Minor Civil War

United partisan army of the Tambov province

In the fall of 1920, when the last strong centers of the White movement were crushed – the Wrangel Crimea and Semyonovskaya Chita, the Bolsheviks had to strain their forces in the fight against the “green”, rebels and bandits. Frunze, in the fight against them, introduced the term

“Small civil war”.


This war did not look so small.

So, the entire Tambov and part of the Voronezh provinces were engulfed in an uprising led by the Socialist-Revolutionary Alexander Antonov.

The Tambov region was the breadbasket of Russia. The actions of the food detachments and commissaries caused widespread discontent among the peasantry. In addition, during the clash between the Red and White armies, masses of deserters were hiding on the territory of the Tambov province. Escaping soldiers with weapons united in gangs of “green”.

In 1920, the province was hit by a drought. She became the catalyst for the uprising.

In August 1920, several villages revolted. They refused to hand over the bread. And with the support of the partisans, they began to destroy food detachments, local Bolsheviks and security officers.

The fire of the uprising spread rapidly.

Attempts by local Bolsheviks to suppress the uprising failed.

In October, Antonov’s insurgent army numbered about 20 thousand soldiers. Already Lenin called for an early defeat of the Antonovism.

In November 1920, the rebels formed the United Partisan Army of the Tambov Territory.

It was headed by a former policeman, Knight of St. George, Lieutenant Pyotr Tokmakov. The Greens formed three armies, including the cavalry. At the beginning of 1921, the insurgent army numbered up to 50 thousand bayonets and sabers. The rebels controlled almost the entire Tambov province, except for the cities, and paralyzed traffic on the Ryazan-Ural railway.

On the basis of the Socialist-Revolutionary organizations, the “Union of the Working Peasantry” was created. The union demanded “Soviets without communists”, the convocation of the Constituent Assembly, the introduction of political and economic freedoms, the abolition of surplus appropriation, etc. On May 20, 1921, the Provisional Democratic Republic of the Tambov Partisan Territory was proclaimed.

To suppress the Tambov uprising, Moscow had to mobilize up to 55 thousand Red Army men (including 10 thousand sabers), large artillery forces, several armored detachments and air detachments, and an armored train. They even used chemical weapons.

In April 1921, Tukhachevsky was appointed commander of the Soviet troops in the Tambov province, Uborevich was his deputy, and Kakurin was the chief of staff. The Kotovsky cavalry brigade was transferred to the Tambov region. From the Cheka, the operation was headed by Yagoda and Ulrich.

Communists from Moscow, Petrograd and Tula were mobilized to help the Tambov Bolsheviks. At the same time, Tukhachevsky acted with the most cruel methods (in the style of Trotsky): terror, taking hostages, destroying entire settlements, creating concentration camps and mass executions.

However, the main factor was the use of peasant psychology. In February 1921, food distribution in the Tambov region was stopped. In March 1921, the X Congress of the Russian Communist Party canceled the surplus appropriation throughout the country.

A fixed tax in kind was introduced. A number of amnesties have been passed for rank-and-file insurgents. Campaign materials were widely used to alert the rebels. Already in February, Antonov noted:

“Among the partisan detachments, the fighting spirit begins to weaken, shameful cowardice is observed.”

He also correctly noted:

“Yes, the men won.

Although temporarily, of course.

But we, the fathers-commanders, are now covered. ”

On May 25, 1921, Kotovsky’s cavalry defeated two insurgent regiments led by Selyansky, who was mortally wounded.

In battles in late May – early June, in the area of ​​the Inzhavino station, Uborevich’s troops (Kotovsky’s brigade, 14th cavalry brigade, 15th Siberian cavalry division, and other units) defeated Antonov’s 2nd insurgent army.

The main forces of the rebels were defeated, small groups scattered through the forests, many went home. By the end of the summer, the main centers of partisanship had been suppressed.

Individual activists were caught until the summer of 1921.

Tokmakov died in battle, Alexander Antonov and his brother and closest associate Dmitry Antonov were liquidated by the Chekists in June 1922.

Headquarters of the Partisan Army of the Tambov Territory. A.S. Antonov in the center

The end of the Makhnovshchina

In southern Ukraine, the Makhnovism continued for some time.

After the fall of the white Crimea, the Soviet command offered Makhno’s troops to redeploy to the Caucasus. Considering this a trap, the dad refused. The confrontation between the Reds and the Makhnovists began again. But this time the Red Army could focus on fighting the Greens.

The operation was led by the commander of the Soviet forces in Ukraine and the Crimea, Frunze. The peasant republic was defeated. Makhno had to leave the Gulyapol area.

The Makhnovists “walked” around Ukraine for several months, avoiding persecution. However, no matter how much the rope twists, the end will be.

At the end of the summer of 1921, the remnants of Makhno’s troops were pushed to the Romanian border. On August 28, a wounded old man with a small detachment crossed the Romanian border. The Romanians interned the Makhnovists.

Makhno fled to Poland, then Germany, France. He was poor (he didn’t make any money), worked as a carpenter. He wrote memoirs, participated in the work of local anarchist organizations. He died in the summer of 1934 in Paris.

The uprisings continued throughout Russia.

In January 1921, Western Siberia burst into flames. “Green” detachments fought in the Tyumen, Omsk, Chelyabinsk, Yekaterinburg, Orenburg and Akmola provinces. The number of rebels reached 100 thousand people. The uprising was led by the Socialist-Revolutionary V. Rodin. The uprising was completely suppressed only by the end of 1922.

These were only large centers of the “minor civil war”. There were others. Small gangs and groups continued to operate in the Right-Bank Ukraine. As the ideological remnants of the Petliurites, and just bandits. The Greens operated in the mountains of Crimea, where many White Guards fled. On the Don, the Cossacks revolted in the Khopersky and Ust-Medveditsky districts.

There was a war with the highlanders in Dagestan and Chechnya. For some time in the Kuban and the North Caucasus the remnants of the Whites were active – generals Przhevalsky, Ukhtomsky, colonels Nazarov, Trubachev, lieutenant colonels Yudin, Krivonosov, etc. They numbered several thousand trunks. The uprisings continued in Transcaucasia, in particular in Armenia. The Basmach movement continued in Turkestan.

The threat of a new catastrophe

Thus, almost all of Russia was engulfed in the fire of the peasant, “green” war.

The rebels fielded entire armies, and in general had more bayonets and sabers than the White Army.

In addition, one should not forget about the criminal revolution that has swept the country since February 1917. Small and large bands roamed the villages and towns. Robbed, raped, killed. They shot dozens of policemen, crane soldiers and security officers. Controlled the “night” life of entire cities.

The threat was great. The country could collapse into chaos again. And there was practically no chance of getting out of the new wave of turmoil.

The scale of hostilities in 1921, neither in the number of participants, nor in territorial coverage, nor in political significance, was not inferior to 1918–1920, and in some places even surpassed them.

On the one hand – the “village”, entire districts and provinces, the remnants of the White Guards and Makhnovists, Petliurists, Basmachi and bandit formations. On the other hand, practically the entire Red Army.

True, due to economic difficulties, the victory over the White Army and peace with Poland, it was drastically reduced – from 5 million to 800 thousand people.

Soviet Russia simply could no longer contain such a colossus. The country’s mobilization potential has been exhausted. But they retained the most combat-ready units. It is also worth considering that units of the Cheka, VOKhR (departmental armed guard), command courses, special purpose units (CHON), temporary units, which were formed from communists and Komsomol members, participated in this war.

The “green” movement as a whole did not touch the foundations of socialism. It acted under the slogan “Soviets without Communists”, and often admitted communists as part of the socialist movement (like Makhno), on equal terms with other parties. Without the dictates of one party.

In many ways, the requirements and principles of the February Revolution were repeated. Constituent Assembly, pluralism of political opinions, multi-party system, political and economic freedoms. Refusal from centralization, command and administrative methods of managing the economy, freedom of trade, ownership of land and the products of one’s labor.

The Bolsheviks will embody some of these demands in their New Economic Policy. That is, they will take the economic part, without politics.

Could the “third” or “green” way have saved Russia?

Suppose the Bolsheviks overextend themselves and are defeated, their party splits into several groups. The Soviet state and the Red Army have been destroyed.

There is anarchy in the countryside, there are no taxes, there is no need to serve in the army, there are no authorities. Society of “Free Farmers”. The cities are covered by a new wave of hunger, the population is fleeing to the countryside, to subsistence farming. The remnants of industry and the unified transport system are dying.

New “parade of sovereignties”. The invaders again come – the British, the French, the Japanese, the Romanians, etc. Poland again begins a war for the possessions of the whole of White and Little Russia. Polish lords create a puppet nationalist regime in Kiev.

The Finnish army captures Karelia and the Kola Peninsula. Wrangel’s still surviving army landed in Crimea, and a South Russian government was created.

On this, Russia and the Russian people can be safely buried.

Russian civilization cannot withstand a new catastrophe.

Russians are erased from history.

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