Title: The Wild West Troupe at Windsor | The Cossacks at Earl's Court

Periodical: The Queen

Date: July 2, 1892

More metadata







THE QUEEN AND COURT witnessed last Saturday a performance given in the Home Park of Windsor Castle, opposite the East Terrace, by Col. Cody's troupe. An oval hippodrome, surrounded by hurdles, was formed upon the lawn, on the picturesque spot once known as the Princes' Recreation Ground. The Royal pavilion, which was tastefully arranged with crimson drapery, palms and flowering plants being arranged about its sides, faced the arena, of which it commanded an excellent view. Within, chairs had been placed for the Queen and the members of the Royal family and Her Majesty's guests. The ladies and gentlemen connected with the Court were also spectators, and the palace and park servants were allowed to assemble on the parapet to the south of the pavilion. The programme included all the special feats of the Cossacks, Gauchos, American cowboys, Red Indians, and Mexicans, the entertainment concluding shortly before six o'clock with a general salute to the Queen by all sections of the horsemen. Col. Cody, before leaving the castle, was introduced by Sir Henry Ponsonby to the Queen, who told him she had been extremely gratified with the marvellous horsemanship exhibited by his troupe, and that the performance was excellent in every way.


THE COSSACKS who at present are entertaining the public at Earl's Court by their marvellous and graceful feats of horsemanship form an integral part of the congress of the horsemen of the world which Col. Cody intends to assemble at the Chicago Fair. They are a troop of Caucasian or Kuban Cossacks, under the command of Prince Ivan Makharadze, and belong to the section of the Russian irregular cavalry that has long enjoyed the reputation of being the flower amongst the many Cossack military colonies which have been established in the basin of the Don and all along the southern border of Russia, where they form a military cordon from the Black Sea nearly to the Sea of Okhotsk, protecting the empire against the Circassian and Tartar tribes, the Mongols and Chinese. The war strength of the whole Cossack army amounts to 186,341 men, the Kuban Cossacks alone numbering 34,017 men.

For many years the Cossacks of the Caucasian line were engaged in perpetual border warfare with the Circassian tribes. Their fighting was a series of little cavalry combats, surprises, and raids, similar to the American Indian frontier wars, the finest school for the development of military horsemanship in the world. During the heroic struggle of the Circassian mountaineers to maintain their independence against Russia, the Kuban Cossacks were found to be the only ones sufficiently skilful to cope with Schamyl's mountain horsemen on equal terms. The Don Cossacks were lancers, and the Circassians quickly learned to dodge within their guard and cut them down, they being among the most expert swordsmen in the world. But the Kuban Cossacks were equally expert with the sword, and so in the matter of arms, as of horsemanship, met the enemy on equal terms.

Circassian blood plainly shows in the Cossacks of the Buffalo Bill Wild West arena. Indeed, some of them look the Circassian, even more than the Cossack. The infusion of Circassian, Georgian, and Mingrelian blood began with the stirring drama of strife and romance in the days of Schamyl. Part of the policy of Russia was the suppression of the trade in Circassian girls for the harems of Turkey, then carried on in small Turkish vessels in the Black Sea. A Cossack coastguard service was organised, consisting of fleets of rowboats concealed in the creeks and inlets of the Caucasian coast, whence they could pounce out on the slave ships. The vessels usually contained from forty to fifty Circassian, Georgian, and Mingrelian slave-girls, selected for the harems of the Sultan and the wealthy Pashas of Constantinople. The slaves thus captured were given to the Cossacks of the Kuban for wives; hence the sons and daughters of Schamyl's fierce opponents are as much Circassian as Cossack.

Title: The Wild West Troupe at Windsor | The Cossacks at Earl's Court

Periodical: The Queen

Source: McCracken Research Library, Buffalo Bill Center of the West, William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody Collection, MS6, MS6.3778.071.2.01 (1892 London)

Date: July 2, 1892

Topics: Buffalo Bill's Wild West in Britain

Keywords: American Indians Cavalry Circassians Command performances Cossacks Courts and courtiers Cowboys Exhibitions Gauchos Georgians (South Caucasians) Horsemanship Horsemen and horsewomen Indians of North America Mexicans Scrapbooks Tatars Traveling exhibitions Windsor Castle World's Columbian Exposition (1893 : Chicago, Ill.)

People: Victoria, Queen of Great Britain, 1819-1901

Places: Earl's Court (London, England) Kuban River (Georgia and Russia) London (England) Russia

Sponsor: This project is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Geraldine W. & Robert J. Dellenback Foundation.

Editorial Statement | Conditions of Use

TEI encoded XML: View wfc.nsp12473.xml

Back to top