The entry of the Reds into the Eagle. 1919. Oryol Museum of Local Lore
Smoot. 1919 year. During the counterattack of the Southern Front, the Red Army troops inflicted a heavy defeat on the main forces of the Volunteer Army, finally buried the plans of the Allied forces march to Moscow. The White Guards were driven back at 165 km, the Reds liberated Orel, Voronezh, Chernigov and Kursk. The Red Army seized a strategic initiative.
By mid-October 1919, the position of Denikin’s army worsened markedly. The situation in the rear was unsatisfactory. The war was on in the North Caucasus, the Kuban was worried, where the secessionists took up. In New Russia and Little Russia, rebellions broke out one after another. A powerful rebellion of Makhno distracted reserves, replenishment and even troops from the front. To achieve the support of the people in Little Russia failed. Peasants massively supported the Makhnovists and other chieftains. The hope of supporting cities also did not materialize. Even Kiev, a huge city full of refugees, almost did not give white volunteers. The most irreconcilable went to white back in 1918, the rest adhered to neutrality. Red Moscow entered into a truce with Poland and the Petliurists, who were increasingly guided by Warsaw. This made it possible to transfer reinforcements to the Southern Front from the Western. And the 12-I red army launched an attack on the White Guards from the western direction.
The main blow of the Red Army was aimed at the most efficient core of the Denikin army. The Red Command made the right conclusion from previous defeats - the defeat of the core of the Volunteer Army will lead to a decisive turning point in the war. On the morning of October 11 1919 Martusevich’s strike group, units of the 13 and 14 armies struck in the Oryol-Kursk direction. The Estonian and 9th Infantry Division advanced on the forehead, and the Latvian Division struck from the flank, from Bryansk. The 1th Army Corps of Kutepov met with the counter-offensive of the Red Southern Front in a weakened state. Eight regiments of the past were transferred to Kiev and against Makhno. In the Dmitrovsk region, Drozdov’s division defended, Kornilov’s division advanced under Orel, and Markovskaya under Livny. In the Orel region, a fierce battle ensued, where the red and white parts quickly mixed.
In the center, the White Guards still rushed forward. The Kornilovites defeated the right flank of the 13-th Red Army and on October 13 1919 took Oryol. Their advanced units went to Mtsensk. Parts of the 9 and 55 th rifle divisions of the 13 th army were crushed and defeated, the 3 th division retreated. The Red 13 Army suffered a heavy defeat, disorganized. There was a threat of loss of Tula. In this regard, the attack group was transferred from the 13 Army to the 14 Army and was tasked with eliminating the enemy’s breakthrough in the area of Orel and Novosil. At a meeting of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the RCP (B) on October 15, a number of additional measures were taken to strengthen the Southern Front. In particular, it was decided to recognize the Southern Front as the main front of the Soviet Republic and to further strengthen it at the expense of parts of the Western, Turkestan and Southeastern fronts.
Meanwhile, the shock group crushed and pushed aside the Samur regiment. 15 October, the Reds took Kroma. Drozdovtsy were forced to retreat to Orel, to join the Kornilovites, who successfully resisted the onslaught of the Estonian division. The Latvian division, after the capture of Krom, also turned north, coming to Orel from the south. The command of the Volunteer Army, due to the weakening of the right wing, concentrated the main forces in the Bryansk direction (Drozdovtsy, Samurians, 5 Cavalry Corps) and dealt a strong blow to the shock group of the 14 Army in the area of Sevsk and Dmitrievsk. At the same time, White successfully restrained the onslaught of the red 13 Army in the Orel region.
For two weeks, violent oncoming battles raged across the entire front line. On October 16, the Kornilovites defeated the Separate Rifle Brigade from the Shock Group, but the Latvians, with the strong support of artillery, counterattacked and drove the White Guards away. On the 17, the Kornilovites again went on the attack and almost went to the Kroms, but they were again thrown back. As a result, units of the Shock Group were unable to complete the task, but forced the 1th Infantry Division of the enemy to stop the attack on Tula, to concentrate all their forces on repelling the attacks of the Reds. This allowed the Red Command to restore and replenish the right flank of the 13 Army, and again to throw troops on the offensive on Orel. Meanwhile, the troops of the 14 Army on 18 in October took Sevsk and developed an offensive on Dmitrovsk. Having strengthened their left flank, the Denikinites launched a counterattack, repelled the enemy’s advance, and on October 29 again took Sevsk. On the right flank, the Alekseevsky regiment of 17 - 18 took Novosil on October, and the Markov troops went to Yeltsi, where they came across large enemy forces and were unable to take the city.
The Denikinites gradually lost initiative, and the command of the 1 Infantry Division, fearing the environment, decided to leave Oryol. On the night of October 19 on October 20, the Kornilovites broke through the blockade and began to retreat along the Orel-Kursk railway line. 20 October, the Reds occupied the Eagle. Denikinites went to the station Eropkino. This was a turning point in the battle. From this moment, despite a series of private successes and victories of the White Guards, they were only retreating. So 24 - 24 October, White again took Kromy, but on 27 they were left, as was Dmitrovsk. The 13-I Red Army launched an offensive on the right flank. The Markov division, under pressure from the enemy, left Livny.
Thus, the Red Army was unable to break through the enemy’s front and destroy the combat-ready core of the Volunteer Army (Kutepov’s corps). However, the Reds seized the strategic initiative, Denikin’s army’s march to Moscow was over. The Reds liberated the Eagle, the White retreated, although they snapped heavily. Both sides suffered huge losses. For example, the losses of the Latvian division reached 40-50%, a separate cavalry brigade of the Red Cossacks lost a third of the composition. Kutepov reported to May-Mayevsky: “Under the onslaught of superior enemy forces, our units are withdrawing in all directions. In some regiments of Kornilov’s and Drozdov’s there are 200 bayonets. Losses on our part reach 80 percent ... ". In bloody battles, the 1-th Army Corps (the most combat-ready core of the All-Union Socialist-Ukrainian League) was bloodless. At the same time, the reds could quickly replenish their losses, while the white ones could not.
The development of the offensive of the South and Southeast Fronts
27 October 1919 The Volunteer Army went on the defensive, planning to stop the enemy offensive at the line Sevsk - Dmitrovsk - Eropkino - Yelets. Then go on the offensive again. The 13-I and 14-I red armies developed the offensive. White slowly retreated, delivering powerful counterattacks. So, Kutepov’s corps received reinforcements and at the beginning of November delivered a strong blow to the Latvian division. But at the same time, on another site, southeast of Dmitrovsk, two divisions of the 13-th army of Uborevich broke into the enemy’s defenses and the 8-I cavalry division of the Red Army began raids on the rear of the whites. Red cavalry 4 November captured the Divers, created a threat to Fatezh. As a result of the raid, the White Guard’s defense system was broken.
A serious threat appeared on the right flank of the Volunteer Army. Budennyi's horse corps reached the large Kastornaya railway junction. To support the Shkuro corps, one regiment of the Markov division was pulled here. A stubborn battle broke out over Kastornaya. The 13-I Red Army, breaking through and bypassing the thin line of defense of the Markov Division, occupied Maloarkhangelsk.
Kutepov again had to withdraw his troops back. The volunteer army retreated to the line of Glukhov-Dmitriev-Fatezh-Kastornoye. However, here the White Guards could not resist. In mid-November 1919, after regrouping forces and receiving new reinforcements, the Red Army resumed the onslaught on the entire Denikin front. On the western flank, the troops of the Kiev region, General Dragomirov, barely restrained the onslaught of the Reds. White retained Kiev, although their positions were only 40 - 60 km from the city, near Fastov and on the river. Irpin. But north of the troops of the 12-th Soviet army occupied Chernigov, broke into the Left Bank, breaking the connection of parts of Dragomir and May-Mayevsky. By November 18, the Reds occupied Bakhmach and began to threaten the left flank of the Volunteer Army. The front was also broken through on the right flank of the Volunteer Army. After a stubborn struggle on November 15, the Reds took Kastornaya. Thus, the shock group of Budyonny, having thrown off Shkuro's cavalry, took Kastornaya, leaving the rear of the Volunteer Army.
The defense line was also broken in the central section. On November 14, units of the 14 th Army of Uborevich struck Fatezh. Again the cavalry was introduced into the breakthrough. The 8 cavalry division, using a strong snowstorm, leaked to the rear of Denikin’s troops, on November 14 took Fatezh, on the 16 — Lgov, where the May-Mayevsky field headquarters and Alekseev’s division headquarters were located. The white command was able to escape from the blow. However, the connection between the forces of the Volunteer Army was broken. The Drozdov’s division, which was under Dmitriev, was cut off from its own and began to retreat, breaking through the busy red Ligov. Drozdovtsy broke through to their own. At the same time, units of the 13 Army took Shchigry. Kursk was lined on three sides. Fights for the city began. The white armored trains sent from Kursk stumbled upon the blown up tracks, then the red ones destroyed the canvas and in their rear. The Red Army surrounded the enemy. After a stubborn battle, the crews blew up armored trains and broke through the encirclement ring and went south. 18 November 1919 year Estonian and 9-I rifle divisions occupied Kursk. Volunteers moved to the Sumy - Belgorod - Novy Oskol line. Thus, the Volunteer Army practically aligned the front with the Don Army in the Liski area.
At the same time, the 9-I Red Army of the Southeast Front resumed the offensive on the Don Front. Almost everywhere, the Cossacks repelled the onslaught of the enemy. However, the 2-th cavalry corps of Dumenko broke through the enemy’s defenses and on November 11 took Uryupinskaya. Then the red cavalry wedged deeply between the 1 and 2 m Don corps. The defense of the White Cossacks by Khopr was broken.
At the same time, the 10-I Red Army again tried to take Tsaritsyn, but without success. However, the situation on the right flank of the VSYUR was difficult. The Caucasian army, which seized most of the cavalry and reinforcements that went to other directions, was greatly weakened. Due to their small numbers, all the remaining units were pulled into the Tsaritsyn fortified area. The insignificant forces that were beyond the Volga were also transferred to the right bank, to the city, so that they would not be cut off and destroyed. Their place was immediately taken by the 50-I Taman Rifle Division Kovtyukh, which was part of the 11-th Army. Since that time, Tsaritsyn was subjected to constant shelling from the other side of the Volga. From the south and north, the Reds were preparing for a decisive assault.
Cavalry officers of the Red Army in Novosil after taking the city. Source: https://ru.wikipedia.org/
During the counterattack of the Southern Front, the Red Army troops inflicted a heavy defeat on the main forces of the Volunteer Army, finally buried the plans of the Allied forces march to Moscow. The White Guards were driven back at 165 km, the Reds liberated Orel, Voronezh, Chernigov and Kursk. The Red Army seized the strategic initiative and created the conditions for the development of the offensive for the liberation of Belgorod, Kharkov, Poltava, Kiev and the Don region.
At the same time, there were permutations in the white command. After the failures of the second half of October and November, as a result of the revealed personal shortcomings (drunkenness), General May-Mayevsky was fired. In his place was appointed Baron Wrangel. The Caucasian Army was received by General Pokrovsky.
At the same time, it was obvious that Mai-Mayevsky’s mistakes were not the main reason for the defeat of the Volunteer Army. The defeat was logical. Denikin also acknowledged this, in his memoirs he noted: “... the mere fact of the retreat of the Volunteer Army from Orel to Kharkov with the then balance of forces and the general situation cannot be blamed on either the army or the commander. God be his judge! ”In 1920, Wrangel returned May-Mayevsky to the army. During the defense of the Crimea, he led the rear units and garrisons of the Russian army. May-Mayevsky, according to one version, committed suicide during the evacuation of the White Guards from Sevastopol in November 1920, according to another, he died of a heart failure in one of the hospitals in Sevastopol or during a movement for evacuation.