Information for the Polish-Swedish Wars of the early 17th Century

Picture of the Battle of Dirschau/Tczew from: 'Journael, van de legatie, gedaen in de jaren 1627 en 1628'

This page documents the various sources of information that I have unearthed for the Polish-Swedish wars of the early 17th century.  In particular, the battle of Dirschau or Tczew in August 1627.

This page will be an evolving resource as I will update it as I find out new information. 
Last updated 23rd December 2020.

Why the Polish-Swedish Wars?


As the final preparations for the Lutzen, 1632 game at Salute 2019 neared  completion I started to think about what battle I wanted to focus on next.  In researching the Swedish army of 1632, and Gustav Adolf, I had read a lot about the crucible of the new Swedish army that had such an impact in the Thirty Years War.  This crucible was Gustav's wars with the Poles as he expanded Swedish territory in to Lithuania, Prussia and Poland at the expense of the Polish-Lithunanian Commonwealth.  I have always been intrigued by the Polish armies of the Renaissance, especially their exotic cavalry, including the amazing 'Winged Hussars'.  Having already collected a Swedish / German army it therefore seemed that I was well placed to expand in to Eastern-European warfare, and explore Gustav Adolf's earlier military career.  (Longer term thoughts also started to spring up.  Things like "once you've got a Polish army then Ottomans would be a natural progression".  Such is the mind of a wargamer!)

Which Battle?


I like my wargaming projects to focus on a particular battle or campaign.  This helps me focus on the forces and terrain to collect.  A couple of quick Google searches showed up the battles that Gustav Adolph fought against the Poles.

This Wikipedia entry gives an overview of all of the Polish-Swedish wars as context:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polish–Swedish_wars

There is a great presentation on YouTube which gives a background to the wars of this period in the Baltic (the comments to this video give some reading recommendations):
https://youtu.be/LUALKkT5WRI

I came up with a candidate list as follows:

  • Battle of Wallhof or Walmozja 1626
  • Battle of Gniew or Mewe 1626
  • Battle of Selburg 1626
  • Battle of Czarne or Hammerstein 1627
  • Battle of Dirschau or Tczew 1627
  • Battle of Górzno 1629
  • Battle of Honigfelde or Trzciana 1629

(Note that many of the battles are know by a German/Swedish name, or a Polish name, depending on who's account you are reading.)

I chose Dirschau / Tczew 1627 as it seemed to have the most interesting forces and terrain, and it also had Gustav, and the top Polish general of the period Stanisław Koniecpolski, in command of their respective armies.  Below you'll see more details on this battle, but most of the information is applicable to the whole 1620s period, if not even wider.

Sources of Information


The information is broken down in to 'historical' and 'wargames'.  The historical information is background information, and the wargames information covers figures, terrain etc.  Within each part I have split the info between the web and books.

Historical 


Web

Polish Renaissance Warfare
A colourful site with an overview of Poland's wars in the Renaissance.  Some interesting pictures and high level maps

Kadrinazi Update May 2020
A fabulous blog focused on all sorts of historical topics, and a wealth of information on 17th century European conflicts, with the main focus being Polish 17th century topics. The link here is to 'Hussar' labels on the blog. There is also an entry on Dirschau/Tczew. Note, mostly written in Polish, but Google Translate is your friend ;-) .  The blog's author also has two FaceBook blogs, one in English and one in Polish.  At the time of writing (May 2020) the author is active on both and is very helpful in answering questions.  He has written a book due to be published by Helion this year - can't wait!

Battle of Dirschau - Wikipedia
Good summary of the battle from Wikipedia

Dariusz caballeros: Tczew AD 1627 - Dirschau
A blog with many 17th century items, including Polish information.  Some of the the blog is written in Polish and some in English. Linked to item is a review of the Tczew 1627 book (see below)

Spotkanie z Kubą Pokojskim cz. 1 - Tv Tetka Tczew HD - YouTube
A YouTube of an interview (in Polish) with the author of the Tczew 1627 book.

Dawny Tczew - Tczew 1627 Map
A Polish online community forum for the town of Tczew in Poland. The historical section includes some interesting discussion on the 1627 battle. This link has some great maps and contemporary illustrations, including a link to the Sveriges Krig map of the battle.

Riksarkivet - Search the collections - Dirschau
Swedish National Archies site - here is the results for a search on 'Discahu'. Some interesting pictures of the Swedish earthworks.

TMP Swedes in Poland Topic
An interesting topic from TMP with a big post from 'Daniel S' on the Swedish order of battle. Note from 2011

TMP Online access to Sveriges Krig, 1611-1632
A topic I started on TMP to find out how to access Sveriges Krig. Daniel S gives a salutary warning about this source.

The 'Journael, van de legatie, gedaen in de jaren 1627 en 1628' by A. Booth
The 1627 battle took place while a Dutch litigation was visiting the Polish camp as part of peace negotiations. One of the members of the Dutch litigation wrote an illustrated journal which is available online. Some great contemporary illustrations from the actual battle-site. The equivalent of 17th century war journalism!

Source material for 17th Century Polish campaigns - Tales from a Wargame Shed
A blog including a post on info for the Polish army in the 17th century.

GMT Games - Gustav Adolf: With God & Victorious Arms
This may seem an odd link for historical information. GMT are one of the major producers of historical, hex based boardgames. Some time ago they produced Gustav Adolf: With God & Victorious Arms as part of their Pike and Shot series. This game includes a number of Gustav's major battles, including Dirschau/Tczew. The GMT site includes a free download of the rules for the game which includes orders of battle, deployment, map, and historical background. There is even a handy bibliography.  (Sadly the game is now only available second-hand.  I would love to give it a try so if you see one for sale then let me know!)

Gustav II Adolf in Livonia and Polish Prussia, 1617-1629 - Paradox Interactive Forums
A games forum which has an interesting discussion around the conflict in Polish Prussia.

Guerra polaco-sueca (1626-29) - Arre caballo
A site in Spanish covering the Polish / Swedish wars. Some nice pictures and graphics.

15 Things You Should Know About The Polish Winged Hussars
One of those 'X greatest' sites. Very advert heavy. Does have some nice Hussar pictures!

16th/17th Century Polish and Lithuanian Commonwealth Clothing images
A Pinterest collection of Polish images.  Very handy for painting inspiration.

Fire and Sword recommended websites and blogs
From the By Fire and Sword site - their recommended online resources for this period.

Battle of Tczew/Dirschau 17-18 August 1627 - Academia.edu
A paper on the Dirshau / Tczew 1628 battle - in Polish.

Polish Light Artillery
Despite the title this is about a lot more than just artillery.  This site seems to be by a Renaissance reenactment group in Poland.  Lots of interesting information and great pictures.

Radoslaw Sikora - Ciekawostki Historyczne
A selection of articles (in Polish) by the author of Husaria (see below)

Hussar PhD Thesis
The PhD thesis (in Polish) on Hussars by the author of Husaria (see below).

Books


Despite Destruction, Misery and Privations, Michał Paradowski
Helion have just published this book specifically on the Polish army for the 1620s campaign against the Swedes.  I am sure this will become the standard work on this period for the Poles (https://www.helion.co.uk/military-history-books/despite-destruction-misery-and-privations-the-polish-army-in-prussia-during-the-war-against-sweden-1626-1629.php).
Update 23rd December 2020

Polish Armies 1569-1696 (1), Osprey Men-at-Arms, Richard Brzezinski
Classic Osprey.  Great information and illustrations.  Brzezinski is one of my favourite of the Osprey authors, and the two Polish Men-at-Arms have my favourite Osprey artist as well, Angus McBride.  You should probably get these even if you;'re not planning a Polish army! The first volume covers the home-grown Polish troops.

Polish Armies 1569-1696 (2), Osprey Men-at-Arms, Richard Brzezinski
Second volume to that above.  This one covers 'foreign' troops appearing in Polish armies.  Another 'must buy'.

Polish Winged Hussars 1576-1775, Osprey Warrior, Richard Brzezinski
Not surprising that Osprey focused on these iconic troops.  A other great book and well worth the addition to the other titles above.

The Army of Gustavus Adolphus (1) Infantry, Osprey Men-at-Arms, Richard Brzezinski
The two Swedish volumes from Osprey cover Gustav's early career in the Baltic and Poland, as well as the perhaps more famous period in Germany.  More great stuff from Osprey. This first volume covers the infantry.

The Army of Gustavus Adolphus (2) Cavalry, Osprey Men-at-Arms, Richard Brzezinski
Second volume to go with that above, this time covering mounted troops and the artillery.

Actions of the Thirty Years War - Eastern Europe, the Baltic, Italy and France, Partizan Press, William P. Guthrie
Guthrie has three volumes covering the battles and actions of the Thirty Years War.  The first two have been out for some time.  I find him an engaging read and there is lots of information on the battles, and the orders of battle in all three volumes.  He seems to get criticism from current historians for focusing too much / solely on English sources, so perhaps be aware of this, rather than assuming the books as 'gospel'.  The first two volumes are probably still the most accessible description of the war in English.  This third volume was published after Guthrie's death and focuses on the less well known theatres, which luckily for me includes the Polish-Swedish conflict. Definitely worth the investment for English speakers.

The Northern Wars 1558-1721, Routledge, Robert I. Frost
This seems to be the main, accessible in English, history of the period for people starting out, like me.  Suggested to me by none other than Sir Sidney Roundwood himself (blog link). 

Warriors of the Hungarian Frontier 1526-1686, Zrinyi Kiadó, Gyözö Somogyi
Perhaps an odd title to include as this is purely based on the Hungarians and their conflicts with the Turks.  However, the Poles seemed to have copied many fashions from the Hungarians, and Turks, and so the illustrations here provide some interesting ideas for figure painting.

Renaissance Armies 1480-1650, PSL, George Gush (2nd ed.)
Although this book is now quite old there isn't another volume that I think summaries this period as well.  Great to dip into for all of the classic armies in this period.  Just be aware that some interpretations may have moved on since the 1970s. 

(Battle of) Tczew 1627, Instytut Wydawniczy ERICA, Kuba Pokojski with Radosław Sikora
I was very pleased to find a recent volume that focused on the very battle I am trying to recreate.  Unfortunately for me this is in Polish, so I have to rely on computer translations.  Interesting to look at the battle from the Polish perspective as much of the history in English is focused on Gustav Adolf.  This has detailed orders of battle for both armies, and some great maps of the battle.

Hursaria - Duma Polskiego Oręża, Znak Horyzont, Radosław Sikora
I have Amazon to thank for this volume as, based on my search history I guess, the site kept suggesting this book to me.  A very detailed history of the Polish Hussars using lots of Polish primary sources.  Once again, sadly for me this is in Polish (surely there must be a market for a translation?). I'm still very much enjoying reading this thanks to computer based translation.   Fantastic illustrations throughout and great photographs of the author and others recreating various Polish troops of the period. 

Sveriges Krig (Sweden's Wars) 1611-1632 Volume II, Polish Wars, General Staff, Stockholm (1636)
I've not laid hands on this yet, but it is an important Swedish source for this period.  Written by the historical branch of the Swedish General staff in the 1930s it used period documents to produce beautiful maps of many of the engagements.  Needs to be used with caution - see comments on TMP, link.

A Warrior Dynasty: The Rise and Decline of Sweden as a Military Superpower, Henrik O. Lunde
Available as a very reasonably priced ebook.  Not yet purchased, but looks interesting link.

With Fire and Sword, by Henryk Sienkiewicz.
Perhaps a bit odd to have a novel as suggested reading, but this book is a great way of visiting 17th century Poland.  Sienkiewicz is a Polish version of Dickens, a very famous and prolific late 19th century writer, with his trilogy of novels set in Poland in the mid 17th century being his most famous work. With Fire and Sword is the first novel in the Trilogy. Luckily they are translated in to English and there are free ebooks available (link).  The trilogy is set during the historical events of one of the Cossack uprisings.  There is romance, intrigue, action and drama, with lots of period and location flavour. Read with caution, unless you want to end up buying Eastern European armies as well ;-) 

With Fire and Sword (the Movie!)
Inevitably there have been several movies made based on the Trilogy.  Here is the 1999 version on Youtube - link.  In Polish with English subtitles.


Wargames


Web


Here are a selection of 28mm Manufacturers of Polish Figures:

Polish buildings
May be suitable for the 17th century.

1/72 Depot. Miniatures – Plastic Soldiers – Scale Models
A blog by a commission painter with a stunningly painted Polish army - inspirational!  Also includes some rather nice downloadable Polish flags.

Hook Island Gaming
A blog including a project on building a 17th century Polish army - beautifully painted figures.

Carryings On Up The Dale
A great refight of The Battle of Vienna, 1683 - lovely Polish figures!

Battle Flag
Commercially available 28mm Polish flags and lance pennons.

Flags of War
Polish lance pennons from my favourite flag maker.  Iain also does great Swedish flags!

Books


There is a separate project page on this blog covering my review of 17th century wargames rules here: https://theviaregia.blogspot.com/p/17th-century-wargames-rules.html

Of particular interest for the Swedish Polish Wars are:
By Fire and Sword by Konrad Sosiński & Rafal Szwelicki (link)

The rules are part of a whole game system produced by the Wargamer company in Poland.  The rule system is focused on 17th century battles in Eastern Europe.  Check out the website here http://www.fireandsword.wargamer.pl/ .  They sell everything for the game, including figures and terrain.  The figures and terrain are designed for 15mm.  The rules come in a hefty tome - but it is the sort of book that you should own, even if you will never play the game - it is stunning!  The rules include army lists for 1648-78, a period that Wargamer have titled 'Republic in Flames'.  There are further supplements for other time periods also available.

Epilogue


I would love to hear about any further information on this period so please comment below if you know of any other sites or books :-)

Cheers, Andy @ FoGH.

10 comments:

  1. Andy, this is fantastic. Lots to explore here. Thanks for sharing. Tim

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  2. Interesting and informative post on an area I am semi resisting! What about Old glory? They seem to have a fair sized range in 25/28mm?
    Best Iain

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    1. Thanks for the suggestion on Old Glory. It is a bit frustrating that I can't find any images of their figures as they do seem to have a nice selection of Polish figures. I am cautious about ordering their big packs unseen. I was a bit disappointed with their 17th Century Scottish Highlanders. I wasn't keen on the poses. I will have to try and search some out at a show.

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  3. Very useful info, thanks for assembling it. Working on a Polish army in 40mm at the moment and needed info on the swedish-polish wars. (http://cavalierecw.blogspot.com).

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    1. Thanks, Tidders! You have a great collection of Poles building on your blog, and I will follow with interest.

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  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. Sorry, Old Wargamer, deleted your comment by mistake! Thanks, and yes, I've got some of the 1898 Tercio range. I will add them to the list.

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  5. many years ago i was fortunate to find on yahoo groups, oob for many of the polish swedish battles... they were posted by Radoslaw Sikora or Dan Schorr (from memory)

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    1. Thanks for the tip, Peter. I haven’t been able to find it yet but will keep looking.

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