Monday, 2 July 2018

The Swedish Army of the Great Northern War, 1700-1721 (Century of the Soldier) Lars Ericson Wolke

Cover by Steve Noon

Flags by Lesley Prince

SergeyShamenkov does the colour plates of uniforms
I first discovered Charles XII and his adventures through a rather chauvinistic biography the Life of Charles XII by Frans G Bengstton (1961) it was enough to thrill me and start a life time interest in these epic battles and sieges in the Northern lands. Surrounded by enemies, Russia, Denmark, and Saxony they had an aggressive doctrine - was this myth? So when I discovered Helion had published a companion to the recent classic on the Russian army of the period by Boris Megorsky I was very optimistic. A modern treatment without the old Nationalism of the early Swedish writers. 
   First of all you have to say there are two armies under the glass - roughly speaking before and after  the disaster at Poltava (1709). The mythology of the Swedes is examined - their anachronistic use of the pike and its legendary cavalry all are examined. Chapters on the tactics and Battlefield performance get to the bottom of these areas in a scholarly and balanced manner. Uniforms are dealt with very comprehensively with reconstructions by Shamenkov of the Swedish army from 1700 until 1721. There are also uniform schematics. 
    For a wargamer there is all you need to field a Swedish force but as the Great Northern War lasted so long you will probably have to decide on an early GNW Swede force or later. The basic Swedish secret weapon (spoiler alert) was training pure and simple. The early Swedish army was drilled to perfection making battlefield manoeuvring easy and effective.
    Helion are to be congratulated on another excellent addition to the study of the Great Northern War.  

1 comment:

Robbie Rodiss said...

Good review, well done. Charles was a strange strange man. I also have the Bengtsson book which is a great read in its own right. I have never decided however whether Charles was a 'great captain'or just lucky that he had such an amazing army.A bit like Frederick the Great, a title Im still not certain he deserved, but what do I know. Still looks a cracking book to have.