Author Topic: Cossack Identify Uniform +/- @1881 Picture. Yr help requested!  (Read 14841 times)

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Offline archvstlisa

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Cossack Identify Uniform +/- @1881 Picture. Yr help requested!
« on: February 27, 2010, 12:16:05 AM »
I'm a newbie. This is my first posting. 

My Great Gma's album has a picture of this man stating he is her godfather.
I'm trying to confirm/deny some questions so I can learn more about both of them.
Have tried to do research myself, but can go no further without your expert advice. Merci!

1: Was this picture taken before her birth in 1881 or after?
2. Was he already "retired" by the time she was born? (possibly based on the medals)
3. Is he a Terek Cossack? Because my Great grandmother was born in Pyatigorsk? Or another Cossack  group nearby?
4. What rank? Lt. General??
5. Possible medals: St. Stanislas,  Caucasus campaign(s), .......????
6. Is is possible to find out his name?
7. I have another picture about 20 years later with a somewhat similar looking man more in village wear that could help. I can post that later should anyone be interested.

Thanks so much!
Lisa

Picture to come soon if I can figure it out.







Offline archvstlisa

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Re: Cossack Identify Uniform +/- @1881 Picture. Yr help requested!
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2010, 01:04:38 PM »

Offline archvstlisa

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Re: Cossack Identify Uniform +/- @1881 Picture. Yr help requested!
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2010, 05:59:15 PM »
This is what I think I know about the picture already (gleaned from various sources):
He is likely wearing a uniform of one of the Cossacks, which includes the traditional long coat of the Caucasus (the Tcherkesska/Cherkeska). A shirt called a beshmet is worn under the cherkeska. This cherkeska has 18 gaziri cartridge holders. Each holder contained a peg with enough gunpowder for one shot muzzle-loaders before breech-loading weapons came into use. The peg holders were retained as a part of the costume, in which small pegs with beautifully ornamented silver knobs were carried. They complimented the Cossacks silver fitted weapons.  More gaziri=wealthier or higher ranking person. The Caucasian Cossacks wear very soft boots without heels.

You can also see just barely that he carries a traditional Caucasian short edged weapon called the kindjal in Russian (kama in local language), and the long Caucasian sword (shashka).

The Cossack cavalry units had their own military ranks not exactly comparable to the regular ranks of soldiers (strelets):  a basic soldier=Kazak, sergeant/corporal=yesaul, and captain=ataman/hetman. Later further rank distinctions were added.

The use of epaulettes/shoulder boards on uniforms developed into a system marking the distinction of officers. On the epaulettes the rank is originally characterized by one or both of the epaulettes having fringes of different thickness.

Offline Mike

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Re: Cossack Identify Uniform +/- @1881 Picture. Yr help requested!
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2010, 10:33:53 AM »
archvstlisa, if you have an access to the original photo, please scan it at a better resolution, to obtain an image of at least 1000 pixels high. From this current image, the regiment ciphers on his epaulettes cannot be recognized.

Offline archvstlisa

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Re: Cossack Identify Uniform +/- @1881 Picture. Yr help requested!
« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2010, 09:58:25 AM »

I hope magic can be done.


« Last Edit: March 04, 2010, 10:06:52 AM by archvstlisa »

Offline Nicolá De Valerón

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Re: Cossack Identify Uniform +/- @1881 Picture. Yr help requested!
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2010, 01:49:10 PM »
Dear Lisa,

It seems to be that this man is wearing epaulets of the Colonel (with no stars), which was rather high military rank in Russian Empire mostly in later times, which meant 6th degree in the "Table of Ranks" and highest social status. There is a little chance, that he had a rank of General of Cavalry (similar star number), but I could hardly imagine it, judging by his appearance and Orders. However I may be wrong, because I'm not a big expert of definition Colonel/General epaulets. (Maybe Mike make some corrections;).

I can only envy you, having such a decorated ancestor! Almost all the Orders are with swords, that's mean he was a honored war veteran. I can clearly see St. Stanislaus with swords of the 1st degree, St. Anna of the 4th and 3th degree (or 2nd), both with swords and St. Vladimir of the 4th degree with swords. I can make a mistake of definition of St. Anna and St. Vladimir, but anyway I think I'm right in this case.

About the problem: "before 1881 or after", I think that I clearly see Nicholas II coronation medal (coronation was in 1896), so I think the photo was taken after 1881.

And about Regiment, difficult question. But I can make some thinking. If your great-grandmother was born in Pyatigorsk, then he definitely should have been served in some of the Caucasian region Cossack regiments (or even be commander of some of them). As far as I know, there were a big number of Terek Cossacks Regiments in this region. Here are the main: 1st Kizlyar-Grebensk of the the General Yermolov Regiment, 1st Gorski Mozdokskij of General Krukovsky Regiment, 1st Volgsky Regiment, 1st Sunzha-Vladikavkaz of General Sleptsov Regiment, 2nd Kizlyar-Grebensk Regiment, 2nd Volgsky Cossack regiment, 2nd Sunzha-Vladikavkaz Regiment. I can assume that he was served (or headed) 1st or 2nd Volgsky Cossack regiment, including judging by the letters on his epaulets.

Yes, it's possible to find out his name, but it requires more information and would take a plenty of time.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2010, 01:52:29 PM by Nicolá De Valerón »
"I think that if Shakespeare lived in our times he would not be able to write. Many of his works are not welcome on stage nowadays: The Merchant of Venice – anti-Semitism, Othello – racism, The Taming of the Shrew – sexism, Romeo and Juliet - hideous heterosexual show..." - Vladimir Bukovsky.

Offline archvstlisa

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Re: Cossack Identify Uniform +/- @1881 Picture. Yr help requested!
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2010, 07:33:47 PM »
This is something interesting to think about and start on - thanks for your work on this. Unfortunately - don't know if we can claim any relation to Mr. Cossack. He was my my GGMother's Godfather.

When I get back from my weekend trip, Ill post another picture that may or may not be the same man (balding white haired guys all start to look alike in old photos *I hope this statement is not offensive to bald white haired guys).  It's in a village, with a family in more village clothing, and a rug that may also have a clue if there are any rug specialists out there.  Of course it may not be my GGMother's Godfather, it may actually be a family friend or her family.  We have so little info on her that's why I thought knowing who her military Godfather was might tell us more about her.

My thinking right now is a long shot possibility with no proof: Mr. Cossack was my GGMother's Godfather because her father served in a regiment (and was killed??).  I have no pictures or data at all of this GGfather but a name: Boris Sheleff.

Offline Mike

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Re: Cossack Identify Uniform +/- @1881 Picture. Yr help requested!
« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2010, 12:46:37 PM »
archvstlisa, your grandfather's godfather was colonel of Sunzhensko-Vladikavkazskiy regiment of Terek cossack host, most probably the regiment's commander. His awards include St. Anna 2nd class, St. Stanislav 2nd class, St. Vladimir 4th class, all with swords - i.e. for war distinctions. The star below the crosses is of the Persian order of Lion and Sun, not unusual for a senior Caucasian officer. The cross with swords beside the star is not an order but a commemorative award for the 50th anniversary of the conquest of Caucasus. It gives this photo a "time-stamp": after 1909 but prior to 1914.

The colonel's name is probably Ilya Tolmachev, the Sunzhensko-Vladikavkazskiy's commander in 1910-1913.

It wasn't unusual for junior officers and senior distinguished NCOs to invite their commanders to serve as godfathers of their newborn children.

Offline Nicolá De Valerón

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Re: Cossack Identify Uniform +/- @1881 Picture. Yr help requested!
« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2010, 02:21:20 PM »
Mike, I must say that we made very close answers.:)

There is only one different thing - degree St. Stanislaus. Why do you think he has 2nd degree? What are your sources? It would be interesting to hear. I definitely think that this man has St. Stanislaus of 1st degree with big star in addition on the left side. Star was accompanied only with 1st degree as I know. Moreover, if we'll look carefully, we would find that star is also with swords.
"I think that if Shakespeare lived in our times he would not be able to write. Many of his works are not welcome on stage nowadays: The Merchant of Venice – anti-Semitism, Othello – racism, The Taming of the Shrew – sexism, Romeo and Juliet - hideous heterosexual show..." - Vladimir Bukovsky.

Offline Mike

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Re: Cossack Identify Uniform +/- @1881 Picture. Yr help requested!
« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2010, 09:22:14 AM »
The star isn't St. Stanislav's. It's either Order of Noble Bukhara or, as I've suggested above, the Persian Lion and Sun. The more I look at it, the more it seems to be the former. Beside of the star's look which isn't clear enough even on a large image, there're two reasons for its not being  St. Stanislav's: (1) it was highly unusual - almost impossible - for a colonel to be awarded a 1st class order - except for some special distinction, after which such a colonel would be promptly promoted to major-general, at least during the Nicholas II's reign; (2) this colonel wears a full dress uniform. If it were St. Stanislav or other Russian 1st class order, he should also wear a ribbon over his shoulder in addition to the star.

Offline Mike

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Re: Cossack Identify Uniform +/- @1881 Picture. Yr help requested!
« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2010, 12:08:30 PM »
There's also a third reason why the star is other than St. Stanislav's: the colonel has no St. Vladimir 3rd class that was always awarded prior to St. Stanislav 1st class.

Offline Nicolá De Valerón

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Re: Cossack Identify Uniform +/- @1881 Picture. Yr help requested!
« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2010, 12:58:11 PM »
Good eye, Mike!

It's definitely Bukhara Star as I can see. I suddenly forgot that this man served in the Islamic Caucasus. Here is my little photo comparison of this Colonel Bukhara Star, Bukhara Star itself and St. Stanislaus. Maybe this photo comparison would be interesting for the forum members, who are really not an experts in this case. (archvstlisa, sorry that I modified your photo).

As to your words, they are interesting and at the same time disputed.;) Anyway, this is pleasure for me to talk with a man, who really know something (I'm only a well-trained amateur). I can only add some of my reflections on your interesting words. St. Stanislaus has been in fact the lowest Order among the "big four": St. George, St. Vladimir, St. Anna and St. Stanislaus, and even the Colonel (moreover, man on the photo is honored Colonel) in theory could had been awarded, and only after that been promoted to Major General. About the ribbon and priority of the Orders, yes I know that ribbon was equipped with the 1st degree and also about priority of the Orders, but.....we need always remember that we are talking not about strictly and well-organized established British military laws, we are talking about the Russian Empire with it's disorder and corruption (I must add, that this situation has not changed during all this time). That's why, for example this Colonel for various reasons could have easily not put on this thing at this photosession.

« Last Edit: March 08, 2010, 01:00:49 PM by Nicolá De Valerón »
"I think that if Shakespeare lived in our times he would not be able to write. Many of his works are not welcome on stage nowadays: The Merchant of Venice – anti-Semitism, Othello – racism, The Taming of the Shrew – sexism, Romeo and Juliet - hideous heterosexual show..." - Vladimir Bukovsky.

Offline archvstlisa

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Re: Cossack Identify Uniform +/- @1881 Picture. Yr help requested!
« Reply #12 on: March 09, 2010, 10:25:12 AM »

I love the little details you are discussing.  This is so awesome!  I do have some question about the timelines you are discussing and will reply to that later.  Thanks!

So I am posting the second picture which I now think must be a family member of some kind and NOT the same balding white haired guy but I think you can make a better call on that.





Offline Mike

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Re: Cossack Identify Uniform +/- @1881 Picture. Yr help requested!
« Reply #13 on: March 09, 2010, 10:40:11 AM »
Small photo again! It's impossible to see various details that might help to partly restore the story behind the image.

Offline Nicolá De Valerón

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Re: Cossack Identify Uniform +/- @1881 Picture. Yr help requested!
« Reply #14 on: March 09, 2010, 12:27:21 PM »
Lisa, it seems to me that this is the same man. I also clearly see that surprisingly on this photo he is wearing epaulets of the General of Cavalry (full General). I can only envy for his quick military career advancement.

I posted the same photo in a high resolution. I hope you don't mind.

"I think that if Shakespeare lived in our times he would not be able to write. Many of his works are not welcome on stage nowadays: The Merchant of Venice – anti-Semitism, Othello – racism, The Taming of the Shrew – sexism, Romeo and Juliet - hideous heterosexual show..." - Vladimir Bukovsky.