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Ataman Annenkov Partisan Division

In many ways Annenkov was a typical adventurer of the Civil War period.

Relying on charisma and a fair amount of bluster, he set up a private army and gave himself the grand name of "Ataman". He found operating on the borderlands more to his liking as the main theatres became more conventional, in his case central Asia. He was ruthless with his own men and even more so with opponents, and did little to prevent atrocities.

Annenkov ran a disciplined force, capable of defeating the Red Army (unlike the Mad Baron) in more or less conventional warfare (unlike Makhno) over a period of many years (unlike Grigoriev). He didn't have separatist tendencies (unlike Shkuro) which meant he stayed in political favour. His only wargaming flaw, as with Bulak-Balachovich, is that he has had no-one prepared to write books about him in the west European languages.


Most of Annenkov's followers were Cossacks, and dressed in their appropriate Host uniform, but he also had several more colourful units during his time.

In many ways this is the ideal wargames army, especially for the "Back of Beyond", full of colourful uniforms and fighting colourful opponents and potential opponents – partisans, Red Army, Chinese, Uighurs and Mongolians – in what is some of the most beautiful and varied landscapes on earth.

Annenkov appears to have been quite particular about uniforms.
Annenkov and features of all his units
Regular Cavalry
Cossack and Native Cavalry
Uniforms for his Semirechensk Cossack allies can be found in their own section.

The Partisan Division in Siberia and Central Asia

Boris Annenkov was born a of a noble Siberian Cossack family. He enrolled at Odessa Military School before quickly rising through the ranks. He showed flashes of his independence from the start, including recruiting a partisan unit on the German front during the First World War. A monarchist, he retired back home in disgust at the revolution. At the end of 1917 he raised a partisan detachment formed mainly from Siberian Cossacks and soldiers of the 11th Siberian Rifle Division. By 1918 he was raiding in the Omsk region.

From this time on he styled himself "Ataman", but it appears this was in the traditional meaning of the word as a Cossack military leader, as he was never an ataman of a host.

Building up a rifle brigade and cavalry brigade he took Omsk in mid-March, although he could only hold it briefly. When the Czech Legion started to fight the Soviets, in May, he linked up with them and helped re-take Omsk.

After this he moved west, drawing in many young Cossacks from both the Siberian and Orenburg Hosts impressed by his ruthlessness when dealing with the Bolsheviks. He took Verkhneuralsk after a heated battle, capturing a fair amount of booty. He followed this by crushing the revolutionary forces in Slavgorod and Pavlodar (southeast of Omsk), displaying his ruthless streak and caring little if his men committed atrocities. During this time he continued to maintain good relations with the Czechs.

His forces reached 1,500 men, in 4 regiments with an artillery divizion and support units by mid-1918. In October they become the “Ataman Annenkov Partisan Division”. At the end of the year he was moved to clear Reds from the Semirech'e region, and specifically a stubborn rear area group around Cherkasskoe. This increased his prestige further and brought in more recruits, though he did take heavy losses.

In January Annenkov’s Division included in its mounted brigade the Black Hussars and Life-Ataman Regiments for a total of 1,770 sabres. The infantry were 1,800 strong and he had six guns.

Although Annenkov himself seems to have stayed on Russian territory, his Cossack allies frequently crossed the Chinese border in the Altai-Urumqi region, to rest and resupply.

In the middle of 1919 the Ataman Annenkov Partisan Division had grown to a Rifle Brigade – 1st Rifle, 2nd Rifle and 3rd Composite Partisan Regiments and Manchurian Jšger Battalion – a Cavalry Brigade – Black Hussar and Barnaul Blue Lancer Regiments – and a Cossack Brigade – 1st Orenburg, 1st Partisan, 2nd Ust-Kamenogorsk, and 1st Kirghiz Horse Partisan Regiments. Operations however were spread over many hundreds of kilometres, and the Partisan Division was never formed as a single body at this time. Even regiments were split up into detachments for various operations or to protect rear areas.

In August Annenkov was made commander of the Detached Semirechensk Army, which was all White forces in the Semirech'e region. Until this point his relationship with the Semirechensk leadership had been poor, which affected operations, and he was even briefly arrested. Unity of command helped smooth coordination, but the Partisan Division continued to be operationally separate throughout.

In early 1920 the Semirech'e was over-run by supporters of the White cause fleeing the Red Army's advance, including a large number of Orenburg Cossacks under Ataman Dutov. Annenkov allowed them to stay, but insisted on taking military command. He sent most of the newcomers to the north, grouped his own forces in the centre, and posted the Semirechensk Cossacks largely to the south.

By March he realised that he could hold out no longer, and crossed the Chinese border into Xinjiang (Sinkiang) with most of his Partisan Division. There he tried to keep his men together as a fighting force, hoping for a return to Russia. While he was initially quite successful, the Red Army increasingly crossed the border to harass him, and inevitably the Whites were drawn into local struggles between the Chinese and native warlords. He decided to take his men by train to Chita, where SemŽnov was still holding out. Quite a few made it, and formed a unit in Annenkov's name, which also passed on to Primorye. However, Annenkov himself was captured by the Chinese, then sold to the USSR. He was tried and executed in 1927.

Large number of his Division were unable for various reasons to retreat with the main body. Those in the north retreated with Kolchak, or took a separate route into the Altai. Others entered the service of Chinese Warlords.

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