Showing posts with label The Great Northen War. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Great Northen War. Show all posts

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Those Swedes and Russians in The Northern War

Yes indeed. As written in a previous blog I came late to the party on this one. I thought that all I needed was a load of pikes to add to my existing collection and I had it covered, right?. I purchased about 90 Swedish pikemen in 15mm from Miniature Figurines got them all prepped and--------------- reality struck!!.

Y,see, this is what happens when you don't do some research. Over the year's I had seen the odd painting of these battles and vaguely remember loads of pikes, rather like the Thirty years war so I based my premise on that.

 What do you do when the cold light of day shatters your fantasy. Once you have wiped the cold sweat from your brow, you grit your  teeth, clear the deck and start again.

In regard to the Swedes they had a standard set up for their foot regiments with  two muskets for each pike being the ratio. In the Russian army it was roughly four muskets to each pike.

Now, by this time it appears the bayonet proper had been invented i.e. it was attached to the end of the musket barrel as opposed to being plugged in like a cork thereby rendering said musket inoperable.

Also by now the military thinkers had realised that if you launch enough lead in the direction of the enemy, you might be able to make them run away before having to get close enough to stick bits of metal in them.

Humans are not as a rule born with psychopathic tendencies so you have to prepare them for close combat with bits of metal, but people don't mind shooting at a distance preferably from behind a barricade of some description. Anyway, I digress.

The old pike was gradually being phased out by all armies during this period in favour of more firearms.  Within each regiment, the pikes were carried in the regimental wagons until required. In some formations they were got rid of all together eventually being sawn in half and used as defensive stakes.

 I cannot seem to find out why some formations still used them at this time, after all it takes a very brave man indeed to carry a pointy stick into a gunfight! But none-the-less, they did. ( as a note the British army still had their pikes in this period but never used them having by now perfected the volley fire ).

So, getting back to those figures, what could I do?. Lucky for  me the metal is pliable. First I cut the pike off BUT I didn't  throw it away.  Next I flattened out the hands.

Then the tricky bit. Using a pair of small pliers I bent the right arm down so it was positioned below the left arm. Next taking a piece of the pike I flattened one end then glued it to the figure.

 The flattened end in the right hand the round section in the left. I then cut it down to match the 15mm figure. I was trying to make it look like the figure was making ready to level his musket.

 It worked. On one or two occasions the right arm broke off when moving it but I just glued it back on with the "musket". This first pic shows the Minifigs pikemen and converted pikemen plus Peterpig officer.

The drummer is also a Peterpig figure. Both figures are from their AWI range. Well, at this point in history infantry coats were starting to have turnbacks. In terms of colour the Swedes were already using blue. 

The Russians  were using red, blue or green but eventually Czar Peter picked Green as no one else was using the colour! So the Russians could have regiments in different coat colours. Also new coats were not issued until the old ones virtually fell to pieces so the style  varied as well.

Right. the Cavalry. Same thing again. I bought a load of Minifigs Roundhead cavalry thinking that would be the style. Wrong!! The latest research says that the cocked hat or "tricorn" was coming into vogue. 

The Karpus or Monteforino cap was still used but it was expensive to make. Lucky enough the Peterpig range has heads so out came the pindrill and the heads were changed from lobster helmet to tricorn.

 I also find out that the Russians dismounted their cavalry so I bought dismounted markers. Peterpig AWI dismounted  cavalry with changed heads. Yes I know now that Essex Miniatures do dismounted figures but this is what happens when you dive in "head first". ( really bad pun!!). Yep and Irregular miniatures do a range as well, I know.

Right, how does this all equate to the grid. There is a current train of thought that during the English Civil War the musketeers went behind the pike blocks rather than amongst them so I have put the pikemen on a separate base to the muskets. In the system I use, the points of the pike stand is added to any musket stand in an adjacent square that is in close combat with an enemy stand.

I have three stands of pike with twelve stands of muskets and extra stands of muskets if the scenario excludes pikes altogether.

 Light irregular cavalry were used. Polish for the Swedes and Cossacks for the Russians. The situation was not always as clear cut as that and they were not used in "the line". There were no light infantry in the professional sense, and irregulars filled the gap.

Artillery tactics varied between nations. The Swedes tended toward aggressive tactics so used lighter artillery that could be moved forward quickly. The Russians were more defensive in nature so tended to use larger guns in static positions. Neither  side had the monopoly on losing their artillery during or after battle!!

Both the Swedes and the Russians had Grenadiers within each Regiment. The Swedes used a company, half of which were at each end of a deployed Regiment. The Russians started seperating the Grenadiers from the parent units and brigading them within their own formations. 

From the limited information I have read, neither group had any outstanding influence in battle as far as I can make out. The same can be said for Horse Grenadiers in Russian service. Also, it seems the "line" of both sides were not at the same level of efficiency as those of later wars. 

The conditions in which the soldiers served were not as draconian as the British and later Prussian armies. As for the pikes I have put the Grenadiers on their own stands for both armies. All this wordage still only gives a brief description of the main protagonists in this War and is only written from my own perspective, but here is how I made up my armies and the points allotted to each troop type;

15 stands of muskets at 2 points each.

3 stands of pike at 3 points each ( close combat only )

6 stands of cavalry at 3 points each ( can dismount  to shoot).

4 stands of irregular cavalry at 2 points each ( can dismount  to shoot )

6 stands of irregular infantry at 1 point each.

2 stands of heavy field guns at 2 points each.

4 stands of light field guns at 1 point each.

3 stands of " trained line" at 3 points each ( the Grenadiers)

I would like to point out that because I ended up with so many figures to convert due to my rawness I had to paint them all. You, dear reader, will not make the same mistake so you won't need as many figures as given in the above list!!

The high command on both sides wasn't  exceptional so each army has a general of 2pts and two generals of 1pt each. I hope the above information will save you from the blunders I have made and yes I did cut all the bayonets off the infantry just to compound my ignorance.

This second photo shows everything at the halfway point of my lunacy.

The Swedish Amy is on the left with the Polish cavalry sporting the red and white flags. On the right is the completed Russian pike. Just to finish this article, both sides made extensive use of their respective Navies. Sweden already had an established maritime presence in the Baltic. Czar Peter had to start from scratch but the Russians didn't sit on their hands and soon had a Navy to match the Swedes on equal terms.