Russian Uniforms in the Battle of Narva
Peter the Great is credited for
modernising the Russian army along the model of western armies. However, at
the time of the battle of Narva the Russian army still looked like an
eastern army. Western style uniforms would not begin to be issued until 1702.
So during the first years of the Great Northern War the Russian army was
still dressed in traditional kaftans of Hungarian cut. A visual impression
of how the Russian army looked like in the battle of Narva is given on this
page. Unfortunately I do not have uniform information or even the names of
the participating cavalry regiments. But for the infantry this type of
information can be found in
Lars-Eric Höglund's book about Russian uniforms which I have used here as
well as the work by the Swedish General Staff "Karl XII på slagfältet"
which contain a Russian order of battle for Narva.
I have after my best ability
tried to identify the regiments which the General Staff mention with those
that can be found in Höglund's book. I have with the exception of the two
guard regiments written with green text which
name the regiments have in Höglund's book and if such text is missing then
they are not included in his book. Höglund mention on the other hand several
regiments as participating in the battle of Narva even though they are not
included in the order of battle found in the work by the General staff.
The names of these regiments are included at the bottom of this page. A big
question mark also surrounds
Gordon's regiment which according to the General Staff fought in the left
wing (and was the only regiment with that name). But according to Höglund
two regiments commanded by a Gordon at the time of Narva (Butyrski and
Astrachanski) and both took part in the battle. I have chosen to illustrate
the mysterious Gordon's Regiment with Butyrski's red kaftan. Astrachanski's
uniform is unknown for this time but it had green coats with red facings in 1711.
There is unfortunately not much
information about the Russian uniforms in the battle of Narva and usually
only the colour of the kaftan is mentioned I have in those cases where such
information is missing completely chose to illustrate them with the same
colours they had later when they were issued western style uniforms. It does
appear, with a few exceptions, as if the regiments kept their old colour
when they changed from Hungarian kaftans to Western coats. But either way
these highly speculative uniforms have been depicted with a
The colours of the lace on the
front of the kaftan are in all cases wild guesses from my side. The known
Streltsy uniforms mentioned by Höglund only have red or black lace. I have
therefore chosen red lace if the regiments Western style uniforms had red
facings or black lace if the facings were of a different colour. The colours
of the boots are also in all cases unknown. Judging by the known Streltsy
uniforms, yellow appear to have been the by far most common colour. Red and green
boots could also be found but only in combination with yellow or orange kaftans.
Among the Streltsy and
apparently also among the Western regiments, the by far most frequent colour
on the caps was red (raspberry red or cherry red). But dark grey, dark
green, green and brown could also be found. There was no correlation between
the colour of the cap and the kaftan, not even between the two shades of red
(for example 12th Moscow Streltsy had raspberry red caps but cherry red
The part of the Russian army which participated in the battle of Narva
32 971 men. Apart from these there
were also 4 000 men in Narva's
siege works who defended themselves from an attack by Narva's garrison. The
General Staff consider it probable that the following regiments were among
them manning the siege works:
Narva's Siege Works
(Streltsy Regiment from Pskov)
But for the sum to come up to 4 000 the General Staff assumes that 1 582 men had
been detached from the regiments facing the Swedish main army. Lars-Eric Höglund
states however in his book that apart from the already mentioned an
additional six Russian (Streltsy) regiments took part in the battle of Narva.
That is: D. Zagoskin (from Pskov)
a well as M. Bashnev and F. Bashnev (both from Novgorod). Also present were 9th
Moscow Streltsys led by Buturin as well as V. Elchaninov and I Durov (both
descended from Moscow Streltsys).
Read also about the
Swedish uniforms or
the Swedish order of battle.