and "Ensign Ivanov, aide-de-camp to Colonel Kanyayev." All
valuables, money and clothes were returned to them. Ursatyev,
who was the member of the staff on duty at the time, gave
orders to take them under arrest into the quarry.
"Follow me!" Ursatyev told them.
. The officers and their wives tottered into the quarry, their
legs weak from fear. At the opening their eyes were bound.
(This was the general practice with us. Even our own men had
their eyes bound in the first days after they joined the detach-
ment. This was done so that the new arrival should not get
an idea of the plan of our tunnels.)
The colonel asked in a frightened voice:
"Gent Comrades, I mean! What are you going to do with
us? Please don't shoot us."
He clutched at his weeping wife.
Ursatyev tried to reassure them, telling them we had no
thought of shooting them.
"You will be put by yourselves," he told them.
"But why do you bind our eyes?" asked the colonel's wife.
"We do that to all strangers," answered Ursatyev.
The women asked why.
"Our paths are secret," answered Ursatyev.
They were led into the depths of the quarry to the spot
allotted to them. There they were given warm clothes. The
motor car was also driven into the quarry, but by our own
The comrades who had escorted the prisoners were sur-
rounded by a crowd of partisans, who sat on the grass, drinking
in every word.
"Well," they told us, "we went for a walk with the girls, as
we all do, you know. Naturally, where girls are the boys go.
We were playing the accordion and dancing, and we had
something to drink. Suddenly we heard a car coming. We looked
up and saw officers and ballet girls in it. We were a bit
startled. We thought they had come to look for deserters. The
car drove a little way and turned. They got out and started to
eat and drink, after that the officers climbed to the top of the
mound and stood glancing towards the quarries and making
notes on the maps they held in their hands. Then we guessed
what they were after. So we managed to make a dummy bomb
and, walking stealthily to the mound, shouted: 'Hands up!
Don't move or we'll throw this bomb at you!' So they stood
rooted to the spot."
"Why, you're heroes!" shouted the partisans. "Bravo! You
captured them with your naked hands. You're great boys!"
And the partisans took hold of them and swung them up
and down joyously.
Next morning the men filed out hurriedly with their rifles.
It was eight o'clock. The staff had received news from town
of the great excitement there. The Whites had arrested about
a hundred workers and peasants from surrounding villages and
locked them up in the fortress, holding them as hostages. The
White staff had also called a conference with the town council,
Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries and the bureau of
trade unions, at the head of which were also Mensheviks and
That day, many reports came to our headquarters and at mid-
day a delegation from Kerch arrived. One of them was the Ca-
det,* Sno. He was tall, thin, pale-faced, a respectable, hardened
intellectual. He wore a brand new hat. The other was the So-
cialist-Revolutionary, Lidkevich, a pale man with a blue, un-
shaven face and spectacles. He was above average height, in ci-
* Cadet member of the Constitutional-Democratic Party.
vilian clothes, with a waisted jacket. A long cloak with metal
buckles hung from his shoulders.
These miserable men at the service of the White hangmen
came to convince our revolutionary military staff that they were
also for the liberation of the workers, against the bourgeoisie,
only in a "sensible" spirit.
They stated the reason for their visit and handed over two
letters, one from the head of the garrison, Khodakovsky; the
other from the head of the secret service, Captain Stetsenko.
The first promised peace if the officers were set free. The sec-
ond demanded that the officers be set free immediately. "Other-
wise," wrote Stetsenko, "all the hostages will be shot to-
"I understand you," answered Garbulsky. "You're broken-
down whiteguard horses on which the generals ride. You've
become voluntary victims of capitalism and militarism. You
stand up to defend the working class," here he turned to the
Socialist-Revolutionary, Lidkevich; "you think yourselves clever
and devote your brains to 'the good of mankind,' 'culture,'
'the liberation of mankind from slavery.' These are your empty
phrases. In coming here you prove your meanness and treachery.
You, as a Socialist-Revolutionary, didn't come here to rescue
the workers pining in the fortress as hostages. You've only
come here to set the officers, the tortures of the working
The abashed Socialist-Revolutionary tried to excuse himself.
"But we have come to set them free in order to save the
workmen, who may be shot at any moment. We entreat you
to let these officers go, so that the blood of innocent citizens
shall not be shed. The Whites declare they will shoot thousands
of workmen for every officer you kill. We cannot allow such
violence to be done to peaceful inhabitants. You must under-
stand the trade unions, town council and other organizations
are placed in a most difficult position. They also are in dan-
ger of being shot. Remember, the left wing of t^f. town coun-
cil and trade union workers are also confined in the fortress
"All right," answered Garbulsky. "We'll call a general
The men gathered until the great holk>w near the main
opening was crowded with people.
Comrades Samoilenko and Garbulsky climbed to the top
of the wall of rocks. Samoilenko's voice rang out over the
heads of the crowd:
"Comrades! A delegation has come from town, requesting
the freedom of the officers we have arrested. We're going to
discuss this question at a general meeting. The- delegation
shall speak first and tell us what it is they want."
Voices were heard shouting:
"Let's hear what they have to say!"
The tall, thin figure of the Socialist-Revolutionary with his
eyeglasses, rose above the crowd. Hardly had he begun than
there was general murmuring.
"He's one of them, not one of us. A white-collar man!
We don't want that kind of delegate. He belongs to the nobles !
Down with him! To the devil! He's one of them that picks
up the noblemen's crumbs. P'raps he's a nobleman dressed up."
"Comrades!" somebody shouted. "Don't be in such a hurry!
Let's hear what he has to say. We must find out what he
Garbulsky raised his hand and the crowd, which respected
him, grew quiet. The Socialist-Revolutionary went on with his
"Eighty workmen and peasants are held prisoners in the
town," he began, in a soft, thin voice. "They are confined in
the fortress, in danger of their lives, since the Whites threaten
to shoot a thousand men for each one you shoot."
"Stop gassing, you worm! Tell us what you've come for!"
roared the crowd. "What's this nonsense you talk? You low-
down scoundrel! Trying to frighten us, are you?"
Oaths and shouts drowned his thin, lonely voice.
"Down with him! Just look at this thin-legged traitor coming
to get the better of us. An officer dressed as a civilian."
The prisoners were led out of the quarry.
Men, women, girls and old people came running from the
village. They wore holiday clothes, bright-coloured dresses and
clean skirts, and moved with the crowd, eating sunflower seeds
and gazing curiously at the prisoners. The partisans beside them
made a contrast with their tired faces and dirty, miscellaneous
clothes: army coats, sailors' jackets and shirts, all ragged and
with long gleams of unwashed skin showing through.
There was a deathlike silence. Garbulsky stood alone on the
limestone wall. All eyes focussed on him, all ears strained to
catch his words. Addressing the delegates, he spoke thus:
"You're wrong to call yourselves revolutionaries. The time
is past when many believed you. You've heard the shouts of
indignation addressed to you: 'Down! Get out of this, you
rich men's lackeys!' We're gathered not to hear you explain
who will bring us liberty. We know the Soviets alone will do
that. Class struggle is so clear to everybody now that nobody
can frighten the workers and peasants. They will struggle un-
der any conditions until they sweep out all whiteguards, land-
lords, capitalists, to the very last man."
He then turned to the colonel.
"You see before you true martyrs. These are our revolution-
ary army . They don't spare their lives. They think nothing of
the impossible conditions in which they find themselves. You
show yourself as our class enemy. You proclaim, through your
press, that we are bandits and highwaymen. If we were such we
would have no consideration for you or the circumstances. I
think, during your short stay among us, you've found us to be
people who struggle for the toilers' rights, who act according to
the revolutionary law. The White staff is resolved to kill thou c -
ands of peaceful citizens in exchange for your heads!"
He showed them the letter.
"They only await a signal. Present events have roused the
feelings of all peaceful inhabitants in the town and its neigh-
bourhood. The Whites have already arrested eighty workers and
peasants and continue arresting more and driving them to the
fortress the usual place of your executions. These events have
also attracted the attention of these cowardly intellectuals."
He pointed to the delegates.
"They have taken upon themselves a mission; quite in their
line, the mission of lackeys, who carry out the plans of the rich
men and plunderers. The only thing that guarantees your life
is our revolutionary conscience. And you, colonel, must do all
in your power to have all peaceful inhabitants, now under arrest
and who have no connection with us, set free. Tell your chiefs
that their offers of peace are an old song which none of us
wants to hear. Every one of us, down to the last man, is ready
to die for the liberation of the workers. That is our battle slo-
gan. The Red Army is near and coming to our assistance."
He was interrupted by shouts of "Hurrah! Hurrah! Long
live the Red Amy!" And the partisans burst into a revolution-
ary battle song, a mighty song of courage and the will to die
for freedom. They snatched off their caps and stood singing.
The colonel also doffed his cap while his wife, who was weep-
ing, dried the tears which welled up in her big eyes.
When the officers were ready to go, the staff told them that
if the Whites failed to set the hostages free, the partisans
would have recourse to merciless terrorism.
"We'll show no mercy," were Comrade Garbulsky's parting
THE BRITISH AND FRENCH WARSHIPS' EASTER
Hardly had the delegates and the officers, whom we had set
free, disappeared from view, when our scouts reported that the
Whites were advancing from every direction in great force, in-
fantry and cavalry both.
Our trumpet sounded.
"To arms ! To arms !"
We rushed underground, returning in a moment with rifles
and hurried into position tor another bloody battle.
A loud, long-drawn voice was heard above the din:
"Special naval battalion! Follow me!"
And the battalion, dressed in torn sailors' jackets, trousers
and round caps, lined up behind their commander, Alexeyev.
Alexeyev was a former midshipman of the old navy. He
joined us with a large group of sailors and the staff appointed
him to command a special naval battalion.
The commanders continued to give short orders to their bat-
talions which, one after another, took up their posfs on 'the sur-
rounding burial mounds and in cottages, the main forces be-
ing grouped about the winding walls of limestone which sur-
rounded the village. We awaited the advancing enemy in high
nervous tension, our hearts beating fast.
Suddenly a shaft of light flashed in front, followed by a
rumble as a big shell burst. It was so sudden that we all
Then another hit the top of the Kings' Mound enveloping
it in smoke so that pen's figures were invisible.
Followed a third, fourth, fifth, in quick succession. We
stopped counting, for they burst too rapidly-. We could just
register lightning flashes aind columns of thick brown smoke.
Meanwhile machine-guns and rifles were firing from the
north, mingling with cries and shouts of "Hurrah!" The noise
was deafening. Ail sounds merged into a general roar when,
suddenly, a new shell exploded high in the air.
"Take care! Shrapnel!"
Something grunted in the air, a wheezy groan like a fat pig,
as a heavy shell came over and burst.
The din mounted to a great roaring around us, shutting us
in a sea of sound, a nerve-racking fury of noise which some-
times abated, leaving dirty columns of smoke which melted
The bombardment set fire to and demolished the cottages.
A pall of smoke overhung everything; the Whites made re-
peated attempts to get at us but we repulsed them successfully.
The villagers abandoned their homes and cattle and, breaking
through the fire and smoke, weeping and yelling, ran to the
caves, where they hid.
During a lull in the bombardment, we heard wild shouts ot
triumph from the middle of the village. The Whites had bro-
ken -through our lines and rushed in. We were in danger of
being cut off.
Then the most desperate part of the battle began.
The partisans broke into the houses, where they barricaded
themselves; threw bombs into the houses in possession of the
enemy. After some hours of nightmare battle, we drove the
Whites out of the village. Leaving their wounded, they re-
treated to the railway track and neighbouring factory where
they reorganized for a new attack.
Just before nightfall the bombardment recommenced. The
air was a storm of flame and explosions through which could
be heard the screams of the wounded. Under cover of their
naval artillery, the Whites came directly up to our lines and
opened a murderous fire with machine-guns. To avoid heavy
losses we retreated into the quarries and fired from under cover,
while the Whites looted the village. They took everything and
left the village late at night, retreating to a distance. We knew
they would attack again in the morning, to keep us besieged
in the quarry.
At drawn, we sent out scouts and, placing our machine-guns,
waited under cover near the mouth of the quarry. We lay down
in a line, feeling very sleepy, yawning, trembling nervously
because of the exhausting strain, but looking intently towards
The scouts reported the Whites' advance. They came in a
double line very quietly, without a word of command being
heard, evidently intending to get close enough to post their
machine-guns again over our heads.
We let them approach to within about seventy feet and
opened fire all along the front, with rifles and machine-guns,
shattering their line. Then we rushed out and attacked them.
We cut through them. They retreated. Then they sent against
us a detachment of about three hundred young recruits, lads
from the middle schools. We let them come close to the vil-
lage. Then we attacked them on three sides. They started to
run, with us in pursuit. . . .
The surrounding country was littered with dead and wound-
ed. The corpses, left unburied, quickly putrified in the heat
of the sun; horrid messes of worms and flies. The stench of
putrefaction was everywhere.
Villagers and partisans carried the wounded off and buried
the swollen bodies. The well-to-do inhabitants decided that Aji-
mushkai was no place to live in and drove off to other villages
on the shores of the Azov sea, taking away what remained of
their cattle and other property. The poor and middle peasants
carried their rags and household belongings into the quarries,
took possession of some of the tunnels, drove their cattle into
them and settled themselves underground with us, resigned to
all the hardships of living in common with their poultry and
After that hard battle there was another respite. The parti-
sans were able to have food and climbed again to the tops of
the burial mounds, where they lay down in the grass to rest
and amuse themselves.
Suddenly a burst of laughter, shouts, whistling and catcalls
went up. Hundreds of hands were clapped.
"Look boys! What's this? The cave monkey's coming out!"
"Where are you going to, frightening good people!"
"Mitya, Mitya! Come here!"
Thus the partisans welcomed the appearance of their favour-
ite wit, the secretary of the revolutionary military staff, the
huge and ragged sailor, Pasternak.
Mitya Pasternak, good-humoured and grim, took out a paper
he had written and read aloud a poem he had composed about
a priest, the easier holidays, the English interventionists, weak-
minded Socialist-Revolutionaries and the way the White dogs
had run from us at Ajimushkai. The partisans laughed uproar-
iously and applauded him. Then they shouted for Khovrin,
"Khovrin ! Khovrin ! Let's have a song."
Khovrin, whose face was swathed in bandages, sang their
favourite song in his sweet tenor voice.
It had been composed during their long night watches, to
the motive of "Blue Sea," the Communards, "the eagles of
freedom" goirtg to battle, their hard fate in the past, the new
and wonderful era opening before them. It closed with the
"Come to us proletarians. ... see the stars that shine on
So ended that spring day which had been full of death.
BACK TO STARY-KARANTIN
Denissov received a report from the Stary-Karantin quarries that
over fifty newly joined partisans had collected there and that
regiments and baggage trains of the retreating Whites were
moving continually past Karantin, along the highroad leading
from the Akmonai front. Denissov again asked the staff to let
his detachment go back from Ajimushkai to Stary-Karantin.
This time the staff agreed and appointed Comrade Bragin
commissar of the detachment.
We set out for our long march on a fine warm night, bright
stars overhead, a strong smell of earth and springtime in our
nostrils. The whole district was asleep, sweetly quiet, when we
haked for a ten minutes' rest. We marched on again, along the
shortest route. We passed the villages of Bulganak and Katerlez
on the south side, past the old station and through the Jewish
The stars began to pale. Dawn broke. A fresh wind blew in
from the sea. By daylight we were once more on the territory
The church bell was pealing in the village. The cottages stood
half hidden in abundant greenery. A big passenger steamer with
smoking funnels glided down the river.
At midday (April 16) a conference was called, followed by a
general meeting of partisans to elect a staff and rename the
detachment. We chose a staff of three: chairman, Vladimir
Fedyayev (tobacco worker, ex-chairman of the tobacco workers'
trade union), Victor Nazarov (metal worker, an active trade
union worker) and Mesrobyana (metal worker).
The commanders also formed part of the staff. Denissov re-
mained head of the detachment, Odudenko was battalion com-
mander and Gregory Denissov, commissary. The detachment
was named "Soviet Regiment of Stary-Karantin Quarries."
"Well, Vassily!" someone asked Denissov. "Have you any
"It's none of my business," Denissov replied with an indif-
ferent shrug. "You attend to it. I'll do my work when the time
He hardly took any part in the election, sitting sunk in
thought and making notes in a book. But then, he never was a
Naturally, Bragin, who had been appointed commissar by the
revolutionary military staff, was warned that our commander,
Denissov, must be handled carefully.
The staff was aware of Denissov's influence over the detach-
ment which was formed almost entirely of peasants. They also
knew that Denissov was stubbornly headstrong and that Bragin's
task was rather difficult. He had to see that the detachment
worked for the common good and do it without irritating Den-
issov. More, he had to subject Denissov to his influence with-
out Denissov being aware of it, to struggle against his stubborn-
ness, his self-will and self-conceit.
The staff began its daily routine.
A conference was called. In consideration of our experience
at Bagyerovo and Stary-Karantin quarries, when we were be-
sieged and in danger of death by starvation, the staff resolved
that we must lay in a stock of food and barrels of water. It was
also decided to carry on agitation and political work in the
fortress, among the mobilized .soldiers and "the French," as we
called the soldiers who had returned from France.
Comrade Perepelitsa, member of the town nucleus, was en-
trusted with the latter work, he being an exceptionally brave
man who was already doing secret work in the fortress. There
were also a few other comrades working secretly among the
White soldiers and in White departments.
The next days were busy ones. The partisans prepared a sup-
ply of water and the landlords and kulaks of neighbouring vil-
lages were given orders to deliver flour or grain at the quarry.
A requisitioning commission of two comrades, P. Boychevsky
and N. Moisseyenko, was appointed to confiscate state property
and other things. Another requisitioning party was sent to the
estates of the landlord Olive. The latter party was led by the
famous Tartar rider, Alva, who confiscated a few score of the
best horses and brought them to the quarry.
A regular connection with the town was established through
Comrades Perepelitsa and Vassily Khrony. They both kept in
touch with us and gave us vital information about the disposi-
tion of the White forces. From the moment the staff was organ-
ized, Party influence over the partisans grew and, although the
commanders were the same, the initiative was transferred in a
large measure to the staff.
Early in the morning of April 17 (orthodox style) in the
quiet hour of dawn, our scouts reported the approach of cavalry
driving a herd of cattle.
"How many?" Denissov questioned.
"About a hundred lances."
"No, cavalry only."
Denissov and Bragin climbed on a mound and saw the
cavalry turning off the main road, toward the hollows, in an
attempt to escape notice.
"Odudenko!" said Denissov to the battalion commander.
"Take seventy men and go behind that mound over there. But
mind you let them come near enough. You, Yushko, go to that
other mound and make your men lie down. .We'll get them
under a cross fire."
We took up the positions, determined to wipe out the slowly
moving cavalry who, through the field glasses, were seen to have
the uniform of a Cossack regiment. We lay close, breathlessly
silent, waiting for them to approach.
We let them come until we could distinguish their faces.
Handsome Cossacks in Caucasian coats and large black cloaks
with gleaming white epaulettes rode in front. They came along
easily, a thin stream of light blue smoke rising from their
Our hearts beat fast as we took aim, waiting for the word of
"Battalion! Fire!" shouted our commander in a stentorian
We poured lead into them.
The officers started, surprised and fearful, turning their
horses in panic.
Their ranks broke; riders flopped heavily to the ground.
Horses reared, men yelled; the whole regiment, unmindful of
shouted commands, galloped off in disorder, working their
whips furiously on their horses' flanks, while we held them
under a deadly cross fire. We would have shot them all, but for
a large hollow in which those who remained alive took shelter.
Our cavalry galloped after them and brought in four prisoners,
as well as saddles, horses and other trophies, including the herd
of oxen which the Cossacks were conveying to town for the
needs of the army.
"Oh!" shouted the partisans, on seeing the cattle. "That's
the kind of prisoners we want! You set to milking, Garaska;
you're good at milking."
"Yes, I can milk all right, but what shall I milk? Where's
your eyes, you idiots! They're bullocks. Can't you tell a bullock
from a cow?"
There was laughter and merriment; the men started to sing
A RAID ON THE FORTRESS
On April 19 the staff discussed military action. Comrade Ursa-
tyev was sent by the revolutionary military staff to arrange a joint
advance from various points. The intention was to create a
serious panic among the Whites, in the hope of weakening their
front at Akmonai isthmus by making them draw off men to