Battle of Druskininkai

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Battle of Dersunisjki
Part of the Great Northern War
Date March 15, 1702 (O.S.)
March 16, 1702 (Swedish calendar)
March 26, 1702 (N.S.)[1]
Location Druskininkai, Lithuania
54°01′20″N 23°58′30″E / 54.02222°N 23.97500°E / 54.02222; 23.97500Coordinates: 54°01′20″N 23°58′30″E / 54.02222°N 23.97500°E / 54.02222; 23.97500
Result Polish victory
Belligerents
Naval Ensign of Sweden.svg Swedish Empire Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth
 Electorate of Saxony
Commanders and leaders
Alexander Hummerhielm
Gustaf Henrik Siegroth
Michał Serwacy Wiśniowiecki
Strength
240 men[1] 6,000 men[1]
Casualties and losses
145 men[1] unknown

The Battle of Druskininkai took place on March 24, 1702 near the town of Druskininkai during the Swedish invasion of Poland in the Great Northern War. The Swedish army of about 240 men men under the command of Alexander Hummerhielm was defeated by the Polish–Saxon army of 6,000 men under Michał Serwacy Wiśniowiecki.[1]

Prelude[edit]

After having Crossed the Düna the victorious Swedish army occupied all of Courland where after they began their campaign against Polish–Lithuanian mainland in the winter of 1701–1702. Charles XII of Sweden was determined to end the hostiles between the Saxon and Polish armies before starting an invasion of Russia and so he sent his Vanguard of Alexander Hummerhielm to seize footholds in Lithuania before the arrival of the main army. On March 22, 1702 general Hummerhielm marched out of Kowno to collect six cannons previously taken from the Polish army after a fierce skirmish near the Jesna castle. The Swedish infantry consisting of 110 men under Gustaf Henrik Siegroth traveled in prams along the river of Neman and the cavalry of 130 men under Hummerhielm walked along side the banks.[1]

Fighting near Druskininkai[edit]

After three days the troops arrived at linkewitzhoff where after they continued their march the next day towards the town of Druskininkai where Hummerhielm went with his cavalry force to scout a distance away from his infantry. Here he was attacked by the vanguard of Michał Serwacy Wiśniowiecki's army which consisted of roughly 6,000 men. The Polish attack was repulsed and the Swedish cavalry started persecuting their defeated opponents until they were ambushed by the whole army of Wiśniowiecki. Hummerhielm was quickly captured but his men continued resisting until there were only 20 wounded Swedish cavalrymen left who were all captured and the rest killed, except for one man who made it over Neman to report to the main Swedish army of their defeat.[1]

Fighting at Neman River[edit]

Neman River close to Druskininkai.

Gustaf Henrik Siegroth, who still made his way up the Neman river with his 110 infantry had heard nothing of the defeat of Hummerheim and so Wiśniowiecki managed to surprise also him with his vanguard, which was, however repulsed. Siegroth then tried to make it across the river to safety but his prams got stuck on the river bank, whereof Wiśniowiecki encircled his force in a half moon formation and positioned four of his cannons on the high ground over the Swedish landing. The battle raged for two hours, with constant attacks and cannon fire, and on twelve o'clock Wiśniowiecki sent a Parlimentaire to request the surrender of Siegroth's force, whom, however refused. The Polish forces then brought another three cannons opposite the direction of their previous four, to eliminate the Swedes with cross fire. One of the cannons got so close to the Swedish fire that they soon had to abandon it. On two o'clock the Polish commander, who had been unable to break the Swedish defense, sent another Parlimentaire to the Swedes, telling them Hummerhielms force had previously been defeated and that there would be no reinforcements. Siegroth, however, once again refused to surrender, suggesting he would only agree if his army was allowed to march out avoiding being made prisoners. In turn, Wiśniowiecki denied the suggestion and the fight continued for another two hours, when finally, four o'clock, after six hours of fighting, Wiśniowiecki allowed the Swedes under Siegroth to march back to Kowno, by then, six men of his force had been killed and another nine men wounded.[1]

Aftermath[edit]

After a while the Swedish king Charles XII arrived to the scene where the outnumbered Swedish forces had fought and there buried their bodies. The Swedish army was not yet officially in war with the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, however, the battle had been decisive in the kings' decision to fully start the Polish campaign, in order to dethrone Augustus II from the throne.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Grimberg & Uddgren, pp. 177–180
  2. ^ Sjöström, Oskar (2008). Fraustadt 1706. Ett fält färgat rött (in Swedish). Lund: Historiska Media. p. 35. ISBN 978-91-85507-90-0. 
  • Grimberg & Uddgren, Carl & Hugo (1914). Svenska krigarbragder (in Swedish). Norstedt Förlag. Stockholm.
  • The Military History of Charles XII, King of Sweden, Volume 1, Gustavus Adlerfeld, Carl Maximilian Emanuel Adlerfelt, Henry Fielding (1740). J. and P. Knapton. pp 121–124.