1761 - Swedish campaign in Pomerania – Swedish summer offensive
The campaign of 1761 in Pomerania lasted from July to January 1762. This article describes the first phase of the campaign from July 19 to August 31.
At the opening of the campaign of 1761, the Swedish forces operating in Western Pomerania consisted of:
- commander-in-chief: Augustin Ehrensvärd.
- generals: Stackelberg, Lybecker, Hessenstein, Adlerfeld, Carpelan and Cronhjelm
- Kungl Livgardet (2 bns)
- Upplands (1 bn)
- Skaraborgs (1 bn)
- Södermanlands (2 bns)
- Jönköpings (1 bn)
- Dalarnas (2 bns)
- Östgöta (1 bn)
- Hälsinge (1 bn)
- Älvsborgs (1 bn)
- Västmanlands (2 bns)
- Västerbottens (1 bn)
- Närke-Värmlands (1 bn)
- Åboläns (1 bn)
- Österbottens (1 bn)
- Foot Jägers
- Converged unit (1 bn)
- Böhnens Fribataljon
- Husarskyttekår Company
- I. Swedish Grenadiers (1 bn of 4 coys)
- II. Swedish Grenadiers (1 bn of 4 coys)
- I. German Grenadiers (1 bn of 4 coys)
- II. German Grenadiers (1 bn of 4 coys)
Description of events
In February 1761, a Prussian detachment under Werner was sent from Western Pomerania against Tottleben's Russian corps conducting operation in Eastern Pomerania. Belling's corps was now the only Prussian force remaining in Western Pomerania and Mecklenburg to face the Swedes. After a short campaign, Werner concluded a truce with the Russians until May 27.
Both armies used Winter to replenish their ranks. The task was not easy since there was a severe lack recruits. With Frederick II's agreement, Belling raised the III./Belling Hussars. For this new unit, thanks to his fame, he recruited a large number of Serbs, Poles and Hungarians, mostly deserters from the Russian hussar regiments.
However, Belling never managed to bring this new unit to full strength. Nevertheless, by mid-summer, the III./Belling Hussars counted 5 sqns when they were sent against the Russians conducting operations against Colberg.
For their part, the Swedes, including the troops raised locally in Western Pomerania, could field 13,000 men.
At the end of March, Swedish warships sailed from Stralsund into the Oder Haff where, since the annihilation of their fleet at the combat of Neuwarp in October 1759, the Prussians had managed to rebuild a flotilla at Stettin. This small naval force, built in 1760 and placed under the command of captain Christian Schmidt, consisted of the frigates Preussen and Schlesien, the galleys Juno and Pallas and the bomb vessels Pluto and Proserpina.
By May 11, Belling's corps consisted of:
- Belling Hussars (10 sqns totalling 38 officers and 1296 men)
- Frei-Infanterie von Hordt (2 bns totalling 29 officers, 1276 men and 4 battalion guns long with 2 captured Swedish guns) under the command of lieutenant-colonel Golz (1st bn) and major Knobelsdorf (2nd bn)
Belling deployed his corps as follows:
- I./ Frei-Infanterie von Hordt (7 coys and 4 guns) under Golz in Demmin with advanced posts at Loitz, Gnoien and Tessin
- II./ Frei-Infanterie von Hordt (3 coys and 2 guns) under Knobelsdorf in Anklam with posts in Ueckermünde, Liepen and Stolpe auf Usedom
- Belling Hussars (1 sqn) under Rittmeister von Thiling at Ribnitz
Belling raised contributions of men, gold, horses and supplies from Mecklenburg and Schwedt and established magazines behind his lines at Malchin and Treptow (actual Altentreptow).
Summer campaign in July and August
At the beginning of July, the Swedish commander-in-chief, Jakob Albrekt von Lantinghausen, resigned and was succeeded by Augustin Ehrensvärd. The latter resolved to relieve Mecklenburg from Belling's raids by launching an offensive against the Prussians.
On July 19, the Swedes advanced in 3 columns:
- the first column under general Lybecker passed the Trebel river at Tribsees
- the second column under general Hessenstein passed the Trebel river at Damgarten
- the third column (4,000 consisting of 12 bns, 10 sqns, 600 hussars, 300 jägers) under the personal command of Ehrensvärd passed the Peene river at Loitz
Belling had prepared for such an event and instructed his various detachments to retire on his magazines at Malchin and Altentreptow.
The same day (July 19), lieutenant-colonel Hierta at the head of the Swedish advanced guard caught up with lieutenant-colonel Golz's retiring detachment at Kletzer-Mühle (unidentified location probably in the vicinity of Kletzin). In this engagement, the Prussians lost 20 men killed, and 5 officers and 160 men captured. Despite this engagement, the Prussian left wing managed to reach Malchin. Meanwhile, the Prussian right wing under Knobelsdorf retired from Anklam and force marched to Altentreptow where it arrived during the evening to protect it from the advancing Swedes.
On July 20, the united column of Lybecker and Hessenstein (9 cuirassier sqns, 5 hussar sqns, 5 bns, 50 jägers and a fribattalion for a total of 3000 men) under the command of Lybecker crossed the Peene at Verchen. Belling instructed 200 Prussian horse under major Zulow to attack Lybecker's advanced guard to slow down its progress. However, Belling was forced to interrupt his attack when Lybecker's main body arrived. In this engagement, the Prussians captured 30 men. Major Armsfeld of Dalarnas Infantry was killed during the action. With Lybecker's corps approaching Malchin, Belling sent a small detachment (1 coy and 1 gun) to cover the transfer of his magazines at Malchin to Havelberg, 130 km to the south.
On July 22, the entire Swedish army concentrated at Demmin. It then advanced towards Vanselow. The same day, Hessenstein's column (5 bns, 6 sqns, 500 hussars) reached Alt Tellin on the right bank of the Tollense.
By July 24, Belling had assembled his small army at Altentreptow.
On July 25, Belling marched towards Demmin along the left bank of the Tollense. He had left small detachments to defend the bridge over the Tollense at Klempenow. Meanwhile, lieutenant-colonel Golz sent 2 coys to reinforce the garrison of Malchin.
Belling had almost reached Demmin when he suddenly turned back, retraced his steps to Klempenow, marched to Friedland and reached the Kavelpaß before the Swedes could figure out that he had redirected his march north-eastwards in the general direction of the Uecker.
On July 28, Belling attacked the Swedish outposts at Neuendorf near Breest and drove back their defenders. He also prepared an ambush for Ehrensvärd's corps at Spantekow (about 15 km south-west of Anklam). However, Ehrensvärd avoided this trap, retired westward and took new positions between Daberkow and Völschow. Meanwhile, prince Bevern sent a corps (Grenadier Battalion S54/S56 Rothkirch, Grenadier Battalion Ingersleben, Grenadier Battalion Paulsdorf along with Freicompanien Kennewitz and Hulessem, and 2 sqns of Ueckermark Provincial Hussars) from Stettin to Uecker.
Belling then moved back to Friedland across the Kavelpaß.
By July 30, Belling was back to Altentreptow. He had left 1 sqn of Belling Hussars (under Rullman) to occupy Friedland. Rullman was reinforced by major Hohendorf sent from Stettin with 2 Freicompanien and 2 sqns of Ueckermarck Provincial Hussars. The same day, the Swedes unsuccessfully attacked the crossings at Brook (unidentified location), Breest, and Friedland. At Klempenow, the Swedes managed to cross the Tollense and were on the verge of defeating the Prussian detachment defending the post when major Knobelsdorf came to their rescue. He took positions in a farm and the II./ Frei-Infanterie von Hordt opened a deadly fire on the advancing Swedes, forcing them to retire and recross the stream.
Skirmishes at Kavelpaß
On July 31, Belling marched from Altentreptow to recross the Kavelpaß. However, the Swedes had also sent troops (1 Fribattaljon, Hästjägare and Blå Hussars) to Spantekow and Thurow to block his passage. Major Schwartzer with 150 Hästjägare attacked the bridge at the Kavelpaß. After a furious fight, he drove back the Prussian infantry and captured the bridge. Schwartzer had barely seized the bridge when he was counter-attacked by 1 sqn of Belling Hussar led by Rullman and 2 sqns of Ueckermark Provincial Hussars under Hohendorf. In this skirmish, the Swedes lost 1 officer, 26 men and 36 horses. The lost of the Prussians are unknown. Belling then marched by Friedland where he was joined by 2 Freicompanien from Stettin. Belling then marched to Bartow where his hussars skirmished against Hessenstein's outposts in the woods.
On August 4, Belling sent major Knobelsdorf from Bartow with 1 sqn to capture a bridge on the Peen at Jarmen, 14 km further north. However, 1 coy (captain Behrenfels) of Wetterhoff's II. German Grenadiers with 1 gun drove back his attack.
On August 5, general Hessenstein advanced from Barkow in 2 columns:
- the first column (2 bns of Västmanlands, 3 sqns of Västgöta Horse and 2 sqns of Blå Hussars) under lieutenant-colonel Wrangel marched by Breest to Roepenack (unidentified location)
- the second column (1 bn of Hälsinge, 2 bns of Dalarnas, Böhnens Fribataljon, 5 sqns of Södra Skånska Horse, 2 or 3 sqns of Blå Hussars) under general Hessenstein marched by Klempenow to Werder and Siedenbollentin
- a detachment (2 bns of Västmanlands, 2 sqns of Blå Hussars and Hästjägare) under major Ribbing marched by Brook
Belling was informed of the manoeuvres of the Swedes and intercepted their rearguard at Barkow. However, besides giving them a fright, he accomplished little. Some 200 Prussian horse under major Stackar destroyed an outpost but Carpelan had enough time to retire on a hill behind his camp. The Norra Skånska Horse charged but were driven back, taking refuge into an infantry square. Belling then decided to retire over Prussians also did not reach final effect. He therefore withdraws over Kavelpaß on Friedland.
The Swedes renewed their attacks. Ribbing lost 18 men during an attack on Brook. The Prussian NCO, Schwarzkugel, with 10 men successfully denied the crossing of Ribbing's 2 bns. Meanwhile, Hessenstein and Wrangel crossed the Tollense at Klempenow and Breest. They then advanced to occupy Altentreptow and the river crossing at Roepenackerpaß between Schönkamp and Schwanbeck.
Skirmish at Roepenack
On August 5 and 6, the Prussian force of Knobelsdorf force-marched 113 km in 36 hours to join Belling at Friedland. Belling now had 1,000 foot and 1,200 horse under his command. His force consisting of:
- Frei-Infanterie von Hordt (8 coys)
- Freikompanien from Stettin (2 coys)
- Belling Hussars
- Ueckermark Provincial Hussars (2 sqns)
- 5 x 3-pdrs
On the morning of August 6, Belling attacked the Ropenackerpaß where were 2 Swedish bns guarded the bridge. Major Knobelsdorf, turned their position, capturing a few artillery pieces. Wrangel formed squares and retreated. Meanwhile, the Västgöta Horse along with Hälsinge Infantry and Dalarnas Infantry appeared on the battlefield and counter-attacked, forcing the Prussians to retire over the bridge and to abandon the captured guns. Losses during this skirmish are unknown. The Prussian were forced to retire in the face of a relief column led by Hessenstein hurrying up from Altentreptow. Belling retreated by Salow to Friedland.
Skirmish at Kentzlin
On August 7, a Swedish column was marching from Demmin towards Malchin. Fearing for his communications with Mecklenburg, Belling departed with 8 coys of Frei-Infanterie von Hordt, 700 men of Belling Hussars and 2 sqns of Ueckermark Provincial Hussars. He left only 2 Freikompanien and some men of Belling Hussars in Friedland. Belling made a wide detour south-westwards by Neubrandenburg. When he finally reached Malchin (66 km from Friedland), he discovered that the Swedes were already gone. Indeed, when major Platen had heard of Belling's arrival, he had decided to retire. Belling sent back his infantry to Neubrandenburg while he pursued the retreating Swedish force with his hussars.
On August 8, Belling's horse caught up with the Swedes near Kentzlin. Major Platen had with him the Frikompanie Lillie along with 2 sqns of Blå Hussars, 150 Hästjägare and 2 guns. The Swedes took refuge in the houses and gardens of the village where they successfully defended themselves. During this skirmish both sides lost about 20-30 men. On the Prussian side, major Hohendorf was wounded . After the combat, they exchanged prisoners.
On August 9, Belling was back to Friedland where he assembled his entire force including the detachment of lieutenant-colonel Golz. Belling's force now consisted of 12 infantry coys, 12 sqns and 5 battalion guns for a total of about 2,200 men. With this small force, he managed to successfully evacuate his magazines from Altentreptow and Malchin in front of a much larger Swedish corps (about 15,000 men).
On August 12, Hessenstein marched from Siedenbollentin towards Cölpin by Neubrandenburg at the head of 8 bns (about 2,400 men), 2 cavalry rgts (1,200 men) and a few sqns of Blå Hussars. The same day, the Prussians captured a Swedish vessel in the Stettiner Haff near Wollin.
During the night of August 13, Ehrensvärd launched a new offensive against Belling. The main body of the Swedish army initially marched from Daberkow to Boldekow. Then, from this town, Ehrensvärd split his army into 3 columns:
- the first column under lieutenant-colonel Meijerfelt (consisting of the I. German Grenadiers, 1 bn of Jönköpings Infantry and 2 sqns of Smålands Horse), marched on Friedland which was defended by only 2 Freikompanien from Stettin
- the second column (consisting of Hessenstein's corps of 2,400 infantry and 1,200 cavalry), marched by Neubrandenburg onto Woldegk
- the third column consisted of light troops under major Platen.
Belling, finding the Swedish position at Friedberg (unidentified location) too strong, moved on Hessenstein's column, at which point Hessenstein withdrew towards the Kavelpaß. In the forest near Ruhlow, 200 Prussian hussars captured captain Hamilton, warrant officer of general Ehrensvärd.
On the morning of August 14, Hessenstein rearguard consisting of a detachment of the Södra Skånska Horse was attacked near Ruhlow by 3 sqns of Belling Hussars. In this action, the Swedes lost about 85 men (Kessel gives on 43 men) and the Prussians 20 men. After this misfortune, Hessenstein moved back to Friedland.
On August 16, Hessenstein crossed the Kavelpaß while Belling encamped at Woldegk. At this point, Belling received intelligence that a third Swedish column was marching on Finkenbrück. He immediately marched to intercept it.
On August 17, Belling caught up with major Platen's detachment. Platen decided not to fight and retired to Anklam.
Combat at Neubrandenburg
Meanwhile, Ehrensvärd sent a detachment (3 sqns of Östgöta Horse, 1 bn of Åboläns, 1 bn of Västerbottens, 1 bn of Älvsborgs and 1 bn of Västmanlands) under major-general Stackelberg by Altentreptow towards Neubrandenburg. Lieutenant-colonel Meijerfelt remained in Friedland with the I. German Grenadiers, 1 bn of Jönköpings Infantry and 2 sqns of Smålands Horse.
On August 18, Belling returned to Woldegk where he was informed that a Swedish force had occupied Neubrandenburg. Indeed, general Stackelberg had reached Neubrandenburg with 3 sqns, 4 infantry bns and some hussars. At that time, Belling's corps was quite dispersed with lieutenant-colonel Golz at Gehren, on the road to the Kavelpaß with the I./ Frei-Infanterie von Hordt and some horse; and major Knobelsdorf at Finkenbrück. Belling quickly assembled 3 coys of Frei-Infanterie von Hordt, 2 Freikompanien from Stettin (about 500 men), and 900 Belling Hussars and set off for Neubrandenburg.
On August 19, the Swedes took position at Gross and Klein-Teetzleben about 13 km north of Neubrandenburg.
On August 20, on his way to Neubrandenburg, Belling captured a patrol of 40 horse. Upon his arrival, he deployed a detachment in front of the town and covertly undertook an outflanking march to turn the Swedish positions. However, a Swedish patrol posted at Hohenzieritz (unidentified location) between Gross and Klein-Teetzleben spotted Belling's detachment. Stackelberg immediately retired to Altentreptow with his force. In this town, he received reinforcements (colonel Sparre with 2 bns of Kungl Livgardet, I. German Grenadiers, Södra Skånska Horse(Norra Skånska Horse as per Kessel), Västgöta Horse and Hästjägare). Now at the head of some 5,500 men, he marched back on Neubrandenburg.
On the morning of August 22, foot jägers pushed back Kennewitz coy who abandoned 2 3-pdr guns. Belling then ordered his infantry to move into the open field where he could use his numerous cavalry. His infantry took position on the hill overlooking the town and his cavalry on the Galgenberg near the town. The Swedish cavalry passed the town and major Platen with the Blå Hussars began to form to launch an attack on the Prussian left wing while major Hierta formed his 3 cavalry regiments to attack the right wing. Belling lured the Swedes to charge by sending marauding infantry who feigned a retreat. Seeing this, the Swedish cavalry advanced against the infantry. At close range, hidden Prussian infantry and artillery suddenly opened fire on the advancing cavalry. This salvo was the signal for the Prussian hussars to charge the then disordered Swedish cavalry. The Swedes suffered up to 300 casualties although they pretended to have lost only a standard of the Västgöta Horse along with 20-30 men and major Hierta. For his part, Belling lost 30 men killed and wounded and 18 captured (most of marauders were freed during the successful charge. After this action Belling retired to Woldegk while the governor of Stettin sent a detachment to guard the bridges on the Uecker.
In August, Ehrensvärd organised a light corps (about 2,500) which he placed under the command of Sprengtporten. This light corps consisted of:
- I. Swedish Grenadiers (1 bn of 4 coys)
- II. Swedish Grenadiers (1 bn of 4 coys)
- Skaraborgs Infantry (1 bn of volunteers)
- Frikompanie Lillie
- Frikompanie Lundberg
- Frikompanie Erhenhielm
- Frikompanie Sprengtporten
- Hussars (100 men)
- Hästjägare (50 men)
- Detachment of cavalry (480 men in 8 sqns)
- some artillery
At the end of August, this new light corps was ready for action.
Belling asked the governor of Stettin, the duke von Bevern, for reinforcements. Bevern sent him 2 grenadier battalions (Grenadier Battalion S54/S56 Rothkirch and Grenadier Battalion Ingersleben) who joined Belling at Woldegk.
When he received these reinforcement, Belling marched from Woldegk towards Neubrandenburg.
In the night of August 28, Stackelberg received intelligence on Belling's movements. He immediately evacuated Neubrandenburg and retired to Altentreptow.
This latter town was too well defended for Belling to consider an action. Therefore, he retired and sent the 2 grenadier battalions back to Pasewalk. For his part, Stackelberg finally retired to Boldekow, leaving only 2 bns of Kungl Livgardet, 200 horse and 100 hussars under lieutenant-colonel Wrangel at Altentreptow (Sulicki mentions that 1 bn of Västmanlands was also part of Wrangel's force).
Belling appeared in front of Altentreptow the next day but, after recognising its fortifications, he decided to go back to Teetzleben where he waited for major-general Stutterheim. Meanwhile, Stackelberg took position at Grapzow with 3 sqn of Östgöta Horse, 4 sqns of Norra Skånska Horse, 1 bn of German grenadiers, 1 bn of Åboläns, 2 bns of Södermanlands and 2 bns of Västmanlands.
On August 31, Wrangel evacuated Altentreptow and marched to Boldekow.
On September 1, the arrival of major-general Stutterheim with a small reinforcement (4 weak bns and 8 heavy guns) from Saxony allowed Belling to consider an offensive. Now the roles had changed: the Prussians were the hunters and the Swedes the hunted.
The other phases of the campaign are described in the following articles:
- 1761 - Swedish campaign in Pomerania – Prussian counter-offensive from 1 September 1 to October 15
- 1761 - Swedish campaign in Pomerania – Winter operations from December 1761 to January 1762
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Sulicki K. M., Der Siebenjährigen Kriegin in Pommern und in den benachbarten Marken. Studie des Detaschmentes und des kleinen Krieges, Berlin 1867.
Jany K., Geschichte der Königlisch Preussischen Armee bis zum Jahre 1807, t. 2, Berlin 1929.
Gieraths G., Die Kampfhandlungen der Brandenburgische-preussischen Armee, Berlin 1964.
Geschichte des siebenjährigen Krieges in einer Reihe von Vorlesungen, Prussia Armee Grosser Generalstab, t. 5, cz. 2 , Berlin 1837.
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Tomasz Karpiński from Gniezno/Poznań for the initial version of this article