Battle of Gemäuerthof, 1705 Jul 16

The Battle

During the day of July 16, the swedish army had taken up position just west of Gemäuerthof north of the creek Schwedt. Around 10:00, a couple of companies of cossacks made a harrassing attack on an outpost. LtCol Brömsen was then sent on a reconnaisanse mission a few km to the East with 100 men. at about 14:00, Brömsen sent a courier to Lewenhaupt, informing him that the enemy was advancing in large numbers. Lewenhaupt joined him to confirm the report. Meanwhile, the adjutant-generals Sinclair and Knorring arranged the army according to a previously decided order of battle after crossing the creek.
The field Lewenhaupt had chosen was good from a defensive standpoint, but desastrous from a strategic standpoint. Had Lewenhaupt's army been routed, it would have had to retreat to the South West - away from Riga. Since MjGen Rönne had a strong russian army corps in northern Lithuania, the swedes would then have been trapped. Lewenhaupt, however, was more concerned with the upcoming battle and wanted all the advantages possible.
The army was arranged facing East, with the creek Schwedt to the North and a swamp to the South. The creek was passable in some spots and impassable in others.Lewenhaupt mentions that it could not be crossed en fronte.

Scheremetjev, on the other hand had few options. He could either attack the swedes head-on, which meant that he would have to arrange his army close to the already arranged swedes, or make a circling move to the North, only to find the swedes behind the creek.

While they were waiting for the russian army's next move, the swedes finally had time to have a direly needed meal. the troops were starved after teh forced marches. Brömsen was recalled and replaced by a stronger avantgarde under the command of Stackelberg. This detachment advanced about a km to the East, but didnät stay long, as the russian army was now advancing.

It was now about 17:30, and Lewenhaupt had just returned after joining Stackelberg, whose detachment also returned. While rge russian army arrived at the battlefield and tried to arrange into 2 lines, Lewenhaupt decided to use his advantage and attacked over the whole front.

The fiercest fighting happened just south of Schwedt, where Bauer's dragoons counter attacked. Scheremetjev had mounted his infantry on the horses, one behind each dragoon to facilitate a speedier advance. These now dismounted and followed the dragoons in the attack. A few squadrons had also advanced north of the creek and, after crossing, attacked Wennerstedt's flank. He was forced to retreat and unfortunately a batallion of grenadiers were in the way. They were run over first by the swedish cavalry and then the russian dragoons. The situation would have been very serious had not the nearby infantry units been able to intervene and stop the russian attack and allow Wennerstedt to regroup his squadrons. The  russian infantry on this flank suffered heavy losses, while the apparently undisciplined dragoons kept their movement to the West and ended up plundering the swedish baggage train.

At the same time, the swedish centre and right flank also attacked. The fighting on the right wing was very similar to that of the left, except for Horn not being forced back. The russian dragoons proceeded to the swedish rear, leaving the now dismounted infantry to be slaughtered.

As the swedish right wing advanced, the battle line actually swung around so that it now faced Nort East. The units which had been placed between the 1st and 2nd line were now brought into the battle line.

The battle now became precarious for the swedes, as the russian dragoons in the rear began to attack. The swedish army was actually surrounded and had to stave off numerous attacks from all directions. The battle was fierce and bloody, but after 3 hours, Scheremetjev had to retreat in order to get a more advantageous position. The main force retreated to the East across the creek Wilze, while the dragoons in the swedish rear crossed Schwedt and took up defensive positions after being brought to order.The battle now became two separate engagements.

Lewenhaupt made an effort to bring his totally confused units to order, and as a matter of interest, a battallion of Hälsinge regiment, which had been on the right, ended up supporting Wennerstedt's dragoons on the far left! Unfortunately, Lewenhaupt's efforts were cut short, when Horn, without orders, crossed Wilze and attacked the russians on the other side, pulling the infantry along. Horn's squadrons had advacned too far and were counter attacked and brought into disorder, and only by the swedish infantry advancing were they saved from disaster. Wennersted was ordered to attack and crossed the Schwedt, but also faced superior numbers. He, likewise, was saved by the infantry on that wing.

The russians retreated further, finally giving Lewenhaupt a chance to bring his left wing over to his right and await the russian's next move. It was now after 22:00 and after sunset. Scheremetjev, however had had enough and reached Mesoten the next day and then continued South past Birsen. Lewenhaupt's army was in no shape to pursue, as the cavalry in particular was decimated after the last phase of the battle and many troopers had actually fled the area.

The swedes lost around 900 killed and around 1000 wounded. The russian loss, however is more difficult to determine. Some sources say as much as half his troops were killed , while Scheremetjev reports only 1000. A reasonable figure is around the 2000 mark (reported by D von Der Schulenburg).

The result of the battle was that Lewenhaupt was promoted to LtGen. Scheremetjev received reinforcements to the tone of 6 regiments of dragoons and 13 regiments of foot. In the face of that, Lewenhaupt could only retreat to Riga, leaving small garrisons in Mitau and Bauske, but these were lost in early September. Due to the battle of Gemäuerthof, the russian conquest of Kurland was delayed by a couple of months, tied down twice as many troops as intended and caused the main russian army around Wilna and grodno to remain inactive during 1706, while waiting for Kurland to be emptied of swedish forces.

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