Military Review

Siege of Sveaborg and the capture of Finland

1808 Campaign

For the war with Sweden, 24-thousand was formed. Army commanded by General of Infantry F. F. Buksgevenden. The army was small, because at that time the Russian army continued to wage war with the Ottoman Empire. In addition, despite the peace with France and the outwardly friendly relations of the two great powers, Alexander was hostile to Napoleon, and the bulk of the Russian army stood idle on the western borders of the Russian empire, in case of war with the French.

The Swedes in Finland at that time had 19 thousands of troops, under the temporary command of General Clerker, who were scattered throughout the area. The commander in chief, Earl Klingspor, was still in Stockholm. When Count Klingspor left for Finland at last, the essence of the war plan he was given was not to engage the enemy, to hold the Sveaborg fortress to the last extreme and if possible to act in the rear of the Russians.

Siege of Sveaborg and the capture of Finland

Swedish Army Commander Earl Wilhelm Moritz Klingspor

9 February 1808 The Russian army crossed the border on the river Kyumen. On the night of 15 on 16 February, Russian troops defeated a Swedish detachment near the town of Artchio. Then the news was received that the enemy was collecting troops from Helsingfors. It was misinformation, in fact, the Swedes were concentrated at Tavastgus. Buksgevden formed a mobile detachment under the command of Orlov-Denisov to capture Helsingfors. The detachment forced march moved to the enemy city, following the coastal road, and in some places just over the ice. February 17 squad Orlov-Denisov defeated the Swedes on the outskirts of Helsingfors, 6 guns were captured. February 18 Russian troops occupied Helsingfors. The city was seized 19 guns and a large amount of ammunition. February 28 Russian troops, despite the bitter cold, occupied Tammerfors. Buxgewden ordered Prince Bagration to pursue the Swedes in the western part of Finland, and General Tuchkov - to try to cut off their retreat in the east; Buksgevden himself decided to proceed with the siege of Sveaborg.

General Clerker was confused and lost control of the troops. He was replaced by General Wilhelm Moritz Klingspor. However, he could not correct the situation. 4 March Swedish troops were defeated near the city of Bierneborg. Thus, the Russian army reached the coast of the Gulf of Bothnia. Most of the Swedish army moved north along the coast to the city of Uleaborg. March 10 brigade of Major-General Shepeleva occupied Abo without a fight. After that, almost all of Finland was in the hands of the Russian army.

Only after that in the Russian Empire declared war on Sweden. 16 (28) March 1808, Alexander I’s declaration was published: “His Imperial Majesty announces to all European powers that henceforth the part of Finland, which hitherto was called Swedish, and which the Russian troops could not otherwise occupy, like having withstood various battles, is recognized as a region Russian weapons subjugated, and joins forever the Russian Empire. "

March 20 (April 1) was followed by the emperor's manifesto "On the conquest of Swedish Finland and on joining it forever to Russia," addressed to the population of Russia. It said: “From now on, our subjugated Our country, with our weapons, will forever join the Russian Empire, and as a result, We have been commanded to take an oath from the common people to our allegiance to the Throne.” The manifesto announced the accession of Finland to Russia as the Grand Duchy. The Russian government pledged to maintain its previous laws and the Diet. 5 (17) June 1808, Alexander I issued a manifesto “On the Accession of Finland”.

In the meantime, the war continued. Detachment Vuicha occupied the city of Aland. Bagration ordered to leave the Aland Islands. However, in St. Petersburg ordered to seize the island. On April 3, Colonel Vuich with the rangers battalion again occupied the archipelago. However, with the approach of spring, Buksgevden, conscious of the danger of the position of the Russian troops in the Aland Islands, planned to bring them back. Especially since their very presence there with the opening of navigation lost its importance. In winter, Russian troops in the Aland Islands were needed to prevent the movement of Swedish troops on the ice from Stockholm to Abo. However, at that time in Petersburg they planned to send a corps through Åland to Sweden. Vuitch's squad was not evacuated and condemned to defeat.

This led to the fact that as soon as the ice began to descend, the Swedish fleet landed troops. The Swedes, with the support of local residents, attacked the Vuich squad. Swedish galleys supported the advance of gun fire. Vuich had no guns at all. After a four-hour battle, the Russians surrendered. 20 officers and 490 lower ranks were captured. Åland became the operational base of the Swedish fleet and a bridgehead for landing operations.

5 March surrendered fortress Svartholm. The siege of Sveaborg itself, a powerful Swedish fortress in Finland, was successfully completed. The fortress was called "Gibraltar of the North". The fortress garrison numbered 7,5 thousand people with 200 guns (there were more than 2 thousand guns in the arsenals). In the fortress there were various reserves with the expectation of a multi-month siege. The commandant of the Sveaborg fortress and the commander of the Sveaborg naval flotilla, vice-admiral Karl Olaf Kronstedt, led the defense. Sveaborg laid siege to more 20 February. However, the lack of artillery, which was brought from St. Petersburg in deep snow very slowly, shells, tools and soldiers did not allow to start the correct siege quickly and decide on the storming of the Swedish fortress. Only 22 April after 12-day bombing Sveaborg capitulated.

Plan for Helsingfors and Sveaborg fortifications in 1808. Source: Mikhailovsky-Danilevsky A. I. Description of the Finnish War on the Dry Way and at Sea in 1808 and 1809

The garrison's morale was low, the Russians weakened it by letting numerous Sveaborg immigrants through their outposts, including the families of the commandant and officers, supplied with money and dismissed the defectors. As A. I. Mikhailovsky-Danilevsky noted, “the strength of the golden powder weakened the military spring.” There were even rumors that Kronstedt itself had been bribed, although no direct evidence of its bribery was subsequently found. After the war, the Swedish military court sentenced Kronstedt and a number of senior officers of the Sveaborg garrison to death, depriving the nobility, decorations and property. Kronstedt took Russian citizenship and lived in his estate near Helsinki; Russian authorities granted him a pension and compensated for the loss of property.

The Swedish rowing fleet, 119 military vessels were captured in Sveaborg, including 2 rowing boats (28 guns), 1 semi-hemams, 1 turum, 6 shebeks (24 guns), 1 brig (14 obs), XECUM (8 guns), 25 brig (51 obs) and 4 brig (1 shebeks (19 guns), 70 brig (XNUMX obsche), XNUMX brig (XNUMX shebeks (XNUMX guns), XNUMX brig, XNUMX obex) gunboats, XNUMX gunner yol, XNUMX gunboats launch, XNUMX royal barge, XNUMX transport ships and many other military assets. In addition, with the approach of Russian troops in various ports of Finland, the Swedes themselves burned XNUMX rowing and sailing ships.

Swedish vice admiral, commandant of Sveaborg fortress Karl Olaf Kronstedt

The first failures of the Russian army

The Swedish king Gustav IV decided to launch an offensive against the Danish troops in Norway. Therefore, the Swedes failed to gather significant forces for operations in Finland. Nevertheless, the Swedes were able to achieve a number of local successes in Finland, so that they were connected with the mistakes of the Russian command, the initial shortage of troops for the full occupation of Finland and the development of the offensive, as well as the partisan actions of the Finnish population, which distracted the additional forces of the Russian army.

6 (18) April 1808 of the year 2-th. the forward detachment under the command of Kulnev attacked the Swedes near the village of Sikayoki, but, stumbling upon superior forces, was defeated. Swedish troops won their first victory in the campaign. From a strategic point of view, this fight did not matter, as the Swedes could not develop their success with a determined pursuit and continued to retreat.

After the success of Sikajoki, the commander of the Swedish forces in Finland, Field Marshal Klingspor, relying on his numerical superiority, weakness and isolation of the Russian forward corps of General Tuchkov, decided to split it in parts. At first, he decided to attack the 1,5-thousand standing at Revolax. detachment of Major-General Bulatov. The Swedish attack began on 15 (27) April. The superior forces of the Swedes overthrew the Bulatov detachment. Bulatov himself was twice wounded and surrounded by the enemy. Wanting to break through, he hit the bayonets, but, shot through to the chest, he fell and was captured. This completed the defeat of the Russian detachment, its remnants made their way to their own. Russian squad lost around 500 man, 3 guns.

Thus, the offensive of the Tuchkov corps was disrupted, the Russian troops were forced to retreat. A significant territory was ceded. The Swedish army recovered from the heavy defeats of the initial stage of the war, the morale of the Swedish army rose significantly. The Finns, having been assured of the possibility of defeating the Russians, began to conduct guerrilla actions everywhere, producing armed attacks on Russian troops. Russian writer and participant of the Swedish campaign Faddey Bulgarin wrote: “All Finnish villagers are excellent shooters, and in each house there were guns and spears. Strong pedestrian and equestrian crowds were formed, led by pastors, landmen ... and Finnish officers and soldiers ... attacked weak Russian troops, hospitals, and killed unhappily sick and healthy ... The outrage was in full force, and the people's war was in full swing with all their horrors ".

As already noted above, due to the mistakes of command, a strong Swedish flotilla appeared at the Aland Islands and, with the help of the rebel-Swedish residents, forced the detachment of Colonel Vuich to surrender. On May 3, Russian Rear Admiral Nikolai Bodisko, who occupied the island of Gotland, concluded a surrender, his detachment laid down his arms and went back to Libava on the same ships on which he arrived in Gotland. Russian 2-thousand a detachment set up on chartered merchant ships came from Libava and on April 22 captured the island of Gotland. Now he gave up. Bodisko was tried and 26 on May 1809 was expelled from the service “for the removal of the ground forces under his command from the island of Gotland and the position of weapons without resistance”, sent to Vologda for residency (he was forgiven and reinstated in the service in 1811) .

Detachments of Russian troops that operated in the north of Finland, were forced to withdraw to Kuopio. Klingspor did not complete his success with persistent pursuit, but stopped at the position near the village of Salmi, awaiting the arrival of reinforcements from Sweden and the result of the landing forces undertaken on the west coast of Finland.

Reflection of the Swedish landings. The transition of Russian troops in the new offensive

7-8 June, a detachment of General Ernst von Vegesak (up to 4 thousand people, with 8 guns) was quietly landed at Lem in 22 versts from the city of Abo. At first, the task of the Swedish troops under the command of Vegesak was to repel Abo (Turku), but later the task of the assault force began to unite with the Klingspor army.

Cossack patrol discovered the enemy. In Abo there was Count Fyodor Buksgevden, he sent a battalion of Libavsky Musketeers Regiment to meet the enemy with one cannon under the command of Colonel Vadkovsky, and also ordered all Russian troops in the vicinity of Abo to rush into the city. The battalion sent to meet the Swedish troops, overwhelmed by the superiority of the forces, was forced to retreat, suffering heavy losses from the fire of the enemy shooters. However, soon several battalions of infantry, a squadron of dragoons and hussars, an artillery company, came to the aid of the Vadkovsky detachment. The arrival of General Baggovut and General Konovnitsyn with reinforcements changed the situation on the battlefield. At first, the Swedes were stopped, and then they began to crowded to the landing site.

Under cover of ship artillery fire, the Swedish landing force was evacuated. Russian gunboats sent to attack the enemy were late. The Swede set sail to the islands of Nagu and Korpo. Both sides suffered almost equal losses: 217 Russian soldiers and 216 Swedes.

In the summer of 1808, the position of the Russian army in central Finland was again complicated. 2 July 6-th. General Rajewski’s squad, oppressed by the Swedish army and Finnish partisans, retreated first to Salmi and then to the small town of Alavo. On July 12, Raevsky was replaced by N. M. Kamensky, but he also had to retreat to Tammerfors. 20 August Kamensky corps was able to defeat the Swedes near the village of Kuortane. 21 August, the Swedes were defeated at Salmi, Klingspor retreated in the direction of Vasu and Nykarlebyu.

Soon, Klingspor left Vasu and moved 45 versts north to the village of Orovais. The Swedes decided to give battle to the 6-thousand pursuing them. body Kamensky. The 7-thousandth army of the Swedes entrenched behind the swampy river, resting its right flank in the Gulf of Bothnia, where several Swedish gunboats were located, and the left flank in the cliffs surrounded by a dense forest. The battle took place on 2 (14) September.

At dawn, the Russian avant-garde Colonel Yakov Kulneva attacked the position of the Swedish troops, but was repelled. The Swedes launched a counter-offensive, began the pursuit of the retreating Kulnev detachment. 2 infantry regiments of General Nikolai Demidov, who stopped and overturned the advancing Swedes, rushed to the aid of the departing detachment. In the middle of the day, Kamensky arrived at the battlefield with a ranger battalion and two infantry companies. At 15 hours, Swedish troops attacked again, but General Ushakov’s troops (near the 2 regiments) came up and repulsed the attack, and the Swedes retreated to their original positions. By this time it was already dark. At night, Demidov's detachment walked around the Swedish positions. In the morning the Swedes, having learned about the possible surroundings, retreated in an organized manner to the north. In the battle, both sides lost about one thousand people.

Battle of Oravaise Source: Bayov A.K. Kurs stories Russian military art

New Swedish troops, with the help of which the Swedish command tried to stop the Russian offensive, were defeated. On September 3, a Swedish detachment of General Lantingshausen numbered at 2600, landed at the village of Varanaya in 70 versts north of Abo. The landing was successful, but the next day the Swedes came across a Bagration detachment and were forced to evacuate. Meanwhile, a new Swedish landing of General Bona was landed near the village of Helsingö near Abo. The Swedish king himself on the yacht "Amadna" accompanied the ship with a landing force. 14-15 September 5-th. Detachment Bone oppressed the small Russian forces. September 16 at the town of Himays Swedes were counterattacked by the main forces of Bagration. The Swedes were crushed and ran. About a thousand Swedish soldiers died, more than 350 people were captured. Russian artillery set fire to the village of Helsing. The fire, blown by a strong wind, began to threaten the Swedish amphibious flotilla. Therefore, the Swedish ships had to leave before the evacuation of all paratroopers. All this happened in front of Gustav IV, who was watching the battle from the yacht.

Thus, a decisive change occurred in the war, and after a series of setbacks, the Swedish commander Klingspor was forced to ask for a truce.

General Nikolai Mikhailovich Kamensky

The truce

12 September 1808. The Swedish commander Klingspor offered Buxgevden a truce. September 17 truce was concluded on the Lakhtai manor. However, the emperor Alexander did not recognize him, calling him "an unforgivable mistake." Buksgevden received instructions to continue fighting. The Tuchkov Corps, which operated in Eastern Finland, received an order to move from Kuopio to Idensalmi and attack the 4-thousand. Swedish detachment brigadier Sandels. Russian troops resumed the offensive: the Kamensky corps - along the coast, and the Tuchkov corps at Uleaborg. In November, Russian troops occupied all of Finland. The Swedes retreated to Tornio.

In November, Buxhävden, now with the consent of the emperor, again entered into negotiations with the Swedes. But Buxgevden failed to sign a truce - he received a decree on dismissal from the command of the army. The new commander in chief was Count Kamensky. He signed the 7 (19) truce in November 1808 in the village of Olquióki. The truce was valid until 7 December 1808. Under the terms of the truce, the Swedes yielded to Russia all of Finland to the r. Kemi. Russian troops occupied the city of Uleaborg and set up guard posts on both sides of the Kemi River, but did not invade Lapland and did not attempt to enter Swedish territory near Tornio. 3 December 1808 The truce was extended to 6 (18) March 1809.

Kamensky was the commander-in-chief of the Russian army in Finland for a month and a half. 7 December 1808 instead of Kamensky, the commander in chief was Infantry General Bogdan Knorring. New Commander Knorring received an order to make the winter crossing through the Gulf of Bothnia and invade Sweden. However, the new commander did not show any special talent or determination in this war. Considering that the transfer through the Gulf of Bothnia to Sweden planned by Emperor Alexander I was too dangerous, in every way delayed the operation, and only Arakcheyev's arrival made him take action. Knorring caused strong discontent with Alexander I and in April 1809 was replaced by Mikhail Barclay de Tolly.

To be continued ...
Articles from this series:
Russian-Swedish War 1808 — 1809

How Russia defeated Sweden and annexed Finland

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  1. Neo1982
    Neo1982 28 October 2015 07: 23
    from Finland no gratitude, as I understand it, we will not wait for the release - we live calmly ourselves, as if nothing had happened
    1. Your friend
      Your friend 28 October 2015 19: 31
      Quote: Neo1982
      from Finland no gratitude, as I understand it, we will not wait for the release - we live calmly ourselves, as if nothing had happened

      And why should they be grateful? Changed one owner to another. Well, the new owner treated them a little better. Yes, in general do not care for their gratitude.
  2. parusnik
    parusnik 28 October 2015 07: 46
    It’s a pity the article does not mention George Magnus Sprengporten, Governor-General of Finland in 1808-1809, he played a role in this Russian-Swedish war .. He convinced Alexander I that Finland could not wait to leave the Swedish crown. .The partisan action of the Finns against the Russian army was a surprise to the command ...
    1. Karabanov
      Karabanov 28 October 2015 11: 38
      For some reason, I thought that the Finns, if not welcomed, at least did not interfere with the Russian troops. What did they actually lose? In the Swedish crown they were nothing more than vassals. And Alexander gave them wide autonomy, the first in their history. It turns out interesting ...
      1. Chuck-norris
        Chuck-norris 28 October 2015 20: 52
        Cossacks and Kalmyks staged a massacre there. So to speak, "fed" from the local population.
        1. xan
          xan 29 October 2015 10: 27
          Quote: Chuck-Norris
          Cossacks and Kalmyks staged a massacre there. So to speak, "fed" from the local population.

          Rave. Feeding and massacre are not the same thing. The massacre of civilians in the Russian army was not only not encouraged, but was considered a crime with all the consequences. Another thing is repression in response to partisanism, against the partisans not to send infantry, the Cossacks were in this very thing.
      2. xan
        xan 29 October 2015 10: 19
        Quote: Karabanov
        For some reason, I thought that the Finns, if not welcomed, at least did not interfere with the Russian troops. What did they actually lose? In the Swedish crown they were nothing more than vassals. And Alexander gave them wide autonomy, the first in their history. It turns out interesting ...

        Finns still respect the Swedes and do not respect the Russians. And there is only one reason - the Swedes live richer than the Finns, and the Finns, in turn, are richer than the Russians. Europe is its mother, in honor of wealth, not strength and justice.
  3. V.ic
    V.ic 28 October 2015 07: 55
    "Little" forgotten war. The Swedes were a very serious opponent.
    1. Morrow
      Morrow 28 October 2015 12: 15
      Yes, I would not say. The Swedes were defeated by the auxiliary army. What is 24 thousand? This is chickens to laugh.
  4. vladimirvn
    vladimirvn 28 October 2015 09: 59
    Thank you for the detailed and detailed presentation. At one time, for ignorance of this material received a deuce. I remember for a long time.
  5. Dimon-chik-79
    Dimon-chik-79 28 October 2015 10: 16
    Everything gets afterwards with the blood of the heroes and is scrambled by the mediocre descendants effortlessly and fleetly.
  6. vrach
    vrach 28 October 2015 11: 55
    An interesting analogy. Here the USSR commemorates the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the winter war with Finland.
    But after all, from the strategic point of view, Stalin is absolutely the same as Alexander 1 in the forefront of a big war. That opponent had Hitler, this Napoleon.
    Alexander 1 captured Finland. Analogous to the 1939-40 winter war. Alexander 1 captured Moldova from the Turks, also made Stalin taking it from the Romanians. Even the Ternopil district was taken from Austria (Western Ukraine). That is, the names and countries are changing, the area, but the strategic objectives before the big war remained unchanged.
    1. Morrow
      Morrow 28 October 2015 12: 13
      Alexander began the war with Sweden at the request of Napoleon.
    2. Morrow
      Morrow 28 October 2015 12: 35
      Napoleon did not perceive Russia as an enemy. He did not understand Alexander's motives. This is the tragedy of his personal life. The deception of Alexander and the betrayal of Talleyrand, the second man in the Empire, became a revelation for him. From the moment they met in Erfruit, the Bonapartes were already doomed. Talleyrand became a hidden enemy. He "convinced" Napoleon of the success of the venture in Spain. At the same time, Talleyrand himself convinced Metterchnich and Alexander to continue the war with France. Austria started the war in 1809. Wagram thwarted this plan. But Talleyrand and Metterchnich did not give up. As for the war with Finland, Napoleon imagined that he was strengthening the flanks of his ally Alexander, he was squeezing England in a vice.
    3. Heimdall48
      Heimdall48 28 October 2015 13: 37
      But Stalin from the strategic point of view of affairs is absolutely the same as Alexander 1 in the harbinger of a great war

      There is an analogy, only Alexander, unlike Stalin, did not tell tales about the reflection of Finnish (Swedish) aggression, the liberation of the working people, etc. He did not arrange provocations at the border, but honestly declared - we take it by force of arms.
      1. Barboskin
        Barboskin 29 October 2015 09: 55
        The 1939 Finnish aggression has the same principles as the Malaysian Boeing over Ukraine in 2014. There are several investigations, each in favor of the customer. So, do not drip on Joseph Vissarionovich.
  7. Jääkorppi
    Jääkorppi 31 October 2015 14: 11
    Finland is not homogeneous, part of it is western Karelia (eastern Finland), which since the time of the Novgorod Republic is connected with Russia, became part of it in 1743 (before the revolution, the Finns were second in number after the Russians, after the revolution, their place was taken by the Ukrainians). Accordingly, the Russian troops met resistance in western (Swedish) Finland. Accordingly, the attitude of Finns towards Russians is also changing! And no one there forgets what Russia has done for Finland and its contribution to the creation and development of the country! And Talvi Sota, it is perceived very objectively, read Finnish school history textbooks, in which, unlike Russian liberal nonsense, no one blames Stalin for the war! And the attitude of the Finns to the Russians, at least in Eastern Finland, is much better than in the former "fraternal" republics, and you will never hear such nonsense as the Khokhlov-Banderaites. And to the constant propaganda that has been pouring from televisions lately, they, thank God, treat with distrust.