Rostov-on-Don-Novocherkassk Operation of 1920

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Rostov-on-Don-Novocherkassk Operation of 1920


combat actions by Soviet forces of the Southern Front (commanded by A. I. Egorov; members of the Revolutionary Military Council J. V. Stalin and M. M. Lashevich) and the Southeastern Front (commanded by V. I. Shorin; members of the Revolutionary Military Council S. I. Gusev and I. T. Smilga) against the main forces of General A. I. Denikin’s White Guard forces from January 6 to 10 during the Civil War of 1918–20.

The primary objective of the Whites was to hold the Rostov-on-Don-Novocherkassk base of operations and the cities of Rostov-on-Don and Novocherkassk as the principal centers of southern Russian counterrevolution so that, having reorganized and replenished the White armies after their defeat in the Ukraine and in the northern part of the Don region, they could again go on the offensive. The approaches to Rostov-on-Don were defended by the Volunteer Corps and General I. G. Barbovich’s cavalry, and the III Don Corps was defending the approaches to Novocherkassk. General S. M. Toporkov’s Composite Corps (the Terek-Kuban’ Cavalry) and General K. K. Mamontov’s IV Don Corps were held in reserve to deliver counterstrikes.

The attacking Soviet forces were the First Horse Cavalry Army (commanded by S. M. Budennyi) and the Eighth Army (commanded by G. Ia. Sokol’nikov), which were directed against Rostov-on-Don, and the Ninth Army (commanded by M. K. Levandovskii), against Novocherkassk along the Voronezh-Rostov-on-Don Railroad. The most stubborn White resistance was encountered in the attack zones of the First Horse Cavalry and Eighth armies. During the night of January 6, Soviet forces took Taganrog, and on January 7 forces of the Ninth Army liberated Novocherkassk, forcing Mamontov’s horse cavalry corps, in spite of Denikin’s orders, to retreat hurriedly beyond the Don south of Novocherkassk. Unexpectedly for the Whites, during the night of January 8, forces of the First Horse Cavalry and Eighth armies broke into Nakhichevan’ and Rostov-on-Don and on January 10, after fighting in the streets against units of the Volunteer Corps, took the cities.

V. I. Lenin assessed the victory of Soviet forces at Novocherkassk and Rostov-on-Don as one of the important turning points in the Civil War as a whole, a point where “the Soviet Republic’s military position radically changed” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 40, p. 87). Directly influenced by the victory, the Supreme Council of the Entente decided on Jan. 16, 1920, to remove its economic blockade from the Soviet Republic.


Istoriia grazhdanskoi voiny ν SSSR, 1917–1922, vol. 4. Moscow, 1959.
Agureev, K. V. Razgrom belogvardeiskikh voisk Denikina. Moscow, 1961.
Denikin, A. I. Pokhod na Moskvu. Moscow, 1928.

A. V. Golubev

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