Battle of Tsaritsyn

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For the famous World War II battle here, see Battle of Stalingrad.
Battle of Tsaritsyn
Part of the Southern Front of the Russian Civil War
Date July 1918-January 1920
Location Tsaritsyn, Russian SFSR
48°42′N 44°31′E / 48.700°N 44.517°E / 48.700; 44.517Coordinates: 48°42′N 44°31′E / 48.700°N 44.517°E / 48.700; 44.517
Result Decisive Bolshevik victory
Russia White Army Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic Red Army
Commanders and leaders
Russia Pyotr Krasnov
Russia Anton Denikin
Russia Pyotr Wrangel
Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic Joseph Stalin
Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic Kliment Voroshilov
more than 250,000[citation needed] at least 160,000[citation needed]
Casualties and losses
130,000[citation needed] 80,000[citation needed]

The Battle of Tsaritsyn was a military confrontation between Bolshevik forces and the White Army during the Russian Civil War. It was for control of the significant city and port on the Volga River in southwestern Russia. The battle resulted in a Bolshevik victory.


Stalin, Voroshilov and Shchadenko in the trenches of Tsaritsyn.

The battle started when White forces under Ataman Pyotr Krasnov laid siege to Tsaritsyn in the autumn of 1918, pushing back the Red Army defenders into areas surrounding the town on the west bank. The local Bolshevik leaders desperately called Moscow for reinforcements and arms, but received nothing other than orders to stand firm.


According to Soviet legend, the city was saved by the actions of the local chairman of the military committee, Joseph Stalin. Stalin urged his comrades to continue fighting and disobeyed direct orders from Moscow by recalling forces from the Caucasus, nicknamed Zhloba's 'Steel Division'. These forces were able to attack the White forces in the rear and defeat them, saving Tsaritsyn for the Bolsheviks. Three major engagements then developed around the city afterwards during the entire duration of the battle but were likewise less successful than the first one. Although a temporary takeover of the city by White general Anton Denikin's troops occurred in June 1919, Red Army forces under both Stalin and Voroshilov, this time aided by supplies and weapons that had recently arrived from Moscow, staged an all-out assault towards the city and retook it by January 1920. As a result, the defeated White Army, now reduced to mere numbers and in danger of destruction, then retreated towards the Crimean peninsula.


For these and later actions in the city of Tsaritsyn region, the city was renamed Stalingrad in 1925 to honor Stalin and his actions. About 17 years later the city would once again be a battlefield, this time for the decisive battle of the Eastern Front of World War II, the bloody Battle of Stalingrad. The city was renamed in 1961 to Volgograd.


  • R. Overy, Why the Allies Won, London 1996

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