Saturday 18 May 2024

A Swedish Soldier in the Napoleonic Wars

Number 128 in Helion’s ‘from Reason to Revolution 1721-1815’ is this fascinating little book, A Swedish Soldier in the Napoleonic Wars: the Memoirs of Carl Magnus Hultin 1807-1814. The original manuscript has been sympathetically translated by Swedish author and historian Erik Faithful, who by no coincidence is a descendant of Hultin.

Sweden’s involvement in the Napoleonic Wars is an interesting subject in its own right, and Hultin served in one capacity or another from 1808 where he enlisted in the militia, through the war against Russia in 1808-1809 resulting in the loss of Finland during which he transferred to the regular army. He witnessed the overthrow of the unpopular king, Gustav IV Adolf, the ‘war’ against Britain then campaigned in Europe under Crown Prince Bernadotte against the French and Danes in 1813-1814 and finally the Norwegian campaign in 1814. He never rose to high rank, and retired from the army as a captain in 1842.

I have a great fascination with the Swedish army during this period, and these memoirs provide a candid, entertaining and revealing account of Hultin’s experiences during several key campaigns. Taken as they are from the lower end of the military hierarchy what we have is a valuable insight into the war from a totally different perspective than is the norm, and is full of stories about the soldiers and commanders complemented by some charming anecdotes.

The book contains a number of nice black and white illustrations, many of which are contemporary in origin, and others depict Swedish soldiers and I tems of surviving clothing. There are also several really useful maps showing the different areas campaigned over, plus a map of the battle of Retschow in 1813, fought between the Swedes and a Franco-Danish force.

This is a great book, and if like me one is interested in the Swedish participation in the Napoleonic Wars then I can recommend it highly. I for one would welcome more such books on the subject.

ISBN 978-804514-34-4.  Soft cover, 197 pages.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review. Not a lot available for the period involving Sweden.