Wednesday, 15 June 2011

SYW Baltic scenario

The campaigns between Prussia and Sweden during the Seven Years War tend to be overlooked

in favour of the major battles between Frederick and Austria and Russia. Our scenario was based on an action at Schweinmunde, (now Swinojscie in Poland). A Swedish force was attempting to capture forts covering the access to the Baltic Lakes. A small Prussian force of 1 grenadier battalion, 2 battalions of line infantry, 4 of fusiliers, a Frei Korps battalion and a unit of Frei Hussaren garrisoned the small town of Schweinmunde and its accompanying forts. There was a small ferry allowing communication between the two banks of the channel linking the lakes with the Baltic sea.

Schweinmunde garrison with ferry in background.

The Swedish force was in two parts. The main attack consisted of 8 battalions of line infantry, with two light guns and a unit of hussars and was to seize Schweinmunde and it's accompanying fort. The second attack was to be landed by boat, covered by the bomb ketch Thor. Their task was to secure the main fort on the western bank. With these secured the Swedish navy would be able to sail into the Baltic lakes.

The Swedish attack on Schweinmunde advances. Thor can be seen in the background.

When the Swedish force came into view, the Prussian commander summoned reinforcements to Schweinmunde, ordered the Frei Korps into the woods to flank an attack on the town and requested the Frei Hussaren to scout southwards on the western bank to contest any landing.

As the Swedes came into range, the Prussian guns defending Schweinmunde opened fire. Almost immediately they began to cause casulaties, no doubt aided by markers placed by enterprising artillery officers in preparation for such an attack. Undeterred, the Swedes continued to advance and came into musketry range. Now, aided by some very lucky dice throws, losses amongst the Swedes began to mount and the first line broke. The Swedish general was in no mood to break off the attack and continued to advance. The Prussian commander moved one battalion of the Itzenplitz Regiment forward and they contested the Swedish advance. A crashing volley caused a further Swedish battalion to retreat.

But the Swedish artillery was now getting the range and the other battalion of Itzenplitz was forced to retire into the cover of the town. Their place was taken by the grenadiers.

Meanwhile the naval landing was progressing. Thor was approaching the western fort and began to lob mortar shells towards it and the barges with the second Swedish force were nearing the shore. Again, the dice did not favour the Swedes. The first Prussian salvo against the Thor caused heavy damage to the superstructure, not enough to force the Thor to turn away, but sufficient for the captain to become concerned as to how long he would be able to remain and cover the landing. The Thor's fall of shot was determined by the "rubber band" method. This invovled the captain of the Thor standing by the table and tossing the rubber band towards the intended target. Any figures within the band were casualties. The first shot was short, the second long, but the third caused casulaties amonst the defending fusiliers. All the while the barges were nearing the coast and with some relief the infantrymen jumped ashore and began to form up.

Unknown to the Prussian commander, a small naval party had already been landed further down the coast and they had moved to cover the disembarkation of this force. They were to take up position in the woods inland to deter the Frei Hussaren from interfering with the landing. However, due to delays they were not in position soon enough and the hussars swept by them and threatend the jager who were the first ashore. The jager at first stood their ground and their fire emptied quite a few saddles and wounded the colonel of the regiment. Taking advantage of the confusion the jager fell back to the boats. The hussars came forward again, less confident than before and suffered yet more casualties from the jager, who then retired behind the regular infantry, who had now been given time to form up. Frustrated in carrying out their orders the hussars had to fall back; enduring the catcalls not only of the Swedes, but also the fusiliers in the redoubt.

The duel between the shore battery and the Thor continued, with the captain of the latter now getting his range, although the damage to his vessel was increasing. One shell exploded right amongst one of the defending battalions, inflicting a morale test. It was at this point that the previously good dice deserted the Prussian commander and the fusiliers failed the test and fell back.

The next shell fell amongst the staff and killed the brigadier, causing yet more confusion in the redoubt. By the time order had been restored the Swedish advance had begun and the storming party was aproaching the southern ramparts. However, a further telling salvo from the shore battery caused so much damage that all available crew were allocated to plugging leaks in the hull and this convinced the Thor's captain that he should move further offshore.

In Schweinmunde the defence's fire was beginning to slacken. Despite their heavy losses the Swedish force had silenced the Prussian's light artillery and the grenadiers had been subjected to close range fire from the Swedish artillery which had reduced them to half strength. The anticipated flank attack from the Frei Korps had come to nothing; (their commanding officer claimed at a later inquiry that he had got lost in the wood due to inadequate maps!). The only reserve, a fusilier battalion moved round the side of the town and advanced on the Swedish artillery. They captured one battery, but were caught in the flank by the Swedish foot and had to surrender. The fusilier's advacne had opened the way for the Swedish cavalry to try and seize the ferry and thus isolate the defenders of Schweinmunde.

Amonst the cavalrymen that day was a young ensign by the name of Blucher, who was to make quite a name for himself. Seeing the cavalry approaching the ferrymen delayed just long enough (encouraged by a few well directed bayonets), to take on board the remnants of the grenadiers and then cast off for the western bank. The Prussian defenders of Schweinmunde had no option but to surrender and seeing this, the Prussians on the western bank fell back, spiking their guns and left the field to the Swedes.


  1. I have long been interested in the war between the Swedes and the prussians in the syw...
    It is great to see such on the tabletop! I think it is a fascinating yet often overlooked sideshow.