I was just about half a sleep when I hear the firing of a few guns but it did not take long when all over the hill we saw flashes of guns. At first we thought that they were shooting at us, as some of the bullets were hitting the side of our car but all at once fire opened up on the other side of us and this came from the garrison. We were in a fine place as we were right in line and in between the two fires and believe me it got pretty hot for us. We could not leave our car for if we did it meant sure death for us. Our guns were in a car with the supplies.
The armored train was right on the side of us and every time they fired they would almost throw us on the floor. We found out later that on the hill were 1500 Bolsheviks and with them were the Cossacks that mutinied at Khabarovsk and they were after the garrison that belonged to General Kalmikouf.
original art by Matt Boyle
At the depot there was a Cossack armored train and right back of the depot there was a hill that was quite high. I did not see this as it was about two o'clock in the morning. But when it got lighter we saw where we were.
The Suchan Mine or mines were an important coal source in Siberia. With all these trains rolling around you can imagine the strategic importance of the area.
I am a bit baffled by the reference to the Monte Carlo Mountains. Perhaps it was a name given by the troops to a certain group of mountains.
March the 23rd we left Khabarovsk in a very bad snow storm. We were headed for Vladivostok where we were to put on our first show. We stopped at Emond, Amursk, Nikolskoye arriving at Vladivostok the 26th. Here we found the weather quite different than it was in Khabarovsk. The fellow thought it was cold here and we told them that they should be at Khabarovsk if they wanted to be where it was cold.This time, here, I was more at liberty to do what I wanted to do.
All the show troupe had all night passes and we did take in everything that we could.
I'm not sure what or where Emond is, I couldn't find anything on it. Perhaps it is a town that doesn't exist anymore. Also, Nikolskoye is now referred to as Ussuriysk. Original art by Matt Boyle. More of his stuff to come in future posts.
Jazz and Blues were in full swing in the South, mostly performed by African Americans. I doubt that George and his band mates were playing any blues or jazz. Instead they were probably playing songs like the ones you hear in the below video, which is part of a documentary on WWI.
None of the images in the video are from Siberia and some of the songs are not in English but I think it is a decent representation of the music that George and his band would have played.
...if anybody has any clearer idea about what a traveling band would have played during this time please leave a comment. Enjoy the video, it has some neat images of WWI.
Bolo - Bolshevik
Russki-land - Russia
Northern Horrors - mental state brought on by time in Northern Russia (this may have been limited to those AEF in Northern Russia rather than those in Siberia)
Also, it is probable that the AEF in Siberia developed some of their own slang to deal with the unique issues they dealt with.
Here is the cite and link to the monograph.
The Slang of the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe, 1917-1919: An Historical Glossary
Author(s): Jonathan Lighter
American Speech, Vol. 47, No. 1/2 (Spring - Summer, 1972), pp. 5-142
Published by: Duke University Press
The 27th Infantry, of which George was a part, is known as the Wolfhounds. The name "wolfhounds" came as a result of the hard work by the 27th in Siberia and in the Philippines a few years earlier. The name wolfhound seems to have specifically come from the 27ths ability to march in the freezing cold at a very fast pace and with seemingly endless stamina while stationed in Siberia. In 1929 the 27th got its first mascot, a pure bred Russian Wolfhound. What you see on the left is the coat of arms of the Wolfhounds. The crest represents the Philippines campaign and the Polar bear with the S on it represents the Siberia campaign. The 31st Infantry, also stationed in Siberia at the time, were given the moniker of "Polar Bears".
More info on the history of the 27th can be found here. It seems that the Wolfhounds are currently stationed in Iraq.
The 19th of February we heard that a band of Bolsheviks were making their way and had put a scouting patrol to a large bridge which crossed the Amur River. This would be the first place that they would try and blow up as it is one of the largest bridges in the world. They have tried may times to blow this same bridge up but were never successful. This bridge was about 15 versts* or 10 miles from Khabarovsk. We were at this place for a week and nothing showed up so we were called back to our company.
I am pretty confident the above bridge is the bridge George is speaking of. The picture it self seems to have been taken in 1899. For some interesting history on the bridge and the Trans-Siberian railroad check out this link.
*A verst is an old Russian measurement of length. It is about 3500 feet, just over 1 kilometer.
UPDATE: a commenter points out that the bridge in the picture above is not the bridge George mentions going over the Amur River. The bridge in the picture is going over a different River. Instead this is the bridge before it was reconstructed. This is the bridge as it is now. Thanks Dimitri.
I want to provide a little bit of context for the Cossack mutiny that George mentions in the previous post. According to Willett's Russian Sideshow (which has been indispensable) a large group of Cossacks turned up at the headquarters of the 27th Infantry in Khabarovsk. The men mutinied while their leader, General Kalmykof, was temporarily away. George says the date was January 4th while Willett says January 27th. It's an interesting discrepancy in the details.
The rebel Cossacks offered some official complaints to the Americans that included all kinds of inhumane treatments of citizens and soldiers by the Cossack commanders. Willett puts the number of Cossacks that mutinied at 700 with just under 400 seeking help from the Americans. George says their were 600 who sought help from the Americans. Kalmykof made a series of threats and demands against the Americans, demanding the Cossacks be handed back to his command. But, as George states the commander of the 27th Infantry, Colonel Styer, refused to turn the men over.
The Japanese were not pleased with the Americans refusal to turn over the Cossacks because they considered it to be an internal Cossack issue while the Americans were concerned by the terror being leveled on many of the citizens of the country side as well as the treatment of the rank and file soldiers. The animosity between the Japanese and Americans over this and other issues persisted throughout the expedition in Russia.
Check out this link for more info on the Cossacks and their long history.
This night our platoon went on guard about a mile from our camp on an outpost on a road leading to our Barracks.
The dates match up for once. Unfortunately the majority of George's entries that I am drawing from do not have specific dates.
Today is the 90 year anniversary of this Cossack mutiny. I will post more about the mutiny very soon.
The Nanais world view,
The Nanai world view perceives the world in its entirety as a flat spherical object connecting the vertical and horizontal world model in the form of a World Egg-Circle.
Interesting burial practices,
The deceased were normally buried in the ground with the exception of children who died prior to the first birthday; in this case the child's body was wrapped in a cloth or birchbark covering and buried in the tree branches as a "wind burial".
The Nanais also took on the Chinese practice of shaving most of their head with the exception of a long pony-tail.
The Nanais shamanistic rituals seem to be fairly complex and their cosmology is very dense and full of reverence for animals from bears to ducks to serpents. For some very detailed info on the Nanais go here.