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Örjan Martinsson

Roos' Lost battalions

During the battle of Poltava six Swedish battalions led by major general Roos fought the Russian redoubts for too long and lost contact with the rest of the main force. Before Roos found out about their whereabouts his force was attacked by two Russian forces sent out from the Russian camp. These consisted of five dragoon regiments commanded by Heinske and five infantry battalions commanded by Rentzel, each attacking from a separate direction. The six Swedish battalions originally had a combined strength of 3 000 men. But they had suffered great casualties in the redoubt battle and were then reorganised to just four battalions. During the following battle at the Yakovetski forest these battalions were deployed as shown below.

Battle at the Yakovetski Forest

Heinske's Force
(attacked the Swedish left flank)

Dragoon Regiment

Dragoon Regiment

Dragoon Squadron

Dragoon Regiment

Dragoon Regiment
Roos' Force
(defended themselves in an open square)

Rentzel's Force
(attacked the Swedes in the front)

Koporski Regiment
(2 battalions)

Dal-regiment battalion


Västerbotten battalion

Jönköping battalion


Närke-Värmland's first battalion

Tobolski Regiment
(2 battalions)

von Fichtenheim's Regiment
(1 battalion)

The Swedish battalions could not withstand the Russian attack and were forced to retreat through the Yakovetski forest to an abandoned redoubt nearby a monastery. Of the original force of 3 000 men only 400 Swedes remained. The Russians were in pursuit and an additional two infantry regiments were sent to the monastery. In that situation Roos had no other choice than to surrender which also happened.

Russian Reinforcements Sent to the Monastery

Rostovski Regiment
(2 battalions)

du Bois' Grenadier Regiment
(1 battalion)

Curiously enough none of the battalions led by Roos seem to have lost any colour while fighting in the Yakovetski forest. Two light blue colours captured by Rentzel's force probably belonged to Västerbotten Regiment but no soldier is mentioned as having captured any of them so they were most likely handed over to the Russians when the Swedes surrendered . Altogether ten company colours from Västerbotten Regiment are recorded in the Russian trophy lists. That is three to many and this irregularity is probably the result of Österbotten colours mistakenly being mixed with Västerbotten's (the men from Österbotten Regiment were included in Jönköping's battalion). Jönköping Regiment seem to have lost all their seven company colours (the colonel's colour was lost at Malatitze 1708), but it is only the three taken by Menshikov's cavalry we know how they were lost. The Russian trophy lists only records four colours from Dal-regiment. Three of these were taken by Menshikov's cavalry while the history of the fourth is unknown. An ensign from the Dal-regiment, Isac Pommerijn, later wrote that he tore down his colour from the pole and hid it underneath his cloths until he burnt it one year later. Apparently he was not only one doing this because that would explain why only four Dal-regiment colours were captured. It is not possible to determine how many Närke-Värmland colours were lost in the Yakovetski forest or the capitulation when it is not explicitly mentioned how they were lost because one of the two battalions participated in the main battle (one was however taken by Menshikov's cavalry). The same thing applies for the Finnish regiments serving in Närke-Värmland's battalions.

Read also about the opposing armies' order of battle at Poltava.