Lavr Kornilov found fame by attempting to over throw Kerensky’s Provisional Government in 1917. Kornilov was a general in the Imperial Russian Army and he wanted Russia governed by a military dictatorship.
Kornilov was born in August 1870 in Ust-Kamenogorsk, Western Siberia. He graduated from the Mikhailovsky Artillery training Corps in 1892. From this year on, Kornilov had a very varied military career. He served in Turkestan, Iran and India. He fought in the Russo-Japanese War from 1904 to 1905 and after this he served as a military attaché in China.
Kornilov fought in World War One but was captured by Austro-Hungarian forces in March 1915. At this moment in time, Kornilov was just one of many Russian officers and had little fame. However, his escape from his captors and his return to Russian lines ensured that he became a celebrity. His reward for his devotion to duty was the command of the XXV Corps on the south west front.
When Kerensky took power with the Provisional Government, Kornilov was appointed military commander of Petrograd (formerly St. Petersburg). He was given the specific task of restoring law and order to the city. From here, Kornilov returned to the battlefield and launched an offensive against the Germans at Galicia. It was a failure.
Despite this apparent setback, Kerensky appointed Kornilov as the Provisional Government’s Commander-in-Chief in August 1917.
However, Kornilov and Kerensky fell out over political and military issues. Kornilov wanted the death penalty re-introduced for soldiers who failed to perform on the battlefield. In August 1917, Kornilov ordered his troops to march on Petrograd to overthrow Kerensky. Kerensky decided that the only way ahead was to dismiss Kornilov.
Kornilov ignored this and ordered his troops to Petrograd in September. Here they came up against the workers. 25,000 rail workers, supporters of Lenin, blocked the way into the city and Kornilov found that his men could not get into the city. Kornilov had no other recourse than to order his men to disperse away from the city.
On September 1st, 1917, Kornilov was arrested and imprisoned. During the chaos of the November Revolution, Kornilov, along with Denikin, escaped from prison and travelled to the south to be with other anti-Bolshevik groups. Here in the south, Kornilov became the head of the White forces gathered in the Don region.
On April 13th, 1918, Kornilov was killed in action at Ekaterindar aged 47.