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Battle of Kokenhausen
Part of the Polish-Swedish War (1600–1611)
Date June 23, 1601
Location Kokenhausen, now known as Koknese, Latvia
Result Decisive Polish-Lithuanian victory
Belligerents
Herb Rzeczpospolitej Obojga Narodow.svg Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Sweden Sweden
Commanders
Krzysztof Mikołaj "the Thunderbolt" Radziwiłł, Grand Hetman of Lithuania Carl Gyllenhielm
Strength
300 infantry
2,700 cavalry
9 guns
900 infantry
4,000 cavalry
17 guns
Casualties and losses
100-200 dead/wounded 2,000 dead/wounded

The Battle of Kokenhausen (Kokenhuza, Latvian: Koknese) was a major battle opening the Polish–Swedish War (1600–1611). It took place on the 23 June 1601 near Kokenhausen (now Koknese in Latvia). In the battle, Polish forces defeated the Swedish relief force and captured the besieging force, relieving the Polish garrison. The battle is notable as one of the greatest victories of the Polish hussars, who defeated their numerically superior Swedish adversaries.[1]

Contents

Prelude

Swedish forces of about 2,000 under Carl Carlsson Gyllenhielm had been blockading the fortified town of Kokenhausen (located on Dvina river, between Riga and Dyneburg - see map) since 10 March - after the arrival of Duke Charles with heavy artillery - laying a siege to it since 28 March.[2] On 1 April the Swedes had taken the town but not the inner castle, which was still defended by a Polish garrison. Charles left about 2,500 strong besieging force, and moved north.[2]

The Polish relief army under Krzysztof Mikołaj "the Thunderbolt" Radziwiłł arrived around 11 May and in turn started to besiege the Swedes; it grew from under 1,000 to over 4,000 by mid-June.[3] At the same time, other Polish detachments reinforced nearby Polish strongholds and harassed the Swedish units.[3] The Swedes decided to prioritize the relief of the Kokenhausen siege force.[3] A Swedish relief force of about 5,000 under Carl Gyllenhielm arrived on the morning of 23 June and attempted to break the Polish encirclement.[3]

Battle

Initial positions
The battle

The field of battle was raised along its edge with the Dvina for some one and a half kilometers to a width of about half a kilometer with the side nearest the river being steep and falling more gently towards the field.[3]

Gyllenhielm had about 900 infantry, 4000 cavalry and 17 cannons.[3] Radziwiłł left about 500 infantry with orders to maintain the siege, and took the field with the rest (around 3,000 men, of which some 400 were infantry, 1000 Polish hussars, and 9 cannons).[3]

Poles first broke the Swedish right flank, and then defeated the Swedish counterattack. Both the hussar charges and artillery fire proved decisive in this engagement.[3]

Aftermath

The Poles lost about 200 men, the Swedes - 2,000 (including almost all of their infantry).[3] After the battle, the 2,000 strong Swedish force besieging the Kokenhausen castle, which took no part in the battle, surrendered to the Poles. Swedish siege artillery was also captured.[3]

References

  1. ^ Richard Brzezinski, Velimir Vuksic, Polish Winged Hussar: 1576 - 1775, Osprey Publishing, 2006, ISBN 184176650X, p.6
  2. ^ a b The Battle of Kokenhausen (23 June 1601), Polish Renaissance Warfare. Accessed on 25 August 2008
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j The Battle of Kokenhausen (23 June 1601), Polish Renaissance Warfare. Accessed on 25 August 2008

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