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Axel Gyllenkrok

    Axel Gyllenkrok (1665–1730) was a Swedish baron and lieutenant general of the Swedish army. He is best known for his role as general quartermaster and operations planner for King Charles XII of Sweden. Gyllenkrok’s collection of route maps and reports were used by Charles XII to prepare for the campaigns against Poland and Russia. Axel Gyllenkrok was born in 1665 in Åbo. His father was assessor Anders Krok (his name was changed to Gyllenkrok when he was elevated to the nobility). Axel Gyllenkrok entered the Swedish army at the age of 18 and started his military career in the Life Guards. By 1686 he had become company commander with the rank of captain. To improve his military skills he spent seven years serving in the French army (1688-1695). While in French service, he took part in the Siege of Namur from May 25th to June 30th, 1692, one of the major engagements of the Nine Years War (1688–1697; also referred to as the War of the English Succession). Gyllenkrok participated in the Battle of Steenkerque (Steenkerke or Steenkirk is presently part of the Belgian municipality of Braine-le-Comte), fought on August 3, 1692, in which the French, led by Marshal François-Henri de Montmorency, Duc de Luxembourg, defeated a joint British-Dutch-German army under Prince William of Orange. At the beginning of the Great Northern war he joined the Swedish army. In 1700 he participated in the landing of the Swedish army under Charles XII on the island of Zeland that forced Denmark to sign an armistice and leave its alliance with Russia and Polish-Saxony. Axel Gyllenkrok commanded four Life Guard battalions in the Battle of Klissow (1702). In 1703 he was given command over all Swedish field engineer troops. In 1706 he was elevated to lieutenant colonel. During the Swedish campaign against Saxony he led his troops in the capture of the city of Leipzig. He avoided being taken prisoner of war in the Battle of Poltava, and later joined Charles XII on his way from Perevolochna (on the Dnieper River) to Turkey. On September 1709 he was sent to Poland with a detachment consisting of 300 to 400 Swedes and about 900 Cossacks to get into contact with the Swedish troops deployed there under the command of General Ernst Detlov von Krassow. However, Gyllenkrok and his detachment were subjected to a surprise attack by superior Russian troops on September 24, 1709, near the city of Czernowitz (then Moldavia under the control of Turkish Empire) and he was taken prisoner of war. He was held in Moscow under such severe constraints that it caused some mental disorder (March 1712). Soon thereafter he was sent to another place he called Voskresenskiy where he remained in captivity until 1721. Only after the Peace of Nystad in 1721 and the end of the Great Northern War was Axel Gyllenkrok released. He returned to Sweden in 1722 and was soon promoted to lieutenant-general. He was also appointed governor of Gothenburg (1723). He died on his estate Svenstorp on September 17, 1730. Two interesting books dedicated to the Battle of Poltava have come from his pen, making his name famous among a wide audience. He left many maps of the battles, including a map of the Battle of Poltava. In 1932 the city of Gothenburg named one of its streets after him.

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