Joined a cavalry regiment as a private in 1901. Volunteered to serve at the front during the Russo-Japanese war, 1905 (Trans-Baikal Cossacks). During World War I, commander of a cavalry corps.
After the October Revolution 1917, went to the Crimea, arrested by the Bolsheviks, narrowly escaped execution. Joined the Dobrovolcheskaia Army (Whites) in August 1918. Commander of the Caucasian Army (Cossack cavalry), led an offensive to the East (Volga), and took and later lost Tsaritsyn (later Stalingrad, where Stalin was the Political Commissar of the Reds commanded by Voroshilov during these operations).
After a quarrel with General Denikin, dismissed and sent abroad (Constantinople). When, after the defeat of Denikin, the rest of his army was evacuated to the Crimea, called back and elected commander-in-chief (confirmed by Denikin’s last order). Tried to reorganize the White forces (the Volunteer Army was renamed the Russian Army).
Carried out a land reform, with the transfer of land to the peasants, and tried to conclude an alliance with Poland (rejected by Pilsudski). After initial success leading his armies out of the Crimea into Northern Tauria, defeated by the Red Army, which was able to concentrate on his forces after peace was signed with Poland. Organized a large-scale evacuation of his forces and civilian refugees (over 150,000) to Turkey, which was at that time under Allied control.
Abroad, created a closely-knit organization of White Civil War veterans (ROVS-organization of White army veterans in exile) in 1924. Left a detailed history of the Civil War.