Battle of Honigfelde, 27 June 1629

The battle of Honigfelde (also known as Trzciana or Sztum) was the last significant battle of the Polish-Swedish War of 1600-1629. Gustav Adolf of Sweden had invaded Polish Prussia in 1626 and had generally had the best of the war over the next two years. However, his position was not strong – his army was not massive, and large numbers of men were pinned down in garrisons. The Polish-Lithuanian army was smaller, but in 1629 it was about to be reinforced by a contingent of Imperial troops. These troops had been sent to Poland by the Emperor Ferdinand in an attempt to prevent Gustav Adolf intervening in the Thirty Years War. They would have the opposite effect.

In the summer of 1629 Gustav Adolf had 23,000 men, the Poles under Koniecpolski had nearly 19,000 and the Imperial force under Hans Georg von Arnim numbered 5,000. Gustav Adolf decided to make a dash south with 7,500 men, hoping to intercept Arnim and defeat him before the allies could unit.  He was too late, and on 25 June Arnim and Koniecpolski united their armies.

On 27 June part of the allied army caught up with the Swedish rearguard of 2,000 cavalry. Koniecpolski lined up with the Imperial reiters in the centre, the Cossacks on the left and the hussars on the right. The leader of the Swedish rearguard, Rheingraf Johann Wilhelm, attempted to outflank the allied lines, but Koniecpolski took advantage of a hidden valley to launch an attack on the Swedish left flank. The Swedish horse were driven off the battlefield and forced to retreat north.

Koniecpolski sent his faster Cossacks to chase the retreating Swedes. They made a short stand at Strasewo, before being forced back again, this time to Pulkowitz. Gustav Adolf was now present, with fresh troops. A hard fought melee followed, in which Gustav Adolf was nearly captured, and suffered back wound. Eventually the Swedes were able to escape from the battle and rejoin the main army at Stuhm.

Swedish losses were reported by Gustav Adolf as only 200 dead. The Poles claimed to have counted nearly 1,500 bodies. The Rheingraf was amongst the dead. Two hundred prisoners were taken. The battle of Honigfelde was a serious setback for Gustav Adolf, who was by now desperate to get involved in the fighting in Germany. It made it unlikely that he would be able to win the war in Prussia. Accordingly, while Polish-Lithuanian troops attacked his encampment at Marienburg, Gustav Adolf began peace negotiations, which ended with the Truce of Altmark (September 1629). Freed from the war in Poland, he was then able to intervene in the Thirty Years War, landing at Peenemünde in July 1630. The Imperial aid that had been intended to pin the Swedes down in Poland had instead freed them to intervene dramatically in Germany.

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (28 July 2007), Battle of Honigfelde, 27 June 1629, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_honigfelde.html

Help - F.A.Q. - Contact Us - Search - Recent - About Us -  Subscribe in a reader - Join our Google Group - Cookies