Here's some information about the Landeswehr War which I compiled some months ago for a certain English-speaking person with whom I exchanged emails. Maybe it repeats a bit tings which are already said on this thread. I will post later also the maps. BTW, though Kuperjanov Battalion was a good combat unit, it seems that it unfortunately looted more than an average unit. In November 1919 the commander of the 1st Division (Maj-Gen Tõnisson) demanded that this unit should be disbanded or severely reorganized for that reason.
Now the text (I haven't changed the wording)
A bit about the Latvian units under Estonian high-command.
The following information is from: Eesti Vabadussõda. 2. Tallinn, 1997.
18th February 1919 – Estonian-Latvian (Ulmanis’ government) cooperation agreement – Latvian Ulmanis’ government’s units are formed in Estonia.
28th February – mobilization of Latvians who lived in Estonia. Later, when the Estonain army captured territories in Northern-Latvia, also there mobilization was comitted.
At first in Tartu (Dorpat) the 1st Valmiera Regiment was formed (commander – Lieutenant-Colonel J. Jansons). Then Latvian reserve battalion and 1st Valmiera Battery were formed. On 31st March the Northern Latvian Brigade was created (under Colonel G. Zemitans), but it remained as an administrative staff and didn’t lead any military operations. In May 1919 in Tartu also 2nd Cesis Regiment was founded (commander was Lieutenant-Colonel K. Berkis). At the same time 2nd Cesis Battery was formed. In June also 3rd Battery followed.
At the end of March the 1st Rgt went to the front in the direction of Aluksne (Marienburg). At the beginning of May it participated in the offensive towards Jekabpils (Jakobstadt). The 2nd Rgt went to the front at the beginning of June, at Valmiera.
The following is a description of the general situation of the Estonian People’s Army (Eesti Rahvavägi as it was officially called) at the end of May 1919. Source is again Eesti Vabadussõda. 2. Tallinn, 1997.
On 24th May 1919 the Estonian 3rd Division (3. diviis) started it’s offensive in North-Western Latvia. (Look at the map nr. 1.)
The OOB for 3rd Division under Major-General (kindralmajor) Ernst Põdder on 24th May:
3rd Infantry Regiment (3. jalaväepolk)
6th Infantry Regiment (6. jalaväepolk)
9th Infantry Regiment (9. jalaväepolk)
Tallinn Independent Squadron (Tallinna üksik eskadron)
Broad-gauge Armoured Train Nr. 4 (Laiarööpmeline soomusrong nr. 4)
2 armoured cars
Alltogether 5 200 bayonets and sabres, 120 MGs, 17 artillery pieces.
On 26th Estonians captured Valmiera, on 27th Limbaži , on 29th Smiltene.
On 27th May the right wing of the 2nd Division (2. diviis) (division’s commander was Colonel (polkovnik) Viktor Puskar; the operations on the right wing were leaded by the Chief of Staff of the 2nd Division – Captain (kapten) Viktor Mutt) started it’s offensive in North-Eastern Latvia. (Look at map nr. 2.)
The OOB of the right wing of the 2nd Division on 27th May.
2nd Infantry Regiment (2. jalaväepolk)
8th Infantry Regiment (8. jalaväepolk)
1st Cavalry Regiment (1. ratsapolk)
2nd Cavalry Regiment (2. ratsapolk)
1st Battalion / 1st Infantry Regiment (1. pataljon/1. jalaväepolk)
Peipus Coast-guarding Battalion (Peipsi rannakaitsepataljon) (This battalion was created for defending the coast of the lake Peipus at the beginning of the year when the lake was frozen.)
Sakala Partisans Battalion (a volunteers unit) (Sakala is the ancient name for Viljandi county in Southern Estonia)
Võru Defence Battalion (Võru kaitsepataljon) (Võru is a town and a county in Southern Estonia)
Training Company of the Reserve Battalion of the 2nd Division (2. diviisi tagavarapataljoni õpperood)
1st Valmiera Regiment (1. Volmari polk) (Latvians)
Danish Volunteer Company (Taani vabatahtlike rood) (volunteers from Denmark)
Armoured Trains Division’s Squadron (Soomusrongide divisjoni eskadron)
Narrow-gauge Armoured Train Nr. 1 (Kitsarööpmeline soomusrong nr. 1)
Narrow-gauge Armoured Train Nr. 2 (Kitsarööpmeline soomusrong nr. 2)
Narrow-gauge Armoured Train Nr. 3 (Kitsarööpmeline soomusrong nr. 3)
2 armoured cars
Alltogether 4 800 bayonets and sabres, 100 MGs, 25 artillery pieces.
On the night of the 28th Aluksne (Marienburg) was captured, on 30th Gulbene, on 3rd June Laudona, on 5th June Jekabpils (Jakobstadt).
The left wing of the 2nd Division started it’s assault on Pskov on 24th May. A Shock Group (löögigrupp) (under Captain Karl Parts) was formed to break through enemy front. On 25th Pskov was captured.
(Look map nr. 3.)
The OOB of the left wing on 24th May
The Shock Group:
Kuperjanov Partisans Battalion (Kuperjanovi partisanide pataljon) (a volunteers unit formed by Lieutenant Julius Kuperjanov who died in battle at the beginning of 1919)
Kalevlaste Maleva (a battalion sized volunteers unit; Kalev was a sports society from which the volunteers came, malev is an ancient Estonian name for an army.)
1st and 2nd Company / Tartu Pupils Reserve Battalion (1., 2. rood / Tartu kooliõpilaste reservpataljon) (volunteers)
Broad-gauge Armoured Train “Kapten Irw” (Laiarööpmeline soomusrong “Kapten Irw”) (all armoured trains’ crews were volunteers; Captain Anton Irw had been the commander of the Broad-gauge Armoured Train Nr. 1. After that he was the commander of the Armoured Trains Division. On 27th April he was killed and the train nr.1 was named after him.)
Broad-gauge Armoured Train Nr. 2 (Laiarööpmeline soomusrong nr. 2)
Broad-gauge Armoured Train Nr. 3 (Laiarööpmeline soomusrong nr. 3)
Broad-gauge Armoured Train Nr. 5 (Laiarööpmeline soomusrong nr. 5)
2 armoured cars
The other units which participated:
5th Infantry Regiment (5. jalaväepolk)
7th Infantry Regiment (7. jalaväepolk)
Scouts Battalion (Scoutspataljon) (a volunteers unit founded and financed by an American Estonian. The name Scouts represents the boyscouts movement.)
Alltogether 3 874 bayonets and sabres, 262 MGs, 30 artillery pieces. Also 3 gunboats of the Peipus Fleet Division (Peipsi laevastiku divisjon) supported from the lake Pskov.
The Estonian 1st Division (1. diviis) under Major-General Aleksander Tõnisson was at the end of the May on the Narva front. The White Northern Corps had started it’s offensive on 13th May and at the end of the May the fighting was going already far away from the Estonian borders. Division’s 1st Infantry Regiment (1. jalaväepolk) (without one battalion, which was in the 2nd Division) and 4th Infantry Regiment (4. jalaväepolk) weren’t participating in battles and were located in the area of Narva. The Northern Corps was supported on it’s left wing by Estonian Marine Landing Battalion (Meredessantpataljon – a volunteers unit) and Ingermanland Battalion (Ingeri pataljon) plus the Estonian and British fleets. On the lake Peipus Northern Corps was supported by the Estonian Peipus Fleet Division.
On 25th May the Estonian armed forces (without Latvians and Russian Whites) consisted alltogether of 74 506 men. The Commander in Chief was Major-General Johan Laidoner, Chief of Staff was Colonel Jaan Soots. There were three divisions plus Armoured Trains Division (Soomusrongide divisjon). The last one usually didn’t lead military operations was an administrative staff. The commander of it was Captain Karl Parts. There were 1st, 2nd and 3rd Division’s Reserve Battalion (1., 2., 3. diviisi tagavarapataljon) and Armoured Trains Division’s Reserve Battalion (Soomusrongide divisjoni tagavara pataljon). Armoured Trains Division had also a cavalry squadron (Soomusrongide divisjoni eskadron). It should be noted that the Estonian divisions didn’t have a fixed composition – the units were often transferred from one division to another.
There were 9 infantry regiments. Most of them had three battalions, but as far as I know the 9th Regiment had only two, whereas the 6th Regiment had four battalions. A battalion had usually 4 companies. A regiment had usually also a Reconnaissance Detachment (Luurekomando), a Machine Gun Detachment (Kuulipildujakomando), a Cavalry Detachment (Ratsakomando), a Training Detachment (Õppekomando), a Sappeurs Detachment (Sapöörikomando), a Signals Detachment (Sidekomando), a Labour Detachment (Töörood). Instead of the word detachment also sometimes the word company (rood) was used. At least the 9th Regiment had it’s own battery.
Beside the battalions which were mentioned in the OOBs, there were also Saaremaa Defence Battalion (Saaremaa kaitsepataljon) and 2nd Tallinn Defence Battalion (2. Tallinna kaitsepataljon) which, as far as I know, didn’t participate in battles.
There were 1st, 2nd and 3rd Artillery Regiments (1., 2., 3. suurtükiväepolk). 1st supported the first division, 2nd the second and 3rd supported the third division. But the staffs of these regiments were only administrative units since the batterys were spreaded all along the division’s front. Besides the three regiments, there were 1st and 2nd Fortress Heavy Artillery Divisions (1., 2. kindluse raskesuurtükiväe divisjon) and 5 independent batterys. Some of the 1st Fortress Heavy Artillery Division’s batteries supported the 2nd Division, some were on coastal defense in Northern Estonia. The 2nd Fortress HAD supported the 1st Division on Narva front. There were about 100 artillery pieces in all these artillery units (60 % of them light and 40% heavy artillery).
At the end of May there were 5 broad-gauge armoured trains and 4 narrow-gauge armoured trains (one of the narrow-gauge trains was put into action at the very end of May, when it was captured from the enemy during the offensive in the North-Eastern Latvia). Administratively all the trains were under the Armoured Trains Division. Each armoured train had also an assault detachment on board (about company sized).
At the end of May there were 7 armoured cars. 6 of them were administratively subordinated to Armoured Cars Column (Soomusautode kolonn) which was part of the Armoured Trains Division. 1 armoured car was under 6th Regiment.
Estonian cavalry consisted of 2 cavalry regiments, Tallinn Independent Squadron, Armoured Trains Division’s Squadron. The cavalry regiments had 4 squadrons, a Machine Gun Detachment, Signals Detachment.
The Engineer’s Battalion (Inseneripataljon) contained 1st and 2nd Sappeurs Company (1., 2. sapöörirood), Automobile Company (Autorood), Aviation Company (Lennurood), Railroad Company (Raudteerood), Labour Company (Töörood), Telegraph Company (Telegraafirood) and Wireless Radio Company (Sädetelegraafirood). Also it contained 1st, 2nd and 3rd Repair Trains (1., 2., 3. remontrong), which had the assignment of repairing railroads and bridges. The battalion was spreaded all over of the fronts and so it’s staff had only administrative assignments. The Aviation Company had only few working planes.
Estonian Navy (Merejõud) under Captain Johan Pitka had on Baltic sea 2 destroyers, 1 gunboat and some smaller vessels. On lake Peipus and lake Pskov there were 6 gunboats plus some smaller vessels.
And finally: all the men in the age 16 – 60 who weren’t in the army were mobilized into para-military organization Kaitseliit (Defence Union). On 1st June 1919 there were about 100 000 men (about 14 000 of them had by then received military training). Kaitseliit performed security duties behind the front and also gave military training to it’s members.
The Estonian infantry had mostly Russian Mosin rifle, but also Japanese Arisaka rifle was used. Lewis and Madsen LMGs (Great-Britain had sent 281 Lewis’ and 723 Madsens) and Maxim HMGs were used. About 50 % of the artillery consisted of obsolete artillery pieces. Besides there was some amount of mortars, but I haven’t found any exact numbers (it’s likely that there weren’t many). Estonian army had plenty of hand-grenades.
One of the biggest problem was clothing and footwear – there wasn’t enough of these things.
Ranks of the land forces (for some ranks I have no idea what is their correspondence in English):
Reamees - Private
Kapral - Corporal
Noorem alamohvitser - ? (a direct translation from Russian army’s mladshii unter-ofitser)
Vanem alamohvitser - ? (a direct translation from Russian army’s starshii unter-ofitser)
Veltveebel - ? (in German this rank is called Feldwebel, in Russian army it was fel’dfebel’)
Ohvitseri asetäitja - ? (direct translation would be Officer’s Deputy)
Lipnik - ? (in German Fähnrich)
Alamleitnant - Second Lieutenant
Leitnant - Lieutenant
Alamkapten - ?
Kapten - Captain
Alampolkovnik - Lieutenant-Colonel
Polkovnik - Colonel
Kindralmajor - Major-General
Kindral - General
You asked how many were there sabres. In the 3rd Division the Tallinn Independent Squadron had 95 sabres. The Cavalry Detachments in infantry regiments weren’t probably more than 20-30 sabres.
The 3rd Division had in it’s two cavalry regiments and in Armoured Trains Division’s Squadron alltogether near 900 sabres. Also I should make an correction: it seems that at least at the end of May the 2nd Cav Rgt had only 3 squadrons and not 4 like I said previously. So alltogether on the North-Latvian front 9 squadrons of Estonian cavalry had near 1 000 sabres plus the Cavalry Detachments of the infantry units.
I found a little bit more about the Latvian units.
When the Northern-Latvian Brigade left from under the Estonian high command, on 5th July 1919, it had 223 officers, 26 military-officials, 335 junior officers and 9 219 soldiers. The source says that this number also includes a 600 men strong battalion which joined the brigade on 2nd July and before that was in the rear area of Landeswehr. Could this “battalion” be the predecessor of the 1st Latgale Partisan Regiment?
It is interesting that in the N-L Brigade there was about 2 000 ex Latvian Red riflemen. The Latvians received from Estonia 8 artillery pieces, 100 machine guns, 6 000 rifles. When fighting under the Estonian high command the Latvians lost about 300 dead and 600 wounded. In the Latvian Army the N-L Brigade was used as the basis for the 2nd Vidzeme Division.
Now, in the previous part I have given the number of bayonets and sabres for the 3rd Division on 24th May 1919 as 5 200. I found an another source which gives 6 600 bayonets and sabres, 123 machine guns, 27 artillery pieces. These numbers are probably more correct, but I don’t know if they include the 2nd Cesis Regiment (probably they do). This source also says that the Latvian 2nd Cesis Regiment was sent to the front already at the very end of May and that it captured Cesis on 31st May without battle. It is notable that the 3rd Division lost during the offensive in North-Western Latvia only 12 dead and 62 wounded. 543 Reds were captured. The Reds quickly retreated eastwards because the Estonian offensive in North-Eastern Latvia threatened to cut them off.
Also: the number of MGs in Estonian units were probably greater than the official figures show since often the captured MGs weren’t reported by the units because of the fear that they would be taken away if there are too many of them.
On 28th May a Latvian cavalry squadron (Cpt. Plan-Dubrowsky) of the Balodis’ brigade arrived to Limbaži and gave itself under the Estonian high command.
Now to the Landeswehr War itself. The Estonian goal in this war was to support and install the Ulmanis government in Latvia since it was Estonian friendly and besides had promised some disputed territories to Estonia in exchange for Estonian support. During the offensive in Northern-Latvia the Estonians gave the captured towns as quickly as possible to the Latvians. This was in response to the Niedra government’s propaganda which described the Estonians as occupiers.
On the evening of 2nd June the vanguard of Landeswehr (von Medem’s column) arrived to Jeriki. Rittmeister von Jena with escort arrived then to Cesis and contacted Colonel Zemitans (the commander of the N-L Brigade) there and said that they wanted to link up with the other anti-Bolshevik forces. Since there weren’t anymore Reds in Northern-Latvia, it was suggested to the Germans that they should advance towards East. At the same time Broad-gauge Armoured Train Nr. 2 arrived to Cesis. Von Jena then left. On 3rd June a Landeswehr unit entered Cesis, but left peacefuly when the Latvians demanded so. On the same day train nr. 2 left to Strenči.
On 3rd June the Commander in Chief J. Laidoner ordered the Estonian troops to take the controll of the railroad between Jeriki and Gulbene and for this the following positions were to be taken: river Gauja until Sigulda – Nitaure – Vecpiebalga – Jaungulbene. In the morning of 4th June a meeting was to be held between Germans and Estonians, but the German delegation didn’t arrive. Then an ultimatum was sent by telegraph that the Germans should pull back behind the line of river Gauja until Sigulda – Nitaure – Vecpiebalga – Jaungulbene. In the evening two Landeswehr officers arrived but without any credentials for negotiations. They were sent back with a letter: if there are still German troops to the North of the line tomorrow at midday then they will be treated as enemies. The Germans didn’t send any answer.
On 5th June at 13:45 the armoured trains nr. 2 and 4 started to move from Cesis towards Jeriki. With them were also the Chief of Staff of the 2nd Division Lt.-Col. Nikolai Reek and US Lieutenant-Colonel E. J. Dawley as an observer. A message arrived that Landeswehr’s delegation has departed from Riga. Lt-Col. Reek decided that they will be received only if the Estonian ultimatum is fulfilled. When the trains reached the bridge on the Amata river (between Cesis and Jeriki) some men were sent to check if the bridge is OK. Suddenly from a forest fire was opened and a junior-officer was wounded. At the same time the German infantry tried to attack an armoured train. They rushed out from a forest but were mowned down by train’s machine guns. Then the trains headed back to Cesis. At the evening the Commander in Chief gave to the 3rd Division free hands against Landeswehr.
The situation of the 3rd Division at the beginning of 6th June (look map 4)
Commander – General-Major Ernst Põdder
Chief of Staff – Lt.-Col. Nikolai Reek
The staff and rear area institutions located in Valga.
Division’s command post with Lt.-Col. Reek located in Valmiera.
9th Infantry Regiment (Cpt. J. Schmidt) in the area of Limbaži
Tallinn Independent Squadron (2nd Lt. H. Foelsch) somewhere in the area between Limbaži and Cesis
2nd Cesis Regiment (Lt.-Col. K. Berkis) in the area of Cesis
Broad-gauge Armoured Train Nr. 2 (alamkapten J. Lepp) in Cesis.
Broad-gauge Armoured Train Nr. 4 (2nd Lt. H. Jaakson) in Cesis
6th Infantry Regiment (alamkapten K. Tallo) in the area of Valmiera
3rd Infantry Regiment (alamkapten J. Kruus) in the area of Smiltene
Broad-gauge Armoured Train Nr. 5 (2nd Lt. I. Reinvaldt) in Valmiera
Armoured car “Vanapagan” in Valmiera
Probably armoured car “Estonia” was also under 3rd Division but where exactly, I don’t know.
Infantry was supported by 8 batteries of artillery. Unfortunately I haven’t found any exact numbers for 6th June, but most probably they aren’t very different from those of 24th May.
In the morning of 6th June the 6th InfRgt was ordered to join the Latvians in Cesis, but it would take time before they arrive. At 3:30 the Germans started their offensive towards Cesis. The 2nd Cesis Rgt was supported by two Latvian batteries and two Estonian armoured trains – alltogether 1 630 bayonets, 14 artillery pieces, 89 MGs. About 15 o’clock the defenders abandoned the town and pulled back in disorder behind the Rauna river.
During 6th and 7th June the 9th , 6th and 3rd InfRgts headed southwards. On 7th the 9th Rgt received order to stop and protect divisions right flank in the area of Limbaži. In the evening of 7th June the 2nd and 3rd Btl of the 6th InfRgt reached the area of Cesis. A group under alamkapten K. Tallo was formed which had the task of recapturing Cesis. It consisted of these two battalions supported by the armoured car “Estonia”, by the armoured trains nr. 2, 4, 5 and by the 1st, 4th and 6th Batteries of the 3rd ArtyRgt and a Latvian battery. The Cesis Rgt was reorganised in the rear. The Germans were dug in in front of the Cesis. The attack (over 1 000 bayonets) started in the morning of 8th June (map 5). The armoured trains soon stopped in front of a destroied bridge and couldn’t effectively support the infantry. The advancing infantry was supressed with enemy fire. At about 16:00 the Germans counterattacked on the left flank of the 2nd Btl and forced it to retreat in disorder. In the evening the Estonians took positions in front of the rivers Gauja and Rauna.
During the battle there were problems with communication – alamkapten K. Tallo was located in Valmiera. Besides that the overall command was weak since the 3rd InfRgt which located on the left flank of the 6th InfRgt didn’t get any assignment before it was already too late.
3rd Division decided to repeat the attack on 10th June, but in the early morning of 9th June at 2:00 the Germans suddenly attacked the 2nd Btl/6th Rgt, part of which ran in panic. The 4th Battery which supported the battalion abandoned their guns and also ran. The bridge on the river of Rauna was captured and for a moment the Estonian armoured trains were trapped. The Assault Detachments of the trains now assaulted the bridge and captured it back after which the trains retreated to the other bank of the river. Lt.-Col. N. Reek personally came to rally the troops and with a counter-attack the 6th Rgt managed to get back the lost guns of the 4th Battery. After that the 6th Rgt took defensive positions behind the river Rauna and repulsed the following enemy attempts to cross it. The Germans managed temporarily to cross the Gauja river near Vinduli, but were then thrown back with the fire of the 6th Battery.
During the battles there were negotiations and partly because of the influence of the representers of the Entente a truce was made on 10th June at 7:50. This truce was actually needed by the Estonians to organize and concentrate troops. An Estonian soldier J. Pert later described the feelings before the battles with the Germans: “Men are serious. Nobody talks. Like this it wasn’t when one went into the battle against the Reds.”
The negotiations after the truce turned to be unpleasant for the Germans after the Entente mission here (General H. Gough) started to support the Estonian demands. On 18th June the Germans sent a message to the Estonian command that the Estonian forces must retreat 10 kilometers and if they don’t do so before 08:00 on 19th June then the truce will be broken. Gen-Maj Laidoner didn’t respond and gave to the 3rd Division order to be ready for battles. The Estonian command chose defensive tactics – to let the Germans attack first. There were political-propagandistic and military reasons for this: the Estonians didn’t want to show themselves as aggressors, but also the reinforcements had not arrived yet (to tell the truth I don’t really understand why it took so long to bring these reinforcements). The plan was to break the enemy in a defensive battle and then to start a counter-offensive with the help of the arriving reinforcements. It was stressed by the Commander in Chief that defense must be active.
The situation of the 3rd Division on 19th June (look map 6)
In the area of Limbaži: two battalions of the 9th Infantry Regiment (Cpt. J. Schmidt)
The Battery of the 9th Infantry Regiment (two 3,425 inch Russian guns (year 1895 model) plus two 57 mm Russian guns)
A platoon of the 4th Battery/3rd Artillery Regiment (two guns)
Alltogether 950 bayonets and sabres, 21 MGs, 6 artillery pieces.
In the area of Stalbe – river Gauja: four battalions of the 6th Infantry Regiment (Cpt. K Tallo)
1st and 6th Battery/3rd Artillery Regiment
a Latvian squadron
a Latvian Commandant Detachment
a small Latvian unit (20 – 30 men) formed from the pupils of Limbaži (the OOB which I refer puts this unit in the area of Stalbe – river Gauja though actually it was with the 9th Regiment. So when counting the bayonets at Limbaži we should add to the 950 bayonets 20-30 more. Accordingly one should take these 20 – 30 bayonets away from the 2 206 bayonets and sabres at the area of Stalbe – river Gauja.)
Alltogether 2 206 bayonets and sabres, 39 MGs, 6 artillery pieces.
In the area of North-East from Cesis: 3 battalions of the 2nd Cesis Regiment (Lt.-Col. K. Berkis)
The regiment was supported by two Latvian batteries (one of them was 2nd Cesis Battery, but I am not sure about the other – it was either the 1st Valmiera or the 3rd Ruijena battery.)
Alltogether 1 470 bayonets and sabres, 45 MGs, 6 artillery pieces.
In the area of Rauna: three battalions of the 3rd Infantry Regiment (alamkapten J. Kruus)
3rd Battery/3rd Artillery Regiment
a platoon of the 4th Battery/3rd Artillery Regiment
Tallinn Independent Squadron
And on the railroad:
Broad-gauge Armoured Train “Kapten Irv” (Lt. E. Neps)
Broad-gauge Armoured Train Nr. 3 (Cpt. O. Luiga)
Alltogether in the area of Rauna + the armoured trains: 1 731 bayonets and sabres, 84 MGs, 12 artillery pieces.
Besides this, the armoured car “Vanapagan” was held in reserve in the area of Valmiera.
So on 19th June there were 6 357 bayonets and sabres, 189 MGs, 30 artillery pieces.
The 3rd, 6th and 2nd Cesis regiments formed the Cesis Group (Võnnu grupp) under Lt.-Col. N. Reek. The armoured trains were under the command of Cpt. K. Parts (the commander of the Armoured Trains Division).
The reinforcements on the way were:
2nd Battalion and some detachments/1st Infantry Regiment
Kuperjanov Partisan’s Battalion
Broad-gauge Armoured Train Nr. 2
Broad-gauge Armoured Train Nr. 4
Armoured cars “Toonela” and “Estonia”
Assault Detachment of the Narrow-gauge Armoured Train Nr. 4
Two batteries of artillery
During the truce the Estonian troops had prepared defensive positions.
Battles on the right flank of the Estonian front 19th – 20th June. (map 7)
In the morning of 19th June the parts of the German Iron Division started to move towards Limbaži and Valmiera. In the direction of Limbaži advanced Cpt. von Blankenburg’s column (500 bayonets, 28 MGs, 4 guns). At 12:15 it reached Vidriži where it encountered the Reconnaissance Detachment /9th Inf. Rgt and the Latvian Limbaži pupil’s unit – alltogether about 50 men. They retreated only at about 23:00. The German command thought that they had broken the Estonian main defense-line and that there aren’t anymore strong Estonian units in the direction of Limbaži. So the main forces of the Iron Division were headed towards Valmiera believing that the German left flank is secure. Next day von Blankenburg continued to advance pushing back the RecDet/9th Reg and Latvian pupils, at Vanküla the outposts of the 5th Coy/2nd Btl/9th Rgt were forced to retreat. By the evening the Germans had reached the main-defensive line of the 2nd Btl at Bulmuiža – Ladenhof. The platoon of the 3rd Btry/3rd ArtReg which supported the 5th Coy at Bulmuiža was supressed by the German artillery fire which was corrected from air. Then the Germans broke through the front of the 5th Coy and continued to advance. The Estonian artillery platoon escaped, the 5th Coy retreated in disorder. Only after a while the Btl commander managed to rally some men. At the same time the 6th Coy, which had been in reserve in Limbaži, advanced to the right flank of the Germans and suddenly attacked from the cover of crops. A battery was placed into open position and opened direct fire. All this resulted that the Germans ran in panic. The retreating Germans were then attacked from their left flank by the 8th Coy. The 7th Coy had also the task of flanking the Germans, but the Coy was late and the Germans managed to retreat towards Aijaži.
The main forces of the Iron Division (about 1 500 bayonets and sabres, 78 MGs, 15 guns, 4 mortars, 2 armoured cars) advanced towards Valmiera. At midday 20th June they reached Straupe which was defended by the Cavalry Detachment/6th Rgt, Latvian commandant detachment and a Latvian squadron (which by some reason left before the battle). Straupe was soon taken by the Germans. The Estonians tried to recapture it, but the counterattack (15th Coy/4th Btl/6th Rgt, Viljandi Pupil’s Company (Viljandi kooliõpilaste rood – it was under 6th Rgt), CavDet/9th Rgt, Latvian squadron) failed. But the Germans stopped their advance on this day. To strenghten the positions the Estonian command sent here 2nd Btl/6th Rgt (which had been in the division’s reserve at Loode station) and a platoon of the 6th Btry/3rd ArtReg.
So at the end of 20th June the German success on the right flank of the Estonian front was minimal. The German air-reconaissance though reported that the Iron Division is succesfully advancing towards Valmiera and this inspired the German command to give the order for Landeswehr to start offensive on 21st June.
The halt of the German offensive on 21st June - map 8
The right flank of the Estonian front
At 01:00 the Germans tried to cross the river Gauja near Vinduli but were repulsed with the help of artillery fire. At 11:00 the Germans under the cover of artillery fire went to offensive at the direction of Stalbe which was defended by the 2nd Btl and Viljandi Pupils Company supported by the guns of 6th Battery. Two German attacks were repulsed, but at about 17:00 the Viljandi Coy was forced to retreat at the farms of Mucenieks and Ozols and the Germans were approaching to Stolben. At this moment the reinforcements, sent by Lt.-Col. N. Reek, arrived: armoured cars “Estonia” and “Toonela” and the Assault Detachment of the Narrow-gauge Armoured Train Nr. 4 counter-attacked forcing the enemy to retreat. The Germans still continued to attack in this sector, but were always repulsed. The fighting here continued until about 23:00. During this day at Auciema a German plane was shot down by the 6th Rgt.
During this day near Vinduli a group of volunteers of the 2nd Coy/1st Btl/6th Rgt crossed the Gauja river on a boat and attacked a German post capturing a MG and a mortar and then pursued the running enemy for a while. This little adventure had serious consequences though. The German command feared that something serious is happening in this sector and didn’t risk to send a battalion of the Iron Division (which was kept as a reserve) to support the advancing Landeswehr. Instead it was kept in Cesis.
The 9th Regiment remained passive.
The left flank of the Estonian front
The Landeswehr started it’s offensive between 02:00 and 04:00. Major Boeckelmann’s column (about 700 bayonets, 46 MGs, 8 guns, 2 armoured cars) advanced against 3rd Btl/3rd Rgt and managed to break the front, but temporarily this hole was closed with a company from reserve. At the same time Cpt. Malmede’s and Cpt. von Jena’s columns (about 2 300 bayonets, and sabres, 150 MGs, 30 guns and mortars) attacked the 2nd Cesis Regiment and at about 08:00 the Latvian defenses completely collapsed and men ran. The Latvian batteries however continued to fire and retreated on the last moment. The Germans now threatened to flank 3rd Btl/3rd Rgt which started to retreat. But this exposed the flank of the 1st Btl/3rd Rgt which was now hit by the Germans who forced the battalion to retreat. At about 17:00 the battalions managed to take positions in front of Rauna. The infantry was supported by the 3rd Btry and a platoon of the 4th Btry. Parts of the 2nd Cesis Rgt took positions on the right flank. The following German attacks were repulsed and at about 23:00 the fighting here started to end. During 21st June the 3rd Rgt lost 79 KIA/WIA/MIA.
After breaking through the font of the 2nd Cesis Rgt the Germans advanced towards Valmiera. The Estonian armoured trains “Kapten Irv” and Nr. 3 retreated to Loode station in order to avoid of being trapped. At about 08:00 a German armoured train crossed the bridge over the river Rauna, but received hits from Estonian trains and stopped. After an hour the German train tried again to advance but also this time was hit and now retreated. At the same time the German infantry started to reach the Loode station and a German battery opened direct fire at the Estonian trains from the flank. The assault detachments from the trains landed and took defensive positions. At about 11:30 help arrived – the Kuperjanov Partisan’s Battalion (alamkapten J. Unt; 550 bayonets, officialy 12 MGs, but probably quite lot more) supported with the 2nd Btry/3rd ArtRgt (this battery always accompanied the Kuperj. Btl.) and assaulted towards Liepa. The enemy encountered them with heavy fire which forced the battalion to take cover. Only in the evening, after fierce fighting, the battalion managed to take Liepa and the nearby height 53,0. The Assault Detachments of the armoured trains advanced on battalion’s right flank. During the day also Broad-gauge Armoured Train Nr. 2 (alamkapten J. Lepp) had arrived.
At about 16:00 the Estonian reconnaissance dicovered that the Germans had also advanced in the direction of Skangal and that their bicycle recon troops already were reaching the area of Murmuiža and so threatened Valmiera. To encounter this, the armoured car “Vanapagan” and the Sappeurs Detachment/6th Rgt arrived in the evening to Murmuiža.
On 21st June at 11:00 the Commander in Chief had given the order for counter-offensive. At this point the Estonian high command didn’t know yet about the extent of Landeswehr’s success. This order reached the 3rd Division at 15:30. At about 17:00 the Division informed the high command about the relatively difficult situation on the front. The C in C again demanded counter-offensive and allowed to use the arriving reinforcements only for counter-offensive, not for filling the caps on the front. In the evening to Valga arrived the 2nd Btl/1st InfRgt with the 1st Btry/1st ArtRgt (the units were under the command of Col. O. Heinze – the commander of the 1st InfRgt).
The start of the counter-offensive (22nd June) -map 9
The left flank of the Estonian front
The counter-offensive started with the elimination of the German wedge around Skangal – Starte. After this the general counter-offensive on all the front was to be started. At about 03:00 the Kalevlaste Maleva (Lt. O. Tief; 400 bayonets, 13 MGs) arrived to North of Loode. After unloading it assaulted together with the Assault Detachment of the Broad-gauge Armoured Train Nr. 2 (150 bayonets) towards Skangal. The attack was supported by the 2nd Btry/3rd ArtReg. At first the Estonians managed relatively easily to take Berzu and Skangali capturing a German battery, but right after this the Germans organized a counter-attack and forced the Estonian units to retreat. The Estonians managed to take one of the captured German guns with them. At about 12:30 the Estonians went again to offensive towards Skangal and after close combat took it again – this time finally. During the battles here the Kalevlaste Maleva lost 62 KIA/MIA/WIA.
At about 04:00 the 2nd Btl/1st InfReg with the staff of the 1st InfReg, Reconnaissance Detachment/1st InfReg and Signals Detachment/1st InfReg arrived at Valmiera. The 1st Btry/1st ArtReg followed. This Group of Col. Heinze was then headed towards Starte. At Murmuiža it was joined by the armoured car “Vanapagan” and the Sappeurs Det/6th InfRgt. Without waiting the battery to arrive the group (500 bayonets, 18 MGs) went to offensive under the effective cover of a Latvian battery and met between Murmuiža and Starte the Germans who were also moving forwards. The German reconaissance had failed to detect the Estonian presence here and the battle was a complete surprise for them. The Germans ran leaving over 20 prisoners, the Estonians captured Starte.
During the day the Kuperjanov Btl, parts of the 2nd Cesis Rgt and the Assault Detachments of the trains pushed in the railroad sector the enemy behind the river Rauna. In the evening the Cesis Rgt was pulled temporarily to the rear for reorganization.
On the front of the 3rd Regiment the Germans, supported by artillery, went to offensive in the morning but were constantly repulsed. Finally at about 15:00 they managed to break the front between the 1st and 3rd Btl/3rd Rgt and approached the ruins of the Rauna order-castle. The last reserve of the regiment – the Reconaissance Detachment – was thrown against them and occupied the castle just when the Germans climbed the castle hill. Now the Germans had to retreat, suffering heavy casualties. At the same time the 1st and 3rd Btl attacked the enemy from the flanks which resulted panic amongst the Germans. The 3rd Rgt also organized a reconnaissance raid in the enemy rear.
The right flank of the Estonian front
Here the Germans made still attempts to advance. On the front of the 2nd Btl/6th Rgt parts of the Iron Division started their attacks in the early morning of 22nd June. The 2nd Btl was reinforced by the 1st Coy/1st Btl/6th Rgt. Infantry was supported by the 6th Btry/3rd ArtReg and the armoured cars. The Germans achieved several smaller breakthroughs, but these were eliminated with counter-attacks. At about 21:00 the Germans cancelled the battle and retreated. In the battles of 20th – 22nd June the 6th Rgt lost 93 KIA/MIA/WIA.
The commander of the 9th Rgt started on 22nd June to advance on his own initiative. The goal was to cut German communications at Englarte. By the evening of the 22nd June the regiment had reached Birini. The German opposition was weak; at Vever a German plane (armed with two MGs) was shot down with rifle fire. Two companies of the 2nd Btl/9th Rgt had turned to East and now threatened the left flank of the Iron Division at Straupe (Roopa). During the night the Iron Division retreated from this area.
The advance towards Riga
At 23:17 on 22nd June the command of the 3rd Division had given orders to it’s units to start the general counter-offensive in the early morning of 23rd June. When the advance started it became clear that the Germans had retreated everywhere, only weak rear-guard had remained. At about 06:30, after an half-hour battle with a German rear-guard, Cesis was captured by the Assault Detachment of the train nr. 3. Soon the Assault Detachment of the train “Kapten Irv” followed and then also a company from the 2nd Cesis Rgt. At 10:00 the 3rd Division gave for it’s units the following orders: the 9th Rgt and the 1st and 2nd Btl/6th Rgt supported by two armoured cars will advance towards Inčukalns (Hinzenberg). The Group of Col. Heinze with it’s 3rd Rgt, 2nd Btl/1st Rgt will head towards Jeriki. The 2nd Cavalry Regiment (alamkapten R. Uritam; about 300 – 400 sabres), which was also included into Heinze’s group, had the task of capturing Nitaure. The centre of the front had to advance in the railroad sector.
The Iron Division had retreated to the Englarte area and took there positions using WW I fortifications. When the 9th Rgt reached Englarte it decided to attack though the two companies which headed towards Stalbe on the 22nd June hadn’t joined the regiment yet. The assault with five companies (1st Coy/1st Btl was at this time advancing along the coast) started in the evening. The 3rd Coy/1st Btl was to perform a deep flanking maneuvre. When the other companies attacked directly towards Englarte they encountered heavy German fire and were forced to take cover. After 15 minutes the 7th and 8th Company paniced and ran. Meanwhile the 3rd Coy had attacked the Germans from behind and managed even temporarily capture a German battery. But because of the failure of the other companies the Germans had no problem of organizing a counter-attack and surround the 3rd Coy which eventually managed to escape, but with heavy losses. On this day the 9th Regiment lost alltogether over 100 men (about 40 of them from the 3rd Coy). Allthough the Germans repulsed the attack, they were so exhausted that decided to abandon the Englarte positions.
On the 23rd June the Germans blew up the bridge over the river Amata which meant that the armoured trains weren’t able to advance until the early morning of the 29th June when a new bridge was ready.
(maps 10 and 11)
On 24thJune at 13:35 the high command ordered to capture the line of the Gauja river – Sigulda – Nitaure, but if possible then also Riga. On 24th June the Germans retreated very fast. The German rear-guard at Jaunamuiža (Neuhof) was forced back in the evening of 24th June by the elements of the 6th Rgt. At the same evening the Kuperjanov Btl captured Sigulda. In the early morning of 25th June the 6th Rgt crossed the Gauja river and together with the Kuperjanov Btl (which advanced from the East) attacked the German positions at Inčukalns (Hinzenberg). The Germans were using WW I fortifications and repulsed the attack with heavy losses to the Estonians. The attack was repeated on 26th with the help of the 8th Coy/2nd Btl/9th Rgt (this company was, BTW, commanded by Lt. L. Ritt who changed side in May at Pskov as the commander of the Red Estonian Rifle Division) and now it succeeded, especially since the Germans had already pulled their main forces back.
The 3rd Rgt didn’t meet any serious opposition when advancing on the left flank until it reached the area of Ikškile on 30th June.
During the 26th/27th the Germans occupied the well fortified positions in front of Riga. On 27th June the Estonians reached also this line and now the advance was stopped to give the troops some rest and to supply them. Besides the armoured trains were still behind the river Amata. During 28th and 29th June there were only reconnaissance raids to detect the enemy positions.
Meanwhile the Niedra government made a proposal for truce but it was rejected.
On 29th June the armoured trains “Kapten Irv”, Nr. 2 and Nr. 3 arrived to the front. The trains were were strenghtened with platforms which had 105mm, 120mm and 130mm naval-guns. The Broad-gauge Armoured Train Nr. 4 (2nd Lt. H Jaakson) which had meanwhile arrived, was just in case left to guard the bridge over the river Amata. On the same day at 21:00 the order to capture Riga was given. The assault was to be started on 30th at 12:00.
On the right flank the 9th Regiment, supported by the 2nd Platoon/4th Btry/3rd ArtReg, started it’s attack already on 29th June. The 1st Btl crossed Gauja and captured Carnikava. On 30th June also the 2nd Btl crossed the river. But the Germans organized on the same day a counter-attack and forced the regiment (except the 5th Coy/2nd Btl, which held on) to retreat from the West bank of Gauja.
On the 30th June the 2nd Btl/6th Rgt assaulted the German positions in the area of Adleri, where also “the hill of machine guns” from WW I located. The attack failed. Now also the Kuperjanov Btl. was brought to this sector and at about 05:00 on 1st July both battalions started new assault which ended with complete success capturing also a German battery. On the same day the 9th Rgt again managed to cross the Gauja and forced the Landeswehr to retreat. By the evening the 1st Btl reached Kalngalaciems, the 2nd Btl reached lake Kišezers. At the same time the Kuperj. Btl and 2nd Btl/6th Rgt threatened to flank the German positions between lakes Jugla and L.-Baltezers, which forced the Germans to retreat and take new positions between lakes Kišezers and Jugla. They were followed by the armoured trains, the Kuperjanov Btl. and the 1st Btl/1st InfRgt.
In the early morning of the 2nd July the 3rd Rgt started it’s assault on the left flank of the front. Artillery support was provided by the 3rd Btry/3rd ArtRgt and 1st Platoon/4th Btry/3rd ArtReg. The 2nd and 3rd Btl managed to break through in the railroad sector, but were then, after extremely fierce fighting, pushed back to their starting positions. The Germans had actually intended to attack by themselves in this sector and now used the concentrated troops for counter-attack. On this day the regiment lost 137 men (31 KIA).
In the area of Skrage the 1st Btl/6th Rgt and the Kalevlaste Maleva tried to cross the Maza Jugla river. The Germans responded with heavy fire using also gas ammunition and the attacks were cancelled.
On the right flank the 9th Rgt captured on 2nd July Mangalsala (Magnusholm) and Milgravi (Alt-Mühlgraben) and prepared to cross the canal between Kišezers and Daugava. At the early morning of the day a 600-strong Latvian battalion of the Balodis’ brigade had crossed the Estonian front in the sector of the 9th Rgt.
And now few words about the actions of the Estonian navy. Already on 22nd June the destroier “Vambola” (displacement – 1 600 tons; 4x102mm guns, 1xAA gun) had arrived to the Gulf of Riga. During the next days it supported the 9th Rgt. On 30th June the Estonian fleet under Cpt. J. Pitka started to move from Pärnu towards Riga. Besides “Vambola” it consisted: destroier “Lennuk” (displacement – 1 830 tons; 5x102mm guns, 1xAA gun), gunboat “Lembit” (displacement – 875 tons; 2x120mm guns, 4x76mm guns, 1xAA gun), assistance-gunboat “Tasuja” (displacement 585 tons; 1x130mm gun, 2x76mm guns), trawlers “Kalev” and “Olev” (both had displacement 60 tons; 1x57mm gun) and a tanker.
The Germans had at Daugavgriva (Dünaburg) a 152mm battery and a 102mm battery. In Mangalsala and Bolderaja were 152mm batteries. Alltogether 12x152mm guns plus 4x102mm guns. In the evening of 30th June “Lennuk” fired at Mangalsala, but without much success. On the next day the duel continued, the Germans also bombarded from air but without success. “Lennuk” though managed to destroy 1 gun in Mangalsala.
Next morning (2nd July) the duel started again. The navy also supported the land forces with it’s fire. The coastal batteries of Mangalsala and Daugavgriva received hits and the Germans abandoned them. The small German fleet (some armed civilian ships) was also captured. On the next morning also the Bolderaja battery was destroied. It should be noted that during the whole war agianst the Germans, the navy didn’t suffer a single human loss.
On the 2nd July at about 21:00 the negotiations for truce had started in Strasdenhof which ended at 03:30 on 3rd July. The truce, which started at 12:00 on 3rd July, was extremely unpopular amongst the Estonian soldiers.
Now some figures. At the end of the war the Estonian and Latvian forces against the Germans numbered (without the navy):
7 872 bayonets
332 MGs (armtrains and armcars included)
61 artillery pieces (armtrains and armcars included)
4 armoured trains
3 armoured cars
There has been some calculations made that the Estonian army lost alltogether 251 dead and 1 041 wounded in the war against the Germans. The Latvian losses are said to be about 60 dead and 90 wounded (the ratio of dead and wounded is somehow strange I would say). It is claimed that between 9th and 23rd June the Estonian army lost against the Germans 110 dead and 279 wounded. During this time the Latvians lost 56 dead and wounded.
During the whole war (28th November 1918 – 2nd January 1920) the Estonian army (without Latvians and white Russians) lost 2 236 dead because of enemy activity, 13 775 wounded and contused, 1 352 dead because of diseases and accidents. Also about 800 men were captured by the Soviets (the Estonians captured over 10 000 Reds).
It is often said that prisoners weren’t taken in the Estonian-German war, but it seems to me that this is not true. Unfortunately I have no idea how many prisoners there were.
The Estonian sources always point out the low morale of the 2nd Cesis Rgt. This can at least partially explained with the fact that it was the first battle for this unit and on 21st June the regiment was hit by the main forces of the Landeswehr.
As you probably noticed the narrative wasn’t so detailed at the end. This is because the sources had the same problem. And a correction has to be made. Somewhere I have said that the Armoured Train’s Division was purely an administrative staff and didn’t lead operations. Well, in the Landeswehr War it did lead, but it was subordinated to the 3rd Division. The ArmTrains Div was commanded by Cpt. K. Parts and consisted of all the armoured trains + the Kuperjanov Btl and the Kalevlaste Maleva. During the last days of the war also the 2nd Btl/1st Rgt was included.