The defensive battles on the southern front

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16. February 1919

By the middle of February 1919, Estonians had captured Heinaste (Ainaži), Ruhja (Rūjiena), Aluliina (Alūksne), Petseri and Izborsk.

Red Army was forced to reinforce their contingent: three armies were rallied on the Estonian border and their advantage on the front grew threefold. A new Bolshevik invasion began and the Estonians were forced to retreat.

Red Army captured Heinaste (Ainaži) on February 16, Aluliina (Alūksne) on February 28, and Petseri on March 11.
During the subsequent advance, Bolsheviks reached Haanja upland and captured Rõuge.

Estonian military command then sent additional forces from Narva to the southern front, together with the local units of the Defence League. With their help, Estonians managed to push the enemies back, and retake Petseri on March 29.

In April, 1919, Red Army launched a new large scale assault: on April 22, they came only 1,5 km from Võru. On April 25, Estonian forces that had been struck by the sudden attack, had to abandon the city of Ruhja (Rūjiena). Nonetheless, the 2nd Division, led by Colonel Viktor Puskar, managed to normalize the situation on the southern front. After two assaults, the Red Army's strength dropped, also there was no reinforcements on the way. After an unsuccessful assault in the beginning of May, the front remained put on the ethnic border of Estonia yet again.

In the mean time, nothing changed on the Viru front.

The city of Narva, however, was under heavy artillery fire. Biggest bombardment took place on April 25, when 130 residential buildings in the Juhkentali (Joaoru) borough were destroyed, and over 2000 people were left without a home (see image).

Source: Eesti ajalugu. VI, Vabadussõjast taasiseseisvumiseni. Tartu: Ilmamaa, 2005
Eesti ajaloo atlas. Tallinn: Avita, 2006.                                                                                                   

Image source: http://www.riigi.arhiiv.ee/naitus/narva_rinne/suured/A-269-344.jpg   


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