Struggle with Rumanian oligarchy. Political, economic, and strategic reasons for the Austro-German occupation. Beginning of Austro-German occupation. Signing of the Brest-Litovsk peace treaty. Subsequent Austro-German occupation. Fighting for the possession of the Donets Basin. Influence of the German occupation on the consolidation of the counter-revolutionary forces. Struggle for the possession of Finland. Development of the civil war in Northern Caucasia. The "frigid march" of the Volunteer Army. Situation in the Urals. Situation in Siberia. Czecho-Slovak uprisings, its causes and spread. Beginning of the formation of the Eastern Front. Revolt of the right social- revolutionaries in middle Volga and left social-revolutionaries at Moscow. Influence of the Czecho-Slovak uprising on the rebellion in the Orenburg and Ural steppes. Action of the Czecho-Slovak forces against Yekaterinburg. Organizational work on the Eastern Red Front. Plan of offensive on the Eastern Red Front formulated by Comrade Vatzetis in the latter part of July, 1918, and its execution. Capture by the enemy of the city of Kazan. Recapture of the city. Autumn campaign of 1918 on the Eastern Front. Political antecedents in the formation of the North Front. Beginning of operations on this front. The "White" government of the North district. The Winter Campaign of 1918-1919 on the North Front. Spring and summer campaigns of 1919 on the North Front. End of the civil war on the North Front.
The peace negotiations begun at the initiative of the Soviet
government were soon interrupted by the resumption of hostilities on the part
of the Austro- German militarists. This renewal of hostilities, referred to as
the Austro- German occupation, constitutes a new page in the history of our
civil war. Before proceeding with a consideration of it, we shall discuss the
events culminating into the phase of the civil war just presented.
The process of the bolshevization of the Russian forces on the Rumanian front of the World War was carried on under the most difficult conditions. The bulk of the Rumanian troops had not been touched by the process of the revolution. This had enabled the Rumanian command to assist actively the Russian counter-revolutionary groups headed by General Shcherbachev, who was the actual commander-in-chief of the Russian military forces in Rumania.
The pro-revolutionary units of the old Army were either disarmed or were forced to make their way through the ring of Rumanian and "White" guard officer formations. The disintegration of the Russian armed forces had rendered the fall of Bessarabia into Rumanian hands an easy matter where, in January of 1918, they put up a pretense that Bessarabia voluntarily joined Rumania. Extending their zone of occupation in Bessarabia, the Rumanian forces slowly approached the Dniester. Their movement to the line of the Dniester river coincided with the Soviet revolt in Odessa, January 18, 1918.
The young Soviet government in Odessa was originally organized as the Odessa Soviet Republic. The latter was compelled to actively undertake the organization of its army in view of the threatening movement of the Rumanian forces to the line of the Dniester river. This latter movement caused apprehension for the safety of the city of Odessa itself. The nucleus in the organization of the Soviet military forces consisted of the small elements of the old army which had managed to get there from Rumania and which had halted along the Dniester in the Bender and Tiraspol areas. In mid-February of 1918 these units were organized into a "Special Army." Together with this army the Odessa republic had a military force in the neighborhood of 5,000 to 6,000 men. Early in February, 1918, these forces were the first to resist the Rumanians in the attempts of the latter at crossing the Dniester. The opposition here proved so unexpected for the Rumanians that they proved eager for a truce, offered to them on February 8, 1918, by the executive committee of the soldiers, sailors and peasants deputies of the Rumanian front, of the Black Sea Fleet and Odessa District situated at Odessa. The peace negotiations, however, were protracted. Meanwhile the success of the Soviet forces in the Ukraine had enabled the Soviet governments of Russia and the Ukraine to devote more attention and forces to the Rumanian front.
There was organized at Odessa the plenipotentiary agency of the "Supreme Collegium for action against the Rumanian and Bessarabian counter-revolutionary forces." The first step of this supreme authority was the severance of negotiations with the Rumanians and the delivery of an ultimatum on February 15, 1918, to clear Bessarabia without delay. The Rumanians rejected the ultimatum and on February 16th military operations were resumed. The enemy gained some local victories at sea, preventing the entrance of the Soviet flotilla into the mouth of the Danube at Wilkovo, but on land the efforts of the Rumanians to cross the Dniester ended in failure. The Soviet forces were already getting reinforcements. The army under Murav'ev, which had taken Kiev, was now transferred to the Dniester. True, the forces of this army were not great. Demobilization of the older men had reduced its strength between 3,000 and 4,000 men. This army was shifted by train in short order from Kiev to Odessa and on the 19th of February Murav'ev announced that he had taken over control of all revolutionary forces operating against Rumania. Notwithstanding the small strength of his forces, he had prepared a plan for extensive operations not only against Bessarabia but Rumania as well, contemplating the seizure of the city of Yassy, which was the political center of the country at the time.
It is difficult to state just what may have been the outcome of all this. On the 1st of March, 1918, Murav'ev succeeded in delivering a notable assault against Rumania at Rybnitsa, on the Dniester, the Rumanian forces losing here about a score of field pieces. The fighting at Rybnitsa served to reveal the efficiency of the Rumanian boyar army. The Rumanians, under the stress of this failure, with the aid of the foreign diplomatic corps at Yassy, themselves now sued for peace. This was agreed to on March 9, 1918. The Supreme Collegium demanded the unconditional abandonment of Bessarabia, where Rumania was permitted to maintain 10,000 men temporarily for the protection of her military supply depots. The Rumanian high command agreed not to interfere in the internal political life of Bessarabia.
These guiding principles had been incorporated in the "Protocol for the liquidation of the Russo-Germans conflict," signed by the Soviets on the 8th of March and by the Rumanians on the 12th of March, 1918, at which time the Russian forces were given orders for the suspension of hostilities against Rumania. Final negotiations were being conducted with Rumania at the time that the Austro-German wave of occupation had already swept into the Ukraine and into the Western boundary zone of the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republics. This wave permanently separated both sides to the agreement. The Rumanian government, taking advantage of this circumstance, refused to carry out the agreement which it had signed on March 12, 1918, with respect to Bessarabia.*
* The willingness of the Rumanian government in this connection with respect to Bessarabia is attributed by certain authors (See Notes on the History of the Civil War of 1917-1920 by Anishev, p. 101, Leningrad, 1925) not so much to the defeat inflicted at Rybnitsa, as to the pressure exerted by the Allied diplomatic representatives, whose object was to thus have the Soviet government more inclined toward the restoration of the front against Germany. We have been unable to discover any documentary evidence tending to substantiate this contention.
By the peace treaty signed on February 9, 1918, with the government of the Central Rada the German imperialists pursued several objectives. Recognizing the independence of the Ukraine, they provided for themselves a pretext for its invasion on the pretense of protecting it against the Bolsheviki. Later, by maintaining the Ukraine within their sphere of influence, they contemplated restricting the spread of the Soviet revolution and rendering vt less dangerous for the Austro-German bloc. At the same time they also acquired an extensive source of supplies. The Central Rada, in exchange for recognition as the sole legal government in the country and for the cession to it by the Germans of a portion of Gollnitz, agreed to full German economic domination. Finally, the occupation of the Ukraine in the south and Finland in the north established for the Germans a favorable strategical situation along their flanks. This was important in the event that the Allies should have attempted the creation of a new Eastern Front. Finally, through the Ukraine was the road leading to the Caucasus, which had also attracted the Germans owing to its supply of raw material and especially oil. All of these missions, in view of the vastness of the theater of operations, demanded a great number of troops.*
* Colonel Shnitler of the Norwegian General Staff, in his The World War of 1914-1918, published in Berlin, 1925, prepared to a certain extent on the basis of his personal observations (who as a military attache was attached to the headquarters of the Austro-German forces) presents the following description of the missions of the Austro-German occupation and of the efforts involved on the part of the countries signatory to the agreement with respect to the occupation:
"The General Powers were called upon to decide important problems in the east. They had to crush the Bolsheviks in the Ukraine, in the Crimea, in the Caucasus, and in Finland. They invaded Russia and occupied a considerable part of its territory and important cities, such as Kiev, Odessa, and Sevastopol. They had advanced up to Caucasia. South Russia was to provide them bread, and the Caucasus was to supply oil. This, however, made it necessary that the central powers maintain in the east considerable forces at the very time when in the west there was a struggle for life and death. The forces left in the east remained under the influence of the turmoil and fermentation that prevailed in Russia. The benefits of the occupation were less than had been expected."
Colonel Shnitler lists them reasons which tended to reduce the benefits derived by the Germans from their occupation and which finally turned these against the countries involved: Disintegration owing to Bolshevik propaganda among the Austro-German forces (upon transfer to the West, these troops brought with them a feeling of exhaustion and longing for peace); the selfishness (?) of the peasantry; the curtailment of provisions within the country, which complicated matters even in cities of the south with respect to foodstuffs; the agitation conducted by the Allied powers (?); the great number of prisoners of war returning from Russia (Austria alone had 2,000,000 prisoners). In spite of the quarantine through which the prisoners of war had to pass, Bolshevik propaganda brought back by war prisoners penetrated the most outlying and distant corners of the country.
The Austro-German high command assigned 29 infantry and 3 cavalry divisions for the occupation of the Ukraine, comprising 200,000 to 220,000 men. Of course, if the only object was the clearing of the territory of Soviet troops, the mission involved could have been accomplished with much lesser forces. The entire forces which Antonow-Ovseyenko could have mustered against this mass of troops were: 3,000 men in the Kiev area, about 3,000 men scattered throughout the various Ukrainian cities, and finally, Murav'ev's "army" with a total strength of about 5,000 men, which had just completed their action against the Rumanians and were now situated at the lower Dniester. In the nature of a general reserve of these forces, situated a considerable distance away, there might be considered the Sivers and Sablin columns (4,000 men, in round figures) that were operating against Kaledin's forces. In all, Antonow-Ovseyenko could have raised not more than 15,000 men, scattered over vast areas. The organization of local Ukrainian units was just started, and was carried on very slowly.
Progress in the organization of military forces by the Soviets was retarded by a lack of agreement with the leftist social-revolutionaries and anarchists, who were engaged in organizing military units of their own and were pursuing their independent aims and objectives, without regard for the interests of the Soviet high command. The situation of the latter was further complicated by the fact that the Soviet government in the Ukraine had not yet been as firmly established as in the case of Great-Russia. Thus the situation of the Soviet command in the Ukraine was most difficult. With supply lines improperly organized, it was called upon to engage a first-class military force that was vastly superior to it in numbers and types of forces involved. Yet, it left nothing undone to contain the enemy and to arrest his progress. The occupationists entered the Ukraine through the main railway lines crossing the Ukraine, traversing the country from west to east.
The XLI German Corps (3rd, 18th, 48th, and 35th Landwehr divisions) proceeded along the main Brest-Litovsk-Gomel-Briansk railway line; this corps serving as the connecting link between forces ordered to occupy the Ukraine and the forces directed to occupy the western districts of the R.S.F.S.R. In the course of its advance, however, this corps encountered the resistance of comrade Berzin's forces, and this hindered the further advance of the Germans on Briansk. The German XXVII Corps (89th, 92nd, 93rd, 95th, 98th, and 2nd Landwehr divisions) proceeded along the main railway leading to Rovno to Kiev and farther on Kursk, directing a portion of its forces over northern and southern branches of this main railway. With its center at Kiev, this corps occupied the left portion of the Ukraine and extended southward up to Krementchug, and eastward up to the line: Sievsk - Sudzha - Poltava. The XXII Corps (20th and 22nd Landwehr divisions), with center at Zhitomir, occupied the right portion of the Ukraine. The German I Reserve Corps (comprising the 16th, 45th, 91st, 215th, and 224th Landwehr divisions and the 2nd Bavarian Cavalry Division) had the mission of occupying the eastern Ukraine and the Donets Basin. This corps, the most active of the corps employed by the Germans in the occupation of Russian territory, assumed the brunt of the fighting at Poltava, Kharkov and Northern Donets Basin. Upon its occupation of the Donets Basin the corps halted its movement east of the Rostov - Voronezh railway. It maintained its base of operations at Kharkov.
On the coasts of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov and in Podolia,
the Germans were already operating jointly with the Austrians: three Austrian
corps - the XII, XVII, and XXV with a total number of 11 1/2 divisions (15th,
59th, 34th, 11th, 30th, 31st, 32rd, 54th, and 154th infantry divisions and the
2nd and 7th cavalry divisions and the 145th Infantry Brigade) were marching
preparatory to the occupation of Podolia an the Odessa area (XXV Corps), the
Kherson area (XII Corps), and Yekaterinoslav area (XIII Corps). The group of
forces under General Koch was directed to occupy the Crimea (comprising the
212th, 217th infantry divisions and the Bavarian Cavalry Division).
In the first echelon of the advancing occupational forces were the I Reserve Corps and the group of southern divisions: the 10th, 7th, 212th, and 214th. The rest of the corps were moved up in proportion as the territory was occupied. The German forces began their advance on the 18th of February;* on March 2nd the German troops entered Kiev, and on the 3rd of March they were in Zhmerinka.
* The Austrian corps launched their offensive on the 28th of February.
On this day, 3rd of March, the Soviet government had signed a peace treaty with the powers of the central bloc. In accordance with the terms of this treaty it had recognized the independence of the Ukraine and Finland, it renounced its claim to Batum, Kars and Ardahan, which were ceded to Turkey, and it agreed on the determination of the ultimate fate of Poland, Lithuania, Courland by the Central powers alone. It undertook the demobilization of all its land naval forces, it agreed on the occupation of Latvia and Estonia by the German forces. The latter were henceforth to remain until the close of the World War on the line reached by them within the R.S.F.S.R., which line extended through the cities of Narva, Pskov, Polotsk, Orsha, and Mohilew. Of direct progress to the progress of the civil war was the recognition of the independence of the Ukraine. It served to prevent the possible support of the Soviet Ukrainian forces by the R.S.F.S.R. Consequently they were henceforth abandoned to their own resources.
The occupation of the important railway center of Zhmerinka created a threat to the rear of the Murav'ev forces. On the 18th of March the Austro-German forces made their appearance in the vicinity of the Birzula and Slobodka railway stations, in the Odessa area. At the same time they promptly moved ahead on Kursk. This swift advance of the German forces toward Kursk may be explained by their efforts toward severing communications between the R.S.F.S.R. and the Ukraine as promptly as possible and to drive southward the Soviet forces that were withdrawing before them. Under the circumstances these forces would have come under the assaults of the Austro-German forces that were advancing along the coast of the Black Sea. Actually, the more important Soviet group of forces, the Third Army under Murav'ev and some other detachments (with a total of about 3,300 infantry and cavalry and 25 guns) previously operating on the Lower Dniester and now withdrawing to the left bank of the Dniepr had as yet not felt any direct pressure of the enemy. Murav'ev's forces often resorted to unsuccessful actions with the enemy on the Pavlograd - Sinelnikovo - Alexandovsk front. With a view to the protection of the flank of these forces from the north, Antonov-Ovseinenko hastily transferred from the Don district the columns under Sivers and Sablin. But before these had arrived the Germans, by powerful pressure against the left flank of the South group of the Red forces at Alexandovka compelled it to begin a withdrawal on Yuzovo (See sketch on page 63 - original text).
At the same time, Antonov-Ovseienko* contemplated launching a peasant campaign against the Austro-Germans. He had adopted measures for the military organization of the peasantry in the Poltava and Kharkow areas with a view to promoting a national military campaign against rear of the enemy. However, the organization of the partisan war required time, means, and trained personnel for the same, none of which were within his reach. Nevertheless, the first volunteer-partisan detachments proved more of less successful in the execution of their missions and inflicted painful blows upon the advancing, overextended forces of the enemy in certain instances.** Meanwhile there were concentrating in the Kiev area the column under Sivers and the Sharov and Primakow detachments from the Kursk area, and between the 7th and 10th of March launched several thrusts against the Germans near Bakhmut. It was at this point that at one time the rear guards of the Czecho-Slovak Corps were fighting side by side with these detachments, who had been driven from their winter quarters and were hastily retreating toward Great Russia. Before long, however, the Sivers detachment was subject to a powerful assault by the Germans and it began retreating toward Volchansk and Valguiki. This had facilitated for the Germans their occupation of Kharkow, in view of the discovered withdrawal of the Sivers detachment to the borders of Great-Russia, there was now completely open to the Germans the route leading to Kupiansk and thence to the Don by the main Voronezh - Rostov-on-the Don railway. Upon reaching the latter point the enemy completed the envelopment of the Donets Basin. Actually the Germans hastened to move up in this direction one of their infantry divisions. However, the approach of the German forces to this vitally important area (from the standpoint of supply of the Revolutionary forces) immediately found its reaction on the part of the resistance of the Red forces. Forces poured in from all directions into the Donets Basin, forces that had been withdrawing before the advancing Germans. At the Donets Basin itself Comrades Voroshilov and Baranov carried on intensive work in arousing the local revolutionary elements and in the preparation of the defense of the Donets Basin. They already had about 2,000 organized troops. These received their baptism of fire at Smiev. A part of these forces, under the command of Comrade Voroshilov, was surrounded by the Germans, but succeeded in penetrating the ring of envelopment and even captured two hostile guns. All of these forces were by now organized into so-called Donets Army. The latter made several vigorous efforts toward the development of a flanking assault against the German columns that were now endeavoring to sever the communications of the Donets Army with the R.S.F.S.R. by an attack from the direction of Kharkow.
* As stated by him in Volume II of his book Notes on the Civil War in the Ukraine.
** Research with the events involved in the Austro-German occupation had been rendered difficult by the lack of sufficient material on the actual operations of the occupational forces. Austrian and German service publications within recent years included only a number of individual articles on the subject, and these were devoted primarily to such matters as the disintegrating influence of the Bolshevik propaganda on the occupational forces and of their struggle with this propaganda. German memoirs published also afford scant data on the action and condition of the Austro-German forces during the period in question (Memoirs of Ludendorff, Hoffman, etc.). A number of writers speak of the unprepared state of the Austro- German forces for employment under the particular conditions obtaining in the echelon operations. Of the various magazine articles we wish to stress the one by Colonel Dragoni entitled "the Austro-Hungarian operations during the occupation of the Ukraine in 1918" (Austrian Military Journal, Vienna, May-June, 1928). Colonel Dragoni, who was the chief of staff of the Austrian XII Corps presents a number of interesting facts both with regard to the action of his corps in the Ukraine from the Usiatino - Satanova - Podwoloczyska area, by March 6th the XII Corps encountered at Slobodka its first important resistance of the Red forces. The leading elements of the corps proceeding rather heedlessly by rail were subjected to surprise attacks by the Red forces, as a result of which, according to Colonel Dragoni, there developed in the vicinity of the Birzula railway station on the 7th of March again involved heavy casualties among the invaders, suffering the loss of 90 killed and 600 wounded. Notwithstanding the lofty altitude with which Colonel Dragoni approaches his unorganized adversary, the leader finds in his article a number of examples testifying to the courageous resistance that was put us by the Red units and Red guard elements (protracted fighting in Nikolayev and Kherson areas) against the advance forces of the invaders. The author further discloses the fact of the cooperation which the occupational forces afforded their erstwhile foe, General Shcherbachev (who had commanded the Czarist forces on the Rumanian front), who, according to Colonel Dragoni, had made his way in April at the head of detachment of 1,500 to 2,000 officers, to Krasnov on the Don. After being engaged in war against Germany to the end, this consuming Russian patriot now found himself under the protection of the German high command.
The first attempt of the Donets Army at launching its assault was made in the direction of Izium, and though this ended in failure, since the numerical superiority of the enemy was quite overwhelming, it nevertheless succeeded in gaining time and served to compel the Germans to bring up considerable forces to the Donets Basin. As a consequence, the Germans on the 24th of April seized Bakhmut. They simultaneously occupied Kupiansk and there began the movement against Starobyelsk. The Red high command here again endeavored to deliver a flank attack against the enemy, operating this time from Lugansk, which led up to stubborn fighting halfway between Lugansk and Starobyelsk in the vicinity of the Svatovo railway station and Yevgus village. Attempts on the part of Antonov-Ovseienko to move against Kcpiansk the Sivers column, which now assumed the designation of the Fifth Army, was devoid of any satisfactory results. Holding off the pressure of the Red forces here the Germans soon occupied the Chertkovo railway station on the main Voronezh-Rostov railway line and thus completed their separation of the Red forces that were valiantly fighting in the Donets Basin from the R.S.F.S.R. Only one principal railway line remained for these forces by which to escape their envelopment: the Likhaya---Tsaritsyn railway, of which they took advantage.
The Army of Comrade Voroshilov, together with various other detachments that joined it by way of Likhaya in its advance on Tsaritsyn, was required to pass through the area full of Cossack insurrectionists. In the vicinity of the Kamensk railway station Voroshilov established contact with the detachment under Shchadenko. This detachment was to form part of the Don Soviet Army that was being organized from Don peasants, non-Cossack elements, and miners. In the vicinity of the Kamensk railway station, Comrade Voroshilov, whose forces had now reached 12,000 to 15,000 men, once more engaged the German forces with some success. The latter, however, began threatening from Sulin the lines of retreat on Tsaritsyn and compelled Voroshilov to continue his withdrawal. At the, Chirsk railway station Voroshilov was delayed by a demolished railway bridge, and he halted his withdrawal there, defending himself against the Cossack rebels until a new bridge was constructed whereupon he resumed his withdrawal to Tsaritsyn. At this point his forces formed the basis for the organization of the Red Tenth Army. (Sketch 2 - original text.) While the military forces under Voroshilov and Baranov defended the Donets Basin, the Soviet forces in the Yekaterinoslav and Taganrog* areas were withdrawing rapidly under German pressure. (See sketch on page 63 - original text.)
* These forces consisted of the First, Second, and Third Red Armies, but were so small that each one of them might have been referred to essentially as a detachment.
On April 20th these forces were already in the Nikitovka - Debaltsevo area, with the Third Army in a state of disintegration. The Second Army left the Chaplino railway station and hastened eastward by rail. The First Army abandoned the Pologa railway station and Volnovakha. In rear of the German forces advancing in the Ukraine there were coming up, by the southern routes, from Rumania to the Don territory, the White guard detachment that had been organized there by General Shcherbachev, consisting mainly of officers. This detachment was known as the Drozdovsky Brigade. It numbered about 1,000 men. Crossing the Dnieper at Kakhovka this brigade continued its advance through the Austro-German columns and reached the city of Melitopol, which it occupied, and together with the German forces arrived at the city of Rostov, participating with the German forces arrived at the city of Rostov, participating with the German forces in the occupation of that city. The Red forces operating to the south of the Donets Basin withdrew via Rostov-on-the-Don toward North Caucasia. A portion of the Red forces that had withdrawn under Comrade Voroshilov.
On May 4, 1918, the last Soviet forces abandoned the Ukrainian territory, and the wave of German occupational forces halted at the line: Novozybkov - Novgorod - Seversky - Mikhailovsk farm - Belgorod - Valuiki - Millerovo.
From the political standpoint, the arrival of the Germans in the Ukraine meant giving full rein to the suppressed reactionaries there and the driving of the revolutionary forces underground. Accordingly, the civil war was to alter its aspects and bring into its vortex that powerful stratum of the population which had not yet had an opportunity to become sufficiently active in the phase of the revolution just described. An outward expression of triumph by the forces of the reaction was the assumption of power by the government of Hetman Skoropadsky in the latter part of April, 1918, by an uprising aided and abetted by the Germans.
The government of the Central Rada was no longer needed by the Germans, and they had it overthrown. Covering themselves behind the cloak of the powerless government of Skoropadsky, the Germans passed on the entire burden of the occupation to the peasantry, weighing it down by the imposition of heavy requisitions and indemnities. On the other hand, under cover of the occupational forces there began returning to their old estates the gentry, who also called the peasantry to an accounting. The civil war did not end with the German occupation; it merely altered its form and assumed the aspect of a partisan conflict of the dissatisfied peasant masses. We shall take up this matter in greater detail in a subsequent chapter. On the other hand, however, the approach of the German occupational line to the vital areas of the counter- revolutionary forces, such as the Cossack districts, served to intensify revolutionary activity there. Establishing their base of operations near the zone of the German occupation, the counter-revolutionaries felt safe there, obtaining material and moral support from the Germans. Thus immobilizing considerable Soviet forces, the German occupational forces aided the Russian counter-revolutionaries in the east and in Northern Caucasia.
Beginning February 18, 1918, the advance against the Ukraine, as if by invitation of them "Ukrainian people" themselves, the German government, as already noted, simultaneously moved up its forces also toward the R.S.F.S.R., reaching by the beginning of March the line: Narva - Pskov - Gomel - Mogilev - Orsha - Polotsk. The conclusion of Brest- Litovsk peace treaty (on March 3) halted the further German advance on the territory of the R.S.F.S.R. Cruelly disposing of the revolutionary movements in the occupied territory of Latvia and Esthonia, the German government at the same time assisted the counter-revolutionary movement in Finland, which had been headed by the former Czarist General Mannerheim. Realizing the fact that the "White" Finnish forces under General Mannerheim alone would not be able to cope with the Red forces and that assistance with weapons and money alone would not suffice, the German high command decided to come to the aid of the "White" Finns with armed forces.
There was organization at Danzig the so-called Baltic Division, made up of 3 Jager battalions, 3 infantry regiments, and several artillery batteries. On the 3rd of April this division disembarked at Hango and proceeded in cooperation with the forces of General Mannerheim (advancing from the north) to liquidate the forces of the Finnish Reed Army in the Tammerfors -Tavastehus and Lachti areas. In addition to the Baltic Division the German command organized the composite detachment of Colonel Brandenstein (about 3,000 infantrymen with 12 guns), which on the 10th of April landed in the vicinity of Lovisa and Kotka, 50 to 60 km. east of Helsingfors. On the 13th of April, supported by the navy, the Germans and "White" Finns occupied Helsingfors. During the latter part of April units of the Finnish Red Army were enveloped and destroyed in the Lachti - Tavastehus area; Vyborg was occupied on April 29th and shortly thereafter followed the armistice concluded with the R.S.F.S.R. The German high command and the "White" Finnish government, after the conclusion of the peace with the R.S.F.S.R., continued hastily to organize the Finnish Army, making wide use of the German instructors and arms with a view to renewed offensive action against the R.S.F.S.R. "We now had at our disposal at Narva and Vyborg positions which enabled us to launch an attack on Petrograd at any time and to overthrow the Bolshevik government," thus spoke Denedorff regarding the situation on April 30th.
One lesson which the Soviet government had learned from its first military encounter with the foreign counter- revolutionaries was the need for the creation of a well- organized regular army for the execution of those vital missions which had now confronted the Soviet government. After the German occupation, the Soviet government proceeded with the organization, from various existing Red detachments and improvised military formations, of a military force on a grand scale to be constituted as the regular Red Army.*
* With respect to the details involved in this connection, see II Volume, article by Comrade Nikonov, "Salient Features in the Organization of the Red Army, 1918-1921."
The establishment of the line of the German occupational forces had for the time being prevented the spread of the October revolution in the west and southwest of the Soviet country. And this rendered all the more important the action against the counter-revolutionaries within the eastern parts of Russia and in Northern Caucasia. We shall now proceed with our consideration of events in these areas.
The German invasion of the Ukraine and of the R.S.F.S.R. could not help detracting the attention and forces of the Soviet government from the already existing centers of the internal counter-revolutionary movements in the Don, Kuban and other areas. In answer to the German capture of Pskov the Petrograd proletariat spontaneously mobilized and armed for the immediate defense of Petrograd, the heart of the Revolution. At 7:00 P.M., February 25th, the Germans seized Pskov, and on t`he dark February night the factory and shop whistles sounded the alarm which rallied at Smolna and at assembly points tens of thousands of Petrograd workers who were ready with gun in hand to meet the approaching army of German imperialism. The attention of not only Petrograd but of the entire country had been attracted by the happenings in the West - at Narva, Pskov, and in the Ukraine. In this situation the forces of the internal counter- revolution received a sort of breathing spell. The German invasion untied the hands of the counter-revolutionary generals, who had carried on their campaign under the slogan of fighting the Bolsheviki and of continuing the war against Germany to a victorious conclusion. finally, the German invasion, as we have already pointed out, considerably hastened the beginning of open intervention on the part of the Allies and the action of their agent, the Czecho-Slovak corps.
We shall now take up the events in the Kuban territory.
The political struggle between the local Cossacks and other elements in the Kuban territory had led to the organization of the military forces on both sides. The Kuban government, which had been established back during the existence of the Kerensky government, proceeded with the organization of a local Volunteer Army. The organization of this army had been entrusted to Captain Pokrovsky, G.S., whom the Kuban Rada promoted to the rank of general. Meanwhile the organization of armed revolutionary "cells" got under way in the Kuban, formed partly from the non-Cossack elements and partly from old units of the Caucasus army, arriving from the Caucasus front, and from sailors of the Black Sea fleet. These detachments disarmed the Cossacks within their areas that were hostile to the Soviet government. This disarming of the Cossacks in certain instances involved a resort to military force. A part of the Cossacks took to the mountains where they organized "White" guard partisan detachments.
These are the circumstances under which the organization of the Soviet forces of Northern Caucasia and of the Kuban in particular took place and which gradually began taking on the aspect of a regular military force, out of revolutionary detachments that had no organization, and were now commanded by individuals coming from the poorest inhabitants of the districts involved. Finally, a third force in the Kuban territory was Kornilov's Volunteer Army.* The latter, after the occupation on the Don district by the Soviet troops, had decided to march against, the Kuban with a view to joining there the Kuban "White" guard forces and the establishment in the Kuban of a base of operations for further action against the Soviet government. The advance of this army, however, on March 12, 1918, partially coincided with the overthrow of the Kuban Cossack government (Rada). On March 13, 1918, this army, with a small number of loyal troops, was driven out of Yekaterinodar by local revolutionary forces and was forced to take refuge in the neighboring hills. Kornilow had as yet been unaware of this situation.
* The organization of this army was first undertaken by General Alexeiew at Rostov-on-Don in the latter part of 1917. Later it was joined by Generals Kornilow and Denikin, who had escaped from the Bykhov prison. The army was organized from volunteers made up mostly of officers, cadets, and bourgeois youths, and was supported and finances by the wealthy classes and partly by the Allied powers.
The strength of the Volunteer Army upon leaving Rostov did not exceed 4,000 men, with 8 field guns. In his advance Kornilow had to consider the possible threat of an encounter with the Soviet forces in the vicinity of the Rostov - Tikhoretskaya - Torgovaya railway, and a possible pursuit by the Soviet forces. Skillfully avoiding an encounter with any large Soviet forces situated in railway cars along the railway and at large communication centers, Kornilow reached the Kuban district, where he learned for the first time of the fate of the Kuban Cossack government.
The hopes of receiving aid from the local Kuban Cossacks were not
realized; the Volunteer Army was not only received indifferently, but even with
some hostility, and it had to fight in many instances for the possession of
individual villages that were defended by local partisan forces. Kornilow
succeeded, however, after several maneuvers, on the 30th March, in joining the
forces of the Kuban "White" guards at the Shenzy village, and this
served to raise the strength of the Volunteer Army by 3,000 men. This
reinforcement had come just in time. During the preceding fighting the strength
of the Volunteer Army had been reduced to a total of 2,700 men (including 700
The junction of the Volunteer with the Kuban forces coincided with a change in the attitude of the Cossacks (of the wealthier elements). In the latter's struggle with the indigent peasant elements against the division of the land among them and their dissatisfaction with the requisitioning of supplies and foodstuffs by the local Soviet government and with the activities of certain elements of the Black Sea sailors, the Cossacks became more aroused against the Soviet government. On March 70, 1918, Kornilow assumed command of the weakness of the Soviet garrison at Yekaterinodar, decided to undertake its envelopment from the south. As the launching of the attack on Yekaterinodar the garrison of the latter had been reinforced by forces of the 39th Infantry Division of the old army, which had been transferred here from the Tikhoretskaya railway station. Then strength of the Soviet forces here consisted of 18,000 men, 2 to 3 armored cars, and 10 to 14 guns.*
* This is the strength of the forces given by General Denikin in his The Russian Turmoil. We have so far been unable to verify these figures.
On the 9th of April, 1918, Kornilow launched a series of sanguinary,
unsuccessful attacks on Yekaterinodar. In the course of one of these attacks
(April 13) Kornilow was killed. General Denikin assumed command of the remnants
of his forces and instituted a swift withdrawal to the Don. The army effected
its withdrawal by way of Staro - Velichkovskaya - Medvedovskaya - Dyadkovskaya
- Uspenskaya - Illinskaya. On May 13th the Volunteer Army returned to the Don,
where it cleared of Soviet forces a part of the Don steppes along the Don
river. As a final result, throughout its march covering 1,?50 kilometers in the
course of 80 days (40 of which included fighting), the Volunteer Army returned
with 5,000 men, since it began enrolling volunteers along its route of march
from among the local Cossacks.
Upon its arrival in the Don it was joined by a brigade commanded by General Drozdovsky, numbering 1,000 men (667 officers and 370 soldiers). In general, Kornilow's attack on the Kuban was of slight military importance, and only the change in the attitude of the Cossacks, the presence of the German occupational forces, and the yet poorly organized Soviet forces in Northern Caucasia, saved the Volunteer Army from complete destruction. Subsequently it served as the nucleus in the organization of the counter-revolutionary forces of Northern Caucasia, and during the summer of 1918 developed into a real army.
At another point in this writing we have traced the path followed by the Allied powers, leading them to the open hostile intervention in the internal affairs of the Soviet Union. The Czecho-Slovak Corps served as the foreign nucleus in the organization of the counter-revolutionary forces in the East, which was maintained on the funds supplied by the French bourgeoisie. The Czecho-Slovak Corps consisted mainly of former prisoners of war of the Austrian Army captured during 1914-1917. The nuclei of the corps consisted of small Czecho-Slovak detachments that had been organized by the Czarist government. back in 1914. These detachments began intensive development with the beginning of the February revolution of 1917. During the October days the corps declared its neutrality and entered winter quarters in the Kiev and Poltawa areas; only one division of this corps occupied a sector of the World War front in Volhynia. The German advance swept it from its occupied points, and the rear guards of the corps played a minor part in the fighting with the German forces side by side with the Ukrainian Soviet forces in the vicinity of the Bakhmach railway station.
Upon crossing the territory held by the Soviet government, representatives of the Czecho-Slovak Corps applied to the Central Soviet Government for permission to proceed to France.* At the close of March, 1918, the Soviet government gave permission for the movement of the Czecho-Slovak echelons to Vladivostok, where the Czech troops were to be placed aboard vessels for shipment to France. It was stipulated, however, that the arms, taken from the former Czarist arsenals, should be turned over to the Soviet government. The beginning of the movement of the Czech corps toward Vladivostok coincided with the landing of a Japanese expeditionary force at Vladivostok (April 4, 1918) and as a result of this, a new special political and strategical situation was brought about in the Far East. This now compelled the Soviet government to delay the Czech echelons until the situation could be cleared up. It was proposed to have the Czecho-Slovaks shipped by way of Archangel and Murmansk to France. The Governments of Great Britain and France failed to respond to this proposal, apparently for the reason that at this time it had already been decided upon the utilization of the Czech corps as a nucleus in the organization of a counter-revolutionary Eastern Front.** The bulk of the Czech soldiers were induced by propaganda and agitation, based on false rumors to the effect that they were to be turned over to the Germans and Austro-Hungarians as former prisoners of war. The offer of the Soviet government extended to them to remain voluntarily in Russia and to close for themselves their own occupations, including voluntary service in the Red Army, in the event that their transfer out of Russia should be prevented, had never reached the bulk of the Czecho-Slovak troops.
The leaders of the Czecho-Slovak Corps, Chechek, Gayda, and Voytsekhovsky, carried on their game with a full understanding of their situation, proceeding on the directions of the French mission, whom they telegraphed in advance of their readiness for action. Formulating their plan of action and coordinating it as to time, the Czechs actively proceeded in the latter part of May, 1918, to the execution of their plan of action. On the 25th of May Gayda with his detachments (echelons) staged an uprising in Siberia and seized the city of Novonikolayevsk. On the 26th day of May Voytsekhovsky seized Cheliabinsk, and on the 28th of May, after engaging the local Soviet garrisons, Chechek occupied Penza and Syzran.* Owing to their proximity to the vital revolutionary centers, the Penza and Cheliabinsk groups of the Czech forces (numbering 8,000 and 8,750 men, respectively) were the most menacing. Both of these groups, however, first manifested a desire to continue their advance eastward. The group of forces under Voytsekhovsky, on June 7th, after numerous encounters with the Red forces, occupied Omsk. On the 10th of June it joined Gayda's echelons. The Penza group proceeded on Samara, which it seized on the 8th of June after some minor fighting. By the beginning of June, 1918, all Czecho-Slovakian forces, including also local "White" guards, concentrated in four groups: 1st group under the command of Chechek (former Penza group), numbering 5,000 men - in the Syzran - Samara area. 2nd group under Gayda (Siberian group) in the east, numbering 4,000 men - in the Omsk -Novonikolayevsk area. The 4th group under General Diterichs (Vladivostok group) numbering 14,000 men, was spread out eastwardly from Lake Baikal toward Vladivostok.
* On the 28th of May the "White" guards attempted to
engage actively the Red forces at Tomsk but were easily liquidated by the local
Red guards and workers. On the 31st of May, however, the Czecho-Slovak forces
arrived at Tomsk and the city passed into their hands. The headquarters of the
Czech corps and the Czech national council were at the city of Omsk. In all,
the Czecho-Slovak forces comprised 30,000 to 40,000 men. The action of the
Czecho-Slovak forces and their operations over the extensive area from the
Volga river up to Vladivostok, along the Siberian railway, had the following
The eastern group of the Czechs numbering 14,000 men, commanded by General Diterichs, at first assumed a passive attitude. All of its efforts were directed toward a successful concentration in the Vladivostok area, and it had engaged in negotiations with the local authorities looking toward gaining assistance in the movement of their detachments by rail. On the 6th of July this group concentrated in the city of Vladivostok, seizing control of the city. On the 7th of July it occupied Nikolsk-Ussurisk. Immediately after the Czech uprising, in conformity with the decision of the Inter-Allied Supreme Council there was landed at Vladivostok the Japanese 12th Division, which was followed by American, British and French expeditionary forces.*
* The book of General Rouquerol throws some new light on the details of the foreign intervention in Siberia. The version of some sort of detailed plan formulated in advance for a coordinated intervention by the Allies must now be discarded. Apparently the French government had more definite prospects in view, endeavoring to assume a leading role in the Siberian counter-revolutionary movement. It thus hastened to direct to Siberia General Janin as commander of the Czecho-Slovak Army, around which there was to be organized the forces of the Siberian counter- revolution. But the British government, with the same object in view, but only without troops and without the knowledge of the French government, sent to Siberia the British General Knox. When the two governments learned of their respective missions, they had to take up by negotiations the settlement of the future spheres of influence of the two generals concerned. General Janin was to assume command of all Allied and Russian "White" fores west of Lake Baikal and eastern Russia. General Know was designated the chief of the service of supply under the orders of General Janin, and was required to provide clothing and equipment for an army of 100,000 to 200,000 men. General Knox was also to be in charge of the organization and training of the "White" Russian army. Thus it was not before the beginning of the intervention but rather after it had been undertaken and after the functions between the respective powers had been properly decided upon, that the plan of action began to take on form with respect to the intervention in Siberia. Roughly, this was as follows: In Europe the Allied powers pursued the objective of first securing their communications with North Russia by the occupation of Nurmansk and Archangel as bases of operation; then, operating from these bases and under cover of Allied forces, there was to be undertaken the organization of a "White" Russian North Army, which was to endeavor to establish contact with the Czecho-Slovak forces along the line of the Volga river. In Asia the role of unifying all counter-revolutionary forces devolved upon the Czecho-Slovak Corps. The latter, together with the Russian counter-revolutionary forces, was to endeavor to establish contact with the expeditionary forces of the Allies at Archangel on the one hand, and to establish contact with the military forces of the southern counter- revolutionaries, on the other.
The execution of the first part of the plan, the junction of the forces operating to the north of Archangel and to the east, from the direction of Siberia, was to be effected not later than by the autumn of 1918. It is of particular interest in this respect that the authors of this plan, the principal creative role of which was assumed by the French General Staff, considered the main attack to be delivered from the direction of Archangel. In order to understand the guiding principle in the preference of Archangel it must be borne in mind that the French General Staff proposed by active operations in this are to provide for and safeguard against a possible active German maneuver from Finland in the direction of Murmansk and the Murmansk coast.
The Allied powers assumed the mission of guarding the Vladivostok
area, while by their action in the North and in the direction of Harbin they
secured the rear of the Czecho-Slovak forces, which moved back westward with a
view to joining the Siberian group of forces under Gayda. En route, at
Manchuria, the group of forces under Diterichs joined the forces under Horvat
and Kalmykov, while in the vicinity of the Olovianny R.R. station (Transbaikal
railway) it established contact (in August) with the forces under Gayda and
Semenov. The Red forces in the Far East were partly taken prisoner, while some
of them took to the Taiga and to the hills, destroying railway bridges and
resisting the enemy as best they could.
At Omsk, after its capture by the Czecho-Slovak forces, there was formed a provisional Siberian government, which the Czechs promised to support. The Czechs also aided in the organization of "White" guard and Cossack military formations.
On June 10th, in the city of Omsk, after the junction between the Cheliabinsk and Siberian groups of the Czecho-Slovak forces, a conference was held between the Czech commanders and the representatives of the newly formed Siberian "White" government. At the conference it was decided to wage war against the Soviet forces in accordance with the following plan. General control of the Czecho-Slovak forces was to be turned over to commander of the Czech corps, General Shokorov, with the forces involved to be divided into three groups: 1st group - the Western group commanded by Colonel Voytsekhovsky, was to advance by way of the Urals against Zlatoust, Ufa and Samara, and join the Penza group commanded by Chechek, which had remained in the Volga region. They were then to develop their operations against Yekaterinburg from the southwest; 2nd group - under command of Syrov, was to advance over the Tiumen railway toward Yekaterinburg with a view to attracting a maximum of Soviet forces and facilitating the advance of the Western group, joining with the Penza group under Chechek, and then occupying Yekaterinburg in conjunction with that group.
On July 15, 1918, a second conference of the Czech commanders took
place at Cheliabinsk with the White guard governments formed within the
terrorists occupied by the Czecho- Slovak fores. At this conference an
agreement was reached for the joint action of these governmental forces and the
Czechs. The Penza group of the Chechek, which had occupied Samara, advanced on
Ufa during the month of June with part of its forces, gathering en route White
guard forces and forcing back the detachment of Comrade Blokhin that was on its
way from Ufa. On the 5th of July Chechek's forces occupied Ufa, while on the
3rd of July these forces had joined the Chaliabinsk Czech forces at the Miniar
railway station. Having executed their original mission of the occupation of
the Trans-Siberian Railway, the Czechs continued their operations for the
capture of thee entire Ural region, advancing with main forces on Yekaterinburg
and with smaller forces southward, in the direction of Troitsk and Orenburg.
This served to establish for the Czech forces a base of operations for the
execution of the plan of intervention, to which we referred to above.
The action of the Czecho-Slovak Corps caught the Soviets at a moment when they just started developing the actual work of their military forces. Then available Red forces were occupied on the Don front and on the Austro-German demarcation line. Hence the assignment of new forces for action against the Czechs proved most difficult. Furthermore, the rapid gains of the Czech forces in the Ural had been facilitated by various circumstances. A special aspect of the Ural proletariat, compared to the proletariat of Leningrad and of the Russian central industrial regions, as already pointed out, was its close attachment to the soil. Consequently, the wavering of the peasantry was reflected also in the attitude of the proletariat. The leading proletarian force, made up of more reliable class-material and maintained under the best ideological and organizational supervision of the Communist party, had been weakened by the detachment of considerable forces for employment at the fronts. Among the remaining toiling population of even the larger industrial centers, "diluted" by the recent newcomers from among the peasantry which had as yet not had an opportunity to gain the proper class-consciousness of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the influence of the "Mensheviks" and social- revolutionaries continued to come to the fore.
The approach of the Czecho-Slovak forces served to create considerable disturbances and uprisings, fostered by the "Mensheviks" and social-revolutionaries. Thus, on the 13th of June, 1918, there was the uprising of the Verkhne-Nevyansk and Rudyansk factories. A revolt was staged at Tyuumen. During the Czecho-Slovak advance on Kyshtym the workers of the Polevsk and Seversky factories arrested the members of their Soviets (councils). There were uprisings also at the Kusinsky, Votkinsk, Izhevsk, and other factories. In view of these circumstances, the Ural, with their considerable workers and natural conditions greatly favoring both the organization of permanent defense and partisan warfare, nevertheless failed to serve as a proletarian stronghold, capable of halting the wave of the White guard invasion. The internal situation in the Urals and the absence of a centralized governmental organization also had their effects on the military situation.
The army was made up of a mixture of detachments and elements of 13 or more men, with some volunteer companies comprising less than a score of men. Thus on June 1, 1918, at the positions at Miasy, there were thirteen detachments with a total strength of less than 1,105 bayonets, 22 sabers, and 9 machine-guns. Notwithstanding the fact that many of the elements included in this force were of wholly class-conscious and selfless workers, these proved entirely unprepared f r action against the regular White units, owing to their complete lack of military training. This was the approximate situation also as regards the nature of the Red military forces in Siberia. The former commander of the Ural-Siberian front, Comrade Berzin, presents in his memoirs (Phases in the organization of the
Red Army, 1920) the general figures bearing on these forces, the principal mass of which in June, 1918, situated in the Yekaterinburg - Cheliabinsk area, comprised about 2,500 men with 36 machine-guns and 3 artillery platoons. Such were the difficult conditions under which the Soviet government was compelled to lay the foundation for the future powerful organization of the Red Eastern Front.
The first step in this respect was the formation of the Northern Ural-Siberian front, on June 13, 1918 (Comrade Berzin). This measure had been taken just in time - the enemy was already within 35 to 40 km. of Yekaterinburg. Unified command and the energetic organization of the service of the rear and front produced satisfactory results: the enemy was held up for about 90 days near Yekaterinburg. At the same time, an extensive political campaign was launched among the local inhabitants. Countless agitators were sent to the larger industrial centers. The printing presses proved of tremendous importance to the Red command.* Success was attained in laying the foundation of proper military control and organization within the Siberian military organizations that were withdrawing from Omsk toward Tyumen.
* With respect to the extent of political and propaganda work, brought about in the shortest space of time, the following figures are of importance: The usual number of copies of the Ural Worker, organ of the Ural District Committee of Bolsheviks, was about 5,000; one month later, i.j., at the beginning of July, 1918, its circulation was tripled (15,000 copies). From June 110th to the 28th 28,248 pamphlets and 2,688,000 proclamations were distributed. From June 25th to July 3rd 23,025 copies of various pamphlets were circulated along with 217,650 copies of various proclamations. From July 3 to July 9, 21,770 books and pamphlets and 168,000 proclamations were distributed.
The North Ural-Siberian Front, however, lasted only one day. The establishment of this front, on the initiative of the local forces, coincided with the instructions issued by the central government for the organization of a unified command of the Red Eastern Front, to be commanded by Murav'ev, who had previously served as the commander-in-chief of the Soviet forces in the Ukraine. At the time when the Ural-Siberian Front was organized out of the Third Army it included the following forces: Defending the Yekaterinburg - Cheliabinsk area - about 1,800 infantry, 11 machine-guns, 3 guns, 30 cavalrymen, and 3 armored trains. In the Shadrinsk area there were 1,382 infantrymen, 28 machine-guns, 10 cavalrymen, and 1 armored train. In the vicini`y of Tyumen (Omsk area) there were 1,400 infantrymen, 21 machine-guns, 107 cavalrymen. As reserve of these forces there may have been counted about 2,000 unarmed workers at Tyumen. The general reserve of the Soviet command here did not exceed 380 infantry, 150 cavalry, and 2 batteries of artillery.*
* These fighters are highly indicative of the extent of the operations conducted at the outset of the Civil War, and serve to demonstrate the tremendous progress made by the Soviet government in the organization of military forces.
By this time there were being organized four Red armies: The first Red Army in the Simbirsk, Syzran and Samara area; the Second Red Army - on the Orenburg - Ufa Front; the Third Army - in the Cheliabinsk - Yekaterinburg area, and a Special Army, in the Saratov - Ural area (Saratov - Urbakh area). The headquarters of this group of armies was at Kazan.
The initial phase of the campaign on the Eastern Front constituted for the Red forces the concentration of their available men. The action of the Czech corps in the interests of the Allied powers and local counter-revolutionary forces enabled the enemies of the Soviet government to detach from Soviet Russia the great territories along the Volga, the Urals, Siberia and the Far East; it facilitated the formation within this territory of White guard armies and curtailed the supply of provisions for the famine-stricken central government. Wresting the initiative of action in their hands, the Czecho- Slovak forces placed the Soviet government in a precarious situation. This situation became especially difficult in view of the internal developments, such as the revolt of the leftist social-revolutionaries in Moscow and the beginning of the intervention in northern Russia.
The uprising staged by the rightist social-revolutionaries at
Yaroslavl and other cities had been organized by representatives of the Allied
powers and leaders of the Russian counter-revolution. Aside from the political
significance, which we have mentioned elsewhere, it served to unify the action
of the interventionists in the north and the Czecho-Slovaks in the east with
the internal anti-Soviet front. The revolt was staged by the rightist
social-revolutionaries on the night of the 3rd of July, 1918, supported by
secret officer-organizations that had been formed by B. Savinkov with the
financial backing of the French military mission. The chief of this mission,
General Lavern, had insisted on hastening the launching of t.he revolt. Less
important uprisings had been staged at Rybinsk and Murom but were quickly put
down by the local Soviet forces. The liquidation of the Yaroslavl uprising,
which involved sanguinary fighting, lasted two weeks and involved the sending
of reinforcements from Moscow.
The uprising of the leftist social revolutionaries in Moscow had for its purpose the tearing up of the Brest-Litovsk peace treaty with Germany. The beginning of this revolt may be considered to have been the assassination of the German ambassador, Count Mirbach, on July 5, 1918, which followed on the 6th of July by the armed revolt of the leftist social- revolutionaries in Moscow, which was completely put down by the 8th of July. These uprisings, notwithstanding their short durations, also exerted an influence on the recently formed Red Eastern Front.
The commander-in-chief of this front, Murav'ev, the leftist social-revolutionary, issued orders to his troops to advance on Moscow - to the assistance of the leftist social- revolutionaries.*
* Murav'ev had assumed actual command of the Eastern Front on June 18, 1918. His activity at the front was of very brief duration. He had succeeded on June 19th, while personally in command of a small detachment, in retaking from the Czecho-Slovak forces the city of Syrzan and to introduce a number of limited measures, such as: the drawing up of a plan for the organization of four armies; issuing orders governing the organization of the various component elements of the armies (regiments, batteries, squadrons). After the liquidation of the revolt of the leftist social-revolutionaries in Moscow Murav'ev again, on July 9th, in his orders, appealed to his troops to fulfill their revolutionary duty, but at the same time fled to Simbirsk, where he announced his declaration of war against Germany; he called for the support of the local Soviet (council) and ordered the troops on his front to re-form the front westward and to advance on Moscow. Murav'ev found no supporters of any kind and committed suicide.
The action of the Czecho-Slovak forces also affected the situation in the Orenburg and Ural steppes. Among the Orenburg Cossacks there once more began the development of rebel movements which had become dormant during the winter months. Dutov took advantage of this situation, and with a detachment of 600 men with five machine-guns he emerged from the Turgai steppes and advanced on Orenburg, which he occupied on the third of July. Reorganizing his forces, Dutov began his operations from Orenburg against Aktiubinsk, Verkhneuralsk and Orsk.
The Red forces here were compelled to clear the Orenburg area the
Blucher and Kashirin forces withdrawing to Verkhneuralsk, the Orsk forces
withdrew to Orsk, while the Turkestan forces returned to Turkestan via
Aktiubinsk. The city of Yekaterinburg assumed vital importance in this
strategical situation, in the Ural area and along the Volga in mid-June with
the disposition of the Czecho-Slovak forces in the Penza, Cheliabinsk and Omsk
areas. The importance for the Czechs was due to its situation on their flank
and threatening their communications in an advance against the Volga region;
for the Soviet forces it was important as a large industrial and workers'
center, being also connected by the shortest railway line with Petrograd via
Viatka, Vologda and Perm.
The northwest group of the Czech forces was advancing along the railway on Omsk, Tyumen, and Yekaterinburg. It was here successfully halted by the so-called Siberian First Army, which had been incorporated into the Red Third Army under Eideman. The latter's army consisted of small detachments which had not yet been organized into regiments, and did not exceed 3,000 to 4,000 men, thought the nucleus of this army was made up of workers from the cities of Perm, Tyumen and Omsk. This army stubbornly resisted the advancing Czech forces, withdrawing from one defense line to the next. On the line of the Nishma river (east of Tyumen) it engaged in several actions.
This group of Red forces effected deep penetration into the lines of the White forces, occupied the Kamyshlov area, and thus threatened the flank of the Czech forces, developing simultaneously an advance also form Cheliabinsk against Yekaterinburg. The Czech Cheliabinsk group, upon joining the Penza group of the Czechs and the Russian White guards, had attained a total strength of about 13,000 men. Voitsekhovsky was in command of these forces. The latter's advances developed more successfully. On the 25th of July, 1918, the Czechs seized Yekaterinburg from the direction of Cheliabinsk. Only then did Eideman's group (which had its designation changed to that of the Siberian 1st Division), in view of the general withdrawal of the Red Third Army, withdraw to Alapyevsk.
Henceforward, until the first part of October, fighting continued in the Urals, in the Yekaterinburg area, and the passes of the Central Ural Mountains; the Red forces endeavored to recapture Yekaterinburg and to thus divert the Czech forces from the Volga region, while the Czechs were attempting to extend the area of their seized territory. These mutual objectives brought into the Yekaterinburg area large opposing forces. Behind all these events, on the Eastern Front, both sides continued to develop their forces: the internal counter- revolutionary and Czech forces, by the mobilization of local manpower, and the Soviet command, by the organization of local formations and by bringing up considerable reinforcements including the first regular organizations of the Red army from various parts of the country.
By mid-July, 1918, the total strength of the Red Eastern Front amounted to between 40,000 and 45,000 men, extending along a front of 2,000 km. These forces were being gradually formed into regular military units, the Red First Army being the first to take on the aspect of a regular military unit while operating in the Simbirsk area, commanded by Comrade Berzin. It consisted mainly of workers from the local factories - highly class- conscious men who only required proper military training. The initiative of the campaign still remained with the enemy. On the 25th of July the enemy already occupied the entire Samara, Ufa and Yekaterinburg governments; he held the city of Simbirsk and at some points extended as far as the Kama river.*
* The commander-in-chief of the "White" military forces on the Eastern Front in the period of the campaign was General Boldyrew. The Czech forces temporarily subordinated themselves to him in strategic undertakings, until the arrival of General Janin. Now General Boldyrew sets forth in his memoirs (The Directory, Kolchak, Interventionists, Sibirkraiizdat, 1925) the reasons why he halted in the Northern front area. These were substantially as follows:
The new commander of the Red Eastern Front, Comrade Vatzetis, regarded as his first mission the halting of the progress of the enemy, which was accomplished in several areas. The next mission assumed by Comrade Vatzetis was the more proper organization of his units, ad finally, the organization of a strategic reserve. In addition, endeavoring to cover the important Kazan area, which was quite vulnerable to attack by the enemy, the commander of the Eastern Front undertook the concentration in this area of forces that were to be formed into the Fifth Army. It was contemplated to bring the strength of this army up to 3,500 or 4,000 infantry, 350 to 400 cavalry, 3 or 4 light and 2 heavy batteries of artillery. The nucleus of this force was to be formed by Latvian organizations.
On the 28th of July, 1918, Comrade Vatzetis formulated his plan for
a meeting engagement the main features of which contemplated the seizure of the
enemy in a pincer movement operating on the Simbirrsk - Syzran front, by a
double assault against the left bank of the Volga river: from the north - from
the direction of Chistopol against Simbirsk, and from the south -from the
direction of Urbakh against Samara. The execution of this mission was entrusted
to three armies (First, Fifth, and Fourth), while the remaining two armies
(Second and Third) were to deliver subsidiary attacks against Ufa and
The bold plan of action adopted by Vatzetis demanded extensive movements on the part of his forces, for which the latter were as yet not prepared; furthermore, one of the armies (the Fifth) assigned for the delivery of the main attack, had just begun its concentration. Nevertheless, the advance was started early in August, even though its full development was not carried out for the reason that the armies had not been properly prepared for the execution of extensive coordinated movements, and because of the insufficient forces that were available for the undertaking.
The advance was started only by the Second and Third armies. The Second Army, with about 1,000 infantrymen, attempted to advance on Bugulma, but its advance was liquidated by the enemy on the 5th of August. The Third Army proceeded more vigorously and with better success. Attacking in the north from the Nizhni Tagil area, it nearly reached Yekaterinburg, but the weakness of one of its divisions compelled it to begin a withdrawal. At all events, the advance of the Third Army proved of some strategical importance. It compelled the enemy to bring up considerable reserves in this area. In turn, the enemy launched an attack against Kazan with a force of 2,000 men, 4 guns and 6 armed steamboats.
The forces of the enemy advanced from Simbirsk on Kazan, partly by land and partly over the Volga. For five days (August 1 to 5) they engaged in fighting at the approaches to Kazan, encountering strong resistance only from the few Latvian companies operating under the control of the commander-in-chief of the Eastern Front, comrade Vatzetis, who had remained at Kazan until the last moment. On August 6, 1918, however, the enemy forced his way into the city where several companies of the Latavian 5th Regiment fought stubbornly for full twenty- four hours, under the immediate control of Comrade I. I. Vatzetis. The Serbian international battalion, which had occupied the Kazan Citadel, went over to the enemy. Late in the evening, Vatzetis with a handful of his men left the city on foot.
The enemy's capture of Kazan proved of more economic than strategical importance. There was captured in the city the gold reserve of the R.S.F.S.R. amounting to 661,500,000 gold roubles along with 110,000,000 roubles' worth of notes. All this was later transferred mainly to the Ufa Directory, to the Kolchak government, and only after the close of the civil war was it partly returned to the Soviet government.
After the enemy's capture of the city of Kazan the relative strength of the opposing forces on the Eastern Front was as follows: On the Volga, from Kazan to Samara, inclusive, there developed the hostile Volga army, under the command of Colonel Chechemk, numbering 14,000 to 16,000 infantry, 90 to 120 guns and 1 to 1 1/2 cavalry regiments. The army had at its disposal a flotilla of 16 to 20 armed boats. To the south of it, in the Orenburg and Ural districts were operating the forces of the Orenburg and Ural Cossacks with an approximate strength of 10,000 to 15,000 cavalry and 30 to 40 guns. T~o the north of the Volga army in the Yekaterinburg - Perm area developed the Yekaterinburg enemy forces under the command of Colonel Voitsekhovsky, whose strength amounted to 22,000 to 26,500 infantry and cavalry with 45 to 60 guns, inclusive of about 4,000 insurgents from the Izhevsk - Votkinsk area. Thus there was in all on the Eastern front 40,000 to 57,500 infantry and cavalry troops with 165 to 220 guns of the enemy.*
* Far behind the lines of these forces in the area between Lake Baikal and the Pacific Ocean were about 100,000 Japanese, American, British, Serbian, and other forces, against which the local inhabitants conducted stubborn partisan warfare. These forces were under the command of the Japanese General Otani. The Japanese division under General Oba, however, occupying the Baikal area, did not come under the orders of General Otani, and received its directives directly from Tokyo.
Against these forces, the commander of the Red Eastern Front had the following: In the Samara and Sartov area - the Red Fourth Army (Khvesin) numbering 22,632 infantry, 4 cavalry squadrons, 58 field, and 6 heavy guns. The mission of this army included the capture of Samara, while at the same time it had to engage the active detachments of the enemy that were advancing from Volsk on Balashow and from Uralsk on Saratov.
In the Simbirsk area - the Red First Army (Tukhachevsky), numbering 6,818 infantry 682 cavalry, and 50 guns. The mission of this army included that of preventing the enemy from utilizing the Volga for the movement of troops and supplies; the army was required to occupy Simbirsk at the earliest practicable moment for the accomplishment of this mission.
In the Kazan area was situated the Fifth Army (Slaven) in two groups on the right and left banks of the Volga, with a total strength of 8,425 infantry, 540 cavalry, and 37 light and 6 heavy guns, and the Second Army (Azin) which had been moved up to Kazan by the commander-in-chief of the Eastern Front, Comrade Vatzetis and operating in the direction of the city of Orsk. Its strength amounted to 2,500 infantry, 600 cavalry, with 12 light and 2 heavy guns. The reserve of the group of armies, numbering 1,230 infantry, 100 cavalry, with 6 guns, was concentrated in the vicinity of the Shidran railway station. The immediate mission of the Red commander in the Kazan area was the capture of the city of Kazan with the aid of the forces of the Second Army, the left group of the Fifth Army and the small and weak Red Volga flotilla.
In the Perm area operated the Red Third Army (Berzin) numbering 18,119 infantry, 1,416 cavalry, and 43 guns. These forces were distributed over an area of 900 km., while the numerically weaker army of Voitsekhovsky developed along a front one-fourth its size and operated on interior lines, which had bee responsible for its previous successes. Furthermore, without contact with the forces on this front, there had operated against the White forces the Red Turkestan army (Zinovyew) from Tashkent toward Orenburg and Orsk, with a strength of 6,000 to 7,000 infantry and 1,000 to 1,500 cavalry. At the close of September, 1918, this army approached the city of Orsk.
The total strength of the forces of the Red Eastern Front, exclusive of the Turkestan army, amounted to 58,486 infantry, 3,238 cavalry, with 200 light and 14 heavy guns, while with the Turkestan army its strength reached 6,400 to 6,500 infantry and 4,000 to 5,000 cavalry forces. Thus, the numerical superiority over the enemy was rather small. Moreover, the conditions of the forces was very much affected by the absence of a proper organization, measures for the establishment of efficient military organization among the available forces had just been adopted at the time. Thus the infantry of the Fifth Army consisted of 47 units operating under the immediate control of the army headquarters, in spite of the fact that this army included about 40 small headquarters. The method of control ? In order to effect a change in the disposition of some units a military council would be called, and the council arrived at its decision on the basis of the number of votes cast upon it. This explains why military undertakings were developed at such a slow pace. Meanwhile, near Kazan, the enemy found himself in an extremely precarious situation. His forces here, not exceeding 2,000 to 2,500 men, and occupying a position forming an arc, had been turned by the forces of the Second and Fifth armies which out-numbered them five to one. The commander of the Second Army, Comrade Azin, repeatedly endeavored to take the city of Kazan by assault, but was restrained in his efforts by the commander of the Fifth Army, Comrade Slaven, who exercised joint control of the two armies, in view of the unreadiness of his army and of the inefficient state of the Fifth Army infantry, which placed all its hopes on the artillery. As a result of all this, the operation for the recapture of Kazan was prolonged for an entire month.
At this time the Kazan group of the White forces had attempted unsuccessfully to seize the Volga railway bridge at Sviazhsk. Chechek endeavored to assist the White Kazan group, sending from Simbirsk by boat the Kappel detachment of 2,340 men with 14 guns. On the 27th of August, 1918, This detachment attacked the Fifth Army group operating on the right bank of the river at Sviazhsk but was completely routed in a counterattack launched by the Latvian infantrymen, and on the 28th of August the remnants of the Kappel detachment were already in flight south of Tetiush, where they dispersed. The routing of the Kappel detachment was the forerunner of the recapture of Kazan, which was taken on the 9th of September by the Second Army. Thus the only (and at the same time unfavorable) result of the action of the Kappel detachment was the weakening of the Siberian group of the enemy, which facilitated for the Red First Army the execution of its mission; the city of Simbirsk was taken by this army on the 12th of September. The fall of Kazan and Simbirsk was highly important strategically. It signified the driving back of the enemy from the boundaries of the middle Volga. Actually the enemy already cleared the city of Volsk on the 13th of September. Henceforward the First Red Army transferred its major activity to the Samara area.
Among the forces of the enemy, especially among his mobilized "peoples" army, considerable disintegration set in. The hostile forces rapidly cleared the front of the Fifth and First red armies. The Simbirsk group of the enemy, maintaining itself on the left bank of the Volga until the 29th of September, also began a hasty withdrawal eastward. The successes of the Red forces at Kazan and Simbirsk grew until they took on the aspect of a strategic breakthrough of the hostile front. On the 4th of October rebelling Czech forces at Stavropol abandoned the city and all proceeded to Ufa by rail. On October 4th units of the "peoples" army left the city of Syzran and the disintegration of these forces spread also to the Ufa organization.*
* The Simbirsk army of the Whites at this time was completing its organization and was still situated far behind the lines.
The difficult situation at the fronts and the increasing activity of
the counter-revolutionary forces had compelled the Communist party in the
mid-summer of 1918 to inaugurate martial law. The initial mobilization of the
workers born in 1896 and 1897 was carried out very successfully in Moscow and
Petrograd. Members of the Putilov works enrolled into the Red Army and,
numbering in excess of 300,000 men, gathered at the works, formed into lines
and, singing the internationale, accompanied by 200,000 workers, marched to
their assembly point.
Petrograd had sent to the Czecho-Slovak front, via Moscow, more than 300 outstanding communist workers. The next mobilization of the classes of 1893, 1894, and 1895 was accomplished successfully not alone in the capitals: At Kostroma on August 14th was convened the joint session of the Soviet (council) and of all workers and Red Army organizations. A resolution was adopted calling for the general mobilization of the workers throughout Kostroma along with the indigent villagers there. In Tver the local Communist organizations sent to the front one-fifth of their entire membership. In the Urals some factories sent all members of the Communist party to the front.
The labor unions at the time were only forming supply organizations,
which were also quite important. In Petrograd the Central Supply Department
registered 3,300 men for service in supply formations on August 20th. The
metal, paper-mill and wood craft unions were among the most successful in this
connection. General military training of the workers was inaugurated. In Moscow
there were 45,000 men undergoing military training, and at Petrograd i*n the
latter part of August plans were made for the training of about 90,000 men.
There was thus formed a reserve of trained personnel for ultimate mobilization.
In addition, special military training was provided for communists.
Contemporary papers on the subject at the time reflected the effect of party mobilization at the front as follows: One member of a Red unit at the front at Kazan wrote that "with the arrival of large increments of communist organizers we have decided to take the initiative in our own hands - to pass from the defensive to the offensive." Comrade Lashevich wrote from the Ural front that a great deal was lost there but that "now you would not recognize the Urals. The men from Petrograd have accomplished wonders."
When the first information arrived concerning the considerable successes at Kazan, the consensus of opinion of the party and Soviet newspapers was that "in place of the men sent to the front, new cadres must at once be organized." On the 14th of September Comrade E. Yaroslavsky wrote: "We hear nearly everywhere that in this regeneration of our Red Army a vital, exceptional role was assumed by the party of communists, which sent its best men to the army at the front. They revived, invigorated the entire organism of the Red Army, and set enduring examples of stoicism and revolutionary discipline."
However, the triumph of Red arms in the middle Volga, in view of the vastness of the theatre of operations, failed to exert any particular influence on the course of events in the upper Kama basin. In that area, the enemy, operating from the Izhevsk-Votkinsk region (that was consumed by a serious uprising) with 5,500 armed men, hindered the action of the Second Red Army and continued to gather strength in the vicinity of Perm, concentrating in the Vorkhoturye - Sarapul - Yekaterinburg triangle 31,510 infantry and cavalry troops, and 68 guns. These forces attempted to turn the left flank of the Third Red Army that was operating in the Perm area, from the direction of Verkhoturye. The difficult local conditions, however, and the active defense operations of the Third Red Army, rendered the progress of the enemy in this area extremely slow. The situation of this sector of the Red front improved early in November when the Second Army succeeded in breaking the resistance of the enemy in the Izhevsk-Votkinsk area, and gained considerable ground. The importance of the success of the Second Army consisted in the fact that it cut off the salient that was formed by the tenacious forces of the enemy here.
Meanwhile the First and Fourth Red armies of the Eastern Front, developing their successes, captured Samara on the 7th of October. Henceforward, transferring their operations to the left bank of the Volga, the Fifth and First Red armies developed their operations along a wide front, reaching the Bugulma - Menzelinsk line on the 25th of October and occupying positions in advance of the Third Army. This advance took place at a time when disintegration had set in within the enemy ranks, this being particularly noteworthy in the service of the rear, where mobilization was carried on unsuccessfully and most of the men enrolled in the service deserted. The situation on the Eastern Front was beginning to show definite signs for the better, and the commander-in-chief of the Soviet forces did not consider it necessary, for the time being, to reinforce the troops at the Eastern Front, in view of the situation.
The history of the organization of the Northern Front in the civil war begins with the so-called Murmansk agreement between the local Soviet government and the Allied commanders. There had arrived at Murmansk the extraordinary commissar of the Soviet government, Natsarenus, for the purpose of removing mutual misunderstandings. He demanded an official recognition of the Soviet government. The latter assumed responsibility for the protection of the Murmansk railway against attack by the "White" Finns. This offer appeared to favor the Allied governments, since their forces on the Murmansk coast at the time consisted of a battalion of British sailors (400 to 500 men) and a small Serbian detachment. Negotiations concerning the further landing of Allied troops were carried on between the local Soviet (council) and the British and French commanders, but no agreement was yet signed. Hopes of the Allied commanders for the arrival of the Czecho-Slovak Corps from the interior of Russia were diminishing, in as much as this corps had taken up arms on the 25th and 26th of May against the Soviet government. In the circumstances, the representatives the Allied high command, having no direct contact with their own diplomatic representatives, who remained at Vologda, assumed upon themselves the diplomatic responsibilities. They telegraphed their governments of the unquestionable desirability of grating recognition to the Soviet government at the earliest practicable date. These were the first results of the negotiations between Natsarenus and the Murmansk Soviet with the Allies.
The Allied powers, however, gradually increased their naval vessels on the Murmansk coast along with their military forces in the Murmansk area. Situated at Murmansk on the 25th of May, the British General Poole, with the aid of newly arrived reinforcements, gradually consolidated his base of operations for an ultimate invasion - reconnoitering the Murmansk coast and occupying the Solovetsk islands. Under the circumstances, Natsarenus' mission could not be accomplished with any success, and the Soviet government demanded the curtailment of negotiations between the Murmansk Soviet and Allied commanders. Some of the members of the Soviet (council), headed by chairman Yur'ew, did not comply with this demand and independently severed contact with Moscow and announced the independence of the Murmansk region, concluding a treaty with the Allies on July 8, 1918. But even the question of open intervention had not yet been fully decided upon. The Allied powers needed to gain time for the safe return of their diplomatic representatives from Vologda to the territories under their own military influence. The betrayal of some of the members of the Murmansk soviet served to untie the hands of General Poole, and he began the gradual occupation of the coast of Murmansk. In spite of the protests of the Soviet government, a final agreement was arrived at with the Murmansk Soviet on July 17th by the Allies, the basis of the agreement providing for joint action against the Central powers. The Russian military command was to remain autonomous while the Murmansk soviet was to maintain sovereignty in the internal affairs of the district. This agreement was protested by the conference of Soviets of the Northern district but there was nothing that could be done about it in view of the fact that during the period between the 2nd and 12th of July General Poole had already succeeded in occupying the Murmansk area, British forces having penetrated as far as the Soroka railway station, at which point they already established contact with the Red army forces. By the close of July the total strength of the forces under General Poole's control amounted to about 8,000 men.
The forces at the disposal of the Soviet command in the north
amounted to not more than 4,000 men, spread out over a large area; the more
important garrison at Archangel comprised 600 men. The slow progress of the
enemy had enabled the Red command to adopt timely measures for the evacuation
of important military property to Kotlas over the northern Dvina. On August 2,
1918, a British expeditionary force, aided by White insurgents, occupied
Archangel. After this the Allied powers landed at Murmansk 10,334 men and at
Archangel 13,182 men, while the White Russian forces at the time were barely
enough for the organization of two small detachments.
The social-revolutionary "government of the Northern district," headed by Chaikovsky and organized at Archangel, notwithstanding its counter-revolutionary and compromising tendencies, failed to satisfy the Allies, who still regarded as too "leftist." In spite of their declaration to the effect that they did not wish to interfere in the internal affairs of the district, they dispersed the members of this government, replacing this government with one willing to do their bidding, under General Miller, leaving Caikovsky as the nominal head of the government solely for the sake of appearances.
With a view to the development of further operations the British command utilized two separate areas: One leading in the direction of Vologda - Moscow, extending along the railway lines, and the other in the direction of Kotlas - Vyatka, extending along the Northern Dvina (up to Kotlas). The latter area was most difficult owing to the local conditions existing there. Nevertheless, from the time that General Ironside assumed command, (who relieved General Poole in the fall of 1918) this area received most of the attention, in view of the fact that it led toward the junction with the White forces that were advancing from Siberia, which, as we have since learned, was part of the strategic plan of the Allies.
The hostile operations in this area were developed slowly and with small forces, which proceeded most cautiously. As a result, the enemy by the fall of 1918 advanced in the Murmansk area only a distance of some 40 kilometers to the south of the city of Soroka, devoting primary attention to the Archangel area; the hostile front here extended through Chekuev on the Onega river - Obozersk - Sred-Mekhrengsk - Maly Bereznichek, on the Vaga river - Tulgas, on the Northern Dvina and through Trufanovo on the Pinega river.
After a protracted calm in November, 1918, the enemy attempted to advance along the Archangel railway, endeavoring to seize the communications center at Plesetskoe and to advance also from the city of Shenkursk along the Vaga river toward Velsk. The enemy contemplated cutting off the Red forces that were operating in the Archangel area from their base, but he did not succeed in this - the counterattacks of the Red forces enabled them to maintain their positions here.
The slow progress of the initial operations of the British command* permitted the Soviet authorities to gather sufficient forces for the defense of our northern theater of operations. These forces were organized into the Red Sixth Army, the nucleus of which was formed by the Petrograd workers.
* The tardiness involved, as we have since learned from the book by
General Rouquerol, had not been due to any fault of General Poole. It resulted
from the inadequacy of the forces at the latter's disposal for the mission
given him. In accordance with the unanimous opinion of the Allied military
representatives at Archangel, General Poole required for the launching of any
decisive undertaking at least five additional battalions. Neither the British
nor the French high-commands could furnish these. An appeal was made to the
highest military authority, Marshal Joffre. The latter considered it expedient
that the United States send these five battalions from America directly to
Archangel. The American government, however, rejected this request. Thus the
question of sending five new battalions to Archangel had developed into an
international event. The Allied coalition in this instance shared the fate of
all coalitions, and while the diplomatic and military offices of the Old and
New world were exchanging notes and vied in their bureaucracies and red tape,
General Poole had to remain inactive and waiting. These workers were highly
reliable politically, which served to insure the proper solidarity of this
army. In November, 1918, the strength of the Sixth Army in the Archangel area
amounted to 5,477 infantry troops, 145 machine-guns, and 27 guns. In the
Vologda area there were concentrated 336 bayonets and 25 machine-guns.
As soon as the enemy advance upstream of the Northern Dvina had been discovered with his threat to Kotlas (at which point the railway to Vyatka began) the Red command adopted measures for the defense of Kotlas, where it concentrated about 4,336 bayonets, 59 machine-guns and 39 guns, which included the forces operating in the Petchora region. Until the close of 1918 fighting on the Northern Front was carried on with alternate successes and failures; in the latter part of December began the fraternization of Soviet troops with the British and French soldiers. The commander of the Sixth Army gained control of the movement, maintaining supervision over it, and this resulted in a partial disintegration within the lines of the enemy.
Late in the autumn the secondary importance of the Northern Front became apparent in the general situation of the civil war, and the military operations here henceforward assumed a quite local aspect. As a consequence notwithstanding the capture of Archangel early in August, 1918, and the almost simultaneous fall of Kazan, the British and French forces still failed in the accomplishment of their objective with respect to the creation of a unified North-eastern front. This had been due not only to the slow and indecisive action on their part, but primarily also to the successful active undertakings of the Central Soviet government (which succeeded in the timely concentration of sufficiently strong forces on the North and East Fronts) and to the successful operations of the Red forces.
The original successes of the interventionists by no means met with the aims and objects contemplated by them. The relative unimportance of the results obtained by them had been due to a lack of coordination of their efforts as to time and place, which is the bane of all coalitions. The operation of the British expeditionary force was a month late; its deployment was conducted at an unusually slow pace. As a consequence, the uprisings in the middle Volga (at Yaroslavl and other cities) were isolated and easily suppressed. Nor could these be supported by the Eastern anti-Soviet Front in view of the fact that the Czecho-Slovak forces instead of promptly seizing the lines of the Volga and Kama rivers, spent two months fortifying their positions in the Urals.
The result of the intervention, with its accompanying revival of internal counter-revolutionary activity, was the change in the attitude of the Soviet country and army. It was for the first time that everyone recognized the fact that the country was facing a deadly danger. The mass movement at the front of the class-conscious proletariat - members of the trade unions and Communist party - had facilitated and rendered quite spontaneous the transition from the Red army detachments to the regular, centralized and centrally controlled Red Army.
The very first events of the civil war disclosed its international aspect. The German imperialism, the Allied powers, the "White" Don insurgents, the Czechs, the Kornilow followers - all these were the links of one and the same ring of fire which already in the middle of 1918 was beginning to close in on the Soviet government. On the other hand, the events disclosed also the profound international aspect of the October revolution and its primary motive forces. Detachments of former prisoners of war: Magyars, Czechs, Germans, came out in defense of the Soviet government. The German worker who had become a prisoner of war of the old army, in revolutionary Russia fought bravely against German imperialism. Throughout the world there is growing sympathy of the workers for the Soviets. While the guns of world imperialism thunder on all frontiers and encircle the land of the Soviets, the more far- reaching slogans of the October revolution are beginning to shake the foundation of the old world, thundering in the most distant corners of the globe.