Battle of Kliszów, 8/19 July 1702

The battle of Kliszów was a major Swedish victory during Charles XII’s invasion of Poland-Lithuania early in the Great Northern War. Charles XII commanded an army of 8,000 infantry and 4,000 cavalry. Most of its artillery was absent, trailing behind the main army, so at Kliszów Charles only had four guns. On the day before the battle the two armies had camped five miles apart deep inside Poland, on the road to Cracow. Early in the morning on 19 July 1702 (New Style) Charles XII had drawn his army up in full battle order outside their camp, awaiting a Polish attack. That attack never came, and at 9.00 am Charles ordered his army to advance towards the Polish camp.

Charles had been expecting an attack because Augustus II of Poland-Lithuania and Saxony outnumbered him. The allied army contained 9,000 Saxon cavalry, 7,500 Saxon infantry and 6,000 Polish cavalry under Grand Hetman Hieronim Lubomirski, supported by forty-six guns. Charles was outnumbered nearly two to one.

Augustus responded to the appearance of the Swedish army at 11.00 am by taking up a strong position outside his own camp. The Saxons made up the left and centre of the line, defending by a swamp to their left and with a boggy valley in front. The Polish cavalry was placed on the right.

The most important fighting would come on the right. Charles began with an attack on the Polish cavalry which was repulsed. Augustus now launched his own attack. On the right the Poles made two attacks on the Swedish line, failing to break through. In the centre and left the Saxons attacked across the boggy valley and were also repulsed.

Despite having suffered only 80 dead, the Poles under Lubomirski now fled the field. Augustus still outnumbered Charles, but his right flank was dangerously exposed. The strong Swedish left attacked the Saxon lines from the side, while the rest of the Swedish army took their turn to advance across the boggy valley.

The Saxons were now fighting with their backs to the swamp. They suffered heavy casualties, losing 2,000 dead and 1,000 prisoners. Swedish losses were much lower, at 300 dead, although Charles’s brother in law Frederick of Holstein-Gottorp was amongst the dead. The rest of the Saxon army was eventually able to escape west across the swamps that had protected their left flank earlier in the day. In the aftermath of the battle, Charles went on to occupy Cracow and much of Poland.

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (29 July 2007), Battle of Kliszów, 8/19 July 1702 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_kliszow.html

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