Великая Северная война была событием, которое изменило не только Содружество, но и государства Центральной Европы, в том числе Россию. Эта война принесла много тактических и стратегических изменений, которые можно наблюдать на полях сражений и в ходе кампании. Поэтому уместно вспомнить боевые отношения, которые имели место во время Великой Северной войны. Такое сражение является столкновением между шведскими войсками во главе с Адамом Людвигом Левенгауптом и русскими войсками во главе с Борисом Петровичем Шереметевым, произошедшим в Гемауэртофе 26 июля 1705 года. Битва при Гемауэртофе 26 июля 1705 года была связана с Курляндской операцией Русской армии во время Великой Северной войны. В начальный период шведская армия без особых усилий расправлялась со всеми членами враждебной коалиции, избивая русских в Нарве и заставляя саксов отказаться от осады Риги. В 1702 году Карл XII ввел шведскую армию на территорию Содружества, полностью вступив в борьбу против Августа II — правителя польско-литовского государства и саксонского избирателя. Шведское участие было использовано царем Петром I. К 1704 году России удалось получить доступ к Балтийскому морю, но Петр I и его генералы поняли, что наступление Карла XII на шведские балтийские провинции может привести к потере этих завоеваний. Петр I хотел захватить Курляндское герцогство и разгромить корпус Адама Людвига Левенгаупта, который там находился. Весной 1705 года основная русская армия была сосредоточена на реке Даугаве, что сделало ее относительно удобной стартовой позицией для наступления на шведов. Шереметеву было дано задание заблокировать восс Льюишопта и, при благоприятных обстоятельствах, дать ему бой. Это сражение состоялось, но результат был иным, чем планировалось русским командованием.
Ключевые слова и фразы: битва, Великая Северная война, армия, Левенгаупт, Шереметев, Гемауэртоф.
The Great Northern War was an event that changed not only the Commonwealth but also the Central European states, among others Russia. This war has brought many tactical and strategic changes that can be observed in battlefields and during the campaign. It is, therefore, appropriate to call up the battle relations that took place during the Great Northern War. Such a battle is a clash between the Swedish troops led by Adam Ludwig Lewenhaupt and the Russian troops led by Boris Petrovich Sheremetev, played at Gemauerthof on July 26, 1705. The Battle of Gemauerthof of July 26, 1705 was related to the Courland operation of the Russian army during the Great Northern War. In the initial period, the Swedish army dealt quite effortlessly with all members of the hostile coalition, beating the Russians at Narva and forcing the Saxons to abandon the siege of Riga. In 1702, Charles XII led the Swedish army into the territory of the Commonwealth, engaging fully in a fight against August II — the ruler of the Polish-Lithuanian state and Saxon elector. The Swedish involvement was utilized by Tsar Peter I. By 1704, Russia managed to gain access to the Baltic Sea, but Peter I and his generals realized that the offensive of Charles XII towards the Swedish Baltic provinces could lead to the loss of these conquests. Peter I wanted to seize the Duchy of Courland and crush the corps of Adam Ludwig Lewenhaupt, which stationed there. In the spring of 1705, the main Russian army was concentrated on the Daugava River, which placed it in a relatively convenient starting position for the offensive against the Swedes. Sheremetev was given the task of blocking Lewishaupt’s vossl and, in favorable circumstances, giving him a battle. This battle took place, but the result was different than planned by the Russian command.
Key words and phrases: battle, great north war, army, Lewenhaupt, Sheremetev, Gemauerthof.
The beginning of the 18th century was marked with two significant military conflicts with a decisive influence on the history of modern Europe: the War of the Spanish Succession and the Great Northern War. The Great Northern War filled the first two decades in which Russia grew in significance, or rather increased its domination, and Sweden lost its superpower position. Against this background, the fate of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was being decided. Although not officially involved in the war, the Commonwealth most severely suffered its consequences and became significantly weakened. For Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania it was not only an international but also an internal conflict. The Great Northern War of 1700-1721 until this day does not have a full monograph in the Polish historiography; the only one written is by Jan Wimmer . Many military threads are still unknown to the Polish reader. Therefore, it is worth paying attention to the individual components of the war, which was of such great importance to the Commonwealth. The war could be called a breakthrough in the military and international situation of the Commonwealth; it was a „drastic” link between the „great” seventeenth century and the „tragic” eighteenth century, which ultimately ended with the erasure of the Polish-Lithuanian state from the map of Europe. This paper aims to present one of the many battles of the Great Northern War, as in the Polish historiography, the number of works devoted to the military activities of the conflict is very small. Polish researchers have not researched or analysed the military clashes of the war which did not involve the participation of the Polish army. However, the source material is plentiful, and the battles are related in many languages by both sides of the conflict. By compiling all the information, we obtain a full description of a battle, ready for analysis and drawing conclusions. The Battle of Gemauerthof is an example of such a battle.
The Battle of Gemauerthof, known in the Polish historiography also as the Battle of Murmiza (the Brick Manor House), took place on July 26th, 1705 (according to Julian’s calendar, the battle took place on July 15th, according to Swedish calendar, on July 16th, and according to the Gregorian calendar, on 26 July 1705) between the Swedish and the Russian armies in Courland (40 km south of Mitawa (Jelgava)) in the territory of today’s Latvia. One of its accounts in the Polish literature is by Andrzej Kaminski [4, p. 230-259], who accurately specifies the number of troops and the strategic situation before and after the battle, but presents the battle itself only briefly: „Sheremetev, performing the task entrusted to him, attacked with his troops Lewenhaupt’s unit of 8000 men. The battle took place at Murmiza (the Brick Manor House/Gemauerthof), where the Russians, despite their numerical superiority, suffered defeat” [4, p. 234-235]. A much broader account of the battle is by Pawel Krokosz [7, p. 319-321], who devoted two pages of his work to this clash. It is the most detailed description of the battle in the Polish historiography, which gives an overview of the events on the Gemauerthof battlefield. Swedish and Russian researchers dealt with this issue much more broadly. A description of the battle can be found, among others, in the work of Hugo E. Uddgren [10, p. 146-184 and 9, p. 63-72], and in the monograph of the Russian researchers B. C. Виеликанов and С. Л. Мехнев (V. S. Velikanov and S. L. Mehnev) . These two works accurately and illustratively present both the circumstances of the battle, the forces on both sides, the course of the battle and its results. There are also several publications relating the battle: a Russian one, in Письма и бумагu императора Петра Великого (Pis’ma i bumagi imperatora Petra Velikogo) [17, p. 870-873], a German one , which was written by the Swedish side, and a Swedish one . Karol Koscielniak discovered another relation in Polish (prepared and published by him [6, p. 47-61]), which evidently praises the Swedish victory . The Swedes made sure that their victories, no matter how small, were adequately publicized, and thus, widely known. It was a form of war propaganda and an attempt to influence both the enemy and those who were considered potential allies.
The Battle of Gemauerthof of July 26, 1705 was related to the Courland operation of the Russian army during the Great Northern War (1700-1721) [14, p. 48-57]. In the initial period, the Swedish army dealt quite effortlessly with all members of the hostile coalition, beating the Russians at Narva (November 30, 1700) and forcing the Saxons to abandon the siege of Riga (July 19, 1701), the capital city of Livonia. In 1702, Charles XII led the Swedish army into the territory of the Commonwealth, engaging fully in a fight against August II — the ruler of the Polish-Lithuanian state and Saxon elector. The Swedish involvement was utilized by Tsar Peter I. After a shock which was brought by the failure of the reformed Russian army in 1700, the country quickly recovered and after carrying out necessary changes and rebuilding its military potential, Russia began the operation of conquering the unsupported Esthonia and Livonia [1, p. 199-203]. By 1704, Russia managed to gain access to the Baltic Sea, but Peter I and his generals realized that the offensive of Charles XII towards the Swedish Baltic provinces could lead to the loss of these conquests [4, p. 234]. Therefore, it was in interest of Russia to keep the Swedes away from Livonia, preferably on the territory of the Commonwealth. A breakthrough came only after the confirmation of the Polish-Russian alliance in Narva on 30 August 1704, where both sides committed themselves to continue the war on land and sea in cooperation, rejecting the possibility of negotiating and concluding separate treaties with Sweden. Peter I promised August II military assistance in the form of a 12,000 military corps and 200,000 roubles to maintain an army of 48,000 in 1705. The Tsar also guaranteed the King the return of all lands in Livonia which once belonged to the Commonwealth. The favourable military situation of Russia, where Charles XII with the main Swedish army was located in the depths of the Polish-Lithuanian state far away from Livonia, enabled the Russians to retain their newly conquered cities. Additionally, in Courland, the Swedes had only one corps, which, according to Russian plans, could be crushed or blocked so that it would not interfere with the main Russian forces. This situation allowed Peter I to send his main army to the Commonwealth, and a separate corps to Courland [1, p. 517]. It should be also emphasized that Russia made an attempt to make peace with Sweden in order to maintain its present possessions on the Baltic Sea, but Charles XII did not intend to end the war. In this situation, the Russian staff finally decided to start an action against the Swedish army, and set the direction of warfare, which meant that the main attack was to be directed towards the lands of the Commonwealth [4, p. 234].
As pointed out by Jacek Burdowicz-Nowicki, the warfare of 1704-1705 is worth noting, as it was the first time the Russian army entered the lands of the Commonwealth, moving the Russian war theatre deep into the territory of the Polish-Lithuanian state. The entry of the Russian auxiliary corps in autumn 1704 [3, p. 154], and later the entry of the entire Russian army into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania changed the previous strategic situation. Augustus II and Peter I, who until then conducted military operations separately and in different operating theatres, started cooperating [1, pp. 517-518 and 524-526]. Peter I wanted to seize the Duchy of Courland and crush the corps of Adam Ludwig Lewenhaupt, which stationed there. In the spring of 1705, the main Russian army was concentrated on the Daugava River, which placed it in a relatively convenient starting position for the offensive against the Swedes. This position secured Baltic cities newly conquered by the Russians and had the advantage that opposite, instead of the main Swedish army, was only Lewenhaupt’s corps stationing in Courland. Even in the case of a Swedish offensive towards Livonia, Peter I with his army was close enough to his operational base to withdraw easily into his country.
The Russian army, gathered in the spring of 1705 in Polotsk, which was to enter the Commonwealth, consisted of 31,200 infantry [13, p. 104-105], and 16,200 horsemen [15, p. 61]. At the end of June 1705, a council of war decided to separate a corps from these forces and direct it against the Swedish troops of Lewenhaupt. The objective of the corps was to occupy Lewenhaupt’s troops in Courland. In this way, the Russians wanted to eliminate, or at least block the Swedes, so that they would not interfere with their activities in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania [4, p. 233]. At the head of this separate corps, Peter I put Field Marshal Boris Petrovich Sheremetev, one of his best commanders . The same council of war decided that the main forces would cross the Daugava River and enter the territory of the Commonwealth, but would not go too far, as Peter I wanted to stay close to his borders. They were to stop at the line of the Neman River [1, p. 547]. This allowed to shield the Courland operation of Sheremetev and to support it if the situation took an unfavourable turn.
The strategic objective of the Courland operation of Sheremetev was to secure the rear of the main Russian army moving into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania from Swedish troops operating in that area, crush the corps of Lewenhaupt, secure Russian territorial gains and make new conquests. Sheremetev led the following forces: three infantry regiments (Lieutenant General Adam von Schonbeck’s, Lang’s and V. Powisz’s), eight dragoon regiments (Rodion Baur’s — the so-called «Preobrazhenski Regiment», Semion Kropotov’s, Ivan Ignatiev’s, Grzegorz Wolkonski’s, Grzegorz Suchatin’s, Bogdan Gagarin’s, Piotr Mieszczerski’s, Mikolaj Inflant’s), one regiment of irregular cavalry (250 Bashkirs and 50 Tatars form the area of Chuguev) and one selected squadron of Sheremetev’s dragoons (three companies, 478 men in total), as well as 16 cannons [13, p. 17; 4, p. 233]. The Russian army was divided into four brigades, one of infantry and three of dragoons, commanded by Schonbeck (the infantry), Baur, Kropotov and Ignatiev (the dragoons). Sheremetev’s troops consisted in total of 7000 dragoons, 3000 infantry, 300 irregular cavalry, plus troops manning the cannons, that is 10,400 men. The artillery comprised of six 3-pounder cannons and nine 18-pounder howitzers [14, p. 43]. A. L. Lewenhaupt, who led the Swedish army, had in Livonia troops of 12,000 men in total [1, p. 548; 4, p. 234; 7, p. 319; 14, p. 43-45], but he could send only 6,000 to 8,000 men to direct battle. In the battle itself, he led 7,175 men [14, p. 50]. The infantry comprised of Halsinge Regiment (900 men), Upplands Tremannings Regiment (600), Smalands Tremannings Regiment (400), Narike-Varmlands Tremannings Regiment (200), foot soldiers from the Riga garrison (1000); the cavalry and dragoons comprised of Livlandska Adelsfanan (200), Estlandska Adelsfanan (number unknown), Abolans Cavalry Regiment (600), Nylands Cavalry Regiment (200), Karelska Cavalry Regiment from Vyborg (700), Upplands Standsdragon Regiment (800), Schreiterfeldt’s Dragoon Regiment (700), Skog’s Dragoon Squadron (370), Karelska Dragoon Regiment (Zoge’s – number unknown), cavalry regiments of Norra Skanska and Svenska Adelsfanan (150), Kaulbars Oselska Dragoon Squadron (200), light cavalry of 300 men; the artillery comprised of 17 guns, probably light regiment cannons . The army probably included 300 Lithuanians (light cavalry), but the information is unconfirmed and uncertain [5, p. 501; 14, p. 50]. According to H.E. Uddgren they were Vlachs at the service of the Sapieha family . They could have been Polish light cavalry.
On 28 June, Sheremetev received an instruction from Peter I to seek a confrontation with Lewenhaupt [17, p. 362]. In order to provoke the battle, Sheremetev had to manoeuvre his troops in such a way as to cut the Swedes off from Riga and force them to fight in an open field. At the end of June, Lewenhaupt and his horsemen stood in the region of Zagare, while most of the infantry stood in Mitawa. The concentration of the Russian army in Polotsk did not escape the attention of the Swedes [8, p. 41]. Sheremetev left Polotsk on July 8th, crossing the Daugava River, and on July 10, reached Druya, where the units of Baur, Kropotov and Chambers were already located. On July 12, without waiting for Ignatiev, he set off further towards Riga [14, p. 44]. On July 14, Sheremetev’s army reached Anyksciai, and on July 18, the Russians approached Neustadt. On receiving the information that the Russians are in Neustadt, Lewenhaupt ordered his troops to concentrate in Zagare, waiting for the situation to develop. Meanwhile, on July 22, Sheremetev reached Mezotne (10 km west of Bauska and 40 km south of Riga), where he set up camp. The same day in the evening he sent a unit of Baur’s cavalry to Mitawa to gain information about the enemy. Baur approached Mitawa at dawn on 23 July, and immediately started attack, which surprised the Swedish garrison, which was driven out of the city and sought refuge in Mitawa castle [14, p. 46]. Baur took prisoners and loot and around noon withdrew from Mitawa. At the same time, a messenger from Mitawa went to Lewenhaupt to inform him about the attack of the Russians. Lewenhaupt, unaware of the exact scale of the attack, decided to send his cavalry to Mitawa, while the infantry was to follow behind and approach Mitawa through Gemauerthof [8, p. 41-42]. He approached Mitawa at around 4 pm, finding no Russians in the city. Having no information about the strength and location of Sheremetev’s troops, he withdrew from Mitawa in the direction of his infantry, which approached Gemauerthof, where it set up camp on July 23 in the evening. Lewenhaupt himself arrived at Gemauerthof the next morning, and was waiting for his remaining troops, which finally arrived on 25 July [14, p. 46-47].
Sheremetev, having learned from captives brought to him by Baur that Lewenhaupt was in Zagare, decided to cut Lewenhaupt off from Riga, and he set off with his army north towards Gemauerthof. However, he was unable to leave at once, since his infantry was left behind and he had to wait for all his troops to merge. The Russian army set off from Mezotne towards Gemauerthof (30 km) only in the morning of July 26th around 5 am, unaware that the Swedish army was already there [14, p. 48]. For reconnaissance, Sheremetev sent forward Cossack and Kalmyk troops, who came across the Swedish improvisation units gathering food to the north-east of Gemauerthof. The Cossaks managed to catch two captives, the rest escaped and informed the main forces about the Russian approach. To check if the approaching troops are the main army, Lewenhaupt sent several hundred horsemen with colonel Bremens for reconnaissance. At around 2 pm, Lewenhaupt received the information that the Russians are approaching Gemauerthof from the north-west in several columns. That made him realize Russians want to cut him off from Mitawa and Riga, so he decided to take up a position on the right bank of the Svete River, on the northern edge of a forest, between the Klein-Wilzen stream and the Svete River and give them a battle [14, p. 48-49].
The battlefield at Gemauerthof was wide and slightly hilly with numerous watercourses. While marching from the camp at Mezotne to Gemauerthof, the Russians had to overcome about thirty water obstacles within 30 km distance (these were rather streams and irrigation ditches) [14, p. 49]. The battlefield itself was bounded to the west by the Svete River, 15-20 meters wide, to the south by a forest with a stream, to the east by a small lake with marshy banks. It was 2-2.5 km wide and 5 km long, with a small forest and some bushes in the middle [14, p. 49]. The Swedish army formed two lines: in the first line there were 12 squadrons of horsemen (cavalry and dragoons, the dragons positioned on the edge of the left wing), 13 infantry battalions in the centre, and another 15 squadrons of horsemen on the right flank (cavalry and dragoons, the dragoons on the edge of the right wing); in the second line there were three infantry battalions and seven squadrons of horsemen. Positioned in the gap between the two lines were two grenadier battalions from the Halsinge Infantry Regiment and the Upplands Tremannings Infantry Regiment; the artillery of 17 guns was distributed among all the infantry battalions [7, p. 319]. The Russian troops approached the battlefield at five o’clock in the afternoon, after a 30 km march, and formed a line with the right wing resting on the Svete River and the left wing resting on the Klain-Wilzen stream. The centre was occupied by Schonebock’s infantry and the wings by horsemen; Baur’s and Ignatiev’s brigades on the right wing and Kropotov’s on the left wing. The distance between the two armies was 3-4 km. There were about 9,500 Russian soldiers on the battlefield; the rest of the initial number was left at Mezotne [14, pp. 50-51]. In this situation, the Swedes were unable to go unnoticed northwards in the direction of Mitawa and further to Riga, without being exposed to attack during the march. Sheremetev, like Lewenhaupt, wanted to play the battle the next day. With this aim in mind, he sent Lieutenant General George Gustav Rosen with Bauer’s brigade to the left bank of the Svete River, and spread the rest of the army out on the edge of the forest, keeping the infantry in the centre and the horsemen on the wings. He also gave an order to prepare supper and secure the camp. Sheremetev and Baur left to reconnoitre the enemy forces. Additionally, Sheremetev sent four squadrons of dragoons to watch the Swedes, with the order to stay out of a fight. The Russian army was preparing to rest. Meanwhile, on the Swedish side, Lieutenant Colonel Kacper Stakelberg, having seen the four Russian dragoon squadrons, without Lewenhaupt’s order, left his post and attacked the enemy. Sheremetev, seeing this assault, withdrew the units, but the Russian sentries had already got into a fight with the Swedes. Stakelberg, having realized he could be cut off from the main force, withdrew. This unexpected clash provoked a reaction on both sides. Lewenhaupt started preparing his troops for battle. On the Russian side, Colonel Kropotov mistook Stakelberg’s withdrawal for a retreat of the whole Swedish army. He informed Sheremetev about it and, without an order from the Commander-in-Chief, he attacked the Swedes. Colonel Ignatiev and his brigade followed Kropotov’s example. Thus, the Russian cavalry and dragoons hit the enemy. In this situation, all Sheremetev could do was to put the infantry in the centre into battle formation and go with his horsemen to support his wings. Bauer’s troops stayed on the left bank of the river and moved along it. The battle began in a quarter of six, contrary to the original plans of the commanders of both sides. The Swedish cavalry attacked on the Russian left wing, inflicting considerable losses on the Russians. However, Kropotov’s counterattack pushed the Swedes back. On the Russian right wing, the battle took a favourable course for the Russian side. On this wing, the Swedes attacked Ignatiev’s brigade, but they got under fire of Baur’s dragoons, who crossed the Svete River from its left bank to the right and attacked the Swedes from the flank, practically surrounding them. The Swedes started to retreat. The retreating Swedish horsemen got in the way of their own grenadiers, standing between the first and the second line. In this way, the left wing of the Swedish first line was destroyed. That was a decisive moment of the battle, but the Russian dragoons chasing the Swedes came across the Swedish camp and they chose it as their target. Instead of surrounding the enemy, they occupied themselves with looting the camp. In this situation, the Swedish regiments on the left wing were able to reorganize and adopt a battle formation. The infantry and horsemen of the second line came to their aid. The Swedes counter-attacked. Ignatiev’s troops pushed back the Swedish horsemen and even took over a few guns, but then they encountered the Swedish infantry and horsemen from the second line.
The fight was so fierce that Ignatiev himself fell in combat, together with several senior officers on both sides. On the other side of the battlefield, that is on the Swedish right wing, Stakelberg started to push hard on the Russian left wing, forcing the Russians to retreat and abandon their cannons. Two hours after the battle began, the fighting came to a short pause. At that point the situation was as follows: the Swedish cavalry of the left wing was crushed and partly escaped from the battlefield, and partly moved to the centre; part of the infantry of the Swedish centre and the right wing crushed Kropotov’s troops and crossed to the left bank of the Klain-Wilzen stream. It became apparent that the battle formations of both armies were shattered. The infantry, Kropotov’s dragoons, and some of Ignatiev’s dragoons crossed the Klain-Wilzen stream, and the rest of the dragoons stood opposite Lewenhaupt, nearer to the Svete River. Taking advantage of the break, Sheremetev decided to move his troops to the right bank of the Klain-Wilzen stream. The Russians did not consider the battle to be finished and were preparing to continue fighting, ignoring the falling darkness. Lewenhaupt was also preparing an attack by reorganizing his forces. He ordered Stakelberg to move the right-wing troops to the other side of the Klain-Wilzen stream, and together with the rest of his forces, started a slow march towards the enemy, leaving the Russians no time to reorganize their formation. After crossing the Klain-Wilzen stream, Colonel Gabriel Horn attacked the Russian lines. However, the Russian cavalry, supported by the infantry, circled and attacked the Swedish horsemen of Horn. The Swedes were saved from a complete breakdown by the arrival of their infantry, which let the cavalry to break out of the surrounding Russian troops. The battle had already lasted three hours, but it continued with unabated intensity. Lewenhaupt came to the rescue of his right wing, across the Klain-Wilzen stream; the Russian troops of Baur and Ignatiev did the same. Thus, the front of the battle was changed, and both armies met again at the same battlefield, undivided by streams. Around 9:30 pm, the fire ceased. Both armies, tired and blood-drained, stood in battle formation facing each other. Finally, it got dark. The situation of the Swedes was grim, as the infantry were left with only 2 or 3 bullets. The artillery was also short of ammunition. The camp was destroyed, and another one, where the materials could be replenished was at a five-kilometre distance, on the other side of the Svete River. The situation of the Russian forces was similar, but aggravated by exhaustion, as the Russian soldiers had been marching and fighting for fourteen hours. Neither side wanted to start fighting again that day, so Lewenhaupt decided to reorganize his cavalry, which had suffered considerable losses, moving it behind the infantry. However, when the Russian dragoons saw the Swedish cavalry retreating, they threw themselves at the enemy. The offensive was withheld when the Swedish cavalry returned to its position after Lewenhaupt withdrew his order. Both armies stayed in this configuration for another 45-60 minutes until it got completely dark. At about 10:30 pm, Sheremetev gave order to withdraw. The Swedes failed to realize that the Russians were gone. They stood in readiness all night, only to find out at dawn that the enemy was gone. The Swedes had no strength or means to pursue Sheremetev, so Lewenhaupt ordered his troops to withdraw to the destroyed camp and rest. Sheremetev, in turn, went south-east towards Birzai [2; 8, p. 41-44; 9, p. 63-72; 10, p. 320-321; 11; 14, p. 51-55; 17, p. 871-872].
The Swedish losses in the battle were about 800-900 dead and 1000 wounded. The Russian losses, on the other hand, according to Russian researchers, amounted to about 2,500 dead, wounded and missing, including over 1,300 infantrymen and over 1,100 horsemen. Additionally, the Russians lost six 3-pounder regiment guns, seven howitzers, eight banners, and one standard [14, 55-56]. The losses suffered by Sheremetev show that the Russian army had yet to get ready to face the Swedish army in an open field. The Swedes surpassed the Russians in terms of tactics and combat experience. However, at the beginning of the battle, it was the Russians who were closer to victory. Coincidence, failing to wait for orders and trying to take advantage of the situation, led to starting the battle without adapting combat formation and preparing to fire. Seeing what was happening, Sheremetev was right to bring all his troops into battle; he was left with no other choice! A mistake, together with poor orientation in the situation, resulted in the Russian dragoons looting Lewenhaupt’s camp instead of chasing or surrounding the Swedish troops which stood in formation. That gave the Swedes time to reorganize and launch another assault. The fight itself was intense, with soldiers on both sides showing skill, courage and bravery. Importantly, Sheremetev wanted to bring the battle to an end and use his advantage to achieve his goal, which was to crush the Swedes. He reacted to the changing conditions of the battlefield, but so did Lewenhaupt. Both commanders knew what they were doing, which is why the fight was so even. The battle could be considered unresolved. However, it was Sheremetev who left the battlefield, saving his troops. He was unaware of how bad Lewenhaupt’s situation was. Having had known that, he might have taken a different decision. Definitely, for the Swedes, it was a Pyrrhic victory, as the Russian army could be reinforced by the 40,000 troops standing in Lithuania, and Lewenhaupt had no possibility to receive reinforcements. After a few weeks, when the Russians entered Courland again, Lewenhaupt had no power to stop them.
Having heard about Sheremetev’s defeat, Peter I personally went to support him. On August 1, 1705, Peter I, at the head of a detached corps, set off from Vilnius to Courland, hoping to surprise and crush the forces of Lewenhaupt. He ordered Sheremetev to gather the scattered forces and continue his efforts to cut the Swedes off from Riga, but without entering into direct combat in an open field. Ultimately, Sheremetev was unable to fulfil this task. Due to the losses he suffered at Gemauerthof, he failed to stop Lewenhaupt and his army from getting through to Riga. The Swedes were unable to take advantage of the success at Gemauerthof, as Lewenhaupt’s forces were weakened by the losses suffered in the battle. They lost almost 1/3 of their initial count. That is why the Swedish commander decided to concentrate on securing Riga. After the Swedes retreated to Riga, Peter managed to conquer Mitawa and Bauska in September 1705 and ultimately took over Courland. Thanks to this success, the Russian troops were able to penetrate deeper into the territory of Poland without fear for their lines of communication. However, after only half a year, reinforced Lewenhaupt’s troops entered Courland and forced the Russian army to evacuate [1, p. 548].
Swedish propaganda exploited the victory over the Russians to show that the Russian army, going to the rescue of the Commonwealth, was not able to defeat the Swedes. In all accounts (issued by the Swedish side), you can read the message that the Poles and Lithuanians should fear the army of Charles XII, capable of defeating anyone. Time has shown how illusory the idea was!
Карта 1. План первой Курляндской операции Шереметева в июле 1705 г. (Виеликанов В. С., Мехнев С. Л., Курляндская операция 1705-1706 гг. и сражение при Гемауэртгофе, Москва 2016, p. 47.)
Карта 2. Битва при Гемауэртофе, автор неизвестен, http://rusmilhist.blogspot.com/2012/02/battle-of-gemauerthof-on-16-july-1705.html
- Burdowicz-Nowicki J. Piotr I, August II i Rzeczpospolita 1697-1706. Krakow: Arcana, 2013. 767 p.
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