Alexeyev, Mikhail Vasilievich
ALEXEYEV, MIKHAIL VASILIEVICH
(1857–1918), Imperial Russian general staff officer, commander, Stavka chief of staff and White Army leader.
General-Adjutant Mikhail Alexeyev was born in Vyazma, the son of a noncommissioned officer who had fought at Sevastopol in the Crimean War, then attained officer rank. Alexeyev completed the Moscow Junker School (1876) and the Nicholas Academy of the General Staff (1890). He taught at the latter between 1898 and the Russo-Japanese War, in which he served at Sandepu and Mukden as chief of staff for the Third Manchurian Army. A believer in limited monarchy, Alexeyev rose in 1908 to become acting quartermaster general of the General Staff, then served from 1908 to 1912 as chief of staff of the Kiev Military District. Until 1911, Alexeyev continued to advise War Minister Vladimir Aleksandrovich Sukhomlinov on war planning. Alexeyev's General Plan of Actions subsequently became a precursor for Mobilization Schedule 19A, the foundation for Russia's entry into World War I. Alexeyev began the war as chief of staff of the Southwestern Front, then commanded the Northwestern Front in 1915 during its successful but costly withdrawal from the Polish salient.
As Stavka chief of staff for Tsar Nicholas II after August 1915, Alekseyev functioned as de facto supreme commander, but was tainted in 1916 by the ill-conceived Naroch operation and by failure to support the more successful Brusilov Offensive. While maintaining contact with the liberal opposition, he left Stavka in December 1916 for reasons of health, then returned in March to June 1917 as supreme commander. An ardent anti-Bolshevik between the two Russian revolutions of 1917, he fought against the disintegration of the army, even agreeing to serve temporarily as the army's commander-in-chief after the Kornilov Affair of September 1917. Following the Bolshevik coup of November 1917, Alexeyev and Lavr Georgievich Kornilov became the military nucleus around which a White counterrevolutionary movement in the Don and Kuban organized the Volunteer Army. Alexeyev's death in October 1918 at Yekaterinodar deprived the Whites of perhaps their most talented commander and planner. He left the legacy of a keen military professional who consistently rendered impressive service as commander and staff officer under extraordinarily challenging military and political circumstances.
See also: kornilov affair; nicholas ii; stavka; white army; world war i
Wildman, Allan K. (1980, 1987). The End of the Russian Imperial Army. 2 vols. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Oleg R. Airapetov