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Czarist Army - 1900

By 1900 the lowest estimate which could be made of the peace strength of the Bussian army put the number of officers at 36,000, and of the rank and file at 860,000 men ; the total number being 896,000. In war the total strength was approximately 63,000 officers and 3,440,000 men ; total, 3,500,000.

The infantry and rifles were armed with the new small-bore rifle (3 lines), with a magazine of five cartridges ; the dragoons have a similar rifle taking the same cartridges. The active field and mountain artillery had steel breechloaders of four patterns : heavy, with an extreme range of 4,150 yards ; light, range 4,480 yards ; light (pattern of 1892), range 4,480 yards; and mountain, range 4,700 yards. The wedge gun of the regular horse artillery took the same ammunition as that of the light batteries. The howitzers, used for shell and shrapnel, had a maximum range of 3,600 yards.

Since January 13, 1874, military service had been rendered obligatory for all men from their 21st year. With the modifications introduced in that law on October 30, 1876, and June 26, 1888, military service is organised as follows :-Out of about 870,000 young men reaching every year their 21st year, about 275,000 are taken into the active army, and the remainder are inscribed partly in the reserve and partly in the 2nd reserve, or ' Zapas.' The period of service is, in European Russia, five years in the active army (in reality reduced by furloughs to 4 years), 13 years in the reserve, and 5 years in the ' Zapas;' 7 years in active Army and 6 years in the reserve in the Asiatic dominions ; and 3 years in the active army and 15 years in the reserve in Caucasia. In case of need the Minister of War has the right of keeping the men for another six months under the colors. Certain privileges are granted on account of education, and clergymen were exempt, as also doctors and teachers.

In 1896, of the 987,917 young men liable to military service (of whom 50,641 Jews and 26,382 Mussulmans), 30,585 (7,736 Jews) did not appear ; 77,542 were found too weak for military service; 212,209 inscribed in the first part of the militia, and 275,247 (15,831 Jews) were taken into the army, besides 3,394 Caucasian natives, out of 26,228 liable to service. The contingent for 1896 was 274,650 men, besides 2,750 Caucasians. The men inscribed in the reserve troops are convoked for drill six weeks twice a year.

The 'Opoltchenie,' formerly a simple militia, was reorganised in 1888 and 1891 (April 27th), and the duration of the service prolonged to 43 years instead of 40, for the soldiers, and from 50 to 55 for the officers. It was divided into two parts. The first part (peroyi razryad) had the character of reserve troops, and includes all those who have passed through active service, as also those who have not been taken into the active army, though able-bodied. It is intended chiefly to complete the active troops in time of war, and enables Russia to call out, in case of need, 19 classes of drilled conscripts. ' Cadres' having been formed in the 'Opoltchenie,' the men called out in case of war will find ready battalions, squadrons, &c., wherein to enter, and these parts will be provided with artillery. Drilling of some parts of the militia has been introduced. The second part, or vtoroi razryad (including all able-bodied men who have served in the first division, as also those liberated from service as not fully able-bodied, or being single workers in their families), can be called out only by an Imperial manifesto, and only for organising corps of militia.

The Cossacks, who constituted 11 separate voiskos (Don, Kuban, Terek, Astrakhan, Orenburg, Ural, Siberia, Semiryetchensk, Transbaikalia, Amur, and Usuri-the latter erected to a separate voisko in 1889), are divided into three classes : the first in active service; the second on furlough with their arms and horses ; and the third with arms but without horses. Each voisko is bound to equip, clothe, and arm its soldiers. Part of the Cossack cavalry is incorporated in the field troops, together with regular cavalry. The obligations of each voisko are regulated by separate laws. The indigenous troops, which number in time of peace 23 squadrons and 2 companies, are organised from Caucasians.

By the law of December 18, 1878, which came into force on January 1, 1881, personal military service is declared obligatory in Finland. The Finnish troops form 9 battalions of riflemen, each with 18 officers and 505 men, and number in all 4,833 and 1 regiment of dragoons. In 1886 obligatory military service was extended to the natives of the Caucasus, but, according to the law of June 9, 1887, the Mussulman population of Caucasia has had a tax imposed of 528,000 roubles, to be paid from January 1, 1890, instead of military service.

By a law, May 15, 1891, a new rank of subaltern officers, nominated in case of war out of sub-officers not entitled by education to the grade of officers (sauryad-praporschiki), as well as of clerks of the same kind in the military administration (zauryad-tchinovniki), has been introduced. They are intended to fill the several thousands of places of both officers and officials which would be vacant in case of mobilisation.

During the year 1892 new measures have been taken for the speedier formation of the militia in case of war ; standing 'cadres' are to be formed, and a new (3rd) ' mortar regiment' has been formed on the western frontier. In the ten governments of Poland, all men of the militia (opolcheuiye) who have passed through the army will be ready to be mobilised at the same time as the army itself.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 15:47:11 ZULU