The Battle of Uman was a battle fought during the Second World War between Germany and the Soviet Union, from July 15 to August 8, 1941. It was a German encirclement of the Soviet 6th and 12th armies south of the city of Uman during the initial phase of Operation Barbarossa. This German encirclement of Soviet forces south of Uman was carried out by the Army Group South, which was commanded by Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt.
In its rapid advance eastward, the German Army Group South had captured Lviv, Ternopil and Vinnytsia, and destroyed four mechanized corps which General Kirponos had used in a counterattack at Brody. By June 29, 1941, the German advance had temporarily been checked, but the Soviet forces were exhausted and started to retreat. With the failure of the Soviet armor counter-offensive against the German 1st Panzer Group, under Ewald von Kleist, Army Group South resumed its advance eastward until it got within a few miles of Kiev by mid-July. Soviet General Budyonny attempted to counter-attack from north of Uman in the direction of Berdychiv, but von Kleist’s 1st Panzer Group had already cut off his lines of communication.
General Budyonny had 1.5 million troops under his command in two strategic sectors of the front to defend: Kiev and Vinnytsia-Uman. But the Army Group South continued its three-pronged offensives deep into the breach created between the Kiev sector’s 26th Army and the 6th Army to its south as General Ewald von Kleist’s Panzer Group 1 drove a wedge between the two Soviet sectors of the front south of Kiev and north of Vinnytsia, capturing Berdychiv on July 15, 1941, and capturing Koziatyn on July 16, 1941. General Karl-Heinrich von Stülpnagel’s 17th Field Army moved South of Uman as General Eugen Ritter von Schobert’s 11th Field Army advanced northwards from the Romanian border.
The Russian staff mistakenly believed that the Germans were striving to reach the crossing of the Dnieper between Kiev and Cherkasy for a further offensive towards Donbass, and underestimated the danger of encirclement for the 6th and 12th armies. On July 28, 1941, an order was given to the Soviet Southwestern and Southern Fronts forces to stop the Germans from crossing the Dnieper and to retreat only in the Eastern direction. Thus, the Soviets lost the opportunity to avoid the danger of encirclement by retreating in a southeastern direction.
The effect of the closing Axis forces was to slowly force the concentration of the Soviet 27th and 26th Armies in an ever reduced area, with the combined Headquarters of the armies situated in the town of Podvisokoye. By August 2, 1941, the encirclement had been closed by the meeting of the German 1st Panzer Group and advanced elements of the German 17th Army. This encirclement was reinforced the next day when the German 16th Panzer Division met with the Hungarian Mechanized Corps. By August 8, 1941, the Soviet resistance had collapsed. Remnants of 20 divisions from the Soviet 6th Army and the 12th Army were trapped. About 103,000 Russian troops were taken prisoner, including the commanders of both the 6th and 12th armies, four corps commanders, and eleven division commanders.