"I planned for so long to join Denikin's army, with the intention not so much of clattering astride a chamfrained charger into the cobbled outskirts of St Petersburg as of reaching Tamara in her Ukrainian hamlet "

Although his noble blood would have gained him entry into this counter-Revolutionary White Army, Nabokov was being tongue-in-cheek when he wrote this line, and playing up his lovesickness for Tamara. For he cannot have seriously wanted (or been suited) to join the ranks of Anton Ivanovich Denikin (1872 – 1947), one of the civil war's most prominent White Army generals.

Following WWI in which he distinguished himself, Denikin was appointed chief of staff to Lavr Kornilov, a general whose unsuccessful attempt (known thereafter as the Kornilov Affair or Putsch) in August 1917 to overthrow the Russian Provisional Government led by Alexander Kerensky led to the arrest of both Kornilov and Denikin.

Denikin's Volunteer Army, made up of White Russians (anti-Bolsheviks), was started in southern Russia after the October Revolution. After a promising start, Denikin's Army suffered one defeat after another by the anarchist Black Army (also known as the Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine) and Leon Trotsky's Red Army troops. 

The song Farewell of Slavianka (embedded below) was adopted as the White Army's unofficial anthem.

By 1919, the Denikin Army numbered almost 40 000 men. It had a reputation for violence and cruelty towards the inhabitants of the areas it occupied, particularly against Jews. In a bizarre reversal of the Revolution's aims, Denikin's men, former landowners, seized peasants' property and attacked workers.

In 1920 Denikin resigned, and his army finally merged with the army of Pyotr Wrangel in Crimea.