@ loki: It may sound strange but I felt very happy after the initial turns. Getting a bad beating by the Southern White in turn 1 is unavoidable. Locked Red units are a punching bag for the Whites. The important thing is to avoid further beatings in the next few turns and get as many units as possible out of the Kuban alive. In this regard I was as successful as possible: I didn't lose any more units after turn 1 and got every last one of them back to Voronezh.
Even better I avoided a similar beating in the East. If Berzin gets attacked outside Ekaterinburg in turn 1, chances are high that he retreats north into the Ural. If that happens his entire stack is as good as lost.
Chapter 3 - The Good Die First*: Moscow, July - August 1918
How can you make a revolution without firing squads?
After seizing power in October 1917, the Bolsheviks had immediately put pressure on opposing parties: their newspapers were banned and party members arrested. Yet one hope remained: the Constituent Assembly. Even the Bolsheviks themselves had justified their coup with the need to ensure its convocation against Kerensky's stalling tactics. However as far as Lenin and the more radical Bolsheviks were concerned this had been false pretenses. They argued, that Soviet power was a purer form of democracy, whereas the Constituent Assembly would almost certainly be subverted by bourgeois counter-revolutionaries.
Nevertheless, Lenin didn't dare to renege on the Bolsheviks' promise ... at least not yet. On November 16th 1917, the voting began. It was a severe disappointment for the Bolsheviks who received only 24% of the votes. The clear winner were the Socialist-Revolutionaries (SR) who gained 38%. However the ballots didn't yet reflect that the Bolshevik seizure of power had irreversibly divided the right and left wing of the SR. The Right SR had left the Soviet in protest against the attack on the Winter Palace.** In reaction they had been condemned as traitors to the revolution by the remaining Soviet delegates - even the Left SR went along still hoping to be able to tame the Bolsheviks.
In the meantime, the Bolsheviks had strengthened their grip on power. Amongst the most important steps were the creation of the Cheka and the transfer of power from the Soviet Executive to Sovnarkom.*** The former was rendered ineffective by trippling the number of its members. At the same time Sovnarkom bestowed upon itself the power to pass legislation without prior Soviet approval. By December 1917 the Soviets had thus been reduced to a fig leaf for the Bolshevik dictatorship.
How far the Bolsheviks were prepared to go became evident on January 5th, 1918. Several thousand people dared to protest in support of the Constituent Assembly that was finally to convene on that day. But on the roof tops Kronstadt sailors, Latvian Rifles and Red Guards were already waiting for them. Now they opened fire with their machine guns. Gorky compared the massacre to that of 1905: "For almost a hundred years the finest Russians have lived by the idea of a Constituent Assembly ... Rivers of blood have been spilled on the sacrificial altar of this idea, and now the 'People's Commissars' have given the orders to shoot the democracy ..." A day later the Bolsheviks had the Constituent Assembly dissolved.
By March 1919, even the Left SR wasn't willing to follow the Bolsheviks any longer. Its members resigned from Sovnarkom.**** They had endured much: Soviet power had yielded to party dictatorship, their peasant clientele suffered under conscription and the grain monopoly, civil liberties were long gone and Brest-Litovsk had betrayed their hope of spreading the socialist revolution to the West. Two months later SR disilliusionment had reached the point were they became desperate enough to stage an uprising.
On July 6th, a Left SR Chekist and one accomplice murdered Count Mirbach, the German ambassador. When Dzerzhinsky tried to arrest the culprits, Left SR Chekists not only refused him access but imprisoned the Bolshevik instead.***** An assassination had turned into an uprising. It was echoed by SR rebellions in several other cities.
But rather than press their initial advantage the SR now waited for the masses to rise and sweep the Bolsheviks away. They were to be disappointed. Instead the Bolsheviks would teach them one last lesson in determination and ruthlessness.
The uprising in Moscow itself was swiftly dealt with by 13.000 Bolsheviks under Bonch-Bruevich. It was pure slaughter, the ill-prepared SR didn't even return fire.
In the meantime, the elite Latvian Rifles were sent to Yaroslavl to take care of Savinkov's force. Unfortunately the counter-revolutionaries managed to evade Vatzetis' men.****** Rather than pursue Savinkov, the Latvians were ordered to turn east where they would reinforce the Siberian front.
The counter-revolutionaries were thus granted two weeks of respite. But on August 4th, Frunze's division of Red Guards, Moscow garrison units and a handful of Hungarian Volunteers caught up with them.
Heavily outnumbered Savinkov didn't stand a chance. Less than 200 of his men escaped alive. 7 days later, a second column arrived that had apparently hoped to join forces with Savinkov. Frunze's men made sure they shared their comrades fate before they went on to pursue Savinkov and his handful of survivors. On August 16th, Savinkov's rebellion was over, every last of his men was killed. The inept SR uprising had been crushed and Frunze gained a promotion.
Now that there was no one left to dispute Bolshevik power from inside the Soviet system, they could turn their full attention towards their reactionary White enemies.
* A cynic might say: "The Naive Die First". More importantly, I am not sure whether the Left SR deserve the term "good". Good and evil are too absolute categories to fit in revolutions, they are more suitable in novels, poetry ... and movies.
** They would go on to be the driving force behind the formation of the Komuch in 1918.
*** Sovnarkom = Council of People's Commissars.
**** Ironically, Left SR remained in the Cheka until July. The Red Terror only reached its height once this last restraining influence was gone.
***** The Bolsheviks had been foolish enough to allow a Cheka Combat Detachment composed of 2.000 Left SR. In the game the true strength of this force is underrepresented. This is however justified by the complete lack of initiative their leaders exhibited during those crucial days. It's really a bad joke that Popov has pretty decent stats in RUS (4-1-1).
****** This was my fault: I set only Bonch-Bruevich on offensive posture because I wanted to make sure it was his stack that engaged Popov so that the Moscow garrison would unlock. With the Latvians on defensive orders Savinko managed to slip to Sergiev Posad. I had hoped he would either stay at Yaroslavl or switch himself to offensive posture while marching through hostile territory.
Some thoughts on this uprising in RUS:
- Obviously the OOB isn't exact, neither are the leader stats. The troops are too bad, the leaders too good.
- In reality the uprising had a real chance. With the Cheka Combat Detachment the Left SR had the most powerful military unit in the city on their side. In the meantime the Latvian Rifles were outside the city on maneuver. Had the Left SR acted swiftly they could have dealt a fatal blow to the Bolsheviks whose leaders were virtually unprotected. If they had been captured and executed, Bolshevik rule might have crumbled. Instead it was the Left SR that died first.
- In RUS however, the Left SR have no chance of taking Moscow or establishing a secure base in the area. Thus there are four viable options left:
- Retreat north and join the units at Arkhangelsk.
- Retreat north-west and join Miller's Army advancing from Murmansk.
- Retreat east and join the main Siberian forces.
- Try hit and run tactics to keep as many Red units busy as possible.
Option 4 is extremely difficult to pull off in RUS. My favourite is option 3: in RUS the Left SR units are represented as part of the Komuch faction. In the Siberian Army Popov and Savinkov can thus be of use and their units can be merged with Komuch divisions whereas these troops remain foreign elements in the Northern White armies.
In this match, option 3 would have been very risky, though, since the Siberian armies hadn't advanced far enough west.
- Coincidentally, with the end of the Left-SR, the Reds also stand to lose two high-ranking commanders: Muraviev and Sorokin. They are removed via event during 1918 (random trigger). Especially Muraviev is a bitter loss since he is one of the better Red generals.
Next update: Frunze will be once more in the center of events. - The time for foreplay is over!