The Other Coin: Currency of the Russian Civil War
After the overthrow of the Provisional Government on 7th November, 1917, Alexander Kerensky, who had managed to
escape arrest, assembled loyal troops from the Northern Front. Led by General Krasnov, the Cossacks were defeated by
Bolsheviks or Reds. General Lavr Kornilov now organized a Volunteer Army and these soldiers became known as the
Whites. The White Army initially had success in the Ukraine, but The main threat to the Bolsheviks was the German
Army. Vladimir Lenin ordered surrendering the Ukraine, Finland, the Baltic provinces, the Caucasus and Poland to the
The White Army won battles at Simbirsk and Kazan. Vladimir Lenin appointed Leon Trotsky as commissar of war and
was sent to rally the Red Army in the Volga and Kazan and Simbirsk were recaptured in September, 1918, but the White
Army did make progress in the south when General Anton Denikin took control of the Kuban region and General Peter
Wrangel began to advance up the Volga. At about the same, General Nikolai Yudenich captured Gatchina, only 50
kilometres from St. Petersburg.
Admiral Alexander Kolchak also set up an anit-Bolshevik military dictatorship at Omsk in eastern Siberia. To help the
White Army, troops from Britain, France, Japan and the United States were sent into Russia. By December, 1918, there
were 200,000 foreign soldiers supporting the anti-Bolshevik forces. In March, 1919, Alexander Kolchak captured Ufa and
was posing a threat to Kazan and Samara. The Red Army fought back and Kolchak fled eastwards. He was shot by
firing squad on 7th February, 1920.
General Anton Denikin and his army withdrew to the Crimea. He made a brief stand at Rostov before again retreating to
Novorossiysk on the Black Sea. Denikin was forced to leave Russia in April, 1920. General Peter Wrangel now took
control of the White Army in the Crimea but he was unable to make much impression against General Mikhail Frunze and
the Red Army and in November the remaining members of his army left Russia.
About 800,000 soldiers were killed during the three year Civil War. It has estimated that another 8 million died as from
starvation and disease as result of the war.
The currency of the Russian Civil War was issued by the Kerensky, Communists and hundreds of towns, railroads,
factories, White generals, and foreign armies in a bewildering variety and ever increasing denominations. Old notes were
overprinted, punched and otherwise altered along side new notes or coupons promising redemption in gold upon victory.
Numismatically yours, David Elliott