Sweden Fends Off A Danish Invasion At Helsingborg

Today on February 28, 1710, Sweden’s hastily assembled army fends off a Danish invasion at the Battle of Helsingborg.

The Battle of Helsingborg was a major military engagement of the Great Northern War — a conflict between the Tsardom of Russia and the Swedish Empire. Several neighboring states, including Denmark, Norway, Saxony, Poland, and Lithuania, supported the anti-Swedish Coalition. The Great Northern War lasted more than twenty-one years. The Allies successfully challenged Sweden’s territorial holdings and influence across Central, Northern, and Eastern Europe. In 1700, King Frederick IV of Denmark-Norway was kicked out of the alliance after signing the Treaty of Traventhal. But he fully intended to renew hostilities with Sweden as an opportunity presented itself.

On July 9, 1708, Russia achieved a decisive victory against Sweden at the Battle of Poltava. After nine years of patiently waiting, the Danes finally got their opportunity. In the following year, King Federick declared war on Sweden and immediately began preparing for war. The Danes amassed an invasion force of 15,000 infantry supported by 4,000 cavalrymen and 30 cannon. In early November 1709, they landed in Scania (southern Sweden) and were met little to no resistance.

Meanwhile, the Swedish army was still recruiting new regiments following their heavy losses at Poltava. After three months of avoiding battle, they finally mustered a force capable of defending the country. Under the command of Magnus Stenbock, the Swedish troops marched towards the city of Helsingborg to intercept the invaders. Stenbock had roughly the same amount of soldiers as the Danes.

The Battle of Helsingborg began on a particularly foggy morning. The weather made surveying enemy troop movements near impossible. And, neither army had assembled into proper formation. But the heavy fog eventually lifted, it was clear the Danes were at a disadvantage. Significant gaps remained throughout their right flank — an obvious target for the Swedes. By midday, the Danish commander Jorgen Rantzau had been wounded by a shot through his lungs. Morale plummeted once he disappeared from the battlefield. Even worse, rumors circulated that the Danish right flank had been completely encircled. Mass confusion resulted from a lack of leadership, inevitably sparking a retreat from the field. Despite a somewhat orderly withdrawal, many of the Danish infantry were cut down by the Swedish cavalry. All of the surviving Danes left Scania following their defeat at the Battle of Helsingborg.

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