With the outbreak of war in the Ottoman Empire, there was no agreement whether to enter the war or to maintain neutrality and, if entered, on whose side. Most of the government advocated neutrality. However, in an unofficial Young Turkish triumvirate that represented the war party, Minister of War Enver Pasha and Interior Minister Talaat Pasha were supporters of the Triple Alliance, but Jemal Pasha, the Minister of Public Works, was a supporter of the Entente. However, the accession of Osmania to the Entente was a complete chimera, and Jemal Pasha soon realized this. After all, for several centuries, the anti-Turkish vector was the main one in European politics, and throughout the 2th century, European powers were actively tearing the Ottoman possessions to pieces. This was described in more detail in the article “Cossacks and the First World War. Part I, pre-war. " But the process of dividing Osmania was not completed, and the Entente countries had views of the Turkish “legacy”. England persistently planned to take possession of Mesopotamia, Arabia and Palestine, France laid claim to Cilicia, Syria and Southern Armenia. Both of them resolutely wished to give Russia nothing, but were forced to reckon and sacrifice part of their interests in Turkey in the name of victory over Germany. Russia claimed the Black Sea straits and Turkish Armenia. Given the geopolitical impossibility of involving Osmania in the Entente, England and France tried in every possible way to postpone the start of Turkey's entry into the war so that hostilities in the Caucasus did not distract Russian troops from the European theater of war, where the actions of the Russian army weakened Germany’s main blow to the West. The Germans, on the contrary, tried to speed up the Turkish attack on Russia. Each side pulled in its own direction. On August 1914, 10, under pressure from the Turkish Ministry of War, a German-Turkish union treaty was signed, under which the Turkish army was actually surrendered under the leadership of the German military mission. Mobilization was announced in the country. But at the same time, the Turkish government issued a declaration of neutrality. However, on August XNUMX, the German cruisers Göben and Breslau entered the Dardanelles, who left the Mediterranean Sea from the pursuit of the British fleet. This one is almost detective историяIt became a decisive moment in the entry of Turkey into the war and requires some explanation. Formed in 1912, the Mediterranean squadron of the Kaiser Navy under the command of Rear Admiral Wilhelm Souchon consisted of only two ships - the Göben battle cruiser and the Breslau light cruiser. In the event of a war, the squadron, together with the Italian and Austro-Hungarian fleets, was supposed to prevent the transfer of French colonial troops from Algeria to France. 28 July 1914, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. At that time, Souchon was aboard the Göben in the Adriatic Sea, in the town of Paula, where the cruiser was undergoing repair of steam boilers. Learning about the beginning of the war and not wanting to be captured in the Adriatic, Souchon led the ship into the Mediterranean, not waiting for the completion of repair work. 1 August “Goben” arrived in Brindisi, where Souchon was going to replenish coal reserves. However, the Italian authorities, contrary to previous commitments, wanted to maintain neutrality and refused not only to enter the war on the side of the Central Powers, but also to supply fuel for the German fleet. Göben sailed to Taranto, where he was joined by Breslau, after which the squadron headed for Messina, where Souchon managed to get 2 000 tons of coal from German merchant ships. The position of Souchon was extremely difficult. The Italian authorities insisted on the withdrawal of the German squadron from the port during 24 hours. News from Germany further aggravated the position of the squadron. Commander-in-Chief of the Kaiser fleet, Admiral Tirpicz reported that the Austrian fleet did not intend to start fighting in the Mediterranean Sea and that the Ottoman Empire continued to maintain neutrality, as a result of which Souchon should not undertake a campaign to Constantinople. Souchon left Messina and headed west. But the British Admiralty, fearing a breakthrough of the German squadron into the Atlantic, ordered its battlecruisers to head for Gibraltar and close the strait. Faced with the prospect of being locked up in the Adriatic until the end of the war, Sushon decided, no matter what, to follow to Constantinople. He set himself a goal: "... to force the Ottoman Empire, even against its will, to launch military operations in the Black Sea against its original enemy - Russia." This forced improvisation of a simple German admiral had enormous negative consequences, both for Turkey and Russia. The appearance of two powerful ships in the roads of Istanbul caused a violent euphoria in Turkish society, trimmed the forces of the Russian and Turkish fleets and finally tipped the scales in favor of the war party. In order to comply with the legal formalities, the German cruisers “Göben” and “Breslau” entered the Black Sea were renamed and “sold” to the Turks, and the German sailors dressed the fez and “became the Turks”. As a result, not only the Turkish army, but also the fleet were under the command of the Germans.
9 September was followed by a new unfriendly step, the Turkish government announced to all powers that it had decided to cancel the surrender regime (preferential legal status of foreign citizens), and on September 24 the government closed the Straits for the Entente courts. This caused a protest from all powers. Despite all this, most members of the Turkish government, including the Grand Vizier, still opposed the war. Moreover, at the beginning of the war, the neutrality of Turkey completely satisfied Germany, which was counting on a quick victory. And the presence in the Marmara Sea of such a powerful ship as the Goeben, held down a significant part of the forces of the British Mediterranean fleet. However, after the defeat in the Battle of Marne and the successful actions of the Russian troops against Austria-Hungary in Galicia, Germany began to consider the Ottoman Empire as a profitable ally. She really could have threatened British colonial possessions in the East Indies and British and Russian interests in Persia. Back in 1907, an agreement was reached between England and Russia on the division of spheres of influence in Persia. For Russia, the frontier of influence stretched in northern Persia to the line of the cities of Khanekin on the Turkish border, Iezd and the village of Zyulfagar on the Afghan border. Then Enver Pasha, together with the German command, decided to start a war without the consent of the rest of the government, putting the country before a fait accompli. October 21 Enver Pasha became supreme commander and received the rights of a dictator. By the first order he ordered Admiral Souchon to take the fleet into the sea and attack the Russians. Turkey declared "jihad" (holy war) to the Entente countries. 29-30 of October, the Turkish fleet under the command of German admiral Sushon fired at Sevastopol, Odessa, Theodosius and Novorossiysk (in Russia this event received the unofficial name of "Sevastopol wake-up call"). In response, November 2 Russia declared war on Turkey. 5 and 6 November followed by England and France. At the same time, Turkey’s usefulness as an ally was greatly reduced by the fact that the Central Powers did not have communication with it either overland (between Turkey and Austria-Hungary, Serbia was not yet conquered and yet Bulgaria was neutral) or by sea (the Mediterranean was controlled by the Entente ). Despite this, in his memoirs, General Ludendorff believed that the entry of Turkey into the war allowed the countries of the Triple Alliance to fight for two years longer. Pulling Osmania into a world war had tragic consequences for it. As a result of the war, the Ottoman Empire lost all of its possessions outside Asia Minor Asia, and then ceased to exist at all. No less dramatic consequences were the breakthroughs of Göben and Breslau in Constantinople and the ensuing emotional entry of Turkey into the war led to the Russian Empire. Turkey closed the Dardanelles for merchant ships of all countries. Earlier, Germany had closed the Danish straits on the Baltic for Russia. Thus, about 90% of the foreign trade turnover of the Russian Empire was blocked. 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. Russia has become like a house, which can only be reached through a chimney. Cut off from the allies, unable to export grain and import weapons, the Russian Empire gradually began to experience serious economic difficulties.
This is the way Turkey and Germany unleashed a war in southern Russia. 720, the Caucasus Front, appeared between Russia and Turkey, stretching from the Black Sea to Lake Urmia in Iran. Unlike the European fronts, there was no solid line of trenches, ditches, barriers, fighting centered along passes, narrow paths, mountain roads, often even goat trails, where most of the armed forces of the parties were concentrated. Both sides were preparing for this war. The Turkish plan of operations on the Caucasian front, developed under the leadership of the Minister of War of Turkey Enver Pasha, together with German military experts, envisaged the invasion of Turkish troops in Transcaucasia from the flanks through the area of Batum and Iranian Azerbaijan, followed by the encirclement and destruction of Russian troops. By the beginning of 1915, the Turks had been planning to seize the whole of Transcaucasia and, having raised the Muslim peoples of the Caucasus for the uprising, to throw the Russian troops out of the Caucasus range. For this purpose, they possessed 3-her army of 9, 10, 11 corps, 2-th regular Cavalry Division, four and a half Kurdish irregular cavalry divisions, border guard and gendarmerie units and two infantry divisions had been transferred from Mesopotamia. Kurdish formations were poorly trained and poorly disciplined in combat. The Turks treated the Kurds with great distrust and did not give these formations of machine guns and artillery. In total, on the border with Russia, the Turks deployed forces to 170 thousands of people with 300 guns and prepared offensive actions.
Since the main front for the Russian army was the Russian-Austro-German, the Caucasian army was not planned for a deep offensive, but had to actively defend itself on the frontier mountain frontiers. Russian troops had the task of keeping the roads to Vladikavkaz, Derbent, Baku and Tiflis, defending the most important industrial center of Baku and preventing the appearance of Turkish forces in the Caucasus. In early October 1914, the Separate Caucasian Army had the 1 Caucasian Army Corps (as part of the 2 infantry divisions, the 2 artillery brigades, the 2 of the Kuban Plastun brigades, the 1 Caucasian Cossack Division). Turkestan Army Corps (as part of the 2-x rifle brigades, 2-x artillery battalions, 2-nd Transcaspian Cossack brigade). In addition, there were several separate units, brigades and divisions consisting of Cossacks, militias, workers, border guards, police officers and gendarmes. Before the outbreak of hostilities, the Caucasian army was dispersed into several groups in accordance with operational directions. There were two main ones: the Kara direction (Kars - Erzerum) in the region of Olta - Sarykamysh - Kagyzman and the Erivan direction (Erivan - Alashkert). The flanks were covered by detachments formed from border guards, Cossacks and militias: the right flank is the direction along the Black Sea coast to Batum, and the left flank is against the Kurdish regions. In total, the army had 1 infantry battalions, 153 Cossack hundreds, 175 guns, 350 sapper companies, the total number reached 15 thousand people. But in the troubled Transcaucasus, a significant part of this army was occupied by the protection of the rear, communications, the coast, some parts of the Turkestan corps were still in the process of transfer. Therefore, on the front were 190 battalions, 114 hundreds and 127 guns. October 304 (November 19) 2, the Russian troops crossed the Turkish border and began to move rapidly into the depths of Turkish territory. The Turks did not expect such a rapid invasion, their regular units were focused on the rear bases. Only forward barriers and Kurdish militia entered the battle.
The Erivan detachment undertook a swift raid. The basis of the detachment was the 2-I Caucasian Cossack Division of General Abatziev, and the head was the 2-I Plastun Brigade of General Ivan Gulyga. The scouts, the Cossack infantry, were at that time a kind of special-purpose units that performed patrol, reconnaissance and sabotage tasks. They were famous for exceptional endurance, could move almost nonstop, roads, and sometimes march ahead of the cavalry, differed excellent possession of small and cold weapons. At night, they preferred to take the enemy in knives (bayonets), without shots, silently cutting out patrols and small units of the enemy. In battle, they were distinguished by cold rage and calm, which terrified the enemy. Because of the constant marches and creeps, the Cossacks of the scum looked like rags, which was their privilege. As was customary among the Cossacks, the most important issues were discussed in a circle. November 4 The 2-I Caucasian Cossack Division and the Transcaspian Cossack Brigade reached Bayazet. It was a serious fortress that played a strategic role in past wars. However, the Turks did not have time to arrange a large garrison here. Seeing that approaching Russian troops, the Ottoman garrison threw the fortress and fled. As a result, Bayazet was taken without a fight. It was a great success. Then the Cossacks moved west to the Dyadinsky valley, in two battles they swept the Kurdish and Turkish barriers, and took the city of Diyadin. Many prisoners, weapons and ammunition were captured. The Cossacks of Abaciyev continued the successful offensive and entered the Alashkert Valley, where they joined the plasters of General Przhevalsky. Following the cavalry, the infantry advanced, which was fixed on the occupied lines and passes. The Azerbaijani detachment of General Chernozubov as part of the 4 Caucasian Cossack Division and the 2 Caucasian Rifle Brigade defeated the Turkish-Kurdish forces that entered the western regions of Persia. Russian troops occupied the areas of Northern Persia, Tabriz and Urmia. In the Oltinsky direction, the 20 Infantry Division, Lieutenant General Istomin, reached the line Ardoz - Id. Sarykamysh detachment, breaking the resistance of the enemy, with the battles of October 24 went to the environs of Erzerum. But Erzerum was a powerful fortified area, and before the 20 in November, there was a confrontation, the Keprikeyo battle. In this direction, the Turkish army was able to repel the offensive of the Sarikamysh detachment of General Berhman. This inspired the German-Turkish command and gave them their determination to launch an offensive operation on Sarykamysh.
At the same time, on October 19 (November 2), Ottoman troops invaded the territory of the Batumi region of the Russian Empire and inspired an uprising there. On November 18, the Russian troops left Artvin and retreated in the direction of Batum. The situation was complicated by the fact that the Adzharians (part of the Georgian people who profess Islam), rebelled against the Russian authorities. As a result, the Batumi region, with the exception of the Mikhailovsky fortress and the Upper Adjara sector of the Batumi district, as well as the city of Ardahan of the Kara region and a large part of the Ardahan district, came under the control of Turkish troops. In the occupied territories, the Turks, with the assistance of the Adjarians, carried out massacres of the Armenian and Greek population.
Thus, the war on the Caucasian front began with offensive actions of both sides and the clashes assumed a maneuverable character. The Caucasus became a battlefield for the Kuban, Terek, Siberian and Trans-Baikal Cossacks. With the onset of winter, which is unpredictable and harsh in these places, given the experience of past wars, the Russian command intended to go on the defensive. But the Turks unexpectedly launched a winter offensive in order to encircle and destroy the Separate Caucasian Army. Turkish troops invaded Russian territory. In Tiflis, despondency and panic reigned - the lazy one did not speak about the triple superiority of the Turks in the forces on the Sarykamysh direction. Count Vorontsov-Dashkov, 76, the summer governor of the Caucasus, the commander-in-chief of the troops of the Caucasian Military District and the military ataman of the Caucasian Cossack troops, was a seasoned, respected and highly deserved person, but he was also at a loss. The fact is that in December, the Minister of War Enver Pasha, dissatisfied with the sluggishness of the army command, himself arrived at the front and led the 3 Turkish army, and on December 9 launched an offensive against Sarykamysh. Enver Pasha had already heard a lot and wanted in the Caucasus to repeat the experience of the 8 of the German army in defeating the 2 of the Russian army in East Prussia. But the plan had many weak points:
- Enver Pasha overestimated the combat readiness of his forces
- missed the difficulties of mountainous terrain and climate in winter conditions
- The time factor worked against the Turks (replenishments continuously arrived to the Russians and any delay brought the plan to naught)
- the Turks were almost completely absent people familiar with the terrain, and the maps were very bad
- The Turks had a bad organization of the rear and headquarters.
Therefore, there were terrible mistakes: so 10 of December, two Turkish divisions (31 and 32) of the 10 corps, advancing along the Oltinsky direction, staged a battle between themselves (!). As stated in the memoirs of the Turkish Corps commander 10: “When the mistake was understood, people began to cry. It was a heartbreaking picture. We spent four hours fighting with the 32 Division. 24 companies fought on both sides, killing about 2 thousands of people killed and wounded. ”
As conceived by the Turks, the 11 Turkish Corps, the 2 Cavalry Division and the Kurdish Cavalry Corps were to be forged from the front of the Sarikamysh detachment, while the December 9 and 10 Turkish Corps 9 (22) of December began bypass movements. and Bardus, intending to go into the rear of the Sarykamysh detachment. The Turks drove from Olta a considerably inferior detachment of General Istomin to them, but he retreated and was not destroyed. 10 (23) December The Sarikamysh detachment beat off the frontal attack of the 11 Turkish corps and the units attached to it relatively easily. Deputy Deputy General Myshlaevsky assumed command of the army and, together with the chief of staff of the district, General Yudenich, on the 11 number were already at the front and organized the defense of Sarykamysh. The combined garrison so actively reflected the blows of the Turkish corps that they stopped at the approaches to the city. Pulling up five divisions to the city, Enver-pasha could not even imagine that they were fighting with only two teams. However, at the most crucial moment, General Myshlaevsky was discouraged and began to give orders for a retreat one by one, and on December 15 in general he abandoned his troops and left for Tiflis. Yudenich and Berchman headed the defense and decided not to surrender the city under any circumstances. Russian troops continuously received reinforcements. The Siberian Cossack brigade of General Kalitin (the 1 and 2 regiments of the Siberian Cossack army, who had been stationed before the war in Jarkent and had completed an excellent school of cavalry attacks in the mountains) arrived from Turks from Russian Turkestan. Ardagan. An eyewitness wrote: “The Siberian Cossack brigade, as if emerging from under the ground, in close formation, with peaks at the ready, broadly, almost with a quarry, attacked the Turks so suddenly and abruptly that they did not have time to defend themselves. It was something special and even scary, when we looked from the side and admired them, the Siberian Cossacks. Were crushed with peaks, trod the horses of the Turks, and took the rest into captivity. Nobody left them ... "
Fig. 2 War Poster
It is not by chance that the “daring valor” on the poster is personified by a Cossack. It was the Cossacks who once again became the strength and symbol of victory.
Fig. 3 Cossack Lava, Caucasian Front
In addition to receiving reinforcements, taking advantage of the weak pressure of the Turks on other sectors of the front, the Russians withdrew the strongest units from these sectors one by one and sent them to Sarykamysh. To top it all, after a thaw with sleet, a frost hit, our eternal and faithful ally, friend and helper. The poorly dressed and wet from head to toe Turkish army began to freeze in the very literal sense of the word, thousands of Turkish soldiers got frostbite due to wet shoes and clothes. This led to thousands of non-combat losses of the Turkish forces (in some parts the losses reached 80% of the personnel). After Ardahan, the Siberians rushed to Sarykamysh, where a few Russian forces were holding the city’s defenses and, together with the Kuban Cossacks who came to the rescue, they lifted the siege. The Russian troops received reinforcements under the command of General Yudenich utterly routed the enemy. December 20 (January 2) bardus was recaptured, and December 22 (January 4) was surrounded and captured by the entire 9 Turkish corps. The remains of the 10 Corps were forced to retreat. Enver Pasha threw the troops defeated by Sarykamysh and tried to deliver a distraction blow at Kara-Kurgan, but the Russian 39-I division, which later received the name of the “iron”, shot down and perekolol almost all remnants of the 11 of the Turkish corps. As a result, the Turks lost more than half the number of 3 Army, 90 000 people killed, wounded and captured (including 30 000 people frozen), 60 guns. The Russian army also suffered significant losses - 20 000 killed and wounded and more than 6000 frostbitten. The general persecution, despite the strong fatigue of the troops, lasted until January 5 inclusive. By January 6, the situation at the front was restored and Russian troops, due to losses and fatigue, stopped the persecution. According to General Yudenich, the operation ended with the complete defeat of the Turkish 3 Army, it almost ceased to exist, Russian troops occupied a favorable starting position for new operations, the territory of Transcaucasia was cleared of the Turks, except for a small part of the Batumi region. As a result of this battle, the Russian Caucasian Army shifted military operations into Turkey to 30-40 kilometers and opened its way deep into Anatolia.
The victory raised the spirit of the troops, aroused the admiration of the allies. The French ambassador to Russia, Maurice Paleologue, wrote: “The Caucasian Russian army performs amazing feats there every day.” This victory had an impact on the allies of Russia on the Entente, the Turkish command was forced to withdraw forces from the Mesopotamian front, which eased the position of the British. In addition, England was alarmed by the success of the Russian army and the Russian strategists already imagined Russian Cossacks on the streets of Constantinople. They had already decided on 19 February 1915 of the year to launch the Dardanelles operation to seize the Dardanelles and Bosphorus straits with the help of the Anglo-French fleet and the landing force.
The Sarykamysh operation presents an example of a rather rare pattern of fighting against the environment, which began in the Russian defense environment and ended in a collision, with the environment ring breaking from the inside and outside and the pursuit of the remnants of the bypass wing of the Turks. This battle once again underlines a huge role in the war of a bold, enterprising, not afraid to make independent decisions of the commander. In this regard, the supreme command of the Turks and we in the person of Enver-pasha and Myshlayevsky, who left to the mercy of fate the main forces of their armies, which they considered to be already lost, give a sharply negative example. The Caucasian army was saved by persistence in carrying out decisions by private commanders, while senior commanders were confused and ready to retreat to Kars fortress. They glorified their names in this battle: the commander of the Oltinsky detachment Istomin N.М., the commander of the 1 Caucasian Corps Berkhman GE, the commander of the 1 of the Kuban Plastun Brigade M. Przhevalsky. (cousin of the famous traveler), the commander of the 3-th Caucasian Rifle Brigade VD Gabaev and many others. The great happiness of Russia was that the effective, wise, steadfast, courageous, and decisive military figure of the Suvorov type, the head of the headquarters of the Caucasian Army N.N. Yudenich came forward at the head of the Russian forces of the front. In addition to the Suvorov motto “to beat, not to count,” he possessed the ability and ability to turn the shortcomings of his position into advantages that are rare for a Russian person. For his success in the operation under Sarykamysh, Nicholas II produced Yudenich as a general from Infantry and awarded him the Order of St. George, IV degree, and on January 24 was officially appointed commander of the Caucasian Army.
Fig. 5 General Yudenich N.N.
In 1915, the fights were local. The Russian Caucasian army was strictly limited to shells (“shell hunger”). Also, the army troops were weakened by the transfer of part of its forces to the European theater. On the European front, the German-Austrian armies carried out a broad offensive, the Russian armies fiercely beat off, the situation was very difficult. Therefore, despite the victory under Sarykamysh, no offensive was planned on the Caucasian front. Fortified areas were created in the Russian rear — Sarykamysh, Ardagan, Akhalkhatsikh, Akhalkalakh, Alexandropol, Baku, and Tiflis. They were armed with old guns from the army reserves. This measure provided freedom of maneuver for parts of the Caucasian army. In addition, an army reserve was created in the area of Sarykamysh and Kars (the maximum 20-30 battalions). All this made it possible to timely parry the actions of the Turks on the Alashkert direction and isolate the Baratov expeditionary force for action in Persia.
In general, absolutely no sit in the 1915 year failed. On the other hand, the 3-I Turkish army was restored at the expense of the 1 units and the 2 units of the Constantinople armies and the 4 Syrian armies and, although it had 167 battalions, after the defeat of Sarykamysh, it also did not plan a big offensive. The focus of the warring parties was the struggle for the flanks. By the end of March, the Russian army with fights cleared the southern Ajaria and the whole Batumi region from the Turks, finally eliminating the threat of Gazavat there. But the Turkish army, fulfilling the plan of the German-Turkish command to deploy "jihad", sought to involve Persia and Afghanistan in an open statement against Russia and England and to achieve rejection of the Baku oil-bearing region from Russia, and the oil-bearing regions of the Persian Gulf from England. In late April, Kurdish cavalry troops of the Turkish army invaded Iran. To remedy the situation, the command is taking a counter-strike under the leadership of Lieutenant-General N.N., chief of the 1 Caucasian Cossack Division. Baratov together with the Donskoy Cossack Brigade. The combat fate of this Cossack brigade is very curious and I want to dwell on this one especially. The brigade was formed on the Don from the horseless Cossack hunger and non-resident recruits of the Don region. The service in the infantry on the Don was not prestigious, and the Cossack officers had to be lured there by hook or by crook, even fraudulently. The Don Cossacks of the 3 for centuries were mostly equestrian, although until the end of the 17 of the century they were mostly on foot, more precisely marines, in Russian “rook army”. Then the restructuring of the Cossack military life took place under the influence of the decrees of Peter I, who strictly forbade the Cossacks to go to the Black Sea and wage the Bosporus war with the Turks during his Great Embassy, and then the Northern War. This reformatting of the Don Cossack troops was described in more detail in the article “The Azov seat and the transfer of the Don army to the Moscow service”. Perestroika was very difficult then and was one of the reasons for the Bulava uprising. It is not surprising that the foot Don brigade fought at first unimportantly and received the “unstable” characterization. But the blood and genes of the Cossack class did their work. The situation began to change when the brigade was seconded to the 1 of the Caucasian Cossack Division of the Terek Ataman, General N.N. Baratova. This warrior knew how to place accents and instill confidence and stamina in the troops. The brigade soon began to be considered "resistant". But with unfading glory this compound covered itself later, in the battles for Erzerum and Erdzincan, when the brigade earned the glory of "invincible". Having acquired a specific experience of the mountain war, multiplied by Cossack resilience and valor, the brigade turned into a magnificent mountain-infantry army. Interestingly, all this time, and the "unstable", and "resistant", and "invincible" brigade commanded the same person, General Pavlov.
During the war in the Caucasus, the Armenian issue became very acute and took on a catastrophic character, the consequences of which have not been settled so far. Already at the beginning of hostilities, the Turkish authorities began to evict the Armenian population from the front line. A terrible anti-Armenian hysteria unfolded in Turkey. Western Armenians were accused of mass desertion from the Turkish army, of organizing sabotage and uprisings in the rear of the Turkish troops. About 60, thousands of Armenians who had been drafted into the Turkish army at the beginning of the war were disarmed, sent to work in the rear, and then destroyed. The defeated at the front and the retreating Turkish troops, joined by armed Kurdish gangs, deserters and marauders, under the pretext of "infidelity" of Armenians and their sympathies for the Russians, ruthlessly massacred Armenians, robbed their property, devastated Armenian settlements. The rioters acted in the most barbaric way, having lost their human appearance. Eyewitnesses with horror and disgust describe the atrocities of murderers. The great Armenian composer Komitas, who accidentally escaped death, could not bear the horrors which he had witnessed and lost his mind. Wild atrocities caused rebellion. The largest center of resistance arose in the city of Van (Van self-defense), which was then the center of Armenian culture. The fighting in the area went down in history under the name of the Battle of Van.
Fig. 6 Armenian rebels in the defense of Van
The approach of the Russian troops and Armenian volunteers saved thousands of Armenians from the inevitable death of 350, who after the withdrawal of the troops moved to Eastern Armenia. To save the rebels, the Cossack regiments abruptly turned to Van, having organized the evacuation of the population. An eyewitness wrote that women with children were walking, holding stirrups and kissing Cossacks' boots. “In a panic, retreating with huge herds of cattle, carts, women and children, these refugees, driven by the sound of gunfire, wedged into the troops and brought incredible chaos into their ranks. Often the infantry and cavalry turned into a cover for these screaming and weeping people, who were afraid of the attack of the Kurds, who slaughtered and raped the stragglers and castrated Russian prisoners. ” For action in the area, Yudenich formed a detachment (24 battalion and 31 equestrian hundred) under the command of the Terek ataman General Baratov (Baratashvili). Kuban squadrons, the Donskaya foot brigade and Trans-Baikal Cossacks also fought in this area.
Fig. 7 General Baratov with Terek horse artillery
The Kuban Cossack Eliseev Fedor Ivanovich fought here, famous not only for his exploits (Rush wrote that according to his biography you can make a dozen films with a plot like “White Sun of the Desert”), but also by the book “Cossacks on the Caucasian Front”
Fig. 8 Dashing Kuban Cossack Eliseev Fedor Ivanovich
It should be said that with the beginning of the First World War, an active Armenian volunteer movement really unfolded in Transcaucasia. Armenians pinned certain hopes on this war, counting on liberation of Western Armenia with the help of Russian weapons. Therefore, the Armenian socio-political forces and national parties declared this war just and declared unconditional support to the Entente. The Armenian National Bureau in Tiflis was involved in the creation of Armenian squads (volunteer units). The total number of Armenian volunteers was up to 25 thousand people. They not only fought bravely at the front, but also took the main burden in reconnaissance and sabotage activities. The first four volunteer detachments joined the ranks of the army in various sectors of the Caucasian Front in November 1914. Armenian volunteers distinguished themselves in battles for Van, Dilman, Bitlis, Mush, Erzerum and other cities of Western Armenia. At the end of 1915, the Armenian volunteer detachments were disbanded, and based on them, infantry battalions were created as part of the Russian units, which participated in the hostilities until the end of the war. It is interesting to note that one of the combatants who participated in the battles was Anastas Mikoyan. In Kermanshah, another volunteer, the future marshal of the USSR Ivan Baghramyan, received the baptism of fire. And in the 6 squad, he fought heroically, and from 1915, she was commanded by the future legendary hero of the civil war, Hayk Bzhishkyan (Guy).
By the autumn, the situation in Persia (Iran) caused a growing alarm among the Russian authorities. The country had an extensive network of German agents who formed sabotage groups, organized tribal rebellions and pushed Persia to war with Russia and England on the side of Germany. In this situation, the General Headquarters commissioned the troops of Yudenich to carry out an operation called Hamadanskaya. October 30 Russian units suddenly landed in the Iranian port of Enzeli, conducted several expeditions inland. Baratov’s detachment was transformed into the Persian Corps, consisting of каз Cossacks. The corps' task is to prevent neighboring Muslim states from entering the war on the side of Turkey. The corps took Kermanshah, reached the borders of Turkish Mesopotamia (modern Iraq), cut Persia and Afghanistan from Turkey, strengthened the security of Russian Turkestan. The curtain from the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf, created jointly by Russia and England, was strengthened. From the north, the Semirechensk Cossacks held the veil. But the attempt to organize a joint front with the British in Iraq was not crowned with success. The British behaved very passively and were more afraid of the penetration of the Russians into the oil-bearing region of Mosul, than the machinations of the Germans and Turks. As a result of the actions of 1915, the total length of the Caucasian Front reached a colossal length - 2500 km, while the Austro-German front had a length at the time of just 1200 km. Under these conditions, the protection of communications, in which individual Cossack hundreds of the third order were mainly used, assumed great importance.
In October, 1915 of the year, Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolayevich Romanov, appointed by the governor of the Caucasus, arrived at the front (humorous born: the front of three Nikolaev Nikolaevich - Romanov, Yudenich and Baratov). By this time, due to the entry of Bulgaria into the war on the side of the Central Powers, the strategic situation had changed in favor of Turkey. A direct train connection appeared between Berlin and Istanbul, and through the territory of the Ottoman Empire a stream of weapons, ammunition and ammunition went to the Turkish army, and an entire army was liberated from the Turkish command on the border with Bulgaria. In addition, the Dardanelles seizure of the straits, which was carried out by the Allies from February 19 1915, ended in failure and it was decided to evacuate the troops. In the geopolitical and military-strategic sense, this victory of Turkey was even beneficial for Russia, since the British did not intend to cede the straits to St. Petersburg and undertook this operation to outrun the Russians. On the other hand, the Ottoman command was able to transfer the liberated troops to the Caucasian front. General Yudenich decided not to wait "at the seaside weather" and attack before the arrival of Turkish reinforcements. Thus was born the idea of breaking through the enemy front in the region of Erzerum and seizing this strategic fortress blocking the way to the internal regions of the Ottoman Empire. After the defeat of the 3 Army and the capture of Erzerum, Yudenich planned to occupy the important port city of Trabzon (Trabzon). It was decided to attack in late December, when the Christmas holidays and the New Year are going on in Russia, and the Turks least of all expect the offensive of the Caucasian army. Taking into account the agent’s unreliability of the Steward’s headquarters, as well as the fact that Yudenich’s enemies Generals Yanushkevich and Khan Nakhichevansky had built their nest in him, he acted through his head and his plan was approved directly by the Headquarters. To the honor of the Vicar should be said that he himself did not put sticks in the wheels, did not particularly intervene in affairs, and limited his participation by placing all responsibility for success on Yudenich. But, as you know, this type of people is not at all sad, rather stimulating.
In December, the 1915 consisted of 126 infantry battalions, 208 hundreds of cavalry, 52 militia squads, 20 demining companies, 372 guns, 450 machine guns and 10 airplanes, around 180 thousand. bayonets and sabers. The 3 Turkish army included 123 battalions, 122 field and 400 serf guns, 40 cavalry squadrons, only about 135 thousand. bayonets and sabers, and even before 10 thousand. Irregular Kurdish cavalry divided into 20 units. The Caucasian army had some advantage in the field forces, however, this advantage had to be realized, and the Ottoman command had a powerful trump card - Erzerum fortified. Erzerum before was a powerful fortress. But with the help of German fortifiers, the Turks modernized the old fortifications, built new ones, and increased the number of artillery and machine-gun firing points. As a result, by the end of 1915, Erzerum was a huge fortified area, where old and new fortifications were combined with natural factors (difficult to pass mountains), which made the fortress almost impregnable. It was a well-fortified "gate" to the Passinskaya valley and to the valley of the Euphrates River, Erzerum was the main control center and rear base of the 3 Turkish army. It was necessary to advance in the conditions of a difficultly predictable mountain winter. Given the sad experience of the Turkish offensive on Sarykamysh in December 1914, the offensive was prepared very carefully. The southern mountain winter could throw out any surprise, frosts and blizzards were quickly replaced by thaw and rain. Each fighter received valenki, warm footworms, a sheepskin coat, quilted cotton trousers, a hat with a dangle button, a set of mittens and an overcoat. In case of necessity, the troops received a significant amount of white camouflage, white covers for hats, galoshes and a trench cloak. The personnel, who were to attack in the highlands, were given goggles. Since the area of the upcoming battle was predominantly treeless, each soldier had to carry two logs with him to cook food and heat at night. In addition, in the equipment of infantry companies, thick poles and boards for the device for crossing non-freezing mountain streams and rivulets became mandatory. This convoy harness heavily aggravated shooters, but this is the inevitable fate of the mountain parts. They are fighting according to the principle: “I carry everything I can, for when and where the wagon train will be unknown.” Great attention was paid to meteorological observation, and by the end of the year 17 meteorological stations were deployed in the army. The weather forecast was assigned to the artillery headquarters. In the army rear big road construction unfolded. From Kars to Merdeken from the summer of 1915, a narrow-gauge railway mounted on horseback was operated. A narrow-gauge railway was built from Sarykamysh to Karaurgan on steam traction. Army transports were replenished with pack animals - horses and camels. Measures were taken to preserve the secret regrouping of troops. Mountain passes marching replenishment passed only at night, with the observance of blackout. In the area where it was planned to carry out a breakthrough, a demonstrative withdrawal of troops was carried out - the battalions were taken to the rear during the day, secretly returned at night. In order to misinform the enemy, rumors were spread about the preparation of an offensive operation by the Van detachment and Baratov’s Persian corps, along with British troops. To this end, Persia undertook large purchases of food — grain, livestock (for meat rations), fodder, and camels for transportation. And a few days before the start of the Erzerum operation, the commander of the 4 Caucasian Infantry Division was sent an urgent unencrypted telegram. There was an “order” in it about the concentration of a division near Sarykamysh and the transfer of its troops to Persia. Moreover, the army headquarters began to hand out holidays to officers from the front, and also massively allow officer wives to come to the theater of operations on the occasion of the New Year holidays. Arriving ladies defiantly and noisily prepared holiday skitters. Until the very last moment, the content of the planned operation was not disclosed to the downstream headquarters. A few days before the onset of the offensive, the exit of all persons from the front-line zone was completely closed, which prevented the Ottoman agents from informing the Turkish command of the full combat readiness of the Russian army and its preparations. As a result, the headquarters of the Caucasian army outplayed the Ottoman command, and the Russian attack on Erzerum came as a complete surprise to the enemy. The Ottoman command of the winter offensive of the Russian troops did not expect, considering that in the winter on the Caucasian front there was an inevitable operational pause. Therefore, the first echelons of troops, vacated in the Dardanelles, began to be transferred to Iraq. Khalil Bey's corps was transferred there from the Russian front. In Istanbul, by spring, they hoped to crush the British forces in Mesopotamia, and then with all their might to attack the Russian army. The Turks were so calm that the commander of the 3 of the Turkish army in general went to the capital. Yudenich decided to break through the enemy defenses in three directions at once - Erzerum, Oltinsky and Bitlis. Three corps of the Caucasian army were to take part in the attack: the 2 and the Turkestan, the 1 and the 2. In their composition was 20 Cossack regiments.
December 28 1915, the Russian army launched an offensive. Auxiliary attacks were inflicted by the 4 Caucasian Corps in Persia and the Primorsk group with the support of the Batumi detachment of ships. With this, Yudenich tore off a possible transfer of enemy forces from one direction to another and the delivery of reinforcements to sea communications. The Turks fiercely defended, and on the Chekrikei positions put up the strongest resistance. But in the course of the battle, the Russians groped the Turks at the Mergemir Pass. In a strong snowstorm, the Russian soldiers from the avant-garde units of General Voloshin-Petrichenko and Vorobyov broke through the enemy defenses. Yudenich threw a Cossack cavalry from his reserve into the breakthrough. Cossacks did not stop 30-degree frost in the mountains, nor snowbound roads. The defense collapsed, and the Turks, being under the threat of encirclement and extermination, ran, burning along the way villages and their own warehouses. On January 5, the Siberian Cossack brigade and the 3 Black Sea regiment of the Kuban regiment that had pulled out ahead approached Hasan-Kala fortress and took it, not allowing the enemy to recover. F.I. Eliseev wrote: “With prayers before the battles, along the“ devil's paths ”, in deep snow and in frost up to 30 degrees, the Cossack cavalry and revels followed the breakthroughs of Turkestan and Caucasian riflemen under the walls of Erzerum”. The army achieved major success, and the Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolayevich already wanted to give the order to retreat to the starting lines. But General Yudenich convinced him of the need to take the seemingly impregnable fortress of Erzerum and once again took all the responsibility upon himself. Of course, it was a big risk, but the risk was thought out. According to lieutenant colonel B.A. General Yudenich’s Steifon (Chief of Intelligence and Counterintelligence of the Caucasian Army) was distinguished by a great rationality of his decisions: “In fact, every bold maneuver of General Yudenich was a result of a deeply thought-out and exactly guessed situation ... The risk of General Yudenich is the courage of creative imagination, the courage that is characteristic of only great commanders. ” Yudenich understood that it was almost impossible to take the strongholds of Erzerum on the move, that it was necessary to conduct artillery preparation for the assault, with a significant expenditure of projectiles. Meanwhile, the remains of the defeated Turkish army 3 continued to flow into the fortress, the garrison reached the 80 battalions. The total length of the Erzerum defensive positions was 40 km. Her most vulnerable spots were the rear contours. Russian troops launched an attack on Erzurum 29 on January 1916. At 2 hours the artillery preparation began. The 2 Turkestan and 1 Caucasian Corps took part in the assault, and the Siberian and 2 Orenburg Cossack Brigades were left in reserve. In total, the operation involved up to 60 thousand. soldiers, 166 field guns, 29 howitzers and a heavy 16 mortar battalion of 152 mm caliber. February 1, there was a radical change in the battle for Erzerum. For two days, the fighters of the assault groups of the 1 of the Turkestan Corps took one stronghold of the enemy after another, seizing one impregnable fort after another. Russian infantry went to the most powerful and last bastion of the enemy on the northern flank - Fort Taft. February 2 Kuban squads and arrows of the Turkestan Corps took the fort. The entire northern flank of the Ottoman system of fortifications was hacked and Russian troops began to go out to the rear of the 3 Army. The air reconnaissance reported the withdrawal of the Turks from Erzerum. Then Yudenich gave the order to hand over the Cossack cavalry to the commander of the Przhevalsky Turkestan Corps. At the same time, the 1 Caucasus Corps of Kalitin, which included the Don Pesalion brigade bravely, increased pressure from the center. The Turkish resistance was finally broken, the Russian troops broke through into the deep rear, the still-defensive forts turned into traps. The Russian command sent a part of the attacking column along the ridge of the Northern Armenian Taurus, where the “top-yol” road laid, laid by the Turks themselves during the 1877 war, cannon road. Due to the frequent change of command, the Turks forgot about this road, while the Russians reconnaissance it in 1910 and put it on the maps. This circumstance helped the attackers. The remnants of the 3 army rushed to flight, who did not manage to escape, capitulated. The fortress fell 4 February. The Turks fled to Trabzon and Erzincan, which became the next targets of the offensive.
By this time, the military history of the Don Cossack foot brigade convincingly showed that there was a need and possibility of turning it into a Cossack foot division (in fact, mountain-rifle). But this proposal of the brigade command was painfully interpreted by the Cossack leadership of Don, as a signal for the gradual collapse of the Cossack cavalry. It was a Solomon's decision and the brigade was simply increased to 6 foot battalions, 1300 Cossacks in each (state). Unlike the Plastun battalions, in each Don foot battalion there were 72 equestrian reconnaissance.
During the Erzerum operation, the Russian army threw the enemy back to 100-150 km. The losses of the Turks amounted to 66 thousand people (half of the army). Our losses are 17 000. It is difficult to identify the most distinguished Cossack units in the Erzurum battle. Most often, researchers particularly distinguish the Siberian Cossack Brigade. F.I. Yeliseyev wrote: “From the very beginning of the Erzerum operation 1915, the Siberian Cossack brigade very successfully operated in the Hasan-Kala region as a shock horse group. Now she appeared in the rear of Erzerum, arriving here before our regiment. She broke into the junction of the Caucasian and Turkmen corps, bypassed the Turks and entered them in the rear. There is no end to the prowess of this brigade of the Siberian Cossacks on the Caucasian front. ” But A.A. Kersnovsky: “The Siberian Cossack Brigade ... fought perfectly on the Caucasian front. Her attacks under Ardagan 24 December 1914 of the year and Ilidji behind Erzerum 4 February 1916 of the year are especially famous - both in deep snow and both with the capture of enemy headquarters, banners and artillery. ” The Erzurum victory turned sharply towards Western allies towards Russia. After all, the Ottoman command was forced on an emergency basis to close the gap in the front, to transfer troops from other fronts, thereby easing the pressure on the British in Mesopotamia. On the Caucasian front began to transfer parts of the 2 Army from the straits. Just a month after the capture of Erzerum, namely 4 in March 1916, an Anglo-French-Russian agreement was reached on the goals of the Entente war in Asia Minor. Russia was promised Constantinople, the Black Sea Straits and the northern part of Turkish Armenia. This was the merit, above all, Yudenich. A.A. Kersnovsky wrote about Yudenich: “While in our Western theater of war Russian commanders, even the best, tried to act first“ according to Moltke ”, and then“ according to Geoffrey ”, in the Caucasus there was a Russian commander who wished to act according to Russian, "according to Suvorov".
After the capture of Erzerum by the Primorsky Detachment and the landing force from the ships of the Black Sea Fleet, the Trapezund operation was carried out. All the forces of the detachment, both advancing on land, and the landing force that had struck from the sea, were Kuban rockets.
Fig. 11 Kuban rastuny bomber (grenadiers)
The detachment was commanded by General Lyakhov V.P. before the war, the former head of the Persian Cossack brigade. This brigade was created in 1879 at the request of the Persian Shah on the model of Terek Cossack units from Kurds, Afghans, Turkmens and other Persian nationalities. In it, under the leadership of Vladimir Platonovich, the future Shah Reza Pahlavi began military service. On April 1, the Primorsky detachment, supported by the fire of the ships of the Black Sea Fleet, broke through the defenses of the Turkish troops on the Karadere River and on April 5 took Trapezund (Trabzon). The garrison of the city fled to the surrounding mountains. Until mid-May, the Primorsky detachment expanded the occupied territory, after strengthening it became the 5th Caucasian Corps and held the territory of Trabzon until the end of the war. As a result of the Trebizond operation, the supply of the 3rd Turkish army with the sea was interrupted, the interaction of the Caucasian army, the Black Sea Fleet and the sea was worked out in battle aviation. The base of the Black Sea Fleet and the supply base of the Caucasian Army were established in Trebizond, which strengthened its position. On July 25, units of the Caucasian army triumphantly took Erzincan, in battles for which the Don Cossack Brigade again proved itself to be excellent, already consisting of 6 battalions.
In the spring of 1916, the Persian Corps of Baratov fought its way into Mesopotamia, to the aid of the English troops surrounded in Kut, but did not have time, the British troops surrendered there. But before the British reached hundreds of Kuban Cossacks Esaul Gamaliya. For the unprecedented throw and diversion of Turkish forces from the British troops, which as a result were able to oust the Turks from the Tigris valley, Gamalija received the Order of St. George 4 degree and the British Order, the officers were awarded the golden St. George weapon, the lower ranks with St. George's crosses. This was the second time that the St. George awards were given to a whole division (the first was the crew of the cruiser Varyag). In summer, the corps suffered heavy losses from tropical diseases, and Baratov retreated to Persia. In the autumn of 1916, the State Duma approved a government decision on the allocation of financial resources for the creation and arrangement of the Euphrates Cossack army, mainly from Armenian volunteers. Troop rule was established. The bishop of Urmia was appointed.
The results of the 1916 campaign exceeded the wildest expectations of the Russian command. It would seem that Germany and Turkey, after the liquidation of the Serbian Front and the Dardanelles British group, were able to significantly strengthen the Turkish Caucasian front. But the Russian troops successfully crushed Turkish reinforcements and advanced to the territory of Osmania for 250 km and captured the most important cities of Erzurum, Trapezund and Erzincan. In the course of several operations, they defeated not only the 3rd, but also the 2nd Turkish armies and successfully held a front longer than 2600km. However, the military merits of the “well-done stanniks of the Don Pedestrian Brigade” and the “valiant plastuns of the Kuban and Terek” almost played a cruel joke on the Cossack cavalry in general. In December 1916, the directive of the Supreme Commander appeared on the reduction of Cossack regiments from 6 horse-drawn hundreds to 4 by dismounting. 2 hundreds dismounted and in each regiment a foot division of 2 hundreds appeared. Typically, Cossack regiments had 6 hundreds of 150 Cossacks, a total of about 1000 combat Cossacks, Cossack batteries had 180 Cossacks. Despite the repeal of this directive on February 23, 1917, the planned reform could not be stopped. Key events have already been held. Objectively speaking, by this time the issue of reformatting the cavalry, including the Cossack one, had already become acute. His Majesty the machine gun finally and irrevocably became master on the battlefield and saber attacks in the horse ranks came to naught. But there was still no consensus on the nature of the cavalry restructuring; discussions stretched for many years and ended only at the end of World War II. One part of the military leaders (mainly from the infantry) believed that cavalry should be rushed. Cossack commanders, cavalrymen to the bone, sought other solutions. For a deep breakthrough in the positional front, the idea of creating shock armies (in the Russian version of horse-mechanized groups) appeared. In the end, military practice ordered to have both of these paths. In the period between the First and Second World Wars, part of the cavalry was in a hurry and turned into infantry, and part gradually turned into mechanized and tank parts and connections. Until now, in some armies, these reformatted military formations are called armored cavalry.
So in the Russian army for a radical strengthening of the Caucasian front at the end of 1916, the General Headquarters ordered: “from the Cossack regiments of corps cavalry and individual Cossack hundreds of Western theaters of warfare to quickly form the 7,8,9 Don and 2 th Orenburg Cossack divisions”. 9 March 1917, a corresponding order appeared on this. The Cossack regiments discharged from the front to rest in winter gradually arrived in their native places and settled in new points of deployment. The headquarters of the 7-th Don Cossack Division (21,22,34,41 regiments) was located in the village of Uryupinsk, the 8-th (35,36,39,44 regiments) in Millerovo, the 9-th (45,48,51,58 regiments) in the village of Aksayskaya. By the summer, the divisions were mainly formed, only part of the horse-drawn machine-gun, horse-backed engineer, telephone and telegraph teams and field kitchens were lacking. But there was no order to speak in the Caucasus. Already there is a lot of data that these cavalry divisions, in fact, prepared for some other operation. One of the versions was written in the previous article “Cossacks and the First World War. Part IV, 1916 year ", and the order to form these divisions to strengthen the Caucasian front strongly looks like misinformation. There are too few places in the mountain Anatolia for equestrian hull operations. As a result, the transfer of these divisions to the Caucasian front did not take place, and these divisions remained on the Don and the Urals until the end of the war, which greatly affected the development of events at the beginning of the civil war.
By the end of 1916, the Russian Transcaucasus was reliably protected. In the occupied territories, a temporary governor-generalism of Turkish Armenia has been established. The Russians began the economic development of the region by building several railroads. But in the 1917, the February revolution took place, which stopped the victorious movement of the Caucasian army. Revolutionary ferment began, because of the general decline of discipline in the country, the supply of troops sharply deteriorated, deserters appeared. The Russian Imperial Army, ceasing to be the imperial army, ceased to exist at all. In fact, the Provisional Government itself destroyed the army faster than external enemies. The years of hard work, the fruits of brilliant victories, blood, sweat and tears, everything went into ruin. The planned 1917 for the summer of the year, the Mosul operation did not take place due to the unpreparedness of the rear service for large-scale hostilities and was postponed to the spring of the 1918 year. However, the December 4 1917 year in Erdzincan was a truce with Turkey. Both sides were no longer able to continue the war. But Russia, more than ever in the past, was close to receiving its share of the Turkish “inheritance”. The favorable geopolitical situation in the Middle East made it possible to get the long-desired regions of Transcaucasia and make the Caspian Sea an inland lake of the empire. Favorable for Russia, although not definitively, the issue with the straits was solved. The coming to power of the Bolsheviks inevitably led to huge territorial losses, which could not be recovered even by the "Stalinist iron hand". But that's another story.
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