Pursuit by the Red forces of the South Front of the White Armies of the South Front. The Don - Manych operation. Battle for the possession of Northern Caucasia. Evacuation of Novorossiisk. Creation of the Crimean Front.
In the background of this general situation there continued the collapse of the morale of the Volunteer Army. This collapse was reflected, among other things, in the fact that after the Orel operations the number of its effectives had been reduced to between 3,000 and 4,000 men,* all of the rest of the forces of the Volunteer Army having become scattered over the lines of communications of this army and absorbed in everything excepting combat activity.
*Remnants of the White Kornilov and Drozdovsky divisions.
In this situation and condition of the Armed Forces of South Russia there continued with ever increasing speed the retreat of these forces tothe borders of the Don territory and to the Crimea. The missions of the Red high command involved the vigorous pursuit of these forces without permitting them to re- establish or to reorganize themselves. The main forces of the Volunteer Army, threatened by a penetration in depth by the cavalry commanded by Budienny between them and the Don Army, swiftly withdrew to the southeastward, becoming separated from their group of forces in western Ukraine. This splitting up of the Volunteer Army into two groups completely separated from one another by a considerable distance, greatly facilitated the marauding activity of the Makhno bands in the Yekaterinoslav area along the Dnieper, (See Sketch 11 - original text).
The Soviet high command pursued the object of occupying the Donets basin as swiftly as possible and by so doing, of separating the Volunteer Army from the Cossack districts. With this in view, it sent to the Don territory the Thirteenth and Eighth armies along with Budienny's cavalry army while requireing the Twelfth Army to operate in the Kiev area, and the Fourteenth Army on the left bank of the Dnieper river in the Poltava and Kharkov areas. The Ninth Army of the Southeastern Front (group of armies) was to develop its pursuit along the main railway line Liski - Millerovo, with a view to reaching Novotcherkassk and Rostov-on-Don; the Tenth Army of the same front, operating between the Volga and the Don river, was to seize Tsaritsyn and then develop its pursuit of the enemy along the railway line Tsaritsyn - Tikhoretskaya.
In turn, the new commanderof the Volunteer Army, General Wrangel, was engaging in intrigue looking toward the relief of General Denikin by the high command and his own appointment in his stead. *
* G.P. Pakovsky, In the White Camp (V stane bielykh), p.5
The weak state of the Volunteer Army, apparently, prevented him from realizing his plans. The losses of the Volunteer Army suffered in battle and from sickness had so weakened it that it became necessary to reorganize it into a corps. Endeavoring to reach the Crimea, General Wrangel maintained his far extended left flank in the Kharkov area, while swiftly withdrawing and weakening his right flank.
Apparently with the above views of General Wrangel in mind, the enemy with the beginning of December once more began to offer more stubborn resistance to the Red Thirteenth and Fourteenth armies that were moving on Kharkov. On December 5th the Fourteenth Army reached the line of the Vorskla river, capturing Akhtyrka and thus threatening the Kharkov area from a northwesterly direction. (See map on the battle for the possession of Kharkov - original text). Directly from the north this area was threatened by the Thirteenth Army, the right-flank division of which (The Esthonian Infantry Division), advancing along the Kursk - Kharkov railway line, was situated 25 km. north of Bielgorog . Finally, from the east the LKharkov area was beginning to be threatened by the Eighth Army, which had ossupied with its 40th Division the town of Pavlovsk on the Don. The Cavalry Army was advancing in Valuiki. On December 6th the Fourteenth Army forc ed the Vorskla river. The right-flank division of this army (41st) seized the Kirilovka railway station and proceeded against Valki: the 46th Infantry Division, advancing in the center, was moving on the Liutovka village, seizing with its left flank the townof Graivoron. The left-flank Latvian infantry division advanced with some vigorous fighting on Tomarovka, maintaining contact on its left with the Esthonian infantry division of the Thirteenth Army. The Esthonian division at this time conducted vigorous fighting for the possessin of the Sazhnoye railway station, which it succeeded in maintining. To the left of the Esthonian division, from the direction of Novy Oskol, there advanced the 3d Infantry Division; farther to the east advanced the 42d Infantry Division, and on the left flank of the army advanced the 9th Infantry Division, occupying the Veseloye village. The right-flank division (12th) of the Eighth Army occupied the town of Biriuch, with the remaining divisions of this army proceeding to the line of the Don river.
The enemy, maneuvering with his cavalry, endeavored to break through the Red ring that was formed around the Kharkov area. Actively defending himself against the Fourteenth Army and against the right flank and center of the Thirteenth Army , the enemy directed the attack of Mamontov's corps which he managed to restore, against the junction point of the Thirteenth and Ninth armies. This corps at first turned in the north the right flank of the 12th Infantry Division in the Biriuch area, and forced it back in an easterly direction. Widening his penetration, the enemy then turned the left flank and rear of the 9th Infantry Division in the Lvovka * area; situated 6 to 8 km. to the west of Biriuch. A part of the cavalry army was at the same time also subjected to this attack. The bulk of the cavalry army, however, attacked Mamontov's cavalry. One of the hostile divisions (the 10th Cavalry Division) was destroyed and the enemy maneuver ended in complete failure. The hostile cavalry hastily retreated on Valuiki, with the Cavalry army in hot pursuit. On December 7th, when the Esthonian division occupied Bielgorod the center and left flank of the Thirteenth Army, in conjunction with the right flank of the Eighth Army, resumed the advance, But at the time when the enemy began yielding ground under the blows of the inner flanks of the First, Eighth and Cavalry armies, he continued tenaciously to hold out in the sector between Kharkov - Kursk and the Kharkov - Poltava railways. Here the enemy contested every inch of the ground. During the 7th of December the Fourteenth Army occupied Murafa, Nikitovka and Matveyevka;**
*Archives of the Red Army Doc. No. 944, pp. 287 - 319; Doc. No. 6142, pp. 123 - 189; Doc. No. 206, p. 63.
during a night attack launched on the 8th of December it occupied Bogodukhov, while the center division (46th, commanded by Eideman) moved up to the Liutovka area. The Latvian Infantry Division on this day participated with its left flank together with the Esthonian division in the occupation of Bielgorod and moved up to Toplinka. In the days that followed the ring of the Red forces around Kharkov continued to close in. Units of the 46th Infantry Division occupied the town of Zokogov on the 9th of December. The Latvian division at this time reached with its center the village of Vieselaya Lopan. On the preceding day, i.e., on December 8, the cavalry army occupied Valuiki and developed the pursuit on Kupiansk; units of the Thirteenth Army occupied Volchansk. On December 9th the 41st Infantry Division on the right flank of the Fourteenth Army, which had moved forward a considerable distance, occupied Valki; the semi-circle around Kharkov threatened to close completely, inasmuch as the Fourteenth Army was moving up the Primakov cavalry group in the rear of Kharkov, on the Meref railway station. On the 10th of December, however, the enemy still continued to maintain his positions on the approaches to Kharkov, and the Red forces succeeded only on the 11th of December to gain control of the city. As a final result of the 10-day fighting the enemy was compelled to yield the Kharkov area. The average rate of the advance of the Red forces during these ten days amounted to 10 km. per day. It is of interest, in this connection, to note the organization by the Whites of the defense of the Kharkov area. The outer defense lines of the area was moved up considerably in advance and some distance from the large proletarian center. Their defense at the immediate approaches threatened the Whites with an explosion from within with the result that, not possessing freedom of action at the approaches, they quite properly refrained from putting up their defense at the immediate approaches of the city.
The various movements of General Wrangel and, perhaps, his secret plans, were recognized by the Don high command, and upon the representations of the latter, Denikin changed abruptly the direction of the withdrawal of the Volunteer Corps, turning by a hazardous flanking march the main forces of his corps toward Rostov and leaving for the protection of the Crimea area only the group of forces under Slashchev made up of 3,500 infantry and cavalry troops with 32 guns. Wrangel's efforts toward subverting Denikin discovered by the latter, brought about the subordination of the Volunteer Corps to the Don high command and the relief of General Wrangel from command.
The right-flank army of the South Front (Twelfth) in turn encountered stubborn resistance from the outset at the approaches to Kiev, on the Osetr-Kozelets front. The right flank of the Southeastern Front (Ninth Army) likewise lagged in the pursuit. By mid-December, however, the line of advance of the Red forces engaged in the pursuit was rapidly straightening out. On December 16th the regiments of the Twelfth Army entered the city of Kiev. On this same day the commander of the South Front in a directive issued to the armies designated new missions for the forces of this front (group of armies), the accomplishment of which was to bring about the splitting up of the Armed Forces of South Russia into three separate groups, in separate areas. The main effort of the Twelfth Army was here shifted to the right bank of the Dnieper. Developing its advance in the Odessa area, this army was to reach Kremenchug with its left. The Fourteenth Army was directed against the Lozovoye - Berdiansk area, with the object of sutting off the hostile group of forces operating on the right bank of theDnieper from the donets Basin. The mission assigned the Thirteenth Army consisted of capturing the Donets Basin in conjunction with the Cavalry Army under Budienny, for which purpose it was to advance on Slaviansk, Yuzovo, and Novo- Nikolayevskaya.
Budienny's assault group, consisting of his army and two infantry divisions (9th and 12th), making use of all available transport equipment,was to proceed swiftly to the donets Basin and cut off the line of retreat of the Volunteer Corps to the Don territory. The Eighth Army was to proceed to the Lugansk area.
The formation of Budienny's assault group and the designation of its missions proved very timely, if we are to recall that at this particular time, the Volunteer Corps had changed its direction of withdrawal from that of the Crimea to Novotcherkask and thus subjected itself to a flanking attack by the group of forces under Budienny. Covering the flanking movement of the Volunteer Corps, the White forces from the Bakhmut area conducted a meeting engagement against the Budienny forces with an assault detachment made up of three cavalry corps and two infantry divisions, but were defeated by Budienny and they retreated in disorder in a southerly direction. They did, however, succeed in gaining time for the execption of a flank maneuver by the Volunteer corps, which now succeeded in joining the Don army. Budienny's group merely succeeded in making some attacks against the tail elements of this corps in the Alekseyev - Leonovo area, crushing the Markov division of the latter.
On January 1, 1920, the Red armies of the South Front had already reached the line: Kremenchug - Verkhne-Dnieprovsk - Yekaterinoslav - Sinelnikovo - Ilovaiskaya - Pervozvanovka - Kamenskaya, which meant that the enemy had been cleared out of the Donets Basin. At a slower pace, owing to the vigorous resistance of the enemy and to the extensive terrain involved., was the development of the pursuit of the armies of the Southeast Front. By evening of January 2d, however, the Tenth Army occupied Tsaritsyn and began to continue its advance in the general direction of Velikokniazheskaya.
After the junction of the Volunteer Corps with the Don army the enemy began a hasty withdrawal before the armies of the South Front. The latter launched a pursuit of the enemy in railway cars, thus reverting to the methods of action employed during the echelon fighting. Thus, a battalion of infantry (Thirteenth Army) sent by rail after the enemy, occupied the town of Mariupol on January 4, 1920; on January 6, 1920 Budienny's cavalry seized the town of Taganrog, and on January 8, 1920 there followed the fall of the city of Rostov. On the Southeast Front the Tenth Army moved up to the line of the Manych river on January 10, 1920.
As a result of reaching the coast of the Sea of Azov by the Red Army, the Armed Forces of South Russia were completely split up into three separate groups. The largest of these groups, consisting of the Don army, of remnants of the Kuban army and of the Volunteer Corps, repelled on the left bank of the Don river, in its further undertakings endeavored once more to base its operations on Northern Caucasia; the weak Slashchev group withdrew to the Crimea - it was pursued by the equally weak group of forces which had been worn and exhausted by previous fighting and stretched out over a wide front (Kherson - Genichesk), which consisted of the 46th Infantry Division. The failure to properly evaluate the importance of the Crimea was unquestionably a blunder on the part of the Red high command, inasmuch as it permitted the Slashchev detachment to establish itself on the Crimea isthmuses and to convert the Crimea into a new base of operations for the southern counter- revolutionaries. Finally, on the right bank of the Dnieper, in the Odessa area there withdrew the right group of the Volunter Army, commanded by General Schilling.
The liquidation of these groups called for a change in the lines of operation of the armies of both of the Red fronts (groups of armies). The previous designation of the fronts no longer fit the geographical description of their theaters of operation. Early in January, 1920, the South Front was designated as the ( ) Caucasus Front on January 18, 1920. Duly considering the particular importance of the hostile groups of forces, the high command attached its greatest importance to the hostile North Caucasus group. Consequently, the mission of the Red armies of the Caucasus Front assumed greater importance and accordingly, this front was reinforced with troops transferred there from the Southwest Front. The Eighth Army and Budienny's cavalry army were placed underthe conyrol of the commander of the Caucasus Front. In addition, a number of independent divisions (the 3d, 4th, 9th, the Latvian and Esthonian divisions) were to be transferred to the Caucasus Front from the Southwest Front.
The commander of the Southwest Front directed the Twelfth Army on its right flank due west, ordering it to reach the line of the Ptitch and Ubort rivers - Olevsk - Novograd-Volynsk - Liubar - Siniava railway station, Zhmerinka and Rakhna. Thus, the primary mission of this army consisted of serving as a screening forces against the Polish forces. This contingency had been provided for in instructions of the high command which ordered the armies in the event of complications with the Poles to be in readiness for the launching of an offensive against Rovno - Dubno. In anticipation of this, the 7th Infantry Division, placed at the disposal of these armies from the G.H.Q. reserve, was to be stationed in the Kiev - Kazatin - Zhitomir area.
The Fourteenth Army was ordered to make its main effort against Odessa, operating on both sides of the Dnieper. The Thirteenth Army (3d and 46th infantry divisions and Primakov's cavalry group) was ordered to seize the Crimes.
The immediate mission assumed by the commander of the Caucasus Front was that of liquidating the hostile forces that still remained opposite the city of Rostov on the left bank of the Don river. Leaving the mission of the Tenth Army unchanged (that of reaching Tikhoretskaya), the front commander moved up the Ninth Army to Novotcherkask, which occupied an oblique position in rear of the Eighth Army in the Razdorskaya railway station - Konstantinovskaya area, and concentrated the First Cavalry Army in the Rostov area along with the infantry divisions attached to the latter army.
The hostile forces behind the Don river were situated as follows. The Volunteer Corps occupied the line: Azov - Bataisk, resting its flank on the strongly fortified Bataisk area. The Don cavalry (three cavalry corps) was situated in the vicinity of the Olginsk railway station. To the south of Bataisk, in reserve, were three Kuban cavalry corps. The aggregate strength of the hostile forces maybe estimated to have consisted of approximately 24,000 men (including 11,000 cavalry troops).On January 15, 1920, there developed against these White forces in the vicinity of Rostov-on-Don the First Cavalry Army comprising 9,000 cavalry and 5,000 infantry troops (9th and 12th Infantry Divisions).
Aside from this, on the front of Rostov-on=Don - Novotcherkask - Aksai, there was disposed also the Eighth Army (the 40th, 15th, 16th and 33d infantry divisions and the 16th Cavalry Division) comprising 11,000 infantry and 2,022 cavalry troops with 168 light and heavy field pieces.*
* Archives of the Red Army, Doc. No. 73-016, pp. 11 and 17.
In 1920 the Don became tranquil only after January 15th. The area occupied by the Volunteer Army consisted of an open low-country traversed by marshes, lakes and streams, which strengthened the position of the enemy there and facilitated fire action on his part. The cavalry army had no portable bridge equipment at its disposal. Taking into consideration these elements of the situation, the commander of the cavalry army suggested to the front (group of armies) commander the avoidance of a frontal attack by the cavalry on Bataisk from Rostov and the crossing of the Don, and instead to undertake a turning movement in greater depth against the enemy. The front commander, however, insisted on the execution of the mission already designated and on the delivery of a frontal attack by the cavalry on Bataisk.
The action involved was to be undertaken in agreement between the commanders of the Eighth Army and of the Cavalry Army, and resolbed itself in the adoption of the following plan of action; The Eighth Army with two of its divisions (16th and 33d Inf. Divisions) was to effect a crossing of the Don river on the night of the 17th of January and occupy the villages of Olginskaya and Staro-Tcherkasskaya; behind these divisions, at Nikhichevani (northern suburb of Rostov ), three divisions of the Cavalry Army were to cross the Don and, supported by the brigades of the 12th Infantry Division, advance on Bataisk. On January 17th this maneuver got under way, but the attack of the Cavalry Army on Bataisk was unsuccessful, and the troops involved returned to their original line of departure. On January 18th the Cavalry Army repeated its attack, also without success; whereupon the commander of the Eighth Army withdrew his divisions to the other side of the Don and Aksai rivers.
On January 19th the Cavalry Army once more made an unsuccessful attack on Bataisk. The failures at Bataisk had the effect of straining the relations to the utmost on the one hand, between V. I. Shorin, commanding the Caucasus Front (group of armies), and the commander of the Eighth Army (Sokolnikov) and the commander of the Cavalry Army, on the other. The commander of the front saw the main reason for the failure in having left the forces in the Rostov area for 12 days without any activity, thus permitting the enemy to effect a withdrawal and to organize his defense; in committing to action only a part of the forces (during the initial action against Bataisk two divisions of the Eighth Army remained inactive, the 15th and 40th divisions, along with the 9th Infantry Division that was attached to the Cavalry Army). The commander of the Cavalry Army stressed the entire unsuitability of the cavalry for employment in the terrain involved, and the limited space, which did not permit the development of the cavalry there. The commander of the Eighth Army, in turn, blamed the Cavalry Army of manifesting a great lack of efficiency.
In the days that followed, namely, on January 20 and 21st, the Eighth Army and the First Cavalry Army once more eneavored to launch a joint attack on bataisk, though fully aware of the impracticability of the same in view of the thawing of the ground, which again ended in failure. The confusion at Bataisk now assumed the aspects of a protracted operation. Shorin hastened to comit to action the Ninth Army, directing it against the Nizhny manych, from the mouth of this river up to the Manychskaya railway station and Balandiskaya. On January 23d Dumenko's cavalry corps, belonging to this army, crossed the Don river and advanced in the direcytion of Yefremov. Above this point the three divisions of the Ninth Army effected the crossing of the Don and advanced on the front: N. and V. Solonny, Manychsko-Balandinsk and the Manych railway station (23d, 14th and 21st infantry divisions). The enemy, however, had already succeeded in adopting measures to meet the advancing Ninth Army. One of its divisions (the 21st), which had occupied Manychskaya, was driven out of it, and the battle on the Lower Don river thenceforward, extended to the triangle between the Don river and the Lower Manych. Shortly thereafter the battle forthe possession of Northern Caucasia promised to extend still farther with the approach of the Red Tenth Army. By January 22d the latter army had already occupied the line of the Sal river, occupying with its divisions (32d, 28th, 29th, 38th, 37th and 39th Infantry Divisions and Gai's cavalry division) the area: Kholodny, Potapov, Ilovaiskaya, N. Alekseyevskaya, ternovsky, Korolkova. the commanders of the Eighth Army and of the First Cavalry Army once more coordinating their activity, decided, without repeating the frontal attacks on Bataisk, toconcentrate the Cavalry Army at the Bogayevskaya railway station, and on the 25th of January to launch an attack with thi cavalry against Kushchevskaya through Khomutovskaya, thus turning the hostile group of forces in the Bataisk area on the right and from the rear, while at the same time the infantry of the two armies advanced on the Olginsk railway station.
This plan of action coincided to some extent with the views of the commander-in-chief, who in his directive No. 66/1 dated January 24th, ordered the shifting of the center of gravity of the operation to the maneuver of the Ninth and Tenth armies. Particularly, the Ninth Army was given the mission of penetrating the line of the enemy at Manych with a view to securing the advance of the cavalry corps under Dumenko against the flank and rear of the Volunteer Army.
Upon the receipt of information of the temporary occupation of the Manych railway station by units ofthe Ninth Army, the commander-in-chief on January 25th, in his directive No. 68/sh, formulated an even more extensive plan of operations. The Eighth Army, with two infantry divisions (9th and 12th) transferred to it from the Cavalry Army was ordered to contain the enemy; the Cavalry Army was to proceed by forced marches to the Razdorskaya - Konstant-Inovskaya area, and we to be attached to the Cavalry Corps under Dumenko and the lst Infantry Division from the Ninth Army; it was to turn in depth the hostile forces in the general Mechetinskaya area. The front (group of armies) commander, however, somewhat restricted the above by leaving the Cavalry corps under Dumenko to operate independently. On January 27th the Cavalry Army was ordered to seize Malo-Zapadenskaya and then to advance on Khomutovskaya - Kagalnitskaya. The execution of this directive led to a series of vigorous engagements that were fought with alternate successes and failures between the Cavalry Army and the hostile cavalry at the Manych crossings.
On January 28th Budienny's cavalry delivered a vigorous attack against the enemy and turned the hostile cavalry into flight, capturing 12 guns and 30 machine-guns. On the 29th, however, it in turn received a similar assault launched against it by Mamontov's cavalry in the Pritsepkov area, in the course of which the 11th Cavalry Division temporarily lost its combat efficiency; several field pieces and machine-guns were lost.* * Archives of the Red Army, Doc. No. 47397, pp. 146, 149, 164, 173.
On January 30th the Cavalry Army was once more on the north bank of the Manych, occupying the line extending from Fedulovo up to Manychsko-Balandinskaya. The Ninth Army arrived on the line; Zim. Balabina - Dalny - Zherebkov - Zim. Korolkova - V. and N. Solony - Aleksandrovsky - Nikolayevsky and eastern Zherebkova.
The enemy, however, still tenaciously maintained the Manych railway station, and all efforts of the 21st Infantry Division at recapturing it proved in vain. The Tenth Army continued to gain ground. On the 26th of January it reached the line of the Manych river from Zim, Balabin (inclusive), through Velikokniazheskaha up to the Soliany lakes. The cavalry division under Gai advanced on Vorontsovka.
The failure of the Cavalry Army on January 29th caused further dissension among the front (group of armies) commander and the Revolutionary Military Council of the Cavalry Army. Comrade Shorin attributed the principal causes of the failure to the fact that after the successful action on January 28th the cavalry lost 24 hours which it should have utilized in a pursuit of the enemy. Comrade Voroshilov, a member of the Revolutionary Military Council of the First Cavalry Army, stressed the lack of a unified control over the two cavalry groups belonging to Dumenko and Budienny. Dumenko had rushed forward, while the Cavalry Army was just preparing to cross the Manych. As a consequence, the enemy succeeded in dealing with these two groups separately.*
* In the presentation of the events of January, 1920, on the Don and Manych rivers, use was made of Doc. No. 47397, Archives of the Red Army, pp. 30, 38, 46, 54, 173.
The arrival of the Tenth Army on the line of the Manych river was a prelude to an entirely new situation on the Manych- Don front. The first effects of it was greatly intensified fighting on the Manych river. Before entering upon a survey of the Manych operation of the Caucasus Front, which was brought about by attempts to drive the enemy out of the Bataisk area, let us examine the disposition of the opposing forces prior to this decisive operation for the possession of Northern Caucasia.
On February 1, 1920, the hostile forces in the Bataisk area Azov-Bataisk front) consisted of the entire Volunteer Corps (the Drozdovsky, Kornilov, Alexeyev, Markov divisions), comprising 4,800 infantry, 2,100 cavalry troops, 32 field pieces, 132 machine-guns and the 1st Don Cavalry Division, consisting of 595 infantry troops, 400 cavalry, 14 guns and 21 machine-guns; a total of 5,395 infantry and 2,500 cavalry troops, 46 guns, 153 machine-guns on a front of approximately 50 kkm., allowing per kilometer of front 108 infantry and 50 cavalry troops, about one gun and 3 machine-guns. Aside from this there were concentrated in the Bataisk area 6 armored trains carrying about 500 infantry troops. At Kaisug was situated the Stavropol military training school with about 500 infantry trainees, and as a further reserve there was a battalion of cadets at Kagalnitsk (exact number of men not known). The IV Don Cavalry Corps and the 10th Cavalry Division occupied the Khomutovskaya village, with a total of 2,800 cavalry troops, 12 horse-drawn field pieces and 54 machine- guns. This cavalry constituted the enemy mobile reserve. On the line of the Manych river against the Red Ninth Army the hostile forces were disposed as follows: On the Manychskaya-- -Manych-Balandinsky front was the Don III Corps consisting of 2,525 infantry and 555 cavalry troops with 15 field pieces and 48 machine-guns. On the line: V. and N. Solony (exclusive) - Zherebkov - Dalny was the Don II Corps, consisting of 3,133 infantry and 4,745 cavalry troops with 147 machine-guns and 53 guns and 8 airplanes. On the Line: Dalny (exclusive) - Platovskaya (exclusive), the Don 1 Corps comprising 4,740 infantry and 1,625 cavalry troops, 117 machine-guns, 13 guns and 9 airplanes. On this same line were situated small detachments with an aggregate strength of 930 infantry and 9l0 cavalry troops, 4 guns and 18 machine-guns, while on the entire front entending from Manychskaya (inclusive) up to Platovskaya, covering about 100 kilometers, the enemy had 11,308 infantry and 7,835 cavalry troops, 85 guns, 330 machine-guns and 17 airplanes, per kilometer of fronts: 113 infantry and 78 cavalry troops with about one field piece and in excess of 3 machine- guns (in round figures). Against the Red Tenth Army there operated the Caucasus Army, made up almost exculsively on Kuban units, most of whose forces covered the Velikokniazheskaya and Tikhoretskaya areas. Here the enemy had in operation the following: the composite Infantry Corps, the composite IV Mountain Corps, the V Caucasus Cavalry Corps and the Kuban 1st Division, with an aggregate strength of 5,981 infantry and 5,135 cavalry troops, 96 light and heavy field pieces, 4 armored cars, 4 tanks and 12 armored trains. West of Velikokniazheskaya up to the Platovsk heights there operated the Caucasus infantry corps, comprising 1,200 infantry and 20 cavalry troops with 6 light and heavy field pieces and 22 machine-guns. East of Velikokniazheskaya up to about the Solyany (Salt) Lakes was situated the Kuban 3d Cavalry Division, consisting of 320 cavalry troops, 16 light and heavy field pieces and 34 machine-guns. In addition, there were scattered along the front some independent detachments with a total strength of 2,500 infantry and 635 cavalry troops with 4 guns and 7 machine-guns. In all on the front Platovskaya (exclusive) - Solyany (Salt) Lakes (exclusive), extending over about 150 kilometers, the enemy had 9,681 infantry and 6,110 cavalry troops with 122 light and heavy field pieces, 336 machine-guns, 12 armored trains, 4 armored cars, 4 tanks, amounting to 64 infantry and 41 cavalry troops, 1 gun and 3 machine-guns per kilometer of front (in round figures). See Sketch 12 - original text.
The enemy was able to count on the Kuban III Corps as a general reserve, which was in the process of organization in the Yekaterinodar area, and on the Kuban reserve organizations at Yekaterinodar, Armavir and Stavropol, with an aggregate strength of 8,000 infantry and cavalry troops, and on the military institutions and schools at Stavropol, Eisk, and Armavir, including about 700 infantry and 400 cavalry troops. *
*Archives of the Red Army, Doc. No. 63-711, pp. 1-67.
Our consideration of the Armed Forces of South Russia from the military standpoint, without reference to the political situation and the morale of these forces, was believed more advantageous than that of their adversaries. The base of operations of these forces was near the areas whence their manpower and flow of reinforcements came and was situated on the strong lines of the Don and Manych rivers. Taking advantage of the natural barriers afforded by those rivers and of the wide, marchy valley of the Don river, and stongly maintaining the Bataisk and Velikokniazheskaya areas, the above forces were in a position to employ their mobile reserves in maneuvers on interior lines. This made it possible for them to repulse to the opposite bank of the river those Red units which had crossed it one after another. Finally, probably for the first time in the entire history of the civil war, the Whites had the advantage of feeling the effects of the upturned political state of affairs. The Don district afforded this to the Whites. The Don Army which was forced out of the Don district, was separated from this district only by the Don and Manych rivers, and was highly eager to get back to its own territory with arms in hand. This greatly affected the morale of the Don forces. We have witnessed how the forces under Makhno, after repeatedly being defeated by the Cavalry Army, again and again reformed their lines and at times quite successfully engaged the Cavalry Army. Obviously, the morale of the White forces was also sided by the numerous tactical victories scored by them. These had been due to the fact that the Red forces were committed to action against them piecemeal (first the Eighth Army and the Cavalry Army, followed by the Ninth Army, which entered the battle by individual units at a time, and finally the Tenth Army ); to the lack of unity and firm control (the commanders of the Eighth Army and of the Cavalry Army were always conforming their action; to a certain lack of agreement among the higher Red commanders, and to the difficult nature of the terrain and bad weather conditions. All of these causes, both of an objective nature ( the successive entering into action by the Ninth and Tenth armies) and subjective nature (lack of harmony among the higher commanders), were of a temporary nature. Hence the entire sccess in the further defense of the White forces depended on whether or not the Kuban territory would appear to them of as vital importance as it had been in the days of the organization of the Volunteer Army. From this standpoint, the state of affairs politically for the Whites had been so unfavorable that this served to vitiate all advantages accuring to them from the proximity to their principal bases of operation.
The enemy's zone of interior showed obvious signs of disintegration. This may be noted from the tremendous growth of the insurgent movement against the Whites in Chechen and Daghestan; the widespread Green movement throughout the entire area between Novorossiisk and Yekaterinodar, where the members of the Green movement were 7,000 strong.
Finally, there were also some other symptomatic indications of an impending catastrophe, in spite of the improved military situation. The Novorossysk port was jammed with fleeing bourgeoisie and clergy. The Kuban Cossacks of the rank and file came out with the definite announcement that they would not permit in the Kuban territory the bourgeoisie and officers. This had been some of the repercussions of the vigorous internal political struggle in the lines of the enemy between the Kuban Cossacks on the one hand, represented by their Rada, and the commanders of the Volunteer Army on the other. The Kuban Rada desired to get way from the Volunteer Army command andto follow a policy of its own. One of the principal objects of this policy was the conclusion of a peace at the earlies possible moment with the Bolsheviks on the basis of the latter's recognition of the Cossack government. From the strictly military standpoint, this struggle was expressed in the decline of the combat efficiency of the Kuban army, which soon led to a complete collapse.
All of these factors tended to create a favorable situation for the launching by the Red forces of extensive operations looking toward the establishment in the Kuban territory of a wide base behind the lines of the enemy,of which the Red armies were so much in need, considering their greatly extended lines of communication and the breakdown of their transport.
Let us now consider the disposition and strength of the Red forces on the Lower Don and Manych rivers on February 1, 1920. In the Bataisk area, from the mouth of the Don river up to the Aksai railway station, on a front of 50 kilometers, there was now situated only the eighth Army, numbering 15,260 infantry and 4,120 cavalry troops with 159 heavy and light field pieces, 779 machine-guns; providing about 905 infantry and 83 cavalry troops, 3 heavy and light guns and 16 machine-guns per kilometer of front (in round figures). * * Archives of the Red Army, Doc. 73--016, p. 11, and Doc. 1487, statement of the Field Headquarters of the Military Revolutionary Council of the Republic.
Thus in the Bataisk area ( Don front) the Red forces outnumbered the White almost two to one in manpower and three to five times in fire power. On the Manych front, from the Manych railway station up to the Soliany (Salt) Lakes (exclusive) there developed the Ninth Army, comprising 9,670 infantry and 5,730 cavalry troops, 183 field pieces and 600 machine-guns; the Tenth Army, comprising 18,730 infantry and 3,300 cavalry troops, 158 field pieces and 585 machine-guns, and the Cavalry Army, comprising 10,250 cavalry troops,26 guns and 259 machine-guns, a total of 25,300 infantry and 19,280 cavalry troops, 367 guns and 1,444 machine-guns, which over the general line of the front of 250 km. (from Manych to the Soliany Lakes), afforded 101 infantry and 77 cavalry troops, 1 1/2 guns and 6 machine-guns per kilometer of front (in round figures). Thus, also in the Manych sector, the Red forces considerably outnumbered the enemy in the number of infantry and cavalry troops, guns and machine-guns, **
** In addition there were enroute to the Caucasus Front the 34th and 50th Infantry Divisions that were shifted there by the commander-in-chief, while the Latvian and the 52d Infantry Divisions were to be sent there from the Southwest Front.
With this relative cavalry strength on the Manych sector it was quite expedient to have the operations of the entire cavalry unified under a single commander, which matter was repeatedly stressed by the Revolutionary Military Council of the First Cavalry Army. It was also quite apparent that the strength of the hostile defense consisted in the enemy's active maneuver with his cavalry forces that had been brought together from the various sectors of the front and from his reserve forces. Depending on the success of the entire operation on the assault of the massed cavalry force against the cavalry of the enemy, it was important to facilitate the action of this cavalry by immobilizing the hostile cavalry in the different sectors, which could have been accomplished only bymeans of the active employment of all available forces on the front. This is precisely what Voroshilov and Budienny endeavored to bring about, but their efforts in this respect were fruitless. Under the conditions cited, the Cavalry Army on February 1st and 2nd once more attempted to advance against Khomutovskaya, failing, however, in both attempts, inasmuch as any gains made by the Cavalry Army independently were easily liquidated by the enemy. These last attempts brought about a final break in the relations between the commander of the Cavalry Army and the front (group of armies) commander (Shorin). The Commander of the Cavalry Army now turned directly to the commander-in-chief by direct wire. *
*We have failed to locate any record of the conversation in question in the archives,but from a discussion with S.S. Kamenev and from the decision reached by him, we may arrive at a gist of the same. It contained a suggestion for a turning of the entire hostile positions in depth through the steppes. Concerning the doubts of the commander-in-chief relative the feasibility of such an undertaking by the cavalry in the winter, in desert steppes, and frequent snowstorms, Budienny stated that he would proceed from one sheltered point to the next and thus conserve his cavalry forces.
As a result of this conversation, apparently, there was issued directive No. 627/op to the front (group of armies) commander requireing that the armies of the front be in readiness to exploit the success gained by Budienny's forces incident to the launching of a vigorous offensive. **
** Archives of the Red Army, Doc. No. 47397, pp. 184 and 185.
On February 7th the attacks of the Cavalry Army on Khomutovskaya were halted by the new front (group of armies) commander (Tukhachevsky), who soon began a regrouping of the armies for the delivery of a crushing attack upon the enemy.*
* Archives of the Red Army, Doc. No. 47964, p.2
In view of the great exhaustion of the infantry divisions, the front commander resorted to the last means, disbanding a number of divisions and using the men to fill up the remaining divisions of the Tenth and Eleventh armies. Directive No. 19/p of February 9 issued bythe front commander provided for a regrouping of forces contemplating the formation of an assault detachment for action against Manych and moving up the Cavalry Army to the line of departure for employment in a decisive attack (See Sketch 12 - original text.) In conformity with this directive, the Eighth Army was, by February 11th, to extend its front up to Manychskaya, thus liberating a part of the forces of the Ninth Army, while the Cavalry Army was transferred to the Platovskaya area. The Tenth Army, which was attached two additional divisions that were now arriving (34th and 50th), was to concentrate not less than six divisions in the vicinity of the Velikokniazheskaya railway station. **
** Archives of the Red Army Doc. No.249, unnumbered pages.
Thus, in the Platovskaya - Velikokniazheskaya sector there was to be concentrate a powerful group of forces against the hostile Kuban forces. It is of interest to note in this connection the successful and well-coordinated employment of the forces on the main effort from the strategic and political standpoints. The attack on Tikhoretskaya, on the one hand, led the Red forces against the rear of the White forces situated on the Lower Don and on the Manych; on the other hand, the forces, as far as the Kuban army was concerned, followed the line of the least political resistance. the same directive designated the time for launching the general attack as February 14th. Finally, on February 12th there followed directive No. 42/p for the general attack, ***
*** Archives of the Red Army, Doc. No. 47964, p. 3.
This directive further indicated the intentions of the front commander to follow to its ultimate conclusion the principle of action along the line of least strategic and political resistance. the front (group of armies) commander emphasized the fact that the hostile boundary line between the Don and Kuban armies of the enemy led through Bielaya Glina - Sr. Yegorlykskaya - Zim, Korolkov - Kazienny Must. The missions of the group of armies were to defeat the enemy and to drive him back to the Sea of Azov. With this object in view, the Eighth Army was to make its main effort against Kagalnitskaya, with the immediate objective of reaching the Kagalnik river at the earliest practicable date. The Ninth Army developed its attack in the general direction of Novorogovsky, and by February 19th was to reach the line; Novo-Protopopovskaya - Novorogovsky. In the plans involved the Cavalry Army assumed the role of that knife of the surgeon which was once and for all to cut apart the Kuban and Don counter-revolutionaries.. .
The mission of the Cavalry Army was as follows: "after splitting up and rolling back the flanks of the Don and Caucasus (Kuban) armies of the enemy, to penetrate the Tikhoretskaya railway station area by February 21st." The Tenth Army was given the mission to cut off the hostile Caucasus army's possible lines of retreat to Armavir; it was to reach by February 19th the line Bielayev - Bielaya Glina - Uspenskaya. With a view to gaining a decisive success, the front commander did not overlook a single opportunity for moving up in the direction of the main effort all possible forces that might be utilized to any degree in the action there. Thus the Eleventh Army, employed on the extreme left and operating in the Stavropol government and Terek District was likewise given the mission of seizing Stavropol and Armavir at the earliest practicable moment. There was thus provided a turning of the enemy's right flank with a simultaneous penetration of his center and the containing of his left flank.
The initial successes were gained on the front of the Tenth Army. Already on the 17th of February, Tukhachevsky, commander of the group of armies, was able to report that the enemy was defeated in the sector of the Tenth Army. Hostile resistance continued, however, and was quite vigorous on the front of the Ninth Army. The effects of the movements of the Cavalry Army had as yet failed to manifest themselves, for, in developing for an extensive assault, it had inclined considerably toward Torgovaya. Desirous of urging on the Ninth Army, the front commander ordered the Eight and Tenth armies to concentrate assault groupson their flanks adjacent to the Ninth Army and to assist the latter army. The Cavalry Army was ordered to continue its advance on Kruchenaya Balka - Lopenka - Tikhoretskaya.*
* Archives of the Red Army, Doc. No. 47964, pp. 4-8.
With a view to counteracting the powerful assault of the Red forces from the direction of Velikokniazheskaya, the White high command transferred from the vicinity of Olginskaya to the Torgovaya railway station area the entire Don cavalry commanded by General Pavlov.
But while the actions between the Red and White cavalry forces were developing toward the crisis of the entire campaign, on the front of the Eighth and Ninth Red armies the situation continued to remain tense. The enemy, actively defending himself, succeeded in gaining some local victories on the front of the Ninth Army: he succeeded here in driving back on the right flank and center of this army. The front (group of armies) commander attributed the causes of the failure here solely to the unskilful actions of the commander of the Ninth Army, which assumed positions which made it possible for the enemy to defeat the units of this army piecemeal. The Eighth Army meanwhile "marked time." At this time the attack of Pavlov's cavalry was directed first of all against the cavalry divisions under Blinov and Gai (Tenth Army) . These were attacked and defeated by Pavlov's cavalry on February 17th in the Zim. Korolkov area, one brigade of Blinov's forces retreating to Platovsk, while Gai's division withdrew toward Zim. Maslakovtsev. In the course of this action the 28th Infantry Division suffered heavy losses, the commander of this division, comrade Azin, being captured by the enemy. This success gained by Pavlov, however, was of brief duration, and had been due to the failure of the Cavalry Army to follow the direction of movement assigned to it. *
* Archives of the Red Army, Do. No. 36497, pp. l-5, inclusive.
The Cavalry Army, in conjunction with the divisions of the Tenth Army, was preparing for the launching of an attack against Pavlov's cavalry, but was itself subjected to an attack at Shablievskaya. This attack was repulsed. On February 18th Pavlov began withdrawing on Sr. Yegorlykskaya; he became lost in a snow storm, and he lost half of his cavalry in the steppes, who were frozen to death. On February 19th the Cavalry Army prepared to launch a pursuit against the enemy. At the same time theRed forces succeeded in liquidating in the sector of the Ninth Army the penetration of the hostile cavalry, which had reached as far as the Yanchenkov - Susatsky area. Dumenko's cavalry corps attacked this hostile force from the Manych - Balandinskaya area; it defeated and repulsed it. The left flank of the Eighth Army succeeded in an advance and was engaged in vigorous fighting with the enemy in the vicinity of the Olgynskaya railway station.
Meanwhile the high command of the Whites was preparing for a decisive counterattack. The plan of action involved an attack on Rostov and Novotcherkassk, which constituted the weaker part of the Caucasus front,to attack the attention of the Red forces to that area, and meanwhile to concentrate all available forces and to launch an attack with these against the Red forces engaged in the turning movement against them, i.e., against the Tenth and the First Cavalry armies. A powerful cavalry group was organized under General Pavlov.
The counterattack of the Whites was duly discovered by the commander of the Caucasus front, and the new directive issued called first of all for the defeat of the group of forces under General Pavlov. This defeat was to decide the outcome of the entire campaign.
This was the general situation at the front, when the enemy made a desperate effort to gain possession of Rostov. On February 20th the Volunteer Army launched a general offensive and captured the Khoper and Gnilov railway stations, Temernik, and the Aksai railway station.
In a counterattack with its left, the Eighth Army drove the enemy out of Aksai and seized the northern suburbs of Rostov and Nakhichevan, where vigorous street fighting developed. On the morning of February 21st, however, the Eighth Army was compelled to abandon the two towns mentioned and to pass to the defensive. This caused much anxiety at G.H.Q., but did not, however, change the plans of the front (group of armies) commander. The enemy was unable to develop further any of his gains. He now concentrated his efforts against the right flank of the Ninth Army, endeavoring to take the Bagayevskaya railway station. On the 21st of February, a vigorous cavalry action developed here between Dumenko's cavalry corps and the Terek-Don cavalry commanded by Guselshchikov. In the vicinity of the Manichskaya railway station, however, Geselshchikov's cavalry received a powerful blow, causing the loss of 1,000 men in captured alone, and his cavalry was compelled to abandon the Bagayevskaya railway station. This was the situation as it existed at the close of February 21st. On the 22d of February, however, in view of the events in the Yegorlykskaya area, the commander of the Volunteer Army found it necessary to withdraw beyond the Don river, in order to reinforce with his last cavalry reserves the cavalry forces under General Pavlov. On February 23 the Red Eighth Army occupied the line which it had previously held.
Meanwhile Pavlov's cavalry, reinforced by units arriving from the Rostov area, once more attempted the launching of an assaulton Sr. Yegorlykskaya, whence it droveout the screening force of the First Cavalry Army, the main forces of which were at Gorkaya Balka.
From Sr. Yegorlykskaya Pavlov advanced on February 25th on the Bielaya Glina village with the object of gaining the rear of the First Cavalry Army. The latter in turn moved on Sr. Yegorlykskaya with a view to turning the right flank of Pavlov's cavalry. In advancing on Bielava Glina Pavlov's cavalry came upon the front line of the Infantry divisions (20th and 50th) of the tenth Army. Simultaneously, it was subjected to an attack by the entire forces of the entire forces of the First Cavalry Army in its right flank about ten kilometers south of Sr. Yegorlykskaya, and it was repulsed to the Sr. Yegorlykskaya and Ilovaiskaya area with heavy casualties, having lost 20 field guns, 100 machine-guns, and over 1,000 prisoners. The battle at St. Yegorlykskaya is a brilliant example of the combined action of cavalry and infantry. On February 26th, however, efforts of the First Cavalry Army to take Yegorlykskaya without the assistance of infantry forces ended in failure.
The advance of the left of the Tenth Army in the course of these battles proceeded practically without interference. The 32d Infantry Division occupied the area Novo-Pokrovskaya - Sosnovka, while the 39th Infantry Division occupied the Kavkazskaya railway station on the 27th of February after a minor engagement. Thus, the tenth Army, encountering the vigorous resistance of the enemy in the Yegorlykskaya area, and having before it the First Cavalry Army, which was involved in vigorous fighting with Pavlov's cavalry, had moved up with the left anf formed its front on the 28th of February facing due west from the Tselina railway station toward Bielaya Glina - Novo-Pokrovskoye - Sosnovka - Kavkazskaya . The Tikhoretskaya railway station area was covered only by remnants of the White Kuban II Corps, but the commander of the Tenth Army maintained the 32d Infantry Division on February 25th on the general line of that front. As a consequence, the closing in of the ring around the main White forces north of the Kuban territory was delayed for the time being, and these White forces still had before them a wide "gate"between the Sea of Azov and the Tenth Army through which to leave the Kuban territory. The enemy proceeded totake advantage of this, without giving thought to anyfurther resistance.
On February 26th the enemy began gradually to clear the left bank of the Don river. On February 27th the units of the Eighth Army were already on the left bank of the Don river and on the 29th of February the general advamce of the Eighth and Ninth Red Armies got under way. On March 1st Yegorlykskaya finally fell under the impact of the coordinated assaults of the Red cavalry. Now, however, the assault group on the left flank of the Caucasus front lost all meaning. Consequently, the front commander duly created a new assault group without losing any time in the shortest (Novorossiisk) diraction leading against the rear of the hostile group in the Rostov- Manych area. On March 3d the main forces of the Eighth Army were thus directed toward Kushchevskaya - Timoshevskaya; the main forces of the Ninth Army, against Leushkovskaya - Medvedovskaya, while the First Cavalry Army was ordered to cut off the line of retreat of the enemy in the Timoshevskaya area by an attack on the leushkovskaya railway station. The Tenth Army,by an assault with not less than four divisions against the Tikhoretskaya - Yekaterinodar area, was to assist the Stavropol group of Red forces in gaining possession of Armavir (See Sketch 11 - original text).
The Don-Manych operation of the commander of the Caucasus Front is of particular historical importance. There is to be noted a unity of purpose in this strategic undertaking. It was not the territory or geographical considerations involved that attracted the attention of the Red high command, but rather the hostile manpower therein. The destruction of this manpower in a battle of annihilation constituted the guiding principle of the operation. In order to gain this basic objective the front commander boldly removed the principal mass of his forces from the geographical points, such as Rostov and Novotcherkassk and shifted them to the interior of the Manych steppes. the subsequent progress of the operation fully justified this bold plan of action. The temporary capture of the city of Rostov served no particular purpose for General Denikin, inasmuch as the fate of the operation was decided by the engagement of the massed cavalry forces on both sides and of the Red Tenth Army in the Yegorlykskaya area.
Thenceforward it only remained to launch a pursuit and to complete the destruction of the enemy who, after leaving weak screening forces against
The Eighth and Ninth armies were now concentrating all of his efforts toward halting the advancing Cavalry Army that was so threatening him. The latter once more, in conjunction with the Tenth Army, delivered a vigorous assault on February 25, 1920 at Yegorlykskaya, capturing 29 guns, over 100 machine-guns and many prisoners. After this the commander of the front (group of armies) directed the Cavalry Army against Mechetinskaya and the Tenth Army against Tikhoretskaya. At the close of February the Eighth and Ninth armies crushed the hostile screening forces stationed against them and launched an offensive. On March 1st considerable hostile forces were concentrated in the Mechetinskaya and Yegorlykskaya (latter point, exclusive) area, and the front commander prepared to destroy these forces by means of a concentric movement undertaken with his armies. On this same day Stavropol fell under the assaults of the Red forces.*
*Archives of the Red Army, Doc. No. 47964, pp 26 - 30.
In anticipation of this movement, the enemy hastened his general withdrawal beyond the Kuban river (see Sketch 12 - original text).
On March 2nd the Red forces of the Rostov group occupied Bataisk, and on March 9th they already entered Eisk. On this same day Budienny's cavalry occupied the Tikhoretskaya railway station. The Armed forces of South Russia, split up into three groups, withdrew as follows: One group (a part of the Kuban forces and the Don Army) toward Yekaterinodar _ Novorossiisk; a group comprising the main forces of the Kuban Army - toward Maikop - Tuaps, and a group comprising the Volunteer Corps, toward the lower course of the Kuban river, via the Timoshevskaya railway station. The last remnants of the hostile forces in the Terek - Daghestan region made their way to Georgia (Gruzia) - See Sketch 11 - original text.
The hostile high command contemplated maintaining its positions behind the strong water barrier afforded by the Kuban river, to establish itself there and await a possible change in the situation in its favor. The withdrawal behind the Kuban placed the Armed forces of South Russia in a most dangerous position in the event of the collapse of the defense line of the Kuban river. In that event, they were to find themselves with their back to the sea and facing the alternative of either embarking on vessels at the only available point of Novorossiisk, or to withdraw along the Black Sea coast to the south under the flanking attacks of the Red forces. The situation of the Whites here was complicated by the absence of a previously worked out evacuation plan, by the small number of naval transport vessels and by the great number of refugees that were following the troops. The vigorous pursuit of the Soviet forces and the threatened collapse of the morale of the remaining forces of the Armed Forces of South Russia had rendered most doubtful the hopes of the hostile high command for maintaining the forces behind the Kuban river. On March 17th, after a brief engagement, the Red forces occupied Yekaterinodar, and the main hostile forces withdrew beyond the Kuban river, maintaining in the Novorossiisk area, from Olginskaya up to Ust-Labinskaya the Don Army, and to the west thereof along the lower Kuban river, the Volunteer Corps. On the right flank of the Don Army, in the Ust-Labinskaya area were situated scattered organizations of the Kuban army which were without communications either with the Don army or with their own G.H.Q.
On the 19th of March, however, the Red forces already crossed the Kuban river at Ust-Labinskaya and opposite Yekaterinodar. The weak counter-attacks launched by the Don army were unavailing and there began the general withdrawal of the Don army and of the Volunteer Corps on the single direction of Novorossiisk. At the same time the Kuban army with certain elements of the Don forces which had separated from the Don army and joined the Kuban forces proceeded to Tuapse.
The Volunteer Corps, endeavoring to embark on vessels under the protection of the Don army, succeeded in leaving the lower course of the Kuban river ahead of the Don army, and in reaching Novorossiisk first; it began embarking on vessels at the very time when the half enveloped Don Army was still endeavoring to get to Novorossiisk. The evacuation of the remnants of the Armed Forces of South Russia had been accomplished in a very hasty and disorderly manner, which had been due to the fact that it had to be undertaken from a single point with a great shortage in transport equipment. The pressure of the Red forces prevented the completion of the same, with the result that when, on the night of the 27th of March, 1920, the Red forces occupied Novorossiisk they captured about 22,000 prisoners. The rest of the territory of Northern Caucasia had been occupied by the Red forces with equal swiftness
The political repercussions of the complete rout of the Armed Forces of South Russia resulted in April 1920 of the revolution in Azerbaidjan, supported by the operations of the eleventh Army - incorporating this country with its rich oil fields into the Soviet Union as a full fledged member of the Soviets, and the conclusion of a peace with Georgia ( Gruzia) in the same month. Finally, on May 2, 1920, in the Sochi area, there surrendered to the Red Ninth Army remnants of the Kuban army that had been driven against the Georgian frontier. This brought about the complete liquidation of the Armed Forces of South Russia in their former organization, a portion of them making their way into the Crimea.
The operations on the Red South Front developed at the same time just as successfully whence the Red forces were pursuing the enemy. Repelling the enemy from Kiev and Yekaterinoslav, the forces of the South Front (41st Division) in the latter part of January drove the hostile group of forces in Western Ukraine to the city of Odessa in the corner between the Dniester river and the Black Sea. On February 7, 1920 the city of Odessa was occupied. The hostile forces in Western Ukraine partly capitulated and partly dispersed. In the Crimea, Genichesk and Perekop were occupied of January 23, 1920, but as a consequence of the tenacity of the Slaschev group of forces, the latter succeeded in maintaining possession of the isthmuses on the Crimean peninsula.