The Battle of Villmanstrand 1741

The Battle of Villmanstrand took place during Russian War of the Hats on 23 August 1741, when over 10,000 Russian soldiers stormed Villmanstrand in South Karelia, Finland. When the battle was over, 2,000 of the 4,000 Swedish soldiers lay dead and wounded on the battlefield.

The Battle of Lappeenranta took place around a hill called Kvarnbacken just southwest of Lappeenranta (Finnish: Lappeenranta). The battle began around two o'clock in the afternoon, but already at five o'clock the surviving Swedes retreated after the 10,500 Russians charged.

Battle of Villmanstrand
Map of army positions at the Battle of Villmanstrand

This battle, in which 2,000 men from Swedish allegory sent to his death, laid the foundation for the subsequent the great valley rebellion of 1743, also called the big dance. It was a crushing, almost decisive defeat for the war and the discontent at home in Sweden was immense, especially among the Dalarna allmoge where many of the dead (from Dal Regiment) had their families.

After the defeat at Villmanstrand, the Swedish state needed reinforcements for the army, but as the peasants did not want to be sent to their deaths in more wars of the authorities before those responsible were punished, the commoners in many counties refused to hand over their recruits.

There were also demands for general arming of the peasants for local defence, for example by the commoners in Hälsingland at a meeting in Segerstad on 15 February 1743, instead of forced conscription of soldiers for more wars of aggression. You can read more about the Great Dance of the Dales in Alfred Kämpe's The Freedom Struggles of the Swedish Allmog (Volume 2, p. 113) and here.

Memorial stone of the battle erected in 1818 in Villmanstrand. The roof was added in 1924 with commemorative tiles from 1949.

The Russian War of the Hats broke out in 1741 when Sweden, under pressure from the Hats and French diplomacy, declared war on Russia. The aim of the Swedish state was to regain the territories lost to Russia in The Great Northern War (including Karelia and Estonia). But the coup d'état in Russia, which Swedish diplomats helped engineer, took a different turn and the new Tsarina, Elizabeth of Russia, reneged on her promise to return the territories and continued the war. Swedish politicians had prepared poorly for that scenario, with an army and navy that were numerically weak, poorly equipped and poorly trained.

There were no more hits after Villmanstrand. In August 1742, the Swedish army surrendered at Helsinki, after which the Purple oats entered. In June 1743, peace was concluded in Turku, which meant that Sweden lost parts of Karelia.

Read more

The Pen & Sword has a detailed article about the Russian War of the Hats

Print sources

Ericson, Lars et al: Swedish battlefields, Wahlström & Widstrand, 2003, ISBN 91-46-20225-0
Kämpe, Alfred: The struggle for freedom of the Swedish Ommogens, volume 2, 1919.

Getting there

Coordinates: Latitude 61.06283606357823 | Longitude 28.184255361557007

Discover more interesting places to visit at History map.

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