Budennyi, Semen Mikhailovich
Born Apr. 13 (25), 1883, on the khutor (Ukrainian farmstead) of Koziurin, now Proletarskii Raion, Rostov Oblast; died Oct. 26, 1973, in Moscow. Hero of the Civil War. Marshal of the Soviet Union (1935) and three times Hero of the Soviet Union (Feb. 1, 1958; Apr. 24, 1963; Feb. 22, 1968). Member of the CPSU since 1919.
Budennyi was born into the family of a poor peasant. In the army from 1903, he served in the 46th Don Cossack Regiment and participated in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05. He graduated from the St. Petersburg Riding School in 1908 and served in the Primor’e Dragoon Regiment until 1914. He fought in World War I as a senior noncommissioned officer of the 18th Severskii Dragoon Regiment on the German, Austrian, and Caucasian fronts and was awarded four St. George crosses for bravery. In the summer of 1917, Budennyi arrived with the Caucasian Division in Minsk, where he was elected chairman of a regimental committee and deputy chairman of a division committee. In August 1917 he was one of the commanders disarming Kornilov’s troops in Orsha.
After the October Revolution he returned to the Don, to the Platovskaia Stanitsa (large cossack village), and was elected a member of the Sal’sk District Executive Committee. In 1918 he formed a cavalry detachment for the struggle against the White Guards; this detachment grew into a regiment, a brigade, and then a cavalry division, which operated successfully near Tsaritsyn in 1918 and early 1919. In June 1919 a cavalry corps was set up under Budennyi’s command and played a decisive role in the rout of White Guard troops in the Voronezh-Kastornoe Operation of 1919. In November 1919 this corps, under Budennyi’s command, was deployed as the First Cavalry Army, which played an important role in several major Civil War operations aimed at routing Denikin’s troops, and the armies of Pilsudski in the Ukraine and of Vrangel’ in Northern Tavria and the Crimea. From 1921 to 1923, Budennyi was first a member of the Revolutionary Military Council and then deputy commander of the Northern Caucasus Military District. He carried out the huge task of organizing and managing stud farms, which, after many years of work, produced new breeds of horses—the Budennyi and Terek horses. In 1923, Budennyi was made assistant commander in chief of the Red Army in charge of cavalry and a member of the Revolutionary Military Council of the USSR. From 1924 to 1937 he was inspector of the cavalry of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army. He graduated from the Frunze Military Academy in 1932. In 1937, Budennyi was appointed commander of the troops of the Moscow Military District and a member of the Chief Military Council of the People’s Commissariat of Defense of the USSR, serving simultaneously as deputy people’s commissar of defense in 1939-40. In August 1940 he became first deputy people’s commissar of defense.
During the Great Patriotic War, Budennyi was a member of the General Headquarters of the Supreme Command and was commander of an army group of the reserve of General Headquarters (June-July 1941), commander in chief of the troops of the Southwestern axis (July-September 1941), commander of the Reserve Front (September-October 1941), commander in chief of the troops of the Northern Caucasus axis (April-May 1942), and commander of the Northern Caucasus Front (May-September 1942). In January 1943 he was made commander of the cavalry of the Soviet Army and member of the Supreme Military Council of the Ministry of the Armed Forces of the USSR, serving simultaneously as deputy minister of agriculture for horse breeding from 1947 to 1953. From May 1953 through September 1954 he was inspector of the cavalry.
In 1920, Budennyi became a member of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee (CEC) and in 1922 also of the CEC of the USSR; he was a deputy to the first through eighth convocations of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR and became a member of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR in 1938. In 1934 he became a candidate member of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolshevik); in 1939, a member of the Central Committee; and in 1952, a candidate member of the Central Committee of the CPSU. He is the author of the memoirs The Path I Traversed (vols. 1-2, 1959-65). Budennyi was awarded seven Orders of Lenin, six Orders of the Red Banner, the Order of Suvorov First Class, the Order of the Red Banner of the Azerbaijan SSR, the Order of the Red Banner of Labor of the Uzbek SSR, and orders of the Mongolian People’s Republic. He also received an honorary revolutionary weapon with the Order of the Red Banner on it, an honorary revolutionary firearm with the Order of the Red Banner on it, an honorary weapon—a cavalry sword with the picture of the state emblem of the USSR—and various medals.