With an army of 7 000 hungered, poorly dressed, unpaid and rebellious soldiers Banér faced disaster in northern Germany as a vastly superior army under Gallas approached from the south.The winter was uncommonly cold. the imperials soon reached the sea and seized a number of important fortresses. Especially the officers were quick to negotiate with the enemy when thses appeared outside the walls. It did not look as if it would end well at all.

Suddenly the army got news from peasants and fishermen that the enemy was withdrawing . Banér didnt believe it but the scouts sent out confirmed the news. The enemy was retreating all over the line. The stranglehold slowly let go. It wasnt Banérs genious or the swedish arms that sent the enemy south. It was logistical logic. If Banérs small army hardly could survive on what Pommerania could offer Gallas much larger army certainly couldnt. Pommerania was a logistical vacuum were Gallas simply couldnt sustain his army. Every step towards the north was a step closer to death by starvation and eventually Gallas victored his army into destruction. The paradox was to rule much of the rest of the war. A small army could survive logistically but could not prevail on the battlefield while a large army would be victorious in battle but impossible to sustain logistically. Gallas army had no choice but to retreat to the south in ragged columns as it got close to dissolving itself by lack of suplies. It retreated as far south as to the Elbe were supplies were available and Gallas ordered his army into winterquarters.

Johan Banér

Banérs army was still in a sorry state. But when he recieved 180 000 riksdaler from Sweden in the spring he started to turn the rabble back into an army with is usual enery. With money the threat of mutiny dissolved and supplies were requisitioned. Arms and weapons were expensive but the rulers in Sweden managed to arrange for the urgent needs. The lack of soldiers was easier to adress. There was still manpower to requisition in Finland and Sweden. Much cheaper than arms. In June 9000 swedes and 5000 finns arrived. Few of these would ever return to their small villages and farms. From 1619 to 1638 the small village of Bygdå with 1700 inhabitants in northern Sweden 225 men had been selected as soldiers and seamen. They had fought in Livland, Prussia and Germany (fought and fought, almost no one had seen a battle or siege) and of these 225 only one returned home healthy, six returned as cripples (you were released from service after 30 years or when disabled) and 35 still were alive in the army in 1638. 183 had thus vanished without a trace in disease mostly, a few in skirmishes and the odd one or two in battle or siege. Among the 9000 swedes were 27 more men from Bygdå. They were added to the garrisson in Greifswald but after a month disease struck and 26 died (their names and ages are all known as well as what date they died) between 3rd of August and early November. Only the 18 year old Anders Persson remained.

Banér now had 21 000 men at his disposal and a reasonable logistical situation. The enemy was out of Pommerania, now the swedish army must leave as well if it was to survive. Pommerania couldnt sustain it. Banér wrote to Oxenstirna that only sand and air remained in Pommerania. Later investigations showed that the war took about 65% of the population in these parts. The cities were overfilled with refugees and disease common, the social systems failed and anarchy was close. The judicial system collapsed as did the educational. In this situation Sweden annected Pommerania.

The twisted logistical logic impelled Banér to go to the offensive since staying in the devastated Pommerania was not an option. The war was to be fought in the enemies lands, preferably all the way down in Austria. The war turned to a game of "musical chairs" , occupying the enemies land while keeping him out of your own for logistical reasons. During the larger part of the summer Banérs army didnt move. This was due to the fact that Gallas had with his usual precision maneuvered himself into another logistical disaster. Since the swedes had supply routes over the sea they simply could stand still and watch the imperials fade away in starvation.

In September Banér moved. The idea was to close in with the weakened enemy and defeat it. When Gallas heard of the approaching Banér he started to retreat from the hunger camps on the Pommeranian border to the south. The swedes pursued and slowly gained on the enemy since Banér moved quickly as usual. The trail was marked by bunt wagons and cadavres along the roads. The problem was that it was quite like a copy of Gallas advance the year before into Pommerania. A leap into a devastated land. Soon the swedes began to suffer from wear and tear as did Gallas. It became obvious that no defence was as good as a devastated land. Västgöta cavalry that had started with 649 men soon only had 300. Östgöta cavalry was down to 40 men. The loss in horses was especially serious. A disease had struck the animals and a few presumed witches were hauled from the women accompanying the army and executed under humiliating forms. It didnt help. The army turned to looting and downright brigandry on a large scale and Banérs orders prohibiting it meant nothing since he really didnt care. With severe logistical problems and a large part of the cavalry on foot he had to turn back north.

After some rest and reorganization he again marched south on the 31st of december. No one noticed but the war had reached a turning point.