MEDALJ. 1675. GERMANY. Battle of Fehrbellin against Sweden.

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MEDALJ. 1675. GERMANY. Battle of Fehrbellin against Sweden.

The Swedes, under Count Waldemar von Wrangel had invaded and occupied parts of Brandenburg from their possessions in Pomerania, but were during The Battle of Fehrbellin (28th June 1675) repelled by the forces of Frederick William (by commander Georg von Derfflinger). Engraved year 1675. Bronze-plated lead, 42 mm.

Prior to the battle the Swedes and Brandenburg had been allies in various wars against Poland. However, when Frederick joined an allied expedition against Louis XIV, the French persuaded Sweden (which had been increasingly isolated on the continent) to attack Brandenburg while the Brandenburg Army was away. When Frederick heard of the attack and occupation of a large part of his nation, he drew his army out of the coalition and marched it 250 Kilometers in only two weeks - considered one of the great marches in military history. He did it by abandoning his supply wagons and having his army buy supplies from the locals, but forbidding pillaging.

STORMING OF TOWN RATHENOW (after getting the swedish officers drunk)
Once he returned to Brandenburg, Frederick William immediately realized that the Swedes were dispersed and ordered Derrflinger to take the central town of Rathenow in order to split the Swedes roughly down the middle. Frederick bribed a local official loyal to him to hold a large and elaborate banquet for the Swedish officers of the fortress in order to get them drunk before the assault began. Derrflinger then personally impersonated a Swedish officer and convinced the guards to open the gates of the town by claiming that a Brandenburg patrol was after him. Once the gates were opened for him, he personally led the charge of 1,000 Dragoons against the city and the rest of the army soon followed. He was 69 years old at the time.

Once Derfflinger had expelled the Swedish forces from Rathenow, this made the Swedish lines vulnerable. 5,600 cavalry and 13 guns on the Brandenburg side faced 7,000 infantry, 4,000 cavalry and 38 guns on the Swedish side. By placing his guns on a series of low hills to his left, while the Swedes had only swamps to their flanks and a river behind them, Frederick William and Derfflinger gained a decisive tactical advantage. These guns opened fire around noon on the 28th and caused heavy casualties on the Swedish right flank. The Swedes attempted several times to wrest control of the hills but were stopped each time. Frederick William had his main attack press the right flank of the Swedes eventually causing their Cavalry to flee, and exposing their infantry to a flank attack. The Brandenberg cavalry then turned and annihilated an entire regiment of Swedish infantry, which was cut down to the last man. The Brandenburg troops lost about 500 men. Wrangel's forces, although routed, lost only about the same on the day of the Battle, but lost much more in the coming days retreat. Raiding parties, desertion, starvation, and other factors reduced the retreating Swedish army to a fraction of what it was.

Although militarily only of minor importance, the victory had enormous psychological impact: the Swedes, long considered unbeatable, had been bested. Frederick William henceforth was known as the Great Elector, and the army that he and Derfflinger had led to victory against the swedes became the core of the future Prussian army.