This week's book giveaway is in the OO, Patterns, UML and Refactoring forum. We're giving away four copies of Refactoring for Software Design Smells: Managing Technical Debt and have Girish Suryanarayana, Ganesh Samarthyam & Tushar Sharma on-line! See this thread for details.
It can be a value of 1 or greater. The one with the "1" will be loaded first, and then the others in ascending order.
Note that starting with Servlet API 2.3, the concept of javax.servlet.ServletContextListener can be used to initialize anything that needs initializing. That is a much cleaner solution than having a servlet that does not actually serve anthing.