Painfully stretched the long hours of this night. From everywhere we waited for reinforcements, which, however, stubbornly did not appear.
With the Cossack troops were in continuous negotiations over the phone. Under various pretexts, the Cossacks stubbornly sat in their barracks, all the time saying that about 15-20 minutes later, they “would find out everything” and “begin to saddle horses.” On the other hand, the party fighting forces not only did not appear at headquarters, but did not show any activity in the city either. This mysterious at first glance fact was explained very simply. Party centers, fascinated by endless negotiations with Smolny, much more relying on the authority of the “resolution” than on the force of bayonets, did not bother to make the appropriate orders in time. In general, it must be admitted that while the Bolsheviks on the left acted with intense energy, and the Bolsheviks on the right in every possible way contributed to their early triumph, in political circles, sincerely devoted to the revolution and connected in their fate with the fate of the Provisional Government, some incomprehensible confidence prevailed. that "everything is all right", that there is no reason to be especially anxious and to resort to heroic measures of salvation.
Meanwhile, the night hours were coming. And the closer the morning was, the more unbearable and tense the atmosphere in the headquarters became. One of the devoted and honest officers who called me to work,] aware of what was happening at headquarters, and especially] after looking at the actions of Colonel Polkovnikov, came to me and said with excitement that he couldn’t call everything else as cheating. Indeed, the officers, meeting in large numbers at headquarters, behaved towards the government, and especially, of course, towards me, everything: more defiant. As I later learned, among them, on the initiative of Colonel Polkovnikov himself, was campaigning for the need for my arrest. At first they were whispering about it, and by the morning they began to speak loudly, almost without embarrassment by the presence of “outsiders”. A mad idea then owned many minds: without Kerensky, it would be easier and faster to deal with the Bolsheviks; it will be possible to create at last this so-called strong power without difficulty. And it is beyond any doubt that all that night Colonel Colonels and some other officers of the district headquarters were in constant contact with anti-government right-wing organizations that were active in the city, such as, for example, with the Council of the Union of Cossack troops, with the Union of St. George Cavaliers, with . - Petersburg department of the Union of officers and other similar kind of military and civilian institutions.
Of course, this suffocating atmosphere could not but affect the mood of all those defenders of the existing government who were in communication with the headquarters. Already in the evening Junker, whose mood was excellent from the beginning, began to lose courage; later a team of armored cars began to worry; every extra minute of vain waiting for reinforcements increasingly lowered the "combat effectiveness" of those and others.
At seven o'clock in the morning, having spoken once again on a direct wire with Glavkosev’s General Headquarters about accelerating the expulsion of faithful troops to St. Petersburg, without waiting for the Cossacks who still “saddled horses”, Konovalov and I, overwhelmed by the impressions of that night, went backwards in the Winter Palace a little nap. I remember how along the road we were surrounded more than once by groups of agitated junkers; I remember how they had to reassure and explain all the terrible consequences for the state of Bolshevik success.
Going upstairs to my rooms, I thought right now to collect all my correspondence, documents and send all this for storage in the right place. But then I felt what a painful impression this whole operation would make on everyone in the palace, and gave up my intention. Thus, all the papers kept by me personally and in some of my parts that were of considerable interest, the next night, some of them fell into the hands of the Bolsheviks, and some simply disappeared.
After parting with Konovalov, giving a few urgent orders "just in case", I was left alone and lay down, without undressing, on an ottoman standing in my office ... I could not sleep. He lay with his eyes closed in a kind of half-slumber. In less than an hour, the courier, who entered the room with an emergency message, brought me out of this state. The Bolsheviks seized the Central Telephone Station, and all of our (palace) telephone communications with the city were interrupted; The palace bridge (under the windows of my rooms) is occupied by pickets of sailors - the Bolsheviks; Palace Square is completely deserted and empty; about the Cossacks no rumor, as it should, however, be expected.
In less than 10 minutes, both of us, Konovalov and I, with adjutants, rushed back to the district headquarters. Here, in two hours of our absence, nothing has changed ... However, no, it has changed - some parts of the armored cars "disappeared", and they became just as useful for defense as the water barrels. The approaches to the palace and the headquarters were completely guarded by no one and nothing. There was no information about the echelons sent from the Northern front, although they were supposed to be joke in Gatchina. The panic began. The headquarters building crowded from the evening was quickly empty. I did not have time to enter the headquarters when a delegation came from the junkers who were guarding the palace. It turned out that the Bolsheviks sent a uniform ultimatum demanding that they leave the palace under the threat of merciless repression. The delegates asked for instructions, stating that the vast majority of their comrades were ready to fulfill their duty until the end, if there was any hope of any reinforcements approaching ... Under these conditions, it was obvious that only the actual appearance of reinforcements in a very short time front could still save the day.
But how to get them? There was only one thing left: to go, without losing a single minute, to meet echelons stuck somewhere in Gatchina, and push them into St. Petersburg, in spite of any obstacles. After consulting with the ministers Konovalov and Kishkin (who came to the rescue by this time); After talking with some of the staff officers remaining loyal to the oath, I decided to break through all the Bolshevik outposts and personally meet the troops that we thought were suitable.
First of all, it was necessary to pass through the whole city in broad daylight, without arousing suspicion of the Bolshevik troops and guards of the Red Guard scattered everywhere. It was the most difficult ... After some reflection, they decided to go ahead: to put down any imprudence, we will act with an open visor. I ordered my excellent open road car to be filed. The soldier-driver was my superbly courageous and loyal person. One of the adjutants explained the task to him. He did not hesitate for a second, he took it. As luck would have it, the car didn't have enough for the long haul of gasoline and not a single spare tire. I prefer to be left without gasoline and tires, than to pay attention to myself with long collections. I take with me on the road besides two adjutants, still captain Kuzmin, assistant commander of the troops, and his staff officer. How, I do not know, but the news of my departure reached the Allied embassies. At the moment of the actual departure, representatives of the English and, as far as I remember, the American embassies with a statement saying that representatives of the Allied powers wanted the car flying the American flag to go with me. Although it was more than obvious that the American flag, in the event of a breakthrough failure, could not save me and my companions, and even, on the contrary, during the passage through the city could strengthen us all the unnecessary attention, I nevertheless accepted this with gratitude the proposal as evidence of the allies' attention to the Russian government and solidarity with it.
After shaking the hand of Kishkin for the last time, who had assumed the leadership of the defense of the capital during my absence, I with the most carefree look came down with my companions to the courtyard of the headquarters. Got into the car. Here was the way the American car; I didn’t have enough space for one of the officers, and he went separately, but with the condition to stay away from us in the city with his American flag at a “respectful” distance. Finally we set off on a journey. All the usual appearance of my daily trips was observed to the smallest detail. I sat down, as always, in my place - on the right side of the back seat in my paramilitary costume, to which the population and the troops were so accustomed. At the very beginning of the Naval Station, at the telephone station, we drove past the first Bolshevik guard. Then, at Astoria, at the Mariinsky Palace — patrols and detachments of the Reds stood everywhere. Needless to say, the whole street - both passersby and soldiers - immediately recognized me. The military pulled out, as if nothing had really happened. I saluted, as always. Probably a second after my journey, none of them could explain to himself how it happened that he not only missed this “counter-revolutionary”, “enemy of the people”, but also saluted him.
Having safely passed through the central parts of the city, we, driving into the workers' districts and approaching the Moscow outpost, began to develop speed and finally rushed at breakneck speed. I remember how the Red Guards, standing guard, seeing our car, began running from different directions to the highway, but we already sped past, and they did not just stop trying, they didn’t recognize us.
In Gatchina, we drove right under the gates of the palace to the entrance of the commandant. Chilled during this mad race to the bone. Having found out, to our great surprise, that there are no echelons from the front in Gatchina and no one here has heard anything about them, we decide to go immediately to Luga, and if necessary, even to Pskov. To embark on such a long way along the autumn road without spare tires and gasoline is unthinkable, so we decide to enter the commandant’s apartment for half an hour, warm up and drink a glass of tea, while our cars go to the garage of the car team. However, from the first step in the apartment of the commandant, his behavior seemed to me extremely strange. He tried to speak as loudly as possible. He kept himself at the open door to the next room, from where some soldiers were carefully examining us. As if in obedience to what inner voice, I suddenly ordered my car to be delayed and suggested to my companions without any tea to set off immediately. Only the car under the American flag with one of the officers went to the garage for all the necessary ...
We left on time. Five minutes after our departure, a car decorated with red flags flew into the courtyard of the palace: they were rushed to arrest the members of the local Military Revolutionary Committee. It turns out that in St. Petersburg, in the headquarters, there were traitors who managed to inform Smolny about my departure to Gatchina. From Smolny there followed an order for our immediate arrest. However, our car managed to safely escape from the city.