The meeting at Ratan 1809

The meeting at Ratan

The meeting at Ratan, also called the affair at Ratan, took place on 20 August 1809 in Ratan in Västerbotten during the Finnish War, the day after the Great the battle of Sävar.

The Russian army controlled the whole of Finland and advanced south through Västerbotten. Umeå was under siege. Sweden mobilised a counter-attack by sending a fleet from Stockholm to be landed in Ratan. The idea was that this force would achieve a pincer manoeuvre using the southern army, which was off the Öre River, and capture the Russian troops in the middle.

The first battle took place in the Battle of Sävar the day before, the bloodiest battle of the Finnish War and the last major battle on Swedish soil, although the store at Piteå 5 days later was the very last actual hit.

During the Battle of Sävar, the Swedish general Wachtmeister ordered a retreat first to Djäkneboda and then to Ratan. 3000 Russian soldiers were on their heels, and in Ratan 5,400 Swedish soldiers were waiting. The course of events is said to have been as follows:

The meeting at Ratan
The meeting at Ratan. Painting by Carl Gustaf Gillberg, 1809.

"Shortly before 3 p.m. on August 20, 1809, the Russian soldiers poured into Ratan. There they were met by a devastating artillery fire from the gunboats. On Ledskär there were seven more guns and on Rataskär two more guns that fired continuously into the village. The fighting continued for four hours. Towards 8 o'clock in the evening Kamensky realised that the situation was hopeless and ordered a retreat. That evening he called a meeting with General Wachtmeister and threatened to attack again unless the Swedes sailed from Ratan." - Wikipedia

The shop at Ratan, map.
Map sketch of the shop at Ratan (note the significantly higher water level compared to today). Carl Gustaf Gillberg, 1809.

By the time the smoke had cleared, 26 people had died on the Swedish side, 122 were wounded and 2 were captured. On the Russian side, 150 soldiers died and were wounded. Less than a month after the fighting at Ratan, on 17 September 1809, the peace treaty was signed, which meant that Sweden lost the eastern half of Finland to Russia.

When the Ratan people returned to their shattered village after the end of the war, the Swedish army started a collection for the villagers. Over 590 riksdaler was collected, which was no small sum at the time. A cow cost 12 riksdaler, a sheep 2 riksdaler, and a day's work was worth 1/3 riksdaler.

Ratan in the present, probably late 1970s. Photo: Pål-Nils Nilsson / Swedish National Heritage Board (CC BY)

In Ratan today there is a memorial in the form of two war graves according to Wikipedia (but no source given): "In one of them lies Ensign Hägerflycht who was wounded in the fighting in Sävar and then died on a hospital ship in Ratan. The other stone is not a grave but a memorial stone erected on the occasion of the 100th anniversary by relatives of Johan Nisbeth who was killed in Sävar but whose body was never recovered."

"Ratan is still a hidden corner of the world, where one can enjoy complete peace in the most beautiful archipelago nature, quite untouched by culture and social life". (Swedish Tourist Association Yearbook 1906)

Read more

  • Swedish Battlefields: "Sävar och Ratan 1809: Svensk Final" (2005) pp. 420-429
  • Hollinder, C. (2007). Ratan. pp. 137-150
  • Lövgren, S.. In the wake of war. pp. 5-11, 26

Getting there

Coordinates: Latitude 63.99032612324759 | Longitude 20.889558792114258

Discover more interesting places to visit at History map.

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