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)

Round Them Up!

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

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The White-Guard cavalry have broken through into our forces’ rear and are bringing disruption, alarm and devastation into Tambov province. The task of the White-Guard cavalry is to frighten our Southern forces which are pressing Denikin and to make them retreat. But this is a vain hope. The Red regiments on the Southern front have maintained unshakeable firmness, and on the most important sectors they are successfully advancing. The zone adjoining the front tells the Red warriors, confidently: ‘Carry on with your work: the rear will deal with this raid by Denikin’s bandits.’

And this is now the sacred duty of the rear, above all in Tambov province.

The task is a clear and simple one: to surround Denikin’s cavalry with a firm ring, cutting them off from their base, and then, with a sure hand, to pull the noose tight.

That this may be done, the workers and peasant masses, led by their soviets and the Communist organisations, must rise up as one man against the White raiders. The landlords’ mercenaries must be made to feel that they are in the land of the workers and peasants, that is, a land that is hostile to them. Danger must lie in ambush for the White bandits at every corner, behind every hillock, in every gully.

At their approach the peasants must in good time remove their horses, cattle and carts and carry away all grain and other food stuffs. What cannot be removed must be destroyed. The Soviet power will pay compensation for all losses incurred. Woe to the peasant who voluntarily helps the landlords’ troops in any way at all!

Communists, to the forward positions! In all the villages, volosts, uyzeds and towns of Tambov province and the neighbouring uyezds of other provinces the Communist organisations must ask themselves: how can we, immediately and directly, injure the raiders and facilitate the task of our regular units?

Intelligence must be flawlessly organised. Information must be collected about every enemy patrol, which must be tracked down, taken by surprise, and either annihilated or made prisoner. Wherever the Whites think of spending the night, – they must be awakened by fires. Their horses must run against barbed wire where, the day before, there was an open, unencumbered road.

Woe to the executive committee that withdraws without extreme necessity and without having done the Denikinites all the damage it is capable of!

A Denikinite pack of ravening wolves has broken into Tam boy province, and they are cutting down not only the muzhiks’ cattle but also the working people themselves. Round them up, workers and peasants! With weapons and with cudgels! Allow these beasts of prey no rest, not a single moment, drive them from every place! Tally-ho, at the Whites! Death to the brigands!

August 18, 1919
En Route, No.84

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Last updated on: 22.12.2006