Siege of Tartu

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04. June 1704

On May 21, Peter I ordered Chermetyev to take his 21,000 man army from Pihkva to Tartu.

First units reached Tartu on the night of July 4. Fortification works of the town had not been finished, therefore it was protected only by medieval city walls in the north and east. Suburbs were torched; out of the peasants that had escaped to the town additional forces were created, led by estate owners.

Russians began to build siege camps around Tartu. On June 18, after the main force of Chermetyev's army had arrived, fierce bombing began.

On June 27, the defenders organized an unsuccessful assault. Russians were further motivated after hearing, that Tartu had noone coming to help.

On July 2, czar Peter I himself came to organize the siege. He decided to aim the most fierce assault onto the weakest defence line, on the Emajõe River side. With an intense cannon fire, the city wall was destroyed in three places. On July 13, 6000 man Russian army launched an assault onto the northern side of the town. At 2 o'clock in the morning, the commander of Tartu, Carl Gustav Skytte, ordered the fighting to stop and open negotiations. Tartu was given up, on the promises that Swedish soldiers and officers are allowed to leave the cit freely.

On the evening of July 14, Russian army marched to Tartu. Russians had lost 3000-3400 men, compared to the loss of 1400-2000 men on the Swedish side. Conquerers received large booty: 132 cannons, 15,000 cannon balls, 500 shells and plenty of food supplies.

Source: Eesti ajalugu. IV, Põhjasõjast pärisorjuse kaotamiseni. Tartu: Ilmamaa. 2003
Eesti ajaloo atlas. Tallinn: Avita, 2006.   


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