Mamontov's Raid of 1919
Mamontov’s Raid of 1919
a foray by the White cossack cavalry, commanded by Lieutenant General K. K. Mamontov, into the rear of the Soviet Southern Front in August and September of 1919 during the Civil War of 1918-20.
The objective of the raid was to wipe out railroad and communications centers, stir up rebellions by counterrevolutionary forces in the Soviet rear, and prevent the offensive that was under preparation by the Soviet troops of the Southern Front. At dawn on August 10, Mamontov’s IV Don Cavalry Corps (6,000 cavalrymen, 3,000 infantrymen, three armored vehicles, and seven armored trains) broke through the poorly covered juncture between the 40th and 36th Rifle Divisions. On August 18 the White cossacks occupied Tambov, and on August 22 they took Kozlov (Michurinsk). They destroyed railroads, blew up bridges, executed Soviet workers and Communists, plundered and destroyed warehouses, and robbed and killed civilians.
Against the White cossacks the Soviet command brought in the front reserves (up to five divisions), local units, and special-purpose units. Finding themselves surrounded, the White cossacks, with their considerable wagon trains of stolen property, did not have their former mobility and discipline; they made their way back toward the front line with difficulty. On the evening of August 31 the enemy broke into Elets after bitter fighting. On September 6 the White cossacks took Griazi and then on September 11, Voronezh; but on September 12 they were driven from that city. On September 18 and 19, Mamontov’s troops, having suffered large losses (only 2,000 of 9,000 were left), managed to join up with General A. G. Shkuro’s cavalry corps in the region between Staryi Oskol and Kortoiak.
Mamontov’s raid brought substantial destruction and losses, made control of troops of the Southern Front difficult, and drew off some of the Soviet forces, but it did not achieve its main objective—to prevent the offensive by Soviet forces on the Southern Front. The offensive began on August 14-15. Mamontov’s raid and the struggle against it showed once again the great importance of cavalry under the conditions of the Civil War. Considering the lessons learned from this raid, the Soviet command began to form the Red Cavalry on a massive scale.
REFERENCESRymshan, M. Reid Mamontova, Avgust-sentiabr’ 1919. Moscow, 1926. Istoriia grazhdanskoi voiny v SSSR, 1917-1922, vol. 4. Moscow, 1959.
A. S. NARKHOV