Swedish Polish War 1600 to 1609
Military Operations, 1607-1609
In 1607 most of the Polish-Lithuanian
forces in Livonia had returned to Poland to help deal with internal
rebellion. This gave Charles IX the opportunity to capture Bialy
Kamien and the following year he took Dynemunt (27th July), Kokenhausen
(8th August) and Felin (20th August). In the autumn Chodkiewicz
returned and recaptured Kokenhausen and Felin, while in March 1609
the Hetman attempted a surprise attack on Dynemunt.
by this failure he moved for Parnawa to repeat the same tactic.
On reaching Salis he turned away from the main road moving through
the forests and marshes in order to avoid being spotted. The freezing
temperatures made travel easier, though drifts of deep snow were
a problem, but by 14th March the Polish-Lithuanian forces halted
some 14km from Parnawa. Word had reached Parnawa of Chodkiewicz's
intentions and as a warning to the locals cannons were fired. Unfortunately
the Commonwealth forces thought that they had been discovered and
so rather than attacking they retreated to a more secure position.
The hetman struggled to control his forces, who bitterly complained
of their poor conditions and lack of provisions after the recent
arduous forced march. The Swedes meantime learnt of the presence
of the enemy forces but believed it was only a scouting party and
not the main Polish-Lithuanian army.
Soon however Chodkiewicz received
news of the approach of Swedish reinforcements from Rewel, they
were approximately 50km away and the hetman felt he must act now
before they arrived. At 1:00 am on 16th March he ordered the attack.
The small number of infantry he possessed meant he would need to
coax his disgruntled nobles to fight dismounted. It needed all of
Chodkiewicz's skills of persuasion and pleading to convince the
nobles which he finally succeeded by taking his sabre in hand and
walking towards the walls of the fort. His men rushed in aid of
their commander in the storming of the castle - at least 7 banners
took part, while a few banners remained protecting the horses.
Parnawa town was most accessible
to the Poles and Lithuanians from the South as it was surrounded
on the North and West by the river. It had principally bastion fortifications
as well as a powerful artillery of over 100 cannon. Two French engineers
directed the operations to take the South gate, which was to be
destroyed by a petard carried by some 14 Scottish infantry. Despite
intensive defensive fire which inflicted some 20 casualties on the
attackers the bomb reached the gate and it was destroyed. Soon the
Commonwealth forces reached the castle and organised attacking fire
at which point the Swedes surrendered. The attack had lasted less
than 3 hours, killing 100 Swedes and wounding another 50, while
the Poles/Lithuanians lost 50 with a similar number wounded.
Mansfeld had landed, with some 8,000 men, at Riga and began besieging
the Port. While on route south Chodkiewicz learnt that part of the
Swedish fleet stood in Salis Port, blockading the coast of Livonia.
With two captured Swedish ships, a few English and Dutch merchant
vessels he acquired and armed and a few large sea boats Chodkiewicz
attacked the fleet in the night of 24th/25th March. They were completely
taken by surprise and the Poles/Lithuanians burnt two ships with
minimal losses scattering the remainder.
Approaching the river Dwina Chodkiewicz
felt too weak to attempt to tackle Mansfeld's whole army. To gain
some advantage he spread word that reinforcements were coming from
Courland and he crossed to the left side of the Dwina, towards his
imaginary reinforcements. Mansfeld decided to destroy him before
they could meet. He built a bridge over the Dwina and with only
part of his forces across he ordered them in pursuit of Chodkiewicz.
The waiting Chodkiewicz destroyed this initial Swedish force and
followed up by crossing the bridge and attacking the Swedes on the
right bank. They had already begun withdrawing and their retreat
disintegrated. Riga was relieved and with a few hundred men the
Hetman blockaded Dynemunt.
Around the middle of July Mansfeld,
with around 6,000 men, besiged Parnawa basing his camp south of
the town between the sea. He surrounded the town, placing fieldworks
and block houses to defend against any relief force, as well as
encircle the garrison. Chodkiewicz waited for reinforcements which
arrived on 20th August, he collected almost 3,000 men and leaving
a few hundred at Dynemunt he moved with the rest for Parnawa.
By the begining of September he
reached forests some 30km from Parnawa. The Swedes attempted to
destroy his force with a sudden night attack, though they managed
a surprise attack and forced their way into the Polish-Lithuanian
camp they were ejected and pushed back. The Swedes provided a strong
defence, closing tracks with felled trees with the crowns facing
the enemy. Chodkiewicz made little headway against these obstacles
so he avoided them travelling some 40km to approach from an unexpected
to the closed coastal route and the road from to Krakus Hetman almost
certainly moved East and then North East so as from the region of
Felin he could move West through the marshy terrain. Chodkiewicz
reached Parnawa at midnight on 15th September.First destroyed
the blockhouse near old Parnawa and then commenced the construction
of a bridge across the Parnawa river, aiming to take on the main
Swedish forces, threatening their envelopment. Mansfeld attempted
a surprise attack on Chodkiewicz's camp but the Swedes were held
back. He then moved through forests past the Polish-Lithuanian camp
and formed his own camp some 7km north on the road to Rewel in a
strong position amongst forests between marshes.
Chodkiewicz, failing to coax the
Swedes to battle, and with disgruntled forces decided on retreat.
He strengthened his garrison in Parnawa with 1,000 men and provisions
and on 22nd September moved south. Mansfeld followed the Poles and
Lithuanians with some 3,000 French cavalry and 2,000 Swedish infantry,
as well as an unknown number of Dutch and Scots. On 29th September
Commonwealth forces entered the camp at Dynemunt.
In November Mansfeld approached
and attempted to secretly resupply the Dynemunt garrison. At first
Chodkiewicz was able to observe the Swedes sufficiently to cut off
their route to the fort in time. But on 6th November Mansfeld's
evaded Chodkiewicz and moved directly to the Hetman's camp. The
camp was situated near some heights and in the camp were only a
few hundred rajtars and Cossacks. Mansfeld with 2,000 men sent part
of his forces to eject the the forces in the camp leaving the remainder
on the high ground. On news of this the Hetman sent to the camp
two regiments (T. Dabrowa & Aleksander Holowczynski), these after
combined with the defeated units and then struck the Swedes positioned
in front of the camp and decisively defeating them.
Swedish reinforcements moving from
Dynemunt were met by Polish-Lithuanian forces near the Dzwina and
crushed against the river in where many Swedes drowned. 12 standards
and all the canon were taken. Mansfeld decided not to leave his
advantageous position on the heights, possibly remembering Kircholm
and slowly began to withdraw. Chodkiewicz sent forces in pursuit
and succeeded in capturing canons and two standards. This pursuit
triggered the collapse of the Swedish forces and the Dynemunt garrison,
which was close to starvation, surrendered on 9th November. At the
same time the Polish-Lithuanian cavalry confederated and went home.
Activity in Muscovy distracted both the Swedes and
the Commonwealth away from Livonia and activities here subsided.
On 28th February 1609 the Swedes and Muscovites agreed on an alliance.
A formal peace was signed between the Commonwealth and Swedes in
1611 extended till 1616. In 1617 the Swedes recommenced the war
with the help of the traitor Walter Farensbach, capturing Parnawa,
Windawa (in Courland) and Dynemunt. The latter two were returned
in the agreement of 1618 which lasted 2 years.