White Army vs. Red Army

September 26, 2011 | | Comments Off on White Army vs. Red Army

By December 1917, Tsar Nicholas had abdicated the throne which eventually led to the tsar autocracy’s collapse, which was the traditional authority, and the domestic state of Russia had deteriorated resulting in the people’s want for peace, food and land reforms. Then on November 6, 1917, a man named Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov, also known as Lenin, and Leon Trotsky seized power for the Bolsheviks by leading a coalition of workers and soldiers in Petrograd to capture communications, rail hubs and important government offices.

After that Russia had ended its war with Germany, however not without signing an armistice, surrendering claims to Poland, Finland, the Baltic States of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Ukraine under the Treaty of Lrest-Litovsk, and meeting many other demands made by Germany.

And so…

After the power was handed over to the Soviet Council of People’s Commissars, there was fierce resistance to the newly established regime, and their internal opponents were in the form of the White Army.

The White Army originally started out as a Volunteer Army organized by General Lavr Kornilov in January 1918. It consisted of a variety of groups, representing various political views over a wide spectrum. One of these groups was the Cadets who wanted to continue the war with the Central Powers. Two of the groups opposed the dictatorial powers, which were known as the Mensheviks and the Socialist Revolutionaries. Other groups that joined the White Army, where landowners who lost land, factory owners whose properties where nationalized, devout Russian Orthodox Church members who were against the government’s atheism and royalists who sought the restoration of the monarchy. All these different groups banned together seeking an end to this regime for their own purposes.

Also around the same time, in January 1918, the Soviet government formed the Red Army of Workers and Peasants, after Lenin had decided that the old Russian Army would be used as an instrument for the Communist Party, and had it demobilized. Leon Trotsky, who held the position of Commissar of War, was then appointed head of the newly formed Red Army on March 13, 1918. The Red Army was established rather quickly in response to the formation of the White Army.  Therefore Trotsky was forced to recruit large number of former officers of the old Russian Army for their experience, so as to win the Civil War, and was greatly criticized for it.  Unlike the White Army which was originally a volunteer army, the Soviet government had to enforce conscription in June, 1918, because of the loss of volunteers during the battles. However, by the end of the Civil war the Red Army had over 5 million men, and where demobilized leaving only 600,000 for the formation of a regular army.

Initially the White Army had success in Ukraine before the Brest-Litovsk Treaty, because the Bolsheviks were unpopular there. However there was resistance in the area, from a Nestor Makhno, who as the leader of an Anarchist army. So the Red Army, led by Vladimir Antonov-Ovsseenko at the time, eventually took control of Ukraine, and let pro-Bolsheviks take over. The White Army held no major areas in Russia by February, 1918.

After the Brest-Litovsk Treaty, the hostility towards the Bolsheviks increased. Over the next few months several battles took place between several armies (including the White Army) and the Red Army, resulting in the White Army’s victories at Simbirsk and Kazan. Though, when Leon Trotsky was appointed head he proved to be a great military commander, and recaptured Simbirsk and Kazan in September, 1918.

Over the next few months the Red and White Armies made their advances. The White Army was aided by troops from Britain, France, Japan and the United States, the foreign soldiers numbering 2000. However the Red Army also increased in number.

In the end the remaining members of the White Army left Russia in November, being unable to make much of an impression on the Red Army and a General Mikhail Frunze.

Movement of the Armies Found at: http://img477.imageshack.us/img477/7461/mh00113kg7.gif


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