Kuban Cossack Host

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Kuban’ Cossack Host


part of the cossacks in prerevolutionary Russia, located in the Kuban’ area (now Krasnodar Krai and part of Stavropol’ Krai) with its center in Ekaterinodar (now Krasnodar).

The host was formed in 1860 from the Black Sea Cossack Host and units of the Caucasian Line Cossack Host; it consisted of 22 (later up to 27) cavalry regiments, three squadrons, 13 infantry battalions, and five batteries. The Kuban’ Cossack Host participated in all the wars waged by Russia in the second half of the 19th century and the early 20th. In 1914 the Kuban’ Cossack Host had 11 cavalry regiments and one squadron, 2.5 guards troops, six unmounted battalions, five batteries, 12 teams, and one militia troop (a total of 19,000 men). During World War I (1914—18) the Kuban’ Cossack Host had 37 cavalry regiments and one squadron, 2.5 guards troops, 22 unmounted battalions, six batteries (12 in 1917), 49 different troops and six half-troops, and 12 teams (a total of about 90,000 men).

The Kuban’ Cossack Host was composed of two principal parts—what was called the line troops, who were mainly descendants of Don Cossacks who moved into the Kuban’ in the late 18th century and were located in the eastern part of the region (the Caucasus, Laba, Maikop, and Batalpashinskii groups), and the Black Sea forces, descendants of Zaporozh’e Cossacks who settled along the Kuban’ River from its mouth to the Laba River in the 1790’s (the Eisk, Ekaterinodar, and Temriuk groups). In the first half of the 19th century the Kuban’ region was settled by Ekaterinoslav, Azov, Chernigov, Poltava, and Danube Cossacks, state peasants, kantonists [soldiers’ sons enlisted in the military at birth], and retired soldiers enlisted in the cossacks. The population of the region was 2,890,000 in 1916, which included 1,370,000 cossacks (43 percent). The cossack lands made up about 6.8 million desiatinas; the average plot per capita was nine desiatinas. Significant capitalist development led to a strong differentiation of the Kuban’ Cossacks, which was intensified by the impoverishment of the cossacks owing to the hardship of military service. Among the poor cossacks, who constituted about half of the cossack population, the per capita plot of land was in fact 2–3 desiatinas. This, in addition to the split between the population of the more prosperous western regions and the less prosperous eastern regions, caused acute class contradictions within the Kuban’ Cossacks; these contradictions were further complicated by the struggle against outsiders who rented cossack land.

During the Revolution of 1905–07 there were uprisings in a number of unmounted battalions and in the 2nd Urup Regiment. After the October Revolution of 1917 the poor cossacks took the side of Soviet power, whereas counterrevolutionary elements led by the Kuban’ Rada of 1917–20 struggled against the socialist revolution. In 1918 a significant number of the cossacks, influenced by the struggle against outsiders, class prejudices, and errors on the part of Soviet agencies and the anticossack policy of Commander in Chief I. L. Sorokin, supported the Volunteer Army of General A. I. Denikin. In 1919 the Kuban’ corps of General A. G. Shkuro and S. G. Ulagai fought actively against the Red Army. But Denikin’s great-power policy aroused opposition among the Kuban’ people, who yearned for autonomy. The cossacks deserted Denikin’s army in masses and in the summer of 1920 did not support Ulagai’s landing in the Kuban’. In 1920 the Kuban’ Cossack Host was dissolved.

During the 1920’s and 1930’s, Kuban’ Cossack units were formed in the Red Army. During the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45, Kuban’ Cossack divisions, especially the IV Guards Kuban’ Cossack Corps commanded by General N. la. Kirichenko, fought heroically at the front for their Soviet homeland.


Shcherbina, F. A. Istoriia Kubanskogo kazach’ego voiska, vols. 1–2. Ekaterinodar, 1910–13.
Muzhev, L. F. Kazachestvo Dona, Kubani i Tereka v revoliutsii 1905–07 gg. Ordzhonikidze, 1963.
Golubev, A. V. Vrangelevskie desanty na Kubani. Moscow, 1929.
Krasil’nikova, K. Partizanskoe dvizhenie na Kubani i Chernomor’e (1918–1920). Krasnodar, 1957.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.