Host was formed
around the Kuban River, running down the western side of the Russian
Caucasus. In 1860 the Black Sea Cossacks and some of the Caucasus Line
Cossacks were combined to form the Kuban Host.
As the Black Sea Cossacks were originally from the Ukraine, the Kuban
is sometimes regarded as part of the Ukraine.
The Kuban Cossacks wore a Caucasian style uniform, with their
distinguishing Host colour being red.
The men were themselves responsible for supplying the uniform, and
there was no uniformity of colour. Sergei Mamontov, who served in the
horse artillery with the 1st Kuban Cossack Division, describes them "In
this regiment the Cossacks wore a red bashlyk. Well,
as the Cossacks had to equip themselves, there wasn't a single red
shade identical to the others: they went from raspberry to bright red.
With their black cloaks and the white snow, it was an
spectacle lit by the rising sun." (translation from the
The Host area was large, and mostly devoid of major cities. While some
Soviet Republics did arise in the area in 1918 - the Black Sea Soviet
Republic and the Kuban Soviet Republic, later merging into the North
Caucasian Soviet Republic - there was little natural support for the
Reds other than from non-Cossack peasants. Soviet power
relied mainly on former soldiers from the Turkish front of WWI, who
were in the Kuban in large numbers.
Also claiming power was a new Cossack-based Kuban People
Republic, headed by a rada
Filimonov. Initially working with the Provisional Government it seceded
from Russia immediately after the Bolshevik Revolution.
But old rivalries inside the Host made it less effective than it should
have been, and the Soviets were able to effectively suppress it..
Into this mix the Volunteer Army made its famous Ice March from Rostov
to Krasnodar, centre of Soviet power in the area, and back again. It
was just outside Krasnodar that Kornilov merged with a small White
Kuban army under Pokrovsky. Soon afterwards the Volunteer Army's
"Second Kuban March" swept all major organised Red resistance from the
Caucasus. Along the way it collected more local groups, such as that of
Denikin took effective control of the Kuban, although he permitted the
appearance of local government, and recruited huge numbers of Kubans
into the Volunteer Army. However once the area was cleared, the
Whites moved the bulk of their forces north for the main effort against
Russia proper. So unlike the Don, the other major recruiting ground for
the Armed Forces of South Russia, the Kuban units were not grouped
together and often served far from their homes.
Meanwhile freed of direct threat, the Kuban seethed politically, often
directly at odds with their military overlords. Finally, in late 1919,
Denikin suppressed the rada
In 1920, when the Armed Forces of South Russian collapsed, the Soviets
made sure to conquer the Kuban quickly so as to cut off such a
valuable source of men for the Whites. Although Baron Wrangel sent an
expedition from the Crimea under General Ulagay to try and raise the
flag in mid 1920 the
damage was done, and the area could not organise to throw off Soviet
power. It did
not help that Wrangel had no time for the Kuban separatism (and
indiscipline) of the famous Kuban leaders like Shkuro and Pokvosky.