The Volunteer Army

The southern front of the Civil War had several forces engaged in conflict with the Soviets; chief among these was the Dobrovol’cheskaia armiia or Volunteer Army.  Lavr Kornilov, shown here, was commander-in-chief from its formation in the winter of 1917/18 until his death in April 1918, killed by an enemy shell.  An experienced officer in the Imperial Russian Army, Kornilov was given charge of the Provisional Government’s army following the February Revolution.  In that position, he led an attempted coup in the summer of 1917 to overthrow the powerful Petrograd Soviet.  The coup failed and Kornilov was imprisoned.  On escaping, he made his way to the south.

General Lavr Georgievich Kornilov / V. Pronin (1919)  S586.d.91.2

The appalling cruelty displayed during the course of the civil war saw the terms ‘Red terror’ and ‘White terror’ become common parlance.  Kornilov is thought to have been a major instigator of White violence; it is to him that the declaration “Take none of these villains prisoner!  The greater the terror, the greater will be our victory!” is attributed.  The book from which the picture comes is an example of the reverence with which his own side saw him, however, as is the picture itself.  It was published in 1919 in Rostov-on-Don, a year before the Reds finally took the city.

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