In August, the leadership of Soviet Russia recognized the priority of the Southern, Wrangel Front over the Western, Polish. This was due to the internal situation in Russia, a wave of peasant uprisings swept the country. There was a threat of a full-scale peasant war. The uprisings shook Siberia, the Urals, the Volga region, Dagestan, Kuban, Ukraine. In July, Lenin 1920 was informed that half of the Altai and Tomsk provinces were captured by the "kulak movement." In Bashkiria, where only the Black Eagle uprising was suppressed in the spring, a rebellion led by Validov began in the summer. Ufa province declared martial law. Large detachments of "green" acted on the border of the Perm and Chelyabinsk provinces. The Urals embraced the uprising of the former Red Army division commander Sapozhnikov. In Dagestan, the uprising was led by Imam Gotsinsky, the mountaineers of a number of districts revolted under the slogan "Imam and Sharia." In the Kuban acted detachments of defeated White Guards and "green". In the left-bank Ukraine, the army of Makhno, Right-Bank Ukraine, was simply teeming with various gangs. Insurgent sentiment grew in the Donbas. Unrest began in the Voronezh and Tambov regions, where the famous Antonov rebellion would soon flare up.
As a result, the government of Southern Russia could become the nucleus for a new broad anti-Bolshevik front. The Russian army of Wrangel had to be destroyed as soon as possible. Therefore, during the Kuban assault (Ulagayevsky landing in the Kuban), the Red Command immediately organized a new offensive in Tavria. On the one hand, it was another attempt to defeat Wrangel’s army, on the other hand, White forces were diverted, which could be sent to Kuban to organize a new front. The plan was the same - to cut off the white corps from the Crimea by converging blows and destroy them. From the north-east 13-I and 2-I cavalry army set their sights on Melitopol. From the Kakhovsky bridgehead (Battle for Kakhovsky bridgehead) Blücher's 51 Division was advancing, it was also aimed at Melitopol, the 15-I, 52-I and Latvian divisions - at Perekop.
20 August operation began. The troops of Blucher and Sablin's equestrian group were pushing through the defense of Vitkovsky’s corps, and fierce oncoming battles were fought. To the south, under the cover of the Blucher shock group, three Soviet divisions quickly advanced to Perekop, three days they passed 40-50 km, and were halfway to Perekop. On August 21, Soviet forces also launched an offensive in the eastern direction. In the area of Tokmak were fierce battles. The Reds could not break the resistance of the corps of Kutepov and the Don Brigade. The settlements passed from hand to hand, but the red cavalry could not penetrate the front and go to the rear of the white. Reflecting a blow to the east, Wrangel removed the Kornilov and 6 infantry divisions from the front, and then Barbovich's cavalry corps. They were thrown at the elimination of a breakthrough. At this point, the Blucher-Sablina group was in 30 km from Melitopol, and the advanced units of the Latvian division were in the Chaplinka region, near Perekop. The Red Army was stopped by counterstrikes, the white cavalry brought down the group of Sablina, struck the flanks and rear areas of the forward units of Blucher. A fierce battle began.
Red command, taking advantage of the transfer of white troops from the northeast direction, again threw into battle 2 th Cavalry Army. She had to break through to the rear of the whites and connect with the troops of Blucher. 2-I Gorodovikova Cavalry Army 29 August broke through the front and went to the rear of the white. Wrangel threw a Kalinin group across the Gorodovikov group: the 2-I Don Cavalry Division, a separate brigade, the Don Infantry Regiment and part of the Markov Division. After a fierce battle, the 2 th Cavalry Army was abandoned. Gorodovik led the troops to Novokaterinovka for regrouping. Wrangell put a barrier and sent all the forces against Blucher. 31 August battle unfolded with a new force. Without waiting for the approach of the 2 th Cavalry Army, Blucher began to withdraw troops to the Kakhovsky bridgehead. The Perekop group also retreated. September 1 again went on the offensive 2-I Conarm. But Blucher had already retreated, and Conarmia made its way to the retreating troops. Own "army" she was already only in name, after fierce battles in her there were no more than 1,5 thousand sabers. The army was taken to the re-formation, and Philip Mironov was appointed commander.
Wrangel tried to develop success, destroy the Kakhovsky bridgehead, hoping for disorganization and decline in morale of the retreating red divisions. 7 thousand were thrown for the assault Witkowski corps with an armored group. Great hope was for a few tanks. However, the bridgehead was a real fortified area, all the attacks of the White fought back with great losses for them. Reds learned to fight tanks by rolling cannons for direct fire. In addition, the cars were still weak, tangled up even in wire fences. By September 6, the white ran out of steam, losing up to half of the troops and 6 tanks.
Wrangel's army suffered a great shortage of recruitment. Peasants Tavria overwhelmingly supported Makhno, "green". The peasants did not go to the white army, all the mobilizations failed. Wrangel tried to introduce a mutual responsibility - for a hiding conscript, they took another man from the family from 17 to 43 years. The deserters were ordered to confiscate property. But the results were minimal. The “Land Law”, which Wrangel considered to be the cornerstone of his domestic policy, was in fact not known to the peasantry. The Crimean Tatars did not go to the army, they also preferred gang formations. In the Crimean mountains a rather large number of “greens” had accumulated, we had to keep considerable garrisons in the rear cities, send expeditions from junkers and rear units against the bandits. All this weakened the shock corps. Especially difficult situation was with the officers.
Preparation of the operation
In September, the position of the army of Wrangel improved somewhat. Poland again launched an offensive. Wrangel proposed the Polish government to send the main blow to Ukraine. For its part, the white army was to force the Dnieper and unite with the Polish army. Under the Government of the South of Russia, the “Ukrainian National Committee” was formed, which held the positions of autonomy of Ukraine within Russia, and Wrangel was satisfied with this position. With the participation of Savinkov, an agreement was reached with Piłsudski on the formation of the 3 of the Russian army in Poland. The situation with replenishment has also improved: the landing Ulagay with 10 thousand Kuban Cossacks returned; the transportation of the Bredov’s hull from Poland is completed; the Fostikoff detachment was evacuated to the Crimea; conducted additional mobilization; White officers arrived in the Crimea one by one and in groups, remaining in the Baltic states, Poland, Romania, etc.
Wrangel was able to conduct a new reorganization of his armed forces. The 1 Army and the Don Corps were brought to 1's army under the command of Kutepov. The Vitnovsky 2 Corps and the Army 2 Corps entered the 3 Army of Dratsenko. A separate Barbovic cavalcore united the entire regular cavalry. A separate equestrian group was the cavalry of Babiev from the Kuban division and the Terek-Astrakhan brigade. By mid-September, the size of the army had grown to 44 thousand bayonets and sabers with 193 guns, around 1 thousand machine guns, 34 aircraft, 26 armored vehicles, 9 tanks, 19 armored trains.
The corresponding organizational measures were also carried out by the Red Command. By resolution of the Revolutionary Military Council (RVSR) of September 21 of 1920, the Southern Front was re-established. Mikhail Frunze was appointed its commander. The front included: 6-I, 13-I armies, 2-I cavalry army and a number of other compounds, and since October 1920 of the year - 4-I army and 1-I cavalry. The basis of the 6 Army was made up of divisions that were part of the Right Bank (Kakhovskaya) group of the 13 Army. The forces of the Southern Front initially amounted to about 60 thousand people with 451 guns, more than 2 thousand machine guns, 42 aircraft, 14 armored vehicles, 3 tank and 14 armored trains. But soon the number of law firms was brought to 80 thousand bayonets and sabers. The front was still going to be strengthened; additional mobilizations and sets were carried out. 5, thousands of communists, from trade unions, 9, thousand people, and 5, thousand Komsomol members mobilized to fight Wrangel.
Only a serious strategic victory could save Wrangel’s army. Wrangell gave the order to start the offensive. The September offensive plan provided for the main attack on the western direction — beyond the Dnieper. The White command was serving to unite with the Polish troops that were advancing in Ukraine. They were going to force the river at Nikopol, bypassing the Kakhovsky bridgehead from the rear, to destroy the Red Army 6 army stationed there and to attack on Right-Bank Ukraine, which was engulfed by uprisings. There was hope for the replenishment of troops in Ukraine, interaction with the forces of Makhno and other rebel formations.
However, before advancing to the west, it was necessary to secure the rear, the 13 Army was looming from the northeast. She needed to be crushed, or weakened. In addition, Kutepov’s 1 thrust had to pull off the reserves of the Red Army to the northeast and give Dratsenko and Babaiev’s cavalry time to prepare the hitting and re-staffing, organizing the troops. September 2 went on the offensive Don Corps Abramov. In the 14-day battle, he pushed the 3 and 40 Soviet divisions. Berdyansk and the station Polohy was busy. While developing the offensive, the whites moved towards the Donbass. And the Cossacks hit the 42 Army Corps, he broke the right flank of the 1 Army of the Red Army, took the city of Orekhov. September 13 white troops occupied Aleksandrovsk (Zaporozhye). By the time when Frunze took over the command of the Southern Front, the Don team took Mariupol, approached Yuzovka (Donetsk) and Ilovaiskaya. The troops of 19 Corps advanced 1 km and, taking Sinelnikovo, threatened Yekaterinoslav.
Having analyzed the situation, Mikhail Frunze realized that the attack to the east is of an auxiliary nature. Wrangel's army did not have the resources to go far in the northeast direction and secure the captured lands behind them. There was no strategic gain from the occupation of this territory. It was obvious that the main blow was still ahead. Therefore, the commander-in-chief did not touch his main forces, transfer them to the northeast direction. Here he decided to do without reinforcements, which were transferred from the Kuban and the North Caucasus. First came the 9-Infantry Division of Kuibyshev, its commander Frunze subjugated the remnants of the retreating units. She was able to stop the Don Corps at the cost of huge losses. In the northern sector, the White offensive was stopped by fresh 46 and 3 rifle divisions.
Frunze also realized that Red Amia could have achieved a decisive victory over Wrangel’s army long ago if it had accumulated strength for one crushing blow. And did not spend them in a number of unsuccessful attacks. The White Command was given the opportunity to bleed fresh Red Army units alternately, one after the other. Therefore, the com-front abandoned the idea of an immediate general attack on Wrangel, until all the reaching and expected reinforcements and reserves (first of all, the 1 Cavalry Army) approached. Frunze was Lenin's favorite and had enough authority to push his decisions. He possessed more freedom than other military leaders. The start of the fourth operation to eliminate Wrangel’s army slowed down and began to strengthen the defenses. Continued to improve the defense Kakhovsky bridgehead. Anti-tank ditches were erected, artillery positions were built, designed to combat the enemy’s armored vehicles. Equipped company support points to organize counterattacks in case of breakthrough of enemy forces. Frunze additionally redeployed to the Kakhovsky bridgehead a shock and fire brigade, which was armed with flamethrowers and several dozen machine guns. In the Nikopol area, the 2 Cavalry Army of Mironov was concentrated to cover the crossings. This commander was in great respect in the troops, even deserters flocked to him, knowing that this commander would not betray them.
With Makhno Frunze entered into negotiations. Comfronte had a large wholesale diplomatic games in Turkestan. A delegation from Makhno arrived in Kharkov, and on October 6 an agreement was reached on joint actions against Wrangel. The insurgent army of Makhno remained independent and had to act in the rear of Wrangel. Makhno detachments were promised help with equipment weapons, ammunition. With this agreement, Makhno wanted to preserve parity, to prevent whites from strengthening. In addition, I wanted to plunder the rich Crimea.
A strong grouping was gathered in the Donbas and Frunze launched a private offensive against the Don Corps. October 3 whites were forced to retreat from Yuzovka, 4-th beat off Mariupol. White command could not support the Don. All forces were focused on the direction of the main attack, and the neighboring 1 Army Corps was removed.
To be continued ...