Friday, August 30, 2013

FEATURED REGIMENT: Dal Regiment

Bart Vetters - The Swedish Dal Regementet (Regiment) during the Great Northern War was one of the 'high profile' regiments that were present in all of the major battles and spent most of their time, certainly during the 'main event' of the 1708-1709 Russian campaign, as part of the King's Army. The were one of the standard 'Indelta' regiments, which were raised from specific provinces in Sweden, in this case the Dalarna province in central Sweden. The Indelta regiments (the name comes from the name of the recruitment system itself, 'Indelningsverket', and has nothing to do with any river delta anywhere, something that still occasionally confuses me :) ) were the closest thing to a regular army that existed at the time of the Great Northern War and were thus ususally the best equipped and trained.

The Dal regiment was sent to Zeeland with the rest of the King's army and stayed with it until a fateful summer day on the dusty plain near Poltava in the Ukraine. It thus participated in all of the battles of the King's army, including the ones of Karl's 1708 - 1709 Russian campaign (the second and - unfortunately for Karl - a campaign too far). By the time of that campaign, the Dalcarla ('men from Dalarna', and often mistakenly used as the name of the regiment) had obviously become somewhat of a favourite of Karl's - not always a good thing if you're looking for a comfortable spot in battle. At Holowczyn, Karl's favourite battle (it should be - he attacked at night, across a major river, through a marsh against a numerically stronger enemy that had entrenched itself uphill - and won), they were in the first wave, one battalion crossing with Karl himself, a dubious honour shared with only the Lifeguard battalions. At Malatitze a few weeks later, it was the Dal regiment that Karl sent first to aid the Swedish regiments that had been surprised in camp, and it was the only one from the relief force to see actual fighting.

At Poltava, the Dal regiment was in the column of Major General Roos and was among the units that got caught up storming the Russian redoubts. They never made it to the main battle, as they and four other battalions were chased into the woods besides the redoubts, and then all the way down to a cloister overlooking Poltava itself. Here the remnants of Roos' group, including the Dal men, eventually surrendered, depriving the main army of a third of its infantry strength for the main battle.

After Poltava, the Dal regiment was reraised, surrendered at Tönningen with general Stenbock and was raised a third time to join in the 1717-1718 Norwegian campaigns that ended with the death of Karl (which to this day is highly controversial, but that's another story).
The Dal Regiment as they would have appeared at Poltava, though possibly much more scruffy looking. The figures are all Musketeer Miniatures, with a tiny conversion (head swap on the officer and NCO). The flags are printed scans from the Höglund book (see references). Painting by the author.

Uniform wise, the Dal regiment is an archetypical Swedish GNW unit: blue coat with yellow facings, leather vest and breeches and yellow stockings. Headdress is the equally archetypical Karpus, in this case blue faced yellow. Höglund notes that in 1707, new recruits sent to the Dal regiment had black hats (tricornes) and the reraised versions of the Dal regiment also wore hats instead of the karpus. I have however opted to represent my Swedish and Russian units as they would have appeared at the battle of Poltava, and have chosen the karpus for the Dal regiment, conveniently applying a bit of wargamer's license to forget about the hat wearing new recruits. 

Headwear for the grenadiers is mostly speculative. While it is more likely that the grenadiers wore hats just like the other musketeers, references to and examples of actual grenadier mitres used by Swedish units in the GNW do exist, and Höglund has the grenadiers of the Dal regiment as wearing 'grenadier caps of unknown appearance'. In my version of the regiment, I have thus opted for classical grenadier mitres.

That's all for the Dal regiment. Next is a regiment decidedly unarchetypical, sporting red facings instead of yellow.

References: 
The Great Northern War 1700 - 1721, Colours and Uniforms, Lars-Eric Höglund & Åke Sallnäs, Acedia Press, 2000
The Dawn of the Tsarist Empire: Poltava & the Russian Campaigns of 1708 - 1709, Nicholas A. Dorrell, Partizan Press, 2009
The Battle the Shook Europe: Poltava and the Birth of the Russian Empire, Peter Englund, I.B. Tauris, 2003

The Höglund book is the definitive source on unifoms & flags. The Dorrell book is very useful for concrete information on troop strengths & dispositions during the Russian campaign that translate directly to the tabletop, and the Englund book is the definitive history of the Poltava campaign.

6 comments:

  1. Excellent article! Looking forward to the next unit.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great post and very nice looking unit, love the flags too!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great article and I'm looking forward to painting up some Warfare Russians for the GNW when they finally make an appearance.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Lovely brushwork Clarence.

    Bill really did a great job on those GNW Swedes. It would have been nice to see the range expand into more artillery etc.

    Darrell.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great article on a great unit! And some lovely brushwork too!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Dave we already have a Russian and a Swedish GNW infantry dolly designed. I have seen the evidence!

    ReplyDelete

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