The Southern Front

The Fight Against Wrangel

A Splendid Blow

Transcribed and HTML markup for the Trotsky Internet Archive by David Walters

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Wrangel’s expeditionary force which landed on the coast of the Kuban has been dealt a crushing blow. Practically speaking, it no longer exists. The wretched remnants of it are hiding in the reeds. This is a very great success, on which not only the Caucasian front can congratulate itself, but also the 13th Army and the 2nd Mounted Army of the Southern front, and, with them, all Soviet Russia.

Wrangel’s expeditionary force landed at Akhtari and pushed quickly inland, seizing Timoshevskaya railway junction and from there threatening Yekaterinodar. At the same time, the landing-force did not lose contact with the sea. Its base remained at Akhtari, on the coast, where much war material was unloaded from ships. This was intended for the Kuban Cossacks, whom Wrangel was aiming to raise in revolt against the Soviet power.

But that did not happen. The troops of the 9th Army of the Caucasian front, after some initial setbacks, struck some stout blows at the landing-force, and then cut it off from its seaside base, capturing about 50 truckloads of war material. The White detachment moved southward and concentrated its headquarters in Novonizhnestebliyevskaya stanitsa, on the river Protoka, which links the Kuban with the Sea of Azov. While units of the 9th Army were surrounding Wrangel’s landing-force ever more closely, the idea was conceived in Yekaterinodar of sending a Red expeditionary force by water into the enemy’s rear, along the river Kuban and then along the Protoka to Novonizhestebliyevskaya, so as to take the enemy by surprise. The enemy did not expect a blow from that side, and the chief condition for success consisted in maintaining absolute secrecy about the whole enterprise. This was achieved, to perfection. Command of the detachment was entrusted to Comrade Kovtyukh, the commandant of Yekaterinodar, with Comrade Furmanov as Commissar. The detachment was small but select. As has been mentioned, the enterprise met with complete success. Today I received the following despatch:

‘This is to report that on August 28 the expeditionary force entrusted to my command disembarked under cover of darkness at a point two versts from Novonizhestebliyevskaya stanitsa, which it attacked at dawn. After stubborn street fighting, the stanitsa was taken, Ulagai’s principal headquarters being destroyed. Several headquarters staffs were taken prisoner, a large number of officers: three generals were killed: over 1,000 men were taken prisoner, together with many weapons and much war material: an armoured lorry was destroyed: technical materiel and much other booty was captured, the quantity of which is being checked. When the figures are available, I will send a supplementary report. Our losses in killed and wounded do not exceed 20 men, whereas several hundred of the enemy were cut down.
Commandant of Yekaterinodar fortified area and commander of the expeditionary force Kovtyukh: military commissar Furmanov.’

At the same time as this I received the following despatch from 9th Army Headquarters:

‘As ordered by you, I report that Comrade Kovtyukh has today taken Novonizhnestebliyevskaya. According to a despatch from the commander of the 22nd Cavalry Brigade the enemy force has been smashed, and its miserable remnants are hiding in the river flats.
Ninth Army Chief of Staff Chernyshev, Military Commissar Ter.’

This is a most valuable victory. Wrangel’s expeditionary force has been done for. Wrangel’s hopes of raising revolt in the Kuban, and after that in all Northern Caucasia, have been buried. If Wrangel were to decide to make another attempt of the same sort, it would end even more lamentably, for, after what has happened, not a single Kuban Cossack, even the most Black-Hundred-minded, would have confidence in the success of the Crimean baron’s ‘expeditions’. The front against Wrangel has now been reduced to the limits of the Crimean sector. The successful development of operations by the 13th Army and the 2nd Mounted Army gives us every right to expect that we shall soon have finished with Wrangel – provided that the rear hastens to bring up help. March, reinforcement squad-rons and battalions! March, volunteers! March, Communists!

August 30, 1920
En Route, No.121

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Last updated on: 26.12.2006