Horse Cavalry Armies

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Horse Cavalry Armies


the largest operational commands of the Soviet cavalry, created in the Civil War of 1918-20. Two horse cavalry armies were formed, the First and the Second. The horse cavalry armies were a powerful mobile striking force of the Red Army, the chief means of maneuver in the hands of frontline commands and the High Command to fulfill operational and strategic missions.

On Nov. 17, 1919, the Revolutionary Military Council of the Republic decided, upon the recommendation of the revolutionary military council of the Southern Front, to form the First Horse Cavalry Army (with S. M. Budennyi as commander; the revolutionary military council of the army included K. E. Voroshilov, E. A. Shchadenko until July 1920, S. K. Minin from May 1920, and P. P. Gorbunov from October 1920). On Nov. 19, 1919, upon order of the revolutionary military council of the Southern Front, this army was formed from Budennyi’s I Horse Cavalry Corps, made up of the 4th, 6th, and 11th divisions. In April 1920 the First Horse Cavalry Army included the 4th, 6th, 11th, 14th, and 2nd Blinov Cavalry divisions (the last was soon withdrawn from the army), the Detached Special-purpose Cavalry Brigade, the la. M. Sverdlov Armored Car Detachment, several armored trains, an aviation group, and several other units; its total strength was 16,000 to 17,000 men. In several operations two or three rifle divisions were made operationally subordinate to the First Horse Cavalry Army.

The First Horse Cavalry Army saw action on various fronts. In November and December 1919 it made up, together with the 9th and 12th Rifle divisions, the main attack force of the Southern Front. During the Voronezh-Kastornoe operation of 1919 the First Horse Cavalry Army, deployed from a horse cavalry corps, severely defeated the White Guard cavalry and then played a decisive role in the Donbas operation of 1919. In cooperation with troops of the Eighth Army, the First Horse Cavalry Army liberated Taganrog and Rostov-on-Don in January 1920. During these engagements the main forces of the White Guard Volunteer Army were routed, and the enemy front was cut in two. In late January 1920 the First Horse Cavalry Army was made part of the Caucasian Front, and in February of the same year, operating on the Tikhoretsk axis, it carried out the Egorlyk operation of 1920 jointly with the attached 20th, 34th, and 50th Rifle divisions of the Tenth Army. This operation led to the rout of the I Kuban— Infantry Corps of the White Guards and General Pavlov’s horse cavalry group.

In April-May 1920, because of the attack of bourgeois-land-holding Poland, the First Horse Cavalry Army was transferred from the North Caucasus to the Ukraine and incorporated into the Southwestern Front. After concentrating near Uman—, it participated in the Kiev operation of 1920 against the Polish troops. On June 5 the First Horse Cavalry Army, striking a powerful blow on a narrow front, broke through the enemy front at the Samgorodok-Snezhna sector, and on June 7 it captured Zhitomir and Berdichev deep in the enemy rear, causing a hasty retreat of all the forces of the Polish Second and Third armies. The First Horse Cavalry Army liberated Novograd-Volynskii on June 27 and Rovno on July 10.

From late July to early August the army waged fierce battles near L’vov and then, from late August to early September, in the Zamost’e region; there it was placed in reserve and sent to the Southern Front for action against the White Guard troops of General Wrangel. In the fall of 1920 the First Horse Cavalry Army, in cooperation with other troops of the Southern Front, carried out a successful offensive from the Kakhovka base of operations along the Askaniia-Nova-Gromovka axis. A grouping of Wrangel’s troops was soundly defeated during the operation in the Northern Tauride, and only part of this grouping made its way to the Crimea at the cost of great losses in men and materiel. In the winter of 1920-21 the First Horse Cavalry Army fought against the Makhno bands in the Left-bank Ukraine and then destroyed General Przheval’skii’s White Guard rebel army in the North Caucasus. The First Horse Cavalry Army was deactivated in May 1921, but its staff was maintained until October 1923.

The victories of the First Horse Cavalry Army in battles against Denikin, bourgeois-landholding Poland, and Wrangel make up one of the most brilliant pages in the history of the Red Army. Many commanders who in later years became prominent Soviet military leaders fought in the ranks of the First Horse Cavalry including S. K. Timoshenko, A. V. Khrulev, I. V. Tiulenev, O. I. Gorodovikov, I. Kh. Bagramian, K. S. Moskalenko, P. S. Rybalko, D. D. Leliushenko, I. R. Apanasenko, K. A. Meretskov, A. A. Grechko, P. F. Zhigarev, A. I. Leonov, la. N. Fedorenko, A. S. Zhadov, and P. A. Kurochkin.

In the summer of 1920 the Second Horse Cavalry Army was formed by the revolutionary military council of the Southwestern Front by an order of July 16, which had been issued on the basis of a directive of July 3 of the High Command. Formed for the purpose of fighting against Wrangel’s White Guard troops, which had a strong cavalry, the army included the 2nd Blinov, 16th, 20th, and 21st cavalry divisions. In September 1920 the 20th Cavalry Division was deactivated, and the Detached Special-purpose Cavalry Brigade was formed in its stead. The army was first commanded by O. I. Gorodovikov and from September 2, by F. K. Mironov; its revolutionary military council included E. A. Shchadenko, K. A. Makoshin, and, from September, A. L. Borchaninov. The Second Horse Cavalry Army had the same table of organization as the First Horse Cavalry Army, but until the end of August 1920 it was greatly under-staffed.

In July and August the Second Horse Cavalry Army and the Thirteenth Army, repulsing the offensive of Wrangel’s troops on Aleksandrovsk (now Zaporozh’e), delivered several powerful counterblows and halted the advance of the enemy. On August 28 the Second Horse Cavalry Army broke through the front of the enemy and carried out a raid on its service areas on the Kakhovka side. Operating in the region of Apostolovo in the first half of October, the Second Horse Cavalry Army bore the brunt of fighting with the main attack force of General Wrangel’s troops (35,000 foot soldiers and cavalrymen), which had crossed the Dnieper in order to gain control over the Right-bank Ukraine. In fighting that lasted many days, the Soviet troops routed the enemy grouping and threw it back to its starting position beyond the Dnieper. In late October and the first half of November the Second Horse Cavalry Army actively participated in the rout of Wrangel’s troops in the Northern Tauride and in the liberation of the Crimea. In December 1920 it was reorganized into the II Horse Cavalry Corps.

The combat actions of the First and Second Horse Cavalry armies played an important role in the rout of the interventionists and White Gurard troops.


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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.