A Cossack host (Ukrainian: козаче військо, kozache viysko; Russian: каза́чье во́йско, kazachye voysko), sometimes translated as Cossack army, was an administrative subdivision of Cossacks in the Russian Empire. The word host is an archaic word for army.
The Cossack host consisted of a certain territory with Cossack settlements that had to provide military regiments for service in the Imperial Russian Army and for border patrol. Usually the hosts were named after the regions of their dislocation. The stanitsa, or village, formed the primary unit of this organization.
In the Russian Empire, the Cossacks constituted eleven separate hosts, settled along the frontiers: the Don, Kuban, Terek, Astrakhan, Ural, Orenburg, Siberian, Semiryeche, Transbaikal, Amur, and Ussuri.
Cossack hosts on Russian soil were disbanded in 1920, at the end of the Russian Civil War. Those Cossacks who settled abroad continued to preserve the traditions of their hosts (i.e. the Triunited Don-Kuban-Terek Cossack Union).
Other Cossack hosts included the:
The Amur Cossack Host (Russian: Амурское казачье войско), a Cossack host created in the Amur region and Primorye in the 1850s on the basis of the Cossacks relocated from the Transbaikal region and freed miners of Nerchinsk region.Astrakhan Cossacks
Astrakhan Cossack Host (Russian: Астраханское казачье войско) was a Cossack host of Imperial Russia drawn from the Cossacks of the Lower Volga region, who had been patrolling the banks of the Volga River from the time of Russia's annexation of Astrakhan Khanate in 1556.Azov Cossack Host
Azov Cossack Host (Ukrainian: Азовське козацьке військо; Russian: Азовское Казачье Войско) was a Cossack host that existed on the northern shore of the Sea of Azov, between 1832 and 1862.
The host was made up of several Cossack groups who were re-settled there. The most numerous were the former Danubian Sich Cossacks, who came under Russian Patronage in 1828. The host was the only one in the Russian Empire whose primary task was Naval Coast Guard duties, participating extensively in the course of the Caucasus and Crimean wars.Baikal Cossacks
Baikal Cossacks were Cossacks of the Transbaikal Cossack Host (Russian: Забайка́льское каза́чье во́йско); a Cossack host formed in 1851 in the areas beyond Lake Baikal (hence, Transbaikal).Black Sea Cossack Host
Black Sea Cossack Host (Russian: Черномо́рское каза́чье во́йско; Ukrainian: Чорномо́рське коза́цьке ві́йсько), also known as Chernomoriya (Russian: Черномо́рия), was a Cossack host of the Russian Empire created in 1787 in southern Ukraine from former Zaporozhian Cossacks. In the 1790s, the host was re-settled to the Kuban River. It comprised the Caucasus Fortified Defence Line from the mouth of the Kuban River to the mouth of the Bolshaya Laba River.Caucasus Line Cossack Host
Caucasus Line Cossack Host (Кавказское линейное казачье войско) was a Cossack host created in 1832 for the purpose of conquest of the Northern Caucasus. Together with the Black Sea Cossack Host it defended the Caucasus Fortified Defense Line from the inlet of Terek River to the inlet of Kuban River.
It consisted of the following regiments:
Gorsky (Mountain) regiment
Khoper regimentDanube Cossack Host
The Danube Cossack Host (Ukrainian: Дунайсько козацьке військо) was a Ukrainian Cossack Host formed in 1828 prior to the Russo-Turkish War (1828–1829), on the order of Emperor Nicholas I from descendants of the Zaporozhian Cossacks living in Bessarabia and in particularly the Budjak. Ukrainian Cossack Host named Lower-Danube Budjak Host had been formed there in 1807 but was disbanded soon afterwards. The Host also included some volunteers from the Nekrasov Cossacks and the Balkan peoples such as Romanians, Serbs and Bulgarians. Initially three selos of the Akkerman poviat where in the Cossacks control: Akmangit, Starokazachye, and Volonterovka.Don Cossacks
Don Cossacks (Russian: Донские казаки) are Cossacks who settled along the middle and lower Don. Historically, they have been located within what was the Don Cossack Host (Russian: Всевеликое Войско Донское, Vsevelikoye Voysko Donskoye), which was either an independent or an autonomous democratic republic in the present-day Southern Russia and the Donbass region of Ukraine, from the end of the 16th century until 1918. As of 1992, by the presidential decree of the Russian Federation, Cossacks can be enrolled on a special register. A number of Cossack communities have been reconstituted to further the Cossack cultural traditions, including those of the Don Cossack Host.
Don Cossacks have had a rich military tradition, playing an important part in the historical development of the Russian Empire and participating in most of its major wars.Greben Cossacks
The Greben or Skoi Cossack host was a group of Cossacks formed in the 16th century from Don Cossacks who left the Don area and settled in the northern foothills of the Caucasus. The Greben Cossacks are part of the Terek Cossacks.They were influenced by Chechen and Nogai culture and most were bilingual in the Russian language and the Nogai language.Kuban Cossacks
Kuban Cossacks (Russian: Кубанские кaзаки, Kubanskiye Kаzaki; Ukrainian: Кубанські козаки, Kubans'ki Kozaky) or Kubanians (кубанцы, кубанці) are Cossacks who live in the Kuban region of Russia. Most of the Kuban Cossacks are descendants of different major groups of Cossacks who were re-settled to the western Northern Caucasus in the late 18th century. The western part of the host (Taman Peninsula and adjoining region to the northeast) was settled by the Black Sea Cossack Host who were originally the Zaporozhian Cossacks of Ukraine, from 1792. The eastern and southeastern part of the host was previously administered by the Khopyour and Kuban regiments of the Caucasus Line Cossack Host and Don Cossacks, who were re-settled from the Don from 1777.The Kuban Cossack Host (Кубанское казачье войско), the administrative and military unit composed of Kuban Cossacks, formed in 1860 and existed until 1918. During the Russian Civil War, the Kuban Cossacks proclaimed a Kuban People's Republic, and played a key role in the southern theatre of the conflict. The Kuban Cossacks suffered heavy losses during the Holodomor and the subsequent Soviet extermination of Russians and Ukrainians and their culture in the Kuban region. Hence, during the Second World War, Cossacks fought both for both the Red Army and against them with the German Wehrmacht. The modern Kuban Cossack Host was re-established in 1990 at the fall of the Soviet Union.Orenburg Cossacks
The Orenburg Cossack Host (Russian: Оренбургское казачье войско) was a part of the Cossack population in pre-revolutionary Russia, located in the Orenburg province (today's Orenburg Oblast, part of the Chelyabinsk Oblast and Bashkortostan).
After having constructed fortifications around the future town of Orenburg in 1734, they officially founded it in 1735. For the purpose of defending the city and colonizing the region, The Russian government relocated the Cossacks from Ufa, Iset, Samara and other places and created the Orenburg non-regular corps in 1748. In 1755, a part of it was transformed into the Orenburg Cossack Host (or Voisko) with 2,000 men.
In 1773—1774, the Orenburg Cossacks took part in Yemelyan Pugachev's insurrection. In 1798, all of the Cossack settlements in the Southern Urals were incorporated into the Orenburg Cossack Host (except for the Ural Cossacks). A decree of 1840 established the borders of the Host and its composition (10 cavalry regiments and 3 artillery battalions). In the mid-19th century, the Cossack population of this region equaled 200,000 people.
The Orenburg Host participated in the Russo-Swedish War of 1788–1790, and later in the campaigns that Russia waged in order to conquer Central Asia.
The Orenburg Host consisted of 2 districts, or okrugs (after 1878 - 3 departments, or otdels). By 1916, the Cossack population of this region had grown to 533,000 people occupying a territory of 7,45 million desyatinas. One desyatina equaled 2,7 acres (11,000 m²). In the early 19th century, the Orenburg Cossack Host supplied 6 cavalry regiments, 3 artillery battalions, 1 cavalry battalion, 1 sotnya (100 men) of guards and 2 detached sotnyas. During World War I, the Orenburg Cossack Host supplied 18 cavalry regiments, 9,5 artillery battalions, 1 cavalry battalion, 1 sotnya of guards, 9 unmounted sotnyas, 7,5 reserve sotnyas and 39 detached and special sotnyas (to a total of about 27,000 men).
After the October Revolution of 1917, the leadership of the Orenburg Cossack Host, under the command of Ataman Alexander Dutov, fought against the Soviets. The poorer Cossacks joined the ranks of the Red Army. The 1st Orenburg Cossack Socialist Regiment took part in the Ural Army Campaign of 1918.
In 1920, the Orenburg Cossack Host ceased to exist.Plastun
A Plastun or plastoon (Ukrainian, Russian: пластун) was a Cossack foot scouting and sentry military unit. Originally they were part of the Black Sea Cossack Host and then later in the 19th and 20th centuries Kuban Cossack Host.Semirechye Cossacks
Semirechye Cossack Host (Russian: Семиреченское казачье войско) was a Cossack host in Imperial Russia, located in the Semirechye Oblast (today comprising most of Kyrgyzstan as well as Almaty oblysy, Taldy-Korgan (Taldyqorghan) oblysy, and parts of the Taraz oblysy and Semey oblysy in Kazakhstan) with the center in Verny.
The Semirechye Cossask Host was created out of a portion of the Siberian Cossack Host in 1867. It was commanded by a nakazny or ataman (who was also the military governor of the oblast). From 1882, the Semirechye Ataman was responsible to the Governor General of the Steppe; and from 1899 the Governor General of Turkestan.
In the early 20th century, the Semirechye Cossask Host supplied 1 cavalry regiment (4 sotnyas) and 1 platoon of local guards in times of peace. In times of war the host provided 3 cavalry regiments and 12 detached sotnyas. The Semirechye Cossasks possessed 7,440 km² of land, including 710 km² of arable land. In 1916, The Cossack population in this region numbered approximately 45,000 people.
The Semirechye Cossask Host played a role in the expansionist colonial policy of the Tsar in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. Semirechye Cossacks took part in the conquest of Central Asia and in World War I. During the Russian Civil War, the prosperous leadership of the Semirechye Cossask Host opposed the Soviets. After the defeat of the White movement in the Seven Rivers region (Semirechye) in April 1920, the Semirechye Cossask Host was disbanded. As part of the process of "Decossackization", its former members were forcibly transferred to the Russian Extreme North.Siberian Cossacks
Siberian Cossacks were Cossacks who settled in the Siberian region of Russia from the end of the 16th century, following Yermak Timofeyevich's conquest of Siberia. In early periods, practically the whole Russian population in Siberia, especially the serving-men, were called Cossacks, but only in the loose sense of being neither land-owners nor peasants. Most of these people came from northwest Russia and had little connection to the Don Cossacks or Zaporozhian Cossacks.Stanitsa
Stanitsa (Russian: стани́ца, IPA: [stɐˈnʲitsə]; Ukrainian: станиця, stanytsia) is a village inside a Cossack host (viysko) (казачье войско, kazachye voysko, sometimes translated as "Cossack Army"). Stanitsas were the primary unit of Cossack hosts.
While the word stanitsa in a modern usage survives, the stanitsa system in its historic context was effectively destroyed in the aftermath of the Russian revolution, when the Civil War and subsequent collectivisation of the land by the state in the Stalinist period and Holodomor destroyed the culture and the economic foundations of stanitsas.Terek Cossacks
The Terek Cossack Host (Russian: Терское казачье войско) was a Cossack host created in 1577 from free Cossacks who resettled from the Volga to the Terek River. The local aboriginal Terek Cossacks joined this Cossack host later. In 1792 it was included in the Caucasus Line Cossack Host and separated from it again in 1860, with the capital of Vladikavkaz. In 1916 the population of the Host was 255,000 within an area of 1.9 million desyatinas.
Many of the early members of the Terek Cossacks were Ossetians.Ural Cossacks
The Ural Cossack Host was a cossack host formed from the Ural Cossacks -- those Eurasian cossacks settled by the Ural River. Their alternative name, Yaik Cossacks, comes from the old name of the river.Ussuri Cossacks
Ussuri Cossack Host (Russian: Уссури́йское каза́чье во́йско) was a Cossack Host in Imperial Russia, located in Primorye south of Khabarovsk along the Ussuri River, the Sungari River, and around the Khanka Lake.
The Ussuri Cossack Host was created in 1889 on the basis of an unmounted half-battalion of the Amur Cossack Host and later reinforced with settlers from the Don Cossack Host, Kuban Cossack Host, and other Cossack hosts. The Ussuri Cossack Host headquarters was first located in Vladivostok and then in Iman (now Dalnerechensk). Its nakazny ataman (who was also the military governor of the region) subordinated to the Governor General of the Amur region, who, in turn, was the nakazny ataman of the Amur and the Ussuri Cossack Hosts.
The Ussuri Cossacks possessed 6740 km² of land. In 1916, they numbered 39,900 people in six stanitsas, which comprised 76 settlements. In times of peace, the Ussuri Cossacks supplied one cavalry battalion (300 men) and one platoon. The Ussuri Cossack Host was used for border patrol, postal and police service. It participated in the Russo-Japanese War. During the World War I, the Ussuri Cossacks supplied one cavalry regiment (600 men), one cavalry battalion, one platoon of guards, and six special sotnyas (total of 2,514 men). Most of the Ussuri Cossack Host took the side of the White movement during the Russian Civil War.
The Ussuri Cossack Host was disbanded in 1922. It was re-established in 1990, although not as an administrative unit of any sort.Volga Cossacks
The Volga Cossacks (Russian: Волжские казаки) were free Cossack communities in the 16th century in Russia.
The Volga Cossacks participated in Yermak's conquest of Siberia. Due to the creation of the Tsaritsyn fortified line in the 18th century, the central government decided to form the Volga Cossack Host (Волгское казачье войско) consisting of 1057 families (mostly Don Cossacks) with the center in Dubovka (north of Tsaritsyn). The Volga Cossacks participated in the Pugachev Rebellion in 1773-1775.
In 1770 and 1777 the majority of the Volga Cossacks were relocated to the North Caucasus to form the Mozdok and Volga regiments of the Terek Cossack Host. The Volga Cossack Host proper was abolished. The remnants of the Volga Cossack Host were merged with the Astrakhan Cossack Host in the early 19th century.
This article includes content derived from the Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 1969–1978, which is partially in the public domain.