Adam Ludwig Lewenhaupt had arrived in Livonia in 1701 and subsequently became army commander over the forces in Kurland, south of the Düna (Dvina) river. After the battle of Saladen,
Boris Scheremetjev had been harassing Livonia for several years and practically destroyed the defending forces there under Wolmar Anton von Schlippenbach. After capturing several towns, including Dorpat and Narva, The main russian army had been transfered to eastern Lithuania in order to coordinate with the beleagured saxon troops. Only together, could they successfully attack the main swedish army under the King's own command. But in order to do this, Lewenhaupt's army had to be eliminated, or it would be a threat in the rear of russian operations.
The army had been gathering around Polotsk in north-eastern Lithuania during the spring and in June it began the journey westward into Kurland. It consisted of 8 regiments of dragoons and 3 regiments of infantry. LtGen Rosen, commanding the dragoon regiments, was first to arrive to Neustadt, followed by Chambers with the infantry. Here, they waited for Scheremetjev who arrived to Neustadt on July 7. Meanwhile, Lewenhaupt, made aware of the russian army's advance, had ordered the available swedish units to gather around Szagarren. The troops had been spread out during the winter months. And many of them had detachments in different towns as garrisons. Some had lost half their strenghts in Livonia durig the previous years.
By July 12, Scheremetjev's army arrived in Mesoten. Here, MjGen Bauer
was detached with 1400 dragoons to attack the swedish garrison in Mitau.
The detachment arrived at daybreak and surprised the members of the garrison
which were in the town itself. Bauer could not attack the castle itself,
but the garrison lost about half its numbers. Bauer then returned to the
main force the same day.
Lewenhaupt was informed of the attack and, while ordering Stackelberg with the infantry to go to Gemäuerthof, he took the cavalry and advanced to Mitau, hoping to surprise Bauer, but he had already left. Lewenhaupt, therefore, joined the rest of the troops at Gemäuerthof.
The weather was very miserable, and the troops were cold and wet and had not had a chance to eat for several days.
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