13 APRIL, 1919: Dear Mr. Francois…

It’s long time since I talked about India (15 February 1915: Negative Thinking) and long past time me, you and the British Empire paid it some serious attention – because change was afoot in the Raj and the end of the First World War had sharpened its edge.  Today marks the centenary of one of British rule in India’s darkest and most deadly days – the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, usually known in Britain as the Amritsar Massacre –and of a fundamental sea change in the nature of India’s battle for independence.

The massacre is infamous across the Asian subcontinent.  It is understood as a signal of changing Anglo-Indian relations, as a trigger for the acceleration of that change and as a symbol of the long struggle for Indian political independence.   Above all, it is recognised as a damning exposure of the British Empire’s repressive, greedy, arrogant, ungrateful and clumsy response to a subject population’s hard-earned and reasonable hopes for political representation.  The event is also reasonably well known to the British, for whom it is routinely presented as a regrettable imperial error, but seldom discussed, let alone taught, in depth or from anything other than an Anglocentric perspective –so it seems to me some context is in order.

British imperial authorities had spent the war years showering their Indian subjects with praise and positive propaganda, as well they might.  More than 1.3 million Indians had fought for the Empire during the First World War, of whom 72,000 were killed, and they had fought well, generally displaying loyalty and tenacity despite appalling conditions, occasional communal disputes between Indians of different faiths or cultures and some maltreatment at the hands of officers inexperienced in Asian affairs.

War-related problems with British internal administration of colonial India had, understandably enough, been kept as quiet as possible – but they reflected a significant seam of native discontent across the Raj.  With German help, militant Indian nationalists, some of them imported from the British Empire and the USA, had fomented trouble in various corners of the sprawling Raj, with particular effect in Punjab and Bengal, and attempted to stir up rebellion in the Indian Army.  In March 1915, shortly after foiling an attempt by one militant organisation, the Ghadar group, to coordinate a major Indian Army mutiny, the British vice-regal government introduced the Defence of India Act.  Aimed at revolutionary militants but used at the whim of regional authorities against anyone deemed a nuisance, the Act gave the administration sweeping powers to imprison any Indian citizen without trial or verified evidence.

Militant nationalist agitation, regardless of religious or provincial background, existed side by side with the blossoming of Indian mass politics, centred on the Indian Congress.  Formed in 1885 as a largely powerless national forum for airing high-caste Hindu concerns, Congress had evolved into a broader arena for nationalist debate and a nationally recognised symbol of Indian identity.  More or less tolerated but never encouraged by the British, it had encompassed broad, overlapping divisions between moderates seeking gradual social reform and activists chasing more radical change, as had the parallel All-India Muslim League, formed in 1906.  Hindu and Muslim politicians generally squabbled with each other as much as with the colonial administration, but vague British promises of political reform as a reward for wartime loyalty had brought them closer to unity than ever before.

Gandhi and Jinnah at Lucknow, finding unity in the face of a paranoid, arrogant and often dishonest common enemy.

In December 1916 the Lucknow Pact temporarily committed Hindu and Moslem groups, with the support of all their internal factions, to the presentation of joint demands for specific reforms to Viceroy Lord Chelmsford.  This is not the place for a discussion of the details, but when the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms arrived in 1918 Indian politicians of all persuasions were united in regarding them as paltry reward for years of military service, political repression and economic hardship.  A consequent upsurge in political protest – in particular the rapid spread of MK Gandhi’s innovative, popular, pacifist nationalism – helped harden attitudes towards India once the British were free to administer their empire without the constraints of total war.

In Britain and among its enemies, few questioned the India’s position as the Empire’s ‘jewel in the crown’, in both economic and prestige terms, and so British governments had long been accustomed to a defensive attitude towards internal change or foreign involvement in their prize possession.  With civil protest spreading fast, post-War British policy in India was dominated by memories of the Ghadar conspiracy and the German mission to Afghanistan (6 March, 1919: Dangerous Liaisons), by fear of the new revolutionary threat of Bolshevism from nearby Russia, and by nervousness around continuing, apparently revolutionary unrest in the Punjab and Bengal.  The result, presaged by the appointment in 1917 of a Sedition Committee to investigate the various threats to the Raj, was the Anarchical and Revolutionary Crimes Act, passed by the Imperial Legislative Council in Delhi on 10 March 1919.

Also known as the Rowlatt Act (after the chair of the Sedition Committee, Sir Sidney Rowlatt), but generally called the Black Act by those it governed, this was an indefinite extension of the Defence of India Act, with all its powers to detain and imprison without trial. Designed to douse the fires of protest, it had precisely the opposite effect, inflaming Indian public and political opinion, provoking a hartal (essentially a general strike) in Delhi that formed part of Gandhi’s mushrooming civil disobedience movement, convincing many politicians (including Gandhi and Jinnah, the future leader of Pakistan) that cooperation with the British would never bring significant reform, and sparking an upsurge in civil unrest, much of it scarred by violence, across the subcontinent.

Speaks for itself…

In Punjab, (typically racist) British assumptions about ‘martial’ Indian peoples, a wartime history of violent unrest, evidence of German infiltration and geographical proximity to the former Russian Empire had already convinced many colonial authorities that the province was on the verge of revolution.  Now things got a lot worse.  In the wake of the Act massed protests in Lahore, against a background of strikes and infrastructural sabotage throughout Punjab, prompted British arrest of two popular Punjabi politicians who had campaigned for Indian independence and supported Gandhi’s satyagraha (non-violent protest) movement.  Their arrest brought protests onto the streets of the Punjab city of Amritsar on 10 April, during which troops opened fire, killing several protesters.  Riots followed, along with attacks on public buildings and British property, before the city fell temporarily calm on 11 April.

The city of Amritsar looked set for a big day on 13 April.  The Sikh festival of Baisakhi always attracted thousands to its spring harvest fair, and local nationalist leaders had organised a large protest movement for the afternoon, to be held in the Jallianwala Bagh, the public garden of the building known as either the Harmandir, Sri Harmandir or Darbar Sahib (but usually called the ‘Golden Temple’ by Europeans).  The acting British regional commander (Acting) Brigadier-General Dyer, spent the morning announcing the imposition of martial law in the city, with a curfew and a ban on all meetings of more than four people – though his tour of the streets seems to have been ignored or missed by the population in general – but news of the protest persuaded him to abandon the effort and focus on events at Jallianwala Bagh.

The meeting had been called for 16.30 in the afternoon, but by 15.30 a crowd of at least 6.000 (Dyer’s estimate, based on aerial reconnaissance) was packed into the six-acre garden.  Subsequent enquiries suggested that the crowd was much larger – between 15,000 and 20,000 – boosted by festival-goers who had left the Baisakhi livestock fair after Dyer had it closed at 14.00.  Rather than attempt to enforce martial law and/or disperse the crowd, Dyer and his political chief, Deputy Commissioner Miles Irving, did nothing for the next couple of hours, before arriving at the garden with 90 Indian Army troops and two armoured cars at around 17.30.

The Jallianwala Bagh was an ideal spot for a massacre.  Surrounded by high buildings, it could be accessed by one main entrance or a number of narrow alleys, most of which were kept locked.  With the armoured cars (which were too wide to enter the garden) and troops blocking the main entrance, the protesters were effectively trapped when Dyer, without issuing any form of warning, ordered his men to open fire on the densest sections of the crowd.  The troops duly loosed off more than 1,600 rounds in the next ten minutes or so, killing indiscriminately and triggering a stampede that killed many more.  Many protesters jumped down the garden’s well to escape the shooting, and reports claim some 120 bodies were later recovered from the well, while British imposition of curfew meant that wounded could not be moved from the garden during the evening or night, and many more died before morning.

The well at Jallialwara Bagh – bullets couldn’t get in but people couldn’t get out.

British reactions to what can only be called a disaster said plenty about the attitudes that caused it.  Dyer reported his action as necessary in the face of a ‘revolutionary army’, and was supported by his immediate superiors, while the British lieutenant governor of Punjab, Sir Michael O’Dwyer, asked for and got permission to impose martial law in Amritsar and other Punjabi hotspots.

Acting Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer – a brutal mass murderer and proud of it.

Immediate Indian reactions can be summed up as outrage.  The most violent reaction took place on 15 April, in the Punjab city of Gujranwala, where local British commanders suppressed a full-scale riot by bombing and strafing from the air – which dispersed crowds rapidly while killing 12 and injuring 27 – and although the British tried to suppress news of the massacre elsewhere in India, the Indian population was quite capable of spreading news on its own and less violent protests took place in cities across the subcontinent. The massacre’s effect on Indian political leaders of all faiths was as anyone would expect, in that it multiplied mistrust of British political intentions and exposed the fear of imminent revolution lurking beneath the propaganda facade of unalloyed gratitude for the Indian people’s wartime contribution.   As such it struck a massive, arguably fatal blow to increasingly fragile hopes on either side for India’s gradual, peaceful transition to self-government within the Empire.

Meanwhile, an initial British report estimated casualties at 200 dead and approximately 1,000 injured, and although subsequent British investigations revised the casualty figures (accepting 379 deaths) they never matched the estimate by an Indian Congress investigation that posited at least 1,000 dead, possibly as many as 1,500, and at least 1,500 injured.  In November 1919, during a more formal Anglo-Indian inquiry carried out by the Hunter Committee, Dyer made it perfectly clear that he had gone to Jallianwala Bagh intending to open fire on any crowd he found there, by way of teaching the natives a lesson and of course avoiding personal (and by extension imperial) humiliation.  He was also clear that he would have used the armoured cars to fire their machine guns into the crowd had he been able to deploy them inside the garden.

British attitudes broadened somewhat in the face of such breathtakingly brutal realpolitik.  While the Hunter Committee was preparing its report, in December 1919, news of the massacre finally reached London, where Dyer’s actions and excuses were condemned by much of the national press and many British MPs during the following months.  When the Committee’s report was released, in May 1920, it concluded that Dyer had been wrong about the prospect of revolution and had acted with unnecessary harshness, but that the immediate support of Dyer’s superiors at the time made his prosecution politically impossible.  He had nevertheless been removed from his post in March of that year, after which he was denied his promotion and effectively retired.

The Hunter Committee’s report (which dealt with disturbances all over the Punjab province) was almost universally regarded as half-baked.  It provoked scorn and outrage in the British parliament, where Churchill was among those most strident in demanding more comprehensive condemnation of the massacre, and is still seen as an insult by many Indians.  Although various British leaders, including Queen Elizabeth II during the 1990s and Theresa May last week, have expressed their regret and sorrow at the events of 13 April 1919, no formal apology has ever been made.  The only real consolation available to those Indian politicians and cultural figures still demanding such an apology is that, despite the loss of life, the ultimate outcome of the massacre was Britain’s complete and irrevocable loss of political and economic control over India.

That was a long, late, rambling piece – but I’ve not been well and, like most Tottenham fans, I’ve been finding it hard to concentrate on real life for the last ten days.  As far as I can tell its only raison d’être is to provide a timely reality check to British readers, especially to those parts of the British population which have developed a taste for facile, noisily expressed jingoism, infused with the (essentially Nazi) idea of national exceptionalism.  If you know anyone with opinions along those lines, remind him or her that we’re no different to other bullies.

Here’s one.

5 APRIL, 1919: Fog Warning

We refer to it as the Russian Civil War, but that’s because human beings like to fall back on a simple, blanket description for anything beyond their ken.  I’m not sure it’s possible for any modern observer to fully understand the multi-layered, propaganda-stained collection of armed conflicts that ranged across the former Russian Empire between late 1917 and the middle of 1921.  I’ve talked about some its details during the last eighteen months, and made an attempt to give those details regional as well as global context – but I wouldn’t call it a fully committed or entirely successful attempt, and that’s not really good enough.

For one thing, this stuff matters.  The giant political shake-up across Eastern Europe and much of Asia made a real difference to the futures of Russia and all the states around it, and the emergence of an established Soviet Union at its conclusion has shaped global geopolitics ever since.  Secondly, this stuff has been propagandized up the wazoo for a hundred years.  The conflict’s actual course and consequences have been redesigned over and again to suit whatever agenda the USSR, China, the West or any of the interest groups under their umbrellas happened to be pursuing at any given moment.  The fog of this particular war, largely impenetrable at the time, has been thickening rather than dissipating.  If you want a third good reason for some basic overview, consider how even a modicum of relevant information, dispassionately presented, can help expose the unwitting prejudices long-term exposure to propaganda creates in all of us.  So here goes.

In broad military terms, the Russian Civil War is portrayed as the conflict between ‘Reds’, supporters of the Bolshevik regime in Moscow (which replaced Petrograd as the capital on 5 March, 1918), and ‘Whites’, a disparate collection of forces and interests united only in opposition to the new regime.  Various Red forces under the strategic command of Lenin’s government – though often tactically autonomous, primarily committed to regional goals or both – fought conventional military campaigns against White forces that ranged from regional militias concerned with local issues or nationalist causes to large, essentially Russian armies committed to restoring traditional power structures across the entire former Russian Empire.

The latter received varying levels of military and economic support from foreign powers opposed to Bolshevism, but those powers also intervened directly in the conflict.  Britain sent a small army to the to the far northwest of the Russian Empire (23 June, 1918: Britain Invades Russia!) and a smaller force to its Black Sea coasts (8 December, 1918: Britannia’s B-Team), while Japanese and US troops were landed in the far east (12, January, 1918: Port in a Storm [Pt.1]).  The ‘Czech Legion’, a more or less coherent force of up to 100,000 Eastern Front veterans spread out along the trans-Siberian railway to Vladivostok, was also under French military control, at least formally, and constituted a major threat to the Soviet regime in the months immediately after the October Revolution (31 May, 1918: Fame and Fortune).

The conventional, big-picture war between Lenin’s state and White counter-revolutionaries was fought on three main battlefronts: in the northwest, southwest and east of the former empire.  In the northwest, General Yudenich (best known for his wartime successes against the Ottoman Empire on the Caucasian Front), emerged from hiding to take command of White Russian forces in early 1919.  Based in Helsinki (where Finnish White forces, with German help, had won their civil war against Red forces by the summer of 1918), he met with Allied officials at Stockholm in March 1919 and obtained limited support for formation of a volunteer army to attack into Russia.  By September, after consolidating White elements in Finland and Estonia, he had raised some 17,000 troops and 53 guns as the Northwestern Army for an attack towards Petrograd (along with six tanks provided by the British and crewed by British volunteers, the only Allied ground troops involved in the campaign).

Yudenich – how could anyone not follow that moustache?

The attack opened in early October 1919, and reached the lightly defended Petrograd suburbs by 19 October, but its failure to secure the railway to Moscow allowed the Bolsheviks to send large-scale reinforcements west, and Yudenich was forced back into Estonia by the end of November.

Estonian nationalist forces had successfully quashed a Red Army invasion the previous February, and the country’s Constituent Assembly was already in negotiations with Moscow to secure formal independence from Russia.  Though Yudenich himself appears to have been in favour of independence for the former Russian Empire’s northwestern satellites, official White Army policy was against it, so the Estonian regime disarmed and interned the Northwestern Army, effectively ending the campaign.  Estonia concluded an armistice with the Bolsheviks on 3 January 1920, and Yudenich was arrested in the act of fleeing the country on 28 January.

Further south, in the northern Caucasus, a White Russian ‘Volunteer Army’ had been formed in November 1917 under General Kornilov, who had fled there after the failure of his revolt in Petrograd (14 September, 1917: You And Whose Army?).  Allied with regional Cossack leaders – purely on the basis of shared opposition to Bolshevism – Kornilov responded to Red Army occupation of Rostov by advancing south into the newly created (and very temporary) North Caucasian Soviet Republic.  He attacked its capital, Ekaterinadar (modern Krasnadar) in April 1918, but the attack failed and he was killed.  The advance of Red forces from the north compelled the Volunteer Army’s new commander, General Denikin, to lead a gruelling northeasterly retreat, known as the Ice March, that took it back to the Cossack heartland around the Don and brought what is known as the First Kuban Campaign to an end.

Denikin – another case of facial hair making the man?

Denikin’s 9,000 troops and some 3,000 Cossack horsemen launched the Second Kuban Campaign in June 1918, and by November they had taken nominal control of the entire region between the Black and Caspian seas, enabling support from the French through the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk.  Expansion followed, so that a combination of volunteer recruitment and forced conscription brought the Volunteer Army’s overall strength up to around 100,000 troops by the end of 1918.  By that time General Plyakov’s Army of the Don – a secondary White force formed in April 1918 to face any Bolshevik threat from the north – mustered about 10,000 infantry and 7,000 cavalry.  This amounted to an enormous numerical advantage over Bolshevik forces in southern Russia, which were scattered across the region and preoccupied with establishing control over civilian populations.

The future looked very promising for Denikin’s armies during the first half of 1919.  In January, the various armed groups fighting Bolshevism in the region – including smaller armies in the Crimea, the Caucasus and Turkestan – were theoretically placed under his command as the Armed Forces of South Russia (AFSR), and during the spring his main force advanced north almost unopposed.  By the start of July, the AFSR’s total strength was estimated at more than 100,000 infantry and 55,000 cavalry, supported by 19 aircraft (and by Black Sea naval units), and it had reached a line some 250km north of Rostov.

On 3 July, in Tsaritsyn (since renamed Stalingrad and Volgograd), Denikin officially proclaimed the AFSR’s advance on Moscow, and for the next four weeks it made patchy progress towards the target, slowed and in places stopped by Red Army reinforcements that reached to the front during the second half of the month.  By early August, Soviet counterattacks had halted White armies on the eastern half of the front, but the Volunteer Army continued to advance north and west against relatively feeble opposition.

Denikin’s positions in July 1919, and his plan for an advance on Moscow – by way of saving myself a thousand words or so.

Denikin accepted immediate failure in the east on 11 August, when he redirected the Volunteer Army into an attack towards Kiev, intending to straighten his line and open links with anti-Bolshevik forces in Poland before resuming the march on Moscow.  The strength of the Red Army’s southern front, commanded by General Yegoryev, had meanwhile risen to around 150,000 infantry and 24,000 cavalry, and it launched a major counterattack against the AFSR’s eastern positions on 14 August – but the numbers masked severe operational instability.  To the west, the entire Red Army position in the Ukraine collapsed on 18 August, and the eastern offensive had turned into retreat by mid-September.

Denikin’s plans for Moscow had been delayed, but as his armies converged on Moscow during late September, taking Kursk on 21 September, he looked set to reach the capital sooner rather than later, a view shared by Lenin’s government, which made preparations to go underground.  But the AFSR’s lines were becoming stretched beyond practical limits.  Forced to divert part of his army to counter an uprising in the Ukraine by an anarchist army which, like the Estonians further north, preferred Bolshevik promises of independence to White armies best on restoration of the Empire, Denikin was left with little more than a poorly-supplied skeleton force to cover a broad front.  The Bolsheviks meanwhile signed an armistice with similarly anti-imperial Polish nationalists, freeing troops to defend Moscow, and the re-mobilised, reinforced Red Army Southern Front launched a much more effective counteroffensive in the area around Orel and Kursk on 11 October.

Denikin was still advancing slowly towards Moscow, and took Orel on 13 November, but the Red Army attack had struck to his west and was diverted against his flank.  After a week of fierce, often chaotic fighting, Red forces recaptured Orel on 20 October, and spent the next three weeks successfully blocking or repelling AFSR attempts to advance all along the line.  By mid-November, exhausted White troops were retreating everywhere, and Kursk was recaptured on 18 November.

That was the turning point for Denikin.  While the Bolsheviks renounced their agreement with the Ukrainian anarchists and retook the country, the Volunteer Army spent the following winter in retreat all the way to the Black Sea, its last units leaving Novorossiysk for the Crimea on 20 March 1920.  Denikin resigned in April, and command passed to Crimean c-in-c General Wrangel, but the military war in southern Russia came to an effective end when dwindling popular and Allied support persuaded Wrangel to evacuate the Crimea in November.

The third major front of the Russian Civil War was contested in the east.  A combination of local White forces, the Czech Legion and Allied troops landed at Vladivostok had all but wiped out Bolshevik influence in the Russian far east and Siberia by June 1918.  At that point the Czech Legion was in control of the trans-Siberian railway and local risings had overthrown Bolshevik authorities in Omsk, where an All-Russian Provisional Government was formed in September in an attempt to unite left- and right-wing elements opposed to the Bolsheviks.  Never able to agree on anything, it was  replaced in November by a coup that installed Rear-Admiral Kolchak – a much-admired Black Sea naval commander brought to Omsk and sponsored by the British – as the regime’s leader with dictatorial powers .

Apparently a reluctant dictator, Kolchak was eventually accepted on all fronts as supreme commander of White forces – not least because his regime enjoyed widespread foreign recognition and smooth supply lines, especially for Japanese and US aid through Vladivostok.  Taking the title Supreme Ruler and promoting himself to full admiral, he allowed extreme right-wing elements to pass laws persecuting anyone remotely liberal or left-wing within his fiefdom, was noisily opposed to all independence movements and, as a lifelong seaman, left most of the ground campaign that followed to military advisors.  His politics alienated potential allies on the ground, most notably the Czech Legion, which ceased hostilities against the Bolsheviks from October 1918 – but he was nevertheless generally recognised as the figurehead of the anti-Bolshevik cause in Russia.

Kolchak, just before his death – clean-shaven, so no wonder he failed.

Kolchak’s collection of anti-Bolshevik forces had moved west as far as Perm by the end of 1918 (11 November, 1918: Peace Off), and his armies launched a major westward offensive in March 1919, at which point he was regarded in Moscow as the main threat to the regime’s survival.  Red armies fell back, so that White forces had moved a further 200km west by mid-April, but as manpower and supplies dwindled with over-extension of their lines they were losing momentum all the time.

A Soviet counteroffensive, commanded by rising star General Tuchachevsky, began in mid-April and gradually halted the White advance.  With reinforcements reaching the front all the time, the Red Army outnumbered White forces by July, retook Ekaterinburg on 15 July and won a key battle at Chelyabinsk ten days later, forcing Kolchak to withdraw east beyond the River Tobol.  A White counteroffensive at the Tobol failed in September, and the next Russian offensive, launched on 14 October, drove Kolchak’s armies into full and permanent retreat.

The Red Army retook Omsk on 14 November, and chased retreating forces along the trans-Siberian railway.  After thousands of White soldiers and camp followers had died of exposure, the remnant of Kolchak’s armies found refuge east of Irkutsk, in territory being policed by the Japanese Army, and the Red Army was ordered not to risk conflict with Japan by continuing the pursuit.  Kolchak himself was taken by members of the Czech Legion while travelling to Irkutsk by train, and handed over on 14 January 1920 to the left-wing regime that had taken power in the city.  A Bolshevik military committee took control of Irkutsk six days later, and Kolchak was executed on 7 February, though his death wasn’t announced until the Red Army finally arrived a month later.

Command of remaining White troops east of Irkutsk passed to General Semonyev, but after Japanese withdrawal from the region his small Far Eastern Army fled to China in November 1920.  Full Japanese withdrawal from Russia was a slow, reluctant process, and the last White stronghold in Russia didn’t fall until October 1922, when the Red Army’s capture of Vladivostok completed Soviet reclamation of the Russian far east.

So that was an outline of the strictly military dimension to the Russian Civil War, a chaotic but in many ways old-fashioned series of campaigns that ended once and for all the prospect of imperial revival across the Tsar’s former territories.  I haven’t the space or time to discuss the conflict’s other dimensions in detail – and I’m not sure it can be done with less than book – but they are fundamental to any understanding of the Soviet Union’s birth pangs and subsequent development.

Broadly speaking (of course), Lenin’s regime and the Red Army were dealing, not only with White counter-revolutionaries and their overseas supporters, but with a plethora of nationalist movements for independence or autonomy, many of them armed and receiving foreign backing.  Soviet authorities also fought a chaotic and constant plague of peasant uprisings throughout the former empire, involving outbreaks of violence by ‘Green’ forces (or sometimes mobs) one way or another opposed to Bolshevik taxes and/or institutions, and that struggle continued until the middle of 1921.  Both were wars in themselves, but intricately linked at the centre by the strategic and tactical imperatives driving Soviet military strategy and dispositions, as guided by Leon Trotsky.

I hope to give Trotsky his due, one way and another, during the next few months, but it is fair to say that Bolshevik survival under those circumstances was a fairly astonishing triumph, albeit one achieved at the cost of institutionalising terror as a government tool, devaluing international law to the point of irrelevance and turning propaganda into the basic language of state.  The other apparent cost to the infant Soviet Union at the end of the Civil War was the loss of Russia’s former satellites to independence, but most were recaptured, in defiance of signed treaties, once their overseas support dwindled with post-War pacifism and economic stresses in Britain, France and the USA.

Through the haze created by a century of heavy propaganda, it seems fairly clear that Bolshevik triumph owed a lot to Given the half-baked nature of overseas support and the widespread unpopularity of their leaders’ aims, the defeat of White forces on all three main battlefronts seems far less surprising, and it almost goes without saying that peasant uprisings were never in any way sufficiently organised or supplied to do more than short-term, local damage to central government ambitions.  I realise this has been a bit of an old-school history slog, but like I said earlier this stuff matters and is largely lost in the mist of heritage ignorance.  Knowing some basic details can’t do anyone any harm.