Kharkov Operation of 1919
Kharkov Operation of 1919
an offensive operation by the Soviet Southern Front (commanded by A. I. Egorov and Revolutionary Military Council member J. V. Stalin) against General A. I. Denikin’s White Guard forces from November 24 to December 12 during the Civil War.
Having completed the Orlov-Kromy and Voronezh-Kastornoe operations, the Soviet forces of the Southern Front advanced to a line north of Sumy, Borki, Oboian’, Staryi Oskol, Liski (now Georgiu-Dezh), and Bobrov. On November 24, the command of the Southern Front issued a directive calling for the pursuit of the enemy in the direction of Kharkov and its destruction. The main strike was to be delivered by the Fourteenth Army under the command of I. P. Uborevich, which was to capture Kharkov. Positioned to the left of the Fourteenth Army, the Thirteenth Army under the command of A. I. Gekker was to pursue the retreating Denikin forces and take Kupiansk, aided by the First Horse Cavalry Army under the command of S. M. Budennyi. Meanwhile, the Eighth Army, commanded by G. Ia. Sokol’nikov, was to advance rapidly on Starobel’sk. Trying to stabilize the front and hold Kharkov, the White Guard command concentrated a cavalry group under General K. K. Mamontov (7,000 mounted troops, 3,000 foot soldiers, and 58 cannon) in the Volchansk-Valuiki area with the aim of launching a counterattack on the advancing Soviet forces.
On November 25, the First Horse Cavalry Army liberated No-vyi Oskol, and on November 28 the Fourteenth Army took Sumy. On December 3, Mamontov’s White Guard group launched its counterattack, first at the juncture of the Thirteenth and Eighth armies and then on the flank of the First Horse Cavalry Army. In heavy fighting, units of the First Horse Cavalry, operating jointly with units of the Thirteenth Army, stopped the enemy’s northern advance, inflicting a resounding defeat around Biriuch and Novyi Oskol. Pursuing the defeated White Guard forces, units of the Thirteenth Army occupied Volchansk on December 8, and units of the First Horse Cavalry Army occupied Valuiki on December 9. The advance of the other armies proceeded smoothly: the Fourteenth Army took Akhtyrka on December 4, Krasnokutsk on December 6, and Belgorod on December 7, and the Eighth Army liberated Pavlovsk on December 4.
Aiming to surround the enemy’s Kharkov grouping, the Soviet command ordered the Fourteenth Army to strike southeastward from the Akhtyrka area and the Thirteenth Army to advance from the Volchansk area to the southwest. The First Horse Cavalry Army was assigned to strike from Valuiki toward Kupiansk, thereby threatening the enemy with deep encirclement from the southeast. Overcoming the enemy’s stubborn resistance, the Fourteenth Army occupied Valki on December 9 and Merefa on the 11th, cutting off the enemy’s retreat to the south. An attempt by Denikin’s forces to launch a counterattack from Konstantinograd (now Krasnograd) was thwarted by partisan operations. On the night of December 11, units of the Latvian and Eighth Cavalry divisions entered the suburbs of Kharkov. The next day the surrounded White Guard troops capitulated. The successful execution of the Kharkov Operation permitted the forces of the Southern Front to launch a decisive attack on the Donets Basin, to divide Denikin’s Volunteer and Don armies, and to threaten the rear of the two enemy armies.
S. D. GUSAREVICH