Don Line Cavalry
escort, as photographed by him
The Don fielded a large number of cavalry units in the Great
did so again in the Russian Civil War, many of them revived Imperial
Don Cossack Regiment
The Host colours for the Don were dark blue and red.
WWI field dress would have all the coloured clothes replaced
but the Don
Cossacks were known to retain their coloured items. Williamson speaks
of men in "blue or green trousers with a wide red stripe".
trooper field version
men and officer
Dress shoulderboards were blue piped red and the unit monogram in red
for troopers. Buttons and officer lace were silver. Officer's monogram
in and rank markings were in gold.
Field shoulderboards had the number stencilled or inked in dark blue.
Up to 1915 the Don line regiments simply had their number as their
cipher. After 1915
they were meant to add a Cyrillic D ( Д ) as well. Photos don't show
many complying, but it was possibly difficult for officers to get the
requisite metallic letters to add during wartime.
Most Don cavalry wore a furazhka
peaked cap. They are sometimes also seen in papakha
quite low ones. The dress version had red cloth for men with a
inside a ring for
officers. The field version was plain khaki, although officers might
have a cross in white.
Some Don Sotnias were dressed in British uniforms. Where possible they
preferred to retain Russian caps and boots, however.
Some sources give the Don bashlyk
was black or dark grey, with black trim (or black/gold for officers).
This man to the
left is wearing a uniform remarkably like that of the
Civil War era 4th Don Cossack Regiment.
The cap is the regulation blue with red band and piping, although
during the Civil War period it would often have the stiffener removed
and so be a much softer shape.
The shoulderboard is piped red around the outside and blue down the
rank is staff-captain (4 stars on two stripes). He doesn't have the
silver lace, but has opted for the khaki representation. Stars and
number are gold, showing he is cavalry.
The cipher would appear to be 41, where it would be 4Д for the 4th Don
The greatcoat is the WWI other ranks version, the proper officer coat
was a pale grey like the man in the background. The black fabric is a
bashlyk crossed across his chest.
What is probably a pistol lanyard comes from his neck, and officially
such a man would carry a pistol not a carbine.
in the RCW
The 4th Regiment of the Don Cossack Host
formed in 1917
and immediately took the honorific of the Imperial unit with that
number, "Ataman Platov". It became part of the Young Army, so was
filled up with young recruits.
By 1919 it was in the Second Brigade of the 1st Don Cavalry
Division, beside the Kalmyks. This was the strike division of the Don
Army and saw a disproportionate amount of action. In October 1919 it
had 298 bayonets, 180 sabres, 8 MGs –
typically for a Don unit it combined
infantry and cavalry in proportion to the number of horses available.
The 4th Don Horse Regiment was reformed in the Crimea, now in the 2nd
Don Division. This time it was named after Ataman Nazarov, who had been
shot by the Soviets, and the 5th Regiment became
The 4th Don Regiment had a 1900 Model flag, with St George
differences. A large orange St George ribbon was tied to the pole with
a bow at the top. It would have looked something like this:
(The Imperial 2nd to10th Don Regiments all had very similar flags, but
different dates and inscriptions.)
An actual flag of the 4th Don Regiment has survived. Although this one
is clearly intended to be carried vertically rather than flown off a
pole and presumably pre-RCW, it might still make a nice variant:
The 4 and Д
are embroidered on
at the top. The text along the bottom is
"ГРАФА ПЛАТОВФ" being "Grafa Platova", i.e. Count Platov, the
ataman the unit was named after.
Colours are blue in red, which one would expect. Lettering should be in
The official HQ field flag was a red diamond inside blue with the
unit's number and distinguishing letter. There appears to have quite a
lot of flexibility about exactly how the what letters were added and
how they were arranged, but it would have been something like:
The official battle standard was a dark blue square with the unit's
number in red. It followed the shoulder monogram, so presumably added
a Д in 1915.
Sotnia flags had dark blue on top, and sotnia colours underneath:
All Don Horse Regiments numbered greater than 4 would have
the same. We assume that the regiments fighting as partisans would also
look similar, since that is the uniform the men would have had.
The flag of the 9th
Don Cossacks has survived the Civil War.
It is the regulation issue red diamond in dark blue, with a cipher of 9
Д К П standing for the 9th Don Cavalry Regiment.
We have assembed various photographs of Don soldiers in a separate page.
> Don Cavalry