The Romanian front, distant from the major political and industrial centers, engulfed in revolutionary turmoil, fell apart after all. The commander-in-chief, General Shcherbachev, with the support of the Romanian military-political leadership and representatives of the Entente, tried to stop the collapse of the front. Since the arrival of General Alekseev on the Don between Alekseev and the headquarters of the Romanian Front, communications were established. But in general, Shcherbachev’s headquarters, under pressure from the Anglo-French mission, relied on the creation of the “Ukrainian Front” and the Ukrainian army on the basis of the Romanian front. The West has been actively working on the collapse of a united Russia, a branch of Little Russia.
As a result, the Romanian front, though later than all, fell apart. The soldiers went home en masse, the trenches were empty. The officers also dispersed, others recognized the power of the Soviets and removed the shoulder straps, and still others joined the various national formations. Thus, in Iasi, intensive work was carried out on the formation of national units — Ukrainian, Muslim corps, and so on. Front-line fashion appeared on everything Ukrainian: “at all the doors were on the watch“ zhovtoblakitnye ”Haidamaks and some officers with shoulder straps of the Russian general staff did pretend that they do not understand the Russian language, ”recalled the White Guard S. Tolstoy.
Also at this time, the idea arose of forming the Russian Volunteer Corps with the goal of sending them to the Don and connecting with the Volunteer Army (YES). 11 (24) December 1917, the commander of the 14 Division, Colonel MG Drozdovsky arrived in Iasi, where the headquarters of the Romanian Front was located. He was distinguished by his personal courage, determination, toughness, iron will and confidence in the correctness of his decisions. In a series of battles world war showed himself to be a brave commander. So, in August 1915, Mikhail Gordeevich accomplished a feat that became famous in the Russian army. After heavy fighting near Vilna, the Germans began to attack and, pointing a crossing, created a threat to the flank of the Russian 26 corps. With the Germans taking the ferry across the Merechanka River, the headquarters of the 60 Infantry Division was directly in front of them. Drozdovsky assembled and personally led a detachment of the rear men (escorts, telephone operators, orderlies, sappers) totaling just over a hundred soldiers with two machine guns and in a bayonet attack knocked over the German rangers who had just shot down the Russian guard at the ferry. Drozdovsky’s detachment held the ferry for exactly as long as they asked from the corps headquarters, having beaten off several strong attacks from the other side of the river. Drozdovskiy for the battle to hold the crossing on the river Merechanka presented to the honorary St. George arms.
In August, 1916, the Russian army led heavy fighting in the Carpathian Mountains, trying to reach the Hungarian Plain. The 64 Infantry Division, where Drozdovsky served, constantly participated in the battles, being in the first echelon of the advancing troops. 31 August 1916, he personally led the attack on Mount Kapul. One of Mikhail Gordeevich’s colleagues recalled these events in the following way: “The attack had the character of a swift, unrestrained onslaught. But when the advanced chains under the action of deadly fire, choking, lay down in front of the wire, Lieutenant Colonel Drozdovsky, ordering to move to the aid of a new reserve, lifted the chains, and with a cry “Go ahead, brothers!”, Naked ahead of the attackers. For the bravery shown in this battle, he was awarded the Order of St. George 4 degree. In the battle on Mount Kapul was wounded in the right arm. For several months he was treated at the hospital. Despite the fact that the right hand after the injury remained semi-paralyzed and the medical commission decided that it would be impossible for him to continue his military service, Drozdovsky insisted on his desire to return to the army. From January 1917, he was appointed to the post of Chief of Staff of the 15 Infantry Division on the Romanian Front.
Mikhail Gordeevich was a staunch monarchist and the renunciation of Nicholas II made a very heavy impression on him. The officer not only did not hide his convictions, but was also ready to fight for them. The colonel was an implacable enemy of all sorts of socialist trends, the Ukrainian movement and all the collapse that he associated with the revolution. Drozdovsky's observations on the process of “deepening” the revolution and the democratization of the army led him to the idea that Russia was dying, and the only way to save it was a decisive armed struggle against the Bolsheviks. Hate for the revolution and the Bolsheviks reached him to fanaticism. According to ideological views, Drozdovsky was a monarchist, which distinguished his majority of DA commanders. Drozdovskikh planned to form a strong detachment and move with him to the Don, to join up with the Volunteer Army.
At the meeting of officers of the General Staff, Colonel Drozdovsky with his position as a monarchist maximalist was in the minority. However, Drozdovsky managed to get permission from General Shcherbachev to form volunteer units. The necessary funds for the formation of the detachment (5 million rubles and 2 million Romanian lei) were allocated by the French military mission. Work on the organization of the detachment was carried out personally by Drozdovsky with the help of his chief of staff, Colonel M. K. Voynalovich. For reasons of conspiracy, enrollment in the brigade took place under the guise of recruiting volunteers into the US Army. Soon, on the street "Strada Muziler", 24 opened a bureau of entry in the 1-th brigade of Russian volunteers. The conditions of service were as follows: “1. In the parts of the brigade, absolute discipline prevails, no committees exist; 2. The applicants are required to subscribe for unquestioning obedience to their superiors ... ”. It was decided to form the 2 brigade in Chisinau, and the 3 brigade in Belgrade.
For the ideological rallying of volunteers, in spite of the declared non-partisanship, Drozdovsky organized in the brigade an actual “parallel structure” - a secret monarchist organization. The idea to start recruitment into it within the detachment being created belonged to the captain of Bologovsky, and it was immediately supported by the brigade commander. The recruitment was conducted by Drozdovsky himself and the captain Bologovsky, special members of three degrees were issued to the recruited members: the majority had cards with one strip, 12 people from the commanding staff with two, and only Drozdovsky and Bologovsky had cards with three stripes. In the detachment, almost all of them acquired such cards. This seriously rallied the detachment, which had an ideological basis (A. V. Shishov, General Drozdovsky. Legendary campaign from Yassy to Kuban and Don. M., 2012). In the future, dvazdovtsy ("blackbirds") will be one of the most reliable and efficient units of the White Army. They were distinguished by high organization, discipline, high military spirit and steadfastness in the most difficult battles, which was also recognized by their enemies. Drozdovtsy were sent to the most difficult parts of the fronts, showed extreme tenacity in battle, suffered heavy losses and retreated only in the most extreme case.
It is worth noting that the formation of parts proceeded slowly (a similar picture was in YES). The officers were demoralized, tired of war, confusion. As noted by General A. K. Kelchevsky, who was appointed by Shcherbachev to the position of inspector for the formation of volunteer units, people had a desire to go "anywhere, but not to work". He also noted that among the officers: “Morality has fallen. According to the records in the bureau, there were a lot of people willing to enroll in the volunteer units, but they were not. There were a lot of officers who went to enroll as volunteers just to get a one-time allowance at 150 Lei. ” On the Romanian front there was no authoritative name comparable in popularity among the officers with Kornilov, Alekseev, Denikin and Brusilov. In addition, the command of the Romanian front did not decide to give an order on the front, ordering the officers to appear in Iasi. Shcherbachev took a very cautious position, refusing to give such an order, despite the insistence of Drozdovsky. The front headquarters was afraid that open support by the command of volunteer officer formations would lead to soldiers' entry and massacre of officers. The position of the Romanian authorities also affected.
As a result, by January 1918, the white squad, which was already located in the town of Skinteay near Yass, consisted of 200 fighters, mostly officers. Formed the first company, battery and various teams. The first of the formed subdivisions of the volunteer brigade was the equestrian battery of captain B. Ya. Kolzakov. Next, a machine-gun team was created, a rifle 1 th company of Lieutenant Colonel V. A. Rummel, a 2 th company of captain L. I. Andreyevsky. Then a light battery of Colonel M. P. Polzikov, a howitzer platoon of Lieutenant Colonel A. K. Medvedev and an armored squad. With the arrival of a group of officers of the 7 Dragoon Regiment, it was decided to establish the first cavalry squadron commanded by Staff Captain Anikeev. By the beginning of February, there were already more than 500 fighters in the Drozdovsky brigade.
The creation of the material part of the brigade was carried out by collecting everything that was “badly lying” in the crumbling front: they took rifles, guns, ammunition, horses, carts, provisions, drove armored cars and cars. It happened that weapons were taken away from deserters, they organized outposts, road raids, and raids. Deserters, decomposed parts did not offer resistance. Thus, by February 20 a large number of artillery and machine guns, 15 armored vehicles, cars and trucks, a radio station and many other property were at the disposal of Drozdovsky. Weapons and various property turned out to be so much for a small detachment that before the march a part was sold or abandoned.
One of the main reasons for the failure of a strong corps to be sent to the DA was the position of the Romanian authorities. The Romanians made plans for the occupation of Russian Bessarabia, which they managed to do in February 1918 of the year. Already at the end of 1917, the Romanian government, having forgotten that it was the Russians and Russia who saved Romania from the complete defeat of the Austro-German forces and occupation, began to propagandize the idea of “Great Romania” (at the expense of Russia) and started implementing the “national program”. The government in every way intimidated the population with “Russian danger”, and arranged a persecution of everything Russian throughout the country. Romanian troops began to put pressure on Russian troops, disarmed and detained the troops, who were trying to return from the front to their homeland. Romanian patrols organized self-organized searches of Russian officers and military officials, seizing weapons from them. In Iasi, there were embezzlements of Russian military cargo and mail. This arbitrariness, terror and looting got the Romanians off their hands. In addition, the Romanian government led its negotiations with Germany on a separate peace. The Romanians bargained for themselves with the Germans Bessarabia.
Naturally, the existence of combat-ready Russian troops on the territory of Romania caused great concern to the government. The Romanian authorities with open hostility looked at the formation of Russian parts and sought to disarm and disperse them. When the Austro-German troops began the intervention, the Allied missions left in a hurry. The command of the Romanian front, finding it hopeless, succumbed to the Romanian pressure and ordered the dissolution of the volunteer units. The 2 Brigade of General Y. Belozor in Chisinau was disbanded.
Commander of the 1-th separate brigade of Russian volunteers, head of the 3-th division of the Volunteer Army Mikhail Gordeevich Drozdovsky
The beginning of the "Drozdovsky campaign"
Drozdovsky refused to carry out this order. The colonel said that he would not give up on the initiated case and was ready to lead anyone who joined him. He not only did not disband his brigade, but also continued recruiting for it, but in private. This decision irritated the front command, who considered the march in the new conditions as an adventure (the position of the Romanian authorities and the departure of the Volunteer Army from the Don). As a result, Colonel Drozdovsky decided to lead the volunteers to the Don himself. He made a call: "I'm coming - who is with me?". About 800 people entered his squad (according to other data 900 - 1000 people). The detachment consisted of a rifle regiment, a horse-drawn battalion, a mountain horse battery, a light battery, a howitzer platoon, a technical unit, an infirmary and a train. This brigade in March - May 1918 made a 1200 milestone march from Iasi to Novocherkassk.
26 February (11 March) 1918 Drozdovsky went on a campaign against the Don. The Romanian government has officially announced that it will not release volunteers in arms and will not allow them to be transported by rail. Romanian authorities ordered not to release the Drozdovsky brigade with weapons. Then Drozdovsky replied that “the disarmament of volunteers would not be as painless as it seems to the government” and that “at the first hostile actions, the city of Iasi and the royal palace can be fiercely fired by artillery fire”. When the Romanian troops tried to encircle and disarm the Drozdovites, they defiantly stepped into the battle chains and began to deploy the guns to the Yassky Palace. Drozdovsky gave an ultimatum to the Romanian king (through General Shcherbachev) that the volunteers would not surrender their weapons and demand guarantees of a free pass to the Russian border, threatening to open artillery fire on Iasi and the palace. As a result, the Romanians took the troops and sent Drozdovskiy trains to transport the detachment to Chisinau. Like, well, them. It is better not to get involved with such strong and tough people who are more expensive to themselves.
Hopes for the recruitment of General Belozor from the Kishinev brigade almost did not come true - here only a few dozen officers joined the Drozdovsky detachment. Belozor himself - in response to Drozdovsky's proposal to him, as a senior officer, to head the entire detachment - refused, citing an order from the front headquarters. Moreover, urging everyone not to trust "Drozdovsky's insane plan." 11 - 13 March from Iasi to Chisinau made six echelons of the Drozdovsky detachment, as well as a convoy. On March 17, the entire brigade was concentrated in Dubossary, on the left bank of the Dniester, outside the occupation zone of the Romanians. 18 March in Dubossary, after joining the squad of the team Bolgrade horse-riders and the Polish squadron was reorganized. The brigade consisted of a headquarters, a rifle regiment, an equestrian division, an equestrian and light battery, a mortar platoon, an armored squadron, a convoy, a team of special-purpose mounted reconnaissance, etc.
7 (20) March detachment made from Dubossary; 15 (28) March crossed the Southern Bug near Alexandrovka; March 28 (April 10) crossed the Dnieper from Berislavl; 3 (16) April Drozdovtsy occupied Melitopol. April 21 (May 4) Drozdists attacked Rostov-on-Don.
Loading the 1th Separate Brigade in Iasi. March 1918 of the year
The Drozdists went into the unknown, into a region where the forces of the Reds, Austro-Germans, Ukrainian national formations and gangsters mixed. Drozdovsky himself knew about the fall of Novocherkassk and about the withdrawal of the Volunteer Army in the Kuban. None of the squad officials knew about the direction of movement; everyone knew only that Drozdovsky was leading a detachment to join up with the YES.
Communication with the army of Kornilov and Alekseev was lost for the Drozdovsky detachment. To restore communication, the scouts of the 2 officer company headquarters D. B. Bologovsky and the lieutenant I. A. Kudryashov were sent to the long-range search, and under incredible circumstances they managed to reach Tsarevokonstantinovka. There they learned (as it turned out later, this was erroneous information) that the army of Kornilov was defeated and destroyed near Ekaterinodar, and the commander himself was killed. Kudryashov decided to return to the location of the Drozdovsky detachment in order to inform Drozdovskii of the terrible news, and Bologovsky went to Ekaterinodar, to check it on the spot. After listening to the message Kudryashov, Drozdovsky said: “It is possible that the army is a gene. Kornilov destroyed, and although the main goal of the campaign - the connection with the gene. Kornilov now disappears, we do not return. I will bring my detachment to the Don, and there, relying on the Cossacks, I will continue the struggle begun by the gene. Kornilov ... ”He asked to keep this news secret so as not to undermine the spirit of the warriors. Only constant movement could save a small detachment from collapse and death. Only after the passage of Berdyansk, the blackbirds received the good news for them: The Volunteer Army is alive and continues to fight.
In such a situation, according to Drozdovsky, his squad had only three allies: “audacity, arrogance and determination”. The political platform of the detachment commander himself was very simple: “The task for all can be only one: the salvation of Russia, and for this, it may be necessary to place machine guns and cannons on the railway platform, the only platform I recognize,” said Drozdovsky at the meeting of the Union of Officers in Mariupol in April 1918, the Brave to the fearlessness, merciless to himself, Drozdovsky was also merciless to the enemies. Drozdovsky said - “the massacre must be merciless:“ two eyes for an eye ”! Let them know the price of officer's blood! ”Drozdovtsy did not spare the enemy, shooting and hanging the Bolsheviks during the campaign Iasi-Don. "My heart is tormented, but the mind requires cruelty," Drozdovsky wrote in his diary. Already, joining the Volunteer Army, Drozdovsky will write a programmatic article, in which he noted: “Bolshevism is a deadly poison for the state organism,” and participants in the armed struggle against the Bolsheviks will fight until they overthrow the “power of commissars”.
Drozdovsky strictly followed the unity and discipline of the fighters. Having shown cowardice or discontent in battle, the campaign was driven out of the detachment. There was a process of screening "unstable element." Looting stopped. Drozdovtsy paid for the products received from the population. The unauthorized requisition, which at first was done by some cavalrymen, was once and for all suppressed by Drozdovsky, who was against any requisition. As a result, most of the population along the way was friendly or neutral. So, the approach of the whites to Melitopol resulted in a solid triumphal procession. Drozdovtsev welcomed and met with bread and salt. Here, White became the owners of the armored platform, which, together with the locomotive, constituted the first armored train of the Drozdovsky units. In addition, the brigade was replenished with two teams of motorcyclists: a dozen of serviceable motorcycles were found in the city. In general, along the way, the detachments quite successfully replenished the materiel. Most often due to the warehouses that come across on the way. In Melitopol, they managed to find shoes and material for uniforms, in Mariupol red horses were beaten off, in Berdyansk and Taganrog - they replenished their weapons and ammunition, found cars and gasoline, etc.
The route of movement of the detachment Drozdovskogo
In this case, we can not say that the campaign was peaceful. Drozdovtsy took tough measures against persons involved in murder and robbery, committed in accordance with martial law. The organizers of the robbery and its active participants — especially if they were Bolsheviks, Sevastopol sailors or deserters from the front — were shot with the announcement of the crime, and their houses were burned (Drozdovsky and Drozdovtsy. M., 2006). Civilians were subjected to public corporal punishment with the participation of their neighbors. Drozdovsky himself in his diary described a number of cases of extrajudicial reprisals against the population of villages that supported the Reds. Thus, the "noble white knights" did not exist, everyone used terror in the realization of their goals.
During the journey, new volunteers joined the detachment, mainly officers and students. Several dozen soldiers joined in Kakhovka, Melitopol, Berdyansk and Taganrog. In the first Cossack village of Novonikolayevka, so many Cossacks stood up in Drozdov’s ranks that the first horse Don hundred was immediately formed under the command of Yesaul Frolov. There also enrolled in volunteers and women. Drozdovsky also repeated the step of the pioneers (participants in the Kuban campaign), putting into operation about 300 former Red Army prisoners of war and forming the 4th company of the Officer Rifle Regiment from them (later they proved to be good). On March 26, in the area of the village of Novopavlovka, he connected with the Drozdovites (some time later, after negotiations, and submitted to Drozdovsky) naval detachment of Colonel M. A. Zhebrak-Rusanovich of 130 people from the Separate Baltic Naval Division. As a result, Zhebrak-Rusanovich became one of the closest associates of Drozdovsky.
In the conditions of general chaos, disintegration and distemper, a small, but the steel detachment of Drozdovites represented a serious force and rather easily crossed the territory of Ukraine. Drozdovtsy passed a day on 60 - 65 km. For greater speed of movement, instead of cars and armored cars, which had difficulty moving in conditions of spring thaw and impassable mud, the infantry was seated on carts. The Drozdists quite easily overturned small detachments of the Reds, who met along the way and undertook punitive expeditions to destroy the enemy.
There were almost no problems with the Ukrainian authorities. In the south, the power of the Central Rada was virtually absent. Therefore, Drozdovsky did not coordinate his campaign with the local authorities. They did not have the strength to disarm or defeat the Drozdovites. And the Ukrainian authorities and Drozdovtsy maintained cold neutrality. The Drozdists themselves were treated with contempt by the new Ukrainian authorities. Drozdovsky noted in his diary: “April 7. Konstantinovka. With the Ukrainians ... - disgusting relations: bothering to take off shoulder straps, they are afraid only to fight - an unbridled gang trying to hurt ... The authorities give strict orders not to hurt - they do not listen. Some were beaten - then calmed down, boors, slaves. When we left, the station flag (not even strictly national) was torn down, torn, trampled down with feet ... Ukrainians have only one contempt for them, as to renegades and unruly gangs. Germans to the Ukrainians - undisguised contempt, termination, prodding. They call it a gang, a mob ... ”(General M. Drozdovsky. Diary). Thus, Drozdovsky very well conveyed the essence of the so-called. "Ukrainians" - betrayal, slavery and submission to external power (then the Germans).
The Austro-German troops, who at that time, hiding behind an agreement with the Central Rada, captured the western Russian provinces, did not interfere with the Drozdovites. Apparently, Drozdovsky’s assertion that the detachment fights only with the Bolsheviks and maintains neutrality with respect to the Austro-Germans arranged the Germans. Drozdovsky himself, like most of the generals of the White Army, did not recognize the Brest peace and did not consider the war over, hoping for support from the Entente. But realizing that he did not have the strength to fight the Germans at the moment, Drozdovsky during all the forced meetings and negotiations with the German officers announced that he was fighting only with the Bolsheviks and spoke of the squad’s intention to move to the center of Russia. It completely suited the Germans. Moreover, German officers even sympathized with the Drozdists and wished them good luck. In addition, the advanced German forces were few in number and did not rush to fight with an efficient, morally strong and well-armed detachment of thrushes. Small skirmishes occurred, but did not lead to serious battles and the German patrols preferred to step aside and give way.
Parts of the marching column of Colonel Drozdovsky in Kherson Province, spring 1918 of the year
To be continued ...