The entry of the Reds into the Eagle. Oryol Museum of Local Lore
Offensive VSYUR on Moscow
Fulfilling Denikin’s “Moscow Directive” of 3 on July 1919, all three armies of the FYUR (Volunteer, Don and Caucasian Armies) launched an offensive with varying success. The Wrangel’s Caucasian army fought on the far approaches to Saratov, the Sidorin Don Army in the central direction, the May-Mayevsky Volunteer Army in the Kursk direction.
At the same time, the white armies diverged hundreds of miles. On the left flank, whites discovered the weakness of the reds in Little Russia. On the western flank, the southern front of the Reds was destroyed most of all, which was associated with the extremely unsatisfactory fighting efficiency of the former rebel detachments in Little Russia, which joined the ranks of the Red Army. Denikinites easily occupied huge spaces and did not have the opportunity to gain a foothold there and organize a full-fledged defense. Maneuver warfare required constant movement. It was possible to cover the captured Yekaterinoslav region only with the development of the offensive, the pursuit and destruction of the weak 12 and 14 red armies. That is, it was necessary to capture the lower reaches of the Dnieper in order to cover the left flank of the Volunteer Army advancing on Kursk and Kiev. As a result, Denikin’s plan was adjusted. Without canceling the task of the offensive in the Moscow direction, the Supreme Commander of the All-Union Federal League of Forces on July 30 (August 12) issued a new directive. It provided for the transfer of part of the Volunteer Army and the 3-th separate corps to the west. The Kiev group of troops of General Bredov is being formed to attack Kiev. The 3th Army Corps of Schilling received the task, with the assistance of the White Black Sea Fleet, to take Kherson and Nikolaev, then Odessa.
Denikin and Wrangel at the parade in Tsaritsyn, 1919 year. Source: https://ru.wikipedia.org
Thus, the white command decided to use the favorable situation in the western direction to occupy the regions of New Russia and Little Russia. The quick attack did not let the Reds come to their senses, put themselves in order, organize a tough defense and take advantage of the force. Denikin’s army also captured rich lands, received a food base, human reserves and huge military supplies left over from various armies (starting with the tsar’s). The North Caucasus could not become a full-fledged base of the All-Union Socialist League, it was already exhausted by previous mobilization. As the war moved away from the region, fewer people wanted to leave their native places. In addition, the movement in the Kiev direction brought Denikin's army closer to Poland, which opposed Soviet Russia.
The advancing Armed Forces of the South of Russia were constantly intensifying. Victories strengthened the ranks of Denikin's army. Volunteer army in the beginning of May in the Donetsk basin totaled, after the capture of Kharkov 25 June, despite all the heavy losses incurred in battles and from illnesses, the combat strength of the army was 26 thousand people. By the time of the capture of Poltava on 31 in July, the army had grown to 40 thousand soldiers. The Don army, which had previously been defeated and numbered up to 15 thousand by the beginning of May, numbered 20 thousand by 28 in June and 20 thousand soldiers by the 45 of July. The 3 Army Corps, with a force of only about 4 thousand people, who in early June launched an offensive from the Ak-Manai positions, replenishing along the way, went all over Crimea, 23 - 24 took Odessa on August. On the basis of the corps, a group of forces of the Novorossiysk region was formed under the command of General Schilling of up to 16 thousand people. In total, the number of VSYUR increased from May to October from about 65 thousand to 150 thousand people.
The seizure by the White Guards of huge areas caused the rise of all anti-Soviet elements, which strengthened the ranks of the All-Union Socialist League. Denikin's army was on the moral rise, but it did not last long. The bulk of the people were indifferent, or hostile, to the whites, and only waited for the arrival of the reds to openly speak. Denikin’s army will soon face a large-scale insurgent, peasant movement in the rear, which, as in the East of Russia (Kolchak’s army), will become one of the leading causes of the defeat of the white movement.
Source of maps: https://bigenc.ru
The Soviet command of emergency measures restored the combat capability of the Southern Front. In Little Russia, the former Ukrainian armies were reorganized on the basis of a regular principle, replaced by a number of weak commanders. The commander in chief of the Red Army, Watsetis, was replaced by Kamenev (former commander of the Eastern Front), the commander of the Southern Front, Gittis was replaced by Egorov. The most brutal measures (revolutionary tribunals, detachments, etc.) restored discipline in units. All reserves went south. New mobilization carried out, the army replenished. Several divisions were removed and sent to the Southern Front from the Eastern and Western Fronts. New fortified areas are being created - Saratov, Astrakhan, Voronezh, Kursk and Kiev. The number of troops of the Southern Front reached over 180 thousand people and about 900 guns. As a result, the pace of the offensive of Denikin’s army in July - the first half of August slowed down sharply and progress was negligible. Only the Caucasian army 26 July captured Kamyshin.
The Soviet command was preparing for a counterattack. Just as in the spring, they planned to defeat the white army with two powerful converging blows. On the left wing, the main blow was to be delivered by the Shorin Special Group (units of the 9 and 10 armies); Selivyachev’s group (units of the 8 and 13 armies) attacked Kupyansk, at the junction of the Volunteer and Don armies. With the success of the first stage of the operation, Shorin's group was to break through to Rostov-on-Don, cutting off the Don region from the North Caucasus. Support operations were to be carried out by the 11 Army from Astrakhan and the 14 Army in Little Russia.
Due to the lengthy preparations, the plan became known to the Allied command. The White Command decided to deliver a preemptive strike to the horse corps. Initially, it was planned that the 4th Cossack Corps of Mamontov and the 2th Don Corps of Konovalov would break the front at the junction of the 8 and 9 Red Army, then would rush to Moscow, raising a large-scale uprising behind enemy lines. However, Konovalov’s corps was linked by battles at the front; only Mamontov’s corps was sent to the raid. His tasks were narrowed. The Cossacks were to walk along the rear of the Southern Front, take Kozlov, where the headquarters of the Red Front was. This was to lead to a disorganization of enemy control and communications, and frustrate the advance of the Southern Front. Then, due to the deterioration of the situation and data on the arrival of large red forces, the task was further limited. The corps was aimed at Voronezh, in the rear of the Selivyachev group.
On the morning of August 10 1919 the Mamontov corps (about 9 thousand bayonets and sabers, 12 guns, 12 armored trains and 3 armored vehicles) struck the joint of the Soviet armies, northwest of Novokhopyorsk. Cossacks easily broke through the front, the Reds' attempts to stop the breakthrough were unsuccessful. The Cossacks went north. That is, Mamontov violated the order, since he had to go west. Heavy rains that washed away roads became an excuse. Another reason - the Mammoth did not want to get involved in a battle with a strong group of Selivyachev. It was easier to go north, to smash and plunder the rear, avoiding a collision with the enemy. The Mammoth soldiers of 11 August intercepted the Gryazi-Borisoglebsk railway, and 3 the thousands of Red Army soldiers who were replenishing to the front, were taken prisoner and dismissed to their homes. Then the Cossacks captured the field training camp, where they dispersed several thousand more mobilized peasants. Also seized several trains with ammunition and property.
Commander of the 4 th Cavalry Corps of the Don Army, Lieutenant General K. K. Mamontov (Mamantov)
They tried to intercept Mamontov’s corps, but without success. Parts of the 56th Infantry Division were sent from the reserve of Shorin's group, but its vanguard was in the upper reaches of the river. Values were scattered by the Cossacks. To cover the Tambov-Balashov railway, a cavalry brigade was advanced, but it was also scattered by the Mamontov corps. Then the Cossacks went around the enemy’s fortified position south of Tambov and on August 18 occupied the city. The city was captured by many captured, mobilized Tambov peasants. They were allowed to go home. More food and clothing depots were seized. During the raid, the Cossacks seized so many trophies and goods that they even handed out property and provisions to the local population. Of course, not for reasons of humanism, unusual for the Cossacks, but because there was so much good that there was nowhere to do. 22 August Cossacks were in Kozlov (Michurinsk). The headquarters of the Southern Front, which was located in Kozlov, fled.
In this situation, the Council of Defense of the Soviet Republic introduced martial law in six provinces (including Voronezh and Tambov). Revolutionary committees were created in district towns and railway stations to mobilize all forces for the defense of their territories. On August 25, a member of the Revolutionary Military Council of the Southern Front, Lashevich was appointed commander of the Internal Front (by 10 of September there were about 12 thousand bayonets and sabers, 67 guns and over 200 machine guns, plus aviation and armored trains). Also, the Internal Front included separate detachments of communists, internationalists, and special-purpose units (a total of about 11 thousand fighters).
The Reds could not block and destroy the Mamontov corps. Taking advantage of the inconsistency of the enemy’s forces, the August 25 Cossacks began moving from Kozlov to the west and north-west. On their way, whites destroyed front and army depots, destroyed railway stations and bridges, dispersed several tens of thousands of peasants mobilized into the Red Army. A separate infantry brigade was formed from volunteers (later the Tula Infantry Division). On August 27, a small detachment of Mammoth soldiers occupied Ranenburg. The Red Command decided that the main enemy forces were located there, and began to concentrate its main group in this area. Meanwhile, Mamontov turned the corps on Lebedyan, and on August 28 captured this city. Then the Cossacks without any problems Xnumx August occupied Yelets, 31 September - Zadonsk, 5 September - Kastornoye, 6 September - Usman and 7 September - Voronezh.
Already on 12 of September the Reds knocked out the Mammoth members from Voronezh. The Red Command attempted to encircle and destroy the enemy corps south of Voronezh. To do this, the Horse Corps of Budenny (he led an offensive on the Tsaritsyno direction) and the 37th Infantry Division were removed from the front. But the White Cossacks, instead of moving south, along the left bank of the Don to Liski, turned southwest. On 17 of September, the Mamontov corps forced Don in the Gremyachye area. On 19 of September, the Mamontovites united with the 3-m Kuban corps of General Shkuro, who was nominated from the Stary Oskol region to help break through.
Thus, the 40-day raid of the 4-th Don corps greatly disorganized the rear of the Southern Front, diverted significant enemy forces (about 40 thousand bayonets and sabers) to fight the Cossack cavalry, which led to the weakening of the Red strike groups. However, White failed to completely disrupt the advance of the Southern Front. This was due to the inconsistency of the Mamontov’s corps with the main forces of the Don Army. At the same time, the Cossacks were carried away by robberies, did not fulfill the main task of forging the main enemy forces in battle, the corps decomposed very much by the end of the raid, overgrown with huge convoys with looted goods, and lost most of its combat effectiveness. Cossacks from warriors turned into looters. The trophies were huge. By the time they went out, carts up to 60 km long were stretching behind Mamontov’s corps. And after connecting with their own, a significant part of the Cossacks with convoys went to their native villages, to take the loot and mark. Only about 2 thousand sabers remained at the front of the corps.
Disruption of the Soviet counteroffensive
Shorin's special group went on the offensive on August 14 on August 1919. Budenny Corps was advancing on the western flank. The operation was supported by the Volga Military Flotilla and the Marine Corps Kozhanov. The offensive initially developed successfully. Bloodless in continuous battles, Wrangel’s troops were forced to retreat, retreat to Tsaritsyn. Reds 22 August recaptured Kamyshin and in early September went to Tsaritsyn. From the south, from the Astrakhan region, the 11-I Red Army also tried to advance on Tsaritsyn, but it was defeated and driven back by the whites. Part of the army was cut off from Astrakhan, blocked in the Black Yar region.
Meanwhile, the Soviet supreme command created a new front - Turkestan led by Frunze. It included the 1, 4 and 11 armies. In early September, Frunze arrived in Astrakhan. Comfronta pulled up reinforcements and made a risky and brave decision. He loaded ammunition onto the ships, took with him his headquarters and the entire army command, and broke into the Black Yar. The arrival of Frunze and the entire command restored the morale of the cut off units. Frunze launched an attack from the environment. At the same time hit from Astrakhan. The blockade was broken. 11-I army again went to Tsaritsyn. But already without Frunze, who returned to the Turkestan direction, where the situation also escalated.
As a result, a fierce battle broke out for Tsaritsyn. The Reds attacked the city from north and south. On 5 of September, units of the 10 Army launched an assault on the city, but the forces of the 28 and 38 Rifle Divisions and the landing squad of Kozhanov’s sailors were not enough; The Red Army broke through the main defensive positions of the whites, but Tsaritsyn again confirmed the glory of the impregnable fortress. Wrangel threw the last reserves into battle, the Kuban cavalry launched a counterattack. Fierce fighting continued for several days, then there was a lull. Denikins kept Tsaritsyn, but lost their strategic advantage in this direction. East of Tsaritsyn, the 11-I Red Army united with the 10-I, cutting off Denikin’s army from the Ural Army.
With their right flank, Shorin's group inflicted a number of attacks on the Don Army. Don Cossacks retreated again. In the villages had to carry out mobilization. The Reds pushed the White Cossacks to the line of Khopr and Don, but could not break through the front. It was not possible to force the water line. The 2th Don Corps of Konovalov threw the enemy behind Khoper. In September, Shorin's group again tried to advance. Parts of the 9 Army reached the Don on a site in 150 km, and captured a number of villages. The Cossacks retreated to the high, right bank and took pre-prepared positions. All attempts by the Red Army to force a hand were repelled. On this front stabilized. The offensive of Shorin's group ran out of steam.
The 13-I and 14-I red armies were preparing for an attack on the Kharkov direction. Their operations were scheduled for August 16, but the whites identified the enemy. Three days earlier, Kutepov’s corps struck. The Western Army Group, preparing the offensive, was crushed and driven back. Units of the 13 Army retreated to Kursk, the 14 Army to Konotop. As a result, the Selivyachev group launched an offensive without support from the western direction. Units of the 8-th Red Army broke through the enemy’s defenses, occupied the area of Kupyansk. The Reds were 40 km from Kharkov, intercepted the Kharkov-Belgorod railway, even captured the staff train of the commander of the May-Mayevsky Volunteer Army. However, the White Command organized flanking counterattacks to encircle and destroy the Soviet group. From under Yekaterinoslav, the 8th Cavalry Corps of Shkuro was transferred here. On August 26, White launched a counterattack. The Reds of September 3 began to retreat, and by September 12 they left for Kursk. Selivyachev managed to avoid the environment, but the group suffered heavy losses.
Thus, the counterattack of the Red Army did not stop the enemy, although it slowed its advance in the central direction and improved the situation on the eastern flank. On the western flank, the situation was catastrophic. The defeat of the Selivyatchev group opened the May-Mayevsky army the path to new victories in New Russia and Little Russia. Denikin’s army again seized the strategic initiative and resumed the offensive in the Moscow direction.
To be continued ...