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  • Many opponents of the October Revolution and the Bolsheviks fled to the Don region, hoping to gain influence and the support of the Don Cossacks. One of these was the former Tsarist General Mikhail Alekseev, who began raising troops in order to crush the Bolsheviks. Within time, his force grew to 400 men. With these experienced and well-motivated soldiers, Alekseev was able to influence the Don Cossack Council greatly. Alekseev was soon joined by the charismatic general Lavr Kornilov, who had escaped detention and arrived in the Don region. This gave the Whites in the area a great boost. On November 17, 1917, both Alekseev and Kornilov announced the formation of the Volunteer Army, although that name was not officially accepted until early 1918. General Alekseev became its first commander-in-chief. In January 1918, the Volunteer Army numbered 2,000 men, and was transferred to Rostov, as Kornilov could not persuade the Don Cossack leader, Ataman Kaledin to take joint action alongside his Whites. By February Kaledin had been defeated by the Reds and the Volunteer Army retreated behind the river Don. In March 1918 the Volunteer Army was strengthened and now numbered 5,000 men.

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