Hakkapeliitta (Finnish pl. "hakkapeliitat") was the term used in the Holy Roman Empire for a Finnish light cavalryman in the service of King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden during the Thirty Years' War (1618 to 1648). A Hakkapeliitta was also known as a Hackapelit, Hackapelite, Hackapell, Haccapelit, or Haccapelite.

The "hakkapeliitta" were first used during the Polish-Swedish Wars of the late 1500s. In the early 17th century the cavalry led by the Swedish Field Marshal Jacob De la Gardie participated in campaigns against Poland and Russia. The Hakkapeliitta cavalry men led by the Swedish Field Marshal Gustaf Horn were vital to the Swedish victories in Germany during the Thirty Years' War.


The Hakkapeliitta were well-trained Finnish light cavalrymen who excelled in sudden and savage attacks, raiding and reconnaissance. The term "hakkapeliitta" comes from the Finnish war cry "hakkaa päälle" ( _en. hack on or "hit on"; _sv. hacka på), but most commonly translated as "Cut them down!"

The greatest advantage of the fast and lightly-armored Hakkapeliitta cavalry was its charge. They typically had a sword, a helmet, and leather armor or a breastplate of steel. They would attack at a full gallop, fire the first pistol at twenty paces and the second at five paces, and then draw the sword. The horse itself was used like another weapon, as it was used to trample enemy infantry.

The horses used by the Hakkapeliitta were known as Finnhorses, a strong and durable breed largerFact|date=September 2007 than the neighboring Swedish counterpart.


The Swedish army then had three cavalry regiments from Finland:
*Nyland and Tavastehus County Cavalry Regiment (Swedish: "Nylands och Tavastehus läns kavalleriregemente")
*Åbo and Björneborg County Cavalry Regiment ("Åbo och Björneborgs läns kavalleriregemente")
*Viborg and Nyslott County Cavalry Regiment ("Viborgs och Nyslotts läns kavalleriregemente")

Their most famous commander was Torsten Stålhandske (surname meaning "steelglove"), who was commissioned as a lieutenant-colonel with the Nyland and Tavastehus Cavalry Regiment in 1629 and led it for the first time in the Thirty Years' War.

The original provincial regiments ("landskapsregementen") had been raised by splitting the old Grand regiments ("Storregementen", also "Land regiments" ("landsregementen"), organized by Gustavus Adolphus at the end of the 1610s, forming 21 infantry and eight cavalry regiments as written in the Swedish constitution of 1634.

Famous battles

The main battles in which the Hakkapeliitta took part during the Thirty Years' War were:

*Breitenfeld in 1631
*Lech in 1632
*Lützen in 1632
*Nördlingen in 1634
*Leipzig in 1642 (also known as the "Second Battle of Breitenfeld" or the "First Battle of Leipzig")
*Jankau in 1645
*Lens in 1648

200 Hakkapeliitta were also part of the army which King Karl X Gustav of Sweden led across two ice-frozen Danish straits in the winter of 1658, which enabled him to conquer Skåneland from Denmark in the Treaty of Roskilde.


Because of their strength, camaraderie, and battlefield success, the Hakkapeliitta were well-respected by their adversaries.Fact|date=February 2007. Hakkapeliitta did not have any special reputation in Central Europe. They are mentioned only in few contemporary European sources. [http://www.helsinki.fi/hum/hist/yhd/julk/arviot/jtl.html (in Finnish)]

It was said by their enemies that the Hakkapeliitta were invulnerable because of witchcraft Fact|date=February 2007; prayers said in Roman Catholic churches in Germany during the Thirty Years' War specifically mention them:

:"A horribile Haccapaelitorum agmine libera nos, Domine".:("O Lord, deliver us from the terrible army of the Haccapelites")Fact|date=February 2007

Hakkapeliittain Marssi

One of the Finnish cavalry's battle marches, the "Hakkapeliittain Marssi" ("March of the Hakkapeliitta"), became popular with military bands and is one of the oldest currently played. It was given lyrics (in Swedish) in 1872 by Zacharias Topelius and is commonly known as the "March of the Finnish Cavalry during the Thirty Years War". The Prussian army officially adopted it for use in 1891; it is now a standard of the German marching band repertoire.

The march is the official regimental march of the Swedish 19th Infantry regiment, "I19". The Swedish cavalry regiment "K1" also claims the march as "theirs" because of their heritage from the Finnish cavalry in the late 1700th.

The Finnish composer Uuno Klami developed a free orchestral version of this theme under the title "Suomalaisen ratsuväen marssi" ("March of the Finnish Cavalry" op. 28) in 1939. The Finnish poet Eino Leino published another "Hakkapeliittain Marssi" as part of a collection by the name of "Tähtitarha" ("Garden of stars") in 1912.

Names of the song in different languages:
* _fi. Suomalaisen ratsuväen marssi 30-vuotisessa sodassa
* _sv. Finska Rytteriets Marsch i trettioåriga kriget (see Swedish Wikipedia article)
* _de. Marsch der Finnländischen Reiterei im 30-jährigen Kriege or "Schwedischer Reitermarsch" ("Swedish Cavalry March")

Finnish lyrics

:; On Pohjolan hangissa meill' isänmaa :;sen rannalla loimuta lietemme saa :;käs' säilöjä käyttäiss' on varttunut siell' :;on kunnialle, uskolle hehkunut miel'

:Kun ratsujamme Nevan vuossa uitettihin:kuin häihin se ui yli Veikselinkin; :Ja kalpamme kostavan Reinille toi :ja Tonavasta Keisarin maljan se joi!

Alternative lyrics

:;On pohjolan hangissa maa isien:;saa loimuta lietemme rannoilla sen:;me kasvoimme kalpaan mi mainetta suo:;ja uskon huomisen kun sä luontoomme luot

:Ja ratsuamme Nevan vuossa juotettihin:se uljaasti ui yli Leipz-Erikin!:Se kalpamme Reinin rannalle toi:ja Tonavasta Keisarin maljan se joi!

:Yli rovion tuhkan kun karautamme:tuli kipunoi kavioista ratsujemme!:Ja missä nämä säilämme säihkyy ja lyö:siel vapaus on kallistunut ja väistyköön!

Original Swedish lyrics

:; Den snöiga nord är vårt fädernesland,:; där sprakar vår härd på den stormiga strand,:; där växte vid svärdet vår seniga arm,:; där glödde för tro och för ära vår barm.

:Vi vattnade i Nevans bad vår frustande häst:han sam över Weichseln så glad som till fest,:han bar över Rhen vårt hämnande stål,:han drack utur Donau kejsarens skål.

Literal English translation

:;The snowy north is our fatherland;:;there our hearth crackles on the stormy beach.:;There our sinewy arm grew by the sword,:;there our chest burned with faith and honour.

:We watered our snorting horse in the Neva's bath;:he swam across the Vistula as happy as to a feast,:he carried our avenging steel over the Rhine,:he drank the emperor's toast from the Danube.

Poetic English translation

Source: [http://tetrad.stanford.edu/list/dbm-listV2-268-275.html]

:;Our homeland lies in the snows of the North; :;the hearth of the home glowing warm and strong :;Our hand has grown sure with playing the sword :;and honour and pure faith lies in our record

:At the river Neva our mounts did draw their first blood :like in a wedding march they went across the Vistula flood :Our swords they did bring to the Rhineland's coast :and by the Danube they raised up the Emperor's toast!


* The name "Hakkapeliitta" was also taken up by Nokian Tyres in 1936 for its winter tires. [http://www.nokiantyres.com/passengercars_product_en?product=610494&name=NOKIAN+HAKKAPELIITTA+2]
* The name "Hakkapeliitta" was also used by the weekly magazine of the Finnish voluntary Home Guard organisation (Suojeluskunnat) from 1926 until 1944.
*In Age of Empires III the Hackapell can be hired as mercenaries during combat.
* "Hakkaa päälle!" is today used by Finnish ice hockey fans

External links

* [http://wahm.no-ip.com/music/German%20Military%20-3R-%20Finnl%E4ndisher%20Reitermarsch%20-n28.mp3 Complete orchestral mp3]
* [http://www.abc.se/~m9541/midifil/finryt.mid Midi tune]
* [http://aapinen.ath.cx/~perinnesoittokunta/mp3/30-vuotisen%20sodan%20marssi.mp3 Orchestral mp3 version] by the Finnish Cavalry Tradition Band. [http://ratsuvaen-perinnesoittokunta.fi/]
* [http://www2.mil.fi/sotilasmusiikki/images/media.php?id=99&name=Suomalaisen+ratsuv%E4en+marssi+30-vuotisessa+sodassa Mp3 excerpt with Finnish lyrics]
* [http://www.fimic.fi/fimic/fimic.nsf/mainframe?readform&77F16BC06D734B10C225693D0035F8B0 March of the Finnish Cavalry, op. 28] by Uuno Klami
* [http://runeberg.org/topesang/c0184.html Original Swedish lyrics by Zacharias Topelius]


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