On the horse, the proletariat! Artist A.P. Apsitis. 1919 year
Smoot. 1920 year. 100 years ago, on January 9-10, 1920, the Red Army liberated Rostov. The White Guards suffered a heavy defeat. The volunteer corps and the Don army retreated behind the Don.
General situation at the front
During the offensive of the Red South and Southeast Fronts in November-December 1919, the Armed Forces of the South of Russia (VSYUR) were defeated. The plans of the white command to switch to strategic defense, so that as a result of stubborn defense, using natural lines, deplete the Red Army, gain time, regroup troops, mobilize new forces and go on the offensive again, returning the strategic initiative, were frustrated.
At the first stage of the offensive (November 19 - December 16, 1919), the Soviet armies defeated the main forces of the Volunteer Army, Mamontov's equestrian group, liberated Belgorod, Kharkov, and threw volunteers to the Donbass. In the center, the Reds broke into the defense of the Don Army and threw the White Cossacks behind Don. On the right wing, the Reds defeated the Kiev group of White Guards, liberated the northern regions of Little Russia, Poltava and Kiev, and reached the central regions of Little Russia.
At the second stage of the offensive (December 17, 1919 - January 3, 1920), the troops of the Red Southern Front, supported by the Red Partisans, inflicted a new defeat on the Volunteer and Don armies, liberated most of the Donbass. At the same time, the left-flank part of the Volunteer Army was cut off from the main forces that retreated to Rostov-on-Don. The left flank of the White retreated to the Crimea and New Russia. The troops of the South-Eastern Front and part of the forces of the Southern Front (8th Army) crossed the Don, broke the stubborn resistance of the Don and went to the approaches to Novocherkassk. The 10th and 11th armies of the Southeast Front liberated Tsaritsyn.
Donetsk coal should be ours! Artist K. Spassky. 1919
By early January 1920, the Armed Forces of the South of Russia totaled over 85 thousand bayonets and sabers with 522 guns. 54 thousand soldiers and officers (the Don Army - 37 thousand, the Volunteer Corps - 19 thousand and the Caucasian Army - 7 thousand people) and 289 guns were concentrated in the main direction — along Don and Sal.
The Volunteer Army (its remains were brought into the Volunteer Corps under the command of General Kutepov) and the Don Army retreated to the Rostov-Novocherkassky bridgehead. Here Denikin decided to fight the Soviet troops, which after a long period of offensive battles showed signs of overwork and frustration. Because of the unification of the front, the Volunteer Corps was subordinated to the commander of the Don Army. General Sidorin covered the Rostov direction with volunteers and the Novocherkassk one with donors, in the center were the horse corps of Mamontov and Toporkov (commander of the consolidated Kuban-Tersky horse corps - Denikin's reserve).
On the western flank, the commander of the troops of the Novorossiysk region, General Schilling, sent the Slashchev corps to cover Northern Tavria and the Crimea. The corps of General Promtov and the former troops of the Kiev group under the command of General Bredov were located on the Birzul-Dolinskaya-Nikopol line. On the left flank, the Caucasian army of Pokrovsky retreated beyond the Sal river line, covering the Stavropol and Tikhoretsk directions.
The battle for Rostov
By the beginning of 1920, Budyonny's shock group with battles went through the entire Donbass and was divided. The 9th Infantry Division continued the march to Taganrog, which was occupied on the night of January 6-7, 1920. The main forces were aimed at Rostov.
The Red Army reached the Sea of Azov on January 6. However, one of the main goals of the strategic offensive of the Southern Front - the dismemberment of the All-Union Socialist League and the destruction of the Volunteer Army - could not be fully achieved. The task was only partially completed. The left wing of the Volunteer Army (Schilling troops) were separated from the main forces. But the main forces of the volunteers were able to escape from the trap and make their way to Rostov. Here, the greatly thinned Volunteer Army was reduced to a corps under the command of Kutepov. Wrangel was hastily sent to the Kuban to form a new cavalry army. Denikin decided to give battle in the area between Rostov and Novocherkassk, hoping to stop the tired and partially frustrated Soviet troops. The White Command threw the last reserves into battle - 1,5 horse divisions, a Plastun brigade and 2 officer schools under the general command of General Toporkov.
On January 7, 1920 (December 25, 1919 according to the old style) the Reds pulled up the main forces: the 1st Konarmia as part of the 6th and 4th Cavalry, as well as the 12th Rifle Division, the 15th, 16th and 33rd Rifle Divisions of the 8th Army. On the left flank of the Reds on Novocherkassk attacked the Dumenko Horse-Joint Corps with the support of rifle units of the 9th Army. The stubborn fighting on the 80-kilometer sector of the front lasted two days.
Novocherkassk attacked the equestrian corps of Dumenko with the support of two rifle divisions. The commander of the Don army, Sidorin, dealt a counter strike to the Reds. At first the Don people pressed the enemy. But then the Soviet artillery stopped the white counterattack that had begun, knocked out a few tanks. Belokazaki mixed up. Dumenko attacked again, knocked over the donors, forced them to retreat to Novocherkassk. The Cossacks could not stand the assault and retreated to the Don. On January 7, Dumenko’s troops occupied the capital of the Don Army.
In the center of the corps, Mamontov and Toporkov attacked and defeated the 15th and 16th rifle divisions of the 8th Soviet army. However, the first success was not used, the white cavalry retreated to its original position, fearing attacks from the flanks, where the Reds had powerful horse-drawn formations. On January 8, Budyonnovtsy, with a powerful concentrated blow in the area of the villages of Generalsky Most, Bolshoi Sali, Sultan-Sala and Nesvetay, crushed the main enemy forces. The Terek Plastun brigade was almost completely destroyed, Toporkov’s corps and part of the volunteers were overturned. Officer schools were surrounded in an open field, built in a square and fought off the attacks of the red cavalry with volley fire. They were defeated when the Reds pulled up artillery.
Meanwhile, Mamontov, not fulfilling the order of a new attack, began to withdraw the 4th Don Corps through Aksai and beyond, beyond Don. The thaw began, and he was afraid that the crossing would be impossible, the troops would die. He saved his subordinates, pulled out of the attack, but finally destroyed the common front. Volunteers had to stretch even weak battle formations to close the gap. This was the last operation of Mamontov. He went to Yekaterinodar to participate in the meetings of the Supreme Circle of the Don, Kuban and Terek, where the Circle was ready to transfer to him the high command of all the Cossack troops. However, Mamontov’s typhus. On February 1, 1920, the general died (according to another version - he was poisoned).
Meanwhile, the battle was still ongoing. Volunteers still resisted. The breakthrough of the Budyonnovites was stopped. On the left flank, the Drozdovskaya division and the cavalry of General Barbovich (brigade remnants of the 5th cavalry corps of Yuzefovich) even counterattacked. However, defeat was already inevitable. The Reds came to the rear from Novocherkassk. On the evening of January 8, the 4th Cavalry Division of Gorodovikov occupied Nakhichevan-on-Don (a city on the right bank of the Don, since 1929 - a suburb of Rostov). At the same time, the 6th Cavalry Division of Tymoshenko, having marched behind enemy lines, suddenly burst into Rostov, taking by surprise the White headquarters and rear services.
On January 9, 1920, the Drozdovites and Kornilovites, who were still fighting off frontal attacks, received orders to retreat. They had to break through Rostov, partially occupied by the Reds. After heavy street battles, volunteers broke through to the left bank of the Don. By January 10, with the support of the approaching 33rd Infantry Division, the city had completely passed into the hands of the Red Army. The Reds captured a large number of prisoners and trophies. The VSYUR rate was transferred to the Tikhoretskaya station.
The Red Army tried to force the Don on its shoulders and on the shoulders of a running enemy, but a thaw ensued and crossing the ice became unreliable. These attempts were reflected in white. January 17 - 22, 1920, the 1st Cavalry Army attempted to seize a bridgehead on the left bank of the Don in the Bataysk region and from there develop the offensive further. However, the offensive in the conditions of overwork and frustration of the units, the passivity of the troops of the neighboring 8th Army, the onset of the thaw on the southern, marshy bank of the Don, where the whites were well established, failed. Pavlov’s 4th Don Corps (he replaced the departed Mamontov) and Toporkov’s corps were defeated and the Budyonnovites were thrown behind Don.
Prominent figure in the White movement, General S. M. Toporkov. 1919
Continuing the fight
Thus, the offensive of the Red Army, which lasted three months, was completed. The troops of the All-Ukrainian Union of Independent Forces were seriously defeated. The White Guards lost control of important industrial and rural areas of southern Russia with a population of 27,7 million people. VSYUR was cut into two groups. The main forces of the whites - the Volunteer Corps, the Don and the Caucasian armies (about 55 thousand people), retreated to the North Caucasus direction. The Novorossiysk white group (about 32 thousand people) retreated to Northern Tavria, Crimea and the Southern Bug.
The 13th and 14th Soviet armies reached the Sea of Azov, the 12th Army fought successfully for the liberation of Little Russia. The forces of the 1st Cavalry Army and the 8th Army, in collaboration with the 9th Army of the South-Eastern Front, carried out the Rostov-Novocherkassk operation. In a fierce battle, the main forces of the Volunteer Corps and the Don Army were defeated, Novocherkassk and Rostov were liberated. The 10th Army of the Southeast Front went to the river. Sal, and the 11th Army advanced in the Stavropol and Kizlyar directions, creating the conditions for the liberation of the North Caucasus. That is, the conditions were created for the complete defeat of the White Army in southern Russia and the liberation of Novorossia and the North Caucasus.
After that, the front stabilized for a while. The White Command tried to stay in still occupied areas, regroup and restore troops. However, the situation was extremely difficult. The troops retreated for three months, were extremely tired, bloodless, the rear completely fell apart. In the rear, rebels and bandits raged. The public, agitated by heavy defeats and the threat of complete disaster, gave birth to one political project after another. In particular, the independence of the Kuban Republic was restored.
The situation in Denikin’s army was mixed. Volunteers generally maintained their fighting spirit, combat effectiveness and discipline. The Don army, having retreated from its land, in many ways lost its fighting spirit. Many donors were ready to surrender so as not to leave the Don. Only a slight pause in the fighting, when the White retreated behind the Don, somewhat restored the combat effectiveness of the Don army. The Don people still hoped to regain their area. The Don command was ready to continue the struggle. The situation was much worse with the Kuban Cossacks. Independents returned to power, formed their units. There were almost no Kuban units at the front, and the remaining Kuban decomposed.
The Red Army, having won, ran out of steam as a result of continuous battles, a fierce and bloody battle from Orel and Voronezh to Rostov. The troops were exhausted, bloodied by battles and a terrible epidemic of typhoid. The big problem was with the supply of armies. Railways were destroyed by war and stood up. It was difficult to replenish and supply parts, to transport the wounded and sick. Often had to engage in "self-supply", that is, requisition and robbery. In addition, a big victory caused the decomposition of the Red troops, they walked, including the commanders. It seemed that White was already defeated and it would be easy to finish them off. Therefore, you can relax and unwind.
On January 10, 1920, the Southern Front was transformed into the Southwest. It included the 12th, 13th and 14th armies. The South-Western Front under the leadership of A. Egorov was supposed to liberate New Russia, Crimea. On January 16, 1920, the Southeast Front was transformed into the Caucasus. The front was tasked with completing the liquidation of the North Caucasian army of Denikin and liberating the Caucasus. The first commander of the Caucasus Front was V. Shorin. The front included troops of the 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 1st Cavalry Army, located from Astrakhan to Rostov.
The peasant war after the front line again swept through the southern regions of Russia and in Little Russia did not stop. Now the rebels have already fought with the Reds. The same Makhno, who, by his war, chained himself at the most decisive moment of the clash between white and red 1,5 White Guard corps, in early 1920 revived the independent anarchist-peasant republic in Gulyai-Pole. Makhnovists wedged between units of the 14th Soviet Army advancing in the Crimea. The Soviet command ordered the army of Makhno to go to the Western Front to fight the Poles. Old Man ignored this indication. On January 9, 1920, the All-Ukrainian Revolutionary Committee outlawed Makhno and his group as "deserters and traitors." The stubborn struggle of the Makhnovists against the Bolsheviks begins, it continued until the fall of 1920, when the rebels again opposed the whites (Wrangel's army). This helped Slashchev’s corps keep Crimea behind the whites.