Connection with the Kuban "army"
Forcing the Kuban, the Volunteer Army went in the direction of Maikop. However, it turned out to be in Zakubanie in a “continuous Bolshevik environment”. The district supported the Bolsheviks. Each farm met white rifles with fire, in the woods shot from ambushes. The regiments had to go with constant clashes, knocking out and scattering the enemy. Each detachment deviated from the main forces was ambushed. The villages were abandoned, residents fled, hiding, stealing cattle and hiding food. People even burned houses, leaving volunteers without shelter. At the sites, the White Guards fell under artillery shelling. At the same time, the major forces of the Reds were still moving for YES.
10 (23) March, forcing the White River, volunteers again stumbled upon the enemy barrier. The situation was difficult: the volunteers were ambushed in a narrow valley; the dominant heights were occupied by red. The Kornilovs were subjected to heavy shelling, repelled by strong attacks. From the rear also came the enemy. Ammunition was running out. However, the volunteers held out during the day, and at dusk rose to a desperate attack. The army broke the encirclement and went to the foothills of the Caucasus. The local Circassians, who were at enmity with the Red Cossacks, met Kornilov’s army well. Men began to join YES. Having received news of the movement of the Kuban "army", Kornilov took the troops along the mountain paths to join up with the Kubanians.
But the Kuban command, after an unsuccessful campaign to Ekaterinodar, where they thought to see the Kornilovites, was in a critical situation. 7 (20) in March Pokrovsky decided to turn back to the Kuban River - to join up with the army Kornilov that had left there. Red troops pursued Kuban, tried to block them. The Kuban "army" showed low combat capability and its only salvation was in association with Kornilov. Only after 4 of the day after the hard battles and grueling transitions in a solid circle surrounded by red, the Volunteer Army and Kuban met. 11 (24) of March, when the exhausted Kuban were again blocked near Kaluzhskaya, the Kornilovites left. Kuban cheered and drove the enemy.
14 March Kornilov and Pokrovsky met. The Kuban "government" immediately recalled the "independence" and spoke of the independence of its "army" in the operational submission to Kornilov. But he was against: “One army and one commander. I do not accept any other position. ” Kubans had nowhere to go, the forces joined. The number of army increased to 6 thousand bayonets and sabers with 20 guns. March 15 The Volunteer Army again launched an offensive.
In March 1918, the weather in the battle area was extremely difficult: cold rain poured incessantly, replaced by sleet and frosts. The roads are gone. Everything turned into a space of water and liquid mud, which periodically became ice. On the outskirts of the village of Novo-Dmitrovskaya it became very cold, deep snow fell in the mountains, the temperature dropped to 20 degrees below zero. Horses and people overgrown with ice crust. According to contemporaries, it came to the fact that in the evening the wounded lying on carts had to be freed from the ice crust with bayonets.
Denikin wrote in his memoirs: “Cold water soaked through the whole dress, flowed sharp, piercing streams by the collar. People walked slowly, shuddering from the cold and heavy dragging their feet in their swollen, water-filled boots. By noon the thick flakes of sticky snow had gone, and the wind blew. She is covered with eyes, nose, ears, breathtaking, and her face is pricking like sharp needles ... Meanwhile, the weather changed again: a sudden frost broke out, the wind increased, a snowstorm began. People and horses were quickly overgrown with ice; everything seemed frozen to the bone; warped like wooden clothes bound the body; it is difficult to turn the head, it is difficult to raise the leg in the stirrup. As a result, this offensive became known as the Ice Campaign.
15 (28) March, volunteers came to Novo-Dmitrievskaya. In the village were red. Pokrovsky with Kuban believed that it was impossible to attack in such terrible weather. The guns are stuck in the mud. The main forces were stuck at the crossing, they had to be transported two by two on horseback. Avant-garde, Markov's officer regiment was alone at the village. But Markov decided: “On such a night without a roof, everybody here will take a break in the field. Let's go to the village! ”And the regiment went to bayonets. Overturned the preservation of the Reds, who did not wait for the attack and warmed themselves to their homes. The big red garrison escaped. The fighters of the distinguished Officer Regiment, the battle near Novodmitrovskaya was called “Markovsky”. General Denikin will later write down: “March 15 — The Ice Campaign — the glory of Markov and the Officer Regiment, the pride of the Volunteer Army, and one of the most vivid memories of each pioneer of the past days — were not that, not that fairy tale.”
Two days was a battle for the village. Red counterattacked, but white held. 17 March Kuban tightened. The Kubans again spoke of the “autonomous army of the sovereign Kuban”. Kornilov put them in place. A "union treaty" was signed, under which the forces of the Kuban government were included in the army of Kornilov, and the Kuban government pledged to facilitate the replenishment and supply the Volunteer Army. Pokrovsky was removed from command, he had to form a new Kuban army. The Kubans were mixed with the Kornilovs, the regiments were reformed into three brigades — Markov, Bogayevsky and Erdelyi.
Russian general, white commander Sergey Leonidovich Markov (1878 - 12 June 1918)
Storm of Ekaterinodar
Before the army of Kornilov, a new task arose - to take Ekaterinodar. The army stood in Novo-Dmitrievskaya until March 22: the headquarters developed an operation to capture the capital of the Kuban. The troops rested and reformed, repulsing the constant attacks of Avtonomov’s red detachments from Grigorievskaya. In addition, it was necessary to solve the problem of ammunition, without them a serious offensive was impossible. Therefore Erdeli's cavalry was sent to take the Kuban ferries, Bogayevsky cleared the surroundings with fights, and March 24 Markov attacked the Georgy-Afipskaya station, where there was a strong Red garrison and warehouses. The sudden blow did not work, the volunteers were met with strong fire. I had to transfer the Bogayevsky brigade here. The fight was hard. General Romanovsky was injured. The Kornilov regiment three times went into bayonet attacks. As a result, the station was taken, seized warehouses with ammunition, including 700 shells to the guns.
Based on intelligence data, Kornilov’s headquarters assessed the Red Army forces at 18 thousand bayonets and sabers with 3 armored trains (in reality, the Red forces in the area quickly grew to 60 thousand people). The troops were supported by three artillery batteries in positions in the area of the Black Sea railway station, on Sennaya Square and near the artillery barracks. In addition, Avtonomov and Sorokin at this time hastily pulled up the red detachments to the capital of the Kuban. Despite the fact that the Reds had a great advantage in manpower, and could quickly get reinforcements, were well supplied with ammunition and held defenses in a large city with stone buildings, Kornilov decided to attack, hoping for weak moral stability and combat capability of the enemy. Kornilov hoped to catch the Reds by surprise, leading the army to storm from the west, suddenly crossing the Kuban River by ferry to the west of Ekaterinodar - in the stanitsa of Elizavetinskaya, and not from the south, in the area of permanent bridge crossings, or east of the city near the village of Pashkovskaya, where the red hit command. In addition, whites, crossing the ferries, cut off their retreat.
Thus, the white command made several serious mistakes at once. The enemy forces and his fighting efficiency were greatly underestimated. Red commanders Sorokin and Avtonomov fought skillfully. They had the opportunity to receive serious reinforcements and use large reserves to cover possible gaps in the defense. Avtonomov, who led the defense of the city, pulled everything into Ekaterinodar that could be attracted to the defense, and, having gained a huge numerical advantage over the assailants, he used it well. The combat capability of the red troops was higher than they thought. In particular, one thousand delegates of the 2 Congress of Soviets of the Kuban Region took part in the defense of the city, which began its meetings on the very day of the storming of Ekaterinodar with the Dobrarmy. A detachment of delegates to the congress under the leadership of Ivan Heichents was particularly resilient. The artillery of the Reds worked well: the density of artillery fire of the Reds reached 500 - 600 projectiles per hour, while the 1-I battery YES experienced a shortage of projectiles and could respond with rare shots. The red artillery literally pressed the volunteers to the ground, and the white artillery could not support its infantry and destroy enemy positions and crush artillery batteries in a large city. In addition, Kornilov made a mistake when at the beginning of the battle left behind the river. Kuban to cover the crossing and wagon train brigade of the most efficient General Markov. A third of the army did not participate in the beginning of the battle and was brought into battle in parts, as it was ferried from noon on March 28 to March 29.
Don Cossack, Red Commander Alexey Avtonomov (1890 - 2 February 1919)
March 27 (April 9) General Erdeli of 1918, with a swift cast, occupied the only ferry across the Kuban River to Elizavetinskaya. The Reds counterattacked, but the Kornilovsky and Guerrilla regiments were “mentally attacked,” without shots, knocked them over. Good luck at the beginning of the battle led to new mistakes. After the first successes, the mood in the army headquarters rose. Encouraged by the ease of success, seeing confirmation of the moral instability of the Bolsheviks, as well as having information about the reinforcements suitable for the red, Kornilov ordered an immediate assault, without drawing up all his forces. In addition, the Volunteer Army began to cover Ekaterinodar from all sides in order to block the railway tracks from the north, on which the new troops were approaching, and to deprive them of the possibility of withdrawing from the city. Kornilov wanted to crush the main forces of the Reds in the area with one blow. That is, the army of Kornilov decided to “digest” such a piece that she could not bite off. At the same time, Kornilov still hoped for a Cossack uprising in the surrounding villages. The Cossacks did indeed start an uprising against the Bolsheviks, and even sent small reinforcements to Kornilov, but there were few of them.
Red cut off the escape route and they put up stubborn resistance. March 28 (April 10) the battle did not happen as planned in the headquarters YES. Both sides attacked and defended. At the same time, the red troops had a numerical advantage, large reserves, which were thrown to dangerous places, crushed the whites with powerful artillery fire and fought off volunteer attacks one after another. Still, the White Guards persisted in advancing, occupying one suburb of the Kuban capital after another, and slowly reached the outskirts of the city. But this success was bought at a high price - about 1 thousand people were out of action. Among the wounded were the commander of the Partisan regiment, General B. I. Kazanovich, the Kuban commanders S. G. Ulagai and P. K. Pisarev, the commander of the Don members, Esaul R. G. Lazarev. The battle continued at night. But the front did not move. Ekaterinodar did not give up. Soon, at the headquarters of Kornilov, news was received that the Reds received reinforcements - several trains with revolutionary sailors broke through to the defenders from Novorossiysk.
However, Kornilov still believed in success. His conviction was based on the experience of previous battles. Earlier, having lost the first defeat and the suburbs, the Reds hurried to leave the settlement itself. Therefore, they decided to continue the assault, hoping that the new decisive onslaught would lead to victory. March 29 (April 11) tightened Markov team. Kornilov threw all available forces into the attack, striking the main blow from the north-west. Markov personally led the attack: the volunteers were able to overthrow the 1 th Catherine Regiment and other units of the Reds, took up well-fortified Artillery barracks.
After a short lull after the Markovites, the first commander of the regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Nezhentsov, personally led his Kornilov regiment into the Reds and was killed by a bullet in the head. General A. I. Denikin described the death of Nezhentsev in this way: “... Nezhentsev gave the order to attack. From his mound, on which God kept him for a whole day, he saw the chain rising and lying down again; bound by the invisible threads to those that lay below, he felt that the limit to human daring had come, and that it was time to use the “last reserve”. Descended from the hill, ran into a ravine and raised the chains. - Kornilov, forward! A voice stuck in my throat. A bullet hit in the head. He fell. Then he got up, took a few steps and fell down again, killed by the second bullet on the spot ”.
Commander of the Kornilov shock regiment, Colonel Mitrofan Osipovich Nezhentsev (1886 - 30 in March 1918)
Nezhentsev was replaced by Colonel V.I. Indeykin. In his first attack with the Kornilov men, he was wounded by a stray bullet. The attack of the remaining without commanders of the Kornilov regiment choked. To the rescue of the Kornilovites, a wounded General Kazanovich, with the Elizabethan Cossacks who joined them in 100, rushed with the reserve battalion of the Partisan regiment. He managed with a swift blow not only to break through the defenses of the Reds, to break into Yekaterinodar, but in pursuit of the retreating, to reach the very center of the city at dusk with their insignificant forces. It seemed that victory was near. But no one supported the attack of Kazanovich. The remaining units suffered heavy losses, mixed up, and the command was interrupted by communications with some of them. The death of reputable and beloved commanders, serious losses extinguished offensive outburst. Thus, Colonel Kutepov, who took command of the Kornilov regiment, could neither raise a completely upset and intermixed regiment with other parts of the regiment, nor simply transmit to Markov a message about the attack of Kazanovich. As a result, Markov did not move his troops to help Kazananovich.
Thus, all of Kazanovich with 250 fighters reached the city center. Grabbed carts with ammunition and ammunition. In the morning, finding that there would be no help, he turned back. They walked in a column, they met in red and said that a red "Caucasian detachment" was going on. As a result, were able to break through to their own, although the city was packed with red troops. The main result of the night raid of Kazanovich was the seizure of a wagon with 52 shells, which was a “whole event” for the Volunteer Army, which was experiencing a severe lack of ammunition. However, the last chance for success was lost.
Commander of the Partisan Regiment, General Boris Ilyich Kazanovich (1871 — 1943)
To be continued ...