Rebellion 1576 to 1577
Swedish Polish War 1600 to 1609
Military Operations, 1605
In 1605 Charles IX, king since the
previous year organised an army of around 12,000 men - composed
of a large proportion of mercenary Germans as well as Dutch and
Scots, and even some Poles and Hungarians. A political rebellion
was developing in Poland and it meant that at the start of year
the Sejm broke up without passing any new taxes for the army. Even
so Chodkiewicz had managed by the summer to gather some 5,000 men
of which 3,500 were for use in the field. The rest were barely enough
to garrison a few of the major forts. The main forces stood at Dorpat
while garrisons held Bialy Kamien, Felin, Dopart, Kies and probably
Rakibor. Some 150 Polish-Hungarian infantry and 100 peasants garrisoned
Dynemunt closing access to Riga from the sea while Riga itself had
a strong garrison. The coastal road from Parnawa to Riga was left
undefended due to lack of men, though this would in any case have
been difficult as Sweden ruled the sea.
Charles IX decided to strike at the
most important town in Livonia - Riga. Its capture would allow military
operations along the Dzwina and so cut of Livonia from the Commonwealth.
Charle's limited number transport ships precluded the movement of
all his forces by sea straight to Riga.
- At Dynemunt on 12th August Joachim Mansfeld landed
with approximately 3,000 mainly Germans together with the siege
train which included two great 'kartauna' (royal) cannons and
commenced the blockade of Riga.
- At Rewel between 15 to 20th August arrived around
4,000 mainly Fins, but including mercenary Dutch soldiers, commanded
by Andersem Lennartsson.
- At Parnawa on 30th August landed King Charles
IX at the head of 4,000 Swedes and Scots.
On news of the blockade of Riga, Chodkiewicz moved
on around the 17th towards Riga, leaving most of his tabor at Dorpat.
On 21st he reached Wolmar and news reached him that Riga was currently
not in significant danger. Riga had at its disposal some few thousand
defending inhabitants and a few hundred mercenaries. Chodkiewicz
then also discovered that Lennartsson had landed at Rewel and may
be moving south. There was a chance that that Lennartsson could
be caught in the open, while the careful Mansfeld would have easy
access to his supporting ships.
Around the 23rd August Chodkiewicz moved his main
forces north against Lennartsson. At the same time he sent a few
banners of cavalry under Tomasz Dabrowy towards Riga to observe
Mansfeld. Lennartsson meanwhile had initially decided to take advantage
of Chodkiewicz's march south to capture Felin, however when he heard
the enemy were returning north the Swedes aiming to avoid battle
moved to Fickel (Vigala) and fortified themselves in a strong position
between bogs and forests and formed field obstacles. Chodkiewicz
arrived at Fickel around the 29th Aug and attempted to coax Lennartsson
into the open. In this he failed and in an exchange of musket fire
the Poles inflicted some 200 losses on the enemy. It was here that
Chodkiewicz learnt of Charles IX's landing at Parnawa, which could
threaten Felin, so on 1st September the Hetman left for Felin arriving
on two days later.
Lennartson took this opportunity to march to Parnawa
to join Mansfeld, their combined forces were some 8,000 men. On
5th Charles IX led his forces along the coastal road, which was
shielded from the east by forests and marshes, to Riga. At the same
time his fleet escorted his forces, moving in parallel with them.
They rested between 11th and 14th Sept at Salis. The belt of forests
and marshes along the coast made it difficult for Chodkiewicz to
orientate himself of the Swedish movements and almost certainly
he expected the Swedes to return and move east towards Felin. He
probably remained at Felin on 8th Sept or even until 14th. Some
time here news reached him of the Swedish march south and he quickly
moved to Wolmar, reaching it on 16th.
Chodkiewicz, who was used to the previously careful
Swedish movements and strategy, was not expecting a march to Riga.
He felt too weak to fight a pitched battle with the combined Swedish
force and he wanted to delay, waiting on reinforcements from Lithuania.
While in Wolmar he received a false report that the Swedes were
intending to attack him and decided to fight a defensive-offensive
battle. In the region of Kies he crossed onto the left bank of the
Gawa river, raising field defences from which to counter attack
the Swedes. He waited until the 24th, by which time his tabor from
Dopart joined him, when he received unexpected news that Charles
IX had reached Riga the day before.
Mansfeld having relatively weak forces had not really
begun the siege of Riga. On 24th Charles has sent a delegation demanding
capitulation, and when this was rejected the Swedes commenced the
This serious threat to Riga forced Chodkiewicz to
move to relieve the town, despite the inherent risks with such a
numerically superior enemy. In a fast two day march (25th-26th)
he reached Kircholm (Salaspils) some 15km south east of Riga.