I.A. Vladimirov. The flight of the bourgeoisie from Novorossiysk. 1920
Smoot. 1920 year.100 years ago, the Red Army liberated the North Caucasus from the White Guards. On March 17, 1920, the Red Army took Yekaterinodar and Grozny, on May 22 and 24 - Maykop and Vladikavkaz, on March 27 - Novorossiysk. Denikin's troops in the region were finally defeated, their remnants were evacuated to the Crimea.
Retreat to the sea
March 16, 1920 the troops of the White Don and Kuban armies were concentrated at Yekaterinodar. The headquarters and the South Russian government were evacuated to Novorossiysk. Around Yekaterinodar there were prepared positions; there were enough troops for the defense of the city. However, the Cossack units completely lost their fighting spirit and combat effectiveness. The Reds on March 17 began shelling, and the Kubans, and the Dones fled after them. Entire divisions were removed from positions, plundered stocks of vodka, vodka and wine, got drunk and fled. The Reds themselves did not expect to see this and stood almost the whole day near the city. Then, without a fight, they took Ekaterinodar and the crossings.
On March 17, 1920, Denikin ordered the withdrawal of troops beyond the Kuban and Laba, and the destruction of all crossings. In fact, the Cossack units fled already on the 16th and completed the crossing of the 17th. The crossings, which were not taken care of during the stampede, were in the hands of the enemy. March 18, actually breaking through from the environment, forced the Kuban and the Volunteer Corps. The commander of the Don Army, General Sidorin, who arrived at Headquarters, reported on the complete decomposition of the Don units and that they were unlikely to want to evacuate to Crimea. He proposed retreating south, to the mountain passes and further to Georgia. As a result, the meeting of the Don commanders and the Don faction of the High Circle decided to withdraw according to the Stavka plan.
As the situation worsened at the front, it became apparent that all troops, not to mention their artillery, property, horses, various supplies, could not be evacuated through the only Novorossiysk port. In addition, the evacuation of the wounded and sick, refugees, continued. Denikin decided to withdraw troops to Taman. Already in the March 17 directive, Denikin instructed the Volunteer Corps not only to defend the lower reaches of the Kuban, but also to partially cover the Taman Peninsula in the Temryuk area. The peninsula, covered by water barriers, was convenient for defense, the fleet could cover it all the way there with its artillery. The width of the Kerch Strait is insignificant, and the transport flotilla The Kerch port was quite large and could be easily strengthened. The commander-in-chief ordered to pull together transports to Kerch.
The departure to Taman was supposed to be in the future, and the Stavka demanded to keep the p. Kuban. However, the 4th Don Corps (which had previously abandoned its positions at Yekaterinodar), which used to be the main striking force of the Don Army and stood beyond the river above Yekaterinodar, immediately rushed off and fled to the west. On March 20, the Commander-in-Chief of the All-Union Socialist Liberation Union gave his last battle order in the Kuban: the Kuban army, which had already abandoned the line of the Laba and Belaya rivers, to stay on the Kurga river; Don Army and Volunteer Corps defend the line of the Kuban River from the mouth of the Kurga to the Sea of Azov; parts of the Volunteer Corps take Taman and cover the road from Temryuk.
This order could not execute any connection. The situation is completely out of control. Completely demoralized Kuban units ran along mountain roads on Tuapse. The Kuban Rada and the chieftain, on the basis of the last decision of the Supreme Circle, demanded a complete break with the white command. As a result, the Red Army crossed the river without a fight. Kuban in the Yekaterinodar region and cut the front of the Don army. Starikov’s 4th Don Corps fled east to join the Kuban. Two other Don corps (1st and 3rd) fled towards Novorossiysk. Many Cossacks threw weapon and went over to the side of the rebels or the Reds. Command and control was lost. The echelon of the commander of the Don army simply went west in the crowd of refugees into which the army had turned.
Volunteers (they were the only ones more or less retained combat effectiveness) were extremely annoyed by this situation. They feared that running Cossacks and crowds of refugees would cut them off from Novorossiysk. They also feared that if they retired to Taman, then an uncontrolled avalanche of refugees would simply crush them and upset any defense. And this is in a situation where the Reds were running out. As a result, volunteers and donors had to abandon the retreat to Taman. The volunteer corps weakened its left flank and directed all efforts to control the Crimean - Tunnel railway line to Novorossiysk. March 23, the "green" captured Anapa and the village of Gostogaevskaya. The indecisive attempts of the white cavalry to return these points under their control were unsuccessful. On the same day, the red cavalry crossed the Kuban, entered Gostogaevskaya and headed to Anapa. The cavalry was followed by infantry. On March 24, the Reds cut off Denikin’s retreat to Taman.
March 22, the Reds occupied the station Abinskaya and moved to the Crimean. All roads were clogged with carts, wagons, various abandoned property. Impenetrable dirt impeded movement. Therefore, both white and red moved along the railway. The artillery that fettered the movement was left. On March 25, volunteers, two Don corps and one Kuban division were located in the Crimean region. Under light pressure of the Reds, the White fled to Novorossiysk.
It is worth noting that the Red Army has lost mobility due to the sheer mass of refugees who have flooded the roads, and the spring thaw. The Soviet command was unable to use the complete decomposition and decline of the enemy’s fighting ability to completely destroy and capture the army of Denikin. The Red Cavalry could not maneuver and usually simply followed the enemy, collecting the backward and surrendering along the way. Some immediately joined the ranks of the Red Army.
The situation in Novorossiysk
When the Commander-in-Chief of the All-Union Socialist Liberation Union moved to Novorossiysk, the city was under panic and, as Denikin recalled,
“Was a military camp and a rear nativity scene. Its streets were literally crowded with young and healthy deserter warriors. They committed atrocities, held rallies that resembled the first months of the revolution, with the same elementary understanding of events, with the same demagogy and hysteria. Only the composition of the protesters was different: instead of the "comrade of soldiers" there were officers. "
Thousands of officers, real or self-proclaimed, of various "governments", many of which did not fight, and have recently crowded the rear in Yekaterinodar, Rostov, Novocherkassk and other cities, have now crowded Novorossiysk. They created their own organizations, tried to capture transports. Denikin ordered the closure of this initiative, introduced military courts and the registration of persons liable for military service. He stated that those who evade accounting will be left to their own devices. Several front-line units of volunteers were transferred to the city, and they established relative order.
Meanwhile, new crowds of refugees and Cossacks poured into Novorossiysk. Typhus still mowed people. So, the Markov division in a short time lost two commanders - General Timanovsky (in December 1919) and Colonel Bleish (in March 1920).
There were still many white troops near Novorossiysk, but they completely lost their combat potential. Denikin decided to concentrate his efforts on the evacuation of the most persistent, undecomposed parts. However, even for this limited purpose, the courts were not enough. Steamboats that regularly transported refugees abroad, were quarantined for a long time, delayed. The white fleet with a base in Sevastopol, as during the disaster in Odessa, delayed sending ships. Referring to the need to repair ships, the lack of coal, etc. In fact, the ships were again held back in case of their own evacuation. The fact was that in the Crimean rear, many did not believe in the reliability of the Slashchev corps, which defended the passages to the peninsula. If the Reds were able to overturn the sugars, and the Crimea would have become worse for Novorossiysk for white traps, from there it was still possible to escape to the mountains and Georgia.
The salvation for many volunteers was the arrival of the British squadron under the command of Admiral Seymour. Admiral agreed to Denikin’s requests to take people, but said that he could take no more than 5-6 thousand people on warships. Intervened the head of the Entente military mission in southern Russia, General Holman, and assured that they would take out more. At the same time, General Bridge was visited by Denikin with a message from the British government. According to London, the position of the whites was hopeless, and the evacuation to the Crimea was not feasible. The British offered their mediation in concluding a truce with the Bolsheviks. Denikin refused.
Holman fulfilled his promise. The British squadron took about 8 thousand people. In addition, British ships covered the loading of other ships with their artillery, shelling the mountains and preventing the Reds from approaching the city. On the shore, the evacuation was provided by the 2nd battalion of Scottish riflemen. At the same time, transports began to approach. The evacuation commission of General Vyazmitinov allocated the first transports for the Volunteer Corps and Kuban. The remaining vessels arrived were intended for the donors. The remaining artillery, horses, supplies and equipment were abandoned. All railways in the city area were packed with trains, here, white threw three armored trains. In Novorossiysk, warehouses with military property were burned, oil tanks and explosives were blown up. It was the agony of the White Army.
Denikin wrote in his memoirs that Novorossiysk, filled in excess,
“Flooded with human waves, buzzed like a ravaged beehive. There was a struggle for a "place on the ship" - a struggle for salvation ... Many human dramas took place on the hocks of the city during these terrible days. A lot of bestial feelings poured out in the face of impending danger, when naked passions drowned out conscience and man became a fierce foe to man. ”
There was not enough transport for the entire Don army. Sidorin was offered to take up troops near the city and hold out for a day or two until the ships approached. Or break through the coast in Tuapse. The road was closed by several thousand fighters of the Black Sea Red Army (formerly “green”), but their fighting efficiency was extremely low. In Tuapse, there were warehouses of supplies, it was possible to connect with the Kubans and there it was possible to redirect the transports going to Novorossiysk, or send ships after they were unloaded in the Crimea. However, Sidorin could no longer lead his troops into battle. Many Don units have already ceased to obey the commanders, lost their organization and mixed into uncontrollable crowds. Part of the Cossacks tried to break through to the transport themselves. The other part fell into prostration, the Cossacks reached the "end", learned that there was no further way, and dropped their hands. Burned bonfires, smashed property, shops, warehouses, got drunk. As a result, several thousand Cossacks, led by Sidorin, landed on British ships. Later, Don commanders will declare "the betrayal of the Don army."
General Kutepov, commander of the Volunteer Corps, was appointed chief of defense of Novorossiysk. Volunteers covered the city and defended themselves from the crowds of refugees in the port. Many citizens, even those who had the right to land, could not get to the ships. On March 25, the Red Army, with the help of partisans, pushed Denikin's troops away from the Tunnel station and through the pass reached the suburban station Gaiduk. On the 26th, Kutepov reported that it was no longer possible to remain in the city. A spontaneous uprising could have begun in the city; the Reds were on the way. Volunteers could no longer hold on. It was decided to leave Novorossiysk at night.
The ship was loaded all night. On the morning of March 27, ships with the White Guards left Novorossiysk. Almost the entire Volunteer Corps, the Kuban and four Don divisions were loaded onto transports. They took part of the refugees associated with the army. Denikin and his headquarters, as well as the command of the Don Army, were landed on the auxiliary cruiser Tsarevich Georgiy and the destroyer Captain Saken. The last was the 3rd Drozdovsky regiment, which was the rearguard and covered the evacuation, on the destroyer Pylyky. In total, about 30 thousand people were taken to Crimea. The remaining donors and a small part of the volunteers who did not get on the ships moved ashore to Gelendzhik and Tuapse. Part of the Cossacks surrendered and joined the Red Army, which on March 27, 1920 entered the city.
British Tanks VSYUR (Mk.V and Mk.A.) captured by the Red Army in 1920 near Novorossiysk