“Diligence and courage are superior to strength.” Defeat of the Swedes at Grengam

Battle of Grengam. Artist F. Perrault. 1841 year

300 years ago, the Russian rowing fleet defeated a Swedish squadron on the Baltic Sea near Grengam Island. This was the last major battle of the Northern War.

Campaign of 1720

The campaign of 1720 began with a victory. In January, a Russian detachment consisting of the Natalia shnyava, the Eleanor galiot and the Prince Alexander kick, under the command of Captain Vilboa, seized two Swedish ships from Danzig, which were carrying guns (38 copper cannons). In April and May, the Russian rowing fleet under the command of Prince MM Golitsyn, a participant in the Battle of Gangut, landed a landing party on the Swedish coast, which burned down two cities (Old and New Umeo), destroyed dozens of villages and captured several ships. The Russian detachment successfully returned to Vaza.

Meanwhile, a powerful united Anglo-Swedish fleet (18 British ships of the line and 3 frigates, 7 Swedish ships of the line, 35 pennants in total) went to Revel. England feared the complete defeat of Sweden and the excessive strengthening of Russia in the Baltic and decided to hold a military demonstration to force Tsar Peter I to conclude peace with the Swedes on favorable terms. Having received news of the landing of the Russians in Sweden and fearing an enemy attack on Stockholm, the allied fleet turned to the Swedish shores.

Expecting an attack by the enemy fleet on the capital, the Russian sovereign ordered to strengthen the coastal defense. Since the Anglo-Swedish fleet could appear off the coast of Finland, the Russian galley fleet left the Aland archipelago and went over to Helsingfors. Golitsyn left several boats to watch the enemy. In early July, one of them ran aground and was captured by the Swedes. Peter expressed his dissatisfaction with this incident and ordered Golitsyn to regain control of Aland. The Russian naval commander headed to the Aland skerries with 61 galleys and 29 boats. On July 26 (August 6), the Russian fleet reached the islands. Russian intelligence discovered the Swedish detachment between the islands of Lemland and Fritsberg. Due to the strong wind, it was impossible to attack the enemy, so Mikhail Mikhailovich decided to go to the Grengam island in order to take a position among the skerries.


When the Russian ships reached Grengam on July 27 (August 7), 1720, the Swedes weighed anchor and went to a rapprochement with the aim of engaging in battle. The Swedish vice-admiral Karl Schöblada believed that he had superiority in forces and could relatively easily shoot Russian ships. The Swedish squadron consisted of a battleship 4 frigates, 3 galleys, 3 skerboats, shnyava, galiot and brigantine. Obviously, the Swedes had an advantage on the high seas. But in skerries (small islands and rocks) the advantage of sailing ships disappeared, rowing ships prevailed in shallow waters. Galleys and other rowing ships were also built to operate in the coastal area, where there are many islands, rocks, straits and passages. Mikhail Golitsyn used it. At first he retreated to the skerries, where large sailing ships were losing their advantages. The Swedes were carried away by the chase and did not notice how they fell into the trap.

The Swedish flagship and 4 frigates, pursuing the enemy, entered the Flisosund Strait, which was replete with shoals. The Russian ships immediately counterattacked. They could not conduct an artillery battle with the enemy and went on boarding. The two leading Swedish ships began to turn, but ran aground and made it difficult for other ships to maneuver. The first two Swedish frigates were surrounded by Russian ships and, after a fierce battle, were taken on board. Two other frigates also failed to leave the battle and were taken by storm. The Swedish flagship, having performed a difficult maneuver, was able to escape. Other Swedish ships followed. A strong wind at sea and the appearance of reinforcements (2 ships) saved the Swedes from complete defeat and capture.

Russian sailors captured four Swedish frigates: 34-gun Stor-Phoenix, 30-gun Venker, 22-gun Kiskin and 18-gun Dansk-Ern (104 guns in total). The Swedes lost over 500 people in the battle. Russian losses – over 320 people. The battle was stubborn. Its heat is evidenced by the high consumption of ammunition and the fact that among our wounded there were 43 people, “scorched” by the shots of enemy guns. Many Russian rowing ships were damaged, and soon they were burned.

Peter I was very happy with the victory and wrote to Menshikov:

“True, not a small victoria can be credited, but especially that in the eyes of the British, who defended the Swedes as well as their lands and navy.”

In the Russian capital, the victory was celebrated for three days. The Swedish ships captured in battle were brought into St. Petersburg with triumph. The sovereign ordered to keep them forever. A medal was minted and a church festival was established on a par with the Gangut festival. The inscription was engraved on the medal: “Diligence and courage exceed strength.” Prince Mikhail Golitsyn received a sword and cane strewn with diamonds for Victoria, officers – gold medals with chains, privates – silver. For the capture of the cannons, the crews received about 9 thousand rubles in prize money.

The Battle of Grengam was the last significant battle of the Northern War, which lasted more than 20 years. The Swedish kingdom, which had lost all hope of success, exhausted and exhausted, and had lost significant territories, could no longer fight. Peter, however, would have been ready to continue the war and in 1721 planned to take the Swedish capital – Stockholm. Sweden went to the Peace of Nystadt.

Medal “For the Battle of Grengam”. Headquarters officers and chief officers were awarded gold medals. The medal was worn on a blue narrow ribbon. The gold medal was 41, 37, 27 mm in size. Soldiers were awarded silver medals, a silver medal was worn on the Andreevskaya ribbon. The silver medal was 41 mm in size

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