Who are the plastemen? Cossacks-plastuny: form, weapons, combat path. History of the Cossacks

Cossack plastemen were one of the best scouts in the Russian army. They also organized sabotage in the camp of the enemy. Plastemen left a serious mark in the history of Russian-Turkish wars and wars in the Caucasus. This type of Cossacks at all times was considered not just elite, but also the most effective.

Scouts passed a long training, which gave them a huge number of useful and unique skills. The plastemen disappeared after the Cossacks were defeated by the Bolsheviks. Nevertheless, the memory of them survived the twentieth century. Even in the Soviet Union during the Great Patriotic War, plastonic units were created, in which they tried to restore the way of the legendary Pathfinders.

Thunderstorm of Highlanders

In the XIX century, a separate layer of infantry stood out in the Cossack Host - the Cossacks-plastemen. Their main task was reconnaissance. They were supposed to warn their native villages about the approach of the Caucasian mountaineers. For this purpose, so-called secret places were prepared in the border regions. It was in them that the plastemen were serving. Cossacks from their number were watching the cordon line. It was a series of posts, fortifications, pickets and batteries.

Most of all, the Black Sea cordon line is known, where the plastemen especially glorified themselves. The Cossacks erected fortifications on the right bank of the Kuban. Posts stretched from the Black Sea to the Adyghe River Laba. The cordon line was a place of constant skirmishes during the Caucasian War. In this conflict, the plastemen declared themselves.

Cossacks defended the Kuban region from the attacks of Circassians, who formerly owned the local lands. At first the mountaineers made the life of the colonists unbearable. They burned the stanitsas, hunted cattle, carried away civilians and plundered their property. Only the plastemen managed to stop the Circassians. Cossacks of this circle were armed with cutlass and threaded fittings.

Clothing and weapons

It is curious that a long neighborhood with the mountaineers greatly influenced the life of the pathfinders. During peace periods, the Cossacks and Circassians traded. Mixed families appeared, a gradual exchange of traditions took place. So plastemen began to wear national Circassian clothes. Popular in their circle headdress was a hat. Cossack clothes included pants with stripes and a shirt with shoulder straps. Her color depended on belonging to a particular army.

Widespread were wide harem pants. Instead of shirts, plastemen could wear beshmet to their knees. Their notable features were the fasteners in the middle of the chest, a soft collar and loose sleeves. The replacement of the traditional hood accounted for the bashlyk. In intelligence, the plastemen dressed in clothes, inconspicuous against the backdrop of the landscape. All sorts of tricks and disguises allowed to stay out of sight of the enemy. Of course, there were regional differences. For example, the Orenburg Cossack army, unlike its southern comrades, could not do without winter camp clothes, which helped to keep warm in the cold and blizzard.

The fighting way of the plastemen quickly wore their outfits. Every day they spent in the wilds and gorges. The result of such a way of life became shabby and covered with multi-colored patches Circassian. Another common attribute of the long hike was the puffy and wiped hilt on the back of his head. Cossack shoes from the scouts became unremarkable externally, but extremely practical in a long journey. Often used chuvyaki. They made them from the skin of wild boars.

In addition to the already mentioned weapons (knife, dagger and knife), each plastman carried with him what the Kuban people called "prichindals". These included: a bag for bullets, a powder candy, an awl and a bowler. In the way everything that could help to hold out in the long journey was taken and at the same time it was small in size and weight. Gradually, garnets became popular among the plastics. They were used in the most extreme case, if the detachment overtook a numerically superior enemy.

On the Kuban borders

Field service of the plastemen lasted 22 years, then came a three-year service period in the garrison. In the absence of open skirmishes with the highlanders, they were engaged in the maintenance of fortifications: they built shapsugs, renewed posts and batteries. These structures were quadrangular redoubts with a small ditch and earthwork parapet. On the posts there was always artillery of different caliber. Another important attribute of the places of service of the Plast members is the observation tower. On the watch tower there were watchmen who warned comrades about the approach of the enemy in a moment of danger.

History plastunov was closely associated with the river Kuban. Every day on its shore patrols drove around, who carefully followed the movements on the other side of the bubbling stream. Not least the mountaineers were dangerous opponents because of the surprise of their attacks. That is why the service carried by the Kuban Cossacks-plastemen was so important.

Intelligence rides (in which there were usually 2-3 people) constantly changed their routes in order not to fall into an enemy ambush. In the case of the invasion of the Circassians, avant-garde posts were left. Cossacks focused on the main cordon line. In addition, reinforcements from the rear hastened to their rescue. In the worst case scenario, even military men who had already served 22 field years were drawn to the cordons. More often than not, attacks from the sea on the defensive line were attacked. The riverbed of the Kuban was already here, and numerous shallows and islets helped the mountaineers to make the crossing quicker and more convenient.

Professional skills

Often the plastemen waited for uninvited guests, lying in a reed or swamp. It was from this intelligence habit that their name also went. Plastovatsya means crawl. Ability to remain invisible was vital for scouts. Over time, their corporate reception was postponed in the Russian language in the form of the phrase "crawl on-plastunski." Researchers of the history of the Cossacks note that such a masterly clinging to the ground appeared in the Zaporozhye. The very word, having received a nominal character, was preserved in toponymy. For example, its Plastunovskaya village is in many regions of Russia and Ukraine.

Today, plastemen are considered to be the forerunners of modern Russian special forces. This comparison is not baselessly very popular. These Cossacks had exactly the same functions: reconnaissance, sabotage, deep raids along the enemy rear. Often, plastemen were recruited from hunters who spent their entire lives in the forests. If you could teach any Cossack to handle weapons, then the ability to merge with the environment and become invisible at the most crucial moment was not given to everyone.

To become a scout, it was not enough just to learn how to crawl in Plastun. Cossacks from special units knew how to memorize each path, navigate in a strange unfamiliar terrain, cross the river through a stormy river. They possessed hunting savvy, the ability to track down and neutralize the target. Sometimes such chases could be stretched for several days, so the Cossack knife of the plastman was given only to the most hardy and able men.

Duties and privileges

For the first time as separate units, plastemen entered the regular regiments in 1842. One such team could include 60 to 90 people. Immediately after its appearance, the plast troops began to enjoy special respect in the army. Their life was extremely dangerous, even by Cossack standards. Because of this, the plastemen were entitled to increased salaries. If the Kubans went on a big campaign, then these scouts were in the forefront, exploring the route, which soon had to go through the main army.

The most convenient time for the plastemen was always the night. Their "Cossack form" (in the campaign it was replaced by poor mountain clothing) was not visible in the dark, and the ability to keep silence allowed scouts to make their way to enemy camps. Often Udalts overheard the conversations of opponents and surfaced their plans. For the army, all these services were priceless.

Experienced plastemen knew the local customs of the mountaineers. They understood the customs and customs of their dangerous neighbors. This knowledge helped to survive in captivity. In addition, the plastemen could even wear painted beards and impersonate "their own". If the scout knew the necessary language and understood the realities of the enemy's life, he could well have penetrated the enemy's camp. In the Caucasian languages today there is the word "kunak". So the mountaineers called their friends. Often the plastemen had their own kunaks among the Circassians and other neighboring indigenous peoples. They could report on their moods and plans in their villages.


Although there were times when the plastemen were captured, they considered it a rule not to give themselves up to the enemy and in a desperate situation they died on the battlefield. The courage of these warriors made them indispensable in the most difficult situations. When the enemy siege important fortifications, the Cossack Corps attracted plast members to unlock these positions. Udaltsy could, with the numerical superiority of the enemy, pull it back on themselves and squeeze it hard, taking advantage of the positional advantages that the surrounding area gave. For example, plastemen often opened fire from the forest. Such a sudden attack from nowhere by the enemy, as a rule, was not calculated and cost him big losses. If the chase started, the Cossacks skillfully escaped the pursuers, hiding in the thickets and swamps. In addition, they were able to arrange effective ambushes, which even more mowed the ranks of the enemy.

Plastuny trained within their environment, their community has always remained somewhat isolated. Even when their status became official, scouts were not appointed, but were elected among the "old men" - the most experienced and respected masters of their business. It was they who transferred from generation to generation important and unique knowledge of the plastemen. Often this skill became a family affair. So, for example, the Black Sea plastemen were often recruited from among the hunting dynasties, consisting of several generations. The candidates passed a serious selection. Particular attention was paid to their endurance and accuracy.


In the plastemen did not take young people with insufficient physical training. These Cossacks should have been able to make exhausting march-throws in the wooded and mountainous terrain. Their military way passed through the heat, cold and numerous inconveniences associated with the camp life. All this demanded from the candidate an uncommon composure and self-confidence. Patience was especially needed at the most crucial moment when spying on the enemy. Watching the enemy, the scouts could spend hours lying in reeds or even icy water. At the same time, letting out an extra sound for them meant putting under threat not only our own, but also comradely life. The Cossack uniform could get worn, get wet, deteriorate, but the self-control of the Cossacks themselves had to withstand all the most unexpected tests.

They called the tactics of the plastics themselves "wolf's mouth and fox's tail". It was built according to the nature of the terrain, the tasks and characteristics of the enemy. But, as a rule, the scouts' actions were based on several unshakable principles: to remain invisible, to discover the enemy first and skillfully entrap the latter. The raids of the plastemen failed, if the Cossacks could not remove their own traces. At the same time, the reverse ability was valued. Good intelligence agents were able to track down an enemy who disappeared even in the thickest forest.

Crimean War

As already mentioned above, for the first time plast residents loudly declared themselves during the Caucasian war against the mountaineers. In the future, without them, there could not have been any armed conflict between Russia. So in the Crimean War specialized plastun battalions took part. They especially distinguished themselves in the defense of Sevastopol and in the battles in Balaklava. Plastemen, among other defenders of the homeland, were serving on the legendary fourth bastion. Count Leo Tolstoy, also smelling gunpowder in the Crimean War, was one of the first to capture these Kuban people in fiction. Plastemen are mentioned in the famous "Sevastopol tales" of the Russian classic.

Not only the Kuban people sent their scouts to the Crimean War, but also the Orenburg Cossack Host, as well as other camps. Scouts from this number conducted especially dangerous forays into the enemy's trenches. They, with their inherent accuracy and accuracy, got rid of sentries and guards before general attacks. In addition, the plastemen carried out sabotage and spoiled enemy guns. It was thanks to these Cossacks in the Russian army that they knew in detail about the movements of the British and the French. Often the patrols figured out the location of the mine traps set by the enemy sappers. For feats in the Crimean War, many plastemen received the highest individual award, and the 8th plastoon battalion became the owner of his own St. George banner.

Back in battle

In the future, the reconnaissance units of the Cossacks well proved themselves in armed conflicts with the Ottoman Empire. Plastuns made themselves felt in the Far East, when they were sent to fight the Japanese in 1904-1905.

Finally, the Cossacks-trackers participated in the First World War. They made a huge contribution to the success of the famous Brusilovsky breakthrough on the Southwestern Front, where 22 plast battalions served. Many Cossacks from these formations became Georgievsky knights, and their names turned out to be symbols of courage and devotion to duty. However, it was then that the Kuban daredevils passed a fatal twist for themselves. During the Civil War, most of them supported the White movement. Plastuns fought with the Bolsheviks in the Kuban and the Don, participated in the offensive against Moscow and in the battles for Ukraine. After the victory of Soviet power, the Cossacks suffered colossal repressions. Many of them forcedly emigrated, and those who remained at home had to survive the treatment of the Cheka. Cossack life and traditions were systematically destroyed. Traditional village economy was liquidated. The result of this policy was that in the 20-ies. Cossacks as a large socio-cultural group disappeared. Together with them in the past remained and plastuny in the classical sense of the word. They lost their historical roots and foundations, their way of life was outlawed.

The Soviet era

But already during the Great Patriotic War the Soviet government changed its rhetoric. She tried to restore plastonic traditions, and for this purpose the 9th Plastun Infantry Division was even created. As a welcome to the glorious past, it was introduced into the division into hundreds and battalions.

This plastun division was included in the Separate Maritime Army. The first operation was the defense of the Taman Peninsula. It is curious that it is in this region that there is its own Plastunovskaya village. The newly formed Cossack units and volunteer hundreds were characterized by poor armament. Often the hastily assembled cavalry had nothing but thin and feeble kolkhoz horses. In the detachments there were no anti-aircraft guns, tanks and sappers. All this led to great losses. According to eyewitnesses, the Cossacks jumped from the saddles to the tank armor. In addition, they did a lot of other dangerous rough work.

Then the Cossacks took part in the Crimean operation. The liberation of the peninsula began with the destruction of the Wehrmacht rearguard in the vicinity of Kerch in April 1944. For several months, the Cossack units experienced modernization. They combined with cavalry divisions and tank units of the Red Army. As a result, horse-mechanized groups emerged. Horses were used for rapid movement, while in battle the Cossacks acted as infantry. In modern Russia, the phenomenon of plastics has undergone a reassessment and numerous studies. Cossack organizations are functioning throughout the country, in which forgotten military traditions are being revived.

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