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In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Tsarist regime used Cossacks extensively to perform police service.
They also served as border guards on national and internal ethnic borders (as was the case in the Caucasus War).
The Zaporozhian Cossacks lived on the Pontic-Caspian steppe below the Dnieper Rapids (Ukrainian: za porohamy), also known as the Wild Fields.
The government provided only firearms and supplies for them.
Sometime in the 16th century there appeared the old Ukrainian Ballad of Cossack Holota about a Cossack near Kiliya.
In addition to these two, one finds mention of the less well-known Tatar Cossacks such as Nağaybäklär and Meschera (mishari) Cossacks, of whom Sary Azman was the first Don ataman and which not only were assimilated by Don Cossacks but had their own irregular Bashkir and Meschera Host up to the end of the 19th century.
Cossack service was considered the most rigorous one.
Because of their military tradition, Cossack forces played an important role in Russia's wars of the 18th–20th centuries, such as the Great Northern War, the Seven Years' War, the Crimean War, Napoleonic Wars, the Caucasus War, numerous Russo-Persian Wars, numerous Russo-Turkish Wars and the First World War.
As early as the 15th century a few individuals ventured into the "Wild Fields", the southern frontier regions of Ukraine separating Poland-Lithuania from the Crimean Khanate, which was a naturally rich and fertile region teeming with cattle, wild animals and fish.