Full Text

Narva, Battle of

C. NORDMANN and JOHN CHILDS


Subject History » Military History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631168485.1994.x


Extract

(20 November 1700) After an arduous march along boggy roads, the army of the young Charles XII of Sweden arrived at Narva, a port in Swedish Estonia, on 13 November 1700. There were 10,500 effectives. Since 4 October, the town and fortress had been besieged by a force of around 40,000 Russians led by Tsar Peter I. The poor quality Muscovite artillery, under the command of the Saxon von Hallart, had barely made an impression on Narva's defences. Learning of the arrival of the Swedish vanguard and of Charles himself, who had recently defeated the Danes, Peter decided to leave his army to fetch reinforcements from Novgorod. His intention was to trap the Swedes between the two corps. After discussions with Karl Gustav Rehnskjold, Charles decided to mount the swiftest possible attack against the long line of contravallation which curved around the town for 7,200 metres, both ends resting on the banks of the Narva River. The only route by which Peter's troops could return to Russian territory was a raft bridge across the river near Kamperholm to the northeast. There were too few Swedes to make a methodical attack on a wide front against the double line of trenches. Instead, the king decided to break through on either side of the main Russian camp, which was under the command of the courtier Prince Yury Trubetzkoi, using two deep shock columns of infantry with fixed bayonets. The assault ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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