Chapaev, Vasilii Ivanovich
Born Jan. 28 (Feb. 9), 1887, in the village of Budaiki, now within the city limits of Cheboksary, Chuvash ASSR; died Sept. 5,1919, near Lbishchensk, now Chapaev, Ural’sk Oblast, Kazakh SSR. Hero of the Civil War of 1918–20. Member of the CPSU from September 1917.
The son of a poor peasant, Chapaev joined the army in 1914 and fought in World War I. For his bravery he was awarded three Crosses of St. George and a medal, and he was promoted to subensign. In 1917 he was hospitalized in Saratov. Later that year he moved to Nikolaevsk (now Pugachev, Saratov Oblast), where in December he was chosen commander of the 138th Reserve Infantry Regiment. In January 1918, Chapaev was appointed commissar of internal affairs of Nikolaevsk District. In early 1918 he formed a Red Guard detachment and suppressed the kulak-Socialist Revolutionary revolts in the district. In May 1918 he became commander of a brigade fighting against the Ural White Cossacks and the White Czechoslovak Corps, and in September 1918 he became head of the 2nd Nikolaevsk Division.
In November 1918, Chapaev was sent to study at the Academy of the General Staff, where he remained until January 1919. He was then sent to the front at his own request and was appointed to the Fourth Army as commander of the Special Aleksandrov Gai Brigade. In April 1919 he took command of the 25th Rifle Division, which distinguished itself in the Buguruslan, Belebei, and Ufa operations during the counteroffensive of the Eastern Front against Kolchak’s troops. On July 11 the 25th Division, under the leadership of Chapaev, liberated Ural’sk.
During the early hours of Sept. 5, 1919, White Guards launched a sudden attack on the headquarters of the 25th Division in Lbishchensk. Chapaev and his comrades fought courageously against the enemy’s superior forces. After emptying all of his cartridges, the wounded Chapaev tried to swim across the Ural River, but he was struck by a bullet and killed.
Chapaev was awarded the Order of the Red Banner. His legendary deeds have been portrayed in, for example, the film Chapaev and D. A. Furmanov’s novella Chapaev (Furmanov was military commissar of the 25th Division).
REFERENCESKutiakov, I. S. V. I. Chapaev. Moscow, 1958.
Kutiakov, I. S. Boevoiput’ Chapaeva, 4th ed. Kuibyshev, 1969.