The main protagonists in the RCW were the ‘Reds’ – the Bolsheviks, and the ‘Whites’ – broadly speaking the pro-Czarist opposition. There were also nationalist armies in Ukraine, Poland, Finland, Estonia, Central Asia and other places all seeking independence from their Russian overlords. To complicate matters still further there was armed intervention from Russia’s former allies – Great Britain, France, the USA, and Japan. Throw into the mix an anarchist uprising, armies of armed bandits and an army of former Czech prisoners of war who had agreed to fight for the Russians against their Austro-Hungarian masters and now just wanted to go home!
Eventually the Reds triumphed due to the advantage of having internal lines of communication, a gifted military organiser in Leon Trotsky, an inspired and utterly ruthless political leader in Lenin, and the disparate aims of their opposition (the relative weight you ascribe to each of these factors largely depends on where, if anywhere, your sympathies lie). However the Reds did not have things all their own way, they were completely defeated in their attempts to invade Poland and reclaim that country for the Soviet Union and were forced to acknowledge the independence of Finland (previously a semi-autonomous region of Russia) after a bitter civil war within that region.
We will look at the major campaigns of the RCW individually, click here