The action at Juthas

September 13 1808, R=Kosatchoffskij S=Georg Carl von Döbeln

In September of 1808 the Swedish army was on the retreat after having lost the Summer Campaign of that year. The main Swedish army was retreating from Vasa, north towards Nykarleby, followed by the main Russian force under Kamenskij. Noting the Swedish retreat, the Russians sent a detachment of troops under Kosatchoffskij along the road from Lappo towards Nykarleby. The mission was to cut the retreat for the Swedes, who countered this move by sending von Döbeln with troops to Nykarleby.

Von Döbeln, this legendary commander, took command of two battalions of the Björneborg Regiment, Gyllenbögels corps as well as a detachment of four six-pound cannons, the artillery being led by Lieutenant J P Hesselius. He immediately took defensive positions at Juthas, some distance south from the town of Nykarleby. He ordered his troops on line formation and awaited the Russian advance. An avantgarde of one company was also deployed about one kilometre south of the main position. Von Döbeln's troops were severely fatigued after the long march, uniforms and equipment in bad condition; but here the men got a few hours of well-deserved rest before the action could start.

At about 3 o'clock in the afternoon, the avantgarde was attacked by the advancing enemy, but they retreated in good order to the main Swedish line and took position on the right wing. By then the Kossatchoffskij came marching along the road north with his troops: three battalions and three guns. The armies were equal in size - about 1.500 troops each.

When the Russian troops were close enough, von Döbeln let his guns open the "affaire"; and the advancing enemies were stopped by the brutal fire. The Russians spread out their infantry on line formations and soon the two armies were trading shots. Heavy musketfire and cannonry followed. Von Döbeln saw that the Russians were being beaten on the right wing, as the Gyllenbögel's corps was fighting bravely. Von Döbeln continually committed more and more of his reserves on the right part of the battlefield and soon had the Russians running. At that point, he ordered an all-out attack.

Under loud "Hurrah!" the Swedish went over on attack, an attack theat finally broke the Russian offensive. The Swedish artillery silenced the Russian guns, and Kossatchoffskij decided to pull back. The Swedish troops occupied the battlefield during the night, since they expected a renewed Russian advance. But none came.

The Swedish lost about 43 men, of which 16 were killed. The Russian losses in dead and wounded counted at about 130 men. The battle of Juthas saved the Swedish retreat north, and that advantage was to prove increasingly important, especially since Adlercreutz' main army fought the disastrous battle of Oravais, some kilometres south of Juthas, the very next day. In a way, Juthas can be seen as the foreplay to the decisive battle the next day. The battle of Juthas is also legendary because Runeberg wrote exciting words about it.

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