Eye of Gorodovikov: 10 facts about the legendary red commander

Eye of Gorodovikov: 10 facts about the legendary red commander

“In battle, he was not just brave, but amazingly courageous, but his courage had nothing to do with brashness. He performed heroic deeds as something most ordinary, working, ordinary.”
S. M. Budyonny

In 2024, it will be the 145th anniversary of the birth of my childhood hero, Oka Ivanovich Gorodovikov. The Civil War ended more than a century ago, and new generations no longer know about the exploits of the people whose names streets, squares and entire cities are named after. I think the anniversary is a worthy occasion to remember the legendary Cavalry commander.

1. Mortgaged all his property to join the army

Oka Gorodovikov came from a poor family of Buzavs (Kalmyk Cossacks), who lived in the village of Platovskaya, Salsky district of the Don Army. Oka, who worked from the age of eight, experienced poverty early on, changing various professions: herding sheep, being a herdsman, and working as a laborer for wealthy fellow villagers. For the Cossack poor, conscription into the imperial army was a real disaster, since it was necessary to purchase a horse at their own expense, a cold weapon and full uniform. In 1903, to serve in the army, young Oka had to mortgage his land share for six years in order to buy everything he needed.

2. Received his first award from Nicholas II

Oka's first service was in the Ninth Don Cossack Regiment, stationed in Poland. In 1904, at the maneuvers of the Warsaw Military District, he received the first award. Having received an order to deliver a secret report to the command, he was able to fight off the “enemy” horsemen and carry out the assignment, bringing the package to division headquarters. There he handed it over to the youngest in position - a cavalry colonel standing among the generals. So Gorodovikov met with the emperor, who in response awarded him a silver ruble.

3. He became famous as a skilled grunt and horseman

Even while serving in the tsarist army, Sergeant Gorodovikov proved himself to be an excellent rider, receiving a number of incentives for victories in equestrian competitions, as well as mastery of bladed weapons and firearms. He received the badge “For Excellent Shooting” before demobilization in 1907. After finishing his service and before the start of World War I, Oka worked as an instructor for the training of Cossack conscripts, teaching them standard cavalry disciplines: horse riding, shooting and fencing. According to the recollections of veterans of the First Cavalry, Oka could cut a man in half with his famous checker strike. It was training in saber combat that was a key area of ​​training for Red Army soldiers, to which Gorodovikov paid special attention in the First Cavalry. Until his retirement from military service in 1947, he did not miss the opportunity to demonstrate to ordinary soldiers and commanders his skills in equestrian sports and shooting.

4. Was sentenced to death

After the February Revolution, the front-line soldier Gorodovikov chose the side of the Reds, joining the stanitsa Revkom, which met in the hut of his old friend Semyon Budyonny. In the Platovsky partisan detachment, Oka became the commander of the Kalmyk half-squadron, and the White Guard command soon announced a reward for his capture. In February 1918, a horse was killed near Gorodovikov, and he was captured. He is brought to the Cossack general P. Kh. Popov, who immediately sentences the partisan leader to death. However, the sentence was never carried out, since its protection was entrusted to the Don Kalmyk E. Kulishov, a relative of Oka who sympathized with the Bolsheviks. On the night before the execution, a group of Kalmyks led the arrested man away from the whites and disappeared into the steppe.

Fate continued to protect Gorodovikov: during the Civil War, he received a shell shock and five wounds, none of which forced him to leave his fighters - the bandaged commander moved with the troops in a cart.

5. Captured several armored trains

Among Gorodovikov’s incredible feats is the capture of three White Guard armored trains in the Mikhailovka area in August 1919. This trick was performed by the soldiers of his 4th Cavalry Division more than once. According to the memoirs of Marshal K. S. Moskalenko, the second time they captured several armored trains in November 1919 during the battles in the Kastornaya area, while Oka captured one of them without firing a single shot, personally leading the rapid attack of the squadron.

There, near Kastornaya, Gorodovikov’s division first encountered tanks:

“- Comrade commander, trouble. There's some kind of hut moving... It's huge, huge, and they're shooting out of the windows...
Everyone rushed as hard as they could to the outskirts to look at the outlandish “hut.” Having galloped up to the outskirts, I saw that the Budennovites were rushing towards the tank from all over; curiosity turned out to be stronger than fear. The tanker, thinking that he was being attacked, turned and ran back.
We didn’t manage to fight the tank this time: it never showed up again.”

6. Stood at the origins of the Second Cavalry

In July 1920, Oka was appointed commander of the Second Cavalry Army. The command allocated 15 days for its formation, after which the newly formed formation was thrown into battle with the advancing troops of Wrangel. Later, losses in battles with Wrangel led to the replacement of Oka Gorodovikov with another Red Cossack - Philip Mironov (this was a bizarre zigzag of fortune, since a year before that Gorodovikov had arrested Mironov for organizing a counter-revolutionary rebellion).

7. Awarded a mountaineer badge for crossing the Pamirs

Winter 1935-1936 The attention of the whole country was focused on the Pamirs, which was stormed by a rescue expedition led by Gorodovikov. Sudden snowfalls cut off the high-mountain Murghab from the rest of the world, and its population was left without food - at that time, crossing the snow-covered Pamir passes was considered impossible. The task of helping the starving was assigned to the military. By digging tunnels in the snowdrifts and pulling trucks out of the snow with their hands, Gorodovikov’s detachment was able to deliver grain to Murgab and thereby dispel the myth about the impassability of the winter Pamirs.

8. Dined with the King of Italy and Mussolini

In September 1935, Oka Gorodovikov led the Soviet delegation that arrived in Rome to observe the maneuvers of the Italian army. At the farewell banquet, he turned out to be the most senior officer among all the foreign representatives, and therefore sat at the same table with the Italian king. Benito Mussolini gave Gorodovikov a hunting rifle as a farewell gift. Later, he gave this gun to his nephew, General Basan Gorodovikov, with the following parting words:

“If you ever meet that scoundrel Mussolini, kill him with this gun...”

9. During the years of repression, he was ready to shoot himself if arrested

The 1937 repressions against the leadership of the Red Army found Gorodovikov in the position of deputy commander of the Central Asian Military District. As his son recalls, during the period of mass arrests he

“I prayed to all the gods (Kalmyk and Russian) so that he would not be appointed commander.”

Knowing about the fate of Commissar Gamarnik, who managed to commit suicide before being detained in the “Tukhachevsky case,” Gorodovikov began to constantly carry a personal weapon with him and put a pistol under his pillow, not wanting to repeat the unenviable fate of many comrades in the Civil War.

10. Participated in the Patriotic War

Gorodovikov met the Patriotic War as a 61-year-old cavalry inspector general. In June 1941, he was sent by a representative of the Headquarters to the North-Western Front, where he even had to temporarily command the 8th Army. During the same period, he organized a raid of the cavalry group of Colonel Batskalevich in the rear of the German Army Group Center. Gorodovikov’s main responsibilities during the war were the formation of cavalry units and performing the duties of a representative of the Headquarters at the fronts (primarily when planning cavalry raids behind enemy lines); he went to the front 18 times. In 1943, Budyonny signed two proposals for him: conferring the rank of army general and awarding him the Order of Kutuzov. However, they were not approved due to the beginning of repressions against the Kalmyks. He was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union already in retirement - in 1958.
  • Mergen Doraev
  • Photos from various sources. All are freely available, including those published in books about O.I. Gorodovikov
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  1. +12
    4 January 2024 02: 54
    In February 2018, a horse was killed near Gorodovikov, and he was captured.

    Still, editors need to proofread articles.
    1. +5
      4 January 2024 06: 56
      “Captive horses” have recently become a “feature” of some articles on VO.
      1. +5
        4 January 2024 15: 29
        Good afternoon, Victor! hi

        In general, it seems to me that this article should rather be in the “History” section. Still, there are 10 facts here, and facts cannot be opinions.
  2. +5
    4 January 2024 03: 20
    With his famous checker strike, Oka could cut a person in half.

    According to the memoirs of S.M. Budyonny cut the White Guards from shoulder to saddle.
    1. +6
      4 January 2024 11: 04
      They were both very different. And they were similar to each other. The memory of the Oka remained in the name of a settlement in Kalmykia.
    2. +2
      4 January 2024 11: 04
      Both of them were great. And similar to each other. The memory of Oka remained in the name of the settlement in Kalmykia. By the way, another famous commander, General Oslikovsky, also came from the First Cavalry
    3. BAI
      4 January 2024 14: 52
      Actually, this is often attributed to Tymoshenko
      1. 0
        5 January 2024 03: 14
        What exactly, memories or chopping?
  3. +8
    4 January 2024 04: 08
    Well, what, a hero without any, and personal courage and skill and the ability to teach and command... What kind of people were...
  4. +11
    4 January 2024 04: 11
    who immediately sentences the partisan leader to death.
    They are leaders in gangs, and COMMANDERS in partisan detachments. Actually, that’s how it was done in our country. It was the Nazi occupiers who equated partisan detachments with gangs, and their commanders with leaders...
  5. +11
    4 January 2024 05: 26
    Well, at least they remembered the hero, instead of the Kirkorovs, Galkins and other pop scum
  6. +3
    4 January 2024 05: 47
    To my shame, I knew about him only from the works of Pikul, who described Oka as a buffoon under Stalin.
  7. +9
    4 January 2024 06: 05
    Was a consultant in the "adventures of the unstoppable"
    1. +5
      4 January 2024 11: 07
      Oslikovsky was a consultant in the famous film
  8. +5
    4 January 2024 06: 55
    here the author is a little disingenuous when informing us about the deportation of Kalmyks after the Second World War, but he is silent that they betrayed the USSR and served the Germans. Among the first to become traitors were the Kalmyk cavalry division formed by Gorodovikov. It was surrounded by the Germans, and those who did not die or did not make their way to ours, those from this division went over to the Germans in an organized manner and with weapons in their hands. And their number is about forty percent of the composition of this division. On this basis, the Kalmyk corps was formed by the Germans and it terrorized not only Soviet partisans and civilians in the south of the German-occupied Soviet Union, but also Yugoslav partisans right up to May 1945. The prototypes of the project of the Baltic “forest brotherhood”, after the liberation of the Baltic states from the fascists, was the project of inciting an uprising in Kalmykia after its liberation from the fascists, which the Germans entrusted to implement several units of Kalmyks from this Kalmyk corps, which the Germans threw into Kalmykia, which had already been liberated from the fascists. It’s just that the Soviet security officers, counterintelligence and SMERSH did a great job then..
    Also in the article there is a “smell” about the allegedly innocently executed, so-called innocent oppositionist to Stalin, Napoleon Tukhachevsky and his “Marshal” Yakir and others like him.
    Among the versions about the reasons for the deportation of Kalmyks, I had to hear one that by this deportation Stalin wanted to save the loyal and devoted part of the Kalmyk people to the Soviet power, who faithfully served Soviet Russia during the Second World War, from a large number of Kalmyk collaborators who served the Germans, and they were deported only for this reason guilty families. I wonder what view Gorodovikov had of this deportation?
    1. +4
      4 January 2024 15: 42
      "Marshal" Yakir and others like him

      Similar ones are probably Meretskov, Rokossovsky, Gorbatov, Yushkevich, Petrovsky, Lizyukov, Bukshtynovich...

      An interesting historical fact:
      - Of the 108 permanent members of the Military Council under the People's Commissar of Defense, who were in it at the beginning of 1937 (all speakers unanimously condemned the arrested Tukhachevsky and his accomplice), only 1938 survived until the next meeting in November 10. All the rest also turned out to be spies and their I also had to shoot...
  9. +3
    4 January 2024 07: 03
    I remember that some of the Cossacks did not have the opportunity to be fully equipped as cavalry; they were sent to plastuns; the same Cossacks were only on foot. If this is not the case, I apologize.
    1. +1
      6 January 2024 15: 27
      Quote: andrewkor
      I remember that some of the Cossacks did not have the opportunity to be fully equipped as cavalry; they were sent to plastuns; the same Cossacks were only on foot. If this is not the case, I apologize.

      Father, hereditary Kuban Cossack born in 1900. told.
      Those of the Cossacks who could not independently purchase a combat horse, and a combat horse was very expensive, and the rest of the uniform, all this was acquired by society!
      The decision of the society (village) was made, and with public money everything was purchased by the poor!
  10. +6
    4 January 2024 07: 56
    partisan leader to be shot
    Popov is a white hero, Oka is a red bandit... Everything is in the spirit of the times... smile The descendants of the heroes now write about them as bandits. smile
  11. +1
    4 January 2024 11: 38
    Cool ! Thanks author!
  12. +3
    4 January 2024 13: 50
    In 1943, Budyonny signed two proposals for him: conferring the rank of army general and awarding him the Order of Kutuzov. However, they were not approved due to the beginning of repressions against the Kalmyks.
    And for some reason, Amet Khan Sultan received a Hero, even twice, despite the deportation of the Crimean Tatars? In addition, his closest relatives were in the Sonderkommando. This is written in Sermul’s book “900 days in the mountains of Crimea” - when, after Amet Khan was awarded the title of Hero, a patrizan group was sent to Alupka to transport relatives to the mainland (the Germans destroyed the relatives of Heroes). But this was not the case here - the partisans barely escaped with their own feet. So I didn’t get the Hero of the Eye for some other reason.
    1. +4
      4 January 2024 15: 21
      And for some reason, Amet Khan Sultan received a Hero, even twice, despite the deportation of the Crimean Tatars?

      Perhaps because he received the GSS back in 1943, before the deportation of the Tatars in 1944.
      And in Soviet biographies he was always written not as a Crimean Tatar, but as a Dagestani (Lak).
  13. BAI
    4 January 2024 14: 55
    The actions of the 2nd Cavalry are described here. I read it as a child and remembered it
  14. +3
    4 January 2024 15: 14
    In January 1919, he was removed from the post of commander of a separate cavalry brigade and demoted to second assistant brigade commander for mass desertion of his subordinates.

    In September 1920, he was removed from the post of commander of the 2nd Army and demoted as assistant commander for failure to complete assigned tasks and for large losses in his units.

    In 1947 he was dismissed.

    He received the title of Hero of the USSR at the age of 79, which is probably a record.

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