Bakhmach – A Turbulent Past and Developing Future

Bakhmach can be regarded as a relatively new city, unlike most within Ukraine, having only made a formal beginning as a settlement when a railway line was constructed here in the 1860’s and 1870’s. Today, the city can be found located in the province of Chernihiv Oblast in Northern Ukraine, acting as the administrative center for the Bakhmatsky Raion or district. It also has two railway stations: Bakhmach-Passazhyrsky and Bakhmach-kyivsky. It contains eight libraries, a local geography and history museum, a central Raion administrative building, a culture club and three health centers.

Not much can be said about Bakhmach’s history in its short existence. Relative peace seemed to take hold until the year 1918 when the city became the site of one of two significant events to take place in its history to date. This first crisis was the battle between the German forces who were occupying land in Ukraine and the Czechoslovak Legion of Russia. It all began on March 3, 1918 with the Germans taking control of Russia at the time of signing the ‘Brest-Litovsk’ peace treaty with the Bolsheviks who, most importantly, gave up full control of Ukraine on this particular occasion. To add to it all, the Germans and their formidable counterparts Austria-Hungary started to occupy most of the land with little or no resistance.

Up to that point the Czechoslovak Legion made up of about 42,000 soldiers had done nothing more than engage in retreat battles against these powerful armies, while preparing to escape from Russia using the Trans-Siberian railroad. However the Legion soon realized they were in grave danger of being encircled thus preventing their timely escape. What was of even more concern to the legion was that on capture it would mean immediate execution by the Austria-Hungary army who viewed the Czechoslovak Legion as traitors to their countries. On March 8 the Germans reached the city of Bakhmach, considered an important railroad hub, and sent out the German 224th and 91st Infantry to encircle. At the same time the Czechoslovak army corp set up defense using the Assault Battalion and the 6th “Hanacky” and the 7th “Tatransky” of the Rifle Regiment. This altercation based on the take over of the Bakhmach city lasted less then six days beginning on March the 8th to March 13, 1918. The result: the Legionnaires escaped encirclement by train bound for Vladivostok.

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