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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

The casualties on the Japanese side were 318 killed


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.


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