Mesheryaks

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> Russian Army >> Mesheryaks

Origin and History

In addition to Cossacks, the Russian Army also fielded Asiatic cavalry from the eastern provinces of the empire. Among these Asiatic units there were approx. 6,000 Mesheryaks.

The Mesheryaks are a sub-ethnic group of Tatars who live in modern Russia's Tatarstan Republic and in the western part of the Bashkiria Republic. During the numerous Bashkirs' uprisings, Mesheryaks remained loyal to the Government. [2]

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was commanded by:

  • no information found

Service during the War

In 1756, the Mesheryaks were stationed in the Governorate of Kazan.

For the campaign of 1757 in East Prussia, 500 Mesheryaks were mobilized. They were attached to the special cavalry detachment of the 1st Division of the Russian Army. They did not take part in any serious action.

Before the opening of the campaign of 1758, Fermor sent back most of his Asiatic horsemen home, keeping only 500 Kalmyks of the Volga with the field army and a detachment of 300 Mesheryaks that was planned to be attached to the Observation Corps. However, it was finally attached to the main Army. This detachment included 1 starshina (commander), 3 sotniks and 286 Mesheryaks, they were accompanied by 1 second-major and 4 lesser ranks of land militia. [1].

Uniform

The various contingents dressed quite similarly with a fur-lined or fur-brimmed hat (shape varying according to tribes), a kaftan fastened with a coloured sash, baggy trousers, soft leather boots (natural leather, brown, light red, yellow or purple).

For hairstyle, most nations had completely shaven heads, with small moustaches and beards.

Russia supplied cloth for fur hats and kaftans. Each nation received a particular colour: green for the Mesheryaks and Bashkirs.

Although some Asiatic horsemen may have been equipped with firearms, even as late as the early 19th Century, they were armed with cold steel weapons, firearms, composite bows and arrows. For instance, the Mesheryak Contingent was armed with lances, sabres, bows and muskets. The 300-men detachment destined to the Observation Corps had the following equipment: 286 lances, 242 bows, 72 muskets, 63 sabres. [1]

Asiatic horsemen were known as effective archers. Each man had two small horses.

Musicians

no information found

Colours

Mesheryaks had probably no official standard even though they may had some unofficial ones.

References

[1] Maslovskiy, Dmitrij Fedorovich: Russkaia armija w siemieletnjuju wojnu, Vol. 1

[2] Russian Wikipedia

Other sources

Boadle, John: The 'Various Peoples': Russian Tribesmen in the Seven Years War, Seven Years War Association Journal,Vol. X No. 2

Grosser Generalstab Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II: Die Kriege Friedrichs des Grossen, Part 3 Der siebenjährige Krieg 1756-1763, Vol. 4 Groß-Jägersdorf und Breslau, Berlin, 1902, p. 23 and appendix 1

Konstam A. & Younghusband B.: Russian Army of the Seven Years War, Osprey, London, 1996

Knötel, Richard, Russiche Truppen in der Neumark 1758, in Mittheilungen zur Geschichte der militärischen Tracht, Beilagen zum X. Bande der Uniformkunde, No. 6, 1899, pp. 21-23

Acknowledgements

Roman Shlygin for the initial version of this article