But first - a little background. The extensive involvement of the indigenous population of the North Caucasus in the Russian military service, primarily in the militia, began in 1820 - 1830-gg. XIX century, in the midst of the Caucasian war, when its specific protracted, partisan character was defined and the tsarist government set itself the task: on the one hand, “to have all these peoples in their dependence and make them useful to the state”, ie to promote the political and cultural integration of the mountaineers into Russian society, and on the other, to save on the maintenance of regular units from Russia. The mountaineers from among the “hunters” (ie, volunteers) were recruited into the permanent militia (in fact, the combat units contained in the barracks position) and temporary — for offensive military actions in detachments with regular troops or for defense of the region in case of danger from hostile nations ". The temporary militia was used exclusively in the theater of the Caucasian War.
However, up to 1917, the tsarist government did not dare to enlist highlanders in military service en masse, on the basis of compulsory military service. This was replaced by a cash tax, which from generation to generation began to be perceived by the local population as a kind of privilege. Before the start of the large-scale World War I, the Russian army completely managed without the highlanders. The only attempt to mobilize among the mountaineers of the North Caucasus in 1915, in the midst of a bloody war, ended barely beginning: rumors of an upcoming event alone caused a great fermentation in the mountain environment and forced to postpone this idea. Tens of thousands of highlanders of military service age remained outside the unfolding world confrontation.
However, the mountaineers, who wanted to voluntarily join the ranks of the Russian army, were enrolled in the Caucasian native equestrian division established at the very beginning of the First World War, better known in history as Dikaya.
The native division was headed by the brother of the emperor, Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich, although he was in political disgrace, but very popular, both among the people and among the aristocracy. Therefore, service in the ranks of the division immediately became attractive to representatives of the highest Russian nobility, who occupied most of the command posts in the division. There were Georgian Bagration, Chavchavadze, Dadiani, Orbeliani, Mountain sultans: Bekovich-Cherkassky Hagandokov, khans of Erivan, khans Shamkhalov-Tarkovsky, Polish Prince Radziwill, the representatives of the old Russian names of princes Gagarin, Svyatopolk-Mirsky, Keller graphs, Vorontsov-Dashkov , Tolstoy, Lodyzhensky, Polovtsev, Staroselsky; Princes Napoleon-Murat, Albrecht, Baron Wrangel, Persian Prince Fazula Mirza Qajar and others.
Features of the formation of the compound and the mentality of its personnel had a significant impact on disciplinary practice in the units and the moral and psychological state of the riders (this is the name of the ordinary fighters of the division).
In the national shelves a hierarchical structure was maintained, similar to the structure of a large late-summer family, typical of all mountain peoples. Many horsemen were close or distant relatives. According to the testimony of a young officer of the Ingush regiment, A.P. Markov, representatives of the Ingush family Malsagovs in this regiment were "so numerous that when forming a regiment in the Caucasus, there was even a project to create a separate hundred out of the representatives of this surname". Often in the shelves it was possible to meet representatives of several generations of the same family. There is a case when a twelve-year-old teenager Abubakar Dzhurgayev went to war with his father in 1914.
In general, the number of people willing to serve in the division always exceeded the regular capabilities of the regiments. Undoubtedly, the kinship of many riders contributed to the strengthening of discipline in the regiment. Some sometimes “absented” in the Caucasus, but with the obligatory replacement of themselves with a brother, nephew, and so on.
The internal routine in the division was significantly different from that of the personnel units of the Russian army, and traditional relations were maintained for mountain societies. There was no appeal to "you", the officers were not honored for the masters, they had to earn the respect of the riders by their courage on the battlefield. Honor was given only to officers of his regiment, more rarely - divisions, because of which “stories” often happened.
From December 1914, the division was on the South-Western Front and worked well in battles against the Austro-Hungarian army, which was regularly reported in the orders of the higher authorities. Already in the first, the December battles, the 2 brigade of the division, consisting of the Tatar and Chechen regiments, distinguished itself, counterattacking enemy units in the area of the village Verkhovyna Bystra and the heights of 1251. A team of bad roads and deep snow bypassed the Austrians from the rear and delivered a crushing blow to the enemy, taking prisoners 9 and officers and 458. For the skillful command of Colonel K.N. Khagandokov was presented to the rank of Major General, and many horsemen received their first military awards - the “soldier” George crosses.
Soon one of the main heroes of this battle, the commander of the Chechen regiment, colonel Prince A.S. Svyatopolk-Mirsky. He fell in battle 15 February 1915, when he personally supervised the actions of his regiment in battle and received three wounds, two of which were fatal.
One of the most successful battles of their divisions conducted 10 September 1915. On this day, hundreds of Kabardian and 2 Kabardian regiments secretly concentrated near the village of Kulchitsy in order to promote the attack of the neighboring infantry regiment in the direction of height 392, Michal-field folvark and the village of Petlikovice Nova on the left bank of the River Strypi. Although the task of the cavalry was only reconnaissance of the positions of the enemy, the commander of the Kabardian regiment Prince F.N. Bekovich-Cherkassky took the initiative and, taking advantage of a convenient opportunity, dealt a crushing blow to the main positions of the 9 and 10 gonvendny regiments near the village of Zarvynitsa, taking prisoner 17 officers, 276 Magyar soldiers, 3 machine guns, 4 phones. At the same time, he had only 196 riders of Kabardians and Dagestanis and lost in battle two officers, 16 riders and 48 horses killed and wounded. Note that valor and heroism in this battle was shown by the mullah of the Kabardian regiment Alikhan Shogenov, who, as stated in the award list, “in the battle of 10 in September of 1915 near der. Under the strongest machine-gun and rifle fire, the parade accompanied the advancing units of the regiment, influenced by the presence and speeches of the riders, the Mohammedans, who displayed extraordinary courage in this battle and captured 300 Hungarian infantrymen.
The “Wild Division” also took part in the famous Brusilovsky breakthrough in the summer of 1916, however, it failed to seriously distinguish itself there. The reason for this was the general command of the 9 Army to use cavalry as an army reserve, and not as an echelon of development success, as a result of which all army cavalry was scattered across the front and had no significant effect on the course of the fighting. Nevertheless, in a whole series of battles, the mountain riders of the division managed to distinguish themselves. For example, even before the start of the general offensive, they contributed to forcing the Dniester river that divided the opposing sides. On the night of 30 in May, 1916 of the Esaul Chechen Regiment, Prince Dadiani, with fifty 4s of the hundreds, crossed the river near the village of Ivaniye under enemy’s fierce rifle and machine gun fire, captured the bridgehead. This made it possible to cross to the right bank of the Dniester Chechen, Circassian, Ingush, Tatar regiments, as well as the Zaamursky regiment of the 1-th horse division.
The feat of the Chechens, the first of the Russian troops who crossed the right bank of the Dniester, did not pass by the highest attention: Emperor Nicholas II awarded all 60 Chechen horsemen who had participated in the crossing with St. George's crosses of different degrees.
As can be seen, swift cavalry throws often brought considerable prey in the form of captives to the riders of the Nat division. It must be said that the Highlanders often dealt with captive Austrians in a savage manner - they cut off their heads. The report of the division chief of staff in October 1916 reported: “Few enemies were captured, but many were hacked to death.” Yugoslav leader Marshall Josip Broz Tito, who was lucky - in 1915, being a soldier of the Austro-Hungarian army, was hacked by the Circassians, but was captured: We steadfastly repelled the attacks of the infantry that were attacking us on all fronts, he recalled, but suddenly the right flank shook and the cavalry of Circassians, natives of the Asian part of Russia, poured into the resulting gap. We didn’t have time to come to our senses, as they swept through our positions in a whirlwind, dismounted and rushed into our trenches with peaks at the ready. One Circassian with a two-meter peak swooped in on me, but I had a rifle with a bayonet, besides, I was a good swordsman and beat off his attack. But, reflecting the attack of the first Circassian, he suddenly felt a terrible blow in the back. I turned around and saw the distorted face of another Circassian and huge black eyes under thick eyebrows. ” This Circassian drove the future marshal to the peak under the left shoulder blade.
Among the riders, robbery was commonplace, both as regards prisoners and as a result of the local population, which they also considered to be a conquered enemy. Due to the national-historical features, robbery during the war was considered among the horsemen as military valor, and peaceful Galician peasants very often became its victims. The horsemen who hid at the time of the appearance of the regiments of local residents, “accompanied off with fixed and inhospitable glances, as the prey ebbing away from them”. The division commander continuously received complaints "of violence perpetrated by the lower ranks of the division." At the end of 1915, a search in the Jewish town of Ulashkivitsy resulted in mass pogroms, looting and rape of the local population.
In fairness, it must be said that, to the extent possible, strict discipline was maintained in the shelves. The most severe punishment for the riders was the exclusion from the regiment lists "for incorrigibly bad behavior" and "inserting" the guilty at their place of residence. In their native villages, their shameful expulsion from the regiment was announced. At the same time, the forms of punishment used in the Russian army turned out to be completely unacceptable for the riders. There is, for example, the case when one Tatar (Azerbaijani) rider shot himself immediately after an attempt at his public flogging, even though the flogging was canceled.
The medieval, in fact, manner of warfare by the highlanders contributed to the formation of a very peculiar, as they would say, divisional image. A stereotype has even formed in the minds of the local population, according to which any robber and rapist was designated by the term “Circassian”, although the Cossacks wore Caucasian uniforms.
Overcoming this prejudice to the officers of the division was very difficult, on the contrary, the fame of an unusually wild, cruel and brave army was cultivated in every way and spread by journalists.
Materials about the native division were often appearing on the pages of various illustrated literary publications - “Niva”, “Chronicle of War”, “New Time”, “War” and many others. Journalists in every way emphasized the exotic look of her warriors, described the horror that inspired the Caucasian horsemen to the enemy - the mixed and ill-motivated Austrian army.
Fighting comrades, who fought shoulder to shoulder with the mountain riders, kept the most vivid impressions of them. As the newspaper Terskie Vedomosti noted in February 1916, the riders hit everybody who first encounters them. “Their peculiar views on the war, their legendary courage, reaching purely legendary limits, and the whole flavor of this peculiar military unit consisting of representatives of all the peoples of the Caucasus, can never be forgotten.”
During the war years, about 7000 Highlanders passed through the ranks of the “Wild” division. It is known that by March 1916, the division had lost an officer, 23 riders and lower ranks who had been killed and died from 260 injuries. Wounded were 144 officer and 1438 riders. Many horsemen could be proud of not one St. George award. It is curious to note that for foreigners in the Russian Empire a cross was provided with the image of not St. George - the defender of Christians, but with the state emblem. The riders were very indignant at the fact that they were being handed the “bird” instead of the “horseman” and, in the end, achieved their goal.
And soon the “Wild Division” had its own role in the great Russian drama - the revolutionary events of 1917.
After the 1916 summer offensive, the division was occupied with positional battles and reconnaissance, and since January, 1917 has been on a quiet sector of the front and has not participated in combat operations. Soon she was taken to rest and the war ended for her.
Inspection materials of the regiments in February 1917 showed that the compound had come to rest in perfect order, representing a strong combat unit. During this period, the division command (chief N.I. Bagratiton, chief of staff P.A. Polovtsev) even hatched plans for deploying the division to the Nat Corps, bearing in mind the addition of other Muslim cavalry units in the Russian army - 1 of Dagestan, Ossetian , Crimean Tatar and Turkmen regiments. Bagration and Polovtsev went to the Headquarters with this proposal, arguing that "the highlanders had such wonderful combat material" and even inclined the emperor to this decision, but did not find support from the General Staff.
The feast of the February revolution riders "Wild" division greeted with confusion. After Nicholas II, the recent chief of the division, Grand Duke Mikhail Alexandrovich, abdicated the throne.
According to the observations of contemporaries, “the riders, with the wisdom of the mountaineers of the Caucasus, treated all the“ achievements of the revolution ”with sullen distrust.”
“The regimental and hundreds of commanders tried in vain to explain to their“ natives ”what had happened ...“ The natives ”did not understand much and, above all, did not understand how it could be“ without a king ”. The words "Provisional Government" did not say anything to these dashing riders from the Caucasus and decidedly did not awaken any images in their eastern imagination. " Revolutionary neoplasms in the form of divisional, regimental, etc. committees affected the Native Division. However, here in their “structure” the senior command of the regiments and divisions took the most active part, and the division committee was headed by the commander of the Circassian regiment Sultan Krym-Girey. The division remained honored. The most revolutionary hotbed in the division was the team of Baltic sailors-machine gunners fleetattributed to the union even before the revolution. In comparison with them, "the natives looked much more tactful and restrained." So, already at the beginning of April P.A. Polovtsev could relievedly declare that in his native Tatar regiment "he was coming out of the furnace of revolution in perfect order." A similar situation was in other regiments. The historian O. L. Opryshko explains the preservation of discipline in the division with a special atmosphere that is not characteristic of other parts of the Russian army: the voluntary nature of the service and the blood and country ties that held the military team together.
In March-April, the division even strengthened its membership through the arrival of the Ossetian foot brigade (3 battalion and 3 hiking hundreds), formed at the end of 1916 and the “reserve frame” regiment - a part of the division, formerly deployed in the North Caucasus. On the eve of the June 1917 offensive of the forces of the South-Western Front, the division was staged by a review of the recently accepted 8 Army General L.G. Kornilov. The army, in his own words, was “in a state of almost complete disintegration ... Many generals and a significant part of the regimental commanders, under pressure from the committees, were removed from their positions. With the exception of a few parts, fraternization flourished ... ". The "Wild Division" was among the units that retained the military look. After producing a division review for June 12, Kornilov admitted that he was happy to see her "in such an amazing order." Bagration, he said that "finally breathing military air." In the 25 offensive that began in June, the 8 Army operated quite successfully, but the operation of the Southwestern Front failed after the first counterattacks of the German and Austrian forces. A panic retreat began, driven by the defeatist agitation of the Bolshevik agitators, first the units of the 11 Army, and then the entire South-Western Front. Just arrived at the front, General P.N. Wrangel observed how “a“ democratized army ”, not wanting to shed his blood for“ saving the gains of the revolution ”, ran like a flock of sheep. Powerless chiefs were powerless to stop this crowd. ” The Wild Division, at the personal request of General Kornilov, covered the withdrawal of Russian troops and participated in counterattacks.
General Bagration noted: "This chaotic retreat ... clearly revealed the importance of discipline in the shelves of the Native Horse Division, whose orderly movement calmed panic elements of non-combatants and carts to which the XII corps deserters adjoined from the standpoint."
The atypical organization of the division has long since earned it the glory of "counter-revolutionary", which equally worried both the Provisional Government and the Soviet government. During the retreat of the troops of the South-Western Front, this image was strengthened due to the fact that hundreds of divisions took upon themselves the protection of staffs from possible attempts by deserters. According to Bagration, “one presence ... of Caucasians will curb the criminal intent of the deserters, and if necessary, hundreds will appear in alarm.”
In July and August, the situation on the front rapidly deteriorated. Following the defeat of the South-Western Front, Riga was abandoned without resistance and began a disorderly retreat of a part of the Northern Front. A real threat of capture by the enemy looms over Petrograd. The government decided to form a Special Petrograd Army. In the officer-generals and right-wing circles of Russian society, the conviction matured that it was impossible to restore order in the army and the country and stop the enemy without liquidating the Petrograd Soviet of Workers 'and Soldiers' Deputies. The leader of this movement was the supreme commander of the Russian army, General Kornilov. Acting in close liaison with representatives of the Provisional Government and with their consent (the High Commissioner for the Stavka, M. M. Filonenko and the Commander-in-Chief of the War Ministry, B. V. Savinkov), at the end of August Kornilov began to concentrate troops in the vicinity of Petrograd at the request of Kerensky himself, who was afraid speeches of the Bolsheviks. His immediate goal was to disperse the Petrograd Soviet (and, in the event of resistance, of the Provisional Government), declare a provisional dictatorship and a state of siege in the capital.
Not without reason, fearing its bias, August 27 A.F. Kerensky dismissed Kornilov from the post of commander-in-chief, after which the latter moved his troops to Petrograd. In the afternoon of August 28, at the headquarters in Mogilev, a vigorous and confident mood prevailed. General Krasnov, who arrived here, was told: “No one will defend Kerensky. This is a walk. Everything is prepared. The defenders of the capital themselves later acknowledged: “The behavior of the troops of Petrograd was below any criticism, and the revolution near Petrograd in the event of a collision would find the same defenders as the homeland under Tarnopol” (meant the July defeat of the South-Western Front).
Kornilov chose the 3 th cavalry corps of the Cossacks under the command of Lieutenant-General A.M. Krymov and the Aboriginal Division, “as units capable of resisting the corrupting influence of the Petrograd Soviet ...”. Another 10 of August on the orders of the new Supreme Commander-in-Chief from Infantry General L.G. Kornilov's “Wild Division” began a transfer to the Northern Front, in the area of the Dno station.
It is characteristic that the rumors about the transfer of the division to Petrograd in order to “restore order”, were long overdue, and its officers had to periodically appear in the press with refutations.
According to A.P. Markova, the division's transfer to Petrograd was planned as early as December 1916 - the tsarist government was counting on it to “strengthen the garrison” of the capital, no longer relying on propagandized spare infantry units. According to the statement of the first historiographer of the division N.N. Breshko-Breshkovsky reactionary and monarchical sentiment prevailed among the officers. He puts such a characteristic exclamation into the mouth of the protagonist of his chronicle novel: “Who can resist us? Who! These decomposed gangs of cowards who have not been on fire ...? If only we could walk, physically walk to Petrograd, and success beyond all doubts! ... All the military schools will stand up, all the best will rise, all that craves only the signal for release from the gang of international criminals who settled in Smolny! ... "
By order of General Kornilov from August 21, the division was deployed to the Caucasian native cavalry corps - a very controversial decision (at that time only ten 1350 checkers were in the division, with a large shortage weapons) and untimely due to the tasks before him. The corps was to consist of two divisions of a double brigade. Using his powers as commander-in-chief of all armed forces, Kornilov transferred for this purpose from other connections the 1 th Dagestan and Ossetian cavalry regiments with the latter deployed in two regiments. General Bagration was appointed head of the corps. Major-General A.V. Gagarin headed the 1 Division, and Lieutenant-General Khoranov headed the 2 Division.
On August 26, General Kornilov, while in the Mogilev Headquarters, ordered the troops to make a turn to Petrograd. By this time, the native corps had not yet completed its concentration at the Bottom station, therefore only separate parts of it (only the Ingush regiment and three echelons of the Circassian regiment) moved to Petrograd.
The Provisional Government took emergency measures to apprehend the echelons moving from the south. In many places, railways and telegraph lines were destroyed, congestion at stations and hauls and damage to locomotives were organized. The confusion caused by 28 August delay in motion, used by many agitators.
Parts of the “Wild Division” did not have any connection with the head of the operation, General Krymov, who was stuck at st. Meadows, neither with the chief of the division, Bagration, who had not moved forward with his headquarters with Art. Bottom. On the morning of August 29, a delegation of agitators of the Central Executive Committee and the executive committee of the All-Russian Muslim Council from among the natives of the Caucasus — its chairman Ahmet Tsalikov, Aytek Namitokov and others — arrived to the commander of the Circassian regiment Colonel Sultan of Crimea-Giray. restoration of the monarchy and, consequently, the danger of the national movement in the North Caucasus. They urged the countrymen not to interfere in any way "in the internal strife of Russia." The audience that came before the delegates was divided into two parts: Russian officers (and they constituted the overwhelming majority of commanders in the native echelons) all stood behind Kornilov, and the Muslim horsemen, who felt like they did not understand the meaning of the events that had been played out. According to the testimony of members of the delegation, junior officers and riders were "completely ignorant" about the goals of their movement and "were greatly depressed and overwhelmed by the role that General Kornilov wants to impose on them."
In the regiments of the division began confusion. The dominant mood of the riders was unwillingness to interfere in the internecine struggle and fight against the Russians.
Colonel Sultan of Crimea-Giray took the initiative of the negotiations, being essentially alone among prosecutors. On the first day of the 29 talks in August, they managed to get the upper hand and the head of the echelon, Prince Gagarin, forced the delegation to leave. He planned to go to Tsarskoye Selo by marching order by the end of the day.
The talks in the morning of August 30 at Vyritsa Station, in which General Bagration, Muslim representatives, deputies of the Petrograd Soviet, members of regimental and divisional committees, regimental commanders, and many officers, were of key importance. From Vladikavkaz came a telegram from the Central Committee of the Union of United Caucasus Highlanders, prohibiting "under the fear of the curse of your mothers and children to take part in an internal war committed with purposes unknown to us."
It was decided in no case to participate in the campaign "against the Russians" and elected a delegation to Kerensky, consisting of 68 people led by Colonel Sultan of Crimea-Giray. On September 1, the delegation was received by the Provisional Government and assured the latter in its full submission. Bagration, reputed to be a weak-willed boss, took a passive stance in the events that took place, preferring to go with the flow.
He was dismissed by the government, as well as Gagarin and the corps chief of staff V. Gatovsky. The corps was promised immediate shipment to the Caucasus to rest and re-staffing. Lieutenant-General Polovtsev, former chief of staff of the Nat division, entered the command (“as a democrat”), who had already managed to serve as commander of the troops of the Petrograd military district.
The Regiments of the Native Division refused to participate in the insurrection, however, the Bolshevik propaganda in it did not take deep roots.
In September, a number of regimental officers 1917 appeared in the press, as well as at the 2 All-Russian Congress in Vladikavkaz, stating that they did not fully know the goals of their movement to St. Petersburg.
In conditions when the civil war was already close, the motive of interethnic clashes associated with the use of the Native Division in a speech by Kornilov especially embarrassed the participants in the conflict, became a bugaboo, giving an ominous tinge to impending events. Among the conspirators, there was a widespread opinion, narrow-minded in its essence, that "Caucasian highlanders don't care who to cut." B.V. Savinkov (at the request of Kerensky), before the government broke up with Kornilov, 24 of August asked him to replace the Caucasian division with regular cavalry, since “it is embarrassing to entrust the assertion of Russian freedom to the Caucasian mountaineers”. Kerensky, in a public order from 28 of August, personified the reaction forces in the person of the “Wild Division”: “He (Kornilov - A. B.) says that he stands for freedom, [a] sends a native division to Petrograd”. Three other equestrian divisions of General Krymov were not mentioned by him. Petrograd, according to historian G.Z. Ioffe, from this news "numb", not knowing what to expect from the "mountain thugs."
Muslim negotiators who campaigned in the 28 - 31 regiments of August, against their will, were forced to exploit national-Islamic themes in order to drive a wedge between ordinary mountaineers and reactionary-minded officers, which were largely alien riders. According to A.P. Markov, the Ingush regiment had to leave the Georgians, the Kabarda regiment — the Ossetians. In the Tatar regiment also developed an “unsympathetic atmosphere”: pan-Islamic tendencies spread. Obviously, there was that pain point, the pressure on which quickly demoralized the Caucasian horsemen. For comparison, it can be recalled that the socialist propaganda of the radical-minded sailors of the machine-gun crew after the February Revolution had almost no influence on the riders.
General Polovtsev, who received the corps in the first days of September, found a picture of impatient waiting at the Bottom station: “The mood is that if the trainloads are not given, the riders will march all over Russia and she will not soon forget this campaign.”
In October, 1917, part of the Caucasus Indigenous Equestrian Corps, arrived in the North Caucasus in the areas of their formation and, willy-nilly, became participants in the revolutionary process and the Civil War in the region.