Spring Offensive of the Russian Army (1919)

Spring Offensive of the Russian Army
Part of the Russian Civil War
CampañaDePrimaveraDeKolchak1919.svg
Map of the Spring Offensive of the Russian Army
Date March 4 – April 1919
Location
Result White victory
Belligerents
Flag of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (1918–1937).svg Red Army Flag of Russia.svg White Army
Commanders and leaders
Flag of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (1918–1937).svg Gaya Gai (1st Army)
Flag of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (1918–1937).svg Vasilii Shorin (2nd Army)
Flag of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (1918–1937).svg M.Lashevich (3d Army)
Flag of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (1918–1937).svg Mikhail Frunze (4th Army)
Flag of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (1918–1937).svg Jan Blumberg (5th Army)
Flag of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (1918–1937).svg Georgy Zinoviev
Flag of Russia.svg Alexander Kolchak
Flag of Russia.svg Radola Gajda[citation needed]
Flag of Russia.svg Mikhail Hanzhin
Flag of Russia.svg Alexander Dutov
Strength
111,000 men
379 guns
113,000 men
more than 200 guns

The Spring Offensive of the Russian Army was an offensive of the Russian Army of the White movement led by Alexander Kolchak on the Eastern Front of the Russian Civil War, between March and April 1919.

Background

At the end of the year 1918, the situation on the Eastern Front of the Russian Civil War was unclear. Both sides fought for the Kama river. The Supreme Command of the Red Army prepared for major offensives on the Southern and Western fronts, hence there were no supplies for the Eastern front. At the end of December the Whites conquered Perm on the northern flank, but the Reds captured Ufa on the southern flank. On 22 January 1919 the Red 1st Army connected with the Army of the Turkestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, which had advanced from Middle Asia. On 24 January the Red 4th Army captured Uralsk.

At the beginning of 1919, the Supreme Command of the White Army decided to advance in two directions. The purpose of the northern advance was to connect with the North Russia Front and to strike on Petrograd; the purpose of the southern advance was to crush the Red front on the middle Volga river and to advance to Moscow.

The Whites had three armies :[1]

  • Orenburg Independent Army (cossacks) (11,000 - 13,000 men, commander - Alexander Dutov) on the southern flank, from May renamed the Southern Army of 25,000 men under General Petr Belov.
  • Western Army (42,000 - 48,000 men, 120 guns, commander - Mikhail Hanzhin) in the middle between Birsk and Ufa,
  • Siberian Army (45,000 - 52,000 men, 83 guns, commander - Radola Gajda) on the northern flank between Glazov and Perm.
  • Another 25,000 Orenburg and Ural Cossack fighters south of the Dutov-Belov Army.

The Reds had 3 armies in the south :[1]

and 3 armies to the north of them :

  • 5th Army ( (10,000 men, 42 guns and 142 machineguns, commander Jan Blumberg), defending a 200 km front in the center,
  • 2nd army (22,000 men, 70 guns and 475 machineguns, commander - Vasilii Shorin), near Sarapul,
  • 3rd Army (27,000 men, 69 guns and 491 machineguns, commander - M.Lashevich, since 5 March - Sergei Mezheninov), near Perm railway.

Therefore, on the northern flank both sides were equal, the Whites prevailed in the center (49,000 men of Hanzhin against 10,000 men of the Red's 5th Army) but the Reds had an advantage on the southern flank (52,000 men of the Reds against 19,000 men of the Whites). Both sides decided to strike on the right flank (the Whites on the right flank and in the center) and to cut the communication lines of the opponent's left flank. At the end of February, the Whites pushed back the left flank of the Red's 2nd Army, forcing it to retreat.

Offensive

On 4 March, the Siberian Army of the Whites began its advance. On 8 March it captured Okhansk and Osa and continued its advance to the Kama river. On 10 April they captured Sarapul and closed in on Glazov[1]. On 15 April soldiers of Siberian Army's right flank made contact with detachments of the Northern Front in a sparsely populated area near the Pechora River.

On 6 March Hanzhin's Western Army stroke between the Red 5th and 2nd Armies. After four days of fighting the Red 5th Army was crushed, its remains retreated onto Simbirsk and Samara. The Reds had no forces to cover Chistopol with its bread storages. It was a strategical breakthrough, the commanders of Red's 5th Army fled from Ufa and the White Western Army captured Ufa without a fight on 16 March. On 6 April they took Sterlitamak, Belebey the next day and Bugulma on 10 April.[1]

In the South, Dutov's Orenburg Cossacks conquered Orsk on 9 April and advanced towards Orenburg.[1].

After receiving information about the defeat of the 5th Army, Mikhail Frunze, who had become commander of the Red Southern Army Group, decided not to advance, but to defend his positions and wait for reinforcements. As a result the Red Army was able to stop the White advance on the southern flank and to prepare its counteroffensive.

Aftermath

The White Army had made a strategical breakthrough in the center, but the Red Army had been able to prepare its counteroffensive on the southern flank.
On April 22, Mikhail Frunze launched his successful Counteroffensive of the Eastern Front against the over-extended Western Army. [1]


Sources

  • Н.Е.Какурин, И.И.Вацетис "Гражданская война. 1918-1921" (N.E.Kakurin, I.I.Vacietis "Civil War. 1918-1921") - Sankt-Peterburg, "Polygon" Publishing House, 2002. ISBN 5-89173-150-9

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f Smele, Jonathan (2017). The "Russian" Civil Wars, 1916–1926. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 110-114.