On This Day In History: Battle Of Fraustadt – One Of The Most One-Sided Swedish Victories – On Feb 3, 1706

On February 3, 1706, the Battle of Fraustadt was fought on February 3, 1706 (Swedish calendar) between Sweden and Saxony-Poland and their Russian allies near Fraustadt (present-day Wschowa) in Poland’s western border.

It was one of Sweden’s greatest victories in the Great Northern War ((1700–1721), a conflict in which a coalition led by the Tsardom of Russia successfully contested the supremacy of the Swedish Empire in Central, Northern, and Eastern Europe.)

A Swedish army of 10 000 men commanded by Carl Gustaf Rehnsköld – a Swedish Field Marshal under the command of King Karl XII of Sweden – attacked and almost annihilated an allied Russian and Saxon army 18,000 strong under Johann Matthias von Schulenburg. The Saxon force was largely made up of French, Bavarian and Swiss mercenaries with a core of Saxons.

The allied army had been deployed carefully. The army was lined up between two villages, which protected its flanks. On each flank a battalion of infantry was turned to face outwards in case the Swedes did manage a cavalry attack.

Swedish tactics emphasized the value of the attack on the charge. Muskets of the period might have been able to fire five or six volleys at incoming infantry, but most of them would be at extreme long range for the musket.

The Swedish cavalry attacked on both flanks, drove off the allied cavalry and then attacked the allied center. Meanwhile the Swedish infantry – that relied more on the sword than the musket – advanced on the charge, receiving three rounds of artillery and one of musket fire before reaching the allied lines.

The Russians and Saxons were effectively surrounded. The result was a massacre. After fifteen minutes of combat, the allied lines broke and attempted to flee.

Between 7,000 and 8,000 men were killed, many after surrendering. In all over 14,000 men were killed or captured at Fraustadt. Charles XII was able to invade Saxony, and even to briefly depose Augustus of Poland. This was the high point of the war for the Swedes.

According to the Swedish calendar, the battle took place on February 3, but according to the Gregorian calendar (used by the Saxons) 13 February and according to the Julian calendar (used by the Russians) 2 February.

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