Taman Army March of 1918
Taman’ Army March of 1918
a heroic advance by Soviet troops in August and September 1918 from the Taman’ Peninsula through Tuapse to Dondukovskaia, where a linkup was effected with the main forces of the Red Army of the Northern Caucasus. The Taman’ Army, which was formed in Gelendzhik on Aug. 27, consisted of three columns that had been cut off on the Taman’ Peninsula—where they had been fighting against the White Guards and German interventionists—after Soviet troops abandoned Ekaterinodar (now Krasnodar) on Aug. 16. The elected commander of the army was I. I. Matveev. His deputy, and commander of the first column, was E. I. Kovtiukh, and the chief of staff was G. N. Baturin. N. K. Kicha was commissar. The army was joined by workers from Novorossiisk and sailors from the Black Sea Fleet, whose ships had been scuttled in June. All in all, the army comprised 30,000 men. In addition, some 25,000 refugees accompanied the Taman’ Army, greatly hindering its movements.
From a military point of view, the march proceeded under extremely difficult conditions. The first column, constituting the vanguard, cleared the way of opposing Menshevik forces from Georgia, while the second column repulsed White Cossack attacks from nearby mountain passes, and the third column fought rearguard actions against Denikin’s forces. The severe shortage of ammunition, food, and medical supplies posed a constant problem. Nevertheless, the first column took Arkhipo-Osipovka on August 28 and Tuapse on September 1, after routing a Georgian infantry division and capturing 16 cannons and ten machine guns, together with substantial amounts of ammunition. On September 2 the column moved out of Tuapse and headed through the spurs of the Greater Caucasus toward Khadyzhenskaia. On September 12, after driving back attacks by the White Guard units of General V. L. Pokrovskii in the vicinity of Khadyzhenskaia and Pshekhskaia, elements of the first column liberated Be-lorechenskaia. On September 14, with the second and third columns brought up, the Taman’ Army succeeded in breaking through the Whites’ defenses north of Belorechenskaia and on September 18 linked up at Dondukovskaia with the main forces of the Red Army of the Northern Caucasus, with which it then joined in a campaign against Denikin’s army. On September 26 the first column liberated Armavir. Thereafter the columns of the Taman’ Army were reorganized into two infantry divisions, three cavalry regiments, and one artillery brigade.
In October and November the Taman’ Army engaged in heavy fighting in the vicinity of Stavropol’. On December 3 it was awarded the Honorary Red Banner of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee of the RSFSR. Its remnants were reorganized in December as the 3rd Taman’ Rifle Division. In January and February 1919, however, the division, under pressure from the enemy’s superior forces, was compelled to retreat to the Astrakhan area. It was then disbanded as a unit. The heroic march of the Taman’ Army is described in A. S. Serafimovich’s novel The Iron Stream (1924).
REFERENCESBaturin, G. N. Krasnaia Tamanskaia armiia. Krasnodar, 1940.
Sukhorukov, V. T. XI armiia v boiakh na Severnom Kavkaze i Nizhnei Volge (1918–1920). Moscow, 1961.
Gorlov, V. P. Geroicheskii pokhod, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1967.