Battle of Stralsund (1809)

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Battle of Stralsund
Part of Napoleonic Wars
Date31 May 1809
Location Stralsund, Swedish Pomerania
Result French victory
Prussian freikorps Flag of France.svg France
Flag of Denmark.svg Danish auxiliaries
Flag of the Netherlands.svg Dutch auxiliaries
Commanders and leaders
Ferdinand von Schill   Pierre Guillaume Gratien
Johann von Ewald
2,000 6,000
Casualties and losses
>500 captured

The Battle of Stralsund on 31 May 1809 was a battle during the War of the Fifth Coalition, part of the Napoleonic Wars, between Ferdinand von Schill's freikorps and Napoleonic forces in Stralsund. In a "vicious street battle", the freikorps was defeated and Schill was killed in action. [1]

Battle part of a war which is well defined in duration, area and force commitment

A battle is a combat in warfare between two or more armed forces, or combatants. A war usually consists of multiple battles. Battles generally are well defined in duration, area, and force commitment. A battle with only limited engagement between the forces and without decisive results is sometimes called a skirmish.

War of the Fifth Coalition conflict

The War of the Fifth Coalition was fought in 1809 by a coalition of the Austrian Empire and the United Kingdom against Napoleon's French Empire and Bavaria. Major engagements between France and Austria, the main participants, unfolded over much of Central Europe from April to July, with very high casualty rates for both sides. Britain, already involved on the European continent in the ongoing Peninsular War, sent another expedition, the Walcheren Campaign, to the Netherlands in order to relieve the Austrians, although this effort had little impact on the outcome of the conflict. After much campaigning in Bavaria and across the Danube valley, the war ended favourably for the French after the bloody struggle at Wagram in early July.

Napoleonic Wars Series of early 19th century European wars

The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major conflicts pitting the French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of European powers formed into various coalitions, financed and usually led by the United Kingdom. The wars stemmed from the unresolved disputes associated with the French Revolution and its resultant conflict. The wars are often categorised into five conflicts, each termed after the coalition that fought Napoleon: the Third Coalition (1805), the Fourth (1806–07), the Fifth (1809), the Sixth (1813), and the Seventh (1815).



Stralsund, a port at the Baltic Sea in Swedish Pomerania, was surrendered to France after the siege of 1807 during the War of the Fourth Coalition. [1] During this war, Prussian captain Ferdinand von Schill distinguished himself by cutting off French supply lines using guerrilla tactics in 1806. In 1807, he raised a freikorps and successfully fought the French forces in what he intended to become a patriotic insurrection. When his corps was disbanded after the Peace of Tilsit on 9 July 1807, Schill was promoted to the rank of a major, decorated with the Pour le Mérite, and became a hero of German resistance and patriotic movements. [2]

Stralsund Place in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany

Stralsund, is a Hanseatic town in the Pomeranian part of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany. It is located at the Southern coast of the Strelasund, a sound of the Baltic Sea separating the island of Rügen from the mainland.

Baltic Sea A sea in Northern Europe bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands

The Baltic Sea is a marginal sea of the Atlantic Ocean, enclosed by Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden, northeast Germany, Poland, Russia and the North and Central European Plain.

Swedish Pomerania historical domain of Sweden

Swedish Pomerania was a Dominion under the Swedish Crown from 1630 to 1815, situated on what is now the Baltic coast of Germany and Poland. Following the Polish War and the Thirty Years' War, Sweden held extensive control over the lands on the southern Baltic coast, including Pomerania and parts of Livonia and Prussia.

In January and February 1809, the German resistance in French-held Westphalia invited Schill to lead an uprising. He agreed in April and drafted a proclamation which however was intercepted by the French, and left Berlin on 27 April when he was threatened with arrest. [3] With a freikorps of 100 hussars, Schill headed southwest towards Westphalia to stir up an anti-French rebellion, but news of the French victory in the Battle of Ratisbon made him change his plans. Schill turned northwards to secure a port, [4] hoping for relief by the British navy. [5]

Westphalia State part and historic region of North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany

Westphalia is a region in northwestern Germany and one of the three historic parts of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. It has an area of 20,208 km2 (7,802 sq mi) and 7.9 million inhabitants.

Berlin Capital of Germany

Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,748,148 (2018) inhabitants make it the second most populous city proper of the European Union after London. The city is one of Germany's 16 federal states. It is surrounded by the state of Brandenburg, and contiguous with its capital, Potsdam. The two cities are at the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg capital region, which is, with about six million inhabitants and an area of more than 30,000 km², Germany's third-largest metropolitan region after the Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Main regions.

<i>Freikorps</i> German volunteer military or anti-communist paramilitary units

Freikorps were German military volunteer units that existed from the 18th to the early 20th centuries, which effectively fought as mercenary or private armies, regardless of their own nationality. In German-speaking countries, the first so-called Freikorps were formed in the 18th century from native volunteers, enemy renegades and deserters. These sometimes exotically equipped units served as infantry and cavalry, sometimes in just company strength, sometimes in formations up to several thousand strong; there were also various mixed formations or legions. The Prussian von Kleist Freikorps included infantry, jäger, dragoons and hussars. The French Volontaires de Saxe combined uhlans and dragoons.


Stralsund, Germany, Fahrstrasse, Schill-Gedenkstein (2006-09-29).JPG
Schill Statue.JPG
Plaque at the site of Schill's death (left) and statue (right) in Stralsund

Schill entered Stralsund on 25 May with 2,000 men. [4] The freikorps was pursued by a French-led force of 6,000 Danes, Holsteiners, Dutch and French, who confronted Schill on 31 May inside of the town. [6]

Denmark constitutional monarchy in Europe

Denmark, officially the Kingdom of Denmark, is a Nordic country and the southernmost of the Scandinavian nations. Denmark lies southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and is bordered to the south by Germany. The Kingdom of Denmark also comprises two autonomous constituent countries in the North Atlantic Ocean: the Faroe Islands and Greenland. Denmark proper consists of a peninsula, Jutland, and an archipelago of 443 named islands, with the largest being Zealand, Funen and the North Jutlandic Island. The islands are characterised by flat, arable land and sandy coasts, low elevation and a temperate climate. Denmark has a total area of 42,924 km2 (16,573 sq mi), land area of 42,394 km2 (16,368 sq mi), and the total area including Greenland and the Faroe Islands is 2,210,579 km2 (853,509 sq mi), and a population of 5.8 million.

Holstein Region of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany

Holstein is the region between the rivers Elbe and Eider. It is the southern half of Schleswig-Holstein, the northernmost state of Germany.

The Dutch auxiliaries, about 4,000 troops, were commanded by Pierre Guillaume Gratien, another 1,500 Danish troops were under general Johann von Ewald's command. [7] Garnier's Dutch forces included the 6th and 9th infantry, 2nd Horse Regiment, two squadrons of hussars and two horse artillery batteries. [8] They entered the town after storming the Tribseer Tor gate, [9] and engaged Schill's freikorps in street fights. [5] Schill was killed, and the survivors of his freikorps dispersed or captured. [6]


Execution of Schill's officers (center left) Bruhl - Cafe Reichspost.jpg
Execution of Schill´s officers (center left)

Eleven of Schill's officers were taken to Brunswick, and later executed in Wesel [10] following an order of Napoleon Bonaparte. [1] More than five hundred of Schill's men went into captivity. [5] Schill's head was sent to The Netherlands for display in Leyden's public library, and only in 1837 the head was buried in Brunswick. [11]

Braunschweig Place in Lower Saxony, Germany

Braunschweig, also called Brunswick in English, is a city in Lower Saxony, Germany, north of the Harz mountains at the farthest navigable point of the Oker River which connects it to the North Sea via the Aller and Weser Rivers. In 2016, it had a population of 250,704.

Wesel Place in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Wesel is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is the capital of the Wesel district.

Schill was not alone with his plans to stir up an insurrection of the Prussian people against the French occupation. Other prominent plotters were Frederick William, Duke of Brunswick and Kasper von Dörnberg. All of them saw the Austrian resistance and the resulting War of the Fifth Coalition as a chance to expel Napoleon Bonaparte from Northern Germany as well. France however proved to be the stronger party, and Schill's defeat in the streets of Stralsund put a definite end to all plans for a popular uprising. [12]

See also


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  1. 1 2 3 Jacques (2006), p.973
  2. Clark (2006), p.347
  3. Clark (2006), p.348
  4. 1 2 Parkinson (2001), p.86
  5. 1 2 3 Meckenstock (2004), p.435
  6. 1 2 Parkinson (2001), p.87
  7. Pelet (2009 reprint), p.32
  8. von Pivka (1980), p.17
  9. Pelet (2009 reprint), p.33
  10. Hasubek (1987), p.1118
  11. Clark (2006), p.349
  12. Wienecke-Janz (2008), p.142


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