"With the fury of lions the Upland, Smaland, Finland, East and West Gothland regiments rushed a second time upon the left wing of the enemy ..." from Friedrich Schiller's History of the Thirty Years War.
This passage from Schiller's history describes the second, revenge attack, supposedly mounted by the Swedish right wing of cavalry at Lutzen following the death of King Gustav Adolf. The King's cavalry were certainly his main strike force, intended to defeat the opposing enemy cavalry before turning in on the now undefended flank of the enemy infantry.
At Lutzen, while most of Gustav Adolf's cavalry were German, his lead, strike, squadrons were made up from his own Swedish horse. I have chosen to model this unit as one of these Swedish regiments, the Uppland regiment, led by Overstelojtnant Isaak Axelsson 'Silfversparre'.
When the Gustav Adolf became king he inherited an uninspiring mounted force. The cavalry were poorly mounted and equipped. In his first campaigns, Gustav Adolf's cavalry were also were facing, in the Baltic, some of the most impressive cavalry at that time, the dreaded Polish Winged Hussars. Gustav set about improving the cavalry as he did with the rest of the army. He supplemented them with experienced mercenaries, improved their equipment, and mounts, and tried to give them an edge over their opponents by deploying blocks of commanded muskets with the cavalry. When the Swedes landed in Northern Germany and joined the Thirty Years Wars the cavalry were still seen as inferior to the Imperial cavalry, especially the mighty cuirassiers. At Breitenfeld in 1631 Gustav Adolf proved that, with their commanded muskets, organised reserves, and aggressive charges, the Swedish and Protestant cavalry could defeat their Imperial counter-parts.
By the time of Lutzen the Swedish cavalry had no doubt further improved their mounts, but were still more lightly equipped than the best of the Imperial cavalry. They had tough day at Lutzen and on the Swedish right wing ultimately failed to break the opposing Imperial Cavalry, and despite Schiller's inspiring prose, were themselves eventually thrown back exposing their own infantry.
This unit is, unusually for me, made up entirely of figures from a single manufacturer. In this case I have used the Warlord Games Swedish Cavalry box set (link). The Warlord plastic cavalry sprues allow a nice variety of equipment, and in this box are accompanied by two metal mounted command figures, a cornet strapped to his standard, and an officer. The cavalry are nicely mounted on good, large horses, probably acquired since landing in Germany the year before!
Even by Lutzen the Swedish horse were still apparently short of armour and the King suggested that at least the front rank should have metal back and breast plates. I therefore have most of the armour concentrated in the front rank of figures. A few have managed to acquire sleeveless buffcoats, but most have only their long, woolen, riding coats. Their is also a mixture of helmets and soft hats. I have chosen blue coats, but a mixture of blues, representing the troopers having been re-clothed at various times with various shades of cloth.
The unit is finished off with an Uppland regiment cavalry standard from Flags of War, and are based on trusty Warbases 50x60mm laser cut MDF 2mm thick bases.
I hope that they will perform well at the Warlord Games Open day, this Saturday, in Nottingham (link), where they will be re-fighting Lutzen. Will they be like furious lions, or like lambs to the slaughter? I hope you'll be able to come along and see for yourself.
Until next time.