Preparation and plan of operation
In the first half of December 1918, the 11 Army was unable to complete the task set by the high command and launch a decisive offensive with the aim of defeating the whites in the North Caucasus and Kuban. The offensive movement of the 11 Army ended in a fierce oncoming battle, as the Denikin army also launched an offensive. White captured a number of villages, but in general could not crush the Red Army, suffered heavy losses. Both sides were preparing to continue the battle.
The 18 Reds High Command of December, December 1918, repeated the directive on a decisive offensive in the North Caucasus with an attack on Ekaterinodar and Novorossiysk, and Petrovsk and Derbent. However, the army’s combat reserve was almost completely exhausted, so the offensive could only begin after it was replenished - at the end of December 1918 - January 1919.
In general, 11-Army was not prepared for this offensive. The main command did not have data and forces and groupings of the enemy; the troops did not have enough ammunition and equipment for winter fighting; The new re-formation and reorganization did not complete, that is, organizationally the army was not prepared; numerous cavalry was dispersed between rifle divisions, was not united in shock groups capable of breaking through to the rear of the enemy, disrupting his communications; It was not strong army reserve, able to respond to an unexpected counter-attack of the enemy; in the reds of the red was restless. The Stavropol peasantry was tired of war, was dissatisfied with the invasion of food squad and expropriation. At the same time, the 11 Army, cut off from central Russia, could in no way compensate the losses of local peasants. Mobilized into the army, the peasants did not want to fight, had low motivation and political education. That is, reinforcements in the army had low combat capability, they did not have time to prepare and train them, plus problems with the supply of troops in winter conditions. Hence the low resistance of many parts and the mass defection at the first sign of failure. The Terek Cossacks, after the suppression of the uprising, lay low, but were ready to rise again. The Highlanders, who had previously supported the Bolsheviks, increasingly showed independence.
At the same time, the leadership of the Red forces was strengthened. In mid-December, the North Caucasus Defense Council was established under the chairmanship of Ordzhonikidze, the extraordinary commissar of Southern Russia. The council was supposed to strengthen the work of the rear of the 11 Army. At the end of December, the Central Election Commission of the North Caucasian Republic was liquidated, and its functions were transferred to the regional executive committee headed by Podvoisky. Political training has improved, almost all the regiments received commissioners. Created in December, the army headquarters pursued his work, the proper order in the army, intelligence. However, in general, these activities are late.
The total number of army reached 90 thousand people with 159 guns and 847 machine guns. The Red Army held its front in 250 km from Divny to Kislovodsk and Nalchik. For the convenience of command and control by order from 25, the front was divided into two combat sectors. The 3-I Taman and 4-Rifle Divisions entered the right combat sector, the headquarters was in Sotnikovsky. The commander was appointed Rigelman, chief of staff Gudkov. The 1-I and 2-rifle divisions entered the left combat area, commanded by Mironenko. Headquarters was in Mineral Waters.
The army was to launch the 4 January 1919 offensive. 4-th Infantry Division (8,1 thousand. Bayonets, guns and 15 58 machine guns) and 1-I Stavropol Cavalry Division (more than 1800 sabers) wins the ball from the area Vozdvizhenskoe, Ascension, Mitrofanovskoe safety. 3-I Taman Infantry Division (.. 24,4 thousand bayonets, sabers thousand 2,3, 66 338 guns and machine guns) was advancing from the area Dry Buffalo - Kalinowski to Stavropol. Cavalry Corps Kochergina composed 1-Cavalry Division (1,2 thousand. Sabers at 36 machine guns) and 2-Cavalry Division (1,2 thousand. Cavalry with 34 machine guns), was subordinated to the commander of 3-th Taman Division, and had to go to Temnolesskuyu . The 1 Rifle Division (11 thousand bayonets and sabers with 130 machine guns and mainframe systems got the mission to go to Temnolessky. with a cavalry brigade Kochubey (consisting of 35 thousand. bayonets, 1 thousand. swords, guns 2, 10,5 guns) wins the ball from the area Kursavka, Suvorov, Kislovodsk on Batalpashinsk and further along the river. Kuban at Nevinnomysskaya.
The main blow of the 11-I army was inflicted by the left flank (1-I and 2-I divisions, three cavalry brigade). Red Command planned, taking Batalpashinsk, Nevinnomyssk and Temnolesskuyu, cut the railroad Stavropol - Armavir, cut the front of the army of Denikin, to encircle and destroy the enemy group in the Stavropol region.
Soviet troops opposed 100-thousand. Denikin's army. Directly against 11-th army was about 25 thousand bayonets and sabers at 75 instruments, in garrisons near the rear was located more 12 -. 14 thousand people.. On the left flank, the unit Stankevich was located ahead of the front 4-th Infantry Division, to the south, at the junction of the first and 4-3-th Taman divisions - Cavalry Corps Wrangel. The 1 th army corps of General Kazanovich together with the 1 th Kuban Cossack division of Pokrovsky was located in the center against the 3 th Taman division. 3-Army Corps General Lyakhov with 1-th Caucasian Cossack divisions Shkuro on the right wing on the Vladikavkaz rail against 2-th Infantry Division.
Denikinians were better equipped with red weapons and ammunition. Their combat effectiveness, despite the heavy losses in previous battles, was also significantly higher. The White Command made better use of the cavalry, forming a maneuverable strike force. The size of the White Army was now supported by the mobilization of peasants, Cossacks, officers (previously neutral). Prisoners of the Red Army were driven into the army. From the voluntary principle had to be abandoned. This affected the combat capability of the army, for the worse. But in general, Denikin’s army was stronger than the 11 Red Army in terms of its basic parameters. The qualitative composition and the best management, organization and motivation compensated for the numerical superiority of the 11 army in the Stavropol area.
Departure of the 1 Officer General Markov Regiment (1919 g.)
11 Army Offensive
The launch of the 11 Army was planned for January 4 on 1919. However, the battle began earlier than scheduled. The December battle as a whole was completed, but individual clashes occurred. So, Kazanovich in the second half of December continued pressure on Medvedskoye. By December 22, the whites captured Aleksandrovskoye, Crimea-Gireevskoe, Borgustanskaya, December 28 - Medvedskoye.
28 December 1918, the Reds counterattacked and repulsed previously lost villages. Under the attack of the 1 and 2 rifle divisions, the Denikin forces were forced to retreat along the entire front line. On the same day I 3-Taman Infantry Division to give it Derevyanchenko Cavalry Division of the Cavalry Corps Kochergina to support the left flank success went on the offensive on Grushevskogo Medvedskaya and taking the village, drove the enemy to the west. The next day, December 29, the Reds continued to move forward successfully.
On the right flank, the Reds also launched an offensive and began to embrace Petrovskoye from the north. 29 December 2-I Kuban Cossack Division Ulagay with two Plastun battalions struck the left flank of the 4-Rifle Division. White broke the 4 division, dropping it to Voznesensky-Mitrofanovsky, captured the Winery. In this battle, the death of the brave commander of the 7 regiment P. Ipatov, one of the talented red commanders in the Stavropol region. Recovering and regrouping forces, the Reds went ahead again. Ulay for several days again defeated the Reds in the area of the Winery and Derbetovka, discarding them to the Wonderful.
Detachment P. Ipatov in the village of Petrovsky. In the center of P. Ipatov and I. R. Apanasenko. 1918 year
30 - December 31 1918, the 3-I Taman Infantry Division continued its successful offensive. Tamanians defeated the body of Kazanovich and drove the whites to the Kalaus River. 2 January 1919, the Red Army captured Vysotsky, Kalinovskoe, took a lot of trophies. Kazanovich informed the high command that in the event of a further offensive by the Red Army, the front would be broken and there would be a threat of the fall of Stavropol. Volunteers had no reserves in the near rear, only the Kornilov shock regiment in Ekaterinodar.
Meanwhile, the Soviet command started another reorganization of the troops: the former three Taman corps were transformed into three rifle brigades; The Northern Cuban Cavalry Division, commanded by Litunenko, was formed from the cavalist regiments of the 3 of the Taman Infantry Division. The structure of this cavalry division included the newly reorganized three cavalry regiments: the Kuban, the Caucasus and the Taman. All artillery units were consolidated into three artillery brigades, one for each rifle brigade. Obviously, all these activities in the midst of the offensive and the fierce battles with the whites caused only confusion and adversely affected the fighting qualities of the Tamanians.
At the same time, the persistent oncoming battles on the left flank of the 11 Army continued. Here the 1-I and 2-I infantry divisions and the cavalry corps of Kochergin were engaged in intense fighting with parts of the Lyakhov corps. On the Vladikavkaz railway strike of the Red Army, with the support of armored Cossacks repulsed skins and mountaineers 2-brigade Circassian Cavalry Division (as it was called the "Wild Division") Klych Sultan Giray. December 31 whites strike at Crimea-Gireevskaya, but were rejected for Surkul. In the southern direction of 2 - 3 in January 1919, the red cavalry defeated another part of the Circassian division, captured the Vorovskoyleskaya and broke through to Batalpashinsk. Batalpashinsk threat of falling and red to the rear of the main forces of the corps commander Lyakhov forced to remove from the site Surkul - Kursavka two cavalry regiments led by the skins and throw them to the aid of the garrison Batalpashinsk. Skins mobilized there all the existing Cossacks, strengthened their units and repelled the attack.
Commander of the Circassian Equestrian Division ("Wild Division") Sultan Girey Klych
Thus, 4 January 1919, the position of the whites has become critical. Especially noticeable was the success of the Reds on the left flank. 11-I army occupied Bekeshevsky - Suvorov - Vorovskolessky - Batalpashinsk, led the attack on Nevinnomyssky. In the case of the fall of Batalpashinsk and the departure of the whites on the left bank of the Kuban, the Red Army men went out to the rear of the Kazanovich and Wrangel corps. In this case, the body of Kazanovich in the center itself barely held on. 5 January 1919 The Revolutionary Military Council of the 11 Army sent a joyful telegram about the progress made to Astrakhan on the RVS front. It was noted that subject to the full supply of ammunition 11-I army will take Stavropol and Armavir. The problem was that the enemy had already launched his counterattack.
Wrangel Counter Strike
White command decided to bypass the rear and attack a group of red troops (3-I Taman Infantry Division), advancing in the area of Medvedskoe - Shishkino. The main forces of Wrangel's cavalry corps (about 10 regiments under the general command of Toporkov) were transferred by two heavy night marches to the Petrovskoye-Donskaya Balka area. On the morning of January 3, 1919, the Wrangel (about 4 thousand sabers with 10 - 15 guns) struck a sudden blow, bypassing the right flank of the Tamanians. The strike was sudden, as the Reds believed that Wrangel's corps was scattered over a large space up to Manych.
By the evening of January 3, the Wrangle cavalry occupied Alexandria, deeply wedging in the enemy's position. In this case, the headquarters of the Taman Division was located in a. Grateful, and the troops were still advancing westward towards the Kalaus River. The headquarters of the 11 Army initially did not attach importance to the report of the commander of the Taman Division about the enemy's breakthrough and withdrawal to the rear of the Taman units. In the end, it turned out that Wrangel's corps had nothing to oppose. 3-I Taman Division was caught off guard, her cavalry exhausted by the previous battles. Thus TAMANTSEV were in the process of reorganization of another, to weaken the division. The general reserve of the right combat sector of the 11 army, consisting of the 3 of the Kuban rifle brigade, took it at that critical moment. And in the army reserve there were no large units and equestrian formations capable of responding with a blow to the blow, to fend off a successful maneuver of the enemy. The 11 Army Reserve had a 4 reserve regiment, but these units, made up of soldiers recovering from injuries and illnesses, were not capable of a quick counterstrike. The command gave instructions to the cavalry corps of Kochergin to concentrate in the village of Grateful by the morning of January 4.
Commander of the Order of Denikin 1-Army Corps Kazanovich, 1-Cavalry Corps detachment of General Wrangel and Stankevich united in a single army group under the command of Wrangel. The army group had to develop the first success, take the main base of the Tamans - the Holy Cross, and then put pressure on the rear of the Red forces, which in the Mineral Waters region acted against the Lyakhov corps.
On January 4, the red front was falling apart, the Tamans left the Dry Buffalo and Medvedskoye, and retreated to Grateful, Elizabethan and Novoselitskoye. Corps Kazanovich also went on the offensive and took Orekhovka and Vysotsky. White attacked the Grateful and Elizabethan. The headquarters of the Taman Division moved out of gratitude to the Elizabethan. Some Taman units tried unsuccessfully to counterattack, fought well, others at the same time fled, deserted or surrendered (mostly yesterday's Stavropol peasants). On January 6, the White Guards captured the Grateful and created the threat of breaking the 11 Army into two parts.
To be continued ...