1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Russo-Japanese War
RUSSO-JAPANESE WAR, 1904-5. The seizure by Russia of the Chinese fortress of Port Arthur, which she had a few years previously, in concert with other powers, compelled Japan to relinquish, was from the Russian point of view the logical outcome of her eastward expansion and her need for an ice-free harbour on the Pacific. The extension of the Trans-Siberian railway through Manchuria to Port Arthur and a large measure of influence in Manchuria followed equally naturally. But the whole course of this expansion had been watched with suspicion by Japan, from the time of the Saghalien incident of 1875, when the island power, then barely emerging from the feudal age, had to cede her half of the island to Russia, to the Shimonoseki treaty of 1895, when the powers compelled her to forego the profits of her victory over China. The subsequent occupation of Port Arthur and other Chinese harbours by European powers, and the evident intention of consolidating Russian influence in Manchuria, were again and again the subject of Japanese representations at St Petersburg, and these representations became more vigorous when, in 1903, Russia seemed to be about to extend her Manchurian policy into Korea. No less than ten draft treaties were discussed in vain between August 1903 and February 1904, and finally negotiations were broken off on February 5th. Japan had already on the 4th decided to use force, and her military and naval preparations, unlike those of Russia, kept pace with her diplomacy.
This was in fact an eventuality which had been foreseen and on which the naval and military policy of Japan had been based for ten years. She too had her projects of expansion and hegemony, and by the Chino-Japanese War she had gained a start over her rival. The reply of the Western powers was first to compel the victor to maintain the territorial integrity of China, and then within two years to establish themselves in Chinese harbours. From that moment Japanese policy was directed towards establishing her own hegemony and meeting the advance of Russia with a fait accompli. But her armaments were not then adequate to give effect to a strong-handed policy, so that for some years thereafter the government had both to impose heavy burdens on the people and to pursue a foreign policy of marking time, and endured the fiercest criticism on both counts, for the idea of war with Russia was as popular as the taxes necessary to that object were detested. But as the army and the navy grew year by year, the tone of Japanese policy became firmer. In 1902 her position was strengthened by the alliance with England; in 1903 her army, though in the event it proved almost too small, was considered by the military authorities as sufficiently numerous and well prepared, and the arguments of the Japanese diplomatists stiffened with menaces. Russia, on the other hand, was divided in policy and consequently in military intentions and preparations. In some quarters the force of the new Japanese army was well understood, and the estimates of the balance of military power formed by the minister of war, Kuropatkin, coincided so remarkably with the facts that at the end of the summer of 1903 he saw that the moment had come when the preponderance was on the side of the Japanese. He therefore proposed to abandon Russian projects in southern Manchuria and the Port Arthur region and to restore Port Arthur to China in return for considerable concessions on the side of Vladivostok. His plan was accepted, but “a lateral influence suddenly made itself felt, and the completely unexpected result was war.” Large commercial interests were in fact involved in the forward policy, “the period of heavy capital expenditure was over, that of profits about to commence,” and the power and intentions of Japan were ignored or misunderstood. Further, Dragomirov, a higher military authority even than Kuropatkin, declared that “Far Eastern affairs were decided in Europe.” Thus Russia entered upon the war both unprepared in a military sense, and almost entirely indifferent to its causes and its objects. To the guards and patrols of the Manchurian railway and the garrisons of Port Arthur and Vladivostok, 80,000 in all, Japan could, in consequence of her recruiting law of 1896, oppose a first-line army of some 270,000 trained men. Behind these, however, there were scarcely 200,000 trained men of the older classes, and at the other end of the long Trans-Siberian railway Russia had almost limitless resources. The strategical problem for Japan was, how to strike a blow sufficiently decisive to secure her object, before the at present insignificant forces of the East Siberian army were augmented to the point of being unassailable. It turned, therefore, principally upon the efficiency of the Trans-Siberian railway and in calculating this the Japanese made a serious underestimate. In consequence, far from applying the “universal service” principle to its full extent, they trained only one-fifth of the annual contingent of men found fit for service. The quality of the army, thus composed of picked men (a point which is often forgotten), approximated to that of a professional force; but this policy had the result that, as there was no adequate second-line army, parts of the first-line had to be reserved, instead of being employed at the front. And when for want of these active troops the first great victory proved indecisive, half-trained elements had to be sent to the front in considerable numbers—indeed the ration strength of the army was actually trebled. The aim of the war, “limited” in so far that the Japanese never deluded themselves with dreams of attacking Russia at home, was to win such victories as would establish the integrity of Japan herself and place her hegemony in the Objectives of the Japanese attack. Far East beyond challenge. Now the integrity of Japan was worth little if the Russians could hope ultimately to invade her in superior force, and as Port Arthur was the station of the fleet that might convoy an invasion, as well as the symbol of the longed-for hegemony, the fortress was necessarily the army's first objective, a convincing Sedan was the next. For the navy, which had materially only a narrow margin of superiority over the Russian Pacific Squadron, the object was to keep the two halves of that squadron, at Port Arthur and Vladivostok respectively, separate and to destroy them in detail. But in February weather these objects could not be pursued simultaneously. Prior to the break-up of the ice, the army could only disembark at Chemulpo, far from the objective, or at Dalny under the very eyes of its defenders. The army could therefore, for the moment, only occupy Korea and try to draw upon itself hostile forces that would otherwise be available to assist Port Arthur when the land attack opened. For the navy, instant action was imperative.
On the 8th of February the main battle-fleet, commanded by Vice-Admiral Togo, was on the way to Port Arthur. During the night his torpedo-boats surprised the Russian squadron in harbour and inflicted serious losses, and later in the day the battleships engaged the coast batteries. Repulsed in this attempt, the Japanese established a stringent blockade, which tried the endurance of the ships and the men to the utmost. From time to time the torpedo-craft tried to run in past the batteries, several attempts were made to block the harbour entrance by sinking vessels in the fairway, and free and deadly use was made by both sides of submarine mines. But, though not destroyed, the Port Arthur squadron was paralysed by the instantaneous assertion of naval superiority.
Admiral Alexeiev, the tsar's viceroy in the Far East and the evil genius of the war, was at Port Arthur and forbade the navy to take the risks of proceeding to sea. For a time, when in place of Admiral Starck (who was held responsible for the surprise of February), Admiral Makárov, an officer of European reputation, commanded the fleet, this lethargy was shaken off. The new commander took his ships to sea every day. But his energetic leadership was soon ended by a tragedy. A field Makárov at Port Arthur. of electro-mechanical mines was laid by the Japanese in the night of April 12th-13th, and on the following day the Japanese cruisers stood inshore to tempt the enemy on to the mine-field. Makárov, however, crossed it without accident, and pursued the cruisers until Togo's battle-fleet appeared, whereupon he went about and steamed for port. In doing so he recrossed the mine-field, and this time the mines were effectual. The flagship “Petropavlovsk” was struck and went down with the admiral and 600 men, and another battleship was seriously injured. Then the advocates of passivity regained the upper hand and kept the squadron in harbour, and henceforward for many months the Japanese navy lay unchallenged off Port Arthur, engaging in minor operations, covering the transport of troops to the mainland, and watching for the moment when the advance of the army should force the Russian fleet to come out. Meantime seven Japanese cruisers under Vice-Admiral Kaimamura went in search of the Russian Vladivostok squadron; this, however, evaded them for some months, and inflicted some damage on the Japanese mercantile marine and transports. The Japanese had not waited to gain command of the sea before beginning the sea transport of that part of their troops allotted to Korea. The roads of that country were so poor that the landing had to be made, not on the Straits of Tsushima, but as far north as The Japanese 1st Army in Korea possible. Chemulpo, nearer by 50 m. to Port Arthur than to Japan, was selected. On the first day of hostilities Rear-Admiral Uriu disembarked troops at Chemulpo under the eyes of the Russian cruiser “Variag,” and next day he attacked and destroyed the “Variag” and some smaller war-vessels in the harbour, and the rest of the 1st Army (General Kuroki) was gradually brought over during February and March, in spite of an unbeaten and, under Makárov's régime, an enterprising hostile navy. But owing to the thaw and the subsequent break-up of the miserable Korean roads, six weeks passed before the columns of the army (Guard, 2nd and 12th divisions), strung out along the “Mandarin road” to a total depth of six days' march, closed upon the head at Wiju, the frontier town on the Yalu. Opposite to them they found a large Russian force of all arms.
The Russian commanders, at this stage at least, had not and could not have any definite objective. Both by sea and by land their policy was to mass their resources, repulsing meantime the attacks of the Japanese with as much damage to the enemy and as little to themselves as possible. Their strategy was to gain time without immobilizing themselves so far that the Japanese could impose a decisive action at the moment that suited them best. Both by sea and by land, such strategy was an exceedingly difficult game to play. But afloat, had Makárov survived, it would have been played to the end, and Togo's fleet would have been steadily used up. One day, indeed (May 15th), two of Japan's largest battleships, the “Hatsume” and the “Yashima,” came in contact with free mines and were sunk. One of them went to the bottom with five hundred souls. But the admiral was not on board. The Russian sailors said, when Makárov's fate was made known, “It is not the loss of a battleship. The Japanese are welcome to two of them. It is he.” Not only the skill, but the force of character required for playing with fire, was wanting to Makárov's successors.
It was much the same on land. Kuropatkin, who had taken of the army, saw from the first that he would have Kuropatkin's plan. to gain three months, and disposed his forces as they came on the scene, unit by unit, in perfect accord with the necessities of the case. His expressed intention was to fight no battle until superiority in numbers was on his side. He could have gained his respite by concentrating at Harbin or even at Mukden or at Liao-Yang. But he had to reckon with the fleet at Port Arthur. He knew that the defences of that place were defective, and that if the fleet were destroyed whilst that of Togo kept the sea, there would be no Russian offensive. He therefore chose Liao-Yang as the point of concentration, and having thus to gain time by force instead of by distance, he pushed out a strong covering detachment towards the Yalu.
But little by little he succumbed to his milieu, the atmosphere of false confidence and passivity created around him by Alexeiev. After he had minutely arranged the Eastern Detachment in a series of rearguard positions, so that each fraction of it could contribute a little to the game of delaying the enemy before retiring on the positions next in rear, the commander of the detachment, Zasulich, told him that “it was not the custom of a knight of the order of St George to retreat,” and Kuropatkin did not use his authority to recall the general, who, whether competent or not, obviously misunderstood his mission. Thus, whilst the detachment was still disposed as a series of rearguards, the foremost fractions of it stood to fight on the Yalu, against odds of four to one.
The Japanese 1st Army was carefully concealed about Wiju until it was ready to strike. Determined that in this first battle against a white nation they would show their mettle, the Japanese lavished both time and forethought on the minutest preparations. Forethought was still busy when, in accordance with instructions from Tokio, Kuroki on the 30th of April ordered the attack to begin at daybreak on the 1st of May. For several miles above Antung the rivers Yalu and Aiho are parallel and connected by numerous channels. The majority of the islands thus formed were held and had been bridged by the Japanese. The points of passage were commanded by high ground a little farther up where the valleys definitely diverge, and beyond the flank of the ill-concealed positions of the defence. The first task of the right division (12th) was to cross the upper Yalu and seize this. To the Guard and 2nd divisions was Battle of the Yalu. assigned the frontal attack on the Chiuliencheng position, where the Russians had about one-half of their forces under Major-General Kashtalinski. On the 30th of April, Inouye's 12th division accomplished its task of clearing the high ground up to the Aiho. The Russians, though well aware that the force in their front was an army, neither retired nor concentrated. Zasulich's medieval generalship had been modified so far that he intended to retreat when he had taught the Japanese a lesson, and therefore Kuropatkin's original arrangements were not sensibly modified. So it came about that the combined attack of the 2nd and Guard divisions against the front, and Inouye on the left flank and rear, found Kashtalinski without support. After a rather ineffective artillery bombardment the Japanese advanced in full force, without hesitation or finesse, and plunging into the river, stormed forward under a heavy fire. A few moments afterwards Zasulich ordered the retreat. But the pressure was far too close now. Broken up by superior numbers the Russian line parted into groups, each of which, after resisting bravely for a time, was driven back. Then the frontal attack stopped and both divisions abandoned themselves to the intoxication of victory. Meanwhile, the right attack (12th division) encountering no very serious resistance, crossed the Aiho and began to move on the left rear of the Russians. On the side of the defence, each colonel had been left to retire as best he could, and thus certain fractions of the retreating Russians encountered Inouye's advancing troops and were destroyed after a most gallant resistance. The rearguard itself, at Hamatan, was almost entirely sacrificed, owing to the wrong direction taken in retreating by its left flankguard. Fresh attempts were made by subordinates to form rearguards, but Zasulich made no stand even at Feng-hwang-cheng, and the Japanese occupied that town unopposed on the 5th of May. The Japanese losses were 1100 out of over 40,000 present, the Russian (chiefly in the retreat) at least 2500 out of some 7000 engaged.
The Yalu, like Valmy, was a moment in the world's history. It mattered little that the Russians had escaped or that they had been in inferior numbers. The serious fact was that they had been beaten.
The general distribution of the Russian forces was now as follows: The main army under Kuropatkin was forming, by successive brigades, in two groups—I. Siberian Corps (Stakelberg), Niu-chwang and Kaiping; II. Siberian Corps, Liao-Yang. Zasulich (III. Corps and various other units) had still 21,000. In the Port Arthur “fortified rayon,” under Lieut.-General Stoessel (IV. Corps), were 27,060 men, and General Linievich around Vladivostok had 23,000. These are, however, paper strengths only, and the actual number for duty cannot have been higher than 110,000 in all. The Trans-Siberian railway was the only line of communication with Europe and western Siberia, and its calculated output of men was 40,000 a month in the summer. In October 1904, therefore, supposing the Japanese to have used part of their forces against Port Arthur, and setting this off against the absence of Linievich and Stoessel, Kuropatkin could expect to have a sufficient superiority in numbers to take the offensive. His policy was still, “No battle before we are in superior force.”
For the moment it was equally Japan's interest to mark time in Manchuria. Still intent upon the Russian Port Arthur squadron, Landing of the Japanese 2nd Army. she had embarked her 2nd Army (General Oku, 1st, 3rd, 4th and 5th divisions) during April, and sent it to Chinampo whence, as soon as the ice melted and Kuroki's victory cleared the air, it sailed to the selected landing-place near Pitszewo. Here, under the protection of a continuous chain of war-vessels between the Elliot Islands and the mainland, Oku began to disembark on the 5th of May. But the difficulties of the coast were such that it took three weeks to disembark the whole and to extend across the peninsula to Port Adams. Oku then, leaving the 5th division behind, moved down with the rest towards Kinchow, and after storming that place found himself face to face with a position of enormous strength, Nanshan Hill, at the narrowest part of the peninsula, where part of a Russian division (3000 only out of 12,000 were actually engaged) had fortified itself with extreme care. On the 26th of May took place the battle of Nanshan. The Japanese attack was convergent, but there was no room for envelopment; the Russian position moreover was “all-round” and presented no flanks, and except for the enfilade fire of the Japanese and Russian gunboats in the shallow bays on either side the battle was locally at every point a frontal attack and defence. The first rush of the assailants carried them up to the wire and other obstacles, but they were for many hours unable to advance a step farther. But the resolute Oku attacked time after time, and at last the 4th division on his right, assisted by its gunboats, forced its way into the Russian position. The Russians had Nanshan. just begun to retreat, in accordance with orders from higher authorities. But it was a second undeniable victory. It was, moreover, a preface to those furious assaults on Port Arthur which, because they were the expression of a need that every soldier felt, and not merely of a tactical method, transcend all cool-blooded criticism. The Japanese losses were 4500 out of 30,000 engaged or 15%, that of the Russians fully half of the 3000 engaged. The victors captured many guns, but were too exhausted to pursue the Russians, whose retirement was not made in the best order.
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The transports were now conveying the 6th and 11th divisions to Pitszewo; these were to form the 3rd Army (Nogi) for operations against Port Arthur. Oku exchanged his 1st division for the 6th. The 2nd Army then turned northward (3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th divisions). The 10th division, forming the nucleus of the 4th Army, had begun to land at Takushan on the 19th of May. The 2nd and 4th Armies were the left wing of a widespread converging movement on Liao-Yang. Oku had the greatest distance to march, Kuroki the smallest. The latter therefore had to stand fast in the face of the Russian Eastern Detachment, which was three days' march at most from Feng-hwang-cheng and could be supported in three more days by Kuropatkin's main body, whereas the pressure of Oku's advance would not begin to be felt by the Russian Southern Detachment until the twelfth day at earliest. It was necessary therefore for the first objective to make a slight concession to the second. Oku had to start at the earliest possible moment, even though operations against Port Arthur were thereby delayed for a week or two. In fact, Oku's march began on June 13th, Kuroki's on June 24th; the moves of the intermediate forces at various dates within this time.
Meanwhile Kuropatkin, assembling the main army week by week, was in difficult position. His policy of gaining time had received a severe blow in the failure of his executive officer to realize it, and that officer, though his unpursued troops quickly regained their moral, had himself completely lost confidence. On the news of the battle (coupled with that of a fresh army appearing on the Korean coast), Kuropatkin instantly sent off part of his embryo central mass to bar the mountain passes of Fenshuiling and Motienling against the imagined relentless pursuit of the victors, and prepared to shift his centre of concentration back to Mukden. The subsidiary protective forces on either flank of Zasulich had promptly abandoned their look-out positions and fallen back to join him. But the commander-in-chief, soon realizing that the Japanese were not pursuing, reasserted himself, sent the protective troops back to their posts, and cancelled all orders for the evacuation of Liao-Yang. From this time forward, Kuropatkin allowed his subordinates little or no initiative. A few days later, Zasulich's persistent requests to be allowed to retreat and the still uncertain movements of the and Army induced him once more to prepare a concentration on Mukden. But on the 6th of May he learned that the Japanese 1st Army had again halted at Feng-hwang-cheng and that the 2nd Army was disembarking at Pitszewo, and he resumed (though less confidently) his original idea. The Eastern protective detachment, now strengthened and placed under the orders of Count Keller, was disposed with a view to countering any advance on Liao-Yang from the east by a combination of manœuvre and fighting. It was at this moment of doubt that Alexeiev, leaving Port Arthur just in time and profoundly impressed with the precarious state of affairs in the fleet and the fortress, gave the order, as commander-in-chief Alexeiev and Kuropatkin. by land and sea, for an “active” policy (19th May). Kuropatkin, thus required to abandon his own plan, had only to choose between attacking the 1st Army and turning upon Oku. He did not yield at once; a second letter from the viceroy, the news of Nanshan, and above all a signed order from the tsar himself, “Inform General Kuropatkin that I impose upon him all the responsibility for the fate of Port Arthur,” were needed to bring him definitely to execute a scheme which in his heart he knew to be perilous. The path of duty for a general saddled with a plan which he disapproves is not easily discoverable. Napoleon in like case refused, at the risk of enforced resignation, but so did Moreau; the generality of lesser men have obeyed, but so did Suvárov.
Stakelberg's I. Siberian Corps was therefore reinforced towards the end of May up to a strength of above 35,000. But it remained a detachment only. The Liao-Yang central mass was still held in hand, for the landing of the 4th Army—really only a division at present—at Takushan and the wrong placing of another Japanese division supposed to be with Kuroki (really intended for Nogi) had aroused Kuropatkin's fears for the holding capacity of Keller's detachment. Moreover, disliking the whole enterprise, he was most unwilling to use up his army in it. The Russians, then, at the beginning of June, were divided into three groups, the Southern, or offensive group (35,000), in the triangle Neuchwang-Haicheng-Kaiping; the Eastern or defensive group (30,000), the main body of it guarding the passes right and left of the Wiju-Liao-Yang road, the left (Cossacks) in the roadless hills of the upper Aiho and Yalu valleys, the right (Mishchenko's Cossacks and infantry supports) guarding Fenshuiling pass and the road from Takushan; the reserve (42,000) with Kuropatkin at Liao-Yang; the “Ussuri Army” about Vladivostok; and Stessel's two divisions in the Kwantung peninsula.
On the other side the 1st Army was at Feng-hwang-Cheng with one brigade detached on the roads on either hand, the left being therefore in front of the Takushan division and facing the Fenshuiling. Oku's 2nd Army (4 divisions or 60,000 combatants) was about Port Adams. This last was the objective Stakelberg's expedition. of the attack of Stakelberg's 35,000. Kuropatkin's orders to his subordinate were a compromise between his own plan and Alexeiev's. Stakelberg was to crush a rapid and energetic advance the covering forces of the enemy met with, and his object was “the capture of the Nanshan position and thereafter an advance on Port Arthur.” Yet another object was given him, to “relieve the pressure on Port Arthur by drawing upon himself the bulk of the enemy's forces,” and he was not to allow himself to be drawn into a decisive action against superior numbers. Lastly, on June 7th, while Stakelberg was proceeding southward on his ill-defined errand, Kuropatkin, imposed upon by the advance of the Takushan column to Siu-yen, forbade him to concentrate to the front, only removing the veto when he learned that the 4th Army had halted and entrenched at Siu-yen.
On the 14th, all his arrangements for supply and transport being at last complete, Oku moved north. Although he was still short of part of the 6th division, he was in superior force. He had, moreover, the perfectly definite purpose of fighting his way north, and at Telissu or Wafangkou on the 14th of June, Telissu. as he expected, he came upon Stakelberg's detachment in an entrenched position. On the 14th and 15th, attacking sharply on the Russian front and lapping round both its flanks, Oku won an important and handsome victory, at a cost of 1200 men out of 35,000 engaged, while the Russians, with a loss of at least 3600 out of about 25,000 engaged, retired in disorder. Thus swiftly and disastrously ended the southern expedition.
Meantime, except for the movement on Siu-yen already mentioned, and various reconnaissances in force by Keller's main body and by Rennenkampf's Cossacks farther inland, all was quiet along the Motienling front. Kuroki entrenched himself carefully about Feng-hwang-cheng, intending, if attacked by the Russian main army, to defend to the last extremity the ground and the prestige gained on the 1st of May.
From this point to the culmination of the advance at Liao-Yang, the situation of the Japanese closely resembles that of the Prussians in 1866. Haicheng represents Münchengrätz, Liao-Yang Gitschin, and the passes east of Liao-Yang Nachod and Trautenau. The concentration of the various Japanese armies on one battlefield was to be made, not along the circumference of the long arc they occupied, but towards the centre. Similarly, Kuropatkin was in the position of Benedek. He possessed the interior lines and the central reserve which enables interior lines to be utilized, and a stroke of good fortune prolonged the period in which he could command the situation, for on the 23rd of June an unexpected sortie of the Russian Port Arthur squadron paralysed the Japanese land offensive. In the squadron were seen the battleships damaged in the February attacks, and the balance of force was now against Togo, who had lost the “Yashima” and the “Hatsuse.” The squadron nevertheless tamely returned to harbour, Togo resumed the blockade and Nogi began his advance from Nanshan, but the 2nd and 4th Armies came to a standstill at once (naval escort for their sea-borne supplies being no longer available), and the 1st Army, whose turn to advance had just arrived, only pushed ahead a few miles to cover a larger supply area. On the 1st of July the Vladivostok squadron appeared in the Tsushima Straits, and then vanished to an unknown destination, and whether this intensified the anxiety of the Japanese or not, it is the fact that the 2nd Army halted for eleven days at Kaiping, bringing the next on its right, 4th Army, to a standstill likewise. Its next advance brought it to the fortified position of Tashichiao, where Kuropatkin had, by drawing heavily upon his central reserve and even on the Eastern Detachment, massed about two army corps.
On the 24th Oku attacked, but the Russian general, Zarubayev, handled his troops very skilfully, and the Japanese were repulsed Tashichiao. with a loss of 1200 men. Zarubayev who had used only about half his forces in the battle, nevertheless retired in the night, fearing to be cut off by a descent of the approaching 4th Army on Haicheng, and well content to have broken the spell of defeat. Oku renewed the attack next day, but found only a rearguard in front of him, and without following up the retiring Russians he again halted for six days before proceeding to Haicheng to effect a junction with the 4th Army (Nozu), which meantime had won a number of minor actions and forced the passage of the mountains at Fenshuiling South.
The 1st Army, after its long halt at Feng-hwang-cheng, which was employed in minutely organizing the supply service—a task of exceptional difficulty in these roadless mountains—reopened the campaign on the 24th of June, but only tentatively on account of the discouraging news from Port Arthur. A tremendous rainstorm imposed further delays, for the coolies and the native transport that had been laboriously collected scattered in all directions. The Motienling pass, however, had been seized without difficulty, and Keller's power of counterattack had been reduced to nothing by the despatch of most of his forces to the concentration at Tashichiao. But Oku's 2nd Army was now at a standstill at Kaiping, and until he was further advanced the 1st Army could not press forward. The captured passes were therefore fortified (as Feng-hwang-cheng had been) for passive resistance. This, and the movements of the 4th Army, which had set its face towards Haicheng and no longer seemed to be part of a threat on Liao-Yang, led to the idea being entertained at Kuropatkin's headquarters that the centre of gravity was shifting to the south. To clear up the situation Keller's force was augmented and ordered to attack Kuroki. It was repulsed with a loss of nearly 1000 men in the action at the Motienling (17th July), but it was at least ascertained that considerable forces were still on the Japanese right, Actions on the eastern front. and upon the arrival of a fresh army corps from Europe Kuropatkin announced his intention of attacking Kuroki. And in effect he succeeded in concentrating the equivalent of an army corps, in addition to Keller's force, opposite to Kuroki's right. But having secured this advantage he stood still for five days, and Kuroki had ample time to make his arrangements. The Japanese general occupied some 20 m. of front in two halves, separated by 6 m. of impassable mountain, and knowing well the danger of a “cordon” defensive, he met the crisis in another and a bolder fashion. Calling in the brigade detached to the assistance of Nozu as well as all other available fractions of his scattered army, he himself attacked on the 31st of July, all along the line. It was little more than an assertion of his will to conquer, but it was effectual. On his left wing the attacks of the Guard and 2nd divisions (action of Yang-tzu-ling) on the Russian front and flank failed: the frontal attack because of the resolute defence, the flank attack from sheer fatigue of the troops. Count Keller was killed in the defence. Meantime on the Japanese right the 12th division attacked the large bodies of troops that Kuropatkin had massed (Yu-shu-ling) equally in vain. But one marked success was achieved by the Japanese. The Russian 35th and 36th regiments (10th European Corps) were caught between two advancing columns, and, thanks to the initiative of one of the column leaders, Okasaki, destroyed. At night, discouraged on each wing by the fall of Count Keller and the fate of the 35th and 36th, the whole Russian force retired on Anping, with a loss of 2400, to the Japanese 1000 men.
This was the only manifestation of the offensive spirit on Kuropatkin's part during the six months of marking time. It was for defence, sometimes partial and elastic, sometimes rigid and “at-all-costs,” that he had made his dispositions throughout. His policy now was to retire on Liao-Yang as slowly as possible and to defend himself in a series of concentric Russian retirement on Liao-Yang. prepared positions. In his orders for the battle around his stronghold there is no word of counter-attack, and his central mass, the special weapon of the commander-in-chief, he gave over to Bilderling and to Zarubayev to strengthen the defence in their respective sections or posted for the protection of his line of retreat. Nevertheless he had every intention, of delivering a heavy and decisive counter stroke when the right moment should come, and meantime his defensive tactics would certainly have full play on this prearranged battlefield with its elaborate redoubts, bomb proofs and obstacles, and its garrison of a strength obviously equal (and in reality superior) to that of the assailants.
The Japanese, too, had effected their object, and as they converged on their objective, the inner flanks of the three armies had connected and the supreme commander Marshal Oyama had taken command of the whole. But, as the event was to prove, the military policy of Japan had failed to produce the requisite number of men for the desired Sedan, and so, instead of boldly pushing out the 1st Army to such a distance that it could manœuvre, as Moltke did in 1866 and 1870, he attached it to the general line of battle. It was not in two or three powerful groups but in one long chain of seven deployed divisions that the advance was made.
On the 25th of August the 2nd and 4th Armies from Haicheng and the 1st Army from the Yin-tsu-ling and Yu-shu-ling began the last stage of their convergent advance. The Russian first position extended in a semicircle from Anshantien (on the Liao-Yang-Hai-cheng railway) into the hills at Anping, and thence to the Taitse river above Liao-Yang; both sides had mixed detachments farther out on the flanks. The first step in the Japanese plan was the advance of Kuroki's army to Anping. Battle of Liao-Yang. Throughout the 25th, night of 25th-26th, and 26th of August, Kuroki advanced, fighting heavily all along the line, until on the night of the 26th the defenders gave up the contested ground at Anping. Hitherto there had only been skirmishing on a large, scale on the side of Hai-cheng. Kuropatkin having already drawn in his line of defence on the south side towards Liao-Yang, the 2nd and 4th Japanese Armies delivered what was practically a blow in the air. But on the 27th there was a marked change in the Japanese plan. The right of the 1st Army, when about to continue the advance west on Liao-Yang, was diverted northward by Oyama's orders and ordered to prepare to cross the Taitszeho. The retirement of the Russian Southern Force into its entrenchments emboldened the Japanese commander in-chief to imitate Moltke's method to the full. On the 28th, however, the 1st Army made scarcely any progress. The right (12th) division reached the upper Taitszeho, but the divisions that were to come up on its left were held fast by their opponents. The 29th was an uneventful day, on which both sides prepared for the next phase.
The Russians' semicircle, now contracted, rested on the Taitszeho above and below the town, and their forces were massed most closely on either side of the “Mandarin” road that the 1st Army had followed. Opposite, this portion of the line was the Guard and the 4th Army. Oku was astride the railway, Kuroki extending towards his proposed crossing-points just beyond Kuropatkin's extreme left (the latter was behind the river). On the 30th the attack was renewed. The Guard, the 4th Army and the 2nd Army were completely repulsed.
On the night of the 30th the first Japanese troops crossed the Taitszeho near Lien-Tao-Wun, and during the 31st three brigades were deployed north of Kwan-tun, facing west. The Russian left wing observed the movement all day, and within its limited local resources made dispositions to meet it. Kuropatkin's opportunity was now come. The remainder of the 2nd division was following the 12th, leaving a nine-mile gap between Kuroki and Nozu, as well as the river. It was not, into this gap, which had no military significance, but upon the isolated divisions of the 1st Army that the Russian general proposed to launch his counter stroke. Reorganizing his southern defences on a shorter front, so as to regain possession of the reserves that he had so liberally given away to his subordinates, he began to collect large bodies of troops opposite Kuroki, while Stakelberg and Zarubayev, before withdrawing silently into the lines or rather the fortress of Liao-Yang, again repulsed Oku's determined attacks on the south side. But it was not in confidence of victory that Kuropatkin began the execution of the new plan—rather as a desperate expedient to avoid being cut off by the 1st Army, whose strength he greatly overestimated.
|Emery Walker sc.|
On the morning of the 1st of September—the anniversary of Sedan, as the Japanese officers told their men—Oyama, whose intentions the active Kuroki had somewhat outrun, delivered a last attack with the 2nd and 4th Armies, and the Guard on the south front, in the hope of keeping the main body of the Russians occupied and so assisting Kuroki, but the assailants encountered no resistance, Zarubayev having already retired into the fortress. North of the Taitszeho the crisis was approaching. Kuroki's left, near the river, vigorously attacked a hill called Manjuyama which formed part of the line of defence of the XVII. Corps from Europe. But the right of the 1st Army (12th division) was threatened by the gathering storm of the counter-stroke from the side of Yentai Mines, and had it not been that the resolute Okasaki continued the attack on Manjuyama alone, the Japanese offensive would have come to a standstill. Manjuyama, thanks to the courage of the army commander and of a single brigadier, was at last carried after nightfall, and the dislodged Russians made two counter-attacks in the dark before they would acknowledge themselves beaten. Next morning, when Kuroki, who had conceived the mistaken idea of a general retreat of the Russians on Mukden, was preparing to pursue, the storm broke. Kuropatkin had drawn together seven divisions on the left rear of the XVII. Corps, the strength of the whole being about 90,000. On the extreme left was Orlov's brigade of all arms at Yentai Mines, then came the I. Siberian Corps (Stakelberg), then the X. Corps, then the XVII. But Orlov, perplexed by conflicting instructions and caught in an unfavourable situation by a brigade of the 12th division which was executing the proposed “pursuit,” gave way—part of his force in actual rout—and the cavalry that was with him was driven back by the, Kobi (reserve army) brigade of the Guard. The fugitives of Orlov's command disordered the on-coming corps of Stakelberg, and the outer flank of the great counter stroke that was to have rolled up Kuroki's thin line came to an entire standstill. Meantime the X. Corps furiously attacked Okasaki on the Manjuyama, and though its first assault drove in a portion of Okasaki's line, a second and a third, made in the night, failed to shake the constancy of the 15th brigade. Misunderstandings and movements at cross-purposes multiplied on the Russian side, and at midnight Kuropatkin at last obtained information of events on the side of Yentai Mines. This was to the effect that Orlov was routed, Stakelberg's command much shaken, and at the same time Zarubayev in Liao-Yang, upon whom Oku and Nozu had pressed a last furious attack, reported that he had only a handful of troops still in reserve. Then Kuropatkin's resolution collapsed, although about three divisions were still intact, and he gave the order to retreat on Mukden.
Thus the Japanese had won their great victory with inferior forces, thanks “in the first instance to the defeat of General Orlov. But at least as large a share in the ruin of the Russian operations must be attributed to the steadfast gallantry of the 15th brigade on Manjuyama.” The losses of the Japanese Russian retreat on Mukden. totalled 23,000, those of the Russians 19,000. Coming, as it did, at a moment when the first attacks on Port Arthur had been repulsed with heavy losses, this brilliantly successful climax of the four months' campaign more than restored the balance. But it was not the expected Sedan. Had the two divisions still kept in Japan been present Kuroki would have had the balance of force on his side, the Russian retreat would have been confused, if not actually a rout, and the war would have been ended on Japan's own terms. As it was, after another day's fighting, Kuropatkin drew off the whole of his forces in safety, sharply repulsing an attempt at pursuit made by part of the 12th division on the 4th of September. The railway still delivered 30,000 men a month at Mukden, and Japan had for a time outrun her resources. At St Petersburg the talk was not of peace but of victory, and after a period of reorganization the Russians advanced afresh to a new trial of strength. But the remainder of the Manchurian campaign, like the second half of the war of 1850, was nothing more than a series of violent and resultless encounters of huge armies—armies far larger than those which had fought out the real struggle for supremacy at Liao-Yang and Magenta.
At this time the siege of Port Arthur had only progressed so far that the besiegers were able to realize the difficulties before them. Nogi landed on the 1st of June, and his army (1st and 11th divisions) gradually separated itself from Oku's and got into position for the advance on Port Arthur. Dalny, the commercial harbour, was seized without fighting, and a month was spent in preparing a base Nogi's advance on Port Arthur. there. But so far from retiring within his fort-line Stessel took up a strong position outside. Dislodged from this on the 26th of June, the Russians checked Nogi's further advance on July 3-4 by a fierce, though unsuccessful, counter stroke. Having been reinforced by the 9th division and two extra brigades of infantry, Nogi advanced again on the 26th. The Russians, having had a month wherein to intrench themselves, held out all along the line; but after two days and one night of fighting amongst rocks and on precipitous hillsides, the Japanese broke through on the night of July 27-28. Stessel then withdrew in good order into Port Arthur, which in the two months he had gained by his fighting manœuvre had been considerably strengthened. Nogi had already lost 8000 men.
The defences of Port Arthur, as designed by the Russians in 1900, and owing to the meagre allotment of funds only partially carried out before the war, had some tincture, but no more, of modern continental ideas. There was a continuous enceinte of plain trace round the Old Town, at a distance of 1000 to 2000 yds. from it, which had not and could not have had any influence on the issue of the siege. The main line of defence followed the outer edge of the amphitheatre of hills surrounding the harbour. These hills had their greatest development on the N.E. side, their outer crests being some 4000 yds. from the Old Town. West of the Lun river the defensive line offered by the hills is less defined, and the line adopted for the permanent works was on the north only 3000 yds. from the harbour and 2000 yds. from the New Town. Running S.W. and S. back to the coast, it gradually draws in quite close to the S.W. end of the harbour. The total length of this line from sea to sea is some 12 m. Its most obvious weakness is that 5000 yds. N.W. of the harbour and New Town the now famous “203-Metre Hill” overlooks both. Here it had been intended to construct permanent works, but considerations of expenditure had caused this to be deferred.
On this main line of defence some seven or eight permanent works had been disposed (it is difficult to define with accuracy, as some of the concreted works were little better than semi-permanent in character). Some of these had been prepared with interior parapets and platforms of concrete for medium guns. Fort Erh-Lung was of this character. The general design appears to have been grounded on the French detached forts of the 'seventies (see Fortification), as the front parapet was designed for infantry and the interior, 10 ft. higher, for guns. The ditch, 30 ft. deep, excavated in the rock, was flanked by a counterscarp galleries. The living casemates were under the gorge parapet. A grave defect in the design was that there was no covered communication between these casemates and the parapets. Fort Chi-Kuan had no artillery parapet. The Defences of Port Arthur. ditch, 12 to 15 ft. deep, was defended by counterscarp galleries. The casemates in the gorge, partially cut off from the terreplein by a couple of deep sunk yards or areas, could be defended in the last resort as a keep. In addition to this the terreplein was retrenched. In both of these forts there was an apparently meaningless projection at the gorge. It is possible that these were embryonic “batteries traditores” to flank the intervals. Fort Sung-Shu was of the same type as Chi-Kuan. These three were the only permanent forts seriously attacked.
The permanent works were supplemented before the siege began by a prodigious development of semi-permanent works and trenches. Every knoll had its redoubt or battery, and the trenches were arranged line behind line, to give supporting, cross and enfilade fire in every direction. Thus on the north front, from Chi-Kuan battery to Sung-Shu, a distance of about two miles, there were three permanent forts and seven semi-permanent works and batteries. Behind these was the “Chinese Wall,” and behind that more batteries and trenches. On the north-west front, 203-Metre Hill, in advance of the main line, was occupied by strong semi-permanent works, with trenches and redoubts to either flank; and 174-Metre Hill, 1500 yds. beyond it, was also held. The Lun-Ho valley where it cut through the line was closed by entanglements and fougasses, and swept by batteries on each side. In front of the centre, the Waterworks Redoubt, a semi-permanent work covering the Port Arthur water supply, and connected by trenches with the four Temple Redoubts a mile away to the west, formed a strong advanced position. Wire entanglements were disposed in repeated lines in front of the defences, but they were not of a strong type. The Russians, with the resources of the fleet at their disposal (just as at Sevastopol), used great numbers of machine guns and electric lights, and the available garrison at first was probably, including sailors, 47,000 men.
Such were the defences that the Japanese attacked, with a force at the outset (30th of July) little more than superior numerically to the defenders, and an entirely inadequate siege train (18 6-in. howitzers, 60 4.7-in. guns and howitzers, and about 200 field and mountain guns). They were imperfectly informed of the strength of the garrison and the nature of the defences. Recollections of their easy triumph in 1894 and perhaps thoughts of Sevastopol, German theories of the “brusque attack,” the fiery ardour of the army, and above all the need of rapidly crushing or expelling the squadron in harbour, combined to suggest a bombardment and general assault. The bombardment began on the 19th of August and continued for three days, while the infantry was spreading along the front and gaining ground where it could. The real assault was made on the night of the 21st on the two Pan-Lung forts (semi-permanent) on the centre of the north-eastern front. The fighting was of the utmost severity, and continued through the 22nd; and although the stormers captured the two forts they were absolutely unable to make any further progress under the fire of the permanent forts Erh-Lung and Chi-Kuan on either side of, and the Wan-tai fort behind, Pan-Lung. Every attempt to bring up supports to the captured positions failed, and the Russians concentrated on the spot from all quarters. On the night of the 23rd-24th, just as the assault was being renewed, Stessel delivered a fierce counter-attack against the lost positions, and the result of an all-night battle was that though the forts were not recaptured, the assault was repulsed with over 5000 casualties, and the Japanese in Pan-Lung were isolated. This sortie raised the spirits of the Russians to the highest pitch. They seemed indeed to have broken the spell of defeat. On the Japanese side 15,000 men had been killed and wounded in three weeks. The Russians strengthened their works around the captured forts in such a way as effectually to prevent farther advance, and the Japanese 3rd Army had now to resign itself to a methodical siege. Small sorties, partial attacks and duels between the Japanese guns and the Attacks on the north front. generally more powerful ordnance of the fortress continued. The siege approaches were first directed against the Temple-Waterworks group, which was stormed on the 19th and 20th of September. Pan-Lung was connected with the Japanese lines by covered ways, approaches were begun towards several of the eastern forts, and on the 20th of September 180-Metre Hill was stormed, though the crest was untenable under the fire from 203-Metre Hill. The Japanese were now beginning to pay more attention to the western side of the fortress, and from the 19th to the 22nd there was hard fighting around 203-Metre Hill, the attack being eventually repulsed with the loss of 2000 men. Operations in the west were thereupon abandoned for the time being, and the eastern forts remained the principal objective of the attack. Heavier howitzers had been sent for from Japan, and on the 1st of October the first batteries of 28 centimetre (11 in.) howitzers came into action. They fired a shell weighing 485 ℔ with a bursting charge of 17 ℔. On the 12th, the Japanese took the trenches between the Waterworks Redoubt and Erh-Lung, and cut the water-supply. Saps were then pushed on against Erh-Lung, and to help in their progress a Russian advanced work called “G” was captured on the 16th, by a skilfully combined attack of infantry and artillery. From this time forward there was a desperate struggle at the sapheads on the north front.
|Emery Walker sc.|
On the 26th of October another assault was made on Chi-Kuan Fort and Battery, and was continued at intervals, varied by Russian counter-attacks, till the 2nd of November. By this time the Japanese were becoming disheartened. They had incurred an additional loss of 13,000 men without substantial gain, except a lodgment on the counter scarp of Sung-Shu. This prepared the way for mining, which had already been begun at Erh-Lung. On the 17th of November seven mines were exploded at Sung-Shu, which b ew in the back of the counterscarp galleries. At Erh-Lung on the 20th of November three mines were exploded, which half filled the ditch, and the Japanese later on sapped across to the escarp over the débris. At Chi-Kuan, the counterscarp gallery had been breached by an ill-managed Russian mine on the 23rd of October and the Japanese got in through the breach and made a lodgment. They did not, however, get possession of the whole of the counterscarp galleries before about the middle of November. On the 22nd of November the Japanese assaulted the trench round Chi-Kuan battery. It was captured and retaken by counter-attack twice between 6 p.m. and 1 a.m. In this fight each side was using corpses as breastworks.
On the 26th of November another assault was made on the same lines as that of the 30th of October. By this time the besiegers were sapping under the escarps of the northern forts, and it would have been better to delay. But the situation was serious in the extreme. In Manchuria Kuropatkin's army had reasserted itself. From Europe Rozhestvenski's squadron was just setting sail for the Far East. Marshal Oyama sent his principal staff officers to stimulate Nogi to fresh efforts, and some exhausted units of the besieging army were replaced by fresh troops from Japan. With 100,000 men and this urgent need of immediate victory, Nogi and the marshal's staff officers felt bound to make a third general assault. The siege works had indeed made considerable progress. The ditches of Sung-Shu and Erh-Lung were partially filled. They held most of the ditch of Chi-Kuan Fort and were cutting down the escarp, and two parallels had been made only 30 yds. from the Chinese Wall at “G” and Pan-Lung.
The general attack was made at 1 p.m. At Sung-Shu the stormers got into the fort, but suffered much from the artillery on the western side of the Lun-ho valley, and were beaten out of it again in 20 minutes; 2000 men tried in vain to get up the Lun-ho valley to take Sung-Shu in rear. At Erh-Lung they could not get over the outer parapet. At “G” they took a portion of the Chinese Wall and lost it again, other trenches with a cross fire being behind. At Pan-Lung the machine guns on the Wall prevented them from leaving the parallel. At Chi-Kuan Fort the terreplein of the fort had been covered with entanglements defended by machine guns on the gorge parapets, and the Japanese could make no way. Briefly, there was a furious fight all along the line, and nothing gained. On the 27th of November, after losing 12,000 men, the assault was abandoned. On the north front the Japanese returned to mining.
But so urgent was the necessity of speedy victory that the fighting had to continue elsewhere. And at last, after every other point 203-Metre Hill. had been attempted, the weight of the attack was directed on 203-Metre Hill. A battery of 11-inch howitzers was established only one mile away. On the 28th of November assaults were made and failed. On the 30th of November an attack with fresh troops failed again. On the 1st of December there was a heavy bombardment by the big howitzers, which obliged the Russians to take shelter in rear of the ruined works. On the 2nd of December the Russians tried a counter-attack. During the next two days the artillery were busy. The engineers sapped up to the ruins of the western work, saw the shelters on the reverse slope and directed artillery fire by telephone. Thirty-six guns swept the ground with shrapnel. Finally on the 5th of December the Japanese attacked successfully. Their losses in the last ten days at 203-Metre Hill had been probably over 10,000. Those of the Russians were about 5000, chiefly from artillery fire.
This was the turning-point of the siege. At once the 11-inch howitzers, assisted by telephone from 203-Metre, opened upon the Russian ships; a few days later these were wholly hors de combat, and at the capitulation only a few destroyers were in a condition to escape. The siege was now pressed with vigour by the construction of batteries at and around 203 Metre, by an infantry advance against the main western defences, and by renewed operations against the eastern forts. The escarp of Chi-Kuan was blown up, and at the cost of 800 men, General Sameyeda (11th division), personally leading his stormers, captured the great fort on the 19th of December. The escarp of Ehr-Lung was also blown up, and the ruins of the fort were stormed by the 9th division on the 28th of December, though a mere handful of the defenders prolonged the fighting for eight hours and the assailants lost 1000 men. Sung-Shu suffered a worse fate on the 31st, the greater part of the fort and its defenders being blown up, and on this day the whole defence of the eastern front Fall of Port Arthur. collapsed. The Japanese 7th and 1st divisions were now advancing on the western main line; the soul of the Arthur defence, the brave and capable General Kondratenko, had been killed on the 15th of December, and though the Japanese seem to have anticipated a further stand, Stessel surrendered on the 2nd of January 1905, with 24,000 effective and slightly wounded and 15,000 wounded and sick men, the remnant of his original 47,000. The total losses of the 3rd Japanese Army during the siege were about 92,000 men (58,000 casualties and 34,000 sick).
Meanwhile the Japanese navy had scored two important successes. After months of blockade and minor fighting, the Russian Port Naval battle of August 10. Arthur squadron had been brought to action on the 10th of August. Admiral Vitheft, Makárov's successor, had put to sea shortly after the appearance of the 3rd Army on the land front of Port Arthur. The battle opened about noon, 20 m. south of the harbour; the forces engaged on each side varied somewhat, but Togo finally had a superiority. Admiral Vitheft was killed. As the Russians became gradually weaker, the Japanese closed in to within 3 m. range, and Prince Ukhtomsky (who succeeded to the command on Vitheft's fall) gave up the struggle at nightfall. The Russians scattered, some vessels heading southward, the majority with the admiral making for Port Arthur, whence they did not again emerge. All the rest were either forced into neutral ports (where they were interned) or destroyed, among the latter being the third-class cruiser “Novik,” which had already earned a brilliant reputation for daring, and now steamed half round Japan before she was brought to action and run ashore. The victors blockaded Port Arthur, until near the close of the siege, when, after going ashore and examining the remnant of the Russian fleet from 203-Metre Hill, Togo concluded that it would be safe to return to Japan and give his ships a complete refit. Kaimura's squadron, after various adventures, at last succeeded on the 14th of August in engaging and defeating the Russian Vladivostok squadron (Admiral Jessen). Thus the Russian flag disappeared from the Pacific, and thenceforward only the Baltic fleet could hope seriously to challenge the supremacy of the Japanese navy.
The remainder of the war on land, although it included two battles on a large scale and numerous minor operations, was principally a test of endurance. After Liao-Yang there were no extended operations, the area of conflict being confined to the plain of the coast side of the Hun-ho and the fringe of the mountains. Japan had partially accomplished, her task, but had employed all her trained men in this partial accomplishment. It was questionable, even in October 1904, whether she could endure the drain of men and money, if it were prolonged much further. On the other hand, in Russia opposition to the war, which had never been popular, gradually became the central feature of a widespread movement against irresponsible government. Thus, while the armies in Manchuria faced one another with every appearance of confidence, behind them the situation was exceedingly grave for both parties. A state of equilibrium was established, only momentarily disturbed by Kuropatkin's offensive on the Sha-ho in October, and by the Sandepu incident in the winter, until at last Oyama fought a battle on a grand scale and won it. Even then, however, the results fell far short of anticipation, and the armies settled down into equilibrium again.
After the battle of Liao-Yang Kuropatkin reverted for a moment to the plan of a concentration to the rear at Tieling. Politically, however, it was important to hold Mukden, the Manchurian capital, and since the Japanese, as on previous occasions, reorganized instead of pursuing, he decided to stand his ground, a resolution which had an excellent effect on his army. Moreover, growing in strength day by day, and aware that the Japanese had outrun their powers, he resolved, in spite of the despondency of many of his senior officers, to take the offensive. He disposed of about 200,000 men, the Japanese had about 170,000. The latter lay entrenched north of Liao-Yang, from a point 9 m. west of the railway, through Yentai Station and Yentai Mines, to the hills farther east. There had been a good deal of rain, and the ground was heavy. Kuropatkin's intention was to work round the Japanese right on the hills with his eastern wing (Stakelberg), to move his western wing (Bilderling) slowly southwards, entrenching each strip of ground gained, and finally with the centre—i.e. Bilderling's left—and Stakelberg, to envelop and crush the 1st Army, which formed the Japanese right, keeping the 4th Army (Nozu) and the 2nd Army (Oku) in countenance by means of Bilderling's main body. The manœuvre began on the 5th of October, and by the evening of the 10th, after four days of fairly heavy advanced-guard fighting, chiefly between Bilderling and Nozu, Stakelberg was in his assigned position in the mountainous country, facing west towards Liao-Yang, with his left on the Taitseho. The advance of Bilderling, however, necessarily methodical and slow in any case, had taken more time than was anticipated. Still, Bilderling crossed the Sha-ho. Sha-ho and made some progress towards Yentai, and the demonstration was so far effectual that Kuroki's warnings were almost disregarded by the Japanese headquarters. The commander of the 1st Army, however, took his measures well, and Stakelberg found the greatest trouble in deploying his forces for action in this difficult country. Oyama became convinced of the truth on the 9th and 10th, and prepared a great counter-attack. Kuroki with only a portion of the 1st Army was left to defend at least 15 m. of front, and the entire 2nd and 4th Armies and the general reserves were to be thrown upon Bilderling. On the 11th the real battle opened. Kuroki displayed the greatest skill, but he was of course pressed back by the four-to-one superiority of the Russians. Still the result of Stakelberg's attack, for which he was unable to deploy his whole force, was disappointing, but the main Japanese attack on Bilderling was not much more satisfactory, for the Russians had entrenched every step of their previous advance, and fought splendidly. The Russian commander-in-chief states in his work on the war that Bilderling became engaged à fond instead of gradually withdrawing as Kuropatkin intended, and at any rate it is unquestioned that in consequence of the serious position of affairs on the western wing, not only did Stakelberg use his reserves to support Bilderling, when the 12th division of Kuroki's army was almost at its last gasp and must have yielded to fresh pressure, but Kuropatkin himself suspended the general offensive on the 13th of October. In the fighting of the 13th-16th of October the Russians gradually gave back, as far as the line of the Sha-ho, the Japanese following until the armies faced roughly north and south on parallel fronts. The fighting, irregular but severe, continued. Kuropatkin was so far averse to retreat that he ordered a new offensive, which was carried out on the 16-17th. Putilov and Novgorod hills, south of the Sha-ho, were stormed by the Russians, and the Japanese made several efforts to retake these positions without success. Kuropatkin wished to continue the offensive, but his corps commanders offered so much opposition to a further offensive that he at last gave up the idea. The positions of the rival armies from the 18th of October, the close of the battle of the Sha-ho, to the 26th of January 1905, the opening of the battle of Sandepu (Heikoutai)—a period almost entirely devoid of incident—may be described by the old-fashioned term “winter quarters.” The total losses of the Russians are stated as 42,000 men, but this is very considerably exaggerated; the Japanese acknowledged 20,000 casualties.
In January 1905, apart from Mishchenko's cavalry raid in rear of Oyama's forces (January 8th-16th) the only change in the relative positions of Oyama and Kuropatkin as they stood after the battle of the Sha-ho was that the Japanese had extended somewhat westwards towards the Hun-ho. The Russians, 300,000 strong, were now organized in three armies, commanded by Generals Linievich, Grippenberg and Kaulbars; the total strength of the Japanese 1st, 2nd and 4th Armies and reserve was estimated by the Russians at 220,000. Towards the end of January, Kuropatkin took the offensive. He wished to inflict a severe blow before the enemy could be reinforced by the late besiegers of Port Arthur, and sent Grippenberg with seven divisions against Oku's two on the Japanese left. The battle of Sandepu (Heikoutai), fought in a terrible snowstorm on the 26th and 27th of January 1905, came near to being a great Russian victory. But the usual décousu of Russian operations and their own magnificent-resistance saved the Japanese, and after two days' severe fighting, although Grippenberg had not been checked, Kuropatkin, in face of a counter-attack by Oyama, decided to abandon the attempt. The losses were roughly 8000 Japanese to over 10,000 Russians.
|Emery Walker sc.|
Both sides stood fast in the old positions up to the verge of the last and greatest battle. Kuropatkin was reinforced, and appointed Kaulbars to succeed Grippenberg and Bilderling to the command of the 3rd Army vacated by Kaulbars. On the other hand, Nogi's 3rd Army, released by the fall of Port Arthur, was brought up on the Japanese left, and a new army under Kawamura (5th), formed of one of the Port Arthur and two reserve divisions, was working from the upper Yalu through the mountains towards the Russian left rear. The Russian line in front of Mukden from the Hun-ho, through the Putilov and Novgorod hills on the Sha-ho, to the mountains, was 47 m. long, the armies from right to left being II. (Kaulbars), III. (Bilderling) and I. (Linievich); a general reserve was at Mukden. On the other side from left to right, on a line 40 m. long, were Oku (2nd Army), Nozu (4th), Kuroki (1st) and Kawamura (5th), the general reserve in rear of the centre at Yentai and the 3rd Army in rear of Oku. Each side had about 310,000 men present. The entire front of both armies was heavily entrenched. The Russians had another offensive in contemplation when the Japanese forestalled them by advancing on the 21st of February. The 5th Army gradually drove in Kuropatkin's Mukden. small, detachments in the mountains, and came up in line with Kuroki, threatening to envelop the Russian left. The events on this side and misleading information induced Kuropatkin to pay particular attention to his left. The Japanese 1st and 5th Armies were now engaged (25th February), and elsewhere all was quiet. But on the 27th the fighting spread to the centre, and Nogi (originally behind Oku) was on the march to envelop the Russian right. He was held under observation throughout by Russian cavalry, but it seems that little attention was paid to their reports by Kuropatkin, who was still occupied with Kuroki and Kawamura, and even denuded his right of its reserves to reinforce his left. With a battle-front exceeding two days' marches the wrong distribution of reserves by both sides was a grave misfortune. Kuropatkin was are last convinced, on the 28th of February, of the danger from the west, and did all in his power to form a solid line of defence on the west side of Mukden. Nogi's first attack (1st-2nd March) had not much success, and a heavy counter stroke was delivered on the 2nd. Fighting for localities and alterations in the interior distribution of the opposing forces occupied much time, and by the 3rd, though the battle had become severe, Kuropatkin had merely drawn in his right and right centre (now facing W. and S.W. respectively) a little nearer Mukden. His centre on the Sha-ho held firm, Kuroki and Kawamura made but slight progress against his left in the mountains. Nogi and Oyama were equally impressed with the strength of the new (west) Russian front, and like Grant at Petersburg in 1864, extended farther and farther to the outer flank, the Russians following suit. The Japanese marshal now sent up his army reserve, which had been kept far to the rear at Yentai, to help Nogi. It was not before the evening of the 6th of March that it came up with the 3rd Army and was placed in position opposite the centre of the Russian west front. On the rest of the line severe local fighting had continued, but the Russian positions were quite unshaken, and Kuropatkin's reserves—which would have been invaluable in backing up the counter-attack of the 2nd of March—had returned to face Nogi. He had organized another counter stroke for the 6th, to be led by Kaulbars, but this collapsed unexpectedly after a brief but severe fight.
Kuropatkin now decided to draw in his centre and left towards Mukden. On the 7th, the various columns executed their movement to the Hun-ho with complete success, thanks to good staff work. The Japanese followed up only slowly. Nogi and Kaulbars stood fast, facing each other on the west front; after the arrival of the general reserve, Nogi was able to prolong his line to the north and eventually to bend it inwards towards the Russian line of retreat. Bilderling and Linievich were now close in to Mukden and along the Hun-ho. On the other side Oku had taken over part of Nogi's line, thus freeing the 3rd Army for further extension to the north-west, and the rest of the 2nd Army, the 4th, the 1st and the 5th were approaching the Hun-ho from the south (March 8th). On this day the Russian retreat on Tieling. fighting between Nogi and Kaulbars was very severe, and Kuropatkin now made up his mind to retreat towards Tieling. On the 9th, by Oyama's orders, Nogi extended northward instead of further swinging in south-eastward, Oku now occupied all the original line of the 3rd Army, Nozu alone was left on the south front, and Kuroki and Kawamura began to engage Linievich seriously. But Nogi had not yet reached the Mukden-Tieling railway when, on the night of the 9th, every preparation having been made, Kuropatkin's retreat began. On the 10th, covered by Kaulbars, who held off Nogi, and by strong rearguards at and east of Mukden, the movement continued, and though it was not executed with entire precision, and the rearguards suffered very heavily, the Russians managed to draw off in safety to the northward. On the evening of the 10th, after all their long and hardly contested enveloping marches, Nogi's left and Kawamura's right met north of Mukden. The circle was complete, but there were no Russians in the centre, and a map of the positions of the Japanese on the evening of the 10th shows the seventeen divisions thoroughly mixed up and pointing in every direction but that of the enemy. Thus the further pursuit of the Russians could only be undertaken after an interval of re-organization by the northernmost troops of the 5th and 3rd Armies. But the material loss inflicted on the Russians was far heavier than it had ever been before. It is generally estimated that the Russian losses were no less than 97,000, and the Japanese between 40,000 and 50,000. Japan had had to put forth her supreme effort for the battle, while of Russia's whole strength not one-tenth had been used. But Russia's strength in Europe, with but one line whereby it could be brought to bear in the Far East, was immaterial, and on the theatre of war a quarter of the Russian field forces had been killed, wounded or taken.
It remains to narrate briefly the tragic career of the Russian Baltic fleet. Leaving Libau on the 13th-15th of October 1904, the Rozhestvenski's voyage. fleet steamed down the North Sea, expecting every night to be attacked by torpedo-boats. On the 21st, in their excitement, they opened fire on a fleet of British trawlers on the Dogger Bank (q.v.), and several fishermen were killed. This incident provoked the wildest indignation, and Russia was for some days on the verge of war with England. A British fleet “shadowed” Rozhestvenski for some time, but eventually the Russians were allowed to proceed. On reaching Madagascar, Rozhestvenski heard of the fail of Port Arthur, and the question of returning to Russia arose. But a reinforcement under Rear-Admiral Nebogatov was dispatched from the Baltic via Suez early in March 1905, and the armada proceeded by the Straits of Malacca, Nebogatov joining at Kamranh Bay in Cochin China. The united fleet was formidable rather in number than in quality; the battleships were of very unequal value, and the faster vessels were tied to the movements of many “lame ducks.” Rozhestvenski had, moreover, numerous store-ships, colliers, &c. Nevertheless, the Japanese viewed his approach with considerable anxiety, and braced themselves for a final struggle. Of the various courses open to him, Togo prudently chose that of awaiting Rozhestvenski in home waters. The Russians left Kamranh on the 14th of May, and for a time disappeared into the Pacific. It was assumed that they were making for Vladivostok either via Tsushima strait or by the Pacific. Rozhestvenski chose the former course, and on the 27th of Battle of Tsushima (Sea of Japan). May the fleets met near Tsushima. About 1.45 p.m., the Russians, who were still in a close cruising formation, attempted to open out for battle as the Japanese approached. The Russian battleships, originally heading N.N.E., swerved to the E. as the Japanese battle squadron passed across their front. Togo's fire was concentrated first on the “Osliabia,” the leading Russian battleship, and by 2.25 she was hors de combat. At this time both the battle-fleets were running E. Togo, concentrating his fire on each ship in succession, and seeking by superior speed to head off the Russians, now inclined towards the S.E., and the Russians conformed. At 3, the Russian flagship “Suvarov” had fallen out of the line, though still firing. Rozhestvenski himself had been wounded, and the command had devolved on Nebogatov. Shortly afterwards the Russians suddenly turned N., and sought to pass, across the wake of Togo's battle-fleet, up the straits. Thereupon the leading Japanese ships promptly turned together, covered by the rear ships, which ran past them on the original course and then came round in succession; this manœuvre was so well executed that the Japanese again headed off their enemy, who swerved for the second time towards the E. The Japanese thereupon executed the same manœuvre as before, and steamed S.E. again (about 4.40). They were not unscathed, but the Russians were suffering far more severely. Meanwhile, the cruisers on both sides had been heavily engaged. The Russian cruisers kept on the right of their battleships, while the Japanese, very superior in speed, ran S., S.E. and E. across the rear of the enemy's main squadron, and about 3 ranged up alongside the Russian cruisers. The latter were slower, and hampered by the crowd of damaged battleships, store-ships and colliers; before 5 they were in the greatest confusion, which was presently increased by the battleship squadron, now turned back and heading W., with Togo in pursuit. The Russians again broke out northward; but some of the Japanese squadrons hung on to the remnant of the enemy's battle-fleet, and the others dealt with the numerous Russian vessels that were unable to keep up. Then Togo called off his ships, and gave the torpedo craft room and the night in which to act. At daylight the larger ships joined in again, and before long the whole Russian fleet, with few exceptions, had been captured or sunk.
After the disasters of Mukden and Tsushima, and being threatened with internal disorder in European Russia, the tsar, The Peace of Portsmouth. early in June, accepted the mediation of the president of the United States, and pourparlers were set on foot. The war meanwhile drifted on through May, June and July. Linievich, who succeeded Kuropatkin shortly after the battle of Mukden, retired slowly northward, re-organizing his forces and receiving fresh reinforcements from Europe. A Japanese expedition occupied Saghalien (July 8-30), and another, General Hasegawa, advanced through Korea towards Vladivostok. But the fighting was desultory. The peace negotiations were opened at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on the 9th of August, and by the end of the month the belligerents had agreed as to the main points at issue, that Russia should cede the half of Saghalien, annexed in 1875, surrender her lease of the Kwangtung peninsula and Port Arthur, evacuate Manchuria and recognize Japan's sphere of influence in Korea. The treaty of peace was signed on the 23rd of August 1905.
Bibliography.—The first place in the already numerous works on the war is by the general consent of military Europe awarded to General Sir I. S. M. Hamilton's A Staff Officer's Scrap Book, and the second to the reports of the British attachés (The Russo-Japanese War: British Officers' Reports, War Office, 1908). Other firsthand narratives of importance are the American officers' reports (Reports of Military Observers, General Staff, U.S.A.); Major v. Tettau's 18 Monate beim Heere Russlands; von Schwarz, Zehn Monate beim Heere Kuropatkins, and Kuropatkin's own work (part of which has been translated into English). Of detailed military histories the principal are the semi-official series of narratives and monographs produced by the Austrian military journal “Streffleur” (Einzelschriften über den russ.-japanischen Krieg); the volumes of lectures delivered at the Russian Staff College after the war, French translation (Conférences sur la guerre russo-japonaise faites à l'Academie Nicolas); British official History of the Russo-Japanese War (1907-); German official Russisch-japanischer Krieg (1906-; English translation by K. von Donat); Löffler, Der Russisch-Japanische Krieg (Leipzig, 1907; French trans.); L. Gianni Trapani, La Guerra russo-giapponese (Rome, 1908); E. Bujac, La Guerre russo-japonaise (1909). Of critical studies the most important are Cordonnier's “Les japonais en Mandchourie” (Revue d'Infanterie, 1910); and Culmann, Étude sur les caractères généraux de la guerre en extrème-orient (Paris, 1909). One naval narrative of absorbing interest has, however, appeared, Semenov's Rasplata (English trans.).
- Belated declarations of war appeared on the 10th.
- The total Russian army on a peace footing is almost 1,000,000 strong.
- A vivid picture of the state of affairs in the navy at this period is given in Semenov's' Rasplata (Eng. trans).
- Not, as is often assumed, the fortress itself.
- This was the 2nd Army, waiting in the port of Chinampo for the moment to sail for Pitszewo.
- One isolated incident which deserves mention took place at this time, the bold raid of Colonel Madritov and 500 Cossacks against the communications of the 1st Army. The raid (involving a ride of 240 m. forward and back) was carried out in entire ignorance of the battle of the Yalu, and on arriving at Anju Madritov found nothing to attack, the 1st Army having after its victory adopted a short line of communication from a sea base near the Yalu mouth. This incident suggests two reflections—first that raids or attacks in rear of the “centre of operations” are valueless, however daring, and second that had Zasulich, in his determination to be worthy of his knighthood, concentrated for battle, the presence of the Madritov detachment on the field would have prevented the lamentable and costly misunderstandings of the retreat on Hamatan.
- The occupation of Siu-yen was chiefly the work of the brigade pushed out to his left by Kuroki. Only a portion of the 10th division from Takushan helped to drive away Mishchenko's Cossacks.
- The 5th division of the 2nd Army had been sent to join the 10th as the latter approached Hsimucheng. The Guard brigade of Kuroki's army which had served with Nozu in the advance had now returned to Feng-hwang-cheng.
- A particular feature of these constant night-fights was the effective use of the defenders' searchlight, not only to show up the enemy but to blind him.
- Hand grenades and extemporized trench mortars were used on both sides with very great effect. The Japanese hand grenades consisted of about 1 ℔ of high explosive in a tin case; the Russian cases were of all sorts, including old Chinese shell. The Japanese employed wire-netting screens to stop the Russian grenades. Various means were tried for the destruction of entanglements. Eventually it was found that the best plan was to sap through them.
- As regards food and ammunition, the resources of the defence were not by any means exhausted, and General Stessel and other senior officers of the defence were tried by courts-martial, and some of them convicted, on the charge of premature surrender.