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The Transbaikal Cossack Host partially consisted of Siberian Cossaks, Buryats, Evenk (Tungus) military units, and peasant population of some of the regions. The army included three cavalry regiments and three unmounted brigades. Its main purpose was to patrol the Sino-Russian border and perform everyday military duties. Nakazny ataman (the one who was appointed) was in charge of the Transbaikal Cossack Army. He would also serve as a military governor of the Transbaikal oblast with its headquarters in Chita, starting from 1872.
In the early 20th century, the Transbaikal Cossack Host normally supplied one polusotnya of guards (fifty men), four cavalry regiments, and two batteries in the times of peace. During the World War I, it supplied one polusotnya, nine cavalry regiments, four batteries, and three reserve sotnyas (one hundred men). In 1916, the Cossack population of the Transbaikal Cossack Host numbered 265,000 people, out of which 14,500 men served in the military.
The Transbaikal Cossack Army is known to have participated in the suppression of the Boxer Rebellion in 1899-1901, Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905, and World War I. During the Russian Civil War, the more prosperous Cossacks joined the ranks of the anti-Soviet armies of General Grigory Semenov and baron Roman Ungern. The poorer Cossacks took active part in the guerrilla movement.
In 1920 at the end of the Russian Civil War, the Transbaikal Cossack Host was disbanded.
The distinguishing colour of the Transbaikal Cossack Host was yellow; worn on the cap bands, epaulettes and wide trouser stripes of a green uniform of the loose-fitting cut common to the Steppe Cossacks. Fleece hats were worn on occasion with yellow cloth tops.