Denikin and Wrangel at the parade in Tsaritsyn after it was captured by the troops of Vyvur
May battle on Manych and Sala
In 17 on May 1919, the strategic offensive of the Armed Forces of South Russia under the command of Denikin began with the aim of defeating the Southern Front of the Red Army under Gittis. In the middle of May 1919, the troops of the Southern Red Front (2-I Ukrainian Army, 13-I, 8-I, 9-I and 10-I armies) launched an offensive in the Donbass, on the rivers Seversky Donets and Manych. As a result, a fierce oncoming battle took place.
The Red Command delivered the main blow to Rostov-on-Don, in the direction of which two converging blows were struck. The 10-I army of Egorov was advancing from the east, which stood on the Manych and deeply broke through, was in 80 km from Rostov. From the west came the forces of the 8, 13 and 2 of the Ukrainian armies. The Reds had a significant advantage in strength and resources. So, in the Luhansk direction, where the main attack was struck, the reds exceeded the number of whites in 6 times.
The battle began on the eastern sector of the Southern Front, on the Manych. The main forces of the 10 Army of Egorov forced the Manych, the 4 Cavalry Division of Budyonny on the right flank captured the village of Olginskaya and Grabyevskaya. Red cavalry was preparing to break through to the enemy's rear. However, at the same time, the white command prepared its counter-strike. Denikin personally supervised the operation. A strike force led Wrangel. For flank attacks were concentrated Kuban corps Ulagay and Pokrovsky. In the center of the Reds, the infantry corps of Kutepov met.
As a result, the main forces of the army of Egorov were connected by frontal battles with white infantry, and on the flanks of the Kuban cavalry made a roundabout maneuver. The division of Budyonny was defeated in a fierce battle with Pokrovsky's cavalry. However, the Budennovists were able to cover the retreat for the Manych 37 and 39 of the red divisions. On the left flank of the 10 Army, the situation was even worse. The Corps of Ulagaya in the stubborn battles of Priyutny, Repair, and Grabievsky defeated the Steppe Group of the 10 Army (32-Infantry and 6-I Cavalry Divisions). Reds were cut off from the main forces and suffered heavy losses. Egorov threw from the Grand Duke against Ulagaya selective red cavalry under the command of Dumenko. May 17 near Grabbevskoy there was a head-on battle, after a fierce battle Ulagay defeated Dumenko's cavalry, which retreated to the west. After the success on the flanks, Wrangel attacked in the center and defeated red in a three-day battle near the Grand Duke's.
By May 20, the heavily drained Egorov divisions were able to unite at Repair. Having gathered all the troops together, Yegorov decided to give White one more battle. The cavalry divisions (4-i and 6-i) were united in the Cavalry Corps under the command of Dumenko (the core of the future famous 1-th Cavalry Army). 25 May began a new oncoming battle on the Sal River. The fight was extremely stubborn and fierce. Suffice it to say that on the same day the best commanders of the Reds were knocked out — Egorov himself, Dumenko, and two divisional divisions were seriously injured. As a result, the Red troops again suffered a heavy defeat and were pursued by the army of Wrangel, began to roll back to Tsaritsyn. At this time, striking at the junction of the 9 th Red Army, broke the front of the white-horse cavalry of Mamontov.
Thus, the 10 army was defeated in the Manych battle and on the Sal river, suffered heavy losses and retreated towards Tsaritsyn. The Manych White Front was named the Caucasian Army under Wrangel and launched an offensive against Tsaritsyn. The troops of the former Caucasian Volunteer Army were called the Volunteer Army. It was led by General May-Mayevsky.
Map source: https://bigenc.ru
White victory in the Donbas
At the same time, the White Guards won in the Donetsk direction. On May 17, 1919, the Reds, having concentrated the forces of three armies and reinforced by units from the Crimea, went on a general offensive. The greatest success was achieved by the Makhnovists who were advancing on the southern, coastal sector of the front. They occupied Mariupol, Volnovakha, broke far ahead to the station Kuteinikovo, north of Taganrog. The May-Mayevsky volunteer army was inferior to the enemy in numbers, but this inequality was somewhat smoothed out by the fact that the most selected parts of the White Guards fought here - Markov, Drozdov, Kornilov. Kutepov’s army corps reinforced with other units. The corps was given the first and only British detachment in the White Army tanks. True, their value should not be exaggerated. Tanks then had many restrictions, so they could only go on flat terrain and for a short distance. For their further use, special railway platforms and loading and unloading facilities were required. Therefore, in the Russian civil war, they were rather psychological weaponsthan martial. Armored trains were much safer, more efficient, faster and more maneuverable.
The Reds had complete superiority in forces and assets, any attempt to conduct positional defense on the huge 400-kilometer front for White was doomed to defeat. The only hope for success was a sudden attack. 19 May 1919, the corps of Kutepov struck at the junction of the troops of Makhno and the 13 of the Red Army. The effect exceeded all expectations. The Reds were not ready for such a development of the situation and began to retreat. Taking advantage of the first success, the White Guards threw a tank detachment into the attack. Their appearance caused a great psychological effect, panic.
Later, in order to justify the defeat, Makhnovists were accused of everything. Like, they betrayed, opened the front. Trotskyf accused Makhno of the collapse of the front. The Makhnovists, on the other hand, blamed the Reds, allegedly opening the front for Denikin to destroy the rebels. In fact, there was no betrayal. White’s counterstrike was unexpected for the Reds, who were confident of their superiority. In addition, the red command at this time carried out a regrouping of forces here, taking the units infected with the anarchy to the rear, replacing them with others. But the Makhnovists had the greatest success here, bursting forward. This success was not yet consolidated and White was able to strike at the joint, under the base of the ledge. As a result, the new parts of the Reds, among which were many undecided recruits, mixed up. Ran parts decomposed Makhnovshchina. More robust, combat-ready units (2 International Regiment, Voronezh and Jewish Communist Regiments, Special Regiment, etc.) fell under a general wave of confusion and panic, and also mixed.
By 23 May 1919, a gap was made in 100 kilometers. May-Mayevsky threw the 3 th Kuban Horse Body Corps into it. The Makhnovists, who were threatened by the encirclement, also ran. Their retreating units were met with cavalry Shkuro and were defeated in three-day battles. White cavalry rapidly developed the offensive in Tavria, moved to the Dnieper, cutting off the Crimean grouping of the Reds. Kutepov's corps, defeating the Reds under the Grishino station, attacked the Red Army 13 from the flank. It was already a disaster. The red front was falling apart, I had to leave Lugansk. 13-I army fled, the soldiers rallied and deserted in whole units. The White Guards came to Bakhmut, began to develop an offensive along the Seversky Donets, on Slavyansk, Raisin and Kharkov.
Thus, Denikin’s army also launched a counter-offensive on the western flank, defeated the enemy for several days, and again captured the Yuzovski and Mariupol regions. White began to develop an offensive on the Kharkov direction. The Red Army suffered a heavy defeat, lost thousands of fighters, a large number of weapons. The rebel army of Makhno also suffered heavy losses, again came into conflict with the Bolsheviks, but at the same time the Makhnovists remained white enemies.
The commander of the 1 Army Corps, General A.P. Kutepov, with flowers in the newly taken Kharkov. June 1919 of the year
Strategic turn in favor of the White Army
As a result, in May, the 1919 of the year on the southern front from the Caspian Sea to the Donets and from the Donets to the Azov and the Black Sea came a strategic turnaround in favor of the Denikin army. The strike forces of the Reds on the flanks of the Southern Front suffered a heavy defeat, retreating. The White Guards launched a decisive offensive. White troops from the North Caucasus attacked Astrakhan, the Caucasian army - on the Tsaritsa direction, the Don army - on the Voronezh, the Povorino-Liski line, the Volunteer army - on the Kharkov direction and to the lower reaches of the Dnieper, the 3-I army corps, attacking from Ak-Monai positions, was supposed to free from the red Crimea.
The position of the Red armies of the Southern Front was complicated by the disintegration of the troops in Little Russia, which in many ways were formed from the Little Russian insurgent detachments. Former rebels had low discipline, politically often leaning toward the Social Revolutionaries, Petliurists, anarchists, or were outspoken bandits. Their commanders, chieftains and bats, were unreliable, accustomed to anarchy, unlimited personal power, “flexible” politics ”- were transferred from camp to camp.
At the same time, the peasant war continued, its new stage began, connected with the tight food policy of the Bolsheviks — the food dictatorship, the surplus, the food detachments. Throughout Little Russia, insurgent detachments led by atamans, who did not recognize any authority, continued to walk. For example, in Tripoli, until June 1919, the ataman Zeleny (Daniel Terpilo) hosted.
The rear of the Red Army was destabilized by a major uprising of the Don Cossacks - the Veshensky uprising and the rebellion of ataman Grigoriev in Little Russia. In May 1919, Novorossia was shocked by the Grigoriev revolt (How did the uprising of ataman Grigoriev; Nikifor Grigoriev, "ataman of the rebel forces of Kherson region, Zaporizhia and Tavria"; Odessa operation ataman Grigoriev; Uprising in the Ukraine. How failed the “Blitzkrieg” of Grigorievka). At the first stage of the uprising, the Grigorievtsy captured Elisavetgrad, Krivoi Rog, Yekaterinoslav, Kremenchug, Cherkasy, Uman, Kherson and Nikolaev. Grigorievtsy threatened Kiev. The local red garrisons en masse went over to the insurgents. The reserves of the Southern Front, reinforcements from the central part of Russia, were thrown into battle against the Grigorievs. The insurgency was quickly suppressed, which was due to the weakness of the rebel command and their low combat capability. Grigoriev's gangs, spoiled by easy victories (including the troops of the Entente in Odessa) and permissiveness, degenerated into hordes of robbers and murderers, who massacred Jews and "outsiders from the North" by thousands. Therefore, Voroshilov, who led the Kharkov district, and began the offensive from Kiev, Poltava and Odessa, easily dispersed Grigoriev's gangs. Grigorievtsy, who are accustomed to being afraid of everyone and running in front of them, did not withstand a proper fight with motivated, staunch Soviet units. With Grigorievshchina finished in two weeks.
Large gangs broke up into small squads and groups and were predatory even before July of the 1919 year. Thus, the Grigoriev uprising was quickly suppressed, but it distracted the large forces of the Red Army at the time of the decisive battle on the Southern Front, which contributed to the victory of the White Army in southern Russia.
Also, the Bolshevik conflict with the Makhnovists contributed to the failure of the Red Army on the western flank of the Southern Front. Makhno and his commanders controlled a huge area (72 volunteers of Ekaterinoslav and Tauride provinces) with 2 million population, not allowing the Bolsheviks there. "Capital" Makhno was in Gulyay-Polya. Makhno's "brigade" was as large as an entire army. In words, Makhno submitted to the red command, in fact, he maintained independence and independence. In fact, Makhno created the core of the anarchist "state in the state." In April, the local 3 Congress proclaimed an anarchist platform, refused to recognize the dictatorship of one Bolshevik party, and opposed the policy of war communism.
For some time the conflict was restrained by the presence of a common enemy - the whites. Therefore, the first attempts of the red command to restore order among the Makhnovists, to disband part of the troops, did not lead to success. The commander of the Ukrainian front, Antonov-Ovseenko, held a meeting with Makhno in Gulyai-Polya at the end of April. The most pressing issues were resolved. However, the Makhnovist freemen was a strong corrupting factor with which the red military-political leadership could not come to terms. Discipline in the parts adjacent to the Makhnovists fell, the Red Army soldiers deserted en masse to Makhno. In response, the red command stopped supplying Makhnovists with weapons and ammunition. At the junction of the 13 th Red Army with the 2-Ukrainian army, which included the Makhno detachments, began to transfer the most reliable communist, internationalist troops, the Cheka detachments. There were clashes between them and the Makhnovists.
Makhno did not support the uprising of Grigoriev, his commanders were unhappy with the actions of Grigorievka (pogroms, massacre of Jews). However, Makhno put the responsibility for the uprising not only on Grigoriev, but also on the Soviet power. As a result, on May 25, the Council of Ukraine’s Defense, at the direction of Lenin and Trotsky, decided to “eliminate Makhnovshchina in a short time”. After the uprising Grigoriev in Little Russia, they stopped betting on the "Ukrainization" of the army. Purged military command. By order of 4 June 1919, the Ukrainian front and the Ukrainian Soviet armies were disbanded. Thus, the 2-I Ukrainian army was transformed into the 14-th army of the Red Army and retained as part of the Southern Front. 14 th army led Voroshilov. On June 6, Chairman of the Revolutionary Military Council Trotsky issued an order in which he outlawed the head of the 7-th Ukrainian Soviet Division, “for the collapse of the front and disobeying the command”. Several commanders of the Makhnovist detachments were shot. Part of the Makhnovists continued to fight as part of the Red Army.
Makhno with the other part of the troops broke off relations with the Bolsheviks, retreated to Kherson province, entered into a temporary alliance with Grigoriev (as a result, he was shot for trying to go over to the whites), and continued the war with the whites. Makhno led the Revolutionary Military Council of the united Revolutionary Rebel Army of Ukraine (RPAU), and when Denikin’s army launched an offensive against Moscow, again formed an alliance with the Reds, began a large-scale partisan war in the rear of Denikin’s army.
Rebel leaders in 1919 year (left to right): S. Karetnik, N. Makhno, F. Schus. Source: https://ru.wikipedia.org
To be continued ...