For the command of the East German front, the Baltic theater was also very important. On the one hand, having concentrated most of the cavalry units of the Eastern Front in the Baltic States, it expected real operational results from its mobile troops, on the other hand, the German attack on the northern flank of the Russian Front was aimed at concealing troop transfers to Galicia from the Russian command — to divert attention from the upcoming Gorlitsky strategic operation.
The terrain in Latvia and Lithuania allowed the use of large cavalry masses, set them the most important operational and strategic tasks. The weak saturation of the region with troops gave the hostilities of the opponents a focal character and contributed to highly maneuverable actions and cavalry battles. At the very beginning of military operations in the Baltics there was not even a solid front line.
Already from the beginning of April 1915, the strengthening of German troops in the region of Koenigsberg - Insterburg with the tendency of cavalry to the Lower Neman began to emerge.
Army group of Lieutenant-General O. von Lauenshteyn, which included 3 cavalry (3-I, 6-I and Bavarian cavalry) and 3 infantry (6-I, 36-I and 78-i reserve) divisions, was appointed, and was appointed by the organization, and was appointed by the organization. Tilsit area. She was opposed by weak Russian forces - one second-rate (68-I infantry) division, part of the militia and border guards.
Il 1. Lt. Gen. Otto von Lauenstein, commander of the army group.
The German offensive began on April 14: the right group (Bavarian and 3 cavalry, 36 reserve divisions) moved through Yurgurg, the middle one (78 reserve division) on the highway from Taurogene, left (6 cavalier division, 6 on the highway, 1914 cavalier division, 1918) I reserve divisions) - from the region of Memel [Ludendorff E. von. My memories of the war 2005 — 141. M. - Mn., XNUMX. C. XNUMX].
The chief of staff of the German 1 Cavalry Corps, Colonel M. Pozek, wrote that the army group had to deliver a crushing blow to the Russian troops north of the Neman, advancing the forces of cavalry to the railway line Keidana - Libau, and the infantry - to the line Kelmya - Telshe [ Possek M. Germanic cavalry in Lithuania and in Kurland in 1915 M. - L., 1930. C. 20-21].
At first, the Russian command had nothing to oppose to the onslaught of the enemy. Fighting, weak Russian units retreated.
In the evening of April 14, the 3 Cavalry Division was already at Skudville, and the Bavarian Cavalry was moving to Rossiens. 6 Cavalry Division was harder - she led hard battles with the Russian parts and could not significantly advance.
April 15 The 3-I and Bavarian cavalry divisions were in the Kelm region, and the 6-I cavalry division was located at Vorny. The Germans came to the river. Dubissa In just two days, the enemy passed 75 km, and on April 16 the equestrian group of the Germans approached Shavlyam and Kurshans.
Grab seats. The centerpiece and destroy the railway bridge in places. The cavalry of the enemy cavalry failed due to the approach of the Russian reserves.
But the cavalry raid brought tactical success. And, appreciating the importance of a strategically promising theater of operations, the German command intensified its onslaught.
In places. Kortsyany-Badie fought with the Cossack and militia units 6-I cavalry and 6-I reserve, and in Botoki and Skadvili-Bavarian, 3-I cavalry and 78-I reserve enemy divisions. Go further places. Okmeny-Popelyany Germans could not.
In these battles, the German cavalry shows excessive caution, preferring to fire fighting equestrian attacks. It is noteworthy that the enemy’s spraying forces themselves, the command of the horse units, according to the testimony of the Germans themselves, missed a number of favorable tactical possibilities.
During the April 17 battles, the German 3 Cavalry Division was battered under Shawley, and the 14 Hussars regiment was driven away from the city. The 24 th live dragoon regiment lost to 50 in the battle of Janishka.
However, having regrouped, on April 17, the Germans captured an important strategic point - the city of Shavli. The 6-i and 3-i cavalry divisions continued their offensive against Mitau, and on April 20 the 6-i cavalry division approached the city.
And here the Russian cavalry showed itself - the 1th Cavalry Corps of V. A. Oranovskiy. The corps struck in the direction of the city of Rossyena effective counter-attack.
The Germans began to depart: 6-I cavalry division for the river. Vindava - along the Mitawa railway - Mozheiki, and the 3-I and Bavarian cavalry divisions along the r. Dubissu - on the trowel.
E. Ludendorff fixed that fierce battles broke out near Shavley and north-west of the city, which were very tense for German soldiers and officers [Ludendorf E. von. Decree. cit. C. 142].
Il 2. Cavalry General V. A. Oranovskiy, Commander of the 1 Cavalry Corps.
During these battles, the Russian 5 Cavalry Division near the town of Shavli attacked the fortified position of the enemy.
At dawn, at the signal of the trumpeter, the Russian cavalry went on the attack as during peacetime exercises. In the equestrian ranks, a whole division was moving. As on the show, having scattered in the lava, its regiments rushed in the morning mist, and behind them, observing the alignment, 2 equestrian batteries galloped.
The sea of racing horsemen, according to the recollection of an eyewitness, was an unforgettable and majestic picture. From the side of the village which did not expect attack, indiscriminate rifle shooting began, and German machine guns opened fire.
Horse batteries at full speed, acting as a single unit, turned "left around", removed from the front and opened fire on top of their attacking cavalry. The center of the division, crushing the German guards, broke into the village, hacking and trampling the Germans running. At this time, the right flank bypassed the village.
On the left flank, partially covered with bushes, the feverish firing of German machine guns continued for some time. Also from afar randomly fired German battery. Soon, the machine guns and guns fell silent.
Not without surprises. Moving on the left flank of the division, the 5 Uhlansky Lithuanian regiment flew into the marsh near the village itself. Flown from overclocking into the swamp, the lancers began to get bogged down and drowned. Located on the other side of the swamp, the Germans shot drowning. But this did not last long - the dragoons, who bypassed the Germans, chopped them up.
Thanks to this swift and unexpected attack by the enemy, the 5-I cavalry division captured the fortified village, capturing trophies and prisoners. Among the units of the division, the third squadron of the 5 Uhlansky regiment suffered most of all, in which only 37 people survived [Vyrypayev V. Attack under Shavlyami // Military Story. 1963. No. 61. C. 22].
Il 3. Prayer service before the fight.
The enemy struck counter blows.
So, 21 of April, the squadrons of the 3 of the Hussar Elisavetgrad of Her Highness the Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna regiment fought a combined battle with the enemy: they occupied the three dismounted squadrons Hungarian - Berishty - Nekshtunishki and restrained the advancing Germans. At this time, two other squadrons, occupying the village of Joktiany, were in reserve, another squadron with a horse-drawn battery occupied the heights between the village of Podarilka and folv. Polesie, firing at the enemy.
Thanks to this tactic, which suffered significant losses from the fire of the Elisavetgrad men, the Germans stopped the offensive. The hussars also supported their infantry - units of the 68 Infantry Division. Regiment losses - 14 man, but a detachment of Colonel Aleksandrov was rescued, as the 24 brigade of the 2 Cavalry Division 3 wrote about the regiment commander in April: "... I consider it a pleasant duty to express to you, all the years. to the hussars' officers and good fellows, my heartfelt thanks for the glorious and youthful work of the 21 regiment of April [fir] when a detachment attacked the Rossiens and Kalnuy, where the regiment entrusted to you ... under strong rifle and artillery fire, thanks to your personal calmness, courage, discipline and selfless bravery, strength and courage in humanity the hussar, saved the position of Colonel Aleksandrov’s detachment, stopped the enemy’s strong bypass column (infantry brigade with artillery) threatening to bypass his left flank and the rear, and gave him the opportunity to calmly withdraw from the logo of the situation ”[Voronov A.V. Olginy hussars. Regimental pages stories. M., 1999. C. 45].
But by April 25, German troops captured Southern Kurland, capturing the city of Libau, which struck the Russian naval station in the Baltic. Russian troops retreated to the river. Vindava and Dubissa.
To stabilize the situation, the control of the 12-th (soon saturated with troops and renamed as 5-th) army was sent to the Baltic states. In early May, the army included the 19 army corps and a significant number of cavalry formations: 2, 3, 4, 5, 15, cavalry, 4, Don Cossack division, 4, Separate cavalry and Ussuri horse brigades. The concentration of such a number of cavalry vividly reflected on the specifics of the fighting.
Army Group O. von Lauenshteina became the core of the Neman army. The concentration by the Germans of a significant number of troops also required their structuring, and operations in the Baltic States began to acquire an independent character, influencing the course of the campaign. The backbone of the army - 1-th reserve and cavalry corps. So, in its structure operated: 1 th cavalry corps (3 th and Bavarian cavalry divisions), E. von Shmettova cavalry corps (6 th and 2 th cavalry division, Guards cavalry brigade, 8 brigade, 4 th division, 1 th division, XNUMX Cavalry division, XNUMX Cavalry division, XNUMX Cavalry division) , XNUMX-I and XNUMX-I cavalry divisions.
Il 4. Lt. Gen. Manfred von Richthofen, Commander of the 1 Cavalry Corps.
Il 5. Lieutenant-General Egon von Smettov, Chief of the 6 Cavalry Division and Commander of the Cavalry Corps of Shmettov (since August 1915. - 5 Cavalry Corps).
During this period, the number of cavalry that were not observed on any of the fronts during the entire war was concentrated in the composition of the German troops in the Baltic States.
In these battles on the Shavel front there was a turning point in favor of the Russian weapons - and the key role was played by the actions of cavalry units.
In the battle of Krakinov on April 25, cavalrymen of the 5 Division again distinguished themselves - a squadron of the 5 th Dragoon Kargopol regiment from the city of Ponevezh attacked two squadrons of German scholjors, a rearguard of the brigade. During the fleeting battle 40 of German cavalrymen was hacked. In this battle, the commander of the 5 Brigade of the Bavarian Cavalry Division was severely wounded by Major General E. Freiher von Krelsgeyn. 26 April general died in Baysagol. The Bavarian cavalry division lost a military leader, who was considered one of the most effective cavalry commanders [Pozek M. Decree. cit. C. 50].
The enemy recorded the beginning of the Russian offensive - from Ponevezh and Yanishka on Shavli. The 78-I Reserve Division and the 33-I Cavalry Brigade retreated. [Posed M. Decree. cit. C. 50]. 26 April Bavarian Cavalry Division operating in the vicinity of Art. Zheimey, was also attacked by the Russian cavalry and retreated.
By 28 April, German troops are on the defensive.
Il 6. The offensive group of O. Lauenstein 14 - 28 April. Dates of the card - a new style.
Russian 5-I cavalry division was supposed to seize yy. Siauliai and Skadvili (then maintain 19-Army Corps), 2-Cavalry Division operated on the road Siauliai - Taurogen, 3-Cavalry Division advancing on Shavkyany, while 15-Cavalry Division stabs at Shavhoty.
On the 9 hours of 28 on April, units of the 2 Cavalry Division advanced the reconnaissance squadrons and launched an offensive [RGVIA. F. 3512. Op. 2. D. 193. L. 85 Rev.]. At der. Yershovka was captured by Russian cavalry troops of the German 7 th cavalry regiment of the 3 th cavalry division as part of the 20 fighters.
For 16 hours, advanced squadrons crossed Dubiss. The 2-m of the Pavlograd Leib-Hussar Emperor Alexander III regiment had to repel the attack of the German infantry after crossing under artillery fire. The regiment's avant-garde squadron, taking up positions at the crossing, repulsed the attacks of the infantry battalion of the 78 reserve division with the support of cavalry. In the course of this battle, the 2 th Leib Pavilograd Hussars regiment lost 3, and the 2 Leip-Ulan Kurland Emperor Alexander II regiment who had supported him was 10 men.
Parts of the 5 Cavalry Division distinguished themselves.
Il 7. The scouts of the 5 th Hussar Alexandrian Regiment.
Her Majesty the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna's 5 Hussars of Alexandria 29 regiment of April captured prisoners and an artillery battery during the battle near the town of Shavli. At first, the Alexandrian Hussars under artillery and rifle-and-machine-gun fire attacked unsuccessfully. But after the calculations of the German battery were knocked out by machine-gun fire, the 4 guns became trophies of hussars [RGVIA. F. 3597. Op. 1. D. 57. L. 25].
26 - April 27 in the battles of Ponevezh was distinguished by another regiment of the 5 Cavalry Division - 5 of the Don Cossack troop ataman Vlasov. Rejecting the German cavalry and rangers to Shavlyam, on April 28 he fought under the city, and from April 29 was given to the 19 corps and took part in battles along the Venta at m. Kurshany and D. Rensze-Osinyan, assisting the advance of the infantry and covering the right flank of the corps.
He showed himself and 58 th Don Cossack regiment. When April 15 of his 1-I hundred was cut off by the enemy near metro station Plungiany, she not only, under the fire of the German infantry, made her way to her, but dispersed the enemy squadron 2, withdrew a company of Russian infantry. On April 27, the heroic hundred knocked out a dismounted squadron of Germans from the village of Norushaytsy (near Shavli), and on April 29, being at the forefront, bypassed the flank of the German positions at Dubissa and interrupted the German outpost at the village of Yushka, capturing the surviving officer and the soldier captive.