Many compatriots will remember the centenary of the Great October Revolution with the pseudo-historical serials “Trotsky” and “The Demon of the Revolution”, which even more mythologized the ideas of fateful events for the country and the world that were already vague in the mass consciousness. The revolution had many interrelated reasons - both objective and subjective. The second category, without a doubt, includes the personality factor.
Lavr Georgievich Kornilov stayed in stories controversial figure. The author of one of the most complete biographies of General Vasily Tsvetkov writes: “For some, Kornilov is an experienced military, an outstanding diplomat, a sincere patriot. For others, a primitive politician, an extremely ambitious and rude general. ” Of course, in the article one can touch only some milestones of the outstanding person’s biography. I will try to examine them in the context of an epoch or, as Lev Gumilyov wrote, from a bird's-eye view.
Kornilov was born in the same year as Lenin - in 1870. His homeland is the village of Karakalinskaya, father Georgiy Nikolayevich is a Siberian Cossack, without cronyism and protection, who by his own work rose to the cornet. Despite the officer's rank, he plowed, sowed, cleaned. Laurel since childhood stretched to knowledge. According to his other biographer, historian Yevgeny Komarovsky, the future commander “reads books even by the light of a fire when he guards horses in the night,” which was not just entertainment intended to brighten the vigil under a starry Siberian sky. Kornilov was preparing to enter the elite 1 Imperial Siberian Alexander I Cadet Corps. And as subsequent events showed, I learned brilliantly - I graduated from it according to the first category.
The next step Kornilov is very ambitious - Petersburg. Enrolling in the Mikhailovsky Artillery School, the young man showed not only an innate fighting character, but also an obstinate disposition. “The head of the school, General Chernyavsky,” Komarovsky notes, “helps Lavr Kornilov to graduate from the school, standing up for his defense when the young cynx is threatened with dismissal for an independent temper and a sharp tongue.”
It is noteworthy that another outstanding Russian general — the son of a serf peasant who had risen to a Major’s rank, Anton Denikin (“Not a Drop of the Leader”) nearly paid for his character with a “career” for his character. After completing his studies at the Nikolaev Academy, he was not counted among the General Staff precisely “for character”. Such was the decision of the military minister, Adjutant General Alexei Kuropatkin, notorious for the Russian-Japanese war. True, after the personal letter of the then captain Denikin, the minister figured out the situation and Anton Ivanovich was counted among the General Staff.
But for us something else is important - the very possibility of studying for the modest son of a cornet in a prestigious military school shows that in the Russian Empire it’s somehow with a slip, but social elevators worked. If, even after the abolition of serfdom, the powers that be would have deigned to introduce universal primary education ...
Expert of Turkestan
After graduating from college with a gold medal, Kornilov received the right to choose a regiment for further service. And he went to the Turkestan artillery brigade stationed in Central Asia. Needless to say, the young officer’s choice of a far from prestigious, recently conquered region surprised his classmates. What considerations drove Kornilov? It is clear that no career. The fact is that in Kornilov, as well as in Kolchak, one should see not only a military man, but also a scientist.
In Central Asia, he becomes acquainted with local customs, with language and succeeds in this field, having learned Farsi. But not only does he find time for him - he is intensively engaged in preparing for admission to the Nikolaev Academy of the General Staff. He passed the exam, studied brilliantly, as evidenced by the silver medal.
To many colleagues, Laurus probably thought then: now he will settle in the capital, somewhere at headquarters. But Kornilov was surprised again, going to the East he was familiar with, not only as a scientist, but as a scout. “Understanding the importance of the Central Asian direction for the Russian Empire, I thought that service here would provide new opportunities for studying the strategic deployment of Russian troops in the event of a possible conflict with Persia, Afghanistan or even Great Britain” (Tsvetkov).
Let me digress from the biography of Kornilov and, in order to fully appreciate his activities, touch upon the military-political situation that developed at the end of the 19th century in Central Asia, marked by tough rivalry between the Russian and British empires - pillars, as Alexander Dugin likes to write, tellurocracy and thalassocracy. Between them there was a real cold war in the region, at times almost growing into a hot one — the only armed conflict during the rule of Alexander III was provoked by the British at Kushka in 1885. They were extremely concerned about the movement of Russia to the south - towards the borders of British India. At the end of the century, despite some rapprochement between St. Petersburg and London, caused by the growing German threat (although more so for England than for Russia), the situation in Central Asia remained tense. And in the 1898, Kornilov, in Termez. His boss is a well-known orientalist, General of Infantry, Mikhail Ionov. The task is the study of Afghanistan, more precisely, of the newly built Deidadi fortress. I emphasize: Kornilov volunteered, knowing full well that “all attempts by scouts to penetrate the fortress ended sadly — they were impaled” (Komarovsky).
The mission was completed and, to the surprise of Ionov, the scout returned alive, receiving a military award in peacetime - the Order of Saint Vladimir of the 4th degree. The young officer was helped not only by the knowledge of the local language, but also by unsuspecting and inherited from the ancestors of the maternal line, the Mongoloid facial features. Another would, after such a dangerous enterprise, go on vacation. The path of Kornilov lies in Kashgaria and again with a reconnaissance mission. Its result was the book "Kashgaria or East Turkestan", thanks to which the intelligence officer and ethnographer also showed himself as a writer, whose work was favorably accepted by the scientific community. It seemed that the dangers only inspired the officer, because his next trip took place in 1901 and, according to Komarovsky, ran through “the Stepash of Despair - Dashti-Naumed, unexplored before him and left a white spot on the map of Persia. No traveler has ever returned from there. ” Kornilov interrupted the sad statistics.
Between these fascinating, perilous travels, he married. And what is a wedding without a honeymoon? A young couple spends it in the ... desert.
From Mukden to captivity
Of course, the headquarters of the Turkestan Military District drew attention to a talented officer, and in 1903, he went on a new expedition, this time to India, where he was caught by the Russo-Japanese War. Kornilov, like his comrade in the White movement Denikin, mentioned above, volunteers for the army in the field.
The order given in Komarovsky’s work testifies how he fought: “February 25 1905 of the year, having received an order to withdraw from Mukden station from different 1, 2 and 3 units to the Mukden station, which suffered heavy losses in the officer corps and the lower ranks, Lieutenant Colonel Kornilov, reaching the outskirts of the village of Vasai, at about three o'clock in the afternoon took up a position here and for four hours kept the onslaught of the enemy, who fired at our position with the strongest artillery, machine-gun and ru eynym fire; during this time, two regiment commanders were out of action, and in the 2 rifle regiment only three officers remained. Withstanding the onslaught of the enemy, Lieutenant Colonel Kornilov gathered the lower ranks of the various units, retreating in groups and one by one, sending them north along the railway. They were taken under the protection of the banner of the 10-th rifle regiment, followed with a small convoy separate from the regiment, and the abandoned machine guns were taken. At about 7 hours of the evening, having missed a significant mass of various units retreating from the lower ranks and thus ensuring their withdrawal, Lieutenant-Colonel Kornilov set about clearing his position. Vazy village was at this time almost surrounded by the enemy. The intensified fire of our shooters and the attack at bayonets of the 5 Company of the 3 Rifle Regiment forced the Japanese to move apart and open the way to the detachment of Lieutenant Colonel Kornilov, who carried out banners, machine guns and all his wounded and retreated to the north along the railway.
For military distinctions Kornilov promoted to colonel. The next milestone of life was China. He goes to a new place of service not by train in a comfortable 1-class car, but straight from Irkutsk to Beijing on horseback.
The beginning of the 20th century is a turning point in the history of the Middle Kingdom. Shortly before her, the outstanding Russian philosopher and mystic Vladimir Soloviev wrote: “China is still asleep, but there will be grief when it wakes up.” Did an observant military agent (military attaché) notice — by the way, having met Chiang Kai-shek’s young then — the awakening of a huge country that had just survived the defeat of the Ihetiani uprising — the first in the 20th century war among civilizations? Did you feel in the inhospitable sands of Central Asia and the snow-covered mountains of Afghanistan that it was there, and not in an alien Europe, the future of Russia? I will try to answer this question below. However, in China, Kornilov did not serve long and was recalled to St. Petersburg in 1910. Of course, he returns riding through the Mongolian steppes. Further - service in various staff and command positions. In 1911, he was promoted to major general. The First World War found him the commander of the 1 of the 9 of the Siberian Rifle Division located in Vladivostok. Kornilov hurries to the front, where “he temporarily takes under his command the 48 th infantry division, which includes regiments bearing the famous“ Suvorov ”names - 189 th Ismail, 190 th Ochakov, 191 th Largo-Kagulsky and 192 th Rymniki "(Komarovsky).
Having proved himself to be a talented ethnographer and orientalist, a scout and tireless traveler, Kornilov must demonstrate the ability to solve complex tactical tasks, even under conditions when the front-line and army command was for the most part out of place. And commanders, starting with the attackers, had to pay for both their own and their subordinates with blood for the worst mistakes of their higher - often titled - superiors. 48-I more than once turned out to be covered from the flanks and got surrounded. The question of whose fault it remains is open: either the commander, cavalry general Alexei Brusilov, or the division commander himself. However, it is known for sure: the division broke through from the encirclement, Kornilov is always ahead, for which he was promoted to lieutenant general. But in April, 1915 of the year, 48-I fell into another entourage, and its commander was captured, from which he fled the following year, becoming the only general in World War who managed to do this. In Russia, he is greeted as a hero. And a dizzying career begins: almost a year later, he traveled from comorus to the commander of the Petrograd military district - this appointment was the last order signed by Emperor Nicholas II a few hours before the abdication. However, Kornilov’s takeoff was due to the commander’s not manifested talent. The leading place in the Russian military elite ensured popularity in an exalted society. By the way, the same can be said about Kornilov’s comrade Denikin who has been mentioned many times: in 1917, thanks to his popularity in the military environment and moderate liberal views, he has turned from a comcor to a chief of staff of the Russian army.
Brusilov did not share all these enthusiasm for Kornilov, and even believed that after escaping, he should have been brought to justice, and there was a low opinion of the former leader’s leadership skills, which he wrote about in detail in his memoirs, noting that Kornilov often did not follow his orders. - for which the division suffered losses among the personnel and in the material part. Interestingly, Denikin, who deeply respected Kornilov, on the contrary, highly appreciating the commander's gift of a comrade in the White movement, does not understand the circumstances of his captivity.
Last servant of the empire
The Petrograd garrison of Kornilov headed essentially a whole month. In the whirlwind of chaos and revolutionary events caused by the collapse of the old world, he was confused. There is no wonder in this - the general was not a politician, as, in fact, the leaders of the Provisional Government, and later the leaders of the White movement, were not in the true sense of the word. Kornilov leaves the capital and receives the 8 Army, the main striking force of the upcoming summer offensive of the South-Western Front. In my opinion, in this step, the reasons for future failures. Kornilov did not understand that the people did not want to fight for the economic interests of a handful of moneybags who were ready to drive the soldiers to slaughter for the sake of "the straits and Constantinople." And it was precisely in the spring days of 1917 that the tragedy of the transformations that were once accomplished by Peter I was clearly revealed. After all, their result was the birth of two completely alien to Russia: the nobility itself — Europeanized and incomprehensible to it — the people. The life, superstitions and mentality of the latter are brilliantly reflected in the works of researchers such as Boris Uspensky and Elena Levkievskaya. And I think if the landowners of the 19th century read their books, they would have decided that they were told about the inhabitants of another, completely alien to civilization.
In a word, by the summer the peasantry (and, as is known, it was the core of the army) was less concerned about the offensive undertaken in the interests of the big bourgeoisie and the allies, disguised with pseudo-patriotic rhetoric. The Earth was excited - precisely with a capital letter, with a sacred character and an absolute value in the public consciousness. And the offensive failed, although 8-I army fought with dignity and even achieved success, largely leveled by the Tarnopolsky breakthrough of the Germans. But since the troops led by Kornilov showed their best and did not run, it was he who became the Supreme Commander in July of the 1917. And with him, the criterion for appointments to key positions in the army was not the principle of competence, but loyalty directly to the commander-in-chief. Thus, at the insistence of Kornilov, the South-Western Front accepted Denikin — a brave and talented divisional commander, but who had no experience in making strategic decisions, never before that — not even the army commander.
The popularity of Kornilov among the troops, more precisely, in the officer circles, was decided to take advantage of the big bourgeoisie — in the person of Alexei Putilov first of all. And then followed the August events, which required a separate article, as a result of which the general and his closest associates turned out to be in Bykhov, Kerensky - a political bankrupt, and the Bolsheviks a few months later - the rulers who drove the last nail into the coffin of the Russian Empire. Could Kornilov and a few, moreover, a very insignificant part of the officers, come to terms with it? The question is rhetorical. Kornilov embarked on the path of the Civil War, which ultimately led him under the walls of Ekaterinodar, where 13 of April 1918 of the year fell the curtain of the earthly life of a brave general and a talented scientist. And if it were not for Denikin's military talent, the Volunteer Army, which Kornilov, regardless of losses, would have died for slaughter, would have perished.
The tragedy is not even in the fact that he was a feigneer who, figuratively speaking, did not feel the tectonic processes that set the masses in motion with their terrible historical memory for the nobility. His metaphysical tragedy, if you like, lay in an effort to save the brainchild of Peter I - the empire, even if it were flying the republican flag, but united and indivisible, oriented to the West and designed to drag chestnuts for one or the other actor of a large European game, which she and did since the XVIII century. So Russian soldiers shed blood for the sake of France’s interests on the margins of the Seven Years War, and Peter III, who stopped this completely senseless slaughter for Russia, was almost cursed by descendants. So brilliant Suvorov freed Italy from revolutionary France for Austria. So Alexander I got involved in wars with Napoleon that were alien to us, literally provoking the latter’s invasion of 1812. So faithful to the principles of the Holy Alliance, Nicholas I allowed himself to be drawn into the Crimean War. From the same series was the First World. But the people's patience ran out, he no longer wanted to die for the economic and other interests of the "allies." The impulse that Peter once set up by the empire he created has faded away. And the curtain over her story finally fell and irrevocably. Although, as I see it, Providence gave the general a chance to feel the vector of the future geopolitical development of Russia - in the East and Central Asia. But, probably, he was deaf to what the first Russian Eurasians heard, such different personalities as Pavel Pestel, Nikolay Danilevsky and Fyodor Dostoevsky, and of the whites - Baron Ungern von Sternberg: the future of Russia is connected with the East in the widest sense of the word . This, by the way, was perfectly understood by the Bolsheviks, who had already established diplomatic relations with Afghanistan in 1919. Kornilov did not realize that after the Crimean War Peter Vyazemsky understood perfectly. Vadim Tsymbursky quoted his words in his “Morphology of Russian Geopolitics”: “Russia and Europe are no longer one, but two beings, two communities in separate spaces, and in a new era Russia will be present in the life of Europe“ by its absence ”. This is the tragedy of both Kornilov himself and the White movement as a whole.