Northern Caucasus Operation of 1920

Northern Caucasus Operation of 1920

 

combat actions by forces of the Caucasian Front to rout Denikin’s forces in the Don and Northern Caucasus from February 14 to April 7 during the Civil War of 1918–20.

By early February the White Guard forces, commanded by General A. I. Denikin, consisted of the Volunteer Corps, two armies (the Don and the Kuban’), and the armies of the Northern Caucasus (a total of more than 53,000 infantry, 60,000 cavalry, approximately 2,000 machine guns, more than 450 field guns, 18 armored trains, 31 armored vehicles, eight tanks and 96 aircraft). The Caucasian Front (commanded by M. N. Tukhachevskii; member of the Revolutionary Military Council G. K. Ordzhonikidze) consisted of the Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh combined arms armies, the First Horse Cavalry Army, and the Composite Horse Cavalry Corps (a total of 48,500 infantry, 20,600 cavalry, 2,400 machine guns, 512 field guns, ten armored trains, and ten aircraft). The front was assigned the mission of surrounding and destroying Denikin’s main forces in the Bataisk-Kushchevskaia-Veselyi region. Partisans from the Kuban’ and Black Sea coast participated in the operation.

According to the plan of the operation, the main strike was to be delivered by a grouping consisting of ten rifle and eight cavalry divisions moving from the Velikokniazheskaia (now Prole-tarskaia) region along the Tikhoretskaia-Timoshevskaia axis between the Don and Kuban’ armies. Subsequently, the plan was to develop the offensive, with the right flank of the front’s forces moving against Novorossiisk while the center and left flanks attacked on the Maikop-Vladikavkaz-Groznyi axis. Despite the White Guard’s great superiority in numbers, the command of the Caucasian Front was able to achieve a significant preponderance of forces on the axis of the main strike by regrouping.

In the first phase of the operation, from February 14 to March 2, which included the Egorlyk Operation of 1920, the enemy defense was broken through on the Manych River, and Denikin’s main cavalry units were wiped out in the Egorlyk-skaia region. On the left flank of the front the Eleventh Army reached the Divnoe-Kizliar line. Partisans rose up in the enemy rear, took the city of Tuapse on February 24, and on March 11 joined together into a partisan army, which had about 12,000 men.

The second phase, from March 10 to April 7, involved two simultaneous operations—the Kuban’-Novorossiisk Operation, conducted by forces of the right flank of the front (Eighth and Ninth armies), and the Maikop-Groznyi Operation, which was conducted by forces of the center and left flank of the front (First Horse Cavalry and Tenth and Eleventh armies). Partisans took part in the operations.

Soviet forces wiped out or captured almost all the forces of the Don and Kuban’ armies in the Northern Caucasus Operation of 1920. Only the Volunteer Corps, numbering as many as 40,000 men, was able to cross from Novorossiisk to the Crimea on March 26–27. Soviet power was finally restored over the larger part of the Northern Caucasus.

The operation is an example of skillfully waged combat during the spring thaw, crossing many rivers and steppe and mountain regions and combining the actions of regular forces with strikes by partisans against the enemy rear. The arrival of the front’s forces on the Black Sea coast, the broadening of the coastal zone of the Sea of Azov and Caspian Sea, and the capture of major ports helped revitalize the Soviet Black Sea Fleet and expand the base of operations for the Caspian and Azov naval flotillas. The Entente was forced to withdraw its blockade of the Soviet republic.

REFERENCES

Direktivy komandovaniia frontov Krasnoi Armii (1917–1922 gg.): Sb. dokumentov, vol. 2. Moscow, 1972. Pages 479–506.
Istoriia Grazhdanskoi voiny v SSSR, vol. 4. Moscow, 1959. Pages 294–300.
Agureev, K. V. Razgrom belogvardeiskikh voisk Denikina. Moscow, 1961.

V. G. KLEVTSOV

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