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The tremendous and
decisive results of success for the national cause are enough to
break down all the restraining influences of the code of
international law and Christian morality."

THE FIRST MILITARY OPERATIONS

From the moment when war became inevitable, the problem of absorbing
interest was to determine Russia's strategy, and it was ultimately
seen that the two main groups of her forces were to be posted at Port
Arthur and on the Yalu; the latter to resist an advance from Korea,
and the former to defend the Liaotung peninsula, which constituted
the key of the Russian position. Between the mouth of the Yalu and
the Liaotung peninsula, a distance of 120 miles, there were many
points where raiding parties might have been landed to cut the
Russian railway. Against this danger, flying squadrons of Cossacks
were employed. After the destruction of the three Russian vessels in
Chemulpo and the crippling of the Port Arthur squadron, Japanese
transports entered the former port and quietly landed some three
thousand troops, which advanced immediately upon Seoul and took
possession of it.

From that time there could be no doubt that the intention of the
Japanese was to make their first attack upon the enemy by marching up
the Korean peninsula, and that the capital of Korea was chosen for a
base of operations because of climatic considerations. Chemulpo,
however, was not the only landing-place. Fusan also served for that
purpose, as subsequently did also Chinnampo, an inlet on the west
coast of the peninsula. The distance from the port of Fusan to the
Yalu River is four hundred miles, in round numbers, and the roads are
very bad throughout the whole country. Hence the advance of the
Japanese, which was made in a leisurely manner with the utmost
circumspection and attention to detail, involved so much time that
April had drawn to its close before the troops deployed on the banks
of the Yalu. They consisted of three divisions constituting an army
corps, and each division had a ration-strength of 19,000 men with a
combatant strength of 14,000 sabres and rifles and thirty-six
field-guns. It may be assumed, therefore, that when the Japanese
First Army under General (afterwards Count) Kuroki reached the Yalu,
it had a fighting-strength of between forty and fifty thousand men.
There had practically been no collision during the interval of the
advance from the southern extremity of the peninsula to its northern
boundary. It is true that, on March 28th, a squadron of Cossacks
attempted to surprise the Japanese cavalry at Chong-ju, but the essay
proved a failure, and the Cossacks were driven back upon Wiju, which
they evacuated without any further struggle.

The Russian plan of operations did not originally contemplate a
serious stand at the Yalu. The idea was to retire gradually, drawing
the Japanese into Manchuria towards the railway, and engaging them in
the exceedingly difficult country crowned by the Motien Mountains.
But at the last moment General Kuropatkin, Russian commander-in-chief
in Manchuria, issued orders to General Sassulitch, commander of the
Second Siberian Army Corps, to hold the line of the Yalu with all his
strength. Sassulitch could muster for this purpose only five
regiments and one battalion of infantry; forty field-guns; eight
machine-guns, and some Cossacks--twenty thousand combatants,
approximately. Kuroki disposed his troops so that their front
extended some twenty miles along the Yalu, the centre being at
Kiuliencheng, a walled town standing about 180 feet above the river.
From this point southward, the right, or Manchurian, bank has a
considerable command over the left, and at Kiuliencheng a tributary
stream, called the Ai, joins the main river, "which thenceforth
widens from 4000 to 7000 yards and runs in three channels between the
islands and the mainland. The central channel is navigable by small
craft, and the other channels are fordable waist-deep. The Ai River
is also fordable in many places during the spring." On the right bank
of the Yalu, at the point of its junction with the Ai, the ground
rises so as to command the position taken by the Russians.

The plan of the Japanese commander was to threaten an attack on the
lower radius of the river; to throw two divisions against
Kiuliencheng, and to use the remaining division in a wide flanking
movement, crossing the river higher up. The battle took place on
Sunday, the 1st of May. During the preceding nights, the Japanese
placed a strong force of artillery in cleverly masked batteries, and
under cover of these guns, threw seven bridges across the river, the
highest upstream being thirteen miles above Kiuliencheng and the
lower two being directed to the centre of the Russian position.
General Kuroki then telegraphed to Tokyo that he proposed to attack
at dawn on Sunday, his plan being to march one division across the
fords of the Ai River, and to employ the other two, one in crumpling
up the Russian left, the other in attacking Antung, where a large
Russian force was in position. This programme was accurately carried
out. The Japanese infantry forded the Ai breast-deep, and, swarming
up the heights, drove the Russians from these strong positions.
Meanwhile, the Japanese guards' division had crossed on the left and
directed its march upon Antung, while the remaining division had
completely turned the Russian left flank. The fiercest struggle
occurred at Homutang, where a Russian regiment and a battery of
artillery made a splendid stand to save their comrades at Antung from
being cut off.

The casualties on the Japanese side were 318 killed, including five
officers, and 783 wounded, including thirty-three officers. The
Russian casualties numbered 1363 killed and 613 prisoners, but the
detail of wounded was not published. The Japanese captured twenty-one
quick-firing field-guns, eight machine-guns, 1021 rifles and a
quantity of ammunition, etc. The moral result of this battle can
hardly be overestimated. It had never been seriously believed in
Europe that a Russian army could be conquered by a Japanese in a fair
fight, and probably that incredulity influenced Kuropatkin when he
ordered Sassulitch to defy strategical principles by attempting to
hold a radically defective position against a greatly superior force.
In a moment, the Japanese were crowned with military laurels and
placed on a pedestal for the world to admire. But the Japanese
themselves were not deceived. They saw clearly that the contest had
been between six battalions of Russians and two divisions of
Japanese, a disparity of strength amply sufficient to account for the
result in any circumstances.

NAVAL OPERATIONS

During the period of eleven weeks immediately subsequent to the
battle of the Yalu, there were no military operations of a striking
character. Japan was preparing to despatch a second army to
Manchuria, and pending its shipment the chief duty to be discharged
devolved upon the fleet, namely, the further crippling of the Port
Arthur squadron in order to secure the transports against its
enterprises. The object was promoted on the 13th of April by the loss
of the Russian battle-ship Petropavlovsk. She struck one of the mines
laid by the Japanese and sank in a few minutes, carrying the Russian
admiral, Makaroff, together with about six hundred sailors, to the
bottom.

This event, although it materially weakened the Port Arthur squadron,
had nothing to do with the fixed programme of Admiral Togo, which
programme was to block the narrow channel forming the entrance of
Port Arthur by sinking merchant vessels in the fairway. Three
attempts to accomplish this were made. The first was on February
24th; the second, on March 2nd-3rd. In the first essay, five steamers
were employed, their crews consisting of seventy-seven volunteers.
They failed. On the second occasion four steamers of at least two
thousand tons each were sent in under the orders of Commander Hirose.
On this occasion, again, the steamers failed to reach vital points in
the channel, and their experience alone remained to compensate the
loss of many lives. These two attempts were watched by the public
with keen interest and high admiration. The courage and coolness
displayed by officers and men alike elicited universal applause. But
it was generally believed that the successful prosecution of such a
design was impossible and that no further essay would be made. The
Japanese, however, are not easily deterred. On the night of May 2nd,
eight steamers, aggregating some 17,000 tons, were driven into the
channel in the face of mines, batteries, and torpedoes, and five of
them reached their allotted positions, so that the blocking of the
harbour for the passage of large vessels was accomplished. The list
of casualties proved very heavy. Out of 159 persons only eight
officers and thirty-six men returned unhurt. The whole of the
remainder, including twenty officers, were killed, wounded, or
missing.

LANDING OF THE SECOND ARMY

On the very night after the accomplishment of this third blocking
operation, a second Japanese army commenced to land at Pitszewo,
eastward of the Liaotung peninsula. This was precisely the point
chosen for a similar purpose by the Japanese in the war with China,
ten years previously, and such close adherence to the former
programme was condemned by some critics, especially as transports
cannot get close to the shore at Pitszewo, but have to lie four miles
distant, the intervening space consisting, for the most part, of mud
flats. But the Japanese were perfectly familiar with every inch of
the coast from the mouth of the Yalu to Port Arthur, and had the
Russian commanders possessed equally accurate knowledge, they would
have recognized that Pitszewo was designated by natural features as
the best available landing-place, and knowing that, they might have
made effective dispositions to oppose the Japanese there, whereas ten
thousand men had been put on shore before any suspicion seems to have
been roused in the Russian camp.

BATTLE OF KINCHOU

After its landing at Pitszewo, on May 5th and the following days, the
Second Japanese Army, consisting of three divisions under General
(afterwards Count) Oku, pushed westward, driving away the Russian
detachments in the vicinity and securing the control of the Port
Arthur railway.



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