The English Protectorate and the Polish-Swedish War 1655-1660 

The Polish-Swedish war was to a great extent a war on credit by Stockholm. The number of indigenous officers and soldiers was around 40,000. They would have been no match for the Poles. Thus the Swedish government at the time had to rely on enlisting foreign troops. Gustavus borrowed from noblemen and financiers, Swedish and foreign. Often payment was not forthcoming so the rate of desertion was high. When Sweden was attacked by Denmark during the Polish-Swedish war he attempted to seize the so called Sound Duties collected by Denmark at Elsinore with its Gibraltar of the North, Kronborg Castle. At one point the king even offered Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell in exchange for 20 English frigates to serve in the Baltic Sea both the castle and the Sound duties after having taken it and city of Elsinore in 1658.

Below a few notes on some of the English-Scottish regiments fighting for Sweden in the Polish-Swedish war:

Lord William Cranstone’s Infantry Regiment

Lord Cranstone was related to Field Marshal Alexander Leslie.

In the beginning of 1655 the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell gave permission for recruiting of 6,000 to 8,000 men for the Swedish Army. First recruitment did only reach 5,000 – 6,000 and in July 1655 was down to 2,000. In April 1656 the first Scottish recruits arrived in Bremen-Verden, Germany, a territory northwest of Hamburg, Germany, controlled by Sweden.

The first troops arrived in Bremen in April 1656 with 8 companies of 988 men with staff officers Rudwin, Michell, Arnott including the unit’s Lieutenant Colonel and Major. Half the regiment marched in the fall to Prussia. It was later transferred to Pernau in Livonia under Lt. Colonel J. Ogiluy (John Ogelvie?). The second half remained in garrison in Bremen-Verden commanded by Major Jakob (James) Mercer. It remained there in succession commanded by Majors W. Arnott and Patrik Johnston.

In July-August 1656 Cranstones second regiment of Scots arrived in Bremen with 9 companies of in all 832 men and staff (officers Alexander Drummond, Jacob (James) Robertson, George Grantt, Jacob (James) Fraser, Arsken, Ramsay, A. Scrymsner, Ortserston (Orterston), Asmuth (Achmuth). This unit left Bremen in the beginning of September 1656 and it is likely that the regiment was captured at Danzig. They were on a ship with Swedish General H.C. von Koenigsmarck from Wismar to Danzig, when a storm and mutiny forced the ships to land near the city. The Scottish soldiers then volunteered to serve the City of Danzig.

Three companies of the second regiment had remained in Bremen-Verden and 50-60 of Cranstone’s Scots were with the main Swedish army in Denmark (Fredriksodde). Lt. Colonel Ogiluy resigned in November 1657 to return to recruit another regiment. Major Ludvig Lesle (Leslie) on November 30, 1657, received patent to recruit yet an additional regiment of 8 companies with 800 men in England and Scotland. The regiment was to be delivered in Jutland, Denmark. Colonel Cranstone resigned on January 3, 1658 and returned home.

Mentioned 3 times in the muster rolls in 1656-1657 (1656: Vol. 8 and 10, 1657: Vol. 6) in the National War Archive, Stockholm, as “William Cranstones infanteriregemente”.

James Sinclair’s Regiment

Sinclair had been in Sweden for six years and was in May 1655 given permission to recruit an infantry regiment in Scotland of five companies with 100 men each within three months. An English ship arrived in April 1656 with 250 men. In November 1657 they seem to have been in Pomerania and were ordered to march to Lauenburg. The regiment served in Prussia in 1657 and 1658 with what seems to have been 5 companies.

This regiment is not mentioned in the Swedish National War Archive.

David Sinclair’s Combined Cavalry Regiment

Mentioned 6 times in the muster rolls 1655-1661 in the National War Archive as “David Sinclairs sammansatta kavalleriregemente”. No further information on this regiment at this time.

Robert Douglas Cavalry Regiment

This regiment was not Scottish but had a Scottish commander.

Mentioned 4 times in the muster rolls 1659-1660 in the National War Archive as “Robert Douglas’ kavalleriregemente”.

William Vavas(s)ours Infantry Regiment

The Swedish representatives in London (Georg Fleetwood, P.J. Coyet, Krister Bonde and J.F. von Friesendorff) were ordered to recruit 4,000 men in England and Scotland. According to a royal assignment of February 8, 1655, no less that 6-8 regiments of Scots were to be recruited. Fleetwood came to London in June 1655 and the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell in 1656 gave permission for recruitment of 2,000 men. The Swedish representatives also conferred with Alexander Leslie, who had been Swedish Field Marshal during the Thirty Years’ War. In October that year 6 companies with 425 men arrived in Bremen with staff Colonel Vavasour in command with Lieutenant Colonel Richard Bohhott (Bolholt), Major Edward Chester. Captains were Bethell, W. Chester and Cotton. The regiment never rose above 500 officers and men. The unit remained in the west (partly in Stade and partly in Buxtehude). Some of Vavasours Englishmen took part in the crossing of the Great Belt in 1658.

A second regiment during the spring of 1657 called for additionally 2,000 Scots and Englismen to be recruited. Vavasour was promoted to major general. In 1657 he travelled to England in March but the ship was captured by Spanish pirates and he was imprisoned in the Netherlands for a while. In November-December he retrurned to Bremen with 300 new recruits. Major was Lesle (Leslie?). This unit later marched to Kiel to strengthen other regiments. Additional 500-600 were to arrive in the beginning of 1658, if ships could be secured in Newcastle.

Mentioned twice in in the muster rolls 1656-1657 in the National War Archive as “William Vavassours infanteriregemente”.


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