The Russian Army at the Siege of Riga
August-October 1656

Vladimir Velikanov

 

The main event of the 1656 campaign was the siege of Riga by Russian Army under Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich. The fortifications of Riga consisted of a wall with ditch and 5 bastions around the old town. In 1652 Swedes had started construction of a new wall with 12 bastions around suburbs, but by 1656 the work was not completed. The Russian vanguard consisting of the Vladimir v. Vizin Reiters, Daniel Krafert Foot and Iunkmann Dragoons approached Riga on Aug 20 and easily threw back the Swedes under GM H. v. Thurn into the city. Von Thurn was killed or captured in the action. The Swedes evacuated the suburbs and withdrew to the old town. A few days late, the main army under Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich arrived on the ships on the Duna River, and laid siege to Riga. Russians occupied three camps, two on the east bank of Duna in Riga's suburbs, and a Corps under Ordyn-Nashokin on the west bank of Duna opposite the Kobrun entrenchment. The events of the siege were recorded in an engraving by Adam Perelli that was first published in 1697 in Samuel Puffendorf's work, Konung Carl X Gustafs Bragder.


(click on map for a larger image)

The engraving shows Russian positions around the city and main moments of the siege:
- arriving and disembarkation of the main army (#15, in the left bottom corner).
- Action on Aug. 20, the Russian advance guard fighting the Swedes under GM H. v. Thurn (#16, in the field left and below the city).
- Swedish sally of October 2 (#17, in the field right and below the city).
- The arrival of the Swedish fleet with reinforcements (#18, in the Duna River above the city).

During the siege, the main Russian Army was located in the suburbs inside the outer walls. The engraving shows positions of foot and dragoon regiments of the "New Model", Streltzi and siege batteries. The exact positions of the feudal levy and reiter regiments are unknown.

Numerorum Explicatio. Explanations
(words in bold letters - original text from the engraving):


1. Magni Czaris opera et accefsus
Camp of the Main Army under Tzar Alexei Mikhailovich1 . The camp also shown in the left bottom corner of the large image, but in fact it was inside the walls.
2. Generalis Alex Leslie opera et accefsus
Camp of the Corps under General Avraam Leslie. Alexander Leslie was baptized in the Orthodox faith and changed name to Avraam. His Corps included units #9-13 below.
3. Generalis Knees Iakobs opera et accefsus
Camp of the Corps under Prince Iakov Tcherkasski (Cherkasski). It included units # 4-8 below. The camp also is shown in the right bottom corner of the large image.
4. Statio Tribuni Francisci Straforti
New Model Foot Regiment under Franc Strafford. Strafford died during the siege and his regiment was given to Lieutenant General Thomas Daleyll
5. Statio Tribuni Iakobi Renardi
New Model Foot Regiment under Iakob Renard
6. Statio Tribuni Hermanni a Staden
New Model Foot Regiment under Herman v. Staden
7. Statio Tribuni Iuly Sickleri
New Model Foot Regiment under Elisey Sinclair. Sinclair was severely wounded and taken prisoner during the Swedish sally on 2nd October. His regiment was possibly given to Major General Drummond.
8. Statio Tribuni Christiani Iunkmanni, Iohannis ab Hoewen et Trib. Allingy tres Legionum Dragonum
Three regiments of "settled" dragoons under Christian Iunkmann, Ioghan v. Hoewen and William Alling.
9. Statio Tribune Danielis Krafferti. New Model Foot Regiment Daniel Kraffert
10. Statio Trib. Alexandri Gipsonij. New Model Foot Regiment Alexander Gipson
11. Statio Trib. Abrahami Leslie, Butleri et Trib. Hammeltonij tres legiones Strelizoe. New Model Foot Regiments of General Avraam Leslie, Alexei Butler, Andrew Hamilton and 3 "prikazes" (regiments) of Moscow Streltzy2. Butler died during the siege and his regiment was given to Major General Drummond.
12. Statio Trib. Thom Boeli cum 2 Legionibus Strelizoe. New Model Foot Regiment Thomas Beli and 2 "prikazes" (regiments) of Moscow Streltzy2.
13. Strelizoe. Streltzy2.
14. Suggestut Rusorum. Russian siege batteries.

Footnotes:
1 - "Gosudarev polk" (Tzar's Own Corps) in Riga campaign included 13 "sotnia" (a unit of about 100 men) of Moscow nobles and gentry, 22 "sotnia" of feudal levy from other towns, "sotnia" of don Cossacks, 3 "sotnia" of Tartars. Their exact positions are unknown. Possibly part of them stayed with Tzar, and part on the other bank of Duna with Ordyn-Nashokin.
2 - There were 8 "prikazes" (regiments) of Moscow Streltzy in Riga campaign: Yakov Solovtcev, Semen Poltev, Artamon Poltev, Ivan Baskakov, Osip Kostiaev, Ivan Nelidov, Andrei Ostafiev, Ivan Zubov. Their exact positions are unknown. At least 1 "prikaz" was in Tcherkasski's Corps.


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