Ottoman Uniforms
Ottoman Uniforms


Cavalry Organisation

By 1877-1878, at the start of the Russo-Turkish war, had 186 cavalry squadrons. However, this number included some 50 volunteer cavalry squadrons; such as:

  • Circassians Cavalry (which is formally listed under the 7th Yemen Army) - Discussed below.
  • Kazakhstan Cavalry - Discussed below.

1st Cossack Regiment of the Imperial Guard (1861)

Right - After the Crimean war, the officers and soldiers of Sultan's Cossack Brigade, went into the 1st Guard Cossacks under Michal Czajkowski [1] [2] [3].

  • The 1860 uniform of the 1st Guard Cossacks, is pictured (however, this paricular plate is mistakenly identified as the 2nd Cossacks - which did not exist).


[1] Czajkowski. M. 'Turkish Anecdotes' (Moscow, 1883: 275), stated that around 1866, four divisions (8 squadrons) of Cossack Brigade (divided into one Cossack, and one Dragoon regiment) were already dressed in the uniforms illustrated above.

[2] David Cliff. 1997 Polish Volunteers with the Turkish Army. The War Correspondent. Volume 14 No.4 (January): The Cossacks were given guard status in 1857. Remaining in Turkish service untill its destruction at Plevna, in 1876.

[3] After the Crimean War the disbanded Cossack division (that had been under English command) became a base for forming the Dragoon division (which consist two regiment) and with Ottoman Cossacks regiment (6-7 squadrons) were under the Czajkowski's command. In the beginning of 1857, Czajkowski and his regiments were appointed to guard the Greek border. In 1862, they were part of Imperial Guard divisions.

Proposed Expansion of the Ottoman Cossack Regiments (Which Did Not Happen)

Czajkowski wanted these two regiments to be expanded to four new regiments - however, these units were never raised [1] [2]:

  • 1st Cossack Division: Blue coat, with red collar (and red cuffs);
  • 2nd Cossack Division: Blue coat, with red collar (and white cuffs);
  • 3rd dragoon division – Blue coat, with red collar (and crimson cuffs);
  • 4th dragoon division – Blue coat, with red collar (and light green cuffs) [3].


[1] This follows the 1860s 'cuff - colour' system for line Dragoon cavalry regiments (discussed below).

[2] Right - This illustration from the 1890s (extracted from the Vinkhuizjen Collection), which has also been painted incorrectly), does show the 1st Cossack Division/Regiment as it appeared in 1876.

  • The distinctive Chevaulegers's jacket (worn by the Cossack Regiment), based on the Bavarian model, which were not piped on the left side of the double-breast, is clearly visible as is the star and crescent had badge.
  • After 1878, only the  Ertugrul Cavalry Regiment of the Imperial Guard, were to wear this  exact uniform.
  • The only other Ottoman cavalry to wear a 'lancer jacket', was the 1st Lancer regiment (disscussed below as well).

[3] See Rifles Cavalry discussed below. Given used of green cuffs, it appears likely that this unit was raised as there is the 4th Cavalry Regiment (1876-1908), with green facings.

1st Guard Cossacks' Uniforms Changes (1861-1870) 

Below - The 1860-70 changes in the uniforms of the 1st Guard Cossacks. In particular, the headgear was modified several times (giving rise to the believe among modern historians that there were several Cossack regiments, which is not correct):

A: Officers from Ottoman Cossacks Regiment in full dress (parade uniform).

B: The second figure is actually wearing a fur covered peak less shako, and the silver/white tape around the top is clearly visible.


D: This figure is accompanied with a ridged fez hat which has been modified to include a fur roll around the base, as well as badges and chin scales added.

Line Dragoons (2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th Armies)

The 'line' 2nd to 6th Armies had four cavalry eegiments (24 Squadrons) each. These were distinguished with a 'cuff - colour' system (for the jacket's outer sleeve only):

  • 1st Dragoon Cavalry Regiment: Red collar and cuffs.
  • 2nd Dragoon Cavalry Regiment: Red collar and white cuffs (Right - Illustration from Mahmud Sevket Pasa ‘L'Organisation et les Uniformes de l'Armee Ottomanne', 1907).
  • 3rd Dragoon Cavalry Regiment: Red collar and crimson cuffs.
  • 4th Dragoon Cavalry Regiment: Red collar and green cuffs. This regiment was intended as a Mounted Rifles cavalry following from the 1850s Chasseurs-a-Cheval (Horse Rifles).

This system was only short-lived, as the post-1878 dress Dragoon Cavalry uniform had a plain blue out sleeve (as shoulder boards had been added with regimental numerals). The pre-1880 (from 1860), version of the Dragoon uniform, had:

  • Folded-down collar.
  • Buttonless long tunic.

Right - The 1880-1908 version of the Dragoon uniform. The double-sleeve jacket has a full collar and is buttoned. As well, this junior officer has two black cord cuff chevrons, as well as the Gold Cuff Star: In the personnel service of the Sultan.

  • The 1880s saw the first use of the Lamb wool hat for Ottoman Troops. An important part of the uniform of the WW1 Ottoman Turkish Imperial Army was the lamb wool cap, which was called “Serpus”[1], or the ‘Kalpak’ (as it is better known). From 1876, till 1908, for most of the Imperial Army headgear did not exist.
  • In the 1880s Ottoman Turkish Dragoons and Field Artillery had adopted the lamb wool cap (which later developed into the M1909 kalpak), this shared many similarities with Russian Army versions of the Cossacks’ fleece cap.
  • It should be noted that from 1861, the Ottoman’s Karapapak tribal cavalry (who emigrated from Azerbaijan, in the 1820s) wore the traditional Russian Cossacks’ uniform, and are the likely source for this introduction.
  • As well, this same style of headgear (as the Ottoman Army's version) had also been established in the Persian Army, by 1889.



1861 Ottoman Volunteer Cavalry Squadrons: Kazakhstan & Circassien Cavalry

Right - Illustration extracted from Mahmud Sevket Pasa ‘L'Organisation et les Uniformes de l'Armee Ottomanne' (1907), showing 1860 Ottoman Volunteer Cavalry Squadrons, from Kazakhstan (called CASACUES in old French), and Circassien Cavalry.

Right - Another variation uniform for a Regiment of Ottoman Cossack Tribal Cavalry, prior to the establishment of the The Hamidiye Corps.

  • These two colour illustrations show an officer, with the yellow and white band, above the cuff lace - indicating a 'Kolagasi (Adjutant Major).
  • The other likely to be a lower junior officer, with white/silver edge to his cuffs.

1861 Ottoman Army 'French Zouave' Cavalry Uniforms

Right - A colourised lithograph, and a colour illustration from Mahmud Sevket Pasa ‘L'Organisation et les Uniformes de l'Armee Ottomanne' (1907), showing the same officer - a 1861 till 1876 Lieutenant in the 1st and 2nd Imperial Guard Cavalry who adopted French zouave -styled uniforms. This officer's uniform is unusual as the officers in this period still wore a universal pattern frockcoat, identical for infantry, cavalry or artillery.

In the 1860 till 1876 period only four of the Ottoman Army cavalry regiments were uniformed in French zouave costumes, these were:

Right  - One of a number of variation cavalry cross-belt slung cartridge box. Used in any period from the Crimean war, till 1908,

Lancer Regiment (1st Army Corps)

Right - Use of red fronted lapels was a tradition of the 1st Lancers Regiment (recorded in the he book by Mahmud Sevket Pasha ‘L'Organisation et les Uniformes de l'Armee Ottomanne’, 1907). This figure is assumed to be a predecessor, from the early 1860s, as he is wearing 1861 pattern officer's cuff chevrons.

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