The Moscow Directive

Denikin arrived in Tsaritsyn on 2 July. The next day he unfolded his 'Moscow Directive': Mai-Maevsky would advance to Kursk-Orel-Tula-Moscow, the Don Cossacks to Voronezh-Ryazan-Moscow, Wrangcl to Saratov-Nizhny Novgorod-Vladimir-Moscow. Later in the campaign the western advance would he amended to include Kiev and Chernigov in the north as well as the capture of Kherson, Nlkolaev and Odessa in the south. In the heady atmosphere of those days the Whites accepted the news with enthusiasm. Propaganda trains, posters, armoured trains and flags began to carry the slogan 'To Moscow!'

Wrangel and the Allied military missions were cautiously optimistic, but overall considered the Directive ill-advised. Wrangel himself had espoused two plans in the recent months. The first had been a link-up with Kolchak's forces on the Volga, in effect transferring to that theatre. Denikin sensibly rejected this because the plan would have meant detaching the Volunteers from the Cossacks and exposing their homelands to invasion. Volunteer and Cossack depended on each other for survival.

The second plan involved halting and regrouping, specifically fortifying the flanks at Tsaritsyn and along the Dnieper lilver, while placing a mobile force in the centre. Behind this protective screen the Whites could conscript and train new armies and could reorganize their rear areas. Their civil administration was in bad shape, often leaderless and full of corruption. The gendarmerie lacked weapons, authority and numbers, making the policing of interior regions almost impossible. The agrarian question had not been solved nor a better way of life created for the populations under White control, these were solid, almost compelling reasons in tune with conventional principles of war.

Denikin argued, however, that the principles of war in a civil war had been redefined. Momentum, elan, often meant more than numbers. T he Whites had proven this often enough in the past. Each month of delay meant more Red reserves in the field, a fact confirmed by White intelligence. In Denikin's view, the acquisition of territory could bring in more recruits even as it magnified the chance that the Reds could collapse internally or face serious insurrections. In any case, with the Red Army in disarray and retreat and an enormous power vacuum extending before him, the lure northward proved irresistible. This lure would bring over half a million square kilometres and 42 million inhabitants under the control of the AFSR.

Despite the Directive, the Whites needed to regroup in July and August. Nevertheless, limited progress continued. In early July, elements of the Caucasian Army shook hands with patrols of the Ural Cossacks under Kolchak just cast of the Volga. Wrangcl reached Kamyshin on 28 July, moving to within 100 kilometres of Saratov. General Baron Stackleberg's Composite Guard Corps marched into Poltava in the central Ukraine the next day.

The advance into the Ukraine continued in August, with Kherson and Nlkolaev falling on the 18th. The Whites' Black Sea Fleet, organized earlier in the year in cooperation with the Allies, sailed to Odessa, landing troops inside the city on the 23rd. Providing covering fire was the pride of the AFSR'S navy, the dreadnought Geiwml Alexiev. Kiev fell on the 30th.

The Reds had also needed to regroup in July, By August they increased their Southern Front to 180,000 and counter-attacked the AFSR in the centre and east. The centre thmst began on 14 Augusl. Directed on Kharkov between the junction of the Volunteer and Don Armies, the Reds penetrated 150 kilometres, reaching Kupiansk ten days later. However, Mai-Maevsky had begun his own limited offensive almost simultaneously with that of the Reds. The Volunteers and Cossacks pinched the salient, and forced the Red Army back to its starting positions by early September.

The Red thrust in the east, commencing on 15 August, proved the more serious.

Kornilov Shock Division

The Kornilov Shock Division, arguably the finest combat unit of the civil war period. Major General Skobiin (centre) and Lieutenant-Colonel Levitov (to his left). Tall, blonde, handsome, the gallant Levitov displays eight wound stripes on his left sleeve. Skobiin himself sported four. (Hutchinson & Co.. 1938)

The 9th and 10th Armies forced Wrangel out of Kamyshin and drove him down the Volga back to Tsaritsyn. From 5 to 8 September both sides grappled over the fate of the city. Fortunately, Wrangel had improved the earlier lied trenches and had a detachment of tanks. Overhead, a flight of British No. 47 Squadron flying Sopwith Camels repeatedly strafed the Red cavalry. Although bled white, the Caucasian Army held, inflicting 18,000 casualties on the Reds.

Meanwhile, the Don Cossacks raised the stakes. On 10 August, General Mamontov with 8,000 troopers of the newly-formed 4th Don Cavalry Corps embarked on a raid in force that cut a circular swathe, 200 kilometres deep, behind the 8th and 13th Armies. Passing through Voronezh and Tambov, the Cossacks dispersed thousands of Red troops, shut down recruiting centres, cut communications, and destroyed or looted storehouses. While at Tambov on 18 August, the corps had nearly captured Trotsky. Mamontov then turned south, re-entering the Don voisko in mid-September, Only 20 Cossacks had been lost en route; however, 6,000 returned to their homes to distribute the plunder.

The AFSR then renewed its offensive in September. In the centre, the elite 1st Corps, seemingly unstoppable/ entered Kursk on

The Kornilov Shock Division, arguably the finest combat unit of the civil war period. Major General Skobiin (centre) and Lieutenant-Colonel Levitov (to his left). Tall, blonde, handsome, the gallant Levitov displays eight wound stripes on his left sleeve. Skobiin himself sported four. (Hutchinson & Co.. 1938)

the 20th and Orel on 13 October. The Kornilov Shock Division took 8,000 prisoners at Orel alone.

The Kornilov Horse (an attached reconnaissance unit) proceeded north to the town of Mstensk. Only the city of Tula, with its enormous armaments factories, barred the road to Moscow, 320 kilometres away.

To their right, Shkuro seized Voronezh on 30 September, the Don Army marching into the city on 6 October, On the left flank, Genera! Yusefovich's 5th Cavalry Corps, which included the old Imperial Guard cavalry regiments, entered Chernigov on the 12th. On the right flank, the Caucasian Army still held Tsaritsyn, and General F.rdeli's North Caucasian Detachment ol 5,000 blockaded Astrakhan.

Numerically at least, Denikin had seemed justified in his position about the rules of civil war: during these advances the Volunteer Army grew from 26,000 in July to 40,000 in August while the Don Army went from 28,000 in July to 45,000 in August. Overall, the AFSR had increased from

Regiment Drosdowsky

General du Régiment Drosdowsky - 19Í9 Capitaine du Régiment Markoff onx'SiTF General Kutepov's elite I st Corps, subordinated to General Mai-Maevsky's Volunteer Army, spearheaded the advance on Moscow. A captain of the Markov Division attends'a general'of the Drozdovsky Division.The general is actually Kutepov himself who, based on contemporary photographs, vanously posed in all the uniforms of I st Corps infantry. (Allied art card. Bullock collection)

64,000 in May to 160,000 in October. Over 60,000 of these, however, were reserves, in training, or units needed to guard the lines of communications.

These lines of communications became especially vulnerable from late September. On the 26th, the Anarchist partisan leader Nestor Makhno smashed several White units that had been pursuing him at 1'eregonovka in the Ukraine. Over the next 11 days, Makhno's guerrillas moved 660 kilometres southeast across the Ukraine, ripping their way through the rear of the AFSR. Although no one knew precisely how many partisans there were, lied intelligence estimated their numbers at 25,000.

By mid-October, Makhno had seized Melitopol, Berdianskand Mariupol, and threatened Denikin's headquarters at Taganrog. At Berdiansk, the Anarchists destroyed a major artillery munitions depot. Ekaterinoslav changed hands three times over the next weeks and remained in Makhno's hands in November.

In order to slow the Anarchists, Denikin transferred a brigade of Don Cossacks and the Terek and Chechen Cavalry Divisions from Shkuro's Cavalry Corps near Voronezh to the Ukraine. These units halted Makhno's incursions and put him on the defensive. A second White force, a 'corps' of infantry under General Slaschev, had to be withdrawn from the Ai'SR's already overextended front in the west. These units would be sorely missed in the main battle lines in October. In Denikin's own words; 'This revolt had the effect of disorganizing our rear and weakening the front at the most critical period of its existence.'

The lied Army, now reorganized, re-equipped and reinforced, struck back. From 13 to 16 October, Kornilov scouts at Orel had received reports of 'very strong, dark-haired riders' in 'black leather jackets and trousers', of well-fed soldiers 'clean and in leather jackets' speaking foreign tongues and according to the locals 'not like any Bolsheviks we know'. The languages, in fact, were Latvian and Chinese. 'Their comrades were in mixed naval uniform and spoke Russian. The first of the communist internationalist shock groups had arrived.

Over the next month the AFSR battled to keep its positions all along the line in some of the most savage fighting of the civil war. Both sides understood the stakes that autumn. The immediate threats were to the left and right of the 1st Corps which had advanced furthest towards Moscow, creating a bulge in the north centre of the line.

In the west, the 14th Army surged forward against the Drozdovsky and the White 5th Cavalry Corps to their left. Two Red shock groups penetrated between the Drozdovsky and Kornilov Divisions, hitting

Lieutenant-General A. G. Shkuro organized and led the 'White Wolves' partisan cavalry in early 1918. In autumn 1918 he commanded the Kuban Cossack Division and from May 1919a Cossack Cavalry Corps. (Ocherki Russkoi Smuty, 1921-1925)

Lieutenant-General A. G. Shkuro organized and led the 'White Wolves' partisan cavalry in early 1918. In autumn 1918 he commanded the Kuban Cossack Division and from May 1919a Cossack Cavalry Corps. (Ocherki Russkoi Smuty, 1921-1925)

Kuban Cossacks

'Cavalry Attack' by N. S. Samokish, 1922. Red cavalry da5b with the Don Cossacks at Voronezh. October 1919. (Soviet art card, t 1930)

the latter in the left flank and rear. In the centre, the 13th Army struck the Kornilov and Markov Divisions. In the east, 5. M. liudenny's Horse Corps (soon renamed the 1 st Horse Army or more popularly as the Konarmiya) aimed southwest at Voronezh, the railway junction at Kastornoe, and ultimately Kursk. Infantry regiments from the 8th Army supported liudenny's cavalry attack. The depleted cavalry corps of Shkuro and Mamontov braced to counter this threat. At stake was the encirclement of the 1st Corps and the gradual rolling up of the White lines to the east and west.

'["his issue was decided in the massed hattles between White and Red cavalry in October-November on the eastern side of the salient. For the first and most decisive time, White cavalry left the field defeated. Voronezh fell to the Reds on the 24th, followed by Kastornoe the next day, during a blizzard that heralded the onset of winter. Caught between the anvil of Red infantry on the left and the hammer of Red cavalry on the right and almost completely surrounded, the 1st Corps fell back in order, fighting every step of the way to Kursk. The AFSR's gains of 1919 now fell like dominoes.

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