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The Polish-Swedish Wars were two wars fought between Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Sweden between 1600 and 1629. The first stage was the Polish-Sweden War of 1600-1611 and the second stage was the Polish-Sweden War of 1617-1629 . It was followed by the The Deluge and the Northern Wars in 1655-1660.
Polish-Sweden War of 1600-1611
The conflict between Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Sweden can trace its roots to the War against Sigismund, where Sigismund III, at one time king of both the Commonwealth and Sweden, lost the throne of Sweden during the civil war.
In 1601 in the war against Sweden for possession of Livonia, Polish hetman Jan Karol Chodkiewicz and chancellor Jan Zamoyski were sent to Lithuania to fight the Swedish incursion. Chodkiewicz he was appointed acting commander in chief of Lithuania after Zamoyski's return to Crown in 1602. Chodkiewicz, despite inadequate supplies and little support from the Commonwealth Sejm (parliament) and King Sigismund III, brilliantly distinguished himself, capturing fortress after fortress and repulsing the duke of Sudermannia, afterwards Charles IX, from Riga. In 1604 he captured Dorpat (Tartu), twice defeated the Swedish generals at Bialy Kamien and near Weissenstein in 1604, and was rewarded with the grand hetman baton of Lithuania. Criminally neglected by the diet, which turned a deaf ear to all his requests for reinforcements and for supplies and money to pay his soldiers, Chodkiewicz nevertheless more than held his own against the Swedes. His crowning achievement was the great victory near Dvina River in the Battle of Kircholm (Salaspils) on September 27th, 1605, when with barely 5000 hussars he annihilated a threefold larger Swedish army; for which feat he received letters of congratulation from the pope, all the Catholic potentates of Europe, and even from the sultan of Turkey and the shah of Persia.
Yet this great victory was absolutely fruitless, owing to the domestic dissensions which prevailed in the Commonwealth during the following five years. Chodkiewicz's own army, unpaid for years, abandoned him at last en masse in order to plunder the estates of their political opponents, leaving the hetman to carry on the war as best he could with a handful of mercenaries paid out of the pockets of himself and his friends. Chodkiewicz was one of the few magnates who remained loyal to the king, and after helping to defeat the rebels (rokosz) in 1606-1607 in Poland a fresh invasion of Livonia by the Swedes recalled him thither, and in 1609 once more he relieved Riga besides capturing Pernau.
Polish-Sweden War of 1617-1629
In 1626 during the Thirty Years War the Swedes invaded the Commonwealth again, led by Gustavus Adolphus, who was hailed as savior of Protestant Europe. Hetman Stanislaw Koniecpolski's forces (4,200 light cavalry, 1,000 dragoons, 1,000 infantry) moved to Prussia with amazing speed. Strengthened by other units, he had 10,000 men against over 20,000-strong Swedish force. Using the tactic of maneuver warfare, with small mobile units striking at the enemy's communication lines and smaller units, he managed to stop the Swedish attack and force the units under Axel Oxenstierna into a defense.
The Sejm agreed to raise money for the war, but the situation of the Polish forces was difficult. Lithuanian forces were dealt a serious defeat in December of 1626 near Koknese in Inflanty and retreated behind the Dvina river. The Swedes planned to strike Koniecpolski from two directions - Oxenstierna from direction of the Vistula and Johann Streiff von Lawentstein and Maxymilian Teuffl from Swedish held Pomerania. The flooding of the Vistula disrupted their plans and allowed Koniecploski to intercept the enemy units coming from Pomerania. In March/April (dates vary) of 1627 near Czarne (Hamersztyn ) they forced the Swedish forces to retreat inside the city, and three days later to surrender, leaving behind their banners and insignia. Some Swedish soldiers and mercenaries changed sides at that time. This victory also convinced the Elector of Brandenburg to declare his support for the Commonwealth, and the Lithuanian forces resumed the offensive in Inflanty.
In May 1626 the Swedes were reinforced by Gustavus Adolphus, who landed in Pillau (Piława) with over 8,000 soldiers. During the crossing of the Vistula near Kieżmark , in the vicinity of Danzig (Gdańsk), he met the Polish forces and in the ensuing battle was wounded in the hip and forced to retreat. In July he lead forces to lift the siege of Braniew , and lay siege to Orneta . Koniecpolski responded with the sudden attack and capture of Gniew . Gustavus was reported to be impressed by the speed of Koniecpolski's reaction. With about 7,800 men (including 2,500 cavalry and hussars), Koniecpolski tried to stop the Swedish army from reaching Danzig near Dirschau (Gdansk, near Tczew). On 7-8 August, battle with the Swedish forces (10,000 men including 5,000 infantry) took place near the swamps of Mołtawa . The Swedes wanted to provoke the Poles into an attack and then destroy them with infantry fire and artillery, but Koniecpolski decided not attack. The Swedes then took the initiative and attacked with cavalry, but did not manage to draw the Poles within the range of their fire. The consequent Swedish attacks managed to deal severe damage to Polish cavalry units, but did not manage to cripple the army (whose morale was kept high, thanks to Koniecpolski). The battle ended when Gustavus Adolphus was once again wounded and the Swedes retreated.
After the battle, Koniepolski saw the need to reform the army and strengthen the firepower of infantry and artillery to match the Swedish units. The Swedes, on the other hand, learned arts of cavalry attacks, charges and melee combat from the Poles. Koniecpolski's tactics led to the defeat of a Swedish flotilla by the small 'Polish Navy' on 28 November, 1627, at the battle of Oliwa.
In 1628 the Polish forces, lacking funding, were forced to stop their offensive and switch to defense. Gustavus Adolphus captured Nowy and Brodnica. Koniecpolski counterattacked by using his small forces most efficiently - fast cavalry melee attacks combined with the supporting fire of infantry and artillery, and using fortifications and terrain advantage . The Sejm decided to increase the funds for the war after the battle of Górzno , where Stanisław Potocki was defeated.The Catholic Austrian empire sent help to the Commonwealth in the form of units under field marshall Jan Jerzy Arnheim . Nonetheless, Koniecpolski was forced to withdraw Commonwealth forces from many strategic Polish strongholds in Prussia.
In time, hetman Koniecpolski managed to recapture Puck. The final battle took place on 27 June, 1629 near Trzciana (or Trzcianka). The Swedes attacked in the direction of Graudenz (Grudziądz ), were stopped, and retreated to Stuhm (Szturm ) and Marienburg (Malbork). Koniecpolski attacked the rear guard lead by Jan, count of Ren , and destroyed it. He also repelled a counterattack by Swedish raitars , who were pushed in the direction of Pułkowice , where another counterattack was lead by Gustavus Adolfus with 2,000 raitars. This counterattack was also stopped, and the Swedish forces were saved by the last reserve units lead by field marshall Herman Wrangel, who finally managed to stop the Polish attack. Gustavus Adolfus said after the battle "I have never been in such a bath". 1,200 Swedes were killed, including the count of Ren and the son of Wrangl, Jan Wilhelm Reingraff , and a few hundred were captured. Polish losses were under 200 killed and injured.
However this victory was not followed up politically and militarily. A ceasefire in Stary Targ (Truce of Altmark ) on 26 October, 1629 was in favour of the Swedes, who got the right to tax Polish trade moved through the Baltic (3,5% on the value of goods), kept control of many cities in Royal Prussia and for the time were generally recognized as the dominant power on the southern Baltic Sea coast.
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