Orenburg Host in the Russian Civil War
The Orenburg Host was settled along the upper course of the Urals
River. It was the third largest host, after the Don and Kuban. Over the
years it had absorbed large numbers of non-Russians
into its ranks.
The Civil War started in the Orenburg lands, and until the collapse of
Kolchak's forces in late 1919 it was criss-crossed by opposing forces.
Orenburg units were part of the retreating White forces until the very
The Urals Host soldiers wore standard Cossack dress, with their
colours being light blue.
Key Strategic Theatre
The Orenburg Cossacks were a key part of the anti-Bolshevik forces from
the start to the end of the Civil War. They played a very similar role
to that of the Don and Kuban Cossacks in
the south, and like the Don their lands were a constant
the Orenburg lands bordered the major population centres of Siberia
and the Emba oil fields, and were on the rail connection
between Moscow and
Turkestan, gave them a strategic
importance that neighbouring Hosts never had. The early
unification of host command under Ataman Dutov also made them a major
military force much earlier than most other Cossack hosts.
the Orenburg Cossacks alternated quite rapidly between more or less
entirely local forces and groupings in which they were merged with
other White forces. Because of this, and because they often supplied
cavalry forces to their allies, Orenburg Cossacks were often seen
fighting alongside non-Cossack forces, including KOMUCH
Czechs, Siberians, Kolchak's forces and other Cossack armies.
were cavalry, especially those serving outside the Host area. This gave
the army mobility and ability to attack with surprise.
The Host's infantry was frequently non-Cossack in origin. It was
backed up with insufficient support weapons, especially artillery but
also machine-guns. Often the guns they did have were short of
the Host was consistently outgunned by the opposition and so more or
less unable to take fortified towns or to
hold fixed positions.
Lack of direct transport access to other
fronts meant that the Host had no armoured cars, only a few improvised
armoured trains and few
planes, though fuel was at least available.
> Orenburg Host