1905-11-28 THE SEVASTOPOL MUTINY
London Times, 28 November 1905, p. 5: THE SEVASTOPOL MUTINY. /SERIOUS SITUATION. (FROM A CORRESPONDENT.) ST. PETESBURG, NOV. 27.
According to a private telegram received here from an eminently trustworthy source in Sevastopol, the rebels are so completely masters of the situation that the Government will be compelled to accede to all their demands. This information entirely bears out the tenor of the official despatches, which are to the effect that the authorities dare not suppress the mutiny by force unless the Government can send very strong contingents from other parts of the country and invest the town. Needless to say, these despatches are not published; in fact, the usual attempt is made to minimize the gravity of the situation. The perfect order and tranquility prevailing at Sevastopol are construed into a symptom of the collapse of the revolt, whereas, as a matter of fact, these symptoms rather go to show the perfect organization of what is nothing less than a revolutionary movement. The sailors and their friends evidently remain in control, and they have been joined by the labourers and the railway men, and this has rendered it impossible to bring reinforcements to Sevastopol by train.
The following telegram appears in to-day’s Russkoe Slovo: –
“Mounted sailors are riding about the town assembling crowds and reading to them a list of 20 demands for betterment of their lot. Quiet is maintained. The trains have been stopped. The squadron has been ordered to put to sea. Feeling is tense and the town is emptying.”
The question of whether the warships have or have not joined the movement remains unsettled, but the weight of evidence is in a negative sense.
According to the correspondent of the Russ, all the captains and officers have been arrested and sent ashore. The men of the Otchakoff mutinied, while those of the vessel formnerly called the Potemkin, after displaying a red flag during the absence of their officers ashore, deserted the rebel cause as soon as they returned. I hear that the Potemkin was under repair and had only 50 men on board, who were easily cowed. On the other hand, the Bourse Gazette’s correspondent declares that the squadron remains loyal. The reports of the Novoe Vremya are still more emphatic. That journal says that delegations from the Otchakoff and the Potemkin expressed their readiness to join the mutineers, but that the others declined to do so. The same correspondent conversed with several of the mutineers, who declared that they would surrender as soon as the authorities had given them what the Tsar had promised. He adds: – “The local authorities are taking no repressive measures, and are awaiting events.”
The mutineers constantly hold meetings at their depôts, but the usual barrack duties are punctiliously discharged. Victuals are being furnished by the regular purveyors and the food has been improved. A company under arms is on guard at the waterworks to prevent any attempt on the part of the authorities to cut off the supply. The Brest and Bialystok regiments, which form the regular garrison of Sevastopol, have been reinforced by the Cesarevitch and Litovsky regiments, which were sent from Simferopol and landed on the Mackenzie Hills. These are now encamped outside the town, and others are expected from Odessa and Pavlograd. Baron Möller Sakomelsky, commanding the Seventh Army Corps, has arrived from Simferopol and taken over the command from Admiral Chukhnin. The Seventh Army Corps consists of the 13th Division, stationed at Ekaterinoslaff. The latter are experiencing great difficulty in arriving on account of the railway strike and the destruction of the permanent way as far as Inkerman.
Supplementary details of what happened on November 25 show that the men of the Brest and Bialystok Regeiments disarmed all their officers and arrested the commandant of the fortress, General Neplineff, General Sidelnikoff, commanding the 1st Brigade of the 13th Division, and Colonel Dumbadze, of the Brest Regiment. These officers, as I have already telegraphed, were afterwards released, and both regiments returned to duty, but the latest reports show that the gunners and sappers have joined the mutiny.
A telegram from Kharkoff to the Russ says that the last detachment of the naval reservists from Sevastopol passed through on November 25. Some of them openly declare that the mutiny was organized some time ago but purposely delayed so that they should not be implicated and detained. The flight of the inhabitants of Sevastopol, especially of the Jews, continues.
Reports are current here that further trouble may be expected with the sailors at Kronstadt. It is pointed out that the recent disturbances were caused by a small proportion who precipitated the outbreak and that the real organizers have not been detected. The Government is resorting to heroic measures to check the movement by dismissing all who have served more than four years. This is interpreted as an intention to reduce the term of service and to get rid of the older and consequently more disaffected elements. Nearly a thousand have been discharged in St. Petersburg alone. They have been compelled to return to the villages, where, along with thousands of unemployed workmen who are also going back to the land, they may be expected further to complicate the agrarian situation.
OFFICIAL STATEMENT. ODESSA, NOV. 27.*
General Kaulbars, the Governor-General, has just received the following telegram from Admiral Chukhnin: –
“The mutineers left the Potemkin to-day, which is now in my hands. The sailors, together with the soldiers of the Brest Regiment who had mutinied, have shut themselves up in the Lazareff barracks, with some guns. I intend attacking them with fresh troops which have arrived, though I fear that the artillerymen may join the mutineers. A very serious state of affairs prevails to-day. Several officers have been killed.”
The order was given yesterday to the fortress artillery at Sevastopol to fire upon and destroy the vessels flying the red flag, but the artillerymen refused to obey the order.
ST. PETERSBURG, NOV. 27.*
An extraordinary sitting of the members of the Ministry of Marine was held to-day, under the presidency of Admiral Birileff, to consider the state of affairs at Sevastopol. Admiral Birileff afterwards proceeded to Tasrskoe Selo to report to the Emperor.
Provided by Stephen McLaughlin