John Reed > Ten Days That Shook the World > Appendix to Chapter IX

John Reed (1887–1920).  Ten Days That Shook the World.  1922.




November 12th, in the evening, Kerensky sent a proposition to the revolutionary troops—“to lay down their arms.” Kerensky’s men opened artillery fire. Our artillery answered and compelled the enemy to be silent. The Cossacks assumed the offensive. The deadly fire of the sailors, the Red Guards and the soldiers forced the Cossacks to retreat. Our armoured cars rushed in among the ranks of the enemy. The enemy is fleeing. Our troops are in pursuit. The order has been given to arrest Kerensky. Tsarskoye Selo has been taken by the revolutionary troops.

The Lettish Riflemen: The Military Revolutionary Committee has received precise information that the valiant Lettish Riflemen have arrived from the Front and taken up a position in the rear of Kerensky’s bands.

From the Staff of the Military Revolutionary Committee

The seizure of Gatchina and Tsarskoye Selo by Kerensky’s detachments is to be explained by the complete absence of artillery and machine-guns in these places, whereas Kerensky’s cavalry was provided with artillery from the beginning. The last two days were days of enforced work for our Staff, to provide the necessary quantity of guns, machine-guns, field telephones, etc., for the revolutionary troops. When this work—with the energetic assistance of the District Soviets and the factories (the Putilov Works, Obukhov and others)—was accomplished, the issue of the expected encounter left no place for doubt: on the side of the revolutionary troops there was not only a surplus in quantity and such a powerful material base as Petrograd, but also an enormous moral advantage. All the Petrograd regiments moved out to the positions with tremendous enthusiasm. The Garrison Conference elected a Control Commission of five soldiers, thus securing a complete unity between the commander in chief and the garrison. At the Garrison Conference it was unanimously decided to begin decisive action.

The artillery fire on the 12th of November developed with extraordinary force by 3 P.M. The Cossacks were completely demoralised. A parliamentarian came from them to the staff of the detachment at Krasnoye Selo, and proposed to stop the firing, threatening otherwise to take “decisive” measures. He was answered that the firing would cease when Kerensky laid down his arms.

In the developing encounter all sections of the troops—the sailors, soldiers and the Red Guards—showed unlimited courage. The sailors continued to advance until they had fired all their cartridges. The number of casualties has not been established yet, but it is larger on the part of the counter-revolutionary troops, who experienced great losses through one of our armoured cars.

Kerensky’s staff, fearing that they would be surrounded, gave the order to retreat, which retreat speedily assumed a disorderly character. By 11-12 P.M., Tsarkoye Selo, including the wireless station, was entirely occupied by the troops of the Soviets. The Cossacks retreated towards Gatchina and Colpinno.

The morale of the troops is beyond all praise. The order has been given to pursue the retreating Cossacks. From the Tsarskoye Selo station a radio-telegram was sent immediately to the Front and to all local Soviets throughout Russia. Further details will be communicated….



Three regiments of the Petrograd garrison to take any part in the battle against Kerensky. On the morning of the 13th they summoned to a joint conference sixty delegates from the Front, in order to find some way to stop the civil war. This conference appointed a committee to go and persuade Kerensky’s troops to lay down their arms. They proposed to ask the Government soldiers the following questions: (1) Will the soldiers and Cossacks of Kerensky recognise the Tsay-ee-kah as the repository of Governmental power, responsible to the Congress of Soviets? (2) Will the soldiers and Cossacks accept the decrees of the second Congress of Soviets? (3) Will they accept the Land and Peace decrees? (4) Will they agree to cease hostilities and return to their units? (5) Will they consent to the arrest of Kerensky, Krasnov and Savinkov?

At the meeting of the Petrograd Soviet, Zinoviev said, “It would be foolish to think that this committee could finish affair. The enemy can only be broken by force. However, it would be a crime for us not to try every peaceful means to bring the Cossacks over to us…. What we need is a military victory…. The news of an armistice is premature. Our Staff will be ready to conclude an armistice when the enemy can no longer do any harm….

“At present, the influence of our victory is creating new political conditions…. To-day the Socialist Revolutionaries are inclined are inclined to admit the Bolsheviki into the new Government…. A decisive victory is indispensable, so that those who hesitate will have no further hesitation….”

At the City Duma all attention was concentrated on the formation of the new Government. In many factories and barracks already Revolutionary Tribunals were operating, and the Bolsheviki were threatening to set up more of these, and try Gotz and Avksentiev before them. Dan proposed that an ultimatum be sent demanding the abolition of these Revolutionary Tribunals, or the other members of the Conference would immediately break off all negotiations with the Bolsheviki.

Shingariov, Cadet, declared that the Municipality ought not to take part in any agreement with the Bolsheviki…. “Any agreement with the maniacs is impossible until they lay down their arms and recognise the authority of independent courts of law….”

Yartsev, for the Yedinstvo group, declared that any agreement with the Bolsheviki would be equivalent to a Bolshevik victory….

Mayor Schreider, for the Socialist Revolutionaries, stated that he was opposed to all agreement with the Bolsheviki…. “As for a Government, that ought to spring from the popular will; and since the popular will has been expressed in the municipal elections, the popular will which can create a Government is actually concentrated in the Duma….”

After other speakers, of which only the representative of the Mensheviki Internationalists was in favour of considering the admission of the Bolsheviki into the new Government, the Duma voted to continue its representatives in the Vikzhel’s conference, but to insist upon the restoration of the Provisional Government before everything, and to exclude the Bolsheviki from the new power….



“In answer to your telegram proposing an immediate armistice, the Supreme Commander, not wishing further futile bloodshed, consents to enter into negotiations and to establish relations between the armies of the Government and the insurrectionists. He proposes to the General Staff of the insurrectionists to recall its regiments to Petrograd, to declare the line Ligovo-Pulkovo-Colpinno neutral, and to allow the advance-guards of the Government cavalry to enter Tsarskoye Selo, for the purpose of establishing order. The answer to this proposal must be placed in the hands of our envoys before eight o’clock to-morrow morning.




On the evening that Kerensky’s troops retreated from Tsarskoye Selo, some priests organised a religious procession through the streets of the town, making speeches to the citizens in which they asked the people to support the rightful authority, the Provisional Government. When the Cossacks had retreated, and the first Red Guards entered the town, witnesses reported that the priests had incited the people against the Soviets, and had said prayers at the grave of Rasputin, which lies behind the Imperial Palace. One of the priests, Father Ivan Kutchurov, was arrested and shot by the infuriated Red Guards….

Just as the Red Guards entered the town the electric lights were shut off, plunging the streets in complete darkness. The director of the electric light plant, Lubovitch, was arrested by the Soviet troops and asked why he had shut off the lights. He was found some time later in the room where he had been imprisoned with a revolver in his hand and a bullet hole in his temple.

The Petrograd anti-Bolshevik papers came out next day with headlines, “Plekhanov’s temperature 39 degrees!” Plekhanov lived at Tsarskoye Selo, where he was lying ill in bed. Red Guards arrived at the house and searched it for arms, questioning the old man.

“What class of society do you belong to?” they asked him.

“I am a revolutionist,” answered Plekhanov, “who for forty years has devoted his life to the struggle for liberty!”

“Anyway,” said a workman, “you have now sold yourself to the bourgeoisie!”

The workers no longer knew Plekhanov, pioneer of the Russian Social Democracy!



“The detachments at Gatchina, deceived by Kerensky, have laid down their arms and decided to arrest Kerensky. That chief of the counter-revolutionary campaign has fled. The Army, by an enormous majority, has pronounced in favour of the second All-Russian Congress of Soviets, and of the Government which it has created. Scores of delegates from the Front have hastened to Petrograd to assure the Soviet Government of the Army’s fidelity. No twisting of the facts, no calumny against the revolutionary workers, soldiers, and peasants, has been able to defeat the People. The Workers’ and Soldiers’ Revolution is victorious….

“The Tsay-ee-kah appeals to the troops which march under the flag of the counter-revolution, and invites them immediately to lay down their arms—to shed no longer the blood of their brothers in the interests of a handful of land-owners and capitalists. The Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Revolution curses those who remain even for a moment under the flag of the People’s enemies….

“Cossacks! Come over to the rank of the victorious People! Railwaymen, postmen, telegraphers—all, all support the new Government of the People!”


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