Torpokov of the
1st Terek Cossack Division addressing the troops. Note the band on
horseback in the background! (Photoalbum)
The Terek Host was formed around the Terek River, running down the
eastern side of the Russian Caucasus. While Cossacks had been active in
the area for centuries, the actual Terek Host of Imperial Russia was
not formed as such until 1860.
The Terek Cossacks wore a Caucasian style uniform, with their
distinguishing Host colour being "pale blue".
The blue chosen by us is based on colour photos from the
modern period and WWII.
In practice it would greatly vary from man to man, depending on the
material he chose and how faded it was.
The men were themselves responsible for supplying the uniform, and
there was no uniformity of colours or styles. The cherkeska could be
from pale to black and any variety of grey, brown or khaki. The papakhas and bashlyks were likewise varied in style and colour.
The following pages describe the uniforms for each branch. We have
collected period and re-enactor photos separately to help speed page
The Terek Host area includes Chechnya, Ingushetia, Ossetia, Karbardino and
of Dagestan, and the Host basically existed in opposition to
unruly and warlike tribesmen from the start. The mountaineers resented
the favoured position that the Cossacks had
gained at their expense under Tsarist rule, especially as the
Terek became a wealthy area due to the local oil industry.
With the collapse of the Tsarist regime, the conflict between the Terek
Cossacks and the mountaineers was almost inevitable. Raids and
counter-raids started almost immediately.
At the same time there were a lot of soldiers passing back through the
area from the Turkish front. They, together with a few committed Terek
Cossacks, set up a local Terek Soviet Republic. Because the local Host
was so wealthy, however, support for the Soviets was limited mostly to
the cities, especially Vladikavkaz and Grozny. A similar Soviet
Republic was set up in Dagestan. Many mountaineers initially sided with
the Reds because they shared violent opposition to Cossack
privileges, but the alliance was never going to last. The Terek
Cossacks fought back, aided by the arrival in Dagestan of Bicherov's
Cossacks transported by Dunsterville to the Baku area, but were unable
to impose themselves successfully.
However the Volunteer Army's "Second Kuban March" changed the situation
radically, as Denikin swept the area clean Soviet groups and
all the anti-Bolshevik ones into his army. However
the terrain was hospitable to partisan groups, and Greens and
As a result of Denikin's campaign, the Terek was incorporated into the
White zone until basically the end of the Civil War. Unlike the Kuban,
the Terek was to cause the AFSR very little grief politically. This
meant that Terek units could be distributed freely by the AFSR command,
although most remained on the right hand side of the White's front
But while the Terek supplied quite a few units to the White army, the
distance to the main front in late 1919 resulted in far less
recruitment than Denikin wanted. The Cossacks continued to
fight the Moslem tribesmen from the mountains even as both sides fought
in the White army.
With the collapse and retreat of the AFSR, most Terek Cossacks returned
to their homes if they could. The Soviets dealt with them fairly
swiftly, and the Host was suppressed. Only enough Terek Cossacks stayed
with the main White armies to form a couple of
regiments in the Crimea in 1920.