Russian Civil War
Orel–Kursk operationKursk, Russia
The Orel–Kursk operation was an offensive conducted by the Southern Front of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic's Red Army against the White Armed Forces of South Russia's Volunteer Army in Orel, Kursk and Tula Governorates of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic between 11 October and 18 November 1919. It took place on the Southern Front of the Russian Civil War and was part of the wider October counteroffensive of the Southern Front, a Red Army operation that aimed to stop Armed Forces of South Russia commander Anton Denikin's Moscow offensive.
After the failure of the Red Southern Front's August counteroffensive to stop the Moscow offensive, the Volunteer Army continued to push back the front's 13th and 14th Armies, capturing Kursk. The Southern Front was reinforced by troops transferred from other sectors, allowing it to regain numerical superiority over the Volunteer Army, and launched a counterattack to halt the offensive on 11 October, utilizing a shock group composed of newly arrived troops. Despite this, the Volunteer Army managed to deal a defeat to the 13th Army, capturing Orel, its nearest advance to Moscow. The Red shock group, however, struck into the flank of the Volunteer Army's advance, forcing the army to commit its lead forces to defending against the attack. In fierce fighting, the 14th Army recaptured Orel, after which the Red forces wore down the Volunteer Army in defensive battles. The Volunteer Army attempted to establish a new defensive line, but their rear was unhinged by Red cavalry raids. The offensive ended on 18 November with the recapture of Kursk. Although the Red Army did not manage to destroy the Volunteer Army, the Southern Front counteroffensive marked a turning point in the war, as it had permanently regained the strategic initiative.