Gotland militia, 'Gotlands nationalbeväring' .

This article will give a brief description of the Gotland militia ('Gotlands nationalbeväring'), it's history and arms.

 Last updated 2012-08-25
© Per Holmbäck

[History] [Organization] [Arms] [Bayonets] [Markings] [Unknown bayonets] [Brown Bess] [m/1815] [References]


The defence of Gotland was in the medieval period based on summons to arms. After the invasion of Valdermar Atterdag in 1361 and 350 years ahead the military control of Gotland was not in the hands of the Gotland residents.
After Gotland came under Swedish control again in 1645, the defence duty of the inhabitants was to set up ship crews for the navy. The principle was to protect the island by control of the East Sea. This was however not sufficient, and a number of times, a militia was organized.

At the russian invasion 22nd April 1808, when a troop of less than 2000 med landed, the island surrended without resistance. In 14th of May a corps under command of lieutenant colonel Carl Johan Fleetwood landed, and the Russians surrended. They could leave the island 18th of May after giving up their weapons.
Now there was an understanding that a local defence was necessary, and Fleetwood was assigned to set up two militia battalions. In the autumn of 1808, 2 battalions of 1000 was organized.
In August 1810  Rudolf Cederström was new military commander, and before the end of the year conscription was adopted.

In  February 5 1811 a convention was accepted that e.g. said that the conscripted men should be divided in 4 corps, jaegers, artillery, infantry and lanceneers. "Gotlands Nationalbeväring" was created !

Early 1811 about 6700 men was conscripted and the officers training was started in April.
Lennart Reuterskiöld was new military commander in November 1811 but already in August 1812 Carl Fredrik Aschling was new commander..
In 1832 voluntary sharp shooters associations was initiated, some 20 years before the mainland.

In 1892 "1892 års försvarsbeslut" the name was changed to "Gotlands trupper" (Gotland troops).


In 1811 the Gotland militia was organized in two battalions according to the following table.
The three corps was organized age wise.
Corps (Kår) companies men
Jaegers (age 15 - 29) 16 2451
Infantry (age 30 - 44) 20 3018
Lanceneers (age 45 - 50) 7 915
Fårö company (consists of all three corps) 1 115
Artillery 3 262
Total 47 6761
Organization in the summer of 1811

In 1813 the militia was reorganized so it was possible to set up complete companies with men of all three corps. They were organized in three battalions,  "Norra", "Medel" and "Södra" (Northern, Middle and Southern). "Visby Stads" (The city of Visby) militia consists of three companies, one of each corps. (See figure 1)

In 1861 the militia was reorganized again (See figure 2). One of the news was Visby battalion (was presented its flag in 1862) with 7 companies. The military significance of Visby had increased.

From 1st of January 1887 the militia consists of "Gotlands infanteriregemente" (I27) and "Gotlands artillerikår" (A4, from 1893 A7)

In 1892 "1892 års försvarsbeslut" the name was changed to "Gotlands trupper" (Gotland troops).

1813 organisation 1861 organisation
Fig. 1
The Gotland militia 1813 organization
Fig. 2
The Gotland militia 1861 organization



In 1811 the militia was armed with e.g. those muskets concurred from the russians after the invasion. The rest was supplied from the mainland, and was mainly muskets that was bought from England in 1808. It was also a few Swedish muskets m/1725, m/1775, m/1791 and m/1808.

In 1853 the militia was assigned a number of musket m/1815. A number of them was modified to percussion, but the majority was not. A couple of hundred "tappgevär" was issued to the sharpshooters.

When the militia was rearmoured in 1867 they received rifle m/1860-67. This is rifle m/1860 (Vrede) modified with the Remington mechanism. 8000 rifles was delivered in 1869, but already in 1867 the first 100 was delivered.

In 1894 the regiment I27 replaced their m/1860-67 with m/1867-89.

In the summer of 1900 I27 got there first  2400 mauser rifles m/1896.

What weapons was used
Small arms used by the Gotland militia 1811 - 1990


Some of the bayonets used by the Gotland militia was the following. A number of the older Swedish flintlock muskets was issued together with the British and Prussian muskets, but their bayonets are (for the moment !) not listed here. (The muskets was  m/1725, m/1775, m/1791 and m/1808)


The early weapons (bayonets) issued to the Gotland militia are all marked with the battalion and weapon number in a significant manner.
I don't know for how long they marked their weapons like this.

I have seen the marking in two versions, one seen on the Brown Bess and one seen on the m/1815 bayonet. It is possible that the m/1860 bayonets might have been marked, but I have not seen any special marking on these.
Brown Bess number ')' battalion number
The figures are 5-6 mm high.
I.e.. '3 ) S 1279'
m/1815 number battalion number  I.e. '1131 S 5'

The battalions are as in the following table. (See the map above). This is valid up to 1886. After that there was only 2 battalions on the island.
N Northern battalion  Norra Bataljon
M Middle battalion  Medel Bataljon
S Southern battalion  Södra Bataljon
V Visby battalion Visby Bataljon

Unknown bayonet

This is a quite strange bayonet. It has a double edged flat blade, hexagonal section. Blade mount with collar.
It is believed to be either Germanic or Dutch. It has been used in Denmark/Norway, Sweden, USA, Germanic states etc. A very successful export model !
The pictured bayonet has Swedish markings and been found in Sweden. It is either captured, or it might have come together with the muskets bought in 1808 or 1812.

Unknown hexagonal bayonet Marking
Bayonet The Gotland militia marking. 

Here is another Gotlans Militia marked bayonet.
It is originally a Germanic 1740 bayonet, that probably camte to Sweden with the 1808-1812 subsidary rifles from England.

Bayonet The Gotland militia marking. 

Brown Bess

A number of the muskets imported in 1808 - 1812 was given to the Gotland militia.
Brown Bess Brown Bess marking
Brown Bess bayonet The Gotland militia marking.


m/1815 was given to the Gotland militia in 1853, both unmodified and modified (percussion and 'tappgevär' for the sharpshooters).
m/1815 m/1815 marking
m/1815 The marking of a Gotland militia issued m/1815 bayonet.



[1] Hammarhjelm, Bengt "Beredskap på Gotland 175 år 1811 - 1986", ISBN 91-85716-84-7
[2] Broberg, Kalle Article in "Bumerangen" #5, 1999. 
[3] Alm, Josef "Armens eldhandvapen förr och nu"


© Per Holmbäck