Before the period of revolutions, the Russian army was composed of close to seven and a half million people. A good number of these people were drawn from the peasantry, showing the state that the army was in. Changes began to come about however to attempt to improve the general state and feel of the military apparatus. For example, Order One was passed which allowed the creation of a soldiers committee, which protected the weapons of the army. These committees were also tasked with the election of ranking officers for the army. These soldiers under Order One were also given equal rights as citizens outside of the army, meaning ranking officers began to refer to soldiers more out of respect than say for example calling them by the name “you.”
This Image shows the actual Order One.
However, as revolution began within Russia, the army was further crippled. Hundreds of thousands of Russian troops (peasants) fled the army and returned to their local villages, eager to take part in these revolutions to hopefully gain more land or types of benefits from them. The officer system within the army fell apart as well, as officers were increasingly assassinated. The moral of the troops and corp as a whole had sunk low as a result of the failing commanders and officers. Violence spread throughout the ranks of the army, and the breakdown of the military had begun. Due to the failure of the ranking soldiers, a pacifist mood had flared up within the army, meaning taking offensive measures or even preparing for them was out of the question. The troops even went as far as to assume they would not be punished for wrong doings due to the general lack in faith of their commanders. With ill rationed and equipped troops, ever attempt to make orders by the leaders was met with hostility, and claimed to be anti revolutionary. The army was in a state of total despair, unwilling to follow their orders. The Commander and Chief of the Army, General Alekseev, attributed this falling apart due to the spread of the revolutionary propaganda and literature.
In short, the military was in total degradation. The soldiers were unwilling to follow an orders, stole their weapons and pressed for demands, kill their officers and the like all showed how much the army has fallen apart. Attempts with the Orders One and Two attempted to reign in the revolutionary movements but to no avail. The troops on all fronts were experiencing these feelings, not wanting to do much of anything. With the spread of the revolutionary feelings, the troops continued to do acts such as this or even just deserted he army and returned home. All these examples have shown how the army was in disarray and needed many changes. Those changes should start with reforming the officers and the leadership within the army, who could then better control the rest of the army.
Alan Wildman, The End of the Russian Imperial Army: The Old Army and the Soldiers’ Revolt (March-April 1917) (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980), pp. 335-6.
Frank Golder, ed., Documents of Russian History, 1914-1917 (New York: The Century Co., 1927), pp. 286-290.
James Bunyan and H.H. Fisher, ed., Bolshevik Revolution, 1917-1918; Documents and Materials (Stanford: Stanford University Press; H. Milford, Oxford University Press, 1934), pp. 24-26.
James Bunyan and H.H. Fisher, ed., Bolshevik Revolution, 1917-1918; Documents and Materials (Stanford: Stanford University Press; H. Milford, Oxford University Press, 1934), pp. 26-27.