8. Chapter 8
The Russo-Japanese War : from the opening of hostilities to the Battle of the Yalu
The Mikado was now about to engage himself and his army and navy in a struggle with the Power to prepare against whose advance on India Lord Roberts had devoted, and Lord Kitchener was then devoting, all their talents, time, and energy. The result to most Occidentals seemed a foregone conclusion. Russia, however, was the neighbour of Sweden, Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey, and could, therefore, with safety employ only a fraction of her forces in the Far East. The whole of her fleet was not stationed in the Pacific. Her armies in the event of a Manchurian campaign would hang at the end of a single line of railway running from the Ural Mountains across the sparsely populated steppes of Siberia. That railway would be exposed to the attacks of hostile Chinese and Manchurians. But the Russians were not the Chinese of Europe. Ere the Japanese, if they should succeed in defeating the Russian men-of-war and torpedo-boats, or in evading the Russian mine-fields, could conquer Corea or disembark an army in the Liao-tung peninsula, overwhelming forces, accustomed to rout Asiatics and led by scientific soldiers, would be concentrated south of Mukden. The Japanese, compared with the Russians, were, in appearance, dwarfs, and if the infantrymen of the Tsar, acting on the principles taught by a succession of tacticians from Souvaroff to Dragomiroff, once crossed bayonets with their puny enemies, they might be expected to carry all before them. The Russian artillery was at least the equal of, and the Russian cavalry was far superior to, that of the Japanese. The huge Russian gold reserve, and the credit extended to a nation which in the Crimean War had not repudiated its debts, would enable the Tsar to purchase enormous quantities of weapons and munitions from Europe and America. Above all the Japanese were Asiatics.
Such were the calculations of those who prophesied the ultimate, if not necessarily rapid, success of Russia. It was overlooked that the Turks at Plevna and elsewhere had proved in 1877-8 that Asiatics, competently armed and led, could hold at bay the Muscovite soldiery ; and that the Japanese were a scientifically trained nation-in-arms inspired by the loftiest patriotism, and fighting at their own doors for their very existence. The war, unpopular in Russia, then seething with discontent, would arouse the utmost enthusiasm in the temperate, frugal, intelligent, and now Occidentally-educated population of Japan. The Japanese were small, but they were tough and wiry men, and in the days of low-trajectory rifles, great height of body was a disadvantage. Accustomed to wrestle and practise ju-jutsu, and enamoured of cold steel, it was by no means certain that the Japanese would be worsted in fighting at close quarters. At sea the contest would be decided by explosives and not with cutlasses and marlinespikes, and the islanders had learnt naval warfare from the British. Russia, besides, was at that date governed largely by a corrupt body of bureaucrats eager to accumulate wealth, whereas the Japanese rulers, with their samurai ideals, despised money and the luxuries which money buys.
Other advantages were possessed by Japan. While the Japanese realized to the full the strength and the weakness of their adversaries, the Russians, with few exceptions, looked down upon their opponents and underestimated both their intelligence and their moral and physical qualities. The Mikado, as General Kuropatkin subsequently pointed out, had hundreds of avowed and secret agents studying the Russian forces in the Far East ; on the other hand, the Russians had only a few experts investigating the Japanese military resources. One of these experts, according to Kuropatkin, ' declared in Vladivostok before the war that we [the Russians] might count one Russian soldier as being as good as three Japanese.'
The comments of the Russian Head-quarters Staff on the Japanese peace manoeuvres in the year preceding the war were inept. The Japanese ' technical services were ', it was admitted, ' excellent ', and the junior officers displayed considerable initiative. But the senior officers of the Japanese arntiy were incompetent ; vanguards moved too far in advance of the main bodies ; the flanks on the march and in action were unprotected, and operations at night were discountenanced. In attacks there was an absence of any definite objective, and the inelastic Japanese formations took no account of local conditions. Frontal assaults without turning movements were preferred, and advances in enclosed or hilly ground were avoided. There was a disbelief in the value of cold steel ; the reserves were used up too quickly, and there was a complete absence of any idea of pursuit. On the defensive, the Japanese, it seemed to their critics, took up positions too extensive, they neglected field fortifications, except of the simplest character, and they were apt to retire too rapidly.
Whether or not the deductions of the Russian Headquarters Staff were made from actual incidents accurately observed at the Japanese manoeuvres, they certainly betrayed a woeful ignorance of Japanese history and psychology. The battle of the Yalu in the Chino-Japanese War had, as we have seen, been gained by a turning movement ; the favourite weapon of the samurai was the two-handed sword, and the favourite form of committing suicide in Japan self-disembowelment or ' hari-kari '. It was unreasonable to suppose that the Japanese generals were incapable of mastering that art of barbarians, as Napoleon called the art of war, the essence of which consists in being stronger at a given point. How mistaken were the Russian observers responsible for the document above analysed was soon apparent.
If the Russian Staff had badly miscalculated the quality of the Japanese army, far worse were the mistakes which it made with respect to the numbers of the enemy. The warnings of Colonel Adabash and Captain Rusin that Japan had reserve units were ignored. General Kuropatkin states that Japan was expected to be able to put in the field at the outset of the war some 125,000 men, and that the ' available supply of men for the permanent and territorial armies and for the depot troops amounted only to a little over 400,000 '. Very different were the real figures. It seems that Japan in February 1904 possessed 850,000 trained soldiers, and that the untrained men available were, approximately, 4,250,000. If General Kuropatkin is correct, the Russians in Manchuria were opposed during the war by something like 1,500,000 armed men, or roughly by three armies, each numerically equal to that led by Napoleon against Russia in 1812.
The most fatal, however, of the mistakes made by the Russian military and naval advisers was their conclusion in 1903 that their plan of operations against the Japanese should be based on the assumption that it was ' impossible for the Russian fleet to be beaten ', and that a Japanese landing at Neuchuang or in the Gulf of Corea was ' impracticable ' 1 Such assumptions were quite unwarranted. Russia had only one naval base in the Yellow Sea, and only one in the Sea of Japan. Port Arthur, the former of these bases, was strongly fortified, and the workshops there were excellent. But theonlydock yet constructed at Port Arthur was too small to receive a battleship. At Vladivostok, the other of the bases, there was a dry dock capable of receiving a battleship, but the workshops were indifferent. The ice-free Port Arthur was divided from the, in winter, ice-bound Vladivostok by 1,300 miles of sea, and athwart the communications between the two harbours lay the islands of Japan with four strongly fortified naval bases. The first - Yokosuka, in the Bay of Tokyo - looked out on the Pacific. About 500 miles west in the Inland Sea was Kure, where were the most important naval establishments of Japan. Between Kure and the Pacific lay the island of Shikoku. On the northern coast of Honshiu, in the same latitude as Yokosuka, was Maidzuru, facing the Sea of Japan. The fourth naval base was Sasebo, north of Nagasaki, on the western coast of Kiushiu. Screened by islets, Sasebo was at the western mouth of the Straits of Corea, There were also permanent stations for torpedo craft. Almost opposite Vladivostok, in a bay off the southern shore of the narrow Tsugaru Straits which divide Honshiu from Yezo, was Ominato. In the island of Tsushima at Takeshiki was another base for torpedo-boats in the very .centre of the Corean Straits. Far away at the southwestern extremity of the Japanese Empire was a third at Makyu, in the Pescadores, on the flank of the sea route between Formosa and the Chinese coast.
1 The Russian Army and the Japanese War, by General Kuropatkin, translated by Captain A. B. Lindsey, and edited by Major E. D. Swinton, D-S.O. (Murray), vol. i, p. 224.
There were large docks and yards at Yokosuka, Kure, Maidzuru, and Sasebo. In an age of steamships, of fixed andfloating mines, of torpedoes and of high-explosive shells, places where damaged ships might be quickly coaled and repaired were essentials for naval warfare.
Japan had, therefore, in the matter of naval bases, an enormous advantage, and that advantage was not counterbalanced by any superiority of the Russian navy in Far Eastern waters. In February 1904 Russia had seven battleships, which varied in speed, armament, and tactical qnalities, against Japan's six first-class battleships of British design. To the four armoured cruisers of Russia, Japan could oppose eight first-class vessels of the same kind. The five first-class and the two third-class Russian were confronted by Japan's twelve second-class, four armoured third-class, and four slow third-class protected cruisers, also by two fast and seven slow unprotected cruisers. The twenty or so destroyers of Russian, French, German, and British design possessed by Russia were of inferior value when compared with the nineteen Japanese destroyers of the British thirty-knot type. Lastly, the seventeen Russian were completely outnumbered and outclassed by the eightyfive Japanese torpedo-boats. If the reader will turn to p. 128, he will see how great was the difference between the Japanese navy of 1894 and that of 1904. A large portion of the war indemnity exacted from China had been wisely spent by the Mikado and his ministers on procuring the machinery which alone could protect Japan from invasion and enable her successfully to struggle against the Russians for the possession of Corea and Manchuria.
The two weak spots in the Japanese navy were that there were no reserve ships, and that at that date Japan could not herself build men-of-war. Russia had a fleet in European waters, and during the war could construct or complete battleships, cruisers, destroyers, and torpedo-boats. The difficulties, however, of moving the Russian fleet from Europeanwaters into the Yellow Sea or the Sea of Japan would, if not insurmountable, be considerable. With regard to personnel, the Russian sailors were very brave, but so were the Japanese, and were better trained, and, as a rule, better commanded than their rivals. ' Every Japanese ', with pardonable exaggeration, observed a German critic, ' is a born sailor and, thanks to his intelligence and the practice he gets, handles the most modern ships admirably.'
That the Japanese admirals were superior in intelligence to the Russian - with the possible exception of the unfortunate Admiral Makharoff - was apparent immediately before and at the beginning of the war. Taking into account the unequal strength of the two fleets in the Far East, it seemed obvious that Russia's sole chance of securing the command of the sea lay in concentrating the whole of her naval forces and destroying the enemy's fleets in detail. Admiral Alexeieff and his colleagues were distinctly to blame for precipitating war when, as was the case, three armoured cruisers, one protected cruiser and an auxiliary cruiser, and seventeen torpedo-boats under Rear-Admiral Baron Stakelberg were at Vladivostok, the protected cruiser Varyag with the gunboat Koreetz was at Chemulpo, and the rest of the fleet under Vice-Admiral Starck (with the exception of two gunboats) was at Port Arthur. The over-confidence displayed by the Russian's may be gathered from Starck's order that the Varyag was ' on no account to leave Chemulpo without instructions '.
In striking contrast with the position of the Russian was the position of the Japanese fleet on February 5, 1904. A protected cruiser, the Chiyoda, near Chemulpo was watching the Varyag ; the main or * combined ' fleet, under ViceAdmiral Togo, was at Sasebo ; and the remaining vessels, under Vice-Admiral Kataoka, were behind and east of Togo's ships, off the island of Tsushima, in the Corean Straits. The whole of the Japanese naval forces lay between the Russian squadrons at Vladivostok and Port Arthur. The moment for breaking off negotiations had been cleverly chosen by the Japanese. In February the port of Vladivostok was closed, and egress and ingress would be delayed by the time it would take for the ice-breakers there to clear the passage for Stakelberg's vessels.
The Japanese plan of campaign in its opening stages was to seize Seoul, and simultaneously to defeat Starck's fleet at Port Arthur. On February 6, at 2 p.m., Rear-Admiral Uriu, with one first-class and three second-class cruisers, escorting three transports, on which were four battalions of infantry, left Sasebo for Chemulpo, the port of Seoul. Uriu was joined on his way by the third-class cruiser Akashi and by two torpedo-boat flotillas. On the 8th he met the Chiyoda, which had been cruising off Chemulpo. The port was speedily reached, and at 6.15 p.m. the Japanese troops began to disembark from the transports. Before dawn (February 9) all the troops were on shore. They were at once sent on by rail to Seoul. On the third day of the war, the Corean capital passed once again into Japanese hands.
WhUe Seoul was being occupied by the Mikado's soldiers, the captain of the Varyag had been warned by Uriu to leave Chemulpo before noon. If he did not do so, he was told that he would be attacked in the harbour itself. The captain bravely decided to face the Japanese squadron. In similar circumstances, the Alabama had steamed out of Cherbourg to her doom on June 19, 1864. After a plucky fight, the two Russian vessels - the Varyag badly dariiaged - returned to Chemulpo, where the crews were disembarked, the Varyag sunk and the Koreetz blown up.
In the meantime Togo had delivered a torpedo attack on Starck's fleet at Port Arthur. By 6 p.m. on February 8 the Japanese fleet was off Round Island, some sixty miles east of its destination. Three flotillas of torpedo-boat destroyers proceeded at 7 p.m. for Port Arthur, two other flotillas for Dalny, where, however, no Russian men-of-war were at anchor. In the dead of night an attack by ten destroyers on the ships outside Port Arthur was delivered. The cruiser Pallada, the battleships Retvizan and Tzesarevitch, were torpedoed. The first ran aground near the lighthouse ; the others, trying to get back into harbour, grounded in the gullet. Next morning (February 9) Togo's fleet appeared off Port Arthur, which was in a state of great confusion. For forty minutes the Japanese ships, fired at by the powerful coast batteries, engaged the Russian vessels which were still in the offing. Little damage was inflicted by either party, but as the Russians refused to accept Togo's challenge and to leave the shelter of the coast batteries, a bad eflfect was produced both in the Far East and in Europe. For the first time since the sea-power of the Turks was broken at Lepanto in 157 1, an Asiatic had shown itself superior to a European fleet. On the nth the Yenisei, aRussian mining transport, and, shortly afterwards, the third-class cruiser Boyarin, struck mines and were blown up. On the night of the I3-I4th another attempt was made by Togo to torpedo the Russian ships in Port Arthur. Owing to the bad weather it wasnot successful. A sortie of the Russian cruiser squadron from Vladivostok (February II-14) effected nothing of the least importance.
After his victory of February 8-9 Togo steamed across to Corea. His object was to cover the disembarkation at Chemulpo of the Japanese twelfth division and units of the second and fourth divisions. So long as the Russian ships could issue from Port Arthur, the landing of Japanese troops on the west coast of Corea remained a hazardous operation. Accordingly, Togo endeavoured to seal up the entrance to Port Arthur. On February 23 a gallant attempt to do this failed. Two days later Togo bombarded the harbour, but the damage done was trivial. At the end of the month, and during the first fortnight of March, he detached Admiral Kaimamura with five armoured and two unarmoured cruisers to bombard Vladivostok, replacing this squadron with that of Kataoka, which had been guarding the Corean Straits. The bombardment of Vladivostok, though a failure, resulted in Admiral Alexeieff forbidding the Russian squadron there to go farther than one day's run from the port. As a consequence, the Japanese were able without interference to land troops at Gensan and the Corean harbours south of it.
On March 8 Admiral Makharoff, the most capable of the Russian admirals, arrived at Port Arthur and took over the command from Starck. The Russian fleet at once showed greater enterprise, and it was more than ever necessary for the Japanese to seal up the entrance to Port Arthur. The attempt was again made (March 27), and failed.
Togo now adopted another course of action. During the night of April 12-13 mines were laid in front of Port Arthur. The next morning a Russian destroyer was sunk by gunfire, and at 8 a.m. the enemy fleet was enticed into the open. Attacked by the Japanese, it sought shelter under the coast batteries, and ran into the mines laid the night before. The battleship Petrofavlovsk, with MakharofI himself on board, struck a mine and was blown up. He was killed or drowned, as was also the Russian painter, Verestchagin, who, like Tolstoi, had devoted his talents to, among other things, exposing the sordid side of Napoleon's career. Another battleship, the Pobyeda, was damaged by the explosion of a mine, and something resembling a panic set in. The fleet took refuge in the harbour, where it was again bombarded on the 15th. A third and more elaborate effort to block the entrance to Port Arthur was made on May 3. The Japanese displayed extraordinary heroism, but once more failed to achieve their object. In the meantime Admiral Jessen had taken command of the Vladivostok squadron, and, as he exhibited more activity than his predecessor, Kaimamura with his ships steamed northward to hold him in check. Jessen sunk near Gensan a Japanese transport, the Kinshu Man, with troops on board ; and Kaimamura, to interfere with Jessen's movements, laid mines outside Vladivostok.
On land, too, the contest during February, March, and April had gone in favour of the Japanese. Since the Chino-Japanese War the army of Japan had been gradually increased, until in February 1904 the troops and guns which were almost immediately available amounted to 257,700 infantry, 13,130 cavalry, 13,430 engineers, and 870 guns, behind whom were reserves of 400,000 trained men. Their equipment and training were, generally speaking, up to European standards, and the lessons of the South African War had been carefully considered with a view to campaigns in Corea and Manchuria. Twothirds of the troops carried an entrenching tool strapped to the knapsack ; earthworks were ordered to be made and guns to be concealed whenever and wherever possible. Contrary to what the Russian Staff believed, the difficulty of crossing a fire-swept zone had been fully recognized, and the Japanese infantry had been constantly exercised during peace-time in the making of night attacks. The foot-soldiers were taught that the main object was to obtain a superiority of rifle-fire, and a blue cloth hold-all - a sack 6 feet 6 inches long by 8 J inches wide - attached to the upper part of the body was used for carrying, besides emergency rations, extra rounds of ammunition. The Japanese did not, however, make the mistake of supposing that rifle-fire had rendered bayonet charges obsolete. The troops were instructed to press swiftly forward regardless of loss, and the distinguishing feature of a Japanese assault was the deliberate rapidity with which the men moved from point to point. The medical department of the army was wonderfully efficient, and the losses from disease during the war were so small as to excite the astonishment and envy of the Occidental world.
To this tremendous machine for destruction the Russians could on paper oppose an active army of 1,100,000, a reserve of the active army numbering 2,400,000, Cossacks and Caucasians totalling 345,000 and 12,000 respectively, and a national militia of 684,000. But of these 4,541,000 men, only a comparatively small fraction could be allocated to the war in the Far East. It was notorious that Moltke and his successors had made elaborate plans for the invasion of Russia. In 1904, Germany was in alliance with AustriaHungary and Italy ; her agents were at work in the Balkan States ; for years she had been courting Turkey, Though Great Britain and France in 1903 had become more friendly, relations between Great Britain and Russia were still strained. No reliance could be placed on the promises of Persians and Afghans. Sweden had not forgotten that Finland had been wrested from her by the Tsar Alexander I. The Chinese, for what they were worth, were waiting their opportunity to avenge the defeats inflicted on them by the Russians in 1900.
Consequently, fromthe shores of the Baltic to those of the Black Sea, from the Caucasus to the Pamirs, and from the Pamirs to the Amur, the Russians were in a perilous situation. To transport the bulk of their army along a single-line railway to Manchuria and Corea would have been an act of madness. Russia had to depend for her weapons and munitions on her own armament firms or on those of her western neighbours - and potential enemies. If Germany, Austria-Hungary, and, perhaps, Swedeii were to attack her, she would be left to her own resources - the arsenals and munition works in European Russia. As these would be within reach of a victorious Teutonic army, it was plain that the best part of the Russian forces must be left in European Russia to protect them. For in modern warfare the question of armament, as was demonstrated at Omdurman in 1898, has assumed overwhelming importance.
Owing to these circumstances, Russia at no time during the campaign about to be described had more than 1,000,000 men or so east of Lake Baikal, and in February 1904 she had - exclusive of garrisons in fortresses and technical troops in Eastern Siberia and Manchuria - only some 83,350 combatants, of whom 70,000 were infantry and 4,200 cavalry, with 196 guns.
The bulk of this garrison, rather than army, was, like the fleet, divided into two main groups. One group was in or round Port Arthur ; the other in or round Vladivostok. A third, and much smaller, body of troops distributed over Southern Manchuria and along the Harbin-Port Arthur railway, connected the two groups. The centre of the zone of concentration of the army destined to fight pitched battles was fixed at Liao-yang, south of Mukden, on the railway, at the junction of the main roads which from the Liao-tung peninsula and Corea lead to Mukden. From Liao-yang the forces in the peninsula could be reinforced and assistance sent to the troops guarding the line of the Yalu and the passes in the Manchurian mountains north-west of that river.
Seeing the small size of the Russian Army in the theatre of war at the opening of hostilities, and the fact that from Moscow to Port Arthur is a distance of some 5,500 miles, the Russians were, perforce, obliged to abandon Corea, south of the Yalu, and to remain for several months on the defensive. The line round the south of Lake Baikal was not completed. According to the able and energetic Prince KhilkofI, the Russian Minister of Ways and Communications, who had reported on the matter four days before the fighting began, the Siberian line could run only six pairs of through trains, of which four alone could be used for the transport of soldiers and war material. This estimate was a maximum, since the military transport officer averred that, beyond Lake Baikal, only three trains, whether carrying troops or goods, were available. The workshops on the eastern Chinese line were poorly equipped, and there was a shortage of rolling-stock. Three military trains in every twenty-four hours was at first apparently the utmost carrying capacity of the railways to the east of the lake.
Of the splendid fighting material in the Russian army it is almost unnecessary to speak, but the Russian infantryman inpeace and war carried his bayonet fixed, and had been trained to despise fire and to pin his faith to shock tactics. The musketry training of the cavalry, which consisted mostly of Cossacks, was defective, while the artillery was in course of re-armament, and many of the gunners did not know how to use the new 3 -inch quick-firing guns, with which about a third of the Russian batteries had been supplied. The moral factor must not be overlooked. Unlike the German, neither the Russian nor the Japanese soldiers, taken as a whole, were materialists. The Russians, apart from the considerable number of revolutionaries in the ranks, looked up to their Little Father, the Tsar, with a reverence not unlike that displayed by the Japanese for the Mikado. They were a simple, religious, and patriotic folk, but there was this distinction between them and the Japanese. The Russians - at all events those whose homes were west of Lake Baikal - had little liking for the war, which appeared to them to be unnecessary. Never having been in contact with the Japanese, they had naturally no very keen racial antipathy for the enemy. A war with the Germans, who exploited and despised them, would have been popular, one with the Japanese was the reverse. That was not so with the Japanese. They felt that they were fighting for the future of their race against a powerful and ambitious Empire, whose peoples differed fipm them in religion, language, and intellectual and moral culture. It was the war of 1812 reversed. At Borodino the Russians, at Mukden the Japanese, were in a state of heroic exaltation.
We have seen that Seoul, the capital of Corea, was seized by the Japanese troops on February 9. The victory of Togo off Port Arthur rendered it unnecessary to march any large bodies of troops from Fusan up the peninsula. Chemulpo first, and, in March, Chinampo (north of Chemulpo), at the mouth of the Taitong river, were selected as the ports for the disembarkation of the Japanese First Army, under General Kuroki. During the last week of February, Ping-yang, on the Taitong - 150 miles north of Seoul, and the most considerable city in Northern Corea- was occupied, and a small body of Cossacks driven off. Major-General Mishchenko, with three-regiments of TransBaikal Cossacks, had moved to the Yalu, which had been crossed on February 14. On March 10, Japanese cavalry entered Anju, near the mouth of the Chechen river, along which were the outposts of the Russian forces in Corea. Seven days later, Kuroki and his staff reached Chinampo, and Kuroki learnt that there were no Russian infantry and not more than 2,000 Russian cavalry south of the Yalu.
On March 12, General Kuropatkin, who had been appointed generalissimo of the Russian army in the Far East, left St. Petersburg for Harbin, where he arrived on the 27th. That day the Taing river, which flows through the country between the Chechen and the Yalu, was bridged by the Japanese. On April 4 the Japanese cavalry entered Wiju, which, it will be remembered, was the head-quarters of the Japanese in the battle of the Yalu in 1894, ° Yongampo, at the mouth of that river. But the bad weather and roads delayed the concentration of Kuroki's Army on the south bank of the Yalu. Mishchenko had fallen back across it on April 3, and on the north bank the Russian ' Eastern Force ', commanded by Lieutenant-General Zasulich, was being reinforced from Liao-yang by troops dispatched ovtr the Motienling via Feng-huang-cheng, some forty miles north-west of Antung.
On April 17 Kuroki was instructed that the Japanese Second Arijiy would land on May i at the base of the Kuan-tung peninsula, which is the name given to the tongue of the Liao-tung peninsula. It was to cut the Russian communications with Port Arthur. Kuroki was also told that the disembarkation would take about forty-five days. He was ordered to force the passage of the Yalu, and then to entrench himself midway between Antung and Fenghuang-cheng, and wait tiU the Second Army had disembarked. After that the two armies were to co-operate. Unless, as Kuropatkin appears to have contemplated, Zasulich - confining himself to fighting a rearguard action - retreated on Feng-huang-cheng, a pitched battle was inevitable.
After elaborate preparations - the erection of screens on high ground to conceal the advance of his troops, and so forth, Kuroki, at the end of April, was in a position to strike Zasulich's force of 20,000 men, 48 field, 8 machine, and 6 horse-artillery guns. The Japanese leader had at his disposal, perhaps, 40,000 troops and 128 guns, but the advantage in numbers and artillery possessed by Kuroki was, to a considerable extent, counterbalanced by the strength of the Russian position. Zasulich's left wing was protected by the Ai-ho, detachments being east of that tributary of the Yalu, one in the fork of the two rivers, the other higher up the Yalu itself. The Ai-ho is 90 yards broad and some 4 feet deep. The Russian centre and right wing were covered by the two unfordable streams of the Yalu below its junction with the Ai-ho. The southern stream was 230 yards, the northern 380 yards wide. But deceived by Japanese naval feints near the mouth of the river, the Russian general kept the mass of his forces at and behind Antung, where the Yalu becomes a single stream. Through Antung ran the road to Feng-huangcheng, Zasulich's line of retreat. Kuroki decided to turn Zasulich's left.
On April 25, two of the islands in the Yalu, the western called Kintei and the eastern Kyuri, were occupied by the Japanese, the Russian outposts being dislodged. Oseki Island was captured, and the Japanese seized Tiger HiU, in the fork of the Ai-ho and Yalu. On the morning of the 30th the Japanese Twelfth Division crossed the Yalu eight miles north-east of Wiju, and began to move on the Ai-ho. The Second Division, followed by the Guard, proceeded late in the day to Oseki Island, and passed thence into Chukodai Island, west of Tiger Hill. Nearly the whole of the Japanese army, at daybreak of May i, was facing the Russian left wing (7 battalions and 16 guns) entrenched behind the Ai-ho. A Japanese flotilla was ascending the Yalu to shell the Russian right at Antung.
At 7 a.m. Kuroki gave the order for a general advance. The Japanese infantry forded the Ai-ho and, after some severe fighting, drove the Russian left on its centre and right. At 9.35 a.m. the troops in Antung were ordered to withdraw. The Japanese tried to cut the Russian line of retreat on Feng-huang-cheng, but the spirited resistance of some troops north of Antung saved Zasulich. The casualties of the Russians amounted to over 3,000, three times those of the Japanese; 21 field-guns, 8 machine-guns, and 19 ammunition-wagons were among the spoils of the victors. Four days later the Japanese Second Army, under General Oku, began to disembark at Pitzuwo, on the eastern coast of the Kuan-tung peninsulsi, within 60 miles of the Russian fleet in Port Arthur. The Japanese fleet, with the Elliot Islands for its base, covered Oku's disembarkation.