Alexander I of Russia

The Battle of Lupua was fought during The Finnish War, a war fought within the greater conflict of The Napoleonic Wars between Russia and Sweden.

Following the signing of the Treaty of Tilsit which brought peace between France and Russia, Alexander was obliged to join The Continental System, Napoleon's blockade and military aggression towards Great Britain. Consequently, Russia and Britain went to to war in 1807. Considering the locations of both these two nations, it was apparent that any military action would be limited to naval engagements which prompted Russia to ask Sweden to ensure the Baltic sea channel was closed to British shipping. King Gustav of Sweden was slow to reply; he detested the French and was secretly making an alliance with Britain in hope of support against his archenemy, Denmark.

Gustav IV Adolf King of Sweden

Russia and Sweden had a long standing rivalry from previous wars and Alexander seized the opportunity to declare war on Gustav on the basis he was not following the Tilsit treaty and could not be trusted. In reality Alexander saw the opportunity to take "Finland" and by doing so, push the Swedish army hundreds of miles back away from its current close proximity to his capital, Saint Petersburg.


On February 21st 1808 the Russian army crossed the border into southern Finland and hostilities began. Sweden was in an awkward position, as it also feared an attack from Denmark, meaning it had to spread its army to potentially defend both fronts. Over the next few months Russia made advances north and west, capturing the lower half of Finland until the summer when Swedish counter attacks put the Russians, for a while, on the defensive. One of the first of these counter-attacks came on the 14th July 1808 near the small town of Lapua in western Finland.


Swedish Major-General Count Carl Johan Adlercreutz with an army made up largely of Finnish regiments numbering 4,700 men and 18 cannon, marched south to attack a hastily fortified position held by a 4,000 strong Russian force led by Major-General Nikolay Rajevski. After initial exchanges of musketry by skirmishers on both sides, the main Swedish army began to emerge from the heavily wooded approach road around 4pm and it immediately began to deploy for an attack.


Suggested initial set up for The Battle of Lapua - 14th July 1808

ORDERS OF BATTLE - using a man/figure ratio of 20:1

Russian Army


Maj.General Rajevski - Commander-in Chief - Experienced, veteran, hesitant, respected leader


5th Brigade

23rd Jaeger Regiment (440 men) - 22 figures - experienced, well trained, excellent morale, musket

Kaluga Infantry Regiment (480 men) -24 figures - experienced, well trained, good morale, musket

Artillery battery (6 guns) - 2 models - experienced, trained, 3lb cannon


14th Brigade

2 x Battalions of the Petrov Infantry Regiment (2 x 480 men) 2 x 24 figures - experienced, well trained, good morale, musket

Kaluga Infantry Regiment [one company] (120) - 6 figures - experienced, well trained, good morale, musket

Artillery battery (5 guns) - 2 models - experienced, trained, 6lb cannon


21st Brigade

2 x Battalions of the Veliki Infantry Regiment (2 x 480 men) 2 x 24 figures - experienced, well trained, good morale, musket

2 x Battalions of the 26th Jaeger Regiment (1 x 480 men, 1 x 240 men ) 1 x 24 figures, 1 x 12 figures - experienced, well trained, excellent morale, musket

Artillery battery (5 guns) - 2 models - experienced, trained, 6lb cannon

Artillery battery (3 guns) - 1model - experienced, trained, 3lb cannon

Artillery battery (3 guns) - 1model - experienced, trained, howitzer


Cavalry Units

Cossacks (40 men) - 2 figures - light horse, open order, veteran, elite, lance, carbine, pistols, sabre

Grodno Hussars (2 x 80 men) 2 x 4 figures - light horse, veteran, elite, carbine, pistols, sabre


Swedish Army


Maj.General Adlercreutz - Commander-in-Chief - Experienced, poor tactician, respected leader


2nd Brigade

Pori Infantry Regiment 1st battalion (440 men) 22 figures - experienced, well trained, excellent morale, musket

Pori Infantry Regiment 2nd battalion (380 men) 19 figures - experienced, well trained, excellent morale, musket

Pori Infantry Regiment 3rd battalion (380 men) 19 figures - experienced, well trained, excellent morale, musket

5th Finnish Artillery - (6 guns) - 2 models - experienced, trained, 6lb cannon


4th Brigade

Savo Infantry Regiment 1st battalion (240 men) 12 figures - experienced, well trained, good morale, musket

Savo Infantry Regiment 2nd battalion (240 men) 12 figures - experienced, well trained, good morale, musket

Savo Infantry Regiment 3rd battalion (240 men) 12 figures - experienced, well trained, good morale, musket

2 x Battalions of the Savo Jaeger Regiment (2 x 160 men) 2 x 8 figures, - experienced, well trained, excellent morale, musket

Karelian Jaegers (240 men) - 12 figures - experienced, well trained, excellent morale, musket

Karelian Dragoons (80 men) - 4 figures - heavy cavalry, veteran, elite, carbine, pistols, sabre

Savo Artillery (8 guns) - 3 models - experienced, good morale, 1 x 3lb, 1 x 6lb, 1 x howitzer


ARRIVING IN MARCH COLUMN FROM ROAD TOP RIGHT


3rd Brigade

Hame Infantry Regiment 1st battalion (320 men) - 16 figures - experienced, well trained, good morale, musket

Hame Infantry Regiment 2nd battalion (220 men) - 11 figures - experienced, well trained, good morale, musket

Hame Infantry Regiment Jaeger battalion (380 men) - 19 figures - experienced, elite, good morale, musket

Uusimaa Infantry Regiment 1st battalion (220 men) - 11 figures - experienced, well trained, good morale, musket

Uusimaa Infantry Regiment Jaeger battalion (160 men) - 8 figures - experienced, elite, good morale, musket

Uusimaa Dragoons (80 men) - 4 figures - heavy cavalry, veteran, elite, carbine, pistols, sabre

2nd Finnish Artillery - (6 guns) - 2 models - experienced, trained, 6lb cannon


1st Brigade

Turku Infantry Regiment - (380 men) - 19 figures - experienced, well trained, good morale, musket

Uusimaa Dragoons (80 men) - 4 figures - heavy cavalry, veteran, elite, carbine, pistols, sabre

1st Finnish Artillery - (3 guns) - 1 model - experienced, trained, 3lb cannon


Russian skirmishers engage the advancing Swedes through the woods


THE BATTLE AS IT HAPPENED

As Adlercreutz's army emerged from their advance along the approaching road, he deployed them immediately choosing to attack south against the main Russian defences, maybe missing an opportunity to thrust straight ahead at the Russian left flank and outflank the main force which sat behind hastily constructed barricades of logs and ditches.

He did however send the 2nd Brigade to face the left flank, but then ordered them to halt their advance until the 4th Brigade could deploy to their left to give them support, the result was the 2nd Brigade took quite heavy casualties from Russian artillery and Jaegers while awaiting the order to advance again.

The Swedish 4th Brigade also faced heavy fire, but they did manage to cause some chaos in the Russian ranks when their artillery fire managed to set the hamlet in the Russian lines on fire. Russian wounded had been placed in the buildings and number burnt to death before they could be rescued.

Meanwhile, on the left, the Swedish 2nd Brigade couldn't stand waiting and taking casualties any longer and without waiting for orders they launched a charge against the Russian defenders in front of them. Traversing the makeshift barricades, they went in at the bayonet and overwhelmed the defenders sending them running and leaving the Russian left flank exposed.

The Pori infantry regiment had distinguished itself, but was now quite exhausted from casualties under fire and then hand to hand combat. As they momentarily rested their supporting 3rd and 1st Brigades began to emerge and form up at the rear.

Sensing numbers were going against him, Rajevski ordered a general retreat while he still had control of his army. They made an organised withdrawal with cavalry covering their departure.

In actual fact the overall numbers were very similar, 4,700 Swedes to 4,000 Russians, the latter having the advantage of the crude barricades, a better defence or maybe even a Russian victory could have been achieved by a more determined commander.


WARGAMING THE BATTLE

As Napoleonic era battles go, this is quite a small one, so should be an easy project to recreate. The table is relatively flat with the exception of the right edge, where most of the trees are too. The river should be impassible apart from at the bridge.



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