PHOTO: information stand about the Caucasian Native Cavalry Division,
formed by order of Emperor Nicholas II, in 1914
A unique exhibit dedicated to the Caucasian Native Cavalry Division, is currently on display at the Akhmat Kadyrov Museum, in Grozny, Chechnya. The Heritage of the Empire exhibit is a project of the Grozny branch of the Union of Historical and Educational Societies.
In the center of the exhibit is a model of the future monument to the Caucasian Native Cavalry Division, to be installed in the Chechen capital of Grozny. The sculptural composition includes the figures of Emperor Nicholas II, his son Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolaevich – both of whom visited the regiment during World War I – and Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich.
An information stand featuring photos, archival documents, and list of horsemen of the regiment is also presented, prepared by the senior researcher of the museum, candidate of historical sciences Isa Saidovich Khamurzaev.
PHOTO: model of the future monument to the Caucasian Native Cavalry Division
PHOTO: detail of Emperor Nicholas II, his son Tsesarevich Alexei Nikolaevich
and Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich of the sculptural composition
The Caucasian Native Cavalry Division, also known as the “Savage Division” was a cavalry division of the Imperial Russian Army.
On 23rd August, Emperor Nicholas II ordered the formation of the Caucasian Native Cavalry Division, simultaneously appointing his younger brother Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich as its commander. The Grand Duke’s appointment gave the unit an elite status and many foreigners in Russian service as well as Russian and Caucasian noblemen sought to join it.
On 6th March, Mikhail Alexandrovich personally led the division in an offensive on Tlumach, defeating two Austrian battalions and seizing the town. He was later awarded the Saint George Sword for the action.
The division consisted of three brigades, broken into six regiments, each of which numbered four sotnias. The 1st Brigade incorporated the 2nd Dagestan and Kabardin Regiments.
PHOTO: Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich (center),
commander of the Caucasian Native Cavalry Division
Ninety percent of the personnel were Muslim volunteers from the Caucasus, the rest belonged to various nationalities from across the Russian Empire; totaling over 60 different nationalities. Each regiment numbered 22–24 officers, 480–500 riders and 121–141 support personnel. The regiment took part in World War I, distinguishing itself in numerous engagements, including the Brusilov and Kerensky Offensives.
The February Revolution and the subsequent Abdication of Nicholas II did not negatively affect the division’s morale. In the middle of June 1917, the division joined the 12th Army Corps at Stanislavov in preparation of the Kerensky Offensive. On 8th July, the division launched an offensive on Kalush and Dolyna. On 12th July, the 1st Brigade and the 3rd Caucasus Cossack Division thwarted a German counter-offensive at Kalush.
During the course of the war, approximately 7,000 people served in the ranks of the division, 3,500 of whom received varying degrees of the Order of St. George and the Medal of St. George. Initially, non-Christians were awarded a different version of the order, which replaced St. George with the Imperial double-headed eagle. However upon the request of the riders the jigit was restored in the place of the “bird”. During the period of its operation the regiment did not record a single incident of desertion, while capturing a number of prisoners four times its own size. During the course of the Russian Civil War, many veterans of the Kabardin Regiment joined the ranks of the White Movement’s Volunteer Army. In contrast, veterans of the Ingush Regiment enlisted into the army of the Mountainous Republic of the Northern Caucasus en masse.
© Paul Gilbert. 11 September 2022