Hungry hike. How the Orenburg army died

Alexander Ilyich Dutov (1879-1921), ataman of the Orenburg Cossacks, commander of the Orenburg army

Troubles. 1919 year. At the end of 1919, the White Orenburg army perished. In December, the Cossacks under the command of Generals Dutov and Bakich made a Hunger Campaign from the combat area near Akmolinsk to Sergiopol. This campaign began simultaneously with the Great Siberian Ice Campaign of Kolchak’s army.

Retreat of the Orenburg army

On October 29, 1919, the Red Army occupied Petropavlovsk and began an almost non-stop pursuit of the enemy along the Trans-Siberian Railway. On November 14, 1919, the Whites left Omsk. The Siberian government fled to Irkutsk. The Czechoslovak troops defending the Siberian Railway refused to fight the Reds, withdrew and moved to Vladivostok. Thus, they blocked the Trans-Siberian and practically destroyed the opportunity for the Whites to quickly retreat, break away from the enemy, regroup the remaining forces and gain a foothold on a new remote line in order to survive the winter and go on the offensive again in the spring. The defeated and demoralized Kolchakites retreated to the east. The Great Siberian Ice Campaign began.

On the left flank of the white Eastern Front, Dutov’s Orenburg army retreated to Ishim, by the evening of October 30, the headquarters of the 4th Orenburg Army Corps arrived in Atbasar. The army was in the most deplorable state. In fact, she was in the stage of formation, which she did not manage to complete. The units were retreating across the bare, deserted steppe, lacking supplies. There was no artillery, transport, ammunition, provisions and uniforms. There were no warm clothes, which, in the conditions of the onset of winter, quickly affected in the most negative way. The settlements were rare and small, that is, they could not become a full-fledged base for the troops. The Cossacks surrendered in whole regiments. They did not want to go far to the east, they strove to return to their native villages. Typhus was raging in the troops, knocking out half of the manpower. The most efficient core of the army was the 4th Orenburg Army Corps of General Bakich, which held back the enemy’s onslaught.

Dutov planned to take up defenses along the Ishim River in order to cover the concentration of the main army forces in the Atbasar – Kokchetav – Akmolinsk region. Hold Pavlodar and Semipalatinsk together with the 2nd Steppe Corps. This area was convenient for wintering, as there was food and fodder here. The commander proposed organizing a partisan war, smashing the enemy’s rear. In winter, complete the formation of the army, replenish with mobilizations, arm, supply and in the spring go on a counteroffensive. But all this was already dreams. The White Eastern Front finally collapsed. After the fall of Omsk, the White Cossacks first retreated to the east. The Kokchetav group of the 5th Soviet army did not allow the White Cossacks to stay in this area. The Reds bypassed Atbasar from the north and north-west and went into the rear of Dutov’s army. The Cossacks left Atbasar.

The small Orenburg army had to withdraw in conditions of constant battles with the Reds and the rebels. All Siberia at this time was on fire. The original direction to Pavlodar, in order to enter the Great Siberian Route, soon had to be abandoned. The city of Pavlodar, located 700 miles from the White Cossacks, was occupied by the Reds at the end of November. Gradually leaving south, the Orenburg army moved along the sparsely populated and deserted region to Akmolinsk and Karkaralinsk. During the retreat, the remnants of artillery were thrown. On November 26, the Reds occupied Atbasar, on November 28 – Akmolinsk.

Andrey Stepanovich Bakich (1878 – 1922), lieutenant general, commander of the 4th Orenburg army corps, Orenburg detachment

Hungry hike

Arriving in Karkaralinsk, Dutov learned that from Pavlodar, red units were going to cut him. At the same time, the news came that there was an uprising in Semipalatinsk – the soldiers of the 2nd Steppe Corps rebelled and killed their officers. They went over to the side of the Reds, who soon occupied Semipalatinsk. As a result, the remnants of the Orenburg army lost hope of joining up with Kolchak’s troops and could only retreat to Sergiopol, Semirechye, which was occupied by the troops of Ataman Annenkov. The trek to the east across the deserted steppe began in the first week of December 1919 and continued until the end of December.

The path from Karkaralinsk to Sergiopol (550 versts) ran through a desert, partly mountainous terrain, almost without settlements, without water sources. Rare groups of nomads, when the Cossacks approached, immediately left with their cattle to the south, to Lake Balkhash. The troops and refugees had practically no provisions, and there was no way to get it along the way. To survive, they cut and ate horses and camels. In fact, the army at that moment was no longer there, numerous carts, groups of horsemen and foot refugees were moving. A typhus epidemic was raging. The wounded died, people died from disease, from hunger and cold.

On December 12, the Reds occupied Karkaralinsk. Initially, the red cavalry pursued the retreating, then fell behind. However, I had to engage in battles with the red partisans. Partisans of the Red Prince Khovansky inflicted a particularly great loss, having repulsed many carts with refugees and property.

Winter came into its own with 20-degree frosts. In the conditions of a desert steppe area, blown by all the winds, for the hungry, exhausted people for many days, without normal warm clothes, it was death. As the participant of the campaign recalled:

“… snow and frosty blizzards, cold and hunger … The desert is deserted … People are dying, and horses are dying by the hundreds – they fall from lack of food … Whoever is still wandering on their feet somehow with a lost memory … Universal typhus of all kinds increases the severity of the campaign: healthy people carry sick people, until they themselves collapse, they all sleep in the desert, huddled together, healthy and sick … Those who lag behind perish. “

This terrible march was called “The Hungry March”, since on the one hand, it passed through the vast waterless expanses of the Hungry Steppe. On the other hand, due to the general tragic conditions: many Cossacks and members of their families died from wounds, hunger, cold, exhaustion and typhus. Data on the number and losses of Dutov’s army during the Hunger Campaign are very different. From 20 to 40 thousand people went on a hike. Half went to Sergiopol. However, many of the survivors were sick with typhus.

The end of the army

At the end of December 1919, the remnants of the Orenburg army reached Sergiopol, where they planned to rest. The northeastern part of Semirechye was occupied by the troops of Ataman Annenkov. Considering himself the master of Semirechye, Annenkov refused to recognize atman Dutov as the elder. He ordered not to give the Orenburg Cossacks no shelter, no food, no ammunition. The Orenburg units were completely demoralized, there were many patients with typhus, so they could not exert pressure.

To get out of the critical situation, Dutov conceded. For the supply and provision of housing to the Orenburg Cossacks, Annenkov was paid a significant ransom. Dutov was appointed ataman Annenkov as civil governor-general of the Semirechensk region, and left for Lepsinsk. The command of the Orenburg army, which was being reorganized into the Orenburg detachment, passed to General Bakich, with subordination to Ataman Annenkov. Bakich was an experienced, brave and disciplined commander. He fought with the Japanese and Germans, in 1919 he headed the 4th Orenburg Army Corps.

Annenko and Dutovites were never able to establish normal interaction. Their disagreements eventually escalated to mortal feuds. The fact was that Annenkov was a separatist ataman like Ataman Semyonov in Transbaikalia, he did not reckon with anyone and ruled Semirechye with the help of mass terror. He mercilessly destroyed not only the Bolsheviks and the Reds, but also crushed any resistance. The talented organizer of white partisans, Annenkov, back in December 1918, at the head of his Partisan division, was sent to Semirechye to fight the peasant rebels of the Lepsinsky and Kopalsky districts. However, the suppression of the uprising dragged on for almost a year. Annenkov, despite Kolchak’s instructions, did not want to leave the Semirechye and reinforce the White Eastern Front with his division at the turning point of the summer of 1919 and continued the war with the Semirechye peasants. In the most cruel way, the ataman drowned the uprisings of the Russian peasants in blood, and destroyed entire villages. Numerous wild atrocities committed by the Annenkovites led to the fact that Annenkov’s volunteers had a very bad reputation even among the White Guards themselves.

In December 1919, the Separate Semirechye Army was formed in Semirechye, numbering over 7 thousand bayonets and sabers. Thus, at the end of 1919 – beginning of 1920, Annenkov in Semirechye was in the position of a local tsar, who, if it was in his interests, was formally subordinate to the authority of the Siberian government, and if not, he acted at his own discretion. He did not tolerate obvious rivals and tried to eliminate them.

Annenkovites treated the refugees from the Dutov army accordingly, committed numerous robberies and violence against them. They considered themselves masters of Semirechye and did not want to tolerate aliens. The Dutovites were dangerous as an organized military force. The Annenkovites, who at that time lived quite calmly, accused the Dutovites that they brought typhus with a failure, brought the Reds on their tail, which led to the emergence of a new front. Also, the Dutovites were accused of complete decomposition, loss of discipline and combat capability. So Annenkov himself in his order in March 1920 wrote: “So, the two-year struggle in Semirechye gave sad results, thanks only to the arrival of such“ refugee-touring performers ”as Dutov, who came with ragged, hungry and stripped people, carrying with him a lot of women, but without shells and cartridges, bringing typhus and disorder with them. ”

Later, already at the trial, Annenkov noted that the Orenburg army “was completely incapable of combat. These were the decayed parts that were rapidly rolling towards the Chinese border. Together with them there was a decadent mood in all parts of 900 miles along the front. In addition, most people turned out to be sick with typhus. In fact, the entire army was a continuous typhoid infirmary. Not a single cavalry unit moved on horseback, everyone rode on a sled … “.

Annenkov refused to supply the Dutovites with ammunition, although they opposed the Reds together. Annenkovites also refused to give food and fodder to the Dutovites. On the other hand, the executioner morals of the Annenkovites evoked deep disgust among the Orenburg Cossacks, although they themselves were accustomed to war and blood. Later, already in China, General Bakich wrote that “the method of command and order in the partisan units of Ataman Annenkov, where the basic requirements of military service were not observed, law and order were denied, incredible atrocities and robberies were allowed, both in relation to the civilian population of villages and villages. , as well as in relation to the ranks of my detachment, due to illness, who could not stand up for themselves, caused anger against the partisans of General Annenkov on the part of the ranks of my detachment. ”

Parts of the Semirechensk army of Annenkov and Bakich’s detachment occupied the front between Lake Balkhash and the Tarbagatai mountains. In March 1920, the Red Army launched an offensive from Semipalatinsk along the entire Semirechensky front. Annenkov’s army was defeated. Annenkov himself with the remnants of the troops fled to China, to Xinjiang. Before that, Annenkov deceived and killed the soldiers who did not want to flee to China (mass execution near Lake Alakol). After this massacre, the entire once many thousands of Annenkov’s army was reduced to several hundred complete “thugs”. Also, the Annenkovites once again “distinguished themselves” by torture, violence and murder over the families of white officers and refugees who retreated with the Cossacks. In response, the Orenburg regiment named after General Dutov separated from Annenkov’s division and went to Bakich, who also retreated to China. In 1926, the Chinese extradited Annenkov to the Soviet authorities, he was tried and executed in 1927.

General Bakich also withdrew his troops to China. Up to 12 thousand people went to China with him. At the same time, Bakich asked the Chinese authorities to place the Annenkovites separately from his detachment at a distance of at least 150 miles. Otherwise, a clash between Annenko and Dutovites is possible. Dutov with a personal detachment and civilian refugees also fled to China. On February 7, 1921, Ataman Dutov was killed by agents of the Cheka during a special operation. Bakich, after the death of Dutov, led the Orenburg detachment, but its number sharply decreased already in 1920. Half of the refugees returned to their homeland, some left for the Far East, others scattered across China. In 1921, Bakich’s detachment was defeated in Mongolia and surrendered to the Mongol troops. In 1922, the general was handed over to the Soviet authorities, he was tried and shot.

Boris Vladimirovich Annenkov (1889-1927), commander of the Separate Army of Semirechensk

Recommended For You

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *