Sea battle at Öland
The sea battle near Öland was a sea battle during the so-called Skåne War (1674–1679), an independent secondary theater of the Dutch War . The battle was fought between a united Danish-Dutch squadron and the Swedish fleet and took place on June 1st jul. / June 11, 1676 greg. off the east coast of the island of Öland in southern Sweden . The fleet of the allies was able to achieve a victory over the Swedish fleet, although slightly outnumbered, with minor losses of its own.
The sea battle at Öland developed from the land and sea offensive of the allied Danish and Dutch armed forces against the former Danish province of Skåne and the island of Gotland . In April and May 1676 the Danes conquered Gotland and took the city of Ystad on the southern coast of Skåne. This led to two brief clashes between the Swedish fleet , which initially had 60 warships (including 44 ships of the line ), and the Danish fleets , for example at Bornholm (15 May July / 25 May 1676 greg. ) and Jasmund (May 24 jul. / June 3, 1676 greg. ). In both cases, however, the fleets separated without major losses, as neither of the two fleets sought a decision.
The situation with the allies
In May 1676 the ships of the allied Dutch, including ten ships of the line and three frigates as well as three fires , arrived off Copenhagen and had joined the Danish fleet. The Dutch admiral Cornelis Tromp , appointed admiral general of the Danish fleet in May, took over command of the entire united Danish-Dutch fleet on June 5, 1676 after the undecided meeting of the two fleets before Jasmund. The previous Danish fleet commander, Admiral Niels Juel , took command of the vanguard under Tromp's command.
After the battle near Jasmund, Tromp advanced with his fleet, which now comprised a total of 25 ships of the line, nine frigates and five fire engines, via Bornholm in the direction of Öland in order to provide the Swedish fleet registered there. The ships of the combined fleet counted around 1,700 guns and around 10,000 crew members. Tromp led the majority of the unit from on board his flagship Christianus Quintus (84 guns). The vanguard consisted of seven ships of the line (under the command of Juel on board the 76-cannon ship of the line Churprindsen ), the rear guard was led by the Dutch Rear Admiral Philipp van Almonde (on the smaller 62-gun ship of the line Delft ).
The situation with the Swedes
After the meetings at Bornholm and Jasmund, the Swedish fleet initially went north to repair damage. North-east of Bornholm, however, the association had got into stormy weather, mainly a gusty easterly wind (this condition of the weather remained almost unchanged until the time of the Battle of Öland), which had caused serious damage to some ships. This resulted in some Swedish ships leaving the fleet as a result of sea damage and having to call at various bases. The rest of the fleet anchored in Trelleborg for supplies . The fleet management was also shown the plans for a planned reconquest of Gotland.
The morale on board the Swedish ships, however, was rather bad after the undecided battles at Bornholm and Jasmund, where both times no victory could be achieved despite numerical superiority. The Swedish fleet was also under the command of the 60-year-old baron and Swedish imperial councilor Lorentz Creutz the Elder , who, however, had only been appointed admiral and commander of the Swedish fleet a year earlier (1675) and who therefore had the leadership qualities of some of his subordinate captains and the necessary nautical experience have been agreed. Creutz commanded the fleet from on board his large flagship Kronan , which had 126 cannons and displaced around 2,200 t. The Kronan was at that time the largest warship of the Swedish fleet and at the same time the largest and most powerful battle within the Baltic Sea . The crew consisted of around 890 seamen and marines.
The experienced Vice Admiral Claas Uggla , one of the most capable Swedish naval strategists of his time, was directly subordinate to Creutz in the order of command.He commanded the second squadron of the Swedish fleet from board the 86-gun battleship Svärdet , also one of the largest warships on the Baltic Sea. The third and fourth squadrons of the Swedish fleet, quasi the rearguard, were under the command of Rear Admiral Johan Bär on board the ship of the line Riks-Nyckeln (82 cannons). In total, the Swedish fleet consisted of 25 ships of the line, 8 frigates, 7 armed merchant ships (with 12 to 54 cannons), 11 smaller warships ( gunboats and corvettes) and 6 Brandern. There were around 2,300 guns and 12,300 crew members on board.
In this respect, the Swedish fleet was superior to the enemy not only in numbers, but also in terms of the number of guns and the number of crews. In addition, the Swedish ships of the line were on average larger than those of the enemy. However, this was not necessarily an advantage (at most in boarding combat , when the head strength of the respective crew threatened to make the difference in a direct duel) in the sometimes adverse and shallow waters of the Baltic Sea.
On June 9, the Swedish fleet lying in Trelleborg left its anchorages and went to sea in the direction of Öland, as reports of the approaching of the combined Danish-Dutch fleet had been reported. The Swedish Admiral Creutz intended to put the allied squadron north of Öland to fight. In a stormy easterly wind, both formations ran north on the following day. However, Admiral Tromp led the Danish-Dutch fleet closer to the coastline, so that his ships could benefit more from the wind and gradually caught up with the enemy. The somewhat smaller ships of the Dutch and Danes were also able to ride the stormy seas better than the large Swedish liners, which again had to accept lighter storm damage.
On the morning of June 11, the two fleets came into sight of each other, much earlier than Admiral Creutz had intended. Both fleets were still just under 15 nautical miles southeast of Öland and about seven nautical miles from the island's “10 meter line” (depth). Tromp caught up quickly with his combined fleet and pushed his ships in a daring maneuver, only about four nautical miles from the shore , between the Swedish fleet and the southeastern coastline of Öland. Danes and Dutch benefited from the offshore wind and the position on the windward side and began to overtake the Swedish fleet in a passing battle. Around noon the first broadsides were exchanged, and the Swedish top ships soon received an effective fire.
In this situation, Admiral Creutz ordered a sharp turning maneuver of his flagship Kronan to port . His aim was to cut off and duplicate the Danish-Dutch vanguard from the main fleet with his squadron. In view of the proximity to the coast and because of the strong easterly wind, Creutz revoked the risky order a short time later, while his unit had already initiated the turn.
In the middle of the turn, however, the Kronan , which was under full sail, was hit by a strong gust and pushed to the side. Since the lowest gun ports were open, water quickly penetrated the ship. Around 1 p.m. the Kronan capsized to port. A devastating explosion in the powder chamber , presumably due to the capsizing of the powder kegs inside and coming into contact with burning fuses or lamps, tore up the ship just a few minutes later and blew up the entire starboard side. Debris and body parts rained down a kilometer away. Admiral Lorentz Creutz and 839 crew members went under with the Kronan . Only about 50 survivors were later rescued from the sea.
In view of this loss and the reversal order that was ultimately canceled again, the Swedish battle line fell into complete disorder. Four Swedish ships in the vanguard fled without further ado and sailed on a north-east course contrary to orders. Vice-Admiral Claes Uggla found himself surrounded by several ships of the allies, including Tromp's flagship Christianus Quintus , within a short time after the almost complete collapse of the battle line of the vanguard with his flagship Svärdet . For almost three hours, the Svärdet fought almost alone against four ships of the Danish-Dutch fleet. The bulk of the remaining Swedish ships could not cross free due to the leeward position and Uggla could not give any support. Finally had to Uggla, after it was dismasted his ship and completely shot to pieces, at about 16.00 the order to strike the flag issue. In this situation, around 4:20 p.m., the Svärdet was attacked by the Dutch fire, t'Hoen, and set on fire. It has not been established with certainty whether the captain of the fire had deliberately acted contrary to orders or merely failed to notice the surrender of the Swedish ship. The Svärdet was quickly engulfed in the flames and blew up at 4:40 p.m. after a powder chamber explosion. Of the approximately 640 crew members, around 620 were killed, including Vice Admiral Uggla.
Immediately afterwards, around 5 p.m., the Swedish ship of the line Neptunus (46 cannons), one of the few ships that could halfway to help the Svärdet , also had to drop the flag in front of Admiral Niels Juel's flagship Churprindsen and was boarded. About 100 men of the crew had been killed or wounded during the previous battle. The Swedish fleet then began to break away from the enemy in an uncoordinated manner and to withdraw. This withdrawal movement developed into an escape around 6:00 p.m., during which the fleet of the allies gave the Swedes the merchant ship Järnvågen , which was armed with 24 cannons (boarded by the Danish liner Anna Sophia ) and the small 16-cannon corvette Enhorn (boarded by the Dutch Ship of the line Dordrecht ).
The battle ended in the evening hours with the Swedes fleeing towards the port of Dalarö and the Strait of Kalmar . During this retreat, the Swedish ship of the line Riksäpplet (84 cannons), the third largest ship in the Swedish fleet after the Stora Kronan and the Svärdet , ran aground off Dalarö. About 50 crew members were rescued from attacking Danish ships in the storm. The remaining crew, about 600 men, perished in the shipwreck.
The sea battle at Öland was a disaster for Sweden. In addition to the three largest warships in the fleet, three other ships were lost. Ten other ships had been damaged in battle or in the storm. In addition, the commander-in-chief of the fleet, Lorentz Creutz, and Claes Uggla, who was probably the most experienced Swedish fleet commander of the time, died in the battle. Around 2,300 Swedish sailors were killed, well over 800 of them alone on board the capsized flagship Kronan . In addition, around 650 seafarers were captured (on board the boarded ships). After this battle, the Swedish fleet remained - apart from individual advances by smaller ships - in the ports for almost a year, which basically transferred the command of the sea to the armed forces of the allies. In order to find out the cause of the heavy defeat, the Swedish King Charles XI. a commission of inquiry was set up in June 1676. This found that a general bad management of the fleet had contributed to the disastrous result for Sweden. Although no one was made responsible or named directly in retrospect, Rear Admiral Johan Bär, commander of the liner Nyckeln and at the same time the commander in charge of the third and fourth squadrons (and also the only one of the three leading admirals still alive), never again received command in the Swedish Navy .
In return, the combined Danish-Dutch fleet suffered only minor losses. Only three ships were significantly damaged. As a total loss, only the Brander t'Hoen had to be written off. The personnel losses amounted to around 200 dead and wounded. After the battle, the Danish-Dutch fleet initially dominated the western Baltic Sea unchallenged, which also made it possible for a Danish army to land in the south of Helsingborg at the end of June 1676.
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