Along with the famous Wild Division, the Russian Imperial Army also had another national unit that covered itself with no less glory - the Tekinsky Cavalry Regiment. Unfortunately, it is less known than the Wild Division, which is largely due to the lesser preservation of its documents in the archives, as well as to the lack of interest in its activities in Soviet historiography, since most of the Tekinsky regiment was loyal to L.G. Kornilov and later supported the Whites, not the Reds, which will be discussed later.
At the beginning of the article, it makes sense to give historical a certificate about the Turkmen and their relationship with Russia. Regarding the Turkmens, it should be noted that they are ethnically quite homogeneous (initially being a Turkic-speaking people of mixed Turkic-Iranian origin) and were divided into a number of tribes according to the tribal principle. The strongest and most influential tribe were the Tekins from the Akhal-Teke oasis. They were distinguished by their violent character and raiding economy and were subordinated to Russia in the 1880s. as a result of stubborn battles. The rest of the Turkmen tribes took Russian citizenship mostly voluntarily, and the Yomud tribe had been asking for it since the 1840s, hoping, however, for Russia's help during the war with its Kazakh neighbors. Part of the Turkmens, together with the Kalmyks, moved to Russia, their descendants are the Astrakhan and Stavropol Turkmens.
So, since the accession of the Turkmen tribes to the Russian Empire in the 1880s. Turkmen voluntarily served in the Turkmen militia (in the Russian Empire, the word militia was used in its original Latin sense - "militia", so irregular military formations were called militias), on November 7.11.1892, 29.07.1914, transformed into the Turkmen irregular cavalry division, and later, on July 1916, XNUMX, transformed in the Turkmen cavalry regiment, which received the name Tekinsky in XNUMX, since the majority in it were Turkmen-Tekins, they were also distinguished by the greatest valor.
In the Turkmen irregular units, there were the same principles of organization and selection of officers as in the Cossack units. It should be noted that in 1909 the number of those wishing to serve in the Turkmen cavalry irregular division exceeded the number of vacancies three times. The similarity of the national irregular units with the Cossack ones was widespread in the Russian Empire, for example, the 1st Dagestan regiment, from which the 2nd, which was part of the Wild Division, was separated, was part of the 3rd Caucasian Cossack Division. The Turkmen and mountaineers, as well as the Cossacks, were commanded by both ordinary army officers and officers from these peoples, the latter of course being preferred, but they were not enough.
Regarding the Tekinsky regiment, it should also be noted that it has been studied and known to the general public even less than the Caucasian native cavalry division. The situation with archival materials on its history is very deplorable. In the RGVIA, only 8 archival files have been preserved, of which one refers to the history of the regiment before the First World War. From the literature on its history, one should mention the book by OA Gundogdyev and J. Annaorazov "Glory and Tragedy. The fate of the Tekinsky cavalry regiment (1914-1918) ". This book was written in 1992 on a wave of national patriotism with a clear desire to glorify and glorify the history of the Turkmen, while condemning the Russian colonialists, which, of course, did not in the best way affect the objectivity of the presentation. In addition, one should also mention the article by the same OA Gundogdyev, this time without Annaorazov and in co-authorship with VI Sheremet "Tekinsky cavalry regiment in the battles of the First World War (new archival information)". This article is already much more objective and devoid of nationalistic distortions, which is probably associated with the participation of the Russian V.I.Sheremet, as well as with the work directly with archival documents, albeit in insufficient quantities. In connection with these circumstances, unfortunately, it is impossible to write about the Tekins as much and in detail as about the Wild Division.
In terms of weapons in the Turkmen / Tekinsky regiment, as in the Wild Division, the principle acted according to which ordinary horsemen served with their cold weapons and on their own horse, and received firearms from the treasury. Thus, these units approached the Cossacks, who were also provided with horses, uniforms and melee weapons at their own expense (which is typical for all semi-regular units, since the difference between the regular army and the irregular is the unified state-owned weapons and equipment).
The Tekinsky cavalry regiment was armed with Mosin's cavalry carbines. First, the Turkmen militia and the irregular cavalry division were armed with Berdan-Safonov cavalry carbines (based on the Berdan No. 2 rifle), then, when the army switched from a single-shot Berdan rifle to the Mosin magazine rifle, with cavalry carbines based on this rifle.
With regard to edged weapons, it should be noted, firstly, that the regiment was the only unit at that time in the Russian army armed with sabers, not sabers. Practically all Turkmen had traditional Turkmen sabers "klych", and they were as good at using them as the mountaineers were using sabers. In addition, the Turkmen, a flat desert-steppe people, owned peaks of the traditional Turkmen type. This lance had a removable tip that could be used as a dart. In addition, this design prolonged the service life of the pike and facilitated its extraction (the tip remained in the body, jumping off the shaft, and was subsequently removed) after being used for its usual purpose, since the risk of the shaft breaking upon impact was reduced (for a solid shaft, the phenomenon is very frequent, see the expression “breaking spears”). In addition, the Turkmens wore a multifunctional bichak knife. This type of knife without a guard with a sharpened blade at the end, popular among the peoples of the Caucasus and Central Asia, is used in knife fighting, for household and culinary purposes. Unlike the "pchak", the majority of the peoples of Central Asia (with a very wide blade and a small handle), the Turkmen bichaks are closer to the Balkarian bichaks of the North Caucasus and have a blade of normal width and a handle of sufficient size, which facilitates their combat use, practically without harming other functions ... The Turkmen did not have daggers, in contrast to the highlanders of the North Caucasus.
It should be clarified here that the Turkish-Turkmen saber-tooth is a relatively wide and straight saber (in comparison with the Iranian shamshir), nevertheless, with a greater bend than that of the saber. The fundamental differences between a saber and a saber lie in the design of the handle and the absence of a cross-guard for the saber, as well as in the curvature of the blade that is much smaller than that of the saber and, accordingly, its different balancing. The checker is designed to deliver one sharp blow, which, due to its low weight, can be performed even with a bent hand. The saber is also more adapted for stabbing, since at the point its blade is sharpened on both sides, and at the saber on the first side throughout the entire blade. The Turkmen saber is adapted for inflicting rather chopping blows from top to bottom due to the weighted straight upper third of the blade (the bending of the blade begins below it) and requires, due to the greater length and weight than the saber, a taller and stronger rider (namely the rider, because on foot with a saber where less convenient than a saber, since the LONG saber drags along the ground), which the Turkmens were. Regarding the carbine, it makes sense to clarify that it was intended for light cavalry, including hussars, and it was easy to carry and use at all gaits, respectively, for the Turkmen horsemen it was a quite suitable weapon.
The supply of the Tekinsky regiment was completely taken over by the Turkmen tribes, who allocated 60000 rubles for the organization and equipment of the regiment. (!), In addition, supplying him with food and uniforms. It should be noted here that the Turkmen did not like Russian porridge and black bread (apparently, out of habit, since they did not know rye and oats) and ate only their own, and from their homeland they were sent the usual jugara, rice and wheat, as well as green tea and "alarm" (traditional candies). The Turkmens bought livestock from the local population, paying carefully, since they already had an idea of discipline and the inadmissibility of robberies (at least of their own population), which only a generation ago were their national trade. This means that the Russian army has made considerable progress in educating them.
Tekins fought in the national costume, which consisted of a long robe (thin in summer, on cotton wool in winter, however, a wadded robe could protect not only from frost, but also from heat), wide trousers and shirts, usually silk. The most remarkable element of the national costume was a huge papakha-trukhmenka made from a whole lamb. Due to its heat-insulating properties, it protected from both cold and heat, so the Turkmens wore it all year round. Trukhmenka also protected from blow.
As for the horse stock, the Turkmens, especially the Tekins, bred the famous Akhal-Teke horse breed, known for their speed, endurance and devotion to the owner. For the Turkmens, the horse was a source of pride, and they cared about it no less than about themselves. On this you can finish with the equipment and supplies and go directly to the combat path of the regiment.
The Turkmen cavalry regiment was formed on July 29.07.1914, 5, together with the 1th Siberian Cossack regiment, it formed the corps cavalry of the 1914st Turkestan army corps. The regiment took part in the battles only in the late autumn of 19.07.1915, under the command of S.I. Drozdovsky, (the future leader of the white movement), covering the retreat of Russian troops in East Prussia and Poland (it is characteristic that the Turkmen, who rode across the steppes and deserts, were sent to fight on flat terrain, while the Caucasian highlanders of the Wild Division fought in the Carpathians). Only then was the corps transferred to the front. XNUMX/XNUMX/XNUMX after Drozdovskiy regiment commander was appointed Colonel S. P. Zykov, later also a leader of the White movement, and in the Trans-Caspian region. It becomes clear why the Turkmens were mostly opponents of the Reds and the Soviet historiography did not mention them.
The Turkmens fought bravely, in the battle at Soldau they took large trophies, defeating the German vanguard and thereby allowing the Russians to retreat in perfect order. At Duplitsa-Dyuzha, the Turkmen also thwarted the German offensive. After that, the Germans called the Turkmens devils, because they did something that was beyond human strength and did not give in to common sense, and with their sabers the Turkmens often cut the Germans from shoulder to waist, which made an impression. As already mentioned, the Turkmen saber is adapted specifically for chopping blows from top to bottom.
Many Turkmens were awarded with St. George's Crosses. The renaming of the Turkmen regiment into Tekinsky took place on 31.03.1916/28.05.1916/11.10.1914 by the highest order. 5/29.10/5 the regiment distinguished itself in the Dobronutsk battle. Unfortunately, the course of hostilities with the participation of the regiment has not been studied as thoroughly as the combat path of the Wild Division, since there are few archival documents on this topic. From the documents preserved in the RGVIA, it can be seen that the regiment was mainly engaged in reconnaissance and mail transportation, maintaining communication between units, For example, 20/5.12.1914/16. the Turkmens reconnoitred the situation at Prasnysh together with the XNUMXth Siberian Cossack regiment. On October XNUMX, together with the XNUMXth Siberian regiment, the Turkmens occupied Dlutovo, local Poles reported that the Germans left an hour before the arrival of the Cossacks and Turkmens. A squadron of Turkmens and XNUMX Cossacks began to pursue the Germans, soon the Cossacks saw them near the village of Nitsk, then the Turkmens galloped with lava, but came across a stone fence, from behind which the Germans were shooting, and the Turkmens had to retreat to Dlutovo, and some of them fell from horses, but the comrades caught their horses, and they themselves were picked up and taken away. On XNUMX/XNUMX/XNUMX, the Turkmen carried convoy and intelligence services, kept in touch with the XNUMXth infantry division, and most importantly, transported flying mail.
Serving in the regiment among the Turkmens was extremely prestigious. For example, Silyab Serdarov (a representative of the intelligentsia forming among the Merv Turkmens) was presented to the 4th degree of the St.George Cross, although he, being the only son of rich and old parents (from the Turkmen nobility, hence the name Serdarov, serdar means head or chief, for example President of Turkmenistan for life Saparmurat Niyazov, aka Turkmenbashi) could well not serve, but went voluntarily, at his own expense outfitted other horsemen, fought bravely, and finished 6 classes of the cadet corps before the war.
We should mention the case when 20.03.1915/18/6. near the village of Kalinkautsy, a Turkmen patrol that was scouting the crossing (as it turned out, it was in very poor condition, since the ice had already melted), the Germans fired on, killing the horses of the militia cadet Kurbankul and the rider Mola Niyazov. Then the rider Makhsutov gave the horse to Kurbankul Niyazov, and he barely rode it through the difficult spring snowdrifts. Makhsutov departed on foot with Mola Niyazov, and XNUMX infantrymen and XNUMX horsemen were chasing them, but they responded to the offer to surrender with fire (apparently effective, since they managed to leave). Then Kurbankul Niyazov went on reconnaissance, despite a slight injury. Captain Uraz Berdy applied for the awarding of all three with the Orders of St. George for non-Christians.
As a reward for long service, the Turkmen and their relatives were exempted from taxes. For example, Kouz Karanov, who has served irreproachably for 10 years (correspondingly, having begun his service back in the Turkmen equestrian irregular division), was awarded exemption from taxes. In addition, during the First World War, it was decided to mobilize representatives of the Central Asian peoples who are not subject to conscription into the army for the construction of fortifications, digging trenches and other work in the front-line zone and near rear of the active army. This decision applied not only to Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Uzbeks and Tajiks, but also to Turkmens, however, for the relatives of the riders of the Tekin regiment, an exception was made, but each rider was exempted from work only three close male relatives, which with rather large Turkmen families was clearly insufficient. But among the Turkmens, the mobilization for work aroused outrage not because it distracted men from chores, but because they were forced to work with a pick and ketmen (a type of hoe used for digging ditches, especially common in Central Asia), as Sarts historically despised by them and Tajiks, but they did not take on military service. In the end, the command agreed that the mobilized Turkmens did not dig, but carried out security and guard service. Those who watched the hostilities with the participation of the Turkmen were amazed that in a battle with the enemy cavalry, the Akhal-Teke horses not only kicked, but literally gnawed at the enemy (both horses and riders) and jumped with their front legs on the enemy horses, as a result of which they fell from blow and fright dropping riders.
The most famous battle involving the Tekin Horse Regiment is the Battle of Dobronouc. At Dobronouc, only one Tekinsky regiment broke through the Austrian defense (at the last moment it turned out that it could not be supported by neighboring units), the Turkmens slipped through the trenches on horseback, hacking down 2000 with sabers and taking 3000 Austrians prisoner. The Austrians threw millions of cartridges, rifles, guns, boxes, many wounded and killed horses.
After the February Revolution, the fate of the Tekinsky regiment was tragic. Due to the fact that L.G.Kornilov, appointed commander-in-chief, had previously served on the Afghan border and conducted reconnaissance on Afghan territory together with the Turkmen, they knew and loved him. Kornilov, in turn, formed a personal escort of them. In addition, the regiment was attached to the Indigenous Corps. Colonel Baron N.P. von Kügelgen (12.04.1917 - December 1917) became the commander of the regiment itself. During the Kornilov events, the regiment was in Minsk and could not participate in them. After the rebellion, the Tekins were entrusted with guarding L. G. Kornilov in the Bykhov prison, and after the October Revolution of 1917, the Turkmen together with Kornilov went to the Don. In this campaign, many of them died, the rest were in the civil war on different sides of the barricades.
Thus, the Tekinsky cavalry regiment, like the Caucasian native cavalry division, was a completely effective unit that successfully fought during the First World War. Unfortunately, his combat path is not as well known as the combat path of the Wild Division, especially since there are fewer sources on the regiment's history. The Turkmen managed to quickly and painlessly adapt to the new situation and fight in it no worse than the natives of this climatic zone fought.
The Tekinsky regiment found itself hostage to the events that took place in Russia after the 1917 revolution, which became the reason for the tragic end of the regiment and most of its riders due to the fact that the regiment was commanded, as already mentioned, by L.G. Kornilov, and the regiment was involved in the Kornilov events. I wrote about the participation of the Wild Division in them in previous articles, now I should dwell on the role of the Tekinsky regiment.
The indigenous corps (it was united by the order of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief A.F. Kerensky dated 21.08.1917, the Caucasian Native Cavalry Division, the 1st Dagestan Cavalry Regiment, the Tekinsky Cavalry Regiment and the Ossetian Foot Brigade) under the command of L.G. Kornilov moved to Petrograd, but stopped as a result of a railroad strike. Separately, it should be said that at the moment described, the Tekinsky Cavalry Regiment WAS NOT in the vicinity of Petrograd. At that time he was in Minsk, guarding Kornilov personally. The Turkmens could not arrive in the vicinity of Petrograd due to the paralysis of the railway traffic due to the strike and sabotage by the railway workers.
After the defeat of the Kornilov speech, the Tekins were entrusted with the protection of L.G. Kornilov in the Bykhov prison, and the Tekins had to protect Kornilov from reprisals by the revolutionary soldiers, and after the October Revolution of 1917, the Turkmen went to the Don together with Kornilov. In this campaign, many of them died, the rest ended up in the Civil War on different sides of the barricades. The fact is that most of the surviving Tekins fought as part of the Volunteer Army and shared its fate (death or emigration), but some of those captured by the Reds went to serve them (it is not known how voluntarily). Thus, as a result of the events in Russia, which could not cope with itself, a subdivision of Turkmens, more loyal to Russia than most Russians, practically perished. After all, the Tekinsky regiment was not affected by the decomposition of the army and the revolution, and it remained loyal to its command and Russia and retained its human appearance, saving Kornilov from reprisals, while the Russian soldiers were mired in robbery and drunkenness, refused to fight and sent officers "to Dukhonin's headquarters."
Unfortunately, in our difficult times (and the future will not become easier, judging by what is happening in the CSTO countries, and in all of them), it is quite possible that any of the readers (at least those of them who are an honest patriot of Russia, not necessarily Russian by nationality) will find itself in the same position in which the Tekins found themselves during and after the Kornilov events. I hope that in this case we will be able to act more successfully than they.