Alekseev, Mikhail Vasilevich

Alekseev, Mikhail Vasil’evich

 

Born Nov. 3 (15), 1857; died Sept. 25, 1918. Russian military figure and infantry general (1914); one of the leaders of the counterrevolution in 1917–18.

Born in Tver Province into a soldier’s family, Alekseev graduated from the Moscow Cadet Infantry School (1876) and the Academy of the General Staff (1890). He served on the General Staff and at the same time, from 1898 to 1904, was a professor in the department of military history of the Academy of the General Staff. In October 1904 he became Quartermaster General of the Manchurian Third Army. He entered the central administration of the General Staff in 1906 and was chief of staff of the Kiev military district as of 1908. He commanded a corps during 1912–14 and after the start of World War I became chief of staff of the Southwestern Front. In March 1915 he took command of the troops of the Northwestern Front. Alekseev was chief of staff of General Headquarters from August 1915 to March 1917, virtually directing all military operations.

Educated, intelligent, and extraordinarily hard-working, Alekseev nonetheless lacked strength of will and military leadership talent. During the February Revolution of 1917, attempting to save the monarchy, he persuaded Nicholas II to abdicate. He served as Supreme Commander-in-Chief from March to May 1917, afterwards becoming a counselor to the Provisional Government. Alekseev opposed the soviets and the democratization of the army; he gave inspiration to counterrevolutionary organizations. On Aug. 30 (Sept. 12) he briefly became chief of staff of A. F. Kerensky’s High Command in order to save the Kornilov venture. Upon arriving at General Headquarters, Alekseev arrested L. G. Kornilov and his supporters, sending them to Bykhov under guard of reliable troops. After the October Revolution, Alekseev fled to Novocherkassk, where on Nov. 2 (15) he began to form the so-called Alekseev officers’ organization, which became the nucleus of the Volunteer Army. In December 1917 its command passed to Kornilov and its political and financial management to Alekseev. In the spring of 1918, Alekseev, with the title of Supreme Commander of the Volunteer Army, headed the so-called special conference which fulfilled the functions of a government under Denikin. He died in Ekaterinodar.