Coat of arms of the Russian State
|Size||In combat units:|
about 4,000 people (December 1917)
about 683,000 people (June 1919)
about 300,000 people (December 1919)
about 100,000 people (Summer 1920)
about 8,000 people (September 1922)
about 1,000 people (1923)
|Part of||Predecessor: Russian Imperial Army|
Successor: Russian Army
|Garrison/HQ||Former territory of the Russian Empire|
Outer Mongolia (October 1920 – August 1921)
|Armies of Russia|
Grand Duchy of Moscow
Tsardom of Russia
The White Army, also known as the White Guard, was a common collective name for the armed formations of the White movement and anti-Soviet governments during the Civil War in Russia. When it was created, the structure of the Russian Army of the Provisional Government period was used, while almost every individual formation had its own characteristics. The military art of the White Army was based on the experience of the First World War, which, however, left a strong imprint on the specifics of the Civil War.
The name "White" is associated with white symbols of the supporters of the pre-revolutionary order, dating back to the time of the French Revolution, and in contrast to the name of the Red Guard detachments, and then the Red Army. For the first time, the name "White Guard" was used in Russia for Finnish police detachments created in 1906 to fight the revolutionary movement. Their members wore white bandages on their sleeves, however, this did not have a direct connection with the White Army during the Civil War.
Volunteer and Don Army
After the October Revolution, the arrested generals Lavr Kornilov, Anton Denikin, Sergey Markov and others were released by Commander-in-Chief Nikolay Dukhonin before his removal and went to Don to Ataman Alexey Kaledin. The Don Region abandoned the power of the Soviets and proclaimed independence "before the formation of a nation-wide, popularly recognized government". The first white army was created by Mikhail Alekseyev, calling it the "Alekseyev Organization". Officers were recruited there on a voluntary basis. A Volunteer Army was created from the members of this organization. Generals Alexey Kaledin and Lavr Kornilov joined him. Three months later, in April 1918, the Council of Defense of the Don Host formed the Don Army. In May 1918, the Drozdov brigade joined the Volunteer Army from the Romanian Front.
Among those who came to the Don were public figures. Boris Savinkov, the former head of the Combat Organization of the Party of Socialist Revolutionaries, who organized the Union for the Defense of the Motherland and Freedom under the Volunteer Army, was also there. Military leaders and Cossacks reacted extremely negatively to his presence.
On June 8, 1918, the uprising white Czechs took Samara. On the same day, the People's Army was organized under the command of Colonel Nikolai Galkin. It was formed by the Committee of Members of the Constituent Assembly. On June 9, after the arrival of Lieutenant Colonel Vladimir Kappel in the army, the following were formed: 1st Volunteer Samara Squadron, Cavalry Squadron of Staff Captain Stafievsky, Volzhskaya Equestrian Battery of Captain Vyrypayev, horse reconnaissance, subversive command and economic unit. After the formation of the units, Kappel's troops occupy Syzran and Stavropol on June 11 and 12, respectively.
On July 10, the People's Army again enters Syzran, occupied by the Bolsheviks, and throws them back to Simbirsk. A few days later, Kappel's detachments occupied Simbirsk and from there they advance in several directions: from Syzran to Volsk and Penza, from Simbirsk to Inza and Alatyr and along the banks of the Volga to the mouth of the Kama.
After the capture of Kazan, the People's Army was reorganized. The Volga Front was created under the command of Stanislav Chechek. It was divided into several groups: Simbirsk, Kazan, Khvalynsk, Ufa, Nikolaev, Ural Cossack troops and the Orenburg Cossack troops.
Kappel suggested the command to take Nizhny Novgorod. He suggested that the occupation of the city will break the Bolshevik plans to sign additional agreements with the Kaiser of Germany in Berlin, as he would deprive them of money from the "pocket of Russia". However, the command and the Czechs abandoned these plans, citing a lack of reserves.
At the same time, in June 1918, the Provisional Siberian Government in Novo-Nikolaevsk created the Siberian Army. Initially, it was called the West Siberian Volunteer Army. From June to December 1918, the headquarters of the Siberian Army was the general headquarters for the entire White Movement of Siberia.
In August 1918, the Supreme Administration of the Northern Region in Arkhangelsk created troops of the Northern Region, sometimes referred to as the Northern Army (not to be confused with General Rodzyanko's Northern Army).
In January 1919, the Don and Volunteer Armies were combined into the Armed Forces of the South of Russia.
In June 1919, the Northern Army was created from Russian officers and soldiers of the Northern Corps, who left the Estonian army. A month later, the army was renamed the Northwest.
Unification in the Russian Army
On October 14, 1918, Minister of War Alexander Kolchak arrived in Omsk. On November 18, 1918 he was proclaimed the Supreme Ruler of Russia, who also assumed the supreme command of all the land and naval forces of Russia. He made a substantial reorganization of the forces of the White movement and carried out its integration into a single Russian Army on September 23, 1918. On November 4, Kolchak became part of the Russian Government.
As the Supreme Ruler of Russia, Admiral Kolchak is recognized by all the commanders of the white armies both in the south and west of Russia, as well as in Siberia and the Far East; generals Anton Denikin, Yevgeny Miller, Nikolai Yudenich voluntarily submit to Alexander Kolchak and recognize his Supreme High Command over all armies in Russia. The supreme commander at the same time confirms the authority of the commanders. From this moment, the Armed Forces of the South of Russia, the Northwestern Army, the Northern Army, and the Eastern Front have been operating on the fronts of this single army.
The name "Russian Army" is approved as the union of all white fronts, the status of commanders of the fronts formally from the Supreme Commander-in-Chief is received by the commanders of the North and Northwest Armies Generals Yudenich and Miller. In April 1920, the Far Eastern Army was created in Transbaikalia from the remnants of the troops of the Eastern Front under the leadership of General Grigory Semenov.
Out of the remnants of the Armed Forces of the South of Russia that left for Crimea in May 1920, General Wrangel formed the armed forces that inherited the name "Russian Army" from the single Russian army of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief Admiral Kolchak of 1919 – as the last of its fronts.
In 1921, from the remnants of the Far Eastern Army of General Semyonov in Primorye, the White Rebel Army was formed, later renamed the Zemsky Army, since the Amur Zemsky Government was created in Vladivostok in 1922.
White armies were manned both on a voluntary basis and on the basis of mobilization.
On a voluntary basis, they were staffed not only from officers of the Russian Imperial Army and Navy, but also from all comers. It was both in the South – in the Volunteer Army, and in Siberia, for example – the division of the Labor Corps.
The strength of the white armies fighting against the Red Army, according to intelligence estimates, by June 1919 was about 683,000. However, together with auxiliary and staff units, it could exceed 1,023,000 people. A significant part of the white forces was on contentment. Combat units amounted to only half of this figure. After that, the number of white armies began to decline steadily.
The White Army consisted of all kinds of troops for that period:
- Air Units;
- Tank Units;
- Railway connections.
According to supporters of the White movement, the White Guard is a military man devoted to his ideals (even though the officer, though the ordinary), who was ready to defend his Motherland and his specific ideas about duty, honour and justice with arms in hand.
The White Guards, in addition to directly fighting with the Reds, as well as the anarchist units, carried out the White Terror, while taking part in mass executions, including assisting foreign interventionists (for example, 257 civilians were killed in 1919 in the course of the struggle in the village of Ivanovka of the Japanese Army and the White Guards against the pro-Bolshevik detachments of partisans).
According to the historian, researcher of the Soviet period Igor Pykhalov:
If we look at the situation even more or less impartially, we will see that the "Reds" fought for a new just system, for the liquidation of the exploitation of society and social justice, and the "Whites" actually fought for the restoration of the estate state, while on the side of the "Whites" foreign interventionists actively participated.
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- Article by Elena Kiryakova. "The Whites Fought Against Their People..."
- Osipov, Yury (2005). White Armies. Moscow: Great Russian Encyclopedia. p. 268. ISBN 5-85270-331-1.
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- White Army Funds Guide / Russian State Military Archive. Moscow: Russian Bibliographic Society, Oriental Literature Publishing Company, Russian Academy of Sciences. Compiled by N. D. Egorov, N. V. Pulchenko, L. M. Chizhova. 1998. p. 526. ISBN 5-02-018037-8. Archived from the original on 2012-03-07.