The Military Writings of
Leon Trotsky

Volume 2, 1919

How the Revolution Armed

The Southern Front

III. The Red Army’s Second Offensive in the Ukraine
(August-December 1919)


Transcribed and HTML markup for the Trotsky Internet Archive by David Walters

* * *

Budyonny has beaten Mamontov and Shkuro.

Who is Budyonny? He is a true warrior of Workers’ and Peasants’ Russia, a former cavalry NCO who now commands the Red cavalry corps on the Southern front. Budyonny’s corps was formed gradually, in the course of ceaseless battles: first against Krasnov, then against Denikin. The corps includes many Red Cossacks from the Don and the Kuban. There are also many peasants and workers in it. Budyonny’s corps was the first large cavalry formation in the Red Army. The first but not the last. Another corps on the same Southern front is commanded by the hero Dumenko, under whom Budyonny served as deputy commander for several months.

The commanders of the divisions, brigades and regiments that make up Budyonny’s corps are mostly distinguished heroes. Many of them, like Budyonny himself, have been awarded the Order of the Red Banner. ‘Order me to march against Mamontov,’ Budyonny asked, when Mamontov raided Tambov and Kozlov. Infantry units failed to catch Mamontov on the wing. Budyonny was sent in pursuit of him. Eventually he overtook Mamontov and stayed close to him and, along with him, the notorious Shkuro. For several days Budyonny stood waiting like a lion about to spring, between the two generals’ corps. Then he sprang – a fatal spring for Shkuro and Mamontov!

The whole strength of the Denikinite counter-revolution lies in its cavalry. The basis of the White-Guard cavalry consists of two corps – Mamontov’s and Shkuro’s. If we suffered defeats in the South, sometimes very serious ones, it was because we were unable to counterpose to the enemy’s cavalry a Red cavalry force of equal strength. It is hardest of all to form cavalry, and that was why it was formed only slowly. But now, before Voronezh, the Red Army has passed its cavalry examination, and passed brilliantly. The Red cavalry corps of Budyonny has beaten the White corps of Mamontov and Shkuro.

The struggle in the South is far from over. But the enemy has been dealt a blow from which he will never recover.

There are still nearly two weeks to go before the second anniversary of the birthday of the Soviet Republic. During that time events in the South will follow their course: the victories before Orel and Voronezh will be followed by many others. There can be no doubt that on the North-Western (Petrograd) front the next fortnight will bring a conclusive denouement. The Seventh Army will not lag behind our victorious forces in the South, and will finish off Yudenich’s bands in time for the second Soviet anniversary.[68]

October 25, 1919
En Route, No.102


68. The battle fought before Voronezh by Budyonny’s cavalry corps had very great importance for the development of operations on the decisive sector of our counter-blow. On October 24 Budyonny’s cavalry, having smashed the units of General Mamontov and Shkuro, took Voronezh and advanced to Kastornaya station. Al the same time our shock-groups before Orel and Voronezh forced the enemy to retreat all along the central sector of the front. On the situation at the front of the Seventh Army, see the section The Fight for Petrograd and notes 78, 79 and 80.

return return

Last updated on: 23.12.2006