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Elisa Bernerström

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Elisa Bernerström (known as Fru Servenius when married), (1700s-after 1809), was a woman who served in the Swedish army dressed as a man during the Finnish War between Sweden and Russia 1808-1809. She was decorated for bravery in battle,[1] and was the only confirmed woman decorated for bravery in battle on land, while Brita Hagberg and Anna Maria Engsten were decorated for bravery at sea.[2]

Elisa Bernerström, a maid, met the soldier Bernard Servenius when his regiment was stationed in Stockholm.[3] They fell in love and were married, and when the regiment left for war Elisa disguised herself as a man and enlisted as a soldier in the regiment herself, "as she had decided to live and to die with her husband".[1] This regiment was either the King's lifeguard (livgardet)[1] or the Queen's regiment (drottningens livregemente).[3][4]

Her husband was believed killed in action at the Battle of Ratan and Sävar,[3] while she herself collected the ammunition of the enemy and gave it to her fellow soldiers during the battle.[4] For this action Wachtmeister recommended that she be decorated for bravery in battle.[3] During the march to Piteå, when for the third time she prepared to "in her ability serve her country", her gender was discovered and she was fired.[1]

After the war, it was discovered that her husband had been captured rather than killed in action. He was released from his Russian prison, and they were reunited in Stockholm, after which they continued to follow the regiment.[3]

Elisa Bernerström is not the only woman in Swedish history to have served as a soldier dressed as a man, but she is one of very few of these women who were officially recognized and decorated for such an act.

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Johansson, Christer. Kvinnorna och Kriget: Soldathustrur, markententerskor och kvinnliga krigare (PDF) (Swedish). Retrieved on 2007-12-29.
  2. Cristopher von Warnstedt, Medaljerna för Tapperhet till Sjöss ( 1974) Forum navale. 29. Template:Sv icon.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Czako, Nikoletta (2006-08-27). Formedling av historiskt kulturarv i tid och rum med mobil teknik (PDF) (Swedish). Retrieved on 2008-01-02.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Bernardus Servenius (Swedish). Sävar: Sveriges siste slagfält. Retrieved on 2007-12-30.

Other sources Edit

  • Isaaksson, Eva. Hän Lottansa vei mukanaan Template:Fi icon. Translated into Swedish as Så följde hon trogen och käck armén, trans. Tatiana Sundgren. Helsingfors: Rauhankirjat: 1993.

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