The Swedish Household Cavalry charging home in "V" formation.
2015 is fast approaching and the project list for the year to come is filling up quickly.
I’ll return to this matter of joyful planning in a later post, but for now reveal one coming project. Inspired by the announcement of the release of Warfare Miniatures Great Northern War range, it was decided at our local wargaming club in Stockholm Sweden, that we would put together a battalion based collection in 28mm for the Battle of Holowczyn 1708.
A strict protestant discipline was attended in the Swedish Army,
and field priests was a core ingredient of the traveling Swedish war-machine.
Painting: Gustaf Cederström.
The Great Northern War is arguably one of the most important conflicts fought in Scandinavian and Russian history. In 1700 Sweden was one of Europe’s top three military powers, with perhaps the most well drilled and professional army of all. Sweden was at its pinnacle of power, with all of Finland, Estonia, most of Latvia plus possessions in Poland and Germany under its direct rule. At the same time, a sleeping bear to the east was starting to wake up, gathering power under the guidance of Tsar Peter the Great.
Swedish possessions were widely spread over the Baltic region
and in Northern Germany.
Peter the Great had one goal in mind, to pool all Russia’s military resources, and establish an empire with a capital modelled on a Western grandeur situated with waterway access to the Baltic Sea. Only problem was – this was a Swedish dominated area. Forging an alliance with Saxony, and the ever Swede-bashing Danes, Peter’s coalition declared war in 1700 on Sweden, ruled by the only 18 years old Charles XII.
Detail: The shabraque is marked with three crowns,
signaling the unit's position as Royal Household Cavalry.
Charles would prove to be nothing less than a brilliant military commander, later receiving praise and alliance-proposals from all of Europe’s courts, and he even had an ode written in his honour by Voltaire, but… After knocking out the Danes and successively the Saxons, Charles turned on Peter and the vast domains of Russia.
Charles XII, the toast of Europe after he successfully wiped away the Saxon army.
It was all to change after the failed Russian campaign and Poltava 1709.
Painting: Gustaf Cederström.
Peter’s pledges for peace were scrapped by the vindictive Swedish king, and he set out to do what Napoleon and later Hitler would both try to – conquer Mother Russian. Needless to say, he got the same result as his historic counterparts, and it all ended with the destruction of the Swedish army at Poltava.
Holowczyn is a battle fought as part of this Russian Campaign in 1708. It poses the Swedish army, carrying out a sneak-attack led personally by the King, against the entrenched Russians forces in camp under Prince Menshikov. It’s a highly playable battle in wargaming terms, and we’re very excited to get started with this core subject in Swedish history.
Gå På! The unit is based on 2 pcs of 60x60mm bases from Warbases.
I love that you can get these with the little rounded corner, which adds some finish to the base.
As my first unit for this collection, I chose the Royal Swedish Household Cavalry – not to be confused with “Drabanterna” which was a much smaller unit acting as the King’s personal bodyguard.
The Household Cavalry traces its roots back to 1536, first formed as regional cavalry units. These regional units would later be merged into the “Livregementet till Häst” = Household Cavalry, and in 1687 formed into 12 Companies totalling about 1.500 elite horsemen. They took part in mayor battles of the war such as; Klissow, Holowczyn, Poltava and the later battle of Helsingborg.
The uniform of the Household Cavalry.
Their uniform diverted significantly from the standard dark blue “unity uniform” introduced in the Swedish army both in the cavalry and infantry. Their jackets were sky-blue, and their standard was all white with gold embroideries and their regional heraldry in the top inner corner.
They were, like many Swedish units, completely wiped out with any surviving troopers caught after Poltava, and had to be re-raised from scratch in 1710 back in Sweden.
Swedish cavalry charging forward
in their preferred knee-to-knee "V" formation.
They are based in a forward going “V” formation, which was according to the Swedish shock attack doctrine of the time. Its said that each trooper had his knee touching the knee of the horseman next to him, but that might be more of a theoretical doctrine as the unit will no doubt loose cohesion as the horses build momentum. Safe to say, they tried to stick with this “plough” tactic, and they were compact units charging forward sword in hand on their small but sturdy Swedish horses, acting as a wall of flesh and steel coming at the enemy’s ranks.
Thank you very much for reading!