Sappers Uprising of 1905–06

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Sappers’ Uprising of 1905–06


revolutionary actions of soldiers of sapper units (which were recruited primarily from among workers) in the Revolution of 1905–07.

In Kiev the sappers’ uprising was planned by the military organization of the RSDLP. The leaders of the uprising included Sublieutenant B. P. Zhadanovskii, who was connected with the military organization, and the Bolshevik F. N. Petrov. On Nov. 16 (29), 1905, the soldiers of the 3rd Company of the 5th Pontoon Battalion of the 3rd Sapper Brigade refused to obey their commanders. On November 17 (30) the military organization of the RSDLP held a meeting with representatives of the soldiers, who proposed an uprising. It was decided by majority vote to conduct an armed demonstration, since the preparation for the uprising had not been completed. In order to rouse the remaining sapper units to action, armed sappers of the 4th and 5th pontoon battalions (about 800 men) moved toward the barracks on Nov. 18 (Dec. 1) 1905. The sappers were joined by soldiers of other units and by workers of the Iuzhnorusskii Plant (now the Lenin Smithy). The demonstration (about 5,000 men) was fired on by troops loyal to the tsarist government and was dispersed after an exchange of fire.

Of the 106 demonstrators put on trial, three were sentenced to death, 27 to hard labor, and 62 to service in disciplinary battalions. Despite the defeat of the sappers’ uprising, V. I. Lenin considered it “a step in the direction of merging the revolutionary army with the revolutionary workers and students” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 12, p. 123).

In the Caucasus the sappers’ uprising started on July 25, (Aug. 7), 1905. Soldiers of the 1st and 2nd Caucasian sapper battalions in Aleksandropol’ (present-day Leninakan) arrested the officers and demanded the release of political prisoners. The uprising was suppressed on July 26 (August 8). Between Nov. 11 (24), and Dec. 25, 1905 (Jan. 7, 1906), the sappers participated in actions of the troops of the Tbilisi garrison. On June 25 (July 8), 1906, the 2nd Battalion of the Caucasian Sapper Brigade in Aleksandropol’ refused to carry out the command’s orders. At a meeting the soldiers set forth their political demands. They were joined by the 1st Battalion. The insurgents tried to seize the ammunition warehouse but were surrounded by government troops and disarmed. Twenty-five men were arrested, and the remaining sappers were sent to other units in small groups.


Revoliutsionnoe dvizhenie ν armii ν gody pervoi russkoi revoliutsii: Sb. st. Moscow, 1955.
Bondarenko, I. N. Bol’sheviki Kieva ν Pervoi russkoi revoliutsii. [Kiev] 1960.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.