Cossacks and the First World War. Part III, 1915 year

In the first months of the war, a certain pattern of actions took shape in the Russian army. The Germans were treated with caution, the Austrians were considered a weaker opponent. Austria-Hungary has turned for Germany from a full ally into a weak partner that requires continuous support. The fronts for the new 1915 year stabilized, and the war began to move into a positional phase. But the failures on the North-Western Front undermined the trust in the Russian High Command, and in the minds of the allies, who had built plans of war on idealistic calculations for Russia, were now reducing it to the degree of "incomplete military strength." The Germans also felt the relative weakness of the Russian army. Therefore, on the 1915 year in the German General Staff, an idea arose: the main blow to transfer to the Eastern Front against the Russians. After heated discussions, this plan of General Hindenburg was adopted, and the main efforts of the war by the Germans were transferred to the Eastern Front. According to this plan, it was planned, if not the final withdrawal of Russia from the war, then the infliction of such a defeat on it, from which it would not soon be able to defend itself. In the face of this danger, a crisis of material supplies, mainly shells, ammunition and all types of weapons, was brewing in the Russian army. Russia started the war, having only 950 shots per light weapon, and even less for heavy weapons. These meager prewar stocks and the norms of artillery shells and rifle cartridges were expended in the first months of the war. Russia found itself in a very difficult situation, firstly, because of the relative weakness of its own defense industry, and secondly, after Turkey entered the November 1914 of the year on the side of the Central Powers, it was actually cut off from external supplies. of the world. Russia has lost the most convenient means of communication with its allies - through the Black Sea straits and through the Baltic. Russia has two ports that are suitable for transporting a large amount of cargo - Arkhangelsk and Vladivostok, but the carrying capacity of the railways approaching these ports was low. In addition, through the Baltic and Black Sea ports, up to 90% of Russia's foreign trade was carried out. Cut off from the allies, unable to export grain and import weapons, the Russian Empire gradually began to experience serious economic difficulties. It was the economic crisis triggered by the closure of the Black Sea and Danish straits by the enemy, as a very significant factor influenced the creation of a “revolutionary situation” in Russia, which eventually led to the overthrow of the Romanov dynasty and the October Revolution.


But the main reason for the lack of firearms was related to the pre-war activities of the military ministry. From 1909 to 1915, the military minister was Sukhomlinov. He pursued an army armament course largely due to foreign orders, which led to their acute shortage while reducing imports. For disrupting the supply of the army with weapons and shells and on suspicion of having links with German intelligence, he was removed from the post of Minister of War and imprisoned in the Peter and Paul Fortress, but then was practically acquitted and under house arrest. But under pressure from the masses in 1917, he was put on trial by the Provisional Government and sentenced to eternal penal servitude. Sukhomlinov was pardoned by the Soviet authorities 1 in May 1918, and immediately emigrated to Germany. By the beginning of the war, in addition to the lack of firearms in the reforms of Sukhomlinov, there were other major blunders, such as the destruction of serf and reserve troops. The serfs were excellent, strong parts, well knew their fortified areas. With their existence, our fortresses would not surrender and would not rush with the ease with which the random garrisons of these fortresses covered themselves with shame. Concealed shelves, formed instead of reserve ones, also could not replace them due to the lack of strong personnel and spikes in peacetime. The destruction of the fortified areas in the western regions, which cost a lot of money, also contributed greatly to the failures of 1915 of the year.

At the end of 1914, seven army corps and six cavalry divisions were transferred from the Western Front to the Eastern Front of the Germans. The imposition on the Russian front was extremely difficult, and the Supreme Commander N.N. Romanov sent telegrams to General Joffrey, commander of the French army, with a request to go on the offensive on the Western Front in order to alleviate the position of the Russian troops. The answer was that the French-British troops were not ready for an offensive. Failures began to haunt the Russian army in 1915 year. The Carpathian operation of the South-Western Front, undertaken by General Ivanov in January-February of 1915, ended in failure, and the Russian troops failed to break into the Hungarian plain. But on the Carpathians, the Russian troops were firmly seated and the Austrians, reinforced by the Germans, could not dump them from the Carpathians. At the same time, on this front, at the beginning of the year, a successful counter-offensive was carried out with the participation of the Cossacks of the 3 Cavalry Corps of Count Keller. In the Transnistrian battle, in which the Cossack cavalry played a prominent role, the 7-I Austro-Hungarian army was driven back across the Prut River. March 19 after a long siege of Russian troops took Przemysl, the most powerful fortress of the Austrians. 120 captured thousands of prisoners and 900 guns. In the diary on this occasion, the Emperor wrote down: “officers and my magnificent Life Cossacks gathered in the church for a prayer service. What shining faces! Entente did not know such victories. The commander-in-chief of the French army, Joffre, hurried to celebrate it, ordering that all officers from soldier to general be given a glass of red wine. However, by this time the Germans were finally convinced of the strength of the position of their troops on the Western Front, the unwillingness of the Allies to attack and came to the conclusion that they could risk transferring from there another part of the forces to the Russian front. As a result, the Germans withdrew the 4 corps of the best troops from the French front, including the Prussian Guard, and formed one of them on the Russian front, with the addition of another Austrian corps, General Mackensen's 11 army, supplying it with an all-time powerful artillery. Against 22 Russian batteries (105 guns), the Germans had 143 batteries (624 guns, including 49 heavy batteries from 168 guns of a large caliber, including 38 heavy howitzers of a caliber larger than 200 mm). The Russians on this site had only 4 heavy howitzers. Total superiority in artillery was 6 times, and heavy artillery 40 times!

Cossacks and the First World War. Part III, 1915 year

Fig. 1 "Big Burt" in positions in Galicia
Selected German troops were concentrated in the Gorlice-Tarnow sector. The situation was aggravated by the fact that the commander-in-chief of the South-Western Front, General Ivanov, did not believe in the numerous reports of the 3 Army commander General Radko-Dmitriev about the German preparations and stubbornly believed that the enemy would launch the 11 Army and strengthen it. The section of the 10 Corps, which was hit by the Germans, was weak. On May 2, the Germans rained hundreds of guns on a site in 8 km, firing 700 000 shells. On the breakthrough went ten German divisions. For the first time, the Germans used 70 powerful mortars in this breakthrough, throwing mines, which made a tremendous impression on the Russian troops with the roar of their gaps and the height of earthen fountains. Taran phalanx Mackensen was irresistible, and the front was broken. To eliminate the breakthrough, the command urgently pulled the large cavalry forces here. A cavalry operational barrier was created under the command of General Volodchenko. It consisted of the 3-y Don Cossack, 2-Y-Cossack, 16-Cavalry and 3-Caucasian Cossack divisions.

After stubborn bloody battles, the barrier with the remnants of the 10 corps left its positions, but the enemy was victorious at a high price. Great were the losses of our troops. Of the 40 thousands of fighters, 6 thousands are still alive. But even this handful of brave fighters captivated 7 thousands of Germans while leaving the encirclement in a night battle. By order, the 7 headquarters of the Russian divisions were immediately redeployed from the North-Western Front to strengthen the position of our troops in the threatened sector, but they only held back enemy attacks for a short time. Russian trenches and wire obstacles were swept away by German artillery and mines and compared to the ground, and suitable reinforcements were washed away by a wave of general retreat. By the summer, almost all the conquered territory was lost, and the 23 of June the Russians left Przemysl and Lviv. For a month and a half, there were stubborn bloody battles in Galicia, the German offensive was stopped with great difficulty and losses. 344 guns were lost and thousands of 500 prisoners only.

After the abandonment of Galicia, the position of the Russian armies in Poland seriously deteriorated. The German command planned to surround the Russian troops in the "Polish bag" and thereby finally decide the fate of the war on the Eastern Front. To achieve this goal, the Germans planned to conduct three offensive operations on the strategic coverage of the Russian armies from the north and south. The German command launched two groups of troops in converging directions: the northern one (General von Halwitz) west of Osovets, and the southern one (General Augustus Mackensen) across Brest-Lublin to Brest-Litovsk. Their connection threatened the complete encirclement of the 1-th Russian army of the North-Western Front. Von Galvits sent large forces to the junction between the 1-m Siberian and 1-m Turkestan corps. At the front of the 2-th Siberian Rifle Division, a breakthrough emerged that threatened the troops with tragic consequences. Army commander, General A.I. Litvinov hastily redeployed the 14 Cavalry Division from the reserve to the Tsekhanov region, and she stood up with an unshakable wall in the path of the enemy. 2-I brigade of this division, consisting of hussars and Cossack regiments, slenderly turned into fearless lava in the face of the triumphant victory of the enemy. Kombrig, Colonel Westfalen, said goodbye to everyone and led the lava under heavy fire to attack silently, without shouting “Hurray!” To one and all, including the headquarters, the convoy and the convoy, and it was simply impossible to stop them. And the offensive of the enemy was stopped. Hussars and Cossacks paid dearly for this important victory, losing up to half of their composition, but the 1 Army was saved from detour and encirclement.


Fig. 2 Cossack horse counterattack, 1915 year
At the same time, Mackensen's army, carrying out the command of the command, turned from Galicia to the north, but a fierce defensive battle unfolded near Tomashov. The great actions of the 3-th Don Cossack Division played a major role in it. A month of heavy hard battles lasted and, to avoid encirclement, 2 August 1915, the Russian troops left Warsaw, Brest-Litovsk was evacuated. The Russian army was drowning in its own blood, it was seized by demoralization and panic. Because of this, in just three days, from 15 to 17 in August, two strongest Russian fortresses fell - Kovno and Novogeorgievsk. The commandant Kovno, General Grigoriev, simply escaped from his fortress (in his words, “for reinforcements”), and the commandant of Novogeorgievsk, General Bobyr, after the first skirmishes, ran to the enemy, surrendered to him as a prisoner and, already in captivity, ordered him to surrender to the entire garrison. In Kovno, the Germans took 20 000 prisoners and 450 serf guns, and in Novogeorgievsk 83 000 prisoners, including 23 generals and 2100 officers, 1200 (!!!) guns and more than 1 000 000 shells. Only four officers (Fedorenko, Stefanov, Ber, and Berg), being loyal to the oath, left the fortress and, having overcome a loose environment, 18 days crept through the rear of the enemy to their own.


Fig. 3 Russian prisoners in Poland, August 1915 of the year
17 August changes were made in the Directorate of the Russian armies. For the collapse of the army, a catastrophic retreat and huge losses, the former Supreme Commander-in-Chief, Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolayevich Romanov, was removed and appointed governor-general in the Caucasus. At the head of the army became the emperor. In the conditions of the crisis in the army, the adoption of the Common Command by the State was quite a reasonable step. At the same time, it was well known that Nicholas II in the military did not understand anything and that the title he had assumed would be nominal. For him, everything had to be decided by the chief of staff. But even a brilliant chief of staff cannot replace his chief everywhere, and the absence of the present Supreme Commander has greatly affected the fighting of the 1916 year, when the results that could have been achieved were not the result of the Stakes. Accepting the position of Supreme Commander was a powerful blow, which Nicholas II delivered to himself and which led to, along with other negative circumstances, the sad end of his monarchy. 23 August he arrived at Headquarters. The king chose General MV as his closest assistant. Alekseeva. This general was an excellent military specialist and a very intelligent man. But he did not have the will and charisma of a real commander and objectively could not compensate for the shortcomings of an equally weak-willed emperor. In accordance with the Stake Directive No. 3274 of 4 (17) of August 1915, the North-Western Front, which united the 8 armies, was divided into the 2 of the front, the Northern and Western. Northern (Commander General Ruzsky) was prescribed a cover for the Petrograd direction, Western (Commander General Evert) - Moscow, South-West (General Ivanov remained the commander) Cover Kiev. It should be said that in addition to military failures there were other reasons for the dismissal of the Supreme Commander. A certain part of the courtiers and Duma members, almost openly supported the Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolayevich not only as Commander-in-Chief, but also as a possible candidate for the throne. A significant role in the Stavka was played by correspondents who popularized and glorified the Grand Duke as an indispensable military and civilian figure. Unlike most other Romanovs, he was a professional soldier, although he fought only in 1877-1878 in the Balkans. On the post of Supreme Commander, the Grand Duke gained enviable popularity. Nikolai Nikolayevich impressed everyone who saw him for the first time, above all with his outstanding royal appearance, which made an unprecedented impression.

Extremely tall, slender and flexible as a stalk, with long limbs and a proudly set head, he stood out sharply above the crowd that surrounded him, no matter how significant it was. Thin, precisely engraved, features of his open and noble face, framed by a small graying little beard with a wedge, complemented his characteristic figure.


Fig. 4 Great Prince Nikolai Nikolaevich Romanov
At the same time, the Prince was an arrogant man, unbalanced, rude, unorganized and, succumbing to his mood, could mess up a lot. Unfortunately for the country and the army, at the beginning of the war, General Yanushkevich was appointed as the chief of staff with him, at the personal instruction of the king. A good theorist and teacher, he never commanded the troops and turned out to be completely unsuitable for such high and responsible work. And thus, both of them made their considerable contribution to that mess of strategic and operational leadership, which so often dominated the Russian army. This greatly affected the course of hostilities, including Cossack units.

In late August, the Germans launched an offensive in the Neman area, brought up heavy long-range and howitzer artillery and concentrated a large number of cavalry. On the Franco-German front, by that time, the cavalry had fully proved its unsuitability. There she was transferred first to the reserve, then almost completely sent to the Russian front. September 14 German troops occupied Vileyka and approached Molodechno. The German cavalry group (4 cavalry divisions) rushed through the Russian rears. German cavalry reached Minsk and even cut the Smolensk-Minsk highway. To counter this group of German cavalry from the Russian command, for the first time, under the command of General Oranovsky, a cavalry army consisting of several cavalry corps (albeit heavily drained) with more than thousands of sabers, 20 guns and 67 machine guns was created by the command of General Oranovsky. By this time, the onslaught of the German cavalry, deprived of the support of infantry and artillery, was already weakened. On September 56-15, the Russian Communist Party attacked the German cavalry and threw it to Lake Naroch. Then the task of the conarmia was to break through the front of the enemy and go to the rear of the Dvina group of Germans. Ataman G. Semenov recalled later: “General Oranovsky was put at the head of this grand cavalry army. The infantry was to break through the front of the Germans and in order to enable the cavalry of more than ten divisions to enter the deep rear of the enemy. The plan was truly ambitious and its implementation could have a significant impact on the outcome of the entire war. But, unfortunately for us, General Oranovsky turned out to be completely inappropriate to the task entrusted to him, and nothing came of the brilliant plan. ” By the beginning of October, the Germans were exhausted, their occurrence was halted everywhere. Surrounding the Western Front the Germans failed to produce. On October 16, the con-army of General Oranovsky was disbanded, and the front was occupied by infantry. November 8 cavalry life received an order to retreat to the winter apartments. By the end of the active operations of 12, the front of the location of the parties took place on the line: Riga-Dvinsk-Baranovichi-Minsk-Lutsk-Ternopol-Sereg river and the border of Romania, i.e. the front line essentially coincided with the future borders of the USSR before 1915. On this line, the front stabilized and both sides went over to defensive actions of positional warfare.

It should be said that the failures of 1915 made a powerful psychological restructuring in the minds of the army and finally convinced everyone, from the soldier to the general, of the vital need for a real and thorough preparation of the front line for a positional war. This perestroika took place heavily and for a long time and cost very large sacrifices. The Russo-Japanese War, as a prototype of the future, showed an example of positional warfare. But military authorities around the world attacked with criticism the method of its conduct. In particular, the Germans rebelled terribly and laughed at the Russians and Japanese, saying that a positional war proves their inability to fight and that they will not imitate such an example. They believed that with the power of modern fire, a frontal attack could not be successful, and a solution to the fate of the battle should be sought on the flanks, concentrating the troops there in the greatest quantity. These views were intensely preached by German military experts and ultimately shared by all others. The common slogan of all European military leaders was to avoid positional warfare to the last extreme. In peacetime, no one ever practiced it. Both the commanders and the troops could not stand and were too lazy to strengthen and dig in, at best confining themselves to rooks for shooters. At the beginning of the war, fortified positions represented only one moat, even without communication lines to the rear. With heavy shelling of artillery, this somehow made moat quickly collapsed, and the people sitting in it were destroyed or surrendered to avoid imminent death. Also, the practice of war soon showed that with a solid front line, the concept of flanks is very arbitrary, and concentrating large forces covertly in one place is very difficult. With solid front lines, one has to attack heavily fortified positions in the forehead, and only artillery could play the role of a hammer capable of crushing the defense in a selected area of ​​attack. On the Russian front, they began to move to a positional war, interspersed with a field war, at the end of 1914. Finally, they switched to a positional war in the summer of 1915, after a grand offensive by the armies of the central powers. There was one combat engineer battalion for each army corps, consisting of a telegraph company and three companies of combat engineers. This number of sappers in modern weapons and the need to skillfully dig in was completely inadequate. And in peacetime, our infantry was trained disgustingly self-digging, through the sleeves, was lazy, and in general the sapper business was delivered poorly. But the lesson went for the future. By the autumn of 1915, no one was lazy and did not dispute the need for the most thorough digging and masking. As General Brusilov recalled, nobody had to force or persuade anyone. Everyone buried in the ground like moles. A series of images shows the evolution of defensive positions during the war.


Fig. 5 Roviki 1914 of the Year

Fig. 6 Trench 1915 of the year

Fig. 7 Trench 1916 of the year

Fig. 8 Position 1916 of the Year

Fig. 9 PILOT 1916 of the year

Fig. 10 PILOT 1916 from the inside
Failures of the Russian army had international consequences. In the course of the war, the alleged neutrality of Bulgaria quickly disappeared, as the Austro-German agent, King Ferdinand I Coburg, was sitting on the Bulgarian throne. And earlier, in conditions of neutrality, Bulgaria supplied the Turkish army with ammunition, weapons, officers. Beginning with the retreat of the Russian army from Galicia, frantic anti-Serb and anti-Russian hysteria began in Bulgaria, as a result of which Tsar Coburg 14 on October 1915 declared war on Serbia and provided the thousandth Bulgarian army for the Austro-German Union 400, which entered into combat operations against Serbia. For Serbia, an ally of Russia, this had disastrous consequences. Having received a stab in the back, by the end of December, Serbian troops were defeated and left the territory of Serbia, having left for Albania. From there in January 1916, their remains were evacuated to Corfu Island and to Bizerte. This is what the “brothers” and their rulers paid for hundreds of thousands of Russian lives and billions of rubles spent on their liberation from the Turkish yoke.

With the approach of winter hostilities fade. The summer operations of the German and Austro-Hungarian troops did not justify the hopes placed on them, the encirclement of the Russian armies in Poland did not work out. The Russian command was able to take the central armies with battles and level the front line, although it left the western Baltic states, Poland and Galicia. The return of Galicia greatly inspired Austria-Hungary. But Russia was not withdrawn from the war, as German strategists had outlined, and, starting in August on 1915, they began to shift their main focus to the west. For the upcoming 1916 year, the Germans decided to re-transfer the main operations to the Western Front and began to deploy troops there. Until the end of the war on the Russian front, the Germans no longer took decisive offensive operations. In general, for Russia, it was a year of "great retreat". The Cossacks, as always, fought bravely in all these bloody battles, covered the withdrawal of the Russian units, accomplishing feats under these conditions, but also suffered huge losses. The indestructible power of the morale and the excellent military training of the Cossacks more than once became the guarantee of their victories. In September, the Cossack 6 of the Don Cossack Regiment, Aleksey Kiryanov, repeated the feat of Kozma Kryuchkov, destroying enemy soldiers in one battle of 11. The morale of the Cossack troops was disproportionately high. Unlike other troops that were experiencing an acute shortage of recruits, Don “ran as volunteers”. There are lots of such examples. So the commander of the 26-th Don Cossack Regiment, Colonel A.A. Polyakov, in his report from 25 of May 1915, reports that 12 Cossacks arrived at his regiment without permission from the villages. In view of the fact that they have established themselves well, he asks them to leave the regiment. To detain and stop the Germans, the Cossacks threw fierce counterattacks, breakthroughs, desperate raids and raids. Here is just one example. On the extreme right flank of the 5 Army in the 7 of the Siberian Corps, the Ussuri Cossack Brigade under the command of General Krymov fought. June, the 5 brigade, together with the assigned regiments of the 4-th Don Cossack Division, marched in the sector of the German front, rushed up to the rear of the 35 versus rear, attacked the wagon columns and destroyed them. Moving further to the south-west, the brigade met a convoy of the 6 German Cavalry Division, broke it, and threw twenty miles away. Here were the depot units and their cover, which resisted, and the German command began to organize shock units everywhere in order to surround the brigade and cut off its exit routes from the rear. The Ussurians continued their movement and swept over the 200 versts through the near rear areas, crushing everything in their path. According to the German command, the raid of the Us ¬ suryan Cossack brigade to the deep rear of the German front was completely successful and was famously and skillfully executed. The rear link was destroyed for a long time, the observant columns all along the way were destroyed, and all the attention of the German command of the northern sector was directed for several days not to continue the offensive, but to the rear. The Cossacks and in the defense bravely defended their positions, firmly carrying out the order of the command. However, this hardness suggested to many Russian commanders a simple solution, to use the Cossack units as “infantry rifle”, which is convenient to close gaps in the defense. The destructiveness of such a decision soon became apparent. Trench life quickly reduced the combat capability of the Cossack units, and the dismounted system did not at all respond to the tactical mission of the Cossack cavalry. Partial way out of this situation was found in the formation of guerrilla groups and special forces. During this period, behind enemy lines, they tried to use the experience of the 1812 guerrilla war of the year. In 1915, on the fronts of the Cossacks, 11 guerrilla units were formed with a total of 1700 people. Their task was the destruction of headquarters, warehouses and railways, the capture of carts, forcing panic and uncertainty from the enemy in its rear, the diversion of the main forces from the front to fight the partisans, sabotage and sabotage. Certain successes in this activity were. On the night of November 15, 1915 versts of the St. Petersburg X-NUMX, X-NUMX, X-NUMX and 25 cavalry divisions, made their way through the swamps and at dawn fell boldly on the German 7-X-YX headquarters that slept peacefully, slept on the swamps, and at dawn, the Germans of the 11-X headquarters slept on the German sleeping 12-y headquarters, which slept peacefully, slept through the swamps of the St.-Petersburg X-NUMX-y-82, XNUMX, XNUMX, XNUMX, XNUMX and XNUMX. Military trick failed to glory. One general was slaughtered, 2 was taken prisoner (the commander and chief of the division, General Fobarius), the headquarters with valuable documentation was captured, 4 guns were destroyed and, before 600, enemy soldiers. Guerrilla casualties amounted to 2 Cossacks killed and 4 injured. The garrison was also defeated in the village of Kukhtotskaya Volya, the enemy lost about 400 people. Partisan casualties - one killed, 30 injured, 2 missing, etc. The future active participants in the civil war proved themselves to be very active partisans: the white Cossack chieftains B. Annenkov, A. Skins and dashing red brigade commander, Kuban Cossack I. Kochubey. But the heroic deeds of the partisans could not have a significant impact on the course of the war. Due to the sluggish support of the local population (Poland, Galicia and Belarus, especially Western - this is not Russia), guerrilla actions could not have the same scale and efficiency as in 1812 year. However, in the next year, 1916, on the Russian-German-Austrian front, the operational and tactical tasks of the command of the 53 partisan detachment, mainly from the Cossacks, were carried out. They operated until the end of April 1917, when they were finally disbanded, due to the clearly positional nature of the war.


Fig. 11 Cossack guerrilla raid on a German convoy

Fig. 12 Cossacks-partisans of the porousausal B.V. Annenkova
In 1915, the tactics of the use of Cossack cavalry constantly changed. Some compounds have been disbanded. The regiments and brigades were distributed among the army corps and served as corps cavalry. They conducted reconnaissance, provided communications, guard headquarters and communications, and participated in battles. Like infantry, cavalry regiments were not equivalent to rifle regiments because of their smaller size and the need to allocate up to one third of their composition as connoders when dismounting. But these regiments and brigades (usually 2-x regimental personnel) were effective as a mobile and operational reserve of the corps commander. Separate hundreds and divisions were used as divisional and regimental cavalry. The quality of these troops is indicated by the fact that up to half of the personnel of the Cossack troops called up for war were marked by various awards, and half of the Terek Cossacks were St. George's gentlemen, and the officers were all. Most of the awards were deserved for exploration and raid activities.

At the same time, a positional war constantly demanded the use of operational mobile reserves and a larger scale. During the offensive in Galicia in 1914, the cavalry corps of generals Dragomirov and Novikov were formed and were actively operating on the South-Western Front. In February, 1915 of the 9 Army was created by General Xan Nakhichevan's 2 Cavalry Corps as part of the Don Cossack 1, 12 Cavalry and Caucasian native ("wild") divisions, and the 3 Cavalry Equestrian was soon formed case F.A. Keller Gorlitsy battle on the South-Western Front suggested to the command the idea of ​​using the operational Cossack barrier. It consisted of the 3-y Don Cossack, 2-Y-Cossack, 16-Cavalry and 3-Caucasian Cossack divisions. This was the first attempt to create a larger Cossack formation, rather than the corps. The idea of ​​creating a special Cossack cavalry army, as an operational reserve of the front, was constantly defended by Cossack generals Krasnov, Krymov and others. At the end of the year, the con-army was created under the leadership of General Oranovsky, but the choice of the commander was clearly unsuccessful and the idea was ruined. The accumulated combat experience prompted the need to create large cavalry formations in the Russian army to solve various military-tactical tasks. But at the initial stage of the war, cases of irrational use of cavalry formations were typical, which led to a denial of their influence on the operational situation. Again, this idea came to life already during the Civil War and was brilliantly developed, creatively reworked and talentedly executed by the red Cossacks Dumenko, Mironov and Budyonny.

Activities on the French front in 1915 were limited to the offensive launched in September at Champagne at Arras, not even having local significance and, of course, not having any meaning to facilitate the position of the Russian armies. But the 1915 year was famous for the Western Front for a completely different reason. On 22 on April, the German army in the area of ​​the small Belgian town of Ypres launched a gas attack against chlorine by the Entente's Anglo-French troops. The huge, poisonous yellow-green cloud of highly toxic chlorine, weighing in 180 tons (of 6000 cylinders), reaching the enemy’s frontline positions, defeated 15 thousands of soldiers and officers within a few minutes, of which five thousand died immediately after the attack. The survivors either died later in hospitals or became disabled for life, receiving emphysema, severe damage to the organs of vision and other internal organs. The "overwhelming" success of chemical weapons stimulated its continued use. May 18 1915 of the 45-th Don Cossack Regiment almost completely died during the first gas attack on the Eastern Front near Borzhimov. On May 31, the Germans used an even more highly toxic poisonous substance called phosgene against the Russian troops. Killed 9 thousand people. Later, German troops used new chemical weapons against opponents, a chemical warfare agent for skin-boiling and general toxic effects, called mustard gas. The small town of Ypres became (as later Hiroshima) a symbol of one of the greatest crimes against humanity. In World War I, other toxic substances were also tested: diphosgene (1915 year), chloropicrin (1916 year), hydrocyanic acid (1915 year). Chemical weapons overturned any idea of ​​the humanity of the armed struggle, based on submission to international law relating to war. It was the First World War that highlighted all the cruelty of supposedly "civilized" nations, which boasted of their "superiority" over other nations, which Tamerlane, Genghis Khan, Attila or any other Asian ruler had never dreamed of. The European art of mass cruelty in the twentieth century surpassed any genocide, which before that could have been invented by human thought.


Fig. 13 Blinded victims of chemical attack
However, in general, the general military-political situation for the allies was favorable to 1916 in the year. But it is already completely different. история.

Materials used:
Gordeev A.A. - History of the Cossacks
Mamonov V.F. and others. - History of the Cossacks of the Urals. Orenburg-Chelyabinsk 1992
Shibanov N.S. - Orenburg Cossacks of the XX century
Ryzhkova N.V. - Don Cossacks in the wars of the early twentieth century-2008
Unknown tragedies of the First World War. Captives. Deserters. The refugees M., Veche, 2011
Oskin M.V. The collapse of the horse blitzkrieg. Cavalry in the First World War. M., Yauza, 2009.
Brusilov A.A. My memories. Military Publishing. M.1983
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  1. Pavlov A.E. 19 December 2014 09: 02 New
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    Thanks for the article, it’s very interesting since my great-great-grandfather served in the Don Cossack battery.
  2. Pervusha Isaev
    Pervusha Isaev 19 December 2014 11: 05 New
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    it is necessary to revive the Cossack traditions and begin precisely with the already real war in the Donbas, where the Cossacks valiantly restrain superior enemy forces ...
  3. 3axap
    3axap 19 December 2014 20: 35 New
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    Thanks for the article. I read it with great pleasure.
  4. Cat
    Cat 19 December 2014 20: 46 New
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    Many thanks to the author !!!
  5. Black Colonel 20 December 2014 09: 48 New
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    Cossacks were the most devoted patriots of Russia. No wonder the Bolsheviks first of all destroyed the Cossacks as a military-political force, and only then Orthodoxy as an ideological one.
  6. Andrey Draganov April 16 2015 19: 42 New
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    Destroyed so that still can not be reborn. The fact that now we have a miserable likeness to the Cossacks, but there is a hope that everything will be reborn now, a lot of cadet corps were created in the Don. I would like future generations to be brought up on faith and love in the fatherland.