Parade after the liberation of Kharkov by the Volunteer Army. In the center (third from left), the Commander-in-Chief of the All-Soviet Union of Human Rights, A. I. Denikin, behind him, on his left hand, is the Chief of Staff of the All-Soviet Union of Human Rights, I. Romanovsky
Offensive army Denikin. Victory: Crimea, Donbass and Kharkov
In June, 1919, the strategic offensive of the Armed Forces of the South of Russia under the command of Denikin developed. The volunteer army broke through the junction of the 13 of the Red Army and the 2 of the Ukrainian Army and began to develop the offensive against Kharkov. The 3 Army Corps of the All-Soviet Union of People's Adventures launched an offensive from Ak-Monai positions in the Crimea. 18 June 1919, in the area of Koktebel landed troops under the command of Slasheva. 23 - The 26 of June the government of the Crimean Socialist Soviet Republic was evacuated to Kherson. White occupied the Crimean peninsula.
The May-May volunteer army quickly developed an offensive and rejected the defeated units of the 13 and 8 of the Red armies for Seversky Donets. The Red Command hastily tries to organize defense in Kharkov and Yekaterinoslav. There are reserves, the strongest communist parts of the cadets. Trotsky demanded universal weapons and promised to keep Kharkov. At the same time, the Red Command is preparing a flank counter-attack, in the Sinelnikovo area a strike group is concentrated from units of the former 2 of the Ukrainian army, transformed into the 14 army under Voroshilov. The Reds are planning to take out a flank blow from the blows of the White Guards 8 and 9 Red armies, and stop the movement of the enemy to Kharkov by moving from Sinelnikovo to the Slavyansk-Yuzovka area (modern Donetsk). Then, at the same time, the counter-offensive of the 14 Army and the Kharkov grouping would return the Donets Basin.
However, this plan failed. Voroshilov's army did not have time to complete the regrouping. 23 - 25 of May (5 - 7 of June) 1919, the corps of Skins defeated the parts of Makhno under Gulyai-Pole. Then the White Guards developed an offensive to the north, towards Yekaterinoslav, in a series of battles they broke up the 14 Army that had not managed to concentrate in parts and rapidly went to the Dnieper. At the same time, to the south, a group of General Vinogradov was successfully advancing on Berdyansk and Melitopol. And 3 th army corps occupied the Crimea.
Thus, successfully covering the left flank, Mai-Mayevsky developed the offensive of the 1 Army Corps of Kutepov and the Terek Division of Toporkov against Kharkov. Without letting red come to their senses, White swiftly moved forward. The Terts of Toporkov 1 (14) of June took Kupyansk, by 11 (24) of June they embraced Kharkov from the north and north-west, cutting off the communications of the Kharkov Red group, smashing up enemy reinforcements. The right flank of the Kutepov 10 (23) hull took Belgorod in June, intercepting Kharkov’s message from Kursk. During the five-day battles, the Kharkov Reds group was broken up and 11 (24) of June, the White Guards captured Kharkov.
Thus, the White Army captured the Donbass, Kharkiv, and by the end of June 1919 of the year occupied the entire Crimean peninsula, the entire lower course of the Dnieper to Yekaterinoslav. 29 June Shkuro's troops took Ekaterinoslav. The right flank of the Southern Front (13-I, 8-I, 9-I and 14-I army) of the Reds suffered a severe defeat. The Reds retreated, thousands of soldiers deserted. The combat readiness plummeted, whole units fled without a fight. The remnants of the 14 th Red Army and the Crimean grouping moved to the Dnieper, the 13 th Army - Poltava.
Denikin in tank parts of their army, 1919
Honoring General Kutepov in Kharkov in 1919, at one of the VSYUR parades
Offensive of the Don Army
At the same time, the Don army of General Sidorin launched an offensive. Mamontov's cavalry, breaking through the front at the junction of the red 9-th army, went to the rear of the 10-th army. The Donets crossed the Don above the mouth of the Donets, four days passed 200 versts, occupying the right bank of the Don, smashing the red rear and raising the village. May 25 (June 7) the White Cossacks were on Chir, and 6 (19) June, cut the Povorino-Tsaritsyn railroad, and moved on, partly upwards by the Bear, part to the girth of Tsaritsyn.
The second group of the Don Army, having crossed at Kalitva, headed down Khopru to Povorino. The third group of the White Cossacks, having forced the Donets on both sides of the Southeast Railway, pursued the remnants of the 8 Red Army in the Voronezh sector. A separate cavalry detachment of General Sekretev headed north-east to the area of the uprising of the Cossacks of the Upper Don District.
Thus, White took up and in the central sector of the front. As a result of the successful breakthrough of the Don Army, units of 9 and units of 8 of the Red armies were defeated. The White Cossacks united with the rebels of the Upper Don Region, who in the course of fierce and bloody battles with the superior forces of the Reds resisted and waited for help. The Don Region was again under the control of the White Command. The Don Army entered the Balashov-Povorino-Liski-Novy Oskol line. In June - July, 1919, the Don team fought on this line, especially stubborn in the Balashov and Voronezh areas.
The Don Region has again become a powerful center of the anti-Bolshevik movement. 16 (29) June in Novocherkassk solemnly celebrated the liberation of Don land from the Reds. The previously broken, bloodless and demoralized Don Army, which in the middle of May numbered only 15 thousand fighters, took heart and by the end of June it numbered 40 thousand people.
Command of the Don Army in the Cathedral Square of Novocherkassk (5 - Commander of the Don Army, General V. I. Sidorin), July 1919
The Wrangel Caucasian Army also successfully advanced, developing success after victories on the Manych and Sal rivers. 10-I red army, having suffered a heavy defeat, retreated. The Reds were covered by a rear guard - Dumenko cavalry regiments, which retained their combat capability, destroyed the only railway and bridges, knocking down the pace of the enemy’s movement. However, the Caucasian army continued its march across the deserted steppe, leading battles with a strong adversary. May 20 (June 2) White captured the last serious obstacle in front of Tsaritsyn - a position on the Yesaulovsky Aksai River. In the future, the white command could wait to wait for the repairs of the bridges, the railways, so that armored trains could approach, lift tanks, aircraft, reinforcements, or using the factor of speed and surprise, continue the offensive and on the shoulders of the Reds rush into Tsaritsyn. Wrangel chose the second option and continued the offensive.
On June 1 (14), 1919, troops of the Caucasian Army attacked Tsaritsyn’s fortifications. However, the Red Command managed to prepare the city for defense. Reinforcements, new units from Astrakhan and the Eastern Front (up to 9 new regiments) were transferred to Tsaritsyn. The commander of the 10th army Klyuev (he replaced the wounded Egorov) was able to organize the defense of the city well. Two defensive positions were prepared, which passed along the outer contour of the district railway and the suburbs of Tsaritsyn, on its outskirts. Seven armored trains were used as mobile fire groups. According to white intelligence, the Tsaritsyn red group recited 21 thousand people (16 thousand bayonets and 5 thousand sabers) with 119 guns. They were supported by the Volga military flotilla.
Wire obstacles, a strong garrison, numerous artillery and large stocks of shells made Tsaritsin positions insurmountable. As a result, the two-day assault on 1 - 2 (14 - 15) in June ended with the defeat of the Caucasian army. The White Guards came across a powerful defense, could not break through the position of the Red without the support of artillery armored trains, and suffered heavy losses. 4 (17) The Red Army launched a counterattack and drove the enemy away from the city. However, the Reds did not have the strength to win a decisive victory. Wrangel's army went several miles and entrenched on the River Chervlenaya, where, within a week and a half, it was preparing for a new attack.
At this time, the forces of the Volunteer Army increased markedly. The bridges and the railway were restored, 5 armored trains arrived, the First Tank Division (it was removed from the Kharkov direction), armored cars, aviation. To help Wrangel, the newly formed 7th Infantry Division of General Bredov (the former Timanovsky brigade exported from Romania) was transferred from Rostov. The transfer of additional forces was concealed from the enemy. Therefore, a new powerful blow was unexpected for the Reds. On June 16 (29), 1919, the Caucasian army again began the assault on Tsaritsyno’s positions. Tanks, armored cars and armored trains broke through the defenses of the Reds. After them, infantry and cavalry entered the breakthrough. The first position was taken. However, the Red Army fought stubbornly in second position, near the city itself. Only on June 17 (30) did the troops of the Ulagai group break into the city from the south, and Tsaritsyn bypassed the corps of Pokrovsky and Shatilov in the west. The remains of the defeated 10th Red Army retreated up the Volga, pursued by the Kuban. The fact of the loss of the white commanding staff speaks about the degree of fierce battle for Tsaritsyn: 5 heads of divisions, 2 brigade commanders and 11 regiment commanders were killed.
Thus, Denikin's army won an important victory on the right flank. 10-I red army suffered a heavy defeat in the battle for Tsaritsyn. The Whites took Tsaritsyn, a large number of prisoners, the artillery of the Tsaritsyn fortified area, large reserves of the Volga base of the Red Army became their trophies. The White Army cut the Volga route and got the opportunity to develop an offensive upriver on the Saratov.
Only in one direction did Denikin’s army fail. Directed from the North Caucasus to Astrakhan by General Erdely 5-thousand a detachment that moved in two columns — from the Holy Cross by the steppe and from Kizlyar by the sea, did not fulfill its task. This was due to a number of factors: the instability of the Caucasian formations, the desertness of the theater and the lack of developed communications, the inability to establish a normal supply and uprisings in the rear (in Chechnya and Dagestan). In addition, until the end of June, the British slowed down the transfer of the Caspian flotilla, and weak white naval forces could not support the advance of ground forces, protect the coastal flank from a strong red Volga-Caspian flotilla.
As a result, in the middle of June, white troops were in 50 versts from Astrakhan, but then they were pushed aside. The attack on Astrakhan failed after the capture of Tsaritsyn. The units formed in the Caucasus were unreliable, and the operation stopped.
Agitation photo of an armored train of the Armed Forces of the South of Russia "United Russia", Tsaritsyn direction. Image negative
Thus, by the end of June - the beginning of July 1919, the troops of the VYVYR, inflicting a heavy defeat on the forces of the Southern Front of the Red Army, reached the Kherson-Ekaterinoslav-Belgorod-Balashov-Tsaritsyn line, and rested their flanks on the Dnieper and Volga.
18 June (1 July) 1919. Wrangell arrived in Tsaritsyn. June 20 (July 3) the Commander-in-Chief of the All-Union Armed Forces Denikin arrived in the city. He announced the famous “Moscow Directive”, the plan of the White Army’s strategic offensive with the aim of taking the heart of Russia - Moscow. The Wrangel Caucasian Army was supposed to go to the Saratov-Balashov-Rtishchev front, change the Donts in these areas and develop an offensive on Penza, Arzamas and then on Nizhny Novgorod, Vladimir and Moscow. Wrangel also had to select detachments to join the Ural army and capture the lower part of the Volga. The Don Army Sidorin was supposed to continue the offensive on the Kamyshin and Balashov directions before changing it with the Wrangle men. The rest of the Don troops were to attack on the Voronezh and Yelets axes. The May-May volunteer army received the task of attacking Moscow in the Kursk-Oryol sector. The left flank of the Volunteer Army was to reach the line of the Dnieper and Desna, capture Kiev. On the seaside direction, the troops of General Dobrorolsky (3 Army Corps) were given the task of reaching the Dnieper from Aleksandrovsk to the mouth, then occupying Kherson, Nikolaev and Odessa. The White Black Sea Fleet was supposed to support the advance of the ground forces in the seaside theater.
Thus, Denikin’s army was going to attack Moscow in the shortest possible directions - Kursk and Voronezh, hiding on the left flank with a movement towards the Dnieper, successes in Little Russia. Morally, the White Guards, after winning convincing victories and the collapse of the Southern Red Front, were on the rise. Most of the White Guards dreamed of "going to Moscow", Most of the white commanders, including the commander of the Volunteer Army Mai-Mayevsky, the chief of staff of the Vyvir Romanovsky and commander of the 1-th army corps Kutepov considered this the only right decision.
At the end of June - the first half of July, 1919, the troops of the All-Soviet Union of People for Sport and Industry with new victories. The western flank of the Volunteer Army, dropping the troops of the 13 Red Army and Belenkovich's equestrian group, captured Poltava. In the lower reaches of the Dnieper Corps Dobrorolsky with the support of the Black Sea Fleet and the British cruiser, took the Kinburn Spit and Ochakov, entrenched in the lower part of the Dnieper. On the eastern flank, Wrangel's army, together with the right flank of the Don Army, again defeated the 10 th Red Army, which was trying to launch a counterattack and took Kamyshin on 15 (28) in July. The advanced units of the whites went to distant approaches to Saratov.
In the meantime, the Red Command is taking extraordinary measures to restore the combat capability of the Southern Front. 9 July, the Soviet political leadership proclaimed the slogan: “All to fight Denikin!” Reserves, reinforcements, and parts from other fronts are being transferred to the south. Already in July 1919, the number of troops of the Southern Front was brought to 180 thousand people with 900 guns. Therefore, the further advance of the Denikinians to the north in the second half of July - early August was greatly slowed down and was small.
It is also worth noting that the VSYUR armies had a relatively small number, a small mobilization potential, extended communications, and a vast front with a large number of important directions in order to develop a powerful strategic offensive against Moscow. VSYUR troops attacked in three divergent directions. Denikin’s army did not have the strength to carry out a decisive offensive in every direction. It was difficult to find troops to create a reserve commander in chief. Each transfer of units from one direction to another caused irritation and resentment of the commanders of individual armies. Thus, the commander of the North Caucasus, General Erdeli, expressed dissatisfaction with the direction of the strong Kuban units to the Tsaritsyn sector. He feared rebellions in Chechnya and Dagestan, the collapse of the Terek army, the situation on the border with Georgia was difficult. The commander of the Caucasian Army, Wrangel, demanded that the Volunteer Army strike corps be moved to its front. In his opinion, his army, almost meeting no resistance, went to Moscow. In turn, General May-Mayevsky noted that in the event of the transfer of part of his troops to the Caucasian Army, he would have to leave Yekaterinoslav, or expose the Poltava direction. General Sidorin demanded the transfer of reinforcements primarily to the Don Army. When the whites attacked on the Volga, the command of the Caucasian army wanted to send the 1 of the Don corps to Kamyshin, and the command of the Don army to Balashov, etc. Therefore, quite quickly, White's first enthusiasm went out, and serious problems started on the front lines and in the rear.
The people welcomed Denikin after the capture of Tsaritsyn. June 1919 Source: https://ru.wikipedia.org
At this time, the dispute began again in the command of the White Army over the strategy, the main direction of the offensive. Earlier, Wrangel and his chief of staff, Yuzefovich, had already proposed to direct their main efforts to the eastern flank of the VSYUR, to break through towards the army of Kolchak. However, at that time their proposal was turned away by the commander-in-chief, Denikin, and his chief of staff, Romanovsky.
In fact, Wrangel's headquarters led an internal political struggle with Denikin. Wrangel wanted to show the superiority of his strategic and tactical plans, to lay the blame for the failures at the headquarters of the Vyvir headed by Romanovsky and personally at Denikin. In a series of telegrams for May-August 1919 and a letter from 28 in July, Baron Wrangel threw heavy accusations against Denikin. This intrigue was supported by the British, the political opposition and after the failure of the march on Moscow, Denikin could be removed from the post of commander in chief.
Wrangel and Yuzefovich proposed to form an equestrian group for an offensive on the shortest routes to Moscow - Kursk and Voronezh. She was to be headed by Wrangell. To this end, it was proposed to remove from the Caucasian army 3,5 cavalry divisions. Denikin, fearing that such a weakening of the Caucasian army would lead to a successful counteroffensive by the Reds on the Volga and the fall of Tsaritsyn, after which the enemy would again threaten VJ communications in the Rostov direction, rejected this proposal. Indeed, the Red Army will soon concentrate on the Volga direction a strike force and in August attack the Caucasian army and the right flank of the Don. Wrangel's army will have to leave Kamyshin and retreat to Tsaritsyn.
Wrangel blamed the supreme command for weakening the Caucasian army (although he himself proposed to withdraw horsebred divisions from it to attack Moscow) when the 7 division, 2-th Terskian Plastun Brigade and other units were transferred to the Volunteer Army. In return, Wrangel was given several mountain and non-regimental regiments from the Caucasus. The commander of the Caucasian army accused Denikin of suspending the Astrakhan operation he had begun, which allowed him to use the white Caspian flotilla on the Volga, strike at Saratov and Samara, join the Ural Cossack army, which led to the collapse of the southern flank of the Red Front and supported the Kolchak army. Although Kolchak himself planned to begin this operation only after the completion of Kamyshinsky, with the creation of the Balashov-Volga front. In addition, Wrangel complained about the poor supply of troops, the secondary importance of the material support of the Caucasian army compared with the Volunteer.
Thus, Wrangel’s claims were linked to his political ambitions. His ideas were contradictory: at first, he suggested concentrating all his forces on the Tsaritsin area (in the spring); then throw the Volga direction and direct the cavalry of the Caucasian army to Kharkov-Kursk; then he complains that his army is weakened by the fact that the Don Corps of Mamontov was transferred to the left bank of the Volga. At the same time, Denikin’s forces could no longer help Kolchak’s army, it was defeated as early as April-May 1919 and began a non-stop retreat to the East. And the Ural army was isolated, was 300 versts from Wrangel and had no task to break through to the Volga. In general, if Wrangel’s proposals were accepted, the White Army would still be defeated, perhaps even faster than in reality.
Map source: https://bigenc.ru