A different Civil War

The remains of General Anton Ivanovich Denikin (right) have been brought back to Russia for a state funeral, something I never dreamed I'd see in my lifetime.

It's as if the Rebels conquered the federals and then, a generation or two later, ordered a state funeral for Sherman.

Madame Denikin used to visit us in our Riverside Drive apartment in Russian Harlem when I was a baby, as did Madame Wrangel, the widow of Denikin's successor in command of the Russian Army. I'm sorry I was too young to remember either.

Denikin had a kind of Lee style in managing the southern front; discretion to subordinates, broad orders, fatherly and gentlemanly demeanor. It got him within 200 miles of Moscow from a staring point just north of the Caucasus. Peter Nikolayevich Wrangel (right) was the fiery and dynamic battlefront commander succeeding him after his resignation. (Remember when resignation followed failure?) Wrangel at one point took Tsaritsyn (Stalingrad, Volgagrad) with a combined air/cavalry/armor attack. This is 1920, mind you.

Our family was closer to Wrangel than Denikin; my grand uncles served Wrangel as ADCs; my grandmother's dad was one of his division commanders.

In the recriminations over who lost the Civil War, Wrangel tended towards blameless and poor Denikin carried the all-too-familiar ahistorical burdens of "lost opportunities" and "failure to annihilate the enemy" -- he was a victim of counterfactuals. At the point Wrangel took command in South Russia, there were few opportunities to miss.

Maybe he'll get his state funeral next.