The Swedish Navy 1788-1809


During Swedens era of greatness from the thirty years war forward to the death of king Karl XII, the navy was never in a good condition. The names of the defeats and setbacks were greater and always surpassed the few victories. During the Scanian war 1675-79, at the battle of Öland Sweden lost its most magnificent ship ever - The flagship "Kronan" (the Crown) - and never has the loss of one ship had such disastrous results. The Danish-Dutch alliance dominated the seas from then on. Sweden was too weak and poor to maintain a sufficient naval power which could cover all parts of the empire around the Baltic. The Baltic sea was the backbone of the Swedish empire and not even this vital goal to protect shipping on said sea, could be achieved. During the Northern war (1700-21) things suddenly changed; the war in the Northern seas took on new forms and the seawar against Russia was mainly fought in the shallow waters off the coast of Finland by small squadrons of coastal vessels. The coastal fleet saw its earliest days.

In the following article I will try to put some light on the Swedish naval operations during the revolutionary- and Napoleonic wars. I think this will be of some interest to Bravés readers, as things that have happened here in the cold north are most often not that well known out there in the rest of the world. Some of the details presented here will surely raise some eyebrows. Who of you ever knew that the British navy, under admiral Saumarez, that cruised in the Baltic sea in 1808 protected Sweden from a Franco-Danish invasion and that this fleet also included the ship "Victory"? I hope you will find this article interesting.

It is not my goal to give a detailed insight into the actions and operations, instead I have chosen to tell my story in a light way. I just want to make things clear. Of the books used while creating this website, "Krig kring Kvarken" (published by Oravais historiska förening r. f.) is a real masterpiece and I want to recommend it to any Swedish readers out there. It is an interesting and very informative work on the 1808-09 war. I just want to give that piece of literature an extra recommendation. Further, all the maps and illustrations have been done by the author of this article personally (all except the picture of Gustav III, the theatre king and the picture of Czar Alexander). I reserve all rights to the text and illustrations.

The condition of the Swedish navy and coastal fleet 1780-1809

The events of the war against Russia in 1741-43 showed the Swedes the importance of building a navy that could operate in cooperation with the landarmy and in 1753 it was decided that a new fleet was to be built for this purpose. Totally separated from the naval command, and instead under the army command, the Swedish coastal fleet (skärgårdsflottan) was thus founded. The army and the navy continued to argue over the fact that the coastal fleet was under army command though but there were good opinions raised in favour for the army. The coastal fleet was mainly designed for operations and defence along the coasts of Finland and became a very effective weapon when put under the command of the generals instead of the admirals.

This new fleet was built up of smaller ships and vessels that could sail easily in the shallow waters of southern Finland and the Åland Archipelago. Galleys and other smaller rowing boats were widely used as well as a new type of ship - the gunsloop, rowing boats manned by 60 men and carrying heavy artillery. The ships were built at the wharfs at Stockholm, Karlskrona, Sveaborg and Stralsund and the coastal fleet was divided into two squadrons, one based at Stockholm and the second at Sveaborg in southern Finland.

The Swedish ships were designed and built by great shipbuilders like Fredric Henric af Chapman and Augustin Ehrensvärd. Fredric Henric af Chapman (1721-1808) himself was the most famous of all northern European shipbuilders and he was educated in the art of shipbuilding in France, the Netherlands and in England. In cooperation with Ehrensvärd, he was the man behind the renewal of the entire navy as well as the creation of the coastal fleet. The gunsloops used by the Swedish in the two wars during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic periods, were designed by Chapman. The sloops had 13 pairs of oars manned by two soldiers each. The boat was equipped with sail, but was more often, especially in battle, rowed. Further, the boats were equipped with one 24-pound gun in both bow and stern, as well as four smaller weapons for close combat.

Other shiptypes used, included galleys that could be either sailed or rowed. They could also travel up along rivers. The Swedish galley was possibly the most beautiful ship of the entire navy, the slim and beautiful forms of the galley-types were designed for maneuverability, and the Swedish navy had even been sending officers to the Mediterranean to study the galleys used by the navies of those areas. By the outbreak of war in 1788, the Swedish coastal fleet had about 30 galleys at its disposal. The Swedish galley had generally two masts and carried large crews of about 250 men, mostly for rowing. The weak artillery of these ships was a disadvantage; only two guns of 18- or 24 pounds were maintained aboard.

The ships that were really to make the difference in the Swedish war against Russia 1788-90 were the so called coastal frigates designed by Chapman. Several types were designed and built, often carrying names after areas in Finland (Udema, Pojama, Turuma and Hemmema). The ships carried three masts (Pojama had only two) and could also be rowed. The greater capacity for artillery meant that the coastal frigates could carry up to 22 guns on the larger boats. It was these coastal frigates that would be the workhorses of the war of 1788-90.

During the reign of Gustav III the navy was renewed. New Ships of the line and frigates were built. In 1780 the Swedish navy had only nine ships of the line at its disposal but over the five coming years 11 new Ships of the line were built, each carrying 62 guns. With the hard work of Chapman, who made shipbuilding into an art, the Swedish navy grew to become one of the best in Europe. Over the coming years the navy would surely be needed; it was to face the might of Russia.

Operations during the war of 1788-90

"The theatre king" of Sweden, Gustav III fancied a war against Russia to strengthen his own popularity. That was why some Swedish soldiers were dressed up as cossacks, marched over the border and fired upon their own from the Russian side. After this theatrical incident, Gustav III declared war on Russia, which was at the time involved in a war with Turkey also. The landoperations soon broke down though; the Swedish army was not in its best form; there was a lack of proper equipment, supplies and even uniforms. Mutinies and defections soon followed. "What a mess. Everything goes against us... We are suffering from lack of food and weapons... The hunger makes us weak... Soldiers run for the woods on a daily basis... Diseases haunt us with many dead.", one Swedish soldier wrote. Some of the soldiers even demanded that Finland should declare its own independence from Sweden. The war was mainly fought at sea.

When king Gustav III of Sweden provoced war with Russia the army was in shambles, but the naval forces were at a peak and the war was to be fought mainly on the high seas as the landoperations soon failed. The Swedish plan of attack was to land troops outside St. Petersburg and threaten the capital of Russia directly.

The Swedish navy was lead by Duke Karl, an inexperienced and careful leader. The battle of Hogland was fought on July 17, 1788, where the Swedish navy met the Russians under admiral Samuil Karlovitj Greigh. Greigh was an experienced officer and the two navies were equal in strength and firepower. During the whole battle, Duke Karl spent the time in his own cabin strengthening himself with wine, and trying to persuade the captain to take the ship out of the line of fire. The fierce artillery duel lasted until dawn and the two fleets separated after having fought the battle to a draw. 200 Swedes lost their lives in this first engagement of the seawar and 600 Russians. The Swedish navy took refuge at Sveaborg, where there were no ammunition reserves, nor facilities for repairing ships. The Russians, however, quickly recovered after the battle and could thereafter sail unscathed in the Baltic sea and the bay of Finland. The Swedes could do nothing.

When duke Karl left Sveaborg, the Russian navy was already hunting along the southern coasts of Sweden itself. Scania (Skåne) was badly hit as the Russians made attacks against landtargets. The Swedish navy came in contact with the Russians on July 26, 1789 just south of Öland. The second division of the Swedish navy at Öland did not reach the fighting in time, this mainly due to the fact that its commander, Per Lilliehorn, did not follow orders to attack (for which he was later put to trial, convicted and barely escaped death as his life was spared by the government). The battle ended in another draw, but the Russians returned east.

The war continued in the summer of 1789, and Ehrensvärd had been called in to lead the operations of the coastal fleet based at Sveaborg. During the summer, the Swedes watched the movements of the Russians at the border between the two countries. Ehrensvärd planned to stop the Russian coastal fleet from continuing further to the west by blockading the road west and binding the Russians in useless artilleryduels. The king was of other opinion and gave the order that battle should be given immediately. The first battle of Svensksund was fought on August 24, 1789, against overwhelming odds, and ended in a massive Swedish defeat. The king himself watched the fighting from a nearby island.

The fighting at sea became serious in 1790 as king Gustav III tried to build a ground for a good and honourable peaceagreement. The Swedish coastal fleet under the direct command of the king, engaged and destroyed a Russian fleet at Fredrikshamn on May 15, 1790. On June 3-4, the Swedish navy tried to crush the Russians in a violent but indecisive battle at Kronstadt. After that, the Swedish coastal fleet and the navy joined up at Viborg and the Russians took their chance as the winds changed and would not allow the Swedish ships to leave the bay. The Swedes were blockaded in the beginning of June at Viborg when the Russian navy blocked the way ot of the bay and remained there for an entire month. The worlds eyes were now turned to the bay of Viborg where the faith of northern Europe was to be decided. To the great delight of the Swedish king, the winds now changed and came in from the north, creating a splendid opportunity for the Swedes to deliver battle. On the morning of July 3 Johan af Puke, on board his ship "Dristigheten", of 64 guns, sailed up in front of the massive Swedish convoy that was now to break the Russian blockade. The combined Swedish fleets, The combined Swedish fleets, with the coastal navy sailing on the flank nearer to the coast protected by the ships of the line and frigates, all under the command of the king, broke out of the blockade in a hard but daring operation. The Swedish navy lost six Ships of the line and three frigates and had to return to Sveaborg for repairs. The high-seas navy was thus out of the war.

Today we can only imagine how a spectacle like this must have looked; the swedish navy, with flying banners and blazing guns, playing it all on one card; explosions and gunsmoke, ships being torn apart in diabolical infernos of fire and smoke. One of the eyewitnesses to this battle wrote the following words: "First came our ships, then there came out large clouds of smoke, which covered them altogether for several minutes". Battles like this sure make their mark on a nations soul, on one painting by Swedish artist Per Hilleström we see the Swedish poet and singer Bellman crying over the dead "after the blast at Wiborg". The stakes were high, but the victory so much greater. The future of northern Europe hung in the balance on this day.

The second battle of Svensksund (Rochensalm in English and Russian, after the Finnish Ruotsinsalmi) between the Swedish coastal fleet under the command of the king and the Russian coastal fleet followed on 9-10 July 1790. The Russians played it all on one card and good Swedish defensive positions as well as wartired Russian crews were in the favour of the Swedes. As July 9 was the birthday of the Russian empress, the commander of the Russian forces at Svensksund, The German noble Nassau Siegen, promised empress Catherine that he would give her a splendid victory over the Swedes on her birthday. The Russian forces massed at 32 larger and 206 smaller vessels; carrying about 14.000 troops. The Swedish fleet was a bit smaller, about 200 vessels, carrying 12.000 troops. At 4 in the morning July 9, the Russians formed up for battle but were shelled from two sides, as well as from the islands where the Swedish had mounted artillery. At 10 the battle was fought in full power as the Russians were coming in for full attack. At about 3 o'clock in the afternoon, the Russian right wing maneuvred and this was misunderstood as a signal for retreat by the other Russian ships. Many of the Russian ships retreated and it was impossible for the Russian commanders to get the men rowing the galleys to return. The Swedish victory was now made clear, but the final Russian ships surrendered at 7 in the morning, the following day, after hard and brave fighting. The Russians had lost a third of their coastal fleet; 50 ships and at least 9000 men (mostly prisoners). The Swedish lost six ships and 300 men. This was "The greatest day of the Swedish navy". Svensksund is also the greatest seabattle to ever have taken place in Scandinavian history. Special points go to the Swedish king here, the otherwise silly 18th century despot, who actually remained calm during the battle and showed a previously unseen good eye for warfare at sea.

The battle of Svensksund, and also Viborg in its own right, is interesting also from a totally other point of view. It was the last time in history the Swedish military showed its true greatness; the astonishing innovation from the commasders and careful execution of orders by their troops, the abilities that had once made Gustav II Adolf, Karl X Gustav and Karl XII the greatest warriors of their times. Svensksund can easily be compared to other great names in Swedish military history, Breitenfelt, The march over the Bält, Lund, Narva, Gemauerthof and Helsingborg. After Svensksund, the Swedish military power fades away, but is instead replaced by a peaceful, flourishing nation, and one of the most well-functioning democratic states in the world today. "Sweden's luck began at Poltava", a Nobel-prize winner once said.

The war ended in a draw at the peaceagreement of Värälä in August 1790. Neither Sweden nor Russia had won anything but the victory at Svensksund surely paved the way for an honourable peace for Sweden.

After this relatively short and shallow overview of the organization of the Swedish navy and the coastal fleet as well as the war of 1788-90, we will now take a look at the Swedish naval forces and their participation in the war against Russia in 1808-09, in the Napoleonic wars.

Operations during the war of 1808-09

After the treaty of Tilsit in 1807 between Czar Alexander and Napoleon, the two emperors divided Europe between themselves. It became Russias task to force Sweden out of the alliance with Britain and as a reward for his efforts, the Czar would receive Finland as a prize. Marshal Bernadotte was sent with French (and allied Spanish which later defected and returned home to Spain on British ships) troops to Denmark to plan an invasion of Sweden; the situation was alarming for Sweden and this was where British admiral Saumarez came into the picture. While the British navy, in cooperation with the Swedish, controlled the Baltic sea, as well as protecting the coasts of Sweden against French invasion, Russian landtroops took the backdoor into Sweden itself. The war in the north had begun.

In the following chapter I will deal with the actions and operations of the Swedish and Russian coastal fleets during the 1808-09 war. For more on the operations of the navies on the high seas, see below under the headline "British involvement in the Baltic sea 1808-12". Russia attacked Sweden in February 1808, without issuing a declaration of war. Russian greencoats poured over the border, while the Swedish army retreated north, all according to plan. The Swedish thought that they could rely on the strong fortifications at Sveaborg to keep the defence in southern Finland, while the army went north to await reinforcements and additional supplies from Sweden, while after that they could strike back. How wrong they were. Sveaborg surrendered to the Russians after a very short siege. This surrender is one of the most discussed events in Finnish history; the treason of the commander of the fort, Cronstedt, is well known.

The operations in the Åland-Åbo archipelago.

After the capitulation of Sveaborg to Russian troops in May 1808, the Swedish-Finnish coastal fleet lost 110 ships, which the Russians in their turn took over. It therefore became one of the Swedish army's priorities to build a new coastal fleet. With the Stockholm squadron intact, they began designing a new fleet with that squadron as backbone. New boats were built very fast and already in June 1808, could the Swedes take to the offensive. The main goal was then to threaten all Russian shipping in the Åland-Åbo archipelago.

The first initiative the Swedes took was to try to reconquer the city of Åbo, this old capital of Finland, which was at this phase of the war already in Russian hands. Ernst von Vegesack took the command of 2000 troops and "a few and 70 sails". The Swedish landed at Lemo, outside Åbo on June 19, 1808, protected by the heavy artillery of the coastal fleet. The landingoperation had thus been a success for the coastal fleet, although the troops landed soon met hard resistance from the Russian troops coming from Åbo. The Swedish troops had to be evacuated and the fleet returned to Åland to be reorganized.

The Swedish now fought to retake the control over the Åland archipelago, which became a splendid battleground for the coming operations. The many islands and passages provided cover and defensive positions. On June 30, counteradmiral Hjelmstierna attacked a Russian squadron at Rittmo Kramp, but did not achieve to defeat the Russians. A few days later, the Russians were pressed back at Bockholmsund, where they had found good positions. Although this engagement did not end in Swedish victory, the Russians soon found that they had been pressed back to the very gates of Åbo after these bitter fights. More Russian squadrons as reinforcements were arriving from the east though and it quickly became a Swedish priority to see to it that these new ships did not join up with the squadron fighting on the loosing side at Åbo.

On August 2-3 1808, The Russian reinforcementfleets and the Swedish met in Sandöström. A fierce and bloody battle followed, in which the Russian commander of the invasion army in Finland, Buxhoewden, was near to be captured by Swedish troops that had been put ashore near his commandpost. The Russian fleet had about 40 smaller ships at its disposal and the battle ended in a Russian victory after two days of bitter fighting. The Swedish retreated back to Åland and now concentrated their efforts on protecting that island as well as building up for coming landing operations in southern Finland.

As the Russians now united their fleets and saw that the Swedish had retreated back west to Åland, they became more aggressive in making expeditions north towards the Gulf of Bothnia. This became very serious for the Swedish generals indeed as the landarmy was operating in the northern parts of the country and they certainly did not want the Russian fleet to support their armies in any way. Lieutenant Colonel Brant was sent with 35 Swedish gunsloops from Åland to put an end to these Russian expeditions north. He met up with the Russian fleet on the 30th of August at Grönvikssund, where a six-hour long artilleryduel followed, one of the most massive artillery-fights in the entire war. The Swedish pushed on, though hard losses on both sides, and eventually secured victory. The Swedish lost two gunsloops of which one was blown sky-high in the air, 122 dead and 103 wounded. The Russian losses where also great however. The victory for the Swedish fleet secured superiority on this side of the front and prevented further Russian advances north at this time.

On September 18 (A few days after the decisive battle at Oravais where the Swedish landarmy was finally defeated and had to retreat out of Finland), the battle of Palva Sund was fought and after five hours of useless fighting the Swedish had to retreat. Time was now running out. Lieutenant Otto Julius Hagelstam succeeded in holding a widely overwhelming Russian fleet at bay for a week, beating off daily attacks att Kahiluoto. On September 25, the Swedes tried a last desperate attempt to put 3.500 troops ashore at Helsinge but these troops received insufficient reinforcements and met a stronger enemy. They thus had to retreat back to their ships. As a whole, the operations in the Åbo-Åland archipelago had been badly planned and executed by the Swedes.

Sävar and Ratan, August 1809

As the army in Finland found itself defeated, it left the country and retreated back to northern Sweden. The Russians soon followed of course and large parts of the country came under Russian occupation. The operations at Sävar and Ratan, where the coastal fleet would be involved, were only sporadic Swedish attempts to delay the war and try to reconquer occupied parts of Sweden. The ultimate goal was to liberate the town of Umeå, by surrounding general Kamenski who had the town under occupation with his army. Swedish general Wrede was just south of Umeå, and when landing the 7.500 troops under Wachtmeister north of Umeå, the surrounding of the city would be complete. This daring operation was to be executed in a joint army-navy operation and all this was agreed upon at a warmeeting at Härnösand August 5 1809, where such big names like Döbeln and Sandels participated. The king, Karl XIII as Gustav IV Adolf had been gotten rid of in a formidable military coup, told Wachtmeister, "The expedition must not be lost, if so Sweden is lost."

Under Admiral Puke a navy of two ships of the line (Kung Adolph Fredric and Försigtigheten), one frigate (Jarramas) as well as 52 smaller vessels of various types set out for the operations behind enemy lines. The smaller ships were towed by the larger frigate and ships of the line, to increase the speed, to allow the Swedish to get to the point of landing as fast as possible.

Admiral Johan af Puke was an able admiral and warhero (although his name may not sound that thrilling in English). As mentioned above, he had been the commander of "Dristigheten", the first ship that broke the Russian line at Viborg in 1790. He was therefore a renowned leader when he took command of the expedition to northern Sweden in 1809.

On August 17 1809, the forces arrived at Ratan, outside Umeå, where a thick fog effectively covered the attackers. The landing of the troops went as according to plan and the next day, the landtroops started the march upon Sävar. On the night between the 17th and 18th Swedish captain Nordenskiöld led an attack against Umeå itself with his nine gunsloops. He shelled the bridge over the Umeå river but was not able to destroy it as he was met by hard Russian artilleryfire. Wachtmeister did not do a thing to assist him, although the explosions were heard to Sävar, and so Nordenskiöld returned out to sea after his failed mission. On the morning of the 19th the troops were attacked by 6.000 Russians in Sävar where they were commanded by Wachtmeister. The landstroops here lost one of the bloodiest battles of the the Russian general Kamenski. Wachtmeister showed just excactly how bad a military commander he was.

Wachtmeister retreated back to Ratan with his tails between his legs after having lost at Sävar and at Ratan he was protected by the guns of the navy as well as artillery that was mounted on a nearby island as well as on the beaches. Kamenski followed and in the afternoon on August 20, he attacked without thinking twice. The Russian troops advanced without fear upon the Swedes. The Swedish guns immediately opened fire; death rained down on the Russians from the guns of the Swedish navy as well as from the landartillery, they cut deep, bleeding holes in the Russian lines. Kamenski lost about 3.200 in dead and wounded in this daring but foolish attack. "The village of Ratan was razed to the ground and the treetops were cut all the way to Djäkneboda", Allan Sandström tells us in his book "Sveriges sista krig". After these heavy fightings, Kamenski and Wachtmeister met for negotiations. The Russian commander demanded that the Swedes should ship out immediately, which the weak Wachtmeister agreed upon. Wachtmeister promised to ship out, and on August 22, the Swedes left.

If so my position was very critical, I shall do everything in my power to bring my troops therefrom. Although I must agree upon the fact that it was very sad to retreat from a victory like this, which we had won in the last two days, in which I not only did beat the enemy and chased him out to his boats, but also personally placed him upon these boats, so to speak", Kamenski reported to the Czar. And with these words ended Swedens last war.

British involvement in the Baltic sea 1808-1812

As so many times before in Nordic history, the Scandinavian countries became vital bricks in the political game between the European powers also during the Napoleonic wars. The brothers in the north waged wars against each other, taking different sides in the wars. Denmark chose the French side after the British bombardment of Copenhagen in 1807, and the stubborn and incompetent Swedish king Gustav IV Adolf (who dressed in the boots of Karl XII and called Napoleon a monster as seen in the book of revelation), chose the British side as both Russia and Denmark went with Napoleon. After the Napoleonic wars the Scandinavian countries were never to carry arms against each other again though.

Copenhagen had been bombarded before, in 1801, but in 1807 the British returned under admiral James Gambier with 24 Ships of the line and 22 smaller vessels as well as troop-transports carrying 30.000 soldiers, and bombarded the neutral, flourishing port. The defence of the city were 5500 regular soldiers as well as 6400 troops landwehr under major general Peyman. On the evening of the 2 September 1807 the British bombardment of the city started. Houses and churches were torn down; women, children and elderly were killed like flies as the honourable British navy let their guns play without mercy. Buildings caught fire; homes, shops and warehouses were destroyed and properties of large value lost. The bombardment continued for twelve hours and on the 5th of September, Denmark surrendered. The victorious British navy sailed off with much of the Danish fleet and Denmark immediately allied with France, the sworn enemy of the evil British empire. Copenhagen lost its leading position as the centre of the Baltic sea to Gothenburg in Sweden, which from then on flourished by trading with the continent, breaking the blockade imposed by Napoleon. This battle of Copenhagen signalled the beginning of British interests and intervention in the Baltic sea during the Napoleonic wars. Sweden and Britain allied.

When the war now broke out between the Russian-Danish-French alliance and Sweden in 1808, admiral James de Saumarez of the British navy was sent to the Baltic sea with his fleet (his flagship was "Victory"). The Baltic command was established and effectively protected the coasts of southern Sweden from Franco-Danish invasion, as marshal Bernadotte of the French army had arrived with an army in Denmark for an invasion in Sweden. Instead the Spanish soldiers in this army (under Romana), were evacuated in August 1808 on British ships and returned to Spain after hearing about the beginning of the Guerilla. In the meantime, on May 17 1808, general Moore arrived outside Gothenburg with a British expedition corps of 10.000 troops bound for Sweden. The troops were never landed in Sweden though as king Gustav IV Adolf protested strongly, and Moore was therefore returned to Britain.

The combined British-Swedish navy also took up the fight with Russia and successfully pressed them back to Baltischport in Estonia (after fighting in the Bay of Finland in August 1808), where the Russians then were blockaded until September. The Russian navy never got a chance to deliver battle against the Swedish-British fleet cruising in the Bay of Finland, which was in its turn a good thing for the Swedish coastal fleet fighting in the Åbo-Åland archipelago, which could then operate free from the threat of the Russian high-sea navy interfering.

Saumarez left Sweden in October and left over the command of the Baltic command to admiral Keats, whose main mission was to escort ships through Öresund between Denmark and Sweden. During one of these convoy-escorts, the British ship of the Line, "Africa", was attacked by Danish privateers and so badly damaged that she had to return to Karlskrona for repairs.

One interesting detail from Saumarez' last year in the Baltic concerns the British landing at Danzig 1812. Admiral Martin of the British navy was able to stall troops that were to participate in Napoleons attack on Russia, binding vital parts of the Napoleonic army at eastern Prussia. He landed outside Danzig with 400 British soldiers dressed up as Swedish troops. He even had his ships bombard the fortifications at Danzig and he smuggled ashore propaganda, that was written to look like it was from the Swedish king himself. This all made that the troops that were to unite with Napoleons army, were 14 days late. These demonstrations went on for three weeks, whereafter he returned to Öresund where the British and Swedish were under constant attack by French and Danish privateers.

After the war with Russia, where Sweden had lost Finland, the Swedish government chose Karl XIII as king after a coup against Gustav IV, but Karl had no children and when he fell off a horse and died during a military review, marshal Bernadotte of France was instead chosen as new king of Sweden (Crowned Karl XIV Johan). War was declared on the former ally Britain but it was indeed a halfhearted war. The British and the Swedish never fought actively and they both went behind the back on Napoleon, intriguing to bring about his downfall. During the Napoleonic Russian campaign in 1812 Sweden remained neutral although it had found a splendid chance of reconquering Finland, the 600 years old ally. Bernadotte was of another point of view though, he wanted to betray his own countrymen instead. At Leipzig in 1813, Bernadotte lead the northern army against his own countrymen, actively participating in the defeat of the French, and at the same time conspiring to make himself the new emperor of France. An American I met on the Internet compared Bernadottes betrayal of his own country to our days when he made an entertaining comment, " would be like if I was to lead Cuban troops into my own hometown".

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