Admiral Kolchak takes a parade of troops. Near Tobolsk, 1919
The general situation on the Eastern Front. The defeat of Kolchakites to the south
In the second half of 1919, Kolchak’s army suffered heavy defeats and ceased to be a threat to the Soviet Republic. The main threat to Moscow was the army of Denikin, who successfully attacked on the Southern Front. Under these conditions, it was necessary to finish off the Kolchak troops in order to transfer troops from the east of the country to the south.
In connection with the dismemberment of the Kolchak armies, which were retreating in diverging directions, the main command of the Red Army reorganized the armies of the Eastern Front. The Southern Army Group (1-I and 4-I armies) was withdrawn from its composition, which formed the Turkestan Front on 14 on August 1919. Until October 1919, the Turkestan Front also included units of the 11 Army operating in the Astrakhan region. Frunze led the new front. The Turkestan front was tasked with killing the Southern Army of Kolchak, the Orenburg and Ural White Cossacks. The troops of the Turkestan front successfully coped with this task. In September, in the region of Orsk and Aktyubinsk, the Southern Army of Kolchak and the Orenburg Cossacks of Dutov and Bakich were defeated
The remaining units of the Orenburg Army in November - December 1919 from the Kokchetav area retreated to Semirechye. This passage was called the “Hunger Campaign” - from the Hunger Steppe (waterless desert on the left bank of the Syr Darya). Around 20, thousands of Cossacks and their families retreated in an almost deserted area, lack of food and water. As a result, half of the Cossacks and refugees died from hunger, cold and disease. Almost all survivors were ill with typhoid. Dutovtsy joined ataman Annenkov's Semirechensky army. Dutov was appointed Ataman Annenkov, Governor General of the Semirechensk Region. General Bakich led the Orenburg detachment. In the spring of 1920, the remnants of the White Cossacks, under the onslaught of the Reds, fled to China.
In the Ural direction, the battles were with varying success. After the Reds unblocked Uralsk and took Lbischensk, the White Cossacks retreated further down the river. Ural. However, the red group under the command of Chapaev broke away from their rear, the supply lines were very stretched, the Red Army were tired of fighting and crossings. As a result, the command of the white Ural army was able to organize in late August - early September 1919 a raid on Lbischensk, where the headquarters of the red group, rear divisions and wagons were located. The Belokazaki, using excellent knowledge of the area and the isolation of the headquarters of the 25 Infantry Division from their units, captured Lbischensk. Hundreds of Red Army soldiers, including division commander Chapaev, were killed or captured. White captured large trophies, which was important for them, since they had lost their previous supply lines.
The demoralized red units retreated to their previous positions, in the region of Uralsk. The Ural White Cossacks in October again blocked Uralsk. However, in conditions of isolation from other white troops, the lack of replenishment sources weapons and ammunition, the Ural army of General Tolstov was doomed to defeat. In early November 1919, the Turkestan Front went on the offensive again. Under the pressure of the superior forces of the Reds, in the conditions of a lack of weapons and ammunition, the White Cossacks began to retreat again. On November 20, the Reds occupied Lbischensk, but the Cossacks again managed to escape the encirclement. In December 1919, pulling up reinforcements and rear areas, the Turkestan Front resumed the offensive. The defense of the White Cossacks was broken. On December 11, Slamikhinskaya fell, on December 18, the Reds captured Kalmykov, thereby cutting off the retreat to the Iletsky Corps, and December 22 - Gorsky, one of the last strongholds of the Urals before Guryev. Cossacks of Tolstov retreated to Guryev.
The remnants of the Iletsk Corps, having suffered heavy losses in battle during the retreat, and from typhus, on 4 of January 1920 of the year were almost completely destroyed and captured in red near the village of Maly Baybuz. 5 January 1920 g. Red took Guryev. Some of the White Cossacks were captured, some went over to the Reds. The remnants of the Urals, led by General Tolstov, with convoys, families and refugees (a total of about 15 thousand people) decided to go south and join with the Turkestan army of General Kazanovich. They left along the eastern coast of the Caspian Sea to Fort Aleksandrovsky. The transition was extremely difficult - in winter (January - March 1920), lack of food, water and medicine. As a result of the "Death March" ("Ice trip through the desert") only about 2 thousand people survived. The rest died in clashes with the Reds, but mostly from cold, hunger and disease. The survivors were sick, mostly with typhoid.
Uralians planned to cross on ships of the Caspian flotilla VSYUR on the other side of the sea in Port Petrovsk. However, by this time, Denikinites in the Caucasus were also defeated, and Petrovsk was abandoned at the end of March. In early April, the Reds captivated the remnants of the Ural Army at Fort Aleksandrovsky. A small group led by Tolstov fled to Krasnovodsk and further to Persia. From there, the British transported a detachment of the Ural Cossacks to Vladivostok. With the fall of Vladivostok in the fall of 1922, the Ural Cossacks fled to China.
The 3-I and 5-I armies remained in the composition of the Eastern Front. The troops of the Eastern Front were to liberate Siberia. In mid-August 1919, the armies of the Eastern Front, pursuing the defeated White Guard troops, reached the Tobol River. The main forces of the 5-th Red Army moved along the Kurgan-Petropavlovsk-Omsk railway. The 3 Army was attacked by the main forces along the Yalutorovsk-Ishim railway line.
Orenburg Army Commander General Alexander Dutov
The collapse of the rear of the army of Kolchak
The situation behind White was extremely difficult, almost catastrophic. The repressive, anti-people policy of the Kolchak government provoked a large-scale peasant war in Siberia. She became one of the main reasons for the rapid collapse of power of the "supreme ruler." The red partisans sharply intensified on this soil. The partisan detachments were formed on the basis of the defeated red detachments, which were thrown back into the taiga by the Czechoslovak and White Guard troops in the summer of 1918. Around them began to group detachments of peasants who hated Kolchak. The fighters of these units knew the area very well, among them there were many veterans of the World War, experienced hunters. Therefore, it was difficult to control the situation in such vast spaces, it was difficult for weak government units (the most uninhabited element to be left behind) composed of inexperienced young soldiers, and often a declassed, criminal element who wanted to rob rich Siberian villages.
Thus, the peasant and guerrilla warfare quickly gained momentum. Repression, the terror of Kolchak and Czechoslovakia only added fuel to the fire. At the beginning of 1919, the entire Yenisei province was covered by a whole network of partisan detachments. The Siberian Railway, in fact the only supply line for the White Guards, was in jeopardy. The Czechoslovak corps was actually only occupied by the protection of the Siberian Railway. The Kolchak government strengthened punitive policies, but mostly civilians suffered from it. Punishers burned entire villages, took hostages, flogged entire villages, robbed and raped. What intensified the hatred of the people towards the whites, completely embittered the Siberian peasantry and strengthened the position of the Red partisans, Bolsheviks. An entire peasant army was created with its headquarters, intelligence. Soon the fire of the peasant war spread from the Yenisei province to the neighboring counties of the Irkutsk province and to the Altai region. In summer, such a fire broke out in Siberia that the Kolchak regime could not put out it.
The Siberian government asked the Entente for help that the West forced the Czechoslovak Corps to take the side of the Kolchak group. The Czechoslovak troops, together with the whites, again pushed into the taiga the units of Siberian rebels that threatened the Siberian Railway. The offensive of the Czech legionnaires, who are commemorated in modern Russia, was accompanied by mass terror. In addition, this success was bought at the cost of the final decomposition of the Czech units, which were mired in robbery and looting. Czechoslovakians plundered so much good that they did not want to leave their echelons, turned into warehouses of various values and goods. On 27 on July 1919, the Kolchak government asked the Entente to withdraw the Czechoslovak Corps from Siberia and replace it with other foreign troops. It was dangerous to leave Czech legionnaires in Siberia.
The Entente command at that time was thinking about a new change of power in Siberia. The Kolchakov regime has exhausted itself; it has been used completely. The collapse of the front and the situation in the rear forced the West to look again at the Social Revolutionaries and other "democrats." They were supposed to lead the White movement in Siberia from the impasse where Kolchak led him. The Socialist-Revolutionaries, in turn, groped the ground for the Entente at the expense of a military coup, sought support from the city intelligentsia and part of the young Kolchak officers. A “democratic” coup was planned. As a result, it happened: the West and the Czechoslovak command “leaked” Kolchak, only it didn’t save the whites.
White Command Plans
The commander-in-chief of the Eastern Front of the White Army, Diterichs quickly recaptured previously defeated white units (The defeat of Kolchak in the Chelyabinsk battle) beyond the Tobol and Ishim rivers, so that, relying on these lines, try to cover the political center of whites in Siberia - Omsk. Also here was the center of the Siberian Cossacks, which still supported the power of Kolchak. Behind the Omsk region, a continuous strip of peasant uprisings began. After a heavy defeat in the battle for Chelyabinsk, the combat forces of Kolchak’s army decreased to 50 bayonets and sabers, while there were enormous numbers of people on the payroll — up to 300 thousand. property. With parts of the cities left the families of the White Guards. As a result, the retreating units were transformed into columns of refugees, losing even the remnants of combat readiness. 400 - 500 active fighters remained in the division, who covered thousands of wagons with a huge mass of refugees, non-combatants.
Kolchak’s ammonia was crushed and reduced. Despite a sharp decrease in its number, it retained the same number of high command, headquarters and management structures - Kolchak Stavka, five army headquarters, 11 corps, 35 divisions and brigade ones. There were too many generals for the number of soldiers. This made it difficult to control, turned off many people from the combat personnel. But the Headquarters of Kolchak did not have enough spirit to reorganize, reduce unnecessary headquarters and structures.
The army was left without heavy artillery abandoned during the defeats. And almost without machine guns. Kolchak requested weapons from the Entente, but the Allies supplied Kolchak (for gold) with thousands of obsolete machine guns, stationary type on high tripods, which were unsuitable for the maneuver war that the opponents waged during the Civil War. Naturally, white quickly threw this bulky weapon. All calls of the Kolchak government for mobilization and volunteerism were met with indifference, including among the propertied classes. The most passionate of the officers and city intelligentsia had already fought, the rest were against the Kolchak regime. Even thousands of volunteers could not be recruited. The peasants, mobilized into the army, fled en masse from the draft, deserted from the units, switched to the side of the Reds and partisans. Cossack regions - Orenburg and Ural were actually cut off, waged their own wars. The Transbaikal Cossack army of Ataman Semenov and the Ussuri Ataman Kalmykov conducted their policy, were oriented to Japan, and the Kolchak government was not given troops. Semenov and Kalmykov perceived Omsk only as a cash cow. Ataman Annenkov, commander of the Separate Semirechye Army, gave several regiments. But they immediately decomposed without their harsh chieftain, did not reach the front and staged such large-scale robberies that the Kolchakites had to shoot the most zealous.
The main stake was placed on the Siberian Cossacks, whose lands the Bolsheviks had already approached. However, Siberian Cossacks were also not reliable. Worn with "independence". In Omsk, the Cossack Confederation met, something like the Circle of all Eastern Cossack troops. She did not obey the "supreme ruler", adopted resolutions on "autonomy" and blocked all attempts by the Siberian government to restrain the robber chieftains Semyonov and Kalmykov. The Siberian chieftain was General Ivanov-Rinov, an ambitious but narrow-minded person. Kolchak could not replace him, the chieftain was an elected figure, had to reckon with him. Ivanov-Rinov, taking advantage of the hopeless position of the "supreme ruler", demanded a huge amount of money for the creation of the Siberian Corps, the supply of 20 thousand people. Cossack villages were bombarded with cash subsidies, gifts, various goods, weapons, uniforms, etc. The villages decided that they were going to fight. But as soon as it came down to business, the fervor quickly faded. It was time to harvest, the Cossacks did not want to leave home. Some villages began to refuse to go to the front under the pretext of the need to fight the partisans, while others secretly decided not to send soldiers to the front, since the Reds would soon come and take revenge. Some Cossack units acted, but arbitrarily, poorly obeyed discipline. As a result, the mobilization of the Siberian Cossacks dragged on for a long time, and far fewer fighters were gathered than planned.
The white leadership had two plans for a way out of the catastrophe. Minister of War General Budberg reasonably noted that bloodless, demoralized units were no longer able to attack. He proposed the creation of a long-term defense at the borders of Tobol and Ishim. To gain time, at least two months before the onset of winter, to give the troops rest, prepare new units, restore order in the rear and obtain substantial assistance from the Entente. The onset of winter was to interrupt active offensive operations. And in the winter it was possible to restore the army, prepare reserves, and then in the spring go on a counterattack. In addition, there was the possibility that the Southern White Front would win, take Moscow. It seemed that it was only necessary to gain time, hold out a little, and Denikin's army would crush the Bolsheviks.
Obviously, Budberg's plan also had weaknesses. Kolchakovo units were greatly weakened, lost the ability to hold tight defense. The front was huge, the Reds could easily find weaknesses, concentrate forces on a narrow section and break into the defenses of the White Guards. The white command had no reserves to block the gap, and a breakthrough guaranteed led to a general flight and disaster. In addition, the Reds could advance in the winter (in the winter of 1919 - 1920, they did not stop their movement). Also in question was the rear, which was crumbling literally before our eyes.
Commander-in-Chief General Diterichs offered to attack. The Red Army was continuously advancing from the Volga to Tobol and was supposed to run out of steam. Therefore, he proposed to gather the last forces and go on the counterattack. A successful offensive could inspire troops that could no longer defend successfully. Part of the forces of the Red Army was distracted from the main Moscow direction, where Denikin’s army was advancing.
Ataman of the Siberian Cossacks, General Pavel Pavlovich Ivanov-Rinov
The plan of defeating the 5 Red Army
The Siberian government needed military success to reinforce its shaky political position in the eyes of the local population and Western allies. Therefore, the government supported the Diterichs plan. The main prerequisite for the last offensive of the Kolchak army on the Tobol River was the demands of politics that went against the interests of military strategy. Militarily, the white units were exhausted and bloodless by previous battles, and were greatly demoralized by defeats. There were practically no combat-ready replenishment. That is, the forces of the White Guards, neither in quantity nor in quality, made it possible to count on decisive success. Great hopes were pinned on the Separate Siberian Cossack Corps, which was mobilized in August 1919 (about 7 thousand people). He was supposed to play the role of the shock fist of the Kolchak army. In addition, five divisions pulled from the line of Tobol to Petropavlovsk, replenished them, after which some were to fall on the enemy from the depths of the front.
The White Command hoped for surprise and speed of strike. The Reds believed that the Kolchakites had already been defeated and had withdrawn part of the troops for transfer to the Southern Front. However, the white command overestimated the military and moral condition of its troops, and once again underestimated the enemy. The Red Army was not exhausted by the offensive. She was promptly replenished with fresh strength. Each victory, each city taken led to an infusion of local replenishment. At the same time, the red units no longer decomposed, as was the case in the 1918 year, the beginning of the 1919 year - after victories (drunkenness, robberies, etc.) or failures (desertion, unauthorized withdrawal from the front of the units, etc.). The Red Army was now created following the example of the former imperial army, with strict order and discipline. Created by former tsarist generals and officers.
The offensive was outlined by the forces of the 1, 2 and 3 armies at the front between Ishim and Tobol. The main blow was dealt by the left flank, where the 3-th Army of Sakharov was advanced forward with a ledge and the Siberian Cossack Corps of General Ivanov-Rinov was located. The Sakharov Army and the Siberian Cossack Corps totaled over 23 thousand bayonets and sabers, about 120 guns. The 1-th Siberian Army under the command of General Pepelyaev was supposed to advance along the Omsk-Ishim-Tyumen railway, fettling units of the 3-th red army Mezheninov. The 2th Siberian Army under the command of General Lokhvitsky struck the most powerful and dangerous 5th Red Army of Tukhachevsky from the right flank to its rear. The 1-I and 2-I armies totaled over 30 thousand people, over 110 guns. The 3th Army of General Sakharov dealt a frontal blow to the army of Tukhachevsky along the line of the Omsk-Petropavlovsk-Kurgan railway. The steppe group under the command of General Lebedev covered the left wing of the 3 Army of Sakharov. The Ob-Irkutsk flotilla carried out a number of landing operations. Special hopes were assigned to the Ivanov-Rinov corps. Cossack cavalry was supposed to go behind the rear of the 5 Red Army, penetrate deeply into the enemy’s location, contributing to the encirclement of the main forces of the Red Army.
Thus, the success of the operation on Tobol was to lead to the encirclement and destruction of the 5 Army, a grave defeat of the Eastern Red Front. This allowed Kolchak’s army to gain time, survive the winter and spring offensive again.
On 15 of August 1919, the armies of white and red entered again close military contact on the Tobol line. In the Ishim-Tobol direction, the 3 Army attacked - about 26 thousand bayonets and sabers, 95 guns, more than 600 machine guns. The 5 Army was attacking Petropavlovsk — about 35 thousand bayonets and sabers, about 80 guns, over 470 machine guns. The Red Command also planned to develop the offensive. The number of Soviet armies, their armament and fighting spirit (high after victories) allowed the continuation of offensive operations. At the same time, the red armies of the Eastern Front were strongly on the ledge forward in relation to the troops of the Turkestan Front, who at that time were fighting the Orenburg and Ural Cossacks, approximately on the Orsk-Lbischensk front. Therefore, the 5th Army of Tukhachevsky had to provide its right wing with the allocation of a special barrier to the Kustanay direction. The 35th Infantry Division was transferred here from the left flank of the army.
The first to go on the offensive were the Reds. White dragged on with the preparation and mobilization of the Siberian Cossacks. After a short pause, the Red Army soldiers of 20 on August 1919 crossed the Tobol. In some places White stubbornly resisted, but was defeated. Red troops rushed east.
To be continued ...