Ural Cossack Host

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Ural Cossack Host


(in 1917, the Iaik Cossack Host), in prerevolutionary Russia, a cossack host living in the western part of Ural’sk Oblast (now Ural’sk Oblast, part of Gur’ev Oblast, and the southeastern part of Orenburg Oblast), along the middle and lower course of the Ural River. The host had its center in the city of Ural’sk (founded in 1613; called Iaitskii Gorodok until 1775).

In 1775, after their defeat in the Peasant War of 1773–75, which was led by E. I. Pugachev, the Iaik Cossacks were renamed the Ural Cossacks, and they lost what remained of their autonomy. The Ural Cossack Host was headed by an appointed ataman and a host staff, but after 1782 it was governed alternately by the governor-general of Astrakhan and the governor-general of Orenburg. In accordance with the Provisional Statute of 1868, the Ural Cossack Host was placed under the jurisdiction of the governor-general of the newly formed Ural’sk Oblast; the governor-general also served as the appointed ataman of the host.

The territory of the Ural Cossack Host totaled 7,060,000 hectares (ha) and comprised three otdely (military districts)—Ural’sk, Lbishchensk, and Gur’ev. As of 1916, the region had a population of 290,000; of this total, 166,400 were cossacks living in 480 populated areas, which formed 30 stanitsy (large cossack villages). Old Believers made up 42 percent of the Ural Cossacks, and there was a small number of Kalmyks, Tatars, and Bashkirs. In 1908 the Ilek Cossacks were incorporated into the Ural Cossack Host.

The average amount of land allotted to a cossack househohd was 22 ha. A considerable portion of the host’s land was not used, however, because of its poor quality or remote location. In contrast to other hosts, the Ural Cossack Host did not have a reserve fund of land to be brought into use as the population grew; the host’s capital was held in common without division among the stanitsy.

In the Ural Cossack Host, the term of obligatory military service was from age 19 to 41. In peacetime the host maintained three cavalry regiments (16 sotni, or troops), one sotnia of the life guards of the Combined Cossack Regiment, and two detachments (in all, 2,973 men). The Ural Cossack Host took.part in nearly all the wars Russia waged. During World War I the host had nine cavalry regiments (50 sotni), an artillery battery, a guards sotnia, nine special and reserve sotni, and two detachments (in 1917, more than 13,000 men).

After the October Revolution of 1917, the poor cossacks fought for Soviet power, but the well-to-do strata of the host, under the leadership of the ataman V. S. Tolstov, sided with the White Guards. In 1920 the Ural Cossack Host was dissolved.


Borodin, N. Ural’skoe kazach’e voisko, vols. 1–2. Ural’sk, 1891.
Rossiia: Poln. geograficheskoe opisanie nashego otechestva, vol. 18.
Edited by Semenov. St. Petersburg, 1903.
Rozner, I. G. laik pered burei. Moscow, 1966.
Kazach’i voiska: Spravochnaia knizhka imperatorskoi glavnoi kvartiry. Compiled by V. Kh. Kazin. [St. Petersburg, 1912.]


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The Ural Cossacks all stayed with parishioners in Guisborough, with their bed and breakfast fees going to the church's urban fund to help people in deprived areas ?
The first Russian traders and settlers appeared on the northwestern edge of modern Kazakhstan in the early 1600s (simultaneously with the Puritan colonists in North America), when the Ural Cossacks established on the Ural River the forts that later became the cities of Uralsk in the hinterland and Guriev on the Caspian Sea.