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Ataman Annenkov Partisan Division

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.

As the division was stationary and had firm supply routes for much of the war, and because Annenkov was obviously particular about uniforms, this was likely one of the few Civil War armies that actually dressed remotely according to regulations.

Uniforms of the Partisan Division

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.

Annenkov himself
Regular Cavalry
Cossack and Native Cavalry

Semirechensk Cossack ally uniforms can be found in their own section.

Annenkov received a fair amount of English and Japanese material. Some was supplied as cloth, so could be sewn into Russian styles, but many men wore normal English uniforms or Japanese overcoats.

Weapons were also supplied by the Allies, so Enfield and Arisaka rifles were seen alongside Colt, Lewis, Chauchat and Vickers machine-guns.

Cockades and Badges

The Partisan Division was very much a carry over in Annenkov's mind of the partisan unit he had formed during WWI. Like many such individual units he had been given permission for personalised touches. In particular he adopted the death's head logo, as many "shock" units did at the time. This was retained as the primary symbol of the Partisan Division throughout the Civil War.

In practice cockades had to be made by people on the spot, so those of the Partisan Division in the Civil War came in a multitude of different forms. Some original examples can be seen numbered 197, 198, 199 here.

Most of the Partisan Division also wore a sleeve chevron of red and black on their left sleeve, which also dated from the WWI unit. During the Civil War a system was developed whereby units had piping on the chevron in their unit colour.

There is a record of Annenkov writing to Omsk for permission to use both the death's head cockade and chevron in mid-1919. It seems likely however that he adopted them long before that, and was merely seeking to make it official at that time.

He also asked permission to allow men to add a thin black chevron to their right sleeve for every year in the division. If they had served in first Civil War campaign, when freeing Omsk and area from the Soviets, troops were granted a St George orange and black chevron below the partisan one. Troops in the Life Ataman and Black Hussars (his favourites) were also granted a silver chevron above the partisan one, for reasons that are unclear.


The flags for the various regiments are unknown, save for the Black Hussars. It appears that the other units often used the same pattern but in their respective colours, in keeping with the extremely systematic way the uniforms were organised, and this is shown on the pages for the various units. However this is at heart speculation. The reverse of the flag is not known.

History of 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 not 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 Semirechye 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 Jäger 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 "Independent Semirechensk Army", which was all White forces in the Semirechye 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 from the Cossack army throughout.

In early 1920 the Semirechye 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. They arrived tired, ill and desperate. A map showing their path, and just how far the Semirechye was from the main fronts of the war can be seen here (note: it's quite a big file).

Annenkov allowed the newcomers 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. The order of battle at that time, with a map showing their basic locations.

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. (Large numbers could not make it, and those in the north usually opted to retreat with Kolchak's forces and others took a separate route into the Altai and entered the service of Chinese Warlords.)

In China 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. Annenkov decided to take his men by train to Chita, where Semënov 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 during the trip, then sold to the USSR. He was tried and executed in 1927.