The Romanian military-political elite perceived the February-March coup in Russia as a catastrophe. The Romanian king Ferdinand, having learned about the revolution in Russia, burst into tears. General A. Averescu wrote in his diary: "A genuine catastrophe for us: the revolution in Russia." Romanian censorship imposed a ban on the publication of news from Russia.
The Russian envoy in Iasi, General Mosolov, the old royal dignitary who was in charge of the office of the Ministry of the Court, was shocked. He even suggested that the head of the Stavka Alekseev swear to Grand Duke Mikhail, and if the garrison of Petrograd refused, then "detach the appropriate part of the troops from the front to the capital." Alekseev, who belonged to the February lists, refused and announced the need to recognize the Provisional Government in order to avoid civil war.
The Provisional Government dismissed the commander-in-chief of the Romanian front, General V.V. Sakharov, he was replaced by General D. G. Shcherbachov, the talented commander of the 7 Army. The Romanian front experienced all the "joys" of revolutionary turmoil: rallies, a sharp drop in discipline and the reluctance of soldiers to fight more, mass desertion, etc. The Russian front was falling apart. However, the remoteness of the Romanian front from the main centers of the revolution still somewhat smoothed the situation, the troops partially retained their combat capability. In addition, there was the Romanian army, restored with the help of Russia.
It is worth noting that the Romanian elite, fearing the expansion of their army and revolutionary actions “against the boyars”, took a number of measures that allowed the king and the government to maintain control over the situation. On the one hand, the Romanian secret police (Siguranz) was active, revolutionary activists were subjected to repression, the army was tidy and the anti-revolutionary propaganda was actively pursued. On the other hand, the authorities made concessions. King Ferdinand traveled troops. He promised the soldiers to give them land after the war and give them voting rights. Parliament hastily revised the 1866 constitution of the year, which recognized private property "sacred and inviolable." Innovations provided for universal suffrage, the elimination of land holdings of the crown and the state, the alienation of the ransom to 2 million hectares of landowner land. The promise to give the peasants what many generations of their ancestors dreamed of — the land — had a serious impact. The overwhelming majority of peasant soldiers lay behind the front line, were occupied by the enemy, who brutally robbed Romania. That is, the land had to be repulsed. This, to a certain extent, prevented the decomposition of the Romanian army.
Battle of Merashti (Mareshty)
According to the Bet plan, drawn up before the revolution, the Romanian front was to play an important role in the 1917 campaign of the year. The Romanians wanted to win the Wallachians, therefore, originally planned to organize a broad offensive operation in the Lower Seriet. However, the revolutionary collapse led to a reduction in the scope of the operation to private operations of a local nature. With the appointment of a decisive Shcherbachev and the end of the restoration of the Romanian army, they again raised the question of a decisive offensive by the forces of the entire front. The Romanian elite especially insisted on it. Having 15 infantry and 2 cavalry divisions of the reorganized army (400 thousand fighters), who wanted revenge on the defeat in the 1916 campaign of the year, the Romanians demanded a general battle.
As a result, General Shcherbachev developed a plan for a decisive offensive. King Ferdinand, the formal commander-in-chief of the Romanian front, approved him. The 1-I Romanian army of General Kristesko struck from Lower Seriet deep into Wallachia. The Russian 6 Army of General Tsurikov was supposed to support this offensive in the Danube zone and advance in the general direction of Buseo. At the same time, the 2-I Romanian army of Averesco (4 infantry divisions and cavalry brigade), with the support of the Russian 4-th army of General Ragoza, was to advance on the Carpathian direction. The main role in this offensive was to be played by the restored Romanian army and Russian artillery. If successful, the 9-I German army was covered from two flanks.
The Romanian Front launched Operation 9 (22) on July 1917. Artillery preparation lasted two days. 11 (24) In July, the troops of the 2 of the Romanian and 4 of the Russian armies went on the attack. Their blow fell on the right flank of the 1 of the Austro-Hungarian Army - the 24 of the German reserve corps of General Gerok. Our troops broke through the front of the enemy. By July 19 (August 1) on the 30-kilometer-long mountainous sector of the front advanced to the depth of 20 km. At the same time, an artillery preparation took place on the Lower Seriet before the onset of the 1 of the Romanian army. The operation promised undoubted success. However, even 12 (25) in July, owing to the general unfavorable situation on the fronts, caused by the intensified disintegration of the Russian army, Kerensky gave the order to stop further progress. The Chairman of the Provisional Government could not give orders to the acting army, bypassing the Stavka, ignoring the Supreme Commander. But Kerensky did this and instantly paralyzed the troops. His telegram through the soldiers' committees became known to the troops and the soldiers declared to their commanders that the offensive was canceled "by order of Kerensky himself." All the long preliminary training, the first victories and losses were all in vain. As the military historian A. A. Kersnovsky wrote: “.. the high spirits that promised to go on to the victorious breakthrough the next day were replaced by immediately embittered tired indifference. The hand, already carrying the sword over the head of the enemy, suddenly trembled, sank and dropped weapon».
The Romanian troops, supported by the artillery of the 4 Army, attacked for some time and successfully completed the battle, but without decisive results. Thus, the battle of Merashti ended with a tactical victory for the Romanian-Russian troops. Our troops took 3 thousand people prisoners and 43 guns.
German counteroffensive. Battle of Maraseshti (Maraseshty)
The 11 (24) of July in the Austro-Hungarian General Staff in Baden near Vienna, the Austrian emperor Karl, the chief of staff of the Austro-Hungarian army, General von Arts and the German commander-in-chief Hindenburg held a meeting. At the council it was decided to develop the victory at Tarnopol and go on a decisive offensive in Galicia and Romania. Army Group Böhm-Yermoli was supposed to attack in Galicia. A group of Archduke Joseph inflicted a 7 army from Bucovina to Moldova in the flank and rear of the Romanian front. And the Mackensen group was instructed to inflict a decisive defeat on the Russian-Romanian troops, breaking the front on the Lower Seryet, to conquer Moldova and permanently incapacitate Romania. In the event of the complete success of a strategic offensive, a serious threat arose to the regions of southern Russia, and the Austro-German command hoped to dictate a profitable world to Russia. A group of troops Böhm-Yermoli partially fulfilled the task - occupied Galicia, following the collapsing Russian armies. But Kornilov was able to partially arrange our armies and they fought back at Zbruche.
The Archduke Joseph group failed to develop a broad offensive operation. The 7 Army of General Kevesh was stopped by the stubborn resistance of the Russian 1 Army of General Vannovsky in the Bukovina Carpathians, and the 1 of the Austro-Hungarian Army of General Rohr . Then the 1-I Russian army retreated to the Bessarabian-Bukovinian line, leveling its position with the retreating South-Western front, and was included in the Romanian front, covering Moldavia from the north. Kevesh was tasked with breaking through the front of the Russian 1 army, Rohr with the 1 Austrian army forging the 9 army with frontal attacks and breaking through its front at the junction with the 2 Romanian army. This operation was associated with the offensive of Mackensen's troops in Lower Seriet. July 27 (August 9) The 7-I and 1-I armies of Kevesh and Rohr attacked our troops. However, in a two-day stubborn battle, Russian troops repelled an enemy strike. The plans of the Austro-German command for the passage of troops to Northern Moldova — on the flank and rear of the Romanian front — were not realized.
Field Marshal Mackensen decided to hit the center of the 9 of the German army in Lower Seriet. To strike in the north direction - on Marasesht and further on Adjud, discarding the defeated 4 th Russian army and entering the rear of the 2 st Romanian army. At the same time, the 1 th Austro-Hungarian army was to break through to Moldova at the junction of the Russian 9 and 2 Romanian armies and go towards the 9 German Army, which had broken through to Adzhud. Thus, the Germans traditionally sought to create "Cannes" - for the 2 of the Romanian and 4 of the Russian armies. At the same time, Mackensen was also thinking about a broader operation, he wanted to destroy the 1 th Romanian army, and with luck, the 6 Russian too. That is, the German command was going to almost completely destroy the Romanian front. Mackensen bet on the revolutionary decay of the Russian army, hoping for quick and decisive success.
The right wing of the shock group - the 9-I German army, was to take part of the troops to the southeast - at Tecuci, to the rear of the 1-th Romanian army, after the capture of Miresheshti. The 10 Army of General Eben made up two groups of the same force: 13,5) of General Morgen’s right-flank group (9 of the reserve corps) had to break into Tekuch; 1) General Veninger's left-flank group (1-th Reserve Corps) - to advance on Adjud. The enemy in the Putna Valley was opposed by the 2 of the Russian army: against the Weninger group - the 18 of the army corps, against the group of Morgen - the 4 of the corps. Ten German divisions opposed the weakened 8 Russian divisions.
24 July (6 August) 1917, the 9-I German army launched an offensive. A group of Morgan (5 divisions) attacked the Russian 7 Army Corps. The blow of four German divisions fell on our left-flank 34 division, which retreated to Seret and destroyed the crossings. Our troops suffered heavy losses that day - the Germans captured more than 3 thousand prisoners and 17 guns. The powerful fire of the Russian-Romanian artillery (the Russian 7-th and 3-th Romanian corps) bound the enemy further advance on Tecuci. Mackensen had to abandon the idea of an attack on Tekuch and coverage of the 1 of the Romanian army. He instructed the Morgan group to go north and northwest, to attack Maresheshti. But the main blow should have been delivered by the Veninger group to Adjud. July 25-26 (August 7-8) the troops of our 8-th and 7-th corps held back the onslaught of the enemy. Hard fights boiled. With great difficulty, German troops captured the line of Putna. General Ragoza took the right-flank 8 corps to Sushitsa, and the left-flank took the Seret line. The attack of the Morgan group on Maraseshty was repelled by the troops of the 6 corps.
July 27 (August 9) General Ragoza ordered the troops to launch a counter-offensive. Our 8 Corps crushed Veninger's group, throwing the enemy partially to the starting position on Putna. The 7 Corps, reinforced by the Romanian troops, pressed the Morgen group. July 28 (August 10) Russian-Romanian troops continued to attack. Having regrouped the 9 Army and hoping for the success of the 1 Austrian-Hungarian Army (left wing of the attack force), Mackensen in the morning of July 29 (August 11) continued the offensive. In the fierce battle of Maraseshti, the 71 Infantry Division was completely destroyed. General Ragoza threw in equestrian Zamaurts and avant-gardes of the 5-th Romanian corps to the counterattack. With the desperate effort of our troops, Merasheshti was defended. At night, the remnants of the Russian 7 corps were replaced by fresh troops of the Romanian 5. The 1-I Romanian army, led by Grigorescu, was temporarily subordinate to Ragoza. The commander-in-chief Shcherbachev ordered the 6 Army to conduct demonstrative attacks in order to alleviate the position of the bleeding troops of Ragoza and Grigorescu. The groups of Morgan and Veninger, having met stubborn resistance of the Russian-Romanian troops, exhausted, attacked sluggishly.
By 31 July (12 August), both sides suffered serious losses. General Ragoza ordered mereshesti to leave. However, the Romanians refused to retreat. The Commander-in-Chief Shcherbachev agreed with the arguments of the Romanian command and handed over command of the Russian-Romanian troops in Susice and Sireth to Grigorescu. General Ragozu was called back to Northern Romania to take over the 4 Army. Romanian reserves gradually changed bloodless Russian troops. 1 (14) of August the German troops attacked again and defeated the Kozmesht Romanian 3 Corps. The 5-I Romanian Infantry Division was completely destroyed, the Germans took only prisoners 3 thousand people. However, the Romanians continued to stubbornly fight back and the further advance of the Germans was choked. Mackensen suspended the operation.
In the meantime, while Mackensen's troops tried to break through the Russian-Romanian front and surround our troops, the Archduke Joseph again went on the offensive. Austro-German troops attempted to hold our 9 army in battle and reach the 2 Rumanian army together with Mackensen's troops. 25 July (7 August) The 1 Army of Rohr launched an offensive with the forces of the 1 Austrian-Hungarian Corps, July 26 (August 8) attacked the enemy with its right flank. July 27 (August 9) the battle was already general. The Russian 9 Army (26, 2, 34 and 24 Corps) repelled the onslaught of the 1, 11, 21 and 6 Austro-Hungarian corps. However, the group of Geroca (8 th Austro-Hungarian and 24 th German reserve corps), which was given the task of forcing the Oituz pass to cover the Romanian army, pressed the 4 th Romanian corps. July 28 (August 10) Rohr suspended the frontal attack on the 9 Russian army and focused all his attention on the group of Gerok. As a result, the 2-I Romanian army stopped the enemy. The breakthrough to Moldova by the Oituz valley by the Austro-German forces failed.
However, Mackensen and the Archduke Joseph did not yet consider that the offensive failed. 6 (19) August Austro-German troops again tried to attack. 9-th German army was waiting for a complete failure. Having repelled an enemy strike, the 1-I Romanian army counterattacked. In the Marasesht district, the Morgan group was broken up, and the Veninger group was repelled near Ireshtami. The 1 th Austro-Hungarian army also did not succeed, its initial successes were nullified by the counterattacks of the 2 th Romanian army. 9 (22) August, the German General Staff ordered to stop the offensive, leading to such heavy losses.
German mortar in Romania
The battle was very bloody. In the battle at Maraseshty in 4 of the Russian army from 70 thousand personnel personnel killed and injured 40 thousand people, 5 thousand more captured (two thirds of the army). The 1-I Romanian army lost more than 21 thousand people and 5 thousand people prisoners; 2-I Romanian army - 14 thousand people. The Germans hid their high losses - more than 40 thousand people. Only 9-I German army lost 40% of its composition.
Thus, the German offensive did not lead to the defeat of the Romanian front. The Russians, who still retained part of their combat capability, repelled enemy attacks. The Romanian army, restored by Russia after the defeat of 1916, showed itself in these battles from the good side. The battle of Marasesti marked the rebirth of the Romanian army, and to some extent strengthened the prestige of the Romanian government. By the beginning of September, the 1917 of the year had finally stabilized, and these were the last active hostilities during the 1917 campaign of the year.
It is worth noting that the offensive was accompanied by the further disintegration of the Russian army. The front command introduced the death penalty, but it did not help much. The old military mechanism of Russia collapsed and this process could not be stopped only by repression. The replenishments that came did not strengthen, but further undermined the combat capability of the army, as they brought news from the revolutionary, devastated, mortally tired of the war, from the beginning of the peasant war of the rear. Cases of unauthorized withdrawal of entire units from the front, reprisals against officers, have increased. The punitive detachments from cavalry and artillery, which maintained order for the longest time, did not save either. So, in early August, they disarmed three battalions of the 30 regiment and an assault battalion in the 1 division. The Kornilov revolt finally undermined the position of the officers. “Soldiers are eagerly and persistently waiting for peace,” the headquarters of the Romanian Front reported in September.