Historum - History Forums  

Go Back   Historum - History Forums > Themes in History > War and Military History
Register Forums Blogs Social Groups Mark Forums Read

War and Military History War and Military History Forum - Warfare, Tactics, and Military Technology over the centuries


Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old June 3rd, 2011, 11:19 PM   #1

NewModelSoldier's Avatar
Thread Killer
¤ Essayist of the Year ¤
 
Joined: Oct 2009
From: Vancouver
Posts: 5,010
Blog Entries: 22
The Russo-Japanese War


Click the image to open in full size.

In 1904, the ambitions of two imperial powers generated enough friction that war seemed the only solution. The power players were Russia, seeking to expand their influence in the East, and Japan, coming out of the Meiji Restoration with Western military training and hungry for expansion as its population grew. The two powers came into diplomatic struggles over issues involving Korea and Manchuria, both seeking to secure those lands to further their empires.
Popular opinion in the West was that Russia with her large armies would annihilate the smaller Japanese forces, but most ministers in the Japanese government were confident in their highly professional army and navy.
The arrogance of the Russian Tsar, Nicholas II, frustrated negotiations between the two empires, and the Japanese attacked, the Russians receiving a Declaration of War three hours later.

Port Arthur

Port Arthur, the only Pacific port that functioned all year round for the Russians took the first Japanese attack. This sneak attack was performed on the 8th of February at 2230 by Admiral Togo, referred to as “the Nelson of the East” by Western journalists. Despite excellent conditions for ambush, the attack yielded less then satisfactory results, though the largest Russian ship, the Tsesarevich, was disabled by determined Japanese gunnery.
The Russians remained on the defensive until Admiral Makarov assumed command in March, and went on the offensive, building confidence as the Japanese repeatedly tried to seal the port off and neutralize it. However, in April after a successful attack on the Japanese, Makarov’s ship struck a Japanese mine on the return home, and sunk. Makarov and many other officers and seamen were killed in the sinking, which resulted in a huge blow for Russian morale. During the course of the war, Russia could never replace Makarov’s experience, skill and charisma. After such a loss, the Russians were even more reluctant to pursue the Japanese out into open waters, costing them in the long term.

Battle of Yalu River

Click the image to open in full size.

During the skirmishes and forays around Port Arthur, divisions from the 1st Imperial Japanese Army (hereafter referred to as the IJA) landed at Incheon, Korea in February with roughly 40,000 men, quickly advancing through and capturing Pyongyang on the 21st February (13 days after the first Japanese attack at Port Arthur). After taking the port of Chinampo, the rest of the army was able to land by the end of March, and close to Russian controlled Manchuria.
On April 21st (8 days after the death of Makarov), the Japanese began gathering intelligence of the Russian positions. Using spies dressed as Korean fishermen, and bushes and millets to disguise artillery pieces and troop movements. The intelligence gathered by the Japanese was so admirable that there figures of the Russian strength were only off by a thousand, and on the Russian guns, off by a mere 2.
At night on April 25th, the Japanese took the forward observation posts of the Russians who retreated after a short exchange of fire. The IJA engineers constructed 10 bridges to cross to the Russian positions, one purposely exposed to draw Russian battery fire, which it did. The remaining nine however were built and IJA troops were ready for assault. The Russian commander, Zasulitch, was duped by a series of skirmishes and stubbornly rejected advice from his commanders and left his left flank weak and exposed.
April 27th saw the attack begin in the early hours of the morning, with fog concealing the IJA assault. At 0500 the Japanese artillery opened up on Russian positions, and within five hours, the Russians were in full retreat, Zasulitch refusing to leave his position as his troops faced lacerating blows from the Japanese howitzers. A Siberian counterattack was made, but the regiment was brutally cut down by the torrential Japanese fire, and by noon, the Russians had collapsed from the intense pressure of the IJA. The Battle of Yalu River was at a close, the Japanese attackers taking a 1000 casualties versus a combined casualty total for the Russians of roughly 2000.
The Japanese general, Koruki, had defeated his obstinate Russian counterpart with rapid efficiency and excellent use of engineers and modern technology, revealing the concentrated will and skill of the IJA in conjunction with excellent use of their Western training.

The Drive to Port Arthur


Click the image to open in full size.

Building off the success of the attack at Yalu, the IJA drove the Russian forces back towards Port Arthur. The Russian forces were restricted by their commands to operate on the defensive, using a series of delaying tactics to hold off the Japanese until reinforcements arrived from the Trans-Siberian railway.
Engagements such as the Battle of Nanshan (25th-26th May, 1904) saw the IJA press brutally against the Russians, acquiring their objectives at a high human cost. The brave Japanese soldiers normally came upon withering fire from the Russians who fired from sandbag defences. Still, the dominance of the Japanese artillery and the endless ferocity of the Japanese infantry assaults saw the Russians retreat and retreat, yielding significant casualties themselves, many captured.
After Nanshan, a string of Japanese victories at Telissu (14th-15th June), Motien Pass (17th July), Ta-shih-chao (24th July), and Hsimucheng (31st July) led the IJA to squeeze the Russian fortifications at Port Arthur.

Click the image to open in full size.


August 10th saw the Russian pacific fleets attempt to break out from their enclosure in Port Arthur and link up with the cruiser force at the Russian port of Vladivostok, with news of the move reaching Vladivostok on the 14th. The August 10th attempt was known as the Battle of the Yellow Sea, and saw the Russian fleet defeated (the commanding Russian Admiral, Vitgeft, was killed along with his staff when a Japanese shell landed a direct hit on the bridge). The effort at Vladivostok came to be called the Battle of Ulsan and also saw the Russian fleet there defeated.
NewModelSoldier is offline  
Remove Ads
Old June 3rd, 2011, 11:23 PM   #2

NewModelSoldier's Avatar
Thread Killer
¤ Essayist of the Year ¤
 
Joined: Oct 2009
From: Vancouver
Posts: 5,010
Blog Entries: 22

The Siege of Port Arthur

The longest and the most merciless of all the engagements in the Russo-Japanese War began on 7th August, 1904, with shelling of the Orphan Hills which would provide the Japanese with an excellent position for artillery fire and complete the encirclement of Port Arthur. After an almost full day of artillery bombardment, the Japanese attacked late at night, their attacks faltering due to a combination of poor visibility, and heavy rain as well as a frontal assault by an enemy who used efficient spotlights, artillery screeching down upon the advancing IJA soldiers, many who drowned in the river crossing.
Finally on the 9th August, the hills had both been secured after heavy fighting, the Japanese accruing almost 1300 casualties. The subsequent loss of the hills alarmed the Tsar enough to order the Admirals at Port Arthur and Vladivostok to link up (resulting in the Russian naval defeats at Yellow Sea and Ulsan).

The Japanese general, Nogi, was taken aback by the overall uncoordinated structure of the Russian artillery, something he discovered when launching an aerial reconnaissance balloon on the 13th August. Hoping to play on this, he began a full frontal assault on the heavily fortified positions at Port Arthur proper, with horrific results. The only success came at 174 Hill, which had been defended by a Russian veteran of Nanshan, Colonel Tretyakov. For such a small gain, the Japanese suffered 16, 000 casualties.
Such losses forced Nogi to switch the tactical nature of his mission from rapid-fire capture to siege. The IJA made good use of their engineers and sappers and worked tirelessly to undermine enemy fortifications, build bridges, construct trenches and tunnels set up mines. The Russian general, Stoessel spent most of his time complaining to the Tsar while the Japanese continued to labour around the clock. With news that the Russian Baltic Fleet was on its way, the IJA at Port Arthur knew they had to secure victory as soon as possible. Facing pressure from political opponents back home and other generals at Port Arthur, Nogi geared up his forces for another massive assault, this time at Hill 203.

Click the image to open in full size.

Two frontal assaults in October had been met with fierce resistance and pushed back, and another in November saw gains with serious loss of life for the Japanese. From the 28th November to the 5th December, the assaults on the Russian positions were vicious and gruesome, the Russians making good use of grenades and machine guns, the hellish machines pouring forth endless waves of heated death, the fiery lead punching and ripping through the tightly packed Japanese assault teams, led by incredibly brave officers wielding swords and pistols.
Mines exploded, bodies caught and torn apart on barbed wire and lay hanging as a grim testament to the Japanese cost. The screams and cries of the soldiers on both sides would be lost in the ocean of cacophonic sound as artillery shells descended at furious speed upon their targets, blasting men apart, the fragments slicing through eyes, stomachs and groins to leave the hideous survivors to die in an agonizing slow death, squirming in the bloodied mud. Those who survived the blast of mines and the shattering death of artillery took part in chaotic hand to hand fighting, bayonets slamming into bellies to spill out the hot guts upon the cold earth. The raging rattle of the machine guns was unceasing, but the Japanese would not and could not quit, the gamble must pay off, the Empire had to be secured here against Russia.
December 5th, it ended, the assaults were finally finished and the Japanese secured the heights, using the land-based artillery to open fire upon the exposed Russian Pacific Fleet which was virtually annihilated by the close naked fire. 8,000 Japanese casualties alone occurred on the final day, with many thousands more sustained in the previous days.
The Russians capitulated after the loss of the Pacific Fleet and a series of mines being collapsed by Japanese sappers. January 5th saw the official surrender take place. About 30,000 soldiers and sailors along with their officers surrendered, with Japan taking an overall loss of almost 58,000 casualties. During the Siege of Port Arthur, the Japanese had faced off aggressive Russians outside of the Port at Liaoyang (25th August-3rd September), Shaho (5th-15th October) and Sandepu (26th-27th January).


The End in Sight


After Port Arthur, the Japanese had suffered huge losses to their manpower reserves, and were forced once more by the approach of the Baltic Fleet, as well as the effects of the winter and the overall survival of the Russian East Army, to gamble.
This saw the final land battle of the war, Mukden take place. From February 20th till March 10th, the Japanese poured all their last available army forces into Mukden and proceed to envelop the Russians, who panicked and fled, effectively ending any Russian resistance for the rest of the war, as the final blow was about to be delivered to the Russian Empire, not from the IJA, but from the Imperial Japanese Navy.

Tsushima

Many paintings, articles, books, and stories have all been focused upon the Battle of Tsushima, an example of the brilliance of the Japanese navy under Admiral Togo, and so this will not delve in too deeply to the events of that battle, which was described at the time as the most important naval engagement since Trafalgar, and is studied by naval officers to this day.

Click the image to open in full size.

The Russian Baltic Fleet was weakened by its epic journey of nearly 20,000 miles, with the bottoms of the ships being fouled by sea organisms which affected their speed. As well, the Russians had a variety of types of ships, using telegraphic communication devices that were not configured for their own use, with the Japanese use and maintaining their own equipment.
First contact between the two fleets occurred on the early morning of 27th May, 1905, encountering each other at Tsushima Strait. A fog cloaked the Russian fleet for a time, though the Japanese spotted lights in the distance and moved to investigate. The lights were from a Russian hospital ship, which the Japanese soon discovered and did not fire. From their position near the hospital ship, ten Russian ships were seen through the mist. Quickly using their telegraphs, the Japanese captains informed Togo of the situation, who prepared the fleet for battle.
By the afternoon, the Japanese fleet had lined up to “cross the T” of the Russians, allowing the Japanese to fire broadsides, and the Russians to respond only from turrets. Two options were available to the Russians, either to charge ahead or set up a formal pitched battle. The latter option was chosen, and this is where the individual skill of the Japanese sailor and the regimented training of the IJN came to the fore. Practised veteran sailors launched endless barrages against the Russians, who quickly faced crushing casualties.
Subsequent night attacks and an early morning surrounding of the Russian fleet saw the Russians surrender to the victorious Japanese. They had lost all of their battleships, many of their cruisers and destroyers while Japan only lost three torpedo boats.

Conclusion

After Tsushima, Russia had to throw in the towel. It gave up Port Arthur, Manchuria, any attempts to influence Korea, and had completely ruined the reputation of many generals and admirals. The negative results for the Russians are almost impossible to exaggerate, with the loss of experienced generals and admirals, the utter destruction of the Pacific and Baltic Fleets, the collapse of the army against a supposedly inferior force. Revolution sparked off as the war had revealed the corruption and bloated pride of the Tsar’s administration. Japan’s risks had paid off, expanding its empire and building its international prestige. The success of the IJA and IJN influenced Western military theorists, the IJA’s determined attacks feeding into the “Cult of the offensive”, that repeated full frontal assaults supported by massive artillery bombardments could overcome even the most stubborn defenders, and the success at Tsushima leading to the Western Dreadnought race. Both theories lead to military policy in World War One, and the abject failure of Russia turned its prime ally, Germany, against it.
Though ultimately the Russo-Japanese War was an astounding success for the Empire of the Rising Sun, it allowed for the Japanese to gain the most treacherous of all diseases: victory disease. Supremely confident in the strategy and tactics employed and ignoring many of the lessons to be learned from the frontal assaults, the Empire of Japan continued to believe in its invincibility, convinced that the determination of its troops were enough to win what the Empire demanded. These ideals, combined with growing American interests in the region, would lead the Empire of Japan into World War 2.

Last edited by NewModelSoldier; June 3rd, 2011 at 11:47 PM.
NewModelSoldier is offline  
Old June 3rd, 2011, 11:52 PM   #3

Inflames's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: May 2010
From: Canada
Posts: 1,346

Great article, Japan's Navy sure put a smack down on the Russian Bear. Proving once again Russia has never really respected her Navy throughout history, that and the prowess of the new kid on the block Japan and her British aided modernized navy.
Inflames is offline  
Old June 4th, 2011, 12:01 AM   #4
Suspended indefinitely
 
Joined: May 2011
Posts: 517

Quote:
Originally Posted by NewModelSoldier View Post
Click the image to open in full size.

In 1904, the ambitions of two imperial powers generated enough friction that war seemed the only solution. The power players were Russia, seeking to expand their influence in the East, and Japan, coming out of the Meiji Restoration with Western military training and hungry for expansion as its population grew. The two powers came into diplomatic struggles over issues involving Korea and Manchuria, both seeking to secure those lands to further their empires.
Popular opinion in the West was that Russia with her large armies would annihilate the smaller Japanese forces, but most ministers in the Japanese government were confident in their highly professional army and navy.
The arrogance of the Russian Tsar, Nicholas II, frustrated negotiations between the two empires, and the Japanese attacked, the Russians receiving a Declaration of War three hours later.

Port Arthur

Port Arthur, the only Pacific port that functioned all year round for the Russians took the first Japanese attack. This sneak attack was performed on the 8th of February at 2230 by Admiral Togo, referred to as “the Nelson of the East” by Western journalists. Despite excellent conditions for ambush, the attack yielded less then satisfactory results, though the largest Russian ship, the Tsesarevich, was disabled by determined Japanese gunnery.
The Russians remained on the defensive until Admiral Makarov assumed command in March, and went on the offensive, building confidence as the Japanese repeatedly tried to seal the port off and neutralize it. However, in April after a successful attack on the Japanese, Makarov’s ship struck a Japanese mine on the return home, and sunk. Makarov and many other officers and seamen were killed in the sinking, which resulted in a huge blow for Russian morale. During the course of the war, Russia could never replace Makarov’s experience, skill and charisma. After such a loss, the Russians were even more reluctant to pursue the Japanese out into open waters, costing them in the long term.

Battle of Yalu River

Click the image to open in full size.

During the skirmishes and forays around Port Arthur, divisions from the 1st Imperial Japanese Army (hereafter referred to as the IJA) landed at Incheon, Korea in February with roughly 40,000 men, quickly advancing through and capturing Pyongyang on the 21st February (13 days after the first Japanese attack at Port Arthur). After taking the port of Chinampo, the rest of the army was able to land by the end of March, and close to Russian controlled Manchuria.
On April 21st (8 days after the death of Makarov), the Japanese began gathering intelligence of the Russian positions. Using spies dressed as Korean fishermen, and bushes and millets to disguise artillery pieces and troop movements. The intelligence gathered by the Japanese was so admirable that there figures of the Russian strength were only off by a thousand, and on the Russian guns, off by a mere 2.
At night on April 25th, the Japanese took the forward observation posts of the Russians who retreated after a short exchange of fire. The IJA engineers constructed 10 bridges to cross to the Russian positions, one purposely exposed to draw Russian battery fire, which it did. The remaining nine however were built and IJA troops were ready for assault. The Russian commander, Zasulitch, was duped by a series of skirmishes and stubbornly rejected advice from his commanders and left his left flank weak and exposed.
April 27th saw the attack begin in the early hours of the morning, with fog concealing the IJA assault. At 0500 the Japanese artillery opened up on Russian positions, and within five hours, the Russians were in full retreat, Zasulitch refusing to leave his position as his troops faced lacerating blows from the Japanese howitzers. A Siberian counterattack was made, but the regiment was brutally cut down by the torrential Japanese fire, and by noon, the Russians had collapsed from the intense pressure of the IJA. The Battle of Yalu River was at a close, the Japanese attackers taking a 1000 casualties versus a combined casualty total for the Russians of roughly 2000.
The Japanese general, Koruki, had defeated his obstinate Russian counterpart with rapid efficiency and excellent use of engineers and modern technology, revealing the concentrated will and skill of the IJA in conjunction with excellent use of their Western training.

The Drive to Port Arthur

Click the image to open in full size.

Building off the success of the attack at Yalu, the IJA drove the Russian forces back towards Port Arthur. The Russian forces were restricted by their commands to operate on the defensive, using a series of delaying tactics to hold off the Japanese until reinforcements arrived from the Trans-Siberian railway.
Engagements such as the Battle of Nanshan (25th-26th May, 1904) saw the IJA press brutally against the Russians, acquiring their objectives at a high human cost. The brave Japanese soldiers normally came upon withering fire from the Russians who fired from sandbag defences. Still, the dominance of the Japanese artillery and the endless ferocity of the Japanese infantry assaults saw the Russians retreat and retreat, yielding significant casualties themselves, many captured.
After Nanshan, a string of Japanese victories at Telissu (14th-15th June), Motien Pass (17th July), Ta-shih-chao (24th July), and Hsimucheng (31st July) led the IJA to squeeze the Russian fortifications at Port Arthur.

Click the image to open in full size.


August 10th saw the Russian pacific fleets attempt to break out from their enclosure in Port Arthur and link up with the cruiser force at the Russian port of Vladivostok, with news of the move reaching Vladivostok on the 14th. The August 10th attempt was known as the Battle of the Yellow Sea, and saw the Russian fleet defeated (the commanding Russian Admiral, Vitgeft, was killed along with his staff when a Japanese shell landed a direct hit on the bridge). The effort at Vladivostok came to be called the Battle of Ulsan and also saw the Russian fleet there defeated.
It would've made more sense for gErmany to declare war now then 10 years later.
Lasher is offline  
Old June 4th, 2011, 04:37 AM   #5

Jake10's Avatar
Guardian Knight
 
Joined: Oct 2010
From: Canada
Posts: 10,505
Blog Entries: 3

Good stuff, Soldier!
Jake10 is offline  
Old June 4th, 2011, 04:45 AM   #6

OpanaPointer's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: Dec 2010
From: Near St. Louis.
Posts: 5,387

One of the magazines I subscribe to ran a collection of propaganda posters from that war. The Russian side was severely distorted as spin-control took over. (This would have been "Military History" magazine within the last two years, btw.)
OpanaPointer is offline  
Old June 4th, 2011, 07:54 AM   #7

NewModelSoldier's Avatar
Thread Killer
¤ Essayist of the Year ¤
 
Joined: Oct 2009
From: Vancouver
Posts: 5,010
Blog Entries: 22

My interest in this war started a few years ago when I read an article about Tsushima and Togo in Military History Quarterly, and it had those incredible propaganda pictures from both sides, I really enjoy the artwork of that era and culture. Same magazine?
NewModelSoldier is offline  
Old June 4th, 2011, 08:17 AM   #8
Historian
 
Joined: Nov 2009
From: Texas
Posts: 1,577

The Japanese came within hair's breadth of losing this war.

The Russian retreat had less to do with the superiority of Japanese arms than Russian leadership's inclinations and failures. At Nanshan the Russian army stopped the Japanese advance cold and was slowly bleeding out the Japanese army until the Russian command inexplicably panicked and abandoned the position.

Port Arthur was sabotaged by Anatoly Stoessel's incompetence and insubordination. He was ordered to leave the city, but instead disobeyed orders and proceeded to take command of the garrison with disastrous results. Stoessel, and his lackey, General Fok, the same man who had abandoned Nanshan, who surrendered Port Arthur to the Japanese without so much as consulting any of the other Russian officers.

When the Japanese arrived in Port Arthur they were astonished that the Russians had surrendered. There were still ample supplies, not only of food and ammunition, but of such luxuries as caviar and champagne. The tens of thousands of Russian soldiers who walked out of Port Arthur were still in good condition and many purportedly wept at giving up the fight so soon.

Port Arthur's premature surrender is what doomed the Russian cause. It freed up Nogi's 3rd Army to force march its way across China in time for the decisive battle at Mukden. Had these men not been present, the Japanese force would have faced overwhelming odds.

Even with the string of Russian defeats, the Japanese were on the verge of collapse by the end of the war. There were no more reinforcements to send and its economy was on the verge of collapse. Meanwhile, Russian reinforcements were pouring into the region.

The Japan rolled the dice on this affair and just barely managed to come out on top.
Eumenes is offline  
Old June 4th, 2011, 08:20 AM   #9

RoyalGovnaWatts's Avatar
Drinker of Tea
 
Joined: Dec 2010
From: California
Posts: 2,279
Blog Entries: 2

Truly unbelievable Japan came out on top in this conflict.
RoyalGovnaWatts is offline  
Old June 4th, 2011, 08:23 AM   #10

Cicero's Avatar
The Adequate
Mostly Harmless
 
Joined: Dec 2009
From: Tennessee
Posts: 7,829

My favorite subject is Tsushima. Thanks for the article NMS. I hope to contribute something worthy on the subject some day. I have come to the conclusion that Admiral Zinovy Rozhestvensky has sort of gotten maligned without merit... Nelson himself couldn't have won at Tsushima given the cards the RRussians held.
Cicero is offline  
Reply

  Historum > Themes in History > War and Military History

Tags
russojapanese, war


Thread Tools
Display Modes


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Motion: the First Sino-Japanese War was a defensive war of Japan Sharpe Asian History 286 September 13th, 2013 06:05 PM
Russo-Japanese War NomadBard Asian History 16 February 14th, 2010 06:25 PM
The Russo-Turkish Wars Lucius European History 8 November 15th, 2009 10:23 AM
Japanese War EmziBABES Asian History 78 September 12th, 2009 06:16 PM
Book Recommendation on the Second Sino-Japanese War Pfaxt3ld History Book Reviews 0 March 3rd, 2009 12:12 PM

Copyright © 2006-2013 Historum. All rights reserved.