Battle of Bysjön

The Battle of Bysjön was fought between Swedish and, for the most part, Norwegian troops on 22 December 1644. The battle took place on the ice of the frozen Lake Bysjön in the parish of Eda (Eda socken, Värmland) in Värmland, Sweden. The battle was part of the Torstenson War (1643-1645), known locally as the Hannibal Feud (Hannibalsfejden) between Sweden and Denmark-Norway. The Danish-Norwegian victory meant the invading army could potentially continue into Värmland and Dalsland. [1][2]

Battle of Bysjön
Part of the Torstenson War
Map from the 17th century (west is toward the top) over the area around Eda and the lakes Hugn and Bysjön. Source: Krigsarkivet
Date22 December 1644
Result Danish-Norwegian victory
Flag of Sweden.svg Swedish Empire Flag of Denmark.svg Denmark–Norway
Commanders and leaders
Lorentz Hansson Hannibal Sehested
6-8 cannon
18 cannon
Casualties and losses
30-50 killed at least 60 wounded, 100 killed


In the autumn 1643 Field Marshal Lennart Torstensson (1603–1651), by order of the Swedish Council of the Realm, led the Swedish army which was then embroiled in the Thirty Years' War into Danish Jutland, initiating the Torstenson War. To ease the military pressure in Denmark, Hannibal Sehested (1609–1666), Governor-general of Norway, began preparations for military operations against Sweden along the Norwegian border, from Jämtland to Gothenburg. These operations, later called the Hannibal Feud, would force Sweden to divert forces from Denmark to defend the border. [3][4]

In January 1644, orders were sent to the governors of the Swedish border counties to establish beacons and frontier guards to defend the border. The county governor of Värmland, Colonel Olof Stake (1593–1664) , was ordered to keep 100 men posted on the border. When the local farmers saw the bonfires lit or heard church bells ringing, they were to gather at predetermined locations. On the road between the Norwegian parish of Vinger in Hedmark (near present-day Kongsvinger) and Karlstad in Värmland, the border was fortified by building a redoubt at Morast near present-day Charlottenberg during the winter and spring of 1644. On the Norwegian side of the road corresponding preparations with beacons and redoubts at Magnor and Midtskog in Hedmark. Sehested also pushed for the equipment of a standing Norwegian army, which was formally established in 1641 but whose six regiment were not fully trained. In 1644 the size of the Norwegian army grew, and in November Sehested attacked Värmland with 4,480 men and 18 cannon.[5]

Preparing for battleEdit

The redoubt at Morast was captured quickly on 18 November without losses on either side. The commandant and crew were taken prisoner. The Norwegians remained at Morast until mid-December. The Swedish side took advantage of this time by felling trees across roads, to hinder the approaching soldiers. The winter road over the frozen Lake Bysjön was obstructed by cutting up the ice across the lake between the villages By and Vittensten. The sawn ice was used to build a breastwork, giving the Swedes a strong defensive position. The defense was led by Captain Lorentz Hansson of the Närke-Värmland Regiment. [6]

On 17 December the Norwegian force left Morast and marched south to Eda church, making camp at Hammar on the north shore of Lake Bysjön. On 19 December Norwegian infantry marched out on the ice while the cavalry attempted to get around both sides of the lake. Skirmishes took place throughout the day both at the felled trees and on the ice. With minor losses on either side, the Norwegians fell back when darkness fell.[5]

The battleEdit

Map of the area of the parish of Eda circa 1700

Early in the morning on Sunday 22 December, the Norwegian soldiers under the command of Sehestedt marched out on the ice again. The Swedish forces were estimated to be about 4000 infantry and cavalrymen, as well as 5 or 6 cannon. The local farmers were at the opening in the lake ice, with two companies of cavalry and a few hundred Finnish soldiers on their flanks. The left wing was standing at Skogslund on the western shore of the lake, while the right wing was on the eastern shore, where steep cliffs plunged into the water. The Norwegians made repeated attempts to cross the opening with long boards, with no success. Their vulnerable position on the ice caused major Norwegian losses.[5]

At sunset, a number of factors made it possible for the Norwegian soldiers to break through. The Swedes were running out of bullets and gunpowder. Some of the defenders cut out the tin buttons of their clothes to use as bullets. Captain Hansson, who commanded the Swedish left wing, took a bullet in the shoulder and couldn't continue in command. The defending farmers became disordered and fled in different directions in the dark. A detachment of the Akershusiske Regiment commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Georg Reichwein (1593–1667) finally managed to get around and occupy a hill west of the lake, from which they could fire flanking fire at the Swedish barricade. A contemporary account described the sequence of events: "The Peasants had to save themselves by fleeing and each went home to his Home." [7][8]

The Swedish cavalry east of the lake could not be used, and retreated southeastward to the parish of Frykerud ( Frykerud socken). The Norwegian soldiers made their night camp at the former Swedish cavalry pickets at By while others made camp at Åmot (present-day Åmotfors.)[9][10]


Between 30 and 50 Swedes were killed during the battle. On the Norwegian side 60 wounded men were carried back to the Midtskog redoubt, and about 100 are estimated to have been killed due to their exposed position on the ice. The news of the defeat caused alarm in Sweden, and in a letter from Kyrkerud on 24 December, Olof Stake urgently requested reinforcements from Gabriel Oxenstierna, Lord High Steward of Sweden (1587–1640). Another letter from Berendt Olsson to an accountant Pederson in Karlstad on 23 December reads: "I don't know what to do. If help doesn't come soon, Karlstad and the whole country will be lost."[5]

Sehested was proud of his victory, his first on the battlefield:

I myself have had the honor, of receiving from the soldiers of Olof Stake for New Year, two bullets through the cap on my head, although without injury.[5]

Sehested also wrote the way to Karlstad now lay open, and the between this city and Stockholm there were no troops. In Copenhagen, word spread that he already was on his way to Stockholm. In reality, his strength was too small, and he had to reckon with the risk of being cut off from Norway. Therefore, he went south and made his headquarters at the rectory of the parish of Sillerud in Årjäng, with the options of proceeding to Karlstad or south towards Dalsland.[5]


  1. ^ "Bysjön (Eda socken, Värmland)". Retrieved September 1, 2018.
  2. ^ "Hannibalsfejden". Nordisk familjebok. Retrieved September 1, 2018.
  3. ^ "Lennart Torstensson". Retrieved September 1, 2018.
  4. ^ Carl Olaf Bøggild Andersen (1946) Hannibal Sehested: en dansk statsmand (Universitetsforlaget i Århus)
  5. ^ a b c d e f Vessberg, Vilhelm (1900). Bidrag till historien om Sveriges krig med Danmark 1643-1645: 2, Kriget på norska gränsen. Stockholm.
  6. ^ C.O.Munthe (1901) Hannibalsfejden 1644-1645. Den norske haers bloddåb (Kristiania: Grøndahl)
  7. ^ Ole H. Gjeruldsen. "Georg Reichwein". Norsk biografisk leksikon. Retrieved September 1, 2018.
  8. ^ "Akershusiske regiment". lokalhistoriewiki. Retrieved September 1, 2018.
  9. ^ "Eda Skans Museum i Åmotfors".
  10. ^ "Frykerud socken". Retrieved September 1, 2018.


Related readingEdit

  • Furtenbach, Börje (1956) Eda skansar : Värmlands gränsförsvar genom tiderna (Stockholm: Hörsta)

External linksEdit