Battle of Sävar 1809

Battle of Sävar

The Battle of Sävar took place on 19 August 1809 and was the bloodiest battle of the Finnish War. It was followed by the Battle of Piteå 6 days later, where the last shots of the Finnish War were fired.

The Battle of Sävar was a decisive battle in The Finnish War fought between Swedish and Russian forces at the village of Sävar in Västerbotten, about eighteen kilometres northeast of Umeå.

The day before, a Swede had landed in Ratan to retake Umeå, which the Russians had besieged for a few months. The expedition set up camp in Sävar after a Russian misdirection campaign that led the Swedes to believe that they could not advance. The Russian army marched there at breakneck speed and the first shot is said to have been fired from the Swedish side at a place called Krutbrånet at around 6.30 in the morning, when the Russians were discovered. The Swedes retreated and the next day there was more fighting at The meeting at Ratan.

Sweden lost the battle and thus the war, which led to the loss of the eastern half of the country, Finland, to Russia. Around 400 Swedish and 600 Russian soldiers lost their lives in the fighting on 19 August 1809, with even more wounded on both sides. Even more were all the family members who never saw their sons, fathers and brothers alive again.

Most of the dead on the Swedish side belonged to regiments from southern Sweden or the remnants of Finnish units, which were now fighting their last battle since Finland became Russian.

Memorial stone in Sävar
The monument in Sävar. Photo: Mikael Lindmark

A monument was erected in 1874 in Sävar to commemorate the bloody battle with the ambiguously worded inscription "Fäderneslandet åt sina stupade söner", which has given the monument the name "cannibalmonument". But there is a literal truth in the choice of words, "the fatherland had indeed sacrificed its sons in Sävar", said Anders Isaksson in his book "Love and War: The Revolution of 1809".

Of course, it can also be said that the fatherland, the state power, has through the ages cannibalized the Swedish common people in other ways as well, by devouring the wealth created by the working people.

Memorial to the Battle of Sävar
Memorial to the Battle of Sävar, erected in 1874. Photo: municipality of Umeå

In the 1950s, a mass grave containing the remains of fallen Russian soldiers was found during the construction of a new exit to the south. The remains were kept in Sävar Church until the 1970s, when they were buried in Sävar Cemetery.

Memorial stone for Russian soldiers
Memorial stone for Russian soldiers at Sävar Cemetery, inaugurated in 2012. Photo: the Church of Sweden.

Getting there

The memorial stone of the Battle of Sävar is found inside Sävar at the junction of Kungsvägen and Prästgårdsallén.

Coordinates: Latitude 63.89820819034824 | Longitude 20.54994285106659

Discover more interesting places to visit at History map.

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