Russian logistics and land units supplies in Russo-Japanese war

Dec 2016
97
Spain
#1
As I am reading further about Russo-Japanese war (1904-1905) I am having a question since some time ago. Having Russia a huge army in terms of soldiers available, why didn't they win land battles at least by numbers? I know that their land forces available in Far East were somewhat limited but Russia completed Trans-Siberian Railway in 1899. This would not have brought to Russia an extraordinary advantage over Japan? Even considering the distance between Moscow to Port Arthur, they could have sent reinforcements, supplies and artillery from western Russia to Far East.
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,810
Dispargum
#2
The more troops the Russians sent east, the more supplies they had to send to feed those troops. More and more trains carried supplies so fewer trains carried reinforcements. There's a finite limit of how many troops the Russians could send. Any more and they would have starved.

Also, if I remember correctly, the Trans-Siberian RR was not finished. They still had to ferry trains across Lake Baikal or a similar obstacle. That really slowed down the transfer of troops and supplies. After the war the Russians made a priority of building factories and other sources of supply in the Far East so they would not have to railroad those supplies in a future war in the Far East. Those very same Siberian factories paid dividends during WW2 when most of European Russia was occupied by the Germans. Of course then they had to railroad those Siberian supplies west.
 
Likes: Edratman
Jul 2009
9,756
#3
I think I recall reading that the railway was substantially completed by 1904, but there were other obstacles (marshy stretches that presented problems in summer; places plagued by rock slides aso). Of course the distances involved - about 5,000 miles from central Russia - made both supporting the RR along its length, and the transport of over 1,000,000 troops and large quantities of materiel/supplies an enormous challenge. There were at that time few towns of any size where repair facilities and personnel could be found, or where fresh food and fodder were available for so large an army.

As to the OP, the Russian army had deployed about 1,250,000 troops to Manchuria. The Japanese had about 650 -700,000 which was an enormous strain on their economy. Russia had plans, IIRC, to send over 1,000,000 more troops while Japan was running out of manpower. The combination of poor military leadership and semi-revolution at home (1905) combined to cancel out much of Russia's advantage in numbers. In terms of attrition, Russia should have been able to win the war, but that ain't how it went.

The decisive engagement of the war was at sea, the result of hare brained strategic thinking and of Russia giving up its advantages on land to play the Japanese game by their rules. After Tsushima it was too late.
 
Likes: Edratman
May 2019
60
Earth
#4
The Trans-Siberian Railway was certainly viewed as a strategic asset at the time; whether or not it had the potential to shift the war in Russia's favour, I can't say. Japan viewed it as an important enough target to train some Polish agents to sabotage it though. The plan wasn't carried out however. See 'Polish‐Japanese military collaboration during the Russo‐Japanese war' by Inaba Chiharu (1992).
 
Jun 2019
26
Taiga
#5
logistics have nothing to do with this war.
-----
Emperor Nikolai-2 was a complete idiot.
He lost 2 wars, 3 revolutions and turned the country to collapse.
for which he was shot absolutely rightly.
 
Likes: sparky

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
4,331
Sydney
#6
the pre-revolutionary Russian high command was the finest collection of murderous blockheads one could find in the whole annals of the world
 
Mar 2014
6,557
Beneath a cold sun, a grey sun, a Heretic sun...
#7
The problem with the Trans-Siberian railway at that time is that it was mainly a one-way ticket. As there was hardly anything travelling west, it cost the treasury less money to break up rail wagons for the raw materials in them than to bring them back empty.
 
Jul 2009
9,756
#8
The problem with the Trans-Siberian railway at that time is that it was mainly a one-way ticket. As there was hardly anything travelling west, it cost the treasury less money to break up rail wagons for the raw materials in them than to bring them back empty.
It is probable that this was realized, and that it would be quite a long time before the RR had meaning for development and economic benefit.

The trans-Siberian RR was a military RR that would project Russian power into the Far East. The rise of Japan as a major power had not been foreseen, and it is not likely that Stavka had planned for deployment of 2,000,000 + troops (1,200,000 there; 1,000,000 more planned) in Manchuria.