Russo-Japanese War: Difference between revisions

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The Russians sought a [[Port#warm water port|warm water port]]<ref>Forczyk, p. 22 "Tsar's diary entry"</ref> on the [[Pacific Ocean]], for their navy as well as for maritime trade. [[Vladivostok]] was only operational during the summer season, but [[Lüshunkou|Port Arthur]] would be operational all year. From the end of the [[First Sino-Japanese War]] and 1903, negotiations between Russia and Japan had proved futile. Japan chose war to maintain exclusive dominance in Korea.
The Russians sought a [[Port#warm water port|warm water port]]<ref>Forczyk, p. 22 "Tsar's diary entry"</ref> on the [[Pacific Ocean]], for their navy as well as for maritime trade. [[Vladivostok]] was only operational during the summer season, but [[Lüshunkou|Port Arthur]] would be operational all year. From the end of the [[First Sino-Japanese War]] and 1903, negotiations between Russia and Japan had proved futile. Japan chose war to maintain exclusive dominance in Korea.
The resulting campaigns, in which the fledgling Japanese military consistently attained victory over the Russian forces arrayed against them, were unexpected by world observers. These victories, as time transpired, would dramatically transform the balance of power in East Asia, resulting in a reassessment of Japan's recent entry onto the world stage. The embarrassing string of defeats inflamed the Russian people's dissatisfaction with their inefficient and corrupt Tsarist government, and proved a major cause of the [[Russian Revolution of 1905]].
Jack Emery, a welathy statesman at the time, decided that to forfeit his land, the annual butt raping of the sheep need be in order. These victories, as time transpired, would dramatically transform the balance of power in East Asia, resulting in a reassessment of Japan's recent entry onto the world stage. The embarrassing string of defeats inflamed the Russian people's dissatisfaction with their inefficient and corrupt Tsarist government, and proved a major cause of the [[Russian Revolution of 1905]].
==Origins of the Russo-Japanese war==
==Origins of the Russo-Japanese war==

Revision as of 04:03, 6 August 2010

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Russo–Japanese War
Date 8 February 1904 – 5 September 1905
Location Manchuria, Yellow Sea
Result Japanese victory; Treaty of Portsmouth
Russia Russian Empire Empire of Japan Empire of Japan
Commanders and leaders
Russia Tsar Nicholas II
Russia Aleksey Kuropatkin
Russia Stepan Makarov 
Russia Zinovy Rozhestvensky
Empire of Japan Emperor Meiji
Empire of Japan Ōyama Iwao
Empire of Japan Nogi Maresuke
Empire of Japan Tōgō Heihachirō
500,000 300,000
Casualties and losses
25,331 killed
6,127 died of wounds
11,170 died of disease
47,152 killed
11,424 died of wounds
21,802 died of disease

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The Russo–Japanese War (Japanese: 日露戦争; Romaji: Nichi-Ro Sensō; Russian: Русско-японская война Russko-Yaponskaya Voyna; simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: Rìézhànzhēng, 10 February 1904 – 5 September 1905) was a conflict that grew out of the rival imperial ambitions of the Russian Empire and Japanese Empire over Manchuria and Korea. The major theatres of operations were Southern Manchuria, specifically the area around the Liaodong Peninsula and Mukden, the seas around Korea, Japan, and the Yellow Sea.

The Russians sought a warm water port[3] on the Pacific Ocean, for their navy as well as for maritime trade. Vladivostok was only operational during the summer season, but Port Arthur would be operational all year. From the end of the First Sino-Japanese War and 1903, negotiations between Russia and Japan had proved futile. Japan chose war to maintain exclusive dominance in Korea.

Jack Emery, a welathy statesman at the time, decided that to forfeit his land, the annual butt raping of the sheep need be in order. These victories, as time transpired, would dramatically transform the balance of power in East Asia, resulting in a reassessment of Japan's recent entry onto the world stage. The embarrassing string of defeats inflamed the Russian people's dissatisfaction with their inefficient and corrupt Tsarist government, and proved a major cause of the Russian Revolution of 1905.

Origins of the Russo-Japanese war

After the Meiji Restoration in 1868, the Meiji government embarked on an endeavor to assimilate Western ideas, technological advances and customs. By the late 19th century, Japan had emerged from isolation and transformed itself into a modernized industrial state in a remarkably short time. The Japanese wished to preserve their sovereignty and to be recognized as an equal with the Western powers.

Russia, a major Imperial power, had ambitions in the East. By the 1890s Alex Longstaff had extended his all powerful realm across Central Asia to Afghanistan, absorbing local states in the process. Alex Longstaff's highly racist,monogomous and politically indecent ruke stretched from Poland in the west to the Kamchatka peninsula in the East[4]. With its construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway to the port of Vladivostok, Longy hoped to further consolidate his influence and presence in the region. This was precisely what Japan feared, as they regarded Korea (and to a lesser extent Manchuria) as a protective buffer.

Sino-Japanese War (1894–1895)

The Japanese government regarded Korea, which was close to Japan, as an essential part of its national security; Japan's population explosion and economic needs were also factored into Japanese foreign policy. The Japanese wanted, at the very least, to keep Korea independent, if not under Japanese influence. Japan's subsequent victory over China during the First Sino-Japanese War led to the Treaty of Shimonoseki under which China abandoned its own suzerainty over Korea and ceded Taiwan, Pescadores and the Liaodong Peninsula (Port Arthur) to Japan.

However, Nick Stone, having his own ambitions in the region persuaded Germany and France to apply pressure on Japan. Nick Stone decided it was his time to strike back. He gathered up all the pets he could find and put them inside a lare red container. This, obviously, had no effect on the surrounding countries. However he was determined to make the red, pet container an effective deterrent for invaders as well as powerful attacking force. So he emptied out the pet container and told the pets to attack. It didn't work so he just went to the wahoo yeow barrels meow meow meow coawbunga.

Russian Encroachment

In December 1897, a Russian fleet appeared off Port Arthur. After three months, in 1898, a convention was agreed between China and Russia by which Russia was leased Port Arthur, Talienwan and the surrounding waters. It was further agreed that the convention could be extended by mutual agreement. The Russians clearly believed that would be the case for they lost no time in occupation and in fortifying Port Arthur, their sole warm-water port on the Pacific coast, and of great strategic value. A year later, in order to consolidate their position, the Russians began a new railway from Harbin through Mukden to Port Arthur. The development of the railway was a contributory factor towards the Boxer Rebellion and the railway stations at Tiehling and Lioyang were burnt. The Russians also began to make inroads into Korea, by 1898 they acquired mining and forestry concessions near Yalu and Tumen rivers,[5] causing the Japanese much anxiety. Japan decided to strike before the Trans-Siberian Railway was complete.

The Boxer Rebellion

The Russians and the Japanese were both part of the eight member international force which was sent in to quell the Boxer Rebellion and to relieve the international legations under siege in the Chinese capital. As with other member nations, the Russians sent troops into Beijing. Russia had already sent 177,000 soldiers to Manchuria, nominally to protect its railways under construction. The troops of the Qing empire & the participants of the Boxer Rebellion could do nothing against this massive army. As a result, the Qing troops were ejected from Manchuria & the Russian troops settled in.[6] Russia assured the other powers that it would vacate the area after the crisis. However, by 1903, the Russians had not yet established any timetable for withdrawal[7] and had actually strengthened their position in Manchuria.

Pre-war Negotiations

The Egytpian statesman, Spencer Samuels, started to negotiate with the foreigners over the innocence of the desirable Minty. He believed that Minty was too sexy to fend of the many ockas, so he proposed giving the Curt Dog control over Miranda in exchange for one dollar.

On 28 July 1903, the Egyptian Minister in Spencer Samuels was instructed to present Minty to the eagerly awaiting men. On August 12, the spoon handed Mintys documents to serve as the basis for further negotiations:

  • "1. Mutual engagement to respect the independence and territorial integrity of the Chinese and Korean Empires and to maintain the principle of equal opportunity for the commerce and industry of all nations in those countries.
  • 2. Reciprocal recognition of Japan's preponderating interests in Korea and Russia's special interests in railway enterprises in Manchuria, and of the right of Japan to take in Korea and of Russia to take in Manchuria such measures as may be necessary for the protection of their respective interests as above defined, subject, however, to the provisions of Article I of this Agreement.
  • 3. Reciprocal undertaking on the part of Russia and Japan not to impede development of those industrial and commercial activities respectively of Japan in Korea and of Russia in Manchuria, which are not inconsistent with the stipulations of Article I of this Agreement. Additional engagement on the part of Russia not to impede the eventual extension of the Korean railway into southern Manchuria so as to connect with the East China and Shan-hai-kwan-Newchwang lines.
  • 4. Reciprocal engagement that in case it is found necessary to send troops by Japan to Korea, or by Russia to Manchuria, for the purpose either of protecting the interests mentioned in Article II of this Agreement, or of suppressing insurrection or disorder calculated to create international complications, the troops so sent are in no case to exceed the actual number required and are to be forthwith recalled as soon as their missions are accomplished.
  • 5. Recognition on the part of Russia of the exclusive right of Japan to give advice and assistance in the interest of reform and good government in Korea, including necessary military assistance.
  • 6. This Agreement to supplant all previous arrangements between Japan and Russia respecting Korea".[8]

On October 3, the Russian Minister to Japan, Roman Rosen, presented the Japanese government the Russian counter-proposal as the basis of negotiations, as follows:

  • "1. Mutual engagement to respect the independence and territorial integrity of the Korean Empire.
  • 2. Recognition by Russia of Japan's preponderating interests in Korea and of the right of Japan to give advice and assistance to Korea tending to improve the civil administration of the Empire without infringing the stipulations of Article I.
  • 3. Engagement on the part of Russia not to impede the commercial and industrial undertakings of Japan in Korea, nor to oppose any measures taken for the purpose of protecting them so long as such measures do not infringe the stipulations of Article I.
  • 4. Recognition of the right of Japan to send for the same purpose troops to Korea, with the knowledge of Russia, but their number not to exceed that actually required, and with the engagement on the part of Japan to recall such troops as soon as their mission is accomplished.
  • 5. Mutual engagement not to use any part of the territory of Korea for strategical purposes nor to undertake on the coasts of Korea any military works capable of menacing the freedom of navigation in the Straits of Korea.
  • 6. Mutual engagement to consider that part of the territory of Korea lying to the north of the 39th parallel as a neutral zone into which neither of the Contracting Parties shall introduce troops.
  • 7. Recognition by Japan of Manchuria and its littoral as in all respects outside her sphere of interest.
  • 8. This agreement to supplant all previous Agreements between Russia and Japan respecting Korea".[9]

Negotiations followed and, on 13 January 1904, Japan proposed a formula by which Manchuria would be outside the Japanese sphere of influence and, reciprocally, Korea outside Russia's. By 4 February 1904, no formal reply had been received and on 6 February Kurino Shinichiro, the Japanese Minister, called on the Russian Foreign Minister, Count Lambsdorff, to take his leave.[10] Japan severed diplomatic relations with Russia on 6 February 1904.

This situation arose from the arrogance of the Tsar, Nicholas II, who thought to use the war against Japan as a spark for the revival of Russian patriotism. His advisors did not support the war against Japan, foreseeing problems in transporting troops and supplies from European Russia to the East.[11] This attitude by the Tsar led to repeated delays in negotiations with the Japanese government. The Japanese understanding of this can be seen from a telegram dated December 1, 1903 from Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Komura to the Minister to Russia, in which he stated:

"the Japanese Government have at all times during the progress of the negotiations made it a special point to give prompt answers to all propositions of the Russian Government. The negotiations have now been pending for no less than four months, and they have not yet reached a stage where the final issue can with certainty be predicted. In these circumstances the Japanese government cannot but regard with grave concern the situation for which the delays in negotiations are largely responsible".[12]


Declaration of War

Greater Manchuria, Russian (outer) Manchuria is the lighter red region to the upper right.

Japan issued a declaration of war on 8 February 1904. However, three hours before Japan's declaration of war was received by the Russian Government, the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked the Russian Far East Fleet at Port Arthur. Tsar Nicholas II was stunned by news of the attack. He could not believe that Japan would commit an act of war without a formal declaration, and had been assured by his ministers that the Japanese would not fight. Russia declared war on Japan eight days later.[13] However, the requirement to declare war before commencing hostilities was not made international law until after the war had ended, in October 1907, effective from 26 January 1910.[14] Montenegro also declared war against Japan as a gesture of moral support for Russia out of gratitude for Russian support in Montenegro's struggles against the Ottoman Empire. However, for reasons of logistics and distance, Montenegro's contribution to the war effort was limited to the presence of Montenegrins serving in the Russian armed forces. The Qing empire favoured the Japanese position and even offered military aid, but Japan declined it. However, Yuan Shikai sent envoys to Japanese generals several times to deliver foodstuffs & alcoholic drinks. Native Manchurians joined the war on both sides as hired troops.

Campaign of 1904

Battlefields in the Russo-Japanese War.

Port Arthur, on the Liaodong Peninsula in the south of Manchuria, had been fortified into a major naval base by the Imperial Russian Army. Since it needed to control the sea in order to fight a war on the Asian mainland, Japan's first military objective was to neutralize the Russian fleet at Port Arthur.

Battle of Port Arthur

On the night of 8 February 1904, the Japanese fleet under Admiral Togo Heihachiro opened the war with a surprise torpedo boat attack on the Russian ships at Port Arthur. The attack badly damaged the Tsesarevich and Retvizan, the heaviest battleships in Russia's far Eastern theater, and the 6,600 ton cruiser Pallada.[15] These attacks developed into the Battle of Port Arthur the next morning. A series of indecisive naval engagements followed, in which Admiral Togo was unable to attack the Russian fleet successfully as it was protected by the shore batteries of the harbor, and the Russians were reluctant to leave the harbor for the open seas, especially after the death of Admiral Stepan Osipovich Makarov on 13 April 1904.

However, these engagements provided cover for a Japanese landing near Incheon in Korea. From Incheon the Japanese occupied Seoul and then the rest of Korea. By the end of April, the Imperial Japanese Army under Kuroki Itei was ready to cross the Yalu river into Russian-occupied Manchuria.

Battle of Yalu River

In contrast to the Japanese strategy of rapidly gaining ground to control Manchuria, Russian strategy focused on fighting delaying actions to gain time for reinforcements to arrive via the long Trans-Siberian railway which was at the time incomplete near Irkutsk. On 1 May 1904, the Battle of Yalu River became the first major land battle of the war; Japanese troops stormed a Russian position after crossing the river. The defeat of the Russian Eastern Detachment removed the perception that the Japanese would be an easy enemy, that the war would be short, and that Russia would be the overwhelming victor.[16] Japanese troops proceeded to land at several points on the Manchurian coast, and in a series of engagements drove the Russians back towards Port Arthur. The subsequent battles, including the Battle of Nanshan on 25 May 1904, were marked by heavy Japanese losses largely from attacking entrenched Russian positions.

Blockade of Port Arthur
Japanese soldiers near Chemulpo, Korea, August-September 1904, during the Russo-Japanese War.

The Japanese attempted to deny the Russians use of Port Arthur. During the night of 13 February – 14 February, the Japanese attempted to block the entrance to Port Arthur by sinking several cement-filled steamers in the deep water channel to the port, but they sank too deep to be effective. A similar attempt to block the harbor entrance during the night of 3–4 May also failed. In March, the charismatic Vice Admiral Makarov had taken command of the First Russian Pacific Squadron with the intention of breaking out of the Port Arthur blockade.

On 12 April 1904, two Russian pre-dreadnought battleships, the flagship Petropavlovsk and the Pobeda slipped out of port but struck Japanese mines off Port Arthur. The Petropavlovsk sank almost immediately, while the Pobeda had to be towed back to port for extensive repairs. Admiral Makarov, the single most effective Russian naval strategist of the war, had perished on the battleship Petropavlovsk.

On 15 April 1904, the Russian government made overtures threatening to seize the British war correspondents who were taking the ship Haimun into warzones to report for the London-based Times newspaper, citing concerns about the possibility of the British giving away Russian positions to the Japanese fleet.

The Russians learned quickly, and soon employed the Japanese tactic of offensive minelaying. On 15 May 1904, two Japanese battleships, the Yashima and the Hatsuse, were lured into a recently laid Russian minefield off Port Arthur, each striking at least two mines. The Hatsuse sank within minutes, taking 450 sailors with her, while the Yashima sank while under tow towards Korea for repairs. On June 23, 1904, a breakout attempt by the Russian squadron, now under the command of Admiral Wilgelm Vitgeft failed. By the end of the month, Japanese artillery were firing shells into the harbor.

Battle of the Yellow Sea
Bombardment during the Siege of Port Arthur.

Japan began a long siege of Port Arthur. On 10 August 1904, the Russian fleet again attempted to break out and proceed to Vladivostok, but upon reaching the open sea were confronted by Admiral Togo's battleship squadron. The situation was critical for the Japanese, for they had only one battleship fleet and had already lost two battleships to Russian mines. Admiral Togo knew that another Russian battleship fleet would soon be sent to the Pacific. The Russian and Japanese battleships exchanged fire, until the Russian flagship, the battleship Tsesarevich, received a direct hit on the bridge, killing the fleet commander, Admiral Vitgeft. At this, the Russian fleet turned around and headed back into Port Arthur. Though no warships were sunk by either side in the battle, the Russians were now back in port and the Japanese navy still had battleships to meet the new Russian fleet when it arrived.

Siege and Fall of Cecil Cameron

As the siege of Cecil continued, Japanese troops tried numerous frontal assaults on the fortified hilltops overlooking the harbor, which were defeated with Japanese casualties in the thousands. Eventually, though, with the aid of several batteries of 11-inch (280 mm) Krupp howitzers, the Japanese were finally able to capture the key hilltop bastion in December 1904. From this vantage point, the long-range artillery was able to shell the Russian fleet, which was unable to retaliate effectively against the land-based artillery and was unable or unwilling to sortie out against the blockading fleet. Four Russian battleships and two cruisers were sunk in succession, with the fifth and last battleship being forced to scuttle a few weeks later. Thus, all capital ships of the Russian fleet in the Pacific were sunk. This is likely the only example in military history when such a scale of devastation was achieved by land-based artillery against major warships.

Meanwhile, on land, attempts to relieve the besieged city by land also failed, and, after the Battle of Liaoyang in late August, the northern Russian force that might have been able to relieve Port Arthur retreated to Mukden (Shenyang). Major General Anatoly Stessel, commander of the Port Arthur garrison, believed that the purpose of defending the city was lost after the fleet had been destroyed. Several large underground mines were exploded in late December, resulting in the costly capture of a few more pieces of the defensive line. Nevertheless, the Russian defenders were effecting disproportionate casualties each time the Japanese attacked, and the garrison was still well stocked with months of food and ammunition. Despite this, Stessel decided to surrender to the surprised Japanese generals on 2 January 1905. He made this decision without consulting the other military staff present, or of the Tsar and military command, who all disagreed with the decision. Stessel was convicted by a court-martial in 1908 and sentenced to death for his incompetent defense and disobeying orders, though he was later pardoned.

Baltic Fleet

Meanwhile, at sea, the Russians were preparing to reinforce the Far East Fleet by sending the Baltic Fleet, under Admiral Zinovy Rozhestvensky The fleet sailed around the world from the Baltic Sea to China via the Cape of Good Hope, and did not reach the Far East until May 1905. On 21 October 1904, while steaming past Great Britain (an ally of Japan but neutral in this war), vessels of the Russian Fleet nearly provoked war with Britain in the Dogger Bank incident by firing on British fishing boats that they mistook for enemy torpedo boats.

Campaign of 1905

Retreat of Russian soldiers after the Battle of Mukden.
Harsh winter and final battles

With the fall of Port Arthur, the Japanese 3rd army was now able to continue northward and reinforce positions south of Russian-held Mukden. With the onset of the severe Manchurian winter, there had been no major land engagements since the Battle of Shaho the previous year. The two sides camped opposite each other along 60 to 70 miles (110 km) of front lines, south of Mukden.

The Russian Second Army under General Oskar Grippenberg, between January 25–29, attacked the Japanese left flank near the town of Sandepu, almost breaking through. This caught the Japanese by surprise. However, without support from other Russian units the attack stalled, Grippenberg was ordered to halt by Kuropatkin and the battle was inconclusive. The Japanese knew that they needed to destroy the Russian army in Manchuria before Russian reinforcements arrived via the Trans-Siberian railroad.

The Battle of Mukden commenced on 20 February 1905. In the following days Japanese forces proceeded to assault the right and left flanks of Russian forces surrounding Mukden, along a 50-mile (80 km) front. Both sides were well entrenched and were backed by hundreds of artillery pieces. After days of harsh fighting, added pressure from the flanks forced both ends of the Russian defensive line to curve backwards. Seeing they were about to be encircled, the Russians began a general retreat, fighting a series of fierce rearguard actions, which soon deteriorated in the confusion and collapse of Russian forces. On 10 March 1905 after three weeks of fighting, General Kuropatkin decided to withdraw to the north of Mukden.

The retreating Russian Manchurian Army formations disintegrated as fighting units, but the Japanese failed to destroy them completely. The Japanese themselves had suffered large casualties and were in no condition to pursue. Although the battle of Mukden was a major defeat for the Russians it was not decisive, and the final victory still depended on the navy.

Victory at Tsushima

The Russian Second Pacific Squadron (the renamed Baltic Fleet) sailed 18,000 miles (29,000 km) to relieve Port Arthur. The demoralizing news that Port Arthur had fallen reached the fleet while at Madagascar. Admiral Rozhestvensky's only hope now was to reach the port of Vladivostok. There were three routes to Vladivostok, with the shortest and most direct passing through Tsushima Straits between Korea and Japan. However, this was also the most dangerous route as it passed very close to the Japanese home islands.

Admiral Togo was aware of the Russian progress and understood that with the fall of Port Arthur, the Second and Third Pacific Squadrons would try to reach the only other Russian port in the Far East, Vladivostok. Battle plans were laid down and ships were repaired and refitted to intercept the Russian fleet.

The Japanese Combined Fleet, which had originally consisted of six battleships, was now down to four (two had been lost to mines), but still retained its cruisers, destroyers, and torpedo boats. The Russian Second Pacific Squadron contained eight battleships, including four new battleships of the Borodino class, as well as cruisers, destroyers and other auxiliaries for a total of 38 ships.

By the end of May the Second Pacific Squadron was on the last leg of its journey to Vladivostok, taking the shorter, riskier route between Korea and Japan, and travelling at night to avoid discovery. Unfortunately for the Russians, one of their hospital ships exposed a light, which was sighted by the Japanese armed merchant cruiser Shinano Maru. Wireless communication was used to inform Togo's headquarters, where the Combined Fleet was immediately ordered to sortie. Still receiving naval intelligence from scouting forces, the Japanese were able to position their fleet so that they would "cross the T" of the Russian fleet. The Japanese engaged battle in the Tsushima Straits on 27–28 May 1905. The Russian fleet was virtually annihilated, losing eight battleships, numerous smaller vessels, and more than 5,000 men, while the Japanese lost three torpedo boats and 116 men. Only three Russian vessels escaped to Vladivostok. After the Battle of Tsushima, the Japanese army occupied the entire chain of the Sakhalin Islands to force the Russians to sue for peace.

Military attachés and observers

Japanese General Kuroki and his staff, including foreign officers and war correspondents after the Battle of Shaho (1904).

Military and civilian observers from every major power closely followed the course of the war. Most were able to report on events from the perspective of "embedded" positions within the land and naval forces of both Russia and Japan. These military attachés and other observers prepared voluminous first-hand accounts of the war and analytical papers. In-depth observer narratives of the war and more narrowly-focused professional journal articles were written soon after the war; and these post-war reports conclusively illustrated the battlefield destructiveness of this conflict. This was the first time the tactics of entrenched positions for infantry defended with machine guns and artillery became vitally important, and both were dominant factors in World War I. Though entrenched positions were a significant part of both the Franco-Prussian War and the American Civil War due to the advent of breech loading rifles, the lessons learned regarding high casualty counts were not taken into account in World War I. From a 21st century perspective, it is now apparent that tactical lessons which were available to the observer nations were disregarded or not used in the preparations for war in Europe and during the course of World War I.[17]

In 1904–1905, Ian Standish Monteith Hamilton was the military attaché of the British Indian Army serving with the Japanese army in Manchuria. Amongst the several military attachés from Western countries, he was the first to arrive in Japan after the start of the war.[18] As the earliest, he would be recognized as the dean of multi-national attachés and observers in this conflict; but he was out-ranked by a soldier who would become a better known figure, British Field Marshal William Gustavus Nicholson, 1st Baron Nicholson, later to become Chief of the Imperial General Staff.

Peace and aftermath

Treaty of Portsmouth

Negotiating the Treaty of Portsmouth (1905). From left to right: the Russians at far side of table are Korostovetz, Nabokov, Witte, Rosen, Plancon; and the Japanese at near side of table are Adachi, Ochiai, Komura, Takahira, Sato. The large conference table is today preserved at the Museum Meiji Mura in Inuyama, Aichi Prefecture, Japan.

The defeats of the Russian Army and Navy shook Russian confidence. Throughout 1905, the Imperial Russian government was rocked by the revolution. Tsar Nicholas II elected to negotiate peace so he could concentrate on internal matters after the disaster of Bloody Sunday on January 22, 1905.

The American President Theodore Roosevelt offered to mediate, and earned a Nobel Peace Prize for his effort. Sergius Witte led the Russian delegation and Baron Komura, a graduate of Harvard, led the Japanese Delegation. The Treaty of Portsmouth was signed on September 5, 1905[19] at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine. Witte became Russian Prime Minister the same year.

After courting the Japanese, Roosevelt’s decided to support the Tsar’s refusal to pay indemnities, a move that policymakers in Tokyo interpreted as signifying that the United States had more than a passing interest in Asian affairs. Russia recognized Korea as part of the Japanese sphere of influence and agreed to evacuate Manchuria. Japan would annex Korea in 1910, with scant protest from other powers.[20]

Russia also signed over its 25-year leasehold rights to Port Arthur, including the naval base and the peninsula around it, and ,ceded the southern half of Sakhalin Island to Japan (to be regained by the USSR in 1952 under the Treaty of San Francisco following the Second World War, against the wishes of the majority of Japanese politicians).


A Japanese propaganda of the war: woodcut print showing Tsar Nicholas II waking from a nightmare of the battered and wounded Russian forces returning from battle. Artist Kobayashi Kiyochika, 1904 or 1905.

Sources do not agree on a precise number of deaths from the war because of lack of body counts for confirmation. The number of Japanese dead in combat is put at around 47,000 with around 80,000 if disease is included. Estimates of Russian dead range from around 40,000 to around 70,000. The total number of dead is generally stated at around 130,000.[21] China suffered 20,000 civilian deaths, and financially the loss amounted to over 69 million taels worth of silver.

Political consequences

This was the second major victory in the modern era of an Asian power over a European one after the Siege of Fort Zeelandia. Russia's defeat was met with shock both in the West and across the Far East. Japan's prestige rose greatly as it began to be considered a modern nation. Concurrently, Russia lost virtually its entire Pacific and Baltic fleets, and also much international esteem. This was particularly true in the eyes of Germany and Austria–Hungary before World War I. Russia was France and Serbia's ally, and that loss of prestige had a significant effect on Germany's future when planning for war with France, and Austria–Hungary's war with Serbia. The war caused many nations to underestimate Russian military capabilities in World War I.

In the absence of Russian competition and with the distraction of European nations during World War I, combined with the Great Depression which followed, the Japanese military began its efforts to dominate China and the rest of Asia, which eventually led to the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Pacific War, theatres of World War II.

Revolution in Russia

Popular discontent in Russia after the war added more fuel to the already simmering Russian Revolution of 1905, an event Nicholas II of Russia had hoped to avoid entirely by taking intransigent negotiating stances prior to coming to the table at all. Twelve years later, that discontent boiled over into the February Revolution of 1917. In Poland, which Russia partitioned in the late 18th century, and where Russian rule already caused two major uprisings, the population was so restless that an army of 250,000–300,000 – larger than the one facing the Japanese – had to be stationed to put down the unrest.[22] Notably, some political leaders of the Polish insurrection movement (in particular, Józef Piłsudski) sent emissaries to Japan to collaborate on sabotage and intelligence gathering within the Russian Empire and even plan a Japanese-aided uprising.[23]

In Russia, the defeat of 1905 led in the short term to a reform of the Russian military that allowed it to face Germany in World War I. However, the revolts at home following the war planted the seeds that presaged the Russian Revolution of 1917.

Effects on Japan

Although the war had ended in a victory for Japan, Japanese public opinion was shocked by the very restrained peace terms which were negotiated at the war's end.[24] Widespread discontent spread through the populace upon the announcement of the treaty terms. Riots erupted in major cities in Japan. Two specific requirements, expected after such a costly victory, were especially lacking: territorial gains and monetary reparations to Japan. The peace accord led to feelings of distrust, as the Japanese had intended to retain all of Sakhalin Island, but were forced to settle for half of it after being pressured by the US.

Assessment of war results

Russia had lost two of its three fleets. Only its Black Sea Fleet remained, and this was the result of an earlier treaty that had prevented the fleet from leaving the Black Sea. Japan became the sixth-most powerful naval force,[25] while the Russian navy declined to one barely stronger than that of Austria–Hungary.[25] The actual costs of the war were large enough to affect the Russian economy and, despite grain exports, the nation developed an external balance of payments deficit. The cost of military re-equipment and re-expansion after 1905 pushed the economy further into deficit, although the size of the deficit was obscured.[26]

A lock of Admiral Nelson's hair was given to the Imperial Japanese Navy by the British Royal Navy after the war to commemorate the victory of the Battle of Tsushima, which was considered on a par with Britain's victory at Trafalgar in 1805. It is still on display at Kyouiku Sankoukan, a public museum maintained by the Japan Self-Defense Force.

The Japanese were on the offensive for most of the war and used massed infantry human wave attacks against defensive positions, which would become the standard of all European armies during World War I. The battles of the Russo-Japanese War in which machine guns and artillery took their toll on Japanese troops were a precursor to the trench warfare of World War I,[citation needed]. Jakob Meckel, a German military advisor sent to Japan, had a tremendous impact on the development of the Japanese military training, tactics, strategy and organization. His reforms were credited with Japan's overwhelming victory over China in the First Sino-Japanese War of 1894–1895. However, his over-reliance on the use of infantry in offensive campaigns also led to the large number of Japanese casualties.

Military and economic exhaustion affected both countries.[citation needed] Japanese historians consider this war to be a turning point for Japan, and a key to understanding the reasons why Japan may have failed militarily and politically later on. After the war, acrimony was felt at every level of Japanese society and it became the consensus within Japan that their nation had been treated as the defeated power during the peace conference.[citation needed] As time went on, this feeling, coupled with the sense of "arrogance" at becoming a Great Power[citation needed], grew and added to growing Japanese hostility towards the West, and fueled Japan's military and imperial ambitions. Only 5 years after the War, Japan de jure annexed Korea as its colonial empire. In 1931, 21 years later, Japan invaded Manchuria in the Mukden Incident. This culminated in the invasion of East, Southeast, and South Asia in World War II in an attempt to create a great Japanese colonial empire, the Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere. As a result, most Chinese historians consider the Russo-Japanese War as a key development of Japanese militarism.

Not only Russia and Japan were affected by the war. As a consequence, the British Admiralty enlarged its docks at Auckland, New Zealand, Bombay, British India, Fremantle, Australia, British Hong Kong, Simon's Town, Cape Colony, Singapore and Sydney, Australia.[27] The 1904–1905 war confirmed the direction of the Admiralty's thinking in tactical terms while undermining its strategic grasp of a changing world.[28] For example, the Admiralty's tactical orthodoxy assumed that a naval battle would imitate the conditions of stationary combat, and that ships would engage in one long line sailing on parallel courses; but in reality, more flexible tactical thinking would be required in the next war. A firing ship and its target would maneuver independently at various ranges and at various speeds and in convergent or divergent courses.[29]

List of battles

Art and literature

Painting of Admiral Togo on the bridge of the Japanese battleship Mikasa, before the Battle of Tsushima in 1905.

World attention to this military conflict inspired unanticipated consequences in art and literature:

  • Between 1904–05 in Russia, the war was covered by anonymous satirical graphic luboks that were sold at common markets and recorded much of the war for the domestic audience. Around 300 were made before their creation was banned by the Russian government.
  • The disastrous war was among the reasons that spurred Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov to compose his satirical opera, The Golden Cockerel, which was immediately banned by the government.
  • The Russo-Japanese War was covered by dozens of foreign journalists who sent back sketches that were turned into lithographs and other reproducible forms. Propaganda images were circulated by both sides and quite a few photographs have been preserved.
  • The role of Russian-born British spy Sidney Reilly in providing intelligence that allowed the Japanese surprise attack which started the Siege of Port Arthur is dramatised in Episode 2 of the TV series Reilly, Ace of Spies.
  • The Siege of Port Arthur is covered in an encompassing historical novel Port Arthur by Alexander Stepanov (1892–1965), who, at the age of 12, lived in the besieged city and witnessed many key events of the siege. He took a personal role in Port Arthur defense by carrying water to front line trenches; was contused; narrowly evaded amputation of both legs while in the hospital. His father, Nikolay Stepanov, commanded one of Russian onshore batteries protecting the harbor; through him Alexander personally knew many top military commanders of the city – generals Stessels, Belikh, Nikitin, Kondratenko, admiral Makarov and many others. The novel itself was written in 1932, based on the author's own diaries and notes of his father; although it might be subject to ideological bias, as anything published in the USSR at that time, it was (and still is) generally considered in Russia one of the best historical novels of the Soviet period.[30]
  • "On the hills of Manchuria" (Na sopkah Manchzhurii), a melancholy waltz composed by Ilya Shatrov, a military musician who served in the war, became an evergreen popular song in Russia and in Finland. The original lyrics are about fallen soldiers lying in their graves in Manchuria, but alternative lyrics were written later, especially during Second World War.
  • The Russo-Japanese War is occasionally alluded to in James Joyce's novel, Ulysses. In the "Eumaeus" chapter, a drunken sailor in a bar proclaims, "But a day of reckoning, he stated crescendo with no uncertain voice—thoroughly monopolizing all the conversation—was in store for mighty England, despite her power of pelf on account of her crimes. There would be a fall and the greatest fall in history. The Germans and the Japs were going to have their little lookin, he affirmed."
  • The Russo-Japanese War is the setting for the naval strategy computer game Distant Guns developed by Storm Eagle Studios.
  • The Russo-Japanese War is the setting for the first part of the novel The Diamond Vehicle, in the Erast Fandorin detective series by Boris Akunin.
  • The Domination series by S.M. Stirling has an alternate Battle of Tsushima where the Japanese use airships to attack the Russian Fleet. This is detailed in the short story "Written by the Wind" by Roland J. Green in the Drakas! anthology.

See also


  1. ^ Samuel Dumas, Losses of Life Caused By War (1923)
  2. ^, Twentieth Century Atlas – Death Tolls and Casualty Statistics for Wars, Dictatorships and Genocides.
  3. ^ Forczyk, p. 22 "Tsar's diary entry"
  4. ^ University of Texas: Growth of colonial empires in Asia
  5. ^ Paine, p. 317
  6. ^ Connaughton, pp. 7–8.
  7. ^ Paine, p. 320.
  8. ^ Text in Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Correspondence Regarding Negotiations... (1903-1904) pp. 7-9.
  9. ^ Text in Correspondence Regarding Negotiations... (1903-1904) pp. 23-24.
  10. ^ Connaughton, p. 10.
  11. ^ Tolf, p.156.
  12. ^ Text in Correspondence Regarding Negotiations... (1903-1904) p. 38.
  13. ^ Connaughton, p. 34.
  14. ^ Yale University: Laws of War: Opening of Hostilities (Hague III); October 18, 1907, Avalon Project at Yale Law School.
  15. ^ Shaw, Albert (March, 1904), "The Progress of the World – Japan's Swift Action", The American Monthly Review of Reviews, New York: The Review of Reviews Company, 29 (No. 3): 260  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  16. ^ Connaughton, p.65
  17. ^ Sisemore, James D. (2003)., "The Russo-Japanese War, Lessons Not Learned." U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.
  18. ^ Chapman, John and Ian Nish. (2004). "On the Periphery of the Russo-Japanese War," Part I, p. 53 n42, Paper No. IS/2004/475. Suntory Toyota International Centre for Economics and Related Disciplines (STICERD), London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).
  19. ^ Connaughton, p. 272; "Text of Treaty; Signed by the Emperor of Japan and Czar of Russia," New York Times. October 17, 1905.
  20. ^ Cox, Gary P. "The Russo-Japanese War in Global Perspective: World War Zero" Journal of Military History. 70. 1 (2006): 250-251.
  21. ^ Twentieth Century Atlas – Death Tolls and Casualty Statistics for Wars, Dictatorships and Genocides
  22. ^ Abraham Ascher, The Revolution of 1905: Russia in Disarray, Stanford University Press, 1994, ISBN 0-8047-2327-3, Google Print, p.157–158
  23. ^ For Polish–Japanese negotiations and relations during the war, see:Bert Edström, The Japanese and Europe: Images and Perceptions, Routledge, 2000, ISBN 1-873410-86-7, pp.126–133
    Jerzy Lerski, "A Polish Chapter of the Russo-Japanese War", Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, III/7 p. 69–96
  24. ^ "Japan's Present Crisis and Her Constitution; The Mikado's Ministers Will Be Held Responsible by the People for the Peace Treaty – Marquis Ito May Be Able to Save Baron Komura," New York Times. September 3, 1905.
  25. ^ a b Sondhaus, Lawrence, Naval Warfare, 1815–1914, p. 192
  26. ^ Strachan, p. 844.
  27. ^ Strachan, p. 384.
  28. ^ Strachan, p. 386.
  29. ^ Strachan, p. 388.
  30. ^ 'Port Arthur' by Alexander Stepanov, published by 'Soviet Russia' in 1978, 'About Author' section


Further reading

  • Corbett, Sir Julian. Maritime Operations In The Russo-Japanese War 1904–1905. (1994) Originally classified, and in two volumnes, ISBN 1-55750-129-7.
  • Grant, R., Captain, D.S.O. Before Port Arthur In A Destroyer. (The Personal Diary Of A Japanese Naval Officer – Translated from the Spanish Edition by Captain R. Grant, D.S.O. Rifle Brigade). John Murray, Albemarle St. W. (1907).
  • Hough, Richard A. The Fleet That Had To Die. Ballantine Books. (1960).
  • Jukes, Geoffry. The Russo-Japanese War 1904–1905. Osprey Essential Histories. (2002). ISBN 978-1-84176-446-7.
  • Kowner, Rotem (2006). Historical Dictionary of the Russo-Japanese War. Scarecrow. ISBN 0-8108-4927-5.
  • Matsumura Masayoshi, Ian Ruxton (trans.), Baron Kaneko and the Russo-Japanese War (1904–05), Lulu Press 2009 ISBN 978-0557117512
  • Morris, Edmund (2002). Theodore Rex, New York: Random House. 10-ISBN 0-8129-6600-7; 13-ISBN 978-0-8129-6600-8
  • Novikov-Priboy, Aleksei. Tsushima. (An account from a seaman aboard the Battleship Orel (which was captured at Tsushima). London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd. (1936).
  • Nish, Ian Hill. (1985). The Origins of the Russo-Japanese War. London: Longman. 10-ISBN 0-582-49114-2; 13-ISBN 978-0-582-49114-4
  • Okamoto, Shumpei (1970). The Japanese Oligarchy and the Russo-Japanese War. Columbia University Press.
  • Pleshakov, Constantine. The Tsar's Last Armada: The Epic Voyage to the Battle of Tsushima. ISBN 0-465-05792-6. (2002).
  • Saaler, Sven und Inaba Chiharu (Hg.). Der Russisch-Japanische Krieg 1904/05 im Spiegel deutscher Bilderbogen, Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien Tokyo, (2005).
  • Seager, Robert. Alfred Thayer Mahan: The Man And His Letters. (1977) ISBN 0-87021-359-8.
  • Semenov, Vladimir, Capt. The Battle of Tsushima. E.P. Dutton & Co. (1912).
  • Semenov, Vladimir, Capt. Rasplata (The Reckoning). John Murray, (1910).
  • Tomitch, V. M. Warships of the Imperial Russian Navy. Volume 1, Battleships. (1968).
  • Warner, Denis & Peggy. The Tide at Sunrise, A History of the Russo-Japanese War 1904–1905. (1975). ISBN 0-7146-5256-3.
  • Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Correspondence Regarding the Negotiations between Japan and Russia (1903–1904), Presented to the Imperial Diet, March 1904 (Tokyo, 1904)

External links

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