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
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
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.
Uniforms for his Semirechensk Cossack allies can be found in their own
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
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
His forces reached 1,500 men, in 4 regiments
with an artillery
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
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.
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
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.
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
USSR. He was tried and executed
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.