1905-11-27 MUTINY AT SEVASTOPOL
London Times, 27 November 1905, p. 5: MUTINY AT SEVASTOPOL./ADMIRAL WOUNDED. (FROM A CORRESPONDENT.) ST. PETERSBURG, NOV. 23.
The most serious event of the whole revolutionary movement in Russia, as Count Witte himself describes it, occurred after the despatch of my telegram on Friday night from Moscow in the form of an organized revolt on the part of the sailors, soldiers, and workmen of Sevastopol. The Admiralty has received a large number of cipher despatches, but refuses to disclose their contents. I am informed by a trustworthy source that they specifically report the mutiny of four warships, and describe the situation as desperate.
The following telegrams received by the Russ and the Russkoe Slovo leave no doubt as to the gravity of the crisis: –
“Sevastopol, November 25. The city is in the hands of revolted soldiers and sailors. Men belonging to various naval depôts held a meeting yesterday. Admiral Pisarevsky appeared with a company of foot soldiers and ordered the meeting to disperse. On the order to fire being given, the report of a shot rang out and a bullet pierced the Admiral through the shoulder. The wound is not severe, but the bullet accidentally killed Captain Stein, of the Brest Regiment.
“This morning the dock hands struck and joined the sailors. At 11 the sailors in full force, but unarmed, marched, headed by their band and colours, with workmen carrying red flags, to the neighbouring barracks of the Brest Regiment, where a great meeting was held. Thence in procession about 10,000 marched into the town to the historic Boulevard, where the Bialystok Regiment was standing under arms. The procession drew near singing the National Anthem. The men of the Bialystok Regiment saluted but did not join the demonstration. Many political speeches were delivered on the Boulevard, and towards evening the demonstrators returned to barracks. There the commandant of the fortress and the general commanding the division were arrested. The reserve battalion afterwards struck work, refusing to perform sentry duties. An enormous demonstration is expected to-morrow. There is a panic in the town, and the inhabitants are leaving. The sailors’ delegates later in the evening took possession of the railway station and traffic was stopped.”
My correspondent at Moscow telegraphs the following message, published in to-day’s Russkoe Slovo: –
“The sailors repeatedly asked permission to attend meetings, which was witheld. On the 24th the whole of the Brest Regiment, privates of the fortress artillery and the reserve battalion, and sailors assembled at a meeting. About 5,000 were present. The authorities called out several companies of the Bialystok Regiment and drafts from the warships to disperse the meeting. Rear-Admiral Pisarevsky, who was in command of the forces, gave the order to fire if necessary. Then a sailor fired thrice at Rear-Admiral Pisarevsky, who was severely wounded. Captain Stein, of the Brest Regiment, was also shot, and died later. The meeting lasted three hours. The sailors landed from the warships and joined the meeting and all the dock labourers left work. The sailors from all the barracks marched to the square this morning with their bands playing. They were greeted by the soldiers with shouts of ‘Hurrah,’ and a meeting was organized which lasted the whole day. Perfect order was maintained; the sailors themselves stood guard over the liquor shops to prevent drunkenness. The demands to be presented to the authorities are to be elaborated to-day. The inhabitants are fleeing. Rear-Admiral Pisarevsky is still alive.”
The Russkiya Viedomosti reports that the whole of the Black Sea squadron has mutinied.
A private telegram just received here from Sevastopol rather qualifies the sweeping character of the preceding messages. It says, in the first place, that the Brest Regiment subsequently dissociated itself from the sailors and threw up intrenchemnts around its barracks; in the second place, that the Generals who were arrested have been set at liberty; and, in the third place, that the warships in the roadstead refused to answer the signals of the mutineers. Up to this hour I am unable to ascertain the exact character of the men’s demands, except that in a general way they resemble those presented by the sailors at Kronstadt. They are evidently of a political as well as of a purely service character. The movement is undoubtedly being directed by the Social Democrats, as was that at Kronstatdt, but in the present instance the organization is far more perfect, as is shown by the fact that the men are taking every precaution to avoid drunkenness and rioting. Indeed, with the exception of the shooting of Rear-Admiral Pisarevsky and Captain Stein, which was provoked by the former’s order to fire, it is evident that the revolt at Sevastopol is not strictly speaking a mutiny – or the sailors would not have carried their colours or sung the National Anthem – but more in the nature of a political strike. This, as I pointed out at the time, was the real origin of the Kronstadt affair.
The most alarming feature about the Sevastopol movement is the fraternizing of the soldiers with the sailors, and, although the former now apparently decline active co-operation with their comrades of the naval depôts and those crews of the warships which revolted, the fact remains that the land forces refuse to turn their rifles against them. It remains to be seen whether the troops sent from the neighbouring towns will display a similar spirit of insubordination. If they do, the whole of South Russia will have to be reconquered – a task which may prove beyond the power of the Government.
A telegram from Simferopol says that troops are being sent to Sevastopol and that the Army Corps commander has also gone thither. An Odessa telegram reports the hurried departure of reinforcements to the same destination.
In view of the events at Sevastopol, it is interesting to note that Admiral Nebogatoff, in the course of a published conversation, expatiates on the corruption and neglect of duty which have prevailed for many years past in the naval administration of the Black Sea forces.
The Russkoe Slovo yesterday published telegrams from the Far East reporting widespread discontent approaching to mutiny among the rank and file of the Manchurian army, chiefly on account of the delay in bringing it home. This, taken in connexion with the insubordination of the troops at Grodno and Kharkoff, the unrest in the garrison of St. Petersburg, the trouble with the conscripts, and the multiplication of letters to the newspapers from discontented officers, clearly indicates very grave disaffection in the Tsar’s legions.
A telegram from Kazan reports the prevalence of hunger typhus, and a telegram from Tver announces a strike of officials of the Governor’s staff.
ST. PETERSBURG, NOV. 27, 12:30 A.M.*
It would appear from the latest telegrams received last evening that the mutiny at Sevastopol is under control, though the wording of the despatches is vague. One telegram says that the troops guard the Government buildings and that artillery is posted on the main boulevard.
The mutiny began in the cruiser Otchakoff, which was immediately sent on a cruise in the Black Sea.
ODESSA, NOV. 25.*
The mutineers at Sevastopol have sent a black coffin to the Chief Admiral of the Fleet with a warning to leave the town within three days.
Provided by Stephen McLaughlin