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Military of the Grand Duchy of Finland

Military of the Grand Duchy of Finland

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Between 1809 and 1917 Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

 was an autonomous part of the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 as the Grand Duchy of Finland
Grand Duchy of Finland
The Grand Duchy of Finland was the predecessor state of modern Finland. It existed 1809–1917 as part of the Russian Empire and was ruled by the Russian czar as Grand Prince.- History :...

. Between 1881 and 1901 the Grand Duchy had its own army. Before that several other military units had also been formed.

The Grand Duchy inherited its allotment system
Swedish allotment system
The allotment system was a system used in Sweden for keeping a trained army at all times. This system came into use in around 1640, and was replaced in the early 1900s by the Swedish Armed Forces conscription system...

 (ruotujakolaitos) from the Swedish
Sweden-Finland
Sweden–Finland is an outdated Finnish historiographical term referring to the Swedish Kingdom from the Kalmar Union to the Napoleonic wars, or the period from the 14th to the 18th century. In 1809 the realm was split and the eastern half came to constitute the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland, in...

 military organization. However, For several decades, Russian rulers did not require military service from Finland - operations and defence were mostly taken care by Russian troops based in the Grand Duchy. As a result, officer benefits of the allotment system became practically pensions, as payment was based on passive availability, not on actual service.

The Finnish lantdag
Diet of Finland
The Diet of Finland , was the legislative assembly of the Grand Duchy of Finland from 1809 to 1906 and the recipient of the powers of the Swedish Riksdag of the Estates....

 made a pact with Tsar Alexander I
Alexander I of Russia
Alexander I of Russia , served as Emperor of Russia from 23 March 1801 to 1 December 1825 and the first Russian King of Poland from 1815 to 1825. He was also the first Russian Grand Duke of Finland and Lithuania....

; Finland paid a tax to Russia as compensation and military service was not called. This lasted until the Crimean War
Crimean War
The Crimean War was a conflict fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining...

, 1854, during and after which Finland set up some sharpshooter battalions based on rote system.

Napoleonic wars


During the war with Napoleon in 1812 six infantry battalions were formed in Finland. These were disbanded in 1830.

A training battalion formed in 1827 was renamed Henkikaartin Suomen Tarkk'ampujapataljoona (Guards Sharpshooter battalion) which was more commonly known as the Guard of Finland (Suomen kaarti). It remained as a unit of the Russian Imperial Guard until 1905 when it was disbanded. The Cadet school in Hamina
Hamina
Hamina is a town and a municipality of Finland. It is located in the province of Southern Finland and is part of the Kymenlaakso region. The town has a population of and covers an area of ofwhich is water. The population density is...

 was founded in 1812 and existed until 1903. A Suomen Krenatööritarkk'ampujapataljoona (Grenadier Sharpshooter Battalion) was founded in 1846, but later disbanded in 1860.

A Navy unit Suomen Meriekipaasi was founded in 1830. It had up to 1000 men and officers.
The ships were mostly small sailing vessels, but also comprised a couple of bigger steam frigate
Frigate
A frigate is any of several types of warship, the term having been used for ships of various sizes and roles over the last few centuries.In the 17th century, the term was used for any warship built for speed and maneuverability, the description often used being "frigate-built"...

s, the Rurik
Russian frigate Rurik (1851)
The Rurik was a steam-powered frigate of the Imperial Russian Navy. She was ordered by the Senate of the Grand Duchy of Finland for the Finnish naval equipage . She was named in honour of Rurik, the semi-legendary founder of ancient Russia.Rurik was designed by Johan Eberhard von Schantz...

 and the Kalevala, named after the Finnish national epic
Kalevala
The Kalevala is a 19th century work of epic poetry compiled by Elias Lönnrot from Finnish and Karelian oral folklore and mythology.It is regarded as the national epic of Finland and is one of the most significant works of Finnish literature...

. 2. Meriekipaasi was founded during the Crimean War
Crimean War
The Crimean War was a conflict fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining...

. Finnish Navy artillery-men fought against the British and French fleets from the Santahamina
Santahamina
Santahamina is an island and neighbourhood of Eastern Helsinki, Finland. At present it is a military base housing the Guard Jaeger Regiment, making access restricted...

 island shore batteries during the siege of Fortress Viapori
Suomenlinna
Suomenlinna, until 1918 Viapori , or Sveaborg , is an inhabited sea fortress built on six islands , and which now forms part of the city of Helsinki, the capital of Finland.Suomenlinna is a UNESCO World Heritage site and popular with both tourists and locals, who...

 in Helsinki.

Meriekipaasi's number of men was greatly reduced during the 1860s and -70's and finally the unit was disbanded in the 1880s.

The Meriekipaasi personnel were housed in a garrison building in Katajanokka
Katajanokka
Katajanokka is a neighbourhood of Helsinki, Finland, with around 4000 inhabitants in 2005. The district is located adjacent to the immediate downtown area, though in the first major town plan for Helsinki from the mid-18th century, the area fell outside the fortifications planned to encircle the...

 called Merikasarmi in Helsinki. Today, the building houses the Foreign Ministry.

Crimean war


During the Crimean War
Crimean War
The Crimean War was a conflict fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining...

 nine battalions were formed in Finland. The soldiers were drafted using the old allotment system
Swedish allotment system
The allotment system was a system used in Sweden for keeping a trained army at all times. This system came into use in around 1640, and was replaced in the early 1900s by the Swedish Armed Forces conscription system...

 (Ruotulaitos), a remnant from the old Swedish system. The battalions were disbanded in 1867.

The conscription act of 1878

Ranks
English Finnish Russian
Generals Kenraalit Генералы
General Kenraali Генерал
Lieutenant-General Kenraaliluutnantti Генерал-лейтенант
Major-General Kenraalimajuri Генерал-майор
Field officers Esiupseerit Штаб-офицеры
Colonel Eversti Полковник
Lieutenant Colonel Everstiluutnantti Подполковник
Company officers Yliupseerit Обер-офицеры
Captain Kapteeni Капитан
Second Captain Alikapteeni Штабс-капитан
Lieutenant Luutnantti Поручик
Sub-Lieutenant Aliluutnantti |Подпоручик
Ensign Vänrikki Прапорщик
NCO Alipäällikkö-kunta ja miehistö Унтер-офицеры
Quartermaster Sergeant Varusmestari Каптенармус
Senior Sergeant Vanhempi aliupseeri Старший унтер-офицер
Junior Sergeant Nuorempi aliupseeri Младший унтер-офицер
Corporal Korpraali Ефрейтор
Soldier Sotamies Рядовой


During the 1860s conscription
Conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

 was seen as an effective way to maintain an army. In 1878 a law was passed by the Finnish Landtag and the Emperor Alexander II
Alexander II of Russia
Alexander II , also known as Alexander the Liberator was the Emperor of the Russian Empire from 3 March 1855 until his assassination in 1881...

 calling for a general conscription in Finland. The result was an army that was separated from the Russian army. The army was to consist of only Finnish citizens and was to be led by the Governor-General of Finland
Governor-General of Finland
Governor-General of Finland ; was the military commander and the highest administrator of Finland sporadically under Swedish rule in the 17th and 18th centuries and continuously in the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland between 1808 and 1917.-Swedish rule:...

. The maximum number of men in the army was set to 5600 and it was to consist of:
  • Henkivartioväen 3. Tarkk'ampujapataljoona (Helsinki
    Helsinki
    Helsinki is the capital and largest city in Finland. It is in the region of Uusimaa, located in southern Finland, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea. The population of the city of Helsinki is , making it by far the most populous municipality in Finland. Helsinki is...

    )
  • Suomen 1. Uudenmaan Tarkk'ampujapataljoona (Helsinki
    Helsinki
    Helsinki is the capital and largest city in Finland. It is in the region of Uusimaa, located in southern Finland, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea. The population of the city of Helsinki is , making it by far the most populous municipality in Finland. Helsinki is...

    )
  • Suomen 2. Turun Tarkk'ampujapataljoona (Turku
    Turku
    Turku is a city situated on the southwest coast of Finland at the mouth of the Aura River. It is located in the region of Finland Proper. It is believed that Turku came into existence during the end of the 13th century which makes it the oldest city in Finland...

    )
  • Suomen 3. Vaasan Tarkk'ampujapataljoona (Vaasa
    Vaasa
    Vaasa is a city on the west coast of Finland. It received its charter in 1606, during the reign of Charles IX of Sweden and is named after the Royal House of Vasa...

    )
  • Suomen 4. Oulun Tarkk'ampujapataljoona (Oulu
    Oulu
    Oulu is a city and municipality of inhabitants in the region of Northern Ostrobothnia, in Finland. It is the most populous city in Northern Finland and the sixth most populous city in the country. It is one of the northernmost larger cities in the world....

    )
  • Suomen 5. Kuopion Tarkk'ampujapataljoona (Kuopio
    Kuopio
    Kuopio is a city and a municipality located in the region of Northern Savonia, Finland. A population of makes it the ninth biggest city in the country. The city has a total area of , of which is water and half forest...

    )
  • Suomen 6. Mikkelin Tarkk'ampujapataljoona (Mikkeli
    Mikkeli
    Mikkeli is a town and municipality in Finland. It is located in what used to be the province of Eastern Finland and is part of the Southern Savonia region. The municipality has a population of and covers an area of of which is water...

    )
  • Suomen 7. Hämeenlinnan Tarkk'ampujapataljoona (Hämeenlinna
    Hämeenlinna
    Hämeenlinna is a city and municipality of about inhabitants in the heart of the historical province of Häme in the south of Finland and is the birthplace of composer Jean Sibelius. Today, it belongs to the region of Tavastia Proper, and until 2010 it was the residence city for the Governor of the...

    )
  • Suomen 8. Viipurin Tarkk'ampujapataljoona (Viipuri)
  • Suomen Rakuunarykmentti (Lappeenranta
    Lappeenranta
    Lappeenranta is a city and municipality that resides on the shore of the lake Saimaa in South-Eastern Finland, about from the Russian border. It belongs to the region of South Karelia. With approximately inhabitants Lappeenranta is the largest city in Finland...

    ) (1890)
  • Suomen Kadettikoulu (Hamina
    Hamina
    Hamina is a town and a municipality of Finland. It is located in the province of Southern Finland and is part of the Kymenlaakso region. The town has a population of and covers an area of ofwhich is water. The population density is...

    )


The battalions were founded in 1880-1881 and reached full strength in 1883. Each infantry battalion consisted of four companies. The Dragoon Regiment (Rakuunarykmentti) consisted of six squadrons (eskadroona). Thirty-two reserve companies were formed in 1883. The conscripts were selected by a lottery. For those selected to serve, the period of service was three years. However, those with a comprehensive education (at least 4 years at school) had a service period of two years. The conscripts who were university students served only a year. Those not selected to serve the full period served one month each summer for three years in the reserve company of their region.

All Finnish line units wore the dark green uniforms of the Imperial Russian infantry and dragoons but with light blue facings as a distinction. The Guards Sharpshooters' Battalion wore yellow facings on its dark green uniform, until it was disbanded in 1905.

Sources

  • J.E.O. Screen, Suomalaiset tarkk'ampujat - Suomen vanha sotaväki 1881 - 1901 (ISBN 952-9872-11-9)
  • J.E.O. Screen, The Finnish Army, 1881 - 1901 - Training the Rifle Battalions (ISBN 951-710-035-3)

External links