The Terek had supplied only a few independent battalions to the
Imperial Russian Army. As the Great War went on that number increased.
Likewise the proportion of infantry supplied to the Whites was
relatively high, largely due to shortage of horses more than anything
Traditionally Cossack infantry were called "plastoons", with
connotations of a scouting role. By this period however, it was just
another word for infantry.
Terek Plastoon Battalions
2nd Terek Plastoon Btn.
1st Terek Plastoon Btn
As a rule of
thumb Cossacks wanted to serve in the cavalry. Serving in the infantry
suggested a lack of money, or at least the lack of a horse. It seems
likely therefore that the plastoon battalions were not particularly
well kitted out.
Traditionally plastoons wore the same clothes as the cavalry, although
was sometimes shorter. However we know that Kuban plastoons
during WWI to dress increasingly in
more or less standard Russian khaki outfits, especially in warmer
weather. We assume this also applied to Terek plastoons. Whether in
Caucasian or Russian dress, equipment was as for standard Russian
It is speculation, but it would seem likely that as the Civil War went
on the standards of dress of the plastoons would have been less and
less in the traditional form. Instead they may have
adopted Russian or English uniforms, especially
Sadly it has proved near impossible to get anything like firm
information on the Terek infantry. The following includes some guesses,
marked in italics.
– Colonel 2nd Battalion
– Private 1st Battalion coloured side
– Private 2nd Battalion khaki side
cross for officers and plain for men
Buttons and officer lace were silver. As
infantry, the markings of officers were in the same colour.
For rankers the coloured shoulderboards were blue, with yellow
stencilled ciphers. The field versions of the shoulderboards were khaki
unit cipher stenciled on in dark blue.
In WWI the shoulderboards were stencilled with a plain number
matching the battalion's number. Some sources indicate
shoulderboards were plain, but this contradicts the Kuban usage and
several period photographs. Note during the Civil War battalions were
given territorial distinctions which might have led to a change.
Like their cavalry, Terek plastoons seem to have only worn fur hats.
Crowns might be
coloured as shown,
or khaki in the field. Few men seem to have
in the RCW
Terek Plastoon Brigade was formed in the Volunteer Army in December
1918, comprising the 1st and 2nd Terek Plastoon Battalions and the
Terek Cossack Artillery Divizion (of the 1st Terek Cossack Horse and
2nd Terek Cossack Plastoon Batteries). These units were presumably
formed around men from the original Imperial units of the same names.
The Brigade became the 1st Terek Separate Plastoon Brigade in January
1919, and the 3rd and 4th Terek Plastoon Battalions were added, but it
seems the artillery was moved elsewhere (which certainly makes sense
for a horse battery). The brigade became part of the Forces of the
In April the 1st Terek Light Howitzer Battery was added. In June a
Terek Officers Battalion was added (?).
In October 1919 the Brigade still formed part of the Forces of the
North Caucasus, but the units seem to have changed names to match the
cavalry units of the Host. The units were now:
(The 9th Terek Plastoon
Battalion being scheduled to be merged into the 1st
Sunzhensko-Vladikavkaz Plastoon Battalion at this time.)
The Brigade was commanded by Major-General G. H. Rastorguev initially,
with Colonel Lesikov taking over in November 1919.
Figures painted in these uniforms would be similar to any Terek
plastoon units of WWI or the RCW, except for the different ciphers.
For late 1920 figures painted as Terek plastoons could represent
the Terek Plastoon Cossack Regiment, part of
the 7th Infantry Division of Wrangel's "Russian Army". This
took part in the Crimean breakout.
The cavalry of the 1st Terek Cossack Division also had a "rifle
regiment" attached. It's hard to know what this might represent, but
one possible option is that it was cavalrymen without horses,
hence serving as infantry. In that case they would be more or less
identical in dress to plastoons. The other most likely option
(given that it is a "rifle" unit rather than "plastoon" or "infantry")
is that they were impressed peasants or former Reds, in which case they
would not be in Cossack dress, except perhaps the officers.
The 1st and 2nd Terek Plastoon Battalions had been given "Nikolai"
banners in 1916, and may have carried them with their HQs in the
field. They looked more or less like this:
Given the small size of these units, they are unlikely to have carried
the full range of company flags. It they did they would have been
simple and carried on infantry bayonets.
The rifle regiment of the 1st Terek Division might be given an HQ
banner in the
style of the Imperial rifle regiments.
We have collected a number of photos of Terek Cossacks, although most
date from before the Civil War unfortunately. As some are quite
large they are on a separate page.