Military Subjects: Organization, Strategy & Tactics

The Swedish Army in the Napoleonic Wars

By Magnus Olofsson

Regular Army Units in 1805

The regular units of the Swedish army and their strength and company (or squadron) establishment during the Napoleonic Wars are shown in the tables below, starting with the army’s establishment at the beginning of 1805. For clarity the Swedish and Finnish establishments has been separated; indeed the Finnish army was semi-independent from the Swedish forces, having, among other things, its own General-en-Chef, Inspector of Infantry and Cavalry, and unique uniforms. Also for clarity each table lists infantry, cavalry and artillery separately, and also separates indelta from värvade units. Units in each category are listed in order of seniority; in the official list of seniority are units from both Sweden and Finland, from all combat arms, and of different types were intermixed.

From their founding, indelningsverk indelta units - with the exception of the Livregementet till häst (Horse Life Regiment) and the Life Dragoons - were given the name of the county or district they were based in; thus they are sometimes referred to as “county regiments” (landskapsregementen). This naming practice went back to Gustavus Adolphus and the 1620s and 1630s when the national cavalry and infantry units were first named after counties. Most national cavalry and infantry units raised during Gustavus reign still existed in the 1680s and were used to create the new indelta units, so by 1805 most indelta units could trace their regimental linage and history almost 200 years back in time.

With the exception of the larger, ten company strong Nerike och Vermlands regemente the infantry units had a strength between 1,000 and 1,200 men, and were organized in eight companies. Battalions had four companies. The cavalry and dragoon regiments had a strength of 1,000, organized into eight squadrons, with the exception of the larger Livregementet till häst and the diminutive Jemtlands hästjägaresqvadron (“Jemtlands Chassuer-à-Cheval squadron”).

It will immediately be seen from the tables that these generalizations are not wholly true, neither for the Swedish nor for the Finnish army. These aberrations are mostly due to changes during the 18th Century, of which the most important will be described here. 

The first major overhaul of the indelningsverk came in 1791, roughly a century after its creation. The war with Russia in 1788-1790 had shown that the army’s cavalry forces were oversized, especially in rugged Finland were light infantry now was the most important combat arm. Therefore several cavalry units were turned into infantry. Henceforth this meant that there were actually rusthålls infantry units. Those peasants that had supported the now dismounted units had to pay a fee to the crown to compensate the lower cost of keeping an infantryman.  

In Sweden, the 1791 Reform turned close to 2,000 cavalrymen from three indelta cavalry units into infantry. Livregementet till häst (Horse Life Regiment), the most senior indelta cavalry regiment, and also the largest with a strength of 1,505 in twelve squadrons, was split in three  equal size units, of which one was turned into infantry. After some further reorganizations and several name changes, by 1805 these three units, which all belonged to the so called Lifregementsbrigaden (“Life Regiment Brigade”), actually the old Livregementet till häst regimental staff, were styled Lifregementbrigadens kyrassiercorps (“Cuirassier Corps of the Life Regiment Brigade”), Lifregementbrigadens husarcorps (“Hussar Corps of the Life Regiment Brigade”), and Lifregementetsbrigadens grenadiercorps (“Grenadier Corps of the Life Regiment Brigade”) respectively. As can be seen in Table 1 the Grenadier Corps was 500 men strong and ranked as the most senior indelta infantry unit.

Also dismounted was the second most senior cavalry regiment, Östgöta kavalleriregemente, which, together with the most senior indelta infantry unit, Östgöta regemente, were renamed to  Lifgrenadierregementet (“Life Regiment Regiment”). This created a double sized regiment of grenadiers; the largest infantry unit in the Swedish army during the Napoleonic period. It should be noted that the old infantry and cavalry parts of this unit for various administrative purposes were named as rothålls- and rusthållsfördelning (“…division”) respectively. Finally, the Bohusläns Dragoons, which had already 504 infantrymen on its establishment, dismounted its last 400 numbers and was, renamed Bohusläns regemente. Thus the 1791 reform turned 1,900 cavalry troopers into infantry, of whom no less the 1,500 were styled grenadiers.[8]

Originally the enlisted units were either styled “Guard” or “Life Regiment” or given the name of their colonel, and this was still the practice during the Napoleonic Wars, though some units had county names - a new practice from the 1780s and 1790s. The enlisted units did not  have a standardized establishment as the indelta had, and they were not as organizationally stable as the indelta units; changes of names and establishments were frequent, and some units were disbanded and new created during the period.

In 1805 there were three guard regiments: Svea Lifgarde (“Svea Life Guards”), Göta gardesregemente (“Göta Guard Regiment”), and Finska gardesregementet (“Finnish Guard  Regiment”). The former could trace it origin to the beginning of the 17th Century, while the two latter were from the 18th Century. Traditionally, the guard units were stationed in Stockholm; indeed, this was the source of their guard status, rather than any military excellence. 

The enlisted infantry belonging to the Swedish part of the army also included Kungens eget värfvade regemente (”King’s Own Enlisted Regiment”), Drottningens lifregemente (“Queen’s Life Regiment”), and Engelbrechtenska regementet. The latter two regiments garrisoned Stralsund in Swedish Pomerania and attracted many recruits of German nationality and were therefore sometimes referred to as “the German regiments”. These three units had all been raised during the 18th Century.

Aside from dismounting a substantial part of the cavalry, another late 17th Century innovation was to increase the numbers of light infantry in the army with the creation of värvade units with county names. Unlike the traditional mercenary units these did not serve as garrison troops. They were more like  the indelta units in social composition, training, and terms of service, the main difference being that received salaries instead of cottages and worked as craftsmen or farm hands in peacetime. All these non-garrison enlisted units were light infantry or - in Swedish - jägare (“hunter”, “ranger”;  i.e. “light infantry” or “chasseurs”). There was only one such unit on the Swedish establishment, Vermlands fältjägarebataljon (“Vermlands Field-Chasseur Battalion”).

The enlisted cavalry included Lätta Lifdragon regementet (“Light Life Dragoon Regiment”) and the famous Mörnerska husarregementet. (No less a person than Marshal Blücher started his military career in the Mörner Hussars!). Both were rather young for being units in the Swedish army, being raised in the middle of the 18th Century.[9]

The artillery regiments were created in 1794 when the only existing and very large artillery regiment was split into four new regiments, of whom three belonged to the Swedish establishment: Svea, Göta and Vendes artillery regiments.[10]

Notes to the tables:

(1) All units marked ’*’ in the tables below are non-garrison type värvade units.

(2) Companies or squadrons and number strengths in parenthesis were vacant in peacetime and were only to be raised in wartime.

 (3) The ”number strength” of a unit isn’t its whole establishment; its the number of corporals and privates of a unit. Thus the actual strength of a unit in the Swedish army is its strength plus officers plus other personnel. Enlisted units did have establishments for officers, the regimental band, craftsmen, and administrative personnel but they are not included in their numerical strength. For indelta units, the officers and NCO’s had their own establishments as a part of the ”true” indelningsverk as described above; the original regulations of the indelningsverk did not  include regimental band, craftsmen and administrative personnel in the official establishment. By the Napoleonic Wars it was customary to set aside some part of the units strength to support any such personnel, so indelta units actually had fewer privates and corporals than their strength indicates.

Table 1: The Swedish Army in 1805

Unit name and type

Companies

Number strength

     

Indelta infantry units

   

    Lifregementetsbrigadens grenadiercorps

4

500

    Lifgrenadierregementets rothållsfördelning

8

1,200

    Lifgrenadierregementets rusthållsfördelning

8

1,000

    Uplands regemente

8

1,200

    Skaraborgs regemente

8

1,200

    Södermanlands regemente

8

1,200

    Kronobergs regemente

8

1,100

    Jönköpings regemente

8

1,100

    Dalregementet

8

1,200

    Helsinge regemente

8

1,200

    Elfsborg regemente

8

1,200

    Vestgötadals regemente

8

1,200

    Bohuläns regemente

8

904

    Vestmanlands regemente

8

1,200

    Vesterbottens regemente

8

1,056

    Kalmar regemente

8

1,100

    Nerike och Vermlands regemente

10

1,674

    Jemtlands regemente

8

1,048

     

Värvade infantry units

   

    Svea Lifgarde

10

1,200

    Göta gardesregemente

10

1,200

    Finska gardesregementet

6

600

    Kungens eget värfvade regemente

11

1,000

    Drottningens lifregemente

12

1,200

    Engelbrechtenska regementet

12

1,200

    Vermlands fältjägarebataljon *

3

300

     

Indelta cavalry units

   

    Lifregementbrigadens kyrassiercorps

4

505

    Lifregementbrigadens husarcorps

8

500

    Västgöta dragonregemente

8

1,000

    Smålands dragonregemente

8

600 (400)

    Skånska dragonregementet

8

1,000

    Skånska karabinierregementet

8

1,000

    Jemtlands hästjägaresqvadron

1

100

     

Värvade cavalry units

   

    Lätta Lifdragon regementet

6

300

    Mörnerska husarregementet

8

400

     

Artillery units (all värvade)

   

    Svea artilleriregemente

13

1,040

    Göta artilleriregemente

16

1,305

    Vendes artilleriregemente

9

720

     

Sources: Bergenstråhle 1907, Lundh, Sveriges Krig, vol. 1

Most of what’s been said about the Swedish army is also true for the Finnish units; both in terms of names and establishments; the major difference being that the cession of land to Russia during the 18th Century had led to the disappearance of some units and the reduction in strength of others.

Starting with the indelta units, the reduction of the Finnish cavalry arm in 1791 was even more drastic than that in Sweden: more than two thirds of the Finish cavalry was turned into infantry. The two most senior Finnish infantry units, Åbo County and Björneborgs Regiment, each received a 500 strong rusthålls-battalion from the old Life Dragoon Regiment, which thus ceased to exist.  The third most senior regiment, Tavastehus Regiment, received a 500 strong jägare-battalion from Nylands Dragoons. Thus these three units had a twelve company, three battalion establishment. The diminutive Nylands jägare-battalion, the remnant of a unit that lost most of its soldiers to Russia in 1743, also received part of the Nylands Dragoons, but those soldiers were returned to their old unit in 1803 when it was found that the downsizing of the Finnish cavalry had been a bit to drastic. Unlike the aforementioned dismounted units, Nylands jägare did not joined with its namesake, Nylands infantry, but was a separate unit.[11]

Kajana Battalion was a somewhat curious unit, the youngest indelta unit that existed in 1805.  It was raised in the 1780s and 1790s (its early history is a convoluted story). Only 356 of its strength were true indelta soldiers, and the remaining 355 were militiamen (lantvärn). Most of its soldiers and one of its four companies were only to be raised in wartime.[12]

There is little to say about the enlisted units of the Finnish army: Enkedrottningens lifregemente (“Dowager Queen’s Life Regiment”), Jägerhornska regementet and Adlercreutzska regementet (both named after their colonels in the old fashion way) were garrison units, the two first dating from the early or mid 18th Century and the last raised in 1803, while the Savolaks jägareregemente (“Savolaks Light Infantry Regiment”) and Karelska jägarecorpsen (“Karelska Light Infantry Corps”) were of the non-garrison type light infantry units with county names raised in the late 18th Century. There was not  any enlisted cavalry in Finland, and obviously the Finnish artillery regiment was värvat.[13]

Table 2: The Finnish Army in 1805

Unit name and type

Companies

Number strength

     

Indelta infantry units

   

    Åbo läns regemente

8

1,025

    Åbo läns regimentes rusthållsbataljon

4

500

    Björneborgs regemente

8

1,025

    Björneborgs regimentes rusthållsbataljon

4

500

    Tavastehus regemente

8

1,025

    Tavastehus regementes jägarebataljon

4

500

    Savolaks infanteriregemente

8

954

    Nylands infanteriregemente

8

1,025

    Nylands jägarebataljon

1

92

    Österbottens regemente

8

1,197

    Kajana bataljon

3 (1)

186 (525)

     

Värvade infantry units

   

    Enkedrottningens lifregemente

8

800

    Jägerhornska regementet

8

800

    Savolaks jägareregemente *

10

1,330

    Karelska jägarecorpsen *

4

400

    Adlercreutzska regementet

13

2,000

     

Cavalry units (all indelta)

   

    Karelska dragoncorpsen

2

200

    Nylands dragonregemente

8

550

     

Artillery unit (värvad)

   

    Finska artilleriregementet

10

800

     

Sources: Aminoff, Björnstjerna, Sveriges Krig, vol. 1

Thus, in the beginning of 1805 the Swedish part of the army’s establishment (including those numbers that were only to be raised only in wartime) had a strength of 35,852. Of these numbers, 26,982 were infantry (20,282 indelta, 6,700 värvade), 5,805 were cavalry (5,105 indelta, 700 värvade), and 3,065 were artillery (all värvade). The Swedish part of the establishment included 25,387 indelta numbers and 10,465 värvade numbers.

The Finnish part of the army’s establishment (including those numbers that were only to be raised only in wartime) had a strength of 15,434. Of these numbers, 13,884 were infantry (8,554 indelta, 5,330 värvade), 750 were cavalry (all indelta,), and 800 were artillery (all värvade). The Finnish part of the establishment included 9,304 indelta numbers and 6,130 värvade numbers.

The whole army thus had a total strength of 51,286. Of these numbers, 40,866 were infantry (28,836 indelta, 12,030 värvade), 6,555 were cavalry (5,855 indelta, 700 värvade), and 3,865 were artillery (all värvade). The whole establishment included 34,691 indelta numbers and 16,595 värvade numbers.

 

Notes:

[8] Grill, C., Statistiskt sammandrag af svenska indelningsverket, vol. 1, Stockholm 1855, facsimile ed. 1988, pp.39, 103, 113-114, 122, 150, 224.

[9] Sveriges krig åren 1808 och 1809, vol. 1, pp.148-154.

[10] Sveriges krig åren 1808 och 1809, vol. 1, pp.154-156.

[11] Aminoff, C. G., Nyuppsatta  truppförband i Finland 1770 - 1808, Helsingfors 1971, p.259; Sveriges krig åren 1808 och 1809, vol. 1, pp.132-135.

[12] Sveriges krig åren 1808 och 1809, vol. 1, pp.136-139.

[13] Aminoff, C. G., Nyuppsatta  truppförband i Finland 1770 - 1808, Helsingfors 1971, pp.63, 134, 237; Sveriges krig åren 1808 och 1809, vol. 1, pp.159-161, 163.

 

Placed on the Napoleon Series: April 2008

 

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