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Kuban Guard

Guard outfits

You sometimes see Kubans, both in the Imperial period and nowadays, in fancy mid-blue cherkeskas and red beshmets, or in bright red cherkeskas and white besmets. These were the uniforms of the Tsar's Kuban Guardsmen, not really Kuban uniforms at all.

(NB: the Russian word for military escort is конвой, which transliterates to konvoy and is very often improperly translated to "convoy" rather than "escort" as a result. These flashily dressed gentlemen did not guard the baggage!)

Kuban Guard

Kuban guard Kuban guard Tsar's guard full dress
Officer: service dress Trooper: service dress Trooper: full dress

It seems that the blue uniform, which was the service dress rather than parade uniform, was revived by the Kuban Host for their guard unit.

The troopers wore knotted lace on the shoulders, rather than shoulderboards. The officers wore full epaulettes in dress uniform and ordinary shoulderboards in service uniform. They had originally had the Tsar's monogram, which they removed after the February Revolution.

The above versions are correct in the essentials, but since this is not a fighting uniform we have not checked all the details.

Papakha were red, with gold cross for troopers and silver eight line cross for officers.

History in the RCW

The former Imperial guardsmen were among the first to rally to the White cause, so former Kuban guardsmen of the Tsar were prominent in the early Kuban and Volunteer Armies. They presumably did not fight in such finery however.

It seems that with the establishment of the Kuban Government after the 2nd Kuban Campaign that the former Tsarist uniforms were used to kit out its guards. It is noted on the October order of battle as being the Kuban Guard Cossack Divizion, technically part of the 1st Kuban Cossack Division, but actually in Ekaterinodar.

Some of these guards made it to the Crimea in 1920, but were then absorbed into other Kuban units.


We have collected various period photos of Kuban Cossacks on a separate page. Photos of Imperial era guards are very common.