One problem with studying this period is the difficulty in
understanding terms. Especially if they have changed meaning
somewhat over time.
The definitions are only intended to apply for the period 1917-1923.
Armed Forces of South
Russia – the covering name for the forces commanded by
and then Baron Wrangel from January 1919 until May 1920. It included
the Volunteer Army
various Cossack Host
It became the Russian
: the transliterated version of the Russian for
: 1) a bandit.
in Bolshevik terminology, any
person opposing Soviet power by force, especially those not belonging
to the main White or Nationalist factions. Also termed gangster.
for bad weather, often coloured when worn by Cossacks or Mountaineers.
: shirt worn
under a cherkeska
by the the
Caucasian mountaineers and some Cossacks.
: a cap like a
but with no visor ("peakless" in American terminology). Associated
with students, sailors and the coloured regiments.
: the colour associated
with Anarchism. Anarchists are often called "Blacks".
of ultra-reactionary Monarchists, usually violently anti-Semitic.
: another term
: large fur cape, associated with the Cossacks and Natives of the
a young man
at officer training school.
a supporter of the
Constitutional Democrat party.
3) a counter-revolutionary (the Constitutional Democrats being numerous
in the White armies).
: the Soviet
internal security force which combined military-, security- and
functions. The initials come from the "Extra-Ordinary Commission"
portion of the full title: the All Russia Extra-Ordinary Commission for
Combating Counter-Revolution and Sabotage.
: the traditional outer garment of the Caucasian tribesmen, worn by
Kuban and Terek Cossacks.
Communist military units (from the Russian initials of Chasti Osobogo Naznacheniya
Special Purpose Units).
: the badge on the
front of a military hat, generally
very prominent in White armies.
applying to the Volunteer Army units
that wore uniform items of a colourful nature, mostly meaning the
Markov and Drozdovski, but also sometimes the Samursky and HQ units.
: the usual
translations of svodniĭ
term was often used by White armies to describe units which were formed
around the core of a previous much larger unit, usually from the former
Imperial Army: thus, the
"Composite Regiment of the 19th Infantry Division" was a regiment
formed around men who had formerly served in the 19th ID.
a politically reliable man placed inside a Red Army military unit to
further the revolution. Their functions were concerned with
propaganda and organising political activity and not military at this
: in Tsarist
Russia a hereditary legal status, with rights and responsibilities tied
to service in Cossack units. After the revolution the Ukrainians
started to use it as a term for free soldier (its original meaning)
and this carried over to other armies, including the Red Army. Not all
later "Cossack" units were therefore formed of Cossacks in the pre-1917
: the Polish for
cap, of any variety (but see Rogatywka
: 1) when used
a Ukrainian government, another word
for the UNR
when used in Siberia, the Ufa
: 1) the
smallest unit in an army which mixes arms. Thus very small units might
be called "divisions" during the Pygmy Wars as there was no other word
to describe units which combined infantry / cavalry / artillery.
a very common mistranslation of divizion
3) a misunderstanding of the name of a unit that is actually a much
around a cadre from a previous Imperial division.
: a Russian term
for a unit between company and regiment size. For artillery and armour
the word "battalion" is appropriate, but English does not have a
standard translation for cavalry: "demi-regiment" is one option. Note:
it is often translated as "division", which is quite inappropriate.
that included France, Britain and Russia at the start of WWI was the Entente Cordiale
This came to be
the termed used by Russians where "Allies" is more commonly used in
English. It became Soviet dogma that all anti-Soviet forces were acting
in collusion with the Entente at all times. Thus the 1920 Polish war
was sometimes referred to as the "Third Entente Campaign".
Captain in the
Cossack system of ranks.
: an ad hoc
collection of units for a
particular task placed under the leadership of one man.
: in the Red Army
what is usually know as an Corps. Thus several Front
might be at a front.
: the standard
Russian service cap.
: the eastern
portion of the Ukraine that had been Austrian in 1914.
: in Bolshevik
terminology, any person opposing Soviet power by force, especially
those not belonging to the main White or Nationalist factions. Also
: the colour
associated with those who took a locally-minded position in the
struggle between Red and White (although their political position might
align either way).
standard military Russian blouse, with or without a couple of pockets
on the breast and with no fold-down on the collar.
: a term often used for units which mixed cavalry with
infantry, but sometimes just an alternative for cavalry.
: the usual
translation of Voisko
applying to both the Cossack states and their armies.
: Imperial Russian
: 1) a term
for a person from outside the borders of the Russian Empire serving in
the Red Army. There were quite a few units of "Internationals",
especially early in the Civil War.
2) the international Communist organisation founded in March 1919, also
known as the Comintern (for Communitst International) or the Third
International, dedicated to world-wide Marxist revolution.
standard Soviet term for the forces from non-Russian powers which
intervened in the Russian Civil War. Includes both the Entente
Austro-Hungary and Turkey).
: see Cadet (2) and
: a coat,
but often used for cherkeska
: the Red Army
dispensed with officer ranks and commanders were known by a shorthand
for their command: thus a KomDiv commanded a division, a KomBrig a
brigade, a KomPolka a regiment, KomRoty a company.
: the abbreviation
for The Committee of Members of the Constituent Assembly: a Socialist
but anti-Bolshevik government based in Samara. The Czech Legion
supplied their main fighting force.
: a low fur hat,
frequently worn by Cossacks.
: a Red officer
student. Sometimes whole units were formed of such men: they
were among the best in the Red Army.
strips down the opening, the cuffs and along the pockets, associated
with the Imperial Guards and VA coloured units.
Russian word mortira
translated as "mortar", but for the WWI / RCW period it
would usually be referring to a howitzer (along with the term gaubitsa
: the term
describing factions fighting for independence from Russia, whether
Socialist or not.
Peoples' Volunteer Army, which formed in Poland in late 1920, under the
control of Boris Savinkov.
the Independent Corps of the Northern Army. The White army based in
Estonia and the immediately bordering parts of Russia that became the
North-Western Army. Can easily be confused with the Northern Army based
in the Murmansk-Archangel area.
force Iudenich led in his drive on Petrograd.
: when used with
respect to a unit, it implies that there were numerous men serving in
the ranks who had previously held officer rank in the Imperial
: the standard fur
: a man or unit
operating in a non-regular manner, including those operating in the
front line rather than behind them. Units tended to keep the title
"partisan" long after it was
still strictly speaking applicable.
etc : a
Cossack infantryman. It originally had the implication of being a
scout, but not by 1918.
: shoulderboards or epaulettes. Originally large and stiff,
with a field khaki side and a
dress coloured side. During WWI and into the RCW they often appeared as
sewn-on strips on the shirt.
: the system of
three large tabs across the front of the Red Army regulation gimnastërka
and coat (kaftan
: the colour
associated with the revolution and its supporters.
: originally a
member of a local self-defence organisation, usually quite
revolutionary in nature. These were disestablished as fighting units in
1918. The term was sometimes later used to describe anyone
fighting for Soviet power.
: a member of a
Revolutionary Military Committee (RMS or RVS if using the Russian
letters): i.e. a “commissar”.
refers to the Bolshevik take-over (“the October
Revolution”) not the previous February Revolution. Thus a
“counter-revolutionary” was not necessarily
: the Bolshevik
government of Russia (from initials in Russian РФСФР).
: the Red Army (from
РККА, the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army).
: the term the
Soviets used for infantry units.
: see RevKom
: a visored,
four-pointed cap, worn by many Polish units.
: see RevKom
: an other ranks
version of the gimnastërka
: the name
given by Baron Wrangel to the White forces under his command in May
1920; the successor to the AFSR
: the Red Army's
new regulation pointy hat which entered service in large numbers only
towards the end of 1920.
: the usual translation of pogoni
being the unit and rank markings worn by soldiers on their shoulders.
word for committee.
after 1917, another word for
: the Council
of People's Commissars: the official governing body of Soviet Russia.
: a heavy machine gun
mounted on a horse-drawn cart and usually used to support cavalry with
firepower. The number of horses could vary from two to six, but three
and four seem most common. The wagons were generally civilian models,
the area now known as Turkmenistan.
what is now Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan.
common name for the merger of the Komuch
Provisional Siberian Government (technically it was the Provisional
All-Russian Government). Quickly overthrown by Kolchak.
: Ukrainian Galician
: another term for
Ukrainian Galician Army (Galicia starts with H in Ukrainian).
: the Socialist but
non-Bolshevik government of the western portion of the Ukraine, under
main non-Cossack counter-revolutionary army of south Russia, led by
Generals Kornilov, Alekseev and Denikin. This merged into the AFSR.
There were other White groups that termed themselves the "Volunteer
Army" but they generally get an additional title (Peoples' VA,
Astrakhan VA etc).
: see ChEKa.
: see Host
: 1) the colour
associated with those supporting the counter-revolution.
in Bolshevik terminology,
anyone who opposed Bolshevik power (including those who
supported the revolution and opposed the counter-revolution).
: a Bolshevik
term for a soldier fighting for the Whites, or just a