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Döbeln Georg Carl von
(1759—1820)

Döbeln Georg Carl von (1759—1820)

Georg Carl von Döbeln was a Swedish friherre (baron), Lieutenant General and war hero.
Georg Carl was born at the Stora Torpa manor in Segerstads parish in Västergötland (now Falköping Municipality) to Johan Jakob von Döbeln and Anna Maria Lindgren. When von Döbeln was eight years old the father died and he was put in school by relatives with the aim to become a priest. The boy however, showed affinity for a military life and he was enrolled at the Karlskrona naval academy in 1773. Upon graduating as an officer in 1775, he was directed by the family towards a career in law. Disliking this, he sought employment as a junior officer in 1778.

As a lieutenant, Döbeln took part in Gustav III's Russian War and was shot in the head at the Battle of Porrassalmi. The wound didn't heal properly and he was forced to wear a black silken bandanna for the rest of his life. During the operation he stayed awake and wrote about it while looking at the whole process with the help of a mirror.

After this he rapidly advanced to colonel and took part in the Finnish War. On 13 September 1808, he led the Swedish troops in the Battle of Jutas. For this, he would become legendary as the main hero of the war since Johan Ludvig Runeberg wrote his epic Döbeln at Jutas in the Finnish National Poem "Fänrik Ståls Sägner" (written in Swedish).

He successfully led the Swedish retreat from the Åland islands over the frozen Baltic sea. Having re-organized his troops, he engaged hostile forces which ultimately stopped a planned Russian attack on the Swedish capital, Stockholm.

Döbeln was the commanding officer of the North Army on 8 October 1809, when the last formal ties between Sweden and Finland were cut through the dismissal of the last Swedish-Finnish army in the church park of Umeå in Västerbotten North Sweden. Döbeln's last orders to the parading army, issued by mouth upon dismissal, is considered to be the very essence of rhetorics in Swedish, and has been taught to generations of school-children.

In the Second War against Napoleon he led troops in Swedish Pomerania. Von Döbeln sent troops to relieve Hamburg, which was besieged by the French, without authorisation. For this, he was court-martialled and sentenced to be executed. However, he was pardoned by the king Charles XIV John of Sweden.


Finland, 1955, Georg Carl von Döbeln

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