Origin and History
From 1720, but mostly after the annexation of Serbia to the Ottoman Empire in 1739 and the reorganisation of the military border between 1746 and 1750, many Serbians emigrated to southern Russia and Ukraine.
In 1750, Yvan Shevich, who had been lieutenant-colonel in the Serb militia in the Habsburg service, left for Russia. In September 1752, he led 3,000 Serb families who migrated from Pomorišje, Potisje and Slavonia to the Russian Empire. In December, they reached Kiev, where they were instructed to settle in the so-called New Serbia. Shevich, accompanied by Rajko Preradovich, then went to St. Petersburg to ask for the authorisation to settle in a new territory.
On May 17, 1753, Lieutenant-Colonels Shevich and Preradovich were allowed to establish new Serbian national settlements on the right bank of the Donets, between the Bakhmutka and Luhan rivers. This territory was called Slaveno-Serbia (Slavonic Serbia) with its administrative centre in Sloviansk. To enable Shevich to recruit more of his fellow officers, he was promoted to the rank of general by the Russian Empress Elizabeth Petrovna. By the end of 1753, the settlement counted 10,000 inhabitants. Besides the Serb majority, Bulgarians, Aromanians, Vlachs and Greeks also settled in Slaveno-Serbia.
Russia intended to use these settlements as buffer-states on its southern border on the model of the Austrian-style Grenz but with a status similar to Cossack settlements. Upon arrival, Serbs were given undeveloped lands. New Serbia had an administrative autonomy with its own customs, traditions, legislative body and military organization.
The military units of New Serbia were designated as “pandours” by the Russians. The entire male population was registered for service. Typically, in time of war, half the force would be in active service (border patrol and garrison) and half used as reserve.
Contrarily to New Serbia, Slaveno-Serbia fielded only mounted hussars. On March 31, 1754, Shevich and Preradovich were allowed to raise 2 Hussar regiments, each of 20 companies, named after their colonels (Shevich and Preradovich).
During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was under the command of:
- from 1754: Colonel Yvan Shevich (more precisely Jovan Šević)
Service during the War
In January 1758, two squadrons (approx. 500 men) of Slavano-Serbian Hussars (Shevich and/or Preradovich) formed part of the Russain army assembling for the planned invasion of East Prussia. Later during the same year, they seem to have been increased to six squadrons. By November, this Russian army had gradually retreated to East Prussia and Poland. On November 13, it divided up into small detachments, each marching to its assigned winter quarters, the Slavano-Serbian Hussars being quartered in Liebstadt (present-day Milakowo).
On July 23 1759, six squadrons of Slavano-Serbian Hussars took part in the Battle of Platzig where they were deployed in the Light Cavalry Brigade on the extreme right wing of the first line under the command of Major-General Demiku.
By October 1760, during the Russian campaign in Brandenburg, a few squadrons of Slavano-Serbian Hussars formed part of Tchernichev's Corps who made a raid on Berlin.
In January 1761, a few squadrons of Slaviano-Serbian Hussars were attached to Tottleben's Corps during its operations in Pomerania.
During the reign of Empress Elizabeth, the uniform of the Slaviano-Serbian Hussars was not regulated. In this section, we describe the most likely uniform.
|Headgear||black kolback with a red bag and red cords, knots and tassels|
|Neck stock||probably black|
|Dolman||green with red braids
|Breeches||red decorated with intricate black loops|
Troopers were armed with a short, curved sabre and two pistols (no carbine). Zweguintzov mentions that Russian hussars also carried a carbine.
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Russian hussar regiments carried no standards during the Seven Years' War.
Gromoboy, Vlad: The Russian Pandours - Pandour Hussars (1741-61), Seven Years War Association Journal Vol. XII No. 1
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, Appendix 1
Konstam A. & Younghusband B.: Russian Army of the Seven Years War, Osprey, London, 1996
Vial, J. L.: Nec Pluribus Impar
N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.
Nenad Šeguljev for additional information on this unit