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The Battle of Tsaritsyn was a major engagement in the Russian Civil War. The engagement saw the White occupation of Tsaritsyn and the death of Commissar of Nationalities Joseph Stalin .


After the fall of Ekaterinodar, the combined forces of Kornilov and Yudenich made a sweep of the Caucasus. The victories in the region gave reason for the Georgians, Armenians, and Azerbaijani to fight the pro-Bolshevik factions in their countries. An alliance was struck between the Yudenich forces and the Caucasians.

On the May 6, 1918, by the decree of the Council of People's Commissars, the Military District of the Northern Caucasus was created, consisting of territory inhabited by Don Cossacks, Kuban Cossacks, Terek Cossacks and the Dagestani.

Snesarev AE

Andreiy Snesarev.

On May 14, Trotsky selected Andreiy Snesarev to be district commander. Once Snesarev reached Tsaritsyn on 26th May, he arraged HQ, communication centers, intelligence and did much to raise morale of the red infantrymen he had under command.

On May 28, in the village of Manichskoye, a meeting was held in order to organize joint actions against anti-Bolshevik forces in the Don region with the participation of generals Krasnov and Denikin, Alexeyev and others. General Krasnov suggested that the Volunteer Army together to advance on Tsaritsyn, who, according to his plan, was to be the basis for further Volunteer Army offensives in the Saratov province. Here, according to the Krasnov, the Volunteer Army would consolidate and connect with the White Cossack General Dutov.

The attack would come from three fronts: Yudenich to the southeast, Kornilov from the south, and Krasnov from the southwest.


Initial fighting began on May 31, as Yudenich's men marched toward Elitsa. The town was taken within twenty-four hours, with minimal losses on the White side.

Mitrophan Grekov 31

A painting depicting the Tsaritsyn Campaign.

In the village of Salsk, however, the 10,000-man garrison under the command of Shevkopliasov gave the Kornilov unit some trouble. Kornilov's men were able inflict casualties to half of the defending Reds, forcing them to fall back to Velikoknyazheskaya, where they surrendered. 

Yudenich began shelling the town of Sarepta-on-Volga on June 4. To the west, a cavalry battle ensued between the Reds and Krasnov's Cossacks at Ivanonka.

Meanwhile, the combined forces of Yevgeniy Miller and Vasily Boldyrev (numbering 15,000 and 12,000, respectively) approached from the Donbass. They pushed the Reds from Morozovsk on June 4 and from Verhne-Kurmoyarskaya two days later.

Stalin arrived in Tsaritsyn on June 6. Snesarev was to be recalled to Moscow and Stalin and Kliment Voroshilov, the latter of whom was stationed at Volzhsky.

The direct assault on Tsaritsyn itself began on June 7.  

As Krasnov, Kornilov, and Yudenich attacked from the west, southwest, and south, respectively, Boldyrev's forces marched toward Dubovka. Miller closed in from Morozovsk.

Stalin sent a request for help to General Mironov's men, stationed at Ust-Medveditskaya. 2,000 infantry from the garrison trekked southward to catch the Whites from behind, but were intercepted by White cavalry to the south of Kachalinskaya.

From Elitsa, the armored train Count Orlov reached Tsaritsyn and began shelling the Red lines. Attempts by waves of infantry to capture the train were foiled by machine guns in its armored wagons.

On the morning of June 12, the Orlov took the fight into the streets, firing shells into Tsaritsyn. One of these shells hit the command center at 10:42 AM; Stalin was among those killed in the blast.

As a small group of soldiers struggled to capture Volzhskaya Station, the 2nd Don Division broke through the enemy lines in the southwest.

The Bolshevik defenders buckled under the assault. Some Reds surrendered, others abandoned the heavier equipment and forded the Volga in retreat, falling back toward Volzhsky.



Victory at Tsaritsyn.

11,000 Reds surrendered to the White forces and their materiel was added to their own. Two battalions joined Yudenich's forces; others were either imprisoned or executed. Attempts to dislodge the Reds from Astrakhan and Volzhsky would follow. 

Stalin was killed in the fighting. Genrikh Yagoda was appointed to his office by Lenin. 

The Red Army infantry who fled across the Volga left behind the heavy equipment. Most regrouped at Volzhsky. 

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