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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Who are the Cossacks?

Many Hundreds of years ago, Russia was full of different tribes and races of people who had made their way from the great plains, or steppes, and mountain ranges of Asia. One of these races – the Cossacks – settled along the banks of the River Don which flows into the Sea of Azov, near the Black Sea. At the same time. They bred a special kind of horse which was noted for its great strength and stamina, and they became splendid horsemen. Their reputation as riders and warriors grew over the years, and they came to be looked upon as some of the finest cavalry soldiers in the world.

Sometimes the former Russian rulers, the tsars, used the Cossack cavalry to crush rebellions among the peasants. At other times the Cossacks were the pride of the Russian army, and could always be relied upon to strike fear into the hearts of the enemy. They were especially effective during Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812, attacking his lines of communication and pursuing his armies during the terrible winter retreat. The German army also came to fear the Cossacks regiments during the Second World War.

Today the Cossacks are as famous as ever. They give exciting riding displays. They have also formed a choir which gives concerts all over the world.