Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Battle of Klezow (or Klissow) 9th July 1702

Charles XII of Sweden defeated the Russians at Narva in late 1700 then marched into Poland, where he installed Stanislaus Leszczynski as King in Warsaw before advancing to Kliszow, near Katowice. There Charles destroyed a much larger Polish-Saxon army—though his brother-in-law, Frederick of Holstein-Gottorp was killed—and he went on to seize Cracow (9 July 1702).

The Elector of Saxony, Augustus II Friedrich Wettin, supported by a smaller group of nobility, came to Poland with his army and took power. Saxony was blossoming under his government, and he impressed the Polish nobles by converting from Lutheranism to Catholicism. He had ambitious plans and intended to realize them using Poland as a springboard. Augustus wanted to strengthen royal power in the Commonwealth and to gain Livonia and Courland for his family as a hereditary property. He promised several monarchs various Polish territories in exchange for their support. In 1700 Saxony joined a Russian-Danish anti-Swedish coalition to recover Livonia, taken from Poland by Sweden in the seventeenth century. Formally, the Commonwealth did not participate in the Great Northern War of 1700.1721, but most of its operations took place on Polish territories and devastated them. In 1704 Charles XII of Sweden ejected Augustus from Poland and put the palatine of Poznas, Stanislaw Leszczysski, on the Polish throne. In 1706 Augustus, defeated in Saxony, renounced all claims to the throne, but his supporters in the Commonwealth fought together with Russian armies against the Polish supporters of the Swedes and Leszczysski. In 1709 Charles XII suffered a major defeat at Poltava in Ukraine. The Swedes were subsequently driven from the Commonwealth, controlled now by the Russians.

Hans Delbrück writes of Charles XII
From the strategic viewpoint, Charles XII still belongs to the period of the Thirty Years' War, to the extent that the armies he led were very small, with a strong preponderance of cavalry. These armies therefore moved very freely over very great areas, and the motives for these movements rested more on political than military considerations. In 1707, when Charles left Saxony and stood at the height of his power, his army numbered 16,200 infantry and 20,700 cavalry, including the dragoons. At Poltawa he had a total of 16,500 combatants, of which 12,500 were led into the battle. Contrary to the situation in the Thirty Years' War, the king was opposed not by troops of equal value but of much lesser worth, but they had superior numbers. The Russian army was still being formed and was suffering from the opposition between the Russian soldiers and the officers, who were essentially drawn from foreign countries. The Polish royal army was an undisciplined medieval levy. Of the Saxons, their general, Schulenberg, himself reported to his king that they fell apart simply at the sight of the Swedes.

Battle of Klissow
The Battle of Klissow took place on July 8 (Julian calendar) / July 9 (Swedish calendar) / July 19, 1702 (Gregorian calendar) near Kliszów, 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.

August the Strong, Elector of Saxony, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, had in 1699 planned a three-fold attack on the Swedish Empire together with Peter the Great, Tsar of Russia and Frederik IV of Denmark-Norway. The plan failed when Frederik was forced out of the war in 1700. Charles XII of Sweden in the same year, defeated the Russian army in the Battle of Narva. After Narva, Charles XII evicted August the Strong's forces from Swedish Livonia and pursued him into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

At Kliszów, south of Kielce, 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, Augustus the Strong's camp was naturally secured by a narrow stretch of swamp to the north and the swampy valley of the Nida River to the east. At 9:00 am, Charles XII moved his army through the woods on the morning of 19 July (NS) and at 11:00 am arrived north of the swampy stretch securing August's camp. The army consisted of 8,000 infantry, 4,000 cavalry and four guns - the bulk of the artillery was stuck in the forest. August's army consisted of 7,500 Saxon infantry, 9,000 Saxon cavalry, 6,000 Polish cavalry, and 46 guns.

The Saxon left wing and center was under the command of Johann Matthias von der Schulenburg, the right (cavalry) wing was commanded by Jacob Heinrich von Flemming. The Polish cavalry was on the right wing and commanded by Hieronim Augustyn Lubomirski.

Charles XII's strategy was to rout the Saxe-Polish forces in an 'envelope' maneuvre and re-position his forces to strengthen his flanks. A Swedish assault on Lubomirski's flank was beaten back, as were two subsequent counter-attacks of the Polish cavalry and a Saxon assault over the marsh.

After the Swedish forces had withstood the Polish charges, Lubomirski withdrew and thus left the Saxon right flank unprotected. Charles XII concentrated his main army at this flank and advanced into the Saxon camp within half an hour, evicting Augustus the Strong's remaining forces into the surrounding swamps.

During the battle, Charles XII's brother-in-law Frederick IV, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp was killed by artillery fire. Another 300 Swedes fell, as did 2,000 Saxons. 1,000 Saxons were taken prisoner.

The Swedes now attempted to encircle the Saxons by taking the crossing of the Nida. General Schulenburg, whose infantry in the center had scarcely been attacked, now committed himself to a fierce defense of the crossing, allowing the majority of Saxon units to withdraw.

Charles had won the battle, but Schulenburg's actions had saved the Saxon army from destruction. The Swedes captured the Saxon artillery, war chest and King August's entire baggage. On July 31 Charles and his army marched into Kraków. August withdrew with his army to Sandomierz.

Swedish and Saxon Armies
Battle of Klezow 9 July 1702
Swedish Army:
Commanding General: Karl XII of Sweden
Right Wing: Generallöjtnanten av kavalleriet Renschio"ld
First Line: Generallöjtnanten av kavalleriet Mo"rner
Livdragonregementat (Guard Dragoon Regiment)(l sqn)
Livdrabankaren (Body Guard Corps)(l sqn)
Livregementat till häst (Horse Guard)(7 sqn)
Ostgöta Cavalry Regiment (4 sqn)
Second Line: Generallo"jtnanten av Kavalleriet Spens
Livdragonregementat (Guard Dragoon Regiment)(l sqn)
Livregementet till häst (Horse Guards)(3 sqns)
Ostgöta Cavalry Regiment (4 sqn)
Middle: Generallöjtnanten av infanteriet von Liewen
lst Line: Generalmajoren av infanteriet Stenbock
Gren/,1/,2/,3/Lifgardet till fot (Foot Guard)
l/,2/Upplands Infantry Regiment
2/,1/Närke-Varmlands Infantry Regiment
2/,1/Västermanlands Infantry Regiment
2/,1/Darl Infantry Regiment
2nd Line: Generalmajoren av infanteriet Posse
l/,2/Västerbottens Infantry Regiment
Sädermanlands & Ostgöta Foot Regiment* (l)
Upplands Foot Regiment* (l)
2/,1/Kalmar Infantry Regiment
Left Wing: Generalen av Kavalleriet Vellingk
lst Line: Generalmajoren av kavalleriet Stromberg
Södra skanska Cavalry Regiment (6 sqns)
Smalands Cavalry Regiment (3 sqns)
Livregementet till häst (2 sqns)
Lifdragonregementat (l sqn)
2nd Line: Generalmajoren av kavalleriet Nieroth
Södra skanska Cavalry Regiment (2 sqn)
Smalands Cavalry Regiment (4 sqns)
Livdragonregementat (Guard Dragoon Regiment)(l sqn)
Albedyl Dragoon Regiment (4 cos)(600)
* original Swedish term for type of regiment is -
"Tremnäningsregement till fot"

Saxon Army:
Commanding General: H.M. King of Poland and Kurfurst of Saxony
Left Wing: Generallieutenant Graf von Flemming
First Line: Generalmajor von der Marwitz
Leib Dragoon Regiment (3)
Goltz Dragoon Regiment (3)
Leib Cavalry Regiment (2)
Leibgarde zu Pferd Regiment (3)
Kurprinz Cavalry Regiment (3)
Eichstedts Cavalry Regiment (3)
2nd Line: Oberst Bodo von der Schulenburg
Leib Dragoon Regiment (3)
Goltz Dragoon Regiment (3)
Leib Cavalry Regiment (2)
Leibgarde zu Pferd Regiment (3)
Kurprinz Cavalry Regiment (3)
Eichstedts Cavalry Regiment (3)
Middle: Generallieutenant von der Schulenburg
First Line:
Polish Guard Infantry Regiment (2)
Kurprinz Infantry Regiment (2)
Biechlings Infantry Regiment (2)
Köningin Infantry Regiment (2)
Saxon Guard Infantry Regiment (2)
2nd Line: Generalmajor Wenediger
Steinaus Infantry Regiment (2)
Görtz Infantry Regiment (2)
Pistoris Infantry Regiment (2)
Left Wing: Generalmajor von Trampe
lst Line: Generalmajor von Reichenau
Steinus Cavalry Regiment (3)
Jordans Cavalry Regiment (3)
Köningin Cavalry Regiment (3)
Leibgarde Regiment (2)
Milchaus Dragoon Regiment (3)
Kurprinz Dragoon Regiment (3)
2nd Line: Generalmajor von Brause
Steinus Cavalry Regiment (3)
Jordans Cavalry Regiment (3)
Köningin Cavalry Regiment (3)
Leibgarde Regiment (2)
Milchaus Dragoon Regiment (3)
Kurprinz Dragoon Regiment (3)
Artillery: Generalmajor Graf von Wackerbarth
22 12pdr guns
24 3pdr guns
Sweden Armen Generalstaben, Karl XII Pa Slagfaltet, Stockholm, 1918

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