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Siege of Stralsund
Part of Great Northern War
Date July 12, 1715 - December 24, 1715
Location Stralsund, present-day Germany
Rügen, present-day Germany
Result Prussian-Danish-Saxon victory
Belligerents
 Prussia
 Denmark
Flag of Electoral Saxony.svg Saxony
Naval Ensign of Sweden.svg Sweden
Commanders
Kingdom of PrussiaFrederick William I
Denmark Frederick IV
Naval Ensign of Sweden.svg Charles XII
Strength
36,000 soldiers Unknown
Casualties and losses
Unknown Charles XII escaped. The whole garnison was captured.

The Siege of Stralsund was a battle during the Great Northern War. The Swedish Empire defended her Swedish Pomeranian port of Stralsund against a coalition of Denmark-Norway, the Electorate of Saxony and the Tsardom of Russia, which was joined by Brandenburg-Prussia during the siege.

A first attempt to take Stralsund was made in 1711, when the allies closed in on the town. Swedish relief forced the coalition to withdraw from the fortifications, whereupon the besieging armies drew a wider ring along the lines of the Recknitz and Peene rivers. Magnus Stenbock's victory at Gadebusch for a short time distracted the allies, but after Stenbock's pursuit and subsequent defeat, Brandenburg-Prussia as well as Hanover, ruled in personal union with Great Britain, joined the anti-Swedish alliance.

The allies agreed that Denmark should cede her claims to Bremen-Verden to Hanover, and in turn Denmark was promised the northern parts of Swedish Pomerania with Stralsund, while the southern parts were to become Prussian. In 1714, Charles XII of Sweden rode to Stralsund from his Turkish exile to lead the defense in person. From 12 July to 24 December 1715, the allies sieged the town and eventually forced its surrender. Charles XII escaped to Sweden.

Stralsund remained under Danish control until it was returned to Sweden by the Treaty of Frederiksborg.

Contents

Prelude

The Swedish government issued mobilization orders for Swedish Pomerania on 8 April 1711. 3,800 men aged between twenty and forty years were to be drawn to serve a five years term.[1] Stralsund had recovered from the destruction of 1678, but in 1711, a plague broke out causing thousands of deaths.[2] The plague had originated in Poland,[3] and was carried to Pomerania with the retreating Swedish forces of the Krassow corps.[4] The Swedes were pursued by the armies of the anti-Swedish coalition, who reached and laid siege to Stralsund in 1711. This pursuit through formerly neutral Reich territory was made possible by the death of emperor Joseph I in April: Until Joseph I's successor Charles VI was inaugurated, the imperial constitution ruled that August the Strong, one of the constituents of the anti-Swedish coalition, was in charge of northern Germany's imperial affairs.[nb 1] Thus, the Swedes withdrew to their fortified strongholds of Stralsund, Stettin and Wismar, pursued by 6,000 Saxons, 6,000 Poles, and 12,000 Russians from the southeast. Another 25,000 Danes moved into the empire via Holstein-Gottorp, and approached Stralsund from the west.[5]

1711–1714

A Swedish relief force with a strength of 6,000 men landed on Rügen, whereupon the Danish-Saxon-Russian siege army withdrew to the Recknitz and Peene rivers. Instead of a launching another major assault on the town, the allies were content with minor raids and skirmishes in the following years. Swedish general Gustav Dücker requested reinforcements, and in May 1712 was supplied with an additional 6,391 foot and 4,800 horse from Sweden. Also, Dücker concentrated all Swedish forces scattered in Pomeranian garrisons, another 8,000 men, in Stralsund. The allied strength at this time was about 23,000 men.[6]

At this time, Frederik IV of Denmark-Norway was not interested in annexing Stralsund to his empire. When he re-entered the war in 1709, Frederik had promised to not attack Swedish territories in the Holy Roman Empire and protect their citizens wherever they pledge loyalty to him. Accordingly, Frederik IV had agreed in a convention of 1711 that Stralsund along with northern Swedish Pomerania should be annexed by August the Strong, elector of Saxony and king of Poland-Lithuania. However, after George I of Brunswick-Lüneburg (Hanover) ascended the throne of Great Britain, who had dropped out of the War of Spanish Succession in the Peace of Utrecht in 1713 and was thus free to enter the anti-Swedish alliance in the Great Northern War, Frederik IV changed his mind.[6] Already in 1712, Denmark and Hanover had invaded and partitioned Bremen-Verden.[nb 2][7]

The Stralsund area had been tied to Denmark in the Late Middle Ages, was of strategic importance as a bridgehead into the Holy Roman Empire, and a potent exporter of wool and grain.[8] First Danish claims to northern Swedish Pomerania were formulated in 1713,[6] and a respective treaty was drafted in May 1715 between Frederick IV and George I which guaranteed the Danish occupied Swedish dominion of Bremen-Verden to George I in return for him entering the war on Frederik's side, and Pomerania north of the Peene river as well as 30,000 talers to Frederik IV. When Brandenburg-Prussia, keen to annex Swedish Pomerania as well, joined the allies in summer, a Dano-Prussian treaty was concluded partitioning Swedish Pomerania along the Peene, with Denmark being assured her claims for the northern part with Stralsund, and Brandenburg-Prussia for the southern part with Stettin. August the Strong's protests and Danish tendencies to minimize their military efforts in the coalition after the treaty, resulting from Frederik IV's understanding that he now would gain Stralsund anyway, led to quarrels in the siege force.[9]

The Swedish relief force that had arrived in 1711 was commanded by Magnus Stenbock, and turned west to face the allies at Gadebusch. His victory and subsequent westward movement distracted the allies from the siege, yet when Stenbock burned down Danish Altona, Russian forces burned Swedish Pomeranian Wolgast in revenge in 1713. Stettin was also besieged and surrendered during the same year, and the allies were free to concentrate on Stralsund again.[10]

Charles XII of Sweden, exiled to Bender in the Ottoman Empire between the Surrender at Perevolochna and his return in 1714, had envisioned that Stralsund would constitute the base of a renewed Swedish attack on Peter the Great, tsar of Russia. Charles XII's plans foresaw a two-fold assault of a Swedish army from Pomerania and a Turkish army from the South.[6]

1715

Great Northern War in Pomerania

The siege army enclosing Stralsund in 1715 consisted of Prussians and Danes, 72,000 men strong. The Prussian forces were led by King Frederick William I and the Old Dessauer; the Danish forces were led by King Frederick IV and Duke Charles Rudolph of Württemberg-Neuenstadt; and the Saxon forces were led by Christoph August von Wackerbarth. The port was defended by a Swedish garrison under King Charles XII.

In three months the Prussians and Danes were successful in seizing the island of Rügen, in the Battle of Stresow which commanded Stralsund. The Swedes attempted to retake the town. During the attempt, Charles XII was wounded and barely escaped, while his whole force was either killed or captured. On October 10, the allies captured the hornwork of Stralsund. On October 20, the port was no longer defensible. Charles XII left for Sweden on christmas 1715. The garrison defendants surrendered on Christmas Eve, and Stralsund became the capitol of Danish Pomerania.[11]

Aftermath

After Stralsund's surrender, a Danish administration under commander von Stöcken was set up,[12] and 1028 Swedish prisoners of war were detained in the town.[13] Yet, many noble and burgher families - Pomeranian, Swedish or intermarried - remained loyal to Sweden.[12] The Danish government reacted by prohibiting contacts to Sweden and obliging the landowners to pledge allegiance, otherwise, they would be stripped of their lands or expelled. As a consequence, an unknown number emigrated to Sweden, including Swedish prisoners of war who were able to escape with the help of the local population. Of 69 high ranking Swedish officials and officers detained in Stralsund in January 1716, only 31 were still in town in March of the following year. When the local population continued to maintain close contacts with Sweden and aid Swedish refugees, Danish guards started to patrol the coast[13] and investigate the traffic with Sweden, before this traffic was prohibited altogether until 1719. Since only a few nobles had pledged allegiance to Frederik IV in August 1716, the Danish government issued a deadline, and in October started to expropriate those who had not given the oath to the Danish king.[14]

Also in 1716, Swedish Wismar surrendered to the allies, eliminating Sweden's last stronghold on the southern Baltic coast.[10] By the end of the war however, Stralsund was restored to Sweden.[15]

Notes

  1. ^ Per the constitution of the Holy Roman Empire, the empire was to be goverened by two vicars during an interregnum. The vicar in charge of the north was to be the elector of Saxony, while the south would be governed by the Palatinate. Wilson (1998), p.138.
  2. ^ Denmark had invaded Bremen-Verden claiming the neutrallity of the Lower Saxon Circle was no longer in effect (see note above), and forced the Swedish garrison in Stade, 2,600 men, to surrender. Hanover had invaded Bremen-Verden claiming they would protect it for the Swedes from the plague carried by the Danes. Effectively, Bremen-Verden was thus partitioned with Denmark occupying the former archdiocese of Bremen, and Hanover occupying the Verden area. Wilson (1998), p.139.

Sources

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References

  1. ^ Meier (2008), p.57
  2. ^ Grabinski (2006), p.33
  3. ^ Zapnik (2007), p.228
  4. ^ Zapnik (2006), p.228
  5. ^ Wilson (1998), p.138
  6. ^ a b c d Meier (2008), p.22
  7. ^ Wilson (1998), p.139
  8. ^ Meier (2008), pp.297-298
  9. ^ Meier (2008), p.23
  10. ^ a b North (2008), p.53
  11. ^ Meier (2008), p.297
  12. ^ a b Meier (2008), p.72
  13. ^ a b Meier (2008), p.73
  14. ^ Meier (2008), p.74
  15. ^ North (2008), p.54

Bibliography

  • Bruce, George. Harbottle's Dictionary of Battles. (Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1981) (ISBN 978-0-442-22336-6).
  • Grabinsky, Anne (2006). "Die Stralsunder Doppelkatastrophe von 1678/80: Wiederaufbau nach zwei vernichtenden Stadtbränden" (in German). Kleine Stadtgeschichte. II. Berlin-Hamburg-Münster: LIT Verlag. ISBN 3825889947.  
  • Meier, Martin (2008) (in German). Vorpommern nördlich der Peene unter dänischer Verwaltung 1715 bis 1721. Aufbau einer Verwaltung und Herrschaftssicherung in einem eroberten Gebiet. Beiträge zur Militär- und Kriegsgeschichte. 65. Munich: Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag. ISBN 3486582852.  
  • North, Michael (2008) (in German). Geschichte Mecklenburg-Vorpommerns. Beck Wissen. 2608. CH Beck. ISBN 3406577679.  
  • Wilson, Peter Hamish (1998). German armies. War and German politics, 1648-1806. Warfare and history. Routledge. ISBN 1857281063.  
  • Zapnik, Jörg (2006). "Pest in Stralsund während des Großen Nordischen Krieges 1710-1711 und das Historische Informationssystem". in Kroll, Stefan; Krüger, Kersten (in German). Städtesystem und Urbanisierung im Ostseeraum in der Frühen Neuzeit: Urbane Lebensräume und historische Informationssysteme. Beiträge des wissenschaftlichen Kolloquiums in Rostock vom 15. und 16. November 2004. Geschichte / Forschung und Wissenschaft. 12. Berlin-Hamburg-Münster: LIT. pp. 226-255. ISBN 3825887782.  


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