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Living History Group

"Preobrazhensky Life Guards", 1709
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Camping and Tactical Manuevres near Vyborg, 10-12 June, 2006.

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We got acquainted with enthusiasts from historical settlement Svengard in March, and looking at this wonderful place and it's environment, we understood that we just had to bring recreated Great Northern War into this tiny peaceful corner. We decided to arrange the first event to commemorate 300 anniversary of Viborgs' first siege in 1706. Although our plans were ambitious, we managed to fullfill considerable part of them: 

Firewood and hay are plenty because they grow right there! Lake in the forest, log houses of the settlement, white tent camp and almost entirely absent signs of modern civilization. Would it not be for a nearby modern road, one could easily lose oneself in time and space.

Lunch in the camp.
This beer or this beer? Ma'am, when our buckwheat's ready?

Then we set off for tactical manuevres: our detachment of regular Russian infantry was sent to reconnaisense party along some old forest road. Regular Swedish troops have not arrived yet to oppose us, but local inhabitants who were living in these forests, launched partizan war against us. Thus we played clash of regular troops against irregular locals, which very likely happened between 1706 and 1721 when this land was theatre for Great Northern War. Ambushes, hit & run, hunt for lone soldiers left behind the column, shooting from behind trees - it was the small war. 

The detachment of regular troops. ... deepens into the forest.

Guys from Svengard, who hosted the event, are medieval reenactors, but their kits, when without shields and swords, resembled outfit of Finnish woodland hunters and peasants of our period (or we thought it resembled; well might be our misbelief). In anyway, this time we didn't have any other opponent. 
So our column marched cautioisly along the road, expecting attacks every minute. 'Finns' watched us from behind trees, shooting at us from time to time, we fired volleys somewhere to the forest in return. 

We caught this partizan alive.
This soldier just was not lucky.

The outcome came suddenly: the gang of locals rushed at us from our right flank as we were passing through particularly dense forest. They counted on surprise of their attack, and surprise it was. However, muskets were loaded and musketeers were ready: point blanc vollery blasted away half of them; the remainder closed up for the mellee. Some soldiers were cut down, but after all, regular force won... (See a scene from "The Last of Mohicans" with more pleasant outcome for regulars, though).

So thrilling this episode appeared, that we re-played it once again. Without surprise now, but with cameras ready, with the same passion of attackers and with the same powerful musket volley.

"Load!"
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Bang!!!!!

Late in the night on June 11th we went to Viborg and visited a position of Russian siege battery ca 1710, graves of Russian soldiers from the siege corps, fortifications from 1730's and the very Viborg castel, of course.
Viborg is definitely the place to spend more time at, so we plan to come back.

Accending to a place where Russian siege batteries were placed in 1710. In the yard of Viborg castle.
Pikeman armed with a useless pike and useful pistol.

To conclude, we can tell that this area is the ideal theatre for various type of reenactment and living history events:
- camp life, marches, skirmishes in a wild forest - vicinities of Svengard are very good for that;
- historical environment of ca XVIII  fortress, siege camp, storms, parading along cobbled streets of the old town - Viborg is the place to go for it. Plus, the Gulf of Viborg might be a very good place to fit some historical vessels.

Viborg is entering it's own period of tercenteniaries: starting in 2006 and ending in 2010. We would like to establish annual events in this area, dedicated to the Great Northern War. Given Svengard is only 20 minutes drive from Viborg, it might be successful combination of "wilderness" part at Svengard and "regular" part at Viborg fortress.

Local authorities are willing to host reenactors from outside Russia; we all are most interested in welcoming Swedish troops, not to mention any other groups who re-create early 18th Century.

If you/your group find this idea worth discussing - please contact us so that we could work together of the concept of this potential festival.

Musketeer on march: burdened with catrridge box, priming flask, rolled cloak, havresack, sword, bayonet and musket.

(с) Phorographs by members of the Group.

For many more amazing photos from this event please see web-sites of  three photographers (ARSY team) who joined us there: Arseny, Gennady and Andrey

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Living History Group "Preobrazhensky Life Guards"  (c) 2006