Prologue Magazine

Guarding the Railroad, Taming the Cossacks, Part 3​

The U.S. Army in Russia, 1918–1920

Winter 2002, Vol. 34, No. 4

By Gibson Bell Smith

Gen Wm Graves and staff in Vladivostok
Maj. Gen. William S. Graves (Commanding General Allied Expeditionary Force - Siberia; seated, center) and staff, Vladivostok, November 23, 1918. (NWDNS-395-SE-7024)


1 The aide memoire, dated July 17, 1918, by Secretary of State Robert Lansing outlines the three reasons for American intervention, including the rescue of the Czech Legion; the text appears in the U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1918, Russia II (1932), p. 288 (hereinafter cited as FRUS 1918: Russia II). For a careful analysis of the reasons for American intervention, see Betty M. Unterberger, America's Siberian Expedition, 1918 - 20, A Study of National Policy (1956). An excellent account of the Czech Legion's central role and the major intervention by the Japanese appears in Richard Goldhurst, The Midnight War: The American Intervention in Russia, 1918 - 20 (1978).

2 Norman E. Saul, War and Revolution: The United States and Russia, 1914 - 21 (2001), pp. 286 - 290.

3 Maj. David Barrows, intelligence officer on detail to Siberia, "Memorandum for General Evans: Advance of Ataman Semenoff's Forces, April 20th to May 5th" (appendix A), Peking, May 9, 1918, appears in the Military Intelligence Division file # 2070-505, box 815— Military Intelligence Division Correspondence, 1917 - 41, microfilmed as Correspondence of the Military Intelligence Division Relating to General, Political, Economic, and Military Conditions in Russia and the Soviet Union, 1917 - 1941 (National Archives Microfilm Publication M1443), roll 3, Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs, Record Group (RG) 165, National Archives at College Park (NACP), College Park, MD.

4 James G. Bailey to Lansing, Harbin, Apr. 24, 1918, 861.00/1921, Records of the Department of States Relating to Internal Affairs of Russia and the Soviet Union, 1910 - 1929 (National Archives Microfilm Publication M316), roll 13, General Records of the Department of States, RG 59, NACP.

5 David Footman, Ataman Semenov (1955), pp. 1 - 33. This paper uses the spelling "Semenoff," which is used in the documents of the AEF Siberia at the National Archives. David Barrows had several notable intelligence studies on Semenoff during the period from April to October 1918; some of these are contained in file 095 Semenoff, box 29, General Correspondence of Intelligence Officers, AEF Siberia, Records of U.S. Army Overseas Operations and Commands, 1898 - 1942, RG 395, NACP.

6 Goldhurst, The Midnight War, pp. 117 - 120. For a detailed contemporary study of the Czech question, see Laurence Packard's "The Czechoslovaks in Russia, August 1914 . . . to . . . February 1919," Apr. 15, 1919, Vladivostok, AEFS 21-23.7, in Historical Files of the American Expeditonary Forces in Siberia, 1918 - 1920 (National Archives Microfilm Publication M917), roll 1, RG 395, NACP.

7 Goldhurst, The Midnight War, pp. 80 - 81.

8 Ibid, pp. 81 - 82.

9 William S. Graves, America's Siberian Adventure, 1918 - 20 (1931), p. 86.

10 Ibid, pp. 90 - 91.

11 Vice Consul General Edward Thomas to Consul General Ernest Harris, "Political Conditions in Chita up to Dec. 15, 1918," 861.00/4345, M316, roll 21; David Barrows memo for General Graves, "Interview Between Ambassador Morris and Ataman Semenoff," Sept. 24, 1918, Vladivostok, AEFS 21-21.3, M917, roll 1.

12 Goldhurst, The Midnight War, p. 179.

13 Graves, America's Siberian Adventure, p. 105; the general notes that upon learning of Semenoff's intentions to seek asylum, the consul general at Vladivostok, Ernest Harris, quickly sent a dispatch to the State Department to alert them of Semenoff's true character.

14 Maj. Gen. Peter Harris, the Adjutant General, to William S. Graves, Washington, Sept. 27, 1918, cable 26, Cablegrams of the AEF Siberia, RG 395, NACP.

15 Peter Fleming, The Fate of Admiral Kolchak (1936), p. 111. For a clear account of the Kolchak coup, see Graves, America's Siberian Adventure, pp. 175 - 177; David Barrows, "Intelligence Summary," Nov. 22, 1918, AEFS 21.-33.5, M917, roll 4; Graves, cable to the Adjutant General (AGWAR), Vladivostok, Nov. 25, 1918, cable 82, Cablegrams of the AEF Siberia, RG 395, NACP. Barrows even traveled to Chita to talk with Semenoff based on fears that war would break out between the two factions; see Barrows, "Operations Report of the Intelligence Section," Vladivostok, Jan. 10, 1919, AEFS, M917, roll 4; and "Operations Report of the Intelligence Section, Jan. 1 - June 30, 1919," by Barrows's successor, Lt. Col. Richard L. Eichelberger, AEFS 21.-21.3, M917, roll 1. It was noted that American spies were infiltrated into the detachments of both Semenoff and Kalmikoff to keep track of their illicit activities.

16 Frank Polk to Roland Morris, Washington, Dec. 18, 1918, 861.00/3430, M316, roll 18.

17 Col. George Emerson to Graves, Harbin, Manchuria, Dec. 28, 1918, AEFS War Diary, Dec. 30, 1918, and Lt. Col. David Barrows, Intelligence Summary, AEFS War Diary, Jan. 8, 1919, M917, roll 4. The War Diary of the AEF Siberia is a daily compilation of events and activities of the command in Siberia.

18 Capt. F. F. Meere to Barrows, Vladivostok, Feb. 10, 1919, AEFS War Diary, Feb. 13, 1919, M917, roll 4.

19 Minutes of the Meeting of the Inter-Allied Railway Committee, May 9 and 13, 1919, box 1129, Records of the U.S. Railway Commission to Russia, Records of International Conferences, Commissions, and Expositions, RG 43, NACP. Also see Unterberger, America's Siberian Expedition, pp. 117 - 121

20 Graves, "Proclamation . . . ," AEFS 21-7, M917, roll 1. The proclamation is dated April 21, 1919.

21 Harris to Lansing, Chita, May 10, 1919, 861.00/4524, M316, roll 21; Graves to AGWAR, Vladivostok, June 12, 1919, cable 320, Cablegrams of the AEF Siberia, RG 395, NACP.

22 Col. Charles Morrow's testimony on April 12, 1922 before the U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on Education and Labor, Deportation of Gregorie Semenoff: Hearings Relative to Deportation of Undesirable Aliens, 67th Cong., 2nd sess. (1922), p. 12; 1st Lt. J. L. Davidson to R. L. Eichelbergeer, Chita, May 25, 1919, AEFS War Diary, May 26, 1919, M917, roll 6.

23 American Minister to Russia Paul Reinsch to Lansing, Irkutsk, June 18, 1919, 861.00/4715, M316, roll 22; Morrow to Graves, June 9, 1919, Verkhne-Udinsk, AEFS War Diary, June 10, 1919, M917, roll 6.

24 Semenoff to Morrow, Chita, June 9, 1919, AEFS War Diary, June 11, 1919, M917, roll 6.

25 Lt. Col. Richard L. Eichelberger, "Verkhne-Udinsk," Intelligence Summary, ibid.

26 1st Lt. J. S. Davidson to Eichelberger, Chita, June 30, 1919, ibid.; and "Extract of Report from Intelligence Officer at Verkhnew-Udinsk," Intelligence Summary, AEFS War Diary, July 23, 1919, M917, roll 7.

27 Semenoff to Morrow, Chita, June 9, 1919, AEFS War Diary, June 11, 1919, M917, roll 6; Lt.Col. Eichelberger, Intelligence Summary, AEFS War Diary, Sept. 14, 1919, M917, roll 7.

28 John A. Cook, "Interview With Mr. Braude," AEFS War Diary, Oct. 13, 1919, M917, roll 8.

29 Graves to AGWAR, Vladivostok, July 15, 1919, cable 360, Cablegrams of the AEF Siberia, RG 395, NACP. Unterberger, America's Siberian Expedition, pp. 133 - 164, gives a very penetrating explanation of America's failure to recognize the Kolchak government and the internal squabbles among Wilson, the State Department, and the War Department.

30 Graves to AGWAR, Vladivostok, Oct. 14, 1919, cable 506, and Graves to AGWAR, Vladivostok, Sept. 28, 1919, cable 483, Cablegrams of the AEF Siberia, RG 395, NACP.

31 1st Lt. Albert E. Ryan, 31st Infantry, "Intelligence Report on the Journey of a Russian Ordnance Train to Irkutsk, " Nov. 16, 1919, AEFS 21-20.7, M917, roll 1, which also includes the major cablegrams exchanged between Morrow and Semenoff. Graves's version of the incident came in testimony before the Senate Education and Labor Committee, Deportation of Semenoff . . . Hearings, p. 2.

32 Lt. Ryan, "Intelligence Report," Nov. 16, 1919, AEFS 21-20.7, M917, roll 1.

33 Graves, "Final Report of the A.E.F. in Siberia," Washington, May 26, 1920, 21-33.6, M917, roll 10, and Harris Jenkins to Lansing, Peking, Jan. 14, 1920, 861.00/6157, M316, roll 27.

Guarding the Railroad, Taming the Cossacks, Part 1

Guarding the Railroad, Taming the Cossacks, Part 2

Gibson Bell Smith is an archivist specializing in modern military records, Textual Archives Services Division, National Archives and Records Administration. He has been with the National Archives since 1971 and has written several articles on diplomatic history and a book on U.S. Marine Commandant Gen. Thomas Holcomb.


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