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Battle of Ratan and Sävar

Battle of Sävar and Ratan
Date of battleAugust 19-August 20, 1809
ConflictFinnish War
Site of battleThe village of Sävar and
the village of Ratan,
sligtly north of Umeå, Sweden
Combatant 1Sweden
CommandersGustaf Wachtmeister, Johan Puke
Strength6,800 troops
Combatant 2Russia
CommandersNikolaj Michailovitj Kamenskij
Strength5,000 troops
ResultSwedish victory
Casualties(1): 1,400
(2): 2,100

The Battle of Sävar and Ratan is actually two separate battles fought with only a day apart. They are mentioned together as it was the same armies that fought both battles and the later battle can infact be thought as an extension of the first one.

Table of contents
1 Prelude to the battle
2 Description of the battle
3 Aftermath

Prelude to the battle

The Russians had successfully captured the city of Umeå and driven the Swedish army commanded by Sandels south, down to Härnösand. Tsar Alexander I of Russia demanded that Sweden should cede all of Österland and large parts of Norrland. In order to achieve a better position for negotiations with Russia, the Swedish army command deceived a plan in which they would land troops north of the Russian positions in Umeå and attack the Russian army in the back while the mainland army of 3,400 men under Fabian Wrede attacked them in the front.

Chosen to lead the sea-borne task force was Lieutenant-General Gustav Wachtmeister. Battle proven in the Preussian army, in the Sweden-Russia war 1789-1790, and in the Pomeranian War just two years earlier. There was talk on giving the command to von Döbeln, but Wachtmeister was chosen.

There was no threat from the Russians possible on the waters as the combined force of the Swedish Örloggsflottan and the British Navy had the Russian fleet at bay. The task force debarked from Stockholm on August 8 and sailed north towards Ratan 45 km north from Umeå. In order to avoid being detected by the Russian army in Umeå the task force sailed east of Holmön. It arrived at Ratan August 16. The planned attack was to take place at August 19

The Swedish task force sent was composed by:

Description of the battle

August 17 the Swedish army disembarked their ships in Ratan. Later, the same day a small Russian detachment in Djäkneboda was destroyed.

The Russian commander Nikolaj Michailovitj Kamenskij was marching south when he learnt about the Swedish task force; he quickly wheeled around and marched north in order to face Wachtmeisters army before Wrede arrived.

The Swedish force under Wachtmeister was delayed at Sävar 20 km north of Umeå. The Russians attacked Wachtmeisters force in Sävar at 07:30 August 19. The Russian force took possession of high ground immediately and the Swedes counterattacked the Russians uphill. A fierce battle broke out and despite the Swedes success in the fighting Wachtmeister ordered his forces to retreat back to Ratan. The Battle of Sävar was over at 15:00.

In Sävar, Sweden suffered casualties of 396 men and the Russians suffered around 600 men.

After the Battle of Sävar, the Swedish force fell back to the village of Ratan. In which they immediately prepared for another battle. On August 20 Nikolaj Michailovitj Kamenskij ordered his army to attack the Swedes once again. This time Sweden had support from their artillery, not only the ground based, but also the cannons loaded on the Swedish fleet. Totally around 100 cannons was available for the Swedish army.

During the Battle of Ratan Wachtmeister managed to defeat Kamenskij who afterwards retreated north towards Piteå. Shortly after, Swedish troops entered Umeå.

Casualties at Ratan numbered 1,000 Swedes and 1,500 Russians.


The battles outcome helped Sweden achieve a better position in the peace negotiations with Russia. The Russian Tsar Alexander had demanded all of Österland, Åland, the parts of Norrland in present day Finland and parts of Norrland in present day Sweden. The Czar's demand was that the border was to be drawn at the River of Kalix. The engagements in Sävar and Ratan helped move the border north to the Torneå and Muonio rivers.

Having the border further north than demanded by the Russians helped Sweden a lot; major findings of iron ore was discovered in these areas later.