Siege of Pernau
The Siege of Pernau was a military intervention in the Great Northern War. It began on 22 July and ended on 15 August 1710 with the surrender of the Swedish garrison. This had dwindled from 1000 men to 120 men due to the effects of the plague. Furthermore, there was no prospect of relief or relief attacks by the Swedish army, so the garrison surrendered.
In the run-up
After the victory of the Russian army at the Battle of Poltava, Tsar Peter I moved into the Baltic lands in August 1709. These were hardly protected anymore and the Swedish troops had almost completely retreated to the remaining fortresses (Riga, Pernau and Reval).
The Russians began the siege of Riga in November 1709. During this siege, Lieutenant-General Bauer was ordered to capture the town of Pernau. He handed over command of Field Marshal Sheremetev’s division to General Rönne, and on 27 June moved off with six regiments of dragoons towards Pernau.
On July 22 the blockade of the city was begun. Shortly after the beginning, first the Rittmeister von Schwanenfeld and then the Colonel Frejderfeld, went out of the fortress on parole and requested the free departure of the Livonian knighthood. This request was refused, as the lieutenant-general was aware of the poor state of supplies and the distress caused by the outbreak of the plague within the fortress, and that a speedy surrender of the fortress to his troops was probable.
The Swedish garrison had indeed been severely weakened by the plague. Of the 1000-man regular garrison of the fortress, only about 200 men remained in service.
On August 8, the colonel again appeared in the camp of the Russians. He repeated his request. He said that consideration should be shown to the nobility and that he should be allowed to leave the fortress. This request was also refused. On this occasion the colonel was informed that the siege troops would be supported by infantry and artillery in a few days. A storming of the fortress would be imminent. Frejderfeld requested that the Russian troops refrain from attacking for the time being, as the situation in the city was very difficult.
In view of the situation, the commander sent two officers to the lieutenant general on August 14 to negotiate the terms of surrender. Once these had been negotiated, Bauer in turn sent two Russian officers to the fortress to receive the surrender.
On the same day the first infantry regiments reached the siege army. One of these regiments was immediately sent to the fortress gate to occupy it.
On August 15, the Swedish troops left the city and handed it over to the Russians. The Swedish garrison, which had further dwindled to 120 men, was granted free departure. Colonel Frejderfeld and a few gunners of Swedish origin departed in the direction of Reval. The Livonian soldiers transferred to Russian service.
During the siege, not one artillery shell was fired by the Russians at the town of Pernau.
Spoils of the Russian war
In the fortress were captured 183 iron cannon, 14 iron mortars, four iron howitzers, 881 bombs, and 1505 hundredweight of powder. In addition, a large supply of bullets, cartridges, fuses, lead, saltpetre, sulphur, shells and other war necessities fell into Russian hands. Food was no longer available in the town.
After taking the city and leaving behind a small garrison, Lieutenant General Bauer was charged by the Tsar with the capture of Reval.
The campaign of 1709 and 1710 brought the tsar control over the entire Baltic region. After the fall of Pernau, Reval and Kexholm were also taken. Swedish domination of the Baltic was henceforth ended forever.
- from Bunge, p. 81
- Bacmeister §253, p. 332.
- Paucker, p. 11
- Bacmeister §265, p. 353-354
- Hartwich-Ludwig-Christian Bacmeister: Beyträge zur Geschichte Peters des Großen Volume 1, Riga 1774
- Friedrich Georg von Bunge: Historical Survey of the Foundations and Development of Provincial Law in the Baltic Sea Governorates, St. Petersburg (1846)
- Carl Julius Albert Paucker: The Civil and Military Commanders-in-Chief in Estonia at the Time of the Imperial Russian Government, Dorpat (1855)