Battle of Dirschau

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Battle of Dirschau
Part of the Polish-Swedish War (1626–1629)
Date 7–8 August 1627
Location Tczew, Royal Prussia (Crown of the Kingdom of Poland)
54°05′29.99″N 18°46′38.31″E / 54.0916639°N 18.7773083°E / 54.0916639; 18.7773083
Result Inconclusive:[1]
Swedish tactical victory[2]
Polish–Lithuanian strategic victory[3]
Belligerents
Herb Rzeczypospolitej Obojga Narodow.svg Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth
 Holy Roman Empire
Naval Ensign of Sweden.svg Swedish Empire
Commanders and leaders
Stanisław Koniecpolski, Field Crown Hetman of Poland Gustav II Adolf, King of Sweden
Strength
3,300 (infantry)
4,500 (cavalry)
Total: 7,800
6,000 (infantry)
4,100 (cavalry)
Total: 10,100
Casualties and losses
likely over 300 around 100[2]

The Battle of Dirschau (also known as Battle of Tczew) took place in the summer of 1627 (7–8 August) and was one of the battles of the Polish-Swedish War (1626–1629). The Polish forces led by Crown Field Hetman Stanisław Koniecpolski met with troops commanded by Swedish King Gustav II Adolf. Gustav II Adolf was wounded in the battle, which ended inconclusively. Fighting in Prussia ended in a stalemate for that year, and would not resume until 1628.

Background[edit]

In the summer of 1626 the Swedes invaded Pomerania and the Duchy of Prussia, taking Pillau (Baltiysk, Piława).[4] The fighting spread, marked by a number of Swedish successes that year against the forces of the Polish king Sigismund III Vasa.[5] In October, the Polish forces in the region were reinforced by the army of Crown Field Hetman Stanisław Koniecpolski, relocated from the south-eastern border of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.[6] Koniecpolski was able to slow down the Swedes and retake some territory, notably Puck (March), and defeated the Swedes at Czarne (April).[7] In May 1627 Swedish King Gustav II Adolf reinforced his units, attacking the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in Pomerania.[8] Polish forces, commanded by hetman Koniecpolski, numbered under 15,000.[8] In the summer of 1627 Koniecpolski decided to advance to the major port of the Pomerania, Danzig (Gdańsk).[9]

Both Koniecpolski and Gustav II Adolf desired a major battle. Koniecpolski needed to reduce the Swedes' strength, as their current numerical superiority made it difficult for his army to contain them; Gustav II Adolf meanwhile heard rumors of possible reinforcements for Koniecpolski arriving, and wanted to defeat him before his numerical superiority withered.[10]

Opposing forces[edit]

The Polish army numbered 7,800, including 2,500 hussars and reiters, 2,000 Cossack light cavalry, 3,000 infantry (including 2,000 German mercenaries), and 300 artillery personnel. [11] The Swedes were 10,100 strong, including about 6,000 infantry and 4,000 cavalry.[11] The Swedes had also a significant advantage in artillery.[11] Gustav II Adolf arranged his cavalry into three groups: right wing under colonel count Thurn, middle commanded by himself, and left under field marshal Herman Wrangel.[11]

Battle[edit]

The field of battle consisted primarily of swamp of the Motława (Mottlau), with two levees passing through it.[11] The Swedes were gathered south of Tczew; Poles - north of it.[11] Gustav II Adolf planned to provoke the Poles to charge through the levee, and break them with artillery and infantry fire.[12]

Before the main battle, when Gustav II Adolf was scouting the battlefield, he was ambushed by a Polish unit which chased him back to his camp.[12] The main battle begun some time later, before the noon of 7 August, with a charge of the Swedish cavalry, which pushed the Polish forces back.[12] Koniecpolski responded with a counterattack, and the Swedes retreated to the camp; Koniecpolsko however was too cautious to attack it.[12] For a while, both armies were at a stalemate, with neither willing to advance and engage the opponent; eventually Koniecpolski begun to pull his forces back through the levee to his own camp.[13] The Swedes charged the withdrawing Poles, and were able to disorganize the Polish cavalry, inflicting painful casualties (about 200-300) before being stopped by Polish infantry.[13] Komiecpolski's horse was wounded and captured by the Swedes, which led them to suspect the Polish commander died. Thus Gustav II Adolf prepared a major assault for the following day.[14]

On the morning of 8 August the Swedes begun shelling the Polish positions and their artillery advantage resulted in a steady retreat of the Polish forces from their advance positions near the village of Rokitki (Rokittken). Eventually the Polish army was back in its main camp, and under artillery fire.[14] Gustav II Adolf decided to scout the field again before the final assault but was spotted by the Poles. He was targeted by infantry marksmen, who managed to wound him in the neck and arm, dropping him from the horse.[3] With their commander wounded, the Swedes decided not to press the assault despite their very advantageous position.[3]

Aftermath[edit]

From a strategic point of view the battle ended with a Polish victory, as the Poles prevented Gustav II Adolf from achieving his aim, and stopped the Swedes from taking more aggressive actions by taking advantage of their numerical superiority.[3] The time gained also allowed Danzig to finish the construction of fortifications, which would be ready in spring of 1628.[15][16] Overall, the campaign of 1627, ending with the battle of Oliwa, was a Polish success.[15]

The wound Gustav II Adolf received would put him in bed until autumn, and his right arm was weakened with some fingers partially paralyzed.[17] Until 1628 both sides would focus on consolidating their position without any major actions.[17][15]

In the battle Gustav II Adolf tested a new tactic, making their cavalry more aggressive, and charging into melee combat.[18] This proved to be a major success, significantly responsible for the Swedish victory on the first day; this was particularly notable, as it marked the first time that the Swedish cavalry was able to take on the Polish cavalry, renowned at the time as the "best cavalry in Europe" according to English historian Michael Roberts.[17] Further, Gustav experimented with new artillery units and introduced a reorganization of infantry which would give birth to the brigade unit.[17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sundberg (1998). Svenska krig. p. 114.
  2. ^ a b Frost (2000). Northern Wars. p. 129. 
  3. ^ a b c d Podhorodecki (1978), pp. 221.
  4. ^ Podhorodecki (1978), pp. 167.
  5. ^ Podhorodecki (1978), pp. 168–174.
  6. ^ Podhorodecki (1978), pp. 175.
  7. ^ Podhorodecki (1978), pp. 177–207.
  8. ^ a b Podhorodecki (1978), pp. 211.
  9. ^ Podhorodecki (1978), pp. 214.
  10. ^ Podhorodecki (1978), pp. 215.
  11. ^ a b c d e f Podhorodecki (1978), pp. 216.
  12. ^ a b c d Podhorodecki (1978), pp. 217.
  13. ^ a b Podhorodecki (1978), pp. 218.
  14. ^ a b Podhorodecki (1978), pp. 219.
  15. ^ a b c Podhorodecki (1978), pp. 223.
  16. ^ Radosław Sikora (2005). Wojskowość polska w dobie wojny polsko-szwedzkiej 1626-1629: kryzys mocarstwa. Sorus. p. 207. ISBN 978-83-89949-09-7. Retrieved 17 July 2012. 
  17. ^ a b c d Podhorodecki (1978), pp. 222.
  18. ^ Podhorodecki (1978), pp. 221-222.

Bibliography[edit]