The Southern Front

The Fight Against Wrangel

The Southern Front and a Winter Campaign

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

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A communiqué from Comrade Gusev has appeared in the press, reporting the first major successes won on the front against Wrangel. These successes prove that we can defeat Wrangel, and can do this in a relatively short time. However, as yet we have not merely not routed Wrangel, we have not, in the main, even got down to trying to do this. Wrangel’s army embodies all the experience acquired by the counter-revolution on all the fronts of the civil war. The most irreconcilable elements of the armies of Kolchak, Denikin, Yudenich and other, minor White-Guard leaders have gathered and are still gathering in Wrangel’s camp. These men bring with them great experience, great initiative, great hardness. The rich Cossacks of the Don and the Kuban have undergone substantial training in the armies of Denikin and Wrangel, and developed extraordinary striking power. The enemy has organised his intelligence work through agents with very great care, and it must frankly be said that, in many cases, he operates with great sureness. His supplies are inexhaustible, for the various ↨surpluses’ of American war supplies, together with the British, French and other supplies that have been given to Wrangel as advance payment in exchange for Russia, would alone suffice to keep him fighting for many years. However inconvenient it may be for him to have his base located in the Crimean trap, he has a fleet at his disposal, so that he is not really trapped.

After we signed the preliminary peace with Poland, France was still unwilling to renounce military intervention. On the contrary, there is much reason to believe that France is prepar-ing to strike a more decisive blow, hoping thereby to disrupt our peace with Poland. Petlyura’s bands have been reorganised with the help of Polish and French officers, and are adequately supplied. Millerand’s task remains what it was – with the help of Wrangel, Petlyura and the Senegalese to wrest the Ukraine from Russia and turn it into a French colony.

All this, taken together, shows that we face a large-scale military task in the South. Our first successes are certainly very gratifying. But they are only a small advance-payment of our victory to come. Victory on the Black Sea coast will still require many weeks, and, even if it does not demand a full winter campaign, it will cut deeply into the winter. Consequently, the question of central importance is that of supplies.

We have plenty of supplies for the army. Food is being procured in the Ukraine: adequately, on the whole. There are big difficulties in the sphere of transport, as a result of the acute shortage of fuel and of the extreme intensification of bandit activity (especially in the Kremenchug area) and the help given to it by Petlyurist and Wrangelite railway workers. However, by the resolute measures we have taken we hope to get the better of our transport difficulties in the near future. In the Donets area, cartage service is being performed with the co-operation of the Revolutionary War Council of the front. In Right-bank Ukraine the loading and stockpiling of timber is being intensified by using the forces of the South-Western front. Hundreds of Communists and specialists from the central provinces have been rushed to the railways of the Ukraine, led by Comrades Yemshanov and Rudoy. The results of these measures will not be long in showing themselves. Thus, where food and military stores are concerned, the Southern front gives no cause for alarm.

There remains the question of clothing: overcoats, boots, caps, warm underwear, underclothes generally, warm foot-cloths. In this matter the situation of the armies of the Southern front is still very difficult. There is no need to point out that if we do not satisfy the requirements of the Southern front in respect of winter kit, all our other efforts will prove vain, for cold and epidemics will disrupt the front.

Never before has our victory depended on the tailor’s needle and the cobbler’s awl so much as it does now.

Collection of warm underwear cannot, of course, completely meet the needs of the Red Army men. But it can, if carried through with the necessary energy, satisfy their most acute needs and fill the first yawning gaps. What is most important, though, is to increase the production of underclothes, uniforms and footwear, not leaving unutilised even the most modest possibilities for this.

All the country’s institutions must use to the full the time that remains for equipping the front.

What you do, do quickly!

What you do, do doubly!

October 17, 1920

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Last updated on: 26.12.2006