The Battle of Poltava - the largest general battle of the Northern War between the Russian troops under the command of Peter 1 and the Swedish army of Charles 12.
In connection with this, July 10 is the Day of Military Glory of Russia - the Victory Day of the Russian Army commanded by Peter the Great over the Swedes in the Battle of Poltava.
Date of the Battle of Poltava
The battle took place on the morning of June 27 (July 8), 1709, 6 versts from the city of Poltava (Russian kingdom).
The Russian victory over the Swedes became a turning point in the war and, ultimately, led Sweden to the loss of domination in Europe.
In this article we will look at a brief history of the Battle of Poltava and highlight its main points. History lovers will be interested.
Causes of the Battle of Poltava
During the Northern War, Sweden, led by the monarch commander Charles 12, scored many victories over opponents. By the middle of 1708, it had proved its superiority over the armies of the Commonwealth and Saxony.
Everyone understood that in the near future a decisive battle between Sweden and Russia was to take place, which would put an end to the military conflict.
Battle of Poltava briefly
The Swedish king, inspired by victories, planned to end the war until the end of 1708. He marched on Russia, seeking to conquer its territory.
Russian emperor Peter I was well aware that if the Swedes penetrated deep into the state, they could hardly be defeated. For this reason, it is worth paying attention to 2 important features of the Poltava battle:
- On September 28, 1708, a battle was fought near the village of Lesnoy, in which the Russian army won. And although this victory did not say anything about anything, the Swedes then suffered serious losses. They lost most of their food and ammunition. At the same time, they could not compensate for their losses due to the blocking of roads by the Russians.
- In October 1708, Hetman Mazepa, who, together with the Zaporozhye Cossacks, went over to the side of the Swedes, addressed Charles 12. It was beneficial for the king to have such an ally, because the Cossacks could help him to compensate for the loss of food and to stand with him in the war against Russia.
The essence of the battle of Poltava
The army of Charles 12 approached Poltava and began to besiege it in March 1709. The Russian troops did everything possible to prevent the Swedes from taking the fortress.
In this case, the Poltava garrison consisted of only 2,200 soldiers. However, the soldiers managed to heroically deter dozens of attacks from the enemy and kill about 6,000 Swedes.
The Poltava detachment understood that soon the additional regiments led by Peter 1 would come to their aid. It is worth noting that the emperor was trying to find allies because he understood the power of the Swedish army.
Peter the Great proposed to the Crimean Khan and the Turkish Sultan to unite with him, but they refused to support him. As a result, a single Russian army was assembled, joined by a part of Zaporizhzhya Cossacks under the command of Hetman Skoropadsky. It is in this composition, the army went to Poltava to the besieged fortress.
Forces of the parties on the eve of the Battle of Poltava
The forces of both sides before the battle of Poltava looked as follows:
Charles army 12:
- the number of soldiers - 37 thousand people;
- guns - 41 units;
- generals - 5 people.
Peter the Great 1:
- the number of soldiers - 60 thousand people;
- guns - 102 units;
- generals - 8 people.
However, the Swedish command was not embarrassed by the numerical superiority of the Russians: it placed emphasis on the swift attack of a selective military expeditionary corps, which was to overturn the enemy army and put to flight.
In addition, the difference in the infantry could be compensated for by the quality advantage of the Swedes in cavalry.
The course of the Battle of Poltava
On the eve of the battle, Peter I traveled all the regiments. His brief patriotic appeals to the soldiers and officers formed the basis of the famous order, which demanded that the soldiers fight not for Peter, but for "Russia and Russian piety ...".
In turn, inspiring the soldiers, Karl 12 announced that tomorrow they would have lunch in a Russian wagon train, where they were expected by big booty.
On the night of June 26, at 23:00, Charles 12 ordered to immediately bring all his troops to combat readiness. However, due to the disunity of the army, the soldiers could cooperate only after 3 hours.
Thus, the Swedish commander failed to make a lightning attack on the enemy camp. Thus, the battle of Poltava began for Karl, which we will now consider in more detail.
Events of the Battle of Poltava
The first obstacle for the Swedes in the Battle of Poltava was the Russian redoubts. The first 2 fortifications were taken almost immediately, but the rest of the redoubts could not be captured by the Swedes.
The reason for this was the Russian cavalry led by Alexander Menshikov, who came to the aid of the infantry.
Despite the obvious successes, Peter 1 ordered the troops to step back and take the main positions. The redoubts fulfilled their task - they exhausted the Swedes even before the start of the main battle, while the Russian troops remained physically fresh.
In addition, about 3,000 Swedes were killed on the battlefield.
In fact, the commanders of Charles 12 did not think of attacking the fortifications, because they hoped to simply bypass them.
In fact, this turned out to be an impossible task, as a result of which the Swedes were forced to attack redoubts without having the appropriate military equipment and tactical plan.
Battle of poltava
Having overcome the Redoubts with great losses, the Swedes were waiting for reinforcements from the cavalry. However, the cavalry commander Roos was already in captivity by the Russians.
In this regard, the army of Charles lined up, since the monarch considered such a structure the most effective. But, as time will show, this will not help him gain an advantage in the Battle of Poltava.
At 9:00, the Swedes began to attack the fortifications of Russian troops. They were immediately fired upon by the artillery of Peter 1, as a result of which the Swedes suffered serious human and combat losses. They could not manage to create an attack line.
Soon the army of Charles was fragmented, because of what the Swedes began to flee in panic from the battlefield. The Russian army took only 2 hours to win a brilliant victory in the Battle of Poltava.
The loss of the parties in the Battle of Poltava
According to official estimates, the total Russian losses amounted to 1345 people killed and 3,290 wounded. The losses of the Swedes were terrifying:
- all the generals were killed and captured;
- killed soldiers - 9 thousand;
- 17 thousand captured soldiers
Pursuing the enemy
After 11:00 the Poltava battle was more likely not like a battle of two armies, but a flight from one another. Russian troops began to pursue the Swedes and capture them. An interesting fact is that the persecution lasted for 3 days.
The value of the Battle of Poltava
As a result of the Battle of Poltava, the army of King Charles 12 was so drained of blood that it could no longer carry out active offensive actions. The military power of Sweden was undermined, and in the Northern War there was a turning point in favor of Russia.Captured Swedish generals give their swords to Peter the Great after the battle at Poltava
The military alliance of Saxony with Russia was concluded again. The Danish king also again spoke out against Sweden, and now, thanks to the acquired authority, Russia was not worth any monetary subsidies or parcels of the military contingent.
The advantage of the Russians in the battle of Poltava was so obvious that European monarchs were forced to admit this and get used to the new reality. And indeed, it seems incredible, but the Battle of Poltava ended in 2 hours after the start. For example, the great battle of Borodino went on for a whole day.
Results of the Battle of Poltava
The unconditional victory of the Russian troops led to the fact that the Swedish infantry ceased to exist along with military equipment. However, it is fair to note that the victory in the Battle of Poltava did not end the war.
Some historians believe that the reason for this was the overly emotional reaction of the Russian emperor. Peter 1 ordered to pursue the Swedes only at night, that is, after 10-12 hours after the end of the battle.
During this period, the enemy managed to withdraw into the depths, and Charles 12, leaving his army, went to Turkey to persuade the Sultan to go to war against Russia.Sampsonievsky church on the battlefield of Poltava was built in honor of the great victory
Be that as it may, but the victory of the Russians over the Swedes in the Battle of Poltava was of tremendous historical significance. Not only Lomonosov, Pushkin and Brodsky, but also many other poets sang her in her immortal works. In the Russian language appeared catch phrases associated with this event, for example: "Gone, like a Swede near Poltava".
At the end we give a quote from historian V.A. Artamonov:
The Poltava victory was the most brilliant triumph of the time of Peter the Great. Peter I was rightfully proud of the main battle of his life. “In the light of the unprecedented Victoria,” “Russian resurrection,” “the beginning of our salvation and well-being,” he so called her.