Japan's Success

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9. Chapter 9



The Russo-Japanese War {concluded)

The European and American publics had been startled by the exploits of Togo off Port Arthur, and of Kuroki on the Yalu. The victory of Kuroki, however, produced less impression than Togo's successes, for the Russians, in their last war with Turkey, had on occasion met with heavy reverses. It was only a postulate that white men could defeat Asiatics on land, but it had become an axiom with Occidentals that sea power belonged as of right to Europeans or Americans. Considerably over three centuries had elapsed since an Asiatic Power - Turkey- had possessed a fleet capable of contending successfully with Occidentals. The Turkish navy had never recovered from the blow inflicted on it by Don John at Lepanto, seventeen years before the Spanish Armada sailed up the English Channel. Egypt, under the intelligent Mehemet Ali and his son, had had, it is true, a fleet superior to that of Mehemet's suzerain, the Sultan, but it had been easily destroyed by an Anglo-FrancoRussian squadron at Navarino. The news of Togo's achievements was a rude shock to Occidental complacency. That the Japanese had obtained command of the Yellow Sea there could be little doubt, since Kuroki's army had been disembarked at Chemulpo and Chinampo. Now, at the beginning of May 1904, another Japanese army from Chinampo had been landed east of Port Arthur. This, the Army of Oku, like Kuroki's, consisted of three divisions.

Oku's disembarkation was, though it should not have been, a complete surprise to the Russians. It was unopposed. General Stoessel at Port Arthur hesitated to engage his 30,000 troops far from their base, and the ' Southern Force ', under Lieutenant-General Stakelberg, which was intended to keep up communications between Liao-yang and Port Arthur, exhibited little enterprise. Oku at once cut the Liao-yang-Port Arthur railway, and so alarming did the situation seem to the Russians that Kuropatkki at first contemplated the evacuation of Liaoyang itself ; but his plan of concentrating at Harbin appears to have been overruled by Admiral Alexeieff, and it was decided by the Russian generalissimo to retain Liao-yang.

So far all had gone well for the Japanese, but in May Togo's fleet met with several disasters. A small ship, the Miyako, was blown up by a mine, as were two battleships, the Hatsuse and Tashima, while a second-class cruiser, the Toshino, was rammed by the Kasuga, and sank the same day.1 The full extent of these losses was concealed until the last months of the war. In view of the fact that Japan in those days could not build warships, these untoward events greatly embarrassed the Japanese. If a Russian fleet from Europe appeared in Far Eastern waters and managed to join up with the men-of-war in Port Arthur and Vladivostok, the command of the sea might be lost and the Japanese armies forced to retire from the Liao-tung peninsula and Manchuria into Corea, or even Japan. A Japanese squadron, too, which on the i6th-i7th had arrived off the western coast of the peninsula, with a view to threatening the Russian communications from Chin-chou to Kaiping, lost a gunboat, and on the 17th the destroyer Akatsuhi was blown up by a mine.



1 These losses occurred on May 14 and 15.



A glance at the map on p. 195 shows that there was a great gap between Oku's and Kuroki's armies. To fill it the Japanese Tenth Division, under Lieutenant-General Kawamura, destined to form the nucleus of another army under General Nodzu, was landed on and after May 19 near Takushan, forty-five miles or so west of the mouth of the Yalu, and some seventy miles east of Pitzuwo. The Tenth Division prolonged Kuroki's left and menaced the communications of Russian forces moving from the base of the Liao-tung peninsula to relieve Port Arthur.

While Kawamura was concentrating his forces round Takushan against Mishchenko's Cossacks at Hsiuyen, the Japanese Second Army (Oku) moved nearer to Port Arthur. Oku's objective was Ta-lien-wan and the harbour of Dalny, which had been selected as a base for the projected siege of Port Arthur. To reach Ta-lien-wan and Dalny he had to drive the Russians from a very strongly fortified position on the Chin-chou isthmus, which is thirtyfive miles from Port Arthur. This obstacle, known as the Nan-shan position, at high-water mark was 3,500 yards long. The hills on it from shore to shore rose in the centre to a height of 350 feet, but the ground at both ends near the sea was low.

For several weeks the Russian engineers had been hard at work making the position, as they supposed, impregnable. Barbedwire entanglements, on an average from 17 to 21 feet in viddth, land-mines, tiers of trenches, rifle-pits, and numerous redoubts had been constructed. Sixtysix siege-guns and old field-guns, 48 quick-firing guns, and 16 machine-guns, with a gunboat and two destroyers in Ta-lien Bay, the entrance to which had been mined, assisted the 16,000 or so troops of the garrison. The slopes of the hills were mostly bare and glacis-like. Search-lights played on the front between sunset and sunrise. Only on the left or western face was the position difBcult to defend, for there it could be shelled by Japanese vessels in Chin-chou Bay. The town of Chin-chou was occupied by a Russian detachment.

It is clear that the test set Oku was very different from that set Kuroki on the Yalu. Oku's success or failure would decide whether the theory of Bloch and his school was correct, that modern warfare, owing to the improved weapons and methods of defence, must in nine cases out of ten result in stalemate. About midnight on May 25-26 the battle began in a heavy thunderstorm, with an attack on Chin-chou. At 5.20 a.m. the town was captured. Simultaneously the Japanese bombardment of the lines - aided after 6 a.m. by the guns of a flotilla in Chin-chou Bay - opened. Up to mid-day the Japanese assaults failed, and the artillery ammunition on both sides was running low. Eleven Russian companies had repulsed for seven hours three Japanese divisions ! At 3.30 p.m. Oku ordered a general attack, which was unsuccessful. At the west end of the lines alone was pirogress being made. Here, towards sunset, Japanese troops, wading breast-high through the sea, forced back the Russian left. At the same time another frontal attack was delivered, and at 7.20 p.m. the Nan-shan hills were stormed. The Russians, of whom only 3,500 were engaged, had been badly commanded ; they lost 1,416 killed, wounded, and missing, but the Japanese had no fewer than 4,885 officers and ra&n -at hors de combat. They had, however, captured 82 guns and 10 machine-guns.

During the night the Russians evacuated Dalny. The Japanese, with the odds at 2 to 1, had outmanoeuvred and defeated a small Russian army on the Yalu; in greatly superior numbers they had just stormed the very strong position at Nan-shan. It remained to be seen whether they could capture a fortress like Port Arthur or defeat a large European army on equal terms in a pitched battle. Another army (the Third) under General Nogi had been assembled for the reduction of the Manchurian Sebastopol/ The Army of Oku was to protect the rear of Nogi and to cover the siege.

At the beginning of June the positions of the Russians and Japanese in the theatre of war were as follows. Oku's Army (the Second) was opposed by Stakelberg with 30,000 infantry, 3,000 cavalry, and 100 guns. Stakelberg's advanced cavalry was in the region of Telissu, some fifty miles south of Kaiping ; the remainder of his force was north-west of Kaiping, between the latter town and Neuchuang, at the mouth of the Liao-ho. Telissu is roughly half-way between Nan-shan and Kaiping. The troops of Stakelberg, south of Kaiping, were in hilly country, with their backs to a sea of which the Japanese had secured the command.

The main road and the railway from Port Arthur leave the vicinity of the coast near Kaiping and proceed northeastwards along the eastern edge of the great plains between the Mongolian and Manchurian mountains. At Liao-yang, the Russian advanced base in Manchuria, the road and railway cross the Tai-tzu, and traverse the plain and the Sha-ho, a northern tributary of the Tai-tzu, on their way to Mukden, the capital of Manchuria. Mukden is just north of the Hun-ho, another tributary of the Liaoho. Kuropatkin, with approximately 36,000 infantry, 6,000 cavalry, and 120 guns, was in the area Liao-yang-Mukden. His army and the troops disposed along the line KaipingLiao-yang were on the western fringe of the Manchurian mountains. Through these miniature Alps were advancing from Takushan the advanced guard of Nodzu's Army (the Fourth), and, north-east of it, from the Yalu, Kuroki with the First Army. Ensconced in the mountains, Mishchenko, with 3,000 cavalry and two infantry regiments, opposed Nodzu's vanguard, and on Mishchenko's left, LieutenantGeneral Count Keller and Major-General Rennenkampf with 23,000 infantry, 3,600 cavalry, and 90 guns, south of the Motienling faced Kuroki.



1 Nogi assumed command of this army, which consisted of two divisions, on June 6.



The aim of the Japanese staff was to bring Oku's Army to Kaiping, and pivoting on Kaiping, to strike with Nodzu and Kuroki the main line of the Russian communications, the railway and road from Kaiping to Mukden. If we imagine that an Austrian army had obtained possession of the plain of Lombardy, and that it was about to be attacked by Italian armies through the Alpine passes traversed by Bonaparte in 1796, and through the passes of the Apennines between Genoa and Bologna, we have a fair idea of the problem set to the Japanese generalissimo, Marshal Oyama. The problem was easier in one respect,more difficult in others. Our imaginary Austrian army would have several lines of retreat north and south of the Po on Trieste and Vienna, but Kuropatkin's main communications with Mukden and Harbin were between the Liao-ho and the Manchurian mountains. On the other hand, the Japanese in June 1904 had still to drive the Russians from the passes, and the roads up which they were moving were bad. The best consisted of the road from Chin-chou through Kaiping to Liaoyang, that from Takushan through Hsiuyen to Haicheng - a town between Kaiping and Liao-yang - and the highway from Antung on the Yalu through Feng-huang-cheng over the Motienling to Liao-yang. Lateral communications between the three roads were poor in the extreme. Further, the mountain passes were open only in summer, but then the flooded valley of the Liao-ho, Oku's objective, was a morass.

Kuropatkin's plan was to remain on the defensive, to leave Port Arthur isolated and to await the arrival of the large reinforcements being sent along the Trans-Siberian Railway to Liao-yang. Unfortunately for him and the Russians, the Viceroy of the Far East was persuaded that Port Arthur must at all costs be relieved. The loss of the Russian fleet interned in the harbour would mean that the war could not be brought to a victorious issue, and Admiral Alexeieff over-estimated the power of the Japanese speedily to reduce the fortress. A council of war at St. Petersburg supported Alexeieff, and Kuropatkin was ordered at once to relieve Port Arthur.

He proceeded to do so with a force very insufficient for the purpose. Stakelberg, with 35,000 men and 94 guns, was sent down the Kaiping-Port Arthur railway. He was headed and decisively beaten by Oku at the battle of Telissu on June 14. The Russians lost 3,772 men killed, wounded, and missing, and 16 quick-firing guns, the Japanese only 1,064 Ifilled and wounded. Oku pursued Stakelberg, and on July 9 drove him from Kaiping. The Russians retired to a strong position on the edge of the Manchurian plain at Ta-shih-chiao, twenty miles or so north of Kaiping, covering the main road and railway.

Oku with the Second Japanese Army had entered the Manchurian plain between the lower Liao and the western spurs of the Manchurian mountains. In the meantime, on June 8, the advance guard of Nodzu's (the Fourth) Army, consisting of the Tenth Division under General Kawamura, with the assistance of a detachment from Kuroki's army, dislodged Mishchenko from Hsiuyen. The Russians retreated and prepared to defend the crest of the Fen-shui range, the main watershed between the Bay of Corea and the Gulf of Liao-tung, into which latter the Liao flows,.. Until Mishchenko was dislodged, the Fourth Army could not join hands with Oku. On the 24th Kawamura received the following order from Tokyo : ' The fact has been proved that the Russian fleet is able to issue from the harbour of Port Arthur. ... It is not advisable for the Second Army (Oku) to advance farther north than Kaiping for the present. The battle of Liao-yang, which it was anticipated would be fought before the rainy season, wiU be postponed till after it. Arrange your operations accordingly.' At this moment Oku was only thirteen miles north of Telissu, but Kawamura decided to storm the Fen-shui position. On June 26th-27, again with the aid of the detachment from Kuroki's army, he effected his purpose at a loss of scarcely 200 kiUed and wounded. The Russians withdrew to Hsi-mu-cheng. On July 5 Oku informed Kawamura that he was resuming his advance, and expected to attack the enemy at Kaiping between the 9th and 1 2th. He proposed to effect a junction of his right with Kawamura's left wing. In view of the strength of the Russians about Hsi-mu-cheng, now estimated at some 25,000 infantry, 2,500 cavalry, and 60 guns, Kawamura sent only a small portion of his division towards Kaiping, and, on the news that Kaiping had been occupied hy Oku, suspended his advance. Reinforcements had been disembarked at Takushan, and on July 16 Nodzu arrived at Hsiuyen and took over the command of the Fourth Army. Six days later (July 22) the detachment from Kuroki's Army - a mixed brigade of the Guard Division - marched eastward to rejoin Kuroki. Before describing the movements of Kuroki and the right wing of the Japanese forces, we must return to Port Arthurj where, as the message received by Kawamura on June 24 showed, events most disconcerting to the Japanese staff had occurred.

While Oku was advancing northwards on Telissu and Kaiping, the two divisions which formed the Japanese Third Army under Nogi ihoved westwards on Port Arthur. The port of Dalny-was occupied and Ta-lien Bay cleared of mines. In a direct line Dalny is some twenty-three mUes from Port Arthur, but the intervening country is mountainous, and, thanks to the activity and talents of MajorG'eneral Kondratenko - the very competent subordinate of the incompetent Russian commandant of Port Arthur - the works of and in front of the fortress were becoming each day more formidable. In 1894 Port Arthur had been captured in less than twelve hours at a trifling loss ; in 1904 it was to stand a siege of six months, and to cost the Japanese 60,000 killed and wounded. Across the Kuan-tung peninsula, west of Dalny, a position known as the ' Position of the Passes ', somewhat similar to that at Nan-shan, had been entrenched by the Russians. Mechanics had arrived from Russia and were busy repairing the damaged battleships. On June 23, to the great surprise of Admiral Togo, the Russian fleet, under Admiral Vitgeft, steamed out of Port Arthur, and it was perceived that, with the exception of the lost Petropavlovsh and Boyarin, it was almost as strong as it had been at the beginning of the war. The losses which Togo's fleet had sustained through mines, and the absence of Kaimamura's squadron guarding the Corean Straits, gave Vitgeft the chance of fighting a battle on equal terms. Togo accepted the challenge, and the fate of the war seemed to hang on the balance. It was now that the loss of Makharoff was severely felt by the Russiahs. Vitgeft was deficient in moral courage. He returned to Port Arthur, where during the night of June 23-4 he was attacked by the Japanese torpedo-boat flotillas.

The failure of Vitgeft was followed by a successful attack by Nogi on Chien-shan, an important link in the ' Position of the Passes '. On June 26 it was taken by the Japanese. An attempt to retake it on July 4 failed, and on July 26-8 the ' Position of the Passes ' was carried by the Japanese, the Russians losing 47 officers and 2,066 men, killed and wounded, the Japanese nearly 4,000. The Russians fell back to their last line of defence outside the permanent fortifications.

Port Arthur is the eastern of three inlets at the extremity of the Kuan-tung promontory. North-westward, across a neck of land some six miles wide, is Louisa Bay, and south of it, as one proceeds round the coast to Port Arthur, is Pigeon Bay, separated from Port Arthur by a neck of land four miles wide. From the northern shore of Louisa Bay the new line taken up by the Russians ran eastward along the heights to Feng-huang-shan (Wolf Hills), it then turned south, and by Ta-ku-shan and Hsiao-ku-shan ended on the shores of Ta-ho Bay, another inlet of the sea, east of and under four miles from Port Arthur. The position was very weakly fortified ; the trenches had no overhead cover ; and the tall millet in front of them had not been cut. On the 30th the Japanese captured the Wolf Hills and the Russians abandoned the whole line, with the exception of Ta-ku-shan and Hsiao-ku-shan, at the south-eastern extremity. By the evening of July 31 the Japanese were entrenched on the captured heights, and the siege of Port Arthur may be said to have begun.

To relieve Port Arthur it was necessary for Kuropatkin to break through the armies of Oku and Nodzu. If they had alone stood in his path, he would have probably marched to recover the Liao-tung peninsula. What immobilized him was the menacing advance of Kuroki through the Manchurian mountains in the direction of Liao-yang.

Nine days after the battle of the Yalu, on May 10, Kuroki had taken up a position in and in front of Feng-huangcheng, which had been occupied by his cavalry on the 6th. Feng-huang-cheng had a population of 20,000 inhabitants ; it was the only important town on the main road from Corea by the Motien Pass to Liao-yang and Mukden. East of that road another road ran from the Yalu at Ch-hangsong, forty miles north-east of Wiju, through the mountains by Saimachi to Mukden. From Saimachi a route went westwards to the Motien Pass. On May 7 Rennenkampf, with a brigade of Cossacks, had reached Saimachi to guard against a turning movement from that direction. During the next days his patrols reported that Japanese troops were approaching from Ch-hang-song. On the loth Colonel Madritoff, with some 500 Cossacks and mounted scouts, appeared south of the Yalu at Anju, but was beaten off. A week later. Count Keller took over the command of the Russian left wing from Zasulich.

Through the remainder of May, Rennenkampf manoeuvred round and in front of Saimachi, while Kuroki made preparations for the advance of one of his divisions to that place, of another to the foot of the Motien Pass, and of the third, forming his left wing, to a point south-west of it. On June 24 Kuroki's preparations were complete, when he, too, received news of the sortie of the Russian fleet from Port Arthur, and that the anticipated battle near Liaoyang was to be postponed till after the rainy season.

Like Kawamura, Kuroki had already set his columns in motion, and he obtained permission to seize the Motien Pass. This, in spite of deluges of rain which fell between June 27 and July 5, proved an easier task than was expected. Keller abandoned the pass, the Japanese advance guards secured the summit at the end of June, and Kuroki was now within forty miles of Liao-yang. On July 4 a feeble attempt was made by the Russians to recover the pass ; on July 17 Keller made a more vigorous assault on it, which was repulsed. North-east of the pass at Chiao-tou, on the road from Saimachi to Mukden, there was a brisk action on July 19-21, in which the Russians were beaten. The three divisions of Kuroki were now in a position to move on Liao-yang.

Two days after the action at Chiao-tou, on July 23, Oku, in the plain between the Liao-ho and the western fringe of the Manchurian Mountains, with Nodzu on his right in the mountains, resumed his movement on Liaoyang. Oku's Army consisted at this moment of four divisions and a cavalry brigade. A Russian force of 48 battalions, 54 squadrons, and 112 guns, commanded by General Zarubaieff, with Stakelberg serving under him, held a strongly entrenched position at Ta-shih-chiao, selected by Kuropatkin himself. The Russian guns, which at Nan-shan and Telissu had been too much exposed, were skilfully concealed, but were greatly outnumbered by the 252 guns of Oku. The opposing infantry were, however, about equal in numbers, and the Russian cavalry more tham twice as numerous as the Japanese. After severe fighting on July 23, 24, and 25, Zarubieff was driven back on Haicheng. He had lost, perhaps, 2,000 killed, wounded, and missing ; Oku's losses aggregated 1,054. During the battle, at midnight on July 24, the Russian garrison of Neuchuang, at the mouth of the Liao-ho, retired towards Liao-yang, and the port was occupied by the Japanese the next day.

On July 28 Oku dispatched a division to join Nodzu, who had moved up along the Takiishan-Hsiuyen road against the Russian position at Hsi-mu-cheng, which covered Haicheng on the south-east. Zasulich and Mishchenko, with 36J battalions, 36 squadrons, and 86 guns, were posted there. Assisted by Oku's Fifth Division, Nodzu, with the Tenth Division and a brigade of reserve troops - a force in all of 33 battalions, over 6 squadrons, and 84 guns- forced Zasulich back on Haicheng (July 31 to August 2). Kuroki, west and north of the Motienling, had on July 31 again beaten the Russians, who had lost over 2,400 men and the gallant Count Keller. Kuroki had advanced twelve miles on the road to Liao-yang and gained possession of the valley of the Lan-ho, which enters the Tai-tzu-ho above Liao-yang.

On August 3 Oku occupied Haicheng. His and Nodzu's forces were united, and separated by less than forty miles of, it is true, very mountainous country from Kuroki's. With the exception of Port Arthur the Russians had no longer any harbour in the Yellow Sea. Corea, the Liao-tung peninsula, and the passes leading to the Tai-tzu river were in the hands of the Japanese. ' As the result of the successes,' observes the British Official History of the War, ' which had been gained all along the Japanese line, the front of the three Japanese armies had been reduced from 150 to 45 miles.'



1 The Japanese losses in this action were under 1,000.



Nevertheless, though the Japanese had been victorious on land and sea, the struggle still remained undecided. The Russian men-of-war in Vladivostok and Port Arthur* might be reinforced by the Russian fleet which was in European waters. Port Arthur was untaken, and Kuropatkin himself had not been defeated. The Vladivostok squadron had shown enterprise. On June 15, in the Corean Straits, it had sunk the transports Izumi Maru and Hitachi Maru, the latter with 2,000 troops and siegeguns , destined for Port Arthur on board. Another transport, the Sado Maru, had been seriously damaged. The Russians eluded the pursuit of Kaimamura's squadron, and on the 20th re-entered Vladivostok. During the same period Russian, torpedo-boats captured the Hatsuku Maru and burned two junks. From the 20th to the 30th of July Admiral Jessen passed through the-Tsugaru Straits and preyed on Japanese and neutral shipping approaching or leaving the eastern coast of Honshiu. The termination of Jessen's activities was close at hand, but, before describing the battle in which his squadron was put out of action, it is necessary to return to Port Arthur.

It wiU be remembered that the Russians under General Stoessel (who had deliberately disobeyed an order of Kuropatkin to leave Port Arthur and to hand over the command to Lieutenant-General Smirnoff) had been driven into the fortress by Nogi on July 31. Except for its hold on Taku-shan and Hsiao-tu-shan, the garrison was confined to the permanent works. Because it put up such a splendid defence, the reader must not imagine that Port Arthur at the opening of the war was a Metz. As at Sebastopol when the Allies landed in the Crimea, the permanent works, though commenced in 1898, were far from complete. Had it not been for the ' Chinese Wall ', a rampart of mud and stones about 10 feet high and at its base 12 feet thick, which ran from Fort Sung-shu on the north-west to Pai-yin North Battery on the south-east, it is possible that the fortress might have fallen to the first assaults of the Japanese in August. The defences, as a whole, were not of a then modern type. The forts were unarmoured, the concrete was not strong enough to resist the shells discharged by the Japanese 11 -inch howitzers, and there was an insufficient supply of barbed wire. But by August 1904 the efforts chiefly of Kondratenko, the Todleben of Port Arthur, had secured the fortress from immediate capture.

The Japanese bombardment commenced on August 7. On the 8th Ta-ku-shan and on the 9th . Hsiao-ku-shan were captured by the Japanese. After the loss of these hills the position of the Russian fleet in the harbour was, precarious, and Admiral Vitgeft had to contemplate the possibility of his fleet being sunk at anchor by the enemy's batteries. On August 7 he had received a telegram from Alexeieff that he was to take the squadron out of Port Arthur, and a direct order from the Tsar to break through to Vladivostok. Two days later Japanese shells inflicted damage on the Retvizan and the Peresiiyet. The time for hesitation was over. On August 10 Vitgeft, with 6 battleships, 3 protected cruisers, the Novik, and 14 torpedo-boat destroyers steamed out of the harbour. He was met by Togo with 5 battleships, 4 armoured cruisers, 9 protected cruisers, 17 destroyers, and 29 torpedo-boats. The Russians had 15 as against 20 12-inch, 8 as against 2 lo-inch, 88 as against 120 6-inch, 6 as against Jj 4-inch guns. They had no 8-inch guns to oppose to the 20 of that calibre possessed by Togo. From the point of view of weapons they were at a hopeless disadvantage.

Vitgeft's aim was to reach Vladivostok, overpowering or avoiding Kaimamura's squadron in the Corean Straits. At first it looked as if he might succeed. At 12.10 p.m. the battle commenced, but it was not till 5.45 p.m., when a shell, bursting on the Tzesarevitch and killing Vitgeft, threw the Russians into confusion, that Togo began to get the upper hand. Gradually the majority of the Russian ships were headed and driven back to Port Arthur. They arrived there severely damaged, with only three destroyers accompanying them. The Ashold escaped to Shanghai, where she was disarmed by the Chinese, the Novik reached the German port of Kiao-chau, coaled, steamed round the east of Japan and entered Korsakovsk Bay, at the south of the island of Sakhalien. She was engaged there (511 the 20th by the Tsushima, and so seriously injured that the captain decided to submerge her. The Diana, on the 25th, reached the French port of Saigon and was disarmed ; the Tzesarevitch had been disarmed and interned at Kiao-chau on the nth. The Japanese fleet had not escaped unscathed, and the losses on the Mikasa had been very heavy.

The victory of Togo on August 10 was speedily followed by a victory won by Kaimamura over Jessen. On the 12th Jessen had left Vladivostok to join the Port Arthur squadron. Just before dawn on the 14th he reached the latitude of Fusan. He was that day engaged hy Kaimamura with a superior force. The Russians fought magnificently, but unavailingly. The Rurik was voluntarily sunk by its commander, to prevent its falling into the hands of the Japanese, and the Rossiya and Gromohoi limped back to Vladivostok. They played no further part in the war.

The battles of August 10 and 14, known as the battles of the Yellow Sea and Ulsan,.gave the Japanese command of the sea. But the capture of Port Arthur and the defeat of Kuropatkin's great army at Liao-yang, which was being daily reinforced from Europe and Siberia, had yet to be accomplished. Unless Nogi's Army could be thrown into the scale, the result of a battle near Liao-yang would be uncertain. Every effort was, therefore, made to finish the siege of Port Arthur in the shortest possible time. From the 19th to the 24th of August, Nogi flung his heroic infantry against the fortress. He captured two redoubts, but lost 15,000 to the 3,000 Russian killed and wounded. Marshal Oyamaliad to abandon any hope of help from Nogi in the battle which already on the 23 rd he was delivering against Kuropatkin.

Heavy rain had delayed Oyama's forward movements and had given the Russians time to strengthen still further the formidable positions in which they had decided to await the thrusts of their enemy. It was not until the evening of August 22 that Oyama ordered the advance and transferred his head-quarters from Kaiping to Haicheng. He had under his hands 125,000 troops and 470 field-guns, 2 and he was about to attack lines defended by 158,000 infantry and cavalry, 609 guns, 36 howitzers, and 28 siege-guns. Kuropatkin had 149 squadrons of cavalry, Oyama but 33, and, in the event of a bad defeat, the Japanese would be in danger of having their communications cut by the Russian horsemen.



1 The Japanese saved 625 officers and men of the Rurik from drowning.
2 According to the British Official History these figures are only approximate.



The Japanese First Army (Kuroki), forming the right wing, numbered 46,000, the Fourth Army (Nodzu) in the centre, 31,000, and the Second Army (Oku), forming the left wing, 48,000. It was not possible with these forces seriously to operate against the Russian communications. If Kuroki advanced further north the gap between him and Nodzu would become dangerously wide ; if Oku tried to turn Kuropatkin's right wing there was the probability that the Russian commander would with his reserves reinforce his left or centre aftd overpower either Kuroki or Nodzu. The Russians had entrenched themselves on a curved line of forty miles from the region of An-shan-chan on the Kaiping-Liao-yang railway to the Tai-tzu, east of Liao-yang. Behind was what was known as the ' advanced position ', much more elaborately fortified, with a 151miles frontage from Ku-chia-tzu on the railway to Hsia-pu on the Tai-tzu, east of Liao-yang ; and still farther back was the ' main position ', strengthened by a triple row of fortifications, of which the principal feature was a chain of seven redoubts. The * main position ' rested at each end on the river and protected Liao-yang (which is on the south bank of the Tai-tzu) from attack from the west or south. The Tai-tzu, from 70 to 600 yards in width, was swollen with rain, and in case of a reverse, Kuropatkin could place it between him and his pursuers. Detachments on the right bank guarded the crossings above and below Liaor-yang. To the north of the river and behind the city were twenty-eight siege guns, which were, however, not used. Troops were disposed along the road and railway back to and beyond Mukden.

With inferior numbers and artillery it was, indeed, audacious for Oyama, in such circumstances, to hope to gain a victory.

The battle of Liao-yang, the greatest pitched battle since the Franco-German War, was the first of those prolonged contests which have become so familiar to the public of the twentieth century. If we include the battle of Mars-la-Tour in it, the battle of Gravelotte lasted but three days, the battle of Sadowa, which had decided the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, only a single day. The battle of Liao-yang, though the forces engaged were approximately equal to those at Gravelotte, extended from August 23 to September 3.

The struggle resolved itself into three phases. Between August 23 and August 26 the Russians maintained their position on the outer line. They then retired to the ' advanced position '. On August 30 the battle was renewed. At nightfall part of Kuroki's right vidng crossed the Tai-tzu, a brigade of the Guard Reserve under General Umezawa making a wide detour further to the east, with the object of ultimately reaching the Yen-tai coal mine region, from which a railway ran west to the Liao-yang-Mukden line.

Kuropatkin at this moment decided to take the offensive. He had two alternatives. One was to leave a containing force to hold Kuroki's troops north of the river and with the remainder of his army to fall on Oku and Nodzu south of it. The other was to withdraw from the ' advanced ' to the 'main' position, and, trusting that a comparatively small force in the redoubts and entrenchments would keep at bay Oku and Nodzu, overwhelm Kuroki's wing north of the river.



He chose the latter alternative. ' My General Reserve ', he telegraphed afterwards to St. Petersburg, ' was no longer strong enough to ensure a counter-stroke in a southerly direction being successful. There was undoubtedly a danger of Kuroki cutting our communications, and the most pressing duty of the army seemed to be to guard them.' The ' advanced position ' in which the Russian right and centre had succes ifuUy repulsed Oku and Nodzu was vacated, and Kuropatkin transferred his reserves to the north of the river.

The Russian offensive north of the Tai-tzu ended in a failure. At 3 a.m. on September 3, Kuropatkin, who had fought with Kuroki an indecisive action on the ist and 2nd of September, learned that the ammunition of the Russian right wing defending the ' main position ' was running low, and that reinforcements there were needed. A little later he heard that the portion of his left wing astride the Yen-tai railway was retreating towards the Liaoyang-Mukden railway. At 6 a.m. came the news that Kuroki's forces just north of the Tai-tzu had regained the ground previously recovered from them. Finally, north of the Yen-tai coal mines, Umezawa was threatening the Russian line of retreat on Mukden.

The immense length of his communications with his base, European Russia, made Kuropatkin hesitate. Like Napoleon at Borodino, he decided not to throw all his reserves into the battle. At 6 a.m. he issued orders for the retirement of the whole army on Mukden. The retreat was skilfully conducted, and so exhausted and depleted were the Japanese forces that the Russians were practically unmolested. By the loth the Russian. army was concentrated on the banks of the Hun-ho, above and below Mukden. A cavalry screen remained south of the Sha-ho.

At a cost of 5,537 killed and 18,063 wounded, Oyama had extricated himself from a very difficult strategical position, and inflicted on the enemy heavy losses. The Russian casualties amounted to over 575 officers and 17,337 men killed, wounded, or missing. Nogi's bloody repulse at Port Arthur was forgotten. That the Japanese were as capable as European generals of manoeuvring large armies had been established beyond dispute.

On September 3, when Kuropatkin gave the order to retreat on Mukden, a Japanese destroyer off Port Arthur had been broken in halves by the explosion of a Russian mine. It was another warning to the Japanese, and forcibly reminded them that they had no yards for the building of men-of-war. They could not afford to reduce Port Arthur by blockade. Russia was purchasing submarines, and her considerable fleet in the Baltic might at any moment sail for the Pacific. The siege of the fortress was, therefore, pressed on. '

Port Arthur depended for its main supply of water on a reservoir, north of Fort Erh-lung and outside the perimeter of the permanent fortifications. The reservoir was protected by a redoubt. On September 19 and 20 this redoubt was captured and the water cut off. Another source had, however, been tapped, and the garrison suffered little inconvenience. The Railway Redoubt, just south of the Waterworks Redoubt, was abandoned by the Russians, and the Temple Redoubts to its west were stormed, also on September 19-20. On the 20th the Russian works on Namako Yama, a hill farther west and just north of 203 Metre Hill, which, was the key to the fortress - or at least to the harbour- was captured. From Namako Yama a portion of the harbour was visible, and as a result of the capture, serious damage was inflicted before the end of the month on the Sevastopol, Pobyeda, and Peresvyet. If 203 Metre Hill also fell, the ships would be at the mercy of the Japanese heavy artillery ; that hill consisted of two welldefined peaks, 140 yards apart, connected by a jagged, razor-like ridge. The first attack on it (September 19-22) was bloodily repulsed by the Russians. The Japanese lost 2,500, the Russians in the sector from the hill to the Waterworks Redoubt, 1,221 killed, wounded, and missing. Several 11-inch howitzers were, however, arriving from Japan. The days of the fortress and of the fleet in the harbour were numbered, if Kuropatkin did not crumple up Oyama's Army, or force Oyama to draw to him the greater part of Nogi's investing forces.

The Russian generalissimo had now been heavily reinforced, though the whole of the reinforcements were not at his disposal, a second Manchurian Army, under separate command, being in process of formation. He decided to take the offensive. On September 28 he issued secret orders for an advance, ' having as the initial object, to gain possession of the right bank of the River Tai-tzu '.

Kuropatkin's Army numbered close upon 200,000 infantry and 18,000 cavalry. With 760 guns and a large body of engineers, such a force would before the war have been deemed amply sufficient to overpower the numerically smaller army of Oyama. But the succession of reverses from the Yalu to Liao-yang had made Kuropatkin overcautious ; he had an exaggerated idea of the strength of the Japanese ; his maps, excellent for the country between Liao-yang and Port Arthur, were bad for that between Liao-yang and Mukden ; and the mounted Manchurian brigands, acting with the Japanese, threatened his communications, which had, however, been greatly improved by the completion, on September 20, of the Circum-Baikal railway. Interfered with by Admiral Alexeieff, and holding the opinions which we have seen that he held on the dangers run by Russia in Europe, Kuropatkin, even to relieve Port Arthur, was not inclined to stake his last gun, squadron, and battalion.

As in most campaigns, the moves open to him were, in their broad outlines, simple. The Russian commanderin-chief was not strong enough simultaneously to turn both flanks of the enemy. A parallel battle against foes so determined as the Japanese would be a costly and speculative adventure. To turn one of Oyama's flanks promised the best results. For reasons imperfectly known, Kuropatkin selected Oyama's right. On the face of it this was bad strategy. The march of the Russian columns would be through mountainous country, and it was most unlikely that they would be able to reach the main communications of the Japanese army, the Kaiping-Liao-yang railway. The Russian army was divided into three parts - a ' Western Force ' under General Bilderling, an ' Eastern Force ' under Lieutenant-General Stakelberg, and a ' General Reserve '. Behind the ' General Reserve ' was General Soboleff with the Sixth Siberian Corps, north of Mukden. While Bilderling moved southward astride the Mukden-Liao-yang railway, fortifying positions as he advanced, Stakelberg was to crush the Umezawa Brigade and Kuroki.

From the 5th to the 8th of October the advance on the forty-mile front was successful. Bilderling crossed, and Stakelberg reached, the Sha-ho, which has given the name to the battle, while the cavalry of Samsonoff and Rennenkampf, and the Third Siberian Corps under Lieut.-General Ivanoff, moved towards or to the Upper Tai-tzu. On the 9th, however, the Umezawa Brigade round Pen-hsi-hu on the Tai-tzu, and Kuroki to its left, held lip the Russian ' Eastern Force ' and Rennenkampf.

The next day the Russians halted, and Oyama decided to take the offensive with Nodzu and Oku. He hoped to drive Bilderling east of the Liao-yang-Mukden railway. During the next two days Stakelberg made no progress and Bilderling was pushed back. On the 13th, Kuropatkin ordered Stakelberg to retreat ; by the 14th, Bilderling was back on the Sha-ho. With the exception of their recapture, on the i6th and 17th, of PutilofJ Hill and 'One Tree Hill ', near the point where the Liao-yang-Mukden railway crosses the Sha-ho, the Russians had got much the worse of the exchanges. Their losses were 41,351, those of the Japanese about half that number. Winter - very severe in those regions - set in, and, before Kuropatkin was again able to move. Port Arthur had fallen. His only consolation for his failure on the Sha-ho was that on October 25 he was freed from the control of Alexeieff. As Kitchener about this period was contending, the dual control of an army almost inevitably leads to disaster.



1 Ivanoff's and Samsonoff's troops were part of the ' Eastern Force '; Rennenkampf had an independent command.



On October 15 , when the Russians were retiring behind the Sha-ho, Admiral Rozhestvenski, with a fleet of forty ships, left Libau on the Baltic for the Far East. The news of his departure stimulated Nogi tp fresh exertions. From October 26 to October 31 the second general assault on the fortifications of Port Arthur was delivered. It was a failure, the Japanese losing nearly 4,000 men. A month later (November 26-7) the third assault was made, equally ineffective. The Japanese had little to show for a loss of over 5,500, as against 1,500 Russian casualties. On December 5, however, 203 Metre Hill was stormed. The Japanese had lost some 10,000, the Russians, in the nine days' fighting for 203 Metre Hill and its environs, 3,000.

The priee paid by Nogi was not excessive. An observation station commanding the whole harbour was promptly established on 203 Metre Hill. The Poltava had been already destroyed by the Japanese heavy howitzers. On the 6th the Retvizan, on the 7th the Pohyeda, Peresvyet, and Pallada, on the 8th the Gilyak, and on the 9th the Bayan were sunk by Japanese shells. The Sevastopol, after desperate efforts to save her, was voluntarily sunk on January i, the day before the surrender of Port Arthur.

Before that date. General Kondratenko, the soul of the defence, had been killed (December 15). On January 2 General Stoessel surrendered. He had not by any means exhausted his resources in men and munitions, and was subsequently condemned to be shot, though the sentence was commuted to ten years' imprisonment. Kaiser Wilhelm H bestowed a decoration on him and on Nogi.

Thus ended the siege of Port Arthur, one of the most memorable in history. Both Russians and Japanese had exhibited marvellous courage and resourcefulness. If Kondratenko had not been killed, the siege might have been prolonged for some days or even weeks. In the course of the fighting, it may be mentioned, hand grenades and even portable shields had made their appearance.

Scarcely had Port Arthur fallen than Kuropatkin - probably incited by the home government, anxious to redeem its credit - renewed the offensive. On January 8, Mishchenko, with 6,000 cavalry and 6 batteries, crossed the Hun-ho and attacked the Japanese main lin of communications. He did some slight damage to the railway north of Haicheng, but otherwise effected little. His aim had been to interfere with the transport of Nogi's Army to the Sha-ho and to induce Oyama to denude of troops his front which was then about to be attacked by the Russians.

Kuropatkin on this occasion proposed to operate against Oyama's left, which rested on the Hun-ho, and, as before, consisted of Oku's Army. According to the measure of success attendant on the attack, subsidiary efforts were to be made against Nodzu and Kuroki. The Russian army totalled close on 300,000. On January 25 the advance began, the weather being bitterly cold. Heikoutai, on the Hun-ho, was captured ; but the success was not followed up, and by the end of the month the Russians, having lost between 10,000 and 20,006 troops, again retreated.

The two great offensives of Kuropatkin had failed, but, owing largely to the energy of Prince Khilkoff, a constant stream of reinforcements from Europe was flowing into Manchuria, and Kuropatkin would soon have on the Sha-ho an army of half a million men. If Oyama delayed his attack till April, the break-up of winter, by rendering the ground impassable, would enable the Russians to complete their entrenchments round Mukden. The Baltic Fleet was slowly approaching Far Eastern waters, and if, though this was very improbable, Togo's fleet were beaten, the position of Oyama in front of an undefeated Kuropatkin would be peculiarly hazardous.

Oyama proposed, before the roads became impassable, to strike at the Russians, and the Mikado and his ministers responded energetically to his requests. Reserve brigades were added to the divisions of Oku, Nodzu, and Kuroki. A new army (the Fifth) under General Kawamura, formed of reservists, was secretly brought up and placed on the Japanese right wing, and Nogi's victorious forces from Port Arthur were with equal secrecy sent to reinforce Oyama's left. They were kept well in the rear of Oku and Nodzu until Kawamura's turning movement had produced the desired psychological effect on Kuropatkin's mind. To deceive the latter, a portion of Nogi's troops operated with Kuroki, and he was led to believe that the Japanese army from Port Arthur was trying to turn his lines on the east, when, in fact, it was about to turn them on the west. Of the existence of Kawamura's Army, Kuropatkin appears to have had little or no suspicion.

The Japanese army numbered some 400,000. According to Japanese calculations, Kuropatkin had 300,000 infantry, 26,000 cavalry, and 1,368 guns with which to parry Oyama's blows. The Russians were divided into four armies. The Second, under General Kaulbars, was on the right wing, occupying a line sixteen miles long. Cavalry detachments prolonged Kaulbars's right across the Liao-ho. East of Kaulbars was Bilderling with the Third Army astride the Liao-yang- Mukden railway. The left wing was formed by the First Army under General Linievitch, disposed along a thirtymile front, reaching to the head waters of the Sha-ho. South and east of the Upper Sha-ho were detached bodies operating in the mountainous region between the Sha-ho and the Tai-tzu-ho. The Fourth Army, known as the ' General Reserve ', was south of Mukden.

To mystify Kuropatkin and to weaken the forces holding this fifty-seven mile long line between the Liao-ho on the west and the 'headwaters of the Sha-ho on the east, the Japanese commander-in-chief employed two devices. The activities of the mounted brigands in Mongolia were stimulated, raids in February being made against the Harbin-Mukden railway. Reports reached Kuropatkin that a force of over 10,000 troops was in Mongolia preparing to cut the line on which the safety of his whole army depended. Alarmed for his rear, he weakened his field army to strengthen the line-of-communication troops. The second device consisted in the landing of Japanese troops in Northern Corea who might attack Vladivostok. As Vladivostok was the bourne of the approaching Baltic Fleet, it could not be left to its fate. Kuropatkin strengthened its garrison with a mixed trigade. These feints of Oyama exercised considerable influence on the series of battles known as ' the Battle of Mukden ', which began on February 23.

Between the last-mentioned date and February 28 the left wing of the Russian army in the mountainous region between the Tai-tzu-ho and the Sha-ho was attacked by unexpectedly large bodies of the enemy, including troops from Nogi's Army. It was Kawamura's Army, driving Rennenkampf's detachment before him, and turning Linievitch's left. Believing that the Japanese were about to repeat their manoeuvre at Liao-yang, Kuropatkin heavily reinforced Linievitch and Rennenkampf. On the 28th he learnt, however, that masses of infantry and cavalry, afterwards ascertained to be Nogi's Army, were marching between the Liao-ho and the Hun-ho towards the west of Mukden. The objective of Nogi was the Russian communications between Mukden and Harbin. To counter him, reinforcements of more than fifty battalions were added to Kaulbars's Army, and Kaulbars was ordered to take the offensive. In the fighting that ensued Kaulbars was generally unsuccessful, and Nogi's turning movement each day became more menacing. On March 7 Kuropatkin drew back Bilderling and Linievitch to the fortified positions south of Mukden. From March 9 to March 16 a desperate battle raged round the capital of Manchuria. With the greatest difficulty Kuropatkin extricated himself from his perilous position and effected his retreat on Tiehling, whence he retired to a position between Tiehling and the River Sungari. The Russians had lost, according to Oyama's reports, 27,700 killed, 1 10,000 wounded, and a vast quantity of war material ; the Japanese losses up to March 12 were estimated at 41,222. Kuropatkin, who in his report to the Tsar very honourably stated that he considered himself ' the person principally responsible ' for the defeat, was superseded by Linievitch on the 20th. A single-minded patriot, Kuropatkin consented to serve under his erstwhile subordinate.

The news of the battle of Mukden, perhaps the greatest battle that the world had yet seen, reverberated round the world. It was the cause of universal rejoicing in Germany, and the Kaiser at once unmistakably showed his real aims. On March 31 he visited Tangier, and the Germano-Franco

' At Wagram the forces engaged numbered 310,300 ; at Leipzig, 472,500; at Sadowa, 436,110 and at Gravelotte, 300,500. At Mukden 700,000 troops were fighting on a line which at one time was eighty miles long.

Moroccan question was opened. Russia, weakened by the war, was not in a condition to help France effectively. Another result of the Japanese victory was to strengthen Kitchener in his controversy with Lord Curzon over the dual control of the Indian army. The conqueror of the Sudan had already reminded the Cabinet that it was their duty to regard war as the Japanese regarded it. Lord Curzon resigned in August, and Kitchener obtained control of the Indian army. One of, his first steps was to send officers to Japan to study the Japanese language and institutions.

On May 8 Wilhelm II had told some of his officers at Strassburg that ' the Russian Army at Mukden was enfeebled by drunkenness and immorality '. This and other characteristic utterances of the Kaiser, taken in connexion with his policy towards France, opened the eyes of Russian statesmen, and made them more inclined to come to terms with Japan. But, ere peace was concluded, Russia was to suffer a last disaster. Her Baltic fleet, trying to reach Vladivostok by way of the Corean Straits, was destroyed (May 27-8) by Togo off the island of Tsushima. Only two of Rozhestvenski's ships escaped destruction, capture, or internment. The Japanese losses were three torpedo-boats. A little over a week later, on June 6, M. Delcasse, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, was forced by German threats to resign his post, and the same day Count von Billow was created a prince by Wilhelm II.

It was high time that Russia closed her Manchurian adventure. On June 9 President Roosevelt urged Russia and Japan to make peace. Both were agreeable. The negotiations commenced on August 10 at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and on September 5 a treaty of peace was signed by which Japan was recognized as suzerain of Corea, the southern half of Sakhalien was ceded by Russia to Japan, and Japan took the place previously held by Russia in the Liao-tung peninsula. No war indemnity was paid by Russia to Japan, though the latter received 4,000,000 or so as reimbursement for the maintenance of the Russian prisoners, who had been very well treated by the Japanese during the war.