Harvest of Despair



The Russian Civil War, 1917-21, saw several different forces fighting for control of Ukrainian territory. The two largest forces fighting in Ukraine were the Red Army, under War Commissar Leon Trotsky, and the White Army, under General Anton Denikin.

Properly understood, the White Army, which is usually viewed as the monarchist force that fought the Bolshevik Red Army, was in reality a loose confederation of several counter-revolutionary forces. Furthermore, many of the forces fighting under the White Army banner were not monarchist – they were simply anti-Bolshevik. Denikin, for example, was not a monarchist – he was dedicated to the establishment of a democratic regime in the former Russian Empire.

In 1919, Denikin, as commander of the Southern forcers of the White Army, led an assault on Moscow. His army, however, was overextended, and was soundly defeated by the Red Army at Orel in October 1919.  His forces, which at the time held Kyiv, retreated and by March 1920 were forced all the way back to the Crimea. As Denikin’s army retreated, the Red Army occupied territory that would eventually become the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. After the defeat of his army, Denikin went into exile and died in 1947 in the United States.

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