After the October Revolution in 1917, a civil war on Don broke out between the "Red" Bolsheviks and "White" Don Cossacks.
In Novocherkassk, an assembly of Cossacks, the Krug, elected Alexei Kaledin as the first independent ataman sinces the days of Peter the Great. They refused to recognise the Bolshevik government and declared themselves protectors of Russia.
On December 2 (old style calendar), Kaledin's Cossacks seized Rostov-on-Don, driving out the Bolshevik authorities and setting up a government headed by Mitrofan Petrovich Bogayevsky.
The Bolshevik resistance, centered in the Kamenskaya stanitsa, was joined by an army sent by Moscow.
Kaledin, feeling powerless to oppose the Bolsheviks, shot himself on January 29, 1918. He was replaced by major-general Anatoly Mikhailovich Nazarov. Nazarov requested help from the Volunteer Army, but was refused it. His resignation was turned down by the krug, who insisted that he fulfill his duty as a 'true son of the Quiet Don'. He decided to end the civil war by capitulating to the Bolsheviks and met with the Red representative, Sablin. Sablin refused to recognise the authority of the Ataman and declared that the Cossacks should be destroyed. In the evening of February 1918, a detachment of the Red Army, under Lt. N. M. Golubov, broke up a meeting of the krug, arresting Nazarov and the chairman, Voloshinov. They were shot without trial on March 3. A policy of Red Terror was carried out along the Don.
Several stanitsas revolted and formed a new Don army. On May 12, a special krug (the krug for the salvation of the Don) declared the old rights and uniforms restored and declared war upon the Bolsheviks. Pyotr Krasnov, a talented soldier and writer, was elected as the new Ataman. In the Summer and Fall of 1918, the White Don Army controlled the Don territory, severed Red Army communications between Moscow and the Caucasus (allowing the White Volunteer Army to defeat the Red Army of the Northern Caucasus) and threatened Red Army positions at Tsaritsyn and Voronezh, as well as Rostov-na-Donu.
Much of the Upper Don region, in 1918, had defected to the Bolsheviks, but as a result of the Red Terror, in 1919, rose up in arms against them, in what was known as the Veshenskaya Uprising. The main leaders were Pavel Nazarovich Kudinov and Kharlampii Yermakov. They joined forces with the Don Army centered in Novocherkassk, which was commanded by Ataman Afrikan Bogaevsky. These events form an important part of Mikhail Sholokhov's epic, And Quiet Flows the Don. Indeed, for a long time, Kudinov and Yermakov, who appear in the novel, were considered as fictional by the general public.
In the Winter of 1918-1919, the Red Southern Front, including their Group Kozhevnikov, 8th Army, 9th Army, and 10th Army, counterattacked the Don Army and regained control of the area northeast of the Donets and Manych rivers.
Many Don Cossacks also participated in Kornilov's infamous Ice March.
The Don army was often divided and plagued with indesiciveness, many of the Cossacks not wishing to fight beyond their own territory.
The events of those years, especially those centered in the Upper Don, as well as events leading up to them, are the focus of Mikhail Sholokhov's epic, And Quiet Flows the Don.
- List of Don Army Units in the Civil War
- Don Republic
- Don Cossacks
- Alexei Kaledin
- Lavr Kornilov
- Pyotr Krasnov
- Volunteer Army
- White movement
- Astapenko, pg. 574
- "Istoriya Donskogo Kazachestva; s drevnejshikh vremyon do 1920" (The history of the Don Cossack Host; from ancient times until 1920) M. P. Astapenko.
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