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The Kuban Offensive, also called the Second Kuban Campaign, was fought between the White and Red Armies during the Russian Civil War. The White Army achieved an important victory despite being numerically inferior in manpower and artillery. It resulted in the capture of Ekaterinodar and Novorossiysk in August 1918 and the conquest of the Western part of Kuban by the White armies. Later in 1918 they took Maykop, Armavir and Stavropol, and extended their authority over the entire Kuban Region.
|Red Army||White Army|
|Commanders and leaders|
Mikhail Drozdovsky †|
Sergey Markov †
21 artillery (initially)
At the end of the First Kuban Campaign, the Volunteer Army had been formed.
In April 1918, the German and Ukrainian Army had driven the Bolsheviks from Ukraine, had taken Rostov-on-the-Don without a fight, and occupied the Crimean Peninsula.
The Bolsheviks had fled, mainly towards the Caucasus at Novorossiisk. From here, units of Sorokin's and Avtonomov's Red Army terrorized the Cossack villages and cities, first and foremost Ekaterinodar.
On June 22, 1918, the Volunteer Army launched the second Kuban campaign by attacking the Trogovaya railway junction in Salsk. The division of Mikhail Drozdovsky led the assault from the west, Alexander Borovski from the south and Ivan Erdélyi from the east. The Reds fled north, abandoning their artillery, rushing right into the arms of Sergey Markov's division, which defeated them completely. The victory was however overshadowed by the death of General Markov, killed by artillery fire on 25 June.
After this first victory Denikin led his troops north towards Veliokniajeskaya. During the fighting the White cavalry, led by Erdelyi, routed the Red cavalry of Dumenko. This unexpected movement made the Bolsheviks believe that Tsaritsyn would be attacked and that the numbers were much larger (Lenin wrote to Zinoviev that Alekseev had 60,000 men). Stalin requisitioned six Petrov regiments for the defense of the city, diverting them from their route to Baku and thus sealing the fate of the local commissionars.
Instead of marching on Tsaritsyn, Denikin headed south into Kuban, gaining another victory over the Reds near Belaya Glina.
On July 15, a Red Army of 30,000 men under command of Karl Kalnin was crushed near Tikhoretskaia. Only 7 units escaped and reached Ekaterinodar. The volunteers captured 3 armored trains, 50 artillery pieces, tanks, planes and a large quantity of weapons, equipment and ammunition.
The fighting of the first three weeks had costed the Volunteer Army a quarter of its men, but an influx of new volunteers, including captured enemy soldiers who joined the volunteer cause, led to an Army of 13,000 men.
Threatened with encirclement, Sorokin attacked the rear of the right flank of the White Army. At the same time the Red Taman Army went on the offensive from Ekaterinodar and attacked the Volunteer Army head on. Sorokin, who in the meantime was commander-in-chief of the Red forces of the North Caucasus, threatened Tikhoretskaya and Denikin was forced to concentrate his troops which were spread over a front line of 140 kilometers long.
On August 7, the decisive battle took place, not far from Vyselki. At first, the White Army seemed about to be annihilated, but were rescued by Kornilov's troops and a regiment of cavalry attacking from the north, while from the south came the Erdelyi cavalry with armored trains. Sorokin's army was trapped and routed. Around 4 pm the Red Western Army had ceased to exist, the survivors hastening to join Ekaterinodar.
After the victory of the Volunteers, all the Kuban rose up against the Bolsheviks. The stanitsa took up arms one after the other and a wave of alternately Red and White terror swept over the Kuban. General Viktor Pokrovsky, dispatched three months earlier by Denikin to organize the insurgents of the Laba region, captured Maykop and Armavir. The Terek Cossacks also revolted and took Mozdok, cutting Red communications between Stavropol and Vladikavkaz, and besieging Grozny.
The Reds did not manage anymore to organize the defense of Ekaterinodar, their troops fleeing before the advance of the Whites. On August 15, the Whites took Ekaterinodar without a fight, followed on August 26 by Novorossiysk.
The campaign then continued along the coast of the Black Sea towards Stavropol, which was taken on November 15,1918.
Mikhail Drozdovsky was wounded in October 1918 near Stavropol. He never recovered and died on January 1, 1919, in the vicinity of Rostov-on-Don.