The war hero from Steensgaard
Tall and short, shoulder to shoulder, the Danish troops resolutely defend Langeland against the Swedish invaders. Vincents Steensen, the 66-year-old estate owner lays down his life for Langeland.
On the night of 6 February 1659, four Swedish ships of the line and auxiliary vessels sneak up on the eastern coast of North Langeland.
Langeland is forewarned and forearmed. The lookouts immediately send word to the farmers and estate owner at nearby Steensgaard Manor.
The 66-year-old nobleman gallops down to the fortifications on the beach. With the support of a lieutenant colonel, a large number of farmers and a handful of soldiers, he is ready to beat back the Swedish forces.
Vincents Steensen has already done so several times during the past autumn.
The men of Langeland never flinch
The Swedish ships of the line fire cannon balls at the beach as they sail closer. Leading the Swedish attack is Admiral Wrangel, who writes in his log:
“We and our ships are now at a distance of one and a half musket shots from the beach, but they show not the slightest respect for the cannon fire.”
The men of Langeland never flinch. The Swedish forces make landfall at Andemose Knøs, marking the start of a bloody battle in the dark of night.
All of a sudden, Vincents Steensen topples from his horse. He has been struck by grapeshot, which leave 20 wounds on his body. The estate owner is carried back to Steensgaard, where he dies that same night.
Memorial to Vincents Steensen
In his eulogy at the funeral, the minister relates that, mortally wounded, the estate owner is said to have called to his lieutenant colonel:
“Alas, brother, I am shot and must die. Do your best to keep the men together, so that they do not turn from one another, but honestly defend their fatherland.”
Which is precisely what the men do. Six weeks later, the enemy attacks once more – this time with 12 ships of the line and 2,500 men. The superiority of numbers is simply too great, and the Swedes invade and pillage the island.
Vincents Steensen’s famous last words are today inscribed on a memorial stone which was raised at Andemose Knøs on the coast east of Steensgaard in 1909, fully 250 years after the battle.
The manor tales are written by Linda Corfitz