Yaik Cossacks

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

Origin and History

Twenty years after the conquest of the Volga from Kazan to Astrakhan, in 1577 Moscow sent troops to disperse pirates and raiders along the Volga. Some of these fled south-east to the Yaik River (present-day Ural River). They incorporated many Tatars into their ranks. In 1580, the Yaik Cossacks captured Saraichik.

Since 1591, the Tsardom government hired Yaik Cossacks for the border service. This year is considered as the date of the establishment of the Yaik Cossack Host. They settled on the right bank of the Yaik River (present-day Ural River) from its estuary to the confluence with the Ilek river.

In 1717, the Yaik Cossacks took part in an expedition against Khiva, during which they lost 1,500 men.

In 1740, a census counted 3,196 men fit for military service among the Yaik Cossack Host.

In 1748, a permanent staff was introduced. The Host included 7 regiments.

According to Maslovskiy, by 1755, the Yaik Cossack Host counted 3,574 men, including:

  • 1 ataman
  • 2 colonels
  • 2 regimental yesauls (assistant commanders)
  • 4 rittmeisters
  • 1 clerk
  • 7 starshinas (administrative heads)
  • 7 yesauls (assistant commanders)
  • 5 khorunzhyis (color bearers)
  • 35 sotniks (commanders of sotnias)
  • 3,510 Cossacks

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

  • no information found

Service during the War

In 1756, these Cossacks were stationed in the Government of Orenburg.

Late during the Seven Years' War, it seems that at least one converged regiment of Yaik Cossacks campaigned with the Russian Army in Poland and Prussia.

Uniform

Illustrations of Cossacks
The Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection at Brown University make available a large number of illustrations depicting Cossacks. Even though they are mostly of the 1812-1815 period, they give a fairly good idea of the way Cossacks dressed during this era.

At the outbreak of the Seven Years' War, these Cossacks did not wear uniforms. The following description is very conjectural and based on the clothing of other Cossack units.

Caftans and waistcoats were often made of blue cloth. Their hair was cut in roundel. They wore a high bonnet of sheepskin. Coats of rank and file were girdled with an ordinary sabre strap or a belt of coarse fabric material. Leaders wore silken belt from Persia or Poland over the sabre belt. Sabre was worn over the waistcoat. Some cossacks, especially the rank and file had only a mustache, beard was less common. They wore woollen trousers, half boots of black Morocco leather or simple leather. The Cossacks trousers were similar to the Turkish ones, but much tighter.

Troopers were usually armed with a lance, a sabre and a pistol. They could also carry a knife and a musket.

Musicians

no information found

Colours

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

References

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. 21 and appendix 1

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

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

Summerfield, Stephen: Cossack Hurrah!, Leigh-on-Sea: Partizan Press, 2005

Wikipedia

Acknowledgements

Roman Shlygin for the section "Origin and History" of this article