Finnish War

The Finnish War (Swedish: Finska kriget, Russian: Финляндская война, Finnish: Suomen sota) was fought between the Kingdom of Sweden and the Russian Empire from February 1808 to September 1809. As a result of the war, the eastern third of Sweden was established as the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland within the Russian Empire. Other notable effects were the Swedish parliament's adoption of a new constitution and the establishment of the House of Bernadotte, the new Swedish royal house, in 1818.

Finnish War
Part of Russo–Swedish Wars and Napoleonic Wars (Franco-Swedish War)
Fi krig map1

Map of notable locations in Finland during the war
Date21 February 1808 – 17 September 1809
(1 year, 6 months, 3 weeks and 6 days)
Result Decisive Russian victory, Treaty of Fredrikshamn
Separation of Finland from Sweden and Finland becoming an autonomous part of Russia

 Russian Empire


Sweden Sweden

 United Kingdom
Commanders and leaders
Fyodor Buxhoeveden
Bogdan von Knorring
Pyotr Bagration
Barclay de Tolly
Nikolay Ivanovich Demidov
Wilhelm Mauritz Klingspor
Carl Johan Adlercreutz
Georg Carl von Döbeln
August 1808: 95,000+ soldiers August 1808: 36,000+ soldiers


Alexander I by S.Shchukin (1809, Tver)
Alexander I, Emperor of Russia
Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden
Gustav IV Adolf, King of Sweden

After the Russian Emperor Alexander I concluded the 1807 Treaty of Tilsit with Napoleon, Alexander, in his letter on 24 September 1807 to the Swedish King Gustav IV Adolf, informed the king that the peaceful relations between Russia and Sweden depended on Swedish agreement to abide by the limitations of the Treaty of Tilsit which in practice meant that Sweden would have been required to follow the Continental System.[2] The king, who viewed Napoleon as the Antichrist and Britain as his ally against Napoleon's France, was apprehensive of the system's ruinous consequences for Sweden's maritime commerce. He instead entered into negotiations with Britain in order to prepare a joint attack against Denmark, whose Norwegian possessions he coveted.

In the meantime, the Royal Navy attacked Copenhagen and the Anglo-Russian War was declared. Referring to the treaties of 1780 and 1800, the emperor demanded that Gustav Adolf close the Baltic Sea to all foreign warships. Although he reiterated his demand on November 16, 1807, it took two months before the king responded that it was impossible to honor the previous arrangements as long as the French were in control of the major Baltic ports. King Gustav Adolf did this after securing an alliance with England on 8 February 1808. Meanwhile, on 30 December 1807 Russia announced that should Sweden not give a clear reply Russia would be forced to act.

Although most Swedish officers were skeptical about their chances in fighting the larger and more experienced Russian army, Gustav Adolf had an unrealistic view of Sweden's ability to defend itself against Russia. In Saint Petersburg, his stubbornness was viewed as a convenient pretext to occupy Finland, thus pushing the Russo-Swedish frontier considerably to the west of the Russian capital and safeguarding it in case of any future hostilities between the two powers.

The situation was problematic for Sweden, since it once again faced both Denmark and Russia as potential enemies requiring the Swedes to split their forces. The king had thought it impossible to defend Finland should the enemy attack during the winter and chose largely to ignore the repeated warnings of the Russian threat he received in early 1808. Most of the Swedish plans assumed that warfare would be impossible during winter, disregarding the lessons from recent wars. In addition, several new good roads had been built into Finland greatly reducing the earlier dependency on naval support for any large operation in Finland.[3]

The Swedish plan was mostly based on passively defending and on holding on to the critical fortifications in southern Finland and then counterattacking with naval support in the spring and retaking the lost areas. Some advocates for taking a more active approach existed, namely Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Möller (fi) who advocated for taking an immediate offensive and Gustaf Mauritz Armfelt who supported actively delaying the advancing enemies in co-operation with the garrisons in the southern coast. In the end instructions which the new Swedish commander in Finland, General Wilhelm Mauritz Klingspor, received from the king were an unsuccessful and open-ended mixture of ideas from these very different plans.[4]

Russia had gathered a wealth of information from Finland using spies and other sources. The level of detail was so great that Russian maps of Finland were in many respects more accurate than their Swedish counterparts. The Russians used the services of General Georg Magnus Sprengtporten when forming their plans. Sprengtporten suggested going on to an offensive during the winter since Finland would be mostly isolated when seas were frozen. His ideas were further developed by General Jan Pieter van Suchtelen before General Friedrich Wilhelm von Buxhoeveden was appointed as the commander of the Russian army in Finland in December 1807.[5]

The plan involved using the series of fortifications built after 1790 as staging grounds for the Russian advances into Finland. In southern Finland, armies were to isolate the fortifications and first take control of the whole of southern Finland before advancing further to the north. Forces in Savolax were to press hard against the Swedes and reach the Gulf of Bothnia towards Uleåborg and Vasa to cut off the retreat of the main body of the Swedish army.[6]

February – May 1808

The Finnish war map1
Finnish War, February 1808 at the outbreak of the war

On February 21, 1808, 24,000 Russian troops under Friedrich Wilhelm von Buxhoevden crossed the border in Ahvenkoski and took the town of Lovisa.[7] Since Klingspor had not arrived Lieutenant General Karl Nathanael af Klercker acted as Swedish commander in Finland. He was notified of the Russian invasion already on 21 February and since it was impossible to hold the predefined defense lines as the army had not yet fully assembled he ordered the army to assemble at Tavastehus. Before the engagement started Klingspor finally arrived on 2 March and assumed command. Instead of facing the Russians at Tavastehus he ordered the army to withdraw. In Savolax the Russians also forced the Swedes to withdraw.[8] The king was quite unprepared for the attack, especially as war was not declared until April. About 21,000 Swedish troops were stationed in various fortresses in Finland, while the rest of his army was unable to leave southern Sweden for fear of Danish attack.

The Russian advance was swift. On the first day of the war they had captured the town of Lovisa and besieged the Swedish seafortress of Svartholm. Borgå was captured on 24 February and Helsingfors on 2 March. Abandoned Swedish fortifications Hangö Peninsula were taken and manned on 21 March and on the same day the Russian army took Åbo while a small detachment was sent to Åland. Before the end of March 1808 even Vasa was taken. In Savolax Russians also advanced rapidly and took Kuopio on 16 March. Swedish forces had mostly just withdrawn before the advancing Russian often destroying usable materials. For example, the Swedish archipelago fleets ships that been docked in Åbo (nearly 50 gun sloops) were torched to prevent their capture.[8]

The Swedish fortress of Svartholm under command of Major Carl Magnus Gripenberg was ill-prepared for a war. While the garrison was 700 men strong, only a third of the men had actually functioning weapons, while most of the fortress' guns had no carriages. The fortress had fallen into disrepair and lacked both adequate food and ammunition stores. Even the wells were found to be unusable. After starting the siege on 21 February, the Russians issued a surrender demand for the fort, but this was refused by the Swedes. The demand was repeated on 2 March but without success. After a meager Russian bombardment, Gripenberg agreed to negotiations on 10 March. The fortress surrendered to the Russians on 18 March after a siege that had lasted roughly a month, with just one man having been wounded in action.[9]

Sveaborg under Admiral Carl Olof Cronstedt had been well prepared for the war with a garrison of 6,000 men and having over 700 cannons, and enough stores to last until the summer of 1808. Defenses were strong enough to prevent the Russians from trying to storm the fortress by surprise. Instead the Russians laid siege against Sveaborg. The fortress surrendered on 6 May 1808 after prolonged negotiations with the Russians as the commanding officer Carl Olof Cronstedt and his council believed that resistance was futile. Russians gained the main body of the Swedish archipelago fleet intact as well as large stores of supplies and munitions.[10]

The Russians had advanced considerably but they had also gained the long and vulnerable coastline with it. After the sea would be clear of ice there would be nothing to prevent Swedish forces from landing troops on the shore. With the Royal Navy supporting the Swedish battle fleet there was little the Russian battle fleet could accomplish. Capture of the main body of the Swedish archipelago fleet had resulted in a real advantage to the Russians since it allowed them to gain superiority in the narrow waters of the Finnish archipelago where large ships of the line could not operate. Even the powerful explosion at Sveaborg which destroyed several of the captured ships did little to change Russian superiority in the Finnish archipelago. The Russians utilized the guns from the burned ships, and of those which burned during the winter, and constructed several fortifications on the coast, both in Hangö as well as along narrow passages leading to Åbo.[11]

The Finnish war map2
Finnish War, March - May 1808

Under Colonel Carl Johan Adlercreutz the Swedish army counter-attacked at Siikajoki and began to halt the Russian offensive. Soon after at Battle of Revolax Swedish army under Colonel Johan Adam Cronstedt started the Swedish advance towards the South. These successes yielded promotion to Field Marshal to Wilhelm Mauritz Klingspor. Swedish advance was very slow however, as operations were mostly halted due to the thaw, the exception was the brigade under Colonel Johan August Sandels which swiftly advanced towards Kuopio. Nikolay Tuchkov, a Russian general who was dispatched to the north of Finland, left garrisons in every fort on his way, thus reducing his unit to 4,000 troops, which proved insufficient to pacify the hostile country. The Finns rose up in guerrilla fighting as far as Hamina (in Russian "Old Finland").

In May, the Russians suffered further setbacks when they were driven from Gotland and Åland, where a Swedish flotilla, supported by the local population, compelled the small Russian force left on the main island of Åland to surrender and then invaded the island of Kumlinge where bulk of the Russian garrison of Åland had been based. After a two-hour-long battle, the local militia, together with the Swedish landing force, overwhelmed their enemies and Colonel Vuich and his garrison were compelled to surrender. On May 26, a British fleet carrying 14 000 troops under Sir John Moore entered the port of Gothenburg but, due to various disagreements with the king, never landed and proceeded to fight the French in Spain after leaving 16 battleships and 20 other ships at Sweden's disposal.

June – July 1808

A Swedish battlefleet which had been expelling Russians from Gotland had been ordered to blockade the Hangö Peninsula and reached the cape on 10 June. Due to bad weather and bad visibility the fleet under Admiral Cedeström chose to stay relatively far from the coast. After approaching the coast on 21 June, Cedeström learned that the Russians had already passed the cape some time earlier. Attempts to stop the Russians deeper in the archipelago did not succeed either. Failure to stop the Russians led the king to relieve Cederström from his duties and replace him with Admiral Nauckhoff.[12]

Major General Eberhard Ernst von Vegesack was chosen to lead the first Swedes to Finland. He was to lead his force of 2,600 men and land somewhere between Nystad and Åbo and then capture the latter. Von Vegesack chose to land his force at Lemu manor house just a few kilometers south of Åbo. The landing began on 19 June and was initially successful. The surprised Russians garrisoned at Åbo reacted quickly, however, and deployed over 3,000 men to stop the landing force. By the morning of 20 June, the Swedish forces were forced to withdraw.[13] Swedish forces also performed landings near Vasa but with similar results. Colonel Johan Bergenstråhle landed 1,100 Swedes just a few kilometers north east of Vasa and managed to quickly advance to the town. Russians however managed to gather together a force of 3,000 men which managed to force the ill-trained Swedes to withdraw.[14]

Advance of the Russian coastal squadron beyond Hangö created difficulties for the Swedes. After the loss of the archipelago fleet at Sveaborg even that detachment equaled in strength the Swedish coastal forces deployed to the Finnish archipelago. To prevent Russian from gaining strength the Swedish coastal fleet's unit under Hjelmstjerna tried to engage the Russians first at battle of Rimito Kramp on 30 June and after Russians withdrew closer to Åbo at battle of Pukkisaari on 4 July. Fighting ended in a stalemate but could be understood as a Swedish failure since they failed to decisively defeat the Russians.[15]

The Finnish war map3
Finnish War, May - October 1808

Being alerted to the approach of additional Russian coastal units from Sveaborg, the Swedish forces moved to intercept them before they could link up with the Russian coastal unit now bottled up at Åbo. Learning that the Russians intended to go around the island of Kimito a Swedish force of gunboats was deployed to the narrows. They met the Russians first at Tallholmen on 21 July and again on 2 August in Battle of Sandöström. Swedish attempts to land troops and artillery in support of the gunboats at Vestanskär on 2 August ended in failure though the attempt came very close to capturing General Friedrich Wilhelm von Buxhoeveden. While none of the fights ended with a decisive winner, the overall strategic victory went to Russia who, by managing to link up their separate coastal units, gained advantage in the Finnish archipelago.[16]

Sweden performed several small landings along the coast near Kristinestad and Kaskö and managed to raise local men to oppose the Russians. The first took place on 3 July with several others taking place soon after. Altogether the Swedes had several hundred local men in arms. However, the Russians were able to send reinforcements to the area which were, in addition to being numerically superior, both far better trained and equipped than the peasants and militia the Swedes had raised. By the end of July the small forces Sweden had landed and the men that had supported them were either beaten or withdrawn back to their ships.[17]

August – September 1808

After the Russians were driven from Central Finland, their forces stretched along the line of PoriTampereMikkeli. Having received considerable reinforcements, their numbers increased to 55,000, as opposed to the 36,000 their opponents had. On August 14, Count Nikolay Kamensky decided to use this numerical superiority to launch a new offensive.

Although Georg Carl von Döbeln won the Battle of Jutas for Sweden on September 13, Kamensky's 11,000-strong corps achieved more important victories at Kuortane on September 1, at Salmi on September 2, and at Oravais on September 14. Swedish attempts to land troops near Turku were stalled by Bagration's prompt actions. In Eastern Finland, the guerrilla movement was gradually extinguished. As a consequence, Russia's situation in Southern Finland improved significantly.

In the north, the situation was more complicated. Tuchkov's battered unit strained to hold its own against Sandels, while the progress of a relief force under General Alekseyev was contained by guerrilla fighters. It was not until September 26 that Prince Dolgorukov (Alekseyev's replacement) managed to join his forces with Tuchkov, inducing Sandels to retreat. Three days later, Buxhoevden — pressed by the early onset of winter weather — signed an armistice, much to the dismay of Alexander. The emperor refused to ratify the truce and replaced Buxhoevden with a new commander-in-chief, Bogdan von Knorring, in December of the same year.

In the south, the Swedish battle fleet remained anchored within the Finnish archipelago, blocking some of the deeper coastal sea routes from Hangö towards Åbo. Russian ships continued to arrive from the east but remained within the shallow narrows where the Swedish ships of the line could not reach. Small boat actions took place during the night time of 17–18 July which became known as the skirmish at Lövö (Finnish: Lövön kahakka). However, the Swedish fleet dropped its blockade on 22 August, allowing Russian coastal units to join up. Odds were very much against the Swedes as the Russians had nearly one hundred coastal ships in the Finnish archipelago against which Sweden could deploy only 7 galleys and 30 gun sloops.[18]

Swedish efforts to harass the Russians with landings continued, with roughly 1,000 volunteers under Captain Anders Gyllenbögel landing on 1 August to support Swedish-led uprisings on the coast south of Vasa. The landing succeeded, and together with Swedish troops advancing from the north managed to drive the Russians towards Björneborg. Swedish patrol ships (consisting of armed merchant vessels) scouted and raided the coast, taking Russians prisoner to Åland. These raids caused much confusion, and Russian responses to them thinned their strength along the coast. Also the Swedish southern army of Finland, consisting of roughly 4,000 men under Major General von Vegesack, was moved from Åland to Finland, and landed at Kristinestad in late autumn, joining with Georg Carl von Döbeln's forces. However, since von Vegesack had been ordered to land his men at Björneborg, the king after pursuing the matter unsuccessfully in military tribunals condemned von Vegesack to lose his rank and title.[19]

A Russian battle fleet under Admiral Pyotr Khanikov (also Chanikoff) sortied in late July to clear the Swedish blockades in the archipelago, to cut contact between Åland and Sweden, and to stop Swedish supply transports sailing in the Gulf of Bothnia. The Russian fleet reached Hangö on 6 August and chose not to engage the scattered Swedish fleet elements in the vicinity. On 20 August, two Royal Navy ships of the line (HMS Implacable and HMS Centaur) joined the Swedish fleet. The allied fleet moved on 25 August 1808 to engage the Russian fleet, which turned and attempted to reach the relative safety of Baltiyskiy Port. The British ships were far superior sailing ships compared to either the Swedes or Russians, and engaged on their own the withdrawing Russian squadron of nine ships of the line and several frigates. The last of the Russian ships of the line was disabled and then captured and burned by the British ships. More Royal Navy ships (including HMS Victory, HMS Mars, HMS Goliath and HMS Africa) arrived to oversee the blockade of the Russian fleet at Baltiyskiy Port which continued until the sea started to freeze. The Swedish fleet suffered from outbreaks of scurvy and was unable to maintain the blockade on its own.[20]

Skirmishes and landings continued in the Finnish archipelago even later in the autumn. On 30 August, the Swedish coastal fleet defeated its Russian adversaries at the battle of Grönvikssund, forcing the Russians to abandon their plans to invade Åland, and making them concentrate on defense. On 17 September, the Swedes landed again, this time at Lokalax, while the coastal fleet covering the landing managed to keep the Russians away in the battle of Palva Sund on 18 September. The troops landed were forced with withdraw to their ships on 18 September, but were landed in Finland again on 26 September. However, only a portion of the troops intended for the landing actually reached the Finnish coast, owing to bad weather, and the landing resulted in another withdrawal on 28 September.[21]

The Swedish situation was further weakened by being at war with France and Denmark, both of whom threatened Sweden's possessions, with a joint invasion force of 45,000 troops in Denmark (under French general Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte) and a further 36,000 in Norway. This forced the Swedes to allocate forces to southern Sweden and along the Norwegian border (23,000 troops). Denmark had declared war on Sweden on March 14 but no serious hostilities occurred, except for a series of inconclusive minor skirmishes along the Norwegian border, as in April the situation in Spain started to increasingly require Napoleon's attention, and as the British navy remained a continuous threat for troop movements between Denmark and Sweden.

Winter 1808

The Finnish war map4
Finnish War, Winter 1808 - Summer 1809

By that time, Russian forces had overrun all of Finland. On November 19, the Convention of Olkijoki was signed and the Swedish army was forced to leave the country. The emperor was, however, now eager to bring hostilities to the territory of Sweden proper, which was certain to bring the war to a victorious end.

With these reasons in mind, Kamensky suggested a daring plan, whereby the Russian army was to cross the frozen Gulf of Bothnia in two directions: one unit was to march from Vaasa towards Umeå and another from Turku to the Åland Islands and thence towards the vicinity of Stockholm. A third unit was to advance on Tornio and arrive in Sweden by land.

Although Knorring was urged to execute the plan as quickly as possible, he regarded the idea as unrealistic and procrastinated until March, when the emperor dispatched the War Minister Arakcheyev to Finland in order to pressure Knorring into action before arriving at the army himself.

Spring 1809

Arrest of Gustav IV.

As Russian forces embarked upon their unprecedented march across the frozen Baltic on March 13, King Gustav IV — accused of fatal mistakes leading to the loss of Finland — was dethroned in Stockholm and his uncle was proclaimed Charles XIII of Sweden. Four days later, Bagration's corps of 17,000 men occupied the strategic Åland Islands, while Kulnev led the vanguard further across the frozen sea and on March 19 reached the Swedish shore within 70 km from Stockholm.

When news of Kulnev's incursion spread to the Swedish capital, the new king sent an embassy to Knorring, proposing a truce. The Russian commander agreed and speedily recalled Kulnev back to Åland. In the meantime, another Russian contingent — 5,000 men under Barclay de Tolly — endured great hardships in crossing the frozen gulf further north: they entered Umeå on March 24.

A third force, commanded by Count Shuvalov, struck against Tornio and, braving fierce frost, encircled a Swedish army, which capitulated on March 25. Six days later, the czar arrived in Turku and, on learning about the truce, not only revoked Knorring's signature but named Barclay de Tolly new Commander-in-Chief. Hostilities thus continued until May, when Shuvalov finally reached Umeå, where he was succeeded by Kamensky.

Summer 1809

Ratan battle
Last battle of the war at Ratan near Umeå in Swedish Västerbotten

In August, Charles XIII, anxious to reach a better peace settlement, ordered Sandels to land in the north of Sweden and to attack Kamensky's rear. The last engagements of the war, at Sävar and Ratan, proved inconclusive and Kamensky succeeded in neutralizing this belated counter-offensive.

A Royal Navy fleet under Admiral Saumarez arrived already in May to Sweden and concentrated his ships, 10 ship of the line and 17 smaller ships, to the Gulf of Finland. The presence of the British naval units kept the Russian battlefleet strictly confined to Kronstadt and after the British constructed artillery batteries to Porkkala cape they cut off the coastal sea route from Russian ships. Total British control of the Gulf of Finland was a heavy burden for Russian supply network and required sizable garrisons to be posted all along the Finnish coast. The Royal Navy captured altogether 35 Russian ships and burnt 20 others before leaving the Baltic Sea on 28 September 1809.[22]

The Finnish war map5
Finnish War, aftermath

Sandels's action was only a prelude to the peace negotiations that opened in August and resulted in the Treaty of Fredrikshamn (September 17), in which Sweden ceded the whole of Finland and all of its domains east of the Torne River (the north-eastern parts of what was then called Västerbotten today Norrbottens län) to Russia. Sweden closed its harbours to British ships and joined the Continental System, leading to the formal declaration of war on Great Britain. A few months later, on January 6, 1810, the Russian government mediated the Treaty of Paris between Sweden and France.

Russia would attach areas ceded earlier during the 18th century by Sweden to the newly formed Grand Duchy of Finland including so-called Old Finland. The Grand Duchy of Finland was to retain the Gustavian constitution of 1772 with only slight modifications until 1919. Almost all Finnish soldiers in Sweden (most of them in the Umeå area) were repatriated after the war.


Sufficient stocks of supplies had not been prepared for the army, since the King Gustaf IV Adolf thought it might be taken as provocation by the Russians. Furthermore, Swedish strategy relied on the outdated plans for Finland which took into account neither the advances in weaponry, mobility of the armed forces or the greatly improved road networks of Finland. Most of the fortifications in Finland had not been completed and those that were completed had mostly fallen into neglect and disrepair. Even the strongest of the Swedish fortresses, Sveaborg, still had several of its planned fortifications missing, most notably all the land side fortifications designed to protect against besieging enemy.[23]

In 1808 a British expeditionary force under John Moore arrived in Sweden, but after months of idleness departed for the beginning of what became known as the Peninsular War. Had the king accepted the landing of 10,000 British troops in Skåne, where the expeditionary force had been authorized to disembark, it would have enabled the Swedes to release at least 10,000 trained soldiers for the Finnish War. As it happened, the bulk of the Swedish army, including the best units, were kept out of the Finnish War by the king, who reserved them for his plans for conquering either Sjælland or Norway. Swedish landings were invariably made with poorly equipped and trained forces, often with troops who had very low morale. Landings were further complicated by the Swedish Navy's failure to tightly block the coastal sea route past Hangö.[24]


The 200th anniversary of the Finnish War was recently selected as the main motif for a high value commemorative coin, the €100 200th Anniversary of Finnish War commemorative coin, minted in 2008. The motif on the coin is the passage from Sweden to Russia. The same coin depicts both Finnish history, with the withdrawing crown on the reverse side as well as the future of the country, with the eagle symbol on the obverse side.

In memory of the 200th anniversary of the Finnish War, all Swedish 1 krona coins minted during 2009 featured a stylised depiction of the sky and the sea on the reverse side, flanked by a quote by Anton Rosell: Den underbara sagan om ett land på andra sidan hafvet ("The wonderful story of a land on the other side of the sea").


According to two 2015 studies by political scientists Jan Teorell and Bo Rothstein, Sweden's loss in the Finnish War led to reforms of the Swedish bureaucracy.[25][26] Prior to 1809, Sweden had a reputation as one of Europe's most corrupt countries, but the loss in the war created the perception of an existential threat in the East for Sweden and motivated Swedish elites to reform its bureaucracy.[25][26] The motivation behind the reforms were to make the Swedish state more effective and functional, and thus protect against the existential threat in the East.[25][26]

See also


  1. ^ Anglo-Russian War#Lisbon Incident.
  2. ^ Mattila (1983), p. 222.
  3. ^ Mattila (1983), p. 223-225.
  4. ^ Mattila (1983), p. 223-226.
  5. ^ Mattila (1983), p. 226-230.
  6. ^ Mattila (1983), p. 228-230.
  7. ^ "Southern Towns Mark War of Finland Bicentennial". Yle News. 21 February 2008. Retrieved 1 September 2017.
  8. ^ a b Mattila (1983), p. 234-235.
  9. ^ Mattila (1983), p. 232,235-238.
  10. ^ Mattila (1983), p. 232-233,238-244.
  11. ^ Mattila (1983), p. 245-248.
  12. ^ Mattila (1983), p. 256-258.
  13. ^ Mattila (1983), p. 258-262.
  14. ^ Mattila (1983), p. 262-264.
  15. ^ Mattila (1983), p. 266-269.
  16. ^ Mattila (1983), p. 270-276.
  17. ^ Mattila (1983), p. 279-280.
  18. ^ Mattila (1983), p. 277-279.
  19. ^ Mattila (1983), p. 281-283.
  20. ^ Mattila (1983), p. 284-287.
  21. ^ Mattila (1983), p. 287-298.
  22. ^ Mattila (1983), p. 308-309.
  23. ^ Mattila (1983), p. 225,230,249,311.
  24. ^ Mattila (1983), p. 311-312.
  25. ^ a b c Teorell, Jan; Rothstein, Bo (2015-09-01). "Getting to Sweden, Part I: War and Malfeasance, 1720–1850". Scandinavian Political Studies. 38 (3): 217–237. doi:10.1111/1467-9477.12047. ISSN 1467-9477.
  26. ^ a b c Rothstein, Bo; Teorell, Jan (2015-09-01). "Getting to Sweden, Part II: Breaking with Corruption in the Nineteenth Century". Scandinavian Political Studies. 38 (3): 238–254. doi:10.1111/1467-9477.12048. ISSN 1467-9477.


Further reading

  • Ордин К., Покорение Финляндии, ч. 1, СПБ, 1889. (in Russian)
  • Михайловский-Данилевский А. И., Описание финляндской войны в 1808-1809. СПБ, 1849. (in Russian)
  • Ниве П. А., Русско-шведская война 1808-1809, СПБ, 1910. (in Russian)
  • Захаров Г., Русско-шведская война 1808-1809, М., 1940. (in Russian)
  • Фомин А.А., Швеция в системе европейской политики накануне и в период русско-шведской войны 1808–1809 гг., М., 2003. (in Russian)

External links

13th Army (Soviet Union)

The 13th Army (Russian: 13-я армия 13-ya armiya) was a name given to several field armies of the Soviet Union's Red Army, first created during the Russian Civil War. Later armies existed until the 1990s, and the army survived as part of the Ukrainian Ground Forces for some years.



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12 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.

Ambush (1999 film)

Ambush (Finnish: Rukajärven tie) is a 1999 Finnish war film directed by Olli Saarela. Literally "Road of Rukajärvi", the film debuted on 22 January 1999 in Finland, after which it was released internationally. The film is based on a book written by Antti Tuuri and its leads are played by Peter Franzén as Lt. Eero Perkola and Irina Björklund as Kaarina Vainikainen, Lt. Perkola's love.

Rukajärvi (Rugozero) is a municipality (as well as a lake) in Karelia, Russia, and it was occupied by the Finnish Army during the Continuation War of 1941-44.

Anglo-Swedish War (1810–1812)

During the Napoleonic Wars until 1810, Sweden and the United Kingdom were allies in the war against Napoleon. As a result of Sweden's defeat in the Finnish War and the Pomeranian War, and the following Treaty of Fredrikshamn and Treaty of Paris, Sweden declared war on the United Kingdom. The bloodless war, however, existed only on paper, and Britain was still not hindered in stationing ships at the Swedish island of Hanö and trade with the Baltic states.

Battle of Koljonvirta

The Battle of Koljonvirta (Finnish: Koljonvirran taistelu) (Swedish: Virta Bro) i.e. the Battle of the Virta Bridge was fought between Swedish and Russian troops on October 27, 1808. The Swedish force consisted of troops from Savolax and Östergötland. After the main Swedish army had been defeated at the Battle of Oravais the army under Johan August Sandels in Savonia had to retreat in order not to be outflanked by the Russians. Sandels found a good defensive position north of Iisalmi and decided to resist the Russian advance there.

Between September 29 and October 27 a cease-fire was in effect. Sandels was heavily outnumbered but had a good defensive position between two lakes connected by the Koljonvirta river and he had prepared his position well during the cease-fire. On October 27 the cease-fire was to end at 1 PM, but Russians started their attack a little earlier, perhaps because of the time difference between Sweden and Russia. Sandels pulled back the forces on the south side of the river and the Russians attacked over the partially demolished bridge. The Swedes counter-attacked and literally pushed the Russian troops into the river. The Russians pulled up fresh troops on the south side of the river, but they didn't try to attack again. The battle was the last Swedish victory on Finnish soil.

Battle of Oravais

The Battle of Oravais (Finnish: Oravaisten taistelu, Swedish: Slaget vid Oravais) was one of the decisive battles in the Finnish War, fought from 1808 to 1809 between Sweden and the Russian Empire as part of the wider Napoleonic Wars. Taking place in modern-day Vörå in western Finland, it is sometimes regarded as the turning point of the Finnish War: the last chance for Sweden to turn the war to her advantage. It was the bloodiest battle of the conflict, which some historians attribute to the exhaustion, resignation and desperation of the Swedish army: it was losing the war, and defeat led to its loss of Finland to Russia.

Battle of Pulkkila

The Battle of Pulkkila was fought between Swedish and Russian forces near Pulkkila in Northern Ostrobothnia on 2 May 1808 during the Finnish War.

At the battle of Pulkkila on 2 May 1808, Johan August Sandels marched eastwards to liberate those parts of Finland that were under Russian control. During the march they encountered some Russian troops at Pulkkila. These Russian troops were led by Colonel Obuhov. The Russians were soon surrounded and tried desperately to break out, but they were forced back to a nearby village where the Russians were defeated after some vicious fighting. The Russian commander was forced to surrender to the attacking Swedes. The Swedes then went on and retook the town of Kuopio in the middle of Finland.

Sandels' offensive was one of the most remarkable operations of the entire war. During his operations against Barclay de Tolly's troops, he captured Russian depots, constantly harassed their rear areas, and committed actions that won him respect among both friends and foes.

However, Swedish success was only temporary in the Summer Campaign 1808 and the Russian counteroffensive resulted in the Swedish retreat in late August 1808.

Diet of Finland

The Diet of Finland (Finnish Suomen maapäivät, later valtiopäivät; Swedish Finlands Lantdagar), was the legislative assembly of the Grand Duchy of Finland from 1809 to 1906 and the recipient of the powers of the Swedish Riksdag of the Estates. The term valtiopäivät today means an annual session of the Parliament of Finland, the Swedish Riksdagen being the name for both the Parliament and its sessions.

Diet of Porvoo

The Diet of Porvoo (Finnish Porvoon maapäivät, or unhistorically Porvoon valtiopäivät; Swedish Borgå landtdag), was the summoned legislative assembly to establish the Grand Principality of Finland in 1809 and the heir of the powers of the Swedish Riksdag of the Estates. The session of the Diet lasted from March to July 1809.

During the Finnish War between Sweden and Russia, the four Estates of Russian occupied Finland (Nobility, Clergy, Burghers and Peasants) were assembled at Porvoo (Borgå) by Tsar Alexander I, the new Grand Prince of Finland, between 25 March and 19 July 1809. The central event at Porvoo was the sovereign pledge and the oaths of the Estates in Porvoo Cathedral on 29 March. Each of the Estates swore their oaths of allegiance, committing themselves to accepting the Emperor as Grand Prince of Finland as the true authority, and to keeping the constitution and the form of government unchanged. Alexander I subsequently promised to govern Finland in accordance with its laws and let the Finnish keep their religion and rights. This was thought to essentially mean that the emperor confirmed the Swedish Instrument of Government from 1772 as the constitution of Finland, although it was also interpreted to mean respecting the existing codes and statutes.The diet had required that it would be convened again after the Finnish War, which separated Finland from Sweden, had been concluded. On 17 September the same year, the conflict was settled by the Treaty of Fredrikshamn but it would be another five decades until the Finnish Estates would be called again.

During the rise of Finnish nationalism later in the 19th century, it was claimed that the Diet implied that a Treaty between States had been signed at the Diet between Finland and Russia. According to Emeritus Professor Jussila of Helsinki University, it is true that Alexander said that Finland had been raised to the status of a nation among nations, but the claim of a Treaty between equals was simply a device invented for the political realities of the struggle for independence.

Friedrich Wilhelm von Buxhoeveden

Friedrich Wilhelm Count von Buxhoevden (Russian: Фёдор Фёдорович Буксгевден, Fyodor Fyodorovich Buksgevden; other spellings: Feodor Buxhoeveden, Buxhœwden, Buxhöwden) (September 14, 1750 Võlla, Governorate of Livonia – August 23, 1811 near Kullamaa) was a Russian infantry general and government official. Buxhoeveden commanded the Russian armies during the Finnish War.

Johan August Sandels

Count Johan August Sandels (31 August 1764 – 22 January 1831) was a Swedish soldier and politician, being appointed Governor-general of Norway (Riksståthållare in Swedish, Rigsstatholder in Dano-Norwegian) 1818 and Field Marshal in 1824. He also served as acting Over-Governor of Stockholm in 1815.

Sandels was born in Stockholm. In the Finnish War (1808–1809) on 27 October 1808, he led the Swedish troops to victory against the Russian forces, at the Battle of Koljonvirta. His subordinate officers were Colonel Fahlander, Major Malm and Major Joachim Zachris Duncker.

These events and others in the Finnish War were later retold in a series of epic poems by Johan Ludvig Runeberg. Runeberg's poem tells a story of Sandels having a feast while the enemy mounts a premature attack. Sandels continues his meal and is accused of cowardice, after which he raises and rides to the battle, drives back the enemy and is praised by his men.

Sandels is also a beer brewed by Olvi since 1971. Humorous stories about Colonel Sandels (and his love of beer and food) are printed on the back label.

Sandels also fought in the Swedish ranks against Napoleon during the War of the Sixth Coalition in 1813 and 1814. He received some award for his services in form of a donation lands in the then Swedish Pomerania.

His granddaughter, Augusta Sandels, married Philip, Prince of Eulenburg and Hertefeld, bringing some Pomeranian inheritance to the Eulenburg family and her descendants. The couple were granted the Prussian title of Count Sandels, in addition to their other titles.

Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly

Prince Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly (German: Michael Andreas Fürst Barclay de Tolly; 27 December [O.S. 16 December] 1761 – 26 May [O.S. 14 May] 1818) was a Baltic German Field Marshal and Minister of War of the Russian Empire during Napoleon's invasion in 1812 and War of the Sixth Coalition. Barclay implemented a number of reforms during this time that improved supply system in the army, doubled the number of army troops, and implemented new combat training principles. He was also the Governor-General of Finland.

He was born into a German-speaking noble family from Livonia who were members of the Scottish Clan Barclay. His father was the first of his family to be accepted into the Russian nobility. Barclay joined the Imperial Russian Army at a young age in 1776, enlisting in the Pskov Carabineer Regiment. For his role in the capture of Ochakov in 1788 from the Ottomans, he was personally decorated by Grigory Potemkin. Afterwards he participated in Catherine II's Swedish War. In 1794, he took part in putting down the Kościuszko Uprising in Poland and was again decorated for role in the capture of Vilnius.

In 1806, Barclay began commanding in the Napoleonic Wars, distinguishing himself at the Battle of Pułtusk that same year. He was wounded at the Battle of Eylau in 1807 while his troops were covering the retreat of the Russian army. Because of his wounds, he was forced to leave command. The following year, he carried out successful operations in the Finnish War against Sweden. Barclay led a large number of Russian troops approximately 100km across the frozen Gulf of Bothnia in winter during a snowstorm. For his accomplishments, Barclay de Tolly was appointed Governor-General of the Grand Duchy of Finland. From 20 January 1810 to September 1812 he was the Minister of War of the Russian Empire.

When the French invasion of Russia began in 1812, Barclay de Tolly was commander of the 1st Army of the West, the largest Army to face Napoleon. Barclay was appointed Commander-in-Chief and initiated a scorched earth policy from the beginning of the campaign, though this made him unpopular among Russians. After the Battle of Smolensk failed to halt the French and discontent among Russians continued to grow, Alexander I appointed Mikhail Kutuzov as Commander-in-Chief, though Barclay remained in charge of the 1st Army. However, Kutuzov continued the same scorched earth retreat up to Moscow where the Battle of Borodino took place nearby. Barclay commanded the right wing and center of the Russian army for the battle. After Napoleon's retreat, the eventual success of Barclay's tactics made him a hero among Russians. He became Commander-in-Chief once again in 1813 after the death of Kutuzov and led the taking of Paris, for which he was made a Field Marshal. His health later declined and he died on a visit to Germany in 1818.


Suomenlinna (Finnish; until 1918 Viapori), or Sveaborg (Swedish), literal translation in Finnish is Castle of Finland and in Swedish Castle of Sweden is an inhabited sea fortress built on six islands (Kustaanmiekka (sv:Vargskär / Gustavssvärd), Susisaari (sv:Vargö), Iso-Mustasaari (sv:Stora Östersvartö), Pikku-Mustasaari (sv:Lilla Östersvartö), Länsi-Mustasaari (sv:Västersvartö), and Långören) and which now forms part of the city of Helsinki, the capital of Finland.

Suomenlinna is a UNESCO World Heritage site and popular with tourists and locals, who enjoy it as a picturesque picnic site. Originally named Sveaborg (Fortress of Svea), or Viapori as called by Finnish-speaking Finns, it was renamed in Finnish to Suomenlinna (Castle of Finland) in 1918 for patriotic and nationalistic reasons, though it is still known by its original name in Sweden and by Swedish-speaking Finns.

The Swedish crown commenced the construction of the fortress in 1748 as protection against Russian expansionism. The general responsibility for the fortification work was given to Augustin Ehrensvärd. The original plan of the bastion fortress was strongly influenced by the ideas of Vauban, the foremost military engineer of the time, and the principles of star fort style of fortification, albeit adapted to a group of rocky islands.

In addition to the island fortress itself, seafacing fortifications on the mainland would ensure that an enemy would not acquire a beach-head from which to stage attacks. The plan was also to stock munitions for the whole Finnish contingent of the Swedish Army and Royal Swedish Navy there. In the Finnish War the fortress surrendered to Russia on May 3, 1808, paving the way for the occupation of Finland by Russian forces in 1809.

The Tales of Ensign Stål

The Tales of Ensign Stål (Swedish original title: Fänrik Ståls sägner, Finnish: Vänrikki Stoolin tarinat, or year 2007 translation Vänrikki Stålin tarinat) is an epic poem written in Swedish by the Finland-Swedish author Johan Ludvig Runeberg, the national poet of Finland. The poem describes the events of the Finnish War (1808–1809) in which Sweden lost its eastern territories; these would become incorporated into the Russian Empire as the Grand Duchy of Finland.

The first part of Ensign Stål was first published in the revolutionary year 1848, the second in 1860. It shaped Finnish identity and was later given out free during the Winter War to raise patriotic spirit. The first chapter of the poem also became the national anthem of Finland.

The name of the title character, "Stål", is Swedish for steel, a typical example of a so-called "soldier's name". These were names, often consisting of simple words for traits or traits related to the military or nature, given to Swedish soldiers by their commanders, and many of Runeberg's characters have them: Dufva, Svärd and Hurtig ('pigeon', 'sword' and 'quick') are other examples.

The poems of Ensign Stål feature several officers who fought in the Finnish War, including marshals Wilhelm Mauritz Klingspor and Johan August Sandels, generals Carl Nathanael af Klercker, Carl Johan Adlercreutz, and Georg Carl von Döbeln, and Colonel Otto von Fieandt.

Among the most famous characters is the simple but heroic rotesoldat Sven Dufva. The organisations Lotta Svärd and Lottorna were named after the character in the poem of the same name.

From its publication to the mid-twentieth Century, The Tales of Ensign Stål was staple reading in both Finnish and Swedish schools. It shaped the later image of the war and of some of its real-life protagonists. Admiral Carl Olof Cronstedt is mainly remembered today for his treacherous surrender of the fortress of Sveaborg. The Russian general Yakov Kulnev, on the other hand, is described positively as a chivalrous and brave soldier and ladies' man.

Ensign Stål was translated into Finnish by a group led by fennoman professor Julius Krohn in 1867. Later translations were made by Paavo Cajander in 1889 and Otto Manninen 1909. Albert Edelfelt drew the illustrations between 1894–1900. Due to the dated language, a new translation was issued in 2007. It raised some controversy, in particular due to the new wording of the poem Maamme, the national anthem of Finland.

Treaty of Fredrikshamn

The Treaty of Fredrikshamn or the Treaty of Hamina (Finnish: Haminan rauha, Swedish: Freden i Fredrikshamn) was a peace treaty concluded between Sweden and Russia on 17 September 1809. The treaty concluded the Finnish War and was signed in the Finnish town of Hamina (Swedish: Fredrikshamn). Russia was represented by Nikolai Rumyantsev and David Alopaeus (Russian ambassador to Stockholm), while Sweden by Infantry General Kurt von Stedingk (former Swedish ambassador to Petersburg) and Colonel Anders Fredrik Skjöldebrand.According to the treaty Sweden ceded parts of the provinces Lappland and Västerbotten (east of Tornio River and Muonio River), Åland, and all provinces east thereof. The ceded territories came to constitute the Grand Duchy of Finland, to which also the Russian 18th century conquests of Karelia, including small parts of Nyland and Savonia (later to be called Old Finland), were joined in 1812 as Viborg County. Together with the Diet of Porvoo (1809), and the Oath of the Sovereign [1], the Treaty of Fredrikshamn constitutes the cornerstone for the autonomous Grand Duchy, its own administration and institutions, and thereby a start of the development which would lead to the revival of Finnish culture, to equal position of the Finnish language, and ultimately in 1917 to Finland's independence.

A reference to Emperor Alexander's promise to retain old laws and privileges in Finland was included, but the treaty overstepped any formal guarantees of the legal position of Finland's inhabitants. The Russians refused, and the Swedes were not in a position to insist. Similar clauses had been common in peace treaties, but they were also regularly circumvented. At the period of Russification of Finland, 90 years later, the Russian government argued that the treaty wasn't violated and hence no outside party had any right to intervene, the question being solely a matter of the emperor who had granted the original promise.

During the negotiations, Swedish representatives had namely endeavoured to escape the loss of the Åland islands, "the fore-posts of Stockholm," as Napoleon rightly described them. The Åland islands were culturally, ethnically and linguistically purely Swedish, but such facts were of no significance at that time. In the course of the 19th century it would also turn out that the Åland islands were a British interest, which after the Crimean War led to the demilitarization of the islands according to the Åland Convention included in the Treaty of Paris (1856). During the Second War against Napoleon, Russia and Sweden concluded an alliance directed against Imperial France (5 April 1812). They planned to effect a landing in Swedish Pomerania, which had been overrun by the French. Russia promised to press Denmark into ceding Norway to Sweden. It was understood that Great Britain would join the treaty too, however, this never came to pass. Other plans failed to materialise due to Napoleon's invasion of Russia.

Treaty of Paris (1810)

The Treaty of Paris, signed on 6 January 1810, ended the war between France and Sweden after Sweden's defeat by Russia, an ally of France, in the Finnish War of 1808-1809. Russia had previously been an ally of Sweden in the Third and Fourth Coalitions against France, but after Russia's defeat at Friedland, she joined France and attacked Sweden so as to compel her to join Napoleon's Continental System. The primary result of the treaty was Sweden's agreement to join the Continental System, so that Sweden would not trade with the United Kingdom. Shortly after the treaty was signed, on 21 August 1810, one of Napoleon's marshals, Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, was elected crown prince of Sweden, and he went on to found the House of Bernadotte, which remains the Royal House of Sweden. The peace resulting from the treaty lasted until Napoleon's refusal to permit Sweden to annex Norway, which was then under the sovereignty of Denmark, an ally of France. This was followed in January 1812 by French occupation of Swedish Pomerania for violation of the Continental System, since Sweden was still trading with the United Kingdom, and, in April, Sweden's conclusion of the Treaty of Petersburg with Russia against France.


Vaasa (Finnish pronunciation: [ˈʋɑːsɑ]; Swedish: Vasa, IPA: [ˈvɑːsɑ]) is a city on the west coast of Finland. It received its charter in 1606, during the reign of Charles IX of Sweden and is named after the Royal House of Vasa. Vaasa has a population of 67,465 (31 August 2018) (approximately 120,000 in the Vaasa sub-region), and is the regional capital of Ostrobothnia (Swedish: Österbotten, Finnish: Pohjanmaa).

The city is bilingual with 69.8% of the population speaking Finnish as their first language and 24.8% speaking Swedish. The surrounding Ostrobothnian municipalities have a clear Swedish-speaking majority, wherefore the Swedish language maintains a strong position in the city.

Vyborg Governorate

The Vyborg Governorate was a Russian Governorate 1744-1812, which was established in territories ceded by the Swedish Empire in the Great Northern War. By the Treaty of Nystad in 1721, Sweden formally ceded control of the parts of the Viborg and Nyslott County and the Kexholm County located on the Karelian Isthmus and Lake Ladoga area to Russia. First these areas were part of the Saint Petersburg Governorate. Vyborg Governorate was established in 1744 when Sweden ceded control of parts of Kymmenegård and Nyslott County by the Treaty of Åbo. In Sweden and Finland the governorate was also known as Old Finland (Swedish: Gamla Finland, Finnish: Vanha Suomi), and between 1802 and 1812 it was named the "Finland Governorate".

During the Napoleonic Wars, the Kingdom of Sweden had allied itself with the Russian Empire, United Kingdom and the other parties against Napoleonic France. However, following the Treaty of Tilsit in 1807, Russia made peace with France. In 1808, and supported by France, Russia successfully challenged the Swedish control over Finland in the Finnish War. In the Treaty of Fredrikshamn on September 17, 1809 Sweden was obliged to cede all its territory in Finland, east of the Torne River, to Russia. The ceded territories became a part of the Russian Empire and was reconstituted into the Grand Duchy of Finland, with the Russian Tsar as Grand Duke.

In 1812 the area of Vyborg Governorate was transferred from Russia proper to the grand duchy and established as Viipuri Province. The transfer, announced by Tsar Alexander I just before Christmas, on December 23, 1811 O.S. (January 4, 1812 N.S.), can be seen as a symbolic gesture and an attempt to appease the sentiment of the Finnish population, which had just experienced Russian conquest of their country by force in the Finnish War.

Winter War

The Winter War was a military conflict between the Soviet Union (USSR) and Finland. It began with a Soviet invasion of Finland on 30 November 1939, three months after the outbreak of World War II, and ended three and a half months later with the Moscow Peace Treaty on 13 March 1940. The League of Nations deemed the attack illegal and expelled the Soviet Union from the organisation.

The conflict began after the Soviets sought to obtain some Finnish territory, demanding among other concessions that Finland cede substantial border territories in exchange for land elsewhere, claiming security reasons—primarily the protection of Leningrad, 32 km (20 mi) from the Finnish border. Finland refused, and the USSR invaded the country. Many sources conclude that the Soviet Union had intended to conquer all of Finland, and use the establishment of the puppet Finnish Communist government and the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact's secret protocols as evidence of this, while other sources argue against the idea of the full Soviet conquest. Finland repelled Soviet attacks for more than two months and inflicted substantial losses on the invaders while temperatures ranged as low as −43 °C (−45 °F). After the Soviet military reorganised and adopted different tactics, they renewed their offensive in February and overcame Finnish defences.

Hostilities ceased in March 1940 with the signing of the Moscow Peace Treaty. Finland ceded 11 percent of its territory representing 30 percent of its economy to the Soviet Union. Soviet losses were heavy, and the country's international reputation suffered. Soviet gains exceeded their pre-war demands and the USSR received substantial territory along Lake Ladoga and in Northern Finland. Finland retained its sovereignty and enhanced its international reputation. The poor performance of the Red Army encouraged Adolf Hitler to think that an attack on the Soviet Union would be successful and confirmed negative Western opinions of the Soviet military. After 15 months of Interim Peace, in June 1941, Nazi Germany commenced Operation Barbarossa and the Continuation War between Finland and the USSR began.

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