3 (16) August The volunteer army under Denikin took Ekaterinodar. However, the battle for the North Caucasus has not yet been completed. The troops of the Red Commander Sorokin, retreating beyond the Kuban, stopped in the lower reaches of the Laba. A group of red troops under the command of E.I. Kovtyukh (based on the 1 Soviet Regiment, the 4 th Dnepr Infantry Regiment commanded by I. Matveyev, the 2 North Kuban Infantry Regiment and the Kuban-Black Sea Regiment and other troops on the Taman Peninsula were cut off from the main forces.
After the capture of Ekaterinodar, General Denikin did not rest his troops, and moved 5 (18) in August 1918 against the red Taman grouping of the 1 troops of the Kuban division under the command of General V.L. Pokrovsky - the right bank of the Kuban, and the detachment of Colonel A.P. Kolosovsky (1 th cavalry regiment, 1 th Kuban rifle regiment, battery - from the 1 th division, 2 armored train) - along the railway to Novorossiysk. White sought to surround the enemy.
20 August Pokrovsky after a fierce battle seized the village of Slavyanskaya, however, the Reds burned down the pontoon bridge and damaged the railway, and it took time to fix it. Red troops, fighting off, retreated in two columns - on the Trinity and Varenikovskiy crossing. Kovtyukh, having crossed over to the left bank of the Kuban, occupied the defense at Troitskaya station, in order to enable the troops from Temryuk to leave along the only remaining road - through Varenikovskaya to Novorossiysk. By the morning of 21, Pokrovsky had already fought for the possession of the railway bridge at Troitskaya, which lasted for three days.
21 August 1 th cavalry officer regiment took the station Kholmskaya and on it a train with a locomotive, which was converted into an improvised armored train. The next day, with the support of this armored train, the 1 th cavalry regiment attacked the Ilskaya station. Despite the fact that the defending Reds had great strength and a real armored train, they were knocked out from the station, and the Red armored train became a trophy of volunteers. On August 23, a detachment of Kolosovsky attacked the Krymskaya junction station, which forced Kovtyukh to hastily leave Trinity to avoid being surrounded. On August 24, plunging into echelons, the red troops moved into the Crimea, which was already under artillery shelling, and the column of Tamans barely managed to slip through before the white forces broke into it.
On the same day, Pokrovsky captured the Varenikovsky ferry and by the evening occupied Temryuk, seizing 10 guns, many shells and several hundred prisoners. At the same time, most of the troops Safonov and Baturin were able to withdraw from the city and transfer to Verkhnebakanskaya (Tunnel). There also arrived the column Kovtyukh. In addition, the station has accumulated a huge number of refugees - up to 25 thousand people with a large wagon train.
At the same time, the situation was complicated by the fact that the Reds found themselves, according to Kovtyukh, “among the raging counterrevolutionary elements. The Cossacks rebelled almost without exception. They dispersed the Soviets and publicly hanged the Communists, workers and the poor. The villages where the troops located in the Taman Division were located turned out to be the only red island in this densely saturated camp of counter-revolution. ” At first, the general mood of the Tamanians was depressed, people left their homes and families to fend for themselves, saying goodbye for an indefinite period to their homes. It was not in vain that the Tamanis were afraid: after the “liberation” of the next village, the Pokrovsky troops immediately began building the gallows, hanging and mocking people. However, Kovtyukh, having overcome defeatist sentiments, managed to bring order to the troops, and began a systematic movement to unite with the main forces of the forces of the North Caucasus, making his way "through the bubbling sea of rebel Cossack nests." The route was as follows: first along the coast south to Tuapse, and from there through the mountains to Armavir to connect with the main forces of the Red Army in the Caucasus.
Soviet commander Epifan Iovich Kovtyukh
Retreat through Novorossiysk
On August 25, at a meeting of the command personnel, it was decided to form two more columns, uniting small units around the Kuban-Black Sea (commander I.Ya. Safonov, then Lisunov) and 4-th Dnieper (commander I.I. Matveyev) regiments. The commander of the 2 column was Safonov, and the 3 column was Matveyev. There were very few ammunition - only 5 — 10 cartridges per person, no shells for cannons at all.
On the night of August 26, the 1st convoy plunged into echelons and headed for Novorossiysk. On August 26, the Reds went to the city, which had previously been occupied by German-Turkish landing. Not daring to join the battle - there were more Red Army soldiers than Turks and Germans, the interventionists loaded onto the ships and started firing at the Reds with naval artillery. Meanwhile, the rearguards of the Reds attacked the whites, firing them with guns and machine guns. The Reds had to retreat south. The Taman group included workers of Novorossiysk and sailors of the Black Sea ships sunk in June 1918 fleet. The Germans and Turks fired on the whites. A strong skirmish ensued between them, allowing the Reds to retreat to a decent distance from the city. As a result, the Germans and Turks left Novorossiysk and went to Sevastopol.
Volunteer army units entered Novorossiysk and inflicted cruel reprisals on Bolshevik supporters who were not touched by the Turks and Germans: workers of cement factories were shot right at the factory, hiding sailors whom they especially hated all over the city, and exterminated them on the spot. “An artillery scorched with gunpowder on the arm, or a denunciation of some respectable man in the street about the sympathy of one or another person to Bolshevism, served as a reason enough for the execution. Despite the ban of the commander of the Volunteer Army, Anton Denikin, to mock the captured Red Army soldiers, the Cossacks killed almost all of the wounded Red Army soldiers who remained in Novorossiysk. The Bolshevik newspaper Pravda 15 of October 1918 of the year reported that whites in total destroyed Novorossiysk to 12 thousand people. It is clear that the figure is too high for reasons of propaganda, but no doubt that the repression was carried out on a large scale. Later, the whites shot the “red”, robbed and carried out various kinds of violence all over the territory of the Black Sea province, which was one of the reasons for the emergence of a mass rebel movement against whites. This fact was forced to admit in his memoirs and General Denikin.
The defeat of Georgian troops in the area of Tuapse
When approaching Gelendzhik and Arkhipo-Osipovka, the retreating Reds stumbled upon the Georgian troops, who by that time had occupied not only Abkhazia, but also most of the Kuban coast of the Black Sea. Georgian troops based in Tuapse occupied the Black Sea coast to Gelendzhik. According to Kovtyukh, there was a whole division of 4 infantry regiments, one cavalry regiment and 1 artillery brigade with 16 guns (apparently, exaggerating enemy forces) on the coast. Tamans easily knocked down the first weak Georgian barrier (250 people) and entered Gelendzhik that night.
On August 27, at a meeting in Gelendzhik, it was decided to unite all Taman detachments into the Taman army, the commander of which was elected sailor I.I. Matveyev, and the chief of staff of the army, G.N. Baturin, who enjoyed great popularity and prestige among the fighters. The number of Taman army was about 27 thousand bayonets, 3500 sabers and 15 guns of various calibers. The forces of the Tamans were divided into three columns, and the first column under the personal command of Kovtyukh, numbering 12 thousands of bayonets, 680 sabers and 2 guns, mainly participated in the battles. The troops of Kovtyukh maintained high combat effectiveness during the entire time of the march. The second and third columns of the Taman army covered up from the attack of the white from the rear a huge train and a crowd of refugees moving with the army, therefore they were far behind the advanced forces of Kovtyukh. According to Baturin, “the carts that followed the units were innumerable.” Because of the refugees, the red parts were burdened with all sorts of household goods and livestock. The commanders were forced to focus not only on solving a direct combat task — connecting with Sorokin, but also on feeding the refugees and saving them from reprisals from the White Guards. The Tamans lacked food, ammunition and shells, which they had to obtain in battle. Most Tamanis also did not have normal uniforms.
Continuing the offensive, the Tamanians overturned the Georgian battalion near the village of Pshad, and on August 28 approached Arkhipo-Osipovka, where they stumbled upon more serious resistance. A regiment of infantry arrived at the Georgians by sea from Tuapse (about 2 thousand people). The advancing Reds were met with strong fire from Georgian soldiers and came under fire from the sea and coastal batteries. But this enemy turned out to be weaker than the Germans and the whites: in a fierce battle, the Georgians were overturned and mostly destroyed and scattered. In this battle, the decisive role was played by the attack of cavalry (up to 500 people) with carts. The cavalry broke through on the only road to the enemy's rear, which predetermined the defeat of the Georgians.
29 August in the evening, the 1-column took Novo-Mikhailovskaya, having met only a little resistance. By this time, the ammunition was almost over. Only some fighters had a cartridge for 2 — 3. And 2-I and 3-I columns with a huge number of refugees behind almost two transitions. On August 31, the Tamans fought with Georgian troops already in the Tuapse area. Georgians entrenched on the Mikhailovsky Pass, in 4 – 5 km north-west of the city and their artillery swept all the surroundings. It was possible to attack the pass only along a single path, which was a narrow gorge, along which the highway stretched. A frontal attack could not lead to victory, since the pass was too high, and Georgian artillery was sweeping through all the environs, while the Tamanis had only one cannon with 16 shells. Kovtyukh, using local guides, decided to go around the enemy. During the night the cavalry was to bypass the pass and reach the eastern outskirts of Tuapse by dawn, break into the city and capture the division headquarters located there. One infantry regiment was to descend along the steep, rocky coast to the sea at nightfall, and, moving over the rocks, by dawn, reach the Tuapse bay, attack it and seize the steamboats. With the other three regiments, Kovtyukh decided at night to attack the pass in the forehead, distracting the enemy. Passing through a dense forest, they emerged to an almost sheer climb, 8 – 10 meters in height, pushing each other and sticking bayonets into the cracks of rocks, gradually climbing up and accumulating in front of the enemy in the trenches.
At dawn, the infantry regiments rushed to the bayonet in a bayonet attack, since there were no cartridges, and the units, bypassed, attacked the city and the bay. The Georgians, who did not expect attacks from the rear, panicked and ran partly into the bay, partly into the city, bumping into the Reds everywhere. The Georgian division was completely destroyed. During the battle, both sides lost several hundred soldiers. Thus, the red troops managed to smash the infantry division of the army of the Georgian Democratic Republic, which occupied the city, and capture large trophies - 16 guns, 10 machine guns, 6000 shells and 800 thousand cartridges. Georgians for the most part did not render any serious resistance. Now the reds had ammunition, only food was still deficient (Georgians in Tuapse also needed supplies). The successful battle for Tuapse played a decisive role in the Taman campaign.
It is worth noting that both the whites and the Georgians underestimated the enemy. The Whites hoped that, having reached Tuapse, occupied by Georgian troops, the Taman army would surrender or dissipate. Denikin had misconceptions about the numbers of the Reds (he believed that there were only 10 in thousands), and their fighting spirit. White and Georgians thought that a disorganized armed crowd was running along the sea, which could be easily dispersed and captivated. With regard to the 2 and 3 columns with a crowd of refugees, this was true. But the Reds had a battle core - the Kovtyukh detachment, which paved the way for salvation. Therefore, when confronted for the first time with a serious opponent, the Georgian commander GI Mazniyev was completely taken aback, and, despite the advantage in armament and an excellent defensive position, he was utterly defeated.
The heroic campaign of the Taman army in 1918 year. Hood A. Kokorin
Connection with Sorokin
They did not go further south and occupy Sochi. 2 September The 1-th column stepped out of Tuapse through the spurs of the Main Caucasian Range along the Armavir-Tuapse railroad line to the village of Khadyzhenskaya, followed by parts of the 2-th column. 3-I column was in Tuapse until 7 September.
Denikin ordered Kolosovsky to pursue the Tamans along the coast and relocated the Pokrovsky division, which stopped north of Novorossiysk, on the left bank of the Kuban to the Maykop district in order to cut the Tuapse line. Pokrovsky, having traveled about 200 kilometers, 8 of September occupied the Belorechenskaya station and, continuing the pursuit of the Maikop Reds retreating to the east, by the evening occupied Maykop and the Giaginskaya station. In this area, he was joined by two Kuban teams of the detachment - Colonel Morozov, General Geiman, who had risen in the uprising in the area of Maikop. The first to meet the Reds at Khadyzhensk Pass was a separate Equestrian Division of the 1 Division, led by troop commander Rastegaev. At first they stopped the Reds, but then retreated under the pressure of the superior forces of the enemy. The Tamanis rejected the Cossacks and pursued them to the village of Pshekhskaya, where Pokrovsky prepared a stronger defensive position. On the night of September 11, the Tamans attacked her. As a result of the night battle near the village of Pshekhskaya, the advanced units of Pokrovsky were defeated by Kovtyukh and thrown back to Belorechenskaya, losing 4 guns and 16 machine guns.
Pokrovsky September 11 received reinforcements from Maikop from General Geiman and fortified itself in the Belorechenskaya area, on the right bank of the Belaya River, in the area from the mouth of Pshekhi to the village of Khanskaya. Here his troops dug trenches and hiding behind Belaya, they hoped to detain the enemy. The Tamans forced the river and 12 stormed into Belorechenskaya, where they entrenched themselves, awaiting the approach of 2 and 3 columns. Thus, the ten-day bloody battle of Denikin began with the Tamans. The White Guards were fierce attacks, trying to defeat the 1-th column and return Belorechenskaya. Denikin sent a detachment of Colonel Moller to help Pokrovsky from the reserve. The reinforcement approached the Belorechensk 14 of September and it was clearly not enough. After the approach of the advanced parts of Matveyev, the Reds received a large numerical advantage. In the end, White retreated, “leaving trophies on his trail: machine guns, wooden rattles and an armored train consisting of an antediluvial locomotive and a broken platform, with a gun on it, with five“ wooden shells, ”recalled M. Nazarkin from Taman. Crushing the white barriers, on the evening of September 15, the 1-I column reached Giaginskaya. On the morning of September 16, occupying the Giaginskaya, the 1-I column marched north to Dondukovskaya, where the 17s of the Tamans joined the forces of Sorokin.
Thus, after a difficult march, the Taman army, having shown great stamina, having fought 500 kilometers, managed to escape from a hostile environment, and joined up with the main forces of the Red Army of the North Caucasus under the command of Sorokin. The Tamans brought their high fighting spirit, energy and the ability to stubborn resistance to the demoralized Red troops. Thus, the Taman campaign objectively helped consolidate the red forces in the North Caucasus and allowed for some time to stabilize the situation on this front. September 23. The North Caucasian Red Army launched an offensive on a broad front. The 1 th column of the Taman army moved on Armavir, captured by the whites, and on September 26 liberated it.
In Soviet literature, the Taman campaign was often compared to the Ice campaign of the Volunteer Army. There really is something in common: the heroism and resilience of Tamanis, active and successful actions in a catastrophic situation. But the difference is that the death of the Volunteer Army, if it took place during the Ice Campaign, led to the defeat of the White movement in southern Russia, and there were no other significant counter-revolutionary forces in the region. The death of the Taman army had no strategic significance: it was a major combat loss for the Red Army, but not critical, the Reds still had serious forces in the North Caucasus.
The campaign of the Taman army in 1918 year (Central Museum of the Armed Forces of the USSR). G. K. Savitsky