Second Kuban Campaign

The Second Kuban Campaign commenced on 23 June. The Reds were known to have 100,000 men In their North Caucasian Army stretched out along the towns and railways from south of Rostov to Stavropol and including their best units, Zhloba's Steel Division and the Taman Army Group, Denikin planned to advance southwest towards Ekaterinodar, knocking out Red garrisons ensconced on the railway, then continue to Novorossisk, liberating the ports along the eastern shore of the Black Sea. The Volunteers would then turn inland to attack Armavir and Stavropol in the northern Caucasus.

The first half of the plan went smoothly, concentric attacks by infantry and cavalry surrounding each rail station, with Shabllevka, Torgovaya and Belaya Glina falling in turn. However, a shell fired from an armoured train killed General Markov, the gallant commander of the 1st Officers' Regiment, on 25 June, At Belaya Glina, the Whites began lining up lied prisoners, shooting the leaders and enlisting all others who agreed to volunteer. Hatred had

Markov Brigade
General Sergei Markov captures a Red troop train during the Second Kuban Campaign in 1918. Markov earned the sobriquet 'General Forward" among his troops due to his daring and was always among the first to crack a joke in the field. (Chasevoi émigré journal, 1930)

intensified as more White prisoners were found horribly mutilated.

Next, 30,000 Red Guards were routed at Tikhoretskaya on 15 July, the Volunteers taking three armoured trains and 50 pieces of artillery; more importantly, the capture of this strategic rail hub severed Bolshevik communications with the north. Then, after a ten-day battle with the l'aman Army

Group at Kushchevka, the Volunteers entered F.katerinodar on 15 August.

The port of Novorossisk followed 11 days later, allowing volunteers from the Crimea to cross by ship to the liberated Kuban, volunteers such as the famed cavalry officer, General Baron Petr Nikolayevich Wrangel. Shortly after, Wrangel would command the 1st Cavalry Division. Another officer, General A. G, Shkuro, commander of the 'White Wolves' Kuban cavalry, had arrived at the end of July. By September, the army totalled 60,000.

Unfortunately, the architect of the Volunteer Army, General Alexiev, after

Kuban Officer Photo

General Kutepov wearing the uniform of the elite 1st Officers' Regiment. Many of the men wore the red, blue and white Volunteer Army chevron, point extended downward, on the left sleeve from 1918 to early 1920. A former Guards officer, Kutepov remained from the first day of civil war to the last a highly competent, steady, and thoroughly reliable commander always able to extract the maximum military advantage from any situation. (Dr Laurent Liguine collection)

General Kutepov wearing the uniform of the elite 1st Officers' Regiment. Many of the men wore the red, blue and white Volunteer Army chevron, point extended downward, on the left sleeve from 1918 to early 1920. A former Guards officer, Kutepov remained from the first day of civil war to the last a highly competent, steady, and thoroughly reliable commander always able to extract the maximum military advantage from any situation. (Dr Laurent Liguine collection)

suffering from cancer and pneumonia, died on 8 October. His last words exhorted the army to save Russia. Thereafter, Denikin additionally assumed Aiexiev's duties as head of government, diplomacy and finance, relegating these tasks on a day-to-day basis to an advisory body known as the Special Council.

The last half of the Second Kuban Campaign consisted of intense battles at Armavir and Stavropol, where the best and most determined of the Reds had relocated. The engagement at Armavir lasted ten days in the middle of October while the action at Stavropol lasted the first half of November. General Drozdovsky was mortally wounded at Stavropol at the height of the action while leading his

Kuban Cossacks

Lieutenant-General V. L. Pokrovsky former pilot in World War One and holder of the St George Cross, was a daring, resourceful commander of the Kuban Cossacks- He was instrumental in the capture of Tsaritsyn and Kamyshin in summer 1919. However; he was occasionally known as 'Hangman Pokrovsky' for his strict discipline and tendency to hang Red prisoners. (Deryabin collection)

Lieutenant-General V. L. Pokrovsky former pilot in World War One and holder of the St George Cross, was a daring, resourceful commander of the Kuban Cossacks- He was instrumental in the capture of Tsaritsyn and Kamyshin in summer 1919. However; he was occasionally known as 'Hangman Pokrovsky' for his strict discipline and tendency to hang Red prisoners. (Deryabin collection)

2nd Officers' Regiment, while Wrangel's cavalry forced the town, sabres drawn, in a final coup dc main on 15 November.

During the course of the year the Whites had lost 30,000 men in battle.

Wrangel's 1st Cavalry Division had lost 260 officers and 2,460 men, or 100 per cent of its original effective strength. Prince Peter Volkonsky, writing from the standpoint of 1919, perhaps stated it best. At the battle of Armavir alone, the 1st Officers' General Markov Regiment (renamed after its hero) suffered 50 per cent casualties and the Composite Guards Regiment 80 per cent. The greatest casualties of all had occurred in the Kornilov Shock Regiment, which could only muster 500 men in late autumn,

Don Cossacks
The Don Cossacks struggled against the Red Amiy throughout 1918, from May under the leadership of General Krasnov. (Skobelev Committee art card, 1916, Bullock collection)

even though fully 5,000 had passed through its ranks in 1918.

Nevertheless, the Volunteers had survived, as had their Cossack hosts. The Armistice ending World War One seemed to hold much promise. Diplomatic contacts with the French and British seemed to indicate that troops and material assistance could be forthcoming. To Denikin, who had remained faithful to the Allies, this was a natural conclusion. As they looked forward to the Christmas of 1918, the Whites began speaking of Christmas 1919 in Moscow.

Was this article helpful?

+1 -1

Post a comment