Dagestanis prior to
There is no one Dagestani people: it is a term from Turkish meaning
"mountain land". Most inhabitants were members of Caucasian tribes (
including the Avars, Dragins and Lezgins) or Turkic
peoples (including Kumyks, Nogais, Azeris). These groups are almost
exclusively Moslem. Only a bit over 10% of the population were
For the purposes of this page, Dagestanis means the Moslem Caucasian
and 2nd Dagestani Horse Regiments
The Imperial Army had two Dagestani units in 1917, and we have assumed
that the Dagestanis
carried their uniforms into the Civil War (admittedly without any great
full dress uniform 1st Dagestan Regiment
formal dress, non-Cherkeska variant
full dress uniform 1st
full dress uniform 2nd
The dress uniform cherkeska
of the Dagestanis was apparently a brick red colour. This is actually
where the red clad Cossacks of popular imagination arose, via the red
dress uniform of the
Cossack escort to the Tsar.
with burka and WWI-era
It's doubtful if the rank and file paid a lot of attention to formal
privates of 1st and 2nd Regiments
with white piping. Most were probably not piped.
The first Dagestani Regiment had red as its colour. Knotel
the buttons and officer lace for it as silver. That means officers
cipher and rank markings would be in gold. The cipher is the letters Дг
(that is Dg). Khaki shoulderboards for rankers would be
stencilled in light blue.
second regiment, formed during that war and serving in the Savage
Division, had light blue instead
on its shoulderboards, though it retained red for the other features.
With the addition of a second regiment it would make sense that they
added numbers to
distinguish the units as they did in similar cases, but we have no
evidence either way.
The hat top for the 1st Regiment was white, with red cross cords for
officers. Moslem troops, like most of the Dagestanis, were unlikely to
wear a cross though, so it was probably only Russian officers that wore
this. We don't know the hat colour of the Savage Division regiment.
in the RCW
A Dagestan Soviet government was formed soon after the October
Revolution and then a four-way struggle ensued between it, pro-White
Terek Cossacks and the Dagestani mountain peoples. Elements of the WWI
Savage Division were important in initially organising for the natives.
The Whites won eventually when Denikin turned up at the end of the 2nd
Kuban March, but the area was never properly pacified.
A Dagestan Horse Brigade was formed in the AFSR around the 1st and
2nd Dagestan Horse Regiments, and placed with the
Forces of the Northern Caucasus. Presumably this was in early 1919.
From May 1919 Dagestani rifle battalions were formed,
four, although they never grew very large. A light battery of five guns
was also added.
In mid-October 1919 the Dagestani cavalry and part of the infantry had
just been transferred to the Caucasian Army, to form part of the
Combined Mountain Division along with an Ingush Horse Brigade
and the 5th Horse Artillery Divizion
(the division also
included the 3rd Ossetian and Karachay Horse
Regiments, but they were absent).
1st Dagestan Horse
Regiment – 249 sabres, 4 MGs
2nd Dagestan Horse Regiment – 53 sabres
1st Dagestan Rifle Battalion of Imam Shamil' –
230 rifles, 4 MGs
2nd Dagestan Rifle Battalion – 36 rifles, 4 MGs (on the way)
The remainder of the infantry, which wasn't much, stayed as a brigade
with the Forces of the Northern Caucasus,
3rd Dagestan Rifle Battalion – 177 rifles
4th Dagestan Rifle Battalion – 17 rifles
1st Detached Light Battery – 5 light guns
These units broke up in early 1920, and do not seem to have been
Dagestan was one of the last places to surrender to Soviet rule. The
Dagestanis (and Chechens) fought a bitter campaign against the Red Army
in 1920 and 1921. The Soviets sent in perhaps as many as 40,000 men,
quite a few elite units, with armoured cars and airplanes in support.
As noted above, there were small Dagestani Rifle Battalions. They
presumably wore similar uniforms to the cavalry, except officer
markings would be in silver. Shortages of native officers probably
means they were led by
non-Dagestani officers in Russian gymnastërkas
The attached artillery, both foot and horse, was
almost certainly served by Russians, so would wear normal artillery
In late 1919 there was a Dagestan Horse Divizion
of 297 sabres and 3 MGs serving in the Trans-Caspian
Detachment (in what is now Turkestan).
A Kumyk regiment was briefly formed in the AFSR. The Kumyks are a
Turkic (rather than Caucasian) tribe mostly from the Dagestan
was brigaded with Chechens, rather than Dagestanis (Chechnya neighbours
During the Civil War the AFSR also included the reformed 83rd Dagestan
Infantry Regiment, based on officers from the Imperial unit of that
name. We believe
this was a normal infantry unit, and not composed of mountaineers.
The 1st Dagestan Horse Regiment shared their dress style and red
bashlyks with the Kuban Cossack regiments. Only the hat tops and bashlyk
It seems that red shoulderboards with white as the
second colour also was worn by the Circassian Regiment in the
Division – and the AFSR included
Circassian and Karachay Regiments.
The light blue and white colour scheme of the 2nd Dagestani Horse
Regiment is very similar to that of the Kabardians, discussed on their
There is a picture of the Combined Mountain Division flying ordinary
The 1st Dagestan Horse had a 1857 banner which would have been in no
state to carry into battle. The 2nd Dagestan Horse had been
Nikolai (in the non-Christian variant without the slogan and the icon)
but it was never delivered.
There are a couple of flags associated with independent Dagestan for
the period that could be used. The one on the left is for the "North
Emirate", used by opponents of the Volunteer Army, and on the
right is the colours of Dagestan, with a
Koranic slogan added for good measure.
For the Dagestani opposition to Soviets:
The Last Ghazawat: the 1920-1921 Uprising
Benningson Broxup, an article in The North
(Hurst & Co.) describes in some
detail the Soviet suppression of Dagestan.
, by W. E. D. Allen and P. Muratoff
(Cambridge, reprinted Battery Press) has a chapter on the fighting in
We have collected various period photos of mountaineers on a separate
> Cossacks and
Natives > mountaineers