The Military Writings of
Leon Trotsky

Volume 2, 1919

How the Revolution Armed

The Southern Front

I. The Red Army’s Offensive
Towards the Ukraine and the Don (January-May 15, 1919)


By the Chairman of the Revolutionary War Council of the Republic and People’s Commissar for Militaty and Naval Affairs to the Armies of the Southern Front, May 15, 1919, No.98, Kupyansk
[Kupyanak is where the line from Voronezh and Valuiki joins one of the lines which link Kharkov with the Donbas.]

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

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To be read to all companies, squadrons, batteries and task-forces.

One of the commanders of the Ukrainian army, the so-called ‘Ataman’ Grigoriyev, a dishonourable and venal adventurer, bought by the landlords and capitalists, has raised the standard of revolt against the Soviet power. By means of vodka and false promises he has rallied round him the most ignorant section of the soldier masses and is now inciting them to pogroms, throat-cutting and plunder.

Red Ukrainian forces have surrounded Grigoriyev’s bands, so as to put an end to this drunken mutiny quickly and decisively. [47]

Ex-Ataman Grigoriyev has been outlawed.

I bring this to the notice of every Red Army man, commander and commissar in the Soviet forces on the Southern front.

Any dealings or communications of any kind with the traitor Grigorzyev or his agents will be regarded as treason to the Soviet Republic and punished by shooting.

Death to the traitor Grigoriyev and to all his accomplices, open and concealed!

Long live the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army!


47. Grigoriyev’s revolt began on May 7, 1919. Formerly a Petlyurist, in January 1919, at the time of the Red Army’s offensive in the Ukraine, Grigoriyev came over to us with all his forces, and operated against Petlyura. At the time of his revolt, his guerrilla units included 15,000 fighting men, with 40 cannon, ten armoured railway trucks, 10,000 shells and six million cartridges (figures taken from the report to Comrade Trotsky by Comrade Antonov-Ovseyenko, commanding the armies of the Ukrainian Front, on May 12, 1919). Grigoriyev had acquired these military stores from the Austrians and Germans and from the Greeks and Romanians he had taken prisoner in Kherson, Nikolayev and Odessa. The proposed transfer of the division to the Donbas did not take place because Grigoriyev’s inclination to seek a peaceful settlement of the conflict with the Cossacks became apparent. When Grigoriyev received the order to move his division into Bessarabia, to fight the Romanians, he failed to obey it, and on May 7 rose in revolt against the Soviet power. His revolt met with sympathy among the inhabitants of Kherson province, who helped him. At the moment of Grigoriyev’s revolt, the Third Army, whose headquarters were in Odessa, had also been ordered to proceed to the front. Instead, all those troops had to be used to put down Grigoriyev’s mutiny. On May 23 Comrade Voroshiov, who was in command of the forces on the Kharkov sector, reported that Grigoriyev had been completely routed and his mutiny liquidated. Grigoriyev’s revolt had an effect on the course of operations against the Romanians and on the Ukraine’s aid to the Southern front, because substantial forces had to be diverted to the internal front.

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Last updated on: 21.12.2006