Orenburg Cossack Host
Orenburg Cossack Host
a group of cossacks in prerevolutionary Russia, located in Orenburg Province (present-day Orenburg Oblast and parts of Cheliabinsk Oblast and Bashkir ASSR).
After the construction of the Orenburg Fortification Lines began in 1734, cossacks from Ufa, Iset’, Samara, and elsewhere were settled there to defend the lines, to colonize the region, and to found Orenburg (1735). To the same ends the Orenburg Irregular Corps was created in 1748. In 1755 elements of the corps became the Orenburg Cossack Corps (or Host), based in Orenburg, with a strength of 2,000 men. From 1773 to 1775 the Orenburg Cossacks fought in the Peasant War led by E. I. Pugachev.
In 1798 all the cossack settlements in the Southern Urals, except the Ural Cossacks, were made part of the Orenburg Cossack Host. A statute of 1840 defined the boundaries of the host’s land and set the strength of the host at ten cavalry regiments and three artillery batteries. (In the mid-19th century the total population was about 200,000.) The Orenburg Cossack Host served first in the Russo-Swedish War of 1788–90 and then in all the wars fought by Russia and in the conquest of Middle Asia. The Orenburg Cossack Host was divided into two districts (three sections from 1878). In 1916 the cossack population was 533,000, and the host’s land amounted to 7.45 million desiatinas (8.12 million hectares).
In the early 20th century the Orenburg Cossack Host provided in peacetime six horse cavalry regiments, three artillery batteries, one horse cavalry battalion, and one guards and two detached troops. In World War I it provided 18 horse cavalry regiments, 9½ batteries, one horse cavalry battalion, one guards troop, nine infantry troops, 7½ reserve troops, and 39 detached and special troops (a total of 27,000 men). After the October Revolution of 1917 the elite of the Orenburg Cossack Host, headed by Ataman A. I. Dutov, fought against Soviet power, whereas the poor strata of the host went over to the side of the Revolution. The 1st Orenburg Socialist Cossack Regiment participated in the Ural Army’s campaign of 1918. In 1920 the Orenburg Cossack Host was disbanded in view of the abolition of the cossack estate.