Koljonvirta – Battlefield of the Russo - Swedish war

The Koljonvirta area is perhaps best known for the battle of Virta which took place on 27th of October, 1808. The battle was a part of the Russo-Swede war and included several highly ranked and valued military personnel such as Colonel Sandels (leader of the Finno-Swede troops) and Prince Mihail Dolgorukov (leader of the Russian troops). The thinner Swedish troops managed to win the battle which was the last Swede-won battle on the Finnish soil.

The ceasefire of Lohtaja was signed on 29th of September 1808 which meant an armistice line had to be drawn. This meant the Sandels troops which had already further withdrawn to Iisalmi and fortificated the Paloisvirta area had to withdraw even further back to Koljonvirta due the ceasefire signed by the two sides.

The ceasefire ended on 27th of October 1808 at noon. From that moment began the fierce battle of Koljonvirta which lasted until dusk of the day. The outnumbered Finno-Swede troops emerged victorious while the Russian troops stayed in their positions at the eastern side of the Koljonvirta bridge. During the fight the most notable event was the death of Prince Dolkorukov during the fight of Koljonvirta, which ruined the Russians morale which no doubt was one of the key factors together with Sandels tactical decision to surround the advancing Russian troops right across the bridge at a narrowed point of the route.

After the battle of Koljonvirta the Finno-Swede troops withdrew to Vieremä but launched later in November (10-11th of November) a surprise attack to the Russian positions surrounding Koljonvirta at night but after a successful initial combat the Russian troops managed to pass the message about the surprise attack and resiliently fought off the attackers despite element of surprise. Darkness of the night made the battle challenging for either side to differentiate the allies from the enemies. In the end the Finno-Swede troops were forced to withdraw and cede the victory of the battle of Iisalmi to Russians.

Both battles in Iisalmi were majorly fought man to man using bayonets while rifle and cannon fire were supporting acts. Especially the nightly surprise attack in November is known as a cold and bloody battle hence earning the battle nickname “Bloodnight of Iisalmi”. Only a week later the two sides signed a ceasefire which allowed the Finno-Swede troops to retreat back to Sweden meaning the end of the most active part of the war. Peace treaty in which the king of Sweden ceded Finland to Russia was finally signed roughly a year later on 17th of September, 1809.
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