Military Construction in Army Orders: The Experience of the Southern White Army in Summer 1919

Print PDF

Scientific article

УДК 94(47)+355.48

DOI 10.28995/2073-0101-2022-3-688-703

Posadsky, Anton V.

Volga Region Institute of Administration — branch of the Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Saratov, Russian Federation

Military Construction in Army Orders: The Experience of the Southern White Army in Summer 1919


The article examines military construction in the Russian Army of Admiral A.V. Kolchak. It focuses on the Southern Army, which emerged after reformation of the Orenburg Independent Army, the Southern Army Group, and units of the Orenburg military district in the end of May 1919. Soviet and modern historiography highlights the defense of Orenburg by the Red Army and the victory of the Reds over the Southern Army in the battles of late August – September 1919. The events of summer 1919, the Southern Army being an integrated combined arms force, remain poorly studied. Prior and later, the Cossack element and Cossack leadership prevailed. Therefore, it seems important to consider the efforts of the White command to create a combined arms army. An array of army orders is engaged to characterize the military construction of army headquarters from late May to August 1919. They permit to evaluate the system of time and organizational priorities of the army headquarters and its commander in military construction. Besides orders, the study uses memoirs of generals and senior officers who served in the Southern Army. General historical methods are used in the analysis. The research is to assess the progress and effectiveness of the efforts of the army level White command in military construction in a relatively quiet sector of the front. Commander P. A. Belov engaged in military organizational activities, introducing formations and re-formations of units and forces. The troops were brought in line with authorized staff. Artillery, sanitary service, reserve units, rear administration were regulated. The article shows that General P. A. Belov carried out routine work on military construction energetically and intelligently. However, outside stereotypical events, he demonstrated unsuccessful decisions. Thus, important and risky mission of mastering Turkestan was entrusted to a new force of recently formed reserve units. As a result, large and well-organized army was defeated and disintegrated in the battles in late August – mid-September 1919. General P.A. Belov, an experienced officer, was active in routine tasks, but unable to choose priorities under the conditions of the Civil War. His inability to distinguish essential and non-essential and to distribute forces correctly sabotaged his efforts to create a combined arms army. This was characteristic of the Whites in the Civil War, which makes this research scientifically significant and opens prospects for comparative historical research.


Historical sources, Russia, Civil War, White movement, Siberian Army, Eastern front, Southern Army, military construction, General P. A. Belov.

Download the article: posadsky_doi


GANIN, A. V. Vospominaniya “Yuzhnaya armiya Vostochnogo fronta admirala Kolchaka” generala S. A. Shchepikhina kak istoricheskii istochnik [General S. A. Shchepikhin’s Memoirs “The Southern Army of the Eastern Front of Admiral Kolchak" as a historical source. In Russ.]. IN: Voennaya istoriya Rossii XIX–XX vekov. Materialy XIII Mezhdunarodnoi voenno-istoricheskoi konferentsii St. Peterburg, 4 dekabrya 2020 g.: Sb. nauchnyh statei [ALEKSEEV, D. Yu., Aranovich, A. V. (eds.). Military history of Russia of the 19th – 20th century. Materials of the 13th International Military-Historical Conference, December 4, 2020: Collected articles]. St. Petersburg, SPb GUPTD publ., 2020, pp. 352-367.

OCHIROV, U. B. Formirovanie natsional'nykh kavaleriiskikh divizii RKKA: Zamysel i realizatsiya (1919 – 1920 gody) [Formation of Ethnic Cavalry Divisions in the Red Army: Intention and Implementation (1919–20s). In Russ.]. IN: Novyi istoricheskii vestnik, 2021, no. 4 (70), pp. 26–49.

PARIEVA, L. R. Dokumentirovanie deyatel'nosti organov voennogo upravleniya antibol'shevistskih pravitel'stv Rossii: 1918-1920 gg. diss. ... kand. ist. nauk [Documenting the activities of the military authorities of the anti-Bolshevik governments of Russia: 1918–20: Cand. hist. sci. diss. In Russ.]. Moscow, RGGU publ., 2019.

SIMONOV, D. G. K voprosu o voennom stroitel'stve v tylovykh okrugakh kolchakoskoi armii [Revisiting the military construction in the rear districts of the Kolchak army. In Russ.]. IN: Grazhdanskaya voina na vostoke Rossii. Problemy istorii: Bahrushinskie chteniya 2001 g.; Mezhvuz. sb. nauch. tr. [SHISHKIN, V. I. (ed.). The Civil War in the East of Russia: Problems of history: Inter-university collection of articles]. Novosibirsk, Novosib. gos. un-t publ., 2001, pp. 67–86.

SIMONOV, D. G. K istorii formirovaniya 1-go Volzhskogo armeiskogo korpusa generala V. O. Kappelya [To the History of Formation of the 1st Volga Army Corps of General V. O. Kappel. In Russ.]. IN: Vlast' i obshchestvo v Sibiri v XX veke: Sbornik nauchnyh statei [SHISHKIN, V. I. (ed.). Power and society in Siberia in the 20th century: Collected articles. In Russ.]. Issue 6. Novosibirsk, Parallel', Institut istorii SO RAN publ., 2015, pp. 68–82.

TSVETKOV, V. Zh. “…Parovozy zamerznut, nadvigaetsya golod, poyavilsya sypnyak…”: Zheleznye dorogi Velikogo Sibirskogo pokhoda: 1919–1920 gg. [“... Locomotives will freeze, famine is coming, and there are cases of typhus ...”: Railways of the Great Siberian campaign of 1919–20.” In Russ.]. IN: Istoriya i arkhivy, no. 1, pp. 121–138. DOI: 10.28995/2658- 6541-2021-1-121-138.

About the authors

Posadskiy Anton Viktorovich, PhD in History, associate professor, Volga Region Institute of Administration — branch of the Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, department of thr history of state, law, and international relations, professor, Saratov, Russian Federation, +7-987-305-8964, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Submitted 21.09.2021, published (for citation):

POSADSKY, A. V. Voennoe stroitel'stvo v prikazakh po armii: opyt Yuzhnoi armii belykh letom 1919 g. [Military Construction in Army Orders: The Experience of the Southern White Army in Summer 1919. In Russ.]. IN: Vestnik arhivista / Herald of an Archivist, 2022, no. 3, pp. 688-703. doi 10.28995/2073-0101-2022-3-688-703

You can read completely article in the russian historic-archival magazine “The Herald of an Archivist”. Read more about terms of subscription here.

Полностью материал публикуется в российском историко-архивоведческом журнале ВЕСТНИК АРХИВИСТА. Ознакомьтесь с условиями подписки здесь.