From 2 to 6 in October, the Austro-German armies were approaching the Middle Vistula and the mouth of Sana'a. The Russian part of the cover with the fighting went to the Vistula, and then beyond the river. Novikov's cavalry withstood a series of strikes by the enemy, the group of General Delsalle (three brigades) held a stubborn battle with three times the superior forces of the enemy in Opatov, the 80-I division stood against Sandomir. Russian avant-gardes completed their task and moved beyond the Vistula.
The retreat of the Russian troops from the left bank of the Vistula worried the high command. Petrograd ordered Warsaw and Ivangorod on no account to give up and go on the offensive. However, Ivanov understood that the armies had not yet completed the process of regrouping, and decided to limit themselves to defensive actions until October 9.
By October 9, the German corps reached the Vistula, and the Austro-Hungarian troops approached San. The initial plan of the German command to deliver a flank attack on the 9 of the Russian army failed. The German commander Hindenburg decided to organize an attack on Warsaw. He divided the German-Austrian troops into three groups. Hindenburg decided to turn the main forces of 9 of the German army to the north and make an attempt to seize Warsaw from a turn. This task was to be solved by a specially formed strike group consisting of three corps (17, 20 of army corps and Frommel's corps) under the command of General von Mackensen. From the left flank, the Mackensen group was supported by the 8-I cavalry division and two brigades from Thorn fortress. October 9 group of General Mackensen forced march moved through Radom to Warsaw.
Part of the troops of the 9 Army (Guards Reserve Corps, 1 division of the Voirsh Corps and 1 Brigade of the 20 Corps) were to bind the enemy in battle, attacking him at the turn from Ivangorod to Sandomir. This group was led by General Halwitz. With the support of the 1 German Corps and the 11 Division of the Voirs Corps, the 2 Austrian Army was to bind the 9 Russian Army with combat.
General August von Mackensen
Meanwhile, the 4-I and 9-I Russian armies completed the transfer from Galicia and concentrated between the mouth of the river. Pilitsa and the mouth of the river. Sana. The 5 army was late, only advanced echelons of the 17 corps were moved to the north. The 2 Army threw 27 Army, 2 Siberian and part of the 1 Army Corps into the Warsaw region.
October 9 Ivanov gave the order to go on the offensive. The troops of the 4 and 5 armies were to attack the enemy in the front, the 2 armies in the flank. The 9 Army I was supposed to by their actions pin down the forces of the Austrian 1 Army. However, this order could not be executed for several reasons: 1) the troops did not complete the transfer; 2) did not have enough transport facilities to transfer troops to the other side of the Vistula; 3) he was late; Hindenburg had already launched an offensive against Warsaw.
In the morning of October 10, on the outskirts of Ivangorod and Warsaw, fierce oncoming battles began. The advanced parts of the 2 of the Siberian Corps from the front of the Mshchonov-Groets were forced to retreat under the pressure of the superior forces of the Mackensen group. October 11 hard battles were already in one passage from Warsaw, near the settlements of Blonie, Brvinov, Nadarzhin and Piaseczno. Nearly two days went fierce battle. The commander of the 2 Army, General Sergey Scheideman, reported to the headquarters of the South-Western Front: "The German is rushing, there is not enough strength to attack everything creeping forward." October 12 German troops broke through another 6 km, pushing the Russian line Ozhar, Falenty and Dombrovka, and then to the fort line of the former Warsaw Fortress. This was a critical moment for Russian troops in the Warsaw area. However, the Mackensen group had already suffered heavy losses and began to run out of steam, while new units arrived at the Russians.
Persistent battles were fought in the Ivangorod direction. The 4 and 5 army formations began to force the Vistula. They managed to transfer considerable forces to the other side. However, out of poor management from the front, army and corps command, most of the troops retreated across the river. So, Evert on the night of October 10 sent a part of the 3 Caucasian, Grenadier and 16 corps to the Vistula. October 10 in the oncoming battle the Germans pushed Russian troops. In the morning of October 11, Evert was forced to again take the Grenadier and 16 corps to the eastern bank of the Vistula.
Only part of the forces of the two Russian armies were able to cling to the other side. On the left wing of the X-NUMX Army of Plehve, first the brigade, and then the entire XNUM-X Army Corps, were entrenched on the west bank of the Vistula. On the right wing of the 5 Army, units of the 17 Caucasian Corps (it was composed mostly of Cossacks) were kept in the Kozienice region. The terrain here was convenient for defensive actions - forests and swamps. This allowed the Russian troops to hold a springboard and repel German attacks. During the 4-3 days, the Russian troops beat back the guards reserve corps. This success created the prerequisites for the second decisive offensive of the Russian armies.
The German command attached great importance to the Kozenitsky bridgehead, and the Germans made desperate attempts to send Russian troops into the Vistula. However, the Russian troops steadfastly held on and went on to counterattacks. It soon became clear that Hindenburg had no fresh forces that could change the outcome of the battle for Warsaw and Ivangorod. German 9-I army brought into the battle all their forces. In the meantime, the Russian command was pulling up new connections to Warsaw and Ivangorod. By October 15, the Russians had the power advantage.
Russian infantry reflects the German night attack in the battle on the Vistula
Preparation of the Russian command for a new offensive and the transition of the German-Austrian armies to the defense
The Russian High Command, having learned about the withdrawal of the 2 Army to Warsaw and the unsuccessful offensive of the 4 and 5 armies on the left bank of the Vistula, on October 12 decided to divide the control of the troops leading the battles on the Middle Vistula between Ivanov and Ruzsky. This was due to the fact that in a difficult situation Ivanov was confused. The temporary setback with the advance of the Russian armies beyond the Vistula did not give rest to the general. Ivanov was an impressionable man and was afraid to repeat the fate of General Samsonov, whose troops Hindenburg defeated in East Prussia. The Supreme Commander Nikolai Nikolayevich had to personally come to the front headquarters in order to reassure the front.
If Ivanov showed hesitancy and lost control of the armies from his hands, Ruza disqualified himself from all responsibility for the operation. He continued the policy of "pulling the blanket" over himself, without taking measures to speed up the transfer of the 2 Army formations to Warsaw and assist the armies of the South-Western Front.
October 13 Stavka ordered to defeat the enemy, causing a strong blow to the left flank of Hindenburg. Responsibility for the preparation and implementation of the operation was assigned to the commander of the North-Western Front, General Ruzsky. 2 and 5 army, 1 cavalry corps Novikov and troops of the Warsaw fortified area (18 infantry and 6 cavalry divisions) were handed over to him. The southwestern front under the leadership of Ivanov was to deliver an auxiliary blow. The 4 and 9 armies (23 infantry and 5 cavalry divisions) were to force the Vistula and develop an offensive to the west and southwest.
The blow to the German-Austrian troops planned to inflict 18 October. However, Ivanov, when the leadership of the main actions passed into the hands of Ruzsky, began to drag out time and demanded a postponement for additional regrouping of troops and their preparation for the offensive. As a result of this inconsistency, the Russian armies did not launch an offensive at the same time. First, the 2-I army of Scheidemann launched a counter-attack, followed by the 5-I army of Plehve and the 4-I army of Evert. The last to go on the offensive was 9-I army Lechitsky. Thus, the 2-I and 5-I armies launched the October 18-20 offensive, and the 4-I and 9-I armies - October 21-23. In the period from 14 to 19 of October, while the Russian armies were preparing for an offensive and were completing the regrouping, fierce fighting continued near Warsaw and Ivangorod.
Commander Southwestern Front Nikolai Ivanov
The German command, although it was becoming clearer every day that the losses of the 9 army were growing and becoming irreplaceable, and the Russian forces were increasing day by day, persisted and did not intend to withdraw. Hindenburg still hoped to defeat the Russian armies, and in extreme cases, with stubborn defense, retain the Vistula line, preventing the Russians from crossing the river.
October 14 2 Siberian and 4 Army Corps pushed the enemy away from Warsaw with a strong counter-attack. German troops retreated to the previously prepared fortified line Blonie - Piaseczno - Gura-Kalvaria. The fierce battles on this frontline continued until October October 19.
By the evening of October 20, the entire 17 and 3 Caucasian corps of the Evert Army were transferred to the left bank of the Vistula. They launched a counter-offensive and forced the Hindenburg to abandon its further attempts to take the Kozienice positions.
Source: Kolenkovsky A. The Maneuverable Period of the First World Imperialist War 1914
The defeat of the German-Austrian troops
The strategic initiative began to move to the Russian army. For the German command, it became obvious that the further struggle in the previous positions was aimless and dangerous. It was not possible to defeat the Russian troops and take Warsaw and Ivangorod. It was necessary to withdraw forces, regroup them and try to strike a counterstrike. From the evening of October 19, Hindenburg began to withdraw troops. The Mackensen group was tasked with breaking away from the Russians, spoiling all roads during the withdrawal, gaining a foothold at the boundary of Skierniewice - Rava - Nowe Miasto and repelling the enemy’s advance. The left flank of the Mackensen group was supported by two separate brigades and the 8-I cavalry division.
Hindenburg and Ludendorff hoped that Mackensen would keep the new frontier for at least a week. At this time, the German command was to form a shock group of the corps of Voirs, the Guards and the 11 corps. She was to withdraw to the area of Bialobrzhegi, Radom, and deliver a counterattack to the advancing Russian troops in the left flank. At this time, the 1-I Austrian army was to move its left flank to the north and cover the line on the Vistula River. Army Danklya received orders to take Ivangorod. With luck, there was a chance to cut off the 2 and 5 units of the Russian armies from the Vistula and destroy them.
However, this bold plan of the German command was not implemented. The onslaught of the Russian troops near Warsaw sharply increased and after October 25 October, Mackensen could only think about how to carry his legs in time. A strong Russian offensive began near Ivangorod. The left wing of the Austro-Hungarian army (1, 5 and 10 corps) was overdue and did not have time to cover up the regrouping of the German army 9. Quite unexpectedly, for the Austrians, the river was forced by the main forces of the 4 and 9 of the Russian armies. In a fierce head-on battle between 21 and 26 in October, Austro-Hungarian troops were routed and routed to the south-west. The 1 Army lost more than 50% of its personnel killed, wounded and captured. Austro-Hungarian troops retreated to Kielce, Opatov and further to Krakow.
The German command refused any resistance and began to withdraw troops towards Silesia. October 27 began a general retreat of the German-Austrian troops. True, it took place in different conditions. The German army broke away from the Russian troops on the whole transition, holding back the Russians with strong rear guards and through the complete destruction of communications. The remnants of the Austrian army retreated in disarray and under the direct pressure of Russian troops.
The position of the German-Austrian troops was difficult. General Ludendorff noted the potentially dangerous strategic consequences of the defeat of the 9 Army: “The situation was extremely critical ... Now it seemed that what had prevented our deployment in Upper Silesia and the ensuing offensive: the invasion of superior Russian forces in Poznan, Silesia and Moravia. " The Russian armies from October 27 developed an offensive to the west and southwest. They had the task of preparing for a deep invasion of Germany through Upper Silesia. On November 2, Russian troops reached the Kutnov – Tomashov – Sandomierz line, and on November 8, the Lask – Košice – Dunajec line. German troops were on the line Kalisz - Czestochowa, Austro-Hungarian troops retreated to Krakow.
However, the Russian troops did not enter Germany. The Austro-German command organized a demonstrative offensive of the 3 of the Austrian army on the San river. Ivanov demanded to shift the center of gravity of the struggle against the Austrians. The High Command, after some doubts, agreed with the opinion of the commander of the South-Western Front. The 9 and 4 armies were again sent to Galicia. The front of the 2 th and 5 th army greatly stretched out, they lost their strike power. This led to the rejection of the pursuit of defeated enemy troops. 9-I German army was saved from total defeat, and Germany from the invasion of Russian troops.
It should also be noted that there were objective reasons why it was not possible to surround and destroy the 9 th German army. We must pay tribute to the German command. The possibility of the withdrawal was foreseen, large reserves of explosives were procured. Retreating to the west, the German troops thoroughly destroyed not only the railways, but also the highway, and not only the bridges and road junctions, but the canvas itself. It happened that for several miles the road was dug by explosions. This greatly influenced the mobility of Russian troops.
Do not forget that the Russian compounds broke away on 150 km from their rear bases, there was a strong shortage of food, fodder and ammunition. Russian soldiers could live without field kitchens, but even they could not fight without shells, cartridges and crackers. This factor also indicated a poor organization on the part of the command, the inability to organize the pursuit of a defeated enemy by large forces.
Thus, the German troops were able to get out of a critical situation. Hindenburg transferred troops to the Thorn area and began planning a strike on the right flank of the 2 Army, (the future Lodz operation). The German command placed the blame for the defeat on the Austrians. In Galicia, the Austro-Hungarian troops retreated again. The remnants of the 1 Army moved to Krakow, and as a result of its defeat, the 4 Austrian Army withdrew from the line of the San River, and the 3 and 2 Army followed it. The Austro-Hungarian troops retreated a second time to the Carpathian frontier.
The Warsaw-Ivangorod operation became one of the largest operations of the First World War (6 armies and several separate large formations participated in it, about 900 thousand people). As a strategic operation of two fronts (South-West and North-West), it became a new phenomenon in the art of war, the highest achievement of the Russian military strategy.
Russian troops carried out a bold transfer of large forces from Galicia to the Middle Vistula and from the Narev River to Warsaw, repelled the blow of the German-Austrian troops and in a stubborn battle defeated the enemy. The plans of the German command for a flank strike against the troops of the South-Western Front and the seizure of Ivangorod and Warsaw were destroyed. The 9-I German and 1-I Austrian armies suffered a heavy defeat. The Russian soldiers in this operation showed their high fighting qualities and fighting spirit, defeating not only Austro-Hungarian, but also German troops, dispelling the myth of their exceptional fighting qualities.
However, serious shortcomings in the organization of command and control in the Supreme Command Headquarters were the front, the mistakes of the front commanders of Ivanov and Ruzsky, the poor supply organization of the Russian troops (the mistakes of the pre-war period were affecting) did not allow them to achieve more decisive successes and launch an invasion of Germany. It is also worth noting the carelessness of the work of the Russian headquarters: the Germans intercepted all the Russian radiograms, which gave the German command an understanding of the situation.
We must not forget about the shortcomings in the management of the enemy. The intentions of the German command were distinguished by adventurism, the overestimation of their own and the underestimation of other people's capabilities. There were serious disagreements between the German and Austrian command. There was no coherence between the allies during the operation, there were sharp conflicts and disputes. When the German troops fought hard at Warsaw and Ivangorod, the Austro-Hungarian troops showed no activity at the mouth of the Sana and on the Upper Vistula. When the Germans were defeated and began to withdraw, Hindenburg actually framed the 1 Austrian army under attack, leaving it at Ivangorod. In vain the Austrians were waiting for help from the Germans, Hindenburg at this time trying to break away as far as possible from the Russian troops, leaving the Austro-Hungarian corps alone. The German command was mistaken in the timing of the transfer of Russian troops and their combat capabilities. The fighting strength of the Russian troops near Warsaw and Ivangorod shocked German soldiers and commanders.
It must be said that thanks to this operation, when for almost two months of preparation and the course of the battle, all the attention of both the Austro-German and Russian command was attracted to it, the situation on the Western Front became even more favorable for the Allies. The German command could not transfer a single soldier from the Eastern Front to the Western.
Only in the Battle of Ivangorod, the 1-I Austrian army lost more than 50% of its personnel - up to 80 thousand people. The Germans estimated their losses at 20 thousand. Obviously, this is a reduced number. The Allies lost about 120-150 thousand people in the Warsaw-Ivangorod operation. The loss of Russian troops - about 65 thousand. People.
Russian soldiers in Warsaw in 1914