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Not the number and skill. The anniversary of the battle of Gumbinnen in August 1914
Material posted: Publication date: 26-08-2013

To Exodus 19 (6) August 1-St Russian army General P. K. von Rennenkampf during the three-day offensive left to Goldau and Gumbinnen. The next day was planned a day's rest to allow the soldiers to rest, and the line was to establish the supply and communication, but the commander of the 8th German army M. von Plitvice 20 (7) August had other ideas: fearing an early invasion of the 2nd Russian army, he decided to break armies of Rennenkampf.

The first clashes on some parts of the front began the day before, but the battle, known in history under the name of Gumbinnen (or Gumbinnen-Goldscore), turned 20 in August. Directly on the battlefield (considering that part of the 1st army did not take part in it) the Germans had the superiority both in manpower and number of guns. Moreover, M. von Pritvits managed to seize the initiative and to establish a more solid command of the parts. All the advantages were on his side, but fate decreed otherwise.

"Not an inch back!".

In tactical terms, the battle hardly fully written in the active Russian army. The morning of the 1st German corps of General G. Francois fell upon our right flank, or rather, the 28th infantry division of General N. And. Lashkevych. On this front the enemy in manpower was more than double superiority, and artillery – Quad[1]. Moreover, our division was exhausted from the events of 19 August, when the evening was broken 109th regiment.

Heavy fighting started early in the morning along the entire front parts of Lashkevich. Already by 8 o'clock decided the bypass the right flank. Here, in the district of Sballen was defended by three battalions of the 111th infantry regiment (8 guns and 24 guns), in the morning attacked by the Germans. In the 10th hour the Germans finally broke our defence and the regiment began to retreat. Then the chief of the division gave strict orders: "a single inch back!". This led to the fact that most gallant company were surrounded and killed by stalling the enemy attack. By noon the Germans occupied Sballen, Brequinar and developed further offensive, and the General N. And. Lashkevich continued in vain to send telegrams for help in the neighboring 29th infantry division, which itself was engaged in the reflection of an enemy attack.


The battle of gumbinnen scheme

But to build on the success of the Germans could not. After noon of the 28th the division moved to counterattack and drove the enemy from Brachyptera. From here the waste parts of the 1st German division came under their own artillery and retreated in disarray. In the end, the 1st corps was exhausted, the office had been broken and the troops couldn't come. But part Lashkevych was not in the best position: they continued to move away randomly. In two days of fighting the 28th division suffered losses of 7,000 and 8 guns. Neighbouring 29th Russian infantry division of General A. N. Rosenshield-Paulina has managed to repel all attacks, however, the retreat of the troops of N. And. Lashkevych and made it to the end of the day to retreat to protect his flank.

At the same time the 1st German cavalry division raided the rears of the Russian army to bypass its right flank, reached Stalluponen, where he stumbled upon the infantry, and therefore went to Pillkallen, causing panic in the rear of the 28th division and disorganize management. So, in captivity almost got the whole staff of the 1st army. All this happened because of the lack on the right flank of the cavalry and Granovskogo Nakhichevan, which after a successful battle Kourenkova 19 August walked in the rear and the next day stood on the rest.

Division against hull

A rather unclear situation on the left flank of the 1st army. The 30th infantry division under the command of General E. Malenkovskaja moved to the front Plisken – Gayten and was soon involved in heavy fighting with the 1st reserve corps of General Belov, O. von. Thus, the left column (the 2nd brigade) was attacked in the area Masutani. Here, shelves have fallen under the shelling, one of the commanders was killed, which had a disruption in governance and led to the retreat of some units. But I knew what the commander of the 120th Serpukhov infantry regiment Colonel Vladimir Cheremisov, who under heavy fire stopped coming into confusion the regiment and returned it to its former place, which gave the opportunity to detain the onslaught of the enemy and to gain time for the supply to position of neighbouring parts.[2]

Heavy fighting ensued at the front of the neighbouring 1st brigade, district d Curnen and Platescan. The Germans opened a heavy fire from D. Gavian, and then went on the offensive. During these fights have shown themselves worthy of the chief of staff of a division Colonel George Tikhmenev[3], while under fire, put in order exhaust parts and sent them into battle, directed the artillery during the shelling Cornea, and then ordered the neighbouring 160 th infantry regiment, located in Kyouten and opened fire on Havaittu, to help[4]. It is interesting to note that at the same time request for assistance in the 160-th regiment came from the 40th division. The commander of the regiment adopted a "Solomonic solution" and did not help either, but the case was decided, Colonel Vinogradov, who along with his battalion went on the attack in support of the 30th division.

Describing all of these events not to mention the heroism of a battalion of the 118th regiment under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Vladislav Zakrevskogo, under heavy fire went to battle, and when faced with superior enemy forces to the South-East D. Cornean took one of the heights. At this time, the enemy developed an attack, resulting in this position in the rear, which was used in the heat Zakrzewski: he opened fire and stopped the advance of the enemy. Soon to the place of battle came two battalions of the 117 th infantry regiment of Yaroslavl, and then managed to push the enemy. V. Zakrzewski was awarded the order of St. George 4th CL.

Here was a feat the captain of the 118th infantry regiment Shuisky Boris Tetiana (which won the same award). As mentioned in the order about rewarding: "Under heavy rifle and shrapnel fire of the enemy rushed forward with machine guns and took a position opened withering fire, and then, despite the fact that he was wounded, he pulled the guns on the mountain into the flank of the enemy and his firing made clear the trenches, was used by our troops advanced and drove the enemy to the village. Govteen"

The battle lasted till evening, none of the parties was unable to take over, but because all spent the night in position. The next morning the Russians discovered that the enemy withdrew. The Germans retreated hastily, as evidenced by Avitene found in the uppers from the guns, and numerous heavy and easily wounded. The General O. von Belov informed about your success. It should be recognized that despite the advantage, the Germans did not achieve a decisive victory, only surpassing the opponent, although if the battle was continued on August 21, they probably would have prevailed.

Characters break situation

But the heaviest fighting was in the centre where in the morning of the 3rd Russian corps of General N. And. Epanchina withstood the attacks of the troops of the 17th corps of the German General A. von Mackensen. At the front of the 25th division of General P. I. Bulgakov the whole day was conducted defensive fights, in some areas the Russians crossed to the counter. So, 97th regiment was able to move forward and to push three ersatzbatterie the line Listelenen — Sadface. It was probably at this time made a feat of captain Victor Kamensky II, for which he was awarded the order of St. George 4th CL. with a wire Going to the theater and seeing the fluctuations of a company, he rushed forward to cut the wire in order to ensure a future attack. And this in spite of the enemy fire! An example of the company commander immediately raised the spirit of the lower ranks, ran forward and, cutting the barbed wire, opened the way, which contributed to the overall success of the attack, during which he Kamensky was seriously wounded in the head by shrapnel[5].

However, not all so smoothly was on the left flank , where some units retreated, exposing, respectively, the flank of the 27th division. However, her boss, General

K. M. Agarici, just sent an artillery battalion and two battalions. At the same time in the same General P. I. Bulgakov to the middle of the day decided to draw on the reserves. In the end, all these actions brought the success of the Germans and forced them to withdraw (and managed to liberate many of our prisoners).

Narrating all this, we can't forget I. D. senior adjutant of the headquarters of the 25 th division captain Vladimir Baranovsky, who was sent to the advanced parts to clarify the situation and his orders. Approaching D. Jonastal, he personally stopped the exhaust parts and restored them in order, and subsequently has directed chiefs in General position, sent forward part and arranged the shooting of division artillery of the 25th infantry battalion. For these actions he was awarded the George weapon.

Heavy and decisive battles early in the morning was conducted in front of the 27th infantry division, defending in the area of Martiskainen – Verslagen. The Germans moved several times in the attack, covered the Russian part of the heavy fire, but were unable to knock us off positions. Accurate fire forced the enemy to lay low of the chain. So, for example, about 14.30. at the front of the 108th regiment was seen leaving to an open position of the enemy division, which was in an emphasis shot the 1st battalion (27th infantry battalion) under the command of Alexander Ilyasevich (for this he received the St. George gun). Shortly before that, the enemy was pushed aside in front of the 25th division, the command of a Russian corps was received at the retreat and therefore followed the order of proceedings. Although at the front of the 27th division fights boiled for several hours. Only approximately 17.15. in the evening the Germans launched their final attack against the Ufa regiment, and then began to retreat, some of the company fled (see: rsmha. F. 2357 Op. 1. D. 498. L. 29). No precipitate flight of the whole body, based on archival documents, on the front, the division has not been noticed. During a short pursuit she took 12 guns, 25 charger, box, intact 3 and 10 of broken guns, 2000 guns and about 1,000 prisoners. Heavy losses (over 6,000 people) and huge consumption of artillery (one division only shot 10 000 shells)[6] made the command to give the order to stop. Enemy losses amounted to 8 000 people.

In the evening M. von Prittwitz to receive a message about a difficult situation at the front and that 2nd Russian army of General A. V. Samsonov already crossed the border, suddenly panicked and ordered the retreat. Its Central body was defeated, the left flank's troops were greatly exhausted and could not advance. The total losses of killed, wounded and prisoners exceeded 14,000 people. In contrast to the quartermaster of the army of Grunert and Director of operations M. Hoffman argued not unreasonably that the situation is favorable, and if you continue the battle, then the enemy can break. But M. von Prittwitz, did not have the strength of spirit, insisted on going.

Debriefing: or why the Russians stopped

P. K. von Rennenkampf did not pursue. The first orders to drive the enemy he immediately abolished, for which he was criticized by a number of historians. It can hardly be considered reasonable, because the troops are tired, also suffered losses (more than 18,000), and the rears were not adjusted. It is known that from victory to defeat, one step, and the success of a prosecution none of the Russian generals could not be sure, especially due to the consumption of ammunition, as well as complex or ambiguous situation of the majority of infantry divisions. So given the situation, it is unlikely that Russian troops could succeed from further attacks. Although the Russian cavalry on 20 August rested in the rear and the next day could appear on the battlefield, it is doubtful that it would be effective. With barely coped with landwarnet brigade in the battle on 19 August, it is unlikely those same shelves could have something to do with such a serious opponent as the housing H. von Francois. Moreover, Kaushansky battle on August 19, casts doubt on the ability of the Khan Nakhichevan to use agile advantage. The experience of the First world in General demonstrates the ineffectiveness of cavalry large joints, especially in fights against infantry.

Assessing the battle, should be noted the endurance of the Russian commanders of corps and divisions, primarily N. And. Epanchina (former Director of the page corps, the son of Admiral Alexei Pavlovich) and K. M. Agarici (27th division), thanks to which the victory was won. With regard to the army headquarters, because of the enemy's cavalry RAID it in the command and control part almost didn't take. Not to mention the criminal behavior of our cavalry on the right flank, which had no energetic chiefs and spent the entire day in idleness. Overall, the victory was primarily won thanks to the fortitude of the soldier, the disparate actions of commanders divisions and corps, as well as the unwillingness of the opponent to risk.

In this battle manifested the level of training of Russian soldiers and officers, especially at the front of the 3rd corps (which he commanded himself Epanchina Rennenkampf), and the effectiveness of the Russian artillery, which, firing from the closed position (unlike German), were particularly hit, causing the opponent great damage. However, it is impossible not to recognize the impotence of our 76-mm gun against well-entrenched enemy, one that appears from the reports of General Lashkevich in corps headquarters[7]. Accurate were our soldiers and gun fire.

In the end we can conclude that the German plan to destroy Russian in parts failed. 8th the army retreated, and Russian advances drove in panic General Pravica, which was soon removed from command. In 1930, stated Winston Churchill:

"Very few people have heard of Gumbinnen, and hardly anyone has appreciated the remarkable role played by this victory. The Russian counterattack, 3 corps, heavy losses caused mackensen of the 8th German army panic; she left the battlefield, leaving their dead and wounded; she recognized the fact that was suppressed by the power of Russia".

It should be noted that further advancement of the Russian troops (advancing Rennenkampf, the offensive of the 2nd army of General Samsonov, who on August 23-24 defeated the 20th corps of General Scholtz) has had a severe impact on the Supreme German command. Due to the success on the Western front during the Border battles, it decided to throw two corps and the reserve cavalry division (left after the fall of the fortress of NAMUR) to the East to stop the Russian offensive. Being in a state of euphoria of victories, the German strategists felt that the existing forces will be enough to capture the French capital. However, in early September, German forces were defeated in the battle of the Marne, and thus were buried the hopes for an early conclusion of the war. As can be seen, the contribution to this victory was made by Russian regiments who fought in East Prussia.



[1] Fighting infantry division. The collection of historical examples / edited by N. And. Tulunskogo. M, 1941. P. 32

[2] rsmha F. 2106. Op.2. D. 1. L. 224

[3] Subsequently had an impressive career. Was the commander of several regiments, and then promoted to the rank of major General, then was chief of staff of the 45th division and the 13th corps, and after the February revolution was given command of 17th infantry division.

[4] L. 227 ibid.

[5] ibid. L. 12 on

[6] A. Budberg Gumbinnen – forgotten day of Russian glory. San Francisco, CA, b.g. P.7.

[7] A. A. yamanov the Oncoming fight. M., 1959. P. 164.


Konstantin Pakhalyuk


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