Sweden was a Military Giant – Until it Invaded Russia

When most people think of Sweden, they think of IKEA furniture, depressing murder mysteries and a foreign policy of strict neutrality.

Yet 400 years ago, Sweden was a major military power. Indeed, it was even an empire, a fact that must make today’s Swedish leftists cringe.

Under young King Gustavus Adolphus, a brilliant and innovative military commander, Sweden in the early 1600s became a sort of Nordic Israel (which must also make Swedish leftists cringe). Sweden was a poor, thinly populated nation that couldn’t match the resources of larger rivals such as France and Russia.

So, Gustavus Adolphus had to devise a more flexible, mobile form of warfare. In an age when armies consisted of poorly paid and underfed peasants and mercenaries more likely to loot their own fellow citizens than fight the enemy, Sweden maintained a professional and well-trained standing army. Swedish troops maneuvered tactically in smaller, flexible companies instead of the cumbersome formations of their enemies. While 17th Century armies were transitioning from swords and pikes to muskets and artillery, Gustavus Adolphus increased the number of gunpowder weapons. Most artillery of the era had little battlefield mobility, but the Swedish king equipped his infantry regiments with their own light, mobile field guns that could support the foot soldiers throughout the battle.

During the Thirty Years War of 1618-48, Swedish forces advanced so far south that they almost captured Prague and Vienna deep in Central Europe. Their crowning achievement was the Battle of Breitenfeld in September 1631, when a Protestant army of 23,000 Swedes and 18,000 Saxons nearly wiped out a Catholic Holy Roman Empire force of 35,000 men, and lost just 5,500 men in the process.

800px-Imperial_Standard_of_the_Emperor_of_Russia_(1858–1917).svgGustavus Adolphus fell at the Battle of Lutzen in 1632 (though his army still won). But in a succession of conflicts with IKEA-like names such as the Torstenson War, Swedish forces performed well against the Danes, Norwegians, Dutch, Poles and Russians. Sweden seized large parts of today’s eastern Germany and Poland, and became a major Baltic power.

And then Sweden decided to invade Russia in 1708.

Can you guess how this going to end?

The Great Northern War of 1700-1721 pitted a Swedish-led coalition against a Russian-led alliance. The Swedes were commanded by young Charles XII, a clever, energetic ruler dubbed the “Lion of the North” and the “Swedish Meteor.” But Russia was led by the legendary Peter the Great, who eventually turned his large but poor nation into a major European power. At stake was Swedish control of swathes of Eastern and Central Europe, and more important, who would be the dominant power in the Baltic.

Charles XII marched into Russia with just 40,000 men, a small force compared to the 500,000 of Napoleon’s Grande Armee of 1812, or the 3 million men of Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa. Yet the war began well for the Swedes. It knocked Denmark-Norway and the Polish-Lithuanian Empire out of the war. But as in later conflicts, there was still the Russian colossus to contend with.

Yet waging war with small, hard-hitting armies was a strategy that worked for Sweden before. So why shouldn’t it work again? At Narva in today’s Estonia in 1700, 12,000 Swedes outnumbered nearly 3 to 1 almost wiped out a 37,000-strong Russian force during a battle fought in a blizzard. In many ways, the struggle resembled World War II, where smaller but proficient German forces defeated larger but clumsier Soviet armies.

Unfortunately for the Swedish Meteor, the Russians also used a strategy that had always worked for them. Their armies withdrew deep into the vastness of Mother Russia, leaving “scorched earth” in their wake and precious little for the Swedish soldiers and horses to eat. Meanwhile, Russian columns ambushed and destroyed Swedish reinforcements that Charles desperately needed to replenish his battered army.

Then came the Great Frost of 1709, the coldest winter that Europe had experienced in the previous 500 years, which of course turned Russia into a vast freezer that could sustain human life under the right conditions. For a Swedish army deprived of shelter and food in a scorched landscape, the conditions were anything but right. More than 2,000 Swedes died from the cold in a single night.Those who have seen the photos of frozen German soldiers at Moscow and Stalingrad can imagine what the boys from Stockholm must have looked like.

The tombstone of the Swedish Empire was carved at the Battle of Poltava in central Ukraine in June 1709. The summer after the Great Frost saw the Swedish army shrink to 20,000 soldiers and 34 cannon. Ever the aggressive monarch, Charles XII laid siege to Poltava. Peter intervened with a relief force of 80,000 men. The Russian troops first resisted a Swedish charge (wounds had forced Charles to relinquish command of his army). The Russians then counterattacked with their superior numbers, enveloping and routing the Swedish forces.

The Swedes suffered about 19,000 casualties, almost their entire force. The Russians also suffered. But as later invaders were to learn, the Russians could replace their losses while the invaders could not.

Charles left Russia with 543 survivors. Sweden lost its Baltic territories, and never regained its vast possessions or military glory. Soon the Swedish Empire was no more.

To be fair to the Lion of the North, Charles XII had no crystal ball to foresee what would happen to Napoleon and Hitler when they invaded Russia. The more interesting question is why Napoleon and Hitler didn’t learn from the fate of Charles XII. It is curious that over the course of 250 years, three European kings and dictators fought a campaign in Russia in the dead of winter. None succeeded.

Nonetheless, there is a story that soon after Napoleon invaded Russia in June 1812, the Tsar dispatched General Balashov with a letter urging peace. When Napoleon said he would defeat Russia, Balashov is said to have warned him: “The Russians, like the French, say that all roads lead to Rome. The road to Moscow is a matter of choice. Charles XII went via Poltava.”


Originally published on 2016-10-08

Author: Michael Peck

Source: The National Interest

Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!

Donate to Support Us

We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.

4662780391_64950c212c_b_Crimea

Save 

READ MORE!
The U.S. War Crimes against North Korea: Sinchon Massacre by the U.S. Military Exposed
SINCHON COUNTY, North Korea–Over the past few years the Korean people have been able to expose the truth about a number of atrocities by Washington’s military forces during the 1950–53 Korean War. Many others, however, remain covered up and receive virtually no mention outside the Korean peninsula. One such massacre took place in Sinchon, a city located in what is today North Korea. During the Socialist Workers Party and Young Socialists leadership delegation’s visit to the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK), we toured the Sinchon Museum, which documents what north Koreans consider the worst atrocity to have taken place in ...
READ MORE
Ten Lies Told About World War I
This Remembrance Day will doubtless see strenuous efforts by some to justify the fruitless bloodbath that was the First World War. Revisionist commentators have long attempted to rehabilitate the conflict as necessary and just, but the arguments do not stand up. It does no service to the memory of the dead to allow any illusions in the justice or necessity of war, particularly so when the precedents will be used to argue for the next ‘necessary’ conflict. From the causes of the war, to its prosecution and its results, here are the counter-arguments to ten common pro-war ploys.1. The war ...
READ MORE
Islamic Extremists Establish Foothold in Kosovo and the Balkans
Peace TV, an enterprise directed from India, Saudi Arabia, and Dubai by a fu­­ndamentalist Islamist preacher, Zakir Naik, has established a 12-hour daily program in Kosovo, a country 90% Muslim. The entry into Kosovo of Naik’s Peace TV, broadcasting each day in Albanian from 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., appears to be an element in a novel campaign by South Asian Islamists to establish a foothold among Europe’s indigenous Balkan Muslims. Peace TV’s message is hard-line Wahhabism, which insults, in aggressive terms, spiritual Sufis, Shia Muslims, non-fundamentalist Sunnis, Jews, Christians, and Hindus, among others. Radical Islamist interlopers and their financiers, mainly ...
READ MORE
The Jihadist Threat in the EU
The forthcoming USA-Russian joint action against ISIS together with Iraqi-Syrian and Turkish military advance will soon neutralize ISIS possibilities to claim a stake of a statehood in the Levant region. Nonetheless, the number of radicalized persons in Europe is increasing as also the number of Jihadist fighters returning back into the EU-thus at first glance we should see a rise in the terrorism phenomenon in the coming years. Furthermore the existence of multiple fronts where Jihadists are trained and fight nowadays such as :Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Sahel region, Nigeria, Sudan , Yemen, Sinai; brings us to the conclusion that we ...
READ MORE
U.S. Bombs Dropped in 2016
How incredible is this... The United States is technically not at war with any country right now but dropped more than 26,000 bombs in just 2016 and this under an "anti-war" President. We have an entire generation of Americans who have lived only under a system of "perpetual war". The time is long overdue to redefine these issues. Map of the US bombed states in 2016 with the number of dropped bombs Originally published on 2017-01-06 Author: Ben Swann Source: Ben Swann FB Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection & Pinterest. Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement! Donate to Support Us We would like to ask you to consider ...
READ MORE
The US Military Bases Abroad are Disrupting the World Order
In years before 2014, the Afghan think tanks would opine that the US may wind down Afghanistan’s conflict through the end of this year, inferring that the goal of founding the nine large military bases across the country is almost accomplished. Many would delightfully say that Afghanistan is phasing into a new chapter with the flames of war quelled as the US government insisted on troop withdrawal.Entrenching military headquarters in strangers’ territories has no excuse or legal ground under any circumstances. The Afghan nation would cast aside objection to this permanent military foothold thanks in most part to the bitter ...
READ MORE
NATO’s War against Yugoslavia was Based on Lies
Germany joined the war against Yugoslavia under the pretense of fabricated facts. Sensational confession of German policeman Henning Hentz who served in the OSCE in Kosovo in the 90s confirmed that.The reason here is that photographs taken by Hentz in late January 1999 were used by then German Defence Minister Rudolf Scharping to justify the immediate interference of NATO in the Kosovo conflict. He presented the photographs of the militants killed in Rugovo as photos of innocent Albanian victims.What did really happen in Kosovo in late January of 1999, several months before NATO launched its operation against Yugoslavia?According to Serbian ...
READ MORE
For 68 Years NATO Failing to Create a Peaceful World
It is unreasonable to ask taxpayers to pay billions more dollars for NATO’s budget because they get less and less peace, security and stability, says Jan Oberg, director of Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the bloc’s security spending would see its biggest increase since 2014, by 4.3 per cent in 2017. This is a response to US President Donald Trump‘s criticism of NATO countries failing to increase military budgets. Stoltenberg also said the alliance has combat-ready forces along Russia’s border. “NATO’s four multinational battle groups in the Baltic countries and Poland are now fully operational, ...
READ MORE
NATO — Private Club оf War Criminals
What has happened is that NATO provides cover for these transgressions of the United States government’s policy. In other words, it absolutely legitimizes what effectively is NATO aggression. Moreover, what one needs to bear in mind and what one needs to be mindful about is the fact that in Western Europe you no longer have rulers with the independence of Charles de Gaulle. It seems that Washington, and we can use Washington, America and NATO interchangeably because NATO is dominated by the United States. It is a command structure, which ultimately is based on American military power and American military precedence.  ...
READ MORE
On the Centenary of the Greek Genocide
Hannibal Travis, "On The Centenary of The Greek Genocide", AHIF Policy Journal, American Hellenic Institute Foundation, Inc., Vol. 8, Spring 2017, pp. 14 Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection & Pinterest. Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement! Donate to Support Us We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.
READ MORE
Lithuania & Fake News
Fake news has become a great problem in our life. The more so, questionable news and lack of clarity can seriously influence society and bring chaos to the minds of ordinary people. Last week a typical event happened in Lithuania. A couple of local Lithuanian media outlets published news report claimed German soldiers raped a Lithuanian girl. The Lithuanian officials were quick to say that it was a false report. The incident was described in all popular world news sources and commented by Lithuania's and NATO's high ranking officials. The speed of spreading the news strikes. That is why Lithuanians took ...
READ MORE
Barack Obama vs. Vladimir Putin: How Bloomberg ‘News’ Lies
On December 31st, Josh Rogin of Bloomberg ‘News’ headlined “Inside Obama’s Secret Outreach to Russia,” and his opening sentence ‘reported’ on “the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown little interest in … halting his aggression in neighboring Ukraine.” That ‘reporter’ from Bloomberg ‘News’ was ‘reporting’ from only sources inside the U.S. Administration — only from individuals who are hired by and who represent Barack Obama, none who are hired by and who represent Obama’s enemy Vladimir Putin; and so the question naturally arises as to whether Rogin and Bloomberg ‘News’ are ‘reporting’ propaganda, or are they instead reporting ...
READ MORE
The Hidden Structure of U.S. Empire
My father was a doctor in the British Royal Navy, and I grew up traveling by troop-ship between the last outposts of the British Empire – Trincomalee, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Malta, Aden, Singapore – and living in and around naval dockyards in England and Scotland.The British naval bases where I grew up and the fading empire they supported are now part of history. Chatham Dockyard. a working dockyard for over 400 years, is now a museum and tourist attraction.  Trincomalee Dockyard, where I was born, has been in the news as a site where the Sri Lankan Navy is accused of torturing and ...
READ MORE
Franjo Tuđman (Tudjman) in Belgrade, February 1945: A Photo
A Yugoslav Communist Major Franjo Tuđman (left) with his Croatian compatriot Communist Captain Joža Horvat (right) as the occupants of Serbia's capital Belgrade in February 1945. The Yugoslav Communist Partisans came from the territory of a Nazi-fascist Independent State of Croatia to occupy Serbia in October 1944. They were sponsored and supported by the Croatian Nazi-fascist regime in Zagreb. Top Partisan's leadership was not Serb but rather Croat. The Partisans were accompanied at that time by many redressed Croatian Nazi-fascist soldiers (Ustashi and Domobrans) who committed a terrible genocide on Serbian civilians in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina in WWII.  Those Partisans ...
READ MORE
From Kosovo to Crimea — Tales of Referendums
Following the death of President Tito in 1980 the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia slid towards chaos. In the 1990s the plunge accelerated into civil war and one of the regions most affected was Kosovo from which Serbia withdrew after a NATO bomb and rocket offensive from 24 March to 11 June 1999. That blitz involved over 1,000 mainly American aircraft conducting some 38,000 airstrikes on Yugoslavia that killed approximately 500 civilians and destroyed much of the economic and social infrastructure of the region.NATO said its air bombardment was essential to halt repression of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo and justified the ...
READ MORE
The Myth of Western Democracy
How does the West get away with its pretense of being an alliance of great democracies in which government is the servant of the people?Nowhere in the West, except possibly Hungary and Austria, does government serve the people.Who do the Western governments serve? Washington serves Israel, the military/security complex, Wall Street, the big banks, and the fossil fuel corporations.The entirety of the rest of the West serves Washington.Nowhere in the West do the people count. The American working class, betrayed by the Democrats who sent their jobs to Asia, elected Donald Trump and the American people were promptly dismissed by ...
READ MORE
Seal in lobby at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, USA
“It is always difficult to play a double game: declaring a fight against terrorists and simultaneously trying to use some to place pieces on the Middle Eastern chess board to pursue their own interests … [but do the] so-called moderate bandits behead people moderately?” – Vladimir Putin (2015) Reports that US and British aircraft carrying arms to ISIS were shot down by Iraqi forces (Iraqi News 2015) were met with shock and denial in western countries. Yet few in the Middle East doubt that Washington is playing a ‘double game’ with its proxy armies in Syria. A Yemeni AnsarAllah leader says ...
READ MORE
The Biggest Threat to US National Security is the US Government
A dictatorship does not represent the public but only the aristocracy that, behind the scenes, controls the government. Jonathan H. Adler, Professor at Case Western University School of Law, noted, regarding George W. Bush’s secret policy for the NSA to access everyone’s phone-records, that “The metadata collection program is constitutional (at least according to Judge Kavanaugh),” and he presented Judge Kavanaugh’s entire published opinion on that. Kavanaugh’s opinion stated that the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution could be shoved aside because he thinks that the ‘national security’ of the United States is more important than the Constitution. Kavanaugh wrote: The Government’s program for bulk collection ...
READ MORE
The Saudi Butchery in Yemen and the World’s Apathy
The cold-blooded killing of the journalist Khashoggi, however gruesome, pales compared to the brutality and gross human rights violations Saudi Arabia is committing in Yemen. The Saudis are deliberately preventing food and medicine from reaching areas where children are dying from starvation or disease. Their indiscriminate bombings are killing thousands of innocent men, women, and children, leaving whole communities in ruin. The saddest part of this unfolding tragedy is that the US and other Western powers are supplying the Saudis with the weapons they need to massacre the Yemenites, who are trapped in this proxy war between Saudi Arabia and ...
READ MORE
The Western Russophobic Paranoia after the Cold War and Global Security
In regard to international relations (IR), power is understood as the ability of state or other political actors to impose its own control or influence over other state(s) or other political actors, or at least to influence the outcome of events on the local, regional or global level. Power politics as a phenomena has two dimensions: internal and external. The internal dimension is applied in the inner policy of the state and the external in the foreign affairs or outside of the home politics. The powerfulness of a state depends on its real independence or sovereignty from outside influence on ...
READ MORE
The U.S. War Crimes against North Korea: Sinchon Massacre by the U.S. Military Exposed
Ten Lies Told About World War I
Islamic Extremists Establish Foothold in Kosovo and the Balkans
The Jihadist Threat in the EU
U.S. Bombs Dropped in 2016
The US Military Bases Abroad are Disrupting the World Order
NATO’s War against Yugoslavia was Based on Lies
For 68 Years NATO Failing to Create a Peaceful World
NATO — Private Club оf War Criminals
On the Centenary of the Greek Genocide
Lithuania & Fake News
Barack Obama vs. Vladimir Putin: How Bloomberg ‘News’ Lies
The Hidden Structure of U.S. Empire
Franjo Tuđman (Tudjman) in Belgrade, February 1945: A Photo
From Kosovo to Crimea — Tales of Referendums
The Myth of Western Democracy
The Dirty War on Syria: Washington Supports the Islamic State (ISIS)
The Biggest Threat to US National Security is the US Government
The Saudi Butchery in Yemen and the World’s Apathy
The Western Russophobic Paranoia after the Cold War and Global Security

Policraticus

Written by Policraticus

SHORT LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The website’s owner & editor-in-chief has no official position on any issue published at this website. The views of the authors presented at this website do not necessarily coincide with the opinion of the owner & editor-in-chief of the website. The contents of all material (articles, books, photos, videos…) are of sole responsibility of the authors. The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not morally, scientifically or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the contents of all material found on this website. The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not responsible for the content of external internet sites. No advertising, government or corporate funding for the functioning of this website. The owner & editor-in-chief and authors are not morally, scientifically or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the text and material found on the website www.global-politics.eu

Website: http://www.global-politics.eu