The Military Council
March 30 (April 12) fighting for Ekaterinodar continued. But the Volunteer Army is already exhausted. The volunteers' ammunition ended (not only shells were saved, but also cartridges), and the losses for a small army of whites turned out to be catastrophic - the number of killed and wounded exceeded 1,5 thousand people. In the shelves, instead of 800, there are 200 left - 300 people. Most of the regimental commanders, battalions and companies were killed or injured. The surrounding Kuban Cossacks, seeing that there was no quick victory, began to go home, throwing Kornilov’s army. In Ekaterinodar there were no demonstrations against the Bolsheviks, which could help the capture of the city. Moreover, the townspeople were afraid of the arrival of the Kornilovites, and defended the capital of the red Kuban with unprecedented bitterness. It was a time of civil slaughter for extermination — neither the Reds nor the Whites spared each other in battle. Therefore, residents of Ekaterinodar reasonably feared an outbreak of white terror after the fall of the city.
Bloodless, exhausted by campaigns and battles, the volunteers could not move a single step, and in some places began to retreat. The city’s defensive troops of the Southeast Revolutionary Army had an overwhelming advantage in every battle area. For three railway lines that were not blocked by volunteers, reinforcements from Tikhoretskaya, Kavkazskaya and Novorossiisk constantly came to the red lines in the city. The red detachments had at their disposal huge stocks of ammunition, grenades and shrapnel shells, and used them without economy, suppressing the positions of the whites with fire.
The situation was critical. The volunteer army was threatened with death. Kornilov and his commanders got involved in the battle for Yekaterinodar, being completely confident of victory, but they had largely miscalculated. For the first time after Olginsky, General Kornilov convened a Military Council. Generals Alekseev, Romanovsky, Markov, Bogayevsky and Denikin were present at the meeting of the top commanders of the army. In addition to them, Kornilov invited the Kuban chieftain A. P. Filimonov and the head of the Kuban "government" L. L. Bycha. The mood of all members of the meeting was heavy, depressed. Markov, exhausted by two sleepless nights, fell asleep. The rest of the generals also barely overcame themselves in order not to follow his example.
Each of the invited generals gave a report on the situation in their area of hostilities. The overall picture was gloomy: the enemy had an advantage on all counts (strength, weapons, ammunition), had good combat capability, constantly received reinforcements; Kuban Cossacks did not raise a general uprising; Losses YES were extremely heavy, the command staff was knocked out. For example, when March 30 was appointed Colonel Kutepov as commander of the Kornilov regiment, only 65 bayonets remained in the regiment. By order of Kornilov, the 350 Cossacks of the Novomyshastovskaya stanitsa under the command of Colonel Shkuratov were infused into the regiment.
However, Kornilov had already made a decision and spoke with all his usual harshness and inflexibility: “The situation is really difficult, and I see no other way out than taking the Ekaterinodar. Therefore, I decided to attack tomorrow at dawn on all fronts. ” It is clear that Kornilov made a decision in advance. According to the adjutant commander Khadzhiev, Kornilov said that volunteers should take Ekaterinodar, since “Retreat will lead to agony and the immediate death of the army. If we are destined to die, then we will perish with honor in open battle! ”Kornilov said similar words to General Kazanovich:“ Of course, we can all die at the same time, ”said the Commander,“ but in my opinion, it’s better to die with honor. Retreat is also tantamount to death: without projectiles and cartridges, it will be an agony. ”
Opinions are divided. Alekseev and Filimonov and Bechem agreed with Kornilov. Almost all the white generals Denikin, Romanovsky, Markov, Bogayevsky were against the continuation of the unsuccessfully developing operation. Alekseev proposed to postpone the assault on April 1 so that the troops could rest for a day. Kornilov agreed. Both Denikin and Bogayevsky recalled that they had the impression that the meeting was convened by Kornilov only in order to convince the senior army commanders of the inevitability of the new decisive assault on Ekaterinodar. Council members dispersed gloomy. They said that Markov, returning to his headquarters, said: “Put on clean underwear, who has it. We will storm Yekaterinodar. Ekaterinodar do not take, and if we take, we die. "
Death of Kornilov
A new assault on the city did not take place. For the location of his headquarters, Kornilov chose a farm of the Ekaterinodar Agricultural Society, which stood at the intersection of roads on the steep bank of the Kuban. Ekaterinodar was perfectly visible from here, but the enemy, having learned that the headquarters of the whites was located here, in the morning of March 29 began to fire at the farm with direct fire from three three batteries. General Romanovsky pointed out to the commander that it was reckless to expose himself to such danger, but Kornilov ignored the advice: there was no housing nearby, and he did not want to move away from his troops. He was sure that the city would soon be taken and the headquarters would move to Ekaterinodar. As a result, the farm in which the headquarters of the DA commander was located was shelled for several days and the fire was constantly increasing. 31 March Kornilov again pointed to the danger, but he answered only: "Now it is not worth it, tomorrow the assault."
Climbing up around 5 in the morning of March 31, the general said goodbye to the body of his pet Nezhentsev. At half-past six, Kornilov received Bogayevsky. After listening to his gloomy report, Kornilov said: “But still, it is necessary to attack Ekaterinodar: there is no other way out ...”. This morning, the line of bursting shells began to come close to the house of the commander. One of the shells killed three Cossacks. A desperate adjutant of Kornilov, Khan Khadzhiev, once again asked the general to decide on the transfer of the headquarters, "since the Bolsheviks shot themselves well." Kornilov said “A!”, Entered the house and bent over the map. Khan Khadzhiev recalled that it seemed to him that Kornilov wanted to give orders to transfer the headquarters, but "instantly forgot about him."
Around 7. 20 morning grenade, fired by the battery under the command of sailor Rogachev, broke through the wall near the window of the room of Kornilov and hit the floor under the table at which he sat. The general’s blast wave struck the wall of the stove opposite to which he was sitting, and several ceiling beams collapsed on top. The first to run into the room were General Kazanovich and the adjutant Kornilov V. I. Dolinsky. When the smoke in the room cleared a little, Kornilov appeared to them, “covered with fragments of plaster and dust. There was a small wound not far from the temple, it looked shallow, there was a large bloody stain on the trousers, ”recalled Kazanovich. Kornilov was still breathing. After 10 minutes, without regaining consciousness, General Kornilov passed away. The death came, apparently, precisely because of a concussion, since there were no severe wounds. Through tears, Denikin said: "I will take command!"
The news of the death of Kornilov, first tried to hide from the army. Of course, it was not possible to do this, and soon a real pilgrimage began to Kornilov’s body. Volunteers considered it necessary to worship the beloved leader, not hiding their tears. The volunteer R. B. Gul recalled that news about the death of Kornilov, "They all pulled out of their hearts last hope." “Now it's all over,” recalled the general mood at the moment of the news of the death of Kornilov, Colonel V. N. Birkin. The body of the commander, accompanied by the Tekin convoy, was taken to the German colony of Gnachbau, and Kornilov was secretly buried on April 2, while only a few of the closest persons were allowed to pay their last honors to the general. Next to Kornilov, his comrade Nezhentsev was buried. In order not to attract the attention of outsiders, both graves were carefully leveled to the ground.
Despite the fact that Kornilov’s grave was carefully hidden, it was not possible to hide it from the angry mob. The grave was discovered, the body of Lieutenant Colonel Nezhentsev was left in the grave, and the corpse of Kornilov, identified by the red, dressed in a general's uniform, was removed from the burial and subjected to reproach, despite the opposition of Avtonomov. As a result, the body burned. Volunteers learned about it only after the capture of Ekaterinodar through 4 during the Second Kuban campaign already by Denikin’s army.
Memorial service for General Kornilov. Ekaterinodar
The command takes Denikin
In the meantime, life went on. Denikin joined the temporary command of the army. General Alekseev, the only surviving member of the triumvirate, by his order approved General Denikin commander of the Volunteer Army. Alekseev said: “Well, Anton Ivanovich, take a heavy inheritance. God help you. ”
Anton Ivanovich Denikin, has gone from a soldier to one of the best generals of the tsarist army. Participant of the war with Japan, in 1914 - 1915. headed the 4 Rifle Brigade, nicknamed "Iron." This brigade was then deployed to the division, under his own command. The glory of this compound resounded throughout Russia. In 1916, he headed the 8 Corps on the Romanian front. After the revolution, Denikin was appointed Chief of Staff of the Supreme Commander Alekseev. He commanded the Western Front, then took over the main, South-Western Front from Kornilov. That is, February ascended Denikin to the very top of the military elite. Denikin opposed the "democratization" of the army by left-wing feudalists and supported the Kornilov insurrection (right-wing feudists). As a result, he was arrested by the Provisional Government, was in prison.
Ran to the Don and became one of the founders of the Volunteer Army and the White movement. He became the military commander of the Volunteer Army. Unlike Kornilov, who was striving to defeat the enemy with a quick onslaught, Denikin was a master of maneuver, he loved to defeat the enemy with his mind, with unexpected tactics. The situation was severe and worsened. The Reds launched a counterattack, Erdeli barely restrained them with equestrian attacks. The death of Kornilov completed the moral breakdown of the white army. Having heard about the death of Kornilov, many of the wounded began shooting, so as not to be captured, for them all hope of a successful outcome after the death of the commander disappeared. After the death of Kornilov, Denikin wrote, “the army, which was experiencing a tragic tension, fell into despair. "The end of everything." These words were broken from the lips of not only the faint-hearted, but many brave ones. And the fallen asleep already thought about how to run and hide ... It was almost the most terrible moment, forever memorable to the participants of the heroic epic. And especially to me, because, as an assistant commander of the army, I had to replace the slain. I didn’t want and had no right to evade when the army was threatened with death ... ”
It is worth noting that Denikin, despite his weight in the old army, didn’t have the authority of a beloved and respected leader by the DA. In the system of the Volunteer Army, General Denikin served as assistant commander to whom he was appointed Kornilov. But at the very beginning of the Kuban campaign, Denikin, who had lost warm clothing in turmoil and was walking in civilian clothes and worn out boots, first caught a cold, and then slept with a severe form of bronchitis. As a result, in a difficult march full of events and battles, Denikin became an extra. Denikin, one of the brightest figures of the Russian generals of the world war, was not known in the Dobroarmiya without taking part in the command of volunteers. So, among the volunteers have already emerged their idols, the first of which was a young General Markov.
However, the fears of the chief of staff, General Romanovsky, that the army would painfully meet Denikin’s appointment were not justified. The army was shocked and desperate from the failure of the assault, heavy losses and the death of a beloved leader. In such circumstances, the appointment of Denikin accepted everyday. The claims of some Markovists that General Markov was appointed commander of the army were suppressed by the general himself, who said that he believed Denikin more than himself. These words of the general were enough for everyone to calm down with a new appointment. Denikin's personal friendship with Markov, who served as chief of staff in the famous Iron Division of Denikin during World War II, played an important role here. That is, from this side, Denikin had full support.
Tsarsky General and one of the main leaders of the White movement during the Civil War Anton Ivanovich Denikin
Denikin decided to withdraw the troops from the battle. From the south there was the river Kuban, from the east - the city, from the west - marshes and swamps. There was only a way to the north. The command of the army was going to reach the village of Medvedovskaya, and then - on Dyadkovskaya. At sunset the troops secretly left the positions and began to retreat. The goal was one - escape. They left in order, with baggage and artillery. But when Elizavetinskaya was left, when the Reds had already almost surrounded the village, the bogie bosses did not find any other way out than leaving 64 seriously injured, for whom transportation was tantamount to death, to the care of a doctor and sisters of mercy. Only 11 people were saved, the rest were killed.
The movement was heavy. Column found. In passing villages, whites were shelled, and red troops followed the volunteers, which they had to hold back. White troops were subjected to artillery shelling and could not answer (there were no shells). By the night of April 1, the army approached the German colony of Gnchbau, where she stood all the next day, putting herself in order and waiting for darkness. YES was on the verge of death. Denikin later wrote that "it seemed that there was no longer any way out for the locked bogs, the river and the Bolshevik troops of the Volunteer Army ...". If the army commander thought so, then you can imagine the mood of ordinary soldiers and officers. People were severely suppressed, the army was on the verge of collapse. Many were ready to save themselves. General S. M. Trukhachev recalled: “The troops were nervous, they said that the end had come to us. From the Gnachbau bottle (Gnchbau is really surrounded on all sides by swamps and the exit from it passed through a narrow throat in the swamps) we cannot escape. They began to draw up a party, looking for horses to be sprayed on horseback. There was controversy about how to escape more correctly - in a small group of horses in 10-15, or in a large one, in a hundred or more horses. ”
This is also reported by others. Colonel I. F. Patronov recalled that "the army allegedly decided to disperse and the slogan" Save yourself, who can, "gradually engulfed many." Denikin, in turn, wrote that on that day, April 2, “the worst instincts, selfishness, distrust and suspicion were revealed — to each other and to the authorities, one part to another. Mainly in the crowded population of the wagon train. It was better in military units, but a very nervous mood was also created there ... ” For several hours the commander received reports of one more disturbing than the other: that “one of the cavalry regiments decided to secede from the army and break through separately. That organized a lot of equestrian parties, involving the spray. " General I. G. Erdelyi wrote in his diary in those days: “The common goal was dull, that is, the struggle against Bolshevism. Kornilov’s death had a depressing effect on everyone. And now, if everyone does not run up, it is because it is easier for the escapeers to die alone and to wander off and just a selfish question is to stick together. ”
The commander ordered only the 4 guns to be left, since there were no shells. The rest of the tools, which were obtained with great difficulty, but now became a burden, were drowned in the river. In the evening Denikin gave an order in the direction of the Black Sea Railway, to the village of Medvedovskaya. It was necessary to cross the railway, which was controlled by the enemy and go to the friendly Cossack villages.
Dobrarmii retreat from Ekaterinodar
On the night from 2 to 3 (15 - 16) on April 1918, parts of Markov began to cross the railway track. General Markov seized the railway guard at the crossing and placed the soldiers along the railway track, sent in the direction of the stanitsa, where the Red armored train stood, a reconnaissance detachment. Began organizing the transition through the railway main forces. The whole army headquarters with generals Denikin, Alekseev and Romanovsky was concentrated at the lodge. However, whites discovered sentries. From the station in the direction of the lodge moved the red armored train. Brewing a complete rout.
Markov's resourcefulness saved everyone. When the armored train approached a short distance, Markov, showered the armored train with swear words, rushed onto the path and shouted: “Stop! Crush the son of a bitch! Can't you see your own ones ?! ”The stunned driver braked, and Markov threw a grenade into the engine. In response, the strongest fire from rifles and machine guns opened on the white from the cars. Only with open gun platforms did not have time to give a single shot. The commander of the white battery Mionchinsky advanced guns and two three-inch guns at close range fired grenades at the cylinders and wheels of a locomotive, then hit the cars. The officers who came up to the regiment went to the assault. They fired through loopholes, climbed onto the roof, chopped it with axes and threw grenades inside the cars. Lined with flammable materials and set on fire. Red stubbornly fought back, but were killed. Then the volunteers quickly began to extinguish and uncouple the cars, saving precious ammunition. They took 400 shells and 100 thousand cartridges .. At the same time, Bogayevsky attacked the station and, after a stubborn fight, took it. Part of the red was able to retreat by train, the other interrupted. From the south came the second armored train of the Reds, but it was driven off by artillery fire.
Victory and trophies somewhat raised the morale of the volunteers. In Denikin we saw a lucky leader and commander. On the same day, the volunteers arrived at the village of Dyadkovskaya, where they arranged a day-rest. The villagers greeted the volunteers hospitably and cordially. Here Denikin is forced to take an extremely unpopular decision - to leave the wounded so that they do not detain the troops. This made the army extremely painful. So that the wounded could not be lynched, they were left known Bolsheviks Limansky and Karyakin, taken Pokrovsky as hostages even when leaving the Ekaterinodar by the Kubans. Limansky and Karjakin promised to keep the wounded, for the maintenance of which the sum of 250 thousand rubles was left intact. They kept their word. Of the 119 volunteers left in Dyadkovskoy, only two were killed, and 16 died from injuries. The rest survived.
April 5 army continued to retreat to the east, and April 9 volunteers arrived in Ilyinskaya, overcoming 9 versts from Ekaterinodar in 220 days almost without loss. That is, whites broke out of the dense network of railways, having received a certain freedom of action. Then the volunteers moved to the nearby village of Ouspensky. On the Don was sent intelligence. 14 (27) April, the intelligence returned with a hundred Don Cossacks and reported that the uprising and the Cossacks on the Don "They beat the brow of the Volunteer Army, asking them to forget the old one and quickly come to the rescue."
Denikin conducted a review of the army and informed the fighters that the white “miraculous heroes ... made one of the greatest campaigns of the Russian army” and that a great uprising broke out on the Don and the army would come to the aid of the Don Cossacks. The situation has changed radically. Kuban, as a base for war with the Bolsheviks, could not be used. But the uprising began on the Don, which previously did not want to support Kaledin, Alekseev and Kornilov. There was hope for a successful continuation of the struggle. 16 (29) April, White came out of the Assumption in the direction of the Don.
The feat of General S.L. Markov. Capture of red armored train during the battle for the station Medvedovskaya. Journal of Hour, No. 30
The White Army was unable to solve the main task - to take Ekaterinodar. During the assault, the army suffered heavy losses, nearly a third of the number - about 1900 killed and wounded. Many commanders were killed and injured, including the army commander Kornilov. The Red forces lost up to 15 thousand people in this battle.
The remnants of the white army managed to break through the ring of the superior forces of the Red Army and move in the direction of friendly Cossack villages. By 29 of April (12 of May), the Welcome Army went to the south of the Don region to the region of Mechetinskaya - Egorlykskaya - Gulyay-Borisovka. The first Kuban campaign was over. The Soviet press these days wrote about the "rout and liquidation of the White Guard gangs scattered throughout the North Caucasus." However, the situation soon changed radically - the Cossacks raised a large-scale uprising on the Don and called for volunteers to help. In addition, German troops were sent to Taganrog and Rostov. A new stage of the Civil War began, and the Volunteer Army, having accepted replenishment, soon again reached the borders of the Don and Stavropol.
It is worth noting that on the side of Dobroarmia was not only good luck and skillful actions of the commanders, but also the general carelessness and irresponsibility of local military and party leaders who underestimated the danger posed by the Kornilovites defeated near Yekaterinodar. Soviet newspapers happily reported that Kornilov was forever finished, that “the largest of the remaining gangs - around 1000 — a man under the command of General Markov is now running north-east to Stavropol gubernia in order to break through to the Don and Tsaritsyn ... under these conditions this gang does not have to be considered as with great force. " The Red Army soldiers unanimously decided that the Kornilov revolt was over. The local leadership did not take emergency measures to catch up with the rapidly retreating (fleeing) whites.
Thus, although the Reds had the opportunity to finish off the white army, its leaders, Denikin, Markova, Erdely, and others, decided that the Volunteer Army would never recover from the defeat inflicted on it and would fall apart by itself, disappear as a fighting force. Later, they will find "scapegoats" on whom they will blame all the fact that the Volunteer Army managed to avoid death after the defeat under Yekaterinodar: they will be Sorokin and Avtonomov.