Beginning of the campaign
After a successful uprising on the Don, White faced the question of where to strike. Ataman Krasnov offered to go to Tsaritsyn. However, the volunteers who were in conflict with the Cossack government of Krasnov decided to go to Kuban again and defeat the North Caucasian grouping of the Red Army. Thus, the whites received a safe rear (in the North Caucasus there was a powerful Red grouping that could hit the Don region from the south), captured the rear warehouses of the former Caucasian front, the region was rich in food and other resources and could hope for the support of the local population, primarily the Cossacks .
Denikin designated the strategic task of the campaign as follows: “to seize Commerce, thereby interrupting the railway communication of the North Caucasus with central Russia; then covering yourself with Tsaritsyn, turn on Tikhoretskaya. By seizing this important hub of the North Caucasus roads, ensuring the operation from the north and south of the capture of Kuschevka and the Caucasus, continue to go to Ekaterinodar to seize this military and political center of the region and the entire North Caucasus. ”
9 - 10 (22 - 23) June 1918, the Volunteer Army (YES) launched the Second Kuban campaign (Second Kuban campaign). Before the start of the campaign, the Volunteer Army consisted of 5 infantry regiments, 8 cavalry regiments, 5 with half the batteries, a total number of 8,5 — 9 thousands of bayonets and sabers with an 21 gun. The regiments were reduced to divisions: the 1 Division of General S.L. Markov, the 2 Division of General A. A. Borovsky, the 3 Division of Colonel M. G. Drozdovsky, the 1 Cavalry Division of General I. G. Erdely . In addition, the 1-I Kuban Cossack Brigade of General V.L. Pokrovsky was in the army, and a detachment of Don Cossacks was subordinated to the army for the first period of the operation.
The first serious battle took place on 12 (25) on June, when the Volunteer Army captured Commerce (now Salsk) and Shablievka. The merchant volunteers provided themselves with ammunition. It also equipped their first armored train. In strategic terms, the Volunteer Army for a long time cut the railway linking the Kuban and the Stavropol Territory with Central Russia. However, the whites suffered a heavy loss - Sergei Markov died in battle. Markov’s death was no less significant for the Volunteer Army than the death of Kornilov. General Markov in many respects personified the idea of volunteering, it was his energy and fighting qualities that greatly helped the Kornilov people to retreat from under Ekaterinodar during the First Kuban campaign, which ended in defeat and nearly led to the death of the DA. Markov really was a talented commander and leader. The expression "Where is Markov - there is victory" was not an empty boast. It was not for nothing that Markov was called the “Spire of the Volunteer Army” (Alekseev was “mind”, Kornilov was “heart”). Killed one of the best commanders of the White movement. By order of the commander of the 1 officers 'regiment, he became known as the "1 officers' regiment of General Markov regiment". The Markov regiment, later deployed to the division, became one of the best units of the White Army.
After the victory at Torgovaya, Denikin undertook the second operation. He did not immediately go to the Kuban, first turned to the north. For further offensive in the direction of Tikhoretskaya, the volunteers needed to provide their rear (railway station of Torgovaya station) and to facilitate the task of keeping the southeastern district (Salsky district) to the Dontsians, for which it was necessary to break up a strong Red group with the center in the village of Velikypnyazheskaya. In the rear, 2's division of Borovskiy was left as a barrier, while the rest of 15 (28) troops attacked the Reds from Grand Duke on June. 1-I and 3-I divisions crossed the Manych and hit the village from the north and south. Erdeli's horse division, which faced the task of evacuating the Grand Duke from the east and completing the encirclement and rout of the enemy, could not overcome the stubborn resistance of Dumenko's cavalry and cross the river. As a result, the Manych group of Reds, although they were defeated, were not completely destroyed. The volunteer army secured the rear for an offensive on the Kuban. Denikin handed over the Grand Prince Don Cossacks, and they developed an offensive and soon went to the approaches to Tsaritsyn, causing a great commotion. This attack temporarily disoriented the Red Army command.
Peschanokopsky and White Clay
Denikin led the troops to the Kuban. They were moving in an accelerated march, the infantry was seated on carts, and a homemade armored train was ahead. The Reds, who had been defeated under Torgovaya, under the command of Verevkin, retreated to the Peschanokopsky and White Clay areas, blocking the way to Tikhoretskaya. Here the Reds had a strong support of the population, the locals actively joined the militia — Peschanokopskoye and Belaya Glina were populous and richest villages of the Tikhoretskaya railway line and hotbeds of Bolshevism in the province. The Reds, having joined the ranks with mobilization, came out to meet the enemy. A stubborn frontal battle ensued. The divisions of Borovsky and Drozdovsky broke into the outskirts twice and beat them twice. Having only noticed that they were being bypassed, the Reds retreated to White Clay.
The White Army stopped for a few days to rest in Peschanokopskaya. On the night of 5 (June 22), Denikin's troops marched on White Clay. Denikin planned to surround the village from all sides. All columns were ordered to launch an offensive in such a way as to attack White Clay at dawn on July 6: Borovsky from the north, Drozdovsky along the railway, Kutepova from the south. By the evening of 5 July, Erdeli with the Kuban Cossacks had to occupy Novopokrovskaya stanitsa and the station with It, destroy the railway, cover volunteers from Tikhoretskaya and cut off the retreat to the west in red. Near this large village, the Reds gathered a significant grouping, hastily redeploying to it parts of the 39 Division of the old army, the Steel Division, the Redneck Division and smaller units from the detachment defeated under Torgovaya, Velikopnyazhesky and Peschanokopsky. The core of the grouping was the "Steel" division of the Redneck and a detachment of sailors. Red Nachdiv launched an emergency mobilization of men between the ages of 17 and 45. However, the events unfolded with such speed that mobilization could not be carried out to the end - the white attack on the village prevented this.
By the evening of July 5, units of the Drozdovsky 3 Division approached the village and engaged in a fierce battle with the Reds. Drozdovtsy hoped to take the village a sudden night attack, but she failed. Drozdovtsy were discovered and ran into machine-gun fire. Colonel M.A. Zhebrak (Zhebrak-Rusanovich, Drozdovsky’s closest ally) personally led to the attack two battalions of his 2 Officer Rifle Regiment, leaving one battalion in reserve. In the 2 hour of the night of July 6 (23), the advancing chains and regiment headquarters came under heavy fire from the Reds' machine-gun battery and lost about 400 people (80 officers were killed and before 300 was wounded), including the regiment commander and all his officers who were killed headquarters. According to Denikin, Zhebrak “led the regiment innocently”, moving the fighters forward without intelligence and having finally attacked the Red Army’s strong position. According to the Drozdovites, a seriously wounded Zhebrak with other officers was captured and killed after terrible torture. According to Anton Turkul, “our commander was obviously badly wounded in the attack. The Reds captured him still alive, beat him with butts, tortured him, burned him on fire. He was tortured. He was burned alive. ” The lieutenant of the horse artillery V. Matasov recalled that after the battle, more than 100 bodies of Drozdov's were found, among which are the corpses of 43 officers and Colonel Zhebrak. “The bodies were disfigured by torture and bullying; many had their ears, noses, tongues cut off, their arms and legs twisted. Some officers were burned alive after being wounded. The regiment [ovnik] Zhebrak was also burned, ”writes Matasov.
Commander of the 2 th officer rifle regiment of the 3 division in the Volunteer Army, Colonel Mikhail Antonovich
On the morning of July 6, when the remaining parts of the YES approached the village, the assault resumed. Having made a round from the south of the enemy’s position, Kutepov broke through with the Kornilovites, from the west - Borovsky. Boil a street fight. Red began to depart to the east. Soon the departure turned into a hectic escape. White cavalry pursued and dispersed the enemy. About 5 thousand people were captured, many red hid. Began white terror. The enraged Drozdists, who wanted to avenge the death of their comrades, broke up into small groups, walked around the courtyards of the village, and searched for the Red Army men, doing trial and reprisals over them. Also, a monetary contribution in 2, 5 million rubles was imposed on the village for resistance - in punishment for the armed resistance of the White Army. Drozdovsky himself pointed out those prisoners of the Red Army who, in his opinion, should be shot immediately. When the general got tired of it, then, according to the memoirist D. B. Bologovsky, “the rest were all shot wholesale”. In addition, in front of the population of Belaya Glina, specially convened for the occasion on the square, the public execution of two commissars - a native of White Clay Kalaida and a commissar in charge of Peschanokopskaya defense was arranged.
In total for 3 of the day by the verdict of the military court (the role of the prosecutor performed by Lieutenant Zelenin) was shot from 1500 to 2000 of the Red Army captured in the area of the Drozdovskaya division. Drozdovsky and Drozdovtsy in those days were particularly brutal. Probably, General I. T. Belyaev writes in his memoirs about the episode Beloglinsky: “Going outside the gate, I came across a group of young officers, hurrying to the station with rifles in their hands. Ahead was Drozdovsky himself in a cap with a white band on the back of his head, charging the rifle on the move with an excited look ... - Where are you going? I asked, puzzled, by one of the overtaking officers. - To the station! He answered on the go. - They collected prisoners of the Red Army, we will shoot them, to attract young people. A distraught old woman ran after them. “My son,” she pleaded, “give me my son!”
The Kornilov and Markovites also captured prisoners: commissars, sailors and volunteers from the villagers were shot, and the peasant guys were tried to be put into operation, forming the Soldiers regiment, later renamed Samursky. These first prisoners were called in the Markov brigade "Beloglinsky volunteers." The peasants of White Clay, frightened by executions, put white bandages on their caps and said: “We are white!” In the village, an attempt was made to create a “Assistance Committee of the Volunteer Army” - it was assumed that he would be engaged in setting up nutritional and linen points for wounded White Guards at train stations . Nothing good, however, came out of this idea.
As a result, the bloody terror of the volunteers, conducted by them in White Clay, only embittered the population and increased the notoriety of the Volunteer Army, rumors of the cruelty of which continued to spread throughout the Kuban. Denikin had to personally stop this bloodbath. According to Denikin, who reprimanded Drozdovsky for this massacre, the time for the evolution of the attitude of volunteers to prisoners has not yet come, the bestial beginning, which owned equally red and white, has not yet been eradicated in a voluntary environment. Cruelty engendered cruelty, and mutual brutality of the parties reached an extreme limit.
It was only after these severe defeats that the Soviet leadership in the region apparently realized the full danger of the Volunteer Army. 7 July (24 June Art. 194) 1-s Extraordinary Congress of Soviets of the North Caucasus was convened in Ekaterinodar, which decided to unite all the Soviet republics (Kuban-Black Sea, Stavropol, Terek) into a single North-Caucasian SSR. The main goal pursued by the Soviet leaders is the fight against whites. A. Rubin, the former chairman of the Kuban-Black Sea SNK, became the chairman of the Central Election Commission of the Republic. The commander of the North Caucasus Red Army was K. Kalnin. Obviously, the decision on such an association was late, it was necessary to do this much earlier. The region was completely cut off from the center (from the north - the Don region, from the south - anti-Soviet Transcaucasia, the message on the Black and Caspian seas is extremely difficult), which dictated the need for close cooperation and rigid centralization at the local level for the survival and preservation of Soviet power in the region. At the same time, the Reds initially had large military forces, military reserves, relied on the territory rich in various resources and human reserves.
Volunteer Army soldiers near tank "General Drozdovsky"
To be continued ...