Cossacks in the Caucasus

This page is not a historical essay on Cossacks in the Caucasus, but rather just some facts I found interesting. Neither it is a final version of the page--I will be adding more...

In general, Cossacks willingly adopted from the Circassian (Cherkes) their warrior habits and way of life. The plastuns were the first ones: they completely changed their clothes to those of the Circassian (e.g. burka, which could serve at the same time as a blanket, a tent or a cover from the burning sun; cherkesska - a type of long-waisted outer garment; soft leather cheviaki (a type of boot), facilitating the development of a "cat-like" gait). You can see a great illustration where you can see the similarities between Circassian and Line Cossack clothes at The History Of Costume" page.

Cossacks in the Caucasus began wearing papakha (tall hat), and their shape was changing according to the mountaineers' fashion. There appeared such types of papakha as kabardinka (Kabardian style), broadening to the top, kubanka (of the Kuban area) with a flat top, etc.

The weapons of plastuns were in the best style of the Circassian (Cherkes) mountaineers. Little by little, all Black Sea and Line Armies changed their clothes style - even the cavalry changed to Circassian horses. Cherkes djigitovka (trick riding) became a Cossack tradition.

In 17th century, Terek and Greben Cossacks participated in the Chigirin campaign of Moscow Tsar Alexey Mikhailovich. They were led by Kabardian Kaspulat Cherkassky, and distinguished themselves by exceptional courage.

Terek and Greben Cossacks participated in campaigns in Central Asia. The Yaik Cossacks wondered how the Terek and Greben Cossacks went against long spears with sabers. Terek and Greben Cossacks called this tactic "to drive in the Kabardian way";.

During Caucasian War, General Sleptsov was spending all his income to help all those in need. Awards to the brave ones, help to widows, money for buying back captive hostages came mostly out of his pocket. Even the enemies weren't forgotten by him. When in the battle at Valerik, Naib Anzorov was killed, Sleptsov ordered to convey to the widow that he regrets the death of such a brave warrior and sent her expensive gifts. When it happened that during raids into the hostile territories Cossacks would capture mountaineers that worked in the field - Sleptsov always let those go, and even gave them money for the trip.

On the Line (frontier) once there was a case: a young couple just married and was coming out of the church when the alarm bell rang (signifying an enemy raid). The groom dashed off to join in the chase with everybody else. Sometimes Line Cossacks managed to win back cattle and those taken captive, but it often happened that Cossacks would bump into an ambush. In those cases Line Cossacks usually dismounted and fought until help would come or until they were all killed. If those who lagged behind saw that their comrades were surrounded by overwhelming numbers of the enemy, they would necessarily fight through to their fellows, so they could meet death together. Heroism on the frontier (Line) was a common thing.


Check out the Circassian Home Page with lots of interesting information on the Caucasus


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