Leaving the Markovtsev barrier from the north, leaving the Drozdovites on the left bank to cover the crossings from the east, the main forces of the strike group were sent to the south-west, to Nikopol. White group tried to stop the 2-I Cavalry Army Mironov. But on the night of October 9, the connections of another part of the 3 Corps and Barbovich's cavalry began to be forced to force the river. Another group of whites struck the flank and rear of the 2 th Cavalry Army, and she was forced to retreat, discarding the enemy with counterattacks. Both groups of whites joined and occupied Nikopol, developing an offensive to the west and advancing 10-25 km from the Dnieper.
In the east direction, the advance of the Red Army continued. October 8 Reds occupied Berdyansk. October 10 Soviet cavalry captured Gulyay-Pole. Around this turn, the front stabilized. Front commander Frunze did not want to throw reserves into battle, saving them for a decisive offensive. And the main forces of Wrangel’s army were engaged in the Zadneprovskaya operation.
October 12 White Guards took a large station Apostolovo. Frunze instructed Mironov to keep on the line of the Dnieper and on the Kakhovsky bridgehead at all costs: "The 2-I cavalry army must fulfill its task at least at the cost of self-sacrifice." To support the 2 Cavalry Army, the Ekaterinoslav group Fedko was redeployed from the north to the right bank. In addition, the Latvian, 15 and 52 divisions were removed from the Kakhovsky bridgehead to the aid of Mironov’s army. The first regiments of the 30 division thrown from Siberia began to arrive, it was the same “giant” as Blucher’s 52 division. When the advanced units were unloaded in Pavlodar, others only passed through Moscow, and the artillery and the rear were still beyond the Volga. Wrangel's intelligence spotted the withdrawal of troops from the Kakhovsky bridgehead, but felt that the Red Army left a bridgehead to avoid encirclement. Vitkovsky received an order to begin storming the Kakhovsky bridgehead.
October 13 began a fierce oncoming battle. Mironov gathered into a single fist all the retreating troops, received reinforcements. Three divisions joined the battle with the Kakhovsky bridgehead. Mironov was able to get through to the Dnieper. White troops fluttered and began to retreat. The 6-i and 7-i infantry divisions were crushed and ran. During the battle with 2, the red cavalry army of Mironov was hit by one of the best cavalry generals of the Civil War in Russia, Nikolai Babiev, with a shell fragment. He was a member of the First World War, fought in the White Army from the First Kuban campaign, consistently commanded the Kornilov cavalry regiment, the 2 of the Kuban cavalry brigade, the 3 of the Kuban equestrian division. He was the commander of the equestrian group (as part of the Kuban Cossack Division and the Astrakhan Cossack Brigade) of the Caucasian Army, the Kuban Cossack Equestrian Division in the Russian Army Wrangel, the Kuban Cossack Equestrian Corps, the equestrian group of the 1 Equestrian Corps (as part of the Kuban Cossack Equestrian Division, 1 X-NUMX Equestrian Corps (as part of the Kuban Cossack Equestrian Division, XNUMX) horse division and Terek-Astrakhan brigade). As Wrangel wrote, Babiyev was “... of exceptional courage and impulse, with a rare cavalry flair, an excellent horseman adored by officers and Cossacks, he, commanding the regiment, brigade and division, always won brilliant victories. His cavalry attacks always brought confusion to the ranks of the enemy. During the Great War and internecine warfare, being constantly in the most dangerous places, General Babiev received nineteen wounds. ”
A walking chieftain of the Kuban Cossack army and General Vyacheslav Naumenko, who replaced Babiyev, was also wounded. The link between the command and the waxes was interrupted, the troops were mixed. From the north, the Fedko group launched an offensive, crowding the Markovites. It was not possible to restore order. All whites rushed to the crossings. Realizing that the troops did not stop, General Dratsenko ordered the transfer of the entire army to the left bank of the Dnieper.
White headquarters received news of the army's flight only on October 14. At this time, Vitkovsky's building - 6-7 thousand people with 10 tanks and 14 armored cars, has already gone to storm the Kakhovsky bridgehead. All the main forces of the white aviation... As a result, the red planes were able to freely attack the white troops that had accumulated at the crossings across the Dnieper. The battle for Kakhovka went on all day. The Whites were able to break through the external fortification system, the Red troops withdrew to the main line of defense. However, Vitkovskiy's corps, having seized the external defense system of the Kakhovsky bridgehead, was drained of blood. 9 tanks out of 10 were also lost. Frunze was forced to return to the bridgehead the divisions previously withdrawn from there, but this could no longer change the situation at the front.
Zadneprovsky grouping of whites is now beaten with blows from the front and the flanks. The Kornilov and Markov divisions still snapped, but they were crushed by cavalry attacks. White cavalry was completely disorganized and could not resist the red cavalry. Panic intensified rumors about the arrival of the army Budyonny. At crossings, and paths to them through the marshes, there was a crush. White threw carts, guns, machine guns, various military equipment. The infantry and cavalry fought for the right to be the first to cross to the other side. From the rear attacked the cavalry of Mironov.
To the east, Frunze, in order to prevent Wrangel from redeploying parts of the Don Corps to the west, threw the 5 Cavalry Division into the attack. She easily passed the front line and walked through the white rear. October 15 Corps Vitkovsky again tried to dislodge the red Kakhovsky bridgehead. But all attacks were unsuccessful. Moreover, Blucher went on the counteroffensive and repulsed earlier lost positions. At this Zadneprovskaya operation completed. The remains of the white troops completed the crossing and destroyed the pontoon bridge.
Southern Front Counteroffensive
12 October, when the white army of the last forces rushed to the west, the Polish government concluded peace with Soviet Russia. Pilsudski did not care about Wrangel’s army and its interests. He was in a hurry to make peace on favorable terms, Poland received Western Belorussia and Western Ukraine. True, she dreamed of much more, but the Red Army near Warsaw beat the Poles away from the desire to continue the war. The Soviet command was given the opportunity to concentrate all efforts on the White Crimea and internal uprisings. From the South-Western Front to the Southern immediately began to transfer 1-th Cavalry Army.
White command after the meeting, decided to go on the defensive, remaining in Tavria. Chief of Staff Shatilov expressed the transfer of troops to the Crimea, fearing encirclement and destruction of the army behind Perekop. Wrangell was against retirement for Perekop. This narrowed the possibilities for the supply of the army, its operational capabilities.
Frunze, successfully repelling the offensive of the white troops and inflicting a serious defeat on them, was in no hurry with the counteroffensive. The White Army received a two-week respite. White command replenished parts, patched up "holes". True, we must bear in mind that these recruits were worse in combat qualities than the original composition. All more or less combat-ready units were sent to the front by the beginning of the offensive. The army was carried out another reorganization. The 1 army of Kutepov included the 1 and 2 army corps. Kutepov's army defended the front line on the Dnieper and in the northern sector. The eastern direction was defended by the 2-I army and the 3-th army and Don corps. Commander Dratsenko was replaced by the commander of the Don Corps, Abramov. Barbovich's cavalry corps and Babiev’s former cavalry group (headed by General Kantserov) were in reserve. The total number of army was 38 thousand people with 249 guns, 1 thousand machine guns, 32 aircraft.
The southern front at this time received new troops. The 30-division “giant” arrived completely, on its base and other new formations the 4-I army was formed under the command of Vladimir Lazarevich. In the 4 Army, the new 3 Cavalry Corps was formed, formed by the 9 and 5 Cavalry divisions. Large recruits received 6-I and 13-I army. 2-th Cavalry Army was also added. Compounds of the 1 Cavalry Army came under the command of Seeds Budyonny. As a result, by the end of October, the Southern Front had 144, thousand bayonets and sabers, 527 guns, more than 2,6 thousand machine guns, and 45 aircraft.
The plan to destroy Wrangel’s army remained the same - converging strikes, encirclement and liquidation of the white army. But the balance of forces changed dramatically in favor of the Red Army, it could inflict more blows and increase the power of the shock groups. The two groups were to advance from the Kakhovsky bridgehead: the 15 and 51 divisions were aimed at Perekop, the Latvian division and the 1th Cavalry Army were aimed at the eastern direction, where they were to unite with the 2th Mironov Cavalry Army and 4 rifle divisions that attacked from Nikopol. Thus, the two red groups had to surround and defeat the main forces of Kutepov’s 1 Army, and then go south to the Crimea. The 4 Army of the Red Army from the north and the 13 Army from the east attacked Melitopol to defeat the 2 Army of Abramov.
The first fights began on October 26. Divisions from the Mironov group forced the Dnieper near Nikopol and, having pressed the Kornilov division, they occupied two bridgeheads. October 28 1920, all five armies of the Southern Front launched an offensive. The Blucher group on the Kakhovsky bridgehead rejected the Vitkovsky corps drained of the previous battles and moved to Perekop. Part of the Vitkovsky corps moved northwards, and some departed in front of the Blucher group. 1-I Cavalry Army went to the breakthrough right away. A group of Mironov was advancing from the Nikopol bridgehead. The 4-I and 13-I army of the Red Army also attacked, but did not achieve decisive success, the 2-I army of Abramov did not allow to divide their battle formations, clung to each line, counterattacked and organized, gradually departed.
Already on October 29, the Blucher divisions reached Perekop and immediately attempted to capture the Turkish rampart. However, the white garrison and part of the 2-ko corps, which retreated in this direction, reflected the blow. 1-I Budyonny Cavalry Army went far in the rear to the white, leaving behind the Latvian division. According to the original plan, Budyonny was going to turn north and connect with Mironov. But Frunze, based on the reports of Mironov, that the whites were defeated and fleeing, ordered the commander to lead the 1 th Cavalry Army not to the north, but to the south. 1-I army was supposed to take Genichesk and Salkovo, that is, to block the last two ferries to the Crimea - through Chongar and Arabatskaya arrow. The commander of the 1 Cavalry Army had somewhat different information about the state of the white troops - although they were defeated, they had not yet come to a complete defeat. Therefore, he decided to divide his forces: the 6-th and 11-th cavalry divisions, according to the old plan, sent to the north, to connect with Mironov, while he himself moved with the 4-th, 14-th divisions to the south. By the end of the day, the 4 Division, without meeting resistance, occupied Salkovo and the Novo-Alekseevka station. The railway to the Crimea was cut. The 14 Division occupied the village of Rozhdestvenskoe, and the headquarters with a backup crew, the village of Otrada.
The encirclement of the white armies was completed. The headquarters of the white army was located in Dzhankoy and was cut off from the front. Wrangel managed only to transfer the order to Kutepov: to unite the forces of the two armies and make his way to the Crimea. A military disaster was on the threshold. There were no one to protect the entrances to the peninsula. Urgently threw the cadets, Wrangel ordered the Fostikoff brigade, which was located in Feodosia, to go to the isthmuses. Fostikov said that his people do not have weapons, uniforms. However, the bid confirmed the order.
The situation was saved by the fact that Frunze, having changed the original plan, was mistaken. White armies retreated, but were not defeated. Moreover, they made strong counterattacks. Kutepov's troops, with the support of the Barbovich cavalcourse, launched a counterattack, drove the 16 th cavalry and 1 th rifle divisions to the Dnieper. The 4 Army of the Red Army advanced too slowly. For eight hours, there was a battle for the Vasilyevka station, where the whites, supported by armored trains, repulsed the attacks of the 30 Infantry Division. East, in the band of the 13 Army, the Reds still broke through the defenses of the Whites, opening the way to Melitopol.
October 30 group Blucher, pulling artillery, armored vehicles, again went to the assault on Perekop. However, despite the small number of defenders of the Turkish Wall and the bitterness of the battle, White withstood the blow. Blucher was forced to withdraw the troops and go on the defensive. The 11-th cavalry division of the 1-th Cavalry Army, moving north, collided with the advance units of the Barbovich cavalcade, which began to withdraw to the peninsula. The Reds began to retreat, but soon received reinforcements - the 6-th cavalry division. A stubborn battle ensued that lasted several hours. The white avant-garde was threatened with destruction when the main forces of Barbovich's corps approached. Parts of the 1 Army suffered heavy losses and were discarded.
In the group of Mironov, covering the withdrawal of the main forces, the Don corps delivered a flank strike. 2-I Stavropol Cavalry Division suffered heavy losses, its headquarters was destroyed. Violent battles with varying success were going on in the band of the 4 army. The 13 Army was able to achieve a breakthrough: the 3 Cavalry Corps and the Kuybyshev group of two divisions were introduced into the breakthrough. Red occupied Melitopol.
October 31 Frunze ordered Budyonny to gather all his forces into a fist and hold on until reinforcements arrived. Mironov received an order to speed up movement on Salkovo, to the aid of the 1 Cavalry Army. However, the connection between the different parts of the 1 Cavalry Army was already lost. The 6 and 11 Cavalry Divisions joined up with the Latvian division and, in the area of the village of Agayman, engaged in battle with the 1 Army Corps. The red group suffered another defeat. 11-Cavalry Division suffered especially great losses, it lost almost the entire commanding staff.
Kutepov, covering the flank from the attacks of the Latvian division by the Kornilovites, moved the main forces to the isthmuses, to Joy and Rozhdestvensky. Whites struck the headquarters of the 1 Cavalry Army and a cavalry brigade in Otrada and drove them out of the village. 4-th cavalry division Tymoshenko could not come to the aid of the headquarters, she was connected in battle with the Don Cossacks and the connections of the 3-th army corps. As a result of the battle, which lasted all day, the whites occupied Novoalekseevka. 14-kavdiviziya Parkhomenko at Christmas was broken at night by the forces of the Barbovich case. Thus, the 1-I Cavalry Army was broken down in parts.
The remnants of the 1 and 2 armies were united. The Latvian division approached and attempted to repel the Christmas, but the Latvians attacked the attacks. Kutepov began to withdraw troops to the peninsula. An entire bridge was found in Genichesk, which made evacuation easier. In the evening of November 1, the connections of Mironov's 2 Cavalry Army arrived. They attacked the Christmas, but could not take. Mironov began to assemble all the available units for a new offensive, but at night the connections of the 6-th White Division and the Don Corps, which were retreating from Melitopol, began to approach. They hit the 2 Cavalry Army with a flank attack and foiled the assault. 2 November Mironov again went into a general attack, trying to overturn the white rearguards. By evening, the units of Mironov occupied Novoalekseevka, having intercepted the railway and the intersection between the Chongarsk and Genichesk crossings. At the same time, units of the Red Army 4 Army and battered 1 Divisions of the Cavalry Army approached.
November 3 The Red Army moved to the Chongar peninsula. Markovtsy recaptured a series of attacks, but then were forced to retreat to the bridges, fighting off at intermediate lines. By evening, the departure of the last units to the Crimea was completed. White, having passed the last armored train to his side, blew up the railway bridge and set fire to the horse-drawn one. Red cavalry tried to break through the fire, but it was thrown away. White blew and Genichesky bridge. Part of the 13 Army tried to get to the peninsula through the Arabat Spit. But the white fleet came here and stopped the offensive with a powerful bombardment. The fire was so strong that the Reds were forced to leave Genichesk.
Frunze noted: “Particularly remarkable is the withdrawal of the main core to the Crimea. Wrangle cut off from the isthmuses still did not lose their presence of mind and at least with colossal casualties, but made their way to the peninsula, ”nevertheless, the Wrangel army suffered a cruel defeat. The Red Army repelled White’s last offensive and liberated Tavria. Reds captured a significant number of prisoners, more 100 guns, a lot of machine guns, various supplies. The White Army was again isolated in the Crimea. The troops of the Southern Front, together with the Makhnovists, began preparations for the decisive operation. Her goal was to capture Perekop and Chongar and break through to the Crimea.
You can read more about this latest battle of Wrangel’s army and its fate in the following articles: Crimean outcome, Russian army in search of shelter, Russian army in search of shelter. Part of 2.