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Pyotr Nikolayevich Wrangel

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Title: Pyotr Nikolayevich Wrangel  
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Subject: Russian Civil War, Vasily Baumgarten, Southern Front of the Russian Civil War, White movement, Timeline of Russian history
Collection: 1878 Births, 1928 Deaths, Baltic-German People, Eastern Orthodox Christians from Lithuania, Imperial Russian Army Generals, Members of the Russian Orthodox Church, People from Kovno Governorate, People from Zarasai District Municipality, People of the Russian Civil War, Recipients of the Cross of St. George, Recipients of the Gold Sword for Bravery, Recipients of the Order of Saint Stanislaus (Russian), 2Nd Class, Recipients of the Order of St. Anna, 3Rd Class, Recipients of the Order of St. George of the Fourth Degree, Recipients of the Order of St. Vladimir, 3Rd Class, Russian All-Military Union Members, Russian Anti-Communists, Russian Counter-Revolutionaries, Russian Military Personnel of the Russo-Japanese War, Russian Military Personnel of World War I, Russian Monarchists, Russian Nobility, Russian Provisional Government Generals, White Russian (Movement) Generals, White Russians (Movement), Wrangel's Fleet
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Pyotr Nikolayevich Wrangel

Pyotr Nikolayevich Wrangel
Pyotr Wrangel, c.1920
Nickname(s) The Black Baron
Born (1878-08-27)August 27, 1878
Mukuliai, Kovno Governorate, Russian Empire
Died April 25, 1928(1928-04-25) (aged 49)
Brussels, Belgium
Allegiance  Russian Empire
Service/branch Russian Imperial Army, White Army
Years of service 1902-1920
Rank General
Commands held Russian Imperial Army, White Army
Battles/wars World War I, Russian Civil War
Spouse(s) Olga Mikhaylovna Ivanenko (from 1908)

Baron Pyotr Nikolayevich Wrangel or Vrangel (Russian: Барон Пётр Никола́евич Вра́нгель, Baron Pyotr Nikolayevich Vrangel; German: Freiherr Peter von Wrangel; August 27 [O.S. August 15] 1878 – April 25, 1928) was an officer in the Imperial Russian army and later commanding general of the anti-Bolshevik White Army in Southern Russia in the later stages of the Russian Civil War.


  • Life 1
  • Death 2
  • Honors 3
  • See also 4
  • Notes 5
  • Bibliography 6
  • External links 7


Wrangel was born in Mukuliai, Kovno Governorate in the Russian Empire (in present-day Zarasai District Municipality, Lithuania). The Wrangel family was of the local Baltic German nobility, but Pyotr Nikolayevich Wrangel was only distantly related to the famed Arctic explorer Ferdinand von Wrangel.

After graduating from the Rostov Technical High School in 1896 and the Institute of Mining Engineering in St. Petersburg in 1901, Wrangel volunteered for the prestigious Life Guards cavalry and was commissioned a reserve officer in 1902 after graduating from the Nikolaev Cavalry School. He soon resigned his commission, and travelled to Irkutsk, where he was assigned to special missions by the Governor-General.

At the start of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, he reenlisted and was assigned to the 2nd Regiment of the Transbaikal Cossack Corps. In December 1904, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant. After the war ended, he was reassigned to the 55th Finnish Dragoon Regiment, which participated in the punitive expedition under General A. N. Orlov in the Baltic region. In 1907, he returned to the Life Guards Cavalry Regiment. In 1908 he married Olga Mikhaylovna Ivanenko in St. Petersburg, and the marriage produced two sons and two daughters.[1] Wrangel graduated from the Nicholas Imperial General Staff Academy in 1910 and the Cavalry Officers' School in 1911.

With the start of Southwestern Front and was appointed commander of the 1st Regiment of the Transbaikal Cossacks.

This unit was very active in Zbruch River in the summer of 1917.

Following the end of Russia's participation in the war, Wrangel resigned his commission and went to live at his dacha at Yalta in the Crimea. Arrested by the Bolsheviks at the end of 1917, he was released and escaped to Kiev, where he joined Pavlo Skoropadskyi's Ukrainian State. However, it was soon apparent to him that the new government existed only through the waning support of Germany, and in August 1918, he joined the anti-Bolshevik Volunteer Army based at Yekaterinodar, where he was given command of the 1st Cavalry Division and the rank of major general in the White movement. After the Second Kuban Campaign in late 1918, he was promoted to lieutenant general, and his Division was raised to that of a corps.

An aggressive commander, he won a number of victories in the north Caucasus. From January 1919, his military force was renamed the Caucasus Volunteer Army. Wrangel soon clashed politically with Armed Forces of South Russia leader Anton Denikin, who demanded a quick march on Moscow. Wrangel insisted instead that his forces should take Tsaritsyn first, to join up with the army of Admiral Aleksandr Kolchak, which he accomplished on June 30, 1919 after three previous attempts by Pyotr Krasnov had failed in 1918. Major Ewen Cameron Bruce of the British Army had volunteered to command a British tank mission under the orders of Wrangel.

He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order[2] for his bravery during the June 1919 battle for single-handedly storming and capturing the fortified city of Tsaritsyn, under heavy shell fire in a single tank; this led to the successful capture of over 40,000 prisoners.[3] The fall of Tsaritsyn is viewed "as one of the key battles of the Russian Civil War" which greatly helped the White Russian Cause.[3] Notable historian Sir Basil Henry Liddell Hart comments that Bruce's tank action during this battle is to be seen as "one of the most remarkable feats in the whole history of the Tank Corps."[4]

Wrangel gained a reputation as a skilled and just administrator, who, in contrast to some other White Army generals, did not tolerate lawlessness or looting by his troops.[5] However, after he was unable to join forces with Admiral Kolchak and at the insistence of Denikin, he led his forces north towards Moscow on a failed attempt by the Whites to take the capital in November 1919. Continuing disagreement with Denikin led to his removal from command, and Wrangel departed for exile to Constantinople on February 8, 1920.

Yet Denikin was forced to resign on March 20, 1920 and a military committee led by General Russian Civil War, such measures were too late, and the White movement was rapidly losing support both domestically and overseas. Wrangel is immortalized by the nickname of "Black Baron" in the marching song The Red Army is the Strongest composed as a rallying call for a final effort on the part of the Bolsheviks to end the war; the song became immensely popular in the early Soviet Union during the 1920s.

At a prayer vigil upon accepting command.

After defeats in which he lost half his standing army, and facing defeat in Black Sea.[7] Wrangel gave every officer, soldier, and civilian a free choice: evacuate and go with him into the unknown, or remain in Russia and face the wrath of the Red Army. Wrangel evacuated the White forces from the Crimea in 1920 in remnants of the Russian Imperial Navy that became known as Wrangel's fleet. The last military and civilian personnel left Russia with Wrangel on board the General Kornilov on November 14, 1920. Initially, Wrangel lived on his yacht Lucullus at Constantinople, which was rammed and sunk by the Italian steamer Adria, which had sailed from Soviet-held Batum. Wrangel, who was on shore at the time, escaped with his life in what was widely regarded as an assassination attempt.

Wrangel then journeyed with his staff via Brussels, Belgium from September 1927 and worked as a mining engineer. Wrangel's memoirs were published in the magazine White Cause (Белое дело) in Berlin in 1928.


Wrangel died suddenly in 1928, and Wrangel's family believed that he had been poisoned by his butler's brother, who lived in the Wrangel household in Brussels briefly and was allegedly a Soviet agent.[8] Wrangel's funeral and burial took place in Brussels, but he was reinterred on October 6, 1929 in the Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church in Belgrade, Serbia, according to his wishes,

The town of Sremski Karlovci, which served as his headquarters and was at the time of his death the location of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the Russian Ministry of Culture, erected a monument in his honour.


Statue of Wrangel in Sremski Karlovci

See also


  1. ^ New York Times obituary of his last surviving child
  2. ^ London GazetteDistinguished Service Order citation for Bruce in the 1920
  3. ^ a b Kinvig, Clifford. "Churchill's Crusade: The British Invasion of Russia, 1918-1920". Hambledon Continuum: 2006, p. 225; ISBN 9781847250216.
  4. ^ Liddell Hart, Basil. "The Tanks: The History Of The Royal Tank Regiment And Its Predecessors, Heavy Branch Machine-Gun Corps, Tank Corps And Royal Tank Corps, 1914-1945. Vol I". Cassell: 1959, p. 211.
  5. ^ Lincoln, p. 430.
  6. ^ Luckett, pp. 359-360.
  7. ^ Luckett, pp. 381ff.
  8. ^ Volodarsky, Boris. "The KGB's Poison Factory, from Lenin to Litvinenko". Frontline Books: 2009, p. 58.


  • Lincoln, W. Bruce. Red Victory: A History of the Russian Civil War. New York, Simon and Schuster, 1989. ISBN 0-671-63166-7
  • Luckett, Richard. The White Generals: An Account of the White Movement and the Russian Civil War. New York, Viking, 1971. ISBN 0-670-76265-2
  • Wrangel, Alexis, General Wrangel - Russia's White Crusader, London, 1987 (reprint 1990) ISBN 0-85052-890-9
  • Always With Honour. By General Baron Peter N Wrangel. Robert Speller & sons. New York. 1957.

External links

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