The Battle of Hogland in July 1788 was the first major naval episode of the Russo-Swedish war of 1788-1790. In it, the Russian fleet won a strategic victory over the enemy. However, the confrontation was in full swing not only on the surface of the water, but also in the offices of European rulers and diplomats who concluded allied treaties and deployed their troops in accordance with the terms of these agreements. Other states, for example, Denmark, were drawn into the Russo-Swedish conflict.
After the battle, the following situation developed on the island of Hogland. Denmark, a Russian ally in the Baltic, at the end of August 1788 entered the war with Sweden under the terms of the union treaty. When the Swedish king Gustav III found out about this, he exclaimed: “I am saved!” – and it was from what. The fact is that he started the war without the consent of parliament and without the support of the majority of the population. The fact that Denmark entered the conflict aroused an ancient hostility towards the neighbors in the hearts of the Swedes, and the question of the legitimacy of the war receded into the background.
September 24, 1788 the Danish 8-thousandth corps under the command of Prince Karl of Hesse-Kassel invaded Sweden from Norway – Denmark and Norway were at that time in the union. To the north of Uddevalla, the Danes surrounded a Swedish detachment of 700 people, and he surrendered, opening the way to Gothenburg. On October 6, 1788, the Danes reached the city. To prepare the defense, the Swedish king himself arrived in Gothenburg. The garrison there was increased and replenished.
Karl of Hesse-Kasselsky demanded to surrender the city, giving the defenders 11 hours to think. At the end of the term, the British diplomat Hugh Elliot came to the Danish camp, saying that the Danes should conclude an armistice with the Swedes, otherwise the British fleet of 27 ships, which had just been conducting exercises in the Dogger Bank area, would enter the Zounds and start shelling Copenhagen. Karl of Hesse-Kasselsky tried to dissuade: they say that the king decides the questions of war and peace. However, Elliot threatened again, and on October 9, a truce was signed – for the time being for eight days.
Soon, the Prussian envoy Adrian von Bork arrived at the residence of the Danish king in Copenhagen. He said that if Denmark resumes hostilities against Sweden, the Prussian army will occupy the Danish Schleswig-Holstein. Frightened Danes extended the truce – now until May 1, 1789. On November 12, the Danish corps left Sweden and retired to Norway.
Russians in Copenhagen
In the winter of 1788–1789, the Swedes tried to throw a sabotage group into the Copenhagen raid and blow up Russian ships from the squadron of Wilim Fondazin there: 100-gun “John the Baptist”, “Three Hierarchs” and “Saratov”, 74-guns “Alexander Nevsky”, “Maxim Confessor ”,“ Panteleimon ”and“ Mecheslav ”, 66-gun“ North Orel ”and“ Prokhor ”as well as 32-gun frigate“ Nadezhda ”and 44–38-gun frigates“ Archangel Gabriel ”and“ Helper ”. With the outbreak of hostilities, the Russians urgently threw these ships from Arkhangelsk through the North Cape and the coast of Norway to the Danish capital. Initially, the goal of the Russian squadron was to connect with the Danish fleet and conduct sabotage against the Swedish coast. However, after Denmark’s actual withdrawal from the war, a new plan was adopted: to be repaired in Copenhagen and slip into Russian Baltic ports,
The Swedish attempt to blow up Russian ships in Copenhagen was stopped by the Danes. At the southern entrance, they set up four old ships unsuitable for sailing in the open sea, and placed their patrols there. They spotted the Swedish firemen and captured them before the Swedes could get close and set fire to the Russian battleships. This incident caused a resonance in Denmark, and the war with Sweden almost broke out with renewed vigor. The Swedes were saved only by the ultimatum of Prussia, which warned that with the resumption of hostilities it would immediately invade Schleswig-Holstein. Under the most severe pressure from Prussia and England, Denmark signed the Declaration of Neutrality on July 9, 1789, that is, it pledged not to intervene on the side of Sweden and Russia.
Throughout 1788, Wilim Fondezin was engaged in natural window dressing. His movements in the western part of the Baltic Sea had no practical meaning. In November, on his own initiative, he nearly ruined part of his squadron: having lingered for a month with the ships being put on safe hibernation, Fondezin left them in Zunda, where they were in great danger all winter, traveling with floating ice between the shores of Denmark and Sweden. Not a single vessel was lost, but only thanks to the care of the commanders and their experience, to which luck should be added.
Catherine II was not deceived about the abilities of the squadron commander ( “Fondezin will sleep and lose ships” ), but did not interfere in the affairs of the Admiralty. Concerning both the Fondezin brothers — Martyn, whose rearguard did not come to the aid of Vladislav in the Battle of the Hogland, and Wilima, who commanded the Copenhagen squadron, she later spoke quite definitely: “He infinitely guilty before the Fatherland, who brought the two Fondezins to the admirals! ” .
Russian fleet in winter
After the Battle of Hogland, the squadron of Admiral Samuel Greig locked the Swedes in Sveaborg . The Swedish galley fleet located east of the sea could not leave the waters of the Gulf of Finland for the winter, since it would have to pass by Russian ships, and the confrontation between galleys and battleships is usually vivid, but short-lived and ends with the destruction of rowing vessels. Greig, loyal to British tactics, kept the fleet at sea and did not allow the Swedes to enter their home ports from the epidemic shocked Sveaborg. Gustav III’s fleet dropped out of the fight.
On October 15, 1788, Greig died, and Acting Commander Rear Admiral Timofei Kozlyaninov immediately lifted the blockade from Sveaborg and took Russian ships to winter apartments in Kronstadt. The Swedes, breaking the first ice with the hulls of their battleships, on November 9, 1788 rushed to their native base – to Karlskrona, where they were able to put themselves in order, repair the ships and replenish the crews.
Having lifted the blockade from Sveaborg, the Russians made a big mistake. Kozlyaninov divided the Baltic Fleet for the wintering period, partly taking to Revel, and part sending to Kronstadt. It was sheer stupidity. The western part of the Baltic Sea is opened from ice in late February – early March, at the end of March, clear water appears in Revel and Helsingfors, and only in mid-April the ice drift begins in Kronstadt and St. Petersburg. Thus, the Swedes could well, after wintering, calmly equip the ships, go to the Gulf of Finland and try to defeat the Revel squadron, and then the Kronstad. In this case, the Russians could not unite the ships. Still, the battle admiral is not always a good one – and the behavior of Kozlyaninov in the Battle of the Hogland was beyond praise – he is an effective administrator, and Kozlyaninov confirmed this truth.
March 31, 1789 the place of the commander in chief of the Russian fleet in the Baltic took Vasily Yakovlevich Chichagov, a timid and indecisive man. He faced a difficult task: somehow to combine the actions of the Revel and Kronstadt squadrons while protecting Petersburg from the attack and putting the war at sea in an active phase. Chichagov’s choice is logical from the point of view of production but incomprehensible from the point of view of war. The whole fleet openly demanded to the commanders-in-chief of the brave and capable vice admiral Alexander Ivanovich Cruz, but Catherine approved Chichagov specifically.
High politics and alignment of forces
On land, events took their course. Gustav completely unexpectedly seriously and for a long time stuck in Finland. Before the war, the conquest of Russian Karelia and part of Finland seemed to him an easy walk: the main Russian armies are at war with Turkey, a significant part of the forces is confined to the borders with Poland, since Prussia threatens the war there, and Russia seemed to have no forces left to defend the Baltic and Karelia.
Gustav did not take into account the dean factor – the Russian people. The indignation of the treacherous attack of the Swedes was so strong in Russian society that almost all of Petersburg came underarms. If in the summer of 1788 the army in Finland numbered 6,000, then in the fall it reached the mark of 14,000. St. Petersburg coachmen, clerks and church servants, gypsies and even prisoners who wanted to atone for blood with blood rose to defend the capital. In 1789, the number of troops was 20,000, and a year later – 32,000. That is, Russia, without withdrawing troops from the main directions, managed to create an army from scratch and deter superior Swedish forces. Seeing this turn of events, Prussia abandoned the original plan of attack.
However, Catherine was not going to rest on her laurels and be content with what was achieved. In the winter of 1789, two very important treaties were concluded: with France and Spain. In the event of an attack on any of the four countries – Russia, France, Spain or Austria – the other three pledged to enter the war with the aggressor within a month and put 60,000 people in the field, and dozens of battleships and eight frigates to the sea. The contribution of Austria, which did not have a significant fleet, apart from small cruising formations in Ostend and Trieste, was separately stipulated – it had to allocate money from one of the belligerent powers for arming, supplying and manning the agreed number of ships and frigates. This treaty did not apply to the ongoing wars with Turkey and Sweden, but unobtrusively indicated possible aggression from England and Prussia.
Thus, Prussia, if she did decide to attack Russia, she would face the prospect of a war on two fronts, and the Franco-Spanish-Austrian troops would constitute a 180,000-strong contingent – a good addition to the Russians of 80,000 on the Polish border! Similarly to England, if she wanted to support Sweden with her fleet, she would have to fight not only with the Baltic fleet of 26 battleships, but also with the Allied fleet of 36 ships, and this is a very significant force, especially considering the fact that the French, Austrians and Spaniards did not in this case they would climb into the North Atlantic or the North Sea, and they would arrange a small Armageddon for the Gibraltar squadron and British trade in the Mediterranean.
Catherine – of course, quite by accident – leaked information about the contract. Finding out about the new alliance, British Prime Minister William Pitt grabbed Friedrich-William II for the tails, asking him to abandon the plans for the invasion of Russian Poland and the Baltic states. In turn, the Prussian king, who was also informed of the alliance through his channels, begged England not to bring his ships into the Baltic Sea.
With the help of treaties, the empress ensured that Russia dealt with Sweden one on one, without the intervention of foreign powers.