During the major upheavals in March 1917, when the Provisional Government and the Petrograd Soviet of Workers and Soldiers Deputies attempted to rule after the Tsar's abdication, the soldiers on the five Russian battlefronts tasted for the first time the hitherto forbidden fruits of political activity and the delights of pressing their various claims. For the majority, this expressed itself only in the crudest manner. The multi-million mass of peasant infantrymen wished to be done with a war which had exacted so fearsome a toll of Russian dead and maimed. Their attention was riveted on the land and their minds possessed with the idea of remaining alive to claim their share of the agrarian spoils. Demoralisation did not come quite so swiftly to the technical units and the artillery men, nor to the troops of the elite battalions who had distinguished themselves in a war which, even with its opening, brought catastrophe. Great Britain and France were now forced to bend their efforts to keep Russia in the war and to hold her to her solemn word, while the German High Command schemed to knock away this weakened link in the Entente chain. 1

The March Revolution had quickly granted the armed forces their charter of personal and political rights with the famous 'Order No. I'. The Order itself was penned by N. D. Sokolov, surrounded by soldiers 'half-dictating and half-suggesting' the contents.2 The Order authorised the election in all military units and naval formations of 'committees' drawn from the lower ranks. Representatives to tlle Petro grad Soviet were also to be chosen by units. Orders issued by the Duma Military Commission were to be obeyed only if they were sanctioned by the Soviet. The elected 'committees' would also assume responsibility for all arms, which were not to be issued to officers. Soldiers henceforth would enjoy all the rights of an ordinary citizen; saluting when off duty was abolished. Officers would no longer enjoy their previous exalted form of address, and rudeness to soldiers was prohibited.3 Although

the product of a considerable provocation, the Order cOI1.~tituted a deadly threat to the authority of the officers. In addition, from this point forth the concealed social struggle leapt into the light of day, so that officers came to be regarded only as 'the land-owner in military uniform'.4