The wonderful song “Through the valleys and over the hills” is known to everyone who is interested in one of the most tragic and heroic pages in the history of our Fatherland – the Civil War that raged at the beginning of the twentieth century. It is in this song that the soldiers who fought for the world’s first state of workers and peasants are affirmed
“They finished their campaign in the Pacific Ocean.”
Nice, but not true.
The last battles of that war died down in a completely different place.
The defeat of the remnants of the White Insurgent Army and the withdrawal of foreign troops from Primorye at the end of the autumn of 1922 really became a victory, marking the elimination of the last major hotbed of resistance to the new government in Russia. However, it would be premature to talk about its complete cessation at that moment.
The final battle of the Civil War should rightfully be considered the Yakut campaign of General Pepelyaev and his Siberian volunteer squad, which lasted virtually until mid-1923.
In this episode of the fratricidal battle, on the fields of which the best sons of Russia converged chest to chest, perhaps, all its essence, all its tragedy and paradoxicality are reflected.
The main opponents, whose confrontation decided the outcome of the struggle, were ensign of the Russian Imperial Army Ivan Strod and its captain Anatoly Pepelyaev (Kolchak made him to lieutenant general). At the same time, Strode, who fought for the Reds, was a complete St.George knight for the battles on German.
Both fought to the last, did not bow to the bullets and did not spare themselves.
Both survived that war. Strode as the winner and hero, one of the first to add three Orders of the Red Banner to the “Georgies”. Pepeliaev – in the status of a defeated and pardoned enemy.
Both were shot in 1937. And on exactly the same charges.
When the head of the Provisional Regional People’s Administration of Yakutia, Socialist-Revolutionary Pyotr Kulikovsky, arrived at Anatoly Pepelyaev, after the execution of Kolchak, who had settled in Chinese Harbin, and offered him the command of the “armed forces” of this “state formation” that arose as a result of the anti-Bolshevik uprising, the general was quite surprised.
“Are you going to take Moscow ?!”
– if the answer to this question was yes, Kulikovsky would probably go home. However, he was neither a fool nor a fluffy man and frankly admitted:
the goal is much more modest – to take Irkutsk and proclaim there a Provisional Siberian Government. And then – how it goes …
Pepeliaev called his interlocutor an adventurer, but accepted the offer. Having enlisted the support of the Primorsky government, which was living out its last days, which resulted in seven hundred volunteers, a certain amount of weapons, ammunition and equipment, the general with his Siberian squad on two ships departed for Yakutia.
The information that awaited him upon reaching his destination was not only overwhelming, but devastating. It turned out that by that time the Reds already controlled almost the entire territory of Yakutia. And from the rebel detachments, which really represented a considerable force, two hundred people remained. The rest were killed in battles with Special Purpose Units.
Anyone in Pepelyaev’s place, perhaps, would have thrown up his hands:
“It’s not meant to be!”,
and would have turned the ships back to Vladivostok.
With a “landing” of half a thousand people and local forces of two hundred “bayonets”, without artillery, the whole undertaking turned from a daring adventure into sheer suicide. Pepeliaev, however, was a Russian officer. And he did not know how to retreat. With what was, he moved to Yakutsk, occupied by the Reds.
To begin with, it was necessary to take Nelkan, where a large CHON supply base was located. The village was taken, even the arsenal was captured – only the retreating Reds did not leave a crumb of food behind them.
As a result, Pepeliaev and his men had to starve before the arrival of reinforcements. At the end of November 1922, another 200 people arrived in the village – with long-awaited food and a deadly news:
“Vladivostok has fallen!”
There was nowhere else to retreat, even if desired. The general, however, did not even think of such a thing.
Gathering up his strength, he moved to Amga – a settlement that was key for the capture of Yakutsk.
Here Pepeliaev was also lucky – despite the frost of 50 degrees, his troops captured the village. They got rich trophies in the form of fifteen machine guns, other weapons, ammunition and grenades.
From Yakutsk, the last detachment of the White movement was now separated by one and a half hundred miles and … stubborn Reds.
A detachment of three hundred Red Army men under the command of Ivan Strod, which made its way (to the tiny Yakut village of Sasyl-Syysy, located to the north of the Amgu), did not allow Pepelyaev to launch an offensive on Yakutsk.
Where to attack with such a hotbed of resistance in the rear?
Reds are herded into yurts for wintering cattle. All their “fortifications” are a “rampart” of dung frozen into a stone, towering around. And yet…
They met the first assaults with Maximov’s dagger fire and rifle volleys. Pepeliaev is forced to throw against the besieged almost all of his available forces, exceeding them many times over.
After several days of fierce fighting, firmly knowing that the Red Army men have no food, problems with water and already many wounded, the general personally negotiates and guarantees the life of everyone who lay down their arms.
In response, a red banner flies up over the yurts and the “Internationale”, which is being taken out by hundreds of hoarse gulps of soldiers, takes off.
Such is the war, where there are Russians on both sides …
as it was named afterwards, it lasted 18 days.
The Red Army men ate the fallen cattle, chewed snow, and died in dozens of bullets. But they didn’t give up.
A detachment of 600 men who had left Yakutsk to help them, having two guns, decided the outcome of the battle.
On March 2, he took Amga. The next day Icy Siege was filmed.
This, in fact, was the end of Pepeliaev’s campaign.
The remnants of his troops surrendered on June 18, 1923, when the Red forces blocked their last refuge – the city of Ayan. The order to surrender was given personally by the general, who did not want to shed more Russian blood in a completely senseless struggle.
Thus ended the last campaign of the Civil War, in which heroes and martyrs fought on both sides. And each of them is for Russia.
The greatest tragedy of our Motherland was that each side saw Russia differently then …