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Other Semirechensk Host Units

Other units of the Semirechensk Host.

Semirechensk Cossack Infantry

It seems that the Semirechensk Cossacks fielded infantry from the start. The first unit was formed in Sergiopol (Ayagoz) in July 1918. It may well have included some Old Believer units, as these started to join up soon afterwards. A second foot regiment, with the designation of Zaysan, followed.

Assuming they dressed as plastoons, they would have had host raspberry shoulderboards with all insignia (buttons, officer lace and cipher) in gold/yellow. Markings would be dark blue on the khaki side. The cipher, if they bothered, would be "1.См.П.".

Semirechensk Cossack Artillery

The Semirechensk had little artillery, and with no obvious source of supply other than a long overland haul from Semipalatinsk, ammunition must have been very scarce. In March 1920 only one battery is listed.

If they followed the WWI pattern, Cossack gunners would have worn the standard artillery uniform (see the Don Artillery) but with a "См" cipher.

Siberian Cossack Cavalry

The 3rd Siberian Cossack Regiment served from mid-1918 in the Semirechye area. It seems it was recruited from Siberian Cossacks in the Semipalatinsk area, so the Semirechye front was rather closer than the Urals. We do not know exactly when it left the area but mid-1919, when the Siberian Host's lands were under direct threat, seems very likely.

Support Arms

The Siberian army sent the 1st Siberian Aviation Detachment in July 1918. Probably used for communication and reconnaissance largely, since the vast distances made that very difficult otherwise. Also the difficulty of identifying friend from foe on the ground made attacks difficult (assuming ammunition was available).

There was an armoured car sent from Semipalatinsk early in the war and an armoured car noted as surrendering to the Reds in March 1920 with the southern group which was made up of Host units. It is a reasonable assumption therefore that the host had an armoured car throughout the war.

Kirghiz and other Natives

The Semirechensk fielded quite a large number of native horsemen in separate units. A Kirghiz Brigade being listed at one point, plus some partisan units. There were also Taranchi (ethnic Chinese Muslims) partisans. Plenty of Dzungars (Mongols) lived in the area.

It was normal for such units to be commanded by Cossack officers in battle, although they were often under the formal command of a local prince or khan if there was a suitably qualified one available. The Cossacks married into the local tribes and so some spoke the local languages. It is doubtful that natives would have uniforms in the Semirechensk area, as the Cossacks struggled to supply their own men. They may have worn white arm bands or strips like many partisans did.

Such units would often have a shaman attached, if Buddhist like the Dzungar, or a mullah if Muslim. They usually rode white horses. Standards may have been the traditional horse and yak tails.