Telegram from Admiral Knight


Telegram from Admiral Knight


Knight, Austin Melvin, 1854-1927




No date


Knight reports on developments at Lake Baikal and public sentiment toward Bolsheviks.


Library of Congress, Woodrow Wilson Papers


Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum


Soviet Union--History--Revolution, 1917-1921
World War, 1914-1918


Morgan Willer


WWP25082, WWP25084, WWP25083




Document scan was taken from Library of Congress microfilm reel of the Wilson Papers. WWPL volunteers transcribed the text.



General Dietrichs (apparently the Czech commander NB.) at conference of Allied Naval and Military representatives today, reported important information received from Lake Baikal front; he developed fully situation Ussuri front between Nikolsk and Habaraovks and outlined his plan for immediate movement westwards and explained the necessity for it; it also gave much information about attitude of Cossacks and peasants. The whole situation was discussed by the conference.

Line from south end of Lake Baikal, south to mountain range, is being held by 4000 Czechs. Communication with Irkutsk is over difficult mountain trails, tunnels having been destroyed. Including those withdrawn from Irkutsk and several thousand who have been opposing Semyonoff and have recently defeated him, all enemy forces in region Baikal to Blagovestchensk is concentrating against them. Czechs who have penetrated this region in disguise, report force of about 25,000 well organized, including 9,000 mounted. Horses are plentiful in this region. Forces commanded by Major General von Taube. It is believed that critical period of campaign is approaching. Czechs feel urgent necessity to hasten to assistance, even though realizing that their force is inadequate and that they leave Vladivostok imperfectly defended. Propose to send temporarily one battalion 750 men to Ussuri front, one battalion Nikolsk, one battalion Vladivostok and withdraw one of these battalions when British (800) arrive on the 2nd August.

Czechs 6,500 effectives, on their way from Manchurian border to Lake Baikal. About the 6th of August one French battalion is due here and will proceed to Nikolsk or Ussuri, giving total force covering Vladivostok approximately 3,000. Opposing forces between Nikolsk-Habarovsk, known to be about 15,000 of whom 6,000 are war prisoners. All military representatives at conference believe that proposed movement by Czechs is hazardous and that local situation at Vladivostok will be far from favorable but agree that the Czechs have no choice.

Evidence indicates that sentiment of population is against Bolsheviks and against Germany but peasants will not use force and have no arms even if willing to fight. The Cossacks are wavering and very unreliable. Many of them are actually in the ranks of the enemy. Result of parley with Cossacks and peasants convinces that no help is to be expected from either class; that the country will welcome release from Bolshevik rule, but will not help to secure it. In conclusion, all evidence indicates that coming six weeks will probably decide the issue and that help designated in insuring safety of Czechs should come immediately. If not all can be sent now, few thousand despatched immediately by transports now at Manila may avert disaster, as Czech movement westwards must occur 10 days before contact with enemy; or regiment from Tientsin could be transported to Harbin by railroad in three days, marines from Peking taking their place. Urge this be accomplished.

It is stated by General Dietrichs that it would be much easier to form his plans if he knew what help to expect and at what time. His opinion is that 10,000 men needed to clear Amur line, and 25,000 for safe advance to Irkutsk; in this opinion all naval and military representatives in conference agreed after careful studying situation. Am confident it is minimum not maximum.

It is confirmed by many civilians from the interior that the population can be expected to show friendliness but not active help until Bolsheviki and war prisoners are eliminated, after which reinforcements may be expected, especially from former soldiers, presenting possibility of new Russian army.

Original Format





Knight, Austin Melvin, 1854-1927, “Telegram from Admiral Knight,” No date, WWP25085, World War I Letters, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.