Volga Kalmyks

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Origin and History

In addition to Cossacks, the Russian Army also fielded Asiatic horsemen from the eastern provinces of the empire. Among these Asiatic units there were approx. 40,000 Kalmyks of the Volga.

The Volga Kalmyks are the indigenous people of modern Russia's Kalmykia Republic. By mid XVIIIth their khan was a vassal of the Russian Empire. They were the most effective fighters among these Asiatic horsemen.

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

  • no information found

Service during the War

In 1756, the Kalmyks of the Volga, were stationed in their territory, between the Volga and the Yaik.

In 1757, some 2,000 Kalmyks of the Volga (two commands of 1,000 men each) were mobilized under the command of their Khan's son to take part in the campaign in East Prussia.

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.


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, the exception of the Kalmyks had a long plaited top-knob on their shaven heads, as well as droopy moustaches.

Russia supplied cloth for fur hats and kaftans. Each Asiatic contingent received a particular colour. The Kalmyks were assigned red as their distinctive colour. More precisely, they wore red kaftans fastened with a coloured sash. They wore boots. Like the cossacks, they used a Kantschu (a whip fastened to a short stick) instead of spurs. They also wore a black fur cap.

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. They were known as effective archers. Each man had two small horses. However, it seems that the Kalmyks of the Volga operating with the field army were armed differently. They are reported to have carried a carbine slung on the shoulder, two pistols, a saber and a 12 feet long light lance.


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The Volga Kalmyks had probably no official standard even though they may have had some unofficial ones.


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


Roman Shlygin for additional information for this article