a village southeast of Mogilev, now in Slavgorod Raion, Mogilev Oblast, Byelorussian SSR.
On Sept. 28 (Oct. 9), 1708, during the Northern War of 1700–21 a battle was fought near Lesnaia between Russian troops under the command of Peter I (about 5,000 infantrymen and 11,000 cavalrymen and several batteries) and General A. Lewenhaupt’s Swedish corps (about 16,000 men and 17 guns). Lewenhaupt’s corps, followed by a large supply train (consisting of 7,000 carts with food and ammunition), was moving from Riga to link up with the main forces of the Swedish king Charles XII; the two groups were to meet near Starodub. On September 19–21 (September 30-October 2), Lewenhaupt crossed the Dnieper at Shklov and approached Propoisk (now Slavgorod). Peter I sent A. D. Menshikov’s corps volant (flying corps) of about 7,000 cavalrymen and 5,000 infantrymen after Lewenhaupt’s corps and ordered General R. Kh. Bour’s cavalry corps (5,000 cavalrymen) to join the corps volant from Krichev; he also sent 1,000 men to Propoisk to hold back the crossing across the Sozh River. Lewenhaupt’s corps reached Lesnaia on September 27 (October 8). A Swedish detachment of 3,000 men was sent ahead with part of the supply train toward Propoisk; the main forces took up positions on hills northwest of Lesnaia, and six battalions were moved up as an advance detachment.
After 1200 hours on September 28 the Russian troops repulsed the Swedish advance detachment and then attacked the Swedes’ main forces, compelling them to retreat to the Wagenburg. After the approach of Bour’s cavalry the Russian troops opened an attack on the Wagenburg. At night the remnants of the Swedish corps fled to Propoisk. Pursued by the Russian cavalry, the Swedes abandoned the supply train and retreated down the Sozh River. Only about 6,000 men linked up with the main forces. Of the Swedes 8,000 were killed and about 1,000 were taken prisoner, and their entire artillery and supply train was lost. The Russians lost more than 1,000 killed and about 3,000 wounded. The victory at Lesnaia, which Peter I called “the mother of the Poltava Battle,” was the first major victory of the Russian troops over a first-class regular army and played a great role in raising the morale of the Russian Army. It deprived Charles XII of urgently needed reinforcements, food, and ammunition and foiled his plan for a campaign on Moscow.