On July 8, 1709, Swedish forces under the command of King Charles XII engaged in combat with Russian forces under the command of Peter the Great at Poltava in modern-day Ukraine. Having been drained by the cold Russian winter earlier in their invasion, the Swedish forces were exhausted and heavily outnumbered by their Russian counterparts (an estimated of forces participating in the battle alone place the Swedes at less than 17,000 while the Russians numbered approximately 42,000). Further hindrance to the Swedish forces occurred when King Charles XII was wounded by a gunshot to the leg a few days prior to the battle, rendering him largely immobile and forcing him to surrender operational command to Field Marshal Carl Gustav Rehnskiöld. With most of his forces either dead or captured, King Charles XII finally ordered a retreat. Only roughly 1500 Swedes escaped capture or death and were lead to south to Moldavia by Charles XII. It would be another five years before Charles XII would be able to return to Sweden.
The Battle of Poltava resulted in the practical destruction of Sweden's army and empire while also beginning Russia's rise to power in Europe. With Charles XII in exile and the Swedish military shattered from a costly campaign in Russia, Russia and Poland would reclaim territory lost to the Swedes. By the time he had returned to Sweden, Charles XII found himself and his country fighting a defensive war against their neighbors. He finally met his death during the Swedish invasion of Norway at the Siege of Frederiksten by a shot to the head.
, this day in history
, battle of poltava
2 years, 6 months ago
08 Jul 2016 21:01 CEST
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