19 Events of the All but Forgotten American Intervention in the Russian Civil War

The deployment of American troops and supplies to Arkhangelsk met with protests in the United States after the armistice. Library of Congress

2. Political unrest in the United States in 1919

By the winter of 1918-19, letters home from the American troops in the Arkhangelsk deployment indicated extremely low morale among them, and also complained that the need to protect materials shipped to the port was absent in winter since the port froze over. Both Congress and the War Department had opposed the deployment of American troops in the Russian Civil War, and combined with a letter campaign from the families of the deployed troops supported by conservative newspapers, Wilson came under considerable political pressure to bring the troops home. The pressure was only increased by the triumphant return of the American doughboys from France.

By the spring of 1919 General Pershing ordered an orderly withdrawal of the Americans from Russia, with the British using their own troops to protect British and French interests in the former Russian Empire. The low morale among the American troops deployed there led to reports of mutiny and disciplinary lapses among the men. In the late spring British troops began to arrive to relieve the Americans in the lines, and by the end of June the American troops were withdrawn to France. When they arrived there most of the men referred to themselves as the Polar Bears, in tribute to the ferocity of the Russian winter which they had endured during their deployment.