Sunday 15 October 2017

The Battle of Klissow 1702

Yesterday I was lucky enough to be involved in a second re-fight of the Battle of Klissow. This time We would be including the Poles. I was looking forward to this as it is one of my 'bucket list' battles. I've been collecting armies for the Great Northern war since 1990. It was also a great excuse to dig out my Saxon and Polish armies, Mick would be supplying the Swedes and the terrain.

Background to the battle. Kliszów (Klissow) (Klezow) took place on July 8 1702, in Poland-Lithuania, during the Great Northern War. The numerically superior Polish-Saxon army of August II the Strong, operating from an advantageous defensive position, was defeated by a Swedish army half its size under the command of King Charles XII. The Swedish and Saxon-Polish-Lithuanian armies encamped some 5 miles (8.0 km) apart. The camps were separated by a large wood and a swamp, with the Swedes north of the woods, the Saxon camp was naturally secured by a narrow stretch of swamp to the north and the swampy valley of the Nida river to the west. At 9:00 am, Charles XII moved his army through the woods on the morning of 19 July and at 11:00 am arrived north of the swampy stretch. The Swedish army consisted of 8,000 infantry, 4,000 cavalry and four guns — the bulk of the artillery was stuck in the forest. The Saxon army consisted of 7,500 infantry, 9,000 cavalry, 660 Polish infantry, 6,640 Polish cavalry and 46 guns.

Initial dispositions
Charles XII's strategy was to rout the Saxe-Polish forces in an 'envelope' manoeuvre and re-position his forces to strengthen his flanks. The Swedes took the initiative at two o'clock in the afternoon and launched an assault on Lubomirski's Polish flank, however, the commander of the assault, Frederick IV, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp was killed early on and the advance halted. The Polish army then launched two subsequent counter-attacks but were beaten back by the Swedish infantry, as were a Saxon assault over the marsh under Jacob Heinrich von Flemming. Lubomirski and Flemming then withdrew and thus left the Saxon middle-right flank unprotected, which was caught in a Swedish pincer and were slowly crushed. Lubomirski was pursued by Swedish cavalry all the way to the village of Kije.

During this time, Swedish right flank under Carl Gustav Rehnskiöld was attacked by Saxon general Adam Heinrich von Steinau who tried to cut-off Rehnskiöld's connections with the Swedish bulk. A fierce fighting took place between '21 Swedish squadrons of cavalry with about 2,100 men', against '34 Saxon squadrons with no less than 4,250 men'. The Swedes, in their usual manner, attacked with cold steel and managed to repel the Saxon attack. Charles XII advanced into the Saxon camp by half past four and managed to evict them into the surrounding swamps. He then took control over the Saxon artillery and used it for his own benefit.

The Outcome
The Swedes now attempted to encircle the Saxons by taking the crossing of the Nida. General Schulenburg, whose infantry in the centre had scarcely been attacked, now committed himself to a fierce defence of the crossing, allowing the majority of Saxon units to withdraw, and at five o'clock the battle was over.

So to the game. Dave took command of the Saxons, I had the Polish and Neal took on the role of the Swedes. The Saxons and Poles both set up pretty much as they were on the day. Neal who didn't know anything of the battle was allowed to set up the Swedes as he saw fit.

The Polish
The Saxons in position
The game began with the Swedish right wing horse and infantry pressing forwards towards the village of Rebow. The Swedish left wing pushed further to the left into the woods to prepare for the oncoming Polish horse. The Saxons spent the first couple of turns sitting in position awaiting the Polish horse to arrive onto the field.

Polish horse advance
Gotta love the banners
Swedish horse sweep past the village of Rebow
The Saxon left wing advanced towards the oncoming Swedish horse to contest the crossing of the stream and swamp. This was to be the scene of some brutal fighting and heavy casualties. Over on the Swedish left the horse advance to the edge of the tree line where they were eventually spotted by some Cossack horse who promptly rode off. The Swedish infantry brigade was still trying to get itself into position.

Clash of men and horse
Swedish left wing horse spotted by Cossacks 
Heavy fighting continues on the Swedish right
With the Swedish left now spotted, the Poles finally geared themselves up for the charge. I was not totally hopeful (we had downgraded them before the game to represent their historical performance). Lowering my lances my first brigade of Pancerni hit home and actually drove the Swedish horse back. Could history be about to be reversed? No. The Swedish second line galvanised themselves and routed my Pancerni brigade. There were now two large cavalry melees on each wing wing, all the time the Swedish infantry slowly tried to get themselves into position. The Saxon left wing was slowly being driven back so Dave detached part of his right wing horse to support him. At this time Polish Hussars were hurling themselves into the fray.

Polish horse prepare to charge
View across the battle lines
Polish and Swedish horse clash
Saxons re-enforcing their left wing
Not going well for the Poles
At this point the Swedish infantry were struggling across the stream and into the awaiting Saxon infantry. Their initial successes were quickly driven back. They were unable to secure a crossing which would allow them to co-ordinate their attack better. The Swedish right wing horse had managed to drive the Saxon horse back from the first stream, this allowed the Swedish infantry to secure the village of Rebow and begin to cross onto more favourable ground.

As the Saxon left wing girded themselves for a last assault to try and drive the Swedish horse back into the swamp, they promptly failed their command roll and held position. This was a pivotal moment as the Swedish horse were able to re-order themselves and prepare for the eventual Saxon assault, which when it came saw 5 of it's 6 regiments heavily beaten and driven from the field.

Saxon horse prepare to counter attack.
The Swedish infantry now began their assault. Where before their attacks were isolated, now they began to drive back the Saxon infantry. Over on our Right wing Lubomirski himself led the last of his fresh horse onto the seemingly tiring Swedish horse only to be promptly driven back. The fight had definitely gone from the Polish horse now. They slowly reformed and held their position. More of the Saxon right wing was being detached to try and save the beleaguered left wing but to no avail.  

Lubomirski flees
Polish horse begins to reform
Here come the Swedish infantry
Swedish infantry assault the Saxon centre
It was at this point we called it a day. The Saxon left wing and left centre had been badly mauled, though there still remained fresh infantry in the right centre they would be need to fend of the Swedish Guards who were yet to enter the fray. The Polish horse had mostly fled the field with only a handful of regiments remaining. The Swedish, though winning were approaching exhaustion. It had been a hard fight particularly against the Saxon horse, where only their superior quality prevailed. the Liv Dragoon regiment had been involved in nine separate melee's throughout the day and still took their position in the front line.


  1. Looking great! Beautiful armies. And one of last battle with Winged Hussars in polish history :)

  2. Good game, I blew it with my failed cavalry charge on the left. Bloody command dice!!!

    1. Think you're right. You could have driven the Swedish horse back

  3. Epic Table Top Game.
    Splendid Model Soldiers.
    A Good Game Report Too.
    Bravo! BB

  4. What a stunning sight! Great looking battle Neil.

  5. Looks like a great game. Unbalanced armies but if the characteristics are right under the rules, both sides have a chance of winning. well done to all.

    1. it was a great game. Rules seemed to hold up well with both sides having opportunities to win

  6. What a great looking game, splendid and impressive lines of battle Neil...And, of course, I love these Winged Hussars!

  7. Great looking game Neil, what rules do you use?

    1. They are a home brewed set adapted for fighting on hexes