The Kalmyks are a Mongol people who have lived in the dry lands between
the Volga, Don and Caspian for centuries. This page is only concerned
with those who were an integral part of the Don Host, supplying
a regiment as far back as the Napoleonic Wars. Go here for the history
of the Astrakhan Kalmyks in the Civil War
in the RCW (Williamson)
Kalmyk Horse (Photoalbum)
of the Don Cossack Host, the colour of the Don Kalmyks was yellow. This
is born out by Williamson who saw them at the front during
the RCW. He states "The
Kalmuck Cossacks could always be distinguished by the yellow band they
wore around their dark blue-topped caps instead of the red band of the
ordinary Don Cossacks.
" It also suggests very strongly
that quite a few Kalmyks actually wore their coloured caps throughout
Mamontov describes them as dressed in jackets of sheepskin and pointy
sheepskin hats (it was winter) but otherwise as Cossacks, with blue
trousers with a
yellow stripe and armed with lance, carbine and sabre. He
notes their lances were English-supplied bamboo ones
by this stage (early 1920)
dress and field.
hats of more traditional style
While for some time a part of the Imperial Army, oddly the Kalmyks
to ever be listed in uniform or flag guides. The plain yellow
therefore based solely on White Guard #8.
This leaves the khaki ones as plain, which seems unlikely, so we have
gone for the abbreviated name of the tribe in the form of other similar
units (Кал). The
alternative is if
they used 3Д, like an ordinary Don unit.
As all native troops and Don troopers had silver lace, we assume the
Kalmyks did too. As a nominally cavalry unit (although large numbers
were serving on foot at times) officer markings would be in gold.
The papakha cloth would be in yellow presumably, if they bothered to
wear official ones. Likely they wore standard Mongol hats, as
Mamontov describes them doing.
Mamontov describes how in early
1920 they retained their fighting spirit when that of most Don and
Kuban Cossacks was gone. He also mentions them driving great herds of
sheep in front of them, having a "shaman" on a white horse, and some
carrying enemy heads on their lances. It seems the old ways didn't die
out very quickly. (As Buddhists, the
"shaman" was probably a lama, and may have been dressed in the
traditional yellow of that role.)
in the RCW
The Don branch of the Kalmyks was to fight alongside the Don Host
throughout the war, from the very start, and it seems some were on the
Steppe March with General Popov (the Sal' Steppes being right beside
their traditional lands).
When the Young Army was formed, the Kalmyks were made the 3rd Don Horse
Regiment, and placed in the same division as the old Guards regiments.
Williamson saw the 3rd Kalmyk Regiment at the front
in September 1919 and estimated their number as 400. An order of battle
for the next month lists the 3rd
Kalmyk Horse Regiment as part of the 1st Don Horse Division with a
strength of 211 bayonets, 120 sabres and 6 MGs.
There was still a Dzungarski Kalmyk Regiment in the Crimea,
up to the evacuation, but by then it was in the 2nd Don Division, and
longer numbered the 3rd Don Regiment.
The pictures underneath are alleged to be the front and back of a flag
presented to the regiment in 1918. It looks a bit ornate to be the
Prior to that they may have had a yellow Nikolai style flag, with the Virgin Okon-Tengri as their patron "saint".
The official HQ flag of the unit was this:
Another option is that, like the other ethnic groups of Russia, the
Kalmyks decided to exert their independence upon the revolution and fly
their own flag. As
one of the most independent and powerful groups, this seems quite
likely. In 1932 Kalmyk emigres adopted a flag of yellow with a pale
blue circle showing a bird of prey inside and with yak tails outside.
The modern Kalmyk flag shows the same features of pale blue circle
inside yellow. Here is one option, based on the 1932 flag:
Presumably squadrons carried flags on the standard Cossack model or,
perhaps more likely, the traditional horse-tail ones. White Guard #8
gives a sotnia
banner for the
Kalmyk Sotnia on the Steppe March (1918).
(All the sotnia flags in that article are piped around the outside, which is not likely to be true.)
Because of the Host colour of the Astrakhan Cossacks is yellow, any
Don Kalmyk regiment can be passably used as Astrakhan Cossacks (Kalmyk