The Swedish march

From the 12th to the 15th of June the Swedish members of the company of Saynt George organized a marching event.

The idea was to walk for three days through the remote woods of Sweden packed with your sleeping gear, food and weapons. To make it more comfortable for us, our Swedish friends took care of the tents and cooking facilities. Although it was supposed to be a company event there were surprisingly few non-Swedish members. Actually, me, Ben and our friend Aebele, where the only foreigners.

The adventure started at the  parking lot of a football field. Everybody dressed and packed, that is to say, we had focused on taking our sleeping gear, extra clothes etc. in an improvised backpack, while the Swedes had less luggage and more armour. It was only then that  we found out that, the situation that we would be Burgundians travelling through enemy territory, was more than just an idea to keep in mind.

On the way... (Photo by Henrik Summanen)

A Swedish re-enactment group would be there somewhere in the forest waiting for us. Where normally on events, a castle on the background helps to make it feel more or less realistic, this time the knowledge that the enemy could be waiting for us behind every tree, made it much more than just a walk through the woods.
We followed a hiking track, and as soon as the parking lot was left, we lost contact with civilization for three days (except for two hikers that took us for Vikings).

The walking was different than I had expected, I had done some practicing at home to test the rack I had made for a backpack. But walking in the forest  is much slower. There are roots and rocks to deal with, and a lot of great views I missed because I had to look at the ground where to put my feet. At the end of the first day, when an enemy had yet to be spotted, we arrived in a small camp just when it started to rain, great timing! There was food and we took a bath in the lake nearby.

The water in the lake looked like porter beer and tasted like moss. All lakes tasted different by the way, but to me it was a very special experience to drink water from a lake. Something unthinkable in the Netherlands. We had a pleasant evening by the fire except for the mosquito’s and a Swedish insect called knut (or knot or knoet any way, a beast from hell). There was only a little bit of straw, but you can sleep very comfortable on pine branches as well.

The next morning, it was hard to tell what time because the sun moves in a funny way in Sweden, we left for the next part of the trip. After we had a good breakfast of porridge, and filled our food bags with bread, cheese and sausage. 

Somewhere in the afternoon there was a barricade on the track, something that looked like an ambush. And yes, when we got closer there was somebody shooting at us with a handgun from somewhere up. A horn was blowing behind us, we seemed to be surrounded. Our captain made the decision to split up the group. The Dutch part was send back a bit to go round the enemy and counterattack. It worked the enemy fled. There were two more encounters that day, and  as far as we could tell (we hardly got to see them because their tactic was hit and run) they were no regular army, more local outlaws. 

In the evening we arrived at the bank of a bigger lake. With minimal camping equipment under a piece of canvas waiting for us. We set up camp made fire and had a delicious meal. There was a cold wind blowing but that turned out to be a blessing because there were no knut. 

Cross-country through the forest (Photo by Klaas Kloosterhuis)

The last day of our march we left the trail and walked straight through the woods. It slowed us down a lot but it was wonderful. In the afternoon we took a break and had a swim in yet another lake. From there on we followed the trail again, and after a few hours we had our final encounter with the local outlaws. They were waiting for us at the top of a hill shooting down at us. We split up our group again and attacked them from two sides. They fled to another hill but failed to regroup  properly, before we got to them. They were overrun by the burgundian forces  and most of them were killed.

Not far from there, there was a camp build up for us. There was drinks and food and a lot of Swedes (some of them looked a lot like the outlaws we had killed before). We had a wonderful evening and even managed to see the Swedish sun go down.

It was a great event and a wonderful experience. I’d like to thank everybody who made this possible. Specially those who did not have part in the fun bits but worked behind the scenes, to provide us with all that was needed.

Klaas Kloosterhuis, Veteran Company member