Semirechye Cossacks

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Semirechye Cossack, Semirechye (present-day Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan), 1911
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Semirechye Cossack Host (Russian: Семиреченское казачье войско) was a Cossack host in Imperial Russia, located in the Semirechye Oblast (today comprising most of Kazakhstan as well as Almaty oblysy, Taldy-Korgan (Taldyqorghan) oblysy, and parts of the Taraz oblysy and Semey oblysy in Kazakhstan) with the center in Verny.

The Semirechye Cossask Host was created out of a portion of the Siberian Cossack Host in 1867. It was commanded by a nakazny or ataman, (who was also the military governor of the oblast). From 1882 the Semirechye Ataman was responsible to the Governor General of the Steppe; and from 1899 the Governor General of Turkestan.

In the early 20th century, the Semirechye Cossask Host supplied 1 cavalry regiment (4 sotnyas) and 1 platoon of local guards in times of peace. In times of war the host provided 3 cavalry regiments and 12 detached sotnyas. The Semirechye Cossasks possessed 7,440 km² of land, including 710 km² of arable land. In 1916, The Cossack population in this region numbered approximately 45,000 people.

The Semirechye Cossask Host played a role in the expansionist colonial policy of the Tsar in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. Semirechye Cossacks took part in the conquest of Central Asia and in World War I. During the Russian Civil War, the prosperous leadership of the Semirechye Cossask Host opposed the Soviets. After the defeat of the White movement in the Seven Rivers region (Semirechye) in April 1920, the Semirechye Cossask Host was disbanded. As part of the process of "Decossackization", its former members were forcibly transferred to the Russian Extreme North.


The distinguishing colour of the Semirechye Cossack Host was crimson; worn on the cap bands, epaulettes and wide trouser stripes of a green uniform of the loose-fitting cut common to the Steppe Cossacks. High fleece hats were worn on occasion with crimson cloth tops. Until 1908 cossacks from all hosts were required to provide their own uniforms; together with horses, saddlery and sabers. However the prosperous Semirechye Host was able to maintain its own clothing factories and stores as community owned resources.

This article includes content derived from the Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 1969–1978, which is partially in the public domain.