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Hakkapeliitta featured on a 1940 Finnish stamp

Hakkapeliitta (Finnish pl. hakkapeliitat) is a historiographical term used for a Finnish light cavalryman in the service of King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden during the Thirty Years' War (1618 to 1648). Hakkapeliitta is a 19th-century Finnish modification of a contemporary name given by foreigners in the Holy Roman Empire and variously spelled as Hackapelit, Hackapelite, Hackapell, Haccapelit, or Haccapelite. These terms were based on a Finnish battle cry "hakkaa päälleǃ" (English: strike upon [them]; Swedish: hacka på), commonly translated as "Cut them down!"


  • The snowy north is our fatherland;
    There our hearth crackles on the stormy beach.
    There our sinewy arm grew by the sword,
    There our chests burned with faith and honour.

    We watered our snorting horse in the Neva's bath;
    He swam across the Vistula as happy as to a feast,
    He carried our avenging steel over the Rhine,
    He drank the emperor's toast from the Danube.

    And if we ride forth over ash and gravel,
    From the hoofs spring sparks of light,
    Each cut like the blow of a hammer descends,
    And for the world a future day dawns.

    Take heart, you who dwell in darkness and chains!
    We’re coming, we’re coming, we will free your hand.
    Slaves do not sigh in our frosty North;
    Freeborn we ride into the field for God’s word.

    At Breitenfeld we took Pappenheim into our arms;
    We wrote on Kronenberg’s armour our name;
    We burnt Tilly’s beard grey at Lech;
    We bled with our King’s blood at Lützen’s hedge.

    And if we ride far from our northern track,
    To glowing grapes and bleeding wounds,
    Then the trumpets call the message of our victory.
    Cut them down, brave ranks! Forward! With us is God.

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