Battle of Kłecko

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Battle of Kłecko
Part of Second Northern War / The Deluge
Slaget vid Gnesen.jpg
Date May 7, 1656
Location near Gniezno, Poland
Result Swedish victory
Belligerents
Flag of Sweden.svg Swedish Empire Herb Rzeczypospolitej Obojga Narodow.svg Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
Commanders and leaders
Carl Gustaf Wrangel
Adolf Johan av Pfalz-Zweibrücken
Stefan Czarniecki
Strength
7,000[1] 12,000[1]
Casualties and losses
500 killed[1] Polish sources:
70 dead and wounded[1]
Swedish sources:
3,000 killed[2]

The Battle of Kłecko was fought on May 7, 1656, between forces of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth commanded by Regimentarz Stefan Czarniecki and Jerzy Sebastian Lubomirski and a Swedish force commanded by prince Adolf Johan av Pfalz-Zweibrücken. The Polish-Lithuanian force was more than 12,000 strong and consisted mostly of cavalry, while the Swedes numbered around 7,000 artillery, infantry and cavalry. The Swedes achieved a tactical victory in that they escaped destruction by the Poles, who were unable to get to the Swedish army entrenched behind the Welnianka River, and various ditches and swamps. Swedish army lost 500 dead, while Polish army sustained 70 dead and wounded or 3,000 dead (depending on sources), including 40 companions dead (both hetman Czarniecki and Polish hussar companion Kochowski (who was fighting in this battle) quote this number of Polish losses).

Background[edit]

In the spring of 1656, Hetmans Stefan Czarniecki and Jerzy Sebastian Lubomirski were sent with their forces to Greater Poland, in order to support anti-Swedish insurrection, which had begun there. King Charles X Gustav, who had just managed to escape encirclement in the confluence of the Vistula and the San river, decided to head to Greater Poland, with 10,000 soldiers.

Charles Gustav left Warsaw on April 17, 1656, reaching Pakosc on April 28. There, he split his forces into two groups. The King himself left with 2,000 soldiers towards the besieged Gdansk, while the remaining 8,000 under Gustav’ brother, Adolph John I, Count Palatine of Kleeburg, continued to chase the Poles.

Polish army, which camped along northern bank of the Notec river, concentrated on May 3 in Pila. On the next day, the Poles crossed the Notec near Ujscie, and marched towards Oborniki Wielkopolskie. After bypassing Poznan, the Poles reached Gniezno (May 5), while on the next day, Adolph John with his army arrived at the village of Jablkowo near Klecko, 15 kilometers northeast of Gniezno. When news of Charles Gustav’s departure to Royal Prussia reached Polish commandants, they decided to face the Swedes in an open field.

The Battle[edit]

Polish army had 12,000 soldiers, mostly cavalry, while Swedes had 7,000–8,000 men with strong artillery units. According to the battle plan of Czarniecki, two Polish cavalry regiments (under Mariusz Stanislaw Jaskolski and Jacek Szemberk) were to engage the Swedes on a dike across a swampy stream called Welnianka, near the village of Brzozogaj. The dike was a trap, behind which four experienced Polish regiments awaited the enemy.

The plan initially was a success, as after an exchange of fire, the Poles organized a mock retreat towards the dike. Swedish soldiers began to chase them, but the trap failed, when the four awaiting regiments entered the frail too soon. The Swedes retreated to their well-prepared positions, preventing the destruction of their army. Due to strong Swedish fire, the Poles did not attack their camp, and the battle ended after five hours. Polish losses were estimated at app. 70, while Swedes lost some 500 men.

Aftermath[edit]

The battle once again confirmed the notion that Polish cavalry was unable to defeat well-positioned Swedish infantry. Czarniecki himself later admitted, that without infantry and artillery, it was impossible to win battles with Swedish forces.

After the battle, Polish army marched towards Pleszew and Uniejow, where it camped on May 16. The situation of Swedes deteriorated, as by the end of May, Poles recaptured Leszno, Koscian and Sieradz.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Sikora, Radosław (2010).Taktyka walki, uzbrojenie i wyposazenie husarii w latach 1576-1710. Doctoral dissertation, Uniwersytet Przyrodniczo Humanistyczny, Siedlce.
  2. ^ Claes-Göran Isacson, Karl X Gustavs Krig (2002) Lund, Historiska Media. p.77. ISBN 91-89442-57-1.