Skansen

The Soldier’s Cottage

Press Release   •   Feb 17, 2011 08:38 GMT

The Soldier’s Cottage (Soldat-torpet), named Säldefall, comes from Småland. It is a single-family cottage built of logs and roofed with turf, built about 1800 and painted in the traditional red. On one end of the cottage we find the licence-sign denoting that the cottage has been allotted to soldier No. 91 in the Vedbo company of the Kalmar regiment. It is typical of the numerous soldier’s cottages to be found in Sweden during the first half of the 19th century.

The cottage consists of an entrance hall, living room and kitchen. In the corner of the living room there is a wood-burning stove which also fires an oven accessed from the kitchen.
The kitchen had no ceiling or roof insulation and was only used for preparing meals in the summer. In winter, only baking, brewing and washing took place there. The soldier’s large military trunk containing his uniform and other equipment is found in the kitchen.

The cottage is simply furnished with two beds and a so-called table-chair that could be used either as a table or a chair. The soldier’s rifle hangs above one of the windows. The small basket hanging from the ceiling served as a cradle. There was also a barn with room for two cows and a calf.

The last soldier to occupy Säldefall was Johan Gräns. He emigrated to America during the famine of 1868.

Military Organization in Sweden
Over a long period, the defence of the country was organized according to principles governing conscription that were introduced by Karl XI in 1682. This organization was not superseded until 1901 when compulsory national service was introduced.

The old organization made a number of farms responsible for supporting a soldier. Twenty-five of these recruited soldiers formed a squad and six squads made up a company. Eight companies formed a regiment. The farmers in each rote were themselves responsible for recruiting a soldier; not an easy task, particularly in times of war. The government supplied soldiers with weapons and with cloth for a uniform. The farmers paid him a small wage and provided housing, food and clothing.

The idea was that the soldier should support himself and his family by working on his own land at the cottage. Usually there was room for a potato patch and a cow. If the soldier had to go to the wars, his wife had the right to stay on at the cottage. The soldier was not allowed to wear his uniform at home but was dressed like everyone else in trousers made of homespun, a coat and boots. The uniform was kept in a special trunk when not in use at the military exercises.