Ottoman Uniforms
Ottoman Uniforms


Cossack in Ottoman Service (1817-1824)

Avigdor Levy identified a number of instances where, from the late 1700s various newly arrived 'Cossack' refugees arrived within the Ottoman Empire, to resettle and were employed in various military auxiliary roles [1].

  • This even encluded service on Imperial Navy Ships as LEVENTI or 'Turckischer ship-soldiers'. As 700, in 1817, were recuited to serve in the reformed Ottoman Danube Flotilla (a river fleet of gun boats).
  • In 1824, 60 of the 'Cossack' LEVENTI were seen on the Ottoman Battleship 'SELIMIYE' (1,400 member crew) wearing their Cossack -styled "sheep-skin caps".


[1] Levy, Avigdor. "Formalization of Cossack Service Under Ottoman Rule." East Central European Society and War. Ed. Gunther E. Rothenberg et al. New York: Columbia University Press, 1982: 491-505.

Silistra Cavalry Regiment (1826)

In 1826, the 'Silistra Cavalry Regiment' was formed, as part of the general reorganization of that year, and was raised in Silistria province (the Danube Delta), and made up of Turks, Tatars and Christians in equal proportions.

  • The latter were a mixture of old believers and Zaporozhain Cossacks who had fled Russian rule and been allowed to settle in the region.

The Regiment-Brigade was organised into two ‘alays’ (regiments):

  • One of these, later became a regular cavalry Dragoon regiment.
  • The remaining Cossack regiment, may be the origin of the 1848 1st Cossack regiment (discussed below). Avigdor Levy, does not identify that the 'Cossack' battalion in the original 'Silistra Cavalry Regiment' were armed with lances; however, as this was the traditional weapon of the Cossacks, it would seem likely, and that the Turkish battalion in the original 'Silistra Cavalry Regiment' were operated more as Dragoons, armed with swords and muskets only.

In terms of the uniform of the 1826 regiment, the men were issued with:

  • Vests: This could be referring to the sleeveless over-coat-vest, which was fitted with hanging sleeves/wings that are commonly seen in Ottoman uniforms throughout this period, as well as like the 'Cossacks' costume that incorporated the very same detail.
  • Short jacket: However, reading Avigdor Levy’s description he is actually describing the standard jersey, being issued to all New Model Army soldiers. 
  • Oriental breeches.
  • Black riding boots.

1848 Ottoman 1st Cossack Regiment

The first Ottoman Cossack Regiment/Brigade, can be dated back to 1848 [1].

  • Nothing about the uniform worn by this regiment, is known.
  • Right - Extracted from a picture in the NYPL Digital Gallery, containing the ‘Vinkhuijzen Collection of Military Uniforms/Egypt, 1820-1898’, has an 1840s group of the Egypt Army from 1830-40, and is titled "Turkisches Militar". These three central figures look to be Ottoman Cossacks, and may be representative of the type of uniforms worn by the 1848-1853 1st Regiment [2].


[1] Marcel Roubicek (1978) Modern Ottoman Troops, 1797-1915: In Contemporary Pictures. Franciscan Printing Press: 13.

[2] Egyptian Circassians (formed as a cavalry auxiliary unit in the Egypt Army in the 1840s). Nevertheless, would still be representative of the type of uniforms worn by the 1848-1853 1st Regiment.

1853 Ottoman 1st Cossack Regiment

Ottoman Cossack Regiment Flag

The 1854 banner of the Ottoman Cossacks regiment, was received in Edirne when the Cossacks officially took an oath to join the Sultan’s service, This was the old banner of Zaporozhian Cossacks (which had been kept in Constantinople, following the Ottoman-Russian war in 1828-29).

  • The banner, is originally described as silk, with a cross on a blue background.
  • There is also an account that says the "Ottoman Cossack Brigade flag of the brigade was two-sided, on the front there was the crescent and on the back a cross."
  • This could be referring to the flag halved: first half, red with silver crescent (an Ottoman flag); with a second half in blue, with gold cross (that is a second flag - the old banner of Zaporozhian Cossacks, being added on the end).
  • It is more likely, this is describing the old banner of Zaporozhian Cossacks, which has been incorporated into the reverse side of the standard Ottoman Imperial Army flag.
  • A version of this banner is illustrated in modern books, as a white background for the cross, and this is shown with the flag halved: first half, red with silver crescent; second half white, with gold cross. However, this is not likely correct [1].


[1] Finally, there is a 2009 Wikimedia Commons version of the "Banner of the Polish Sultan Cossacks Division during Crimean War", which is red, and shows a crescent and polish eagle, but this has no historical verification.

1853-1854 (and 1856) Ottoman Cossack Brigade

Right - Czajkowski, is pictured here in the uniform of the General commanding the 'Ottoman Cossack Brigade'. Michal Czajkowski, or Sadyk Pasha (his Turkish name) was born 19 September 1804 in Halchyn, near the town of Berdychiv in the Province of Volhynia, which had been annexed to the Russian Empire at the end of the eighteenth century.

  • He died on 18 January 1886, in Borky, in central Ukraine. He was a Polish writer on Cossack themes and a political emigre who worked both for the resurrection of Poland and also for the reestablishment of a Cossack Ukraine.
  • After 1848, Czajkowski went to Turkey where he was active in Bosnia and Serbia and supported anti-Russian activities in the Caucasus, which led to his eventual conversion to Islam and his new name "Sadyk Pasha".
  • He organized the Ottoman Cossack Brigade to fight against the Russians, and which saw action in the Balkans during the Crimean War.

For the Crimean War campaign, the 1st Ottoman Cossacks, were brigaded with two new regiments:

  • 2nd Ottoman Cossacks.
  • 3rd Ottoman Cossacks.

Right - The 1st Ottoman Cossacks parade in Constantinople in 1853.

Left - The 1853-Crimean War uniforms of an officer, and soldier in the Ottoman Cossack Brigade. In autumn of 1855, the brigade Had about 2,000 troops in the pay of the British, and were commanded by General Wladyslaw Zamoyski (a Brigadier General of the Turkish army of British origin), as well as being organised by Czajkowski.

Right - An example of the Paris National Guard buckle plate, used by the officers of the 1st Cossack Regiment. 

Below - Outline of the 1st Cossack regiment's history and uniform, and the later 1856 Cossack brigage (David Cliff 1997 Polish Volunteers with the Turkish Army. The War Correspondent. Volume 14 No.4, January):

2nd Cossack Regiment

Right - 1854, a new levy of Cossacks is riased for the Ottoman army.

Right - An example of a Chasseurs à cheval modèle 1854 Dolman for Officers,  adopted by the 2nd Cossack Regiment. 

Below - Outline of the 2nd Cossack regiment's history and uniform (David Cliff 1997 Polish Volunteers with the Turkish Army. The War Correspondent. Volume 14 No.4, January):

3rd Cossack Regiment

Right - The 'Circassian' cavalry uniform, adopted by the 3rd Cossack Regiment, this is illustrated in Mahmud Sevket Pasa ‘L'Organisation et les Uniformes de l'Armee Ottomanne' (1907). 

Below - Outline of the 3rd Cossack regiment's history and uniform (David Cliff 1997 Polish Volunteers with the Turkish Army. The War Correspondent. Volume 14 No.4, January):

Confusion with Later Ottoman Cossack Regiments

Left - This painting from 1944, published in 'Polish Armed Forces Through the Ages' (London, 1944 W.Dziewanowski, & A. Minkiewicz), actually confuses the later 1861-1876 1st Ottoman Cossack Regiment's uniform (shown with gold lace - which should be silver), with the correct uniform for the Crimean War period worn by the same regiment.


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