During the confrontation of the Don government of Kaledin and the Volunteer Army of Alekseev and Kornilov with the Reds, most of the Cossacks took the position of neutrality. Don Cossacks were tired of the war, and did not want to participate in the new, many sympathized with the ideas of the Bolsheviks - decrees on peace and land. The Cossacks hoped that they would drive out the newly appeared Ataman and the Whites, and they would heal calmly. Therefore, there were red Cossacks who fought against the forces of Kaledin and the Whites. As a result, the neutrality of the bulk of the Cossacks allowed the Red troops to crush the government of Kaledin and knock out the Volunteer Army from the Don.
However, the policy of the Soviet government and the actions of local authorities quickly led the Don to a new uprising. New authorities often acted thoughtlessly, chopped off their shoulders, destroying age-old foundations (in particular, the Cossack military class). In addition, among the Bolsheviks were so-called. revolutionaries-internationalists, “Trotskyists”, who could only destroy and oriented themselves towards Western centers in their activities, carrying out the installation for the complete demolition of “old Russia”. It is also worth remembering that in the wake of unrest, chaos, various scum, assassins, antisocial elements, which in ordinary life could not turn around in full force, crawled up.
Russian Cossack troops were abolished, and the story began to begin. All this was accompanied by attempts at land redistribution, requisitions, punitive expeditions, executions and terror. As a result, not only Cossacks, but also nonresident peasants (immigrants, members of the non-indigenous population, who did not have full rights in the area of the Don Cossacks) were reinstated against themselves on the Don. Disputes began between the Red Cossacks and the Bolsheviks. Pushed into the background, Golubov and the commandant of Novocherkassk Smirnov opposed Rostov. Golubov even allowed the assistant of the deceased ataman Kaledin, General Mitrofan Bogayevsky, to speak at the rally. Rostov (Don Soviet Republic) sent a punitive expedition. Golubov killed.
The impending wave of the German invasion inflated the smoldering sparks of the uprising on the Don in a big fire. Red troops retreated from Ukraine, the Red Guards, often no different from the usual bandit formations. This led to a new wave of violence and robbery. This was the last straw, the Donians could not stand it and exploded. 14 on April 1918, the Cossacks of the villages closest to Novocherkassk, attacked the city and occupied it. The Red Cossacks of Golubov declared neutrality and left. 16 April red, pulling up reinforcements from Rostov-on-Don, recaptured the city.
But the fire has already spread. At the same time, the detachment of General Peter Popov (he after the death of Kaledin went to the Salsk steppes to continue the struggle) went back over the Don and moved to the liberation of the right bank villages and Novocherkassk. Thousands of Cossacks flocked to him. Popov was proclaimed commander of the Don Army. The Cossacks made raids on the reds of the Reds, sent envoys to the villages that had not yet risen. 23 April (6 May) 1918, Popov's squad occupied Novocherkassk. But luck could be short-lived. Red troops launched an offensive on the rebels from the north and west. April 25 (May 8) The Bolsheviks launched a successful offensive on Novocherkassk. The Cossacks, who could not withstand the attacks of the enemy, began to retreat.
The uprising was doomed to defeat. But the rebels were saved by the German invasion and the appearance on the Don of the Volunteer Army of Denikin (he led the DA after the death of Kornilov) and the Drozdovsky detachment. The volunteer army, after the defeat at Yekaterinodar, was in a critical situation, as it had lost hope of creating an anti-Bolshevik bridgehead in the Kuban. The scouts led by Colonel Bartsevich were sent to the Don, they returned with a hundred Don Cossacks. Bartsevich reported to the army command about the anti-Bolshevik uprising on the Don and the fact that the Cossacks "beat the brow of the Volunteer army, asked to forget the old and come to the rescue as soon as possible." In addition, Bartsevich reported the approach of German troops to Taganrog.
The Cossack uprising revived White’s hope of making Don the core of anti-Bolshevik resistance. After analyzing the situation, the headquarters of the White Army decided to go to the Don in order to get the opportunity to wage a big war, and not partisanship in the Caucasian foothills. On April 16, White left Uspenskaya, and on the night of April 17 crossed the railway between Eya and Belaya Glina stations. After a halt in the Bitter Beam, the army moved forward and spent the night in the Kuban stanitsa Ploskoy, having covered a distance of 70 versts a day. In Plos'ka, volunteers met the Don detachment, which reported that the Bolsheviks had launched an offensive against the rebels of Zadon's stanitsa. The Donets asked for help. The army was transferred to the bed, from where parts of Glazenap and Bogayevsky came to the aid of the Dontians. On April 20, Bogayevsky's brigade took Yegorlykskaya, and the First Mounted Regiment of Colonel Glazenap liberated Mechety and Kagalnitsky. The hut was freed from the reds. Thus, K 29 April (12 May) Dobromrmiya went to the south of the Don region in the area Mechetinskaya - Egorlykskaya - Gulyay-Borisovka.
Meanwhile, the Cossacks in the Novocherkassk area were saved by the Drozdovsky detachment. Drozdists, who made their amazing march from Bessarabia, through the south of Little Russia, on April 21 (May 4) took Rostov. But they were not enough to keep the big city. The Reds pulled up reinforcements, including from Novocherkassk, and the next day they beat the whites out of the city. At this time, when the Drozdovites also found themselves in an extremely difficult situation - among the large forces of the Reds, and without hope of success, the Donians called for help. Drozdovsky detachment helped the Cossacks to take Novocherkassk again. May 7 Drozdovtsy, enthusiastically greeted by the inhabitants of Novocherkassk, in orderly rows entered the capital of the Region of the Don Cossacks. On May 11, the Cossacks took possession of Aleksandrovsky-Hrushevsky and set about creating their own army. By the middle of May, the Don Army already had 17 thousand fighters with 21 guns. On May 28, the Fitzkhelaurov detachment (9 thousand people) attacked the village of Morozovskaya, where the red parts of Schadeko (18 thousand soldiers) stood. After four days of fighting, the Reds began to retreat to Tsaritsyn. Near the Surovikovo station, the Reds clashed with the Cossack detachment of Mamantov (8 thousand soldiers). At first, Mamantovu had to go tight - he had already fought hard battles on the Chir River, and parts of Shchadenko went to his rear. Mamantov fought on two fronts. But the Fitzkhelaurov Cossacks were already in the rear of Schadenko. Squeezed from two sides, the red group was broken. This was the second serious victory for the Cossacks. It allowed the rebellious Cossacks of the southern and northern districts to be united into a united front. By mid-June, all the Don Cossacks were united under the general command.
As a result, the Soviet power on the Don collapsed due to the mistakes of the leadership and the German invasion. 8 May 1918, the capital of the Don Republic, Rostov-on-Don, was taken over by German troops and Cossacks without a fight. The Germans occupied the western part of the Region of the Don Cossacks, including Rostov, Nakhichevan-on-Don, Taganrog, Millerovo, Chertkovo. The leadership of the Don Soviet Republic was evacuated to Tsaritsyn. The head of the republic — the chairman of the SNK and the military commissar F. G. Podtyolkov returned to the north of the JEM, trying to find support among the riding Cossacks. However, the Cossacks disarmed Podochkova’s squad and arrested him, and on May 11 was tried and hanged.
General, ataman of the Great Don Army Peter Nikolayevich Krasnov
With the support of the German invasion and the white detachments (Denikin and Drozdovsky), the Cossacks were able to make a successful uprising, occupied Novocherkassk and announced the creation of the Great Don Army. On May 11, delegates from stanitsas and military units gather in Novocherkassk and establish the Don Circle of Salvation. Solved questions about the establishment of a firm authority and order, the creation of a standing army and elected a new ataman. General Popov was considered sluggish and indecisive. Colonel Denisov showed himself well during the uprising, but was considered young and did not enjoy prestige among the older generation. They pushed Krasnov, a veteran of two wars, a guardsman who had military awards and a former corps commander who tried to repel Petrograd from the Reds along with Kerensky. It was a solid, decisive and successful commander. His position was close to the Cossacks: since the united Russia is no more, the Don must become an independent state, establish peaceful relations with Germany (as the most powerful force in southern Russia at that time) and Ukraine; do not interfere in other people's strife and live a free Cossack life.
May 13 military ataman elected Major General Peter Krasnov. Ataman received the supreme power between the sessions of the Circle, the army commander, external relations and legislation. Krasnov, in contrast to the white generals, elects Germany as the patron and addresses the emperor Wilhelm with a letter of cooperation and a request for a protectorate. He also turned to Berlin for help with weapons and offered to establish trade relations. In the second message to Kaiser Wilhelm Krasnov, he also asked that later, as they were liberated from the Bolsheviks, Germany recognized the right to independence not only of the Don, but also of the Kuban, Terek and Astrakhan regions, as well as the North Caucasus. And also acted as a mediator in the negotiations with Soviet Russia on the establishment of peaceful relations with the Don. In addition, he asked Germany for assistance in returning Kiev to the Don Taganrog District, and giving Russia back "for strategic reasons" Voronezh, Kamyshin and Tsaritsyn with their surroundings. In exchange, the ataman promised complete neutrality, guaranteed the right of preferential export of excess food and economic advantages.
The German authorities recognized Krasnov’s government (but ignored the second letter). Berlin benefited from an independent Don. Germany did not want to divert forces to war with the Cossacks. And the Cossack Don covered the German occupation zone from the eastern flank, was a buffer from both the Reds and the anti-German Volunteer Army. The Germans did not refuse to help with weapons or ammunition - they were in bulk at the front depots of the collapsed Russian front. Let the Russians get stuck in a fratricidal war, not be able to prevent Germany from solving its strategic tasks. In addition, the Don people paid for their weapons with bread, which Germany needed. For a rifle with 30 ammunition - 1 pood (16 kg) grain. A German Mark course was installed at 75 cop. Don currency. The Don-German expert commission on commodity exchange was established in Rostov; sugar supplies from Ukraine began. Also, the Germans helped the Don government in the issue of Taganrog. The Donets considered him their own, Kiev clung to the “bridge” to the Kuban. It came to fighting the Don with the Ukrainian Haidamaks. Under pressure from the Germans, the dispute was resolved in favor of the Don. For Germany, it was advantageous to cut off the "bridge" to the Don-occupied Regions occupied by the Red Kuban. After that, the economic and political relations between Kiev and Novocherkassk improved.
Relations with the leaders of the White Army was difficult. The Don Army did not intend to obey Denikin. The Cossacks did not want to have an anti-German leader in the neighborhood of the German army. Whites were angry about the pro-German orientation of Krasnov, they were counting on the support of the Entente in restoring "old Russia." In addition, the command of the White Army and Krasnov had a different military strategy. Krasnov wanted to round off his possessions and offered Denikin to advance on Tsaritsyn. This made it possible to obtain industry and military warehouses of Tsaritsyn, opened the way to the Ural Cossacks, possibly to unite with the Czechoslovakians (that is, allies in the Entente). On the other hand, Dobromrmiya needed replenishment and rest. In the rear, in the south, remained a powerful red Caucasian group. The White Army had a lot of Kuban, who did not want to go to the north, but would gladly go to the Kuban. And the whites did not want to fight for the interests of Krasnov - did he want to seize Tsaritsyn for himself or his German allies, so that the Germans would break through to the Volga? As a result, Denikin and Alekseev abandoned a joint campaign against Tsaritsyn. The next blow, after rest and replenishment, they outlined for the Kuban.
However, Krasnov could not break off relations with Denikin in the face of a common red threat. White was sympathized with by many representatives of the Don officers. Breaking with the White Army meant for Krasnov to cause strong opposition on the Don and weaken positions in the face of the Red Army. As a result, the Cossacks Krasnov and Denikinians became allies. The Don government and the whites did not climb into each other’s internal affairs. Denikin remained on the Don, covering it from the south and southeast. In Rostov and Novocherkassk, the rear units of volunteers were located — hospitals, hospitals, recruitment centers, etc. Rostov and Novocherkassk were the rear of both armies — the Don and the Volunteer. The government of Krasnov supported, as far as possible, white weapons, ammunition, financially. But Krasnov’s personal relations with the white generals were bad. Ataman communicated with Denikin, Alekseev and Lukomsky only by correspondence.
Having become an ataman, Krasnov actively engaged in the development of the army, showing himself to be a good organizer. Nonresident peasants were accepted for military service, for which the Cossacks complained to them and the land was allocated. Officers of the former imperial army were encouraged to return to serve in the Don army, which greatly strengthened its hierarchical structure. Resumed training for officer personnel. The Novocherkassk military school with the infantry, cavalry, artillery and engineering departments, the Don officers school, reopened aviation school, military paramedic courses and the Don Cadet Corps. To supply the army, they organized a cloth factory, military craft schools, and the Russian-Baltic factory in Taganrog began to produce ammunition. The villages themselves supplied their regiments with food. As the advanced ones were removed, they began to seconde to the regiments of business executives, traders and cooperators, who took care of the supply and distributed the production of the Cossacks.
Headquarters were created in the military formations, and the new Don Army began to nominate its strong commanders - Generals Mamantov, Denisov, Fitzkhelaurov, Colonel Guselshchikov and others. Military courts were introduced in the Don, mobilization of 25 ages was announced. Cossacks born in 1899-1900 were identified in special military formations, called the Young Army. In the training camps, 2 infantry brigades, 3 horse divisions, artillery and other units were formed from them according to pre-war staffing schedules, charters and programs. According to the plan of Krasnov, they were to become the core of the personnel army of the Don, the Don Guard. It even created its own flotilla. Machine guns and guns were installed on passenger ships. To prepare the personnel of the sailors in Taganrog, a coastal battalion was organized. In addition, the Germans provided military assistance. By agreement with Germany, Don received 11 thousand rifles, 44 guns, 88 machine guns, 100 thousand shells and about ten million rounds.
As a result, using the old Cossack military organization and territorial military structure, the help of Germany, the Don leadership through mobilization quickly created a strong army. Significant forces, their good combat training and organization, as well as the ability not to disperse the troops, because of the benevolent attitude of the Germans, who provided the left flank of the Don Army with their position, allowed the Don troops to carry out a successful offensive. By mid-August 1918, the 60-thousandth Don Cossack Army under the command of General Krasnov captured almost the entire territory of the Don Region, except for a few villages in the eastern part of the Salsk District. Soviet troops fought back to the borders of the Voronezh and Saratov provinces and joined the Southern Front.
The Red Army could not quickly build up forces in the southern direction and crush the Cossack "state." This was due to the difficult situation on the Eastern Front (the uprising of the Czechoslovaks), and the possible danger from the German army, the position of the German forces in Ukraine allowed the Soviet troops who had gone deep into the Don region to strike at the flank. In addition, the Don Army did not pose a deadly threat to Soviet Russia. The Don Cossacks for the most part did not seek to march on Moscow. Many Cossacks thought that it was still possible to peacefully settle controversial issues with the Soviet government. And the new “powerholder” of the Don Region, the ataman Krasnov, quarreled with the white leaders about relations with Germany and the Entente. The pro-German orientation of General Krasnov caused a rift in relations with the command of the Volunteer Army. Krasnov was accused of having links with the Germans and refused to act together in the fight against the Reds. But the ataman did not smile at a quick return to the bosom of “united and indivisible Russia”, as the whites dreamed, he preferred to be the independent head of the Don Cossacks and sought only to round his possessions. To this end, the September circle of 1 September issued a decree on the occupation by the Don army of the nearest communication centers and hubs across the Don border: Tsaritsyn, Kamyshin, Balashov, Povorino, Novokhopersk, Kalach and Boguchar. These aggressive aspirations of the Don government gave a great stir to the autumn campaign on the Southern Front. The hostilities of both sides were reduced to the struggle for the possession of the Kamyshin-Balashov-Povorino-Novokhopersk-Liski railway line.
Medal of the Great Don Army: Defender of the Free Don 1917-1919