Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Unit of the Week - Zaporozhian Cossacks (Mounted)

Well, the basic description came in the last post.

Effectively, the Zaporozhians would initially take shelter behind their wagons, and once an enemy attack had been beaten off, they would mount their horses and ride out to counter-attack the disorganized foe, leaving enough foot soldiers behind to close up the gap in the "wall" until they returned. On attack, they would use the lance and the sword as their main weapons, preserving firearms for the defense of their mobile "wagon fort".

On the march, the mounted warriors would ride out in front, or on the flanks of the wagon column, providing warning of any potential threats that emerged.

They fought for and against Sweden, Russia and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Also for and against the Ottoman Turks. They regarded themselves as an independent nation, and it was ultimately that desire that proved their undoing. Catherine "The Great" of Russia decided to put an end to it in the 1770s, and sent her armies in to crush the Zaporozhian "nation."

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Work in Progress - Zaporozhian Cossacks

I was hoping that I would have these guys ready as "Unit of the Week" several weeks ago, but they are still very much a "work in progress."

The Zaporozhian Cossacks inhabited the area known today as the Ukraine. Their origin is not known for certain, although they are believe to have been the descendants of Rus from the Principality of Kiev, which finally collapsed (after many decades of going downhill) during the Mongol Conquest of modern-day Russia. Their numbers were later swelled by serfs fleeing the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

At various times they fought for and against Poland, Sweden and Russia, and even the Ottoman Turks. Finally, Catherine "The Great" of Russia became fed up with them and invaded their homeland, crushing any resistance and effectively destroying them as a force.

The pics accompanying this post show representatives from each of the portions of what will be their "army." (I don't expect them to be big enough to form a separate army of their own, but will be a sizable ally for the main armies from the same periods.)

The first picture shows all arms. Then we have some of the horsemen - the typical "Cossack warrior" the world thinks of when they here the word. Then we have one of the drums, used to beat out orders to the men, and finally, infantry armed with muskets and pistols shelter behind a wagon. In that pic you may notice the guy in the light blue shirt reaching up with a "stick" to the top of the wagon.

He is actually lighting a fuse to fire the small cannon positioned on the wagon. Zaporozhian cossacks mounted these cannon on about half of their wagons, making them an early form of mobile artillery post.

On the march, the cossacks would deploy wagons on their flanks and march between them. If faced with a hostile situation, the wagons would close up to form a fortified perimiter, with the cannons ready to be fired, and the men (and women inside.) If the chance for a counter-attack came, some wagons could easily be moved aside to create a gap, or doorway, for the mounted cossacks to ride out on the attack, and then close up behind them, until they were ready to return.

I think they're going to be an interesting bunch to work with, but boy - are they taking forever to paint!