Troubles. 1920 year. 100 years ago, January 9-10, 1920, the Red Army liberated Rostov. The White Guards suffered a heavy defeat. The Volunteer Corps and the Don Army retreated beyond the Don.
General situation at the front
During the offensive of the Red Southern and Southeastern Fronts in November-December 1919, the Armed Forces of the South of Russia (AFYUR) were defeated. The plans of the white command to switch to strategic defense, so that, as a result of stubborn defense, using natural lines, to deplete the forces of the Red Army, gain time, regroup troops, mobilize new forces and go on the offensive again, returning the strategic initiative, were thwarted.
At the first stage of the offensive (November 19 - December 16, 1919), the Soviet armies defeated the main forces of the Volunteer Army, Mamontov's cavalry group, liberated Belgorod, Kharkov, and threw the volunteers back to Donbass. In the center, the Reds broke into the defense of the Don army and threw back the White Cossacks beyond the Don. On the right wing, the Reds defeated the Kiev group of White Guards, liberated the northern regions of Little Russia, Poltava and Kiev, and entered the central regions of Little Russia.
At the second stage of the offensive (December 17, 1919 - January 3, 1920), the troops of the Red Southern Front, supported by the Red partisans, inflicted a new defeat on the Volunteer and Don armies, liberated most of the Donbass. At the same time, the left-flank part of the Volunteer Army was cut off from the main forces, which retreated to Rostov-on-Don. White's left flank retreated to Crimea and Novorossiya. The troops of the South-Eastern Front and part of the forces of the Southern Front (8th Army) crossed the Don, broke the stubborn resistance of the Don and reached the approaches to Novocherkassk. The 10th and 11th armies of the South-Eastern Front liberated Tsaritsyn.
By early January 1920, the Armed Forces of the South of Russia numbered over 85 thousand bayonets and sabers with 522 guns. In the main direction - along the Don and Sal - 54 thousand soldiers and officers were concentrated (the Don army - 37 thousand, the Volunteer Corps - 19 thousand and the Caucasian army - 7 thousand people) and 289 guns.
The Volunteer Army (its remnants were reduced to the Volunteer Corps under the command of General Kutepov) and the Don Army retreated to the Rostov-Novocherkassk bridgehead. Here Denikin decided to give battle to the Soviet troops, which, after a long period of offensive battles, showed signs of overwork and frustration. Due to the unification of the front, the Volunteer Corps was subordinated to the commander of the Don Army. General Sidorin covered the Rostov area with volunteers and the Novocherkassk area with the Donets, in the center were the horse corps of Mamontov and Toporkov (the commander of the combined Kuban-Tersk cavalry corps - Denikin's reserve).
On the western flank, the commander of the troops of the Novorossiysk region, General Schilling, sent Slashchev's corps to cover Northern Tavria and the Crimea. General Promtov's corps and the former troops of the Kiev group under the command of General Bredov were located on the Birzula - Dolinskaya - Nikopol line. On the left flank, the Caucasian army of Pokrovsky retreated beyond the line of the Sal River, covering the Stavropol and Tikhoretsk areas.
Battle for Rostov
By the beginning of 1920, the shock group of Budyonny went through the entire Donbass with battles and was divided. The 9th Infantry Division continued its march to Taganrog, which was occupied on the night of January 6-7, 1920. The main forces were aimed at Rostov.
On January 6, the Red Army reached the Sea of Azov. However, one of the main goals of the strategic offensive of the Southern Front - the dismemberment of the AFSR and the destruction of the Volunteer Army - was not fully achieved. The task was only partially completed. The left wing of the Volunteer Army (Schilling's troops) was separated from the main force. But the main forces of the volunteers were able to escape from the trap and make their way to Rostov. Here, the greatly thinned Volunteer Army was consolidated into a corps under the command of Kutepov. Wrangel was hastily sent to the Kuban to form a new cavalry army. Denikin decided to fight in the area between Rostov and Novocherkassk, hoping to stop the tired and partially frustrated Soviet troops. The white command threw the last reserves into battle - 1, 5 cavalry divisions, a Plastun brigade and 2 officer schools under the general command of General Toporkov.
On January 7, 1920 (December 25, 1919 according to the old style), the Reds pulled up the main forces: the 1st Cavalry as part of the 6th and 4th cavalry, as well as the 12th rifle division, 15th, 16th and 33rd Infantry Divisions of the 8th Army. On the left flank of the Reds, the Dumenko Horse-Consolidated Corps attacked Novocherkassk with the support of the rifle units of the 9th Army. Stubborn battles on the 80-kilometer section of the front lasted for two days.
Novocherkassk attacked Dumenko's cavalry corps with the support of two rifle divisions. The commander of the Don Army, Sidorin, struck a counter strike on the Reds. First, the Donets pushed the enemy back. But then the Soviet artillery stopped the Whites' counterattack that had begun, knocking out several tanks. The White Cossacks mixed. Dumenko attacked again, knocked over the Don, forced them to retreat to Novocherkassk. The Cossacks could not stand the assault and retreated to the Don. On January 7, Dumenko's troops occupied the capital of the Don Army.
In the center of the corps, Mamontov and Toporkova attacked and defeated the 15th and 16th rifle divisions of the 8th Soviet army. However, the first success was not used, the white cavalry retreated to their original positions, fearing attacks from the flanks, where the red had powerful cavalry formations. On January 8, the Budennovites crushed the main forces of the enemy with a powerful concentrated strike in the area of the villages of Generalsky Most, Bolshiye Saly, Sultan-Saly and Nesvetay. The Terek Plastun brigade was almost completely destroyed, Toporkov's corps and part of the volunteers were overturned. The officer schools were surrounded in an open field, lined up in squares and repulsed the attacks of the red cavalry with volley fire. They were defeated when the Reds brought up their artillery.
Meanwhile, Mamontov, failing to carry out the order for a new attack, began to withdraw the 4th Don corps through Aksai and further, beyond the Don. The thaw began, and he feared that the crossing would become impossible, the troops would die. He saved his subordinates, brought them out from under the blow, but finally destroyed the common front. The volunteers had to stretch the already weak battle formations to close the gap. This was Mamontov's last operation. He went to Yekaterinodar to participate in the meetings of the Supreme Circle of the Don, Kuban and Terek, where the Circle was ready to transfer to him the command of all the Cossack troops. However, Mamontov will be knocked down by typhus. On February 1, 1920, the general died (according to another version, he was poisoned).
Meanwhile, the battle was still going on. The volunteers still resisted. The breakthrough of the Budyonnovites was stopped. On the left flank, the Drozdovskaya division and the cavalry of General Barbovich (the remnants of Yuzefovich's 5th Cavalry Corps, brought together into a brigade) even counterattacked. However, defeat was already inevitable. The Reds went to the rear from the side of Novocherkassk. On the evening of January 8, Gorodovikov's 4th Cavalry Division occupied Nakhichevan-on-Don (a city on the right bank of the Don, since 1929 - a suburb of Rostov). At the same time, Timoshenko's 6th Cavalry Division, marching through the enemy's rear, suddenly burst into Rostov, taking by surprise the white headquarters and rear services.
On January 9, 1920, the Drozdovites and Kornilovites, who were still repulsing frontal attacks, were ordered to retreat. They had to break through Rostov, partly occupied by the Reds. After heavy street fighting, the volunteers broke through to the left bank of the Don. By January 10, with the support of the approaching 33rd Infantry Division, the city completely passed into the hands of the Red Army. The Reds captured a large number of prisoners and trophies. The headquarters of the VSYUR was transferred to the Tikhoretskaya station.
The Red Army tried to force the Don on the move and on the shoulders of the fleeing enemy, but a thaw set in and the crossing over the ice became unreliable. These attempts were repulsed by whites. On January 17 - 22, 1920, the 1st Cavalry Army tried to capture a bridgehead on the left bank of the Don in the Bataysk region and from there develop the offensive further. However, the offensive in conditions of overwork and frustration of units, the passiveness of the troops of the neighboring 8th Army, the onset of a thaw on the southern, swampy bank of the Don, where the Whites were well entrenched, failed. Pavlov's 4th Don corps (he replaced the departing Mamontov) and Toporkov's corps were defeated and the Budennovites were thrown back beyond the Don.
Continuation of the struggle
Thus, the offensive of the Red Army, which lasted three months, ended. The troops of the Armed Forces of South Russia suffered a heavy defeat. The White Guards lost control over the important industrial and rural areas of southern Russia with a population of 27.7 million. VSYUR was divided into two groups. The main forces of the whites - the Volunteer Corps, the Don and Caucasian armies (about 55 thousand people), retreated in the North Caucasian direction. The Novorossiysk group of whites (about 32 thousand people) retreated to Northern Tavria, Crimea and the Southern Bug.
The 13th and 14th Soviet armies reached the Sea of Azov, the 12th army fought successful battles for the liberation of Little Russia. The Southern Front with the forces of the 1st Cavalry Army and the 8th Army, in cooperation with the 9th Army of the South-Eastern Front, carried out the Rostov-Novocherkassk operation. In a fierce battle, the main forces of the Volunteer Corps and the Don Army were defeated, Novocherkassk and Rostov were liberated. The 10th Army of the South-Eastern Front reached the r. Sal, and the 11th Army advanced in the Stavropol and Kizlyar directions, creating the conditions for the liberation of the North Caucasus. That is, conditions were created for the complete defeat of the White Army in the South of Russia and the liberation of Novorossiya and the North Caucasus.
After that, the front stabilized for a while. The white command tried to hold out in the still occupied areas, regroup and restore the troops. However, the situation was extremely difficult. The troops retreated for three months, were extremely tired, drained of blood, the rear completely collapsed. In the rear, rebels and bandits raged. The public, agitated by severe defeats and the threat of total disaster, gave birth to one political project after another. In particular, the independence of the Kuban Republic was restored.
The situation in Denikin's army was ambiguous. The volunteers generally retained their fighting spirit, fighting efficiency and discipline. The Don army, retreating from its land, has largely lost its fighting spirit. Many Don residents were ready to surrender so as not to leave the Don. Only a pause in hostilities, when the whites retreated beyond the Don, somewhat restored the combat effectiveness of the Don army. The Donets still hoped to regain their area. The Don command was ready to continue the fight. The situation with the Kuban Cossacks was much worse. The autonomists returned to power, formed their own units. There were almost no Kuban units left at the front, and the remaining Kuban troops decomposed.
Having won a victory, the Red Army was exhausted as a result of continuous battles, a fierce and bloody battle from Orel and Voronezh to Rostov. The troops were exhausted, drained of blood by battles and a terrible typhus epidemic. The big problem was with the supply of the armies. The railways were destroyed by the war and stopped. It was difficult to replenish and supply units, to take out the wounded and sick. Often they had to engage in "self-supply", that is, requisitions and robberies. In addition, the great victory caused the disintegration of the red troops, they walked, including the commanders. It seemed that White had already been defeated and could be easily finished off. Therefore, you can rest and relax.
On January 10, 1920, the Southern Front was reorganized into the South-Western Front. It included the 12th, 13th and 14th armies. The South-Western Front under the command of A. Yegorov was supposed to liberate Novorossiya, Crimea. On January 16, 1920, the South-Eastern Front was transformed into the Caucasian Front. The front received the task of completing the liquidation of the North Caucasian grouping of Denikin's army and liberating the Caucasus. V. Shorin became the first commander of the Caucasian Front. The front included the troops of the 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 1st Cavalry Army, located from Astrakhan to Rostov.
The peasant war after the front line again swept through the southern regions of Russia and in Little Russia did not stop. Now the rebels were at war with the Reds. The same Makhno, who, with his war, chained to himself at the most decisive moment of the battle between the Whites and the Reds 1, 5 corps of the White Guards, at the beginning of 1920 revived the independent anarcho-peasant republic in Gulyai-Polye. The Makhnovists wedged themselves in between the units of the 14th Soviet Army, which was advancing on the Crimea. The Soviet command ordered Makhno's army to go to the Western Front to fight the Poles. Old Man ignored this instruction. On January 9, 1920, the All-Ukrainian Revolutionary Committee declared Makhno and his group outlawed as "deserters and traitors." A stubborn struggle between the Makhnovists and the Bolsheviks began; it continued until the fall of 1920, when the rebels again opposed the Whites (Wrangel's army). This helped Slashchev's corps keep the Crimea behind the Whites.