The name of Peter Nikolayevich Wrangel is inextricably linked with the final stage of the Civil War - the battle for the Crimea. Among the White Guard emigrants, he was called the "last knight of the white movement." For the Soviet people, Wrangel always remained a “black baron” who “again prepares the royal throne for us”.
In the famous Soviet isterne, the New Adventures of the Elusive, the slogan "Destroy Wrangel" is depicted on the banner of a detachment of red cavalry fighting with the "black" army of Burnash. And the gloomy classical portrait of the Baron (a tall, haughty man with a pale face, thick black eyebrows and mustache, in a black fur hat and a black Circassian with gas-holes), directed by E.G. Keosayan uses in the brilliant mimic scene of the ataman’s story about his defeat in the “steppes of Kherson region”.
“Pay attention to the tragic coincidence: nine ... one ... four ... Nine hundred and fourteenth year - the beginning of the war (from the film" New Adventures of the Elusive ").
Meanwhile, Wrangel, to whom the “Card of Colonel Kudasov” was intended, in real life had enough reason to choose for the mythical cipher the year of the beginning of the First World War. Tragic for world and russian stories - 1914-th year was the beginning of the rapid career of the last leader of the White movement in the Civil War.
You will break, but you will not bend
That was the motto of the ancient noble family of Wrangel. Originally from Lower Saxony, Wrangel at the beginning of the XIII century moved first to Denmark, and then settled in Estland (present-day Estonia). Subsequently, they served in the Teutonic and Livonian Orders, the kings of Sweden, who bestowed upon the family baronial title, Prussia, Austria, Holland, Spain. In total, the Wrangel genus gave Europe 55 field marshals, generals and admirals.
Wrangels fought with Russian neighbors from time immemorial. In the army of King Charles XII, 79 barons of this kind served. Thirteen of them were killed near Poltava, and seven died in Russian captivity. However, after the accession of the Baltic states, part of the Wrangel, in order to preserve their land holdings, which were considered in the 17th century to be the largest private patrimonial possessions in the Swedish state, went to work for the Russian sovereign.
Representatives of the Russified branch fought against their relatives in the Seven Years War and the Russian-Swedish war 1789-1790, participated in the Patriotic War 1812 and the Crimean War, the Russian-Turkish and Russian-Persian wars of the XIX century., Suppressed the Polish uprising 1831 and pacified the recalcitrant Caucasus.
In Russia, Wrangel’s military vocation was not the only one, although the main one. Among the exceptions, it is impossible not to mention the famous geographer and traveler Ferdinand (Fedor) Petrovich, whose name is named island in the Arctic Ocean.
A remarkable role Wrangel played in Russian literature.
The grandfather of the “black baron”, Yegor Yermolaevich, was married to Darya Alexandrovna Raush von Traubenberg, Abram Petrovich Gannibal's granddaughter. The great poet was her second cousin. In “The Captain's Daughter” and “Pugachev's Stories”, Alexander Sergeevich mentions the grandfather of his relative, General MM. Traubenberg, murdered by the rebels. It is the Hannibal roots that explain the curliness of the “black baron” in his youth, thick blue-black eyebrows and mustaches.
Moreover, Wrangel's uncle, Alexander Ermolaevich, from childhood was read out by the “Poor people and“ White nights ”of the beginner F.M. Dostoevsky, was present at the dramatization of the execution of the "Petrashevists". In 1853, he abandoned his career in the capital and went to the post of prosecutor precisely in Semipalatinsk, where he pulled the soldiers' strap after the penal servitude of Fyodor Mikhailovich. 1852 to 1859 Baron Wrangel helped his idol with money, bothered to confer an officer's rank and permission to return to Central Russia, and promoted the writer's marriage.
Literary talents are clearly manifested in the work of Father Peter Wrangel. Nikolai Egorovich not only composed the plays in his youth (irony of fate - dedicated to the heroes of the Time of Troubles), but left interesting memoirs.
In general, Nikolai Egorovich was the “black sheep” in his family. How not to recall the famous and typical for noble families plot of Turgenev's Fathers and Sons: unlike the feudal father, whom Herzen attacked angrily in Kolokol, the son was an ardent fan of the latter, even listened to the anarchist theorist Bakunin in Geneva.
However, upon returning to Russia, the University of Gottingen PhD and an ardent “Westernizer” directed his idealism into the practical field of commerce. Baron Wrangel got a job in a large company ROPIT (Russian Shipping and Trade Society). Initially, the company was engaged in the transportation of pilgrims to Palestinian shrines. However, with 1867, the company has monopolized mail delivery between Russia and the countries of the Middle East. By the way, it was the ships of this company that took white immigrants from the Crimea to 1920.
In 1877, Nikolai Egorovich got married with Maria Dmitrievna Dementieva-Maykova in Odessa. The mother of the future leader of the white movement was a relative of the poet A.N. Maikova, also a close friend of Dostoevsky. His grandfather, a famous bibliophile and friend of Pushkin, is Anna Pavlovna Kern's cousin. A famous Pushkin poem “I remember a wonderful moment” was dedicated to her.
In 1878, the firstborn Peter was born in the Wrangel family. Two years later, the second son, Nikolai, in the future a well-known art historian, one of the organizers of the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, a close friend of A. Benoit, N. Roerich, S. Dyagilev, A. Schusev. The third son, Vsevolod, was born in 1884.
The children of Wrangel lived in prosperity, but were not spoiled by excessive care. Parents did not impose any career on them and provided an opportunity to decide their own fate.
In connection with the service of Nikolai Egorovich in ROPIT, the family lived in Rostov (now Rostov-on-Don). Passion for hunting in the foothills of the Greater Caucasus Mountains, the stories of veterans, Cossacks and Highlanders, about past wars from early childhood influenced Peter's decision to become a military man.
In the Petrovsky real school, the younger Wrangels were moderately average: due to their upbringing at home, they lacked perseverance and hard work. In 1895, the family, after the death of the youngest son of Vsevolod, who died of diphtheria, and the departure of Nikolai Egorovich from ROPIT, moved to St. Petersburg. Peter Wrangel entered the Mining Institute. Judging by the secondary and higher education, the father hoped that the firstborn would make a career as an engineer and become an industrialist. The hopes of Nikolai Egorovich were fully justified: his career went up. Thanks to meeting with the Minister of Finance S.Yu. Witte, he joined the boards of directors of several large companies (Russian Gold Industry Company, Bibi-Aibat Oil Society, which controlled oil fields in Baku, Russian Electric Company Siemens-Galsk).
However, the son did not quite live up to his father’s expectations: at least in the engineering and industrial fields. After graduating from the Mining Institute with a gold medal in 1902, Peter Wrangel did not take advantage of the privilege that gave exemption from military service, and according to the clan tradition he entered as a volunteer Life Guards Regiment. A year later, he passed the exam for the rank of cornet guard and was enlisted in the reserve. A big war was not foreseen at that time, and the ambitious baron did not intend to serve in peacetime.
Fight - his element
The outbreak of the Russo-Japanese war tore a retired horse guard from service as an official for special assignments under the governor-general of Eastern Siberia. Guard officers were forbidden to participate in hostilities, but already in February 1904 of the year managed to achieve enlistment in the 2 of the Verkhneudinsky regiment of the Transbaikalian Cossack army in the detachment of General PK Rennenkampf. In the same detachment served as a lieutenant colonel and chief of staff Anton Denikin and future hetman of Ukraine Pavel Skoropadsky.
The detachment acted in the rear of the enemy in Manchuria. This actually neutral territory was controlled not so much by the weak Chinese government as by the field commanders of the Hunghusians, local bandits. The Hunghuzes largely anticipated the activities of the future Chinese mafia: their leaders were elected and had unlimited power, never fought with each other, preferring to peacefully divide the territory. Contrary to the first deceptive impression, they were serious opponents: they fought desperately, to the last patron, preferring death to captivity. During the campaign against them, Rennencamp himself was wounded in the neck and leg, all of his adjutants and orderlies were injured or killed. Among them, Wrangel received a bullet in the chest: only the devotion of the Cossack who delivered our hero to the hospital in time saved him from death.
In this regard, it is impossible not to say that Rennenkampf, who became famous during the suppression of the Iheituan Chinese uprising in the 1900 year, always preferred to be in the foremost chains.
The personal example of the commander strongly influenced the young baron, convinced that the officer was obliged to personally manage the battle and take the initiative, not waiting for an order from the headquarters, but being guided by the combat situation.
Wrangel participated in raids and forays, conducted reconnaissance and seized the leaders of the Hunhuz, freed the hostages. Camping life in a volatile detachment was not easy: you had to starve, not to sleep, to make long and rapid marches in difficult climatic conditions. The first evacuation of Wrangel to the hospital occurred ... after a sunstroke!
Baron had a chance to make war with the Japanese as well: he participated in the battle of Shahe in the autumn of 1904. In June of 1905, Wrangel was transferred to the Separate scout division and fought in the battle of Mukden, which was lost by the Russians. The only one in his hundred, for this case he was awarded the Golden weapons.
For differences in battles with the Japanese, Pyotr Nikolayevich was also awarded the Orders of St. Anne IV and III degrees and the Order of St. Stanislav III degree with swords and bow, produced in the centurions, and then in the porchesaula. The future comrade-in-arms of the “black baron”, General P.N. Shatilov, noted that it was during the Manchurian war that “Wrangel instinctively felt that the struggle was his element, and his military work was his vocation.”
In early January, 1906, immediately after the end of the war, he was transferred to the 55 th Dragoon Finnish Regiment, and then assigned to the Northern retinue of His Imperial Majesty. He was to suppress the unrest of the first Russian revolution that had erupted throughout the empire. By chance, Wrangel did not have time to shed the blood of his compatriots: his detachment was spare and participated only in patrolling.
In March, 1907, he returned to his native Horse Guards Regiment, and in August he successfully entered the Nikolaev Academy of the General Staff, gaining 10,3 points from the 12 possible.
At the same time, Petr Nikolaevich Wrangel marries Olga Mikhailovna Ivanenko, sovereign of the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. Ivanenko came from the hetman Mazepa family. Naturally, in order to dissociate themselves from the surname of the legendary traitor, the descendants were forced to change their surname. It is noteworthy that his grandfather was M.N. Katkov, a well-known publicist and publisher of Dostoevsky’s works.
The young couple in 1909 born daughter Elena, in 1911 - son Peter, in 1913 - daughter Natalia (until recently, the last of the direct descendants of the baron, died in 2013 g.). The youngest son Alex was born already in exile, in 1922.
Studying at the academy was given to the lieutenant easily despite the recollections of his classmate, B.М. Shaposhnikov, the future chief of the General Staff of the Red Army and Marshal of the Soviet Union. A graduate of the Mining Institute and an engineer by specialty, a participant in hostilities, Wrangel brilliantly passed the final exams. However, this study is not over. For admission to the General Staff, graduating officers were obliged to return for two years to command to command companies and squadrons in their regiments. By order of the cavalry inspector general, Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolayevich, the cavalry graduates were obliged to finish the Officer cavalry school. Wrangel horse riding lessons were just a joy. In October, 1911, Peter Nikolaevich returned to the Life Guards Cavalry Regiment again and was given the post of deputy squadron commander, and a year later - the rank of captain and the commander of the 3 squadron.
The future of Wrangel is now defined: gradual advancement through the ranks from rank to rank, measured regimental life, secular balls, officer meetings, military parades.
High (1 and 93 cm), a thin horse guards officer, are remembered by an excellent dancer and manager at the balls, a witty and easy-to-communicate party of officer meetings, and a fascinating interlocutor.
His job description is also flawless: “Captain Baron Wrangel is an excellent squadron commander.
Brilliantly prepared by the military. Vigorous. Dashing. Demanding and very conscientious. Included in the little things of life squadron. Good friend. Good rider. A little too hot ... Beautiful morality.
In the full sense of the word, an outstanding squadron commander ”.
Wrangel's Great War
By World War I, the Russian cavalry, in which Captain Wrangel served, was considered the best in Europe. This concerned far not only Cossacks, but also regular units. In an individual battle, in riding skills and in close-range attack (“shock tactics”), the Russian cavalry was an order of magnitude superior to any European. The weak side of the Russian cavalry was weak interaction (compared to the German army) with infantry and artillery. It is noteworthy that the German cavalry whenever faced with Russian horsemen, retreated under the cover of artillery or infantry.
For the Russian cavalry, the lessons of the Russian-Japanese war turned out to be inapplicable in the First World War. Instead of raids, breakthroughs of the front line - horsemen were driven into the trenches. At the same time, cavalry, as an elite branch of the military, which was personally patronized by Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolayevich, who became 1914 in August, the Supreme Commander, was not usually used as cannon fodder, which was infantry. Losses of regular cavalry officers are not comparable with losses of regular infantry officers. That is why cavalry officers will become the backbone of both the White movement and the Red Army in the Civil War. In addition to Wrangel - P.N. Krasnov, V.O. Kappel, A.N. Pepelyaev, G.K. Mannerheim, B.V. Annenkov, A.M. Kaledin, A.G. Skins. In the same way, junior officers and ordinary cavalry will go over to the side of the new Soviet government - SM. Budyonny, C.K. Tymoshenko, G.K. Zhukov, K.K. Rokossovsky, A.I. Eremenko, PS Fishing
One way or another, there are few examples of successful cavalry attacks in the positional First World War. Among such exceptions is the Battle of Causeni, which glorified the name of Wrangel.
On the morning of August 6 1914, the equestrian group of General G. Khan Nakhichevansky, attributed to the 1 Army General of Infantry PK PK Rennenkampf, consisting of two guards and two army cavalry divisions and eight cavalry-artillery batteries, attacked the German Landwehr Brigade and two batteries (one on the front, and the other - across the river, in the second line of fortifications). The balance of power was in favor of the Russians: the cavalry division in terms of firepower approximately corresponded to the 1-2 German battalions. However, the Germans from the very beginning took a favorable position in the village and became stronger - while the Russians did not even have time to conduct reconnaissance. About seven thousand Russians took part in the battle against six thousand Germans at the front about six miles away.
From the very beginning, the dismounted cavalry regiments, which attacked in three dense columns, came under disastrous fire. The attack choked, but attacks with interruptions continued all day.
The Russians suffered heavy casualties, advancing to their full height (it is not worthwhile for the guardsmen to attack to lay low, with dashes!) Against the German cannons and machine guns that shot them point-blank.
At a critical moment, by the evening, when one of the Germans' guns had failed, the captain Wrangel asked the commander of the 1 Guards Cavalry Division, General NN. Kaznakova throw into battle his last reserve - 3-th squadron, commanded by Baron. Skillfully hiding behind the folds of the ground and the woods, the squadron quickly covered the kilometer distance to the German battery and emerged right in front of it at a distance of 130 steps. The Germans, who did not expect such a swift and suicidal cavalry attack, did not have time to lift sight and the shots hit the horses. The attack was costly: all the squadron officers and 20 soldiers from 100 were killed. A horse was killed near Wrangel, and he received a light concussion as he flew out of the saddle. However, horse guardsmen led by a captain broke into the battery, chopped up gunners in hand-to-hand fighting and seized two guns. The Germans were forced to withdraw from Caushen. It was not by chance that later the commander of the Horse Guards Regiment, Gartman, wrote that brilliant horse attacks by an entire division and even a corps during the Civil War were a consequence of the faith that the battle had approved in Wrangel.
However, the tactical success of the 3-th squadron was not used. In the evening of August 6, Khan Nakhichevansky gave the order to withdraw the equestrian group to its initial positions for a three-day rest. The losses were big: 46 officers and 329 soldiers killed and wounded. The Causeni battle distracted the horse group from participation in the Gumbinnen battle.
Recall that the 1-I army of Rennenkampf and without the help of cavalry forced the enemy to retreat. It was after this defeat that the German General Headquarters was forced to transfer two corps from the French theater. The fateful decision led to the disruption of the Schlieffen plan: Germany lost the opportunity to quickly win the war.
However, after the Gumbinnen battle, Rennenkampf could not organize the pursuit of the defeated Germans due to the absence of cavalry, which was resting after the Kaushensk battle.
Kaushen glorified the captain Wrangel. He becomes the first officer in the Great War to be awarded the Order of St. George of the 4 degree.
Co-workers praise the personal courage of the baron. The spiteful critics point out that Wrangel’s success was deliberately inflated by the patriotic press, in order to divert attention from the heavy defeat of General Samsonov’s 2 army near Tannenberg.
However, Wrangel's career goes uphill. In September 1914, he was appointed Chief of Staff of the Consolidated Cavalry Division. In October, Tsar Nicholas II receives him, and a month later Baron Wrangel receives the rank of colonel and the post of adjutant retinue of His Majesty.
In February, the 1915 of Wrangel participates in the Prasnysh operation. At the head of the division, he successfully conducts reconnaissance, captures the crossing, consistently knocks out two companies of German infantry from three fortified positions, capturing prisoners and a wagon train. For the difference in cases against the enemy, the colonel is awarded the St. George weapon.
It should be noted that the relatives of the baron also seek to help the fatherland. Wife Olga Mikhailovna works in the sanitary facilities of the units commanded by her husband. The younger brother, Nikolai Nikolayevich, in October 1914 became authorized by the sanitary train, taking out the wounded from the front line. In June 1915, he dies of jaundice in a Warsaw hospital.
In October of the same year, Wrangel was appointed commander of the 1-th Nerchinsky regiment of the Trans-Baikal Cossack Army, who fought on the South-Western Front. When translating, the former commander gives Wrangel the following description: “Outstanding courage. Understands the situation beautifully and quickly, very resourceful in a difficult situation. " Under the command of Baron, the regiment conducted active hostilities on the Western Front as part of the Ussurian Cossack Division, for which he was repeatedly thanked by the division commander A.M. Krymov. So, 29 and 30 July 1916, the Nerchinsky regiment successfully fights in an unequal battle with the 43 German Infantry Regiment, reinforced with artillery. According to Krymov, in a difficult situation, Colonel Wrangel showed "skillful maneuvering and battle management."
22 August of the same year, participating in the attack, 1-th Nerchinsky regiment captured German 118, captures a large number of weapons and ammunition. Many officers of the regiment, including the Baron, were wounded, but remain in the ranks. For this case, the regiment of Wrangel receives a special honor - the patronage of Tsarevich Alexei.
In December, Wrangel was appointed to command the brigade, then the division, in January 1917 was made major general. The rank of general in just thirteen years of service is the fastest in the Russian army at the beginning of the 20th century.
The February Revolution, which has broken out, puts an end to his military career. It was not only the ideological motives, although Wrangel was a staunch monarchist. No wonder then the Red Army men sang:
"White Army, Black Baron
They are preparing the royal throne for us again. ”
Wrangell understands that his military career is over. In the conditions of the disintegration of the army and the loss of unity of command, victory over a disciplined opponent cannot be won, and the ambitious baron is not used to defeat.
In August, 1917 of the year, having gone into conflict with members of the army committee who undermined the discipline and confidence of the soldiers in the officers, Wrangel refuses to take command of the cavalry corps and writes a resignation report in which he explicitly states that “he never changed his convictions and would not change ".
Wrangel is even more negative about the coming to power of the Bolsheviks. There were personal reasons for that: in 1918, the red commissioners almost executed a retired general in Crimea. Saved only selfless intervention of his wife, who asked to shoot her with her husband. It is only after this episode that Wrangel decides to join the White movement and take part in a fratricidal war. The rise and fall of the future Ruler of the South of Russia is just beginning ...