Helsingborg 1710

On a freezing cold day in March 1710 the Swedish army gulped down a shot of vodka for breakfast and set out on a march towards Helsingborg. Their march brought them down on the flank of the defending Danish army, which was forced to redeploy, leaving their guns behind. The progress of the Swedish march and the Danish redeployment can be seen in the picture below (Swedes in blue, Danes in red):

The following account is translated from Bidrag til den store nordiske Krigs Historie by the Danish general staff.

The Terrain
The terrain, on which the battle was fought on the 10th March, lies to the north-east of Helsingborg and forms a semi-circle, bounded by lines from Kärnan - Pilshult and Kärnan – Filborna together with an arc formed by Senrød – Gyhult – Brohus – Filborna. The radii are approximately two and a half miles long, and the arc is of approximately the same length. From the low and narrow foreshore, on which the town was built, the terrain rises quite steeply up towards the plateau, on which Kärnan and the new defensive lines lay. To the north, the fortress’ plateau was bounded by a gully, the same one in which the road to Helsan now runs; through the gully’s bottom ran a small stream that came from the so-called Ladugårdsmossa, which formed the plateau’s north-east boundary. The aforementioned stream was the outlet for Husesjø, which was already low at that time, and formed, together with this, the eastern boundary of Helsingborg’s land. Towards the south, the fortress’ plateau levelled out towards where Gåsebäckan flows.

Beyond the outlet from Husesjø, the terrain rises once more to its highest point within an approximately equilateral triangle formed by Ringstorpsbackan, Berga and Ladugårdsbackan. From Kärnan to the base of the triangle, the distance is approximately 4000 feet, and its sides are of the same size. These rounded hills are not of any great size; Berga, which is the highest, lies approximately 40’ above Kärnan’s base, and the other two 20’; they are separated from each other by depressions, of which only that which divides Ladugårdsbackan from the two northern ones is of any significance. From the line Berga – Ringstorpsbacke the terrain falls in a northerly direction towards a large marshy area, Gyhults Mad, whose western part is called Käftaåra, and whose outlet goes through a deeply cut gully, which forms the southern boundary of the wood at Pålskiøb (now called Pålsjø). Towards the south-east, Berga Høyden sinks towards a bog, Drottninghögskärret, where the previously mentioned Gåsebäck has its origin; this runs first 8000 feet southwards and then heads off in a south-westerly direction. Midway between the bog’s north-westerly point and Berga lies an isolated hill, Drottninghög. Ladugårds Hill is bordered on its eastern and north-eastern sides by Ladugårds Flen, a marsh, whose outlet runs to Husesjø to the south of the hill.

The aforementioned bogs, swamps and lakes are now dry, but it is easy to follow their contours.

In large areas Valpladsen forms a rolling plateau without distinct rises. It only descends sharply towards the beach; otherwise it falls gently down towards Gyhults Mad and Drottninghögskarret with its outfall, Gåsebäckan. Outside the low areas lie several areas of woodland, which in 1710 formed a pretty much continuous belt. The wood was certainly heavily cut back and appears in part to have consisted of scrub.

Although the landscape did not present any hindrances to troop movements worthy of the name, the terrain was still difficult in places. Gyhult Mad, Husesjø and Drottninghögkärret were impassable in the winter except in heavy frosts, and the generally insignificant watercourses had their wider spots. Likewise the town- and outlying fields were littered with stones and earth clumps, and the fields in particular were full of hollows, puddles and heaps of stones. A significant, only recently demolished, wall ran between Filborna and Brohuset. On the 10th March the boggy areas, which were partly frozen, could be crossed if necessary, but in return the frost had hardened the clumps so that it was very difficult to break through them.

The following main roads led from Helsingborg: The southern part of Strandvej led from the Raa Gate, which went to Landskrona; it joined c. 4000 feet south of Kärnan a road, which went south-west over Vester Ramlösa to Køpinge. Through the Engelholm Gate there was a road heading in a north-easterly direction, which led to Engelholm over the pass at Brohuset; approximately 3600 feet from Kärnan it met a road, which went roughly east to Filborna, and another, which went northwards over Pilshult to Kullen. Finally, the northern part of Strandvej ran through the Kulla Gate. A road ran from Berga along Drottningshögskärrets southern edge to Filborna, and finally it appears that there was a road from Kropp over Filborna to V. Ramløsa. These roads, with the exception of the last-named and the most southerly road to Filborna, are still present; they were at that time, like all Scanian roads, in poor condition, with some being little more than wheel ruts.

The terrain at Helsingborg had good natural defensive properties. An attack from the south could be met along a line from Ladugårdsbackan to Helsingborg; the front was covered by Husesjö and Gåseback, the flanks by the town’s defences and Ladugårds Flen. If the attack came from the east, it would be met along a line from Ladugårdsbacke to Berga, where the front was partially covered by Ladugårds Flen and Drottninghögskärret, whilst the flanks were covered by Husesjö and Gyhults Mad. Finally, if an enemy approached from the north, the defenders could occupy a line from Ringtorpsbacke to Berga behind Gyhults Mad, covered on the right flank by the bog at Filborna. The frost had in the meantime greatly weakened the watercourses’ defensive significance; but the position’s worst lack was still that Helsingborg was too small and too weak to serve as a redoubt for an army, and that the town’s connections to Sjælland were to a great extent lacking.

The Danish Order of Battle
General Staff
Lieutenant General J. Rantzau, Commander in chief
Lieutenant Colonel L. A. H. Klepping }
Lieutenant Colonel B. Meyer } General Adjutants
Colonel J. S. Birchholtz }
Major H. Huitfeldt }
Major General D. Brockdorff
J. Cronenberg, Lieutenant General Adjutant
Major General V. Eickstedt
F. C. Bugge, Lieutenant General Adjutant
Major General Ch. Rodsteen
Lieutenant S. Lantning, Lieutenant General Adjutant
Major General F. J. Dewitz
G. D. Finecke, Lieutenant General Adjutant
Brigadier Prince Carl of Hessen
Brigadier M. Wilster, Chief of Artillery
Lieutenant Colonel M. Heinsohn, Chief of Fortification
Lieutenant Colonel H. H. Scheel, Quartermaster General

To be completed later