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 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 both Lars-Eric Höglund and Alexander Bespalov's book
"Stora Nordiska kriget 1700-1721, III"
and Boris Megorsky's book "The Russian Army in the Northern War 1700-21". Since these books contradict each other, I have chosen to consistently follow
Megorsky on this page since his book is the most recent (2018). Only when Megorsky
does not have information on a regiment have I used Höglund/Bespalov and
those regiment have
I have added information about the regiment's colours (flags) in
red text if these are known, The colour of the
flags might be a clue to what colours their coats had.
The order of battle on this
page is taken from the work by the Swedish General Staff "Karl XII på
slagfältet". I have after my best ability tried to identify the regiments
which the General Staff mention with those that can be found in the uniform
books. I have with the exception of the two
guard regiments written with green text which
provincial name the regiments would later have and if such text is missing then
I have not been able to identify them (perhaps these regiments did not survive
the battle. However, Höglund/Bespalov mention 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 there were two regiments
commanded by a Gordon at the time of Narva (Butyrski with red kaftans and
Astrachanski with green kaftans) and according to Höglund/Bespalov both took part in the
The colours of the lace on the
front of the kaftan are in all cases wild guesses from my side (with the possible
exception of Troitski which had a kaftan with dark green facings). The known Streltsy uniforms mentioned by Höglund/Bespalov only have red or black lace. I have
therefore consistently chosen red lace for all unknown cases except when the kaftan was red in which case they are depicted with black lace.
But it is also possible that they did not have that type of lace and instead
decorated the seams of the kaftan.
of the boots are also in all cases, except for the Preobrazhenski Guard, unknown
(the blue boots of the Semenovski Guard comes from Höglund/Bespalov who
mention that Preobrazhenski had green).
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 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
kaftans). On this page I have consistenly chosen to depict all regiments with red caps
which was also the colour used by the Preobrazhenski Guard.
Finally I can also mention that
while all regiments below are depicted as armed with swords, that was
actually unusual among infantry at the time of the battle of Narva.
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).
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