swedish” side. Especially since France had started to levy huge number of its citizens to the army with their levée en masse-decree. Duke Karl wanted to copy the levée en masse as it would be a good way to levy troops in Sweden. They would give instructions for the committees concerned to investigate the possibility to implement the same, or a similar system in Sweden.

    Gustav felt sad for the French royal family who met their fate at the hands of French executioners. He was terrified that the revolution would spread and become an all-out extinction of the noble families of Europe. His own kingdom showed no signs for revolutionary tendencies but that could change. Finally, he broke his silence in this council when he asked what had started the French revolution. It was a high number of reasons it seemed, but lack of food seemed to be of importance.

    The council shifted from discussing the France against the rest of Europe war and started talking about how to prepare the kingdom for the possibility of famine and how to deal should such a thing occur. With a large reserve of funds food could be bought from other lands but depots with food that lasted a long time could both be used in a potential war and to ease the burden upon the people should a famine come. The army and the navy were given the orders to see to that those storages would be built, maintained and rotated. A sum of 150,000 Riksdaler to build it up was allocated for this year with a following 50,000 Riksdaler yearly to maintain and rotate the supplies.

    Just days after the war council Gustav along with the regency was called to an assembly of the government, the economy for the past year was to be presented. “-Meetings replacing meetings, to be a king surely has its boring sides” Gustav said with a whisper to his uncle. The head of treasury looked prouder and more pompous than ever when he started his briefing. The taxational reform of 1792 had finally been fully implemented and the head of treasury seemed to believe him alone was the reason for the good finances of the kingdom.

    The income for the state for the year of 1793 had risen to 7,250,000 Riksdaler. Continued building on forts, purchase of weapons and paying for new forces had increased the expenses to 6,650,000 given the state a surplus of 600,000 Riksdaler increasing the “reserve” as the head of treasury called it to 1,300,000 Riksdaler. As all in the government was just waiting for Russia to call the kingdom to war a large reserve of economical means was needed. War on the European continent was expensive, but Sweden would most likely need subsidies from the other richer participants in the war if Sweden was to contribute.

    Norrland, spring 1794

    Gustav continued to inspect and command troops in exercises. He knew all to well that once he came of age and became the ruler there would not be time for such things, at least during peace. And if he was to lead the Swedish arms in war like his father and ancestors had done before him, he needed to be a competent commander. To achieve that he needed to train, study and lead in exercises. This spring he participated in the exercises in Norrland, harsh and almost brutal men made up the core in the northern forces. Long winters with almost complete darkness and short summers with little crop from the fields must have made these men of a different breed, Gustav thought. The huge lands between Gävle and Umeå almost completely lacked a standing force, besides the newly raised light battalion from Medelpad and Ångermanland. Gustav asked the during Gustav´s exercises in the army always present general Armfelt about the subject. To which the general replied that it was a passing obstacle. If the government had not lost all their wisdom the landscapes with vast forests, deep canyons, huge rivers and mountainous terrain that was Västernorrland would field a regiment of their own in just a few years, that was at least what the army would suggest to the government.

    The exercise took place in the fields and forests south of Umeå. What was now Norrlands brigade, consisting of 3 infantry regiments, 1 light and 1 jäger battalion, 1 dragoon corps and 2 artillery companies conducted exercise for warfare in farmlands, woodlands, mountains and a steep archipelago islands. For almost a month the exercise took place and Gustav was amazed when he heard and saw cannons who had been dragged high up give fire from mountain tops. An invading force would surely have a hard time fighting these Northlanders in this terrain.

    Sweden, summer 1794

    Gustav attended military exercises in western Götaland before turning south to attend a small naval exercise outside of Göteborg. His command in the exercises started to become that of a general, moving figures representing units on a map and overlooking the exercise from a nearby hill. It was not as fun as commanding directly in the fields, but he realized that as king, he could not lead regiments in battle. The overall strategic situation was a king’s mission during war and not to command battalions, regiments, brigades or whole armies.

    When inspecting the archipelago navy at port in Stockholm Gustav received a letter. It was written in badly spelled Swedish, but it was readable. It was sent from grand duchess Alexandra Pavlovna. Gustav felt his hearth beating faster just by the knowledge of whom had sent the letter. King Gustav was not bothered by the poor spelling, as the grand duchess hardly could have spoken or written in Swedish for a long time. Alexandra stated that she looked forward to meeting him in person and that she wanted to learn more about Sweden. Maybe he could be so kind to give her some books about Sweden, preferably written in Swedish and maybe some recipes for Swedish food she could try. She had written that she had, as he could see for himself started to learn Swedish, it was difficult, but she truly tried.

    Back at Drottningholm castle he made the staff know his intentions before writing a letter of his own in response. He wrote the letter in Russian, silently thanking Vasilii for teaching him the Russian language. He wrote that he too longed to meet her, about things he had done recently and stating that not only would he send her books, but he would arrange for a Swedish chef to visit Saint Petersburg if the Russian court allowed it so that she could taste traditional Swedish food made by a traditional Swedish chef. He ended the letter with a wish that he someday would have the honor to dance with her. As a sidenote he explained to the Russian princess that if she did not speak French already, it might be a good idea to learn that language too, as it was the official language spoken at the Swedish court.

    Stockholm, autumn 1794

    Duke Karl was not happy, the Swedish law dictated that a queen of Sweden had to confess to the evangelic faith. And now his Russian counterpart proclaimed that if a marriage was to happen between the Swedish king and the Russian grand duchess, she must be allowed to keep her Russian orthodox faith. When he spoke to the king about the subject the king did not seem to think that the faith his wife mattered that much. “-The Russians still worship the true god, do they not?” he asked. The Swedish court, government, Riksdag and entire kingdom appeared to want this marriage to realize, formalizing the alliance and tie the bonds between the kingdom of Sweden and the Russian empire tighter. That settled the question, the Riksdag would have to vote for a change in the law when it assembled next spring.

    Lacking a father of his own since Gustav III´s tragic and early death duke Karl felt he had become more of a father figure than an uncle to the king. Duke Karl did not have any children of his own and he almost saw the king as an adoptive son. Writing a proclamation to the Riksdag for the vote to change the law he could not help himself from smiling. He had found the king in an awkward situation; he could not prove anything but he to had been a young man and had his suspicions. Entering the king’s chambers, stupidly without knocking, he saw the king throw his blankets over himself. His face red and breathing fast as he looked shamingly on the floor. The small painting of Alexandra Pavlovna on the bedside table instead of on the wall by the king´s mirror as its usually hung. Duke Karl smiled and closed the door without speaking a word. He kept this secret for himself and never spoke to the king about it. And the regent of the kingdom of Sweden felt certain that the king would, if the negotiations were successful, not hesitate to wed the Russian princess.

    Stockholm, winter 1795

    The king, regency and entire government assembled for summarizations of the past year. France had extended the war to the West Indies, occupied Belgium and the Rhineland as well as entering northern Spain. Prussia appeared to have ceased fighting the French. This was not good news at all, if Prussia changed sides, it was a high possibility that they looked on Swedish Pomerania and Wismar for expansion. Measures had to be taken.

    During 1794 the last parts of the army reformation started in 1791 was completed, as was the reforms in the allotment system in Finland, giving Finland two additional infantry regiments. Now was the time to take the next step in the reformation. Copying the relocations of what areas supported what troops to different units in the allotment system from Finland to the western part of the realm was to be done.

    Farmlands in Västernorrland south of the vast Skule forest should raise a new infantry regiment, Västernorrlands regiment.

    Farmlands in Ångermanland north of Skule forest together with farmlands in southeastern Västerbotten should support the existing Västerbottens light battalion.

    Those 2 units together with Västerbottens regiment was to form Norrlands brigade. Hälsinge regiment no longer part of Norrlands brigade would form a brigade with Upplands regiment.

    Jämtlands regiment, Jämtlands footjäger battalion and Jämtlands dragoon corps was to form Jämtlands brigade, a brigade of the same composition as the existing Värmlands brigade. A type of brigade now called western border brigade.

    Närke-Värmlands regiment was to split and increase to two regiments, Värmlands regiment and Närke regiment. Värmlands regiment was to stay in Värmlands brigade and Närke regiment together with Södermanlands regiment form a brigade.

    Västgöta-Dals regiment was to split and increase to two regiments, Västergötlands and Dalslands regiments and form a brigade.

    A dragoon corps was to be raised and a footjäger battalion recruited in Bohuslän, who together with Bohusläns regiment would form Bohus brigade, a western border brigade.

    In southern Sweden a new brigade would be formed by raising regiments in Halland and Blekinge.

    As per the earlier decision, all brigades was to have an artillery company consisting of 12 3-pdr cannons to increase their firepower.

    The army was to implement these new reforms before the century ended.

    As usual during January the head of treasury held his summarization for last year. With an income for the state of 7,400,000 Riksdaler, expenses of 6,800,000 Riksdaler the surplus was 600,000 Riksdaler which increased the monetary reserve to 1,900,000 Riksdaler. The head of treasury stated that he truly looked forward to the times the military build up would end, so that the surplus for the state could increase instead of staying roughly the same when the kingdom seemed to take on new project every time the income increased. With the taxational reform completed, a huge increase of the state’s income as the two last years was no longer possible and the state should act accordingly when deciding upon new expenses.

    The armed forces presented what they have accomplished last year. With 3 more ships of the line refitted with 36-pdr long guns, HMS Äran, HMS Tapperheten and HMS Fädernäslandet they now had refitted 7 ships of the line. The 24-pdr guns, 78 in number from the 3 previously mentioned ships had been sent to Sveaborg. HMS Dygden had been badly damaged by a fire in the powder storage but would be repaired and was expected to once again enter active service next autumn. The navy received 500 small arms during last year.

    The archipelago navy had rebuilt and refitted 2 archipelago frigates, HMS Styrbjörn and HMS Starkotter, sending their 32 12-pdr guns to Sveaborg and 8 3-pdr guns to the army. Apart from the new guns the archipelago navy received 1,000 small arms.

    The army had finished the first part of the reorganization and could now field 18 infantry brigades and 3 mounted brigades, to compare with 5 mounted brigades and 11 infantry brigades during the Russo-Swedish war of 1788-1790. The army received about 250 guns and 14,000 small arms.

    At Svartholm some preparations to complete its bastions were made, it received 500 small arms. Sveaborg was nearly finished, it received 110 guns from the navies and 88 newly casted guns bringing the fortress up to 1,174 guns. It also received 1,000 small arms.

    Stockholm, spring 1795

    The Riksdag gathered in Stockholm. The usual subjects was debated, and some minor changes was voted in, among anchoring the new army reforms with the Riksdag. When the vote for changing the law, making it possible for the king to be married to a queen who belonged to a different faith than the evangelic, the change was that the queen had to be Christian, not a single member voted against the change. Duke Karl felt tremendously relieved, and he could see the excitement in king Gustav´s eyes, the young man appeared to stay true to what he had promised his father on the former king´s deathbed, that he would marry a Russian princess.

    Tough it was unusual and highly unorthodox the king himself wrote a letter to grand duchess Alexandra, informing her on the good news. The Swedish court also sent an official letter to the Russian court informing them on the result of the vote. The court thought that their Russian counterpart would not oppose the Swedish king´s enthusiasm and made a statement in the official letter that the king would write to the grand duchess as he wanted her to know the good news from him directly. The king´s letter was to be sent two weeks after the courts official letter.

    Sweden, summer and autumn 1795

    Gustav would come of age in the autumn next year and he only had this year and the next summer to be able to participate in military exercises, well maybe just this year if he was a married man next year, with new obligations. So, he wanted to command as much as possible.

    Armfelt took him to command in exercises in eastern Götaland, Scania, western Götaland, western Svealand, eastern Svealand and western Finland. They inspected Sveaborg where the finishing touches were made on the virtually completed fortress. In northern Finland Gustav commanded both Savolax and Nylands brigade in woodland warfare against the rest of the Finnsh army. His army exercises ended in Norrland with the king training as an artillery commander in Västerbottens artillery company.

    Cronstedt arrived in Umeå and the king boarded a ship and sailed south to command all 3 squadrons of the archipelago navy in maneuver warfare. Next stop was in Vaxholm where the king changed to a ship of the line and trained maneuvers in line battle.

    He did not know if he would be able to partake in any exercises next year and seeing as he would come of age and most likely wed a Russian princess next year, he gathered both of his military tutors at Drottningholm castle to officially celebrate his 17th birthday. In front of the entire Swedish court and regency he thanked the two officers for all their service, advise and tutelage. Rewarding them both handsomely. For four years they had been his tutors, become his friends and trusted advisors. He did not feel like a great commander and he had not invented a new naval maneuver named after him. But he knew he had learned much and if he combined his practical knowledge with studying books of the art of war, he felt certain he could contribute at least some should his kingdom be forced to go to war.
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  • Sweden, winter 1796

    At the governmental assembly the events of last year were presented and discussed. Starting with foreign affairs the present war was a grim affair. Early in the year Tuscany surrendered to France, during spring last year Prussia had signed a peace with France and recognizing the French occupation left of the Rhine and in the summer, Spain signed for peace. The coalition against France appeared to have broken. France had invaded and installed a French controlled government in the low countries, establishing what was called the Batavian Republic. British attempts to support French royalist failed, as did an attempt to overthrow the French government. If Sweden was attacked in its German provinces either by a treacherous Prussia or a joint attack from France and the Batavian republic Sweden needed to be prepared.

    The small and few vessels that with imagination could be called the Prussian navy was not a threat since that naval force could easily be defeated by a small part of the Swedish navy. A joint French and Batavian attack from the North Sea was an entirely different thing. Big parts of the Swedish navy was old, and to counter a possible naval invasion it needed to be modernized to some extent. Krigskollegium were given the job to evaluate which older ships that could be sold as well as evaluate the possibility to order new ships. Both new ships of the line and frigates would be a valuable addition.

    The economic situation for the state continued to show good revenue, with an income of 7,450,000 Riksdaler, expenses at 6,700,000 Riksdaler it gave a surplus of 750,000 Riksdaler. The additional surplus for 1795 increased the monetary reserve to 2,650,000 and it was a full consensus in the government that the kingdom could afford to strengthen its navy, especially if some of the older ships could be sold instead of being scrapped. The good years might come to an end the head of treasury warned, so the state should be careful not to start spending all the surplus, after all a large reserve was needed if Sweden was forced to go to war.

    Concerning the possible marriage between king Gustav and grand duchess Alexandra the court was happy to announce that the negotiations between the Swedish and Russian courts had come to an agreement. When the Baltic Sea was released from its icy grip and ships once again started to sail the Baltic the king received an invitation from empress Catherine to visit Saint Petersburg.

    Saint Petersburg, spring and summer 1796

    King Gustav with his entourage and his uncle duke Karl arrived at Saint Petersburg in May. They were greeted by the empress and the Russian court. Gustav saw a young woman standing behind the empress and he instantly knew who she was when their eyes met. Grand duchess Alexandra wore a beautiful blue dress with yellow decorations, the Swedish colors, on her head she wore a tiara made to resemble summer flowers. The not yet 13-year-old princess was in Gustav´s mind the most beautiful girl he had ever laid eyes on. He noticed that the people around him had stopped talking and the room was silent for a short moment before he broke the silence.

    “-Grand Duchess Alexandra, if I am not mistaking?” he asked in Russian.

    “-Gustav King, believe I?” she answered in Swedish, struggling a little with how to construct the sentence correctly.

    “-Your majesty, might I just say that no paintings, words or rumors can ever explain the beauty you possess. Even the stars on a clear night sky would fade in brightness should you go for an evening walk” Gustav said in French.

    The gathered delegations silently looked as the two young royalties spoke softly to each other. After Gustav had praised her beauty, they could see Alexandra blush as she shortly looked away. The king´s words had made quite an impression on the young Russian princess.

    Several brilliant parties were held to honor the Swedish sovereigns. At each party the Swedish king never danced with anyone else than the grand duchess. They could be seen having passionate and intimate conversations. The Swedish king never laid his eyes on another girl or woman and his passion for the grand duchess was evident. Alexandra who first looked a little shy and confused talked freely with Gustav, and each new time she saw him the happiness in her eyes could be seen for all present.

    Opportunities for the young royalties to spend time during the daytime was arranged. They walked closely besides each other, always talking, smiling and laughing. It was clear beyond doubt that they both felt attraction and warm feelings for each other. To make sure nothing that might bring dishonor to either part happened they were closely watched. One evening in July at the palace gardens as they prepared to wish each other a good night’s sleep Gustav leaned forward and gave Alexandra her first kiss, a kiss who immediately was interrupted by the ones placed to keep such a ting from happening. It was a brief kiss but that was all Alexandra needed, she now knew with all her hearth what Gustav felt for her.

    At the end of July Gustav attended some military maneuvers with Alexandra’s father, grand duke Pavel. Gustav asked his possible father-in-law if he might have the honor to lead a regiment in an exercise, perhaps against another force, to what the grand duke responded that he thought it was an excellent idea. Gustav commanded a regiment and managed to outmaneuver his opponent when pretending to withdraw only to encircle his opponent with extended flanks in a pincer movement, giving fire in three ranks from three sides. Grand duke Pavel could not hide his surprise as he did not believe the Swedish king to be a competent field commander. For a week the grand duke and together with Russian officers tested Gustav´s skills as a commander in three more exercises. Returning to Saint Petersburg duke Pavel stated that he would be honored to have his daughter not only wed a king, but a competent commander as well. Gustav humbly said that he might be somewhat capable commander on land, but that he was no military genius and if they participated in a naval exercise the Russian naval officers would have no problem defeating him.

    On the 9th of August the Russian court celebrated grand duchess Alexandra’s 13th birthday. A celebration Gustav attended. He did not want to interrupt the celebrations by spending all time with Alexandra, this was her party, and she should be free to do as she pleased. It did not go as Gustav planned, Alexandra asked him to sit beside her as soon as it was possible. Intimately speaking to him and holding his hands. The participants in the celebrations showed no signs that they thought Alexandra’s apparent affection was inappropriate, on the contrary all claimed that they looked like a beautiful couple and that their true affection and love could be seen.

    The day after her birthday Alexandra confessed to her sisters, mother and grand mother that she had fallen in love with king Gustav and wanted to marry him. Two days after Alexandra´s birthday king Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden asked empress Catherine II of Russia for permission to marry grand duchess Alexandra, to which the empress gave him her permission. On the August 22 the Swedish embassy formally requested the hand of the grand duchess to the Russian court.

    September 1 the official engagement between the king of Sweden and grand duchess Alexandra Pavlovna took place in the throne room of the Winter palace in Saint Petersburg. Gustav was dressed in a royal uniform while Alexandra was dressed as a traditional Russian bride. When the engagement was declared Gustav felt courageous enough to give his bride a short but passionate kiss. The couple received countless well wishes and congratulations. Gustav took his brides hands and said he would build a ship named after her in her honor. Alexandra seemed somewhat confused by those words and Gustav explained it was a Swedish naval tradition to name large ships of war after members of the royal family. Alexandra smiled as it could only mean that her new kingdom would see her as a member of the royal family. “-Well of course they would when she became the Swedish queen” she thought smiling as she realized she would most likely give birth to yet another new member of the Swedish royal family in the closest years to come.

    Stockholm, autumn 1796

    October 25 at Sankt Nicolai church in Stockholm Gustav IV Adolf married grand duchess Alexandra. The wedding celebration was held at Stockholm castle. The bride’s father and mother attended the wedding and following celebrations. Grand duke Pavel congratulated his daughter and new son-in-law and wished them a long and happy marriage. He congratulated them on behalf of the empress and said “-On behalf of wishes of grand duchess, pardon, queen Alexandra. Russia wish to bestow a gift upon our former Russian princess new kingdom. It has come to our knowledge that the Swedish navy build and name ships in honor of its royalty. Russia grant Sweden oak timber enough to build a ship of the line of the same type and size as the ship your majesty intend to build in honor of my daughter. May the ships sail closely in unison the same way your majesties shall walk through life in unison for as long as you both shall live.” Gustav could hardly find his words to thank the grand duke for his gift. “May the ships Queen Alexandra and King Gustav act as the western shield on the Baltic Sea for the Russian empire for as long as they shall float.”

    The entire kingdom of Sweden celebrated the marriage and their new queen. The papers wrote that around Europe and through history, few were the rulers who married out of love instead of by politics. But no one could deny the fact that their own king not only found a wife of high political value, but also a woman he loved. For all those who had seen the king together with his queen testified that the truest of love existed between the royal couple.

    Krigskollegium had found older ships that could be sold, and ordered constructions of two ships of the line, of an improved and upgraded version of the Kronprins Gustaf Adolf-class as well as four frigates of the Bellona-class. The ships they found for selling was the 70-gun ship of the line HMS Prins Carl Fredrik and the frigate HMS Svarta Örn with 42 guns,. The Swedish East India Company wanted to purchase the ship of the line and the frigate, keeping 30 guns on the former ships of the line and 20 on the former frigate. The 50 guns from the ships was sold to the Royal Navy. In all the deals made up a sum of almost 300,000 Riksdaler, enough to pay for one and a half new frigates.

    In December a grievous massage reached the Swedish court. Written by the Swedish queen’s father. The queen’s grandmother empress Catherine II had died in November, the empress hearth had failed her. Queen Alexandra felt heartbroken by the news of her beloved grandmother’s death and her husband gave his best efforts to comfort her. Her father would become emperor and she found some comfort that her former land would have a just and fair ruler.
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  • Sweden, winter 1797

    King Gustav came of age the first of November 1796 and was now the head of state in Sweden. One of his first official businesses to undertake had sadly been to send his condolences to the Russian court on account of Catherine II´s death. Alexandra told him that she felt homesick just one month after their marriage and with the passing of her grandmother her homesickness had not eased. As a sidenote he asked the Russian court if they could recommend some Russian chef, who were familiar with the food they usually ate at the Russian court and knew Alexandra´s favorite dishes.

    As he had been in Russia a large part of last year and had been preoccupied by account on being a newlywed for the remainder of the year, he asked to be briefed on what had occurred the two last years. With the selling of the ships to the East India Company the income for the year 1796 had increased to a staggering 7,700,000 Rd, total expenses reached 6,700,000 Rd giving a surplus of 1,000,000 Rd and increasing the reserve to 3,650,000 Rd.

    The army had completed the recruitment of a footjäger battalion and raising of a dragoon corps in Bohuslän, as well as splitting Närke-Värlmands regiment in two and increased the size to two full regiments. The army had received a total of almost 400 guns and almost 30,000 small arms, increasing the reserve in small arms to over 50,000 small arms. Sveaborg had been completed and now had over 1,500 guns, lacking barely 100 guns to be fully armed and the replacement of older guns could start next year. Constructions to complete all bastions on Svartholm was to start this year.

    The archipelago navy had rebuilt and rearmed the frigates HMS Hjalmar and HMS Oden. While the navy had repaired HMS Dygden. Rebuild and rearmed the 60-gun ship of the line HMS Wasa and the 62-gun ship of the line HMS Prins Fredrik Adolf to 68-gun ships of the line, carrying 36-pdr long guns on the lower gundecks. The two 68-gun ships of the line HMS Konung Gustaf III and HMS Konung Adolf Fredrik had been rebuilt and rearmed to 74-gun ships of the line, also with 36-pdr long guns on the lower gundecks. Both navies had sent the residual guns to Sveaborg. Both navies also received around 1,500 small arms each.

    The navy, together with Krigskollegium, the Admiralty and the committee for naval equipment had estimated the needed number of ships to 15 ships of the line and 15 frigates. An order for a third new ship of the line of the same model as the previously ordered two new ships had been placed. With three new ships of the line and four new frigates the three oldest frigates and the three oldest, not rearmed or rebuilt ships of the line was to be mothballed and act as reserve or replacement ships should the need arise. With that the navy could possibly be increased to 18 of each of the two main types of ships. The newer Swedish ships of the line and frigates had a higher firepower than ships of comparable size in other navies, and as long as Sweden’s potential enemies did not develop stronger ships or increased the size of their navies 15 ships of the line and 15 frigates was enough. The frigates of Bellona-class was built and armed strong enough to provide the ships of the line some aid in the line of battle. As was HMS Gripen, a 44-gun frigate chopped down from a 52-gun ship of the line. It was possible to sell the six warships, but for now no potential buyer that was not also a potential enemy existed which explained the decision to mothball the ships.

    The French war continued to develop against Swedish interests. Austria had managed to repel a French incursion to Bavaria but lost several battles in Italy. Piedemont-Sardinia was forced to sign peace with France after it had been defeated in battle. The rebellion in France led by royalists had been crushed.

    Sweden, summer 1797

    Early in the spring two Russian chefs, formerly employed at the Russian court arrived in Sweden. At the Swedish court it was virtually only the king and queen who spoke Russian, but the two chefs could make themselves understood in French so there was no real issue with communicating with them. Gustav had not told Alexandra that he asked her father for some Russian chefs, and he made them prepare her favorite meal from when she grew up to surprise her. This small surprise made Alexandra really happy, and she threw herself upon her husband showering him with kisses and declarations of her love for him when the meal was brought in, and she saw what it was.

    Gustav had during his time as a student-officer eaten simple and basic meals, refusing to eat luxury food unavailable to the soldiers and sailors when he was in the field and at sea with them. He had appreciated the Russian cuisine when he visited Saint Petersburg last year and he did not feel that it would be a big deal eating the food of the Russian court once or twice a week. Alexandra was pleased with the additional choices in what was possible to be served and that was all that mattered.

    Both her French and Swedish had improved greatly during the half a year she had stayed in Sweden. She had made a lot of new friends at the Swedish court, something Gustav was delighted about since he wanted her to enjoy living in Sweden. He knew she enjoyed his company and to be his wife, there was no question about that, but he also wanted her to enjoy all other things which was required by a queen. So far it was only her homesickness that she was not pleased about, a homesickness that was understandable since she became a queen in a foreign land at a young age.

    Gustav had a full time conducting all royal obligations that came with the crown. He barely had time to inspect his armed forces. To join them in exercise as their commander was not possible but he managed to inspect several regiments during his first year as the head of state. To keep himself as somewhat of a capable field commander he exercises with the lifeguard. A force who now followed him in strong numbers when he left the royal castles. Exercising with his lifeguard was much easier than taking command of a randomly selected regiment. How Armfelt managed to organize all exercises he had participated in he could not possibly understand, and he offered him his silent thanks.

    The Swedish court arranged a grand ceremony to celebrate the queen’s 14th birthday, the court wanted queen Alexandra to feel that they appreciated her company. For Alexandra it was a testimony of what she had already suspected, she was a popular queen in this foreign land. The Swedish Academy gave her a book about the history of Sweden, written in both Swedish and Russian page for page. She had started to befriend some of the members of The Swedish Academy and happily accepted their gift. From her husband she received a beautifully made necklace with the inscription “To my loving and beautiful wife”. Alexandra decided then and there that she would always support and give guidance to her husband as he had given it to her.

    Sweden, autumn 1797

    In September Gustav had the chance to inspect parts of the navy. Four newly made frigates was delivered to the navy from af Chapman’s shipyard. 40-gun frigates carrying 26x24-pdr and 14x6-pdr guns. Gustav named the ships; HMS Hera, HMS Gaia, HMS Athena and HMS Afrodite. The navy took all ships out to sea, testing their sailing qualities and Gustav followed on HMS Gaia. Back in port the king was informed that the frigates HMS Sprengtporten, HMS Jarrammas and HMS Illerim would all be mothballed, awaiting the need to use them or a possibility the sell them, whichever came first and was deemed as the best solution.

    When Gustav returned to Drottningholm castle he was greeted by his wife, who absolutely shined of happiness. Taking his hand and leading him to their bedroom. When they arrived, she looked him in his eyes, her own glowing in excitement. Alexandra and Gustav sat next to each other on the bed when she told him that she had suspected something since about a week before her birthday, and now she was certain; she was with child and would give birth sometime next spring. Gustav felt warm inside his body and could hardly understand the joyful words coming from his lovely wife. This was not what he first thought would happen when Alexandra led him to their bedroom, but it was a blessed new information non the less. A huge smile came over his face, he was to be a father. They decided to wait until after childbirth to inform her relatives in the Russian court, the Baltic would freeze before the first months of the pregnancy had passed and it was possible the child would come before the ice melted anyway. Alexandra felt certain that her father would be happy to be not only emperor, but a grandfather to.
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  • 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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    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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    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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    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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  • 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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