Stavka. 1 February, 1916.
I thank you heartily for dear letter, Olga as well. Left the train in the morning. It is not cold: 3 deg. It is snowing a little. So far I am very favourably impressed by the reviews. I kiss all tenderly.
Stavka. 1 February, 1916
MY OWN BELOVED SUNNY,
At last I have found a free evening to talk to you quietly. I long for you intensely. First of all I hasten to thank you for your three dear letters. They came, of course, very irregularly, because the train travelled backwards and forwards on the line, as it was near Dvinsk, where bad birds fly. A great deal of snow has fallen for the last three days, which makes it hopeless for them!
The inspection of the 1st Army was held not far from the little station of Vyshki. To my great joy a company of the Kabardinsky Regiment was stationed there, but it contained only one officer of my acquaintance, and several men who were in Livadia! Among numbers of cavalry regiments were two regiments of Mamma's and Ksenia's (I could not find Gordinsky). But your Alexandrovtzi and my Pavlovtzi were not present. Such a pity! They had only just been sent to the trenches, to relieve the infantry. Good Lord ! - what does your poor Plehve look like ? As green as a corpse, blinder and more bent than ever, and scarcely able to move his legs. Sitting on horseback, he threw himself so far back that I thought he felt giddy. He assured me that he rode very often; but I doubt it.
The troops were in excellent condition, the horses also. After lunch I had a talk with Plehve. He reasons quite soundly and normally; his head is fresh and his thoughts clear, and when he is sitting down he seems all right, but he presents a grievous sight when he gets up.
I spoke severely to him about Bonch-Brouievitch - that he was to get rid of him, and so forth. Then I had a good walk along the main road. At 6 o'clock we passed through Dvinsk. There is the usual lighting in the streets of the town. I saw only one searchlight illuminating the dark horizon !
We spent the night somewhere near Polotzk, and on the morning of the 30th of January returned to Drissa. There I was met by Everth and Gen. Litvinov of the 1st Army, and three cavalry divisions the 8th, 14th and one of the Siberian Cossacks. Tatiana's Uhlans looked fine fellows, as did all the other troops. So tidily, cleanly and well dressed and equipped, such as I have seldom seen, even in peace time I Truly excellent I They all look so well in their grey papakhi [Caucasian fur caps), but at the same time they so resemble one another that it is difficult to tell to which regiment they belong.
Yesterday, the 31st Jan., the last inspection was held, at which the 6th and 13th cavalry divisions were present. They are just as fine fellows as they used to be in former times. The weather is not at all cold - 3-4 deg. of frost-and it is again snowing. Of course the old man rode again on horseback, and was very proud of it-he talks to everyone about it, which drives Nilov to fury !
After lunch, the train left the station of Borkovitchi; at 3 o'clock we passed through Vitebsk and Orsha, and arrived here at 11 o'clock in the evening. The air was lovely, so that Voeikov, Grabbe, Kedrov and I took a refreshing walk before going to bed. To-day at 10 in the morning I moved into my quarters and spent two and a half hours with Alexeiev.
In Mogilev I found Sergey, who has already installed himself here, but none of the foreigners, except Williams, as they have all gone to Odessa for a time. During the day I walked in the garden, because there was not enough time to drive out. I had to settle down to my papers, and only finished with them towards dinner.
It is late now, I am very tired, so that I must wish you good-night, my darling Wify, my only and my all! Why is it that you cannot sleep, my poor dear one?
I have only just finished lunch with all the foreigners; they arrived yesterday evening.
This morning I went to church, and later had a long conversation with Alexeiev concerning the retiring of Plehve and Bonch-Brouievitch. It transpires (apparently) that the latter is hated by everyone in the army, beginning with the highest generals!
To-morrow I shall have to find a successor for him (Plehve). Your dear letter No. 436 and telegram have been received. I thank you tenderly. How troublesome that you have pains in your face, and even a swelling I My dear, I am so sorry for you ! The water in Mogilev has again had a bad effect on my stomach; in every other respect I feel well. I thank you also for the charming Bower.
Now I must finish, beloved.
God guard you and the children! I embrace you closely and kiss you tenderly.
Eternally your old hubby
NOTES: "Bad birds" - enemy aeroplanes. - PLEHVE: General P. A. Plehve.He had been Chief of the Moscow Military District, and at the beginning of the war commanded the 5th Army. He was promoted to the command of the North-west Front. A fine strategist and one of the most efficient of the Russian commanders. He died in 1917. BONCH-BROUIEVITCH: General M. D. Bonch-Brouievitch was Chief of Staff to General Plehve. He went over to the Bolsheviks during the Revolution. Litvinov: General A. I. Litvinov. Commanded the 6th Corps at the beginning of the war, and in November 1914 succeeded Rennenkampf in the command of the 1st Army. He held this appointment until the Revolution. KEDROV: Rear-Admiral M. A. Kedrov, an A.D.C. and member of the Imperial suite before the war. In November 1915 he was appointed to the battleship "Gangut," and in February 1916 he was summoned to G.H.Q. in order to give explanations in regard to disturbances in the Fleet. His accounts were satisfactory, and he was made commander of the mining division of the Baltic Fleet, and promoted to Rear-Admiral in the autumn of 1916. SERGEY: the Grand Duke Sergey Mikhailovitch. He was Inspector-General of Artillery, and extremely conservative in military matters. Polivanov applied to the Tsar for his removal from this post, and he was replaced by General Manikovsky. Brutally murdered by the Bolsheviks in July 1918.
Stavka. 3 February, 1916.
Have only just received the news that Erzerum has been attacked and taken. Thanks be to God I Have sent the petition to the Minister of War, with the order to send this man to the front. I saw Alek, who demonstrated anti-gas masks...
NOTES: The capture of Erzerum, with 13,000 prisoners and 323 guns, was an important military success.
"The petition" is referred to in the Tsaritsa's telegrams "What have you done with the petition which was sent to me by Schulenberg?... Can the young man be sent to the army?" Schulenberg was the director of a home for crippled soldiers and of a Red Cross train dedicated to the Tsarevitch.
Stavka. 4 February, 1916.
MY DARLING SUNNY,
My warmest thanks for dear letter. I read with interest the extract you sent me from N.P.'s letter.
I am very happy about our great success in the Caucasus -1 never supposed that Erzerum would be taken so soon. It appears that our troops, after attacking the forts, had to stop [were ordered not to advance further); but their onslaught was so impetuous that they broke through to the rear of the Turks, and in this way occupied the town. - This information came to me from Tiflis from N. in 7 minutes, just as we were getting up from the table.
Alek was calm and not excited. He made a long report, and then offered to show me some experiments with asphyxiating gases. - Three officers and two chemists in various masks went into a carriage and stayed there over 30 minutes. I could watch them through the windowshow they stood and walked about in those terrible yellow fumes. Even in the open air the horrible stench could be detected. Strange people I They make these experiments with delight-like a sport!
Now, about my plans. - I want to return in order to be present at the opening of the G. Duma and the G. Soviet. Please do not speak of this as yet. I am leaving on Saturday, to hold an inspection of the wonderful 1st Siberian Corps, and arrive at Tsarskoe on Monday, the 8th. - Shall stay there for two days, and hastily return here, because I have ordered our military conference for Thursday the 11th, with the participation of all the Commanders-in-Chief. I intended to do this from the very beginning, but somehow it could not be arranged.
I shall be very happy to see you and the children-if only for 2 days-it is better than nothing. Now, my darling, my dear, swollen-cheeked Wify, I must finish.
God guard you all! I kiss you and the children fondly.
Your faithful and tenderly devoted
NOTES: "N." - the Grand Duke Nicholas. "G. Duma and G. Soviet," the State Duma and the Council of State.
Telegram. Stavka. 5 February, 1916.
I thank you heartily for dear letter; Olga, and her, as well. Also for the news. I have had a drive and a good walk. I kiss you tenderly.
Stavka. 6 February, 1916.
MY BELOVED WIFY,
I thank you sincerely for your last two letters. I cannot understand what was the matter with you - I am speaking of the pains in your face. I hope that they will be gone by my return, and that both of Alexey's arms will be better. Kiss him tenderly for me.
After a lengthy and complicated discussion with Alexeiev, I have decided to appoint Kouropatkin in Plehve's place. - I know that this will provoke a great many rumours and criticisms, but what can one do if there are so few good men? So that I sent for him and told him about it yesterday.
You ask me about Rouszky. He wrote a little while ago, complaining of his health, and saying that ever since the month of October he has been unable to get rid of the polzouchy plevrit (literally, creeping pleurisy). I hope that, with God's help, Kouropatkin will be a good Commanderin-Chief. He will be directly tinder the Stavka, and in this way he will not have on his shoulders the same responsibility which he had in Manchuria. You can be quite sure that the, armies under his command will welcome the appointment. He spoke very. well and judiciously of his new position, and will come back here to the military conference.
The sums received and spent by your sklad (Red Cross depot) are enourmous - I should never have thought that they could reach such dimensions.
I look forward with impatience to to-morrow's review, at which I hope to see the first eight Siberian regiments, with mine at the head.
It is snowing to-day, and a strong wind blowing. - If it would only stop for Sunday!
May God guard you and the children! And so, in a day's time, I shall be able to press you to my heart, my dear child, my Sunny. I kiss all fondly.
NOTES: KOUROPATKIN: General A. N. KOUROPATKIN was Minister of War in 1904 and Commander-in-Chief during the Japanese War. In view of his poor reputation as a leader the present appointment was certainly not a wise one. He was succeeded by General Dragomirov.
Polotzk. 7 February, 1916.
Thanks for news. I am delighted with the inspection of the Siberian Rifles. The road was very difficult (in very bad condition). Lots of snow. Am therefore two and a half hours late. I embrace you closely.
Telegram. Stavka. 11 February, 1916.
Arrived at 4 o'clock. Was met by all the commanders. The conference will begin at 6 o'clock. Clear, cold, sunny weather. Many thanks for dear letter yesterday evening. I embrace you tenderly
Stavka. 12 February, 1916.
I thank you most warmly for your dear letter - the first that I received here. I am returning you the French book; I am reading the new English one with avidity, when there is leisure. The journey was absolutely quiet. I insisted on our train not making more than 40 versts an hour. Four commanders-in-chief met me here on the platform. I saw Alexeiev for a minute, then, at 6, went to the Staff quarters, where the conference dragged on till 8, and was continued immediately after dinner till close on 12.30. Plehve looked like a dead man; he was so pale. To-day he is lying down in his sleeping carriage, unable to moveprobably over-fatigued!
On the whole I am quite satisfied with the results of our long conference.-They disputed much among themselves. I asked them all to speak out plainly, because, in these important problems, truth is of the utmost significance. I prefer not to write on this subject, but will tell you about it all when we meet.
It is very cold and windy.
I must finish. God keep you, my dear! I kiss you and the dear children affectionately.
Eternally your old
Stavka. 12 February, 1916.
I am very grateful for letter and telegram. The conference came to an end after midnight. Am satisfied with the result. It is cold, windy. I kiss you tenderly.
Stavka. 13 February, 1916.
MY BELOVED SUNNY,
The courier has not yet arrived. I have finished with my papers, and therefore have more time for my letter.
To-day is the regimental festival of my Uhlans - they are resting somewhere in southern Galicia. In honour of the day I have promoted Zamoisky to be Wing-Adjutant (A.D.C.). I have inherited him from Nicolasha; he was attached to him as orderly.
There has been a lot of bother all these last days, especially for me. First of all, the conference, which lasted for 6 hours. At the same time I had to speak seriously to some of the generals, to receive Sandro with a long report, Boris after his review, Polivanov and Admiral Phillimore, who has returned from Arkhangelsk. Yesterday Dmitry appeared unexpectedly on his way through for a ten days' leave. I shall see him for a little time at my leisure today.
Sandro is in excellent spirits. He is going home for five days - try to see him.
Olga writes that she is leaving Kiev for a few days in order to visit her regiment, as she has not so much to do at the present time.
When free from work, I enjoy reading the book, "The Room of Secrets." It reminds me in some ways of a book which we read together.
For the last two days the weather has been very unfavourable for long walks - a strong wind has been blowing, with frost and snow, so that I was compelled to walk in the tiny garden!!! Poor little one!!!
They have just brought me your dear, scented letter, and Olga's. - I thank you heartily for them and for the interesting news from Victoria's letter. This scent excites and brings forth wonderful memories; it quite drew me to you I I must finish now. I hope that you are feeling better.
May God bless you and the children I I kiss you tenderly Your old
Give her my greetings.
NOTES: ZAMOISKY: Count A. S. Zamoisky, Count in the Life-Guard Uhlans (His Majesty's Own).
"The Room of Secrets," a story by William le Queux.<
Stavka. 13 February, 1916.
Hearty thanks for letter. I have only just returned from church. Dmitry had tea with me before his departure for home. I kiss all tenderly.
Stavka. 14 February, 1916.
I am very grateful for dear letters. I had no time to-day to write to Sossy. Had a good walk out of the town. - A cold, bright, sunny day.
Sossy: the identity of this lady is by no means clear. According to the Russian editor, she may be Queen Sophia of Greece. But it is quite conceivable that the name is due to a false transcription, and should read "Sunny."
Stavka. 15 February, 19x6.
MY OWN DARLING,
I thank you sincerely for dear letter-my old heart beats faster every time when I open and read them. Everything is absolutely quiet here now. All the plans for the approaching offensive (the word offensive is omitted in the text) are prepared, and are now being put into executionhence, Alexeiev has proposed to me to go home (i.e., has suggested that I might go home). - I shall start during the day on Wednesday, and hope to reach home on Thursday at 11 o'clock in the morning. I shall stay for a week and a half. Will this not be splendid, darling?
Just now, after lunch, I found your letter no. 446 on my table, and thank you most warmly for it. How annoying that you have a cough and a temperature of 37-3!
This morning, after having got up, I allowed Botkin to sound and examine me all over. - He asked to be allowed to do it here, as there is more time here - he had not overhauled me like this since I was in the Crimea. He found everything in order, and the heart even better than last time
George has arrived, but I have not yet seen him, because his train was late. To-morrow Sir Arthur Paget is coming, and will present me with the Field-Marshal's baton. I have asked all the English officers who are staying here to be present at this little ceremony.
I received Georgie's letter before - it was brought by Gen. Williams, who saw Paget in Petrograd.
Now, my dear Wify, I must finish this, my last letter.
God preserve you all I
I kiss and embrace you fondly.
NOTES: PAGET: General Sir Arthur Fitzroy Paget, eldest son of General Lord Alfred Paget. He commanded the forces in Ireland from 1911 to 1917.
Telegram. Stavka. 16 February, 1916.
Hearty thanks for dear letters. I have just received Sir A. Paget with the baton. Saw a cinema for girls in the theatre. It was charming. I embrace all tenderly.