Spruce it up

This article is not about the 18th century per se, but rather about general woodsmanship.


I generally prefer doing my reenacting outdoors in the forests. Sweden is about 80% forested area so there is a lot of space to use… Much of this forested area is spruce so spruce comes up a lot in woodsmanship around here.

The most common way to use spruce is to make your bedding with it. It is generally very good for this but few have a good grasp on how much is needed, and how to apply it. Some just collect a few branches and put them on the ground. Lets look at a better way.

To gain as good an insulation from groundcold as a modern camping mattress it needs to be about half a meter high. This generally is three or four armfulls, depending on how you arrange it. It you just heap it, it will take more and compress faster. But if you stick the ends into the ground and have them tilting up in an angle you will get a springy function and it will be way more effective. This way they will not compress as fast and you will generally have a softer more effective bed, with the added bonus of no hard endtwigs poking you. Align them in rows until you have your allotted area covered.


Branches arranged by sticking them into the ground. Giving a high and insulated bed.

Doing the dishes

For doing the dishes the spruce is an excellent choice. It will provide you with a dishbrush and detergent.  Lets get all out educational with step by step pictures and all!

So, you just eaten and reached that happy reclining state in came where your belly is full and you are about to stretch out. 20160507_152157Now is the time to do the dishes. Of course you have fried something greasy and its starting to stick to the skillet.

Fist step, use some small branches to just clear out the big chunks and give it a good starting scrub.20160507_192829

Next, put some branches into the pot and pour water on them. Get quite many and try to get them to fit into the pot. If you like you can chop them up. 20160507_192912

Fill up with water over the branches…..20160507_192942

…and get back to camp. Now we put the sprucesoup on the fire. This will give us hot water for our dishing but there is an additional perk. Spruce contains quite a lot of saponine which acts as detergent. Even pine has a lot and birch, eventhough birch is mostly used as a detergent for cloth. Cooking the branches will release the saponine and give you detergent for your dishing up. 20160507_193209

When the needles have lost colour and you can see a sort of oily film on the water, the dishwater is ready for you. This is the oils and saponines that have released into the water.


During the time the dishwater gets ready you can fashion a clever dishbrush. and get ready for the actual dishing. See all those little saponines swimming happily in the water, ready to do your bidding as detergents?20160507_195801

Now you have dishwater to use for most of the dishes that needs to be done after the meal. Everyone is happy and double happy that your demonstration of ‘how to do the dishes’ have resulted in all the dirty dishes being made.






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Swedish commoner of 18th Century.


I never had much interest in recreating nobles and macaronis. I always found the common man more interesting. I don’t really have a reason for this… maybe it is because I see to many aristocrats and I want to be different? Or I just like to be gritty.

I am happy enough to have friends around me that like to do the same stuff. So we routinely get out in the woods to do… commonerstuff.

This article talks about how we look at things and makes no aspirations about being the ultimate guide to commoners. You may, if you like, choose to see it as a start to more in-depth research if you like…  but really it is just some thoughts scribbled down by me.

The illusive commoner

I mostly do early 18th Century, the age of the great Nordic war (1700-1720). this is a time where virtually noone painted commoners in Sweden. There is very Little pictorial evidence of them and costume historians have had this problem for ages…. There are some written evidence but these seldom tells us HOW things looked. In general the timeperiod is refered to as ‘the long 17th century’ (1560 to 1719) as little happens that changes things during this time. The early 18th century basically had the same fashion in clothes as the late 17th century. Long waistcoats and justacorps rule the upper and middleclass as well as the army. There is some evidence that the more provinsional types had a lingering earlier 17th century fashion with ballonish breeches and short jackets. If you where closer to towns, you seem to have a more updated dress though.

20160320_105610-120160320_105637Jon is seen here with a broadcloth coat. Grey broadcloth, heavily fulled, seems to have been the most common for basic commoners. “grey farmer” was used to describe that class by others. It often lacked buttons, using hooks and eyelets instead. Jon has a more fashionable variant. Sporting tin buttons and short cuffs, the style used by the military and called “Swedish cuffs” by others.
The round uncocked hat is also the common hat for the peasant class. Sometimes a knitted hat was popular as well.



buff/chamoise was popular both in the army and amongst commoners. Jon has a buff/chamois waistcoat. They where usually of moose, but ox was also used. The shoes have birchbark soles, very good to keep wet and Cold out. They also lack buckles, also not required by commoners. The army had their socks outside their breeches, but civilians had their breeches over socks earlier, even in 17th Century. Knitted socks are winning ground, but sewn socks are still more common. Usually you see some kneebands helping to hold them up.

Tröja, väst and kamisol

Väst is the Swedish Word for vest/waistcoat. if it had a full back, that is full long and with same cloth as the front, it was considered fit for outerwear without a 20160320_101924-1coat on.
Armvests/sleeved waistcoats was referred to as ‘tröja’ or if it was of buff leather ‘kamisol’. It seems you could use both a ‘väst’ and a ‘tröja’ at the same time. This is refered to in text and songs. There is also a dragoonuniform with both väst and kamisol (both in leather).

On this Picture I wear a green wool waistcoat and over that a grey sleeved waistcoat with leatherfacings buttonholes and the inner arms of leather. The simple reason for this is that I ran out of cloth and opted for putting the leather on the inside of the arms as it seems to have been common to try to put ‘replacementcloth’ on the least visible places. The pockets are low, as were common in early 18th Century and I wear goatskinn breaches.


This is something that often irks foreign reenactors.
The selfowning Swedish farmer. That is the head of the household, not so often his farmhands, often sported a beard. This seems to have been a vital part of their identity. Even if regional fashions was observed it seems most common to shave the moustache.

For more musings of bearding you can look here.


I would like to write more about womenclothing, but to be honest I know to little as I have mostly looked at male clothing for my own reenacting. Perhaps on a later date I can get someone who knows stuff to write an article for me.

20160320_105521-1Lets look at something at least. The same is true for women as with men. The fashion lingers from the century before. The skirts are full and have one or several petticoats under. Some think that you used the skirts you hade and then altered which one was topmost and visible.

20160320_105438-1The ‘tröja’ for women was usually three quarters length on the arms, or it was full length and folded back up. To combat the chill of not wearing full length arms you could use longer unfingered gloves.

The shawl was carried either tucked into the tröja or over it. Sometimes a longer bigger one was carried swept across the chest and tied on the back. possibly they could have been knitted. Stays seems to have been used, but it is possible that they were taken off during labour.

To see more of this particular reenactingsession when we where out collecting branches and twigs check out Jons video below or check our pictures on my facebook .








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Succariebread, Fieldprovisions of the 1718 campaign

The most tactical bread ever

King Charles XII tried to invade Norway once before, in 1716. It did not go well, and part of this was that it was almost impossible to sustain the army.

To succeed the King figured out that provisions needed to be stored and transported out to the Army. This might seem like an obvious thing, but in that time it was a rather revolutionary idea. The common practise was to feed the army of what one could procure from the area it operated in.

Carl Gustaf Mörner. Field marshal and breaddevloper for the king

Carl Gustaf Mörner. Field marshal and breaddevloper for the king

The king decided of a sort of bread he had seen the Russians use. 1716 he ordered a series of testbakings to start in Uddevalla. They found out that they should use coarse flour. This is because too much flour was lost in sifting it, according to Field marshal Mörner, head of the baking.

The king was heavily involved in this on a personal basis and wrote several letters about how the bread was to be made, that only this bread and nothing else should be baked. and all sorts of things concerning the bread.  As the war drew closer the baking of the bread was centred at Frösö redoubt in Jämtland under Majorgeneral Fitinghof. By the turn of the year 1717-1718 the stores in Jämtland held bread enough for 9000 men for nine months. Three years after the campaign it was reported that of the bread that was left only very small amounts had been damaged.

By the recipe of the king

The king wrote down how the bread should be baked. The translation below is made by me, and if it is a bit odd, I have tried to keep the feel and the way of the text, but cleared some things that was hard to translate directly.


Description of Sucaris bread how it should be rightly baked and dried

  1. It will be of ordinary well kneaded ad set to sour, as is usual here in the country, but the dough shall stand in sour 16 hours and for all becomes well sour.
  2. When the dough has stood and become well sour it is worked a lot, and flour kneaded well into, before it is made into bread.
  3. The dough is baked in long round or square loafs of 10 or 12 marks heavy/long and one hand breath hight, which is well baked through.
  4. The bread, after it is baked, stands and cool before it is cut small, at least 4, 6 or 8 days, so that the bread with less loss and more easy is cut
  5. When it has become cold and hard, it is first cut in slices and then in dices so big that when they are dried they should be 2-3 inches in cubic.
  6. Then these little cut dices is put into a warm enough oven, making sure it is not to hot, so that the bread is not burnt and the power of it dried away, which soon easily can happen in a very hot owen, being that when the bread is all burnt it is totally hurtful for the people, wherefore this must be taken into serious account, so that it is dried in a warn and not hot owen, and it must during the drying be often and readily stirred
  7. In this bread there is no salt, since the bread from that draws up moist and turns bad.

In the original there is sometimes alternative words added when the scriptclercs did not know exactly what the king had said. The reason being that they were terrified to write wrongly.

Succraiebread. Hard little lumps of joyless nutrition.
Succariebread. Hard little lumps of joyless nutrition.


Now, I will let Victoria tell you all about how she went about making the bread.


Making bread, Viktoria Arvidsson

To make the Succariebread i used to different sources, both in Swedish,

Viktoria Arvidsson, Textilexpert and Breaddevloper for us

Viktoria Arvidsson, Textilexpert and Breaddevloper for us

One from the very interesting story about Frisenheim  and And the other from Forskning och Framsteg

I did not make as much as the recipes suggests, because that would be too much for this small experiment and I did not have the time to make such a big batch. Time was at the essence because the bread needs to rest a lot and for many days and then dry for many more.

I made one small batch and followed the suggestions on the sourdough package for the ratio of water and flour. That to was a time-saving part, I did not make the sourdough myself but bought it from the store. It was supposed to be a lot of flour in the dough so I poured in a lot and then some more, until I could not knead it with the spoon any more. Only 12696244_1242609935754529_250856944_nthree ingredients were used, sourdough, water and rye flour, the more coarse kind. No salt or anything else to make the bread taste something. Then after the kneading the bread had to rest for around 16 hours. The long rest makes the dough go sour and that makes the bread taste something at least.

After the rest the bread is shaped, I made it in to a small loaf like shape. Then it is baked for a long time in a rather low temperature, around 125 degrees Celsius. Because of the small size of my loaf the baking time was only 5 hours. After that the bread needed to rest again, preferably a week or more, for the bread to set and not crumble when cut in to pieces. My loaf rested for 7 days. After the long rest the bread was supposed to be cut in small cubes, easier said than done!  If it was possible to cut it crumbled, if it was impossible to cut, you had to use more force. After a smaller bloodshed the bread was cut in pieces, though not in the neat 2×2 cm kind.

After that the bread pieces where ready for drying, I used a modern oven, because again it is faster and more convenient. The bread pieces were dried at a low temperature, around 60 degrees Celsius, for a long long time, until they were completely dry and where more similar to wood than bread. Now the bread is ready for storing and eating.

Soaking in brand... for... more then an hour.

Soaking in brandy… for… more than an hour.

Before any attempt to eat the succariebread it must be soaked! Otherwise your teeth are at

risk. One source suggests soaking the bread in brandy, and because we are reenactors and want to try such experiements we tried, but the results were not so good. The bread took a really long time to get moist enough to chew and the brandy tasted rye after a while.

the vodkaexperiment

the vodkaexperiment

Then we tried grinding the bread in to crumbs and soaking it in vodka, more ordinary soldier-style, but still the bread took a long time soaking and the vodka

tasted rye. None of these methods where fast enough to make in a small break on a march.

But on the nest occasion out in the field with the succariebread there was hot liquid at our disposal, this was a more effective way of soaking the bread, the time needed was only one half of that needed in the liquor. I can imagine that letting the bread pieces boil with the rest of the food would be the most effective way to use the bread, and that way you get croutons in your soup 18th century style. Another way to consume the bread pieces is go around soaking them in your mouth, gently chewing, like candy, this can be done during work or marching to keep the hunger away.

Our daily bread

Despite the kings intentions of a breadbased campaign, the soldier did not only get succariebread to eat. The ration was, under good cirumstances, quite good.

In daily ration the soldier got:

  • Bread; 6.3 hekto (1.3 lbs)
  • Grits; 3 decilitre (1.2 cups)  (probably barley, but it is not specified)
  • Meat; 2,3 hekto (0.5 lbs)
  • Also; Salt, Dricka (a kind of very weak beer.. think weak small beer), Vodka and tobacco.

They where also supposed to get 1.7 hekto (0.3 lbs)  butter or pork, but this was very scarce so they usually received well under their allotment

This is actually what we usually eat when we are out. Frying up the meat (and an onion) then boiling the barely with the meat and the fat from it. Some salt (or broth if we have) and then its quite good and you keep for a long while. Mix in some Succariebread and you have it all!

Barley, pork and union. Food for a king!

Barley, pork and onion. Food for a king!

Thank you Viktoria for supplementing your experiences to this article.

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The Norwegian campaign of 1718 reenacted

In late October, early November 2015 we decided to reenact some up in the Jämtland mountains where the Carolean army staged the campaign of 1718 into Norway. One of our group has a little cabin in those mountains and we decided to use this as a base. The weather can be rather unpredictable up there so we had no idea if we would expect snow or blistering heat. We decided that the cabin would be our base and we would make day tours. This was also because it  gets dark fairly early in that time of year and it isn’t really much fun with 12 hours darktime out in the field. It just gets boring. November was a good time. The actual date we choose was the date the Army left Sweden and entered Norway.

map showing the important places of the campaign staging area and the area we where.

map showing the important places of the campaign staging area and the area we where.

There where two ways into Norway. One was over Duved and one was over Långå. These roads had redoubts build already in 17:th century. The Duved redoubt was now the forward operations base. this is where the logistic command under Frisenheilm was located. The Frösö redoubt was important as this is where the army bakery was located. A bakery might seem like a small ting, but in this campaign it was a key point. Norway is scarcely populated and there was no way that the local farms there could support the Swedish troops. The King had put a lot of effort into developing a special bread ‘Succariebröd’, that would last long and would be the basis of the food for the whole army.
This bread was baked at Frösön.

Our area was located in between these places and we thought that we would have been placed as counter insurgent. Norwegian spies was very much an issue and it was not helped by the fact that the people of Jämtland often saw them selves as having more in common with the Norwegians then the swedes.


We had gotten hold of a good example of the field map of 1685 of the area. judging by the folding that had been done to the map, still visible on our facsimile, it was the same that was used by the army. if you fold it after the folds… the staging area of the army comes neatly into view.


The map folded after the foldingmarks.


The Army map of 1685, Jämtland


The map was of course on a to large scale to be of much use for us as a navigation map.. but it was never the less a fun item for reference.


We also made Succariebread, as per the kings orders, and some ‘pocketsoup’. We where thinking that the kind of troops we are, that is Footdragons, we would tax the locals for fresh food and just keep the succariebread for emergency. This is also what happened.

First days lunch. Porkpies, smoked reindeer, sausage, Cheese and port.

First days lunch.
Porkpies, smoked reindeer, sausage, Cheese and port.


Day one

The first day we decided we would patrol the valley. The stops would be the fäbod and the falls. Fäbod, a place where the animals was sent for grazing during summer with some farmgirls keeping watch. They made cheese of the milk which was later sold. Our thinking was that this place surely would have food, and that it was also a vital part of the army logistics. All soldiers need cheese.


The fäbod in the morning sun


The milkmaids going out to milk the cows


The fäbod was just a short walk from our base. And it would make a good first stop to check if there had been any suspicious activity in the area. The weather was quite nice this day. I opted for a sleeved waistcoat over a unsleeved one and a wool shirt under that. I carried a coat and a cape if it would get chillier during breaks. The temperature was around 3 and moving up to 7 Celsius (44 f) if I remember correctly. The ground was covered in frost

20151029_113948When we arrived we quickly convinced the milkmaids to cooperate. Reminding them about their duty to King Charles XII and God . We enrolled them into local guides and gained information about the area and its byways. They where most cooperative and possibly even on our side to begin with.

12189570_10153346902769195_8878933844617739963_nAfter a break for lunch and some pipesmoking we felt it was time to get going. the Falls where still some distance to walk and we needed to get there in good time.




Onwards, we are heading for a fall.

Still day one.

Now a longer trek along the river started. Some of it was on modern roads, but mostly we could keep to smaller roads and paths. When we entered the woods the terrain became quite difficult. Boulders and roots made the walking harder and it was easy to trip. The long and constant ascent sapped our strength. Somewhere around here my first claypipe broke. It was being transported in the hat, and when the hat fell on the trail… the pipe broke in three.20151029_142903-1

It also took longer then expected even if we took very few breaks. When we reached the falls it was already getting darker. To get down the the actual falls we needed to descend some quite steep slippery wooden steps. As the Falls was our goal we hid most of our packs and started our way down.

It was slippery as all hell with the leather soled shoes we had. I slipped and hit the butt of the gun in the rock, but it seems that it had survived for 300 years because it was well made. And so it held. 12196206_1185539744794882_4856924664898129457_n20151029_150045

The ascend from the falls was a bit more troublesome. Boudica, the 55 kilo wolfhound, could not make her way up since it was difficult the last 50 meters and steep rocks prevented her from going outside the stairs. I had to carry her on my shoulders and that was a bit exhausting after we came up.

We where now starting to lose daylight faster than we had counted on. Seeing hos the trail up was, we didn’t much relished the thought of traversing that in dusk and dark. We decided that we did not have time to cook a hot meal over a fire. So we ate some apples and sausages we had left, spat on the ground and started walking back home.

20151029_162215Apart from one of the milkmaids trying some kind of fishy activity, we got home but the dark had fallen before we got to the cabin again. We where rather tired, but happy with our first day of scouting. After all, there was no signs of the evil Norwegians.


Day two, The west mountain.


On day two the temperature had dropped somewhat and the fog was over the mountains. or if it was the clouds lying low, probably a bit of both. Västfjället is around 1000 meters over the sea where we where heading. As we didn’t quite feel like expending all our strength on getting UP on the mountain walking on asphalt


The old army fieldmap was of some use to locate ourselves according to the other mountains. Drom mountain and Falconcatcher mountain is seen in the distance, and pointed out by me, trying to look important.

roads, we took the car up to a start point.  From there we gingerly took of into the barren mountainside. This is above where trees comfortably grow and so we had to carry the firewood we needed with us. We could not expect to find it on the mountain.

This day we did not have a clear goal. We had a diffuse goal to get to a cabin up on the mountain, but mostly we just wanted to get around a bit and have a look-see. The patrol took of through the fog and the underbrush. Seeing only reindeers and fog. The wind was chilly as there was nothing there to stop it. It howled in our waterbottles when we uncorked them. The few hidingplaces was meticulously searched by the unflappable patrol.


The only shrubbery in a mile is searched for infiltrators

We soon gave up the idea of reaching the cottage. Mostly because it looked like others where heading for it and we would rather be alone. When this decision was made we headed for a  depression in the mountain to get out of the wind. Then 12191943_1059911444027062_1892525438859930332_nwe made lunch.
12196222_1059911554027051_6255186372309116935_nThe firewood we had lugged along came to good use, we started by frying up pork and onions in some lard. After this crushed barley and water was added. We also used the ‘pocketsoup’ now. Pocketsoup is beefbroth cooked almost dry and then left to harden. it resembles some kind of rubber or leather and when put into water dissolves and become broth again. Barely is a very good fieldfood and it keeps you full for a long time. The pork adds, but if you don’t like meat it is not necessary really. some onions and maybe garlic will do the seasoning well. After the meal we also took out the pot and made ourselves a nice cup of coffe.


there is no need to drink coffee like a heathen just because you are in the mountains. Always bring the good china.

Dennis even got his fiddle out and we enjoyed some music on our break.

Onward, secure that mountain!

After we had eaten, we bundled up in warm clothing, looking like small cones of cloth some of us, and headed out to followed a mountain stream that showed signs of campfires. 12108838_1059911784027028_5332616146256401246_n11182121_1061195500565323_2395496337617964128_n

They where all old and cold so after we followed the stream to its start we headed back down the mountain through the wind and fog. The temperature had dropped enough for the road to ice over. 20151030_14551112191602_1059911944027012_2476827594144009951_n






Day three


Day three was saved for the ascent of Drommen. The famous Drommen cleft where it was rumoured the Carolean warfund chest was hidden all those years ago.

It became clear from the beginning that not all could go. Boudica, the wolfhound, had a slight limp on one of the paws. This can go away after she starts using it as it is often some stiffness from the day before. But it was not a good thing to chance upon as it would be hard to go back once we started up. The terrain, it would show would also be abit difficult for such a large dog. Frida also had some mischievous legproblem from before and was willing to give the climb a miss to nurse the dog and make us waffles for our triumphant return.  20151031_131302

11148632_1061195447231995_5604608140108118049_nThe first part was a nice little walk to the actual cleft. The sun was out, and it promised to be a very nice climb.  At the bottom of it was our last chance to refill the water that would take us to the top. Up on top there was mountain lakes that we hoped would not be frozen solid and therefore give us water again.20151031_131810

After filling up our canteens to the brim we set out up through the cleft.


Yes. They are walking on the so-called trail here.

It soon became obvious that it was perilous ground. The rocks was mortared together with sand and dirt, and looked like they would give gave no pause about just letting go if they wanted to. The sides was steep and resting was mostly done by leaning a bit and not quite standing. I found that my cut down naval boardingaxe was a good help in digging in and getting grips in the dirt. 20151031_141519
Soon we where sweating healthily and the humour was at the top. That we had to lug up firewood once again did not bother us much I skipped the coat and cape this time though, as I was sure I would keep warm anyway. I did not use it on the day before, and this day the weather was fairer. Halfway up there was a rather strange arch. Naturally formed in the mountainside. It felt like a good halfway landmark. 12208459_1061195400565333_4012821069474465980_nThe climb was not as arduous as one might believe. We moved steadily upwards and kept a good pace. When we could see the top we where starting to feel oddly sad about leaving the cleft that had been our home for the day. Happily enough we found a flat rock and took our chance to pull out the booze and cards. After all; when the field is your home, the Drommen cleft is your livingroom!20151031_15084612065817_1061195260565347_9028751953199208843_n


our spirits lifted by vices, we started up the last bit. Once again it had become later then expected (and it was not the booze and cards fault!). Our canteens had now been drained and we where hoping for those lakes up top.

The last stretch of the cleft was negotiated and we where finally at the top. The lakes where close by, but so was the impeding dark. We did not


Dennis. looking at what is known in folklore as a ‘trollgate’. Believed to be a gate into the mountaintrolls world

cherish the thought of going down the cleft in the dark, but there was an alternative route over the hillside that would be easier and also brighter longer. We had to, once again, face the fact that we did not have time to make a fire and cook warm food. We even had a small debate if we would have time to go to the lakes. But our thirst could not


Seeing the lakes up on the mountain

be ignored so we set of to the lakes.

We where in luck and the lakes only had a sheet of ice on them. It could easily be hacked with the boardingaxe and the canteens refilled for the passage downwards. As the dusk was setting in we descended Drommen mountain. Chewing on the lonely sausage and some apples we had left. Someone I believe, produced a cheese also. In this area cheese where more common than other food due to the Fäbodsystem, and dairy was common even into modern times as a base in food. Growing cereals is hard at that altitude.

Before we started the long climb downwards we had a rest. Some rested more than others.11694127_1061195153898691_4595290836011457117_n

The wind was blowing hard enough for me to have to take my hat off and tuck it in behind me bandolier. This was when I noticed that even my second pipe was lost somewhere in the ravine. Well, that is the way of pipes. The desecnt was faster and part of it was in a skislope. Even if this was rather flat, the steep angle made the feet hurt in the shoes. As the dark had fallen a seemingly flat surface turned out to be a half-frozen20151031_164348 bog that sucked me in to the knee. But, thanks to my trusty reindeer gaiters, that was hardly a problem. That the straps of my backpack came of in the commotion added a bit to the fun. In any case I was able to steer the others away from that area as they saw my problems.

Soon we where back safely at home. Our backs and our legs where a bit sore after three days of climbing around, but we where happy with our adventures.

10408717_10153153268362765_1215954754244382706_nOh, and here is the firewood that had a nice trip up mount Drommen, and back again. don’t it look all giddy after its own adventure?

The waffles were indeed waiting for us when we got back, and we also got ourself a hot meal after long last.

What about that special bread you where on about?

Ah yes… that bread…

That bread was so hard it could not be eaten. I mean it literally could not. We could not even cut it with our knives. We had heard that it was to be soaked in something to be edible. But as we tried on the night it was soaked for over an hour, and it was still rock hard in the middle. Later trials have shown that it softens up better when boiled. but as it was now, we just did not have time enough in the field to get those buggers edible. No wonders it would not go bad and could be stored for a long time. So can stone.

We have not given up on the Succriebread yet though and will keep trying to use it in our rations. There will be an article about it here, with a recipe, as you seem so interested in it, oh theoretical questioner.

Some kind of wrap-up

It was a very nice excursion into the history. We got to feel a bit how it was for the footdragons and regulars that operated in that campaign. There is a thought these days that when you are going up in the mountains you need to minimize your pack. I was never much a follower of that. I pack what I might need and then I lug it. They most certainly brought a gun, so there would be no point in leaving it behind even if it was never to be used. To get that feel, you need to carry what they did. then you might get the same chafing they did. you might feel the same discomforts they felt. and that.. is when you are getting close to feeling their history.



If you like more pictures from the trip you can find them here, on Facebook.




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Knitted sweaters in 18:th century?

I have been trying to look into knitted garments in 18th century in Sweden and possibly the Nordic countries.
We know there was socks, hats and possibly mittens. But what about waistcoats? or sweaters (in Sweden the same word for sleeved waistcoat and sweater is used) .

In 1741 Carl Linneus was travelling through Gotland and Öland. He noticed that on the northern island of Gotland (Fårö -Sheepisland) the men had waistcoats “that looked like cloth but was by the women knitted“.
He also notices that the ones for everyday use was grey and the ones for more formal occasions was white.

Bishop of Gotland  Jöran Wallin, 1736-46, notices that these where with “flowers and all sorts of colours”

We know of one Gotlandic knittingpattern from 18:th century. It is called Akvileja  (Aquilegia vulgaris L. (European columbine, Common columbine, Granny’s nightcap, Granny’s bonnet))


Another pattern is from Norway, also 18:th century. It is from a grave that in context would be a farmer. I do not know what kind of garment it was.

Norwegian pattern 18:th century

Norwegian pattern 18:th century

And here is a knitted hat from 1785. It was found on the sunken ship ‘General Carleton’.  I add this because it might give more input on 18th century patterns in knitting, and also because it is an adorable hat!
mössa 1700-talTo put some more perspective on the use of colours and patterns I also include this knitted hat from around 1700

ca 1700

But that is Fårö! How common could they have been?


Fårö is of course then, and now, not a centre for fashion. Is this possibly just a local thing? Historical records talk about ‘Tröjkellingar’. A Kelling was a woman who was selling merchandise of own manufacture (or of the ones in the village). A tröja is a waistcoat, with sleeves. These where going into Stockholm to sell knitted waistcoats. A Tröjkelling could have 800-1000 waistcoats with her. If we then think maybe 5 made the trip, that would make 5000 waistcoats a year into Stockholm just from Fårö. We know that there was more than one on a trip as one trip went awry and they assumed that all the tröjkellingar on it had died. I will settle your mind with that they did not and came home safe, but delayed.

Eva Andersson, costume historian at Göteborg University, has seen numerous posts about knitted sweaters being imported from Denmark in toll registers.
The province of Halland was Danish for a long time. It is also, during the 18:th century, the Swedish heartland of knitting. Women in the cottages was paid for knitting  and merchants collected the knitting to sell in bulk. This would probably mostly be socks (the army used a lot of socks….) but as we have seen that Denmark evidently made knitted waistcoats (remember the tollregisters Eva looked at? ) it is not far-fetched to assume a regional tendency and think that even waistcoats was made. As they evidently was not unheard of. 5000 waistcoats in Stockholm each year must have had buyers.


Now, a friend of mine that likes to nose about in old army records also told me that the Carolean army had knitted waistcoats issued to the soldiers (some at least… I can’t say they all had it).
If we take all this into account….  The Tröjkellingar, the Danish import, the assumed production in Halland (and if Halland is involved it is a lot of knitting) and the army issuing them to at least some regiments… it starts to look like knitted waistcoats was not something that would have been seen as an odd thing.

After publishing this, my Friend Adam, that have been looking at knitting in other contexts (förlagsverksamhet i Halland). He points out to me that there are ‘tröjväverier’ in the major cities. This would means ‘Waistcoat weaving factory’, but as he points out knitting machines have been in use since 16:th century in england and as the produce of these factories was, Tröjor (waistcoats) socks and hats, it certainly sounds as knitting. This brings up the numbers of knitted waistcoats even more. Making them less and less uncommon.

But how would they have looked?


Well, we have no idea there, but can speculate.

We know that Linneus tells us that  “they look like cloth but are knitted”. We also dont know if Linneus thinks they look like regular clothes because they are cut in the same way. Or if he just refers to the ‘cloth’.  He also compares them to waistcoats of worsted wool (its not totally worsted.. the term is ‘Redgarn’ but worsted is the closest translation. Anyway it is made with cheaper sturdier wool).

worsted wool waistcoat. 1725-1775 front

worsted wool waistcoat.
front, not knitted

worsted wool waistcoat. 1725-1775 back

worsted wool waistcoat.
back, not knitted


I don’t know if ‘redgarns tröja’ looked in a special way, or if it was just a way of Linneus to describe the texture of the garment. Was it for example fulled after it was knitted? Fulling the knit is common later, in 19th century, but this Norwegian piece is not fulled.

Norwegian knitted garment. 18th century

Norwegian knitted garment. 18th century

There are some knitted garments from later part of the 17:th century. But these are knitted of silk and very high up in the society. They are also more registered as shirts.
They do however show a type of garment that will be the base for knitted garments in Norway in 19:th century. The Lusekofte.


Knitted Silk sweater, Norway (probably import) 17:th century.

Knitted Slik sweater, Norway (probably import) 17:th century.

Knitted Silk sweater, Norway (probably import) 17:th century.


The last of them has been opened in the front later. Now, this is rather interesting as this might have been done to convert it to current fashion. But.. alas it does not really tell us anything…..

Knitted Slik sweater, embroidered, Norway (probably import) 17:th century. Later opened in the front

Knitted Slik sweater, embroidered, Norway (probably import) 17:th century.
Later opened in the front

It was common for the peasant class to use hooks and eyelets instead of buttons. So If it was opened it would probably have had that. Also, the most common technique to knit was roundknitting. If the garment was to be open, it was cut after it was knitted. It Basically leaves us with two ways.. either it was a full garment, like in the shape as a modern knitted sweater. Or it was an opened garment. Roundknitted and later cut.

In conclusion

It seems that knitted waistcoats was around, but it is difficult to figure out how they would have looked and how they were used. Three options seems plausible.

  • It was a full garment without opening
  • It was an open garment with closing, probably hidden hooks and eyelets
  • It was semiopen, like a modern LusekofteIt seems clear that they was knitted with pattern. Either simple lines or more figurative patterns.

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Footdragoons of the great Nordic war


This article is a short summary of the free companies of footdragoons used in mainly Finland and Norway by the swedish army during the great Nordic war. It will use captain Långströms company as an example.

In short they where free companies attached to the army314424_10150357342622277_265702151_n command and used for diversion, scouting, prisonersnatching and deep patrols and raids. They where to worry and harass the enemy to bind up forces and make the life generally uncertain for them. In the Norwegian campaign they where also used for important messages.

To harass the rear areas of the enemy will have the effect that they need to direct forces from the front to rear security. As small units are hard to pin down in the massive forests and blocky terrain a relatively small force can drain quite a lot of forces for security.

The beginning.


Sissar, partisans of fortune and somewhat religious principles

The Eastern parts of Finland was even before the war a mix of Lutherans and Russian orthodox faiths. When the war started the tension got worse. The orthodox was seen as sympathizers with the Russian aggressors, and the Church and authorities fuelled these notions. When Russian raids across the borders started the peasants soon retaliated with crossborder raids of themselves. The target was peasants on the other side of the border. The Finns called these raiders/plunderers Kivekkäät, after the farmer Kivekäs that was a central figure. They where also called “sissar”.  Abraham Cronhiort, commander of the army in Ingermanland,  was concerned about the unlawfulness and chaos and wrote about his concerns to the king. The king replied that ha saw no problem with his loyal servants wanting to harm the enemy. Thus the all out war was started with irregular forces and militias wreaking havoc on each other.

The need of Footdragoons.

The carolean army was meant, as most armies of this age, to work on open and flat fields. They where extremly aggressiv in tactics, in general firing thier weapons only twice, the first line at 50 paces and the second at 25. After that they drew steel and charged.

The terrain in Finland was not open fields and flat ground though. The need for irregular fightingtactics was soon discovered.

The organisation.

The disorganised rabble soon came in need of better organisation and especially Control.
By early 1710 the army in Finland command organised them in a battalion, promoting Daniel Luukkoinen to major and putting him in charge. Under him the different companies where organised and numbered around 200-300 all in all (the exact number was Always fleeting and based upon how good the companies could muster people). Captains of free companies under Luukkoinen included Captain Peter Långström, Captain Solomon Enberg, Lasse Kärki, Stefan Löfving, Johan Henrik Fieandt, to name some of the more known officers  They also got renamed officially as Footdragoons

11128637_10152777886052765_48282698090355844_nSince the companies continued to operate on their own, the new organisation might have had Little real impact. In spring 1715 the Army chief gave Långström, and men he could muster from the farmers, orders to “hang on to the enemy as usual, seek knowledge and prisoners and report to me over the lake or northabout”. On the 25 of may he reported to the king that he had not heard from Långström since then.

They where assingned directly under the army in Finlands command. Their irregular status is shown by the fact that they are referred to as ‘partisans’ (partigängare) by the Army commanding officer.

Looking at how a company was organised we can take a look at Långströms Company.
Långström got a comission to set up a free company in December 1710. Långström also recived 100 soldiers as a start, derived from different regiments. The company was supposed to solve its logistics by what they could salvage from the enemy. In truth they often ‘taxed’ the local farmers.

in August 1714 the company mustered:

  • Captain Långström12042668_10153101670202765_363814328433606790_n
  • one Lieutenant
  • Six NCO:s
  • one Companyscribe
  • one Corporal
  • one Drummer
  • 82 privates

All in all 93 men.

In April 1718 he had 60 men and 9 ‘that looked all to young’. Their age ranged between 14 and 40


That is a sweet deal!

The army found good use of its footdragoons but10563020_10152210569852765_7031327320711478832_n they had trouble enlisting people to the companies. In oktober 1712 Army chief Georg Lybecker complains that even if the Finnish farmers have the best circumstances in the world to become ‘snaphaunces’ (old Swedish term for partisans). But even though massive campaigns had been launched not one had taken the bait.
He had spoken to them “about the manliness of the footdragoons, how they attack the enemy and claim good loot. ”

They also got deals that was unheard of in the regular army.


  • Freedom to serve for as long as they them self wanted
  • Promises to belong to a company directly under the army chief
  • Their wifes and kids would have the free use of deserted homes for as long as the war lasted
  • They would never be ordered out somewhere unless they them self agreed to it (!)

The Footdragoons sure had a very special arrangement.


Uniform or not?

There is abit of confusion about if the unit used uniforms or not. On one hand some where regular Soldiers from the start. The officers most certainly HAD a uniform.
Långström complains Before the Norwegian Campaign that his mens uniforms ‘where not fit to represent the king in’. That may refer to uniforms in a wider meaning though, as in ‘working clothes’. The army quartermaster Frisenhielm arranges uniforms for them  (and that would most probably mean uniforms as in armyuniforms).

The only eyewitnesreport of footdragoons in action though states that they where ‘clad in simple grey broadcloth coats. Ragged and worn”.

Civilian clothing to the left, uniform of the Army to the right.

Civilian clothing to the left, uniform of the Army to the right.

Some finnish regiments had grey uniforms, as well as the artillery. But this was well known so they should have been referred to as in uniform then.

Not all units had to have uniforms. Stockholm citizen guards regiment was not obliged to have uniforms, even if it was encouraged. Perhaps it was the same with the footdragoons.

Most scholars, for example Anna Guttorp,  seems to think that the Footdragoons wore civilian clothes when out on missions, to melt in with the locals and easier escape detection. We also know that clothes was a common loot when they robbed peasants. Also Russian military clothes was captured. It seems possible these where taken to be used.

Perhaps it was a mix of uniforms, parts of uniforms and purely civilian clothes that was used.

“Långströms men killed 51 men, took 19 prisoners and 64 horses with tack. of other loot there was clothes and other” (February 1714)

When the farmers complained about Cpt. Långströms ‘taxations’ they report that he

“takes everything they have in the house and also hidden in the woods. He takes the clothes from our bodies and show no respect for our needs”

possibly they used uniforms when in encampment and other “official” duties and civilian when out. The very generous contracts they had suggests that they could pretty much be dressed as they liked and expect Little trouble….

Some missions, as examples.


1711 two parties was sent out to blockade the waters into Viborg castle.  Peter Långström had 100 men and Lt. Stigman had about 80 dragoons.  A Major Fraser had trouble with his part and said he could not possibly hold the blockade without artillery and he retreated after a skirmish that killed 20 of his men. Långström, instead of just holding his small islands captured two boats (Lodja) and took 21 prisoners1896745_10151909416307765_1173711342_n

1714, February, “Captain Långström have with 120 men  followed a russian force of 80. They killed 51, took 19 prisoners. Långström was ‘hurt’ and one officer (Kariander) and 8 men died.

1714, in the summer, two units of russian dragoons (around 120 men each) hunting for Lt. Sahlos unit, had the bad luck of running into Långströms company. 20 russians where killed and a couple of prisoners taken.

later that summer he was back in the archipelago and taking several lodjor loaded with supplies.

1714 Långström manages to capture the later famous Vitus Bering (that have given name to Berings straights) . He later manages to escape due to a traitor in Longströms own ranks…

these small actions where happening all the time and they seem to have had little or no rest. In november 1717 Långströms company follows the swedish army over to Sweden (the regular army left Finland 1714). Lasse Kärki with 60-80 footdragoons and Lorens Häikäläinen with 40 was left behind.

The Nils Muus raid was in harsh terrain

The Nils Muus raid was in harsh terrain

1718 in august, Långström is sent out to capture the Danish/Norwegian priest Nils Muus that was a vital part of the spynetwork in the area. Nills Muus was a high profile target so there is a lot of rumours about this raid. We can be sure that Långström got his man though as the Commander Armfeldt writes “now in this moment comes Cpt. Långström that has been sent out to collect a Norwegian priest Nils Muus in his home in Snasen”

1718, November, Långström leaves Melby with a letter to the king and 21 men in escort. He is recognised and rides into an ambush where he is shot dead.
With a silver bullet.

Footdragoons and the locals.

The relation to the local farmers was often very strained. The farmers feared the footdragoons as much as the Russians. If it wasn’t ‘taxation’ where the footdragoons took whatever they needed or wanted, those found, or even suspected, aiding a footdragoon was hanged and tortured. Most farmers ran or tried to hide when the footdragoons came a calling. Major Luukkoinen was concerned about the bad reputation they had and wrote to the Army chief that “they see us as little better then common robbers”.  The army chief responded that they had cause. The majors troops where being to rough with the locals.wp-1453995629470.jpg

the peasantry in Kajanaland wrote a desperate letter to the magistrate saying that two things was being their undoing. The enemy and captain Långström. The Russians plundering was a big problem but Långströms was far worse.

“Captain Långström treats us so very harsh that he dont just takes from us taxmoney, tithes and ‘gärden’ (another kind of tax) but also with a unchristian plundering and 20151029_113948whipping lets his men take everything that they find in the house, everything we have hidden in the woods, and clothes from our bodies without concerns for our needs, all the hay, all the sledges and tack for the horses, our only cows and sheep and cereals, which he eats or sell. He ties and violently abduct our only men….”

The letter did end up in an enquiry, but Långströms manages to die before it gets solved.

Anders Märäläin of Långströms company was so brutal and evil that after he drowned (when trying to cross a river on some logs) the parish priest was not sure he could be buried in consecrated earth. He had for example frightened some children to a farmer he extorted so badly they had run of into the woods and frozen to death.  there was also some acoints of sexual conduct that was not of the good kind and he also had tied and extorted money from a peasant as a fine for that the same peasant had stopped him from raping his sister inlaw.  On top of all he also had not taken the communion in three years.

But it also seems that hey collaborated with local farmers, or Sissar and Kivekääs. It is mentioned here and there that ‘The company with some Farmers’ has done this and that. so some was cooperative, or was forced to help either they wanted to or not.

If you like to read more, the book ‘Gerillakaptenen Peter Långström’ By Anna Guttorp et al is a perfect buy.

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The year of 2015

A year as a footdragoon

Yet another year has passed. The year 2015 came out 20150712_155515being quite adventurous for the 18:th century. We where out on several smaller outings and some longer. Some of the group was preoccupied with the Waterloo anniversary and therefore could not get out in the 18:th cent as much was they might have wanted.

The highlight was when we took three days to walk the Scand mountains. in the same area and at the same time the Swedish army entered on the 1718 Norwegian campaign. But there was also many small outings that helped us try out our gear throughout the year.


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To beard or not to beard


skäggBeards in the 18:th Century is a bit of a conundrum.

The fashion of the time was to be clean-shaven. But does that mean that everyone was?

Especially in the early part of the century the practise of shaving yourself had not quite caught on. The shaving was done by a barber, or possibly someone else that was skilled in the art. In the later part of 18:th century you start to see adverts for razors for the home. In 1770 French barber Jean-Jacques Perret (1730-1784) published a treatise called Pogonotomy, or The Art of Learning to Shave Oneself.

In civilised areas this was no big problem, in more remote areas, it could become one. Soldiers had the regimental barber that kept them up to reglemented standard, but Carl von Linné remarks on his travels that ‘most farmers was bearded’, even noting some differences in different parts of the land. In the province of Scania they had no beard on the lip and throat, but on the cheeks and chin, indicating the shaving was indeed practised but that they choose to have a beard, even a fashioned one.


Norwegian farmer


Swedish cartographers


The Guide of the Swedish Army in the baltic

Norwegians. Bergen

Norwegian farmers of Bergen


Swedish Farmers, Uppland

Swedish Farmers, Uppland

In 1764 the Danish king started a park with statues of his Norwegian subjects. It shows simple folks, Fishers, hunters, farmers as well as some more fashionable types. What is noticeable is the beards on many of them…..

11707851_905655969506170_6057920880095430023_n 11229898_905655312839569_7960143694536642321_n 11855762_905656142839486_88087110619784066_n 11836778_905654546172979_7747240414357662680_n 11825117_905655362839564_8676515887287708336_n norwegian early-18th-cent

The lack of beards in paintings from 18th Century only goes so far. Those that painted simple folks, did paint some beards. It is frequently pictured on poor or old, or poor and old people. There are some few examples of respectable men with facial hair, but I guess those could have been thought rather eccentric in their time.
Thomas Gent 1733) the-departure-of-the-poacher Nicolas-Bernard Lépicié the old beggar 18thc. pitocchetto

Now, on to myself and my reenacting.

Sometimes i sport a beard.. sometimes I dont.

Soldiers and beards

Soldiers in the Carolean army was to be cleanshaved or have a moustache in some cases (cavalry and possibly grenadiers). My Friend Dennis found that a Regiment of about 6000 men had three journeyman barbers and one master. They say a good barber lifts his knife four times during a shave. A very good one three. So, lets say these barbers take ten minutes per soldier (that allows time to sit and maybe chat abit) and them 5 soldiers an hour (it never goes smooth anyway). That is 35 soldiers on a 7 hour work, times four barbers. 140 soldiers a day. Now, many soldiers might be so young that they don’t even have a proper beard to shave. Lets say a third of the regiment is that young. That gives us 4000 soldiers to shave. But a regiment is seldom full, people die and get sick get lost and all sorts of things… lets say 1000 is not in current state to get shaved. 3000 beardos to get into regimental orders. That will get the barbers a turnaround of 21 days. But they cant work on Sundays so we add three extra days for the Sundays work lost. And lets round it up to 25 for a good measure. That will mean that a soldier might get a shave every 25 days if lucky.

But then we have not counted on the barbers that most probably have joined up in the baggagetrain. The Carolean army when marching out on the Russian campaign of 1707 manned about 44.000 to 60.000 men. All of which where bound by the regs to be shaved. My guess is that few ambitious barbers would not try and get a piece of that action.

Not a Regular soldier…

1896745_10151909416307765_1173711342_nI reenact a Footdragoon. A irregular soldier often fighting behind enemy lines. Many of these where little more then highway robbers even before they got recruited but it was certainly so that they where operating far from civilized areas.

The Army commander once complained in a letter to the king that he had sent captain Långströms footdragoons out on a mission and had since then not heard from them for six months. I Think that being this far out and in a society where beards for peasants was not uncommon, shaving would have been far down the necessity list. They are described as dirty and ragged in ripped clothes. Quite possibly they shaved when in the vicinity of the army headquarters, but out in the field, bearing in mind that self shaving was not the norm, one could expect them to be quite shaggy.

So, if you are reenacting a regular soldier, a townsman or a respected Citizen. Cleanshaved would be the most probable option. If you are something like me…. maybe a beard is actually more probable.

And here is a couple of other pictures of beards in the 18:th century:
pietro_bellotti_-_old_pilgrim Pietro_Bellotti_(attr)_Anaximander lepicie_nicolas_bernard John Worley, 1624-1721-1705 Jean-Etienne_Liotard_1741 Jan_Jozef_Horemans_Die_Schulklasse Giacomo_Ceruti_-_Encounter_in_the_Wood Giacomo_Ceruti_-_Beggar_Resting_-_WGA4661 Giacomo_Ceruti Giacomo Ceruti 2 E. Teach Ceruti_Autoritratto befdd8636f3de30bf8d2e2893edb30ca bearded man with a young girl  by Jacob Toorenvliet. 4345OP314AU7611 800px-Giacomo_Ceruti_-_Sleeping_Pilgrim_-_WGA04671


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