Armies Battles and Sieges Colours and Standards














Örjan Martinsson

Battle of Stresow

The battle of Stresow 5 November (Old Style) or 16 November (New Style) 1715 was Charles XII's last battle and it was also the first time he lost a battle in which he personally led the Swedish army. But in no other battle of the Great Northern War were the participating armies more unequal in strength. Only 2 000 Swedes attacked a fortified camp with 11 500 Danes, Norwegians, Prussians and Saxons inside.

The battle was a consequence of the siege of Stralsund which the Anti-Swedish coalition had begun in 1715 with the intent of depriving Sweden of its last overseas bridgeheads. Stralsund could however be supplied from the island of Rügen and therefore the Anti-Swedish coalition assembled an expedition force consisting of 11 000 men infantry and 3 500 men cavalry which would land and conquer the island. The transport fleet sailed from Greifswald 1 November (OS) and threatened to land at Palmer Ort. Charles XII was however waiting for them there and he had over 4 000 men on Rügen. The fleet chose instead to sail to Stresow which was only defended by 20 dragoons and on 4 November (OS) they landed all their infantry and a small portion of the cavalry before Charles XII arrived on the evening. In order to prevent Rügen to fall to the enemies Charles XII chose to attack the fortified camp at 3 o'clock in the night, hoping to duplicate his achievement at Narva 15 years earlier. This was, with only two battalions against the enemies' 14, a very difficult task and even though only three Danish-Norwegian battalions were directly affected by the battle the Swedes failed two times to break through the enemies' front. During the last attempt Charles XII was shot in the chest and the Swedes aborted the battle. Coalition cavalry (Saxons and Prussians) were sent out to fight the Swedes but the Swedish cavalry was twice as large and performed well so a pursuit of the retreating Swedish army was out of the question. This was however not necessary since Rügen fell to the Coalition the following days without any significant resistance from the Swedish army who via Alte Fähr pulled back to Stralsund, which in its turn surrendered to the Coalition army on 22 December.

The size of the Swedish battle losses varies in different (non-Swedish) sources. One of them report that over 100 men were killed and 300 were taken as prisoners or deserted. Another account says that between 400 and 500 Swedes were killed and a third source says that as many as 600 men died. The losses on the Coalition side were for the infantry (Danes and Norwegians) 89 killed and injured. The Saxon and Prussian cavalry suffered 34 respectively 49 casualties.