Cossacks (ETW Unit)
Cossacks are a free warrior people, fine horsemen and terrible foes, from the steppes of Russia and Asia.
These soldiers carry muzzle-loading, smooth-bore muskets firing lead balls as wide as a man’s thumb. These are inaccurate weapons, effective only over 200 paces or so and when fired in massed volleys. The ability to fire and reload with machine-like regularity with shot and bullet flying and comrades falling all around is what wins battles.
They are organised into large hosts, each under the leadership of an ataman, or chief. Within each host, smaller Cossack bands fight as separate units. Traditionally, Cossacks are cavalrymen without peer, as might be expected of a steppe people, but they are equally adept at fighting on foot. They are personally brave, even headstrong, in the presence of enemies, something that can make them too eager to get into the fight.
Historically, Russians and other Eastern Europeans have had an ambiguous relationship with the Cossacks. There is admiration for their fighting qualities, yet a certain wariness of their wild nature. This has not stopped them being used as irregular troops by many nations. Even as late as the Second World War entire Cossack divisions were used by the Soviet Army, and then by the Germans who invaded Russia. Those Cossacks who served with the Germans (there were Cossack Waffen-SS divisions) were either killed in combat or captured and sent to die in labour camps.