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Chapter 23

This webpage reproduces a chapter of

History of the Ukraine
By Dmytro Doroshenko

printed by
The Institute Press, Ltd.
Edmonton, Alberta,

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Chapter 25

 p485  Chapter XXIV

 * * * *

(The numbers link directly to the sections.)

(156) Zaporogian Cossacks After Their Return in 1734. (157) Their Political Constitution and Social Structure. (158) Economic Position. (159) Colonization of Zaporogian Territory by Serbs. (160) Destruction of the Zaporogian Sich. (161) Emigration of Zaporogian Cossacks into Turkey. (162) Their Settlement on the Danube. (163) Return to Russia. (164) Cossack Army of Azov. (165) Cossacks of the Chornomore (Black Sea) or Kuban Cossacks.

 * * * *

156. Zaporogian Cossacks After Their Return in 1734.

Almost at the same time when the Ukraine of the Hetmans and the Slobidska Ukraine lost their autonomy, a third historical Ukrainian territory ceased to exist as an independent unit and entered into the composition of the Russian Empire. This was the Zaporogian Sich and the territory of the Zaporogian Cossacks. The Zaporogian Sich was destroyed by the Russian army in 1775, the Zaporogian Cossacks were dispersed and their territory became the scene of a new colonization carried out by the Russian government on altogether different principles.

The history of the Zaporogian Cossacks in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth century was intimately connected with the history of the Ukraine of the Hetmans and at certain periods it was identical. In the preceding chapters was indicated the part the Zaporogian Cossacks played in political history and their influence on social relations in the Ukraine. It is especially on the last period of the history of the Zaporogian Sich that we would like to dwell now, after their return in 1734 under the Russian protectorate, this period being the most interesting of the whole history of the Zaporogian Cossacks. It was then that the Zaporogian military Brotherhood showed a tendency to transform itself into an almost independent political organism and to create a sound economic basis for its existence. The Zaporogian Cossacks underwent at  p486 this time a rapid evolution from being a half-monastic, half-military Brotherhood, unique of its kind, exploiting the natural wealth of their territory by hunting and fishing, into a regular political community with a settled agricultural population. The Zaporogian Cossacks then became a true democratic republic carrying, however, in itself the seeds of a class differentiation which would inevitably develop in the normal future of its economic life. But the political constitution of the Zaporogian Cossacks and their social structure and the trend of their development were opposed to the whole autocratic and centralist constitution of the Russian Empire and to the general trend in its development. The Zaporogian Brotherhood was doomed to fall, as did the autonomy of the Ukraine of the Hetmans and that of the Slobidska Ukraine.

The Zaporogian Cossacks returned under the Russian protectorate in 1734, retaining in their possession the vast territory which the Turks formally ceded to Russia under the peace treaty of 1740. Actually the territory now, as before, was dominated by the Zaporogians. It comprised the whole extent of the province of Katerinoslav and parts of those of Kherson, Taurida and Kharkov. This vast territory was the property of a comparatively small community of not more than 20,000 men. The circumstances were now very different from those at the beginning of the Eighteenth century under Hetman Mazepa. At that time the Zaporogian Brotherhood lived on the borders of the populated territories and the adjoining steppe was "Wild Steppe" in the true meaning of the word. The Zaporogian Cossacks were dependent on food supplies from the Ukraine. Now a settled population had advanced quite close to the Zaporogian territory, the Ukraine of the Right Bank, the Ukraine of the Hetmans, and the Slobidska Ukraine, surrounding the Zaporogian lands on the North, Northwest and Northeast. This population already felt an impulse to continue colonizing and the Zaporogian territory attracted them. The Russian government was also  p487 desirous of building a continuous line of fortifications against the Tatars, and cherished a plan of utilizing the Zaporogian lands and the Cossacks themselves in this scheme. The Zaporogian Cossacks well understood the situation and began to colonize their territory themselves so as not to let others settle on it. Actually, in a few decades, their lands began to have a different aspect. Instead of the "Wild Steppe" it was rapidly being transformed into a civilized country with a settled agricultural population consisting of free peasants.

157. Their Political Constitution and Social Structure.

The relations of the Zaporozhian Cossacks with the Russian government were settled by the Treaty concluded in Lubni in 1734 according to which Zaporogians recognized the Russian Empress as their sovereign, received back their former territory and secured the right to live according to their old traditions; in war‑time they were to serve under the command of the Head of the Russian army stationed in the Ukraine. In 1750 they were put under the military leader­ship of Hetman Rozumovsky. In their internal affairs the Zaporogian Cossacks were completely autonomous and neither the Russian authorities nor the Hetman interfered with them in the Sich. The leader of the Zaporogian Cossacks, "Koshovyi Otaman" (Head of the Kosh or camp), was elected on the first of January for a year. In the last period there was a tendency to re‑elect the same man in successive years, or after an interval, the last "Koshovyi Otaman", Petro Kalnishevsky being re‑elected ten years in succession. The Otaman enjoyed unlimited power. He was military leader as well as Head of the administration. He also was the chief judge and represented the Zaporogian Cossacks before the Russian government and the Hetman. He carried on negotiations with representatives of neighboring powers as, for example, with the Crimean Khan. The Otaman had special honors, and a staff of officers who helped him carry out his functions and executed his orders and commissions. In war time he  p488 held dictatorial authority, having the power of life and death over every Cossack. At the expiration of his term every former Otaman entered the honorary category of "elders" who, having formerly held high posts in the Zaporogian Army, constituted a sort of a Council of Seniors of the Zaporogian Brotherhood. The Staff of the Otaman consisted of military judges, a treasurer, a secretary who was head of the military chancellery, and camp commander who carried out the duties of police officers in the Sich and also performed various administrative functions. Besides these chief staff officers there were also several other officers with special military or administrative duties. The Zaporogian Officers received comparatively high rates of pay from the Russian government. They also received an income in money and kind from the treasury of the Zaporogian Army. Towards the end of the existence of the Zaporogian Brotherhood, we see considerable property concentrated in the hands of their officers, chiefly consisting of horses and cattle. Though theoretically the supreme power belonged to the whole Zaporogian Brotherhood who expressed their will through the General Assembly or Rada, towards the middle of the Eighteenth century the power actually was in the hands of the Officers, among whom were many gifted and energetic leaders.

The Zaporogian camp, the Sich, was divided into thirty-eight "kurini" or houses based probably on the territorial principle, as certain names seem to indicate, such as "kurin" of Pereyaslav, of Poltava, of the Don, of Kaniv and so on. Every "kurin" represented a military community who held everything in common, board and lodging. At the head of the "kurin" stood a local otaman or leader who held considerable power, similar on a small scale to that exercised by the Koshovyi otaman. Each "kurin" in the camp possessed its own house where all the members of the "kurin" lived. The number of Cossacks belonging to a "kurin" varied, amounting sometimes to several hundred men, but they were seldom all  p489 present in the Sich, considerable numbers of them being absent as guards on the frontier and in the fortresses, others being employed in fishing expeditions.

158. Economic Position.

The whole Zaporogian territory was divided into eight districts called "palanka", being mostly named after the chief tributaries of the Dnieper below the rapids such as, Samara, Kodak, Ingul, Buhogard, Orel, Protovchanka, Kalmius and Prohnoinska. Each "palanka" (district) had its own military and administrative centre where the military officer as chief of the "palanka" lived. The land belonged to the Zaporogian Army as the supreme landlord and was let out to different people as were also the fishing, hunting and grazing grounds. Every year the distribution of lands and rivers took place among the various "kurin" (houses). Special allotments of fishing, hunting and grazing grounds were made to the Zaporogian Officers, and numerous tenants, mostly peasants.

As we have already related, the Zaporogian Cossacks, soon after their return under Russian protectorate in 1734, started colonization of their vast territories. Many Zaporogians left the Brotherhood (which was restricted to unmarried men), married, founded families and settled down on separate farms, or in established villages. Some of the older unmarried Cossacks remained members of the Brotherhood, built farms and settled down on them. Both banks of the river Samara, a tributary on the left side of the Dnieper below the rapids, were strewn with such farms where fruit growing and beekeeping especially flourished. But far more important in number were the peasant colonists who came from all parts of the Ukraine. Legal emigration from Ukrainian territories, whether under Polish or Muscovite domination, being impossible, the peasants were accustomed simply to flee from their native villages. Here, on the free Zaporogian territory they always found a hospitable welcome, for no one persecuted or exacted work from them, while taxes  p490 and duties were very light. The colonists became "subjects of the Zaporogian Cossack Army" and paid to the treasury a small tax. The harder the serf-duties became in the surrounding countries, the greater was the stream of refugees who sought better luck on the free Zaporogian lands and new settlements grew up one after another. We know about the number of the population of the Zaporogian territories first from the Rolls of the Zaporogian Cossacks who took the oath of allegiance in 1762 to the new Empress, Catherine II. The Cossacks then numbered about twenty thousand. It is impossible to tell exactly the number of peasants who settled on the Zaporogian territory as only for certain ("palanka") districts more or less reliable statistics have been preserved. But it is possible to estimate approximately the number of the peasant population as above 150,000, the total population being about 170,000.

Formerly the view prevailed in historical literature that the Zaporogian Cossacks lived according to severe communal principles and possessed no private property with the exception of clothes and arms. This view is correct about the Zaporogian Sich of the Sixteenth century and perhaps even the early Seventeenth century. But in the period with which we are here concerned the right of private property openly existed. Leaving aside the private farms where farming was certainly carried on individually, many Cossacks possessed considerable wealth in money and especially in horses and cattle. The legacies of several Cossacks have come down to us, from which documents we can see that the legislators disposed of considerable capital. Especially wealthy were their Officers. The last Koshovyi Otaman, Petro Kalnishevsky, for example, erected with his private means four churches in different places in the Ukraine. From the register of his property confiscated after the destruction of the Sich by the Russian government, it is to be seen that he possessed 50,000 roubles in cash, several hundred gold ducats, besides 639 horses, over 1,000 head of cattle and 14,000 sheep. The Zaporogian Secretary, Hloba,  p491 was in possession of about 30,000 roubles in cash, 336 horses, 889 head of cattle and over 12,000 sheep and goats. Similarly other Zaporogian Officers and also common Cossacks possessed many horses, cattle, clothing, arms and other movables. From the same document we see that Zaporogian Officers owned well-managed farms with live stock. Among the possessions of the Zaporogian Officers were found objects of daily use such as silver plate, china, etc., showing that they had habits of culture and even of refinement.

Above all other forms of farming, cattle breeding was best adapted to the natural conditions of life and was much practised. Hunting and fishing were the ancient and traditional occupations in the Zaporogian Sich. The Zaporogians carried on a regular trade with all the neighboring countries, Ukraine of the Hetmans, Russia, Crimea, Turkey, Poland and others. They exported for sale: furs, hides, wool, cattle, horses, butter, cheese, dried fish and salt, oil and wheat. They imported foreign wines, spices, brandy, and other spirits, olive oil, incense, powder, arms, cloth, cotton and silk textiles, morocco leather and other goods. Especially important was the salt trade; salt being brought from the Crimea and exported to neighboring countries. According to a document of 1767, 5,000 men lived exclusively from the salt trade. The Ukraine of the Right Bank imported from Zaporogian territories chiefly bacon, beeswax, dried and salt fish, furs, salt, cheese, cattle and horses. Customs duties were an important item of the income of the Zaporogian treasury: on the ferry of Perevolochna in 1668 alone the custom duties taken by the Zaporogian treasury amounted to 12,000 roubles. The yearly balance of trade of the Zaporogians in the Eighteenth century is estimated by historians at 800 to 835 thousand roubles. Exports were less than imports. In order to facilitate the operations of foreign traders they were given advances of capital from the Zaporogian treasury.

The well-known warlike spirit of the Zaporogian Cossacks was closely connected with their piety. Considering  p492 themselves special defenders of Christianity against the Mohammedan world, Zaporogians profoundly venerated the Orthodox religion. The Zaporogian Sich was embellished with a beauti­ful church dedicated to the Virgin Mary and richly decorated with silver, gold and precious stones. In every village on Zaporogian territory there was a church. Zaporogians had their special monastery on the river Samara and the ancient Mezhyhorski monastery near Kiev also belonged to the Zaporogian Sich, and sent priests to the church in the Sich. In the Sich there was also a school for boys with about 150 pupils, mostly relatives of Cossacks from the Ukraine. Besides the elementary teaching of the time, pupils were also taught military accomplishments "to use well the sword and to stick like a burr on horseback".

The Russian government in receiving the Zaporogian Cossacks back in 1734 under their protectorate, had promised to respect all ancient rights and traditions among them and not encroach on the territory of the "Liberties of the Zaporogian Army", but it was not long before they began to disregard this promise. Above all, these encroachments on their territory filled the last decades of the existence of the Zaporogian Sich with constant troubles and worries. At the end of the Seventeenth century the Muscovite government had much annoyed the Zaporogians by constantly wishing to build on their territory fortifications for their garrisons. After the return in 1734 a Russian fort was built quite close to the Sich under the pretext of defence against the Tatars. The Zaporogians were compelled to put up with this. In the middle of the Eighteenth century the Russian government started building new lines of fortifications on the southwestern border of the Zaporogian territory along the rivers Boh and Syniukha (Blue river). Thus in the very heart of the Zaporogian territory a line of Russian fortifications came into existence with a permanent garrison. This led to all sorts of misunderstandings and conflicts. In the meantime, other misunderstandings arose with the Don Cossacks on the eastern border. The Russian  p493 government sided with the Don Cossacks and ordered the Zaporogians to abandon their settlement on the northern shores of the Azov Sea and retreat more to the north.

159. Colonization of Zaporogian Territory by Serbs.

Still more bitter conflicts took place in connection with the Serbian colonization which the Russian government undertook in 1751. At that time Serbs of the southern provinces of Austria-Hungary began to emigrate to Russia, coming not only in considerable numbers but organized in military detachments with leaders at their head. The Russian government at first assigned to them lands along the river Syniukha, on the northwestern border of the Zaporogian territory. A fortress of St. Elizabeth was built here, later transformed into the present town of Elizabethgrad, which became the centre of the new province called New Serbia. This province was entirely cut out of territory of the Zaporogians without any preliminary understanding with its owners. A few years later a new province populated by Serbian emigrants, the so‑called Slaviano-Serbski, was founded, this time on the eastern border of the Zaporogian territory with the town Bakhmut as its centre. All Serbs received great allotments of land, were exempted from all taxation and duty, and moreover, received large subsidies. The Serbs proved to be very turbulent and unpleasant neighbors. Between them and the Zaporogian Cossacks there were constant misunderstandings leading to open armed conflicts. These conflicts very much displeased the Russian government who invariably blamed the Zaporogians.

Complaints to the Russian government against the Zaporogians also came from another quarter: the Polish government accused them of supporting the "Haidamaky" movement. It is sufficient to state here that the official Zaporogian Sich in the person of the Zaporogian Officers never supported the Haidamaky; but on the contrary seized and punished them whenever they had an opportunity  p494 of doing so. But the sympathy of the Cossacks were certainly on the side of the Haidamaky, whom they regarded as champions of the Ukrainian people against the social, national and religious oppression of the Polish government and Polish landlords. Individual Zaporogians not only gave Haidamaky all the support they could, but even joined their ranks.

160. Destruction of the Zaporogian Sich.

If we take into consideration the centralizing plans of Catherine II and her policy of redu­cing all autonomous territories within the empire to the status of ordinary provinces, we may conclude that with her accession to the Russian throne the doom of the Zaporogian Brotherhood was sealed. The very existence of a truly democratic Cossack Commonwealth with a free population taking direct part in the government of their State was too great a contrast to Russian absolutism, built on a centralistic bureaucratic system of government involving the enslavement of the masses of the peasant population to the noble land­owners. The two worlds were radically opposed and irreconcilable. The destruction of the Zaporogian Brotherhood was, however, temporarily postponed on account of the Turkish war of 1768‑74, when the Zaporogian Cossacks were very necessary to the Russian government as a military power.

The Zaporogians, indeed, took an active part in this war and rendered the Russian government very great services. They were employed against the Turks on land and on sea. In the summer of 1770 they destroyed the whole Turkish fleet at the mouth of the Danube. They played a very important part in the struggle for the fortress of Ochakov. In 1771 the Zaporogians took and destroyed Kafa (present Theodosia) where the chief slave market of the Tatars was held. In 1773‑74 the Zaporogians played an important part in the operations on the Danube. But all their military exploits could not avert the doom that awaited them. The Russian government was only waiting for the end of the war in order  p495 to put an end to the Zaporogian Brotherhood. In the spring of 1775, soon after peace had been concluded with the Turks in Kuchuk Kainardji, Russian troops returning home were ordered to concentrate about the fortress of St. Elizabeth. The main army under the General Tekely, 66,000 men strong with 50 guns, started unexpectedly for the Zaporogian Sich while a corps of 20,000, led by Prince Prozorovsky, crossed the Dnieper and occupied the "palanky" (district) on the Left Bank of the Dnieper.

The Zaporogians had already for some time felt that black clouds were gathering above their heads. In order to prevent the storm breaking Zaporogian Officers, led by the very able Otaman, Peter Kalnishevsky, adopted an ultra-loyal policy towards the Russian government. They went a long way to meet all their wishes, and tried to avoid misunderstanding. Almost every year the Zaporogians sent delegations to St. Petersburg trying to win over Catherine II and to avert the impending doom. But it was of no avail. Even the fact that the Zaporogians became fashionable at Court and in society, did not alter the situation. The Zaporogian Cossacks indeed became the mode in the literature of the time. Even abroad in foreign papers, articles were written about them and their original constitution: they were compared to the Maltese Order and admired for their war‑like spirit and so on. A number of personages in the public eye entered the Zaporogian Brotherhood as nominal members, considering it an honor to belong to the order of Ukrainian Knights. Among these members we find on one hands Potemkin, Catherine's power­ful favorite, and on the other the famous German mathematician, Euler. But all this could not save the Zaporogians: Catherine looked on them with strong personal antipathy.

On the 4th of June, 1775, Tekely appeared taking the Zaporogians by surprise and surrounded the Sich with artillery, ready to start the bombardment of the Zaporogian camp. The Cossacks were quite unprepared and a great tumult arose in the Sich. Some were ready to  p496 offer resistance which, of course, would have been quite inadequate. The prior of the Zaporogian church succeeded in persuading them not to cause unnecessary bloodshed. Some of the Zaporogians surrendered voluntarily, the rest escaped in boats down the Dnieper and sought shelter with the Turks at the mouth of the Danube. Tekely ordered the destruction of buildings of the Sich and the fortifications, and arrested the Zaporogian Officers. Catherine dealt with them with heartless and unnecessary cruelty: the Koshovyi Otaman, Kalnishevsky, was imprisoned in the solitary monastery on the isles of Solovetsky in the White Sea off Archangel, where he died, after having lingered for several years within the walls of the monastic prison, cut off from the world. The Chief Zaporogian Judge, Holovaty, and the secretary, Hloba, were exiled to Tobolsk in Siberia. The Zaporogian Sich was abolished. On the 3rd of August, 1775, Catherine II published a manifesto giving her motives for the destruction of the Zaporogian Sich, accusing the Cossacks of a hostile attitude towards a civilized agricultural life, and of lawlessness and rebellion. All these motives were far removed from truth and merely proved that Catherine felt it necessary to justify herself in some way in the eyes of the public.

The Zaporogian Cossacks who had surrendered to Tekely dispersed and settled in the villages and farms, where they were allowed to join the class of hitherto free peasants. The property of their Officers was confiscated and Zaporogian territory was distributed among Catherine's favorites. Immense landed estates were created, bringing their owners unheard of riches. Prince Viazemski received 200,000 dessiatines (about 500,000 acres); Potemkin received 150,000 dess. (about 375,000 acres); Countess Branitska 21,000 dess. (about 52,000 acres); Count Kamenski, 20,000 dess. (about 50,000 acres) and so on. Every Russian noble could obtain 1,500 dess. (about 3,750 acres) on condition he settled in a given number of years at least thirteen peasant families  p497 on this land. All who received lands were exempt from taxation for ten years.

Most of the lands were only sparsely populated. The peasants who were formerly settled on them had dispersed, fearing the introduction of serfdom. Catherine II, indeed, ordered them all to be turned into serfs, including the former Zaporogian Cossacks. Many newly created land­owners brought their serfs from the Ukraine of the Hetmans or the Russian provinces. During nine years, four and a half million dessiatines (about eleven million acres) were thus disposed of. But this exhausted only half of the immense territory taken from the Zaporogians. The Russian government then took to colonizing these lands with foreigners, chiefly Germans.

The fall of the Zaporogian Sich had a great effect on the Ukrainian popular masses. With it fell the last stronghold of freedom, where the hated serfdom was yet unknown, where the principle of elected government still held sway and where the burden of bureaucratic absolutism was not felt. That is why the fall of the Zaporogian Sich was referred to in a great number of folk songs, preserved in popular memory and sung even in quite recent times. Thus the loss of the last stronghold of Cossack freedom was bemoaned by the whole Ukrainian people.

The grief caused by the loss of Cossack liberties was further increased by the fact that serfdom was among other things introduced on the former Zaporogian lands, in striking contrast to the regime that had existed under Zaporogian rule. The Zaporogian territory, as we have said, immediately became a country of large private estates and of foreign colonization. This gave to the country a variegated and international character. Having obtained the shores of the Black Sea as a result of the Turkish wars, the Russian government tried hurriedly to consolidate its position and colonize the vast areas which divided these shores from the older provinces of the empire. All the newly annexed land under the name of New Russia (Novorossia), were given to Catherine's favorite,  p498 Potemkin, to be governed. He applied himself assiduously to his task and founded several towns such as Kherson, Nikolaev, Odessa, and Katerinoslav,​a the latter on the site of an old Zaporogian settlement on the Right Bank of the Dnieper, just above the rapids. All Potemkin's plans had a largeness amounting at times to the fantastic. The Empress gave him unlimited credit on the State Treasury and he also had at his disposal unlimited labor from the army, serfs and hired help. In spite of this, many of his projects led to nothing and enormous sums were uselessly squandered. "The villages of Potemkin", hastily thrown up on the banks of the Dnieper along the course of Catherine II's route to the Crimea, became proverbial. In his hurry to colonize the Zaporogian territories, Potemkin called foreigners in great numbers. After the Serbs, who had settled even during the existence of the Zaporogian Sich, Bulgarians came fleeing from Turkish persecutions; they were followed by Armenians, who founded the town of Grigoriopol on which the Russian government spent great sums.

A more important and considerable colonization was accomplished by Germans. A group of Mennonites of about 230 families arrived from Prussia in 1789. They received large subsidies, were freed from military service and received per family 65 dessiatines (about 160 acres) of the best land in the heart of Zaporogian territory, on the island of Khortitsa and on the Right Bank of the Dnieper. German colonization went on until the present provinces of Katerinoslav, Tauria and Kherson, were covered with a network of German colonies. By 1845 the number of German colonists in Russia had reached about 100,000. Russians, Rumanians, Greek and Jews were added to this conglomerate, though the local Ukrainian population remained in the majority.

A certain number of the former population remained in the country under the new regime. Peasants, formerly free subjects of the Zaporogian Commonwealth, and Cossacks who remained, were mostly turned into so‑called State serfs. Their lot was comparatively better: they  p499 paid taxes and were burdened with some duties but had no other lord over them. Part of the population that lived on the lands granted by Catherine II to private owners became their landlord's serfs. State peasants were the most enviable class and many refugees gradually came from neighboring provinces, even from the parts of Ukraine under Poland where serfdom was hard, to swell their numbers. The Russian authorities were glad to have the population increased and looked tolerantly on these newcomers, registering them among the State peasants. For their part the landlords also received them gladly. Here, where everything was in the early stages of organization, the serf's duties were much lighter than in the old provinces and many peasants were tempted to change their old landlords for new ones, leaving their homes and even their families and fleeing to places where there was comparatively more freedom.

Thus it was that the Russian authorities were compelled to carry out the colonization with great effort and at high costs using an enormous bureaucratic apparatus, inviting foreign colonists and giving them great privileges, whereas only shortly before, the colonization and introduction of agriculture was going on calmly and normally by the autochthonous population, who asked only to be allowed to work freely on their own land without being enslaved.

161. Emigration of Zaporogian Cossacks into Turkey.

The destruction of the Zaporogian Sich on the Dnieper was not yet the end of the Zaporogian Cossacks. About 5,000 of them slipped out of the hands of the Russian army and succeeded in escaping at the very moment when their fortified camp was being pulled down. Partly in boats, and partly by land they arrived in the Turkish town Akerman, in Bessarabia, at the mouth of the river Dniester.​b From here they sent a deputation to the Sultan, asking for his protection. He gave them the territory at the mouth of the Danube, that is, the vast delta of this river flowing into the Black Sea with numerous and considerable  p500 islands (present Dobrudja) and received them under his protectorate. The Zaporogian Cossacks secured their rights of self-government according to their old traditions. Their numbers very soon began to increase as they were followed by those of their comrades who had not escaped at once but managed somehow to do so afterwards. By the next year (1776), the Zaporogian Cossacks at the mouth of the Danube already numbered over 7,000, and their numbers increased every year, the new Sich beyond the Danube becoming the centre of attraction for all who were dissatisfied with the new regime imposed by the Russian authorities on the former Zaporogian territory. Also the more active and enterprising men among the Ukrainian peasants on both banks of the Dnieper, in the Ukraine under Polish or Russian domination, often managed to escape and join the Cossacks on the Danube, as of old when the Zaporogian Sich was beyond the rapids on the Dnieper.

This emigration of the Zaporogian Cossacks much alarmed the Russian government. Catherine II tried to recall them by issuing manifestos to them in 1779 and 1780, inviting them to return. At the same time the Russian government used diplomatic means in order to persuade the Sultan to settle them further from the Russian frontier. The Austrian government on their side invited the Zaporogians, and in consequence of this about 8,000 of them left the Danube in 1785, and settled in the Austrian province of the Banat. Under the Austrian protectorate also they retained their own organization and internal self-government. They, however, found the Austrian authorities too interfering and, leaving Austria 1811‑12, rejoined their comrades on the Danube.

162. Their Settlement on the Danube.

The Zaporogians organized their new Sich on the Danube exactly on the model of their former Sich beyond the rapids of the Dnieper. The new Sich was also formed of thirty-eight kurini or houses with the church standing in the middle of the settlement, the whole being entrenched  p501 and strongly fortified. They had their officers as formerly, having elected them from among the old Cossacks of the Dnieper. According to the old tradition, women were excluded and not allowed to enter the precincts of the Sich. Married Cossacks lived with their families outside the walls. As of old, aged Cossacks retired into monasteries. Formerly there were two Zaporogian monasteries, one on the river Samara, the other the Mezhyhorski monastery near Kiev. Now the Danubian Cossacks had their monastery on Mount Athos, dedicated to the prophet Elijah. In order to increase their numbers the Cossacks sent secret agents into the Ukraine to recruit young men.

The Cossacks' position under the protectorate of the Sultan was, however, hard and trying. The Turks often used them in wars with Russia, and the Russian government as we shall presently see, after having destroyed the Zaporogian Sich, very soon started to form new Cossack organizations. Thus the Danubian Cossacks were often compelled to fight against their countrymen. Besides, the Russian authorities constantly carried on propaganda among them, sending their agents into the Danubian Sich to persuade the Cossacks to return to Russia and promising them all sorts of advantages. On the other hand, the Turks often used the Cossacks to put down the revolts of their Christian subjects such as Serbs or Greeks. Taking part in these operations against Christians as well as fighting against their countrymen in the Russian army fell very hard on the Cossacks.

163. Return to Russia.

When, in 1827, relations between Russia and Turkey were strained to such a pitch that both sides were prepared for war, the Russian government increased their propaganda among the Danubian Cossacks to effect their return to Russia, and the Koshovyi Otaman of 1827, Hladky, let himself be persuaded. The Turko-Russian war broke out in 1828 and the Russian army, with Tsar Nicholas I, came to the Danube. Hladky then proposed  p502 that the whole Brotherhood should join the Russians but met with only partial success, a considerable section of the Cossacks refusing to hear of returning to Russia. In the meantime the Sultan ordered them to mobilize and join his forces which were gathering in Silistria against Russia. Hladky was compelled to take his risks and to act. He brought to Silistria part of the Cossacks, mostly from those who wished to remain in Turkey, and declared to the Vizier that he must return to the Sich and fetch the rest. Instead of this, having returned, he took the insignia of the Brotherhood, their flags and treasury and together with the remaining Cossacks went over to the Russians. The Russian army was at that moment trying to cross the Danube. Koshovyi Hladky and his Cossacks, who knew the locality very well, showed them safe fords where the Russian army could quietly cross the river without being noticed by the Turks and Hladky himself even conducted the crossing. This was a very important service and the Tsar rewarded him and all his Cossacks for it.

But the Cossacks who remained in Silistria on the Turkish side fell victims of the Turkish vengeance: all those whom Hladky had left in Silistria were thrown into prison; the Sich on the Danube was burned down and those who were found there were mercilessly killed. All the Ukrainian population who lived under the protection of the Cossacks were massacred. After the war Cossack prisoners in Adrianopol were released and allowed to return to the Danube, but only as private simple fishermen. Their descendants are living to this day at the mouth of the Danube in present Dobrudja.

164. Cossack Army of Azov.

The Cossacks who returned to Russia with Hladky were formed into an army, the so‑called "Cossack Army of Azov". They received lands for settlement on the northern shores of the Azov Sea. In 1865 this Cossack Army was transferred to the river Kuban and incorporated into the Kuban Cossacks.

 p503  Even before the Cossacks who emigrated to the Danube had returned under Russian power, the Russian government renewed the Cossack organizations of the Zaporogian type, though with a very limited self-government. Having destroyed the Zaporogian Sich, the Russian authorities soon understood that their action had been precipitous and ill advised. The struggle with the Turks for the possession of the shores of the Black Sea was far from completed and the southern borders of the Russian Empire required defence. The existing regular army was inadequate, but to support an increased army on the frontier was too costly. On the other hand the existence of the Cossack Sich beyond the Danube necessitated the organization of a counter attraction for the Ukrainian population.

In 1784 a number of former Zaporogians were allowed to start a new Cossack organization under the name of the "Cossack Army of the Boh" and they received lands between the river of that name (Boh) and the Dniester. During the war against the Turks of 1791, this new Cossack formation was used especially at the siege and capture of the Turkish fortress Ochakov. In the same war Danubian Cossacks were fighting on the side of the Turks against the Russian army. Potemkin took great care of this new Cossack army and adopted the quite fantastic title of "The Great Hetman of Boh Cossacks". After his death in 1791, their position became precarious. It was then that the leader of the Boh Cossacks, Colonel Anton Holovaty, solicited from Catherine II and received the territory of the river Kuban, between the Black and the Azov Seas, at the foot of the Caucasus mountains, newly conquered from the Turks. The country was almost unpopulated and required to be defended from warlike Caucasian hillmen. The Cossacks were transferred there and settled around a newly founded town called Katerinodar, on the river Kuban.

After a certain period of unsettlement and even open discontent and conflicts with the Russian authorities, the former Zaporogian Cossacks settled down to a life which  p504 differed much from the old traditions and secular customs of the Zaporogian Brotherhood in the Sich. The Cossacks now lived on individual farms, they were married and had families; their time was divided between peaceful agriculture and military operations against Caucasian hillmen. The villages founded by the Cossacks were called "stanytsi" and in remembrance of old times received the historical names of former "kurini" or the houses in the Sich beyond the rapids on the Dnieper. All the remnants of the former Zaporogian Cossacks were gradually concentrated here by the Russian government, and in addition two regiments of former Registered Cossacks in the Ukraine of the Hetmans disbanded in 1822, were also transferred here. The country was becoming more and more populated. In 1832 several thousand young Ukrainian women were compulsorily brought here from the Ukraine of the Hetmans to marry the bachelors among the Cossacks and so increase the number of families, women being scarce in the Kuban country. Peasant refugees also came in considerable numbers from different parts of the Ukraine. They were allowed to settle freely as agriculturists but were not accorded the rights and privileges that the Cossacks enjoyed.

The former rights of self-government and autonomy of the Zaporogian Cossacks were, however, soon very much curtailed. Instead of an elected leader and a staff of officers, they were put under the orders of Russian generals nominated by the government, the Cossack Council and other remnants of their previous organization now having a purely nominal or ornamental significance.

165. Cossacks of the Chornomore (Black Sea) or Kuban Cossacks.

The chief activity of these Cossacks — they received at first the name of "Chornomorski" (Black Sea) Cossacks — was interrupted fighting against the warlike tribes of Caucasian Hillmen who, after the main conquest of the Caucasus, remained for some time unsubdued.  p505 This warfare demanded different methods and ways from those used by former Zaporogians. The Black Sea Cossacks were compelled to adapt themselves to the new conditions and surroundings of military activity which, together with different geographical and climatic conditions, produced a new and somewhat different type. After the final conquest of the Caucasus, the life of the Cossacks became a peaceful one: they had to perform military service in the Russian army analogous to that of the Cossacks of Muscovite origin such as Don and Ural Cossacks. In 1864 they received the name of Kuban Cossacks instead of former Black Sea Cossacks. Having been settled on very fertile soil and under favorable climatic conditions the Kuban Cossacks became a prosperous and even a wealthy community. They fully preserved the Ukrainian national characteristics: the ethnical type and the language, but separated from the main part of the Ukraine and from the chief Ukrainian centres, they did not play any important part in the Ukrainian national revival of the Nineteenth and Twentieth centuries, until the revolution of 1917 and subsequent events.

All these branches of the Ukrainian Cossacks who originated in the Zaporogian Brotherhood are especially interesting to students of Ukrainian history as original manifestations of the Ukrainian national character. They have their roots deep in the Ukrainian people. In the forms of their organization, their ways of life and their methods of meeting life's exigencies, they are true to the Ukrainian type. In them we may see the ideal which Ukrainians had created of social and political life. This ideal of democratic self-government came, as we have seen, into conflict with the Muscovite-Russian State, built on principles quite contrary to those of which the Ukrainian people dreamed and for which they struggled. Muscovite bureaucracy and centralistic absolutism emerged victorious in the struggle. The Ukrainian Cossacks succumbed to the Muscovite-Russian State conception. In part they fell and disappeared in the strife and in part were compelled to adapt themselves to Russian  p506 ideas, enter Russian service and completely transform their traditional organization. Such was the case of the Kuban Cossacks.

The Zaporogian Cossacks and their direct descendants interest us also from another point of view: all these Cossacks whether on the Dnieper, the Danube, or on the Kuban, were pioneers of the Ukrainian colonization which steadily advanced to the shores of the Black Sea. In spite of all hindrances in the form of the foreign artificial colonization, started by the Russian government, Ukrainians advanced in a natural way and occupied the littoral and the areas lying between the Black and the Azov Seas and the old Ukrainian provinces. Finally, all the efforts of the Russian government in the way of artificial colonization merely followed the trail and continued, though not always skilfully and wisely, the work begun by the Zaporogians, the pioneers of Ukrainian colonization. In spite of everything the final result was almost the same: the Ukrainian population advanced close to the shores of the Black and the Azov Seas and surrounded them with a tight wide belt from the mouth of the Danube to the mouth of the Kuban river extending eastwards to the Caucasus mountain chain.

Thayer's Notes:

a Today: Kherson, Mykolaiv, Odesa — and Dnipro. Catherine is about as well liked in Ukraine as the dictators Stalin and Putin, for much the same reasons.

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b Now Bilhorod(-Dnistrovsky), at the farthest western edge of Ukraine's Black Sea shore.

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Page updated: 30 May 22