At the very end of the 1930s, the first settlers reached the distant Trans-Baikal lands. These were the Yenisei and other Siberian Cossacks. They carried out reconnaissance of the routes from Pre-Baikal to the banks of the Amur River, searched for silver mines, and also established contacts with local natives. Therefore, wintering and ostrogi gradually began to appear on that territory.
Ataman Peter Ivanovich Beketov became one of the main pioneers. He founded Yakutsk, Nerchinsk and Chita. By and large, Beketov continued the work begun by Yenaley Bakhteyarov, Vasily Poyarkov and Yerofey Khabarov.
The Chita ostrog founded by Pyotr Ivanovich soon became the capital of the entire disparate Trans-Baikal Cossack army. From there, the Russian pioneers went to far, still unexplored lands.
It is interesting that the border Cossack army was formed only in the second half of the 18th century. Soon, to strengthen it, the Buryat regiments were specially created. The fact is that at that time there was no official border with Mongolia as such. The threat from the Manchurian lands constantly emanated. All these factors required the presence of a full-fledged and strong army in Transbaikalia, capable, if necessary, of repelling the enemy. Therefore, in addition to the Buryat regiments began the formation and Tungus.
Trans-Baikal Cossack Host in the First World War
By 1764, the Buryat Cossacks numbered less than two and a half thousand people (they served in 6 regiments). The number of Tungus was much more modest - only five hundred.
Curiously, the Russian Cossacks were Orthodox, and most of the Buryats professed Buddhism. But there were no disagreements and clashes on religious grounds.
By the beginning of the 19th century, a network of Cossack ostrokes spread across the eastern border, which covered the so-called “gatehouses”. Simply put, observation towers, on which several Cossacks were on duty 24 hours a day. Periodically, several detachments were sent to explore the border areas, the number of which ranged from 25 to 100 people.
Given the length of the border, the number of Cossacks was not enough. Therefore, in the 10–20s of the 19th century, other Cossacks and simply “walking” people from neighboring territories began to relocate to the border forts. Accordingly, the number of Trans-Baikal Cossacks has increased dramatically.
Officially, it appeared only in the middle of March 1851 by order of Emperor Nicholas I. The recommendation of the Governor-General of Eastern Siberia Nikolai Nikolayevich Muraviev-Amursky pushed him to this. Thus, a strong and, importantly, mobile army appeared on the Trans-Baikal land. He was assigned an important and difficult task - to serve on the border with China.
The number of troops exceeded 48 thousand people. True, more than half of the soldiers were Gornozavodsk peasants. They began service at the age of 17, and resigned at 58. In 1866 the service life was reduced to 22 years.
Not a single conflict of the Russian empire of that time did not go without the participation of the Trans-Baikal Cossacks in it. So, for example, they suppressed the Ihetuan uprising (1899-1901) in China and reached Beijing. Then they fought with the Japanese in 1904-1905 under Mukden and at Port Arthur. It was possible for them to "inherit" in the First World War.
Transbaikalian Cossacks in dark green uniforms with yellow stripes knew and feared. Especially, residents of Manchuria and Japan. During the war, samurai refused to fight with the Cossacks even with a large margin of strength in their favor.
By the time of the civil war, the Trans-Baikal Cossacks were a serious force. It united 12 villages, about 70 farms and 15 settlements, where about 260 thousand people lived. And on the permanent military service there were about 15 thousand soldiers.
Like most Cossacks in the Civil War, the Transbaikalian did not betray the tsar and fought on his side. Ataman Grigory Mikhailovich Semenov and Baron Roman Fedorovich (Robert-Nikolay-Maximilian) Ungern-Sternberg became the leaders of the resistance. But some, of course, supported the Reds.
When it became known that the monarchy was overthrown, in March 1917 the First Congress of the Trans-Baikal Cossack Army took place in Chita. It was decided to "turn" the Cossacks into ordinary citizens, and the Cossacks themselves simply to eliminate. Most of this initiative did not support. The struggle for the preservation of the Cossacks. But she was not crowned with success. In 1920, already in Soviet Russia, the Trans-Baikal Cossacks (like other Cossack troops) were abolished.
The Cossacks who disagreed with these decisions, together with their families, moved to Manchuria, which was well known to them, and built their villages there. Others emigrated to Australia, and still others to the USA and Canada.
Monument to the founder of Cheeta Beketov, Peter Ivanovich
Some Cossacks ventured to return to their homeland only in the 60s of the last century. They were settled in Kazakhstan.
... Several years ago, in the former capital of the Trans-Baikal Cossacks - Chita, they opened a monument to Peter Beketov. This monument is a reminder for posterity - the territory of our country was multiplied thanks to the courage and heroism of the Siberian Cossacks.