Semyon Budyonny

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Semjon Michailowitsch Budjonny, Semjons Budjonnijs, Семён Будённый, Семён Миха́йлович Будённый, , Semion Boudienny, Semion Mikhaïlovitch Boudienny
Full Cavalier of 4 Croses of St. George (Russia), Hero of the Soviet Union, WWI participant, WWII participant
Kremlin Wall Necropolis

Semyon Mikhailovich Budyonny, sometimes transliterated as Budennyj, Budyonnyy, Budennii, Budyoni, Budyenny, or Budenny, Russian: Семён Миха́йлович Будённый (April 25 [O.S. April 13] 1883 – October 26, 1973) - red cossack, Soviet cavalryman, military commander, politician and a close ally of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.

Early life

Budyonny was born into a poor peasant family on the Kozyurin farmstead near the town of Bolshaya Orlovka in the Don Cossack region of the southern Russian Empire (now Rostov Oblast). Although he grew up in a Cossack region, Budyonny was not a Cossack—his family actually came from Voronezh province. He worked as a farm laborer until 1903, when he was drafted into the Imperial Russian Army, becoming a cavalryman and serving in a dragoon regiment during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905. In 1907, he was selected as one of the best riders in the regiment for admission to the Cavalry Officers' School in St. Petersburg, from which he graduated in 1908. He returned to the Maritime Cavalry Regiment until 1914.

During World War I, Budyonny was the senior non-commissioned officer in the elite Seversky 18th Dragoon Regiment on the Western Front. He became famous for his military courage and for leading a number of military victories, in spite of the general incompetence of the senior commissioned officers he served under (primarily Russian and Caucasian aristocrats who had been given commissions due to their family name).[citation needed] In 1916, he was transferred to the Caucasus Front, to fight against the Ottoman Turks. He was awarded the St. George Cross, 4th Class, for his successful assault on a German supply line, however this was revoked shortly thereafter: during a heated confrontation with the squadron sergeant major regarding the officers' poor treatment of the soldiers and the continual lack of food, the sergeant major struck Budyonny, who retaliated by punching the ranking officer and knocking him down. The soldiers backed Budyonny during questioning, claiming that the sergeant major was kicked by a horse and was using this as an excuse to settle a grudge. Due to this and Budyonny's value as a cavalryman, he was stripped of his St. George Cross, although court martial proceedings were nearly begun.

Budyonny would go on to be reawarded the 4th Class St. George Cross, as well as the other three grades. When the Russian Revolution overthrew the Tsarist regime in 1917, he was radicalized like some other soldiers and became a leading member of the soldiers' Soviet in the Caucasus area.

During the Russian Civil War

The Civil War broke out in 1918, and Budyonny organised a Red Cavalry force in the Don region, which eventually became the 1st Cavalry Army. This Army played an important role in winning the Civil War for the Bolsheviks, driving the White General Anton Denikin back from Moscow. Budyonny joined the Bolshevik party in 1919, and formed close relationships with Joseph Stalin and Kliment Voroshilov.

During the Polish-Soviet War

In 1920 Budyonny's Cavalry Army took part in the invasion of Poland in the Polish-Soviet War, in which it was quite successful at first, pushing Polish forces out of Ukraine and later breaking through Polish southern frontlines. However later the Bolsheviks forces sustained a heavy defeat in the Battle of Warsaw, mainly because Budyonny's Army was bogged down at Lviv. After his army was defeated in the Battle of Komarów (one of the biggest cavalry battles in history), Budyonny was then sent south to fight the Whites in Ukraine and the Crimea. Despite the defeat in Poland, he was one of Soviet Russia's military heroes by the end of the Civil War.

Later military career

From 1921-1923, Budyonny was deputy commander of the North Caucasian Military District. He spent a great amount of time and effort in the organization and management of equestrian facilities and developing new breeds of horses. In 1923, Budyonny arrived in Chechnya with a proclamation from the Central Executive Committee announcing the formation of the Chechen Autonomous Region. The same year, he was also appointed assistant commander of the Red Army's cavalry. In 1924, he became Inspector of Cavalry in the Red Army. Budyonny graduated from the Frunze Military Academy in 1932.

In 1935 Budyonny was made one of the first five Marshals of the Soviet Union. Three of these five were executed in the Great Purge of the late 1930s, leaving only Budyonny and Voroshilov.

Budyonny was considered a courageous and colorful cavalry officer, but displayed disdain for innovation and a profound ignorance of modern warfare, particularly the impact of tanks, which he saw as "incapable of ever replacing cavalry". During Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky's Great Purge trial he stated that Tukhachevsky's efforts to create an independent tank corps (which the Germans had already done and the USSR would hastily adopt in 1942) was so inferior to horse cavalry and so illogical that it amounted to deliberate "wrecking". To this denouncement, the doomed Tukhachevsky (now considered a pioneering innovator in tank warfare) blankly replied "I feel I'm dreaming"[citation needed]. Tukhachevsky was subsequently sentenced to death. In 1937 Budyonny commanded the Moscow Military District.

In July–September 1941, Budyonny was Commander-in-Chief (главком, glavkom) of the Soviet armed forces of the Southwestern Direction (Southwestern and Southern Fronts) facing the German invasion of Ukraine. This invasion began as part of Germany's Operation Barbarossa which was launched on June 22. Operating under strict orders from Stalin (who attempted to micromanage the war in the early stages) to not retreat under any circumstances, Budyonny's forces were eventually surrounded during the Battle of Uman and the Battle of Kiev. The disasters which followed the encirclement cost the Soviet Union 1.5 million men killed or taken prisoner. This was one of the largest encirclements in military history.

In September, Stalin made Budyonny a scapegoat, dismissing him as Commander-in-Chief, Southwestern Direction, and replacing him with the far abler Semyon Timoshenko. Budyonny was then placed in charge of the Reserve Front (September–October 1941), Commander-in-Chief of the troops in the North Caucasus Direction (April–May, 1942), Commander of the North Caucasus Front (May–August, 1942) and Cavalry Inspector of the Red Army (since 1943), as well as various honorific posts. Despite being blamed by Stalin for some of the Soviet Union's most catastrophic World War II defeats (although acting on Stalin's specific orders), he continued to enjoy Stalin's patronage and suffered no real punishment. After the war he was allowed to retire as a Hero of the Soviet Union and he died of a brain hemorrhage in 1973.

Other contributions

Budyonny wrote a five-volume memoir, in which he described the stormy years of civil war as well as the everyday life of the First Cavalry Army. He was frequently commemorated for his bravery in many popular Soviet military songs, including The Red Cavalry song (Konarmieyskaya) and The Budyonny March. Budenovka, a part of Soviet military uniform, is named after Semyon Budyonny.

Budyonny, who was a renowned horse breeder, also created a new horse breed that is still kept in large numbers in Russia: the Budyonny horse, which is famous for its high performance in sports and endurance.

Honours and awards

  • Three titles of Hero of the Soviet Union
  • Eight Orders of Lenin
  • Six Orders of the Red Banner
  • Order of Suvorov 1st class
  • Jubilee Medal "For Military Valour in Commemoration of the 100th Anniversary since the Birth of Vladimir Il'ich Lenin"
  • Medal "For the Defence of Moscow"
  • Medal "For the Defence of Odessa"
  • Medal "For the Defence of Sevastopol"
  • Medal "For the Defence of the Caucasus"
  • Medal "For the Victory over Germany in the Great Patriotic War 1941–1945"
  • Jubilee Medal "Twenty Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945"
  • Jubilee Medal "XX Years of the Workers' and Peasants' Red Army"
  • Jubilee Medal "30 Years of the Soviet Army and Navy"
  • Jubilee Medal "40 Years of the Armed Forces of the USSR"
  • Jubilee Medal "50 Years of the Armed Forces of the USSR"
  • Medal "In Commemoration of the 800th Anniversary of Moscow"
  • Medal "In Commemoration of the 250th Anniversary of Leningrad"
  • All four classes ("Full Cavalier") of the Cross of St. George (Russian Empire)

Honouring, naming

The Military Academy of the Signal Corps in St. Petersburg carries the name of honour S. M. Budjonny




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