Don Army

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Don Army
Донская армия

Don White Army.svg

Don Army insignia
Active 3 April 1918 – 24 March 1920
CountryFlag of Don Cossacks.svg Don Republic
Allegiance Flag of Russia.svg GCAFSR
Branch Armed Forces of South Russia
Size 17,000 (May 1918)
52,500 (October 1919)
38,000 (February 1920)

Russian Civil War

The Don Army (Russian : Донская армия, Donskaya Armiya) was the military of the short lived Don Republic and a part of the White movement in the Russian Civil War. It operated from 1918 to 1920, in the Don region and centered in the town of Novocherkassk.

Russian language East Slavic language

Russian is an East Slavic language, which is official in the Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as being widely used throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, the Caucasus and Central Asia. It was the de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution on 25 December 1991. Although, nowadays, nearly three decades after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian is used in official capacity or in public life in all the post-Soviet nation-states, as well as in Israel and Mongolia, the rise of state-specific varieties of this language tends to be strongly denied in Russia, in line with the Russian World ideology.

Don Republic independent self-proclaimed anti-Bolshevik republic formed by the Armed Forces of South Russia on the territory of Don Cossacks against another self-proclaimed Don Soviet Republic

The Don Republic, was an independent self-proclaimed anti-Bolshevik republic formed by the Armed Forces of South Russia on the territory of Don Cossacks against another self-proclaimed Don Soviet Republic. The Don Republic existed during the Russian Civil War after the collapse of the Russian Empire from 1918 to 1920.

White movement anti-Bolshevik movement

The White movement and its military arm the White Army, also known as the White Guard, the White Guardsmen or simply the Whites, was a loose confederation of anti-communist forces that fought the Communist Bolsheviks, also known as the Reds, in the Russian Civil War (1917–1922/1923) and to a lesser extent continued operating as militarized associations insurrectionists both outside and within Russian borders in Siberia until roughly World War II (1939–1945).



Don Army commanders for left to right : standing : Grigory Kislov and Vladimir Dobrynin. Sitting : Anatoliy Keltchevski, Vladimir Sidorin and Lieutenant-General Konstantin Mamontov. (The cross over Mamontov's head was drawn by the photographer after he died.) Komandovanie Donskoi armii.jpg
Don Army commanders for left to right : standing : Grigory Kislov and Vladimir Dobrynin. Sitting : Anatoliy Keltchevski, Vladimir Sidorin and Lieutenant-General Konstantin Mamontov. (The cross over Mamontov's head was drawn by the photographer after he died.)

After the October Revolution in 1917, a conflict in the Don broke out between the "Red" Bolsheviks and "White" Don Cossacks.

October Revolution Bolshevik uprising during the Russian Revolution of 1917

The October Revolution, officially known in Soviet historiography as the Great October Socialist Revolution and commonly referred to as the October Uprising, the October Coup, the Bolshevik Revolution, the Bolshevik Coup or the Red October, was a revolution in Russia led by the Bolshevik Party of Vladimir Lenin that was instrumental in the larger Russian Revolution of 1917. It took place with an armed insurrection in Petrograd on 7 November 1917.

Don Cossacks ethnic group

Don Cossacks or Donians, are Cossacks who settled along the middle and lower Don. Historically, they have been located within what was the Don Cossack Host, which was either an independent or an autonomous democratic republic in the present-day Southern Russia and the Donbass region of Ukraine, from the end of the 16th century until 1918. As of 1992, by the presidential decree of the Russian Federation, Cossacks can be enrolled on a special register. A number of Cossack communities have been reconstituted to further the Cossack cultural traditions, including those of the Don Cossack Host.

In Novocherkassk, an assembly of Cossacks, the Krug, elected Alexei Kaledin as the first independent ataman since the days of Peter the Great. They refused to recognise the Bolshevik government and declared themselves protectors of Russia.

Ataman title of Cossack and haidamak leaders of various kinds

Ataman was a title of Cossack and haidamak leaders of various kinds. In the Russian Empire, the term was the official title of the supreme military commanders of the Cossack armies. The Ukrainian version of the same word is Hetman. Otaman in Ukrainian Cossack forces was a position of a lower rank.

Peter the Great Tsar and 1st Emperor, founder of the Russian Empire

Peter the Great, Peter I or Peter Alexeyevich ruled the Tsardom of Russia and later the Russian Empire from 7 May [O.S. 27 April] 1682 until his death in 1725, jointly ruling before 1696 with his elder half-brother, Ivan V. Through a number of successful wars, he expanded the Tsardom into a much larger empire that became a major European power and also laid the groundwork for the Russian navy after capturing ports at Azov and the Baltic Sea. He led a cultural revolution that replaced some of the traditionalist and medieval social and political systems with ones that were modern, scientific, Westernised and based on the Enlightenment. Peter's reforms made a lasting impact on Russia, and many institutions of Russian government trace their origins to his reign. He is also known for founding and developing the city of Saint Petersburg, which remained the capital of Russia until 1917.

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.

Rostov-on-Don City in Rostov Oblast, Russia

Rostov-on-Don is a port city and the administrative centre of Rostov Oblast and the Southern Federal District of Russia. It lies in the southeastern part of the East European Plain on the Don River, 32 kilometers (20 mi) from the Sea of Azov. The southwestern suburbs of the city abut the Don River delta. The population is over one million people (1,125,000).

The Bolshevik resistance, centered in the Kamenskaya stanitsa, was joined by an army sent by Moscow.


Stanitsa is a village inside a Cossack host (viysko). Stanitsas were the primary unit of Cossack hosts.

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'. [1] 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.

Nazarov, or Nazarova is a Russian family name of Rurik stock. The surname derives from the given name Nazar (for Slavic peoples) or Nazarbay.

Volunteer Army volunteer military during the Russian Civil War

The Volunteer Army was a White Army active in South Russia during the Russian Civil War from 1917 to 1920. The Volunteer Army fought against Bolshevik forces in the Southern Front and the Ukrainian War of Independence. In 1919 it was made part of the Armed Forces of South Russia, becoming the largest force of the White movement until it was merged with the Army of Wrangel in March 1920.

Red Army 1917–1946 ground and air warfare branch of the Soviet Unions military

The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army, frequently shortened to Red Army was the army and the air force of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, and, after 1922, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The army was established immediately after the 1917 October Revolution. The Bolsheviks raised an army to oppose the military confederations of their adversaries during the Russian Civil War. Beginning in February 1946, the Red Army, along with the Soviet Navy, embodied the main component of the Soviet Armed Forces; taking the official name of "Soviet Army", until its dissolution in December 1991.

Several stanitsas revolted and on April 3, 1918 formed a new Don Army, during the Steppe March. Many Don Cossacks also participated in Kornilov's infamous Ice March from February to May 1918.

On May 12, 1918, 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 Bogayevsky. 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.

The Don army was often divided and plagued with indesiciveness, many of the Cossacks not wishing to fight beyond their own territory.

On January 8, 1919, the Armed Forces of South Russia or VSYuR were created, and the Don Army made an agreement to be subordinates of commander Anton Denikin.

During the heavy fighting in the autumn and winter of 1919, the Don Army suffered significant losses. By January and February 1920, it was defeated in the North Caucasus. Its remnants surrendered in March and April to the Red Army and partly went into their ranks.

On March 24, 1920, Don Army units were transported from Novorossiysk to the Crimea. From there, a Separate Don Corps was formed, and on May 1 all the Don units were consolidated into the Don Corps.


Chief of Staff

Combat strength

Generally after Dobrynin, The Participation of the Don Cossacks in the Fight against Bolshevism.

Soldiers of the Don Army in 1919 with a Mark V tank Mark V tank of the Don army 1919.jpg
Soldiers of the Don Army in 1919 with a Mark V tank
Austin Armoured Car with "Ataman Bogayevsky" written on the side Austin21.jpg
Austin Armoured Car with "Ataman Bogayevsky" written on the side
DateSoldiersField GunsMachine Guns
May 1, 191817,0002158
June 1, 191840,00056179
July 1, 191849,00092272
July 15, 191839,00093270
August 1, 191831,00079267
November 20, 191849,500153581
February 1, 191938,000168491
February 15, 191915,000N/AN/A
April 21, 191915,000108441
May 10, 191915,000131531
June 16, 191940,000N/AN/A
July 15, 191943,000177793
August 1, 191930,000161655
September 1, 191939,500175724
October 1, 191946,500192939
October 15, 191952,500196765
November 1, 191937,000207798
December 1, 191922,000143535
January 1, 192039,000200860
January 22, 192039,000243856
February 1, 192038,000158687

In literature

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 .

See also

Related Research Articles

Russian Civil War multi-party war in the former Russian Empire, November 1917-October 1922

The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war in the former Russian Empire immediately after the two Russian Revolutions of 1917, as many factions vied to determine Russia's political future. The two largest combatant groups were the Red Army, fighting for the Bolshevik form of socialism led by Vladimir Lenin, and the loosely allied forces known as the White Army, which included diverse interests favoring political monarchism, economic capitalism and alternative forms of socialism, each with democratic and antidemocratic variants. In addition, rival militant socialists and nonideological Green armies fought against both the Bolsheviks and the Whites. Eight foreign nations intervened against the Red Army, notably the former Allied military forces from the World War and the pro-German armies. The Red Army eventually defeated the White Armed Forces of South Russia in Ukraine and the army led by Admiral Aleksandr Kolchak to the east in Siberia in 1919. The remains of the White forces commanded by Pyotr Nikolayevich Wrangel were beaten in Crimea and evacuated in late 1920. Lesser battles of the war continued on the periphery for two more years, and minor skirmishes with the remnants of the White forces in the Far East continued well into 1923. The war ended in 1923 in the sense that Bolshevik communist control of the newly formed Soviet Union was now assured, although armed national resistance in Central Asia was not completely crushed until 1934. There were an estimated 7,000,000–12,000,000 casualties during the war, mostly civilians. The Russian Civil War has been described by some as the greatest national catastrophe that Europe had yet seen.

Alexey Kaledin Russian general

Aleksei Maximovich Kaledin was a Don Cossack Cavalry General who led the Don Cossack White movement in the opening stages of the Russian Civil War.

Andrei Shkuro Russian general

Andrei Grigoriyevich Shkuro was a Lieutenant General (1919) of the White Army.

Pyotr Krasnov White movement Cossack

Pyotr Nikolayevich Krasnov, sometimes referred to in English as Peter Krasnov, was a Don Cossack historian and officer, promoted to Lieutenant General of the Russian army when the revolution broke out in 1917, one of the leaders of the counter-revolutionary White movement afterwards and a Nazi collaborator who mobilized Cossack forces to fight against the Soviet Union during World War II.


Decossackization was the Bolshevik policy of systematic repressions against Cossacks of the Russian Empire, especially of the Don and the Kuban, between 1917 and 1933 aimed at the elimination of the Cossacks as a separate ethnic, political, and economic entity. This was the first example of Soviet leaders deciding to "eliminate, exterminate, and deport the population of a whole territory," which they had taken to calling the "Soviet Vendée" Most authors characterize decossackization as genocide of the Cossacks, a process described by scholar Peter Holquist as part of a "ruthless" and "radical attempt to eliminate undesirable social groups" that showed the Soviet regime's "dedication to social engineering".

Southern Front of the Russian Civil War

The Southern Front of the Russian Civil War was a theatre of the Russian Civil War.

Ice March

The Ice March, also called the First Kuban Campaign, a military withdrawal lasting from February to May 1918, was one of the defining moments in the Russian Civil War of 1917 to 1921. Under attack by the Red Army advancing from the north, the forces of the Volunteer Army, sometimes referred to as the White Guard, began a retreat from the city of Rostov south towards the Kuban, in the hope of gaining the support of the Don Cossacks against the Bolshevik government in Moscow.

Kuban Peoples Republic Short-lived country in Eastern Europe (1918-1920)

The Kuban People's Republic was an anti-Bolshevik state during the Russian Civil War, comprising the territory of the modern-day Kuban region in Russia.

White Terror (Russia) period of political repression and mass killings after the beginning of the Russian Civil War in 1918 carried out by the White Army

The White Terror in Russia refers to the organized violence and mass killings carried out by the White Army during the Russian Civil War (1917–23). It began after the Bolsheviks seized power in November 1917, and continued until the defeat of the White Army at the hands of the Red Army. The White Army fought the Red Army for power, which engaged in its own Red Terror. According to some Russian historians, the White Terror was a series of premeditated actions directed by their leaders, although this view is contested by others. Estimates for those killed in the White Terror vary, from between 20,000 and 100,000 people as well as much higher estimates of 300,000 deaths.

Tchernetzov's Partisans was an independent Don Cossacks military force commissioned under the act of ataman Alexey Kaledin on November 7, 1917, in the opening stages of Russian Civil War. The 600-man regiment-size unit was formed of Don Cossack officers and students of the Novocherkassk. However, many Bolsheviks considered Vasily Tchernetzov and his men brutal counter-revolutionaries, who were not entitled to protection when captured, as was the case with other prisoners of war. Colonel Tchernetzov's death at the hands of the Bolsheviks was explored in Mikhail Sholokhov's novel And Quiet Flows the Don.

Vasily Mihailovich Tchernetzov was a Don Cossack Russian Imperial Army officer who served as a colonel in the Don Army during the Russian Civil War. He led Tchernetzov's Partisans, an independent irregular Don Cossacks military company commissioned after the Act of Ataman by Alexey Kaledin on November 7, 1917.

Armed Forces of South Russia

The Armed Forces of South Russia or AFSR were formed on 8 January 1919, it incorporated many of the smaller formations of the White Army in South of Russia, including the Volunteer Army . Besides that, the AFSR included the Don Army, the Crimean-Azov Army, the Forces of Northern Caucasus and the Turkestan Army.

Donbass-Don Operation (1918)

The Donbass-Don Operation was a military campaign of the Russian Civil War that lasted from January to February 1918, by forces of the Soviet Southern Revolutionary Front against counterrevolution under the command of Vladimir Antonov-Ovseyenko, against the Cossack troops of Ataman Kaledin and Volunteer detachments on the territory of the Donbass and the Don Cossack Region.

Steppe March

The Steppe March was a successful military withdrawal by the Don Cossacks in Spring 1918, towards the steppe around the Sal River, to ensure their survival under attack from the Red Army.

The Voronezh–Povorino Operation, was a battle in January 1919 between the White and Red Armies during the Russian Civil War around the city of Voronezh and the railway station of Povorino. The Red Army defeated the Don Army under Pyotr Krasnov.

The Vyoshenskaya Uprising was an uprising of the Don Cossacks during the Russian Civil War led by Pavel Kudinov against the Bolsheviks, which had occupied the Upper Don district in January–March 1919. The uprising was centered around the village of Vyoshenskaya.

Vladimir Sidorin

Vladimir Ilyich Sidorin was an officer in the Russian Imperial Army and Commander of the Don Army between February 1919 and April 1920 during the Russian Civil War.


  1. Astapenko, pg. 574