Lavr Kornilov
Overview
 
Lavr Georgiyevich Kornilov was a military intelligence
Military intelligence
Military intelligence is a military discipline that exploits a number of information collection and analysis approaches to provide guidance and direction to commanders in support of their decisions....

 officer, explorer, and general in the Imperial Russian Army
Imperial Russian Army
The Imperial Russian Army was the land armed force of the Russian Empire, active from around 1721 to the Russian Revolution of 1917. In the early 1850s, the Russian army consisted of around 938,731 regular soldiers and 245,850 irregulars . Until the time of military reform of Dmitry Milyutin in...

 during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 and the ensuing Russian Civil War
Russian Civil War
The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war that occurred within the former Russian Empire after the Russian provisional government collapsed to the Soviets, under the domination of the Bolshevik party. Soviet forces first assumed power in Petrograd The Russian Civil War (1917–1923) was a...

. He is today best remembered for the Kornilov Affair
Kornilov Affair
The Kornilov Affair, or the Kornilov Putsch as it is sometimes referred to, was an attempted coup d'état by the then Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Army, General Lavr Kornilov, in August 1917 against the Russian Provisional Government headed by Alexander Kerensky.-Background:Following the...

, an unsuccessful endeavor in August/September 1917 that purported to strengthen Alexander Kerensky
Alexander Kerensky
Alexander Fyodorovich Kerensky was a major political leader before and during the Russian Revolutions of 1917.Kerensky served as the second Prime Minister of the Russian Provisional Government until Vladimir Lenin was elected by the All-Russian Congress of Soviets following the October Revolution...

's Provisional Government, but which led to Kerensky eventually having Kornilov arrested and charged with attempting a coup d'état
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

.
Originally a Cossack
Cossack
Cossacks are a group of predominantly East Slavic people who originally were members of democratic, semi-military communities in what is today Ukraine and Southern Russia inhabiting sparsely populated areas and islands in the lower Dnieper and Don basins and who played an important role in the...

 born in Ust-Kamenogorsk, Russian Turkestan
Russian Turkestan
Russian Turkestan was the western part of Turkestan within the Russian Empire , comprising the oasis region to the south of the Kazakh steppes, but not the protectorates of the Emirate of Bukhara and the Khanate of Khiva.-History:-Establishment:Although Russia had been pushing south into the...

 (now Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

) in a family of Cossack Chorąży
Chorąży
Chorąży or Khorunzhyi is a military rank in Poland, Ukraine and some neighboring countries. A chorąży was once a knight who bore a standard — the emblem of an armed troop, a province , a land , a duchy, or the kingdom...

 and his wife of Kalmyk
Kalmyk
Kalmyk , "Kalmuck," "Kalmuk," or "Kalmyki"' may refer to:*Kalmyk people or Kalmyks , a group of western Mongolic people*Kalmyk language , the language of the Kalmyk people...

 origin, Kornilov entered military school in Omsk
Omsk
-History:The wooden fort of Omsk was erected in 1716 to protect the expanding Russian frontier along the Ishim and the Irtysh rivers against the Kyrgyz nomads of the Steppes...

 in 1885 and went on to study at the Mikhailovsky Artillery School in St.
Encyclopedia
Lavr Georgiyevich Kornilov was a military intelligence
Military intelligence
Military intelligence is a military discipline that exploits a number of information collection and analysis approaches to provide guidance and direction to commanders in support of their decisions....

 officer, explorer, and general in the Imperial Russian Army
Imperial Russian Army
The Imperial Russian Army was the land armed force of the Russian Empire, active from around 1721 to the Russian Revolution of 1917. In the early 1850s, the Russian army consisted of around 938,731 regular soldiers and 245,850 irregulars . Until the time of military reform of Dmitry Milyutin in...

 during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 and the ensuing Russian Civil War
Russian Civil War
The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war that occurred within the former Russian Empire after the Russian provisional government collapsed to the Soviets, under the domination of the Bolshevik party. Soviet forces first assumed power in Petrograd The Russian Civil War (1917–1923) was a...

. He is today best remembered for the Kornilov Affair
Kornilov Affair
The Kornilov Affair, or the Kornilov Putsch as it is sometimes referred to, was an attempted coup d'état by the then Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Army, General Lavr Kornilov, in August 1917 against the Russian Provisional Government headed by Alexander Kerensky.-Background:Following the...

, an unsuccessful endeavor in August/September 1917 that purported to strengthen Alexander Kerensky
Alexander Kerensky
Alexander Fyodorovich Kerensky was a major political leader before and during the Russian Revolutions of 1917.Kerensky served as the second Prime Minister of the Russian Provisional Government until Vladimir Lenin was elected by the All-Russian Congress of Soviets following the October Revolution...

's Provisional Government, but which led to Kerensky eventually having Kornilov arrested and charged with attempting a coup d'état
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

.

Pre-revolutionary career

Originally a Cossack
Cossack
Cossacks are a group of predominantly East Slavic people who originally were members of democratic, semi-military communities in what is today Ukraine and Southern Russia inhabiting sparsely populated areas and islands in the lower Dnieper and Don basins and who played an important role in the...

 born in Ust-Kamenogorsk, Russian Turkestan
Russian Turkestan
Russian Turkestan was the western part of Turkestan within the Russian Empire , comprising the oasis region to the south of the Kazakh steppes, but not the protectorates of the Emirate of Bukhara and the Khanate of Khiva.-History:-Establishment:Although Russia had been pushing south into the...

 (now Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

) in a family of Cossack Chorąży
Chorąży
Chorąży or Khorunzhyi is a military rank in Poland, Ukraine and some neighboring countries. A chorąży was once a knight who bore a standard — the emblem of an armed troop, a province , a land , a duchy, or the kingdom...

 and his wife of Kalmyk
Kalmyk
Kalmyk , "Kalmuck," "Kalmuk," or "Kalmyki"' may refer to:*Kalmyk people or Kalmyks , a group of western Mongolic people*Kalmyk language , the language of the Kalmyk people...

 origin, Kornilov entered military school in Omsk
Omsk
-History:The wooden fort of Omsk was erected in 1716 to protect the expanding Russian frontier along the Ishim and the Irtysh rivers against the Kyrgyz nomads of the Steppes...

 in 1885 and went on to study at the Mikhailovsky Artillery School in St. Petersburg in 1889. in August 1892, he was assigned as a lieutenant to the Turkestan Military District
Turkestan Military District
The Turkestan Military District was a military district of both the Imperial Russian Army and the Soviet Armed Forces, with its headquarters at Tashkent. The District was first created during the 1874 Russian military reform when by order of Minister D.A. Milyutinym the territory of Russia was...

, where he led several exploration missions in Eastern Turkestan
Xinjiang
Xinjiang is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China. It is the largest Chinese administrative division and spans over 1.6 million km2...

, Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 and Persia
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, learned several Central Asian languages, and wrote detailed reports about his observations.
He returned St. Petersburg to attend the Mykolayiv General Staff Academy and graduated as a captain in 1897. Again refusing a posting at St. Peterburg, he returned again to the Turkestan Military District, where he resumed his duties as a military intelligence officer.

During the Russo-Japanese War
Russo-Japanese War
The Russo-Japanese War was "the first great war of the 20th century." It grew out of rival imperial ambitions of the Russian Empire and Japanese Empire over Manchuria and Korea...

 of 1904-1905 Kornilov became the Chief of staff of the 1st Infantry Brigade, and was involved heavily at the Battle of Sandepu
Battle of Sandepu
The Battle of Sandepu, was a major land battle of the Russo-Japanese War. It was fought within a group of villages about 36 miles southwest of Mukden, Manchuria.-Background:...

 and the Battle of Mukden
Battle of Mukden
One of the largest land battles to be fought before World War I, the , the last major land battle of the Russo-Japanese War, was fought from 20 February to 10 March 1905 between Japan and Russia near Mukden in Manchuria...

. He was awarded the Order of St. George
Order of St. George
The Military Order of the Holy Great-Martyr and the Triumphant George The Military Order of the Holy Great-Martyr and the Triumphant George The Military Order of the Holy Great-Martyr and the Triumphant George (also known as Order of St. George the Triumphant, Russian: Военный орден Св...

 (4th class) for bravery and promoted to the rank of colonel
Colonel
Colonel , abbreviated Col or COL, is a military rank of a senior commissioned officer. It or a corresponding rank exists in most armies and in many air forces; the naval equivalent rank is generally "Captain". It is also used in some police forces and other paramilitary rank structures...

.

Following the end of the war, Kornilov served as military attache
Military attaché
A military attaché is a military expert who is attached to a diplomatic mission . This post is normally filled by a high-ranking military officer who retains the commission while serving in an embassy...

 in China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 from 1907–11. He studied the Chinese language
Chinese language
The Chinese language is a language or language family consisting of varieties which are mutually intelligible to varying degrees. Originally the indigenous languages spoken by the Han Chinese in China, it forms one of the branches of Sino-Tibetan family of languages...

, traveled extensively researching the history, traditions and customs of the Chinese, which he intended to use as material for a book about life in contemporary China, and regularly sent detailed reports to the General Staff and Foreign Ministry. Kornilov paid much attention to the prospects of cooperation between Russia and China in the Far East and met with the future president of China, Chiang Kai-shek
Chiang Kai-shek
Chiang Kai-shek was a political and military leader of 20th century China. He is known as Jiǎng Jièshí or Jiǎng Zhōngzhèng in Mandarin....

. In 1910 Kornilov was recalled from Beijing, but remained in St. Petersburg for only five months, before departing for western Mongolia and Kashgar to examine the military situation along China's border with Russia. From February 2, 1911 he was made Commander of the 8th Infantry Regiment of Estonia
Estonia
Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

, and was later appointed commander of the 9th Siberian Rifle Division, stationed in Vladivostok
Vladivostok
The city is located in the southern extremity of Muravyov-Amursky Peninsula, which is about 30 km long and approximately 12 km wide.The highest point is Mount Kholodilnik, the height of which is 257 m...

.

In 1914, at the start of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, Kornilov was appointed commander of the 48th Infantry Division, which saw combat in Galicia and the Carpathians. In 1915, he was promoted to the rank of major general
Major General
Major general or major-general is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. A major general is a high-ranking officer, normally subordinate to the rank of lieutenant general and senior to the ranks of brigadier and brigadier general...

. During heavy fighting he was captured by the Austrians in April 1915, when his division became isolated from the rest of the Russian forces. After his capture, Field Marshal
Field Marshal
Field Marshal is a military rank. Traditionally, it is the highest military rank in an army.-Etymology:The origin of the rank of field marshal dates to the early Middle Ages, originally meaning the keeper of the king's horses , from the time of the early Frankish kings.-Usage and hierarchical...

 Conrad
Franz Graf Conrad von Hötzendorf
Count Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf was an Austrian soldier and Chief of the General Staff of the Austro-Hungarian Army at the outbreak of World War I.-Early life and military career:...

, the commander of the Austro-Hungarian Army
Austro-Hungarian Army
The Austro-Hungarian Army was the ground force of the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy from 1867 to 1918. It was composed of three parts: the joint army , the Austrian Landwehr , and the Hungarian Honvédség .In the wake of fighting between the...

, made a point of meeting him in person. Being a major general he was a high value prisoner of war, but in July 1916 Kornilov managed to escape back to Russia and return to duty.

Kornilov was critical of the Russian monarchy and, after the overthrow of Czar Nicholas II he was given command of the Petrograd Military District in March 1917. In July, after commanding the only successful front in the disastrous Russian offensive of June, 1917, he became Supreme Commander-in-Chief
Commander-in-Chief
A commander-in-chief is the commander of a nation's military forces or significant element of those forces. In the latter case, the force element may be defined as those forces within a particular region or those forces which are associated by function. As a practical term it refers to the military...

 of the Provisional Government's armed forces.

Kornilov Affair

Although critical of the Tsar, General Kornilov felt that Russia, as part of the Triple Entente
Triple Entente
The Triple Entente was the name given to the alliance among Britain, France and Russia after the signing of the Anglo-Russian Entente in 1907....

, was committed to continue the war against the Central Powers
Central Powers
The Central Powers were one of the two warring factions in World War I , composed of the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Bulgaria...

, and he shared the widespread belief of some Russians that after the February Revolution
February Revolution
The February Revolution of 1917 was the first of two revolutions in Russia in 1917. Centered around the then capital Petrograd in March . Its immediate result was the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II, the end of the Romanov dynasty, and the end of the Russian Empire...

 the country was descending into anarchy and that military defeat would be disastrous for Russia. Lenin and his 'German spies', he announced, should be hanged, the Soviets stamped out, military discipline restored and the provisional government 'restructured'. He alleged, thanks to unclear and perhaps deliberately distorted communications from Petrograd, that Kerensky had authorized him to impose order in the capital and restructure the government, and ordered the Third Corps to Petrograd to place it under martial law. Kerensky dismissed his commander-in-chief from his post on September 9, claiming Kornilov intended to set up a military dictatorship. Kornilov, convinced that Kerensky had been taken prisoner by the Bolsheviks and was acting under duress, replied by issuing a call to all Russians to "save their dying land."

Russian Civil War

After the alleged coup collapsed as his troops disintegrated, Kornilov and his fellow conspirators were placed under arrest in the Bikhov jail. On 19 November, a few weeks after the proclamation of soviet power in Petrograd, they escaped from their confinement (eased by the fact that the jail was guarded by Kornilov's supporters) and made their way to the Don region, which was controlled by the Don Cossacks
Don Cossacks
Don Cossacks were Cossacks who settled along the middle and lower Don.- Etymology and origins :The Don Cossack Host was a frontier military organization from the end of the 16th until the early 20th century....

. Here they linked up with General Mikhail Alekseev
Mikhail Alekseev
Mikhail Vasiliyevich Alekseyev was an Imperial Russian Army general during World War I and the Russian Civil War. Between 1915 and 1917 he was Chief of Staff to Tsar Nicholas II, and after the February Revolution, March–July 1917 the commander in chief of the Russian army...

. Kornilov became the military commander of the anti-Bolshevik Volunteer Army
Volunteer Army
The Volunteer Army was an anti-Bolshevik army in South Russia during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1920....

 with Alekseev as the political chief.

Even before the Red Army was formed, Lavr Kornilov promised, "the greater the terror, the greater our victories." He vowed that the goals of his forces must be fulfilled even if it was needed "to setfire to half the country and shed the blood of three-fourths of all Russians." In just the village Lezhanka of the Don region, bands of Kornilov's officers killed more than 500 people.

On 24 Feb, as Rostov
Rostov
Rostov is a town in Yaroslavl Oblast, Russia, one of the oldest in the country and a tourist center of the Golden Ring. It is located on the shores of Lake Nero, northeast of Moscow. Population:...

 and the Don Cossack capital of Novocherkassk
Novocherkassk
Novocherkassk is a city in Rostov Oblast, Russia, located on the right bank of the Tuzlov River and on the Aksay River. Population: 169,039 ; 170,822 ; 178,000 ; 123,000 ; 81,000 ; 52,000 ....

 fell to the Bolsheviks, Kornilov led the Volunteer Army on the epic 'Ice March
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...

' into the empty steppe towards the Kuban
Kuban
Kuban is a geographic region of Southern Russia surrounding the Kuban River, on the Black Sea between the Don Steppe, Volga Delta and the Caucasus...

. Although badly outnumbered, he escaped destruction from pursuing Bolshevik forces and laid siege to Ekaterinodar, the capital of the Kuban Soviet Republic
Kuban Soviet Republic
The Kuban Soviet Republic was part of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic within the general territory of the Kuban. Its capital was Yekaterinodar.It was merged into the Kuban-Black Sea Soviet Republic on May 30, 1918....

, on 10 April. However, in the early morning of 13 April, a Soviet shell landed on his farmhouse headquarters and killed him. He was buried in a nearby village.

A few days later, when the Bolsheviks gained control of the village, they unearthed Kornilov's coffin, dragged his corpse to the main square and burnt his remains on the local rubbish dump.

The Kornilov Division, one of the crack units of the White Army, was named after him, as well as many other autonomous White Army formations, such as the Kuban Cossack Kornilov Horse Regiment. This division became recognizable for its Totenkopf
Totenkopf
The Totenkopf is the German word for the death's head and an old symbol for death or the dead. It consists usually of the skull and the mandible of the human skeleton...

 insignia, which appears on the division's flags, pennants, and soldiers' sleeve patches.

Honours and awards

  • Order of St. Stanislaus, third degree (1901), 2nd degree (1904 and 1906 with swords)
  • Order of St. Anne
    Order of St. Anna
    The Order of St. Anna ) is a Holstein and then Russian Imperial order of chivalry established by Karl Friedrich, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp on 14 February 1735, in honour of his wife Anna Petrovna, daughter of Peter the Great of Russia...

    , 3rd degree (1903) and 2nd degree (6 December 1909)
  • Order of St. George
    Order of St. George
    The Military Order of the Holy Great-Martyr and the Triumphant George The Military Order of the Holy Great-Martyr and the Triumphant George The Military Order of the Holy Great-Martyr and the Triumphant George (also known as Order of St. George the Triumphant, Russian: Военный орден Св...

    , 4th degree (9 August 1905) and 3rd degree (28 April 1915)
  • Gold Sword for Bravery
    Gold Sword for Bravery
    The Gold Sword for Bravery was a Russian Empire award for bravery. It was set up with two grades on 27 July 1720 by Peter the Great, reclassified as a public order in 1807 and abolished in 1917. From 1913 to 1917 it was renamed the St George Sword and considered as one of the grades of the Order...

    (9 May 1907)
  • Badge of the 1st Kuban (Ice) campaign (1918)
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