For a long time, the Swedish army consisted of conscripted farmhands and smallholders, who were then given military training, unlike the recruited mercenaries used by other European countries. Men between the ages of 18 and 40, who were fit for military service, were conscripted from the entire population of Sweden and Finland.
However, as war dragged on, resources were drained. The mortality rate was frighteningly high, not only from battle. Epidemics spread like wildfire in the unsanitary conditions of the field camps. Disease, hunger and cold took four times as many lives as the fighting.
The high number of casualties forced the Swedish army to begin recruiting. By 1632 the Swedish fighting force had grown into a multinational army of 93,000 men, only 6,000 of whom were Swedes and Finns. The majority were German, English, Scottish & Irish mercenaries.
Casualties of the Thirty Years War were not only limited to the army. The German civilian population was also hit extremely hard. Thirty percent of city dwellers and forty percent of the rural population also succumbed to disease, hunger and the violence of war.
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