Maps: The New Cambridge
Modern History Atlas, Cambridge,
BACK TO 1607-1609 OPERATIONS
The war between Sweden
was far from being terminated in 1618. The truce was short and in 1620 the
military operations resumed.
Military Course of Events
In November 1620, Sweden
once again attacked Poland
in Livonia and in 1621 Swedish army under King Gustavus Adolphus took Riga. After a while,
another short armistice followed from November 1622 till March 1625. By the end
of April the Swedes had overrun all of Livonia
and Courland and started the invasion of Prussia.
In 1625, the Swedes quickly occupied all of Livonia
and Courland by the year's end. In May 1626
Gustav Adolf began the surprising invasion of Prussia. Gustav's landing in East
Prussia near Pillau (Baltiysk,
Piława]]) with over 8,000 soldiers came as a
surprise to the Commonwealth and despite his relatively small forces, Gustav
Adolf acting with the support of the Elector of Brandenburg quickly captured
all of the coastal towns, with the exception of the largest prize: the city of Gdańsk (Danzig). Commonwealth received no support from
its vassal, Duchy of Prussia. Near the village of Gniew in a battle (22-30
September 1626) Gustav defeated a Polish army led by king Sigismund. Sigismund
retreated and called from reinforcements from other parts of the country.
King Gustavus Adolphus
Hetman Stanisław Koniecpolski's
Hetman Stanisław Koniecpolski's forces (4,200 light cavalry, 1,000 dragoons,
1,000 infantry) moved to Prussia
with amazing speed. Strengthened by other units, he had 10,000 men against over
20,000-strong Swedish force. Using the tactic of maneuver warfare, with small
mobile units striking at the enemy's communication lines and smaller units, he
managed to stop the Swedish attack and force the units under Axel Oxenstierna,
who also attempted to avoid battles with an overwhelming concentrated forces of
Koniecpolski, into a defense. For a short time the
war became a stalemate.
In the meantime, the Sejm (Commonwealth Parliament)
agreed to raise money for the war, but the situation of the Polish forces was
difficult. Lithuanian forces were dealt a serious defeat in December of 1626
near Kokenhusen in Livonia
and retreated behind the Dvina river. The
Swedes planned to strike Koniecpolski from two
directions - Oxenstierna from direction of the Vistula and Johann Streiff von Lawentstein and Maxymilian Teuffl from Swedish
held Pomerania. The flooding of the Vistula
disrupted their plans and allowed Koniecploski to
intercept the enemy units coming from Pomerania.
Supported by a 7 000 strong contingent sent by the Emperor Ferdinand II, Koniecpolski recaptured the town of Puck on 2nd April. During the crossing of the
Vistula near Kieżmark, in the vicinity of Danzig
Gustav met the Polish forces and in the ensuing battle was wounded in the hip
and forced to retreat. In July he led forces to lift the siege of Braniew, and lay siege to Orneta.
Koniecpolski responded with the sudden attack and
capture of Gniew. Gustav Adolf was reported to be
impressed by the speed of Koniecpolski's reaction.
With about 7,800 men (including 2,500 cavalry and hussars), Koniecpolski
tried to stop the Swedish army from reaching Danzig near Dirschau
(Gdansk, near Tczew). On 7-8 August (or 18 September, sources vary),
battle with the Swedish forces (10,000 men including 5,000 infantry) took place
near the swamps of Mołtawa. The Swedes wanted to
provoke the Poles into an attack and then destroy them with infantry fire and
artillery, but Koniecpolski decided not to attack.
The Swedes then took the initiative and attacked with cavalry, but did not
manage to draw the Poles within the range of their fire. The consequent Swedish
attacks managed to deal severe damage to Polish cavalry units, but did not
manage to cripple the army (whose morale was kept high, thanks to Koniecpolski). The battle ended when Gustav Adolf was once
again wounded and the Swedes retreated.
After the battle, Koniecpolski saw the need to reform
the army and strengthen the firepower of infantry and artillery to match the
Swedish units. The Swedes, on the other hand, learned arts of cavalry attacks,
charges and melee combat from the Poles.
In March/April (dates vary) of 1627 near Czarne (Hamersztyn) Koniecpolski forced
the Swedish forces to retreat inside the city, and three days later to
surrender, leaving behind their banners and insignia. Some Swedish soldiers and
mercenaries changed sides at that time. This victory also convinced the Elector
of Brandenburg to declare his support for the Commonwealth, and the Lithuanian
forces resumed the offensive in Inflanty.
Koniecpolski's insistence of taking the war to the
seas resulted in the tiny and untested Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Navy of 9
ships to the defeat of a Swedish flotilla on 28 November (or 17th November,
dates vary), 1627, at the battle of Oliwa.
In 1628 the Polish forces, lacking funding, were forced to stop their offensive
and switch to defense. Gustav Adolf captured Nowy and
counterattacked by using his small forces most efficiently - fast cavalry melee
attacks combined with the supporting fire of infantry and artillery, and using
fortifications and terrain advantage. By that time the war had become a war of
maneuver with neither side willing to face the other without advantages of
terrain or fortifications.
The Sejm decided to increase the funds for the war
after the battle of Górzno, where Stanisław Potocki was defeated. After defeating Christian IV of Denmark at Wolgast in September 1628, Emperor Ferdinand II sent help
to the Commonwealth in the form of 12 000 men under field marshal Jan Jerzy Arnheim. A corps under Albrecht
von Wallenstein also cooperated in Pomerania
with Koniecpolski in 1629. Nonetheless, Koniecpolski was forced to withdraw Commonwealth forces
from many strategic Polish strongholds in Prussia.
In time, hetman Koniecpolski managed to recapture Puck.
The final battle took place on 27 June 1629 near Trzciana
(or Trzcianka). The Swedes attacked in the direction
of Graudenz (Grudziądz), were stopped, and
retreated to Stuhm (Szturm)
and Marienburg (Malbork). Koniecpolski attacked the rear guard lead by Jan, count of Ren, and destroyed it. He also repelled a counterattack by
Swedish raitars, who were pushed in the direction of Pułkowice, where another counterattack was lead by
Gustav Adolf with 2,000 cavalrymen. This counterattack was also stopped, and
the Swedish forces were saved by the last reserve units lead by field marshal
Herman Wrangel, who finally managed to stop the
Polish attack. Swedish losses were heavy, especially in the cavalry regiments.
Gustav Adolf said after the battle "I have never been in such a
bath". 1,200 Swedes were killed, including the count of Ren and the son of Wrangel, Jan
Wilhelm Reingraff, and a few hundred were captured.
Polish losses were under 200 killed and injured.
However this victory was not followed up politically and militarily. Despite's
all of Koniecpolski's brilliant efforts, a ceasefire
in Stary Targ (Truce of Altmark) on 26 October, 1629 was in favour
of the Swedes, to whom Poland
ceded the larger part of Livonia with the
important port of
Riga. Swedes also got the
right to tax Polish trade moved through the Baltic (3,5% on the value of
goods), kept control of many cities in Royal Prussia Pillau
(Piława, now Baltiysk),
Memel (Klaipeda) and Elbing (Elbląg)
and for the time were generally recognized as the dominant power on the
southern Baltic Sea coast. Duchy of Prussia was compensated by its
losses (occupation of some cities by Swedes) by Commonwealth, with the
temporary (until 1634) transfer of Malbork, Sztum and Żuławy Wiślane. Remaining ships of the Commonwealth fleet
were transferred to Sweden.
The Swedes only failure was their inability to capture the important port of Gdańsk.
Gustav Adolf’s biographer, Harte, noted that the king was furious "that a
pacific commercial rabble should beat a set of illustrious fellows, who made
fighting their profession". Nonetheless, Swedes now controlled almost all
Baltic ports, with the exception of Danzig (Gdańsk), Puck, Königsberg
(Królewiec, now Kaliningrad)
and Libau (Libawa, Liepāja).
This would be the closest Sweden
ever got to realizing its goal of making the Baltic Sea 'Sweden's inner
lake'. After the treaty, Sweden
used their prizes and money as a starting point in their entry into the Thirty
Years War and begun the invasion of northern Germany.
Click on the map for
Treaty of Altmark would be revised in Commonwealth favour in 1635 (Treaty of Sztumska
Wieś or Treaty of Stuhmsdorf),
weakened by their losses in the Thirty Years War, would retreat from some
Baltic ports and stop taking the 3,5% tax.
As the Vasa Dynasty continued to
rule in Poland, Swedish
animosity toward Poland
continued. The war brought only temporary peace to Poland. In 1655 Sweden took advantage of Poland s involvement in war with Russia and initiated started a new war invading the Commonwealth from Pomerania and Livland. The new
war lasted until 1660 and devastated the whole of the Commonwealth as well as Livland causing svere damage to
both Poland-Lithuania and Sweden.
BACK TO THE
BACK TO POLAND