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THE CIVIL WAR OF 1918-1921




The Ufa operation. Plan of commander of the Red East Front for the crossing of the Ural Mountain range. Zlatoust operation. Cheliabinsk operation. Petropavlovsk operation. Pursuit of the White Armies in Siberia; liquidation of the latter. Events on the Turkestan front.

The commander of the East Front (Samivoilo), having decided to continue the pursuit of the enemy, again assigned the more active missions to the South group (Frunze). Upon the completion of the Bugulma-Belebei operation the South group was given the following missions: Continuing the pursuit of the enemy, it was to seize the Ufa-Sterlitamak area (the city of Sterlitamak had already been occupied by the First Army cavalry on the 28th of May), to suppress the revolts in the Orenburg and Ural districts and firmly establish itself within these districts. The South group was to be assisted by the Fifth Army (whose line of advance at this time was directed toward Krasnoufimsk*) by stationing 1 1/2 divisions at the Belaya river with a view to crossing it in the vicinity of the Aklystino village. This was the general purpose of the directives issued by the commander of the East Front on MAy 18 and 19 (See Sketch 5 - original text).

* Regarding the line of advance of the Red Fifth Army against Krasnoufimsk, see the directive issued by Samoilo to this army in the preceding chapter.

The commander of the South group assigned the mission of capturing Ufa to the Turkestan army, reinforcing it with one division (24th) of the First Army; it was to turn the enemy at Ufa from the southeast with the right flank of this army, while at the same time cutting off the hostile retreat with the aid of the army cavalry. With a view to assisting the Turkestan Army, the left flank of the First Arm,y was to proceed vigorously against the Sterlitamak area. Thus, the plan of the operation provided for a wide pincer movement against the enemy from the north (by the 1 1/2 divisions of the Fifth Army) and the south (right flank of the Turkestan army and left flank of the First Army). For his part, the enemy had lost no hopes for regaining the initiative. Based on the natural boundary of the Belaya river, the enemy concentrated a powerful assault detachment of six infantry regiments at the mouth of the Belaya river below Ufa. These regiments had been brought up from Yekaterinburg for the protection of Khanzhin's right flank. A similar concentration of forces had also been undertaken beyond the Belaya river and above Ufa. Apparently, the intentions of the enemy too were the taking of the flanks of the Turkestan army in a pincer movement.
Such were the strategic antecedents of the Ufa operation wherein on the Soviet side there participated the forces of the Fifth and Turkestan armies with about 49,000 infantry and cavalry troops and 92 guns; and on the side of the enemy, as heretofore, the Western Army of General Khanzhin, with 46,000 to 47,000 infantry and cavalry troops (in round figures) and 119 guns.

On the 28th of May the forces of the South group reached the line designated by the commander of the East Front (directive of May 18th) and here, in conformity with this directive, remained for three days. Only on the 25th of May were orders issued for a general offensive to be launched on the 28th of May.* This temporary halt had made it possible for the enemy to anticipate our advance and to launch an attack with his own right-flank group, and in general permitted him to adopt necessary measures and to effect a regrouping of his forces.

* Thus the South group was to remain inactive for another three days.

The initial successes of the Red Army in the action against Kolchak might well have led (on the basis of previous experiences) to a certain loss of vigor on the part of his forces in further operations. The situation demanded that the success over Kolchak be carried to a complete rout. This was precisely the attitude taken by Lenin, which may be seen from the following telegram:

"May 25, 1919. Moscow, the Kremlin. "To the Simbirsk Revolutionary Military Council of the East Front, Gusev, Lashevich, Yurenev:

"I believe the revolution is doomed unless we conquer the Urals by winter; strain every effort; give every attention to reinforcements; mobilize every available man in the frontal areas; watch political functions; telegraph me daily in code of the results obtained. Read this telegram to Muralov, Smirnov, Rozenholts and to all leading communists and Petrograd workers. Acknowledge receipt. Redouble your efforts on the mobilization of the Orenburg Cossacks. You will be held personally responsible for any disintegration among the military forces, or for a lack of morale among them. LENIN."

As a consequence, in the nature of a prologue to the Ufa operation, was the meeting engagement between the Red Fifth Army and the right-flank assault group of the enemy, which had succeeded in effecting a restarted on the 28th of May in the vicinity of the Baisarovo village and already ended on the 29th of May in the victory of Red Fifth Army. Efforts of the enemy at launching attacks on the front of the Turkestan Army on the 28th and 29th of May were devoid of results, while the success of the Fifth Army relieved the left flank of the Turkestan Army and enabled it to undertake a rapid advance to the line of the Belaya river.
Thus the initial phase of the Ufa operation, characterized by the enemy's launching of an offensive on a wide front, with a view to restoring his freedom of action (in which he succeeded in gaining time), ended in a victory for the Red armies, which had been brought about by the strategic cooperation of the inner flanks of the Turkestan and Red Fifth armies. In the further progress of the operation this cooperation was not maintained. As a consequence of the meeting engagement of May 28-29 the Fifth Army found itself in an oblique position ahead of the Turkestan Army, and the defeated right flank of Khanzhin's army withdrew under its pressure in a southeasterly direction, toward the crossings of the Belaya river in the vicinity of the city of Ufa.

The Fifth Army, serving as the mobile enveloping force, might have completed the envelopment of the enemy in the Ufa area by continuing a relentless pursuit in the southeasterly direction. Conforming, however, to the directive received by it, this army crossed the Belaya river on the 30th of May and effected an abrupt turn to the north, against the city of Birsk - occupying the latter on the 7th of June. Thus in the course of subsequent operations at Ufa the South group had to operate independently and without the immediate cooperation of the Fifth Army. The advance of the Fifth Army against Birsk facilitated the favorable course of events on the front of the Red Second Army. The enemy instituted a hasty withdrawal before it, and the army swiftly advanced on Sarapul and the Izhevsk works.

On the 4th of June the Turkestan Army of the South group came into close contact on the Belaya river with the newly defeated army under General Khanzhin. The latter no longer attempted any active undertakings and merely prepared to put up a stubborn defense on the Belaya river, destroying all crossings over it. As already mentioned, after the unsuccessful meeting engagement with the Fifth Army, the right flank group of the hostile forces, having been deprived of its communications, was compelled to make an abrupt turn to the southeast, as a result of which it had a greater concentration of forces on its left flank, in the sector of the Belaya river, above Ufa. In its final form it assumed the following aspect: Two divisions of the VI Corps occupied positions astride the Samara-Zlatoust railway line, for the immediate defense of the city of Ufa; two weak divisions extended over a wide front north of Ufa - from the latter point up to the mouth of the Karmasan river. The better preserved forces (the Kappel corps) comprising four divisions were disposed on the comparatively narrow front of 40 to 50 km. extending approximately to the Seit-Bashevo railway station. Further against the front of the First Army was a screening force made up of remnants of the brigades of the 6th Infantry Division, and several cavalry regiments.

The commander of the South group as heretofore, directed his main effort with the right flank of the Turkestan Army with a view to turning the hostile left flank in the Arkhangelsk works area. Thence the commander contemplated reaching the railway supply line of the enemy in the vicinity of the Tuvtiumenev railway station. The assault group was assigned four infantry and three cavalry brigades. The crossing by this group of Belaya river during the night of June 7-8 in the vicinity of the Tiukunovo railway station was unsuccessful, since the pontoon bridge constructed over the river was demolished by the swift current of the stream. This failure, however, was compensated for during the same night by the successful crowwing of the 25th Infantry Division, accomplished at the personal initiative of the organization commanders in the sector of the Belaya river, below Ufa, at the Krasny railway station. Efforts of the enemy on he 8th of June to repel our forces that had crossed the river proved unsuccessful. The army commander promptly committed to action his army reserve (31st Infantry Division from the Dimitrievka railway station) and by so doing consolidated his position on the right bank of the Belaya river and, exploiting the success which he gained here, occupied Ufa on the 9th of June. Resting his right flank on the Ufa river, the enemy still endeavored to maintain his position on the line of the Belaya river, above Ufa, where he succeeded in delaying the progress of our forces until the 16th of June, at which time a general withdrawal of Khanzhin's forces began in an easterly direction.

The beginning of the Ufa operation was marked by the unsuccessful effort of the enemy to once more gain the initiative, and his failure in this respect was due not only to material reasons but to a change in the morale of the hostile forces. Henceforward this change in the morale assumed ever greater importance, and the subsequent operations were conducted with the initiative on the side of the Red forces in those operations which had been launched with the object of the complete destruction of the material and moral forces of the enemy on the East Front. The nature of the change in the morale of the hostile troops may be seen from the general number of prisoners taken from the beginning of the counter- maneuver by the South group under Frunze and the end of the Ufa operation, which amounted to 25,500 men. Our losses amounted to 16,000 wounded and killed.
The strategic failure of the counter-revolutionary armies did not justify the sacrifice made by the latter of the last efficient reserves of the Siberian armies. Now there only remained at the disposal of Admiral Kolchak as strategic reserves three divisions that had barely began their organization at Omsk and Tomsk. From the economic standpoint, the loss of the Ural factories involved the loss to the enemy of supply orders placed there. Finally, with the loss of the Ufa area the enemy lost also the considerable supplies which he had accumulated there.

However, the situation in the Orenburg and Ural districts still remained tense. Here, notwithstanding the partial reinforcement of the Fourth Army, the enemy still enjoyed a numerical superiority in forces. The enemy had here 21,000 infantry and cavalry troops against 13,000 men of the Fourth Army, and as a consequence he continued gaining minor victories over individual detachments, delivering a painful blow against one of these at the Shipovo railway station. It became necessary for the commander of the South group once more to strengthen his right flank, detaching from the Turkestan Army another division (25th) and sending it to the Busuluk area, whereupon the Turkestan Army was disbanded on the 19th of June, 1919, and its forces distributed among the Fifth and First armies.
While the Ufa operation developed and was being brought to a close, in the central strategical areas of the East Front the Red Second Army was preparing for a transfer of its main forces across the Kama river; one division (5th) of this army had already crossed the Kama in the Buix area, while the Third Army was approaching the line of this river, exerting pressure against the main hostile forces of the Siberian army.

Such were the conditions under which the commander of the Red East Front was called upon to decide on the manner in which to overcome the Ural Mountain ridge. Meanwhile, considerable dissension arose between the Revolutionary Military Council of the East Front on the one hand, and the commander-in-chief and the representative of the Military Revolutionary Council of the Republic on the other, with respect to the nature of the further operations of the East Front. The commander-in-chief insisted on halting the operations of the main forces of the East Front generally on the line of the Belaya river, with a view to the transfer of a part of the forces to the South Front. The chairman of the Military Revolutionary Council of the Republic fully supported this. The central committee of the party, however, sided with the Revolutionary Military Council of the East Front and by so doing decided things in its favor. The chairman of the Military Revolutionary Council of the Republic then tendered his registration, which the central committee would not accept. Comrade Vatzetis, the commander-in-chief, resigned, and he was superseded by Comrade Kamenev. This took place after the Soviet forces already succeeded in crossing the Urals.

Prior to the launching of the operation to overcome the Ural mountain ridge* the Soviet armies of the center and left flank of the East Front had a total strength of 81,000 infantry and cavalry troops against 70,500 hostile troops that had been described by the commander of our East Front as of poor military quality. The first matter before the commander of the East Front was that of seizing the most convenient sector of the Ural ridge together with the City of Zlatoust, which was the key to the Siberian plains.

* This operation was now again conducted under the leadership of the former commander of the East Front, S. S. Kamenev, A. A. Samoilo having been recalled on the 29th of May, 1919.

Being in possession of Zlatoust, the enemy based his operations on the comparatively dense railway system of that sector (two trunk lines: Omsk - Kurgan - Zlatoust, and Omsk - Tiumen - Yekaterinburg, and in addition, two branch lines: Berdiaush - Utkinsk factory - Chusovaya, and Troitsk - Cheliabinsk - Yekaterinburg - Kushva). Thus, this railway system afforded the enemy full opportunity for extensive maneuvering, which was not to be overlooked.

Prior to the launching of the extensive operation by the armies of the East Front the relative strength and disposition of the opposing forces were substantially as follows: The Red Fourth Army in the Ural district, as heretofore, had before it the numerically superior forces of the enemy: against the 13,000 infantry and cavalry troops of this army were 21,000 hostile infantry and cavalry troops {15,000 of these being cavalry); the First Army (inclusive of the Orenburg group) comprising about 11,000 infantry and cavalry, had before it a hostile force of nearly the same strength; the Fifth Army (which had absorbed the Turkestan Army) comprising 29,000 infantry and cavalry forces in the direction of its main effort (Zlatoust - Krasnoufimsk front), had before it the oft-defeated and greatly demoralized units of General Khanzhin's army, numbering 18,000 infantry and cavalry troops. Farther, the Second Army with a strength of 21,600 infantry and cavalry, was driving back the forces of the enemy consisting of 14,000 infantry and cavalry. In the Perm area, against the 29,200 infantry and cavalry troops of the Red Third Army the enemy had 23,500 infantry and cavalry troops. The particular strength of the Red Third Army was determined by its flanking position and by the vastness and difficulty of the area in which it operated.

The commander of the front (group of armies) urged on the Second Army in its advance. Though this army crossed over to the left bank of the Kama river on the 20th of June with its main forces (there only remained on the right bank of the Kama river, in the Izhevsk area, the 7th Infantry Division), yet by the beginning of the Zlatoust operation it was still two days' march from the line occupied by the Fifth Army. Thus, in the newly developed decisive undertaking the principal role developed upon the Fifth Army.
The enemy prepared for a stubborn defense of the Zlatoust railway center, fully appreciating the strategic and economic importance of the same. The Zlatoust plateau with its important Zlatoust rail junction was protected in the west by the impenetrable Kara-Tau woody mountain ridge, traversed by narrow passes through which extended the Ufa - Zlatoust railway, nearer to the right flank of the Fifth Army, and the Birsk - Zlatoust highway, branching off from the left flank of the Fifth Army. The latter was the shortest route for reaching Zlatoust. In addition, the narrow valleys of the Urezan and Ai rivers, ending at an angle to the trunk railway lines, might also have been utilized for troop movements, though with some difficulty.

Evaluating these local terrain conditions, the enemy disposed his forces in two groups of equal strength: on the Birsk highway (1 1/2 infantry and 3 cavalry divisions) on the former, and on the latter, 2 infantry divisions and 1 cavalry brigade (Kappel's corps). Five days' march in rear of these groups, in the area west of Zlatoust, there were 2 1/2 additional infantry divisions in rest areas and serving as a general reserve.

The swift culmination of the Zlatoust operation was due to the plan adopted by the commander of the Fifth Army, after a careful evaluation of the terrain factors involved. Providing for the turning of the Birsk highway area and the valley of the Urezan river, with due regard to the sole line of retreat of the enemy situated along the railway line (Samara - Zlatoust), the army commander decided tn carry his assault detachment against' the two mentioned areas, against the rear of this hostile group of forces, and to bring about its complete destruction. The disposition of the forces on the ground clearly indicated the strategic plan involved and was in complete accordance with the requirements of the terrain factors.

The area to the south of the Samara-Zlatoust railway was protected by six regiments of the 24th Infantry Division, extending on a front of 90 km. Along the line of the Samara-Zlatoust railway was directed the assault group consisting of one cavalry division and one infantry brigade (3d Brigade of the 26th Infantry Division); the sector of the front extending against the Kara- Tau mountain ridge was completely denuded of forces, but therefore on the left flank of the army, on a line of not more than 30 km., between the Aidos and Uraz- Bakhta villages, was deploying the Northern assault group made up of 15 infantry regiments with considerable light and heavy artillery (27th Infantry Division and two brigades of the 26th Infantry Division). The 35th Infantry Division (of two brigades) was stationed two days' march in rear of the left flank, in accordance with the instructions of the front (group of armies) commander, for the purpose of maintaining contact with the Second Army.

The advance of the Northern assault group was to be undertaken in two columns: The 26th Infantry Division marching through the valley of the Urezan river, and the 27th Infantry Division, over Birsk highway. On the night of the 23d of June, the 26th Infantry Division successfully crossed the Ufa river in the vicinity of the Aidos village, and a day later, i.e., on the night of the 24th of June, the 27th Infantry Division likewise crossed the river in the vicinity of Uraz-Bakhta.* Thus, with the very beginning of the operation the 26th Infantry Division was situated one day's march ahead of the general line of the armies and of the neighboring forces on its left. Later on, this lack of coordination as to distance and space became even more apparent, inasmuch as the 27th Infantry Divisions came upon strong hostile resistance in the Birsk theater of operations and lost a full day in overcoming this resistance. The 26th Infantry Division, in spite of the extremely difficult terrain, advanced with one column over the narrow ravine of the Urezan river a distance of 50 km., and was frequently compelled to march over the bed of the river; on the 1st of July it reached the Zlatoust plateau, while the 27th Infantry Division was still two days' march behind it.

* The plan for the crossing of the Ural Mountain ridge was adopted by the commander of the East Front on the 22d of June, and the Fifth Army launched its operation on the night of the 23d. It is assumed that it had effected its regrouping of forces prior to this, at the initiative of its own commander, and that this new disposition of its forces was duly considered by the commander of the East Front in his plan.

On this plateau the 26th Infantry Division found itself considerably weakened, inasmuch as it had sent two of its regiments from the march against the rear of the hostile group that had begun a swift withdrawal along the Samara- Zlatoust railway from Zlatoust - before the 3d Brigade of this division. Thus, on the Zlatoust plateau there were only four regiments of the 26th Division. Their appearance here, however, came as a complete surprise to the enemy, and their first assaults were successfully delivered against the widely scattered units of the 12th Infantry Division of the Whites in rest areas there. This White division, however, soon recovered itself and, concentrating in the vicinity of the Nisibash village, almost surrounded the 26th Division there on the 3d of July. On July 5th, the 27th Infantry Division, arriving on the Zlatoust plateau, defeated the White 4th Infantry Division advancing against it in a meeting engagement and prepared to assist the 26th Infantry Division. The latter, however, not only succeeded in restoring its situation in the vicinity of the Nisibash village, but itself defeated the hostile 12th Infantry Division.

Even though the enemy had not been completely destroyed, he was nevertheless driven back to the immediate approaches of the city of Zlatoust. After a series of minor engagements both sides established close contact on the 7th of July on the line: Arsh river - Ai river - Mursalimkino railway station, whereupon there was a lull in the fighting for a period of time, until the commander of the Fifth Army moved up the 35th Infantry Division, which he had left behind with a view to the protection of its left. Now there was no longer any need for this, inasmuch as on the 4th of July the Second Army occupied Krasnoufimsk. On July 10th the Fifth Army again launched an attack, delivering its assault against the center of the hostile forces in the direction of the shortest route to Zlatoust, and it succeeded in occupying this important strategic railway center, namely: the city of Yekaterinburg (renamed Sverdlovsk).

The disposition of the hostile forces during the Zlatoust operations had been such as to preclude a complete envelopment of the entire hostile Western army (echelonment of reserves in depth), but the envelopment of the enemy South group (Kappel's corps) might have been accomplished, had it not been for the delay permitted after the arrival on the Zlatoust plateau. This delay was due to a separation in the action of the columns of the North group of the Fifth Army, which nearly resulted in a partial defeat of the right column of this group. The army commander himself, obviously, could not exert his personal influence over the execution of all of the partial missions of his units engaged in the operation; and yet the operation affords an instructive example in skillful maneuver.

As a consequence of the Zlatoust operation, General Khanzhin's West Army swiftly rolled back to Cheliabinsk, threatening to open the last rail communications of Belov's army operating in the Orenburg area. The effect of the operation on the morale of the troops was even of greater importance; Kolchak's minister of war regarded the condition of his front as being one of complete disintegration.
The decisive victory in the Zlatoust area had come in the nick of time, considering the threat to the juncture of the South and East fronts of the Soviet forces by the enemy from the direction of Tsaritsyn and from that of the Ural district. The commander-in-chief already on the 4th of July issued orders to the commander of the East Front (group of armies) to secure his communications on the right bank of the Volga and the Saratov - Kirsanov railway. In the development of these instructions, the commander of the East Front (group of armies) provided for a concentration in the Saratov - Atkarsk area, in mid-August, of two infantry divisions and two independent brigades.

The collapse of the enemy front assumed such proportions that the commander of the Soviet East Front could now undertake such a regrouping of his forces, while the commander-in-chief could now utilize the additional forces on other fronts. The hostile Siberian North Army comprised only 6,000 men, notwithstanding the fact that in June it demanded provisions sufficient for 350,000 men; the composition of the other armies (Khanzhin's West Army, and Belov's South Army) was of somewhat greater strength. An attempt to once more move the Czechoslovak corps to the front, which had remained behind the lines, proved fruitless. The disintegration of this corps had become so pronounced as to cause apprehension among the representatives of the Allied governments. Kolchak's military leaders committed to action their last reserves, consisting of three divisions that had not yet completed their organization. On July 26th the remnants of the Kolchak forces were reorganized into three armies; Gayda's Siberian army was split up into the First and Second armies and placed under the control of General Dietrichs, and General Khanzhin's army was designated as the Third Army.

Reorganizing the command of the armies and bringing up the last strategic reserves, in the shape of the three divisions incompletely organized from the Omsk area (11th, 12th, and 18th Infantry divisions), the White high command made its last effort to wrest the initiative from the Red high command. This was undertaken in the Cheliabinsk area. The strategical and economical importance of this large railroad junction was considerable for both sides. In the case of the Whites, in the situation that they found themselves, it was important as the final point on the Yekaterinburg - Cheliabinsk railway branch still in their possession, with the Yekaterinburg section of this railway already being in possession of the Red forces. As far as the Red forces were concerned, Cheliabinsk was important as the terminus of the great Siberian railway, and furthermore, with its extensive railway shops and coal mines, it constituted an important area for the Reds from the economic standpoint.

After the victorious conclusion of the Zlatoust operation, the Red Fifth Army swiftly developed the pursuit of the enemy in the Cheliabinsk area, crossing the Ural Mountain ridge, while the right-flank armies of the East Front (First and Fourth) lagged behind, with their action developing away from the strategic direction of that of the Fifth Army (to the southeast and south). Thus the Fifth Army could not count on the strategic cooperation of these armies. This same situation with regard to the Fifth Army was true in so far as her left flank was concerned, since the Red Third Army, which had absorbed the former Second Army (which was 140 to 150 km. distance from Cheliabinsk) developed its operations from the Yekaterinburg area against the Tobolsk strategic area (on the Shadrinsk - Turinsk line).

Taking into consideration this disposition of the Red forces, after the latter crossed the Ural mountain ridge, the White Command assumed the special mission of defeating the Red Fifth Army by itself. With this object in view, it moved up its strategic reserve (three divisions) to reinforce the right flank of its Third Army (former Khanzhin army), concentrating an assault force on the left flank of three divisions, from the Third Army. With the aid of these two assault forces it intended to envelop the exposed flanks of our Fifth Army in the north and south, and with a view to best insuring the success of this undertaking, it went so far as to abandon beforehand the highly important Cheliabinsk communications center. By so doing, it contemplated having our Fifth Army, absorbed in its pursuit, to place itself in a position where it would be subjected to an attack by its flanking groups.*

* According to the former Minister of War of the Siberian government, Baron Budberg, the thought and preparation of this plan were that of Kolchak's chief of staff, General Lebedov. The latter, an important military expert of the old army, had been left unnoticed; he had lost his influence owing to previous failures in the handling of larger units. Disagreements between Lebedov and Gayda had been among the reasons for Gayda's retirement. Budberg ascribes the principal reasons for the failure of the Cheliabinsk operation to the fact that the complicated plan involved demand first rate and highly trained troops along with well- trained leadership, both of which were lacking here. For details see Archives of the Russian Revolution, 1924, Vols. 14 & 15. (Budberg's notes) and article by Inostrantsev in Beloye Dielo, Berlin, 1926.

The initial phase of the operation here appeared to justify all expectations of the White high command. Defeating the hostile rear guards, the Fifth Army occupied Cheliabinsk on July 27th (Comrade Eikhe, a participant of this operation, gives the date of the occupation of Cheliabinsk as July 24; according to the official report of the Field Headquarters of the Revolutionary Military Council, however, it was occupied on the 27th), and pursuing the enemy, the army advanced over a wide front with the head of the divisional columns on one line. Ere long the events began favoring the enemy even more. In conformity with the directives of the front (group of armies) commander issued on July 30, the South group (Fourth and First armies), with its left wing and with the assistance of the Fifth Army, assigning the 24th Infantry Division to assist the South group, was to endeavor with main forces to drive the enemy back to the south of the Siberian trunk railway, capture the city of Troitsk as swiftly as possible, with the ultimate object of reaching the line of the Tobol river between Kustanaya and Ikovskaya.

The Third Army continued on its previous mission of the capture of the Shadrinsk and turinsk areas, with the ultimate objective of reaching the Tobol river between Ikovskaya and Tobolsk. This directive included some positive and negative aspects in connection with the impending Cheliabinsk operation. The positive aspects involved consisted of the fact that the commander of the Fifth Army was required to concentrate the forces on the left flank more densely, which he accomplished by narrowing down the line of advance of his left-flank divisions. It thus met the attack of the north group of the White Third Army in a more favorable disposition of its own forces.

But quite unfavorable for the Fifth Army was the assignment of the 24th Infantry Division to assist the South group, which precluded participation of the latter in the actual operation and, apparently, involved a maneuver zone 100 kilometers wide for the 26th Infantry Division, which now found itself on the right flank of the Fifth Army. This, naturally, greatly weakened the right flank at a time when the south group of the White Third Army was, in turn, preparing to launch an attack against it. The latter army launched its advance on the 30th of July. Its northern group, launching a turning movement against Cheliabinsk from the north, was forcing back the left-flank division of the Fifth Army (35th Infantry Division) and the fighting was carried on in the vicinity of the Dolgoderevenskaya village 25 kilometers to the northwest of Cheliabinsk.

The importance of the attack was immediately recognized by the commander of the Fifth Army, who in turn endeavored to attack with his center divisions (5th and 27th) the left flank of the north group of the enemy. The success of this undertaking depended on the tenacity of the 24th Infantry Division which was in turn attacked by the superior forces of the enemy and was called upon to perform the difficult mission of securing in the south the maneuver of the center divisions - otherwise the entire Cheliabinsk operation would have collapsed. The 26th Division executed this mission without regard to cost in the course of several days, though the fighting at times was carried on in the very suburbs of Cheliabinsk. The situation became especially critical on the 31st of July, when the left flank of the Fifth Army had to attack the heights of Esaulskaya and Kargayats. But already on the 1st of August the results of the counter-maneuver of the Fifth Army were becoming apparent and the fighting became of a mixed nature. On August 2nd we gained the first large-scale victory north of Cheliabinsk, completely destroying several regiments of the enemy and capturing 5,000 men. This constituted a change in the entire operation, since by this time the forces of the hostile south group operating against the 26th Division became exhausted; in the ensuing two days the enemy merely defended his positions, while by the 5th of August he was already in full retreat.*

* The failure at Cheliabinsk witnessed the beginning of the agony of the White East Front. Rouquerol characterises this front at the time of the summer withdrawal in 1919 as follows: "Very extensive lines were occupied by troops that were in a state of total disintegration. The population behind the lines of these forces were ready for instant uprisings. Battles were fought very rarely. More often there were mere partisan skirmishes. Quite frequently instead of engaging in armed conflict, the men on both sides fraternized." (pp. 122 and 123).

The Cheliabinsk operation ended disastrously for the enemy. This may be seen from the losses suffered by him. Not counting wounded and killed, he lost 15,000 captured alone; the hostile 12th Division ceased to exist as a unit. In the Cheliabinsk area the Fifth Army captured, among other things, 4,000 railway freight cars and 100 locomotives. The effect of the victory on the morale of the troops was even more important than the material gains. Almost simultaneously with the Cheliabinsk victory the Red forces occupied Troitsk (August 4), and this presented a real threat to the communications of the South White army commanded by General Belov. This was now the strategic result of the victorious conclusion of the Cheliabinsk operation. General Belov's South army was now compelled to withdraw in a southeasterly direction from Orenburg.
The latter circumstance, in connection with the presence of local troops of the enemy in the Orenburg and Ural districts, had brought about the organization on the 13th of August, 1919 out of the forces of the "South group" of the East Front, the special Turkestan Front, leaving as part of the East Front only the Third and Fifth Armies. The mission of the Turkestan Front included the consolidation of Soviet control in the Orenburg and Ural districts and an advance on Turkestan. The armies of the East Front were charged with the destruction of the Siberian hostile armies and the occupation of Western Siberia (See Sketch 6 - original text). Meanwhile, the disintegration of the White Siberian forces continued apace, reflecting the general aspect of the disintegration in rear of Kolchak armies.

The collapse of the front and rear of Kolchak's forces had been the natural result of those profound internal social contradictions and impacts which befell the Kolchak regime with the very first days of his arrival in power. Hence it will be quite proper to leave our survey of the miliary events for the moment and present the conditions which served to undermine from within the governmental structure of the White Siberian regime.
The very steps of the "supreme ruler" were marked by a sanguinary struggle with the working class. On the night of the 23d of December, 1918, in the city of Omsk and its suburbs, there were revolts staged by workers against the Kolchak government. The communist leaders of the uprisings were arrested, with the result that the revolt was suppressed. The revolt was put down by bloody repression. In the city of Omsk alone 1,000 workers were slain and executed.

At the same time, the Siberian peasantry soon learned from actual experience the true "landowner" aspect of the Kolchak regime. The smoldering embers of discontent with the Siberian White regime that preceded the Kolchak regime were present for some time among the peasantry, especially among the "new settlers." Kolchak's policy affecting the peasantry had fanned these embers into a huge conflagration. The Yeniseisk region was the most important area of the Siberian uprisings, where the "new settlers" predominated among the peasantry. Hence some of the remnants of the Red forces that had been driven into the Taiga during the summer of 1918 and some revolting Czechs and White guards found warm welcome among these peasants. The remnants of these forces served to form those embryonic cells around which were formed the local partisan forces. Action of the Yeniseisk partisans against the Kolchak government began in the latter part of December, 1918. Originally, the movement embraced individual villages and volosts, and the forces involved were small. These, however, were made up of highly efficient elements that were well versed in political and military matters. Most of these were former World War soldiers who served at the front, experienced Taiga hunters and expert skiers. Action against them was an extremely difficult matter for the governmental forces that were made up primarily of young, poorly trained soldiers. As a consequence, the initial actions of these proved of little success. The movement developed and took on the aspect of a well-organized undertaking. The insurgent movement already counted hundreds of members among its adherents. Thus the Stepno-Badzheisk volost alone had a force of 600 well armed and trained "partisans." The principal center of the Yeniseisk insurgent movement was organized in the northern part of the Kansk district.

In January, 1919, the entire Yeniseisk government was covered by a complete net of partisan forces. The Siberian railway - the only arterial line of communications of the Siberian White armies - was in immediate danger. For the protection of this Siberian railway the Allied military commanders had stationed along side of it Czech troops taken off from the front. The Kolchak government also adopted vigorous measures against the insurgent movement, in the course of which its action took the form of mass punitive undertakings directed primarily against the population. Kolchak himself demanded of his subordinates the "most stringent measures" not only against the insurgents but against their "sympathizing" inhabitants as well. These instructions of Admiral Kolchak served to give free rein to a variety of Siberian dragonnades. Mass repression against the local inhabitants in the form of the burning down of entire villages, the taking of hostages, extortions and brigandage, greatly embittered the peasantry. The insurgent movement not only failed to lose ground but on the contrary became stronger than ever. The peasant partisan forces were now organized into a "peasant" army. This army included a military revolutionary staff which exercised general control and issued regular reports and intelligence. Before long the insurgent movement in the Yeniseisk government spread to the neighboring districts of the Irkutsk government (Shitkinsk front). By the summer of 1919 there was organized in the Altai area an independent center of the partisan movement.

The local communist organizations at once took this movement into their hands. Notwithstanding the rather scattered nature of the Siberian partisans, they carried on their activity with the general watchword of struggling for the power of the Soviets. The movement assumed the nature of a mass undertaking, and was conducted with and by the support of the Communist Party. The social- revolutionary and menshevik organizations, in view of their previous reformist policies, now had completely lost their authority and importance among the wide masses. They were endeavoring to maintain their influence among the small circles of the local city intellectuals and to establish contact with that portion of young Kolchak officers that were not averse by themselves to staging a military revolution. The Siberian committee of the Communist Party conducted its own political line of action, rejecting all cooperation with these discredited political parties. The committee was busy training the masses in their proper revolutionary activity, among which was that of a complete separation from the discredited political parties, such as the social- revolutionaries and mensheviks, of the wide masses. We might say that by the summer of 1919 the peasant partisan movement had reached such proportions that Kolchak's government could no longer cope with it.

Kolchak appealed to the Allied representatives for assistance and the latter had the Czechs once more afford active assistance to the Kolchak forces. The Czech forces together with the White guards once more drove the Siberian insurgents that were threatening Siberian railway into the Taiga. The action of the Czech forces had been accompanied by the same cruel treatment as in the case of the Siberian punitive detachments. This latter success was bought at the price of the final disintegration of the Czechoslovak corps. Already on the 27th of July, 1919, the Kolchak government was compelled to advise the Allied representatives of the need for the replacement of the Czech troops on the railway with other foreign troops. The very fact of their remaining in Siberia for another winter was considered dangerous and to be avoided. The request of the Kolchak government for the replacement of the Czech troops coincided with vacillations among the Allies concerning their attitude toward the Kolchak government and toward Kolchak himself. The military failures at the front and the poor situation behind the lines had caused the allied governments to once more turn their eyes to the social-revolutionaries as representing the force, in their opinion, capable of leading the Siberian reactionaries out of their blind alley where Kolchak had led them into. The social-revolutionaries in turn endeavored to determine the attitude of the Allied governments toward a "military revolt" that would once more place on the scene a "democratic" government - that was quite unceremoniously overthrown during the latter part of 1918, under Allied pressure.

Such were internal causes, which found their reflection in the military spheres by a progressive decline in the combat efficiency and in the numerical strength of the Siberian White armies. After the Cheliabinsk operation the number of infantry and cavalry troops among these armies was reduced to 50,000 notwithstanding the fact that the White leaders continued to list their forces as of the great strength of 300,000 men. All of Kolchak's appeals for volunteers, directed to the "propertied" Siberian inhabitants proved of little avail. The Kolchak government found it possible to enrol only 200 volunteers. Thus, the White armies in Siberia had brought to a close the sphere of their development. Having been developed from among the bourgeoisie classes on the basis of mobilized peasant forces, they once more returned to their class and kulak cadres, inasmuch as the principal mass of the peasantry abandoned them and now turned to the Red Army.

Under the existing situation there was nothing more that General Dietrichs, who had assumed command of all armies on the White front, could accomplish than to withdraw promptly behind the Tobol and Ishim rivers and, basing his operations on the line of these two rivers, endeavor to protect the city of Omsk, which was the political center of Siberia, and which at the same time served also as a vital center of the Siberian counter-revolutionaries, inasmuch as it constituted the district center of the Siberian Cossacks who were still supporting Kolchak. Beyond the Omsk area there began peasant revolt areas. The Kolchak government, however, demanded the launching of an immediate offensive, with a view to securing its tottering foreign and internal political situation.*

* The front and immediate rear communications of the Kolchak armies at this time presented the following aspects: The hastily accumulated replacements from the Ural mountain regions left their organizations, proceeding as they saw fit and taking their arms and equipment with them. The resistance at the front, which now assumed the nature of a thin web, completely collapsed, and the troops were hastily surging eastward, taking away from the local inhabitants their conveyances for the purpose.

Thus, the antecedents of the last large-scale operation of this phase on the Tobol river were the policies of the enemy which, in this instance, were at cross purposes with the interests of his own strategy. On the other hand, the interests of the policy and strategy of the Soviet government parallelled the endeavor for the speediest liquidation of the Eastern counter-revolutionary front, while the strength of the Soviet armies and their internal situation after their victories had been such as to justify the launching of extensive offensive operations and the adoption of bold plans of action.

On August 15, 1919, the opposing armies once more came int close contact on the line of the Tobol river. Here the Soviet armies of the East Front occupied a position relatively in advance of the forces of the Turkestan front which, at this time, were engaged in action against the Orenburg and Ural Cossacks on the approximate line: Orsk - Lbishchensk. As a consequence, the Fifth Army of the East Front situated on the flank, had to secure its right flank by assigning a special screening force in the Kustania area. The 35th Infantry Division was shifted to this area from the left flank of the army. For the enemy, the sector of the Tobol river, traversed by the Siberian railway line (Cheliabinsk - Omsk) was of special importance; and for this reason, stronger opposing forces here were situated. On the Soviet side there operated in this sector; the Fifth Army with a strength of 24,000 infantry and cavalry troops and 84 guns, deployed on August 17 on the line: Chiskaya - Berezovskaya - Kurgan, a stretch of 100 km., with the Troitsk - Petropavlovsk highway on the right flank, and the Siberian railway line on its left flank. The enemy had here 29,000 infantry and cavalry troops, with 60 guns belonging to the White Third Army.

The strength of the enemy, considering the condition of his troops, had been such as not to promise any success in a protracted offensive undertaking. The cavalry corps of Siberian Cossacks assumed the role of the shock force within the plan of the White Commander; this corps, comprising 7,000 cavalry troops, was organized on the basis of their general mobilization. It was to operate against the flank of the Fifth Army, while the hostile Petropavlovsk group (Third Army) attacked this army frontally.

The concentration of the cavalry corps, however, proceeded at a very slow pace, and meanwhile the Red Fifth Army crossed the Tobol river, with fighting, on the 20th of August and developed its advance on Petropavlovsk.* Immediately upon forcing the Tobol river, the 5th Infantry Division, in accordance with the directive of the high command, was to be placed in reserve and then be sent to the South Front. The position of this division was to be filled by extending on the on the left the remaining two divisions (26th & 27th). Meanwhile, the Red Third Army, also crossing the Tobol river, advanced on Ishim. This regrouping of the forces of the Fifth Army, weakening it by one-third of its regular forces, was a favorable turn for the hostile offensive counter-maneuver.**

Only the enemy's lack of preparedness and the low morale of his forces delayed his launching of this counter-maneuver. The execution of this undertaking began on the 1st of September at the very city of Petropavlovsk. (see sketch p. 218 - original text).

The interception of hostile field orders on the 2nd of September served to disclose to the Red forces all of the enemy plans of action. This consisted of the delivery of an attack against the right flank of the Fifth Army from the south - by a group of forces comprising two infantry divisions (4th and 7th) and by the cavalry group of General Domozhirov, consisting of 2,000 cavalry troops; the latter was to gain the rear of the Red forces. Thus, the initial attack of the Whites was directed against the much extended 26th Infantry Division. In a series of intensive battles it lost a part of the ground which it had captured. The Red High command quickly reacted to this situation.

The plan of the commander of the Fifth Army contemplated the formation of an assault group in the vicinity of the Bordanovsky and Ostrovsky village from the 5th Infantry Division, which had again been committed to action by the army commander, with the approval of the commander of the East Front (group of armies), and two brigades of the 35th Division, one of which was transferred by rail and the other by highway from the Troitsk - Kustanai area. The concentration was to be completed by the 6th of September.

The 26th Infantry Division was to concentrate with main forces along the Petropavlovsk highway and prepare for a vigorous defense. The 27th Infantry Division, transferring the center of gravity also to the right flank, was to launch a vigorous counterattack against the enemy. Thus the plans of the army commander involved a general regrouping of forces toward the right flank of the army along with the formation of an assault group from the reinforcements.

To accomplish this there was needed time along with freedom of movement, particularly so in the face of the hostile mobile cavalry force. Meanwhile, the enemy endeavored to exploit his success and on the 5th of September fighting developed on the extensive front which embraced also the sector of the 27th Division. Scattered over a wide sector, the 26th Infantry Division found itself in a precarious situation. Some of the organizations of this division were surrounded and were compelled to fight their way out of their envelopment. The 27th Infantry Division was also forced back in its sector. The withdrawal of the two divisions with fighting continued also during the 6th of September. At the close of the 6th there concentrated in the Yekaterininsky - Botareva - Isayevsky area the units of the assault group (5th Infantry Division, 2nd Brigade of the 35th Infantry Division). This group of forces (the 2d Brigade of the 35th Division was placed under the control of the commander of the 5th Infantry Division) was ordered to attack the White forces in flank and rear in the Kureinskoye and Teplodubrovskoye areas, occupying with a strong flanking force Novorybinsky and Kladbishchensky. The 26th Infantry Division was to launch an attack in the direction of Novorybinsky, while the 27th Infantry Division attacked in the direction Teplodubrovskoye.

The commander of the Fifth Army intended by means of this bold action to wrest the initiative from the enemy. The attack of the assault group, launched on the 7th of September, developed successfully on the 7th and 8th of September; by evening of the 8th the group reached the line Presnovskaya - Stepnaya. The 26th Infantry Division did not participate in the action, and was effecting a regrouping of its forces. The 27th Division, however, not only found it impossible to deliver its attack, but was compelled to withdraw to the line: Lebiazhe - Dubrovskoye - Mogilevskoye. Thus, the plan of action of the commander of the Fifth Army had been torn in half, but of particular interest is the persistent effort undertaken by the commander toward developing the action of the assault group with a view to saving the 27th Infantry Division, directing this group in the area of the latter division. On the 9th of September, however, the situation on the front of the assault group took a turn for the worse, apparently due to the arrival of the remaining elements of the Cossack cavalry corps. The White cavalry had turned in depth the right flank of the assault group and, enveloping and destroying isolated regiments, it compelled this flank to withdraw to the Kabany village. The 26th and 27th Infantry Divisions had some successes on this day, though this did not prevent the White forces from exploiting their victories during the ensuing days, forcing back the assault group and the 26th Infantry Division. By evening of the 13th of September these units were situated as follows: The assault group, in the Botareva - Presnegorkovskaya area, and the 26th Infantry Division in the area west of Lopatinskoye. Only the 27th Infantry Division succeeded in maintaining its former position.

Disrupting the right flank of the Fifth Army, which had a successful beginning, the enemy, making full use of his advantage of mobility afforded him by his strong cavalry, left undisturbed the right flank of the Red forces and, regrouping the forces on his right flank, he once more attacked the left flank of the Fifth Army and compelled it to withdraw due west. The days that followed were characterized by vigorous efforts on the part of the commander of the Fifth Army toward wresting the initiative from the enemy, utilizing for the purpose the newly arrived reinforcements (a brigade of the 21st Infantry Division of the Third Army). Fighting continued with alternating successes and failures and partial waverings of the front. In general, however, the Fifth Army, the forces of which were already weakened by the previous battles, gradually yielded before the enemy, settling on the line of the Tobol river. Not desiring to have in its rear this water barrier,the commander of the Fifth Army, on October 1, 1919, moved his army back behind the Tobol river, establishing it on the line: Ozernaya - Kurgan. This temporary victory gained by the White Third Army was not obtained cheaply. The army was so exhausted by the fighting, which had continued uninterruptedly for an entire month, that it found it impossible to force the Tobol river and halted before it. There was now a temporary lull in the operations on both sides.

Behind the Tobol river, the Fifth Army was once more filled up to full war strength by means of local mobilization.* The strength of this army by mid- October again increased to 37,000 infantry and cavalry troops with 135 guns, whereas the enemy could muster against them only 31,000 men and 145 guns. Therefore, on the 14th of October the Fifth Army succeeded once more in crossing the Tobol river, delivering an assault with its right flank and cutting off the communications of the White forces in the south. The enemy vainly tried to halt the turning movement of the right flank of the Fifth Army (35th and 5th Infantry Divisions), endeavoring to regroup his forces on his left and to turn his forces facing south. He was late in accomplishing this, and was compelled to undertake a hasty withdrawal beyond the Ishim river. On the 29th of October the city of Petropavlovsk finally passed into the hands of the Red forces. At the same time, the Red Third Army advanced from the Ishim area against Omsk along the Siberian railway. On the 14th of November the city of Omsk, with its tremendous reserve supplies and equipment of all kinds, was occupied by the Red Fifth Army, after covering 600 km. within the space of thirty days. (See Sketch 6 - original text).

* It is important to note here the attitude of the Siberian peasantry toward the Red army, which has manifest in this instance. In the government of Cheliabinsk, without any pressure whatever on the part of the local communist agencies which had just been established there, 24,000 volunteers responded to an appeal by the Red army, nearly all of whom joined the ranks of the Red forces.

Even before the launching of the successful pursuit along the main Siberian railway, the enemy had been deprived of his base of operations in Southern Siberia. The major portion of Dutov's South Army was in September driven against the stepped by the successful operations of the forces of the Red Turkestan front, under the skillful leadership of comrade Frunze, and compelled to capitulate. Some remnants of this army either dispersed or else withdrew with Ataman Dutov to the Kokchestav - Akmolinsk area. About 30,000 mounted and dismounted men were gathered in that area, but these forces lacked so much in military training that the commander of the East Front, in designating a special Kokchestav group to pursue them, moved the Third Army to the rear for other functions, and the further pursuit of the main Kolchak forces was assigned to the Fifth Army alone.

Kolchak's retreating armies were split up into several groups, which were surrounded by the local partisan forces. The South group of these hastened back along the Barnaul - Kuznetsk highway, the Center group, which was somewhat stronger, proceeded along the Siberian railway, and finally, the North group withdrew along the river system to the north of the Siberian railway. Launching a parallel pursuit, the Fifth Army, gaining the rear of the line of the enemy retreat, captured much equipment and completely disrupted the retreating columns of the enemy. The city of Tomsk was occupied on December 22, 1919. Prior to this remnants of Dutov's forces, vigorously pursued by the Kolchetav group of the Fifth Army, had turned away from Semipalatinsk, owing to an internal disruption there, and was withdrawing toward Sergiopol. South of Lake Balkash the IV Corps under Bakick still managed to hold out until the end of February, 1920, when it was routed and driven into Chinese territory.

After the fall of Omsk and Tomsk the disintegration of the White Siberian armies assumed gigantic proportions. All of Kolchak's allies abandoned him. The Allied military and diplomatic missions hastily dropped the wrecked Siberian reactionaries and endeavored to get to Vladivostok as quickly as possible. The Czechs also hastened to get there with all of the plunder which they had managed to accumulate.

In December, 1919, there were still about 30,000 Czech forces in trains west of Irkutsk. Among these, in his own train, was to be found also the "supreme ruler," Kolchak, while a part of his government had already managed to get to Irkutsk. The Czecho-Slovaks did not permit the Kolcak forces to use the railway or even to come near it. They were thus compelled to proceed by marching over the Siberian highways. Frosts and general epidemics completed the destruction of the White Siberian armies, while the Red armies continued to inflict crushing defeats upon them.

Thus, the center column of the Fifth Army anticipated the South group of the remnants of Kolchak's armies at the city of Krasnoyarsk and occupied the city on January 6, 1920, which brought about the capture of the major portion of these armies, numbering about 20,000 men. Only small remnants of these armies continued on their way to Transbaikalia under the command of General Kappel. In all there were captured and surrendered about 100,000 of the counter- revolutionary forces during the fighting and pursuit of the Siberian White armies. The destruction of the Kolchak armies coincided with Kolchak's political collapse.

This collapse had been preceded by the official, so to speak, withdrawal of the Czecho-Slovaks from the Siberian reactionaries and the government heading the same. In November the Czechs made public their appeal to the Allies in which they blamed all murders, plunder and violence perpetrated by them on Kolchak and his ministers. By this declaration, which was to come to the attention of the people of Siberian, they had hoped to open the way for a quiet withdrawal through Siberia. This Czech declaration deprived Kolchak of his last support. Throughout Siberia there began the formation of local "democratic" governments, which served as a step toward the real Soviet control. This, for example, was the case in the Yeneseisk government. The revolutionary uprisings at Irkutsk was particularly fatal to the Kolchak regime and as far as Kolchak himself was concerned. At Irkutsk, under the official guidance of the social-revolutionaries and the Menshevik organizations, as well as by the elemental urge of the masses to revolt, there began an armed struggle between the garrison forces, who still supported Kolchak, and the insurgents. The local communists, supported the revolt in so far as it was directed toward the destruction of the Siberian reactionaries.

The leaders of the Czech corps, as well as the "commander-in-chief" himself of all Allied forces in Siberia, who also sought refuge among Czechs, the French General Janin, were now compelled to adopt a conciliatory attitude toward the new movement. The fact of the matter was that the tail elements of the Allied forces that were hastily abandoning Siberia were beginning to feel the pressure of the Red forces from the moment that the last barrier represented by the Siberian White forces separating them from the Red forces had collapsed. The White Polish forces were the first to receive a crushing blow in this connection at the Taiga railway station. Our 27th Infantry Division nearly completely destroyed 4,000 White Polish forces that attempted to engage it in action, mistaking it for a local partisan detachment. The effect produced by this defeat was so great that 8,000 Polish legionnaires immediately laid down their arms.

In view of all this, the Czecho-Slovak forces and the Interallied commanders came to an agreement with the local government at Irkutsk that had been organized there into a so-called "Political Center" among the masses. They aided indirectly the supporters of the "Political Center" at Irkutsk, keeping the White forces out of the railway zone and maintaining a benevolent neutrality toward the insurgents. On the 5th of January, 1920, the latter firmly established themselves at Irkutsk.

Some members of the Kolchak government fled while other were arrested. Only the head of the Siberian reactionaries, Kolchak, remained along with his Prime Minister, Pepeliayev. They were nearing Irkutsk in their train in the midst of the jam of Czech troop trains. From the very beginning, the "Political Center" endeavored to live up to its agreements with the Czechs and the Allied representatives. It arranged through emissaries with the Red Fifth Army for the latter to halt its advance and formulated plans for the organization of an independent "democratic" government in Eastern Siberia. With a view to consolidating their mutual relations the Czechs, with General Janin's approval, turned over Admiral Kolchak and Pepeliayev to the "Political Center" at Irkutsk on January 15, 1920.* Both were placed in the local prison, and the "Political Center" launched an investigation. The reformist attitude of the Political Center in no way met the desires of the revolutionary masses. Obviously, all offers made by it to the Red Fifth Army were rejected.

* Until recently there have been different versions with respect to the turning over of Admiral Kolchak to the "Political Center." The more widespread version was to the effect that the Czechs turned over Kolchak with the direct approval of General Janin and the Allied representatives. General Rouqerol however, now presents a dated documented account in his book of this matter. According to Rouquerol the case was as follows. When the fighting began in Irkutsk between the Kolchak forces and the forces of the new "revolutionary government," Kolchak was advised by the Allied representatives that the Czecho-Slovak forces would maintain their neutrality in the conflict, particularly so in view of the fact that shortly before that, namely, on December 21, 1919, a telegram sent by Admiral Kolchak to Ataman Semenoff had been intercepted which showed that Kolchak had come to an understanding with Ataman Semenoff and now requested him to use all means at his disposal to halt the withdrawal of the Czech forces; if necessary, to demolish railway bridges and tunnels on the Siberian railway line for the purpose. The Japanese high-command declined to join in advising Kolchak in this connection. Kolchak, however, being unable to remain at Nizhne-Udinsk owing to the uprising there, expressed his wishes to be brought to Irkutsk with a view to entering into personal negotiations with the "Political Center." General Syrovoi, commanding the Czech forces guarding the Siberian railway then received orders from the Allied representatives to take all possible measures to insure the safe delivery of Admiral Kolchak at irkutsk. When Kolchak's train reached the Irkutsk railway station a battalion of Japanese troops were already there. The commander of the Japanese battalion announced that he had orders to guard the government, i.e., in the circumstances, Admiral Kolchak and his ministers, but that under the existing circumstances, he found it impossible to do so. According to Rouquerol, the commander of the Czech forces was of the same opinion. The latter believed that any effort toward continuing the protection of kolchak would lead to an armed encounter between the Czech troops and the insurgents. Any such conflict was forbidden the Czechs by their government. General Janin concurred in this, and Kolchak was turned over.

Meanwhile the situation in the environs of Irkutsk assumed an ominous aspect for the revolutionaries. The group of forces under General Kappel, which was among those of the Kolchak troops whose remnants were still in fairly good condition, was advancing on the city from the direction of the Moscow highway. This group was made up of more desperate and bitter enemies of the Soviet government. In spite of deprivations and epidemics that decimated their ranks, this group still comprised 4,000 to 5,000 men. Under the stress of this threat and under the impulse of the revolutionary masses the "Political Center" was impelled to quit, and on the 21st of January, 1920 turned over the entire control to the military revolutionary council" which at this time consisted of four communists and one leftist social-revolutionary. The military revolutionary committee began feverish preparations toward the organization of a defense against General Kappel's forces and the establishment of direct contact with the Red Fifth Army. The military revolutionary committee caused the Czechoslovak forces to abandon the city of Irkutsk and compelled them to leave the city, under their own guard for the time being, the Russian gold reserve which they had previously seized in Kazan.

Meanwhile the investigating commission completed its work. It condemned to execution 18 members of the Kolchak government, including among them Kolchak and Pepeliayev. The Military Revolutionary Committee considered possible, in the event of an immediate threat to Irkutsk, the execution of Kolcak and Pepeliayev alone. This threat soon appeared. On February 6, 1920, the Kappel group of forces, which was now commanded by General Voitsekhovsky, owing to the death of General Kappel, attempted the launching of an attack on Irkutsk. The attack was repulsed, but the uncertainty of further events caused the Military Revolutionary Committee, on the night of February 7th, 1920, after an agreement reached by telegraph with the Revolutionary Military Committee of the Fifth Army on the subject, to carry into execution the sentences imposed on Kolchak and Pepeliayev. The former Kappel group, repelled at Irkutsk, turning the city on the north and proceeded on Transbaikalia. The trials and tribulations of Irkutsk passed. On March 7th the units of the Red Fifth Army entered the city of Irkutsk.

In the month of March, 1920, in accordance with an understanding reached with the Czecho-Slovak forces, participated in by the Allied representatives, there was created the Far Eastern Republic as a buffer state, which continued its action against the remnants of the counter-revolutionary forces in Eastern Siberia. This fighting is not being covered in our present effort.

The capitulation of a considerable portion of Dutov's South army and the collapse of the armed resistance of the Orenburg Cossacks had a disastrous effect upon the state of affairs of the hostile forces in the Ural district and served to facilitate the tasks of the forces on the Turkestan front. These forces launched a pursuit of the enemy in two groups: The Fourth Army proceeding along the Lbishchensk - Guryev highway; the First Army followed via Turkestan and farther along the Askhabad - Poltoratsk - Krasnovodsk railway. The Fourth Army occupied Guryev on January 5, 1920; here the major portion of the Ural Cossack army surrendered to the Red forces. Pathetic remnants of this army, after an exhausting march around the Caspian Sea, surrendered to the Red naval forces at the fort of Alexandrovsk. Three months later, on February 6, 1920, the operations of the First Army against the anti-Soviet forces in the TransCaspian area were brought to a successful conclusion with the occupation of Krasnovodsk.