By Vladimir Velikanov
This article is about the Russian Army from the1630's through the 1680's. This period is not covered to any great extent in Western historical literature. During this time, Russia took part in many wars: 1632-34 War with Poland (Smolensk War) 1654-67 War with Poland 1656-61 War with Sweden 1670-71 Civil war in Russia (peasant rebellion by Razin) 1676-81 War with Turkey (In addition, there were numerous Tartars raids in the southern part of Russia. In fact there was a constant, undeclared war on the southern borders of Russia, much like the American Wild West) The main component of the Russian Army in all of these wars was the newly formed regular regiments. Many people believe that first regular units appeared in Russia only in 1698 with Peter the Great, but in reality they were formed 50 years earlier.
Russian Army 1680's
Types of Military Number of Regiments Number of Men %
Conscripted Infantry 41* 61,288 37.3
Moscow Streltsy 21 20,048 12.3
Slobod Cossacks 4 14,865 9.3
Regular Cavalry 26** 30,472 17.9
Feudal Levy 26,097 15.9
Other 11,830 7.2
Total 164 000
* - 41 regiments according to Russian historian A. Chernov ("Military forces of the Russian State in the 15-17 centuries"), Ustrialov counted 38 and Myshloevskyi - 48 ** - 26 regiments according to Russian historians A. Chernov and Myshloevskyi, Ustrialov counted 25. In addition 50 000 Ukrainian Cossacks were available. This force was the result of the military reforms of the 17th Century. They were based on changes in the recruitment system. Usually, three periods are delineated: - The 1630's, formation of enlisted units. First units of the new army were created. - The 1640-50's, the introduction of the conscription system. These new regiments became the main part of army. - The 1680's, the final phase of reform. The military administrative system was reformed.
The Russian State in the 17th Century.
The beginning of the 17th Century was a very troubled time for the Russian State, it took part in many wars and conflicts: 1590-93 War with Sweden 1604-06 Civil War, Lzedmitriy 1 1606-09 War with Poland 1606-07 Peasant Rebellion by Bolotnicov (Civil War) 1609-15 War with Sweden 1609-11 War with Poland As can be seen, there was uninterrupted war for 20 years. This period of Russian history is called the "Time of Troubles". Civil wars alternated with interventions. Many villages and towns were ruined; western lands including Smolensk were lost to Poland; and some lands in Baltic region were occupied by Sweden. Russia needed 20 years to make up the losses from the "Time of Troubles". By the 1630's Russia felt powerful enough to retake the lost lands. The first attempt in 1632 was unsuccessful. The Russian Army, which was based on the feudal levy, lost to the Polish enlisted regiments. Russia had new style units also, but they were few in number. After the 1632-34 War the reform of the Russian Army began.
Review of the Russian Army in the 17th Century.
The administrative system in Russia in the 17th Century was as follows: The Boiarskaia duma was a deliberative body consisting of the members of the high Russian gentry (boyarin). Russian military administration consisted of two main elements in the 17th Century:
The Prikaz: an administrative department, which controlled everyday service, recruitment and supply of troops.
The Razriad: a military district to which all military units on its territory were assigned. The military administration system in use from the 1630's through the 1670's is described below. In the 1680's the system was reformed and it will be described later.
Military administration in Russia in the 17th Century was divided among several prikaz. The prikaz was a kind of administrative department, office or ministry. The word means, "order". The direct control over Russian military was organized in the following prikaz: - Cossacks - Gunners - Reiters - Streltsy - Foreign - Razriad - Recruiting - Siberian - Kazanian - Malorussian These prikaz managed only recruitment, supply and service of the troops. The provisioning and production of arms and equipment were organized in other prikazes: - Barrels - Armor - Weapons
A description of the functions of each prikaz is as follows: The Cossack prikaz managed gorodovye Cossacks. Slobod Cossacks were placed under the direct command of the Belgorod razriad (military district).
The Gunner prikaz managed the nariad (artillery), its recruitment and service. The production of artillery pieces was the function of the Barrel prikaz.
The Reiter prikaz managed the regular cavalry. The Feudal Levy was managed by each Razriad prikaz. It is uncertain whether the settled dragoons were in this prikaz or under direct command of each razriad.
The streltsy prikaz managed the streltzy. Each strelets (the soldier) was on active duty one year in a two-year period. The second year he was an artisan or merchant.
The Foreign prikaz, called Inozemniy, managed the regular infantry regiments. At first it controlled only enlisted regiments, but later, in 1650's when mass recruitment began, the datochnye regiments were added
The Recruitment prikaz was called sbora ratnykh and datochnikh ludey (muster of mobilized and recruited people). It was created only during war and controlled the mobilization of the Russian Army. It organized the recruitment of datochnye soldiers, and the gathering of the feudal levy and streltzy.
The last three prikaz (Siberian, Kazanian & Malorussian) were connected to the autonomy of these territories. The Siberian prikaz was created on the territory of the conquered Siberian Khanate, and the Kazanian prikaz from the Kazanian Khanate. The Malorussian prikaz was created in 1654 and managed the territory of the Ukraine. Each of these territories was autonomous, and had its own traditional military organization. These prikazes managed not only the local military forces (as a rule these were levies), but Russian garrisons were also included.
The other main element of the Russian military organization was the razriad. It was a kind of military district. During peacetime the main part of Russian army was dismissed, and only border troops remained on duty. These latter units were located in dangerous sectors. In 1630's the razriad were frontier districts; but later they became permanent with a standing staff. They included field and garrison troops, and each had its own artillery (formed from gorodovye Gunners, H. Part 5.). During war all of the field troops in the razriad formed a separate Army Corps called a razriadnyi polk. The number of troops in each razriad varied and depended on its mission. For example, in 1640's the Belgorod razriad counted about 30 - 35,000 men, while the Novgorod razriad had only 7,000 men.
There were 7 razriads from the 1630's to the 1670's: - Tula - Smolensk (created in 1655, after its capture) - Novgorod - Sevsk - Belgorod - Ryazan - Kazan In the first part of the 17th Century the Tula razriad protected Moscow from the West. After Smolensk's capture Tula's importance declined and by the 1680's it was disbanded. The Smolensk razriad was formed in 1655, after the city's capture. During the war with Poland it was a base for the main Russian field army's operations in Belorussia. Weapons and supplies were stored there when Russian regiments were dismissed for winter.
Novgorod razriad protected the northern border with Sweden. There were numerous well-fortified localities in this sector and this prikaz consisted mainly of garrison troops. It also managed the settled infantry in the northern regions.
Sevsk razriad was a base for the field army operating against Poland. It was situated on the border between Belorussia (a part of Lithuanian State) and the Ukraine. As a rule, the Sevsk razriadnyi polk (Corps formed from units stationed in the Sevsk military district) operated on the left wing of the main Russian army. It was one of the most effective razriads behind only that of Belgorod.
Belgorod razriad was the most effective military district. It protected Russia from the Crimean Tartars. Units of the Belgorod razriad repelled yearly raids of Tartars. The most devastating raids were in 1661, 1662, 1680 and 1691. In 1691, 65 Russian settlements were destroyed, 2,000 men were captured and about 10,000 head of cattle were stolen. At the same time about 15,000 Tartars were beaten in 1641 near Chuguev, 7,000 in 1672 near Meretha, in 1679 10,000 Tartars were repelled from Kharkov and the following year they were beaten near Zolochev. The last raid in the 17th Century was in 1693. 15 000 Tartars were repelled from Russian border and 14 khans were captured. The Belgorod razriad was the most unsettled sector on the Russian frontier. The service there was very dangerous and honorable.
Ryazan razriad protected the border on the River Don. It was rather serene sector. The only worry was Don Cossacks, sometimes robbed merchants. Units of this razriad were a kind of reserve for neighboring Belgorod razriad.
The area of Kazan razriad was along the Volga River. It controlled the local tribes, and protected Russian settlements and merchants. Russian government did not oppress the natives of the Volga area, and the main duty of Kazan razriad was police service.