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Imperial Russian Army Ranks

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The rank designations for officers and enlisted personnel was as follows:

                             ENLISTED RANKS

    Mladshii Unterofitser (Corporal)
    Vzvodnyi Unterofitser (Sergeant)
    Feldfebel (Sergeant-Major)
    Portupei Yunker (acting officer)

    Unterofitser (Corporal)
    Vzvodnyi Unterofitser (Sergeant)
    Vakhmistr (Sergeant-Major)

    Mladshii Feierverker (Corporal)
    Vzvodnyi Feierverker (Sergeant)
    Feldfebel (Sergeant-Major)


    Praporshchik (Ensign)
    Podporuchik (2d Lieutenant)
    Poruchik (Lieutenant)
    Shtabskapitan (2d in command)
    Podpolkovnik (Lieutenant Colonel)
    Polkovnik (Colonel)

I will include cavalry and cossack ranks in another entry to come.


Coldstream, a good idea. A few remarks that might help you to continue:
- The rank system was changed many times during XIX - early XX c. (eg, the Major rank was repeatedly abolished and reestablished, etc.). So any such list may only be correct with regard to a certain period - which should be explicitly stated, otherwise confusions are inevitable.
- The army and Guards systems were always slightly different (eg, there were no Guards Lieutenant Colonels).
- Where is the captain (kapitan)?

Mike, you are absolutely right in your statement concerning the Guards.  Because of this difference, Guard officers were promoted direct from captain to colonel.  Another privilege of Guard officers was that, if they were transferred to a Line unit, they were given a rank above that held while in the Guard.

The officer ranks can get a bit involved, as you suggested in your remarks.  The rank table which I am using was that in effect at the beginning of the Great War (World War I).  The western equivalent ranks are those used by the British Army during the same period (1914).

                      OFFICER RANKS

General Feldmarshal (Field Marshal)
Polni General (General)
General-Leitnant (Lieutenant-General)
General-Maior (Major-General)
Polkovnik (Colonel)
Pod-polkovnik (Lieutenant-Colonel)
Voiskovoi Starshina (Lieutenant-Colonel [Cossacks])
Kapitan (Major of Infantry, Artillery, Engineers [the    
   specific rank of "Major" evidently did not exist during
   this period])
Rotmistr (Major of regular cavalry)
Yesaul (Major of Cossacks)
Shtabs-Kapitan (Captain of Infantry, Artillery, Engineers)
Shtabs-Rotmistr (Captain of Cavalry)
Pod-Yesaul (Captain of Cossacks)
Poruchik (Lieutenant)
Sotnik (Lieutenant of Cossacks)
Pod-Poruchik (Sub-Lieutenant (2LT) of Infantry, Artillery,
Kornet (Sub-Lieutenant of Cavalry)
Khorunji (Cornet of Cossacks)
Praporshchik (Ensign [Reserve only])

The enlisted ranks I gave in my initial submission were rather basic to say the least.  The following should be a more comprehensive treatment:


Pod-praporshchik (Sub-Ensign of Infantry, Artillery,
Estandart-Yunker (Sub-Cornet of Cavalry)
Pod-Khorunji (Sub-Cornet of Cossacks)
Zauryad-praporshchik (Acting Ensign [Sergeant-Major      or Under-Officer].  Abolished in 1912, but
    retained for a short time for those who held the rank
    at the   time it was abolished)
Feldvebel (Sergeant-Major of Infantry, Artillery,
Vakhmistr (Sergeant-Major of Cavalry and Cossacks)
Starshi-Unterofitser (Senior Under-Officer [equivalent
    to      Sergeant in British Army] of Infantry, Cavalry,
Starshi-Feierverker (Senior Sergeant of Artillery)
Uryadnik (Under-Officer of Cossacks)
Mladshi Unterofitser (Junior Under-Officer [between
    Sergeant and Corporal in British Army] of Infantry,
    Cavalry, Engineers)
Mladshi Feierverker (Junior Sergeant of Artillery)
Polkovoi-Barabanshchik (Regimental Sergeant-Drummer
    [Drum Major]) (Sergeant-Drummer was official in the
    British Army until the early 20s when it
    became "Drum Major."  However, the rank was
    always unofficially "Drum Major")
Polkovoi Hornist (Regimental Sergeant Bugler [Bugle-     Major in British Rifle and Light Infantry regiments])
Batalionni-Barabanshchik (Battalion Drummer)
Batalionni Hornist (Battalion Bugler)
Shtab-Trubach (Regimental Trumpeter [Cavalry])

                     OTHER RANKS

Yefreitor (Lance-Corporal of Infantry, Artillery, Engineers)
Bombardir Navodchik (Bombardier Layer of Artillery)
Bombardir (Bombardier of Artillery [equivalent to      Corporal])
Prikazni (Lance-Corporal of Cossacks)
Barabanshchik (Drummer)
Hornist (Bugler)
Trubach (Trumpeter)
Muzikant (Bandsman)
Ryadovoi (Private of Infantry, Cavalry, Engineers)
Kanonir (Gunner of Artillery)
Kazak (Cossack)

When a private addressed an NCO, he would prefix the rank with "gospodin" (Mr.), e.g., "gospodin feldvebel."

I hope that I have covered the ranks thoroughly, but given the complexity of the Russian Army, nothing is final.  I invite those who are more knowledgeable to add or detract from the above.  The ranks were taken from the sixth edition of "Handbook of the Russian Army" published by the British General Staff, War Office, 1914.  It was reprinted by the Imperial War Museum in 1996 (The Battery Press, Nashville, TN, in USA).  One might still obtain a copy by searching book dealers on the worldwide web.


Coldstream (AKA W. McCaughey)

Wow, Coldstream! Not sure that back in 1914 an average Russian general could list all them by heart!
A propos generals: you're right that the highest general rank (after January 1912 and up to the end the only remaining Russian fieldmarchals were the kings of Romania and Montenegro) was called polnyi general - but only unofficially. The official designation was general ot infanterii (kavalerii, artllerii, inzhener-general) - i.e. general of infantry (cavalry, artillery, engineers). The Russian word polnyi means full - but also corpulent and complete, which resulted in many jokes about those venerable warriors.

Can either of you discuss the Emperor's suite?  How do you translate flugel-adiutant?  Is is simply Aide-de-camp?  What about General-adiutant?



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