Latvia 1919

... featuring Germans, Balts, Russians, Estonians and even some Latvians.

Initially I became interested in the Freikorps in the Baltic because I wondered how 50,000 crack German Freikorps could be beaten in late 1919 by the 20,000 men of the hastily raised Latvian army. There is little written about the campaign in English or French, but eventually I managed to piece enough together to understand that the story in most books on the period is completely wrong.

The Freikorps in Latvia were not the crack troops of most histories, but men with wildly conflicting aims in an increasingly difficult situation. Latvians have every right to be proud of their ancestors' performance at the Battle of Riga, but their opponents were considerably less numerous than generally stated, not to mention already half beaten morally.

The general history of Latvia in 1919

My findings, gleaned by me from various sources. Since I don't read German, Estonian, Latvian or Russian, I make no pretense that they are complete or 100% accurate, but I feel confident that they are a huge improvement on what is available in the non-specialist literature in English.

History of of the Freikorps in Latvia 1919.

The Battle of Cēsis

I have also been able to write a fairly detailed history of the Battle of Cēsis, but none of the credit is mine. Firstly Reigo Rosenthal provided me with an enormous amount of information from Estonian sources. To this Daniel Staberg added some stuff from German sources and balanced out the Estonian view a bit. Valdis Kursietis added some information about the Latvians, and Eduardo Lopez did a spot of translating. Thank-you very much Daniel, Valdis, Eduardo and Reigo!

The Landwehr War and the Battle of Cēsis

German Order of Battle at Cēsis
Nationalist Order of Battle at Cēsis

The following maps from Eesti Vabadussõda (the official Estonian history of their independence struggle) will help follow the account:

Maps – #11 ,   #12 ,   #13 ,   #14 ,   #15 ,   #16 ,   map help

Other Orders of Battle and Maps

I would like at some time to do a similar treatment of the Battle of Riga/Thorensberg, but in the meantime this is all I have:

German Order of Battle before Riga

I have very little interest in the fighting against the Soviets (especially since it seems that the valiant and noble Freikorps were actually not outnumbered like they made out) but I have collected some bits and pieces that might interest others and Reigo Rosenthal has kindly supplied a couple of cool maps of the Soviet movements in early 1919. (NB: the files are quite large.)

German Orders of Battle against the Soviets

Map showing the positions in early 1919
Map showing the Freikorps and Soviet positions in mid-May 1919 (from von der Goltz's book)
Map showing the Baltic in mid-May 1919
Map showing the retreat of Soviet forces in May 1919

Wargaming the theatre

I have drawn up some notes which might help people intending to game the Freikorps' actions.

Latvian terrain in 1919
Wargaming Latvia 1919

There are also a couple of scenarios set around the fighting at Cesis in this site's scenario section:

Salaspils scenario
Rauna scenario


Sources for Latvia 1919

The books and articles I used to assemble the information above.