Battle of Tsaritsyn
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|Battle of Tsaritsyn|
|Part of the Southern Front of the Russian Civil War|
|White Army||Red Army|
|Commanders and leaders|
| Pyotr Krasnov
| Joseph Stalin
|more than 250,000||at least 160,000|
|Casualties and losses|
|130,000||80,000|
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.
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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