95 years ago, the Red Army crushed the last stronghold of the White Guards in southern Russia and broke into the Crimea. At the beginning of 1920, during the defeat of Denikin's armies, General Slashchev's corps managed to hold the peninsula, repelled the red attacks three times. This turned out to be a salvation for the white groups retreating in the Kuban. In March, 30,000 officers and soldiers were evacuated from Novorossiysk to Crimea. Denikin then resigned and convened a military council to select his successor. The name of Lieutenant-General Pyotr Nikolaevich Wrangel was announced at the meetings. At Denikin's, he headed the Caucasian army, but came into conflict with the commander-in-chief, was exiled to Constantinople (Istanbul).
On April 4, he arrived in Sevastopol, at the military council he was asked to express his views on further actions. He replied "with honor to lead the army out of a difficult situation", while not thinking about active operations. This satisfied everyone, and Denikin approved the choice. Indeed, there was no need to think about victories. The small army was exhausted, crushed by defeats, and during the evacuation abandoned almost all the artillery and horses. And in addition, the Western powers by this time determined that it was time to end the civil war in Russia. They achieved their goal, the country was in complete chaos. The time has come to master the gigantic trophy, undermine it by trade and concessions. The White Guards were now proving to be a hindrance.
Already upon his return from Istanbul, Wrangel was given an ultimatum from the British government - to stop the struggle, to make peace with the Bolsheviks on terms of amnesty. Otherwise, England threatened to refuse "all support." Whites did not accept such conditions, especially since the Soviet side was not at all inclined to amnesty. But defending also looked problematic. In Crimea, there were no human or material resources, the peninsula was vulnerable from different sides - through the Perekop Isthmus, the Chongar Peninsula, the Arabat Spit, the Kerch Strait.
Wrangel cherished hopes of persuading the allies to transfer the army to one of the remaining fronts - to the Far East, Poland, the Baltic states. But the course of events was determined by other circumstances. V
the same days the Reds began a new assault on the Crimea. On April 13, they shot down Slashchev's guards, captured the Perekop shaft, and broke into the Chongarsky peninsula. The commander-in-chief abandoned the most combat-ready units, the Kutepov Volunteer Corps, to save the day. He recaptured the previous positions with counterattacks, knocking out the opponents. This success encouraged the troops and restored their self-confidence.
But the external situation also changed. The Red Terror and surplus appropriation caused uprisings in the Ukraine, Siberia, and the Kuban. And Poland at one time did not support Denikin, who fought for "one and indivisible". Now she started her own game. She signed an agreement with the defeated Petliura, the self-styledists surrendered themselves to dependence on foreigners, ceded to them the Right-Bank Ukraine, Belarus. On April 25, the Poles launched an offensive, reached the Dnieper, and occupied Kiev. But the patroness of Poland was France. I thought that the White Guards could be useful, they would pull off the Reds. Suddenly she acted as their "friend", promised to cover the Crimea with the forces of the fleet, to supply everything necessary.
True, Poland's position remained more than dubious. She shied away from the conclusion of a full-fledged alliance and coordination of actions. But such circumstances were considered secondary. The commander-in-chief vigorously set about reforming his units. He tightened discipline with tough measures. The very name of the army - Volunteer - was abolished, as it bears an element of spontaneity and partisanism. Another thing was introduced - the Russian army. We got some reinforcements. From near Sochi, 12 thousand Cossacks were taken out, trying to escape to Georgia and trapped on the coast. General Bredov's White Guards, who had retreated abroad, began to be taken out of Poland.
Under the commander-in-chief, a government was created headed by A. V. Krivoshein, under the tsar he was the minister of agriculture. Wrangel himself was a staunch monarchist. However, in order to maintain unity, he considered it important to preserve the principle of non-determination of the state structure. He said: "We are fighting for the Fatherland, the people will decide for themselves what Russia should be like." He also reorganized the weak Denikin counterintelligence, put General Klimovich, the former director of the police department, at the head of the special section of the headquarters. Recruited professionals from the gendarmerie and police. In just a month and a half, they radically cleaned up the rear, liquidating the Bolshevik underground in Simferopol, Sevastopol, Yalta, Feodosia.
Meanwhile, the Reds concentrated large forces against the Poles, on May 27 they went on the offensive. It was the most suitable situation to speak. On the one hand, to help the "allies", on the other - to take advantage of the fact that the enemy was involved in the battles. Wrangel issued order No. 3326: “The Russian army is going to liberate its native land from the red scum. I call on the Russian people to help me … I call for the protection of the Motherland and the peaceful labor of the Russian people and I promise forgiveness to the lost who will return to us. The people - the land and freedom in the organization of the state! To the Earth - the Master set by the will of the people!"
On June 6, the White Guards launched a breakthrough. At Perekop, Kutepov's corps attacked, on Chongar - Pisarev's Kuban corps, on the Azov coast near Kirillovka, Slashchev's corps was landed. Exits from the Crimea were blocked by the 13th Soviet Army. She created a solid field defense - trenches, girded with barbed wire, heavy artillery. The most stubborn battles began. White suffered huge losses, but could not advance. Only on June 12 they overcame the defense on the left flank and reached the Dnieper. Slashchev's landing was also successful. He cut the rear railways for the Bolsheviks and captured Melitopol. The 13th Army was just planned to be taken in pincers, surrounded and destroyed. But the Reds realized the threat in time and retreated to the central area. As a result, Wrangel's army withdrew from the Crimea, occupied an area of 300 km along the front and 150 km in depth. But the Poles have already abandoned Kiev, rolled back 200 km from the Dnieper, the hope for interaction with them vanished. And the Bolsheviks preserved the integrity of the front, imposed a fatal war on the enemy in a limited space. After all, it was much more difficult to make up for the losses of the Russian army.
The Soviet command was by no means going to put up with the emergence of a white bridgehead in Tavria. Immediately, three fresh divisions and the 1st separate cavalry corps of the Rednecks - 12 thousand sabers - were transferred here. On June 28, two blows fell on the Wrangelites. It was supposed to break through the front on the flanks, cut off the army from the Crimea and finish off in the steppes. In the western sector, the Reds crossed the Dnieper at Kakhovka, but they were not allowed to advance, they were knocked back. From the east, near Tokmak, 12 regiments of the Goons piled on two Cossack regiments and crushed them. The corps began to deepen into the enemy rear.
White aircraft saved the day. General Tkachev's 20 old airplanes began to peck at the red cavalry. They watered them with machine guns, bombed them, or simply ran at low level flight, frightening and dispersing the horses. Redneck tried to spread out, move on short summer nights, the pace of his marches dropped sharply. And Wrangel pulled out the troops from the passive sectors of the front, threw them to the place of the breakthrough, the Reds were surrounded from several sides. Redneck was already 15 km from Melitopol and Wrangel's headquarters, but he was cut off from his own people, surrounded. Under the blows, the corps disintegrated, getting out in separate detachments, and lost three-quarters of its personnel.
Building on the successes, White took Berdyansk, Orekhov, Pologi, Aleksandrovsk (Zaporozhye). But they were exhausted, the shelves were thinning. At the front, Wrangel had 35 thousand bayonets and sabers, in the 13th Army - one and a half times more. The idea came up to raise Don. To do this, a detachment of Colonel Nazarov landed near Mariupol, 800 Cossacks, went through the villages. But the Don was drained of blood by the civil war, epidemics, hunger, few joined. The Bolsheviks rushed into pursuit, overtook the detachment and destroyed. And to the front, they pulled together new forces, including the Siberian 51st division of Blucher, it cost a good corps (instead of nine regiments - 16). The remnants of the Redneck corps were replenished and created Gorodovikov's 2nd Cavalry Army.
On August 7, the second operation against Wrangel began. The plan remained the same - to cut from both sides. Gorodovikov's cavalry attacked near Tokmak, but this time it was not allowed to break through to the rear. And from the west, Soviet units again rushed across the Dnieper at Kakhovka. But they acted much more clearly than last time. Having taken the bridgehead, they immediately built a pontoon bridge, and the entire division of Blucher went across the river. In Kherson, the townspeople were mobilized, they were sent on barges to build fortifications near Kakhovka. The situation was aggravated by Slashchev's miscalculations. He missed the landing when they crossed the river, celebrated someone's birthday. He realized to counterattack, but it was already too late, the Whites were met with a solid defense, a flurry of fire - the artillery was shot "in the squares." Reserves approached, again and again tried to recapture the bridgehead, but this turned into only streams of blood. Wrangel removed Slashchev from office, and a constant threat to the left flank remained at Kakhovka.
After the failure on the Don, the commander-in-chief planned to raise the Kuban against the Bolsheviks. There were about 30 large insurgent detachments, the most significant - "Army of the Renaissance of Russia" Fostikov, 5, 5 thousand soldiers. On August 14, parts of Ulagai disembarked from ships near Primorsko-Akhtarskaya. The red detachments were scattered, swiftly rushed to occupy the villages. The second landing, General Cherepov, was landed near Anapa. But the Reds quickly overcame their confusion, pulled together large forces from all over the Caucasus. Cherepov was not allowed to turn around at all, he was constrained on a patch, shot from guns, the landing had to be evacuated. And Ulagai's troops were carried away, dispersed in a wide fan. The Soviet command cut it under the base - captured the rear base, Primorsko-Akhtarskaya. They began to smash the whites, cut them into several parts. With heavy fighting, they got out to the sea, they were taken out of Achuev. Then the Reds pounced on the rebels of Fostikov. They went through the mountains to the Black Sea, and from Gagra 2 thousand Cossacks were taken to the Crimea.
In the meantime, the forces against Wrangel were building up, on August 5 the Central Committee of the RCP (b) decided "to recognize the Wrangel front as the main one." On August 20, the third operation against the Russian army began. The scheme has not changed - blows from Kakhovka and Tokmak. From the west, the Reds managed to drive a wedge of 40-50 km. But the breakthrough was localized, they were driven back to the Kakhovsky bridgehead. From the east, the 2nd Cavalry Army managed to overcome the positions, went behind the front line. But the history of the Redneck's corps repeated itself: it was surrounded, defeated, the remnants escaped to the west, to Kakhovka.
In September, due to mobilizations, evacuated Cossacks and prisoners put into operation, the number of the Russian army was brought to 44 thousand people with 193 guns, 26 armored cars, 10 tanks. And the Poles at that time defeated the Reds, again attacked in Ukraine. A plan has matured to break through to meet them. But against the White Guards, there were already three armies, united in the Southern Front, they numbered 60 thousand fighters, 451 guns, three tanks. Frunze took command of the front. Nevertheless, Wrangel struck several blows. His troops entered the Donbass, threatened Yekaterinoslav (Dnepropetrovsk). However, Frunze correctly assessed: these are distracting operations. White will break through to the west. In other directions, he limited himself to defense, and concentrated his main forces behind the Dnieper and near Kakhovka.
He was right. On October 7, Kutepov's 1st corps crossed the Dnieper at Khortitsa. To the south, the 3rd corps and the cavalry of General Barbovich began to cross. They shot down the opposing units, took Nikopol. At the same time, the 2nd White Corps with tanks and armored cars attacked Kakhovka. But in this direction, the Whites were expected, the 6th Red Army and the 2nd Cavalry were stationed here - it was headed by Mironov. Fierce oncoming battles ensued. And then it was said that the best cadres of Wrangel had already been knocked out, motley reinforcements were added to the troops. They "broke". They were seized by panic, they were in a hurry to get out back across the Dnieper. And the battle at Kakhovka turned out to be only thousands of killed and wounded, nine tanks out of 10 were killed.
The Wrangelites did not yet know: on the same days, on October 12, when they made their way to the Poles, the Pilsudski government signed a peace treaty with the Bolsheviks. He made a very good profit by snatching Western Ukraine and Western Belarus, but he did not even remember about his Russian allies. From that moment on, the White Guards were doomed. Nobody needed them anymore. And from the Polish front, numerous contingents moved against them, including the 1st Cavalry of Budyonny.
Frunze was already preparing a fourth attempt to destroy Wrangel, which was much larger and much better organized. He gathered 144 thousand bayonets and sabers, from the arriving formations they formed another, the 4th army and the 3rd cavalry corps. In addition to two converging attacks, from Kakhovka and Tokmak, two more were envisaged, the Russian army was surrounded, cut into pieces and finished off. In previous offensives, the White Guards stretched the front, their battle formations thinned out. On October 28, Blucher's group swept away the opposing units in front of the Kakhovsky bridgehead. The next day she went to Perekop, tried to capture the Turkish Wall on the move, but the small garrison repulsed all attacks. Together with Blucher, the 1st Cavalry entered the breakthrough. She rushed to Chongar and Genichesk, cutting off the last escape routes for the White. The encirclement is over.
But for the 4th and 13th armies, things stalled. The Wrangelites held them back, brutally counterattacked. And the troops, knocked out of positions by the Soviet breakthrough, were by no means defeated. Kutepov gathered selected units: the Kornilovites, Markovites, Drozdovites, Barbovich's cavalry, and pulled together other formations around him. The Budennovites scattered their divisions in several villages, considered themselves already victors, and relaxed. But on October 31, the White Guards poured into them. These divisions were beaten separately and dispersed, clearing the way for themselves. They found two bridges on Chongar and a bridge on the Arabat Spit unexploded, and began to leave for the Crimea. To the aid of Budyonny came the Latvians, Mironov's cavalry. But Kutepov skillfully maneuvered them, attacking them with counterattacks. On November 3, the rearguards missed their last columns and destroyed the bridges behind them.
Then Frunze ordered to prepare the assault - without respite, until the enemy recovered and did not gain a foothold. Concrete casemates at Perekop, land mines, large-caliber guns were the fruit of the imagination of Crimean journalists who calmed the inhabitants. Red intelligence took this at face value. In fact, there was only an earthen rampart with trenches, dugouts, field three-inches and 17 rows of barbed wire. It was defended by the Drozdovskaya division, 3260 bayonets. The Sivash coast was guarded by the Fostikov brigade - 2 thousand poorly armed rebels. The Kornilovites and the Markovites were in reserve. Chongar and the Arabat Spit were covered by 3 thousand Donets and Kubans. In total, Wrangel had 22-23 thousand fighters.
The Reds collected 184 thousand, more than 500 guns. Blucher's group attacked Perekop head-on, three columns bypassed through the Sivash, an auxiliary strike was planned for Chongar. On the night of November 8, the command “Forward!” Sounded. The west wind drove the water from Sivash, frost hit the minus 12, holding down the mud. Already at night a whole division pounced on Fostikov's Cossacks. But the Kornilovites and the Drozdovites arrived in time, the Reds were thrown back with the bayonet, they caught only on the edge of the coast. And in the afternoon, the attacks of the Turkish Wall began - wave after wave. The White Guards fought back desperately, the first waves were exterminated or pinned to the ground. The defense on the bank of the Sivash also held out, although fresh red units were pulling up. Only the appearance of two Soviet cavalry divisions changed the course of the battle. The defenders retreated to Yushuni. And Blucher began another assault at night. The garrison of the Turkish Wall continued to fight, but learned that the enemy was already in the rear, and fought its way with bayonets from the encirclement.
There was a second line of defense near Yushun, two lines of trenches in the intervals between the lakes. The Reds brought up 150 guns, brought down heavy fire. Two days clashed in attacks and counterattacks. Wrangel sent the last reserve here, Barbovich's cavalry. I removed the Don corps from the Chongarsk direction. However, the Soviet command advanced the 2nd Cavalry Army to meet Barbovich. Mironov used a trick. He sheltered 250 machine guns on carts behind the ranks of his cavalry. Before the clash, the horsemen moved to the sides, and the whites were mowed down with showers of lead. On November 11, the Yushun defense fell.
And the 4th Red Army took advantage of the departure of the Don, and began to cross over to Chongar. The body was turned back, but he could no longer correct the position. The Bolsheviks built a bridge, cavalry and artillery moved across it. Frunze's armies poured into the peninsula from two sides. On November 12, Wrangel gave the order for the evacuation. To ensure fast and orderly loading, it had to be carried out in different ports. The first and second corps were ordered to retreat to Sevastopol and Evpatoria, Barbovich's corps - to Yalta, the Kubans - to Feodosia, the Don people - to Kerch.
Frunze did not want extra blood. He sent Wrangel a radiogram with a proposal for surrender on honorary terms. Those who surrendered were guaranteed life and immunity, and those "who did not wish to stay in Russia were guaranteed free travel abroad, provided they refused on parole from further struggle." But they reported to Lenin, and he sternly rebuked the front commander: “I just learned about your proposal to Wrangel to surrender. Surprised by the compliance of the conditions. If the enemy accepts them, all efforts must be made to the real capture of the fleet, that is, the failure to leave the Crimea of a single vessel. If he doesn’t accept, in no case should he repeat and deal mercilessly”.
However, it was not possible to prevent the evacuation. The Reds were also exhausted by the battle, they lost 10 thousand people. They were only able to set up the pursuit every other day. The Whites broke away from them. The headquarters of the commander-in-chief mobilized all the craft. Defective steamers and barges were hitched to the tug. They applied for asylum to France. After hesitating, she agreed - although she pettyly demanded that the costs be given to her by the ships of the Russian fleet. But there was nowhere to go … On November 15, the loading ended, 145,693 people (except for the crews) were able to board the ships. "White Russia" has turned into a huge city on the water. He weighed anchors and moved to the Turkish shores. Into the unknown, into the wanderings of the emigration …