Armies Battles and Sieges Colours and Standards












Örjan Martinsson

The Opposing Armies'
Order of Battle at Poltava

The sources give conflicting information regarding which order the various regiments lined up for battle at Poltava. These differences are described in detail on this page. The order of battle presented here for the Russian side is based on Peter the Great's plan. I have for the Swedish cavalry followed the order of battle written down by major general Creutz (commander of the right wing). The Swedish infantry should according to its commander general Lewenhaupt have deployed in the following order:

Planned Order of Battle for the Swedish Infantry










But when the main battle began the Swedish battle line did not look like this. Because of the fighting around the redoubts that the Swedish army had to pass through in their march north six battalions got separated from the main force (Dal-regiment, Västerbotten, Jönköping and the first battalion from Närke-Värmland regiment). Kalmar and Skaraborg battalions were therefore redeployed to the first rank and took their place among the guard battalions (Livgardet). Västmanland Regiment had been sent away to search for the lost battalions and because of this they straggled behind the rest of the infantry when it began its advance towards the Russians. The result of this was that Västmanland Regiment in practise formed a second line behind the Östergötland battalion and the remaining Närke-Värmland battalion.

Exactly how the armies collided with each other is not clear. This means that the two battle lines are arranged in a somewhat speculative manner, but it is based on Bertil Wennerholm's research on the Swedish colours taken by the Russians during the battle. The armies were organised in such manner that all companies had their own colour, all identical within a regiment except for the colonel's company which carried a white colonel's colour (the only companies not carrying a colour were Livgardet's grenadier companies). The companies were then deployed in tactical units, squadrons for cavalry and battalions for infantry (which is what the icons on this page represent). A Swedish squadron consisted of only one company while Russian squadrons consisted of two or three companies (ten companies in each Russian dragoon regiment). Swedish and Russian battalions normally consisted of four companies. The Swedish guard battalions (Livgardet) had however six companies. But on the Swedish side several regiments deployed with only one battalion because of a shortage of manpower, thus making them battalions with eight companies.

The battle orders below are arranged in what could be called an average engagement between the Swedish and Russian battalions. When the Swedish infantry began to retreat from the battle they moved southwards while having the Russians on their eastern side. This means that each Swedish battalion most likely fought several Russian battalions during the course of the battle. Because most colours are likely to have been captured during the retreat, the Swedish battle line may have been located further north at the start of the battle compared to how they are shown in the illustration below. The reader should also be aware that the Swedish cavalry took time to form their battle line and may not have finished until the battle was practically over.

A greater uncertainty is the exact location of the Kalmar and Skaraborg battalions when they were redeployed to the first line. In the literature they are usually placed in the middle of the Livgarde with two Livgarde battalions on each side. But Bertil Wennerholm who has studied the distribution of the colours taken by the Russian regiments has convincingly argued that the Skaraborg battalion was likely located further to the right in the Swedish battle line. All Skaraborg colours have in fact been lost further south than all Livgarde colours. As a consequence of this he has placed Skaraborg as number two in the Swedish battle line. He has placed the Livgarde grenadier battalion as number one since they did not carry any colours. I would however want to take one step further than Wennerholm and place Skaraborg on the extreme right. If the Skaraborg battalion had to move to the first line the simplest way to do so would be to take possession of the empty place right to the grenadier battalion and Skaraborg's high casualty rate during the battle would also suggest an exposed flank position. If the grenadiers were on the right flank, then the colour distribution would suggest a much more stretched battle line with each Swedish battalion facing two Russian. But the Swedish tactic dictated a quick penetration of enemy's battle line before their superior numbers could decide the battle so I do not think it is likely that the Swedes stretched their line that way. Where the Kalmar battalion fought is more difficult to tell because they only lost three of eight colours (taken by two Russian regiments). But considering the fact that Livgardet's colonel's colour was lost south of both these Russian regiments it is likely that Livgardet's first battalion was deployed south of the Kalmar battalion.

The information regarding the regiments' strength are for the Swedes based on Bertil Wennerholm's estimates. He has however been unable to make estimates for the dragoons on a regimental level due to a lack of data. For the Russian army I have used information from Nicholas A. Dorrell's book "The Dawn of the Tsarist Empire". These refer however to the situation immediately after the battle and thus do not include their battle losses. But despite of that the cavalry strength is probably exaggerated by including men who where unable to serve. According to the Swedish General Staff the average effective strength of a Russian dragoon regiment was only 425 men.



Skånska Stånds-dragoons

Lost colour:
1 to Moscowski Regiment.





    Menshikov's Life Squadron
(410 men)

Taken colours:
2 from Åbo & Björneborg.
1 from Uppland's 3-männings.

A. Kropotov's Horse Grenadiers
(800 or 1 000 men)

Taken colour:
1 from Åbo & Björneborg.


von der Roop's Horse Grenadiers
(800 or 1 000 men)
Åbo & Björneborg Cavalry Regiment
(470 men)

Lost colours:
2 to Menshikov's Life Squadron.
1 to Kropotov's Horse Grenadiers.



Moskovski Dragoon Regiment
(921 men)

Taken colour:
1 from Skånska Stånds-dragoons.

Vladimirski Dragoon Regiment
(834 men)
Östgöta Cavalry Regiment
(600 men)

Lost colours:
1 to Nizhegorodski.
2 to unknown units.

Sibirski Dragoon Regiment
(745 men)

Nizhegorodski Dragoon Regiment
(918 men)

Taken colour:
1 from Östgöta Cavalry Regiment.

Nyland Cavalry Regiment
(525 men)

Vyatski Dragoon Regiment
(745 men)
Uppland 3-männing Cavalry Regiment
(420 men)

Lost colour:
1 to
Life Squadron

Belozerski Dragoon Regiment
(822 men)
Gyllenstierna's Dragoon Regiment

Nevski Dragoon Regiment
(807 men)

Arkhangelgorodski Dragoon Regiment
(819 men)
Dücker's Dragoon Regiment

G. Kropotov's Horse Grenadiers
(800 or 1 000 men)



    Bieltz' Grenadier Regiment
(312 men)

Preobrazhenski Guard
(2 761 men)

Semenovski Guard
(2 022 men)

Ingermanlandski Regiment
(1 922 men)

Taken colour:
1 colour which may have come from Närke-Värmland Regiment..


(525 men)

Lost colours:
1 to Ingermanlandski?

Possibly up to 3 colours to Kievski.

Västmanland Regiment
 (1 120 men)

Lost colours:
2 to Repnin's
1 to Pskovski
1 to Nizhegorodski

2 white colours taken by Kievski may have come from Västmanland

Astrakhanski Regiment
(1 800 men, The Swedish General staff have them at 920 men and that is more likely for a regiment with just two battalions)

(380 men)

Lost colours:
2 to Kievski
(including the colonel's colour)

Possibly an additional 3 colours to Kievski

Repnin's Grenadier Regiment
(678 men)

Taken colours:
2 from Västmanland.

Uppland Regiment
(600 men)

Lost colours:
3 to Kievski
1 to Narvski
2 to unknown units

Possibly also 1 company colour to Kievski and 
1 colonel's colour to Kievski or Narvski.

Kievski Regiment
(1 218 men)

Taken colours:
2 from Östergötland (including the colonel's colour)
3 from Uppland Regiment
2 from Livgardet.
2 from Småland's 3-männings who served in the Livgarde
3 red colours that are to fragmented to be identified  (Uppland, Östergötland, Närke-Värmland or 3-männings in the Livgarde?).
1 unknown colonel's colour
1 fragmented white colour (colonel's colour or Västmanland?)

Livgardet (2 250 men)
(Three 3-männing regiments had been included in the ranks of Livgardet's 4 battalions)

Lost colours:
2-3 to Kievski
5 to Narvski
1 to Butyrski
2 to Moscowski
5 to Sibirski
1 to an unknown unit

Småland's 3-männings
2 to Kievski
1 to Schlüsselburgski
2 to Narvski
1 to Moscowski

Närke-Värmland's 3-männings
3 to Sibirski

Uppland's 3-männings
May have lost up to 3 colours to Kievski

Furthermore, 2 white colours taken by  Kievski and 1 by Narvski may have been the 3-männings' colonel's colours.

third battalion
Schlüsselburgski Regiment
(743 men)

Taken colour:
1 from Småland's 3-männings who served in the Livgarde

Narvski Regiment
(1 109 men)

Taken colours:
1 from Uppland
5 from Livgardet
2 from Småland's 3-männings who served in the Livgarde
1 from Kalmar Regiment
1 unknown colonel's colour.

second battalion
Kalmar Regiment
(500 men)

Lost colours:
1 to Narvski
2 to Moscowski

Possibly 1 colonel's colour to Narvski.

Novgorodski Regiment
(1 140 men)
Butyrski Regiment
(866 men)

Taken colour:
1 from Livgardet

first battalion

Moskovski Regiment
(1 330)

Taken colours:
2 from Kalmar Regiment.
2 from Livgardet
1 from Småland's 3-männings who served in the Livgarde.

grenadier battalion
(had neither colours or grenadier caps)
Sibirski Regiment
(810 men)

Taken colours:
5 from Livgardet
(including the colonel's colour).
3 colours from Närke-Värmland's 3-männings who served in the Livgarde.
1 from Skaraborg.


(440 men)

Lost colours:
1 to Sibirski
5 to Pskovski
(including the colonel's colour)
1 to Nizhegorodski
1 to an unknown unit

Pskovski Regiment
(792 men)

Taken colours:
5 colours from Skaraborg (including the colonel's colour).
1 colour from Västmanland.
1 dragoon colour from Liv-dragoons.
1 dragoon colour from Hielm's dragoons.

  Kazanski Regiment
(836 men)
Vologodski Regiment
(1 013 men)
Nizhegorodski Regiment
(804 men)

Taken colours:
1 colour from Skaraborg Regiment.
1 colour from Västmanland Regiment.


Hielm's Dragoon Regiment

Lost colour:
1 to Pskovski Infantry Regiment.

Busch's Grenadier Regiment
(825 men)

Yaroslavski Dragoon Regiment
(940 men)

Taken colour:
1 cavalry colour of unknown appearance.

Taube's Dragoon Regiment

Lost colours:
2 blue dragoon colours taken by the Russians may have come from this regiment. Other candidates are Skånska Stånds-dragoons , Gyllenstierna's or Dücker's dragoon regiments.

Novgorodski Dragoon Regiment
(779 men)
Södra Skånska Cavalry Regiment
(270 men)

Norra Skånska Cavalry Regiment
(600 men)

Vologodski Dragoon Regiment
(981 men)
Småland Cavalry Regiment
(510 men)

Lost colour:
1 to an unknown unit.

Ingermanlandski Dragoon Regiment
(741 men)

Livregementet till häst
(900 men)

Lost colour:
1 to an unknown unit.


Kievski Dragoon Regiment
(898 men)

Taken colours:
7 infantry or dragoon colours of unknown appearance.

Life Regiment
(1 000 men)
Drabant Corps
(100 men, had no colour)
Life Dragoons

Lost colour:
1 to Pskovski Infantry Regiment.

Read also about the redoubt battle and the lost battalions led by Roos.