M. B. Grekov. "The attack of the Swedes by the Yaroslavl dragoons near the village of Erestfer 29 December 1701 of the year"
After the Battle of Narva (Narva disaster of the Russian army), considering Russia completely out of order, the Swedish king Charles XII turned all his efforts against the main, as he believed, his enemy, the Saxon prince and king of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Augustus II. The war was fought on two fronts: the Polish (the main forces of the Swedish army led by the king) and the Baltic (auxiliary forces that were supposed to hold back the Russians until the main forces arrived).
In Livonia, the Schlippenbach corps (8 thousand) was left, in Ingria - the detachment of General Krongiort (6 thousand). Karl considered that these forces were quite capable, and even with the support of fleet, to contain the "Russian barbarians". After the defeat and deposition of Augustus, the plundering and submission of the Commonwealth, which should have been enough for a couple of campaigns, it was possible to finish off the "Russian men" if Schlippenbach himself by this time could not cope.
The Russian Tsar Pyotr Alekseevich did not succumb to confusion and showed vigorous activity, as after the first unsuccessful Azov campaign.
Prince Nikita Repnin received an order to put in order the regiments that were going from Narva "in confusion". Repnin quickly gathered the surviving troops (about 22 thousand). Fortifications are being renovated and built in Novgorod, Pskov and the Pechersky Monastery.
The recruitment of recruits, which began in 1699, continues: the nobles serving in the army were to put up one foot recruit from 50 households, and one horse recruit from 100 households; from noblemen in the civil service, from retired people, widows, etc., they collected one tribute from 30 households; from the clergy - one from 25 households. From those who did not have enough households, they collected money. Volunteers were also recruited into the army.
Peter instructed the governor of Kazan and Astrakhan, Prince Boris Golitsyn, to form 10 dragoon regiments and deliver them to Pskov to Sheremetev by the spring. Golitsyn voluntarily recruited 10 regiments of 1 soldiers each. The main contingent was from the Cossacks and "walking people".
The Emperor paid special attention to the restoration of artillery. Peter ordered to take church bells to the capital for cannons and mortars. They were in such a hurry that in the first half of 1701 they brought to Moscow about 90 thousand poods of bell copper, and for the entire 1701 they used only 8 thousand poods.
The fact is that it was impossible to cast cannons from bell copper without additives (tin), but there was not enough of them. Nevertheless, the artillery park was restored in winter. Some of the guns were cast from cast iron at the Ural factories. At the same time, as before, there were purchases weapons, guns from Western Europe (supplies went through Poland).
As a result, in the winter of 1700-1701. the entire army was reorganized, 10 dragoon regiments were re-formed, 270 guns were cast from church and monastery bells (twice as many as they lost near Narva).
Enough and Livonia
Giving a lot of time to the army and the military industry, Peter did not forget external affairs.
He negotiated with the Polish king. The tsar suggested that the Poles and Saxons jointly defeat the Swedes and hand over Livonia to Poland.
The Poles, wishing to use the unfavorable position of Russia, began to demand that the borders be corrected in favor of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In particular, they wanted to get Kiev with the district, the Zadneprovsky lands.
Peter and Admiral Golovin refused to cede land, saying that this could cause resistance from the hetman and the Cossacks - confusion. Livonia is enough for Poland.
With August they signed a new treaty to continue the war with Sweden. The king was promised help from the auxiliary corps, material and financial support. Royal troops were supposed to operate in Livonia and Estonia (after the war they were transferred to Augustus), the Russians - in Izhora (Ingria, Ingermanlandia) and Karelian lands.
The situation in Western Europe was favorable for Peter and Augustus. The "War of the Spanish Succession" began, which tied the hands of all Western European powers. Russia and Poland did not have to fear interference in the Northern War.
Another important task of Moscow's foreign policy was to keep Turkey from war.
Russia was at a turning point, and in Constantinople a desire might appear to take advantage of the difficulties of a neighbor and take away Azov. Therefore, the Azov fleet had to be kept on alert and updated, although the main theater of operations was in the northwest.
And the Russian ambassador to Constantinople, Pyotr Tolstoy, made a lot of efforts to maintain peace with the Ottomans. He did his job well.
In addition, the Sultan's treasury was empty, theft and corruption in Turkey broke all records, so Istanbul had no time for a war with Russia.
Defeat on the Dvina
By the spring of 1701, the main forces of the Russian army (35 thousand soldiers) were concentrated near Pskov under the command of Boris Petrovich Sheremetev. Repnin's 20-strong auxiliary corps was sent to help the Polish king.
At this time, the Saxon army under the command of Field Marshal Steinau was preparing to capture Riga. The allies united at Kokenhausen (Koknese). Charles XII did not wait for the Saxons and Russians to attack and began the offensive himself. On July 8 (19), 1701, the Swedish army crossed the Dvina.
Steinau sprayed his forces, instead of immediately attacking the enemy on the crossing, ordered the army to prepare for defense. Moreover, he divided the army. Most of the Russian troops - 16 thousand with Repnin, were sent to build fortifications on the Dvina, 12 versts from the main forces.
And the Swedish king did not hesitate, did not wait for his cavalry, attacked the enemy on the move and put the Saxons to flight. The Saxon army fled, abandoning all the artillery (36 cannons) and the wagon train with all supplies and equipment. The Saxons partly took refuge in Dunamünde, partly fled to Courland.
The Swedes launched an offensive and captured Courland, occupying the fortresses there.
Repnin thought sensibly, so he raised the regiments and took them to Russia without loss and in August united with Sheremetev.
The new victory again put the question before the Swedish command - with whom to fight next?
Karl thought to move to Pskov and further into the interior of Russia, but abandoned this plan. It was necessary to besiege heavily fortified Russian fortresses, bad roads, swamps and forests, the problem with the supply and organization of the rear. The population density in large Russia is low, much less than in the Commonwealth, that is, it will be difficult to feed the army. In addition, there is no hope for the support of local forces. Tsar Peter was hated by many, but only a few would go over to the side of the external enemy, who would immediately become outcasts in Russian society and people.
The situation in the Commonwealth was much more favorable. Easier to solve the main problem of the Swedish army - supply. The population density is higher, there are more villages and towns, and you can "feed" from them. The Swedish Baltic States are nearby, from Sweden itself the supply of reinforcements, weapons and ammunition goes by sea.
In Rzeczpospolita there were many magnates and lords who were dissatisfied with the Saxon king. The war of the gentry against the king was common in Poland. That is, the Swedes could receive assistance from auxiliary Polish-Lithuanian troops, basing and winter quarters in castles and cities.
In addition, there was a subjective factor. King Charles fiercely hated Augustus, considering him his main enemy.
Therefore, the Swedish army went to Courland and beyond.
Crossing the Dune on July 9, 1701. A scene of a battle between Swedish and Saxon soldiers after crossing the Dune. Johann Henrik Schildt painter
The offensive of the Russian army into the Swedish borders
The Russian command made a decision to move into the Swedish borders, but far from burrowing, to act carefully. Train troops for regular war, tempering them with the transition from easy to more difficult missions. Engage in battle only with complete numerical superiority.
1701 passed in minor skirmishes.
Back in December 1700, the Swedes made a sortie in the Gdov area, but did not dare to storm. In January 1701, Colonel Schlippenbach crossed the Russian border with a small detachment and invaded the Pskov lands. The Swedes burned down several villages.
The Swedes faced the Russians 15 versts from the Pechersk Monastery. In the battle, the Swedes lost 60 people killed, 15 more were captured. Schlippenbach retreated. On this, the fighting stopped for a long time.
The Russians still did not dare to look for the enemy in the depths of his possessions. True, the Cossack regiments formed in the left-bank Ukraine had a good walk in Estland.
And Schlippenbach had few troops to undertake a serious operation. Small Swedish detachments, mostly of second-rate troops, were garrisoned in various locations.
Only in September 1701 did Sheremetev, who had been granted the position of general-field marshal by the tsar shortly before, stepped up his actions.
Three detachments with a total number of 20 thousand people crossed the border “for hunting and searching for enemy troops and destroying their homes”. These were mainly cavalry (dragoons, reitars, nobles) and irregular forces - Cossacks, Tatars.
The 11-thousand-strong detachment of Mikhail Sheremetev (son of the commander-in-chief) on September 4 (15), 1701 defeated the Swedish detachment near the Rappin manor (600 Swedes defended here). At first, the Swedes stubbornly fought back, restraining the onslaught of the dragoon regiments. But then the Russian cavalry bypassed the enemy. The encircled Swedes were overwhelmed and destroyed.
During the battle, the Swedes lost about 400 people killed (about 100 were able to escape, the rest were captured), 2 cannons, over 100 rifles.
The Swedes repulsed the attacks of two other detachments. Simultaneously with the battle at Rappin, at the Nei-Kazarits estate, the Swedish post of Captain Rebinder (160 people) was attacked by the Russian 5-thousandth detachment of Colonel Savva Aygustov. The Swedes managed to call for help and held out until the arrival of Schlippenbach's Livonian Dragoon Regiment. The Russian detachment retreated to the border. Both sides lost several dozen people.
The 3,7 thousandth detachment of Yakov Rimsky-Korsakov attacked the enemy's fortified position near the Rauge manor. There was a garrison of 250 soldiers of Captain von Nolcken and Captain Busin. Schlippenbach, having received news of the attack, sent several detachments here and, after success at the Kazarits manor, also followed to Rauge. The Russians, seeing the strengthening of the enemy, retreated. Total losses - about 250 people.
The Swedes have inflated this border skirmish to the scale of a major battle. They allegedly defeated the 50-thousandth Russian army and lost only a few dozen people.
Dutch newspapers reported about the invasion of the Baltic States by 100 thousand "Muscovites" who were defeated by the Swedes and lost several thousand people.
The Swedes celebrated the victory, Schlippenbach was promoted to general. The newly made general thanked Karl and asked for reinforcements - 7-8 thousand soldiers.
Until the end of 1701, there was a pause in hostilities again.
In October, Peter gave instructions for a "general campaign."
On Christmas Day, Sheremetev conceived a surprise attack on the enemy, despite the bitter frost and deep snow.
The Swedes stood in their "winter quarters" and did not expect an attack. 17 thousand Russians with 20 guns on December 23, 1701 secretly crossed the border. The Swedish patrols found the enemy, but could not accurately determine its number. Schlippenbach was informed about 3-5 thousand people.
Schlippenbach concentrated his forces at the Erestfer manor - 3,5-4 thousand soldiers with 16 (according to other sources - 8) guns, plus about 3 thousand militias. Schlippenbach, underestimating the enemy, decided to give battle.
In the early morning of December 29, 1701 (January 9, 1702), the Russian avant-garde was attacked by an advanced detachment of dragoons and reitars of Lieutenant Colonel Lieven. The Swedish detachment was defeated, Lieven was captured.
Meanwhile, Schlippenbach took up a position near the Ahja River, and Enscheld's Reitarsky regiment sent to the opposite bank to help Lieven.
The Russian cavalry defeated the enemy's advanced regiment. Ensheld was taken prisoner.
At 11 o'clock the Russian cavalry attacked the main forces of the enemy, but was repelled by rifle and artillery fire. Soon the Russian infantry (soldiers' regiments, archers) and artillery approached.
After a 5-hour battle, the Swedes retreated. The Swedes had to abandon the guns and all the army supplies, our cavalry pursued the enemy, who fled to Dorpat.
According to Russian data, 3 thousand Swedes were killed, Russian losses - 1 thousand people killed. About 2 thousand more people were taken prisoner.
According to Swedish data, Schlippenbach's detachment lost more than 1 people, the Russians - 3.
Schlippenbach justified himself before the king by announcing the enormous superiority of the Russians in forces, that the enemy had 100 thousand people. Karl did not express much concern: the Russians left for Pskov, which means that the Swedish army retained its combat capability.
Sheremetev did not dare to develop the offensive, he showed his characteristic caution. He justified himself before the king by the weariness of people, horses and deep snow.
But again the Cossacks walked around the neighborhood, hundreds of Chukhonts (as the local residents were called) were taken prisoner.
It is worth noting that the Cossacks not only waged the usual war for those times, but also simply survived. The Cossacks suffered terrible hardships during the campaigns, they plundered almost everything they were supposed to. The Cossacks were starving and, in order not to die of hunger, robbed local residents, including residents of Pskov villages. There were real clashes with the local population.
On January 4 (15), 1702, the Russian army returned to Pskov, where they celebrated the victory.
The success was celebrated in the capital as well. In Moscow, for the first time since the beginning of the war, cannons were fired in honor of the victors and bells were rung. The people were treated to kvass, beer and honey.
"God bless! Finally we got to the point that we can defeat the Swedes ",
- Peter exclaimed, having received Sheremetev's report.
The commander-in-chief was awarded the Order of St. Andrew the First-Called. The soldiers received a silver ruble each.
Equestrian portrait of B.P.Sheremetev by K. Shurman, 1710