|Anatoly Mikhaylovich Stessel|
Anatoly Stessel in the 1890s.
|Born||June 28, 1848|
|Died||January 18, 1915(aged 66)|
|Buried at||Khmilnyk (now Vinnytsia Oblast, Ukraine)|
|Service/branch||Russian Imperial Army|
|Years of service||1866–1906|
|Unit||Imperial Russian Army|
Siege of Port Arthur
Anatoly Mikhaylovich Stessel (Russian: Анатóлий Михáйлович Стéссель), last name also romanized Stoessel (10 July [O.S. 28 June] 1848–18 January [O.S. 5 January] 1915) was a Russian baron, military leader, and general responsible for the fall of Port Arthur to the Japanese on January 2, 1905.
Anatoly Stessel was born in 1848 as the son of Lieutenant General Baron Vinogradov Stessel. He graduated from the Pavel Military School in 1866. Stessel was a participant of the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878). He subsequently commanded the 16th Ladoga Infantry Regiment in 1897 and then from 1897 to 1899 the 44th Kamchatka Infantry Regiment. He was appointed to head the 3rd East Siberian Brigade (1899–1903) and distinguished himself for his role in the suppression of the Boxer Rebellion, for which he was awarded the Order of St. George (4th degree).
From August 12, 1903, Stessel was commander of the garrison of Port Arthur, Manchuria with a total of over 50,000 men. Occupied by the Russians since 1897, the defense of Port Arthur had been heavily enhanced and modernized in the intervening years, and its position was considered one of the most heavily fortified in the world.
With the start of the Russo-Japanese War, Stessel was promoted to governor of the Kwantun Military District in March 1904, and Lieutenant General Constantine Smirnov was appointed to be his successor at Port Arthur. However, Stessel chose to interpret the orders to mean that Smirnov was his subordinate, and remained at Port Arthur, countermanding Smirnov's orders and denying his requests for supplies and reinforcements, and sending misleading telegrams to the Tsar blaming Smirnov for any setbacks. Stessel's command of the Port Arthur defenses was ineffective throughout the Siege of Port Arthur. In August, after the defeat at the Battle of Nanshan, Stessel refused Japanese offers to evacuate the women and non-combatants from Port Arthur and by autumn food was in short supply.
With the death of General Roman Kondratenko on December 15, 1904 at Fort Chikuan, Stessel appointed the incompetent Alexander Fok in his place. On December 18, 1904, the Japanese exploded an 1800-kilogram mine under Fort Chikuan (東鶏冠山北堡塁 in Japanese), which fell that night. On December 28, 1904, mines under Fort Erhlung were detonated, destroying that fort as well. On December 31, 1904, a series of mines were exploded under Fort Sungshu, the sole surviving major fortress, which surrendered that day. On January 1, 1905, Wantai finally fell to the Japanese. On the same day, Stessel and Fok sent a message to a surprised General Nogi, offering to surrender. None of the other senior Russian staff had been consulted, and many were outraged.
The surrender was accepted and signed on January 2, 1905, at Shuishiying. After occupying the city, Japanese General Nogi Maresuke was surprised to find large stores of food and ammunition, which implied that Stessel surrendered prematurely. Upon returning to St. Petersburg, Stoessel was court-martialed and sentenced to death on February 7, 1908. This sentence was later commuted to ten years imprisonment. On May 6, 1909 Stessel was pardoned by Tsar Nicholas II and continued his military service through the start of World War I. He died in 1915 in Khmilnyk (now Vinnytsia Oblast, Ukraine).
- Connaughton, R.M (1988). The War of the Rising Sun and the Tumbling Bear—A Military History of the Russo-Japanese War 1904–5, London, ISBN 0-415-00906-5.
- Jukes, Geoffry. The Russo-Japanese War 1904–1905. Osprey Essential Histories. (2002). ISBN 978-1-84176-446-7.
- Warner, Denis & Peggy. The Tide at Sunrise, A History of the Russo-Japanese War 1904–1905. (1975). ISBN 0-7146-5256-3.
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