Regimental system

Regimental system. (Map: Regiments.) The administrative, territorial, military, and judicial structure of the 17th- to 18th-century Hetman state and Slobidska Ukraine. Under Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky there were initially 22 regiments, which were named after towns where their headquarters were located. Their colonels and other officers (Cossack starshyna) had jurisdiction over both the Cossacks and the civilian population in their territories. The colonels belonged to the hetman's Council of Officers. Before 1648 they had been appointed by the Polish government. Hetman Khmelnytsky, however, frequently appointed colonels personally. From the hetmancy of Ivan Samoilovych to that of Ivan Mazepa they were elected by a regimental council in the presence of the hetman's representatives, who greatly influenced the choice of candidate. The hetman confirmed all appointments after the consent of the Council of Officers. The election of colonels persisted longest in the southern Hetmanate (in Poltava regiment). After 1709 Peter I and other Russian tsars appointed or dismissed colonels by fiat, and often chose Russians, Moldavians, Serbs, and other foreigners. Hetman Danylo Apostol's government had the right only to recommend candidates to the tsar.

The regimental colonel was assisted by his senior staff, which included a quartermaster, a justice, a chancellor, one or two osauls, and one or two flag-bearers. A regimental council of officers served as an advisory body to the colonel. The regimental chancellery was initially only a secretarial apparatus, but in the 18th century it served as a collegial administrative body that included the colonel and other regimental officers. The regimental court settled criminal and some civil cases in the territory of the regiment. It was presided over by the regimental judge except in grave criminal cases, when the colonel himself took over. The regiments were divided into companies commanded by captains. Chernihiv regiment had the fewest companies (7), and Bratslav regiment, the most (22). (See also Company system.)

From 1650 to 1653 there were 17 regiments in the Hetman state. Ten were in Right-Bank Ukraine: Bratslav regiment, Bila Tserkva regiment, Cherkasy regiment, Chyhyryn regiment, Kaniv regiment, Vinnytsia regiment (aka Kalnyk regiment), Kyiv regiment, Korsun regiment, Pavoloch regiment, and Uman regiment. Cherkasy regiment, Chyhyryn regiment, Kaniv regiment, and Kyiv regiment also had adjacent territories in Left-Bank Ukraine. Seven regiments were in the Left Bank: Chernihiv regiment, Kropyvna regiment (divided between Lubny regiment and Pereiaslav regiment in 1658), Myrhorod regiment, Nizhyn regiment, Pereiaslav regiment, Poltava regiment, and Pryluky regiment.

In the 1670s and 1680s the Right-Bank regiments collapsed after Polish rule in the region was restored. From the 1680s Col Semen Palii of Fastiv ruled the territory of the lapsed Bila Tserkva regiment. In 1702 he restored the regiments of Bila Tserkva (the new headquarters of the Right-Bank Cossacks), Bohuslav, Bratslav, and Korsun. In 1704 they were supplemented by new Chyhyryn regiment, Mohyliv-Podilskyi regiment, and Uman regiment. The seven regiments were active until 1712, when, in accordance with a Russo-Polish treaty, many of their Cossacks were transferred to the Left Bank.

In the Left-Bank Hetman state three new regiments, Lubny regiment, Hadiach regiment, and Starodub regiment, were formed in the late 1650s and early 1660s, and the total was thereby brought to 10. The regimental system survived there until the tsarist abolition of the Hetman state in the 1780s. It was replaced by Russian administrative-territorial vicegerencies and courts and 10 regiments of Russian light (after 1784, carabineer) cavalry known as the Little Russian Cavalry.

In Russian-ruled Slobidska Ukraine five autonomous Cossack regimentsIzium regiment, Kharkiv regiment, Okhtyrka regiment, Ostrohozk regiment (aka Rybinsk regiment), and Sumy regiment—were created in the 1650s. They were subordinated to the Russian military governor of Belgorod and the Razriadnyi prikaz in Moscow, and in 1765 they were abolished and transformed into five Russian hussar regiments.

Altogether there were 51 Cossack regiments in 17th- and 18th-century Ukraine: the Belarusian regiment (aka Chavusy and Mahiliou, 1654–9), Bila Tserkva regiment (1648–74, 1702–12), Bohuslav regiment (1685–1712), Borzna regiment (1648–9, 1654–5), Brahin regiment (1648–9), Bratslav regiment (1648–85, 1690–1712), Chechelnyk regiment (1650, 1673), Cherkasy regiment (1648–76), Chernihiv regiment (1648–1783), Chornobyl regiment (1649, 1651), Chyhyryn regiment (1648–83, 1704–11), Hadiach regiment (1648–9, 1672–1782), Ichnia regiment (1648–9), Irkliiv regiment (1648–9, 1658–63), Izium regiment (1685–1765), Hlukhiv regiment (1663–5), Kaniv regiment (1648–78), Kharkiv regiment (1659–1765), Fastiv regiment (1651, 1685–1702), Kyiv regiment (1648–1782), Korsun regiment (1648–1712), Kremenchuk regiment (1661–3), Kropyvna regiment (1649–58), Lubny regiment (1648–9, 1658–1782), Lysianka regiment (1648–9, 1657–9, 1664–6, 1674), Mohyliv-Podilskyi regiment (1648–9, 1656–76), Myrhorod regiment (1648–1782), Nizhyn regiment (1648–1782), Novhorod-Siverskyi regiment (1653–4, 1668), Okhtyrka regiment (1655–1765), Ostrohozk regiment (1652–1765), Ovruch regiment (1648–9, 1657–66), Pavoloch regiment (1650 to ca 1674), Pereiaslav regiment (1648–1782), Poltava regiment (1648–1775), Pryluky regiment (1648–1782), Sosnytsia regiment (1648–9, 1663–8), Starodub regiment (1663–1782), Sumy regiment (1648–1765), Torhovytsia regiment (1664–76), Pynsk-Turiv regiment (1657–9), Uman regiment (1648–86, 1704–12), (1648–9, 1657–8), Ladyzhyn regiment, Mliiv regiment, Dymer regiment, Medvedyn regiment, and Kamianets-Podilskyi regiment (dates of the last four are unavailable).

Slabchenko, M.D. Malorusskii polk v administrativnom otnoshenii (Odesa 1909)
Diadychenko, V. Narysy suspil’no-politychnoho ustroiu Livoberezhnoï Ukraïny kintsia XVII–pochatku XVIII st. (Kyiv 1959)
Gajecky, G. The Cossack Administration of the Hetmanate, 2 vols (Cambridge, Mass 1978)

Arkadii Zhukovsky

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 4 (1993).]

List of related links from Encyclopedia of Ukraine pointing to Regimental system entry:

A referral to this page is found in 52 entries.