Newton A. McCully to Harry S. Knapp


Newton A. McCully to Harry S. Knapp


McCully, Newton A., 1867-1951




1919 May 29


Newton A. McCully sends Harry S. Knapp a letter reporting American naval relief efforts in
northern Russia.


Cary T. Grayson Papers, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library, Staunton, Virginia




My dear Admiral Knapp:

We finally got through the ice just about the time I began to think there would be more delay. A Convoy of Troop Transports, with Reliefs for the American Troops was going through about then and we tailed on when the ice got heavy. There was about 20 miles of this. We brought the stern down to submerge the screws as much as possible, and beyond scraping off some copper sheathing, which we can put on again ourselves, have no further damage as far as an investigation can develop. Following an Ice Breaker makes it fairly sure that you will get through the ice, but is harder on the ship than going it alone. It was most interesting and once in the Ice Field, quite fascinating. When we had to stop all hands got out and took kodaks of which I enlcose you a few copies - not good ones because printing paper was bad.

While we were jockeying around trying to find a hole in the ice I imagine your staff must have thought our correspondence disjointed. I left Bertholf in Murmansk to handle it, and communication between us under the circumstances was difficult so we were perhaps a little slow when anything had to be referred to me. However we hope soon to be together and have an organization in operation. As it is however when I go on a ship I have to displace the Commanding Officer and there is on none of the vessels room for the Staff in addition. I dont wquite like to do this, but salve my conscience by staying longest with the CO who accepts the situation least gracefully.

I am glad that some of the chasers are coming out. When I received the news in regard to the Policy to guide us, I was a little afraid myself to have as many as 12 chasers about, as some of the youngsters might have got out of hand. However every one seems keen on having them now. Admiral Green, Commander Green, General Ironsides, General Richardson and our Diplomatic Representative seem more interested in having the chasers than any other craft. There are always possiblities of changes of Policy, and if ideas should veer to the other side, the subchasers possess the peculiar advantage of asccessibility of to the Interior that no other Naval Craft out here possess. Then also the arrival of additional U. S. Naval Forces smooths over to some extent the disappointment that is evident over the withdrawal of our troops without Relief.

Quite a demonstration was arranged to welcome the newly arriving British Troops. It did make one feel a little chagrined that when our fellows had done about 75% of the dirty work, as they havem, and have losses up to March 1 equal to those of practically all the other Forces in this Sector to prove it, that they should now be going out, to say the least without much of a God Speed.

With the arrival of the troops on May 25 and presence of Naval Forces up the River, the situation here is quite secure. About 1500 of our men leave on June 2, only two companies are still in the Advanced Positions, and all should be out in a couple of weeks more if there are Transports to take them. The men are all pretty sore and probably will talk a good deal on arriving in the US. It has been due to an unfortunate combination of circumstances - some weak spots in the men themselves, some weak spots in the officers, and still others in the former higher Military Authorities here, which the present Administration has not been able entirely to overcome.

In accordance with copies of orders sent you for information I am giving most of my attention to developing service of Information and Communication. It keeps the vessels busy, and also serves a useful purpose, as this has all along been one of the weakest portions of the Organization here. As soon as the troops are all out I think it likely some of the vessels may not be needed and if so will inform you promptly. I expect ice conditions to clear up in another week, and to have Sacramento and 2 Eagles here, then have a vessel go over to Kem to look up affairs there.

According to stories fron the Fronts in our vicinity the Bolsheviks put up little or no fight and seem on the point of quitting altogether. Once they show a weakness it will be all up with them - they will be massacred by the people to whom they have shown so little mercy, even such troops as we have here will hardly be necessary.

So far we are well and in excellent health. Coming in out of the ice we found it practically Summer in Archangel, temperature 72 and even a few musquitoes.

NA McCully

Original Format



Knapp, Harry Shepard, 1856-1923



McCully, Newton A., 1867-1951, “Newton A. McCully to Harry S. Knapp,” 1919 May 29, WWP15775, Cary T. Grayson Papers, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.