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Title: Fighting Without a War - An Account of Military Intervention in North Russia
Author: Albertson, Ralph
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: The Area of the Archangel Campaign.]

                            FIGHTING WITHOUT
                                 A WAR

                  _An Account of Military Intervention
                            in North Russia_


                            RALPH ALBERTSON


                                NEW YORK
                        HARCOURT, BRACE AND HOWE

                          COPYRIGHT, 1920, BY
                     HARCOURT, BRACE AND HOWE, INC.

                       THE QUINN & BODEN COMPANY
                             RAHWAY, N. J.

                      TO THE AMERICAN, BRITISH AND
                       CANADIAN MEN WHO LAID DOWN
                      BOOK IS REVERENTLY DEDICATED


The writer of this book went to North Russia as a Y.M.C.A. secretary
assigned to work with the army, landing at Murmansk just before
Thanksgiving, 1918.  I reached Archangel December first and was sent at
once to Shenkursk and Ustpadenga, the southernmost points of the
expedition.  I was in charge of the Y.M.C.A. work for the Vaga column
until June first when I went to Yemetskoye and later to Archangel with
the departing American troops.  As the British Y.M.C.A. was not prepared
to take over all the work at that time several Americans remained with
the British and Russian armies.  As one of these I returned south to
Berezniki July first.  On August first I was made responsible for the
evacuation of the entire Allied Y.M.C.A. personnel, supplies, and
equipment from the forward Dvina and Vaga areas.  This enabled me to be
the last American to leave.  I returned to Archangel August thirtieth
and sailed with the last of the embassies, consulates, military
missions, etc., on September second.

This book does not assume to tell the whole story of that expedition.  I
did not see all of it. No man did.  In addition to what I saw, however,
I had the advantage of meeting constantly men who had seen and been in
the various other fights and locations.  Under the overstimulating
circumstances of army life the very air seems full of wild rumors.  This
was particularly true in the isolations of the Russian fighting. I have
felt the necessity therefore of exercising great care not to accept as
true uncorroborated army rumors.  The matters of chief interest in this
book, moreover, are matters of my own personal observation and

The various censorships imposed by the American and British governments
have prevented the publication of so much important and significant news
of this expedition that no number of books that may be published now
could cover the whole story.  Most of it, moreover, has ceased to be
news.  However, those censorships accompanied by the official propaganda
have left the country in a state of gross misinformation regarding the
expedition. Mistakes were made, abuses suffered, heroisms performed, and
tragedies enacted which it is the right of the American and British
people to know about.  In respect of the mistakes and abuses the
publication of this account has devolved upon me as a not altogether
pleasant duty.

While I have been compelled to criticize the attitude and actions of
British officers as a class in order to tell the truth of what happened
in North Russia I should regret to have my words taken as applying
equally to all of them.  I wish also to say that some who fall most
squarely under the criticisms of this book were among my warmest friends
and I cherish for them a genuine personal regard.  To certain British
and Canadian officers I undoubtedly owe my life and they gave me
(especially the Canadians) the utmost coöperation and courtesy
throughout the entire campaign.

As to the Yanks, God bless them, it wasn’t their show.




     VI. KITSA


Map showing area of the Archangel Campaign . . . _Frontispiece_

Archangel has many excellent and substantial buildings

The Archangel water-front has miles of good docking facilities

The American engineers built scores of block houses like this

This was our only possible communication with Archangel, 300 miles to
the north

The "Y" was always on the job

These Canadians fought in France before they went to Russia

The Canadian artillery got there every time

This Russian gun crew on the railroad front enjoys warmer weather

The church at Yemetskoye is visible for many miles up the Dvina

Shenkursk is a quiet and romantic spot on the Vaga River

The new British army entered Archangel in June with great pomp and

The Duma building at Archangel was decorated in honor of the new army
that came to finish the Bolsheviki

Canadian soldiers with two captives, having changed caps

Bringing Bolsheviki prisoners into Malobereznik

The women work in the fields with the men

Russians love their homes and their villages devotedly

                        *FIGHTING WITHOUT A WAR*


                            *THE EXPEDITION*

The North Russian Expeditionary Force consisted of men from America,
England, Canada, France, Italy, and Serbia.  England sent the largest
number of men, America the second largest, the other countries being
represented by only a few companies each.

The expedition was under the command of the British War Office, which
sent out a large number of unattached British officers to take charge of
the Russian armies that were to be formed and to supervise all American
and other officers that had been attached to the expedition.

The first landing of troops of the North Russian Expeditionary Force was
in August, 1918. The German armistice was signed November 11. Fighting
continued all winter.  The American troops were withdrawn in June, 1919.
A much larger British army landed in June.  Our Russian conscripts
mutinied against the English in July, making it impossible for the
English to remain.  The last man of the North Russian Expeditionary
Force was withdrawn in September, 1919.  The "washout" was complete.
England had spent five hundred million dollars and lost thousands of
men.  The cost to America and the other countries had been less in men
and money, but considerable in other ways. The cost to Russia in every
way had been incalculable.

When this expedition was sent to Russia the Allies were at war with
Germany.  Russia was not.  She had signed the Brest-Litovsk treaty. We
did not declare war on Russia, nor on any section of Russians.  We went,
it was reasonable to suppose, to guard the military stores we had
shipped to Archangel and save them from falling into German hands, and
to prevent the Germans from establishing a submarine base at Murmansk.
When we got there, however, the Bolshevik Russians, viewing the
expedition as one of enmity to them, had removed practically all of the
millions of dollars’ worth of stores to points far south of Archangel
and had themselves left for points of from one to two hundred miles
south.  We pursued them and war began,—war with the de facto government
of Russia, whom indeed we had not recognized and against whom we had
made no declaration.

There was no war technically speaking in North Russia.  There surely was
no legal basis of war.  But there was plenty of fighting. News of this
fighting does not seem to have reached America very freely.  The double
English and American censorship was very effective.

First we had declared we would not engage in a military intervention in
Russia, then having gotten into it we declared we were not doing it,
then we depended on the censorship.

No mention was made of this expedition in the armistice of November.
Hence it had in some subtle way ceased to be a part of our war against
Germany.  It had become a new war, a war against Bolshevik Russia, an
unlegalized war, and this it continued to be as long as the expedition
lasted.  Yet no declaration was forthcoming, either of war or of peace.
Particularly wanting was a declaration of purpose.  Weary months of
stubborn fighting for our men were unrelieved by any single word of
definition of the fight from their government.

There consequently was antagonism to the campaign on the part of the
soldiers.  I do not say loss of morale, because the term would be
misunderstood.  Our men fought.  Our infantry never lost a foot of
ground.  But they hated the fight, they resented fighting without a

I made a trip in December, speaking to the men in their billets and the
Y.M.C.A. huts over a stretch of five hundred versts.  Everywhere, on
every occasion, I was asked persistently and importunately, "What are we
here for?"

"The armistice is signed.  Why are we fighting?"

"Did they forget about us in Paris?"

"We don’t want Russia.  What have we against the Bolsheviki?"

Of course I tried to answer these questions, but I found it easier to
convince myself than I did to convince these men.  They were not
convinced that I knew.  The American and Canadian troops were
particularly outspoken in their resentment at being at war in a futile
fight against nobody and for nothing in particular when the rest of the
world had stopped fighting.

A real cause of this grand débâcle therefore was the silence of our
governments.  I could not answer their questions.  Nobody who came to
them could answer their questions.  Their governments would not.


                       *THE ARCHANGEL GOVERNMENT*

When our governments sent out this expedition the government of
Archangel as of all Russia was Bolshevik.  It was not a strong
government, that is, it did not have a strong and dependable army and
navy.  It had not been regularly instituted by the people, nor had it
been recognized by other governments than those with whom we were at
war.  We had no dealings with it, except the undeclared war of this
expedition.  We negotiated with certain individual Russians in London,
took them to Archangel with us, and there set up a government to our own

[Illustration: Archangel has many excellent and substantial buildings.
The Archangel water-front has miles of good docking facilities.]

This was a military job.  Even the military, however, find it necessary
to consider popular opinion to some extent.  So this new government was
composed of democratic men. Tschaikowsky was made President.  The people
knew him and trusted him.  His government failed to realize at first
that it was only the creature of foreign military authority and began to
function sincerely.  It was kidnaped for discipline and put on an island
for a few days of meditation.  The allied military did not come to
Archangel to set up a pure democracy nor to encourage socialism nor to
listen to theories.  They came to fight the plans of Germany, to fight
the Bolsheviki, to guard stores, to teach Russia to fight.  Beyond this
the military mind goeth not.  So the venerable Tschaikowsky was
gradually put aside and ignored and before long sent to London on an
important mission, never to return, but still a valuable figurehead,
while a Russian military government grew up under the aegis of the
British army, composed of monarchists and military men of the old
school.  The head of this government was General Miller (Mueller) a
militarist and monarchist who is without popular Russian support and
whose position is entirely due to his standing with the British military



It was a British show.  The British were in absolute command.  Whole
shiploads of British officers were sent there to perform all possible
functions of management and to cover all possible needs.  The Americans,
Russians, French, Italians, and Serbians all obeyed the British
officers, and found British officers duplicating their own at every
juncture.  Even at that there was a surplus, and I have had several of
them, from a colonel down, tell me that they were hanging around
Archangel waiting for something to do.

It was British responsibility to decide where we should stand, when we
should move, and who should do what.  They never neglected this
responsibility in any detail.  If they could avoid it, they never
delegated any detail of authority to any officer of any other
nationality. If they took counsel with their associates of other
nationalities it was never heard of in the ranks.  I have heard an
American officer of high rank speak very bitterly of the fact that the
British never consulted him except to give him orders, and made him feel
quite useless.


                          *THE FALL CAMPAIGN*

As our ships rode into the mouth of the Dvina River with the first
troops of the expedition, and the last train pulled out of Archangel
Preestyn bearing the last of the Bolsheviki away to the south, the
people of Archangel came out to the river bank and the docks to see the
incoming fleet and to welcome their deliverers from Bolshevist
proletariat tyranny and prolonged political and industrial unrest.  The
Russians were tired of war, and as they lined up on the river banks in
front of the hundreds of peasant villages bordering a thousand versts of
rivers to express their welcome it was Peace and Prosperity that they
thought they were welcoming.

In fact, however, it was war, war such as that part of Russia had never
known before, and most expensive war.

The expedition had been sent "to guard stores at Archangel."  Since
these stores had been taken by those whom we assumed to be friends of
Germany we must pursue them.  We did.  We took guns along.  We found
them, with guns also, at several points about a hundred miles from the
city.  Their forces were weak.  So were ours.  But we drove them, or
they led us, down the Murmansk railroad past Kem, down the Vologda
railroad beyond Obozerskaya, up the Onega River to Chekuevo, up the
Pinega River, up the Emtza River, up the Dvina River past Toulgas, and
up the Vaga River to Ustpadenga.

We did not capture our enemy nor the stores we had come to guard.  The
early Russian winter came and found us thrown out to seven points in a
form that was like a seven-fingered hand with one finger three hundred
miles long and with no lateral communication between the fingers.  In
driving these lines out there was some fighting, mostly of a guerrilla
type.  We lost a number of men, but our casualties were comparatively
small.  We had been on the offensive and had followed lines of not very
great resistance.  The positions in which winter found us may not have
been planned by the Bolsheviki, but I doubt if any English record exists
of such a plan or if any officer will confess to having made such a
plan.  We just happened to be there.  We were scattered as far as
possible.  Each position was practically isolated from all the others.
Our lines of communication were weak and inefficient.  The only
protection to our flanks and our rears was the hoped-for snow which came
early and abundantly.


                         *THE WINTER CAMPAIGN*

The winter was spent on the defensive.  The Bolsheviki at first
attempted to cut us off at Yemetskoye by using his excellent
communication on the Vologda railroad and attacked Kodish and Shredn
Makrenga.  He was held here by the Americans and Canadians, who did not
know when they were defeated and who now fully realized the desperate
character of the fight that they were launched upon.  He also attacked
on the Murmansk railroad, where he was met by seasoned Serbians against
whom he shattered himself in vain.  He attacked at Pinega and at
Chekuevo also without success. We were fighting at Toulgas on Armistice
Day, and with Kotlas as his base the Bolshevik managed to keep up his
attack here practically all winter while Co. B, 339th Infantry, U.S.A.,
took the brunt of the work of holding him off.

[Illustration: The American Engineers built scores of block houses like
This was our only possible communication with Archangel, 300 miles to
the north.]

The most serious fighting of the winter, however, was on the Vaga River.
Our forward position at Ustpadenga was held by one company of American
infantry, one platoon of American engineers, three eighteen-pounder guns
manned by Canadians, and occasional units of Russian conscripts.  The
position had no peculiar advantages, and all the disadvantages of
isolation and exposure that could make it a bad choice. It is doubtful
whether it had been chosen.  We got there and we stayed there.  We were
there because we were there.  So we entrenched and built block houses
and strung wire and chopped away a clearing a few hundred feet from our
billets and laid in such stores and ammunition as a few ponies could
pull down, and waited. This was twenty-seven versts south of Shenkursk,
and Shenkursk was one hundred versts south of Bereznik, and Bereznik was
three hundred versts south of Archangel.

Shenkursk was our advanced base.  Here we had one company of American
infantry, one platoon of American engineers, one section of Canadian
artillery, American headquarters for 1st battalion, 339th, British
headquarters for the Vaga column with all the attendant service units,
an American hospital, and miscellaneous units of Russians numbering
about a thousand, poorly organized, badly officered, and of doubtful
morale.  Shenkursk is the second largest city in the Archangel
government, having a normal population of about three thousand people, a
cathedral, a monastery with two churches, and three other churches.  It
was something of an educational center and summer resort.  We found a
number of Petrograd and Moscow people here whose summer vacations had
been prolonged by the exigencies of Russian politics. There were many
excellent houses here, some mansions, some interesting people, a most
comfortable place to spend the winter.

Here we fortified, quite thoroughly, better perhaps than anywhere else
in North Russia. To be sure we were outflanked by Kodema, a Bolshevik
village on our left and Tarniya, a Bolshevik village on our right, a
little to the rear.  But otherwise we were quite comfortable.  We made
several attacks on these villages, but always found it necessary to

On January 19, 1919, the big fight began. The Bolsheviki five thousand
strong attacked Ustpadenga.  They had three or four times as many guns
as we had, including some long-range artillery that was far beyond the
reach of our guns.  They had perfect observation on our positions and
telephone wires clear around to our rear.  They picked off every billet,
up one side of the street and down the other.  We had no secrets.  And
their infantry came up in excellent form and spirit, covered with
perfect white camouflage and supported with machine-guns and pompoms.
Our men drove them back and held them off for days until the British
command ordered them to fall back to Shenkursk.  One platoon of forty
men had thirty-two casualties, and every man in that small force had to
do the work of ten men throughout that terrible week.  Fighting all the
way back, Company A, 339th American Infantry, and the Center Section
38th Battery, Canadian Field Artillery, dragged themselves minus two
guns into Shenkursk on the night of the 25th. During that day Shenkursk
had been bombarded from four sides and we knew that we were completely
surrounded, although no Bolshevik infantry had attacked here.  There
were no reinforcements to be had.  Some of our Russian conscripts had
gone over to the enemy. There was no hope of relief from the north in
case we should be besieged.  There was nothing to prevent his big guns
reducing Shenkursk to ruins.  We had Company C here as well as Company A
and felt confident of our ability to hold off the Bolshevik infantry in
any numbers, but his artillery had us beaten, because outranged, from
the start.

So it was decided to evacuate that night by an unused road that we hoped
the Bolsheviki had overlooked.  By very clever and efficient work on the
part of the British command the evacuation of Shenkursk was successfully
carried out without the loss of a man, and we were followed by hundreds
of civilians, who discovered our movement in the night.  The next
morning when we were well to the north we heard his guns open up on
Shenkursk.  He did not know we had escaped him.  He had yet to learn
that we had left behind for him one hundred days’ rations for two
thousand men, great stores of ammunition and ordinance, all our personal
kits, and several spiked guns.

By night of the 26th we reached Shagavari, having made forty versts on a
single track sled road, walking two abreast and stretched out for miles.
Here nearly every one snatched a little sleep, as we found two platoons
of Company D who held off the vanguard of the pursuit which had begun to
catch up to us.  The civilian column, swelled now to thousands, poured
out into the road ahead of us, a long winding snake-like trail of black
in a white world, making for somewhere north.  We evacuated Shagavari on
the afternoon of the 27th and stood for our new front at Vistafka,
sixteen versts north, with Kitsa seven versts to the rear as

During this retreat the temperature had been from thirty-six to ten
below zero.  We had brought out ninety-seven wounded and sick and these
were sent on to Bereznik and Archangel—three hundred miles on pony sleds
traveling day and night.  The civilian refugees were partly Russians who
had conspicuously identified themselves with us and so were afraid of
the Bolsheviki, partly those who felt that they would be surer of food
behind our lines, there were some personal friends of soldiers, and yet
they were mostly peasants whom we had been compelled to put out of their
houses for military reasons.

Our new front consisted in all of eight villages. At first a barricade
of pine branches and snow, then some logs, then some block houses, then
some wire, after a while a dug-out or two. The fighting here at Vistafka
was the hardest and most continuous of the winter.  Every day there was
some shelling, and five major attacks were made before March first when
we were forced to make Kitsa our forward position. The fighting at
Vistafka was done by companies A, C, D, and F, by Royal Scots and Kings
Liverpools, by Russians, and by the splendid Canadian artillery units
who were fortunately reinforced by a 4.5 howitzer E.F.A.  The old
artillery supremacy of the Bolsheviki remained unchanged, however, and
while seven thousand infantry, having surrounded Vistafka could not take
it, the guns did finally reduce it to untenability.

From March 1 to April 20, Kitsa was the front line, with Maximofskaya
for support on our right, and our guns at Ignatofskaya.  These villages
lay only one and two versts apart.  We were preparing Malobereznik,
seven versts in the rear, for defense, and fell back here on Easter
Sunday.  This stubborn resistance on our part was important because it
was absolutely necessary to hold the enemy here or he would cut off the
whole Dvina column and take Bereznik where we had accumulated great
stores of supplies and munitions.  Bereznik was his goal and the Vaga
River was his road.  He hammered away daily at Toulgas, our Dvina River
front, but that was to keep Company B and our other forces there.  He
could not hope to take it.

[Illustration: The "Y" was always on the job.
These Canadians fought in France before they went to Russia.]

On May first, the international labor holiday, he opened up on every
front, making the supreme effort of the year.  His heaviest blow fell on
Malobereznik.  The ice had begun to run out of the Vaga and the upper
Dvina enabling him to mount guns on barges while our gunboats were still
frozen in at Archangel. When he had put five thousand shells into
Malobereznik and burned down every house, his infantry came on only to
be fearfully cut up and sent back, again and again.  He was deeply
disappointed.  The thing was inexplicable.  So on May fifth he came
again.  This time with eight thousand shells as a prelude.  And when the
last futile wave of his infantry had gone to pieces under our fire and
we had taken prisoner hundreds of his men who had been sent to surround
us, we knew that he had done his worst, and the winter campaign was
practically at an end.



Kitsa is a church village of about fifty long, low Russian timber houses
situated in a great bend of the Vaga River with only the outer curve of
the river bank for a landscape and with a dense wall of pine woods in
the rear. This level country is so painfully level that you always have
a desire to look over the edge of the nearby horizon to see
something—but you never can.  When you first pass through Kitsa, which
you never would have done in a million years had it not been for this
war, you think it is the sorriest of all the sorry places on the river.
It might at least have been located on the high bank and so gained the
only thirty feet of vantage that nature had provided.  Yet Kitsa has one
striking distinction.  The road makes a right angle in the midst of the
houses, and the churches are in the angle and in the west.  The West!
Russia does not need landscapes because she has skies.  Kitsa to me is
that wonderful western sky cloven in the midst by the Byzantine spires
in pea green and gold, and based flat on the black ridge of pine, and
fixed forever in permanent and infinite pastels in my memory.

Kitsa was not a Bolshevist town nor Royalist. It was Constitutionalist
Socialist Democratic. It was founded by refugees from Novgorod who had
rebelled against certain imperial church decrees.  There was still a
little mound where these glorious ancestors had erected a hill of
freedom.  And the freedom itself had been retained intact, so the oldest
inhabitant told me, it having been a matter of the text and type of the
holy book read in the church.

I rode through Kitsa once when there was one platoon of American
soldiers quartered there and the civilian population was about normally
occupied with its own life.  And then I came in with the refugees from
Shenkursk on the night of January twenty-seventh. First it was Brackett
Lewis and Ivan Taroslaftseff serving hot coffee and biscuits to the
exhausted soldiers in the building that the people had built and used
for a public school but the Allied military had commandeered, not to
store whisky in, as at Bereznik, but to run a canteen in.  Then it was
caring for the ninety-seven wounded, then back to the men and civilian
refugees, until the full daylight, and the column was all in.  We took
the three best houses in town for the hospital that night.  Then the
British officers took the next best.  Then the American officers.  And
that following day we billeted troops in every house, and the Russian
people made room for us, welcomed us, waited on us, made nothing of
themselves, moved into their bath houses, then out again if we wanted
them; gave us all the room there was, gladly, believed in us.  I shall
always remember a poor woman who came into an officer’s room and opened
a table drawer to look for two hundred silver roubles she had left
there.  The lock had been forced.  The roubles were gone.  Silver
roubles were very precious. The woman’s tearful face did not express so
much grief as surprise.  She had discovered something most unwelcome
about our soldiers—perhaps officers.  Other Russians were learning to
hate the military for other reasons.  In three days they were utterly
bewildered.  They do not take disillusionment in our offhand, familiar
way.  They are a serious people.  Their illusions are genuine.  No
literature and no sophistication, but great sincerity.  So completely
did these Kitsaites give way to us that when the order for their
evacuation went forth we gained no room for we already had it all.

One pretty girl came to us in despair one morning, because one of us
could talk Russian, and told us that the Cossacks had broken into her
stores in the night and stolen everything. We found they had left much.
It is remarkable how effectively and cleverly these people can secrete
their goods.  But she knew that they would get the rest in time so she
begged us to take it from her as a gift.  We learned she was the
daughter of the merchant who was presumably the richest man in the town.
Her parents had gone to Archangel.  She had refused to go.  Her brothers
were in Bolshevist territory.  She had attended school in Moscow. She
was now something of a socialist and utterly out of sympathy with her
family.  We bought all her goods.  Some hand-woven skirt material.  Some
food stuff.  Some oats and flour.  She went to work at British
headquarters as a scullery maid and was glad of the chance.  And I do
think she was irritated considerably by the attentions paid her because
she was a pretty girl.  They were of course most unartful and blatant as
well as general.

A week after the peasants were evacuated the engineers who were cutting
machine-gun holes in the bath houses found the frozen body of an old
woman who had hidden herself in a bath house and died there rather than
go away from the village where she had spent all her life. The body lay
untouched for a week.  Bodies froze like ice or iron when the
temperature was below zero.

[Illustration: The Canadian artillery got there every time.
This Russian gun crew on the railroad front enjoys warmer weather.]

One awful night when we had been horribly shelled and the evacuation of
the town was hourly imminent there were nine frozen bodies laid side by
side in the wood-shed behind the hospital.  We should have to leave them
there just as we had left others at Shenkursk and Shagavari.  I had
known all these boys—five Americans, two Englishmen and two Russians—and
as I stood out there in the cold, dark, snowy night, I knew war.  But
there were other nights as bad.  Nights when we sat by them as they were
dying and waiting for the operating table.  God! what nights!  And we
had to pack them off in the cold at once to a safer town to the north.
Then there came a night that nearly made me forget all the others.  Our
forward position and only protection was demolished utterly.  We were
forced to abandon it, and our men and guns all crawled into Kitsa and
across the river back of Kitsa to Ignatofskaya. We were done.  We had
put up such a fight however that the enemy was done too, but we did not
know this.  And the wounded came in that awful night, and the dead.  We
did not sleep a wink.  When the sun rose on Kitsa, Kitsa too was dead.
The order was for everybody to "stand to," and the streetful stood to
all day long, waiting, and nothing happened. After the continuous
thunder of the days before not a gun was fired.  But Kitsa was dead. And
the engineers were going about setting every house and building with
kerosene inside and out for burning.  Every kit was packed. Not a thing
but cinders was to be left.  Kitsa was a thing of the past.  And
although nothing did happen—and weary men could not stand to forever—and
everybody crawled inside and slept—Kitsa was dead.

For weeks afterward we lived and worked most of the time in Kitsa.  The
Bolsheviki had come back, at first feebly, then with real guns. He had
put up a show at fighting.  His shells had burned some of our buildings.
He had killed and wounded some of our men.  But we had new men now.  And
they had the new point of view.  But the piles of straw in the corners
of buildings were kept soaked with kerosene. We were now holding Kitsa
to keep the enemy on the east side of the river until after the ice
should break up.  And as I stood on the bluff and looked down on the
snow-covered roofs of the town I imagined what the fire would look
like—and wanted to see it.

One day I went to the cemetery where our men had been buried in unmarked
graves, and for the most part identified the places; and then visited
the little chapel which had been looted, and the churches.  The Bibles
were printed from hand-cut plates.  The silver ornaments on the Bibles
and the elaborate candelabra, were all hand made in every detail of
construction and decoration.  The soldiers had left them because of
their size.  All little things had been taken.  All Kitsa was just like
the cemetery and the churches.  But the tragedy had passed over for the
moment.  It was peaceful death.  Not even the paltry dozen shells sent
over by the Bolsheviki to remind us that the war was still on made any
difference to this peace.

During the very last days of our tenure of Kitsa the friction between
the British command and the Americans at the front became quite serious.
The command wanted certain risks taken and sacrifices made that in the
judgment of the Americans were without sufficient purpose and
justification.  The American officers were unwilling to make what they
deemed useless sacrifice of their men.  So bitter did this feeling
become that at one time the British commanding officer gave certain
orders to the Canadian Field Artillery which the Canadians undoubtedly
would not have obeyed.  The British command had its troubles with them
also.  In spite of all this, however, Kitsa was held against the enemy
until the river ice actually broke under the men as they came out,
leaving more desolation and ruin to the slowly conquering Bolsheviki.


                       *FIGHTING WITHOUT A FLAG*

The American soldier who was sent to Northern Russia for his part in the
great war had an experience which in several respects was novel in the
vast field of experience which the war imposed on Americans.  One of
these was that he had to fight without his flag.  Not only was the flag
absent from the front lines in accord with the best practices of modern
warfare, but the flag as a symbol and the consciousness of what it
symbolizes were equally absent for the most part from his billet, his
conversation, his mess kit, and the whole campaign.

He was fed with foreign food, clothed in part with foreign clothes,
invading a foreign country, given orders by foreign officers, and
fighting a war that was foreign to all he had ever thought of America.
He had gone into the army to fight Germany, and here he found himself
after the armistice fighting an unknown foe with whom the United States
was not at war, and quite as much out of sympathy with the officers of
another nationality whom he had to obey, as with the men whom he was
trying to kill.

His government had not told him why he was here, what grievances it had
against his enemies, what arrangements it had with its allies in this
expedition, nor what it hoped to accomplish if successful in the
enterprise for which he daily must offer his life.  His officers could
not tell him.  They had never been told.  They wanted to know.  What
they did know was that at every turn, in every position, on every piece
of work, in every detail of responsibility, an English officer stood
over them telling them what to do. Sometimes he was a very young English
officer.  Sometimes a strain was necessary to get adequate rank to him.
Sometimes he was utterly inexperienced.

The method of the British control of the Allied expedition to North
Russia is a subject for study and an example for warning that the League
of Nations may well heed.  If thousands of Americans have gone home
thoroughly detesting the name and memory of everything English and if
other thousands of Englishmen are telling each other and being told that
Americans are cowards and in the same breath that they are insolent and
unmanageable, it is chiefly to be blamed on the British method of
managing an allied campaign.

It might be supposed that the British, being appropriately and properly
in supreme command, would have given their orders, as far as they
applied solely to the operations of purely American units, to the
responsible American officers, leaving these officers without petty
interference to get the work accomplished.  But it was not so.  British
colonels did not give their orders to American colonels to be passed
down the line.  In fact, they had very little use for American colonels.
They went to the captains, the lieutenants, and even the sergeants and
corporals and the men themselves.  They ignored American officers most
noticeably.  They set their own petty officers upon the Americans in a
manner that was most irritating to American national self-esteem and
bitterly resented.  And since all necessary things are reasonable to the
military mind it was the greatest tact to explain that "the Americans
know nothing about military matters, you know."

I do not feel that the Americans had a grievance necessarily because Old
Glory did not wave above them in North Russia.  I can imagine that they
could have fought with excellent morale in France if they had not had
their colors with them.  The case consists of the aggravating
circumstances.  The men were made to feel most unnecessarily and quite
contrary to the facts that they had been handed to England and
forgotten, that their government was wholly unmindful of them, and that
for the time at least they were deprived of the protection and divorced
from the ideals of which the Stars and Stripes had always stood as a
symbol in their minds.

I did see the flag once in American headquarters at Shenkursk, but it
was inside and inconspicuous, and few soldiers go in at headquarters.  I
saw one flying on a Y.M.C.A. building, but it was of course ordered down
for perfectly good and adequate reasons.  I read in a soldier’s letter
to his sweetheart once: "For God’s sake send me a little flag in your
next letter.  I haven’t seen one since I came to this awful country."
One soldier had a barishna make him a little flag from old bunting with
embroidered stars.  And I have seen more than one lonely American pull a
little flag out of his pocket and kiss it.

At Shenkursk we were invited to hold our Christmas exercises in the
monastery church. This was probably the greatest innovation ever
ventured by the ecclesiastical establishment of that town.  Seats were
provided, the icons covered, the Abbess and nuns safely ensconced in the
gallery to appease their curiosity, and the forces marched in—American
soldiers and officers, a few Canadian artillerists, and British
headquarters staff.  Americans greatly predominated in numbers.  A
British chaplain read the service, concluding naturally with "God save
the King."  As we filed out an American private was heard to remark:
"Who ever heard of the Star Spangled Banner anyhow?"

I shall not hope that academicians, business men, politicians, and
sensible people generally will see anything in this but a thin
sentimentalism.  I should not have appreciated it had I not lived with
men who were daily facing death for a cause unknown, without patriotic
background or personal interest, and under the insistent domination of
officers of another nation who looked down upon them, and talked about
them discreditably.

"If we had British soldiers here we should drive the Bolos out in short
order.  But what can be done with these miserable Americans and

The antipathy that British officers felt toward Yankees was acquired
early in the campaign and increased in intensity toward the end. In some
measure it was the Yankees’ fault and to some extent the product of
facts and forces that are beyond the control of individuals. There was
disapproval and jealousy of the over-prominence America had too easily
acquired in the great war.  There was resentment of the favoritism of
the Russians for the Americans.  There was the inheritance of pride in
the military achievements of the Empire. There was utter ignorance of
the motives and purposes of the present English government. But there
was also the independence and "insolence" of the Yankees, their free and
easy attitude toward British official dignity, their insistence upon
reasons why, and their assumption of knowledge and ability quite beyond
anything their experience in military matters justified.

And these little irritations grew and were magnified in little minds
until the manner of the Yankee salute itself became a mote in the
British eye.

I have heard the most caustic and untrue criticism of American soldiers
from the lips of English officers whose rank should in itself have been
guaranty that they would not descend to this.  I have heard it hinted at
a score of times by petty officers who out of consideration for my
presence did not pursue the subject to its commonplace ends.  And
repeatedly members of the new British army that had never seen the Yanks
at all said to me in all friendliness: "What a pity that your men out
here were not real Americans, that they were foreigners, and that they
gave America such a black eye by their conduct."

This was a direct echo of the campaign of vilification of the American
soldier which was carried on within their own circles by certain British
officers of the North Russian Expeditionary Force.

I overheard some English soldiers singing a parody of "Over There," of
which I can only remember "The Yanks are running, the Yanks are running
everywhere," and the last line "And they didn’t do a damn thing about it
over there."  This was in Archangel.  There were no Yankee soldiers
about.  They were at the front.  The singing which had been in a subdued
tone was stopped immediately when my presence was observed and when we
had finished a little conversation the Tommies sang "Over There," and
they sang it straight. There was no anti-Yank feeling in these men. They
had genuine admiration for the Yankee soldiers.  They had picked up the
little seeds of antipathy from some of their officers.

As a matter of fact the American soldier in North Russia fought well.
He drove the Bolsheviki 427 versts south of Archangel before winter set
in, and then took up winter quarters and prepared for defense.  Constant
patrolling had to be done, and expeditions had to be made against the
Bolshevik villages that flanked us on both sides and constantly
threatened our rear.  All this was for the most part true of seven
fronts between which there was no connection or communication except by
going back to the base.

Captain Odyard of Company A was decorated by the British government, and
the company was praised for its gallant work at Ustpadenga and Vistafka,
and yet the British Tommies of the new army asked me in July: "Why was
it that the Yanks turned tail at Ustpadenga?"

The charges made by the British that the American soldiers were
unreliable and mutinous were founded correctly on the mental attitude of
the American soldier and upon the things he said.  He hated the
expedition and its management.  But those charges were not fairly
founded upon anything that the American soldier did.  There was an
instance of one company refusing at one time to go to the front. It was
but a temporary refusal.  They went. There were several parallel
instances when British and Canadian and French soldiers resorted to
similar semi-mutiny.  It was always momentary.  They always eventually
went forward with the unequal fight despite the inhuman conditions.  The
dissatisfied and unhappy soldier was not yellow.  He may have had some
sympathy for the Bolsheviki whose country he was unwillingly invading.
He certainly felt that the invasion was a crime.  But he was not
yellow.[#]  He obeyed orders.  He fought splendidly.  He went to his
death.  He held his post.  He cursed the British and did his duty. He
killed Bolsheviki, plenty of them, not knowing why.

[#] The report of the Judge Advocate General gives a number of cases of
American soldiers who were convicted by court-martial of having been
guilty of self-inflicted wounds.  The number accused of this was
lamentably large.  Even if larger in proportion, however, than in any
other army in the world war, the reflective mind is forced to ask the
question: Why?


                           *"AMERICA DOBRA"*

There was one thing in North Russia that touched every American where
every normal man is sentimental.  There was a passion for America.  In
every log house there was love for America.  In the hearts of the people
in every village there was moving what Benjamin Kidd calls "the emotion
of the ideal."

We could not understand it at first.  Every peasant greeted us with
"America dobra," which is not good Russian, but a sort of slang phrase
meaning that America is all right.  And now and then one would step up a
little nearer and in a more subdued tone say that some other country was
not all right.

We suspected at first that he was playing a double game.  We remembered
the man who walks like a bear.  We smiled cynically and handed him a
cigarette.  But we did him an injustice.

[Illustration: The church at Yemetskoye is visible for many miles up the
Shenkursk is a quiet and romantic spot on the Vaga River.]

One heavily whiskered old peasant of Kitsa made me see this injustice.
We had crawled into Kitsa on the second night after the evacuation of
Shenkursk, with the weather about twenty below zero and bringing with us
ninety-seven wounded on sleds.  The senior medical officer had selected
the best houses in Kitsa for hospital purposes, and one could never
forget how cheerfully on ten minutes’ notice those peasant people got
themselves and their things out of the way and helped to get the
patients in and warm and fed.  Two of these houses belonged to my
bewhiskered friend.  He was something of a magnate in Kitsa.  And it
turned out that we were to use his houses for hospital purposes for
months after that night, sending him and his on their northward way, for
safety in the company of refugees from seven other villages.  His
property interests in Kitsa, however, were too important in his old life
to be ignored and in a few days he was back with a sled convoy as a
common driver, a labor which he persisted in as long as the fortunes of
war permitted for the sake of the opportunity it gave him to look things
over. Knowing that the hospital was an American affair the old man was
quite delighted that his houses had been chosen for this purpose.

"America dobra," he said to me exultantly.

One day I happened to discover that in both houses the private rooms in
which the precious family possessions had been stored and secured by
heavy padlocks had been broken open and the contents looted and
despoiled.  Most of the fabrics and silverware and family gods pulled
out of trunks and bureaus were of no use or interest to soldiers and had
been thrown on the floor and trampled underfoot.  It was wanton and
heartless, and believing that our boys had at least had a hand in it I
was ashamed and chagrined.  It was painful to remember the gleam of
faith in the old Mongolian eyes when he said "America dobra."

When he came again and I saw him the gloom on his face was terrible.  He
had seen the wreck.  Apologetically I offered my condolences: "America
ne dobra."  "No," he said slowly in Russian, "no, war is at fault.  War
is not good.  America dobra."

So I had to think again.  I hadn’t seen far enough into the soul behind
this bushy face. And I didn’t smile cynically as I handed him the

After a while we learned to discriminate between "Amerikanski" and
"Amerika."  The peasants often handed us personal compliments, but we
learned that when they praised America they were not talking about us
but about an idea, an ideal, a dream—would I could say a fact!

These Russian peasants have not read American history.  They do not know
American politics.  Most of them probably have not read five hundred
words about America in all their lives. But they have heard and talked
about America some, and thought about America more. Perhaps there are
many well-read Americans who could profitably think about America more,
even at a loss of time to read.  And now the moujik of North Russia and
his wife and children have all of them seen Americans—real live ones—and
liked them.

How much the Russian peasant liked the American soldier it is a little
difficult for me to convey without seeming to exaggerate.  I was
skeptical about it for months.  It might be bear love.  He was always
begging for cigarettes, and one could easily see through his cupidity
and simple craft.  But I saw American soldiers billeted in Russian homes
and mixing with the Russians so much that I am sure that I know the true
sentiments in this case.  I have been asked by English soldiers more
than once: "Why is it that the Russians like the Yankees so much better
than they do us?"

I asked this question, without the comparison, of an intelligent looking
Russian soldier: "Why do you Russians like the Yanks so well?"  "Because
they shake hands like men," he answered thoughtfully.  "Because they
treat us as equals.  Because they are good to the Russian people," and
the next day when we were talking about the same subject he said: "It is
because they represent America to us that we like the Yankee soldiers."

Yet there was another side to this picture. When first I came to
Archangel there was in all people a wonderful faith in Mr. Wilson.  I
marveled how all these Russians could have learned so much about him.
They knew what he had said.  They knew what he stood for before the
world.  I wondered if the people at home knew as well.  Pictures of the
American President soon made their appearance and were given great
prominence throughout the city and in every village.  I was calling on
the editor of a Russian newspaper hundreds of miles up the river one
day.  He could use a few English words and I a few Russian.  Mr.
Wilson’s picture hung over his desk.  "The friend of the Russian
people," he said, pointing to the picture, and as he looked at it tears
slowly gathered.  Turning toward me he said brokenly: "He is the one man
in all the world who can lead Russia out of her troubles."  And I
gathered that one reason for this faith was because the Bolsheviki
respected and feared Mr. Wilson. This man was on the Bolshevik black
list.  His paper was radically socialistic, however, and the editor was
quite distrustful of the results of the Allied expedition.  But he
believed in Mr. Wilson.  "He will soon speak," he said, "and then all
Russia will follow him."

That was in December.  In June I met this editor in Archangel.  His home
and printing plant had long been in the hands of the Bolsheviki.  There
was pathetic sadness in his face as he told me of the universal
hopelessness of the people.  I boomed the League of Nations. It would
cure the wrongs, it would become the guide and instrument of salvation.
But there was no response of hope.  "We have lost Mr. Wilson and there
is no hope.  But after we are all killed off in this mad and hopeless
struggle, Russia will rise out of the ruins and show the way of real


                             *AMERICA EXIT*

When it was openly announced that the American troops were to be
withdrawn from North Russia the Bolshevik propaganda took every possible
advantage of it, claiming that President Wilson was now their friend and
America would soon recognize their government.  A certain type of
Englishman also made use of the opportunity to call the attention of the
Russians to the fact that their much praised American friends were now
leaving them to the mercy of the Bolsheviki except for the greater
friendship of England for Russia.  England would not desert Russia.  We
felt great uncertainty at this time.  Not a man of us had one authorized
word of explanation to make.  Our government was silent.  Our enemies
were noisy.  But the Russian peasant never wavered a hair’s-breadth in
his faith in the friendship of America.  If the Americans were going
home then that was the best thing to do.  If the English were staying
then perhaps that was not the best thing to do.

And when the departure took place and the Yankees packed up their old
kit-bags for home they were given the warmest good-bys and
God-bless-yous in Russian, and there was no indication of resentment at
being left in a bad predicament.

I stood on the bank of the Emtsa River when three platoons of Company K
embarked on a barge and waved their farewells to the theater of war.  I
was the only American left behind. On the river bank nearly the entire
population of Yemetskoye were assembled, dressed in their best clothes
and giving every possible evidence of their regard and esteem for these
boys.  As the barge swung down the river with the soldiers singing "Keep
the home fires burning," I saw many a handkerchief wiping tears away on
the river bank, and the head man of the Zemstvo Upravda, who stood
beside me all dressed up in a white shirt, had tears in his eyes too as
he grasped my hand and said again as he had said repeatedly before:
"Amerikanski dobrey."

I saw these American boys embark at Archangel and Economy—four great
liners loaded with them—for Brest.  Archangel was busy welcoming an
incoming British army.  There were no demonstrations here except those
of American joy; exuberant, selfish joy.  For the war at last was over
in those last days of June for these five thousand men who for a year
had done the work of twenty-five thousand on a job that called for fifty
thousand or more.  And the very last to leave were those who perhaps had
done the hardest work—Companies A, B, and C of the 310th Engineers.
These men embarked on a transport at Archangel on June twenty-sixth, and
the American expedition was at an end.

When these men were gone Archangel was a lonesome place for an American.
They were affectionately remembered by the Russians, and there certainly
were some among them to remember the love and gratitude and admiration
of old Russian eyes in wrinkled faces, and the simple, wonderful faith
of these backward and romantic peasants in the land that symbolized to
them freedom, education, and justice.


                         *THE NEW BRITISH ARMY*

In June a splendid new British army took over the fronts in North Russia
from the Americans and the Canadians and the old British "category" men.
They came to finish the job, to clean up North Russia, to take Kotlas by
July fifteenth, Viatka and Vologda in another thirty days, and Petrograd
before snowfall.  This was quite on the cards.  This new army had come
to Russia with much boasting and had been received in Archangel with
great ceremonial and flourish.  They were "men from France" who "knew
how to fight," and they would "show the Yankees how to lick the Bolos."

This boastfulness was unlike that of the first Yankees to go to France
in that it was indulged in more by the officers than by the men.  Many
small British officers had acquired with reason a feeling of resentment
toward the Yankee privates which during the spring found relief in big
brag about what the new army was going to do in comparison with what the
Yanks had done.

There were ex-colonels who came as corporals, and lords who came really
to fight.  It was an army to be proud of, an army of which much could be
expected, an army which certainly would put across its program.  It was
very much bigger than the army that had borne the winter’s campaign.
The equipment was better in every way.  They had new rifles that would
not jam at every other shot as the old ones often did.  They had more
and better artillery.  They had a large air force with an abundance of
equipment.  More than all they had the best time of the year in which to
conduct a campaign.  Moreover, they had small Bolshevik forces to
contend with, as the Bolsheviki seemed to be busy just then elsewhere.

[Illustration: The new British army entered Archangel in June with great
pomp and ceremony.
The Duma building at Archangel was decorated in honor of the new army
that came to finish the Bolsheviki.]

In the address of welcome that was made to this new army on its arrival,
the commanding general said that no better equipped army had ever been
sent out by the British Empire.  This was easy to believe.  Not only was
there the newest and latest equipment, there was quantity, such
amplitude of everything as to inspire the greatest of confidence, and we
who had lived through the poverty of the previous winter felt that there
would be no such handicap upon those who should now turn the tide of
battle and march victoriously to Petrograd.

About half of the men in this new army were volunteers.  Many of them
told me that they had enlisted because they could not find work, but
that they had specifically volunteered to come and rescue besieged
British soldiers from Archangel.  When they found themselves three
hundred miles up the Dvina River engaged in an expensive offensive they
groused as hard as the Americans or Canadians ever had, but this did not
interfere with their fighting.  These men gave a good account of
themselves, and they would have gone right through to Kotlas and Viatka
and Vologda if something entirely beyond them had not changed the
British plans.


                         *THE NEW RUSSIAN ARMY*

There were broadly three classes in the Russian army: first, the
volunteer Slavo-British Legion of men who enlisted in order to draw army
rations and buy from the Y.M.C.A; second, the conscripted "mobilized"
army of men forced to join against their own choice; and, third, a large
body of ex-Bolshevist prisoners who chose the army in preference to
prison and labor, and who because of this volition on their part were
made a part of the Slavo-British Legion.  In each of these classes were
many men who had been on the "Eastern" front in February, 1917, and who
then threw down their arms and went home, "having finished with war
forever."  Politicians and militarists who were unable to understand
that act have been equally unable to understand any of the subsequent
acts of these strange and natural men.

I am horrified at what these men have since done, and abhor it, but I
think I understand it, at least somewhat.

These Russian soldiers were provided with food and rum and cigarettes.
They liked this. But they disliked everything else.  They were sometimes
commanded by British officers, which they hated.  They were permitted to
wear the British name on their shoulders when they went into battle,
which they could not do with patriotic enthusiasm, and when they visited
their friends, which they did with explanations and chagrin.  They were
Russians, but they were not a Russian army.  I have seen many a Russian
officer shrug his shoulders in quizzical dismay as he spoke about the
British uniform he was wearing.

But there was real fighting ability in this new Russian army.  It was
greatly increased in numbers and much better organized and officered
than the army of the previous winter.  It was supplied with the new
equipment, and much was justly expected of it.  It was thoroughly
saturated with British stories of Bolshevik atrocities, as fear is a
mighty motive with the Russian soldier and the British were determined
he should be thoroughly afraid of the Bolsheviki.

But this army of Russian peasants did not altogether believe the
atrocity stories, did not in the least believe that England was there
for the good of Russia or for the general good of mankind, and did not
want to fight.


                          *MAKING BOLSHEVIKI*

In May General Miller, the Russian commander at Archangel, issued a
proclamation calling upon all people of Bolshevist sympathies to leave
Archangel within a prescribed time, offering them transport to the
Bolshevik lines and two days’ rations, and threatening severe penalties
to all who failed to go.  This was startling. All the Bolsheviki had
left when we came in. None had been permitted to come in since the
campaign began.  Where, then, did these come from who were reported
officially as being in Archangel in "large numbers"?  The obvious answer
is the correct one.  They had developed Bolshevist sympathies in
Archangel.  Some of them took their two days’ rations and crossed the
line, the military command ordered quite a number of them shot, but
others kept springing from the ground until the British command had
ample ground for its theory that if you scratch a Russian you find a

How are these numerous Bolsheviki to be accounted for?  They were made
in Archangel. They were made by the British militarists, the Russian
monarchists and the Bolshevik propagandists.  The making of Bolsheviki
in Archangel had not proceeded according to the pet American theory of
Bolshevist-making.  They had not been made by hunger.  Archangel had
been fed.  Not by charity, but by work.  Plenty of work, fair pay, and
ample supplies.

The first great step in the process of making Bolsheviki was the
conscription of men for the army.  This was not done until ample
opportunity had been given everybody to enlist voluntarily, but not
everybody volunteered.  The Russian point of view and ours were quite
different in this matter.  We had undertaken to fight the Bolsheviki for
him and he was glad to have us do it.  Our men and officers, on the
other hand, declared it was preposterous to suppose they were going to
do this fighting while the "lazy Russians stayed at home."  So
conscription went into force.  At first a small class of young men, then
a larger class, and finally practically every able-bodied man from
seventeen to fifty.  Here was another story. Here was war, real war,
again.  The new thing called Military Intervention or Allied Assistance
or anything else had proved to be the old thing that Russia knew so
well.  And the peasant of North Russia did not want it.  As early as
January some of these conscripted companies at Shenkursk went over
bodily to the Bolsheviki.

The suppression of all expressions of interest in Russia’s "new-found
freedom" was a stupid blunder.  There were no public meetings, no open
discussion of political questions, no real freedom of the press.  The
Russian soldiers were even afraid to sing the "Marseillaise," and
confined themselves to the innocuous if beautiful folksongs, leaving all
of the many excellent freedom songs of the revolution to the exclusive
use of the Bolsheviki.  The British never discovered that the Russian
loves these freedom songs, because they took counsel solely of the
reactionary monarchist element they had placed in power.

I have known a single strain of one of these freedom songs to throw a
roomful of people into panic with fear that it meant a fresh revolt. And
I have seen a crowd of Russian soldiers respond with keen pleasure when
their officer, a friend of mine with whom I had talked the matter over,
told them to go ahead and sing the so-called Bolshevist songs.  This was
toward the end of the chapter of Military Intervention.

The suspension of all kinds of democratic and political experiment and
experience by the Military Intervention was a matter of grave
consequence.  After a year of Military Intervention a member of a
Zemstvo Upravda said to me, "We have made no progress in government. We
have lost ground.  It could not have been worse under the Bolsheviki."
The people under Military Intervention felt that they were robbed of the
freedom they had waited for so long and enjoyed such a little time.  The
belief that the Bolsheviki would have robbed them equally or worse
comforted them for a time, but this comfort wore away as time stretched
on and Military Intervention made constantly increasing demands upon

Conscription for the army was accompanied by labor conscription.  This
was followed by more labor conscription.  This labor was employed
largely in building something to be blown up, loading cargoes to be
reloaded, hauling supplies backward to be hauled forward again and other
ostensibly wasteful operations which accompany all military operations,
more or less, in this case more.  This conscripted and wasted labor was
taken away from farm work at times when it could not be spared without
the loss of a season’s crop.  But it had to be done and military
necessities do not take farm seasons into account.  The Military
Intervention had been here all winter and had consumed every bit of the
country’s surplus.  This year there must be a big crop or starvation.
It has been a good crop but a small one because of labor conscription.
And those "ignorant" peasants can tell you what that means to them
however many useless paper roubles the Military Intervention may leave
behind it.

The execution of suspects made Bolsheviki right and left.  The
inquisitorial processes of the Russian puppets of the Military
Intervention were necessarily so much like those of the old régimé that
they went far to dispel all illusions about the Military Intervention
that might have remained in the peasant mind.

When night after night the firing squad took out its batches of victims
it mattered not that no civilians were permitted on the streets. There
were thousands of listening ears to hear the rat-tat-tat of the machine
guns, and no morning paper could have given all the gruesome details
more complete circulation than they received in the regular process of
universal news gossip by which Archangel keeps itself in
up-to-the-minute touch with all local affairs.

The details were well known.  Some one had seen it all.  Some one also
thought he knew who were to be included in the new batch tonight.  These
little gossip groups discussed freely the merits of the shooting and the
charges.  The Military Intervention tried to prevent this but it
couldn’t.  Every victim had friends.  These friends and their friends
rapidly were made enemies of the Military Intervention.  And this enmity
naturally spelled Bolshevism, as far as the Military Intervention was

I witnessed the anguish of one woman whose husband and father were both
in prison as suspects.  They had both won honor in the war against
Germany.  The husband had been wounded.  The charges of Bolshevist
sympathy on which they were arrested were based on slight evidence.  She
could not visit them. Only through the underground methods of the native
Russians could she learn anything about them.  She, too, listened every
night for the rat-tat-tat until she could bear it no longer.  So she was
arrested a few days before I left Archangel for having said something
for which the Military Intervention could not stand. Another Bolshevik.

If the Russian soldiers whom we organized, equipped, and paid to fight
the Bolsheviki went over as they did in whole companies to the
Bolsheviki it was not because of any lure or reward that our enemies
held out to them.  It was because we in our stupidity thought of them as
"swine" and employed such methods of administration and control in our
Military Intervention as they had been only too familiar with in the old
days of Tsarism.  We failed to win their hearts or their confidence.  We
destroyed all their illusions about us.  And they turned "Bolshevik."

Of course English and American soldiers did not turn Bolshevik, but it
was startling sometimes to hear their exclamations of sympathy with the
Bolsheviki and their protests against the whole fact and practice of the
Military Intervention.  This was not unusual among the Americans and
Canadians of the winter army and was so common among the new army that I
felt at one time they were more likely to make trouble for the Military
Intervention than the Russians were.

A gentleman who was very much in sympathy with the Military Intervention
was lecturing to an audience of these men one night in Archangel on "Why
are we here?"  His lecture had been O.K.’d carefully by the Intelligence
Department and was considered safe, in fact, most excellent.  After the
lecture the men were given an opportunity to ask questions, and some of
the questions they asked were, "Is England going to take the port of
Murmansk?" "Did a British syndicate get control of the lumber industry
of Archangel?" "Who cashed in on the new rouble deal?" "Are we trying to
set up a monarchy here in Russia?"  This from British Tommies was too
much.  The Intelligence Department sent around word the next morning
that this lecture had better not be given any more.  What the troops
needed was entertainment and amusement.


                        *THE WHITE MAN’S BURDEN*

The relations between the English and the Russians were not on the whole
pleasant or friendly.  The English themselves do not know this.  So long
as they were not shooting each other there was nothing missing in the
estimation of the average English soldier in his relations with the
Russians.  Feeling at heart the pressure of the white man’s burden he
had great scorn for the white Russians who now had added to its weight.

I have heard English officers curse Russian soldiers so violently that I
knew they were giving themselves boldness under cover of their foreign
tongue, and I knew too that the soldiers were refraining from protest
under the pretense of not understanding.  I once heard an English
captain call three Russian captains "filthy swine" in their hearing and
one of the Russians afterward told me in perfectly good English that he
had frequently been so abused by Englishmen who thought he did not
understand their words.  This word "swine," in fact, was the favorite
appellation of the English for the Russians.

Since it is necessary in this writing to generalize about the Englishmen
and British officers somewhat I must say here that there were among them
some splendid men.  I had the privilege of knowing a few who are among
the finest men to be met anywhere—tactful, human, sympathetic, and
strong.  But these were too small a minority.

The expedition called for military skill and it called for leadership,
sympathy, social skill. There was a sad failure to realize that an
expedition of this sort is bound to run into social and political
problems that are quite as important, perhaps more so, than mere
military practice.  The management of this campaign has ignored all
social and political considerations that might have contributed to its
success or failure and has blundered stupidly whenever these matters
have forced themselves to the front.  And the military blunders have
been so obvious that they have been openly acknowledged in part and are
on record presumably in the war office today.

The failure of the North Russian Expedition was the failure of the
British to make friends of the Russian people.  There was no purpose of
conquest here.  The purpose of his government was to be helpful to the
Russian people. But the British soldier does not think in these terms.
He had been a pupil in the school of imperialism too long to become a
conscious knight-errant of the League of Nations so suddenly.  He took
his imperialism to Russia with him, and Russia would not stand for it.
He failed in Russia and the causes of his failure were:

1. The Russian distrust and dislike of the British.

2.  The British inability to understand the Russian mind.

  3. The British lack of respect for the Russian character.

4.  The British tactlessness in dealing with the Russians.

  5. The stupid propaganda conducted by the British.
  6. The British war-weariness.

Probably the last of these reasons is the one that will seem most
important to those who have been hearing the noise made by English
politicians, but I believe it to be the least.  It did not prevent the
sending out of that fine new army with its marvelous supplies of stores
and equipment.  It did not spoil those precious plans for getting to
Petrograd before winter. For it was neither British Labor nor the
Bolsheviki that drove the British army from North Russia.  It was the
peasant population of North Russia that did this.

In April, May, and June I was told dozens of times by Russians that if
the Americans left Russia, the English would be compelled to go. They
did not believe the British would withdraw voluntarily.  They expected
to have to fight to drive them out.  Some of them said they would ask
the Bolsheviki to help them. Constantly new causes of irritation arose
between the military and the peasants and violent expressions of
military disgust with "swine" were increasingly heard.  When things went
wrong all blame was laid on the Russians. And it was laid on them in
such a way as to increase the malady.  Each day bitterness, distrust,
and resentment increased on both sides.  In August a British colonel
said to me that he feared nothing from our enemies the Bolsheviki but
everything from our friends the Russians, and he doubted if they would
let us get out without another great tragedy of treachery.  In August
also a Russian officer told a friend of mine that the quicker the
English got away the surer they were of getting away safely.

No Russian believed in the disinterestedness of England’s motives.  All
kinds of stories were invented and believed as to the concessions and
ports she was to receive, as to the debt Russia would owe her after the
war, and as to King George’s interest in the restoration of the Czar to
his throne.  Bolshevik propaganda was not idle and was all too easily

The Russians knew, too, that the English liked the monarchists, took
them into their confidence, had them to dinner, danced with them, and
they came to believe that with England in North Russia the revolution
was lost.

It was a common thing to hear an English officer say that every Russian
was a Bolo.  And this appellation was intended to be most opprobrious.
A discussion of this charge involves an understanding of Bolos as well
as of other Russians, and the statement emanates from an utter lack of
such understanding.  I must say that the great number of Russians that I
have come to know somewhat are not at all open to the charge of being
like the British idea of Bolos.  They are, on the contrary, loyal,
generous, honest, and reliable; neither crazy radicals nor indolent
dreamers, but a plodding, persistent, patient people who also can dream
dreams and turn over new pages.

On our way back to Archangel in the very last days of August we welcomed
almost any suggestion that seemed to afford a pleasant justification for
our retreat, and we talked much about the failure of Kolchak to meet us
at Kotlas or Viatka and the unwisdom of risking another winter with
Archangel for a base and such impossible lines of communication as we
maintained last winter.  In truth we were quite willing to realize that
what we had undertaken to do there was from a military point of view
stupid and utterly impractical.  We did not believe anybody would ever
again attempt to invade Russia from the north.  But the political
stupidity of our mission and our methods was never suspected, and
English officers continued to talk about "swine."



The men of this expedition were told many stories of Bolshevik
atrocities.  No care or effort was spared in printing these stories in
both English and Russian and getting them into the hands of the
soldiers.  It was important to inspire fear and hatred of the Bolsheviki
in the hearts of our men, more important than the verification of the
stories.  After the evacuation of Shenkursk we were told, with complete
details, of the murder of the nuns and the Abbess, and of the members of
several families who were well known to us, also of the forced marriage
to favored Bolsheviki of some of the young ladies who in the happy days
had danced with our officers.  We were told of rape and of tortures, all
in convincing circumstantial setting.  This "information" we were told
had been obtained most cleverly by us through spies and prisoners—and it
did its work.  In July, however, we learned the truth—at least I did.
Three Russians whom I had known all winter and in whom I have the utmost
confidence, went to Shenkursk, stayed there incognito a week, and came
back.  They told me that they had seen the nuns, and talked with the
people who were supposed to have been murdered, that the Abbess was
alive, that the girls were unmarried, and that there had been no forced
marriages whatever.  The one atrocity and the only one committed by the
Bolsheviki in Shenkursk was the shooting of one priest.  One priest was
shot in the street by soldiers without official sanction.  The only
other Bolshevik atrocity about which I had any authentic information
throughout the entire expedition was the mutilation of the bodies of
some of our men who had been killed in the early days of Ustpadenga.  I
was unable to find any one who had any proof, however, that they had
ever killed our men whom they had once taken prisoner.  Perhaps they did
it, but even so we were there not to imitate their worst practices but
to wipe them off the face of the earth because of those practices.

A friend of mine was walking unarmed on a lonely road near the front one
day when a Bolshevik soldier came out of the woods and made a friendly
approach.  He asked my friend if it was safe to go in and give himself
up as a prisoner and was assured that it was.  They went in together,
the guard at the barricade took charge of the prisoner, taking him to
headquarters.  Ten days later my friend learned that this prisoner had
been shot, and the only reason given was that he had refused to give
certain desired information as to the enemy.  I have heard an officer
tell his men repeatedly to take no prisoners, to kill them even if they
came in unarmed, and I have been told by the men themselves of many
cases when this was done.

I saw a disarmed Bolshevik prisoner, who was making no attempt to escape
and no trouble of any kind, and who was alone in charge of three armed
soldiers, shot down in cold blood.  The official whitewash on this case
was that he was trying to escape.  I have heard of many other cases of
the shooting of Bolshevik prisoners. At one time this had become so
common that the Officer Commanding troops issued and had posted up an
order forbidding it and calling attention to the fact that there were
many Bolshevik soldiers who wanted to come over and give themselves up
but feared to do so because they had heard about our shooting prisoners,
and warning our men that the Bolsheviki might retaliate by shooting our
men whom they held as prisoners.  I have seen at various times many
prisoners brought in, but I have never yet seen one that was not robbed.
The plunder belonged to the captor or the robber.  We got as high as
three thousand roubles off of some of them.  Their boots and belt
buckles were especially prized trophies.  I have known cases where the
captor was generous and left the prisoner some small thing, but it was
only to have some other soldier take it away from him later.

We used gas shells on the Bolsheviki, but that I understand is no longer
an atrocity.  We fixed all the devil-traps we could think of for them
when we evacuated villages.  Once we shot more than thirty prisoners in
our determination to punish three murderers.  And when we caught the
Commissar of Borok, a sergeant tells me we left his body in the street,
stripped, with sixteen bayonet wounds.  We surprised Borok, and the
Commissar, a civilian, did not have time to arm himself.  The sergeant
was quite exultant over it.  He killed Bolsheviki because they were
barbarians and cruel.  This was the only thing his government had ever
told him as to why they should be killed.  And the only safe way to
fight barbarians is with their own methods.

The spoliation of scores of Russian villages and thousands of little
farms, and the utter disorganization of the life and industry of a great
section of the country with the attendant wanderings and sufferings of
thousands of peasant-folk who had lost everything but life, are but the
natural and necessary results of a military operation, and especially a
weak and unsuccessful military operation such as this one was. One would
hardly say, however, that it was necessary to close the school in order
to use the schoolhouse for the storage of whisky, nor to put an entire
Russian family into the street in order to make room for one officer,
nor to loot personal property and ransack churches, nor to take so much
whisky into the country that it could hardly be consumed when there was
the greatest need for all kinds of merchandise, yet all these things
were done, and acts of this kind are now outstanding features of the
military "helpfulness" we went into so reluctantly.

We have been told about the employment by the Bolsheviki of Chinese
mercenaries, and the dreadfulness of this was much stressed in April,
but in July, August, and September we were importing large numbers of
Chinese to Archangel, dressing them in British uniforms, and training
them for fighting the Bolsheviki.


                             *THE MUTINIES*

Early in the year there had been a few small defections of conscripted
Russians at Shenkursk, Murmansk, and later at Toulgas, but the thing
that broke loose in July when the Yankees had gone home and the new
British army had come and started its big campaign was quite another
matter.  At Troitsa, at Onega, at Pinega, at Obozerskaya, on the Vaga
and on the Murmansk railroad our Russian soldiers mutinied, killed their
officers, and went over to the Bolsheviki.  On six of our seven fronts
these mutinies occurred.  They were evidently not concerted, not uniform
in method, but spontaneous, having the same nature, and springing from
the same causes.

There were some distinctive features about the Troitsa affair of July
seventh.  The Dyer’s Battalion that mutinied here was composed of
ex-Bolsheviki prisoners who had been given the option of joining our
army or remaining prisoners of war, and who for obvious reasons had
chosen to join the army.  This battalion had been fêted and honored in
many ways, and the privilege of wearing the British name on their
shoulders was supposed to give assurance of their loyalty to our army.
We did not conceal our stupidity about the Bolsheviki from these men.
We did not keep them from hearing the stories on which we had fed our
men.  They saw the attitude of the English military toward the Russians
and had learned the true state of Russian peasant feeling toward the
military. They despised the name of the Slavo-British Legion that they
wore.  On Troitsa’s fateful night they murdered five English officers
and eight Russian officers and went over to the Bolsheviki.  We
recaptured a considerable number of them and executed them.  Those that
had not been in the mutiny we disarmed and put to labor.  We had lost
heavily and by treachery. It was enough to get the wind up of anybody.
It got ours up.  I heard many an Englishman say after that that he would
never again trust any Russian anywhere.  He would not discriminate.
They were all treacherous, ungrateful swine.  Every Russian was a Bolo.
There was no longer possible any big coöperative campaign.

On the other fronts the mutinies were not of ex-Bolsheviki prisoners but
of the "mobilized" conscripts who had never been tainted by Bolshevist
theories or ideals and whose defection is therefore of greater
significance.  These men were the peasant inhabitants of North Russia
who had welcomed our advent at Archangel. They had been in a sense our
hosts all winter. They had worked for us, driven our transport, sold us
hay and potatoes, smoked our cigarettes, and hated our enemies.  But
also they had told me in the spring that if the Americans went home the
English, would have to go home too. Now they were murdering their
officers, surrendering their positions to the enemy, refusing to
advance, going over to the Bolsheviki in large numbers.

The British fought wonderfully well under these trying circumstances.
At every point except Onega they re-took all positions that had been
lost by treachery.  They caught and shot traitors.  And they also shot
all other Russian soldiers who were suspected of treason.  They did this
with a brutality the details of which I will spare you, but not one
item, of which escaped the Russian people.

The British wind was up.  They were soldiers, and prepared for any fight
that might be in store for them.  But being shot in bed by your own men
is not fighting.  It is not war. There was no question of courage
involved. The army had courage enough.  But this was next to suicide, to
go to the front leading traitors.

There was evidence one day on the railroad front that a new mutiny was
brewing.  All the men of the suspected company were put on a train and
then disarmed.  A guard went through the train and counted off the men,
taking every tenth man outside to be shot without trial.  The men had
not mutinied, but they might, and something had to be done.

I was told about another company of eighty Russians who were under
suspicion at the same time.  The British officer in command gave them
the option of declaring who the ringleaders were or being shot _en
masse_.  Under the fear of this threat fifteen out of the eighty men
were named and shot without trial.


                             *THE DÉBÂCLE*

And so, there being nothing else possible, the débâcle began.  But it is
a big job to get an expedition out of a country, much bigger than to get
it in.  There were great quantities of munitions and supplies to be
transported or destroyed.  There were fortifications to destroy, bridges
to burn, railways to tear up, all fighting facilities to cripple.  There
were civilians to evacuate, and all the service branches of the army,
with all their vast and varied stores, to be disposed of.  And there was
the enemy to be dealt with.  The thing simply couldn’t be done with any
chance of success on all of those long fingers of this expedition until
a smashing blow had been delivered to the Bolsheviki, both to reduce his
morale and to increase your own, which had been so seriously impaired by
the mutinies.

So a smashing blow was delivered successfully at one of the
finger-points, costing us more men than any other fight in North Russia;
and instanter the latest retreat from Moscow began. Now there was
something quite peculiar about this retreat from the finger-points in
North Russia.  We were not pursued.  The Bolsheviki knew we were going.
In fact, they seemed to be remarkably well posted as to our plans. They
were willing to have us go.  But they did not chase us out.  The
Bolsheviki had little to do with causing this retreat.  This retreat was
forced by the conscripted soldiers and people of North Russia, who
wanted the English to go, and who were so sincere in this that they were
willing to face all the dangers of the "dictatorship of the proletariat"
commissar, and the unrestrained spite of every personal enemy, without
English protection.  A school teacher who supposed himself to be on the
Bolshevik black list, said to me in July, "Our duty is to Russia.  The
Bolsheviki may rule us or may kill us, but our duty is to Russia.  The
English must go."  The Labor Congress, assembled at Solombola, passed
resolutions urging the hasty withdrawal of the British and were at once
disbanded by the army and charged with being Bolshevik propagandists.

But the retreat was on.  Every embassy received orders from home to
leave with all its citizens, bag and baggage, and in the early days of
September they went as from a pestilence, shipload after shipload, the
Americans, the French, Italian, Chinese, Serbian, Japanese embassies,
consulates of all sorts, Y.M.C.A., Y.W.C.A., military missions,
bourgeois Russians, and any number of enterprising citizens of
enterprising countries got out.

The military preceded, accompanied, followed. By September twentieth,
the last British soldier was out and the washout was complete. We heard
wild rumors that the Labor Congress continued to meet in spite of the
army, that they turned upon the Russian military leaders, who are
well-known to be monarchist in sympathy, and informed them that they
must make peace with the Bolsheviki, and that there was some bad rioting
in Solombola.  Two British soldiers had been beaten to death in the
streets by Russians.  More Russians had been shot because they were
suspected of Bolshevist sympathies. As our ships pulled out of the
harbor great fires broke out in the vast lumber yards on both sides of
the river, the laborers were charged with Bolshevik sabotage, and an
enormous pall of black smoke hung for days over the scene of this most
unfortunate expedition, a sinister emblem of the ruin and hatred that
lay behind us, and a symbol of angry protest from the sky itself over
our stupid failure to understand the Russian people.



The financial contrivances of this Military Intervention in North
Russia, while conceived with the best of intentions, perhaps, and being
presumably in the interests of Russian welfare, created much suspicion
and bitterness among the peasants and the soldiers.  The country having
been flooded with Kerensky and Bolshevik paper money, it was impossible
to maintain any general European value, so a new rouble was issued
called the "English rouble," with a guaranteed minimum value based on
deposits of securities with the Bank of England. But the peasants were
not interested.  They did not give up their old roubles for the new. So
it became necessary to force matters.  A schedule of depreciation of all
old roubles was published.  While the English roubles stood as
guaranteed at forty to the pound all old or "Russian" money, as the
peasants called it, stepped down a ladder of fortnightly rungs from
forty-eight to fifty-six, to sixty-five, to seventy-two, to eighty, to
ninety, after which it was to have no value whatever.  It was hoped, of
course, that all people would avail themselves of the opportunity thus
offered to dispose of their worthless money and the region would have a
sound currency of some intra-national value as a result.

Then, finding that it had a lot of old roubles on hand, the British paid
their Russian soldiers and civilian labor in these old roubles that they
had proposed to put out of circulation, at the same time making it
impossible for the holder to spend this money in availing himself of any
of the resources of the Military Intervention.

Dozens of times I have seen Russian soldiers tear up this old money with
which they had been paid and throw it on the floor in anger, because
they could buy nothing with it.

Yet the old money stayed in circulation. When eighty was reached no
attempt was made to press the process of depreciation any further.  Old
"Nicolai" paper had gone out of circulation, and in the early days of
August the peasants generally were preferring old roubles at eighty to
new ones at forty.  And there was a very general feeling among the
Russian people that the Military Intervention had taken all that value
out of their old roubles and in some mysterious way put it into its own



The Bolsheviki are adepts at propaganda. They try to understand the
point of view, the prejudices, the situations, of those to whom they
appeal, and their propaganda is essentially sympathetic, tries to find a
common ground, attempts to enter openings.  They believe in propaganda.
I have thought sometimes that they believe much more firmly in
propaganda than in guns.  They bombarded us constantly with leaflets in
Russian and leaflets in English. We found them tacked up on trees in
front of our lines every morning, and no one who went out to get them
was ever shot at.  We were forbidden to read this literature.  All
copies were to be taken unread to the "Information" office.  As it came
floating down the river on little rafts marked humorously "H.M.S.
Thunderer," "H.M.S. Terrible," etc., we were warned that these were
likely to be mine-traps. But they never were.  We got them all.  We read
all the propaganda.  It was interesting even when unconvincing.  Having
learned the names of some of our officers they sent personal messages
across the lines.  These made a great hit with our soldiers.

Throughout the campaign we often got better news information from the
Bolshevik propaganda than from the British propaganda, which came daily
by wireless but which published almost nothing of political value.  The
Bolsheviki watched the Peace Congress very closely, and while their
reports lacked fairness as much as those of the British lacked
frankness, we were very glad to get them for the facts they gave us.

[Illustration: Canadian soldiers with two captives, having changed caps.
Bringing Bolsheviki prisoners into Malobereznik.]

Of course they attacked Mr. Wilson bitterly, violently, unfairly, but
with enough basis of truth and fact to make their attacks effective. And
their propaganda reached its goal.  A limited amount was printed in
English for the Allied troops.  A greater amount was printed in Russian
for Russian troops and Russian civilians, who as well as the troops
devoured it with avidity.  They were at first prejudiced against
everything Bolshevist, but there was no reliable news.  They knew the
British were feeding them on watered milk, and this made them turn to
the Bolshevik newspapers.  I have been surprised to find that these
newspapers were read and quoted everywhere.  It was not so at first, but
in July it was literally so.

In May I had only the preliminary publication of the Terms and the
Covenant that had appeared in the London _Times_ of February
twenty-first.  I essayed to address an audience of English-speaking
soldiers on the work of the Peace Congress, full of optimistic
enthusiasm.  After the meeting a Russian friend told me quietly that he
knew I was wrong, that I was doomed to disappointment, that he had later
news than I had, and finally he very secretly produced the Bolshevik
papers.  Of course I did not have to believe all these papers said.  It
wasn’t all true. But I found the Russians were believing much of it.
President Wilson was not having his way in the Peace Congress.  He had
surrendered open diplomacy and would have to surrender more, perhaps
much more.  He lacked the support of the American Senate, and he was
hopelessly out-voted at Versailles.  And there was Clemenceau.  Russia
knows Clemenceau.  And the League of Nations would be born without

As a matter of fact these Russians through the Bolsheviki had the latest
gossip on the peace parleys and their interest in the subject was very
keen.  They hate the Germans, but their eyes were fixed not on that
hatred, but on an ideal, a hope.  And now they were being disillusioned,
let down.  It had remained for Bolshevist propaganda to tell them that
their dream was not coming true.

And British propaganda!  The Bolsheviki might well have paid the bill,
and it was a substantial one.  The great themes about which this
propaganda was built were:

The Size of the British Empire,

The Strength of the British Navy,

The Growth of the British Army since 1914,

The British Empire at War,

The Charitableness of British Royalty,

and latterly the severity of terms demanded of Germany.  Great piles of
sheets of old war pictures with Russian captions were scattered
broadcast upon a war-bored population, and Russian editions of a
transparently over-censored news communiqué which told who dined with
the King, who got the Order of the Garter, who was responsible for the
great war, how bad the Bolsheviki are, and how the great international
game of cricket is getting on.

In this fashion did we undertake by our "Allied Bureau of Public
Information" to bring Russia into the family of nations!

Not one word of the vital truth—the growing truth in these growing
days—for which Russia is hungry.  Not a spark of recognition for the
intellectual heroism of these people whose fight for truth and freedom
has only been begun. No belief in the manliness of these "children" who
were to be taught.  No faith in national ideals that were different from
our own.

An educated Russian once said to me, holding a copy of "The British
Empire at War" in his hand: "I believe that every Russian family knows
more about war than whole cities of Englishmen."  And I have seen a
Russian peasant look at the same publication, shake his head and say:
"English ne dobra."

A Russian Y.M.C.A. Secretary said to me once: "The English propaganda is
making Bolos every day."

In August a squad of Americans came to Archangel from France with
instructions to disinter the bodies of the 260 Americans buried in North
Russia and take them to the military cemeteries in France or America for
re-burial. Many of these bodies were in territory held by the Bolsheviki
and the lieutenant in charge of this work asked permission of the
British command at Archangel to enter into negotiations with the
Bolshevik command for permission to get those bodies.  Nobody doubted
that this permission, would be granted by the Bolsheviki, but the
negotiations were forbidden by the British, as it would be bad policy to
let the Bolsheviki show us courtesies.  They must remain outlaws.  They
must not be permitted to state their case to Americans who would tell
the Russians.  Americans must not see with their own eyes that the tales
of Bolshevik atrocities in Shenkursk and Shagavari were untrue.  The
Bolsheviki must remain as black as they had been painted, so the
American bodies must remain in their Russian graves.

In July two American Y.M.C.A. secretaries were captured by the
Bolsheviki on the Onega front.  Two others had been captured previously
to this and had been released by way of Stockholm, and had reported good
treatment. With these taken in July the Bolsheviki had taken also a
number of British soldiers, some army supplies, and some Y.M.C.A.
supplies. One of the secretaries had considerable money on his person
belonging to the Y.M.C.A. He was given permission to go to Archangel on
parole to take this money to "Y" headquarters, and he was given by the
Bolshevik command two messages.  One was to negotiate the purchase of
the "Y" supplies captured, as the Bolsheviki did not consider these
things war booty and wished to pay for them.  The other was a message to
the people of Archangel assuring them that when the Bolsheviki should
take their city there would be no reprisals but full political amnesty.
When this paroled American prisoner reached our lines he was taken to
British headquarters and there told that he could not go to Archangel on
any such mission. He appealed by telephone to the American Embassy and
arrangements were made for him to go to Archangel, virtually under
arrest. At British headquarters in Archangel he was ordered not to make
known any of the Bolshevist messages and an attempt was made to induce
him to break his parole.  When he told of kindly treatment by the
Bolsheviki he was angrily denounced as a Bolshevik propagandist. He
returned to the front and re-crossed the line according to the terms of
his parole. These prisoners were sent to Moscow.  They were not under
arrest nor restraint, nor were the British Tommies whom the Bolsheviki
held there as prisoners of war.  These two men left Moscow September
fifth for home by way of Vologda and Archangel.  They saw nothing of the
atrocities we read so much about, nor of the nationalization of women,
nor the separation of children from parents by state decree, nor the
other barbarities the British-American news factories give us so much to
read about.



During the first half of 1918 there was considerable discussion in
America of the proposed military intervention in Russia.  Mr. Roosevelt
favored it—insisted upon it.  Mr. Wilson was understood to be opposed to
it, this understanding resting on the general interpretation of his
utterances.  The debate, widespread, was before the fact.  Now that the
fact is accomplished we may well look into the results.

The weak fashion in which we went into the enterprise has given rise to
the theory in some quarters that it will be claimed that we did not go
into it at all.  If an armistice had been declared in Russia on November
11, or if America had then notified the Bolsheviki that we had no
military motives there, the affair could well have been charged up to
the war with Germany, and we might well claim that we had had no serious
intention of interfering in the affairs of Russia.  But the armistice
did not even think of Russia.  We were fighting a separate war there.
We in Russia were not even notified officially that there was an
armistice.  We heard about it, and wondered where we came in.  It was
after November 11 that most of our fighting took place and most of our
casualties were suffered.  Not until March were we promised that we
should be taken home in the spring, and then no intimation was given us
that America was to withdraw.  Rumors were industriously circulated
giving the impression that other Americans were on their way to take our
places, and not until our men were actually away did our "information"
permit us to realize that America had withdrawn from the expedition.

We intervened.  We undertook to crush Bolshevism in Russia.  We sent a
military and naval expedition there.  We organized a civil war there.
It was unsuccessful.  America lost a few men, England more, Russia many
more. How much more Russia suffered is not yet written.  America
withdrew her troops.  France, Serbia, Italy withdrew theirs.  England
reluctantly withdraws hers.

Let us consider what this expedition meant to our own men.  They were
only a few thousand men, to be sure, and their little event was so much
smaller than the big thing in France that it was naturally even
necessarily overlooked.  Because I was with them, however, I know that
it was a big thing their government made them do.  The men in France had
faith in their cause.  The men in Russia had none. Over and over again
our men in Russia have argued with me that while we were fighting for
freedom in France we were fighting to kill it in Russia.  Some said we
were fighting for the capitalists of England and France, others declared
that the Bolsheviki were more right than wrong, and everybody felt that
our government had made a great mistake and that a life lost there was a
life worse than thrown away.  In this frame of mind American boys went
through all the dangers and privations and sufferings of a difficult
all-winter campaign and some of them went to their last battles.
Statistically it is a little thing, if you must measure everything by
statistics, but I have been made to feel how terribly great a thing was
the death of one man who as I held his hand cursed the fate that made
him die in a fight for which he had no heart.

It was a high degree of sportsmanship that enabled these men to see it
through.  If Mr. Wilson told his colleagues at Paris that "if" American
troops were sent to Russia they would mutiny he might have based his
opinion on information as to what American troops in Russia had already
said on that particular subject.

It is difficult to imagine a more unmoral situation than that of an army
fighting without a sense of unction and against its sense of right, but
this is what military intervention in Russia imposed on a small army of

I can testify of my personal knowledge that this was equally true of
Canadian and British soldiers.  I have heard that it was true of the
French, the Italians, and the Serbians.

These men are all home now with their grievance.  Few of them are proud
of the expedition, or glad they had a part in it, or grateful to their
country for its support, or willing to go again.  Military intervention
has been a tragedy in their lives and was an injustice to them such as
no government may with impunity impose on its citizens.

We may not easily estimate the harm that military intervention has done
in the lowering of our standards of national rights and in devitalizing
our ideals of international relations.  The precedent that has been
established, however, is most unfortunate and may in the future be used
to strengthen the hands of some one who may be trying to lead us into a
more serious error of the same sort.  I must, moreover, say that this
enterprise has done considerable harm to the most important friendship
in the world—that of England and America—as far as so great a thing
could be affected by the few thousands of men who were directly engaged
in the expedition.  Our governments do not know about this, of course,
but the men know.  No thoughtful person could hear these men of either
nation talk about the other nation without seeing the awfulness of the
thing that has been done.  It is not at all similar to the attitude of
the soldier who knew the British in France, nor to his disillusionment
about the French.  It is very much worse.  It is enmity. And it is clear
to me that it is directly due to the fact that our men had to fight in a
bad cause, with unwilling minds, beclouded consciences, and rebellious

Again I do not know how much our participation in this affair has
vitiated the faith of small nations in our disinterested friendship for
the weak.  We may hope that the nations of South America have not taken
the Russian campaign to heart as seriously as have the small nations of
Europe.  Whatever result our military intervention in Russia has had
upon this faith, however, those of us who have been in Russia know that
it has had a profound effect upon the Russian people. We have not
destroyed their faith in us.  One mistake could not do that.  But we
have disillusioned many of them concerning the soundness of our judgment
if not the purity of our motives, and they will hereafter, I think, look
carefully into our alliances before trusting themselves utterly to our

Having got into a bad job the governments found it expedient to suppress
news, to manipulate news, and even to manufacture a little.

Whether we have actually prolonged Lenin’s tenure of office and
Trotsky’s reign in power we cannot of course know.  But this is quite
conceivable, and they are still in office and in power two years after
the November revolution. We know that the armed barrier that we have
built around them and forced them to build in front of us has prevented
us from reaching them with any of the more convincing proofs of our
"friendly purpose" than the shrapnel and h.e. we have managed to get
over into their lines.  The business men and educators and engineers and
uplifters that we were going to send have had to wait while we undertook
to settle Russian turmoil by making more turmoil.

We organized civil war in Russia.  The Russians were not fighting the
Bolsheviki—not our way.  They did not want to fight them—in our way.  We
made them.  We conscripted them to fight for their own freedom.  It was
difficult, but we had our army there and the army made the peasant
patriotic—our way.

The Russian hates conscription; but what were we to do?  If he wouldn’t
fight voluntarily he was a damned Bolshevik and must be made to.  And
so, as ever, one thing leads to another—especially when we are not quite
clear that the one thing is a right thing.  The conscripted Russians who
rebelled against us and went over to the Bolsheviki were of course a
small proportion of the whole.  All sorts of mixed motives and confused
judgments and conflicting loyalties entered into the situation, but one
thing clearly emerged.  This was civil war.  Every man’s hand is set
against his neighbor.  And now as we confess the futility of our
intervention and evacuate, the evil harvest is to be reaped.  No peasant
can escape it.  No woman or child can escape it.  Suspicion,
recrimination, tale-bearing, jealousy, hatred of Russian for Russian is
the harvest our intervention has left behind it.


                     *CONCERNING RUSSIAN PEASANTS*

The peasants of North Russia are generally supposed to be the poorest
and least progressive class of Russians, living in the poorest and least
desirable part of the country.  I think that if this is true the
interest which all Russia holds for Americans can hardly be exaggerated.

The people of North Russia are peasants. The professional and trading
classes are negligible—perhaps smaller than anywhere else in the white
world.  The towns are small and few and even the towns are peopled
largely by peasants.

North Russia, humanly speaking, consists of long tortuous arteries of
life called rivers. The banks of these rivers are thickly, almost
densely, populated.  Villages of from twenty to a hundred houses are
strung along so continuously and here and there clustered about a great
church so thickly that you wonder where there is land for all these
people to cultivate. Never, however, do you find an isolated settler. If
it is a forest nobody lives there.  You find a village or nobody.

There can be no more hospitable people anywhere in the world than these
Russian people are.  Their doors are never closed against strangers, and
with unfailing courtesy they offer the best they have.  I have traveled
nearly a thousand versts by sled over this northern country and stopped
every six hours at a private house for a samovar and perhaps a bed. To
have the best the house afforded given me once or twice and pay refused
would not have impressed me so much, but to have uniform hospitality
extended me as though it were my right and to have this done without
consciousness of virtue made me feel that the world’s championship in
hospitality abides with the people of this bleak and inhospitable

[Illustration: The women work in the fields with the men.
Russians love their homes and their villages devotedly.]

They get their living from the soil in a very short season, and this is
possible only because the summer day is twenty-four hours long. This
means that in the short growing season the crops grow very rapidly, and
it also means that all the work has to be done in that limited time.  If
the crops grow twenty-four or twenty-two or twenty hours, then the
peasant must work the harder.  The wife and mother and children must
also work.  Most of the farm work is done by each family for itself, but
some of it is done by the whole village co-operatively. I spent a
half-day working in a hayfield with peasants from Konetsgory who were
eight versts from home.  There were seventy-five of them, men, women,
and children, and they stayed in that field five days and nights until
the great stacks were finished.  The hay was community property to which
each family had a right in proportion to the number in the family.  I
noticed that they ate by families while at this work, the food being
strictly private property.  And I saw Mrs. "Smith" give Mrs. "Jones"
some of her fresh cake, and other little private property courtesies.  I
asked if the families at Konetsgory not represented by workers in the
field would have a right to any of the hay.  Of course they would,
because they were doing other work as directed by the staroster.

The staroster is a public official chosen by a meeting of the peasants
whose duty it is to assess labor for any public or co-operative purpose.
His assessments are compulsory upon men, women, children, and horses.
With most of the men in the army, as is now and has been the case for so
long, his chief labor resource of course is women.  When there are
exceptions to his authority such as doctors and school teachers, these
persons do not count in the distributions of the co-operative products.

In all distributions of land and products now women are counted.  This
is a result of the revolution and has been brought about not because it
was legislated but as a spontaneous product of the common sense of
right.  When Russia does have an election, as we must hope some day she
will, these peasant people all assume as a matter of course that women
will vote.

Americans do not need to be told how backward Russia is in the matter of
machinery and especially agricultural machinery.  But I gave myself a
surprise one day by going to every house in a small village and finding
in every house but one a one-horse cast-steel modern plow.  I found also
some very good harrows and a few hand-wheel sewing machines, but
practically nothing else that could be called modern.  I have since seen
two mowing machines and one hay-rake.  The absence of machinery here is
practically as universal as it has been represented.  There is no
prejudice against it and the people are not ignorant of it. They want
it, and they have plenty of money to buy it with, but it is not here to
buy, and the money has uncertain value.

There is so much printed matter in America proving eighty-five per cent
illiteracy among the Russian people that I approach this subject
timidly.  I cannot find the eighty-five per cent.  I have yet to find
one child ten years of age who cannot read and write, and the subject is
of such interest to me that I always inquired about it.  I found some
old peasants who could not and some who could but sensitively would not
write their names for me.  I had Russian soldiers line up by hundreds to
sign their names in a register and not a man would fail to write his
own.  I had peasants tell me that they knew how to read and write when
they were children but had forgotten it since.  I have no statistics on
the subject, but it would be interesting to have the statisticians go up
the Dvina River looking for the eighty-five per cent.  In almost every
village the best house is the schoolhouse. When it is not the best it is
still a very good house.  Among hundreds of villages there is not one of
twenty houses or more that does not maintain a school eight months of
the year.

Russia has but one church.  I met a few dissentients—evangelicals and
atheists—but the dissent is not organized and there is very little
propaganda of reform.  The Bolsheviki at first prohibited the church as
an evil thing.  Many of the un-Bolshevik Russians have dropped the
church as a useless thing.  But nobody seems to have undertaken to
reform the church.  And yet one of the greatest reforms in
ecclesiastical history is taking place.  In a moment and without warning
the physical and militant props dropped out from under this institution
and it had to stand alone or sink.  Some of it did sink.  Some of it was
scuttled by the Bolsheviki. Then came the aftermath—the afterthought of
the people.  They missed something.  They had not entirely outgrown the
church.  They had hated its arrogance and exactions, but they still
believed what it had taught them and felt its spell.  Now that they were
free from it they voluntarily returned to it.  But it is with a new
attitude.  These Russians go to church now looking for something that
they hardly find. And the priest’s only resources now are
spiritual—superstition, art, inspiration, service, truth—perhaps he will
make use of all in the struggle for existence.

I was interested in the attitude of the peasants toward their priest in
a large village that we were about to evacuate.  The Bolsheviki would be
there shortly after we should leave, and as they were reputed frequently
to shoot priests the military had arranged to take him with us.  He had
received for his worldly needs a house to live in, the use of some land
which he and his wife had cultivated as peasants do, a certain amount of
money, and certain ecclesiastical emoluments. When the committee of
peasants came to settle with him they said: "You are favored above the
rest of us.  You are taken to a place of safety while we are left to the
cruelty of the Bolsheviki.  The first thing they will do will be to
demand much food from us.  After that they may kill us.  So you must
help with the food. You may take with you only eight bags of flour. You
may not sell your hay.  You may sell your cow, but not the yearling."
There was no appeal, as this had all been decided upon by vote, in a
meeting.  They took no money from him, nor gold, as they are told the
Bolsheviki do not consider gold has any particular value.  They were
careful to see that he left everything pertaining to the church.

Talking with the priest afterward, having helped him build a fence
around "his" haystack, I asked him what he should do in the future.  He
said he supposed he would be assigned to another church, but he wished
he could get a permanent job with the Y.M.C.A.

The sense of private property is very strong among these people.  They
are jealous of what they own, and normally acquisitive.  These easy
expropriations and confiscations arise not from an absence of interest
in private property but from the presence of a strong sense of common
right and communal responsibility. Private property is not so "sacred"
as with us but the acknowledgment of common responsibility is more

I had occasion at one time to sell quickly about three hundred thousand
roubles’ worth of supplies.  I took a hurried trip through a string of
villages sending messengers to others, calling upon the president of the
co-operative society in each, and within a week I had sold out to the
co-operatives of twenty-two villages.  My chief concern had been that
these goods should reach the peasants at cost, and they did.  Each
co-operative gave me a statement showing the number of houses and of
people in the village, and showed me a statement giving the amount of
money that had been collected from each family as purchasing capital.
The staples, such as flour, sugar, and soap, were mostly distributed
among the houses within twenty-four hours.  Every family was given the
privilege of buying its quota whether it had put up any purchasing
capital or not.  These were their regular practices.

The meeting of all the peasants by vote determines many matters of minor
as well as major importance.  The president of the co-operative at
Shamova told me that he had asked the meeting to permit him to buy
sardines, but they had voted against it.  He wanted some sardines for
himself, but could not buy them in the name of the co-operative.  Would
I sell them to him individually if he would sign a bond not to sell any
at a profit?  One committee had come under instructions to buy only
flour and sugar, and as I had to ration these out with other goods in
order to dispose of my cargo quickly they had to row their great
carbosse back in the wind and rain twenty versts and call a meeting of
the peasants for revised instructions.  Married women and widows vote in
these peasant meetings.  One committee came with fifty thousand roubles
in its bundle, but with instructions not to spend more than half of it
unless they could buy cloth.

It seems to me almost unnecessary to say that I have found the Russian
people and the Russian soldiers scrupulously honest in all my dealings
with them.

The difference between their standards of morality and ours has been
often dwelt upon by our writers.  This difference as I found it
consisted in the fact that they talk about sex more easily than we do
and think about it less vulgarly.  I believe the peasant woman is as
virtuous as the average woman anywhere.  And an intimate acquaintance
with thousands of soldiers throughout the winter has given me this
belief.  Attractive women are not so rare as to fully explain the
unusually excellent medical reports of the N.R.E.F.  And nowhere in the
West has the family tie been stronger nor the family organization so
rigidly maintained.

The war-weariness of these Russian people is beyond words to describe.
They are not in any sense militant in spirit.  They do not believe in
war.  Passive resistance they will resort to in a thousand ways and with
rare cunning and courageous persistence, but organized warfare is not to
their taste.  Who rules Russia against her will or ideals from now on
will have a rocky road to travel, and who looks to her for militant
alliance is doomed to certain disappointment.  I have had a Russian
officers’ club in charge for two months and can say from personal
knowledge of these men that from colonels down they are utterly sick of
war and distrustful of its consequences.  Before I went to Russia I felt
that Tolstoy had perhaps weakened the Russian spirit with his doctrine
of non-resistance.  Now I think he only gave expression to what is most
common in the ideals of the Russian mind.

In politics the Russian people are amateurs. They do not know the game.
Not our game. They do not understand the compromises that are essential
to the democratic state.  They cannot agree to disagree in amity.  They
are inclined to be dogmatic.  Like our own youth they are in search of
the absolute in truth and righteousness and frequently think they have
found it.  But no higher ideals are to be found in any people than the
political ideals of these Russians, and their interest in politics is a
keen and vital one.  I have attempted a number of speeches on political
subjects to Russian soldiers by the aid of an interpreter and have been
gratified both because I was understood and because I was asked
questions that indicated real intelligence in political matters.

I have witnessed a few peasants’ meetings. At one the ownership of a
horse was hotly contested.  A woman found the horse astray in the woods.
A boy claimed it, but it appeared that he had found it also only a few
days before.  It probably had been owned in one of the villages that had
been burned in the fighting. The debate was loud and warm.  The peasants
ranged themselves on the two sides and under the force of argument some
of them changed their opinion and so changed sides, arguing with each
other.  Everybody argued.  There was never an equal division.  But the
Russian does not like majority votes.  He insists on unanimity.  There
came a calm, and an old peasant stood aside and said that neither
claimant had a good title to the horse, as its real owner might appear
and claim it, but suggested that if the boy would pay the woman ten
roubles for finding the horse he should hold it for six months and if by
that time no owner should appear the horse should be given to the
staroster as the property of the village. Everybody slowly went over to
the old peasant and the question was settled.  The boy refused to pay
the ten roubles, so the woman paid ten roubles to him and took the

I do not know that they always do justice in the management of their
local affairs, but I am sure that if injustice is done everybody is
clearly responsible for it, for everybody seems to take a hand in

An American "Y" man said to me once that he thought the reason the
Russians were so ostensibly fond of Americans was because they are so
much like us.  Perhaps there is some truth behind his remark, but in
many ways they are decidedly unlike us, and not all these divergencies
are by any means to their disadvantage.

I do not anticipate that their political development will parallel that
of America.  I do not see why it should, nor do I see how it can. Their
national ideals cannot take form in the molds cast by Jefferson and
Hamilton.  And in their struggle for freedom and righteousness it is
quite conceivable that they will evolve political forms and practices
adapted to the modern days and conditions.

Military men who characterize the Russian peasant as lazy, indolent, and
indifferent do not know what they are talking about.  They do not see
through the peasant’s whiskers.  They resent too strongly the peasant’s
aversion to the military profession.  The peasant is no mollusc as they
learn who have to do with him long.  He will fight a long fight for his
freedom, and fight it in his own way.  And he will win it, may I
predict, and win it so gloriously that light will shine once more again
from the East even into the West.

Standing on the key at Archangel and waving farewells to the American
soldiers who filled the decks and rigging of a transport slowly moving
off with the current, an educated Russian friend said to me: "They are
good boys, I am glad they came and glad they are going away.  But now as
never before Russia knows that she cannot be a second America.  Now we
do not want to be a second America.  Russia must find her own way, for
herself."  He had to wipe tears from his face as he turned for a moment
from the ship to say, "And you will go soon too?"


"But I shall stay here, and die fighting for Russia—fighting men who
love Russia perhaps as much as I do."

                                THE END

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