The Military Writings of
Leon Trotsky

Volume 2, 1919

How the Revolution Armed

The Fight for Petrograd

ORDER No.167

By the Chairman of the Revolutionary War Council of the Republic and People’s Commissar for Military and Naval Affairs to the commanders, commissars and all responsible workers of the Seventh Army, November 4, 1919, No.167, Petrograd

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

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The enemy is retreating all along the line. The immediate result of this is the removal of the danger which hung over Petrograd. But the task before the Seventh Army does not consist in removing the immediate threat to the great city of the revolution but in smashing Yudenich’s army, destroying it and wiping it from the face of the earth and thereby really safeguarding Petrograd.

It would be extremely dangerous, therefore, to flatter our selves that the main task has been completed. No, the enemy has not been smashed. He is retreating so as to avoid that fate. Meanwhile, he is retreating in good order, carrying off his matbzel.

The Seventh Army’s duty is to pursue the enemy without losing fighting contact with him, to strike blows at him, to cut off his escape, to bring disorder and confusion into his ranks, to smash him to pieces – and, eventually, to destroy him utterly.

The Seventh Army will be able to carry out this task only if the leading workers make every effort to improve still further its organisation, discipline, assiduity and precision and to foster in it an unwavering will to victory.

An army can be broken up more easily than it can be created. A little carelessness on the part of one person, a lack of assiduity in a second, some inattention in a third – and the result is the collapse of units and disorganisation of whole armies. What is needed is tireless vigilance, intense attention, staunchness, struggle against all sorts of negligence, lack of assiduity and indiscipline, stern punishment of disorganisers, cowards, self-seekers. There is no other way.

We must not look back at what we have achieved, but for ward, at the tasks we have not yet fulfilled.

It is necessary to perfect the supply apparatus, ensuring that food and ammunition are quickly brought up and properly distributed.

Intelligence work must be raised to the proper level, and carried out with more initiative, courage and resourcefulness. Communications must be steadily improved. The units must be taught to observe strictly the measures laid down for the posting of sentries. Economy in expenditure of ammunition must be inculcated, and, in this connection, troops must be taught fire-discipline.

All conditions are present for the Seventh Army to become one of the best armies of the Soviet Republic!

To work, then, comrades!

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Last updated on: 23.12.2006