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The Carolean army 
To compensate for the lack of manpower and resources Sweden strove for innovative ways to make an effective army. The successful path of innovative military ideas was in fact the only way Sweden managed to achieve a great power status. However, having to rely on this to maintain power status was uncertain. The Carolean soldiers were effective soldiers, as shown by the their efforts in the Great Northern War, with the battles of Narva, Jēkabpils, Malatitze, Fraustadt and Holowczyn. Thanks to their achievements during this war, they are regarded to have been perhaps the most effective military troops of that day. The Carolean army was small and because of the sparse number of soldiers it needed a continuance of victories, as a heavy defeat could be irreparable. It was defeated after a long and fateful march into the Russian interior, where they were exposed to scorched earth tactics, small frequent raids and the cold Russian climate. The Swedish soldiers who reached the battle of Poltava were exhausted and hungry. During this long march an estimated 35,000 Swedish soldiers - 70 percent of the army - died of famine, disease and exhaustion. The battle ended in a decisive Russian victory which resulted in the decline of the Swedish Empire.
Morale and religion 
Strict discipline was necessary in the Carolean army to allow its very offensive tactics, which among other things exposed soldiers to a medium-distance enemy fire before being allowed to respond. This tactic was intended to get the soldiers close enough to the enemy so that it was almost impossible to miss a shot. The steadfast courage shown from the Swedish troops would also affect enemy morale, at several occasions this would frighten the enemies into retreat.
To attain this steadfast discipline, the army had very strict rules. Even a soldier's private life was strained down by very strict rules, as they were supervised at their soldiers cabin as well as in the field. Religion was used as a tool for keeping the morale high amongst the troops. Not only within the army religion was used for military purposes, but regular priests also preached about the virtues of serving the crown and being a soldier in order for young men to join the army. Within the military, priests often participated in battles to raise morale amongst troops.
In order for soldiers from different regions and provinces of the kingdom to feel companionship and loyalty with fellow soldiers, soldiers from the same region or province were made stay with each other. The church also helped creating a feeling of solidarity between soldiers from different parts of the kingdom by showing that the soldiers fought for the same beliefs of the Swedish Lutheran church when facing an enemy army. This was also a reminder to the soldiers that God was protective and helped them in battle, as had been said since Sweden fought in the Thirty Years War as the continental leader of Protestantism. After the battle of Narva many soldiers believed that God had sent them the blizzard that helped them to victory. It was commonly thought that the defeat at Poltava was God's punishment for the soldiers' hubris and sins.
The allotment system 
In 1680 Charles XI effected his political and military reforms in parliament whereby he made himself autocrat. His greatest reform was the building of the Allotment system whereby all the farmers in every land was to provide the crown with a full regiment of 1000 men complete with weapons and uniforms. Every land was divided into "Roots". One to 5 farmers would form a Root and sign a contract with the crown that they would provide and support a soldier. In the contract it was stipulated that a soldier would be provided with a cottage and a garden plot. The cavalry was built much the same, the difference being that the Root also provided a horse, this being an extra burden the Root was granted a tax reduction by the crown. In this way Karl XI was ensured a professional army of 18,000 infantry and 8,000 cavalry. There to can be added 7,000 infantry and 3,000 cavalry in Finland. Along the coast and major city ports seamen were taken in under the system thus providing the navy with 6,600 seamen in Sweden and 600 in Finland.
It is said about Charles XII that "he could not retreat, only attack or fall". The same goes for his soldiers. In the Swedish army tactics of that time retreat was never covered. Troops were obligated to attack or fight where they stood; a military doctrine, that with the wisdom of hindsight might have proven a bit rash.
The uniforms 
The Carolean uniform was among many variants of the Swedish Standard Uniform introduced by Charles XI. The great coats were blue with yellow cuffs. The breeches were white, and the vest yellow. Many regiments had variations of the uniform, For example the dragoons of Bohuslän had green coats and the regiment of Närke-Värmland had red cuffs. The artillery had grey coats with blue cuffs. They wore tricorne hats or a special cap called a Karpus. The elite Trabant Garde cavalry were the only armored troops, wearing steel breastplates.
Most of the infantry were equipped with modern flintlock muskets, although older versions still were in use. They were also equipped with rapiers and a bag for ammunition. About one third of each company were equipped with pikes. Twelve men of each company were grenadiers, typically the strongest and tallest men. The grenadiers were also the only soldiers to have bayonets on their muskets. Each company consisted of 150 men. On occasion, two handed spiked clubs were used during sieges. Mounted troops carried broadswords and either two pistols each for the regiment of horse or a carbine for the dragoons. The artillery had a smaller sword for close combat, called hirschfängare.
The Carolean army was organized into regiments according to region.
- Cavalry regiments, including the Jämtlands dragoon regiment, and the king's personal guards, the Livdrabanterna regiment
- Infantry regiments, including the Värmlands and Västerbottens regiment. Each company had twelve grenadiers
- Artillery regiment
The army also included a special unit called the Livdrabanterna (Royal Life Guard Corps). This was a special unit made up of some 100 men. It was under the personal command of King Charles XII, for which he was named captain. To become a private in the corps you had to attain the rank of Captain in the regular army. The king's second in command was a Colonel with the title of Kaptenlöjtnant (Lieutenant Captain). This corps fought to the bitter end, and some of its veterans carried Charles XII's coffin on its arrival to the capital for the burial in 1719.
The infantry 
Out in field 
The rules were strict for the Carolean soldier. For example, stealing food from another soldier would lead to harsh punishment[clarification needed]. Looting, as often earlier had been a part of the soldiers' every day was forbidden; however, it occasionally occurred if it was necessary, for example a couple of occasions at Narva and Lemberg.
To take God's name in vain was amongst the worst crime a Carolean soldier could commit, and the punishment for this was death, since it was very important to keep the morale high amongst the troops, and the Christian religion was a way to do this. To interrupt a moment of prayer would as well lead to death penalty. The Carolean soldier was told not to fear, since if God meant him to die, he would die no matter if he dodged the bullets or not. The Carolean offensive tactics needed firm discipline.
A soldier's daily ration should consist of 625 grams of dry bread, 850 grams of butter or pork, 1/3 liters of peas and 2.5 liters of beer. The butter or pork was often replaced by fish if available Water was best avoided since it was often contaminated.
The Carolean tactics almost exclusively relied on very aggressive shock tactic as the infantry and cavalry charged the enemy. When the bayonet was introduced, the pike was discarded in all European armies except the Swedish and Russian by 1700.
The infantry shock attack operated as follows: The two rear ranks of musketeers were ordered to shoot when "you could see the white in the enemies eye," a range of roughly 50 meters, and then to draw their swords before the battalion resumed their attack. The two foremost ranks then discharged at a range of roughly 20 meters before drawing their swords and the charge began. At this range, the powerful muskets usually felled many enemy troops and was demoralizing to them. Directly after the volley the Swedes charged the enemy ranks with pikes, bayonets and rapiers. Note that the pikes were used as an offensive weapon: in close combat they had the advantage over their foes' weapons thanks to their range. After the bayonet was introduced in the Carolean army (1696–1706), the final volley was delayed until the soldiers were close enough to effectively perform a bayonet charge.
Every infantry battalion had grenadiers attached. They supported the infantry attack by lobbing grenades from the flanks. They also formed units of their own. They were otherwise equipped like infantry.
Thus, in the latter half of the 17th century, the major difference between the Swedish army and those common on the continent was the relative lack of firepower and the use of pikes and sabers. Sweden and Russia were the only countries at the time using pikes. In contemporary Europe infantry was equipped with a musket while in the Swedish army every third man had a pike. The pikemen were normally deployed 4 men deep with musketeers of equal depth on the sides. The pike was used to repulse cavalry and to break the enemy lines as they charged.
See also 
- The Allotment Soldier and Root Farmer. Elfred Kumm 1949
- Karoliner. Alf Åberg & Göte Göransson 1984
- Karoliner. Alf Åberg & Göte Göransson 1984
- Åberg, Alf; Göte Göransson (1976). Karoliner. Höganäs: Bra Böcker. pp. 26–27.