Colourful options for the Whites

Some options for adding colour to a White army without having to paint the elite "coloured" infantry (and then pretend that they actually wore those flashy uniforms into combat).

Don Cossack 1st Horse Division

This was a strike unit in the Don Army, and so saw a great deal of action in vital locations. On 18 October the structure of the 3rd Don Corps was:

Division Commander – Lt-Gen. Abramov
Chief of Staff – Col. Nikitin

Life Guard Brigade

Life Guard Cossack Regiment –194 bayonets, 66 sabres, 8 MGs
Life Guard Ataman Regiment – 240 bayonets, 131 sabres, 9 MGs

2nd Brigade

3rd Kalmyck Horse Regiment – 211 bayonets, 120 sabres, 6 MGs
4th Don Cossack Regiment – 298 bayonets, 180 sabres, 8 MGs

Horse Sapper Sotnia – 203 men

1st Don Horse Artillery Divizion

1st Don Horse Battery – about 4 guns
2nd Don Horse Battery – about 4 guns

The mix of mounted and foot was quite normal, and reflected the shortage of horses.

It seems that during the RCW that the Don Cossacks often wore coloured caps, trousers and shoulder-boards with the standard khaki gimnastërka blouse, especially officers. That is what the Osprey on the Whites shows its Don Cossack as doing (although, given the mistakes in that book, perhaps it isn't the greatest proof) and Williamson mentions coloured cap bands on several occasions.

The colours of these units are all described in detail in the uniform section for the Don, and have a nice variety. The Life Guard had red caps with blue bands and piping. The Atamans had royal blue crown cap, with darker blue band and piping. Trousers are blue, and with a thick royal blue stripe judging by the parade uniform version. The Kalmyks had yellow cap bands and trouser stripes. The 4th Regiment had standard Don dark blue caps with red bands and piping.

This would then seem to offer quite a lot of possibility to a gamer: a nice mix of infantry, cavalry, tachankas and horse guns – even engineers – in units that each have distinctly different colours and which were mostly of good quality.

Attached to the 3rd Don Corps there were armoured cars, armoured trains and heavy artillery, and probably some aviation as well, so there is no problem adding these into the mix. The Don even had some Whippet tanks, though they didn't see a great deal of action.

Terek-Astrakhan Cossack Brigade

This is one of the units I have painted, because I wanted to mix steppe and mountain Cossack types – but ones that actually fought alongside each other.

Slashchev-Krimskiy's book "Crimea 1920" gives some numbers for the brigade. For 1 October 1920 it gives the 2nd Kuban Cavalry Division as being:

Major-General A. M. Shifner-Markevich

1st Brigade – Major-General Agoev

1st Terek Horse Regiment – 600 sabres, 20 MGs
1st Astrakhan Horse Regiment – 600 sabres, 20 MGs

2nd Brigade – Colonel Petrov

2nd Combined Kuban Regiment – 200 bayonets, 200 sabres, 20 MGs
Wolves Horse Regiment – 400 sabres, 20 MGs

Separate [Terek-Astrakhan] Artillery Divizion – 3 batteries, 6 light guns

Agaiman Cavalry Unit [?] – 300 bayonets, 100 sabres – recruiting in Perekop

Because it mixes the Caucasian uniform Terek Cossacks with the khaki-clad Astrakhan units, it is quite a nice unit for a gamer – all the more so since it is quite small. All the units are described in detail in the Cossacks section.

For a while it was grouped with the Composite Division, which grouped a load of cadet units, which would potentially provide an interesting infantry component to go with the Cossacks. Although the soldiers were most unlikely to have been in anything other than khaki (or British kit, perhaps) their officers might have some Alekseev or Kornilov uniforms.

1st Alekseev Partisan Regiment
Kuban Military School Detachment
Kornilov Junker Brigade
Kuban Plastoon Regiment
Alekseev Artillery Divizion

Composite Guard Cavalry

Remnants of the former Imperial Guards formed a "composite" cavalry regiment very early on in the Volunteer Army. Each former guard regiment provided one squadron to the regiment and zealously kept their history.

This grew up to peak size in September 1919.

2nd Cavalry Division

Division Commander – Col. I.M. Miklashevskiy
Chief of Staff – Col. B.M. Iordan

1st Brigade – Col. Danilov

1st Composite Guards Cuirassier Regiment – Col. Kossikovskiy
2nd Composite Guards Cavalry Regiment – Col. Gryaznov

2nd Brigade – Col. Baron Pritvits

2nd General Drozdovskiy Horse Regiment – Col. A.G. Chapron du Lare
3rd Horse Regiment – Col. Samsonov

3rd Brigade –

Composite Regiment of the Caucasus Cavalry Division – Col. Popov
Composite Dragoon Regiment – Col. Lermontov

Independent Divizion of Guards Horse Artillery – Col. Perfil'ev

I painted six squadrons for the 2nd Guards regiment – with each being based on the uniform of a regiment in the second brigade of the Imperial army Guard cavalry. This meant two squadrons have red caps, two dark blue and two dark green, but I only piped the officers' caps. Most also got coloured trousers.

To give some variety I painted the 2nd Drozdovskiy Regiment of the second brigade, which wore British uniforms in 1919 but with red breeches. That gives two units that look very different.

After the disastrous winter of 1919 the Guard Cavalry was once again reduced to regiment size.

Composite Guard Infantry

The guard infantry had a similar story. Intitially a regiment was formed with each original regiment providing a company, but it slowly grew to be a division. Again the peak size was late 1919.

Composite Guard Infantry Division (also sometimes called the 5th Infantry Division)

Division Commander – Maj-Gen. P.S. Ossovskiy
Chief of Staff – Col. Akhatkin

1st Brigade – Maj-Gen. Baron N.I. Shtackleberg

Composite Regiment of the 1st Guard Division – Maj-Gen. Moller
Composite Regiment of the 2nd Guard Division – Col. Stessel
Composite Regiment of the Guard Rifle Division

2nd Brigade

Composite Regiment of the 19th Infantry Division
Composite Regiment of the 20th Infantry Division
80th Kabardino Infantry Regiment

Reserve Battalion of the Composite Guard Division

Composite Guard Artillery Brigade – Maj-Gen. M. Bez-Kornilovich

1st Battery –
2nd Battery – Col. Plyushchinskiy
3rd Battery – Col. Abramovskiy
4th Battery – Col. Sax

Independent Artillery Battery – Col. Shpigel
Independent Guard Heavy Howitzer Battery – Col. Kazachinskiy

Guard Independent Engineer Company – Col. Beliy

The Composite Guard Infantry are less colourful than the cavalry, since all the caps are dark green varied only by piping, but you get a cool name for each company/battalion!

After Orel and the retreat of 1919 the Guards infantry were cut off in the Ukraine and forced into Poland as part of Bredov's March. They never really recovered.

Historical cavalry support can come in the form of the Separate Cossack Brigade. It included the 42nd Don Cossack and 2nd Labinsky Kuban Cossack Regiments, plus presumably some horse artillery. These two units were in the Ukraine in 1919 and then with the Guards on the Bredov March. This gives a nice mix of a steppe and a mountain cavalry unit to go with the guards.

The Bredov March also had the 2nd Kornilov Artillery Divizion, some Ossetians, the 2nd Drozdovsky Cavalry Regiment and a bunch of regular line cavalry and infantry. That makes a good mix of troop types for an army.

Ataman Annenkov Partisan Division

Colourful uniforms, Cossacks and native horse (including Mongols) all led by a charismatic adventurer!

The division fought in central Asia in 1919 and 1920, and then retreated to China. It's pretty much where "back of beyond" meets the real world. The core units of the division in 1919 were a regular cavalry brigade, a Cossack cavalry brigade, an rifles brigade and attached Kirghiz and Mongol units, but there were also engineers and artillery.

Details on the history of the division, and its uniforms can be found in the Cossack section of this site.