Sunday, 13 July 2014

Battle of Landsbro 1713

A Russian army of about 14 000 men had the objective to march on Åbo year 1713. With such a force the task should be easy. Though the army had to cross the river of Svartån. At the only bridge, Landsbro a Swedish force had taken position. 

This is Landsbro bridge, built in 1847. Most likely built at the same spot where the bridge was located in 1713.

The Swedish provinces in Estonia, Livonia, Ingria and Carelia had all fallen. The Russian conquest had started 1702 and ended 1710. At that point, the Russians turned attention towards Finland and was step by step occupying it. The Russian army used the "Kingsroad" between Viborg and Åbo to reach Åbo. At this point Viborg, was in the hands of the Russians and Viborg was probably the starting point of this operation. To stop the Russian advancement towards Åbo, the colonel Johan Stiernschantz with 500 men (probably one battalion from his regiment Savolax Infantry Regiment) had taken position at Landsbro, the bridge over Svartån at the village of Karis. These 500 had to face between 13 200-14 000 men. About 9000 infantry, 4000 dragoons and 300 Cossacks.

Stiernschantz and his men had taken position between "Kyrksjön" (Church lake) and Svartån itself. The bridge had been burnt down by the Swedes. 8 o'clock in the morning the battle commenced. The Russian dragoons charged but they had to dismount their horses due to heavy fire from the Swedes. For four hours the fightings continued with intence firefights. At the ending phase of the battle the Russian dragoons waded over Svartån. At that point Stiernschantz realized that he couldn't hold his position anymore therefore he fell back towards Åbo.

The battle was a Russian victory since now the road to Åbo was open. Though the battle for the Swedish was undeniably very impressive. It is astonishing how only 500 men could hold out for so long against a very superior enemy. This shows that the moral and discipline still was high in the Swedish army after the Poltava Battle 1709. But the main reason why these 500 Swedes could withstand the Russians for so long was due to the fact that the only bridge had been burnt down.


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