Revision/Help Notes: Russian Civil War
After the overthrow of the Provisional Government on 7th November 1917, the All-Russian Congress of Soviets met and handed over power to the Soviet Council of People's Commissars. Vladimir Lenin was elected chairman and other appointments included leading Bolsheviks such as Leon Trotsky (Foreign Affairs) Alexei Rykov (Internal Affairs), Anatoli Lunacharsky (Education) and Joseph Stalin (Nationalities).
Alexander Kerensky, who had managed to escape arrest, assembled loyal troops from the Northern Front. Led by General Krasnov, the Cossacks were defeated by Bolshevik forces at Pulkova. By December 1917, central Russia and Siberia was under the control of Lenin's government.
General Lavr Kornilov now organized a Volunteer Army and in January 1918 his forces numbered 3,000 men. Over the next few months other groups who opposed the Bolshevik government joined the struggle. Eventually these soldiers became known as the Whites.
Those that joined the White Army included the Cadets, who wished to continue the war against the Central Powers. Some Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries that were opposed to the dictatorial powers of the new regime also joined the resistance. Others who joined included landowners who had lost their estates, factory owners who had their property nationalized, devout members of the Russian Orthodox Church who objected to the government's atheism and royalists who wanted to restore the monarchy.
The White Army initially had success in the Ukraine where the Bolsheviks were unpopular. The main resistance came from Nestor Makhno, the leader of an Anarchist army in the area. Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko led the Red Army and gradually pro-Bolsheviks took control of the Ukraine. By February 1918, the Whites held no major areas in Russia.
The main threat to the Bolsheviks was the German Army that was advancing towards Petrograd. On 3rd March 1918, Vladimir Lenin ordered his team of negotiators to sign the Brest-Litovsk Treaty. This resulted in the Russians having to surrendering the Ukraine, Finland, the Baltic provinces, the Caucasus and Poland.
This decision increased the hostility inside Russia towards the Bolsheviks. In May 1918, the Czechoslovak Corps revolted after being badly treated by local Red Guards. Over the next four months the Czech Legion took a vast area of land east of the Volga. The White Army also won battles at Simbirsk and Kazan.
Vladimir Lenin appointed Leon Trotsky as commissar of war and was sent to rally the...