The Cossack Women

It is odd that when we talk about the Cossacks, very little, or rather, almost nothing is said of the Cossack Mothers. The Cossack females have been the long image of the Cossack life, entrusted the primary responsibility for the well being of the Cossack family.

Often, Cossack history speaks of the courageous, and fearless Cossacks, however, it would be important to note that the Cosack Ethnicity would not be possible without the Cossack women.

She would stand up with dignity, and when need be, she would protect the children, the village, or town with a weapon in her hands. The Cossack female enjoyed the attention as well as the respect given to her among the men. According to the writer Potto, “ Women, eternal toiler in peacetime, and in moments of danger a fighter, the same as her father, husband, or son. Some people are skeptical, saying there is no Cossack female in history who dared to pick up a weapon and defend herself, and her village from threats. In fact, most would argue that the females place was only in the kitchen, and by the side of her husband. However, to such a statement would be ignoring the customs of the Cossack female.
Historical research provides us with many examples of Cossack women who not only get in the way of the enemies, but managed to fight even better than some men. If the Zaporozhyian Sich was indeed exclusively for males, then the Don, Kuban and Terek Cossack females spent much time with a weapon in their hands, as they did Cook for the family. Cossacks for centuries had to defend their Stanitsas from the attacks of enemies. In such defenses, the women would help the men, reloading the guns, carrying and bandaging the wounded. It also happens, that when a Cossack Stanitsa did not have men to defend the Stanitsa, the women would know how to defend the village with guns, and sabers. For many centuries, the salve markets of the Crimean khanate and Turkey have sold Russian, Polish, and Ukrainian women, but never Cossack women, as they never gave in, and fought till death.
In 1641, when a huge Turkish army besieged held Azov Cossacks, fought alongside men on the walls 800 Cossack. Many of them have fallen in battle.

Of the hundreds of battles and skirmishes, which were attended by Cossacks in XVI-XVIII centuries, one of the most famous was the battle for Naurskaya. In June 1774 an army of Tatars struck the Naurskaya Stanitsa when all Cossack males went exploring the mountains. But the Cossack women took up arms! Two hundred women with the elderly and teenagers bravely met the enemy. They struck with rifles, cut and stabbed and dragged cannons from one side of the Stanitsa to the other. According to legend, one of Tatars was stopped in his tracks when a Cossack women poured boiling soup in his face. The siege lasted for 2 days, and the enemy, leaving hundreds dead, left with nothing.
In the 19th century it became widely known feat of the beautiful Mariana Gorbatko. In the middle of the XIX century to connecting to the right bank of the Kuban and to the shore of the Black Sea was built the Adagumskaya defensive line, which consists of 20 posts and fortifications. But only one became famous - Lipkinsky. There was thirty five Black Sea Cossack males, and the thirty-sixth was Mariana.
September 4, 1862 the post was attacked by three thousand mountaineers. Cossacks fought to the death, fighting with bayonets and rifle butts. Mariana’s husband was among the dead. This inspired the enemy, and several Circassians to rush to the corpse and to behead her husband. But on their way, they found Mariana defending her husband's body from desecration, and the Circassians faced a gun in the hands of Mariana Gorbatko. One of the mountaineers was shot, another was stabbed with a bayonet. The enemy recoiled – a woman killing male soldiers. But after a moment, the Highlanders chopped her checkers. The fight lasted for one and a half hours, before fearing more Cossacks on approach they fled and hid in the mountains.