crossing the Yalu River
|Commanders and leaders|
|Casualties and losses|
|Events leading to |
The Russo-Japanese War (Japanese: 日露戦争, romanized: Nichiro sensō, lit. 'Japanese-Russian War'; Russian: Ру́сско-япóнская войнá, romanized: Rússko-yapónskaya voyná) was fought between the Empire of Japan and the Russian Empire during 1904 and 1905 over rival imperial ambitions in Manchuria and the Korean Empire. The major theatres of military operations were in Liaodong Peninsula and Mukden in Southern Manchuria, and the Yellow Sea and the Sea of Japan.
Russia had pursued an expansionist policy east of the Urals, in Siberia and the Far East, since the reign of Ivan the Terrible in the 16th century. Since the end of the First Sino-Japanese War in 1895, Japan had feared Russian encroachment would interfere with its plans to establish a sphere of influence in Korea and Manchuria.
Seeing Russia as a rival, Japan offered to recognize Russian dominance in Manchuria in exchange for recognition of the Korean Empire as being within the Japanese sphere of influence. Russia refused and demanded the establishment of a neutral buffer zone between Russia and Japan in Korea, north of the 39th parallel. The Imperial Japanese Government perceived this as obstructing their plans for expansion into mainland Asia and chose to go to war. After negotiations broke down in 1904, the Imperial Japanese Navy opened hostilities in a surprise attack on the Russian Eastern Fleet at Port Arthur, China on 9 February [O.S. 27 January] 1904.
Although Russia suffered a number of defeats,
Modernization of Japan
After the Meiji Restoration in 1868, the Meiji government endeavoured to assimilate Western ideas, technological advances and ways of warfare. By the late 19th century, Japan had transformed itself into a modernized industrial state. The Japanese wanted to be recognized as equal with the Western powers. The Meiji Restoration had been intended to make Japan a modernized state, not a Westernized one, and Japan was an imperialist power, looking towards overseas expansionism.
In the years 1869–73, the Seikanron ("Conquer Korea Argument") had bitterly divided the Japanese elite: one faction wanted to conquer Korea immediately, another wanted to wait until Japan was further modernized before embarking on a war to conquer Korea; significantly, no one in the Japanese elite ever accepted the idea that the Koreans had the right to be independent, with only the question of timing dividing the two factions. In much the same way that Europeans used the "backwardness" of African and Asian nations as a reason for why they had to conquer them, for the Japanese elite the "backwardness" of China and Korea was proof of the inferiority of those nations, thus giving the Japanese the "right" to conquer them.
Count Inoue Kaoru, the Foreign Minister, gave a speech in 1887 saying "What we must do is to transform our empire and our people, make the empire like the countries of Europe and our people like the peoples of Europe," going on to say that the Chinese and Koreans had essentially forfeited their right to be independent by not modernizing. Much of the pressure for an aggressive foreign policy in Japan came from below, with the advocates of "people's rights" movement calling for an elected parliament also favouring an ultra-nationalist line that took it for granted the Japanese had the "right" to annex Korea, as the "people's rights" movement was led by those who favoured invading Korea in the years 1869–73.
As part of the modernization process in Japan, Social Darwinist ideas about the "survival of the fittest" were common in Japan from the 1880s onward and many ordinary Japanese resented the heavy taxes imposed by the government to modernize Japan, demanding something tangible like an overseas colony as a reward for their sacrifices.
Furthermore, the educational system of Meiji Japan was meant to train the schoolboys to be soldiers when they grew up, and as such, Japanese schools indoctrinated their students into Bushidō ("way of the warrior"), the fierce code of the samurai. Having indoctrinated the younger generations into Bushidō, the Meiji elite found themselves faced with a people who clamored for war, and regarded diplomacy as a weakness.
Pressure from the people
The British Japanologist Richard Storry wrote that the biggest misconception about Japan in the West was that the Japanese people were the "docile" instruments of the elite, when in fact much of the pressure for Japan's wars from 1894 to 1941 came from the ordinary people, who demanded a "tough" foreign policy, and tended to engage in riots and assassination when foreign policy was perceived to be pusillanimous.
Though the Meiji
In 1884, Japan had encouraged a coup in the
Just as Japan was subject to pressure from the Great Powers, so she would apply pressure to still weaker countries—a clear case of the transfer psychology. In this regard it is significant that ever since the Meiji period demands for a tough foreign policy have come from the common people, that is, from those who are at the receiving end of oppression at home.
Russian Eastern expansion
Tsarist Russia, as a major imperial power, had ambitions in the East. By the 1890s it had extended its realm across Central Asia to Afghanistan, absorbing local states in the process. The Russian Empire stretched from Poland in the west to the Kamchatka Peninsula in the east. With its construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway to the port of Vladivostok, Russia hoped to further consolidate its influence and presence in the region. In the Tsushima incident of 1861 Russia had directly assaulted Japanese territory.
First Sino-Japanese War (1894–95)
The first major war the Empire of Japan fought following the Meiji Restoration was
In 1897, Russia occupied the Liaodong Peninsula, built the
In December 1897, a
The Russians also began to make inroads into Korea. A large point of Russia's growing influence in Korea was
The Russians and the Japanese both contributed troops to the Eight-Nation Alliance sent in 1900 to quell the Boxer Rebellion and to relieve the international legations besieged in the Chinese capital, Beijing. Russia had already sent 177,000 soldiers to Manchuria, nominally to protect its railways under construction. Though the Qing imperial army and the Boxer rebels united to fight against the invasion, they were quickly overrun and ejected from Manchuria. After the Boxer Rebellion, 100,000 Russian soldiers were stationed in Manchuria. The Russian troops settled in and despite assurances they would vacate the area after the crisis, by 1903 the Russians had not established a timetable for withdrawal and had actually strengthened their position in Manchuria.
The Japanese statesman Itō Hirobumi started to negotiate with the Russians. He regarded Japan as too weak to evict the Russians militarily, so he proposed giving Russia control over Manchuria in exchange for Japanese control of northern Korea. Of the five Genrō (elder statesmen) who made up the Meiji oligarchy, Itō Hirobumi and Count Inoue Kaoru opposed the idea of war against Russia on financial grounds, while Katsura Tarō, Komura Jutarō and Field Marshal Yamagata Aritomo favored war. Meanwhile, Japan and Britain had signed the Anglo-Japanese Alliance in 1902 – the British seeking to restrict naval competition by keeping the Russian Pacific seaports of Vladivostok and Port Arthur from their full use. Japan's alliance with the British meant, in part, that if any nation allied itself with Russia during any war against Japan, then Britain would enter the war on Japan's side. Russia could no longer count on receiving help from either Germany or France without the danger of British involvement in the war. With such an alliance, Japan felt free to commence hostilities if necessary.
The 1890s and 1900s marked the height of the "Yellow Peril" propaganda by the German government, and the German Emperor Wilhelm II (r. 1888–1918) often wrote letters to his cousin Emperor Nicholas II of Russia, praising him as the "saviour of the white race" and urging Russia forward in Asia. From November 1894 onward, Wilhelm had been writing letters praising Nicholas as Europe's defender from the "Yellow Peril", assuring the Tsar that God Himself had "chosen" Russia to defend Europe from the alleged Asian threat. On 1 November 1902 Wilhelm wrote to Nicholas that "certain symptoms in the East seem to show that Japan is becoming a rather restless customer" and "it is evident to every unbiased mind that Korea must and will be Russian". Wilhelm ended his letter with the warning that Japan and China would soon unite against Europe, writing:
"Twenty to thirty million Chinese, supported by a half dozen Japanese divisions, led by competent, intrepid Japanese officers, full of hatred for Christianity—that is a vision of the future that cannot be contemplated without concern, and it is not impossible. On the contrary, it is the realisation of the yellow peril, which I described a few years ago and I was ridiculed by the majority of people for my graphic depiction of it ... Your devoted friend and cousin, Willy, Admiral of the Atlantic".
Wilhelm aggressively encouraged Russia's ambitions in Asia because France, Russia's closest ally since 1894, was less than supportive of Russian expansionism in Asia, and it was believed in Berlin that German support of Russia might break up the Franco-Russian alliance and lead to a new German–Russian alliance. The French had made it clear that they disapproved of Nicholas's forward policy in Asia; the French Premier Maurice Rouvier (in office: May to December 1887) publicly declaring that the Franco-Russian alliance applied only in Europe, not to Asia, and that France would remain neutral if Japan attacked Russia.[need quotation to verify] The American president Theodore Roosevelt (in office 1901–1909), who was attempting to mediate the Russian–Japanese dispute, complained that Wilhelm's "Yellow Peril" propaganda, which strongly implied that Germany might go to war against Japan in support of Russia, encouraged Russian intransigence. On 24 July 1905, in a letter to the British diplomat Cecil Spring Rice, Roosevelt wrote that Wilhelm bore partial responsibility for the war as "he has done all he could to bring it about", charging that Wilhelm's constant warnings about the "Yellow Peril" had made the Russians uninterested in compromise as Nicholas believed that Germany would intervene if Japan attacked.
The implicit promise of German support suggested by Wilhelm's "Yellow Peril" speeches and letters to Nicholas led many decision-makers in Saint Petersburg to believe that Russia's military weaknesses in the Far East (like the uncompleted Trans-Siberian railroad line) did not matter—they assumed that the Reich would come to Russia's assistance if war should come. In fact, neither Wilhelm nor his Chancellor Prince Bernhard von Bülow (in office: 1900–1909) had much interest in East Asia, and Wilhelm's letters to Nicholas praising him as Europe's saviour against the "Yellow Peril" were really meant to provoke change in the balance of power in Europe, as Wilhelm believed that any Russian entanglement with Japan would break up the Franco-Russian alliance and lead to Nicholas signing an alliance with Germany. This was especially the case as Germany had embarked upon the "Tirpitz Plan" and a policy of Weltpolitik (from 1897) meant to challenge Britain's position as the world's leading power. Since Britain was allied to Japan, then if Germany could manipulate Russia and Japan into going to war with each other, this in turn would allegedly lead to Russia turning towards Germany.
Furthermore, Wilhelm believed if a Russian–German alliance emerged, France would be compelled to join it. He also hoped that having Russia pursue an expansionist policy in Asia would distract and keep Russia out of the Balkans, thus removing the main source of tension between Russia and Germany's ally Austria-Hungary. During the war, Nicholas, who took at face value Wilhelm's "Yellow Peril" speeches, placed much hope in German intervention on his side. More than once Nicholas chose to continue the war out of the belief that the Kaiser would come to his aid.
Despite previous assurances that Russia would completely withdraw from Manchuria the forces it had sent to crush the Boxer Rebellion by 8 April 1903, that day passed with no reduction in Russian forces in that region.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- This agreement to supplant all previous arrangements between Japan and Russia respecting Korea.
On 3 October 1903 the Russian minister to Japan, Roman Rosen, presented to the Japanese government the Russian counter proposal as the basis of negotiations, as follows:
- Mutual engagement to respect the independence and territorial integrity of the Korean Empire.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Recognition by Japan of Manchuria and its littoral as in all respects outside her sphere of interest.
- This agreement to supplant all previous agreements between Russia and Japan respecting Korea.
During the Russian–Japanese talks, the Japanese historian Hirono Yoshihiko noted, "once negotiations commenced between Japan and Russia, Russia scaled back its demands and claims regarding Korea bit by bit, making a series of concessions that Japan regarded as serious compromises on Russia's part". The war might not have broken out had not the issues of Korea and Manchuria become linked. The Korean and Manchurian issues had become linked as the Prime Minister of Japan, Katsura Tarō (in office 1901–1906), decided if war did come, that Japan was more likely to have the support of the United States and Great Britain if the war could be presented as a struggle for free trade against the highly protectionist Russian empire, in which case, Manchuria, which was the larger market than Korea, was more likely to engage Anglo-American sympathies. Throughout the war, Japanese propaganda presented the recurring theme of Japan as a "civilized" power (that supported free trade and would implicitly allow foreign businesses into the resource-rich region of Manchuria) vs. Russia the "uncivilized" power (that was protectionist and wanted to keep the riches of Manchuria all to itself).
Emperor Gojong of Korea (King from 1864 to 1897, Emperor from 1897 to 1907) came to believe that the issue dividing Japan and Russia was Manchuria, and chose to pursue a policy of neutrality as the best way of preserving Korean independence as the crisis mounted. In a series of reports to Beijing, Hu Weide, the Chinese ambassador in Saint Petersburg from July 1902 to September 1907, looked closely at whether a Russian or a Japanese victory would be favourable to China, and argued that the latter was preferable, as he maintained a Japanese victory presented the better chance for China to regain sovereignty over Manchuria. In December 1903 China decided to remain neutral if war came, because though Japan was the only power capable of evicting Russia from Manchuria, the extent of Japanese ambitions in Manchuria was not clear to Beijing.
Russian–Japanese negotiations then followed, although by early January 1904 the Japanese government had realised that Russia was not interested in settling the Manchurian or Korean issues. Instead, Russia's goal was buying time—via diplomacy—to further build up militarily. In December 1903, Wilhelm wrote in a marginal note on a diplomatic dispatch about his role in inflaming Russo-Japanese relations:
Since 97—Kiaochow—we have never left Russia in any doubt that we would cover her back in Europe, in case she decided to pursue a bigger policy in the Far East that might lead to military complications (with the aim of relieving our eastern border from the fearful pressure and threat of the massive Russian army!). Whereupon, Russia took Port Arthur and trusting us, took her fleet out of the Baltic, thereby making herself vulnerable to us by sea. In Danzig 01 and Reval 02, the same assurance was given again, with result that entire Russian divisions from Poland and European Russia were and are being sent to the Far East. This would not had happened if our governments had not been in agreement!
A recurring theme of Wilhelm's letters to Nicholas was that "Holy Russia" had been "chosen" by God to save the "entire white race" from the "Yellow Peril", and that Russia was "entitled" to annex all of Korea, Manchuria, and northern China up to Beijing.
Nicholas had been prepared to compromise with Japan, but after receiving a letter from Wilhelm attacking him as a coward for his willingness to compromise with the Japanese (who, Wilhelm never ceasing reminding Nicholas, represented the "Yellow Peril") for the sake of peace, became more obstinate. Wilhelm had written to Nicholas stating that the question of Russian interests in Manchuria and Korea was beside the point, saying instead it was a matter of Russia
undertaking the protection and defence of the White Race, and with it, Christian civilization, against the Yellow Race. And whatever the Japs are determined to ensure the domination of the Yellow Race in East Asia, to put themselves at its head and organise and lead it into battle against the White Race. That is the kernel of the situation, and therefore there can be very little doubt about where the sympathies of all half-way intelligent Europeans should lie. England betrayed Europe's interests to America in a cowardly and shameful way over the Panama Canal question, so as to be left in 'peace' by the Yankees. Will the 'Tsar' likewise betray the interests of the White Race to the Yellow as to be 'left in peace' and not embarrass the Hague tribunal too much?.
When Nicholas replied that he still wanted peace, Wilhelm wrote back in a telegram "You innocent angel!", telling his advisors "This is the language of an innocent angel. But not that of a White Tsar!" Nevertheless, Tokyo believed that Russia was not serious about seeking a peaceful solution to the dispute. On 13 January 1904, Japan proposed a formula by which Manchuria would remain outside Japan's sphere of influence and, reciprocally, Korea outside Russia's. On 21 December 1903, the Tarō cabinet voted to go to war against Russia.
By 4 February 1904, no formal reply had been received from Saint Petersburg. On 6 February the Japanese minister to Russia, Kurino Shin'ichirō, was recalled, and Japan severed diplomatic relations with Russia.
Potential diplomatic resolution of territorial concerns between Japan and Russia failed; historians have argued that this directly resulted from the actions of Emperor
... 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.
Some scholars have suggested that Nicholas II dragged Japan into war intentionally, in hopes of reviving Russian nationalism. This notion conflicts with a comment made by Nicholas to Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany, saying there would be no war because he "did not wish it". This does not reject the claim that Russia played an aggressive role in the East, which it did; rather, it means that Russia unwisely calculated and supposed that Japan would not go to war against Russia's far larger and seemingly superior navy and army. Nicholas held the Japanese in contempt as "yellow monkeys", and he took for granted that the Japanese would simply yield in the face of Russia's superior power, which thus explains his unwillingness to compromise. Evidence of Russia's false sense of security and superiority to Japan is seen by Russian reference to Japan's choosing war as a big mistake.[need quotation to verify]
Status of Combatants
Imperial Japanese Army
Japan had conducted detailed studies of the Russian Far East and Manchuria prior to the war and, as it was mandatory for Japanese officers to speak one foreign language, Japan had access to superior maps during the conflict. The Japanese army relied on conscription, introduced in 1873, to maintain its military strength and to provide a large army in times of war. This system of conscription gave Japan a large pool of reserves to draw upon. The Active and 1st line reserve (the 1st line reserve was used to bring the active army to wartime strength) totalled 380,000; the 2nd line reserve contained 200,000; the conscript reserve a further 50,000; and the kokumin (akin to a national guard or militia) 220,000. This amounted to 850,000 trained troops available for service, in addition to 4,250,000 men in the untrained reserve.
Immediately available to Japan on the declaration of war were 257,000 infantry, 11,000 cavalry and 894 pieces of artillery. These figures were divided between the Imperial Guards division, 12 regular divisions, 2 cavalry brigades, 2 artillery brigades, 13 reserve brigades, depot troops and the garrison of Taiwan. A regular Japanese division contained 11,400 infantry, 430 cavalry and 36 guns - the guns being organised into batteries of 6. Though another 4 divisions and 4 reserve brigades were formed in 1904, no further formations were created as the reserves were used to replace losses sustained in combat. Japanese reserves were given a full year of training before entering combat, though as the war progressed this was reduced to 6 months due to high casualties. The Japanese army did not follow the European convention of implementing Corps, thus there were no corps troops or command and the Japanese divisions were immediately subordinate to armies.
Olender gives a different appraisal of Japanese strength, maintaining that there were 350,000 men of the standing army and 1st reserve, with an additional 850,000 trained men in reserve, creating a total trained force of 1,200,000 men. The breakdown of the Japanese standing army is different too, with Olender giving each Japanese division 19,000 men including auxiliary troops; he also states that the 13 reserve brigades contained 8,000 men each and mentions 20 fortress battalions, which is omitted by Connaughton. It is further stated that the Japanese army possessed 1,080 field guns and between 120-150 heavy guns at the war's commencement. Japanese cavalry was not considered the elite of the army as was the case in Russia; instead Japanese cavalry primarily acted as scouts and fought dismounted, armed with carbine and sword; this was reflected in the fact that each cavalry brigade contained 6 machine guns.
There is no consensus over how many Russian troops were present in the Far East around the time of the commencement of the war. One estimate states that the Russian army possessed 60,000 infantry 3,000 cavalry and 164 guns mostly at Vladivostok and Port Arthur with a portion at Harbin. This was reinforced by the middle of February to 95,000 with 45,000 at Vladivostok, 8,000 at Harbin, 9,000 at Haicheng, 11,000 on the Yalu River and 22,000 at Port Arthur.
Olender gives the figure at 100,000 men including 8 infantry divisions, fortress troops and support troops. The entire Russian army in 1904 amounted to 1,200,000 men in 29 Corps. The Russian plan was immensely flawed as the Russians possessed only 24,000 potential reinforcements east of Lake Baikal when the war commenced. They would be reinforced by 35,000 men after 4 months and a further 60,000 men 10 months after the commencement of the war at which point they would take the offensive. This plan was based on the erroneous belief that the Japanese army could only mobilise 400,000 with them being unable to field more than 250,000 in an operational sense and 80,000-100,000 of their operational strength being necessary to secure supply lines and therefore only 150,000-170,000 Japanese soldiers would be available for field action. The possibility of Port Arthur being taken was dismissed entirely. 
An alternative figure for forces in the Far East is given at over 150,000 men and 266 guns with Vladivostok and Port Arthur containing a combined force of 45,000 men with an additional 55,000 engaged in guarding lines of communication leaving only 50,000 troops to take the field.
Unlike the Japanese the Russians did utilise the Corps system and in fact maintained 2 distinct styles of Corps the European and the Siberian Corps. The 2 Corps both possessed 2 divisions anid their corresponding Corps troops but a Siberian Division was much smaller containing only 3,400 men and 20 guns with a Corps containing around 12,000 men including Corps troops it lacked both artillery and divisional guns. Russia only possessed 2 Siberian Corps both unprepared for war when war was declared this was raised to 7 Corps as the war progressed. The European Corps in comparison contained 28,000 soldiers and 112 guns with 6 such Corps sent to the Far East during the war (a further 3 were dispatched but did not arrive before the war ended).
Russian Logistics were hampered by the fact that the only connection to European Russia was the Trans-Siberian Railway which remained incomplete as at Lake Baikal the railway was not connected. A single train would take between 15-40 days to traverse the railway with 40 days being the more common figure. A single battalion would take a month to transport from Moscow to Shenyang. Eventually the Russians did complete the railway and 20 trains rain daily (a European corps required some 267 trains) on the railway, by the conclusion of the war some 410,000 soldiers 93,000 horses and 1,000 guns had been moved across the railway.
The tactics utilised by the Russians were heavily outdated as was their doctrine. The Russian infantry were holding to the maxim of Suvorov over a century after his death. The Russian command still used strategies from the Crimean war attacking en echelon across a wide front in closed formations, it was not uncommon for Russian higher command to bypass their intermediate commanders and issue orders directly to battalions thus creating confusion during combat.
|Ship type||Baltic||Pacific||Black Sea||Total Russia||Japan|
|Cruisers under 2000t||5||3||8||10|
|Torpedo Boats below 40t||73||7||2||82|
Declaration of war
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, and without warning, 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. When the attack came, according to Cecil Spring Rice, first secretary at the British Embassy, it left the Tsar "almost incredulous".
Russia declared war on Japan eight days later. Japan, in response, made reference to the Russian attack on Sweden in 1808 without declaration of war, although the requirement to mediate disputes between states before commencing hostilities was made international law in 1899, and again in 1907, with the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907.
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 and alcoholic drinks. Native Manchurians joined the war on both sides as hired troops.
Campaign of 1904
Port Arthur, on the Liaodong Peninsula in the south of Manchuria, had been fortified into a major naval base by the Russian Imperial 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
These engagements provided cover for a Japanese landing near
Blockade of Port Arthur
The Japanese attempted to deny the Russians use of Port Arthur. During the night of 13–14 February, the Japanese attempted to block the entrance to Port Arthur by sinking several concrete-filled steamers in the deep water channel to the port, but they sank too deep to be effective. A similar attempt to block the harbour 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
On 15 April 1904, the Russian government made overtures threatening to seize the British war correspondents who were taking the ship SS Haimun into war zones 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 quickly learned, 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 23 June 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 harbour.
Siege of Port Arthur
The siege of Port Arthur commenced in April 1904. Japanese troops tried numerous frontal assaults on the fortified hilltops overlooking the harbour, which were defeated with Japanese casualties in the thousands. With the aid of several batteries of 11-inch (280 mm) howitzers, the Japanese were eventually able to capture the key hilltop bastion in December 1904. With a spotter at the end of a phone line located at this vantage point, the long-range artillery was able to shell the Russian fleet, which was unable to retaliate against the land-based artillery invisible over the other side of hilltop, and was unable or unwilling to sail 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 probably the only example in military history when such a scale of devastation was achieved by land-based artillery against major warships.
Meanwhile, attempts to relieve the besieged city by land also failed, and, after the
Anglo–Japanese intelligence co-operation
Even before the war, British and Japanese intelligence had co-operated against Russia due to the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. During the war, Indian Army stations in Malaya and China often intercepted and read wireless and telegraph cable traffic relating to the war, which was shared with the Japanese. In their turn, the Japanese shared information about Russia with the British with one British official writing of the "perfect quality" of Japanese intelligence. In particular, British and Japanese intelligence gathered much evidence that Germany was supporting Russia in the war as part of a bid to disturb the balance of power in Europe, which led to British officials increasingly perceiving that country[ambiguous] as a threat to the international order.
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 incomplete near
Battle of the Yellow Sea
With the death of Admiral
At approximately 12:15, the battleship fleets obtained visual contact with each other, and at 13:00 with Tōgō crossing Vitgeft's T, they commenced main battery fire at a range of about eight miles, the longest ever conducted up to that time. For about thirty minutes the battleships pounded one another until they had closed to less than four miles and began to bring their secondary batteries into play. At 18:30, a hit from one of Tōgō's battleships struck Vitgeft's flagship's bridge, killing him instantly.
With the Tsesarevich's helm jammed and their admiral killed in action, she turned from her battle line, causing confusion among her fleet. However, Tōgō was determined to sink the Russian flagship and continued pounding her, and it was saved only by the gallant charge of the American-built Russian battleship Retvizan, whose captain successfully drew away Tōgō's heavy fire from the Russian flagship. Knowing of the impending battle with the battleship reinforcements arriving from Russia (the Baltic Fleet), Tōgō chose not to risk his battleships by pursuing his enemy as they turned about and headed back into Port Arthur, thus ending naval history's longest-range gunnery duel up to that time and the first modern clash of steel battleship fleets on the high seas.
Baltic Fleet redeploys
Meanwhile, the Russians were preparing to reinforce their Far East Fleet by sending the Baltic Fleet, under the command of Admiral Zinovy Rozhestvensky. After a false start caused by engine problems and other mishaps, the squadron finally departed on 15 October 1904, and sailed halfway around the world from the Baltic Sea to the Pacific via the Cape Route around the Cape of Good Hope in the course of a seven-month odyssey that was to attract worldwide attention. The Dogger Bank incident on 21 October 1904, where the Russian fleet fired on British fishing boats that they mistook for enemy torpedo boats, nearly sparked a war with the United Kingdom (an ally of Japan, but neutral, unless provoked). During the voyage, the fleet separated into a portion that went through the Suez Canal while the larger battleships went around the Cape of Good Hope.
Effects on civilians
It was reported in 1905 that many Russian females were raped by Japanese troops, causing a widespread infections of venereal diseases in large number of Japanese troops. During the fighting in Manchuria, there were Russian troops that looted and burned some Chinese villages, raped women and often killed those who resisted or did not understand what they wanted. The Russian justification for all this was that Chinese civilians, being Asian, must have been helping their fellow Asians (the Japanese) inflict defeat on the Russians, and therefore deserved to be punished. The Russian troops were gripped by the fear of the "Yellow Peril", and saw all Asians, not just the Japanese, as the enemy. All of the Russian soldiers were much feared by the Chinese population of Manchuria, but it was the Cossacks whom they feared the most on the account of their brutality and insatiable desire to loot. Largely because of the more disciplined behavior of the Japanese, the Han and Manchu population of Manchuria tended to be pro-Japanese. The Japanese were also prone to looting, albeit in a considerably less brutal manner than the Russians, and summarily executed any Chinese or Manchu whom they suspected of being spies. The city of Liaoyang had the misfortune to be sacked three times within three days: first by the Russians, then by the Chinese police, and finally by the Japanese.
The Japanese hired Chinese bandits known variously as the Chunguses, Chunchuse or khunhuzy to engage in guerrilla warfare by attacking Russian supply columns. Only once did the Chunguses attack Japanese forces, and that attack was apparently motivated by the Chunguses mistaking the Japanese forces for a Russian one. Zhang Zuolin, a prominent bandit leader and the future "Old Marshal" who would rule Manchuria as a warlord between 1916 and 1928, worked as a Chunguse for the Japanese. Manchuria was still officially part of the Chinese Empire, and the Chinese civil servants tried their best to be neutral as Russian and Japanese troops marched across Manchuria. In the parts of Manchuria occupied by the Japanese, Tokyo appointed "civil governors" who worked to improve health, sanitation and the state of the roads. These activities were also self-interested, as improved roads lessened Japanese logistics problems while improved health amongst the Chinese lessened the dangers of diseases infecting the Japanese troops. By contrast, the Russians made no effort to improve sanitation or health amongst the Chinese, and destroyed everything when they retreated. Many Chinese tended to see the Japanese as the lesser evil.
Campaign of 1905
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With the fall of
Battle of Sandepu
The Russian Second Army under General
Battle of Mukden
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. Approximately half a million men were involved in the fighting. 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,
The retreating Russian Manchurian Army formations disbanded as fighting units, but the Japanese failed to destroy them completely. The Japanese themselves had suffered heavy casualties and were in no condition to pursue. Although the Battle of Mukden was a major defeat for the Russians and was the most decisive land battle ever fought by the Japanese, the final victory still depended on the navy.
Battle of Tsushima
After a stopover of several weeks at the minor port of
Admiral Tōgō was aware of 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 battleships and one second class battleship (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, while in compliance with the
Peace and aftermath
Treaty of Portsmouth
Military leaders and senior tsarist officials agreed before the war that Russia was a much stronger nation and had little to fear from the Empire of Japan. The fanatical zeal of the Japanese infantrymen astonished the Russians, who were dismayed by the apathy, backwardness, and defeatism of their own soldiers. The defeats of the Army and Navy shook Russian confidence. Throughout 1905, the Imperial Russian government was rocked by revolution. The population was against escalation of the war. The empire was certainly capable of sending more troops but this would make little difference in the outcome due to the poor state of the economy, the embarrassing defeats of the Russian Army and Navy by the Japanese, and the relative unimportance to Russia of the disputed land made the war extremely unpopular. Tsar Nicholas II elected to negotiate peace so he could concentrate on internal matters after the disaster of Bloody Sunday on 9 January 1905.
Both sides accepted the offer of United States President Theodore Roosevelt to mediate. Meetings were held in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, with Sergei Witte leading the Russian delegation and Baron Komura leading the Japanese delegation. The Treaty of Portsmouth was signed on 5 September 1905 at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Witte became Russian Prime Minister the same year.
After courting the Japanese, Roosevelt 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 (Japan–Korea Treaty of 1910), with scant protest from other powers. From 1910 forward, the Japanese adopted a strategy of using the Korean Peninsula as a gateway to the Asian continent and making Korea's economy subordinate to Japanese economic interests.
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. Sakhalin would be taken back by the Soviet Union following the defeat of the Japanese in World War II.[page needed]
Roosevelt earned the Nobel Peace Prize for his effort. George E. Mowry concludes that Roosevelt handled the arbitration well, doing an "excellent job of balancing Russian and Japanese power in the Orient, where the supremacy of either constituted a threat to growing America". As Japan had won every battle on land and sea and as the Japanese people did not understand that the costs of the war had pushed their nation to the verge of bankruptcy, the Japanese public was enraged by the Treaty of Portsmouth as many Japanese had expected the war to end with Russia ceding the Russian Far East to Japan and for Russia to pay an indemnity. The United States was widely blamed in Japan for the Treaty of Portsmouth with Roosevelt having allegedly "cheated" Japan out of its rightful claims at the peace conference. On 5 September 1905 the Hibiya incendiary incident - as the anti-American riots were euphemistically described - erupted in Tokyo and lasted for three days, forcing the government to declare martial law.
Sources do not agree on a precise number of deaths from the war because of a lack of body counts for confirmation. The number of Japanese Army dead in combat or died of wounds is put at around 59,000 with around 27,000 additional casualties from disease, and between 6,000 and 12,000 wounded. Estimates of Russian Army dead range from around 34,000 to around 53,000 men with a further 9,000–19,000 dying of disease and around 75,000 captured. The total number of dead for both sides is generally stated as around 130,000 to 170,000. China suffered 20,000 civilian deaths, and financially the loss amounted to over 69 million taels' worth of silver.
During many of the battles at sea, several thousand soldiers being transported drowned after their ships went down. There was no consensus about what to do with transported soldiers at sea, and as a result, many of the ships failed or refused to rescue soldiers that were left shipwrecked. This led to the creation of the second Geneva Convention in 1906, which gave protection and care for shipwrecked soldiers in armed conflict.
This was the first major military victory in the
In the absence of Russian competition, and with the distraction of European nations during World War I, combined with the Great Depression that followed, the Japanese military began 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.
Effects on Russia
Though there had been popular support for the war among the Russian public following the Japanese attack at Port Arthur in 1904, that popular support soon turned to discontent after suffering multiple defeats at the hands of the Japanese forces. For many Russians, the immediate shock of unexpected humiliation at the hands of Japan caused the conflict to be viewed as a metaphor for the shortcomings of the Romanov autocracy.
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 seeds that presaged the
Effects on Japan
Japan had become the rising Asian power and had proven that its military could combat the major powers in Europe with success. Most Western powers were stunned that the Japanese not only prevailed but decisively defeated Russia. In the Russo-Japanese War, Japan had also portrayed a sense of readiness in taking a more active and leading role in Asian affairs, which in turn had led to widespread nationalism throughout the region.
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.
As a result, the wartime government, the
The effects and impact of the Russo-Japanese War introduced a number of characteristics that came to define 20th-century politics and warfare. Many of the innovations brought by the Industrial Revolution, such as rapid-firing artillery and machine guns, as well as more accurate rifles, were first tested on a mass scale then. Military operations on both sea and land showed that modern warfare had undergone a considerable change since the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71.[clarification needed] Most army commanders had previously envisioned using these weapon systems to dominate the battlefield on an operational and tactical level but, as events played out, the technological advances forever altered the conditions of war too.
For East Asia this was the first confrontation after thirty years involving two modern armed forces. The advanced weaponry led to massive casualty counts. Neither Japan nor Russia had prepared for the number of deaths that would occur in this new kind of warfare, or had the resources to compensate for such losses. This also left its impression on society at large, with the emergence of transnational and
It has also been argued that the conflict had characteristics of what was later to be described as "total war". These included the mass mobilization of troops into battle and the need for so extensive a supply of equipment, armaments, and supplies that both domestic support and foreign aid were required. It is also argued that domestic response in Russia to the inefficiencies of the tsarist government set in motion the eventual dissolution of the Romanov dynasty.
Reception around the world
To the Western powers, Japan's victory demonstrated the emergence of a new Asian regional power. With the Russian defeat, some scholars have argued that the war had set in motion a change in the global world order with the emergence of Japan as not only a regional power, but rather, the main Asian power. Rather more than the possibilities of diplomatic partnership were emerging, however. The US and Australian reaction to the changed balance of power brought by the war was mixed with fears of a Yellow Peril eventually shifting from China to Japan. American figures such as W. E. B. Du Bois and Lothrop Stoddard saw the victory as a challenge to western supremacy. This was reflected in Austria, where Baron Christian von Ehrenfels interpreted the challenge in racial as well as cultural terms, arguing that "the absolute necessity of a radical sexual reform for the continued existence of the western races of men has ... been raised from the level of discussion to the level of a scientifically proven fact". To stop the Japanese "Yellow Peril" would require drastic changes to society and sexuality in the West.
Certainly the Japanese success increased self-confidence among anti-colonial nationalists in colonised Asian countries – Vietnamese, Indonesians, Indians and Filipinos – and to those in declining countries like the Ottoman Empire and Persia in immediate danger of being absorbed by the Western powers. It also encouraged the Chinese who, despite having been at war with the Japanese only a decade before, still considered Westerners the greater threat. As Sun Yat-sen commented, "We regarded that Russian defeat by Japan as the defeat of the West by the East. We regarded the Japanese victory as our own victory". Even in far-off Tibet the war was a subject of conversation when Sven Hedin visited the Panchen Lama in February 1907. While for Jawaharlal Nehru, then only an aspiring politician in British India, "Japan's victory lessened the feeling of inferiority from which most of us suffered. A great European power had been defeated, thus Asia could still defeat Europe as it had done in the past." And in the Ottoman Empire too, the Committee of Union and Progress embraced Japan as a role model.
In Europe, subject populations were similarly encouraged. James Joyce's novel Ulysses, set in Dublin in 1904, contains hopeful Irish allusions as to the outcome of the war. And in partitioned Poland the artist Józef Mehoffer chose 1905 to paint his "Europa Jubilans" (Europe rejoicing), which portrays an aproned maid taking her ease on a sofa against a background of Eastern artefacts. Painted following demonstrations against the war and Russian cultural suppression, and in the year of Russia's defeat, its subtly coded message looks forward to a time when the Tsarist masters will be defeated in Europe as they had been in Asia.
The significance of the war for oppressed classes as well as subject populations was clear too to Socialist thinkers.
The Russo-Japanese War now gives to all an awareness that even war and peace in Europe – its destiny – is not decided between the four walls of the European concert, but outside it, in the gigantic maelstrom of world and colonial politics. And it's in this that the real meaning of the current war resides for social-democracy, even if we set aside its immediate effect: the collapse of Russian absolutism. This war brings the gaze of the international proletariat back to the great political and economic connectedness of the world, and violently dissipates in our ranks the particularism, the pettiness of ideas that form in any period of political calm.— Rosa Luxemburg, In the Storm, Le Socialiste, May 1–8, 1904 (translator: Mitch Abidor)
It was this realisation of the universal significance of the war that underlines the historical importance of the conflict and its outcome.
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 by combined tonnage, while the Russian Navy declined to one barely stronger than that of Austria–Hungary. 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.
The Japanese were on the offensive for most of the war and used massed infantry assaults against defensive positions, which would later 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 a heavy toll on Russian and Japanese troops, were a precursor to the trench warfare of World War I. A German military advisor sent to Japan, Jakob Meckel, 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 infantry in offensive campaigns also led to a large number of Japanese casualties.
Military and economic exhaustion affected both countries. Japanese historians regard this war as a turning point for Japan, and a key to understanding the reasons why Japan may have failed militarily and politically later. 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.
Following the victory of the
Military attachés and observers
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
Despite its gold reserves of 106.3 million pounds, Russia's pre-war financial situation was not enviable. The country had large budget deficits year after year, and was largely dependent on borrowed money.
Russia's war effort was funded primarily by France, in a series of loans totalling 800 million
Japan's pre-war gold reserves were a modest £11.7 million; a major portion of the total cost of the war was covered by money borrowed from the United Kingdom,
List of battles
- 8 February 1904: naval battle, inconclusive
- 9 February 1904: naval battle, Japanese victory
- 30 April-1 May 1904: Battle of Yalu River, Japanese victory
- 25–26 May 1904: Battle of Nanshan: Japanese victory
- 14–15 June 1904: Battle of Te-li-Ssu: Japanese victory
- 17 July 1904: Battle of Motien Pass: Japanese victory
- 24 July 1904: Battle of Tashihchiao: Japanese victory
- 31 July 1904: Battle of Hsimucheng: Japanese victory
- 10 August 1904: naval battle, Japanese victory
- 14 August 1904: naval battle, Japanese victory
- 20 August 1904: naval battle, Japanese victory
- 19 August 1904 – 2 January 1905: Siege of Port Arthur, Japanese victory
- 25 August-3 September 1904: Battle of Liaoyang: Japanese victory
- 5–17 October 1904 Battle of Shaho: Inconclusive
- 26–27 January 1905: Battle of Sandepu: Inconclusive
- 21 February-10 March 1905: Battle of Mukden: Japanese victory
- 27–28 May 1905: naval battle, Japanese victory
- 7–31 July 1905: Invasion of Sakhalin: Japanese victory
The Russo-Japanese War was covered by dozens of foreign journalists who sent back sketches that were turned into
In Russia, the war was covered by anonymous satirical graphic
War artists were to be found on the Russian side and even figured among the casualties.
On either side, there were lyrics lamenting the necessity of fighting in a foreign land, far from home. One of the earliest of several Russian songs still performed today was the waltz "Amur's Waves" (Amurskie volny), which evokes the melancholy of standing watch on the motherland far east frontier.
Two others grew out of incidents during the war. "
The second song, "Variag", commemorates the Battle of Chemulpo Bay in which that cruiser and the gunboat Korietz steamed out to confront an encircling Japanese squadron rather than surrender. That act of heroism was first celebrated in a German song by Rudolf Greintz in 1907, which was quickly translated into Russian and sung to a martial accompaniment. These lyrics mourned the fallen lying in their graves and threatened revenge.
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov also reacted to the war by composing the satirical opera The Golden Cockerel, completed in 1907. Although it was ostensibly based on a verse fairy tale by Alexander Pushkin written in 1834, the authorities quickly realised its true target and immediately banned it from performance. The opera was premiered in 1909, after Rimsky-Korsakov's death, and even then with modifications required by the censors.
Some Japanese poetry dealing with the war still has a high profile. General Nogi Maresuke's "Outside the Goldland fortress" was learned by generations of schoolchildren and valued for its bleak stoicism. The army surgeon Mori Ōgai kept a verse diary which tackled such themes as racism, strategic mistakes and the ambiguities of victory which can now be appreciated in historical hindsight. Nowadays too there is growing appreciation of Yosano Akiko's parting poem to her brother as he left for the war, which includes the critical lines.
Never let them kill you, brother!
His Imperial Majesty would not come out to fight ...
How could He possibly make them believe
that it is honourable to die?
Even the Emperor Meiji himself entered the poetic lists, writing in answer to all the lamentations about death in a foreign land that the patriotic soul returns to the homeland.
European treatments were similarly varied. Jane H. Oakley attempted an epic treatment of the conflict in 86 cantos. The French poet Blaise Cendrars was later to represent himself as on a Russian train on its way to Manchuria at the time in his La prose du Transsibérien et de la Petite Jehanne de France (1913) and energetically evoked the results of the war along the way:
I saw the silent trains the black trains returning from the Far East and passing like phantoms ...
At Talga 100,000 wounded were dying for lack of care
I visited the hospitals of Krasnoyarsk
And at Khilok we encountered a long convoy of soldiers who had lost their minds
In the pesthouses I saw gaping gashes wounds bleeding full blast
And amputated limbs danced about or soared through the raucous air
Much later, the Scottish poet Douglas Dunn devoted an epistolary poem in verse to the naval war in The Donkey's Ears: Politovsky's Letters Home (2000). This follows the voyage of the Russian Imperial Navy flagship Kniaz to its sinking at the Battle of Tsushima.
Fictional coverage of the war in English began even before it was over. An early example was Allen Upward's The International Spy. Set in both Russia and Japan, it ends with the Dogger Bank incident involving the Baltic Fleet. The political thinking displayed there is typical of the time. There is great admiration for the Japanese, who were British allies. Russia is in turmoil, but the main impetus towards war is not imperialism as such but commercial forces. "Every student of modern history has remarked the fact that all recent wars have been promoted by great combinations of capitalists. The causes which formerly led to war between nation and nation have ceased to operate" (p. 40). The true villain plotting in the background, however, is the German Emperor, seeking to destabilise the European balance of power in his country's favour. Towards the end of the novel, the narrator steals a German submarine and successfully foils a plot to involve the British in the war. The submarine motif reappeared in George Griffith's science fiction novel, The Stolen Submarine (1904), although in this case it is a French super-submarine which its developer sells to the Russians for use against the Japanese in another tale of international intrigue.
Though most English-language fiction of the period took the Japanese side, the Rev. W. W. Walker's Canadian novella, Alter Ego, is an exception. It features a Canadian volunteer in the Russian army who, on his return, agrees to talk about his experiences to an isolated upcountry community and relates his part in the Battle of Mukden. Though this incident only occupies two of the book's six chapters, it is used to illustrate the main message there, that war is "anti-Christian and barbarous, except in a defensive sense" (Ch.3).