Cheliabinsk Operation of 1919
Cheliabinsk Operation of 1919
combat actions by Soviet forces of the Eastern Front carried out between July 17 and August 4 against Admiral A. V. Kolchak’s White Guard troops during the Civil War of 1918–20.
Having captured Zlatoust and Ekaterinburg, the troops of the Eastern Front (commander, M. V. Frunze; members of the revolutionary military council, M. M. Lashevich, K. K. Iurenev, and N. I. Muralov) mounted an offensive moving the First and Fourth armies to the south and southeast, and the Third and Fifth armies to the east. M. N. Tukhachevskii’s Fifth Army (approximately 32,000 foot soldiers and cavalry), while continuing to pursue the enemy, was to capture the areas near Cheliabinsk and Troitsk, drive the enemy south of the Trans-Siberian Railroad, and reach the Tobol River between Kustanai and Ikovskaia. The Fifth Army was opposed by General K. V. Sakharov’s Western Army of White Guards (approximately 27,500 foot soldiers and cavalry), which in July had been renamed the Third Army.
The White Guard command, attempting to capitalize on the somewhat exposed position of the Soviet Fifth Army, planned a series of flank attacks west of Cheliabinsk designed to annihilate the Soviet force. Two assault groups were formed for this task: the assault group of General S. N. Voitsekhovskii, north of Cheliabinsk (approximately 16,000 foot soldiers and cavalry), and the assault group of General V. O. Kappel’, south of Cheliabinsk (approximately 10,000 foot soldiers and cavalry).
The Fifth Army, pursuing the enemy, reached Cheliabinsk, and on July 24 the army’s 27th Rifle Division, aided by insurgent workers, captured the city. Voitsekhovskii moved to the offensive on July 25, and Kappel’ on July 27. Heavy defensive fighting ensued. Northwest of Cheliabinsk the enemy was able to push back the 35th Rifle Division and break through between it and the 27th Rifle Division. The White Guards were unable to penetrate the front from the south owing to the unwavering defense of the 26th Rifle Division, which repulsed all attacks by the troops under Kappel’.
The command of the Fifth Army then executed a bold counter-maneuver: the 27th Division, reinforced by reserves and workers’ detachments from Cheliabinsk, ignored the threat from the flanks and struck at the left flank of the northern group of White Guard forces. In bitter fighting, the Soviet troops regained the initiative and threatened to encircle the White Guard troops northwest of Cheliabinsk. On July 29 the Fifth Army mounted a final offensive. At the same time, the command of the Eastern Front ordered the 21st Rifle Division of the Third Army to proceed in a forced march to the Trans-Siberian Railroad near the Shumikha station and cut off the sole line of communications of the White Guards. Kolchak’s troops, routed near Cheliabinsk, retreated in panic beyond the Tobol River. On August 4, units of the 24th Rifle Division liberated Troitsk.
The Cheliabinsk Operation completed the liberation of the Urals by the Red Army, which was now assured of access to Siberia. Kolchak’s forces were split into two groups, which were unable to communicate with one another: an eastern group, comprising the First and Third armies, and a southern group, comprising the Second Army. On August 15, Soviet troops reached the Tobol River.
REFERENCESDirektivy komandovaniia frontov Krasnoi Armii (1917–1922), vol. 2. Moscow, 1972.
Spirin, L. M. Razgrom armii Kolchaka. Moscow, 1957.
Luchevnikov, P. S. Grazhdanskaia voina na luzhnom Urale: 1918–1919 gg. Cheliabinsk, 1958.
Boltin, E. A. Kontrnastuplenie luzhnoi gruppy Vostochnogo fronta i razgrom Kolchaka (1919 g.). Moscow, 1949.
S. D. GUSAREVICH