7. The Struggle of the Ukrainian Galician Army Against Poland

Meanwhile there was a sad turn of events in Galicia. The so-called Blue Army of General Haller, recruited in America and in France, arrived in Poland 75,000 strong, well armed and equipped. It gave the Poles an edge over the Ukrainian Galician Army which was forced to retreat eastward. The question arose: whither? The Army of the Ukrainian National Republic was already retreating under Bolshevik pressure westward and now there was only a small strip separating the two Ukrainian Armies. In this critical situation, the youthful Galician officers requested their High Command to order a counterattack. The Galician President E. Petrushevych appointed General O. Hrekiv as Commander in Chief and ordered a counter offensive. It is hardly believable because it was almost a miracle that the Ukrainian Galician Army, by superhuman effort, broke the Polish front. The supply of ammunition was so scant that after one day's fighting the soldiers were rationed only several rounds per day which could be fired only on clear orders of officers. The Ukrainian Galician Army began its offensive on June 8th, called the "Chortkiv Offensive" and within nine days it penetrated a distance about eighty miles from the Chortkiv-Terebovla-Ternopil to the Stanyslaviv-Burshtyn-Peremyshlany line. The Poles threw in fresh troops and halted the Ukrainian offensive. The Ukrainians' ammunition was exhausted, for although they had captured large supplies from the Poles, it did not fit their arms. There was a new retreat of the Ukrainian Galician Army which was trying to detach itself from the pursuing enemy in order to redeploy its forces. The Ukrainian Galician Army was quite depleted, by losses, sickness and lack of opportunity for fresh recruitment. The Chortkiv Offensive was, however, of great importance to the operations of the Army of the Ukrainian National Republic because it halted the Poles for a considerable time, the latter following the Ukrainian Galician Army at a slow pace and requiring more than three weeks to re-occupy the areas which they had lost, a time of great value to the Army of the Ukrainian National Republic. Now the Ukrainian Galician Army, ready for combat and confident in ultimate victory assembled in the rear of the UNR Army for a joint offensive against the Reds.
The Government of the Ukrainian National Republic was well aware of the difficult strategic position of Ukraine due to the necessity to fight on two fronts and a none-too-friendly neutrality of Rumania. Therefore the Government decided to seek an armistice with Poland, of which we were appraised by reports from Army Headquarters. As far as the political side of this matter is concerned, it must be stated that both the Government of the Western Ukrainian Republic as well as all soldiers were opposed to this, but the strategic position of both our Armies being hopeless, the only way out was to make peace with one enemy and untie our hands for a fight with" the other. Negotiations with Poland dragged out fairly long, the Ukrainian delegation doing its utmost to have the demands of the Ukrainian Galician Army and Government taken into consideration. Quite unexpectedly, however, the Allied Supreme Council issued a directive to the Polish Government to take all Galicia under temporary occupation, all the way to the river Zbruch. There was nothing else left to the Ukrainian delegation, but to accept this condition and to get the Poles to agree, to cease military operations so that the Ukrainian Galician Army could cross the Zbruch intact. We also needed territory on which the Ukrainian Galician Army could be deployed, and this had to be taken from the Bolsheviks. The situation was a little more favorable at that time because the Bolsheviks did not attempt to cross the Zbruch and their offensive in Volhynia was completely unsuccessful. The UNR Army began an offensive to gain territory for the Galician Army. In June the UNR Army reached the Kamyanets-Podilsky-Dunayivtsi-Proskuriv line, but with much effort and aided by the Ukrainian Galician Army.
Much later, when I studied the details of the Ukrainian liberation effort, I pondered over the circumstances of the so-called "November Feat" which constituted the beginning of statehood of the Ukrainian Galician territory and was carried out by a small group of Ukrainian Galician patriots. In Lviv itself the group of the "November Feat" did not number more than 1,500 men, most of whom were soldiers of advanced years or convalescents without much ability to fight. In reality, Lviv was seized by no more than five-hundred men and the action succeeded only thanks to the determination and superhuman efforts of a small group of officers headed by Colonel Dmytro Vitovsky, who became Commander in Chief of the Ukrainian Galician Army and War Secretary. In the countryside the take-over went much smoother because there was no organized counteraction on the Polish side and because the Polish population was very small. We were also filled with admiration and pride at the Galician Ukrainians' ability to organize a strong army within a short period of time and under difficult conditions. It was 80,000 strong in the early days of 1919, a figure easy to quote now, but we must take into consideration the difficulties of mobilization, organization of technical, material and medical equipment, transportation, etc., all taking place on ruins in which Galicia lay at the end of World War I, being the main theatre of operations between the Central Powers and Russia and changing hands numberless times.


8. Withdrawal across the Zbruch near Husiatyn

The battalion at Victoria was actually surrounded by the enemy, and only one road remained open: the Victoria-Lisovody-Husiatyn railroad, which was continually patrolled by a platoon, on flatcars, and armed with machine-guns. The day after Lieut. Musiyenko's disappearance our guard platoons were exchanging fire with the enemy from early morning and were forced to withdraw. We had to break out of the encirclement, and withdrawal was made more difficult because I had only one locomotive. The engineer was a Pole, but we had had an opportunity to find out that he could be trusted, moreover, one day he had asked me directly to let him join his own people if we crossed the Zbruch, and I promised to do so. That afternoon I dispatched the first supply train to Husiatyn, which is west of the Zbruch, and when the locomotive came back, after two hours, everything was ready for immediate departure under the direct cover of my flatcars. I ordered Capt. Moroz and Lieut. Madij to leave Horodok immediately and to march through Lisovody to East Husiatyn where the battery was to prepare the position, with an observation point on a bluff on the east of the river. There were trenches on the bluff from World War I, and although they were facing west, they could be used in the opposite direction. I called Capt. Moroz' particular attention to a wooded defile west of Horodok which could conceal an ambush. Things happened just as I had feared. First of all, Capt. Moroz started late. The whole battalion was at the Lisovody station when we heard rifle shots, then three mortar shots in the woods, and then all was quiet. Within a few minutes Capt. Moroz and his squadron ran out of the woods in disorder and stopped in front of me; I was with a rear-guard platoon on the road. The battery was missing! But it came in sight after a few minutes, in disorder! As I had expected, the battery had been attacked in the woods by the Bolsheviks, and also probably by neighboring peasants, because it was reported that the enemy was in great force, and our cavalry squadron not only did not defend the battery, but not even itself! Lieut. Madij and several non-coms from the battery were captured, some were killed and some wounded. This was a terrible and unnecessary loss. It was getting dark, and the patrols reported that the enemy was still encircling us, so I gave orders to leave for Husiatyn right away. I removed Capt. Moroz from the command of the cavalry company.
During the night I put patrols around the Husiatyn bridgehead, pushing sentries to the eastern end of the village of Velyky Olkhovets, in order to guard Husiatyn from enemy artillery fire. While doing this I encountered Lieut. Z. Stefaniv of the Ukrainian Galician Army, whose company was guarding the west bank of the Zbruch. The following morning the Bolsheviks approached the line of my patrols and began firing at Husiatyn from two batteries and from an armored train. This was actually the first battle of my battalion. The patrols did not stop the enemy, although we had the support of the UHA artillery firing from positions west of Husiatyn, and we began crossing the Zbruch. I kept only one company, with two machine-guns, in the trenches on the bluff to halt the enemy advance. I stayed with the company to get a clear picture of the situation, but I also observed that my presence was necessary because the morale of my soldiers was shaky, probably due to the loss of the battery and the apparently overwhelming numbers of the enemy.
Lacking any orders from my high command, I left the company of Capt. Blahovishchensky, in order to put sentries for the night on the west bank of the Zbruch together with Lieut. Stefaniv, and withdrew my battalion to the nearby village of Vasylkivtsi. The whole Zbruch sector, the so-called Third Sector, was held by two Galician battalions with two batteries under Major Martynovych who had his staff headquarters of the Third Sector of Front with the Staff-Quarters in the village of Krohulets. That same evening. Major Martynovych accompanied by his aide, Capt. Penchak came to see me and requested that my battalion man this Sector. He said he would transfer a battery to my command, the 6th, under Captain V. Zarytsky. Soon Major Orobko came to me with identical orders from the Army Staff. He was the commandant of the Chortkiv Military District, and he also brought me an appointment to command the Third Sector with responsibility for the defense of the Zburch line from Skala to Pidvolochyska. South of my command the Zbruch line was held by a group under Col. M. Shapoval, and north of me the front was held by Otaman Bozhko.
The Bolsheviks did not attempt to force the Zbruch, and I ordered the bridge at Husiatyn to be left intact, just to hold it under heavy fire. One night we made a sortie to the east bank of the Zbruch and took several prisoners. We learned from them that we were faced by the 12th and 13th Volochysk regiments. The front was fairly quiet and I managed to organize a battery with two cannon. Soon thereafter, in connection with a planned offensive to the east, I was given additional troops: the Rybnyk regiment with about 200 men under the command of Colonel Matsak. Pursuant to orders of the Army Staff, from then my battalion, the Rybnyk regiment, and the 6th SS Battery, formed the so-called Colonel Shandruk Group.
We did not get fresh orders until May 21. New events, however, occurred in the meantime. In the course of reorganizing the Army, Col. V. Salsky was appointed Commander of the Zaporozhian Corps, and Col. P. Bolbochan was transferred to the reserve, to the command of the Chief of Staff of the Ukrainian Galician Army. Col. Bolbochan believed that he was being treated unjustly and tried to get back to his command of the Corps. Probably due to the fact that the Zaporozhian battalion was originally part of the Corps, although it had since been detached, Col. Bolbochan came to see me on May 16th and requested to talk to me alone. Col. Bolbochan told me his personal sad story about being removed from his command without cause, and added that the division commanders of the Corps and all of the ranks were clamoring for his return because without him the Corps could lose its historical battle valor. He said that he was being urged to do this regardless of the consent of the Commander in Chief, Simon Petlura. Col. Bolbochan asked me whether he could count on my support. I answered: "I don't think it right to make such a 'coup d'etat' under difficult conditions of war; in my opinion the division commanders of the Corps' units could present the case of the Corps to the Commander-in-Chief through the channel of the Army Staff, suggesting that you should be restored to your command. Regardless of whether the battalion is engaged in battle or not, I shall never take part in an adventure, but I shall be happy if the case is resolved in your favor in a legitimate manner." We learned later, however, that Col. Bolbochan proceeded on his own, taking over the command of the Corps by force and arresting Col. Salsky. The result was an order for the arrest of Col. Bolbochan issued by C.I.C.S., Petlura and a subsequent court-martial ending in a sentence of death by firing squad. The sentence was duly carried out. He was executed ten days after sentencing.
It should be noted that the institution of State Inspection was introduced into the Army at that time. Its task was the investigation of the political beliefs of the commanders, educational and cultural work among the troops, plus the duty of controlling the quartermaster corps. This innovation was probably patterned after "the most democratic" Bolshevik system, since the institution of political commissars existed only there. In our Army, however, this caused a wave of disapproval among the officer corps, as an alleged sign of distrust in its patriotism. I do not recall who was the author of this political move, but it was clear that it was the work of the political parties then in power, headed by Prime Minister I. Mazepa. In spite of its dissatisfaction and occasional ignoring of the State Inspection agents, the officer corps put up with this unwarranted and unexpected suspicion of disloyalty. It should, however, be stated for the sake of historical truth, that although State Inspection did not perform anything worthwhile, no real harm was done, outside of a few instances of misunderstanding between commanders and Inspection agents who pretended to be political commissars. The Inspection was not needed to watch over matters of loyalty to the state, and it had no time to attend to matters of education of the troops, as they were always on the march or in battle. State Inspection was headed by Col. V. Kedrovsky, a gentleman and patriot who was able to give proper direction to the work of his subordinates, demanding their full support of the commanding officers. My circumstances took a fortunate turn, as the regimental inspector did not interefere at all, while the inspector of the General Staff was my former classmate of the Historical-Philological Institute, Capt. M. Hladky, and the inspector of the Ministry of War was my personal friend, A. Pevny. All this turned out to be important to me when I was subsequently appointed commander of the 1st Recruit Regiment in Kamyanets. Anyway, the institution of State Inspection withered away, and was not reestablished in 1920.


9. Attack on Ukraine

On the night of May 23rd I received orders from the Army Staff through Maj. Martynovych to force the Zbruch immediately, and to march in the direction of Dunayevtsi. My neighboring commanders simultaneously began an offensive: Col. Shapoval toward Kamyanets, and Otaman Bozhko toward Solobkivtsi. It was disappointed that this joint action was not put under a single commander, for purposes of coordination. Maj. Martynovych promised to support my attack with two batteries and to put one infantry company with four machine-guns in my reserves. During the night of May 25th I marked the entire front of the group with the help of this company, and knowing the exact location and routine of the enemy, I pulled all my troops into a woods five kilometers north of Husiatyn so as to effect a march in the enemy's rear and encircle his entire Husiatyn Sector. The enemy was caught by surprise and began fleeing after a few shots, so that by 7 A.M., we had liquidated two enemy regiments, taking 150 prisoners, and capturing three cannon, seven machine-guns on carriages, a lot of military supplies and more than forty horses. I ordered the Zaporozhian battalion to place sentries along a sector of five to six kilometers, and the Rybnyk regiment, as reserve to move into the village of Velyky Olkhovets. In the course of these movements there was unceasing fire east of Velyky Olkhovets and liaison-couriers dispatched to the commander of the 2nd company, Capt. Vodyanytsky, did not return. Therefore I decided to proceed there in person. I was accompanied by Col. Matsak, my aide, Capt. Linytsky and three mounted order-lies. On a hill east of Velyky Olkhovets stood the ruins of a manor destroyed during the war, and the road passed through a deep ravine. When our group came close to the ruins, standing on both sides of the road, we did not see our sentries which were supposed to be there, but instead, from behind a building on the right, a band of fifteen to twenty Reds jumped out and with shouts of "surrender" began to shoot from a distance of about forty to fifty paces. My horse was killed under me and fell over my left leg. Bullets were literally grazing me. I freed my leg with difficulty and immediately drew and cocked my Browning automatic pistol, not wanting to be taken alive. Meanwhile Capt. Linytsky and the soldiers got off their horses and managed to run up the left escarpment, hiding behind the walls on that side and firing at the Reds. This gave me a chance to run up and join them. Under the cover of the ruined walls we managed to get behind the buildings at the north end of the village, but we were met with fire there, too. We found out that it was a patrol in deployment proceeding to take its position among the ruined buildings. Col. Matsak turned his horse around and escaped to Husiatyn where he alerted the reserves. When we were near the city we met the company on its way to rescue us. When I wanted to unload my pistol later, I found that it was jammed. Providence saved me from enemy bullets and probably from my own bullet, too.
A report reached me from Maj. Martynovych in the meantime that neither Col. Shapoval, nor Otaman Bozhko had started their attacks because they had not managed to get ready in time: this was the result of the lack of unified command. We captured the bridgehead, as the offensive was postponed to May 27th. On that morning, pursuant to orders, the group began moving toward Dunayevtsi without opposition. From time to time we heard artillery fire on our right and left. Before Dunayevtsi, near the city of Shatava, the Commander in Chief arrived and after receiving my report ordered the column to rest and informed me about the situation. The new commander of the Skala group, Col. O. Udovychenko, who had replaced Col. Shapoval, had already captured Kamyanets Podilsky and was proceeding toward Dunayevtsi where a battle was in progress. Otaman Bozhko had also forced the Zbruch, but his eastward march was halted by overwhelming enemy forces; the Zaporozhian Corps had dispersed the enemy in the upper Horyn region and was moving on Proskuriv. My group was renamed the 9th Infantry regiment and embodied in the 3rd Infantry Division, the former group of Col. Udovychenko. Other regiments in the Division were the 7th Blue regiment under Col. O. Vyshnivsky and the 8th Black Sea regiment under Col. Tsarenko; the artillery regiment under Col. H. Chyzhevsky consisted of four light and one heavy subdivisions; the cavalry regiment in the Division was under Col. M. Krat. In Dunayevtsi I reported to Col. Udovychenko, whom I had met during my stay in Yarmolyntsi when he was chief of staff of the Slobidsky Corps.
The next day the regiment attacked in the direction of the city of Nova Ushytsya. I was proud and happy to watch the 1st battalion (the former Zaporozhian battalion) deploy in ranks without faltering under enemy fire, as if on maneuvers. I had the opportunity to see the whole battlefield from my command post, but the battalion commander, the experienced line officer Capt. Shevtsiv, sent me dispatches on the course of the attack. My 6th battery was firing at the enemy almost from the line of the infantry. The 2nd battalion, however (the former Rybnyk regiment), did not display activity on the left wing of attack and I had to send runners with orders to hasten their movement, particularly since on the sector of this battalion near Zamikhiv the enemy was not active, either. While I was standing at the observation point under an old huge lime tree two kilometers west of Nova Ushytsya, I heard the whine of one of the enemy cannon shots. I had no time to hide behind the tree and the shell fell right at my feet but did not explode. That day the regiment reached Mynkivtsi without much resistance from the enemy.
In the following days the regiment marched forward through Verbovets and Kurylivtsi Murovani in order to take the station Kotyuzhany on the Zhmerynka-Mohyliv line and prevent the enemy from evacuating Mohyliv toward Zhmerynka. The task was accomplished: forty kilometers in three days with fairly heavy enemy resistance. After taking Kotyuzhany I pushed the 1st battalion to Kopayhorod in order to defend Kotyuzhany from the north and east. In Nova Ushytsya, Verbovets, and Kyrylivtsi Murovani and all around, the people were out to give us a hearty welcome, with the Jewish population taking part. But when the battalion was entering Kopayhorod in battle order, shots were fired at it from buildings and several men were wounded. I was with the battalion and ordered patrols to leave the city and the battalion to surround it without letting anyone leave the city, because the Bolsheviks could not be distinguished from the civilian population. I was certain that the shots from windows were fired by Bolsheviks who had not managed to leave the city. The patrols searched the city and determined from which houses shoes had been fired at us. When we brought those whom we had detained before members of the City Council, the latter stated that they were all local residents. All those detained were young Jews and we found them in possession of arms and ammunition. I held them in the school building and conducted the investigation in person in the presence of members of the City Council, the local Rabbi, and the pharmacist, who was also Jewish. In answer to questioning all of the detained admitted that they had been shooting. There were about 15 boys and they said that they had been armed by the Bolshevik commandant of the city who persuaded them to fire at us, alleging that we were "Haydamaks"7 who would butcher all local Jews! A local Jewish tailor had been the Bolshevik commandant, so it is not surprising that they obeyed him. This was the first instance when I made use of the letter I had from Rabbi Feldfix: when the Rabbi of Kopayhorod read it, he addressed the young Jews very sharply and they all fell to their knees and begged for mercy. We did not even arrest any of them. We only asked that their families take care of our wounded soldiers.
The regiment stopped in the Kopayhorod-Kotyuzhany regions for several days because we learned that the Division could not advance as the 2nd "Zaporozhska Sitch" Division of Otaman Bozhko, which was supposed to have taken Zhmerynka, had to retreat before overwhelming enemy forces first to Bar, and then southwest to Yaltushkiv. The enemy had advanced up to thirty kilometers behind the regiment. When the Bolsheviks brought reinforcements to Zhmerynka with two armored trains, the Division had to retreat all the way to Nova Ushytsya. It should be noted that such a withdrawal, in addition to political and moral difficulties, also created tactical hardships, because all roads led through larger towns and cities situated in deep river valleys (Stara Ushytsya, Kalus, Lozova) parallel to the front and flowing to the Dnister river. With fresh troops of the 41st Bessarabian Division the enemy attempted to destroy our Division, but Col. Udovychenko frustrated all these attempts with adroit maneuvers inflicting heavy losses on the enemy.
In this quite difficult and uncertain situation the well-known leader from Bukovyna, Otaman V. Topushchak came to me and told me that he had brought with him from Bukovyna, which had now been occupied by the Rumanians, a whole battalion of very good soldiers to Kamyanets. He wanted his battalion to be attached as an independent unit to an appropriate unit of our Army. The Commander in Chief permitted him to visit the front and to select this unit. He had visited all, including our 9th regiment, without our knowing about it. The Commander in Chief granted his request to be attached to our regiment and now he was asking me whether I would have his battalion under my command. I could only thank Otaman Topushchak for his confidence in me, and his battalion was attached to my regiment in Nova Ushytsya. The battalion consisted of three infantry and one machine-gun companies with additional units and supplies. It was under the command of Captain Zipser, with Lieut. Cantemir as aide-de-camp. There was a total of about 320 men. I was always careful to keep this unit of such fine boys from suffering losses and I ordered them into battle only when it was absolutely necessary. Thus, my regiment unexpectedly grew larger, and in spite of losses which were fortunately not too heavy, now counted over 900 men. At that time the problem of clothing and especially shoes became very acute. We had worn them out in battles and marches! I was helped a lot by the Divisional Quartermaster, Captain Bazylevych, who had set woolen mills and tanneries in motion at Dunayevtsi, behind our lines.
The reinforced "Zaporozhska Sitch" Division finally took Zhmerynka and our Division received orders to go forward and take the Vapniarka railroad junction. This time I was to lead the attack through Kurylivtsi Murovani to Mohyliv. Mohyliv (Mogilev) was being defended by the Nemiya-Serebriy red regiment under Chaban, over 1,000 strong with an armored train and a number of cannon.
Following the bad experience with our 2nd battalion, I put it in reserve and led the attack on Mohyliv with the 1st and 3rd battalions, the 1st having the task of attacking north of Mohyliv and cutting off Chaban's avenue of retreat to the east. We dispersed the enemy after a fairly brief battle and captured seven cannon, the armored train and 200 prisoners. When my troops and I were going down the road to Mohyliv, which lies in a deep valley on the Dnister, Rumanian artillery fired at us from the other side of the Dnister! Captain Zipser immediately dispatched three officers, under a flag of truce, by boat across the Dnister, and they explained to the Rumanian commander of the sector in the city of Ataki exactly who we were. The firing ceased immediately, but we had several killed and wounded. Our delegates brought a report from the Rumanians that they had been informed by Chaban that Mohyliv was being attacked by bandits and that was why they had been shooting at us.
In Mohyliv the local population arranged a banquet reception for the entire regiment, presided over by the President of the City Council and by the Chairman of the County Board, the brothers Dyadynyuk (one of them was the father of the well-known Ukrainian painter and engraver V. Dyadynyuk who enlisted in my regiment as private). The banquet in honor of the officers and myself was held in City Hall, and for the soldiers in schools. The Rumanian commander of the city of Ataki, Major lovanescu was present at the banquet and apologized in a speech for firing on the regiment. I was told later by the Dyadynyuk brothers that all the guests had been waiting for my speech in great anxiety, hoping to hear that they would be safe from the Bolsheviks and could sleep safely and soundly without fear of excesses. It was evident from the way they reacted to my address that the civic leaders sighed with relief. The City Council offered as a gift to the regiment 200 complete uniforms with shoes, and the gift was delivered later that fall after 1 had been transferred to Kamyanets. An old friend of mine and associate from the Kharkiv Command, Lieut. Col. P. Nechytailo, came to offer his services to me in Mohyliv and I appointed him regimental quartermaster because my brother, who temporarily had been holding that position, had been appointed to the Foreign Department of the General Staff and had left for Kamyanets.
After three days in Mohyliv, where I had been collecting intelligence reports from the direction of Yampil, the regiment advanced through Sharhorod and Dzhuryn with the objective of helping to take the station of Rakhny and thus create a barrier toward Zhmerynka for further operations of the Division directed at Vapniarka. The enemy brought in considerable reinforcements, and the Division, which stretched in various directions along a front of sixty kilometers, had to execute difficult maneuvers for over a week in order to hold the region of Dzhuryn-Murafa-Rakhny as a base for future operations toward Vapniarka. Colonel Udovychenko showed great operational ability and defeated the enemy on all sectors. The regiment stopped at the Murafa river line to guard operations of the main forces of the Division and engaged in heavy battles with overwhelming numbers of the enemy pressing from Zhmerynka in the north and from Tyvriv-Krasne in the east.

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[7] Eighteenth century Ukrainian revolutionaries.


10. To Kiev

Reorganization of our high command to take charge of both Armies the UNR and UHA, and operational centralization and direction under battle conditions required much of the time and efforts of the Commander in Chief and his Staff. There was now doubt, however, among the soldiers, that by the common effort of both Armies, which were nearly 150,000 strong, we would finally conquer the Bolsheviks. The enthusiasm, however, did not extend beyond a few weeks. It did not occur to anyone, for example, to think of what would happen in the fall, but the Command and the Government did think about it.
Reasons of policy probably demanded centering of all our efforts on Kiev, but strategy looked for contact with the world through the port of Odessa. Politics won, and the bulk of our operations were directed toward Kiev, with safety measures undertaken both to the north and south. The direct attack on Kiev was led by the 3rd UHA Corps and the Zaporozhian Corps as the General A. Kraus Group. On August 30, Kiev was in our hands. Several days later we learned that our forces had again withdrawn from Kiev, and this was a terrible blow to the morale of our soldiers.
We knew from the communiques of the General Staff that our strategic position was deteriorating in connection with the movements of the "White" Russian army of General Denikin who did not conceal his aggressive plans toward Ukraine and other nations that had proclaimed their separation from Russia. Denikin knew, of course, that his success over the Bolsheviks was not so much due to the aid of the Western Allies, as to the Ukrainian Army which had dispersed the Reds. Renewed efforts of our Government and Commander to reach an understanding with Denikin by sending two delegations to him were unsuccessful: Denikin proclaimed that his aim was to restore "Russia, one and indivisible" and in the areas of Ukraine which came under his occupation all manifestations of Ukrainian political activities were summarily dealt with. It should be noted that he displayed the same hostility toward other non-Russian people who proclaimed their independence after the fall of tsarist Russia: the Don, Kuban, Georgia, and others. He ordered the execution of noted patriots of these countries, for example, he ordered the hanging of the Kuban patriot V. Kalabukhov. Denikin refused to talk to the Ukrainian delegates and even threatened them with arrest. Renewed appeals of our Government to the Allies were also futile, both to Allied representatives attached to our Command, as well as through our diplomatic representatives in Paris and London. One word from Clemenceau or from Lloyd George could have put an end to Denikin's military adventure, and could also have decided the fate of the Bolsheviks by directing all forces opposed to them in one unified action. But they were still dreaming of restoring great Russia with her profitable and insatiable market. It is hard to understand the working of the mind of Denikin and of the "great" statesmen of that time; they would not look at history, tactics or experience. We can well seek the causes of the decline of England and France in the events of that time.
When the troops of the General Kraus Group were marching into Kiev in parade order on August 31, General Bredov's group of Denikin's "White" Russians attacked our vanguard patrols guarding the bridges across the Dnipro, and broke into Kiev. General Kraus obeyed prior orders of our Staff and ordered his troops to withdraw to the western part of Kiev and waited for a political solution to the problem of our relations with Denikin. Gen. Bredov, however, took advantage of the situation and pressed the attack against our troops. The General Staff of the Commander ordered a halt to operations both against the Red and White Russians, and to permit the Reds marching from the south to engage the Whites – a very wise strategic move.