Riga/Wolmar Trophies 1656
by
Vladimir Velikanov

(© Vladimir Velikanov 2007)


During the Russian-Swedish War, 1656-58, Riga was besieged by the main Russian Army under Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich from 22 August until 5 October 1656. According to Swedish sources, the strength of the Russian army was 80-100,000, but in fact, it was much less. Reports by Magnus De la Gardie, Governor of Riga, stated that the Russians numbered about 35,000 [1]. Russian sources give the total strength of the army at about 58,000. It consisted of 8,000 Streltzi, four regiments of reitars, ten regiments of foot of the "New Model" (also called "Soldatskie" - soldiers), three "New Model" dragoon regiments and about 26,000 of feudal levy (both gentry and their servants; real combat strength was about half of that listed). The siege continued with little success. On 1 October, the Swedes realized that the Russians had started preparations to lift the siege. The following night (2 October), the Swedes conducted a sally against Russian right flank where the Corps of Prince Y. Tcherkasski was located. The Corps consisted of 1 or 2 Streltzi regiments and 7 regiments of foot and dragoons of the "New Model": Tcikler (names are given in Russian transcription, original variant is given below), Trafert, Staden and Ronort Regiments of Foot and Unkmann, Angler and Hoewen Dragoon Regiments. Each regiment consisted of 10 coys and had 1 white colonel's color and 9 "colored" company flags. According to the Swedish Relation [2], the Russians lost about 800 killed and 17 colors were taken , 4 regiments suffered heavily (Tcikler, Angler, Unkmann, Ronort).

In 1911 Russian Lieutenant-Captain Belavenetc visited Stockholm, and inspected and described the original captured Russian colours and standards in the Swedish State Trophy Collection. His report includes written descriptions of 13 colors of the "New model" regiments, two reiter standards, and one illustration (Plate 1, 7). The common detail for all of the "New Model" colours and standards, except colonel's colours and standards, is the so-called "Russian Cross", an Orthodox cross on a pedestal with lance and cane (Plate 2, 5). The colors were evidently lost during the sally on 2 October 1656. The reiter standards (Plate 2, 1 and 2) were probably lost on 7 August 1656 in an action at Wolmar, when Dennis von Visin's Reiter Regiment was part of a Russian force that clashed with GM Streiff's Swedish cavalry and dragoons.

The Grundliche und warhaftige Relation von der Belagerung der Koniglich Stadt Riga in Liefland has a black and white illustration of a number of the colours taken at Riga, as well as a standard of "Old Army" feudal levy. The illustration is quite simple and a number of details provided by Belavenetc are left out, but it also illustrates some colours not described by him, including the white colour with eagle (Plate 1, 1).


Illustration from the German Relation of the siege [2]

Taken together these two sources provide us with a rare, although limited, look at some mid-17th Century Russian colours and standards.

It is possible to attribute colours to only one regiment and exclude another regiment. In December 1655 it was reported that Regiment Ronort had green colours (Plate 1, 6) and that Regiment von Staden had yellow colours. Since none of the colours are yellow, Regiment von Staden is not represented. That leaves Foot Regiments Trafert and Tcikler, and Dragoon Regiments Unkmann, Angler and Hoewen as possible owners of the colours.

There is some question if the dragoon regiments carried four-sided colours similar to those of the foot, or if they carried the split colours normally associated with dragoon regiments. In the West at this point in time, both types were carried by dragoons, which were essentially mounted infantry.

 

Color Plates

The color plates are of necessity reconstructions based on Belavenetc's limited descriptions and the unidentified German black and white plate; and the appearance of some items and colors is speculative. As mentioned previously, the originals are in the Swedish State Trophy Collection, and undoubted have been illustrated by Hoffman-Jonsson; however, it has proven almost impossible to obtain copies of these illustrations.

In addition to the use of the "Russian Cross", it appears that it was common to place the inscriptions in one or more golden tablets. The inscriptions were most often in German, but could also appear in Latin.

The "Russian Cross" appears in two variations. The first as illustrated by Belavenetc (Plate 2, 5) and that illustrated by Zweguintzow (Plate 2, 4). The primary difference is Zweguintzow places the words and letters on golden tablets.


Plate 1

1. Probably a colonel's colour for one of the regiments. Not mentioned by Belavenetc, but illustrated and mentioned in the unidentified German source.

2. A company colour. Belavenetc mentions three such colours but each with a centaur instead of a deer, but the inscriptions unreadable (1911). The German source illustrates and mentions a silver deer and inscription.

3. Two colours of this pattern are described by Belavenetc, while the German Relation has three. It is possible that each colour had a different inscription, although only one is known.

4. Belavenetc mentions two colours of this pattern, while the unidentified German source lists three.

5. One such colour mentioned by the unidentified German source, but not described by Belavenetc. The colour originally probably had some type of symbol in addition to the inscription and might be one of the two colours mentioned by Belavenetc under number 4.

6. One such colour is described by Belavenetc and the German source gives three. Probably belonged to Regiment Ronort.

7. and 8. Both described by Belavenetc and the unidentified German source. Number 7 also illustrated by both. Number 8 is illustrated by W. Zweguintzow in his book, Drapeaux et Etendards de l'Armee Russe. Despite the different colors, these two might have belonged to the same regiment. Size: 130cm by 160cm

 

Plate 2

1. and 2. Two reiter standards described by Belavenetc. Probably belonged to Reiter Regiment von Visin and taken by the Swedes at Wolmar in August 1656. Size: 49cm by 53cm.

3. An "Old Army" feudal levy standard taken at Riga and illustrated by the unidentified German source.

4. Russian Cross according to Zweguintzow.

5. Russian Cross according to Belavenetc.

 

New Model Regimental Colonels:

Traferd (Strauford), Franc- Colonel of "New model" foot regiment, raised in 1653-54 (the regiment was 2nd in seniority). Siege of Smolensk 1654; Expedition under Leontiev to capture Dubrovna in April 1655, later stayed there in garrison; Siege and Storm of Dunaburg 1656; Siege of Riga 1656. Traferd died in September 1656 in camp at Riga. His regiment was given to Lieutenant General Thomas Daniel (Daleil), who entered Russian service in the summer of 1656 and at that time did not have his own regiment. Daniel returned to England in 1665.

Staden, Herman von - colonel of "New model" foot regiment, raised in 1653-54. Siege of Smolensk 1654; part of Romodanovski's Corps in February 1655; Wilno Campaign 1655; Siege of Stary Bykhov autumn 1655; Siege and Storm of Dunaburg 1656; Siege of Riga 1656. In 1677, Staden was given the rank of Major General.

Tcikler (Sinclair), Elisey - colonel of "New model" foot regiment, raised in 1653-54. Siege of Smolensk 1654; Wilno campaign 1655; Siege of Stary Bykhov in the autumn 1655; in December 1655 had 1 white and 9 yellow colors; evidently did not participate in the Siege of Dunaburg. Joined main army at Riga. Sinclair was seriously wounded and taken prisoner during the sally on 2nd October. He died a few days later in Riga.

Angler, Yuri - first time mentioned as a colonel of "New model" foot regiment in 1655; Wilno campaign 1655; evidently did not participate in Siege of Dunaburg, and joined main army at Riga as colonel of a dragoon regiment; again colonel of a foot regiment 1657-1658 garrison of Wilno. Anler died in the winter of 1657-1658 after a plague.

Unkmann, Kristophor - Spring 1654 Lieutenant Colonel of Reitar Regiment F.A. von Bukhoven; Summer 1654 - colonel of "New model" foot regiment in Trubetckoi's army; 1655 summer campaign in Western Lithuania under Trubetckoi; Siege of Stary Bykhov autumn 1655; 1656 - colonel of a dragoon regiment; Siege and Storm of Dunaburg 1656; Siege of Riga 1656; Action at Gdov 17 Sept, 1657; main army in Lithuania 1658-61; after Khovanski's defeat at Kushliky, the regiment moved to Polotck; 1662 in Sevsk on southern border. Unkmann is not mentioned after 1662.

Ronort (Renard), Iakov - first time mentioned as a colonel of "New model" foot regiment in 1655; 1655 summer campaign in Western Lithuania under Trubetckoi; Siege of Stary Bykhov autumn 1655; in December 1655 had 1 white and 9 green colors; Siege and Storm of Dunaburg 1656; Siege of Riga 1656; 1658 colonel of a foot regiment stationed in Kozlovsk on southern border where he served at least until 1681.

Hoewen, Iogan von - colonel of "New model" dragoon regiment, raised in 1653-54. Siege of Smolensk 1654; Wilno Campaign 1655; Siege and Storm of Dunaburg 1656; Siege of Riga 1656. In 1660 colonel of a reitar regiment in Sheremetev's army in Chudnov Campaign. Taken prisoner by Poles. Returned to Russia in 1661 and gained a new reitar regiment. Last time mentioned as the colonel of reitar regiment was on Southern border in 1679.

Visin, Dennis von - son of Dennis v. Visin, Rittmeister on Russian service since 1620s. By 1655 he was the colonel of reitar regiment in the Ukraine, in 1656 his regiment was in Novgorod, Dorpat campaign and action at Wolmar. In 1659 v. Visin raised a new reitar regiment in Novgorod, Campaign 1659-60 in Lithuania, Battle of Polonka. In 1661 got a new regiment in Smolensk. By 1667, he was colonel of a new reitar regiment in Belgorod.

Sources:
[1] Carlon M. Ryska Kriget 1656-58. Stockholm, 1903
[2] Grundliche und warhaftige Relation von der Belagerung der Koniglich Stadt Riga in Liefland. Riga, 1657.
[3] - Belavenetc P. Kratkaia zapiska o starikh russkikh znamenakh ("Short report about old Russian flags"). St. Petersburg, 1911

Back to Russian Army 1650-1720













www.000webhost.com