Summer and autumn campaigns of 1918 on the South front, in the North Caucasus and in the Terek Territory.
The approaching tide of the German occupational forces served to fan
the smoldering embers of White Cossack uprisings in the Don territory into a
huge conflagration. Almost simultaneously, strong insurgent forces began
forming in the Alexandov-Grushevsk and Novo-Cherkask areas, while along the
left bank of the Don there began its operation against Tikhoretskaya, the
Zadonsk insurgent group which had been organized out of three detachments that
had broken away from the Volunteer Army during its first advance on the Kuban
during the winter of 1918.
With the approach of the German forces to the borders of the Don district the activity of these groups greatly revived. On the 6th of May, 1918, Cossack insurgents occupied Novo-Tcherkask. On May 8th, together with the German forces, they entered Rostov, and on the 11th of May captured the city of Alexandrov- Grushevsk, thus securing free space for the formation of new forces and utilizing for the purpose the organization of their old territorial system.
The Don Army rapidly grew in strength. Its force of 17,000 men and
21 guns of May, 1918 was raised by the middle of August of the same year to
40,000 men and 93 guns. While the forces of the Soviet southern screening
force, exclusion of those in the Tsaritsyn area, comprised not more than 19,820
infantry and cavalry troops with 38 guns. The Don forces made full use of all
advantages afforded by the situation. Their left flank and rear had behind them
friendly Germans, and the Volunteer army secured the right flank. All this
served to create a highly favorable strategical situation. The numerical
superiority and great mobility (preponderance of cavalry) rendered possible the
development of extensive offensive operations.
As a consequence, during the summer of 1918, the government of General Krasnow, sponsored by the Germans, extended throughout the territory of the Don district. The ultimate objectives of the Don high-command (which had announced that it did not plan any march against Moscow,* and yet was directing every effort toward the formation of the largest possible military force) consisted mainly of providing for the strategical defense of its own frontiers. The administrative frontiers of the district did not provide any favorable foundaries for the purpose and the "Don Circle" on September 1, 1918, issued "orders" for the occupation by the Don Army of the strategic railway centers in the vicinity of the frontiers of the Don forces: Tsaritsyn, Kamyshin, Balashow, Povorin, Novokhopersk, Kalach, and Boguchar.
* In a letter to Emperor Wilhelm, Kransnow set forth the following basic principles of his foreign "policy": a. An independent Don (territory), including Taganrog, Tsaritsyn and Kamyshin; b. Bolshevik indemnity, upon German insistence, to the Don; c. Neutrality of the Don in the war between the Germans and the Allies, etc. (Anishev - Outline of the History of the Civil War of 1917-1920, Government Publications Division, Leningrad, 1925, p. 154). In articles published abroad by Krasnow, however, the latter states that his main objective even then was to advance on Moscow with a view to restoring Russia as "one inseparable" nation.
Krasnow's letter to Wilhelm quoted below from data published by the Taganrog Investigating Commission, is of considerable historical value. General Krasnow, with Machiavellian frankness, solicited the aid of his erstwhile foe of the World War, Imperial Germany, for the White Don, cringingly yielding political and economic domination of the "Free Don" to the Germans.
"Ataman Zimovoi, attached to the court of Your Imperial Majesty, is authorized by me to request Your Imperial Majesty to recognize the right of the Grand Do Forces for independent existences, and in proportion as the Kuban, Astrakhan and Terek forces are liberated along with the North Caucasus, the right to independence for the entire federation, to be known as the Don-Caucasus Union. Request Your Imperial Majesty to recognize the boundaries of the Grand Don Forces along their former geographical and ethnographical lines - to assist in the solution of the dispute between the Ukraine and the Grand Don Forces with respect to Taganrog and the district thereof in favor of the forces of the Don, which had controlled the Taganrog district for more than 500 years, and for whom the Taganrog district constitutes an integral part of Tmutarakan (Tmutarakan is a former district on the coast of the Sea of Azov, with a city of the same name inhabited by the Hazars,* in the XII Century Tmutarakan was in possession of the Polovtsy** - after which its name was lost to history), by reason of which the forces of the Don request Your Imperial Majesty to assist in adding to the former, for the strategic importance involved, the cities of Kamyshin and Tsaritsyn of the Government of Saratov, and the city of Voronezh with the railway stations of Laski and Povorino, and to extend the boundary of the Don forces, as indicated on the map at the Zimovoi headquarters. Your Imperial Majesty is requested to exert pressure on the Soviet government at Moscow and to order it to clear the domain of the Grand Don forces, as well as that of other states which may enter the Don-Caucasus Union, of the brigand forces of the Red guards and permit the establishment of normal peaceful relations between Moscow and the forces of the Don. All losses of Don trade and industry occasioned by the invasion of the Bolsheviks should be reimbursed by the Soviet government. Your Imperial Majesty is requested to aid our young government with guns, rifles, projectiles and rifle ammunition. The Grand Forces of the Don and of the other states of the Don-Caucasus Union will ever remember the friendly assistance of the German people."
The efforts of the Don Army toward the execution of these missions,
in view of the activity of the Red Tenth Army occupying the Tsaritsyn area,
rendered the autumn campaign of 1918 of great intensity on the South Front. The
Red Tenth Army had been organized from detachments that had withdrawn to the
Tsaritsyn area from the Ukraine and from the Donets Basin in the spring of
1918. At the time when this army embarked upon active operations it consisted
of 39,465 bayonets (infantry) and sabers (cavalry) with 240 guns and 13 armored
trains, i.e., a preponderance of more than two to one over all other troops of
the screening forces in the south. This powerful group, taking up positions at
the approaches to Tsaritsyn, occupied a flanking position with relation to the
entire Don front.
During the summer of 1918, the staff for the defense of Tsaritsyn headed by Comrade Voroshilov, was reorganized (in August) into a military council and was joined by Comrade Stalin, who had arrived from Moscow and engaged in intensive organizational work.* The defense staff organized into regular units the numerous forces that had accumulated at Tsaritsyn after their previous withdrawal from Tsaritsyn and the Donets Basin. Special attention was directed to the organization of Red cavalry. It was here that the initial large cavalry units were first organized from the detachments which the southern "partisans" brought with them.
* K.E. Voroshilov in his work, Stalin and the Red Army, p. 9, published by the State Publishing House, 1929, writes in this connection: "Comrade Stalin is conducting most energetic work, and in the shortest space of time has developed into the principal leader of all Red forces on the Tsaritsyn front, from his position of extraordinary plenipotentiary in charge of provisions. This situation is being evaluated in Moscow, and Comrade Stalin has been charged with the mission to "establish proper order, to organize the forces into regular formation, establish proper command, and to remove all persons who fail to abide by issued instructions." (From telegram of the Military- Revolutionary Council of the Republic bearing the notation: "Telegram concurred in by Lenin.")
In itself, Tsaritsyn with its surrounding area was one of the most vital revolutionary centers of south-eastern Russia, owing to the large number of workers there. Its importance, however, went further than that; from the economic and military standpoints it was important to both sides as an industrial center, and strategically, as a railway, road and water center of communications. Moreover, thanks to its flanking position, all successes of the Cossack forces to the north of it, without the possession of Tsaritsyn (as was demonstrated by subsequent events) could not be properly consolidated, while by possessing Tsaritsyn the Soviet forces secured their control over the lower Volga, along with their communications with the Astrakhan and North-Caucasus theatres of operation.
In view of the refusal of the Volunteer Army to participate in joint
operations against Tsaritsyn, the commander of the Don army decided to protect
his forces against Tsaritsyn with only a screening detachment of 12,000 men.
The main attack was directed against the Balashevsk-Kamyshin sector with a
force of 22,000 men, and for subsidiary action in the Bogutchar-Kalach and
Povorinsk sectors there were left 12,000 men. The Tenth Red Army, however,
disrupted theses plans of the enemy. On the 22nd of August, 1918, this army
itself launched an attack in the Tsaritsyn area, defeated the hostile screening
force and reached the line of the Sal and Don rivers.
The commander of the Don forces, instead of advancing in the north, had to consider the restoration of his situation in the Tsaritsyn area. In this he succeeded by committing to action his reserves, which consisted of the so-called "regular" formations,* comprising 15,000 infantry and cavalry troops and made up of youthful Cossacks. Under the pressure of these regulars the Red Tenth Army found it necessary to withdraw somewhat by mid-September of 1918 in the Tsaritsyn area, whereupon the Don forces gained freedom of action in the northern areas.
* According to some sources, the strength of these forces amounted to 20,000 men.
In September, 1918, the Don army began operations in the separate strategical areas of Voronezh and Tsaritsyn. Upon receiving a powerful thrust against its flanks from the direction of the Zadonsk steppes, delivered by the Zhloba cavalry division that had been separated from the Red North- Caucasus front, and a similar attack on its left flank, delivered by the Red forces from the direction of Serebriakov, the Tsaritsyn group of the Don forces once more withdrew to the line: Gniloaksaiakaya - Latichev - Don river up to the mouth of the Ilovia river, whereupon a temporary lull set in this sector. In the Voronezh area at this time stubborn fighting was being carried on by both sides for the possession of the Balashow - Povorino - Novokhopersk - Bobrav - Liski railway line. This fighting lasted some time but finally resulted in a partial victory for the Cossacks: On the 23rd of November, 1918, this latter succeeded in taking Liski, and they established themselves at Novokhopersk by December 1st.
At the same time, developing an auxiliary attack in the Kamyshin area, in the gap between the Red Ninth and Tenth armies, the Don Cavalry forces nearly succeeded in penetrating the area up to the city of Kamyshin, and this caused the Red high command to divert a part of the forces from the Eastern Front with a view to securing this area and to call the attention of the commander of the South Front to the importance of the recapture of the Borisoglebak-Tsaritsyn railway. This, at the price of great losses and efforts the Don forces only in the early part of December succeeded in a partial execution of their mission. The weakening of their physical strength reacted also on the morale of their forces: there began developing ever more strongly the view that it was useless to continue the fighting, that the struggle would soon collapse, in view of the increasing strength of the South Front of the Red forces both within the Don and the Ukraine sectors.
This increase and strengthening of the forces continued along two lines: On the one hand, it was the result of the organized efforts within the front (theater of operations) itself; on the other, it was caused by the sending of organized formations from the center. The wave of Austro-German occupational forces advancing on the southern governments of the R.S.F.S.R. carried with it the landlords and involved the restoration of the old regime, of which the Ukraine served as an example. This circumstance served to greatly revive the work affecting the organization of the local forces throughout the territory contiguous to that occupied by the Austro-Germans (especially in the so-called neutral zone), which had been established by the Brest-Litovsk peace treaty between the districts occupied by the Germans and the R.S.F.S.F.
The peasantry eagerly joined the forces that were being organized by the local military authorities, in some instances organizing their own complete military units. The latter were of a purely partisan nature. They appointed their own officers and the units involved were characteristics by the inherent nature of all units of this kind, namely: they were predominantly influenced by their own local interests. This constituted the main difficulty when it came to the incorporation of these units into regular army formations. The All-Ukrainian Revolutionary Committee* (headed by Bubnov and Piatakov), however, which had taken this task upon itself, soon succeeded in organizing out of the scattered partisan detachments, two more or less properly organized divisions. The 1st of these divisions was situated in the northern districts of the former Chernigov government, while the 2nd Division was disposed in the northern districts of the Kursk government and already possessed smoothly functioning supply, medical and other services.
* The All-Ukrainian Revolutionary Committee was temporarily situated at Kursk after the Austro-Germans occupied the Ukraine.
The consolidation of the Red forces on the Southern front was furthermore facilitated to a considerable extent by the first regular formations sent by the center (Moscow) to the immediate rear of the front, the nucleus of which was made up of remnants of bolshevized elements of the old army (the Voronezh division included remnants of the old 3rd Guard Division). Final consolidation of the front, however, was brought about by the transfer of newly organized regular units from the Moscow area which included considerable workers among them. The conversion of the "screening" force into a regular military formation in the autumn of 1918,and its designation as a "front," could not be accomplished, however, without a struggle, which at some points assumed the nature of open armed conflict. The systematic, planned action adopted against the partisan elements in connection with the establishment of powerful skeleton organization for the contemplated front of regular units insured the successful conclusion of this struggle.
The protracted, indecisive outcome of the last operation of the Don forces had been due to an improper evaluation of the Tsaritsyn area and its importance with respect to the fate of the entire Don forces. Taking into consideration the relative strength of the opposing forces, the Tsaritsyn area should have constituted the sole objective of the original operations of the Don forces, after which their further objectives might have been embarked upon. With the limited available forces and means at the disposal of the Soviet commanders during the phase of the campaign herein described, no extensive missions could have been embarked upon, and all efforts had to be directed toward the maintenance of the ground held. The active operations of the Red Tenth Army greatly facilitated this.
While all these events were taking place on the South Front, the military operations in the North Caucasus assumed the proportions of large-scale military actions. In Northern Caucasia there were meanwhile concentrated considerable Soviet forces. This had been due to the acute aspect of the strife assumed there in the class struggle, and to the fact that a large number of men, remnants of the old army, of Bolshevik tendencies, coming from the collapsed Caucasus Front of the old army and being unable to get through the "White" German Don territory to Russia proper, were stranded in Northern Caucasia. These, however, were not unified under a single commander, for the reason that there was no appropriate administrative or political organization for them, in view of the fact that there existed at the time three different republics, each with its own central executive committee. Some of the Soviet commanders, Sorokin, for example, were at loggerheads not only among themselves but with their central executive committees as well. And yet the situation was difficult enough without this, since the agrarian question caused the bulk of the Cossacks to withdraw from the revolution. The first indications of this was the invitation by the Cossacks of the Taman peninsula of the assistance of the Germans that were occupying the Crimea. The Germans sent them by the way of assistance the 1st Infantry Regiment, and henceforward the fighting on the Taman peninsula consumed considerable Soviet forces. The rest of the Soviet forces, most of them under the control of the Sorokin, had been concentrated in the Azov - Bataisk - Tikhoretskaya triangle, with strong garrisons at Velikokniazheskaya and Yekaterinodar. The general strength of these forces, including all garrisons, reached 80,000 to 100,000 men, though these were poorly organized, armed, and equipped.
Such was the situation in the Northern Caucasia when the commander of the Volunteer Army, General Denikin, rejecting the proposal of the commander of the Don forces concerning joint operations against Tsaritsyn, and, taking into consideration the internal situation in Northern Caucasia, took upon himself the task of liberating the Zadonsk and Kuban areas of Soviet forces. The accomplishment of this mission was to afford the Volunteer Army an important base of operations free of German influence, and well protected for further operations against the north. The strength of the Volunteer Army at this time was 8,000 to 9,000 men.
The plan of operations provided for the immediate capture of the Totgovoi railway station with a view to severing the rail communications of Northern Caucasia with the center of Russia (Moscow), to be followed by an attack against Tikhoretskaya. Upon the capture of the latter, General Denikin intended to secure the operation in the north and south by seizing Kushchevka and Kavkazskoi, whereupon he was to advance on Yekaterinodar, the latter being the political and military center of the entire Northern Caucasia. A weak screening force was to secure the operation against the forces of Sorokin's army.
The advance of the Volunteer Army developed as follows: On the 25th
of June, 1918, this army captured the Torgovio station and advanced on
Velikokniazheskaya with a view to assisting the Don forces in the capture of
the Salsk district. This was to secure the action of the Volunteer Army against
the Tsaritsyn direction. On the 28th of June the army seized Velikokniazheskaya
and after a two-week halt in this area, it made a sharp turn to the south, on
Tikhoretskaya (on July 10th). Sorokin's efforts to defeat the screening force
of this army on the Kagalnitskaya-Yegorlytskaya front, and efforts on the part
of Kalnin's group toward the launching of meeting engagement from the
Tikhoretskaya were unsuccessful. Making wide use of the local transportation
facilities in its movements, the Volunteer Army first defeated the individual
detachments of Kalinin's group and then, in the Tikhoretskaya area, launching
an assault against the main forces of this group, inflicting a heavy defeat
upon it on the 13th of July.
The capture of Tikhoretskaya was of much strategic importance. The original weak fighting ability of the 30,000 men of the Kalinin group was now completely undermined; the Volunteer Army gained possession of the important railway center, which enabled it to develop its further operations in three directions. The communications of the Volunteer Army were more firmly established with its base; separated Soviet groups of forces were now completely split up, and the army commanded by Sorokin found itself in particularly bad straits.
The strategic situation of the Red forces in Northern Caucasia was further complicated by the uprisings in the latter part of June on the part of the Terek Cossacks, which soon embraced the Mozdok-Prokhladnaya area. In the early part of August the insurgents succeeded in the temporary capture of the city of Vladikavkaz, which, however, was soon recaptured by the Soviet forces, considerably supported by the local Ingur inhabitants in this struggle. Mozdok became the center of the uprising, while civil authority was concentrated in the hands of the Executive Committee of the Terek district elected by a "Cossack-peasant congress" in which the social-revolutionaries had a decisive part.*
* Actually no unified control had been established in the area of the uprisings. The civil part of the government in all of its efforts had oriented itself toward the east - on the Petrovsk government of Bicherakhow, while the commander of the military forces (Colonel Fediushkin) was endeavoring to establish contact with the Volunteer Army.
With its successes there was a corresponding increase in the strength of the Volunteer Army, complemented with mobilized Kuban Cossacks; these already numbered 20,000 bayonets and sabers. Upon the capture of Tikhoretskaya General Denikin assumed as his next immediate objective the defeat of Sorokin's army, and with this in view he sent a force of 8,000 to 10,000 men against the Kushchevka railway station. Protecting himself against Stavropol, he proceeded against the Kavkazskaya railway station with a force of 3,000 to 4,000 men, while in the Yekaterinodar area was operating an active screening force under Drozdovsky, comprising 3,000 men. On his part Sorokin concentrated his forces at Kushchevka, while in his "Extraordinary Commissarist of the Kuban District" that had been formed at Yekaterinodar, he brought up reinforcements from the Taman peninsula for the protection of Yekaterinodar.
The advance of the Volunteer Army began on July 16th in all three directions. Sorokin, however, stubbornly defended himself at Kushchevka until the 23rd of July, whereupon he withdrew to Timashevskaya, thus opening the way for the Volunteer Army for an advance to the Sea of Azov. Ordering his cavalry to take up the pursuit of Sirokin's army, General Denikin began concentrating his forces in the Yekaterinodar area, where at the time the force under Drozdovsky had been contained by the Taman reinforcements at the Dinsk railway station. The Armavir group of the Volunteer Army (General Borovsky) already on the 18th of July seized the Kavkazsk railway station, thus isolating Yekaterinodar, Armavir and Stavropol. Taking advantage of this latter circumstance, the "White" partisan forces under Shkuro captured Stavropol on the 21st of July. Shortly thereafter, on the 27th of July, Armavir fell, and on the same day, General Denikin completed the regrouping of his forces in the Yekaterinodar area. Utilizing a cavalry screening forces against Sorokin, General Denikin launched an attack on Yekaterinodar, but he had underestimated his adversary. Sirokin's army itself had launched an attack against the rear of the Volunteer Army, against the Korenevsk-Vyselka area, from Timashevsk.
This bold maneuver had placed the Volunteer Army in a precarious situation, in as much as nearly the entire Sorokin army was now in the rear of the main forces of that army. Instead of continuing the advance on Yekaterinodar, the Volunteer Army was compelled to concentrate all of its efforts against Sorokin's army. After much effort, this army finally succeeded, on the 6th of August, to extricate itself from its dangerous situation. Sorokin's army, split up into two groups, withdrew with one group on Timaschevsk, and with the second group on Yekaterinodar. Resuming his advance on Yekaterinodar, Denikin captured the city on the 16th of August, whereupon Sorokin's army withdrew beyond the Kuban and Labu rivers, and thus lost contact with the Red Taman army operating on the Taman peninsula. At the same time, the Red forces in the Stavropol area once more recaptured Armavir.
Having been cut off from Sorokin's army, the Red Taman army, under the leadership of comrades Kovtiukh and Matveyev, comprising 25,000 men, advanced on Novorossysk, which was abandoned by the German-Turkish landing detachment there upon its approach.* Thence it proceeded along the Black Sea coast against Tuapse, reaching the latter point on September 1st. Driving out of Tuapse A Georgian force, the Taman army proceeded along the railway to Armavir. After severe fighting with the Kuban cavalry, the Taman army joined the Sorokin army on the 17th of September at Armavir.
* Novorossysk had been occupied by a German-Turkish detachment in connection with the general occupation of the Crimea by the Germans and the Transcaucasia and Georgia by the Turks and Germans. The occupationist were attracted to Novorossysk by a desire for the vessels of the Black Sea fleet. However, with the approach of the Germans, a part of the vessels were scuttled by their own crews, while the rest of the vessels returned to Sevastopol.
The Sorokin army was engaged in vigorous action with the Kuban Volunteer army, the strength of which at this time amounted to 35,000 to 40,000 men, with 86 guns. General Denikin had been endeavoring to force Sorokin's army with this Kuban Volunteer army between the foot of the Caucasus mountains and the Kuban river, to turn it in the north from the direction of Barsukovskaya and in the south from the direction of Maikop while simultaneously advancing on Armavir. The arrival of the Taman army improved the strategic situation of Sorokin's army. On September 26, the Taman forces again seized Armavir from the Whites and forced back in the Maikop area the White cavalry that had succeeded in crossing the Labu river. At the same time detachments of the Stavropol Red group, numbering 22,000 to 26,000 men, were exerting considerable pressure against the Torgovoi railway station, ceaselessly threatening the communications of the Volunteer Army. The latter was compelled to withdraw considerable forces to this area, leaving one division for the protection of Stavropol.
The total strength of the Taman army and that under Sorokin at this time amounted 150,000 infantry and cavalry troops and 200 guns. Both of these armies were divided up into five columns, one Stavropol group and a cavalry corps. The situation of these forces resembled somewhat an extended wedge with apex at the Mikhailovsk railway station, and one side extending through Armavir up to the Nevinnomysskaya railway station, and the other along the Labu river up to the Akhmatovsk railway station. Thus situated, both armies were preparing for the launching of their own offensives.
Matveyew, who commanded the Taman Army, proposed the selection of the Kavkazsk railway station as the point for the main effort, with a view to the ultimate action against Yekaterinodar, or to endeavor to establish contact with the Red Tenth Army in the vicinity of Tsaritsyn. Sorokin, the commander-in-chief, whose views were concurred in by the Revolutionary Military Council of the Northern Caucasus, considered it necessary to gain possession of Stavropol and surrounding area, and to thus consolidate the position in the eastern part of the Northern Caucasus, maintaining contact with the center via Sviatoi Krest to Astrakhan. Sorokin's views triumphed, and Matveyew was executed for failure to comply with the instructions of the Revolutionary Military Council.
On October 7th began the regrouping of the Northern Caucasian Soviet forces, which consisted primarily in the shifting of the Taman army, reinforced with one of the columns of Sorokin's army, by train to the Nevinnomysskaya railway station, whence it was to proceed by marching against Stavropol; at the same time the front was contracted by the withdrawal of forces to the line: Armavir - Uriupskaya - Upornaya - Akhmatovskaya. The disposition of these forces, numbering about 20,000 men, securing the operation in the Stavropol area, appeared in the outline of the sharp end of a bend with apex at Armavir and sides between the Kuban and Uriup rivers. The southern line of this corner was situated under the threat of Pokrovsky's cavalry, while in rear Shkuro's White partisan forces continued their activity from the Batalpashinsk area.
On the 23rd of October the Taman army was concentrated in the Nevinnomysskaya area, whence it advanced on Stavropol, and during the night of the 30th of October seized it. The operation was developed no further, in as much as it had been left without a military leader for about three weeks. This was due to the fact that during this period of time, the commander- in-chief, Sorokin, himself had come out against the Revolutionary Military Council of Northern Caucasia, the acherously executing several members of it, whereupon, after being declared an outlaw, he fled, was arrested at Stavropol, and shot before brought to trial by one of the regimental commanders of the Taman army.
Sorokin's action, in a manner, represented a certain reactionary tendency on the part of the partisan elements against the administrative influence of revolution. According to certain civil war historians, the reason for Sorokin's open rebellion was the definite instructions received by the Revolutionary Military Council requiring it to place Sorokin's forces on a regular army footing. This threatened the partisan leader with the loss of his special position and impelled him toward anarchist rebellion. Subsequently we shall see how the distance of the military forces of the revolution in northern Caucasia from the stimulating influence of the center (Moscow) had caused them to retain their "partisan" influence, which was in large measure responsible for their subsequent failures.
Taking advantage of the diversion of the amid Soviet forces in the Stavropol area, the Kuban Volunteer army again assumed the offensive against the screening force of the Reds in the Armavir area, and on the 31st of October succeeded in defeating this screening force, whereupon, on the 4th of November, it launched its operation for the recapture of Stavropol. The frontal attacks delivered by the Whites proved unsuccessful against Stavropol, but on them 14th of October the Taman army was itself to begin a withdrawal in view of the fact that the continued withdrawal of its Armavir screening force presented a threat to its left flank and rear. By the 20th of November, 1918, the Taman army had come upon the line: Petrovskaya - Donskaya Balka - Vysotskoe, where it halted; in the south it was joined by units of the former Sorokin army, extending its left flank up to the Mineralnye Vody station.
Thus, as a result of the autumn campaign of 1918, the Soviet forces of the North Caucasus found themselves entirely with their rear against the desert and barren steppes, extending nearly up to Astrakhan. The approach of the bad autumn weather contributed to the great spread of epidemics among the troops, which greatly reduced the strength of the forces.
The partial victory of the Soviet forces headed by comrades Ordzhonikidze and Levandovsky consisted of the suppression of the counter-revolutionary uprisings of the Cossacks in the Terek district. On the 10th of November, the Soviet forces occupied Prokhladnoye and Mozodok. Shortly thereafter the siege of Kizliar was lifted and Grozny was occupied, in which area the Grozny proletariat had never ceased its courageous struggle.