My Family History Table of Contents

Chapter 3: Swedish Johansson to American Ogren

Thorsten Stalhanske and the Thirty Years War

The story of the Ogren family history begins with Thorsten Stalhanske. Thorsten was a Brigadier General in the Swedish Army. Stalhanske means "steel glove" in Swedish (stal=steel, hanske=glove). Under the command of King Gustavus Adolphus, Thorsten led a division to victory in the battle of Lützen in the Thirty Years War.

The Thirty Years War consisted of a series of declared and undeclared wars which raged through the years 1618-1648 throughout central Europe. The war consists of five primary phases: Bohemian, Palatinate, Danish, Swedish, French. The Swedish phase of the Thirty Years War encompassed the years 1630 through 1634. Concerned by growing Habsburg power along the Baltic, King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden invaded northern Germany. He was not welcomed by his fellow Lutherans: his sole significant ally were the French, who subsidized his army. The Swedes took over most of southwest Germany. The Holy Roman Empire raised an army of 70,000 under the command General Wallenstein. On November 15, 1632, the Swedish Army moved to Lützen, near Leipzig, to face Wallenstein's army. The Swedes drove Wallenstein's forces back to Bohemia, but King Gustavus was killed. Eventually, the Imperial and Spanish armies joined to inflict a crushing defeat on the Swedish Army at Nördlingen. All the Swedish gains in southern Germany were lost.

Stalhanske may have been the given surname of everyone in that division of the Swedish Army. And online account of the battle includes this text: "Yet it was where the king in person led his famous Stalhanske horse on the Swedish right that the key events were taking place, and the key to them all was that (in the words of a wandering Englishman), "As the Battaile was ioyned there fell soe great a miste that we could not see one another, which if it had not bene, I beleave wee had quickly made an ende of them (but all must be as God will have it)." In that murk the Stalhanskes scattered a group of Croat light cavalry at the first shock, then came through it against cuirassiers. They were solider, but the Swedes came on in successive waves; back and down went the imperialists and the battle was all but won." (Emphasis added.)

Based on the dates of the Lützen battle (1632), Thorsten Stalhanske was most likely born around 1605. King Gustavus was 38 years old at his death; Stalhanske could have easily been ten years younger than the king.

After Thorsten Stalhanske, there is about a 125 year gap in the family history which still requires research and documentation. Perhaps because of the enormous pride in Thorsten's military victory, it was remembered that he was an ancestor, but documentation was either not kept or has been lost over the years. 125 years is enough time for four or five generations to pass. The documentation begins again around 1725-1730.