DANISH, DUTCH, RUSSIAN, AND SWEDISH MILITARY IN BNA

Introduction

The following includes small tables reflecting locations of military resources deployed into North America.[1] Most of the men below were not formed into national army units, but were hired commercially to provide local security. Their identity is now only generally known by their fort locations. I have chosen to use the geographical definition of North America, which includes the Caribbean and Central America. I have further broadened the foregoing definition to include South America, since the Europeans felt that America was all one.

The data are arranged chronologically by nationality.

The Danes

The commercial Danish West India and Guinea Company settled a colony on St Thomas island first in 1672, expanded to St John in 1683, and finally bought St Croix from the French West Indies Company in 1733. In 1754, these islands were sold to the Danish king, Frederik V as royal Danish colonies. Sugar cane, produced by slave labor, drove the islands' economy during the 18th and early 19th centuries.

Danish Forts (in North America)

Name & Location

Service

Fort Christian Garrison, St Thomas Island, West Indies

1672, Built at Charlotte Amelie.

Fort Frederick Garrison, Virgin Islands, West Indies

1718, Garrisoned to protected colony at Coral Bay St John; 1733, Captured by slaves.

Fort Christiansvaern Garrison, St Croix Island, West Indies

1749, Built at Christiansted; 1771, Rebuilt; 1917, US Takeover.

Fort Frederick Garrison, St Croix Island, West Indies

1751, Built at Frederiksted.

The Dutch

In 1590-1648, the organisation of the Dutch army or United Province army was modified by Maurice of Nassau at the end of the XVI century. Before then the Dutch had been organised like the German infantry. The Dutch army was organised in a standing army with regiments of infantry and cavalry and companies from the burgher militia or Waardgelders.

In 1595, a Dutch regiment had 10-20 companies. Each company had a staff off 13 men (1 captain, 1 lieutenant, 1 ensign, 2 sergeants, 3 corporals, a barber, a chaplain and a clerk) and 136 privates (50 pike men and 86 musketeers). After 1601, a field company had only 100 privates (30 pike men and 70 musketeers). In reality, in a regiment the colonel's company had 200 men and other companies had only 70 to 100 men. In 1600, Maurice of Nassau collected a strong army with 13 000 infantrymen divided in 128 companies and 2800 cavalrymen in 25 companies. There was an average of 101 infantrymen per company and 112 horses by company in the cavalry.

In North America, however, Peter Stuyvesant had no regular army of formed regiments. The commercial Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie (Dutch East India Company) hired its own regular soldiers and provided Nieuw Amsterdam a small army of hired men, in lieu of national army regiments. In 1633 about 50 regular soldiers were sent to garrison the colony; raised to 250 men in 1660; however, the garrison was reduced to 130 men in 1662. A militia was raised in 1640.[2] Admiral Eversten landed a regiment of regular marines in 1673 in the recapture of New York.

Dutch Military Units (in North America)

Nieuw Nederlands Militie Poorter Garde

1640, Nieuw Nederlands Militie Poorter Garde.

Colonial Defence. 1650, Garrisoned Long Island; 15 September 1655, Attacked and Conquered New Sweden and Garrisoned Fort Christina; October 1659, Fought Iroquois Indians; August 1673-November 1774, Garrisoned New York.

Nieuw Nederlands Korps van Zeesoldaat

1665, Strength 600 men

1665, Nieuw Nederlands Korps van Zeesoldaat.

Colonial Defence. August 1673-November 1774, Landed by Admiral Eversten and Captured and Garrisoned New York.

The Russians

The Russians were after furs, especially the valuable otter pelts. Russians were not serious military colonisers; although they had long been both fishermen and hunters in Alaska. Regular Russian military units were not part of the colonisation process, however, the early explorers and the Russian–American Company ships crews and traders were armed and the forts were garrisoned with militia. In Alaska the Russians also built Forts: Kolmakov; St Nicholas; St George; Sts Constantine and Helen; and St Dionysius. I have no details of these last forts, however their garrisons would have been armed, since the Tlingit Indians resisted the Russians.

Russian Forts (in North America)

Name & Location

Service

Fort St Michael's Redoubt, Sitka, Alaska.

Russian, 1799, colony and fort at New Archangel established. 1804, Capital of Alaska. 1802, Burned by Tlingit Indians. 1867, Alaska bought by USA. 1867-1906, capital of New Archangel renamed Sitka Alaska.

Fort Ross, California

Commander: Kuskov.

Russian, 1812, Established by the Russians, ~100 miles north of San Francisco

Fort Elizabeth, Hawaii.

Russian, 1815-1817.

The Swedish

At the beginning of the XVII century the Swedish king Gustavus Adolphus modified the Swedish military and created a formidable army. The basic infantry unit was the regiment of eight companies (some mercenary regiments had 12-16 companies). Each company had a staff of 16 men and 126 privates (54 pike men and 72 musketeers). Including the regimental staff, a regiment had 1160 men. In campaign the companies were organised in ½ regiments or squadron of 600 men (theoretically of 4 companies).

After the death of Gustavus Adolphus, the tendency was to reduce the number of pike men and increase the number of musketeers in the ½ regiments to arrive to a ratio of 1/3 pike men and 2/3 musketeers. During the battle of Lutzen in 1632 the Swedish regiment of Västergotland had 96 officers, 447 musketeers and 0 pike men in 8 companies (68 men per company), on the other side the famous Yellow regiment had 192 officers, 610 musketeers and 324 pike men in 16 companies (70 men per company).

The Swedish cavalry was organised in regiments of 8 companies, even if some regiments of 4 or 12 companies were also raised. Each company numbered 13* officers and 102 cavalrymen (125 “horses”). In campaign the regiments were organised in squadron of 200 to 400 men strength. At the battle of Lutzen in 1632, the Smäland regiment had 400 horses in 8 companies, the Östgöta regiment had only 100 horses in 4 companies. At last the Duke Bernard Weimar regiment had 500 horses in 12 companies and fielded 2 squadrons.

Like many others armies, the main Swedish campaign army was made up of mostly German protestant mercenaries, only 25% of these men were native troops. At the Battle of Breitenfiels in 1631, only 28% of Gustavus' troops were Swedish or Finnish and the percentage was down to 10-15 % later. In 1632, of the 142 000 protestant troops in Germany only 7.5 % were Swedish or Finnish.

The entire Swedish colonial population was only c200 settlers, but had included only 24 soldiers and Governor Peter Minuit could only organise a bare militia to garrison the forts. The colony surrendered to the 300-man Dutch force without a fight in 1655.

Swedish Forts (in North America)

Name & Location

Service

Fort Christine (Fort Christina), Delaware.

Swedish, 1637, Built of logs with garrison of 24 men; 1655, Surrendered to Dutch.

Ny Trinity (New Trinity).

Swedish, c1639, Built of logs; 1653, Destroyed.

Fort Elfsborg, New Jersey.

Swedish, 1643, Built of logs; 1653, Destroyed.

Fort Ny Korsholm (Fort New Korsholm), Pennsylvania. Swedish, 1647, Built of logs; 1653, Destroyed.

ENDNOTES

1             See The First Foot Guards, at footguards.tripod.com/01ABOUT/01_order_o_battle, and See John K. Robertson, Don Hagist, Todd Braisted, and Don Londahl-Smidt website at RevWar75.com; Regiments http://www.regiments.org; Canadian Government web site, Regiments and Units Serving in Canada 1755-1871, http://ccv.northwestcompany.com/hmd2.html, http://ccv.northwestcompany.com/demeuron.html, http//www.cmhg.gc.ca/cmh/en/page_538.asp?flash=1; Russian Alaska, at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_Alaska, and Russian colonization of the Americas, at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_colonization_of_the_Americas.

2         René Chartrand, Colonial American Troops 1610-1774 (1), pp. 41-42.

3         Ibid, p. 42.

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