It is November 1917. Russia is in a state of revolution. After Emperor Nicholas II abdicated the throne in March following mass unrest, a Provisional Government made up of liberals and democratic socialists assumed governance of the country but has so far proved unable to cope with the economic crisis, food shortages, and Russia’s bloody and unpopular involvement in the “Great War” between the Allied and Central Powers. The primary rival to the Provisional Government, presently headed by Prime Minister Alexander Kerensky, are the soviets (workers’ councils), established in the capital Petrograd and elsewhere, led by the communist Bolsheviks under their chief theorist, Vladimir Lenin.
This “dual power,” or division of political authority, has made conflict between the Provisional Government and the Bolsheviks inevitable. Finally, in the early morning of November 7 (October 25 according to the Julian Calendar), the Bolsheviks and their followers stormed the major government buildings in Petrograd, capturing all save for the Winter Palace, the Provisional Government’s seat of power. By the following morning, the Palace fell, and the Bolsheviks declared that they alone ruled Russia.
But the toppled Provisional Government is not only threatened from the left. The monarchist right has started to coalesce around the Don Cossacks in southern Russia and their new ataman (leader), Alexey Kaledin, a former Russian general. Kaledin opposes the Bolshevik coup, and the conservative Cossacks have little love for Lenin and Trotsky. Kerensky attempts a half-hearted counter-revolution with the help of General Pyotr Krasnov and his Cossacks but is defeated. As the Bolsheviks censor, arrest, or kill their enemies, right-wing figures begin to flock to Kaledin’s banner at Novocherkassk.
We start out with a single garrison on Turn 1, but on Turn 2 we get Kaledin and his Cossacks.
The first notable arrival is General Mikhail Alekseyev, formerly chief of staff of the Russian high command. For some time, he planned to form the “Alekseyev Organization,” the nucleus of a new army capable of suppressing the Bolsheviks and stopping the German invasion of Russia. He offers his services to Kaledin and starts the work of appealing to officers across the land to “save the Motherland.”
Meanwhile, General Lazr Kornilov, once the commander-in-chief of the Russian army, escapes from prison and makes his way to Novocherkassk. The Provisional Government had arrested him in September on charges of attempting a right-wing coup. Kornilov and several of his former inmates—Anton Denikin, Evgeny Elsner, Ivan Romanovsky, Sergey Markov, and others—join with Kaledin and Alekseyev, providing them with an experienced and skilled officer corps. Combined with the rank-and-file of Alekseyev’s new army, the first units of what will become the White Volunteer Army take shape.
Thanks to the strategic resources arriving from the Allies via our Black Sea ports, we can start creating reinforcements and making trouble for the Bolshies.
In January 1918 the Bolsheviks dissolve the Constituent Assembly after it becomes clear it is dominated by the moderate Socialist Revolutionaries opposed to the Bolsheviks. Lenin and his comrades won't give up power peacefully. Moreover, Finland too is falling into a civil war between the communist Reds and the conservative Whites. It feels like a preview of what is to come in Russia...
Meanwhile, the southern city of Yekaterinodar comes under White control after an anti-Bolshevik uprising by the Kuban Cossacks. They are led by Viktor Pokrovsky, a former pilot.
Here is what the White forces look like at Turn 7:To be continued...