This is a re-post from the closed site northernwars.com. It is updated summary of my article published in 2009 in the Russian Military Historical Magazine “Old Zeughaus” (Великанов В.С. Знамена русских драгунских полков 1700-09. // Совместный выпуск «Военно-исторического журнала» и журнала «Старый Цейхгауз», посвященный 300-летнему юбилею Полтавского сражения. М. 2009. с. 82-88). Drawings & plates are made by Dan Schorr. See also other posts labeled “Dragoons” & “Colors & Standards” on my blog.
The most widely held view concerning Russian dragoon colours from the Great Northern War is that they were of the same pattern as infantry colors (palm branches, arm with sword coming out of a cloud, St. Andrew’s cross) but smaller & with fringe. This was first written by Viskovatov and then repeated in the most of the subsequent works. On the other hand, available surviving colours and their descriptions refute this. Only one surviving colour meets the pattern described above. It is light-blue, with gold branches & white (light-blue?) cloud, gold fringe. The remaining colours are completely different.
Moscow Kremlin Armory Collection has a red silk dragoon colour with gold palm branches, a silver cross and ribbon with motto «Симъ знакомъ побъждаю» (“Win by this sign”). Size 133x89 cm.[Plate 2.2] The regiment is unknown. Perhaps this is Ragozin (Permskiy) Dragoons. In 1701 it was sent to the southern frontier at Taganrog. In autumn 1702 it was dismissed for the winter. It was gathered again in spring 1703 in Moscow, where it received 1 white and 9 red colours from Moscow Armory. Possibly, some of them were later returned to Moscow Armory.
Consequently, at Poltava some dragoon regiments could have had 5 (one per squadron) or 10 (one per coy) colours. One of them was the regimental and was white with the State Eagle. The remainder were colored and had one of the following decorations: cross with motto and palm branches, the State Eagle, or Peter’s monogram. Probably, several regiments might also have old-fashioned colours with the image of a saint, or colours repeating the infantry pattern of 1700 (cloud, arm with sword, palm branches). In 1712 when the time came to replace colours, they were replaced by the well known 1712-pattern with town or provincial arms.