Cossack officer
Public DomainCossack officer
Cossacks were military officers in the Ukraine and Russia, dating at least as far back as the 15th century. Though somewhat independent of the regular Russian military, they functioned as a sort of elite mercenary force, and by the 18th century served primarily as guards at national and internal ethnic borders.

The image of Cossacks has been a mixture of freedom and resistance to external authority versus a symbol of oppression, particularly in suppressing popular uprisings and assaults against Jews.

The Cossack officer at right was photographed at Orenberg early in the 20th century.