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CHARLES WILLIAM WASON 
COLLECTION 

CHINA AND THE CHINESE 



THE C51FT OF 

CHARLES WILLIAM WASON 

CLASS OF 1876 

1918 



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Cornell University Library 
DS 517.B87 





Cornell University 
Library 



The original of this book is in 
the Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 



http://www.archive.org/details/cu31924023037207 



AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 




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AN EYE-WITNESS 
IN MANCHURIA 



LORD BROOKE 

REUTER'S special correspondent in MANCHURIA 




LONDON 
EVELEIGH NASH 

1905 

ft. 






W, loll 



TO THE 

OFFICERS AND MEN OF THE RUSSIAN ARMY 
IN MANCHURIA 

IN GRATEFUL REMEMBRANCE OF THEIR 

KINDNESS AND HOSPITALITY 

AND WITH THE 

DEEPEST ADMIRATION FOR THEIR 

COURAGE AND FORTITUDE 



PREFACE 

A FEW words by way of preface may possibly save 
the readers from misconception regarding the 
scope and nature of the following narrative. In 
the first place, I would say that the book is in no 
wise concerned either with the causes or with the 
possible consequences of the war between the 
empires of Russia and Japan. In it, so far as 
was possible, political questions of every kind have 
been left untouched. I have made no attempt to 
write a complete history of this great and as yet 
unfinished war, being of opinion that the time for 
any such attempt to be made, with any reasonable 
hope of success, is still distant. 

What I have endeavoured to set forth here is a 
simple record of personal experience gained during 
nine months spent with the Russian Army in Man- 
churia. Having followed and studied the cam- 
paign as a soldier, I have striven to give here a 
straightforward account of the many stirring events 
which came within my own actual experience ; this 
without extenuation or disguise, and, assuredly, 
without malice. 

Throughout my stay in Manchuria I was hos- 
pitably welcomed and most kindly entreated by all 
ranks of the Russian Army, from general to private 



PREFACE 

soldier. It is with the desire to make some slight 
acknowledgment of the real debt of gratitudfe owing 
to my hosts that I have taken leave to dedicate 
this outcome of my stay among them, to the Ofificers 
and Men of the Russian Army in Manchuria. 

To the authorities in St. Petersburg and else- 
where I also desire to express here my sense of 
obligation for the unfailing courtesy they have 
shown to me. 

Finally, I wish to thank Mr. Frank R. Cana, 
F.R.G.S., for the valuable assistance he has given 
me in preparing this book for the press. 

BROOKE. 



CONTENTS 



CHAP. 

I. THE START FOR THE FRONT 
ir. KHARBIN IN WAR-TIME 

III. FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MUKDEN 

IV. ABOUT THE HUNHUTZES . 
V. FORWARD TO LIAO-YANG . 

VI. BARON STACKELBERG AT WA-FANG-HO 
VII. THE DEATH OF MIDDLETON 
VIII. RUSSIAN HOSPITALITY — AND OTHER MATTERS 
IX. IN TOUCH WITH THE ENEMY — THE FATE OF 

SPIES 

X. A CHINESE WELCOME AT ANPING 
XI. THE FIGHT FOR SUNGAR HILL . 
XII. HAI-CHENG EVACUATED BY THE RUSSIANS 

XIII. NOTES ON THE RUSSIAN FIELD FORCE 

XIV. THE RETREAT FROM AN-SHAN-CHAN . 
XV. THE BATTLE OF LIAO-YANG OPENS 

XVI. SECOND DAY OF THE BATTLE 
XVII. JAPANESE CLOSE JN ON LIAO-YANG . 
XVIII. GENERAL KUROKI PROVES VICTORIOUS 
XIX. GENERAL KUROPATKIN ABANDONS LIAO-YANG 
XX. RETREAT TO THE HUN-HO — LIAO-YANG REVIEWED 
XXI. PREPARING FOR THE BATTLE 
XXII. STACKELBERG's ARMY ON THE MARCH 

XXIII. OPENING OF THE SHA-HO BATTLE 

XXIV. THE JAPANESE PIERCE THE RUSSIAN CENTRE 
XXV. THE RUSSIAN ARMY IN FULL RETREAT 

XXVI. THE SHA-HO BATTLE — JAPANESE TACTICS . 



PAGE 

I 

lO 

i6 

23 

28 

34 
40 

47 

52 
59 
64 

73 
81 
92 

lOI 

no 

122 
128 
140 

162 
171 

183 
190 
197 
204 



viii CONTENTS 

CHAP. PAGE 

XXVII. CAPTURE OF PUTILOFF SOPKA — AN ADVENTURE 

AT ERDAGO 214 

XXVIII. SOME REFLECTIONS ON THE SHA-HO BATTLE . 225 
XXIX. ALEXEIEFF RETURNS HOME — NEWS OF THE 

NORTH SEA OUTRAGE 236 

XXX. SOME ASPECTS OF LIFE IN MUKDEN . . . 244 

XXXI. GETTING READY FOR ANOTHER TRIAL OF 

STRENGTH 255 

XXXII. REORGANISING THE ARMY IN THE FIELD . . 261 

XXXIIL THE RUSSIANS IN WINTER QUARTERS . . 269 

XXXIV. CHRISTMAS REJOICINGS — THE FALL OF PORT 

ARTHUR 276 

XXXV. MISCHENKO'S RAID ON NUICHWANG . . . 283 

XXXVI. THE BATTLE OF SANDEPU 288 

XXXVII. THE RUSSIAN OVERTHROW AT MUKDEN . . 30I 

XXXVIII. THE DESIRE OF THE ARMY FOR PEACE . . 308 



AN EYE-WITNESS IN 
MANCHURIA 

CHAPTER I 

THE START FOR THE FRONT 

From Moscow to Mukden by the long thin thread 
of iron which links Manchuria to Russia is a 
distance of some 5500 miles. This single thread 
is the only highway to the East which Russia 
commands ; over it must pass not only the hosts 
who go to battle at the bidding of the Tsar, but 
also the men whose more humble duty it is to 
chronicle the doings of the army in the field. On 
the 2nd of May 1904, with a commission to re- 
present Reuter's Agency, and provided with the 
necessary permits from the military authorities, 
which a day's delay in St. Petersburg had secured, 
I started for the front. The first great blow in the 
land campaign had just been struck — the Japanese 
troops were already across the Yalu — but of this 
there was no hint when we left Moscow. My 
fellow-travellers included several Russian officers, 
one or two accompanied by their wives, the Danish 



2 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

Naval Attach^, and three other war correspondents 
— among them Mr. Maurice Baring of the Morning 
Post, whose perfect command of Russian con- 
stituted him interpreter-in-chief for his English 
comrades. Several ofificers of the Indian army, 
living in Moscow for the purpose of learning 
Russian, came to bid us farewell, and their God- 
speeds and those of Major Grove, the British 
Consul, rang in our ears as we left behind the 
gilded domes of the Kremlin. 

It was evening when we started our long 
journey. On the morrow we found ourselves 
passing through a great plain still partly covered 
with its winter mantle of snow — fine agricultural 
land dotted with log-built houses and interspersed 
with forests of birch and pine ; one of the great 
wheat-producing areas of Russia, a fact to which 
the many large granaries and windmills testified. 
On the third day we reached the Urals, which, if 
not Alpine in their grandeur, present to the eye 
fatigued by the boundless plain many a picturesque 
view of rugged rock and bold scarp. The moun- 
tains are famed for their mineral wealth, and 
travellers have the opportunity, of which we took 
advantage, of buying at the stations strangely 
wrought figures in stone and iron, beautiful marbles, 
and precious stones. Passing the pyramid placed 
to mark the eastern limit of Europe we came down 
the slopes of the mountains through winding valleys, 
glad to know we had entered Asia and were now 
well on our way. Yet there were 3500 miles still 
to cover before even the frontier of Manchuria 



THE START FOR THE FRONT 3 

was reached — a long and tedious progress across 
Siberia. Only those who have made the journey 
can realise these enormous distances and the 
stupendous task of maintaining an army in the 
field six thousand miles from its base and dependent 
for almost everything on the smooth working of 
this railway. 

The Siberia of one's imagination and Siberia 
as seen through the windows of a railway carriage 
are not one and the same. What we did see were 
endless and almost treeless plains, scored with 
many rivers ; Cossack posts guarding the railway ; 
herds of cattle and flocks of sheep in charge of 
strange-looking men with Mongol features. The 
weather became colder and the snow returned. At 
length to the bare steppes succeeded forest land ; 
the Yenisei was crossed by a bridge over half 
a mile long, and more than once we struck the 
great Moscow post-road of pre-railroad days — a 
true Sorrowful Way, for it is the track of the 
exiles and convicts ; of whom, however, we saw 
nothing. 

If the scenery tended to be monotonous, life on 
board the train, which was very crowded, presented 
many points of interest. In the fine corridor trains 
of the Siberian railway the journey as far as Irkutsk, 
if not rapid, is comfortable, and was so even in war 
time. You have your sleeping berth as on a ship, 
there is a large dining-car, and a well-found bath- 
room — a welcome luxury on a journey of such a 
length. The chef, I trust, had the philosophic spirit, 
for there seemed no regular meal times ; one ate 



4 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

when one felt hungry, which, however rational it 
may be, is most disturbing to people accustomed 
to the orderly sequence of meals in an English 
household. Except for the Danish Attach^ and 
a Russian naval officer, the passengers seemed sus- 
picious of their English companions, and shunned 
our company. The general conversation was on 
the prospects of the far-off campaign, of the issue 
of which the Russians spoke confidently. When 
we had been eight or nine days travelling, news of 
the victory of Kuroki on the Yalu reached us. It 
was evident that the Russian officers were dis- 
agreeably surprised, but they never doubted that 
in time the tide of war would turn in their favour. 
Irkutsk at length on the tenth day from 
, Moscow ; a meeting point of many roads, a place 
of evil reputation and of interest to us only as 
marking the end of the first stage of our journey. 
Here we had to leave our comfortable train — to 
bid farewell to the morning tub. At Irkutsk one 
is close to Lake Baikal, and nearing the goal. A 
three hours' journey from the town along the banks 
of the Angara brought us to the quayside. Baikal 
was before us, that mysterious lake set in a huge 
cleft between the mountains, whose rocky sides rise 
almost perpendicularly from the water; that lake 
which seems to bar further progress eastward. 
Round its southern end was being built with 
feverish haste the railway which has since been 
opened, but for us the journey must be across the 
water. It was here that we first saw manifest 
signs of the great struggle. Baikal Station and 



THE START FOR THE FRONT 5 

pierhead were thronged with all sorts and con- 
ditions of people waiting for the steamer which 
should take them to the opposite shore. Merchants 
going to Vladivostok, Jews bound for Kharbin, 
soldiers, civilians— a motley crowd, in which were 
many women, kept in order by bustling policemen 
in red-faced uniforms. Sitting on their baggage, 
with a biting wind blowing down the lake, the 
throng waited several hours for the boat to start. 
This gave us an opportunity of examining and 
admiring a battalion or two of Siberian Rifles 
who were going to the front. Dressed in long 
grey coats and wearing papahas (large caps made 
of sheep-skin), they looked fine sturdy fellows, 
capable men of their hands. 

In winter the passage of the lake was made 
across the ice by sledge, but as soon as the weather 
permitted, passengers were taken over by steamers 
specially built to force their way through loose or 
rotten ice. Of these there were two, the Baikal 
and the Angara, both built by Armstrongs on the 
Tyne. The Baikal is made to carry over the train 
bodily ; it was in the other boat that we crossed. 
The ice was but half-melted ; under the rays of a 
powerful sun its surface was covered with water, 
but underneath it was still thick. The Angara 
forced her way through without much effort, the ice 
giving way with a loud crackling noise, an un- 
accustomed sensation for other than Polar travellers. 
On our right the winter sledge track was still 
plainly to be seen, with a half-way house and buffet 
built of logs, and here and there the carcase of a 



6 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

horse left lying where it had died of exhaustion in 
its tracks. We could also see the men at work on 
the circum-Baikal railway, which now allows the 
trains to run direct to Kharbin without break of 
journey, though the quickest way will still be by 
steamer across the lake. Arrived at the farther 
end we disembark at Mysovaia Quay, and have to 
rebook to Manchuria. And here began the real 
discomfort of the journey. Time-tables bore no 
resemblance to the times of the running of the 
trains, and whatever the class of ticket bought, 
travellers were thankful to be taken on in any 
fashion and at any hour. Mr. Baring had an 
excellent servant, Mikhail, an ex-noncom. officer of 
the Guards whom he had brought from St. Peters- 
burg, and to him we owed much, but now his 
utmost efforts only succeeded in getting us places 
in a very dirty third-class carriage ; we were 
perhaps fortunate in getting seats at all. There 
were several Russian and Greek merchants and a 
sailor or two in the carriage, but for the most part 
our companions were soldiers of the Siberian 
Army. Packed to its utmost capacity it needs little 
imagination to realise the condition of the atmo- 
sphere — it could have been cut with a knife. The 
journey from Mysovaia to the frontier of Man- 
churia, through the province of Transbaikalia, lasted 
nearly four days, and from the scenic standpoint 
was the most interesting part of all. We had for 
one thing fairly overtaken the spring, on every 
hand were signs of returning life, and the fields 
were carpeted with beautiful flowers. The railway 



THE START FOR THE FRONT 7 

boldly climbs the Yablonnovy Mountains, fine 
rugged hills covered with dense forests of pines. 
Many a brawling stream and larger river was 
crossed, and at one place we plunged through a 
short tunnel. It is but the second since Moscow, 
and bears an inscription " To the Pacific," a phrase 
which in any other sense than the geographic — 
if in that — is eminently misleading. Down the 
eastern slopes of the hills we passed to Chita, the 
seat of the Governor of the province, a town which 
left a pleasant impression on the memory. 

After Baikal we were continually passing troop 
trains in sidings — each train packed full of men on 
their way south to reinforce Kuropatkin, and all, 
apparently, in excellent spirits, singing generally 
to the accompaniment of several concertinas — the 
favourite musical instrument of the Russian soldier. 
But if the soldiers seemed happy, the Russians who 
had come with us from Moscow grew more and 
more suspicious of their English companions, and 
one civilian in particular endeavoured to impress on 
the Russian officers the supposed fact that we were 
Japanese spies! However, among the "common 
people " we found friends. The soldiers in our 
carriage did their best to keep it clean, got us tea 
at every stopping-place, and were genuinely and 
unobtrusively kind and attentive. Thsy enter- 
tained us with folk-lore stories, which much re- 
sembled our English fairy tales. Their simple 
ways and ideas won much on us. Their ignorance 
of the foe against whom they were to war was 
great : one soldier asked us if it were true that the 



8 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

Japanese fought in armour. A sailor, however, 
who had been out in the East, said he knew and 
Hked the Japanese. 

Manchuria Station was reached on the 15 th 
of May, that name being given to the first station 
reached in Manchuria travelling eastwards. We 
had now, nominally, entered the Chinese Empire, 
but of that there was no sign on the railway. We 
had here once again to break our journey and take 
fresh tickets for Kharbin. It was necessary, too, to 
obtain a new permission to proceed, but, thanks to 
our excellent credentials from St. Petersburg, in 
this matter we found no difficulty. However, a 
whole day had to be spent in the crowded station 
waiting for the train to take us on. We had an 
opportunity of speaking to several French and 
German correspondents, and one from America, 
who drew for us gloomy pictures of the way they 
had been treated by the press censors, and were 
with one consent giving up the attempt to chronicle 
the progress of the war. Undeterred by such faint- 
hearts, we kept on our way. At night we started 
for Kharbin in a carriage crammed with people. 
Our friend, the suspicious civilian, had by this time 
worked greatly on the fears of the officers. Neither 
he nor they could understand how we got permis- 
sion so easily to continue our journey, and finally 
two soldiers were placed in our carriage to watch 
the movements of the wicked Englishmen. This 
much Mr. Baring learned from listening to their 
talk one to another, and, to contradict the proverb 
that eavesdroppers never hear anything to their 



THE START FOR THE FRONT 9 

advantage, he overheard both the men express 
surprise at having to guard such quiet and in- 
offensive individuals. But for their guard we owe 
our suspicious friends many thanks, as during the 
night most of the occupants of the carriage — a long 
Pullman car — were robbed of money and valuables, 
whilst we, being under the jealous eye of our 
sentries, were unmolested. Moreover, the next 
day there was even an approach to friendliness on 
the part of those who had looked most askance 
upon us. We learnt afterwards that they had tele- 
graphed to Kharbin and received assurance that we 
were just what we represented ourselves to be and 
not spies in disguise. 

The country we passed through was mainly wide 
rolling plains ; though in the distance the Khingan 
mountains stand up picturesquely. Crossing the 
grazing grounds of Mongol nomads the resem- 
blance to the South African veld was very strong. 
It had not the appearance of country on which a 
vast army could draw for supplies. It was a relief 
to us all when, on the i8th of May, we drew up at 
Kharbin Station, and could feel ourselves at last in 
touch with the Field Force — within the hinterland 
of the theatre of war. 



CHAPTER II 

KHARBIN IN WAR-TIME 

K HARBIN is a city of mushroom growth ; a city, too, 
of immense possibilities. But a more uninviting 
spot, as I saw it, would be hard to imagine. In 
point of repulsiveness, and also of morals, it might 
fitly be compared with Port Said. The eye of the 
seer discerns its future commercial and military 
importance, those less gifted behold at first a sea of 
mud or a cloud of dust. It was otherwise we had 
expected to behold the new capital of Manchuria, 
for the advertising artist is abroad in Russia- as 
well as elsewhere, and from circular and pamphlet, 
descriptive of the Trans-Siberian Railway, one pic- 
tured at least a small Birmingham with all the aids 
and comfort provided by a go-ahead municipal 
council. And the reality ? The railway station is 
large, one might say imposing, as becomes such an 
important junction ; for the rest, Kharbin is in the 
brick and mortar and corrugated iron stage, where 
everything, one is tempted to say, is vile. Our dis- 
illusionment came early, in fact before we left the 
railway station. I n front of us a sea of mud — and the 
few cabs already engaged by more astute travellers. 
My companion's surprise at this state of things was 



KHARBIN IN WAR-TIME 11 

somewhat amusing. " I thought there were electric 
trams and streets lit by electricity," he blurted out. 
Nor did Kharbin improve on acquaintance. It is 
built in detachments and spreads over a very large 
area. The official quarter stands on a hill, and 
here there are some really fine buildings, including 
the offices for the General Staff, the residence of 
the Viceroy of the Far East, the post-office and 
headquarters of the Manchurian Railway, and the 
buildings of the Russo-Chinese Bank. Most of 
these are solidly built of masonry, and do not give 
one the impression of a " temporary occupation 
pending the pacification of the country." In truth 
the Russians, in the four or five years they have 
been in possession, have acted as if the place was 
their own — the advance of the railway has meant 
for them the advance of their Empire. No 
traveller in Manchuria could imagine that Russia, 
who took advantage of the Boxer Rising of 1900 
to seize the country, ever entertained the idea of 
voluntarily restoring it to China. 

To return, however, to Kharbin. On lower 
ground and leading to the river Sungari is the 
priestan or merchants' quarters. The condition of 
the streets in this part of the town is but slightly in- 
dicated by the word filthy. In spring and summer 
the horses are knee deep in thick black mud ; in 
the autumn, when the mud dries, the dust-storms 
are as disagreeable as a Cape south-easter or a 
Johannesburg sand-storm — ^only more so. Here a 
corrugated iron shanty and a fine stone-built house 
jostle one another ; buildings spring up with amaz- 



12 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

ing rapidity, all is life and bustle. There are many- 
hotels with fine-sounding names, but each is more 
uncomfortable than the others. Bad as they are, 
they are all dear — dear and dirty. As an antidote 
to the dirt, one can patronise houses where they 
give you a bath a la Russe. But the chief note of 
the town is "gaiety " ; the drowning in the pleasure 
of the night all care for the morrow. A circus and 
two or three theatres found hosts of patrons, but 
the most notorious of the places of amusement were 
two large open-air cafd ckantants. Of this sort of 
life the Russian officers took their full share. 
Champagne flowed freely, nor was the charm of 
women's society lacking. Indeed, the well-dressed, 
yellow-haired ladies of Kharbin were both numerous 
and notorious. Not that they had the monopoly of 
doubtful reputations in this fine example of Western 
" civilisation " ; many, if not most, of the Russians 
in business there had spent part of their life in the 
convict settlements at Saghalien. There were also 
many Chinese traders in the town, bent on spoiling 
their conquerors. The morality of the place was 
far to seek — such at least was Kharbin as I 
saw it. 

We were forced to spend ten days in the town, 
though at the outset it was only through the kind- 
ness of Colonel Potapoff, an officer of the Staff at 
Kharbin, that we were able to get rooms — which 
we eventually obtained at the " Oriental," an hotel 
in the official quarter. 

Colonel Potapoff was then Press Censor; he 
had served with the Boers in South Africa, more, 



KHARBIN IN WAR-TIME 13 

apparently, from the love of adventure than love 
for the Boers, and was a charming and open-minded 
man, whom it was a pleasure to know. His society 
made the stay in Kharbin more endurable. 

What will happen to Kharbin when the Russians 
leave Manchuria it is difficult to tell, but it can 
hardly sink back to the insignificance of the village 
which it was before the advent of the railway. 
The town is most advantageously situated for the 
development of commerce and the control of the 
country to its east. It is unattractive in itself, and 
situated on a treeless plain stretching south-west 
to the Gobi Desert, but as an entrep6t has a 
magnificent situation. The Sungari which flows 
at its feet is a fine deep stream ; already the town is 
provided with excellent quays and landing-stages ; 
on the bosom of the river are many fine steamers. 
The Sungari flows north-east to join the Amur, and 
is navigable in summer, when the ice has melted, 
all the way down from Kharbin to its confluence 
with the larger river. Thus by the Sungari and 
Amur it is possible to go by steamer from Kharbin 
to Khabarovsk, and even to the trading settlements 
near the mouth of the Amur, or up that river to, 
and far above, Blagoveshchensk, that town whence 
the Chinese residents were driven pell-mell into 
the water by the Russians — to drown like rats. 
Kharbin is, too, as already hinted, a great railway 
centre. From it the main line from Moscow runs 
east direct to Vladivostok, whilst, as all the world 
knows, another line goes south through Mukden 
to Yinkow and Port Arthur. From Yinkow, the 



14 AN EYE,WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

port of Nuichwang, there is another line to Tientsin 
and Peking. These facts all tend to prove the 
permanence of Kharbin as a commercial entrepot 
into whatever hands its destiny falls. The Rus- 
sians were well advised in choosing it as the new 
capital of Manchuria. 

As a defensible place, Kharbin has not many 
advantages besides that offered by the Sungari to 
a foe approaching from the south. The railway 
bridge which spans the river is very carefully 
guarded — or was when I knew the town — both 
by infantry, and by artillery placed at either end. 
Indeed, extraordinary precautions were taken to 
ensure its safety, for, beside the soldiery on 
guard, two large booms made of massive logs and 
chains were placed across the river, one above and 
one below the bridge, all river traffic beneath it 
being thus prevented. Moreover, the authorities 
hermetically sealed up all passengers crossing the 
river, by locking the doors and fastening the 
windows of each railway carriage, as it passed over. 
One does not wonder that the various attempts 
made by Japanese secret agents to destroy the 
bridge were foiled. 

Though most commendable zeal was shown by 
those responsible for the safety of the bridge, the 
bulk of the officers in the town treated the war as 
a thing far off. Their time to fight would come, 
and they would fight well, but meantime their life 
was hardly the best possible preparation for the 
command and control of men on the field of battle 
— men, too, worthy of the best of leaders. 



KHARBIN IN WAR-TIME 15 

Living at Kharbin was bad for one's pockets 
and trying to one's temper, and we were glad when 
we were permitted to go forward to Mukden. 
Meantime, we had been joined by Captain Eyres, 
the British Naval Attach^ at St. Petersburg, who 
was bound for Vladivostok. 



CHAPTER III 

FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MUKDEN 

A JOURNEY of some forty-eight hours took us from 
Kharbin to Mukden. Colonel Potapoff once more 
proved himself a friend. Through his good offices 
Captain Eyres and I were invited to share the 
carriage reserved for Major-General Daniloff, who 
was going straight through to Liao-Yang. General 
Daniloff was most courteous and considerate, a 
type of the best kind of Russian gentleman as well 
as soldier. He spoke a little French, and told us 
he was beginning to learn English. He was en- 
thusiastic at the prospect of going to the front, and 
was destined to prove, at Liao-Yang and the Sha- 
Ho, his bravery and capacity to command. As 
he bade us good-bye at Mukden we exchanged 
wishes for better acquaintance. 

The country between Kharbin and Mukden 
afforded a delightful contrast with that of the veld- 
like plains of Northern Manchuria, and the great 
pine forests of Siberia. We had, too, changed our 
direction. Instead of facing east we had turned 
south and had entered a region bounteously blessed 
by Nature. The spring was more advanced, the 
sky clear, the air delightful. The scene grew in 



FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MUKDEN 17 

beauty with every passing mile. The country was 
gently undulating, well watered and most carefully 
cultivated. The young millet tinged the ploughed 
fields a delicate green, the note of the magpie (this 
bird accompanied me from the pleasant fields of 
Normandy to the farthest verge of Manchuria) was 
constantly in our ears, mingled with the occasional 
soft cawing of rooks, busy building, or repairing, 
their nests among clumps of firs which, crowning 
the smaller hills, half-hid from view temples which 
Chinese piety had erected for the worship of an- 
cestors. The singing of the birds, the rolling 
downs and green fields, all reminded one of home ; 
nor was much imagination needed to conceive one- 
self in Sussex — and yet no Sussex farmhouse would 
boast such tiny, yet fierce-looking scaly dragons, 
nor such odd-shaped gargoyles as peeped from the 
tiled roofs of these quaint Manchurian homesteads. 
The aspect of the countryside was one of great 
prosperity and gave unquestionable proof of the 
industry of the inhabitants. And here let me make 
a confession. I am not ethnologist enough to 
distinguish precisely between a Manchu and a 
Chinese. They dress alike and, in general, look 
alike. In tackling a " Chinee " one may, like the 
historic British sailor, "catch a Tartar," but, 
begging to be pardoned by the savants, I shall 
rarely attempt to distinguish between Mongolian, 
Manchurian, or Chinese, using, often, the last word 
to designate all three peoples. The peasantry here, 
whatever their nationality, were good husbandmen. 
To be at Mukden Station and to be in Mukden 



18 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

City is not quite the same thing. The ancient 
capital of the reigning dynasty in China was not 
open to the casual tourist in the days of Kuropatkin. 
Nor, in fact, is the station in the city. Of set 
purpose the railway line keeps clear of it. For 
one thing, the intervening space gives room for 
the growth of the Russian town — always grouped 
near to the line — and thus avoids hurting the sus- 
ceptibilities of the Chinese. And close by Mukden 
station dwelt the chief press censor, Colonel Pestich, 
without whose fiat no correspondent could go 
farther. From the colonel I obtained a pass for 
the city, and found myself one of a cosmopolitan 
group of Englishmen, Americans, Frenchmen, 
Danes, Italians, and Germans, all note-taking 
"chiels." It was here one learned of the very 
severe censorship regulations, which appeared to 
prohibit one doing anything. There seemed at 
anyrate little chance of being permitted to go 
to the front for some time. Every correspondent 
was expected to produce not only a photograph of 
himself to establish identity, but to furnish a guar- 
antee from his Government for his good behaviour. 
Rivalling the Japanese, as it seems, in the obstruc- 
tions with which they surrounded the war corre- 
spondent, the Russians were as equally polite to 
their victims — the politeness was absolutely painful. 
However, as I was to prove, once a correspondent 
did obtain permission from the Russians to go to 
the front he had practically carte blanche — could go 
into the firing line and get killed if he chose. 

Kharbin, though in Chinese territory, was 



FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MUKDEN 19 

essentially a Russian town, where the "Celestial" 
merchant was treated as a foreigner. But at 
Mukden things were different. The Chinese city 
is about two and a half miles from the railway 
station and Russian quarter, the road between being 
lined with booths. At the end of the road one 
reaches a high mud wall, square, and pierced on each 
side by two gates. Within the walls lie the suburbs, 
and a mile farther on is a second wall, high, and built 
of stone, with gates corresponding to those of the 
outer wall. Inside the stone wall is the city proper, 
which numbers fully 250,000 inhabitants. In appear- 
ance, and in dirt, Mukden, a great commercial mart, 
is held to resemble closely Peking. The Imperial 
Palace is the residence of the Tartar Governor- 
General of Manchuria, a mandarin of high rank, 
who had under his command 2000 Chinese troops. 

" The proper study of mankind is man,'' and I 
now had occasion to study life in a Chinese 
"hotel," fixing my abode in the Derlungdien, or 
Dragon Inn. The inn consisted of a number of 
separate houses built round a square, and enclosed 
in a mud and millet-stalk wall. The central space 
was used for the horses. As for the rooms 
devoted to the two-footed guests, it cannot be said 
they abounded in luxuries. Their characteristic 
article of furniture, if the term be permissible, is 
the kang or bed. Anything more unlike a bed, 
according to Western notions, it would be hard to 
discover. As the Russian peasant sleeps on his 
stove for warmth, so are the kangs warmed by fire. 
They are wide clay platforms, raised two feet or so 



20 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

above the floor, and extending the whole length of 
the room. Such inns, indeed, have kangs along 
two and even three sides of the guest rooms. One 
sleeps with one's feet to the wall, and from the 
clayey bed, which the wise man covers well with 
rugs, radiates heat conveyed through holes from 
the fire which burns in an oven. There be 
worse resting-places than a Manchurian kang. In 
a laudable endeavour to do the correct thing the 
war correspondents went one night to the sign of 
the Peacock, a typical Chinese inn. We were 
indifferent brave, I dare avow, but to tackle the 
dinner which the chef of the Peacock produced 
would have required the audacity of a Marshal 
Ney combined with the appetite of a Dugald 
Dalgetty. The dishes numbered full forty, and of 
scarce one could we tell the composition. And to 
eat with chop-sticks requires practice. 

Mukden is not alone a city of the living, but of 
the dead. The Imperial Tombs are the object of 
pilgrimage to all visitors. On the ist of June, the 
day after my arrival at Mukden, accompanied by 
Captain Eyres, the Danish Attach^, and an A.D.C. 
of Admiral Alexeiefif, I visited the Western Tombs, 
which contain the graves of the Ming Dynasty, and 
are some little distance from the city. To the 
A.D.C. we were indebted for the loan of horses, 
mine being a particularly fine animal, resembling 
almost an English thoroughbred. The Russian 
officer spoke English perfectly, and to our surprise 
knew the names of the best horses on the turf in 
England, talked of the probable winner of the 



FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF MUKDEN 21 

Derby, and took in both the Sportsman and the 
"Pink Un." The tombs have often been described; 
worthy monuments of departed rulers as they are, 
still more interesting is their setting amid firs and 
pines, by an exquisite little lake, whose surface is 
covered with magnificent water lilies, and whose 
banks are hid in masses of blue irises. The 
Eastern Tombs at Fu-ling, seven or eight miles 
away, are as finely situated as the Western. 
Thither went a party of war correspondents one 
day, — for, if prevented from seeing the fighting, we 
had the more time to "do the lions," — and slept in 
the garden of an inn, the weather being delightful. 
The day following, after a morning dip in the Hun- 
ho,^ we walked over the fir-clad hills on which are the 
tombs, the red rose and the blue iris giving a glow of 
brilliant colour in the bright sunshine. 1 1 was a verit- 
able Garden of Peace, this wonderful burying-place 
of ancient kings. To transport oneself in thought 
to the not distant battlefield, to the opening scenes in 
the great drama of death and victory, was almost im- 
possible, so strong was the feeling of calm and repose. 
How changed was the spot when next I saw it ! 

Admiral Alexeieff, then still in the enjoyment 
of Imperial favour and Viceroy of the Far East, 
had his headquarters at Mukden at this time. 
His Excellency did not mingle much with men of 
common clay. The Viceregal headquarters were 
on wheels ; the Admiral, in short, lived in a train 
— magnificently appointed — placed on a siding, 
around which were several stone buildings dubbed 

^ Ho is Chinese for a river. 



22 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

by the Foreign correspondents " Russia town." 
Sentries stationed at every fifty yards round head- 
quarters zealously prevented the approach to the 
Viceroy or his staff of any unauthorised persons — 
hence its alternative name of " Forbidden City." 
However, Admiral Alexeieff might occasionally be 
seen driving. His outward appearance was not 
undistinguished. Somewhat broad of figure, some- 
what advanced in years, his bearded face bore a 
pleasant expression, and was lit up by the flash of 
his bright eyes. Altogether he seemed fairly 
typical of the Bureaucracy. Of his policy and 
capacity it is not easy to form a just estimate. 
Towards the Chinese he showed a consideration, 
possibly born of prudence. He avoided friction 
with the Tartar Governor of Mukden, and took 
measures to protect the Imperial Tombs. It was 
alleged by his staff — perchance they foresaw the 
need for whitewash — that his voice had been raised 
against war with Japan, that he had faithfully 
represented to the Tsar the true state of affairs — 
Japan's great military strength, Port Arthur's com- 
parative weakness, and the poor morale of the 
navy in Pacific waters ; but that he had been over- 
ruled in St. Petersburg and rendered a passive 
instrument of the Grand Ducal party. Be the 
truth of that matter what it may, there is no doubt 
that between Alexeieff's staff and that of General 
Kuropatkin there existed considerable friction, 
friction that extended to the two chiefs themselves. 
Such a situation in the face of a united foe calls for 
no comment. 



CHAPTER IV 



ABOUT THE HUNHUTZES 



During the period of waiting at Mukden oppor- 
tunities were afforded for a study of that irregular 
fighting force, of uncertain value, which figures 
repeatedly in the English newspapers as the 
" Chun-Chunses," but whose proper designation 
is Hunhutzes, or Red beards, a name derived, one 
may reasonably hazard, from the beard of a famous 
leader. The Hunhutzes are indicative of the 
extent to which Chinese rule in Manchuria fails 
to maintain law and order. They belong to the 
profession once adorned by Rob Roy, and which, 
save in Sicily and Macedonia, seems now dead 
in Europe, — the Hunhutzes, in short, are mere 
brigands and leviers of blackmail. For many 
years they have been the terror of the Chinese 
merchants and traders in Manchuria, but until the 
present war never molested Europeans. They 
are now mending their manners — I have had the 
honour of being fired at by these gentry. Their 
usual plan of campaign is to waylay and despoil 
traders going with goods or treasure to Nuichwang, 
Peking, or other towns. In the level plains when 
the millet is high, nothing is easier than to lie in 



24 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

ambush and pounce on traders ill-provided with 
escort. For such traders it is better to pay black- 
mail. The Hunhutzes have a regular office at 
Mukden, where intending travellers can learn the 
tariff for insurance against robbery, and, on pay- 
ment of the requisite sum, receive from the brigand 
clerk in charge of the bureau a pass which will 
free them from molestation should his companions 
" at the front " hold them up. 

The Hunhutzes are able thus to brave it out in 
Mukden because of the patronage of powerful 
Mandarins, who in their turn blackmail the black- 
mailers. On the other hand, the Governor is 
supposed to show zeal in ridding the countryside 
of these pests, and his zeal is indicated by the 
number of Hunhutzes decapitated ! It was said in 
Mukden that the number of heads which, in the 
opinion of Peking, indicated the required amount 
of zeal was 2000 a year. Certainly executions of 
five or six men were matters of almost daily 
occurrence — taken as part of the "common round " 
— and few, indeed, of the brigands captured left 
their prison save for torture or the plain outside the 
walls where the beheadings took place. Torture 
in China, as is well known, is part of the regular 
routine of judicial proceedings.-^ Nor is it wise to 
judge the Chinese too harshly on such a subject. 
This mode of "examination" was common in 
Europe a little more than a century ago, and 
lingers in Russia yet. The Hunhutzes are tor- 

^ It is reported (May 1905) that an Imperial Edict has been 
published abolishing the use of torture in China. 



ABOUT THE HUNHUTEZS 25 

tured at intervals until they confess their crimes, 
whereupon they are made to sign their own death 
warrant. The resisting power of some of the men 
is marvellous, they have been known to endure 
torture for one or two years before confession. 
They know that until confession is made they 
cannot be killed ; — here one may see a curious 
provision of Chinese justice ; — no prisoner must 
suffer the extreme penalty without having acknow- 
ledged the justice of his doom. I was present one 
day at the yamen of the Mandarin, when certain 
Hunhutzes were to be tried, and was invited to 
take a seat on the bench. As in France, the judge 
acts the part of accuser. A prisoner, rightly or 
wrongly accused of being a Hunhutze, was brought 
in, (A good many of the alleged brigands never 
"covered" a peaceful traveller with a rifle, but 
when the real article is scarce and the authorities 
feel that the deficiency must be supplied, numbers 
of unfortunate people are seized and forthwith 
clapped in jail as Hunhutzes.) A dialogue to the 
following purport ensued : — 

Mandarin. On such and such a day you held 
up the honourable merchant Hi Si when on his 
way to Yinkow, and robbed him of all his goods. 

The Prisoner. No, your Excellency, I am 
innocent. On that day I was at work in the 
millet field. 

Mandarin. You contradict me ! Then you say 
I am a liar. 

Whereupon the order is given to torture the 
wretched man. His wrists were tightly bound with 



26 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

cord till the flesh was cut, and then a jailer be- 
laboured the back of his hands — his arms being 
fixed so that they could not be moved — with a 
bamboo cane. At this point, sick at heart, and 
fearing that/ this exhibition of his methods was 
arranged by the Mandarin for my benefit, I excused 
myself and left the court. In the calmness of after 
days one may, as I have sought to, palliate the in- 
flicting of torture, but it is none the less revolting. 
The Chinese themselves appear indifferent to all 
this suffering, nay, the very prisoners are phleg- 
matic. Curious crowds always collected to witness 
an execution. 

Once a prisoner confessed, his doom followed 
hard. Seated in carts, their hands tied behind 
them, the condemned men are taken to the place 
of execution, where they are made to kneel down. 
For the most part the prisoners are under the 
influence of opium — when condemned their rela- 
tives usually find means to bribe the jailers to allow 
the victims this last alleviation. Kneeling thus, 
they await the sword of the executioner. This 
ofificial is preceded by a man whose duty it is to 
lift the pigtails of the condemned. This done, one 
straight, strong stroke — if the swordsman be skilful 
— and head and body are severed. The last to die 
do not appear affected by the death of those first 
beheaded. As the line of living dwindles, the sur- 
vivors turn their opium-bemused heads curiously, 
stolidly, to view the proceedings, each seeming to 
say, with perfect calm, " My turn next." It is not 
an elevating sight. 



ABOUT THE HUNHUTZES 27 

The military value of the Hunhutzes is due 
largely to their intimate knowledge of the country. 
Though some go on foot, they are usually mounted 
on strong ponies, are armed with Mausers, and are 
not deficient either in courage or daring. Both 
combatants in this war have made use of these 
Bashi-Bazuks of the Far East, the Japanese more, 
perhaps, than the Russians. The Hunhutzes wear 
no uniform, but dress like ordinary peasants, and 
when hard pressed often elude their pursuers by 
throwing away their rifles and posing as innocent 
villagers. 



CHAPTER V 

FORWARD TO LIAO-YANG 

In anticipation of permission to proceed south to 
Liao-Yang, I had bought a couple of Chinese ponies 
after much bargaining with many horse-dealers. 
What subtle influence is it which weakens the 
moral fibre of those who deal in horse-flesh ? The 
question suggests itself as one recalls the character 
of those Mukden horse-dealers. No Yorkshire 
dealer could teach him any fake or trick — he knows 
them all, and will patch up an old " crock " with 
the utmost skill, making it show to the greatest 
advantage. The Chinese pony stands from thirteen 
to fourteen hands high, and is enormously strong. 
It thrives on starvation diet, and needs little atten- 
tion. Its appearance is not prepossessing ; it 
generally has a long, shaggy coat, and its head is 
suggestive of that of a camel. Nor can its manners 
on first acquaintance be commended. It is as full 
of guile and wile as the man you buy it from. You 
eye it critically — it stands as quietly as a worn-out 
cab-horse in the Home of Rest at Acton. But try 
and mount this simple Chinee pony. At once, from 
every possible and impossible angle, he will bite at 
and kick at you, and the moment your foot is in 



FORWARD TO LIAO-YANG 29 

the stirrup off he shoots like a bullet from a rifle. 
The man who masters him can boast of his horse- 
manship. This viciousness is probably the result 
of the cruelty which the Chinese so often show to 
animals. 

Having spent over a fortnight at Mukden, the 
permit to take the step forward to Liao-Yang was 
most welcome. Thither, in company with two 
other correspondents, I went on the i6th of June. 
It was the day on which the troops sent under 
General Stackelberg, to relieve Port Arthur, were 
routed by the Japanese under General Oku at 
Wa-fang-ho, and as we left Mukden the wounded 
in the earlier stages of the fight were being brought 
into the city. The sight was a sad one, but it 
quickened our desire to reach the front. 

Liao-Yang is built on a plain on the left or 
southern bank of the Ta-tze-ho, a broad but rather 
shallow eastern tributary of the Liao River, and in 
appearance is a smaller edition of Mukden, and, like 
it, is approached from the railway through the new 
Russian settlement. It boasts a famous and very 
large pagoda, built to commemorate a great victory 
gained in an old-time war with Korea — when the 
children of " the Morning Calm " must have been 
of more virile make than their descendants of 
to-day. 

In June 1904 the town was the headquarters 
of the army in the field. Following the example 
of Admiral Alexeieff, General Kuropatkin had 
established himself in a train, which, as at Mukden, 
was kept on a siding surrounded by buildings put 



30 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

up originally for railway officials, but taken posses- 
sion of by the Commander-in-Chief's staff. Among 
the distinguished members of this staff were the 
Grand Duke Boris, Don Jairrte de Bourbon, and 
Prince Arsene Karageorgevitch, a brother of King 
Peter of Servia. The General himself, on whom— 
subject to the control of the Viceroy Alexeieff — 
rested the direction of the army, was little seen, 
being occupied in his railway carriage nearly all 
day in perfecting plans for the great campaign. 
The understudy of Skobeloff in Central Asia, the 
hero of a hundred fights, Kuropatkin held in the 
esteem of the Russian army a position comparable 
to that of Lord Roberts in the British army. Out- 
side the entourage of the Viceroy there was implicit 
confidence in his leadership, and he in return 
believed fully in the worth of the troops under his 
command. A man a little past the prime of life, 
of medium height and resolute bearing, the General 
was very popular with the foreigners at Liao-Yang, 
who experienced kindness as well as courtesy at 
his hands. 

On every side one saw at Liao-Yang evidence 
of the conflict being waged away beyond the hills. 
The place itself was getting ready for battle. As 
we came down from Mukden we had noted that 
roads were being made parallel with the railway 
all the way to Liao-Yang, roads which were to 
prove so many lines of retreat ; though it was to 
facilitate the advance of the Russians during the 
rains that they had been constructed. And round 
Liao-Yang itself, fortification was going on apace. 



FORWARD TO LIAO-YANG 31 

The large iron railway bridge spanning the Ta- 
tze-ho, was specially protected. There was no 
mistaking the fact that Kuropatkin was preparing 
for a determined stand at this spot. But "the 
front " was still ahead, and the password we desired 
was " Forward." So to the press censor we went 
on the day after our arrival. We had established 
ourselves in an hotel — the International — which 
was fairly comfortable, but which boasted such 
abundance of creeping things, of the species that 
inspired the genius of Robert Burns, that sleep was 
impossible. Moreover, three of us had to crowd 
into one small room, and to complete our pleasure 
a thunderstorm raged, and the inn yard was con- 
verted into a quagmire. What, however, were dis- 
comforts, to the prospect of getting to the fighting 
line ? We were in high spirits ; but disappointment 
awaited us, for the censor, Baron Venigen, quickly 
let us know that, for the time, permission to join 
any of the advanced columns would not be granted. 
It was most annoying. I felt like a child prevented 
by his nurse from eating a rich pudding he parti- 
cularly fancied, and could almost have followed the 
child's example, and kicked and screamed from 
vexation. 

One of the unmistakable evidences that a 
campaign was toward, was the presence in Liao- 
Yang of the ubiquitous Greek, that keenest of 
traders and persistent gleaner in the wake of armies 
in. the field. He is to be found in every camp in 
every clime. In Manchuria I met Greeks whose 
figures had been familiar in the camps of the British 



32 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

Army during the Boer War, and who previously had. 
followed the misfortunes of their own countrymen 
in Thessaly, when Edhem Pasha led on the vic- 
torious Turks. They seem always to be hunting 
in packs, like hungry wolves seeking their prey. 
They supply the camp with such luxuries as suit 
both officers and men, and in a trade where some- 
times much is risked make huge profits. 

The Greek was eloquent in his way of the 
nearness of battle ; passing the railway station, after 
my disappointing interview with the censor, I 
saw again, what the day before had been seen 
at Mukden, the arrival of wounded. It was 
the sadder side of war, this assemblage of used- 
up material in the great international struggle. 
Through roads deep in mud and slush ; after the 
previous night's thunderstorm, a long train of 
ambulances slowly, painfully, wended its way to- 
wards the hospital. The ambulances contained 
wounded from the army in hills away to the east, 
where Count Keller and the dashing Cossack 
General Rennenkampf were opposing — as best 
they could with insufficient men — the advance of 
Kuroki. The Japanese had captured Si-mat-ze 
after a smart fight, and here was some of the 
Russian wreckage. Pale, tired, sore from their 
wounds, the men lay in silent pain, having been 
brought day and night over rough mountain roads 
down to the valley. At the station itself one met 
another stream of Russian wounded, remnants 
from Wa-fang-ho, brought in by a hospital train, 
painted white and glistening in the sunshine. 



FORWARD TO LIAO-YANG 33 

Troops going to the front might be seen cluster- 
ing round the carriages, eagerly questioning their 
wounded comrades as to the character of the foe 
they, too, would speedily meet. Close by were 
pitched many hospital tents fluttering the Red 
Cross flag, and within were busy doctors and deft 
nurses fulfilling the law of love, as those they 
tended had wrought after another law. However, 
for the moral aspect of the contest I had then no 
thought ; looking to the distant hills my chief 
desire was to be able to see what was happening 
on the farther side. 



CHAPTER VI 

BARON STACKELBERG AT WA-FANG-HO 

At this period the fight at Wa-fang-ho was the 
great tneme of discussion at Liao-Yang, and 
General Stackelberg was subjected to much hostile 
criticism. The circumstances leading up to the 
battle may be recalled. 

Towards the end of May the Japanese troops 
co-operating with Admiral Togo against Port 
Arthur had occupied Dalny and stormed Nanshan. 
Port Arthur — the Russian fleet already practically 
impotent — was seen to be in danger ; at the 
Russian headquarters the danger was thought 
more imminent than the event proved it to be. 
The bulk of his army Kuropatkin kept to oppose 
the advance of Kuroki from the east, and though 
reinforcements were arriving at Liao-Yang daily it 
was universally acknowledged that the troops in 
the south were insufficient to check the Japanese 
advance under General Oku. The Russian Com- 
mander-in-Chief exhorted officers and men to be 
patient ; the campaign had but begun, and the 
blow which was to smite the Japanese to the dust 
could not yet be struck. And yet Kuropatkin had 
sent Baron Stackelberg south in an endeavour, 

81 



BARON STACKELBERG AT WA-FANG-HO 35 

foredoomed to failure, to relieve Port Arthur. 
That this step was taken in obedience to higher 
orders and against General Kuropatkin's own 
judgment there is no doubt. When Stackelberg 
got as far on the road to Port Arthur as Wa- 
fang-ho, he was compelled to halt in face of the 
Japanese force between him and his objective. 
And at Wa-fang-ho he was assailed and defeated 
by Oku's troops. The beaten troops consisted of 
twelve battalions of the ist Siberian Division, 
twelve battalions of the 9th Siberian Division, 
eight battalions of the 35th Division, and two 
battalions of the Tobolsk Regiment. Now, at 
Liao-Yang, Stackelberg was being condemned by 
the general voice of the Russian officers, those of 
the headquarters staff excepted. He had been 
accompanied on his march by his wife, a maid- 
servant, and a cow, and especially bitter were the 
comments on the presence of these members of 
his establishment. Moreover, he had remained in 
a saloon-carriage of a special train during the 
greater part of the battle, and this too was a 
subject of reproach. The General is a German, 
and one of the taunts levied against him was, 
" No true Russian would behave as he has done." 

There is, however, an explanation of the Wa- 
fang-ho "episode," without reflecting on Stackel- 
berg's courage or his leadership. Having carefully 
studied what took place, and having heard the 
explanations of the chief actors in the drama, I 
think the reasons for the non-success at Wa- 
fang-ho were as follows : Although the Russian 



36 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

position had been carefully prepared, the trenches 
were poorly made and too shallow, affording the 
troops manning them insufficient protection against 
the hot artillery fire concentrated on them. 
Further, the Russian artillery was new to its 
business, the guns were not concealed, the supply 
of ammunition was defective, and such strength 
as they had they did not know how to utilise. 
But there was no corresponding "rawness" on 
the Japanese side, and though they were not in 
superior force — they had two or two and a half 
divisions at most — they reaped the reward of their 
thoroughness. In the words of more than one of 
the vanquished " it was most galling to have been 
so completely defeated by an inferior race." At 
that time — June 1904 — the Russians still felt that 
they were vastly superior to their enemy in the 
military art. It was only after Liao-Yang that a 
different tone became general among them. 

Rightly or wrongly, historians will (probably) 
condemn Baron Stackelberg for the defeat at 
Wa-fang-ho. That he was out-generalled is un- 
deniable ; but for the criticisms affecting his personal 
conduct there is, I am convinced, an adequate 
answer. 

As for making his train his headquarters, he 
was under necessity to keep in touch with the 
telegraph wires and to protect the railway line ; 
and as to the cow, he was in bad health, and fresh 
milk was essential for him. The Baroness and her 
maidservant were certainly no encumbrance. The 
Baroness is a brave lady — a true daughter of Mars 



BARON STACKELBERG AT WA-FANG-HO 37 

— who has "followed the drum" all her life, and 
she was most kind and untiring in her care of the 
wounded. She was no more in the way than are 
the hospital nurses. 

The position of the Russian army in the middle 
of June was stronger than on the days which 
immediately followed the defeat of General Sassu- 
litch on the Yalu. As I learnt from excellent 
sources, the Russians, after that reverse, expected 
General Kuroki to advance without pause to Liao- 
Yang and Mukden, and the opinion in the Russian 
army was, that had he done so both places must 
have fallen into the hands of the Japanese at little 
cost to them. The reasons which stayed Kuroki 
at Feng-hwang-chen do not concern us here, I 
have merely to record that when Sassulitch was 
beaten very few troops were at Mukden, and that 
the Russian authorities there were prepared to 
evacuate the town hurriedly, and had made pre- 
parations accordingly. The Russo-Chinese Bank, 
for instance, had its gold and securities packed up 
ready to send to Kharbin at a minute's notice, and 
the Russian Commissionaire of the town had dis- 
tributed all his furniture among Chinese merchants 
for safe keeping. Such was the feeling in Mukden, 
but as the Japanese did not come on, and as 
reinforcements from Russia did, confidence revived. 
Next happened the Wa-fang-ho " incident," and 
when I came in touch with the Field Force 
the Russian army was distributed somewhat in 
this fashion — To the east, occupying the passes, 
such as the Mo-tien, which led down to the Tai- 



38 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

tze-ho and Liao-Yang, was Count Keller's force, 
ready to dispute the advance of the Japanese from 
Feng-hwang-chen. Rennenkampf and his Cossacks 
were about Si-mat-ze, and Mischenko's Cossacks 
were at Siu-Yen, both these forces co-operating 
with Count Keller. Kuropatkin at Liao-Yang held 
a central position ; Baron Stackelberg was at Ta- 
shi-chao, at the northern end of the Liao-tung 
peninsula, with orders to check General Oku's 
advance from Wa-fang-ho. General Zarubaieff was 
posted in the rear of Stackelberg's force. He 
held the town of Hai-cheng, which is on the Port 
Arthur railway 40 miles south of Liao-Yang and 
25 north of Ta-shi-chao. Between Liao-Yang 
and the Yen-tai coal mines to the north-east, and 
north to Mukden were other troops. Add to these 
the Pogranitchna, or Frontier Guard, and all the 
men at General Kuropatkin's disposal have been 
enumerated. Immediately after the battle of Wa- 
fang-ho their number could not have exceeded 
100,000. As fresh troops arrived every day the 
army increased speedily, but the urgent need for 
more artillery, demonstrated by Stackelberg's 
reverse, caused guns often to take precedence of 
men on the railway. 

The sight of the soldiers from Russia certainly 
raised the spirits of the headquarters' staff. They 
expected great things from the European troops. 
Staff officers with wiiom I talked had been apolo- 
getic in their references to the Siberians. " They 
cannot be compared with the regulars from Russia," 
said one officer ; " these Siberians are a militia, that 



BARON STACKELBERG AT WA-FANG-HO 39 

is all." How mistaken they were in this opinion, 
time was to show. To-day, in the Manchurian 
army, the Siberian corps occupy the highest place 
in the estimation of all ranks. They have borne 
the brunt of the fighting and, without exception, 
have shown courage and endurance unsurpass- 
able. 

A word or two may be devoted to the Frontier 
Guard, already mentioned. The chief duty of this 
body, some 25,000 strong, was to protect the rail- 
way. They were all picked men and in receipt of 
good pay. They came into Manchuria as the 
railway was being built, and, having remained ever 
since, acquired a useful knowledge of the country. 
The force was divided into infantry, cavalry, and 
artillery, but the guns they had were of an old 
pattern. They picketed every bridge and patrolled 
the line, a work most efficiently performed. At 
the beginning of the campaign some of the 
mounted men were transferred to the army in the 
field. But the Frontier Guards were able to give 
little direct help to the fighting line. 



CHAPTER VII 

THE DEATH OF MIDDLETON 

The gardens of the great pagoda were the centre 
of social life at Liao-Yang. Amid its fruit trees a 
restaurant had been established by some Caucasians, 
and there in the evenings came officers off duty and 
newspaper men from the four corners of the world, 
to discuss the prospects of the war or recall " far 
off things and battles long ago." The music of a 
military band added a note of gaiety, whilst across 
all was the shadow of the pagoda, with curiously 
carved gods grinning at its portals. In this old 
garden one met many a man last seen in spots 
remote, and many a long yarn was spun in the 
twilight. A distinguished group in the gardens 
were the numerous attaches — there were repre- 
sentatives of England, America, France, Germany, 
Italy, Austria, Sweden, Spain, Bulgaria, Roumania, 
and Chili. Some of them, including two English 
officers, had been with Stackelberg at Wa-fang-ho. 
But the most notable Europeans in Liao-Yang 
were two civilians. Dr. Westwater and Mr. Mac- 
naughtan of the Medical Mission of the United 
Free Church of Scotland. These men lead a life 
of real self-sacrifice, devoting all their time to the 



THE DEATH OF MIDDLETON 41 

people amid whom they dwell. Dr. Westwater, 
who has been in Manchuria for more than twenty 
years, has witnessed many changes and encountered 
many perils. It is by him and men of his stamp 
that one would wish to have Christianity judged 
by the Chinese. The Celestials, however, at this 
time had nothing of which to complain in the 
conduct of the Russians. The native constables 
were helped by military police in maintaining order, 
and pilfering or unseemly behaviour of any sort 
was rigorously punished. If a soldier were caught 
robbing he might even be shot. Besides this, ex- 
tensive orders for goods were placed with Chinese 
merchants, and the large number of coolies engaged 
were paid on a generous scale. Contrasting these 
facts with the conduct of the Russians during the 
Boxer troubles, the critic concludes that the change 
of manners was dictated by prudent desire not to 
irritate a people whose hostility would be a matter 
of moment ; but the fact remains that the conduct 
of the Russians was exemplary, and it had its 
reward. Visiting one day at a house of a Chinese 
magistrate, who was affability itself, I was amused 
to see the room hung round with portraits of the 
Tsar. Likely enough the magistrate was pre- 
pared for contingencies, and had portraits of the 
Mikado hidden away for the day when the then 
occupants of the town would be no longer its 
masters. 

A day or two after my arrival at Liao-Yang, 
General Kuropatkin, in consequence of the reverse 
at Wa-fang-ho, had gone down the railway in the 



42 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

direction of Port Arthur as far as Ta-shi-chao, a 
point just north of the branch line leading to 
Yinkow and Nuichwang. This represented the 
most southerly point held by the Russians after 
Stackelberg's defeat. Permission to accompany 
the Commander-in-Chief was refused, which was 
annoying, as there seemed every prospect of 
renewed fighting. The position of a War Corres- 
pondent forcibly withheld from the front is most 
trying. This time of forced inaction was marked 
by an incident with a very sorrowful ending. One 
of my colleagues, Mr. Henry Middleton, had been 
out on the hills with the Eastern Army, and, ill 
with dysentery, had been taken charge of by the 
Red Cross Hospital of St. Eugene, at Lan-jan-san. 
Mr. Douglas Story, who had accompanied Middle- 
ton and had also been ill, had recovered and was 
at Liao-Yang, where we met. Story was anxious 
to return to his comrade, and I accompanied him. 
Just outside the east gate of the town we were 
met by Middleton's Chinese servant, Sin-Fu, who 
brought a note from Middleton asking Story to 
come at once to settle his affairs, as he was very 
ill. Rendered anxious by a message of such grave 
import, we pressed on at our utmost speed. The 
condition of the road was awful. It had rained 
heavily for several days, and our ponies slithered 
in the mud at every step. In the quagmires to 
which the roads are reduced after rain the horses 
struggle along knee deep in slush ; it is impossible 
to discover the specially bad spots, and suddenly 
you find yourself almost engulfed in the thick black 



THE DEATH OF MIDDT.ETON 43 

mire. Riding thus on this occasion I thought of 
a story told me by one of the foreign attaches, 
that near Wa-fang-ho he had seen a cavalry man 
drowned in a hole in the middle of the road ! But 
such thoughts did not cause us to slacken rein, and 
after riding about lo versts (6 miles) we reached 
the hills and a better road. 

We had entered a beautiful country, the hills 
were patched with fir trees and crowned with 
picturesque temples ; down their sides rushed brawl- 
ing brooks crystal clear ; fields of white and red 
poppies and stretches of long waving grass were 
seen in the side valleys, which were dotted with 
pretty villages. Now and again we passed a convoy 
of provisions winding its way painfully through 
the mud, or a small body of Cossacks going to or 
from the Eastern Army, at whom the peasants, 
minding their flocks on the hillside, would gaze 
curiously. 

At length we halted for luncheon, and here my 
pony, exhibiting base ingratitude, for he had been 
well fed, rolled over and smashed my camera. It 
was an unlucky accident, and deprived me of the 
opportunity of taking many photographs. 

Having crossed a steep and rugged "nek," from 
which was obtained an excellent view of the country 
below, we arrived at Sui-lin-tze as daylight faded, 
and here we decided to spend the night. We had 
finished our meal at the phanza (inn) and were 
sitting quietly smoking before seeking the kang of 
the rest-house. But we got no rest, for out of the 
darkness rode in an Army-surgeon from Lan-jan-san, 



44 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

and saluting us, addressed himself to Story, whom 
he knew, saying, Pardon, M'sieu, mats voire ami — 
il est mort ! 

Dead! And our errand bootless! The news 
seemed incredible ; it was not what we had expected. 
The young life gone, and with none but strangers 
near ? There must be some mistake ; it might not 
yet be too late, and we must on to see. Quickly we 
saddled our horses and cantered on through the 
darkness, stumbling over stones, crossing the Tai- 
tze-ho swollen high by the rain, careful for nothing 
save to assure ourselves of the truth. Lan-jan-san 
reached, we went at once to the hospital, and were 
taken to the bedside of our colleague. The truth 
had been told us — Middleton lay dead. For the 
most exacting of masters, the newspaper reader, he 
had risked, and lost, his life. 

It was with emotions deeply stirred that we left 
the hospital to seek a shelter for the few hours 
which had yet to pass ere the new day called us to 
new duties. On the morrow they buried our dead, 
with all the impressive ritual of the Orthodox Church 
and with every token of respect and sympathy. 
Too much praise cannot be given to these ministers 
of humanity ; to Count Apraxin, the Director of 
the Hospital, to the surgeons and to the nurses. 
In driving rain and through the mud and slush all 
followed the coffin of the young Englishman to the 
grave. No pompous funeral rites would have been 
half so impressive. 

That day, at Lan-jan-san, came in from the front 
an infantry regiment, part of Count Keller's army. 



THE DEATH OF MIDDLETON 45 

which had been forced back from the Mo-tein-ling ^ 
and other passes in the eastern hills by General 
Kuroki. The rain persisted, the roads were as bad 
as they could be ; wearily and silently the men 
trudged in, drenched to the skin. They pitched 
camp and began to get fires lit — no easy matter, 
considering the state of the ground. In this con- 
nection I witnessed an incident at once amusing and 
instructive. Fuel was scarce, and some five or six 
soldiers came to the yard of the house in which I 
was sitting out of the rain, and seized hold of a few 
faggots. They did not take them away, for out of 
the house flew the owner, and with indignant 
objurgations insisted that they should restore to him 
his property. The men, though hungry, tired, and 
wet through, dropped the sticks at once and went 
quietly away, — six big, strong soldiers, absolutely 
routed by one old Chinaman. I do not think that 
any other European soldiers in the same circum- 
stances would have given way. It was a striking 
object-lesson of the wonderfully good behaviour of 
the Russians, at that period, to the Chingse. The 
Russian soldier is both kind-hearted and sympa- 
thetic, and gentle to a degree, except in the heat of 
battle or when under the influence of alcohol. 

The regiment mentioned was followed later in 
the day by a large convoy of wounded, who had 
been bumped and jolted in springless Chinese carts 
all the way from Keller's main force. Nor could 
our good friends at the hospital of St. Eugene do 
more than take in the worst cases ; the hospital, 

^ Ling is Chinese for pass. 



46 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

which had looked after the wounded in the Yalu 
fight, was already crowded. So the majority of 
the wounded had to be carried on in the same 
primitive conveyances to Sui-lin-tze. For our- 
selves, Count Apraxin gave us beds in his own 
room. The next morning I was introduced to 
General Kashtalinsky, the commander of the 12th 
Siberian Rifles in the battle of the Yalu, in which 
he fought with conspicuous gallantry, and was 
badly wounded. Having at the request of Count 
Apraxin drawn up a notice in English, asking the 
Japanese to respect the hospital property and staff 
should Lan-jan-san fall into their hands, we took 
our leave of the friends who had been so kind to 
our dead comrade, and with many expressions of 
gratitude prepared for the road. 

For the first few miles we accompanied Count 
Keller, who had arrived in the night with his main 
force, and was taking up, about three versts in the 
rear of Lan-jan-san, a position which had already 
been prepared for defence, and which commanded 
the road to Liao-Yang, Roads had been cleverly 
constructed up the sides of the steep hills, and the 
artillery was got into position despite the great 
difficulties of transport. Having seen Keller into 
his new quarters, we rode back to Liao-Yang. 



CHAPTER VIII 

RUSSIAN HOSPITALITY — AND OTHER MATTERS 

To remain idle at Liao-Yang seemed intolerable, 
and, on the last day of June, Story and I again set 
off on the eastern road, hoping to see the fighting 
believed to be imminent in the Lan-jan-san position. 
As in the former expedition, we went without 
permission of the Press Censor. On the road we 
passed reinforcements on the way to Count Keller, 
and our spirits rose at the prospect of battle. 
Soon after the hills were reached we stopped for 
luncheon at a store kept by a Greek. On entering 
we were surprised and disappointed to see a number 
of Russian officers there already lunching — for our 
object was to push on, and we feared the over- kind 
attentions of our friends. Seeing the red brassards 
on our arms — the badge of a war correspondent — 
the officers rose, and having inquired our nationality 
asked us to sit down with them. Reluctantly we 
took our seats at the only table in the room. The 
Russian officer is the most hospitable of men ; 
unfortunately his hospitality sometimes goes a little 
too far. On this occasion, after drinking a glass or 
two of vodke, the Russian national drink, taken 
with a Sakuskha (hors d'ceuvre), our hosts insisted 

47 



48 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

on ordering all the bottles in the store with 
"London" printed on the labels. In vain we 
protested. Malaga, Madeira, sherry, outrageous 
port, gin, and bad brandy — liquors that probably 
never knew the lands of their supposed origin — 
were produced in turn, and we had to make the 
best of it. There are no " heel-taps " among 
Russians. " Vashe zdarovia " (Your health) is the 
toast, and the glass must be emptied to the last 
drop. As one vile compound after another ap- 
peared, each with the hateful London label (though 
as likely as not neither bottle nor label was from 
England), all my desires for the growth of British 
trade abroad vanished. It seemed that the drinking 
would never be done. But catching sight of a bottle 
of Scotch whisky. Story and I decided to make 
use of an heroic remedy — a veritable " Long Tom " 
to oppose to field artillery. Saying that whisky 
was my companion's national drink, I poured out 
the best part of a tumbler, neat, for each man, and 
called a toast. Loyally the Russians drank it — and 
that day they troubled us no more. 

After a bad night I woke early next morning, 
solemnly swearing henceforth to adopt the " blue 
ribbon." None of the Russian officers were awake. 
Story and I saddled our horses and rode away — he 
for Sui-lin-tze, I back to Liao-Yang. For the time 
being I had decided not to try and dodge the 
Censor, especially as I had learned that immediate 
fighting was highly unlikely. 

It was late evening when the gates of Liao- 
Yang were reached, and then, stupidly, I had 



RUSSIAN HOSPITALITY 49 

forgotten the password, and could not answer the 
sentry's challenge. He seemed unpleasantly sus- 
picious, and advanced so as to conveniently cover 
me with his rifle. To be shot was the last thing 
I wished, and I racked my brain for the word, one 
out of my limited Russian vocabulary. A happy 
memory of dinners and theatre parties at home 
solved my difficulty ; to the mind's eye rose the 
vision of the Savoy Hotel as seen from the Em- 
bankment. At once I shouted out " Savoi (Russian 
ior inendi) Karrasho Voiennie Korrespondent" This 
bad Russian somewhat appeased the sentry, and he 
allowed me to come up and show him my papers. 
Like most of his comrades he could not read, and 
so he called the sergeant of the guard. Happily 
the sergeant could read, and I was allowed to enter 
the town. 

As the situation of the armies remained practi- 
cally unchanged, I decided to take a short "holi- 
day " and go to Mukden, making the journey with 
another correspondent. On this occasion we dis- 
pensed with the formality of buying a ticket — it 
saved both time and money. The bother of get- 
ting a ticket during the Russian occupation was 
immense, and often took hours, whereas if you 
hav'nt a ticket you simply get into the train with- 
out any formality. The process is simplicity itself 
The wisdom of our action, or inaction, was justified 
by the event ; we travelled safely, and were not 
asked for tickets. Walking through the fields 
back to the Derlungdien Inn, one could not help 
marvelling at the rapid growth of the kowliang 

4 



50 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

(millet). A few weeks ago it was just sprouting, 
and now it was fully four feet high. It affords 
striking evidence of the fertility of the soil. This 
millet is perhaps the most characteristic of Man- 
churian plants, and it serves so many purposes that 
one is inclined to call it the William Whiteley of 
the vegetable world. It yields at once food, fuel, 
and shelter ; the grain makes a nutritious dish some- 
what resembling oatmeal, and the stalk, when 
fodder is scarce, can be eaten by horses. How- 
ever, the better use of the stalk, which looks some- 
thing like a small bamboo, is for making matting, 
fences, and thatching. From the military point of 
view the kowliang has advantages and disadvan- 
tages. Standing, when full grown, fully ten feet 
high it forms a most effective screen, but is as 
troublesome to one side as the other. 

Whilst on this flying visit to Mukden I again 
visited Colonel Pestich and enlisted his sympathy 
for the war correspondents in their trying position. 
He insisted on my seeing General Planson, 
Admiral Alexeieff's chief diplomatic adviser, who 
promised to do his best to get the correspondents 
permission to accompany the troops actually in the 
field. With such assurances we had to be content, 
and we started back for Liao-Yang, The journey 
was delayed owing to the congestion of the traffic, 
and whilst we were crossing the Tai-tze-ho I saw a 
sight which set me thinking — one of the pontoon 
bridges placed across the river by the engineers 
had been swept away. It appeared that all the 
bridges originally built by the engineers were too 



RUSSIAN HOSPITALITY 51 

short. They had been put in position when the 
water was low, and no allowance made for the rise 
of the level after the spring rains. Consequently, 
with the Tai-tze-ho in flood, the water surged 
between the pontoons and the river banks, — an 
awkward situation if the army had been suddenly 
forced to retreat. 

Returned to Liao-Yang I went straight to 
Baron Venigen, who told me that the war cor- 
respondents would be allowed to go to the front, 
each being attached to a particular corps. This 
was something, but the permission was limited to 
seeing the operations in the east. Kuropatkin, 
said I to myself, expects trouble in the south. 
Before, however, I had completed arrangements to 
join Count Keller's force, the authorities changed 
their minds, and leave was given the correspon- 
dents to go south, where General Kuropatkin had 
for some days been with Baron Stackelberg's 
force. 



CHAPTER IX 

IN TOUCH WITH THE ENEMY — THE FATE OF SPIES 

It was with spirits exhilarated that I found myself, 
on July the i6th, at Ta-shi-chao, officially attached 
to General Samsonoff's Cavalry division, and in 
touch with the enemy. Mr. Baring and I with all 
our belongings had left Liao-Yang the previous 
day. The run south had many points of interest, 
and beyond Hai-cheng to the east of the railway 
were large encampments of the 2nd Siberian Army 
Corps, under General Sassulitch, who guarded the 
Russian left flank and occupied the tops of the 
hills nearest the railway. Somewhere in the same 
direction were General Mischenko and his Cossacks, 
who had been moved from the eastern hills. At 
Ta-shi-chao, which stands at the head of the Gulf 
of Liao-tung on its eastern side, the hills come 
close up to the railway line. Ta-shi-chao, as 
already indicated, owes its importance to the fact 
that from it a railway branches off to Nuichwang, 
which was then still held by the Russians. From 
a rocky hill which towers above the railway station 
is a lookout post, whence one can scan the sur- 
rounding country and view the sea — the goal of 
Russia in her long march across Asia. What we 



IN TOUCH WITH THE ENEMY 53 

saw was curious and somewhat perplexing ; a 
whole fleet of junks beating up towards Yinkow. 

All was animation at Ta-shi-chao, inspired by 
the nearness of the foe and the presence in camp 
of General Kuropatkin. The Commander-in-Chief 
lived as usual in a railway train — drawn up in a 
siding — and near it was the improvised mess-room 
of the headquarters' staff. All round the town were 
camped the soldiers — with transport and infantry 
lines, artillery parks and picketed horses, and here 
and there a hospital. Most armies in the field 
look alike, and I could not help comparing Ta-shi- 
chao to Bloemfontein in 1900, just before Lord 
Roberts began his advance on Pretoria. The Rus- 
sian soldiers, in their shirts of brown-holland and 
black trousers, sitting smoking or listening to some 
comrade playing the inevitable concertina, were 
not very unlike our khaki-dressed men. There 
was little opportunity for social life ; here none but 
workers were wanted, and the only public rendez- 
vous was the little buffet at the railway station, that 
gained for itself great notoriety on account of the 
plague of flies which infested it. The weather 
was bright and warm, following heavy rains ; 
climatic conditions which doubtless suited the flies. 
One wished that it had been otherwise, for ceiling 
and whitewashed walls of the buffet were com- 
pletely covered by the millions, as it seemed, 
of black crawling house-flies. They settled in 
swarms on one's food. I shudder to think how 
many found in me a living tomb ! 

Nor were the flies at the railway station only. 



54 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

Mr. Baring and I with two French correspondents 
had taken up quarters in the Roman Catholic 
Mission Church, and at nights lay round the altar, 
but even here the flies pursued us. One sighed for 
a mosquito net ! In desperation we hired two 
small boys, who tried their best to drive away our 
tormentors with whisks. In one direction we found 
consolation. At Liao-Yang Baring and I had 
engaged two Montenegrins as servants, and mine, 
Giorgi, proved an excellent cook. The way in 
which he could dress a chicken was little short of 
miraculous. 

The life at Ta-shi-chao was varied and inter- 
esting. The Russian outposts were 15 to 20 
versts from the town, and one could visit nearly 
all of them in a day. Beyond our outposts were 
those of the enemy, who held the crest of the 
hills stretching south and east of the Russian posi- 
tion. Of them we saw scarcely anything. Our 
artillery, i.e. the Russian, fired daily at the Japan- 
ese posts, but with what effect it is hard to say, 
probably very little, for the enemy scarcely deigned 
to reply. The booming of the guns certainly did 
not disturb the Chinese farmers, who continued 
working in the fields between the two armies quite 
unconcernedly. They took the whistling of the big 
shells overhead as a matter of course, a thing they 
had been accustomed to all their lives. The in- 
activity of the enemy greatly puzzled the Russians, 
who sent out reconnoitring parties nightly to try 
and find out what the Japanese were doing. In 
this they never succeeded, for the Japanese proved 



IN TOUCH WITH THE ENEMY 55 

ever alert, and stopped these parties with superior 
forces. The Intelligence Department of Kuro- 
patkin's army was completely at fault ; we knew no 
more about the movements of the enemy's main 
body than we knew of what was happening at the 
South Pole. Lack of news was made up for by 
most plentiful rumours. Some averred that the 
greater part of the Japanese had gone away to 
assault Port Arthur ; others that hundreds of the 
foe died daily from dysentery — a report spread by 
the doctors of certain Cossack regiments who had 
visited old Japanese camping-grounds. If the 
Russians were unable to penetrate the mystery of 
the Japanese movements, they, on the other hand, 
knew all they wanted to know concerning those of 
their opponents. A large number of spies — Chinese, 
or Japanese disguised — must have been in the lines 
at Ta-shi-chao. One of these spies was captured 
and shot. He was a staff officer dressed as a 
Chinaman, with regulation pigtail, and would have 
escaped detection had he not, in the presence of a 
Cossack, drawn a book from his pocket and began 
making notes. Such action on the part of a 
supposed coolie led to his immediate arrest and 
detection. He was, or seemed to be, absolutely 
indifferent to his fate. With the imperturbable 
smile of his race, he said simply, "It is the fortune 
of war." During the campaign several other Japan- 
ese staff officers were taken as spies, and each met 
his fate in the same calm spirit, extorting the 
admiration of their captors, who loathed the hateful 
necessity of summary execution. 



56 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

On one occasion, however, a detected " spy " 
was not shot. Among the Transbaikalian Cossacks 
were many Buriats — ^Mongolians and Buddhists ; 
they looked, to European eyes at least, exactly like 
the Japanese, and they were of much the same 
stature. The Buriat is very useful in Manchuria, 
as he is generally on good terms with his Chinese 
co-religionists. The "spy" who was not shot was 
a Buriat officer who was mistaken for a Japanese, 
and only escaped death through the timely appear- 
ance of a friend. 

A never-failing topic of conversation — one that 
always filled up gaps when the fate of a spy or the 
failure of a reconnoitring party had been talked 
threadbare — was " the rains." We had had a good 
deal of rain already, but when one said "the rains" 
it was known at once that something very un- 
pleasant was meant. In "the rains," some said, it 
would be impossible to continue fighting, as the 
roads would be impassable ; another and entirely 
contradictory opinion was that the Japanese were 
only waiting for "the rains" to make an advance, 
when they by some unexplained means would move 
easily across the flooded country, whilst the Russian 
transport would stick helplessly in the mud. From 
what I had seen of Manchurian roads I was 
prepared to accept the most pessimistic opinion. 
However, " the rains," in the sense indicated, were 
a delusion. That the Japanese were a more mobile 
force was evident enough. They had splendidly 
organised coolie transport — which the Russians 
lacked ; they had mountain guns, and knew how 



IN TOUCH WITH THE ENEMY 57 

to use them — the Russians had then heavy field 
artillery only, and later, when they got mountain 
guns, did not know how to use them ; the Japanese 
kept to the hills, where, to borrow a phrase from 
the turf, the going was good ; the Russians were 
chiefly in the plains, where their heavy transport 
floundered along roads where the going was de- 
cidedly heavy. 

Though headquarters had manifested a certain 
jealousy at the presence of correspondents, the 
regimental officers at the front welcomed us and 
were glad to see us at the outposts, and on such 
occasions would fire an extra round or two at the 
enemy In order to show the foreigners the capacity 
of their guns ; or talk over the news from the east 
or from Port Arthur. From the east we heard 
of a fight in which General Rennenkampf was 
wounded in the leg. This officer was probably the 
finest of the Cossack leaders, a man of the utmost 
daring and courage, who, having served in Man- 
churia during the Boxer troubles, was well ac- 
quainted with the country. He was not, however, 
a great tactician, and lacked some of those intellec- 
tual qualities which mark the great soldier. His 
popularity with his men was unbounded. 

From Port Arthur we got news fairly frequently 
— thus on July i8th we heard that their fortifica- 
tions had been completed. Officers from the 
besieged garrison usually left the port by junk and 
got away either to Chifu or to Nuichwang. They 
ran a double danger, that of being captured by the 
Japanese, or of being killed by the pirates who 



58 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

infested the Yellow Sea, and particularly the Gulf 
of Liao-tung. These officers' reports were all 
made to Alexeieff as well as to Kuropatkin, and 
it was common gossip that the Viceroy insisted, 
from his quarters at Mukden, on dictating orders to 
General Stossel as to how the defence of Port 
Arthur was to be conducted. 

I have already said that we were unable to 
obtain any trustworthy information as to the move- 
ments of the Japanese, but the belief in camp was 
that the enemy were holding the Russians at Ta- 
shi-chao with a skeleton force merely, and that 
Marshal Oyama, who was now personally directing 
the Japanese forces, was concentrating his troops 
for an attack on Kuropatkin's left flank. Whether 
or not this was the case the days were dull enough 
at Ta-shi-chao, and I was planning to visit Nui- 
chwang and taste for a brief period the sweets of 
civilisation, when (on July 22nd) General Kuro- 
patkin suddenly left for Liao-Yang. I saw his 
train steam out of the station, and, concluding that 
urgent news from Count Keller was taking him to 
the east, I decided to follow in his wake. Leaving 
horse and kit behind I went hurrying back to the 
north. 



CHAPTER X 

A CHINESE WELCOME AT ANPING 

The news which had reached Liao-Yang as to the 
situation of the eastern army at once explained 
General Kuropatkin's hurried departure from Ta- 
shi-chao. Count Keller, from his position at Lan- 
jan-san, had made ineffectual attempts to recapture 
the Mo-tien-ling, and in several engagements had 
been driven back by General, Kuroki, who, it was 
feared, would now descend the valley of the Tai-tze- 
ho towards Liao-Yang. To check this advance with- 
out withdrawing any of the troops from the south 
was General Kuropatkin's immediate object. For- 
tunately he was able to utilise the first troops from 
European Russia to arrive in Manchuria, namely, 
the loth and 17th Army Corps, which, immedi- 
ately on reaching Liao-Yang, were sent to Anping, 
a town 20 miles in a direct line to the south- 
east. To Anping General Kuropatkin and the 
whole of his Staff had also gone ; Keller, with the 
3rd Siberian Army Corps, was on Kuropatkin's 
right near Lan-jan-san. I borrowed a horse from 
a friend, and, accompanied by an American col- 
league, was soon on the road to Anping, which we 
drew near towards evening. Anping is a fair-sized 

S9 



60 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

village situated in a fertile valley watered by a 
tributary of the Tai-tze-ho and surrounded by hills. 
I did not enter the village, but, with my companion, 
camped in a picturesque little temple not far from 
the main road, yet hidden from the eyes of the 
curious by kindly trees. My reason for avoiding 
observation was the fear of being sent back to 
Liao-Yang, should I be discovered by any of the 
staff officers. The war correspondents, it may be 
explained, having once chosen the Army Corps to 
which they desired to be attached were not at 
liberty to leave it, as I had done. From our 
temple retreat we were near enough to be able to 
reach quickly any part of the field, should fighting 
be toward — and though as anxious as the majority 
of people for "goodwill among men," just then I 
was keenly desirous of seeing a battle. For what 
else had I come hither? In the cool of the even- 
ing I walked through the tall kowliang and across 
fields of cotton and fragrant balm to the river's 
brim. The scene was one that would delight the 
eye of the artist, — the calmly flowing stream, the 
peaceful valley, and the flicker of many fires from 
the large camp pitched on the hills beyond. As 
I watched the Cossacks come down to water their 
horses, I thought of the morrow and longed for the 
joy of battle. When I got back to our temple 
home it was to find that we were already in favour 
with the villagers, who brought us forage for our 
horses and some newly caught carp for ourselves. 
This kindness was due to our nationality ; Ingwa 
(English) and Megwa (American) were words which 



A CHINESE WELCOME AT ANPING 61 

acted like talismans. Heavy rain during the night 
caused the river to rise, and in the morning, from 
the temple where we lay perdu, we witnessed the 
difficulty with which the Cossacks crossed the 
swollen stream. The next day we found that 
General Kuropatkin had shifted some lo versts, 
and we ventured to locate headquarters. The 
longed-for battle did not appear imminent, and not 
wishing to run unnecessary risks of detection we 
turned to ride back to our hiding-place. Detected, 
however, we were, for suddenly along the road 
clattered a group of staff officers with none other 
than Baron Venigen, the press censor at Liao- Yang, 
at their head. Our red brassards showed con- 
spicuously and there was no escape, so taking our 
courage in both hands we rode up and saluted. 
Baron Venigen was surprised to see me. " I 
thought you were at Ta-shi-chao with Samsonofif ; 
you ought not to be here," said he. I made such 
excuses as I could, pleading my desire to see the 
coming fight. The Baron was kindly disposed, 
and could make allowance for the ardour of youth. 
A diplomatic blindness obscured his vision. With 
a laugh and a merry twinkle he rode on, saying, 
" I haven't seen you, but — keep as far from head- 
quarters as you can." Delighted to have come so 
successfully through the meeting we bade farewell 
to our temple refuge, and going to the outskirts of 
the camp obtained a new domicile in the house of 
a rich Chinese merchant who lived in a neighbour- 
ing village. Our host, and all the villagers, showed 
us much kindness, and again we found our nation- 



62 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

ality known and respected. These apparently 
simple folk did not need to be told what country- 
men we were — they as unerringly identified my 
friend as an American as they dubbed me Ingwa. 
How they knew I cannot imagine, for our kits and 
clothes were alike and we both had American 
saddles. There was great excitement in the vil- 
lage that evening when a balloon section marched 
through. The balloon was floating just above the 
tree-tops, being kept in that position by the men 
who held the leading ropes with which it was fur- 
nished. The Chinese gazed wonder-struck at this 
new device of the " foreign devil." I noticed with 
curiosity that suspended from the balloon was a 
flag which looked uncommonly like the British 
white ensign with an anchor in one corner. The 
villagers noticed the flag, too, pointed to the balloon 
and then to me, saying, Ingwa, and by their signs 
seemed to assume that it was my balloon and that 
I travelled in it, on which assumption I became a 
hero in their eyes. Possibly the Chinese inscrip- 
tion on our brassards helped in forming their 
opinion ; that inscription is Woofangse, literally 
translated, "War look see man," or spy — the 
nearest approach to war correspondent the Chinese 
language admits. The merchant in whose house 
we stayed brought us kowliang, baked in sugar, 
forming an excellent sweetmeat, and served tea 
after the Chinese fashion. The tea leaves (green) 
are placed in a shallow cup or saucer, the water 
poured over them and a second saucer placed over 
the first. You take them up with both hands, and 



A CHINESE WELCOME AT ANPING 63 

slightly pushing back the top saucer, drink down 
the tea, which is deliciously refreshing. Kind as 
was our host, who thought our presence a safe- 
guard against marauding Cossacks, we found our 
quarters not altogether agreeable. Part of his 
merchandise consisted of dried and drying hides, 
which, to speak plainly, stank, while he also pos- 
sessed several large jars full of the dye used in 
dyeing clothes butcher's blue, the universal colour 
of the dress of Chinese country folk. These draw- 
backs notwithstanding, we found it pleasant to be 
with these honest people, with whom we lodged 
for some days. The peaceful evenings passed with 
them made more piquant the stir of battle by day, 
for this alternation was now to take place. 



CHAPTER XI 

THE FIGHT FOR SUNGAR HILL 

The country in which Kuropatkin's force was 
encamped was very hilly — not mountainous, but 
yet difficult for the employment of large numbers 
of horsemen. Leaving our host — and the odour of 
the tannery and the dyeing vats — at daybreak, we 
made for the line of outposts, which occupied a 
ridge of hills overlooking the valley of the Tai- 
tze-ho. Up one of these hills, held by a small 
post, we climbed, and sat down by the officer in 
command. To our left ran the river, winding 
through the valley, a gleam of silver in the sunlight ; 
to our right, a rocky pass and hills rising abruptly. 
Across the river were other hills — and those were 
in possession of the enemy. The distance between 
the opposing outposts was in some places not 
more than 700 yards. In the narrow valley 
the kowliang was growing, high and green, and 
villages nestled here and there amid leafy groves. 
Save for the Russian outposts and the infantry 
bivouacking behind the hills, there was no suggestion 
of conflict, except that indicated by the little stone 
" sungar " on a hill opposite that on which we were. 
The day was perfect; beautiful, swallow - tailed 

64 



THE FIGHT FOR SUNGAR HILL 65 

butterflies sailed over our heads, and the air 
hummed with insect life. The brawling of the 
Tai-tze-ho, as it hurried over its stony bed like a 
Scotch salmon stream, invited one to sleep. With 
my telescope I scanned the valley, the villages, the 
hills again and again ; but there was no sign of 
the Japanese. Only some hawks hovered over- 
head, while in a farm, just below, the Chinese were 
going unconcernedly about their daily work. And 
so we waited. The officer to whom we had attached 
ourselves spoke a little French, and told us that 
the Japanese were holding, besides the farther 
range of hills, the villages in the valley beneath 
us. Pointing to the sungar opposite, he warned 
us not to stand up. This sungar thus became a 
magnetic point. Suddenly over its top something 
moved. The something slowly materialised into a 
head, followed by a khaki-clad pair of shoulders. 
At last I had seen a real live "Jap." There he 
sat gazing at us. Not that it was absolutely the 
first Japanese I had seen, for at Ta-shi-chao dim 
little black figures could be discerned in the dis- 
tance ; but they had been too far off to excite great 
interest. But now the foe, typified in this one 
man, was but 700 yards away. Presently a soldier 
crawled up to the officer. "May I have a shot?" 
said he. The officer paused ; then, looking at us, 
nodded assent. The soldier took aim, and in a 
moment the ping of a bullet broke the stillness of 
the valley. And the "Jap"? He sat on undis- 
turbed, nor could we tell where the bullet had 
I struck. Again and again the soldier repeated his 
5 



66 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

shot, but his marksmanship was at fault, for his fire 
had no effect, save that the shoulders of the Jap 
disappeared and we could only see his eyes and 
cap above the sungar. The officer turned to me 
with an invitation to have a shot. " Perhaps you 
might do better," said he. As a mere matter of 
hitting the mark, I should have liked to have taken 
my chance; but, apart from a liking for the Japanese, 
I was a non-combatant, and I refused the invitation. 
And from the sungar came no reply to our few 
shots ; the Japanese disdained to answer. So the 
day wore on, both sides, as it seemed, anxious only 
to enjoy the balmy air, the bright sunshine. To 
fight was too much " fag." • 

We sat on the hillside, lazily disappointed. 
Before the day closed, there was a flicker of 
excitement. As the afternoon sun was slanting 
to the horizon, a group of staff officers at the 
head of a troop of Transbaikalian Cossacks crossed 
the river and trotted up the valley. Would the 
Japanese disclose their position ? Yes, for from 
the trees encircling a village came the pip-pop of a 
rifle being fired. The Cossacks stopped a moment, 
and then went slowly on again till there came a 
chorus of " pip-pops." Then the Russians turned, 
trotting first, but breaking into a gallop as the 
bullets whistled more thickly around them, flicking 
from the ground little puffs of dust. As the Cos- 
sacks came up the rocky pass to our right, they 
were obliged to dismount, the bullets still following 
them and humming over our heads, which made 
us fire a volley or two at the sungar by way of 



THE FIGHT FOR SUNGAR HILL 67 

retaliation. Then, as the Cossacks got out of 
sight, quiet fell once more on the valley. The 
officers who had been out climbed up to see us ; 
none had been hit. They had been to "look see," 
and, having seen, rode off to report their news to 
the general. My companion and I also rode off, 
back to our sleeping quarters. On the way, we 
passed the Daghestan Regiment of Cossacks, which 
had come from Liao-Yang. Their appearance was 
more picturesque than business-like. Fierce-looking 
men they seemed, dressed in a long, flowing cloth 
coat, drawn in at the waist. They had rifles, in a 
curious cloth cover, slung on their backs ; carried 
curved swords with embossed silver handles, had 
knives stuck in their belts, and on their heads sheep- 
skin caps. They were magnificently mounted on 
horses not unlike English thoroughbreds, sitting 
high up on regular Cossack saddles, and riding very 
short, with their knees tucked up. Their standard 
was proudly displayed, and at their head was a 
man who played a long flute with a trumpet-like 
end, drawing from it sounds resembling those of a 
bagpipe. This ddbonnaire regiment was a volunteer 
force, and in its ranks were many members of the 
aristocracy. 

The next day saw us again at the same hill, 
fearing a repetition of the inaction of yesterday. 
Events were, however, ordered otherwise. Several 
battalions had been brought up, and we learned 
that an attempt on " Sungar Hill " was to be made. 
(This hill, we ascertained, the Japanese used as 
a signal station, and from it they could see the 



68 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

Russian forces quite plainly.) The battalions 
crossed the river, deployed, and began to mount 
the hill, taking advantage of the cover afforded by 
depressions in the ground and the bushes which 
grew thickly up the slopes. From where I sat 
they could be seen perfectly through the glasses, 
They were met by a fire which grew hotter and 
hotter as they advanced, and they stopped occasion- 
ally to pour a volley into their opponents, their 
bayonets glistening in the bright sunshine. I could 
not help being deeply struck by one thing, and that 
was the uniform worn by the officers. Each was 
arrayed in a spotlessly white tunic with gold ep£(,ul- 
ettes and gold sword belts, thus affording the 
Japanese riflemen a magnificent target. They led 
their men up the hill, sword in hand. The 
Russians for a while were lost to sight among the 
trees near the hilltop. Then, coming into the open 
again, they swept over the crest of the hill, the 
Japanese giving way before the onslaught. The 
hill was ours (if I may, for the time, identify my- 
self with the Russian army), but it had not been 
won without loss. A good many poor fellows lay 
dead, and more were taken to the "flying" hospital 
in the valley below. The method adopted for re- 
moving the wounded was quick and practical, and 
worthy the attention of our own army. Red Cross 
orderlies with flags accompanied the troops during 
their advance, and signalled back to the hospital 
the position of the wounded men, and, as soon as 
the hill was taken, the hospital staff came up and 
collected the wounded without delay. 



THE FIGHT FOR SUNGAR HILL 69 

There was no pursuit of the retreating foe, 
and little firing after the hill was captured. The 
fight had been entirely with rifles, no artillery being 
engaged on either side. Having taken the position 
whence the Japanese had been spying upon them, 
the Russians set about to fortify the hills, pre- 
viously occupied by outposts only. Three batteries 
were brought up to the hill on which I was 
stationed, and places for the guns dug just below 
the crest, the newly dug earth and the guns being 
afterwards covered by branches of trees. The 
limbers also were carefully concealed. Batteries 
were placed on the hills to the right and left, and 
strong infantry supports supplied. Undoubtedly 
the position of the Russians had been strengthened, 
though in itself the capture of " Sungar Hill" was 
a comparatively small affair. I had watched with 
surprise the Russian officers go into battle with 
conspicuous uniforms ; now, through the telescope, 
I saw the difference in Japanese methods. At the 
far end of the valley I could make out a column 
of the enemy on the march. The men were 
dressed in khaki, and were difficult to distinguish 
— whereas the Russian soldiers, as well as the 
officers, wore an easily seen uniform, and as 
often as not disported themselves on the sky- 
line. 

In order to ascertain the strength of the 
Japanese position, two companies of infantry were 
sent that afternoon down into the valley. Worm- 
ing their way through the kowliang, they entered 
two villages, but were then subjected to a hot rifle 



70 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

fire from the hidden enemy. We watched the men 
taking shelter behind the walls of the houses, but 
they were soon forced to abandon the villages and 
run back to their own lines. It was clear enough 
that the Japanese were still in force, and on 
the next day, from the same observatory point, 
I witnessed a characteristic attempt by some 
400 Daghestan and Transbaikalian Cossacks to 
find out what General Kuroki was doing at the 
farther end of the valley. Off went the Cossacks 
at a trot, with flag flying at their head. On reach- 
ing the komliang near the line of villages held by 
the enemy, they were met by a heavy fire which 
caused them to stop. There they halted, sitting on 
their horses and gazing round for the invisible foe, 
during which time several of them were hit. Then 
they turned and came helter-skelter back. Their 
commander collected his scattered forces and, after 
resting them a little while, advanced again, but with 
the same result. As a looker-on, I do not think that 
there was more than a company or a company and 
a half of Japanese opposing the Russians, and there 
was no reason why the Cossacks should not have 
penetrated the screen. But to do so they should 
have dismounted and used their rifles. This it 
never occurred to them to do. All through the 
campaign, in fact, too much confidence was placed 
by the cavalry in sword and lance, the men 
never being properly trained to fight with their 
rifles on foot. The lessons taught by the Mounted 
Infantry in South Africa were all thrown away 
on them. 



THE FIGHT FOR SUNGAR HILL 71 

For three days I had watched the operations, 
but the prospects of a big battle still seemed re- 
mote, whereas news came to the camp of renewed 
Japanese activity in the south. That the Com- 
mander-in-Chief thought the situation on that side 
the more serious was evidenced by his returning to 
Ta-shi-chao, and once again I determined to follow 
his fortunes. So back to Anping and Liao-Yang. 
On leaving the hill the Daghestan contingent was 
again passed. The men were still as smartly 
dressed, but they had lost some of the bravado dis- 
played the day before. Perhaps it was, that among 
the wounded being carried along on stretchers were 
some of their own comrades ; possibly the wound 
which their vanity had received was still harder to 
bear. As we passed by the main camp the sound 
of many voices, rhythmical, magnificent, smote our 
ears. Thirty thousand of the Russian soldiers were 
singing the Lord's Prayer. It was a thing to be 
remembered. The Russians have fine voices, and 
there is something, too, in the language which lends 
itself to song. 

That night we rested in the temple which had 
previously served as our hiding-place, and in the 
morning rode quickly into Liao-Yang, passing en 
route several battalions bound for Anping. At the 
Russo-Chinese Bank at Liao-Yang I heard stirring 
news of fighting then proceeding at Ta-shi-chao, 
and at my quarters found my Montenegrin servant 
Giorgi and my horse. Giorgi told me that the 
Russians had been driven back and that he had 
hardly time to get away. So without delay I made 



72 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

for the station, and there met Colonel Potapoff. 
Together we set out south, but not to Ta-shi-chao ; 
that was already in the hands of the enemy, and we 
could go no farther than Hai-Cheng, reached early 
the next day. 



CHAPTER XII 

HAI-CHENG EVACUATED BY THE RUSSIANS 

As we detrained at Hai-Cheng the boom of many 
guns rang in our ears, and we learned that a rear- 
guard action was being fought. 

Hai-Cheng itself is a small town, but it boasts a 
big stone wall, and the Russians held a fortified 
position here. It was, however, hardly tenable at 
this time (Aug. 2), as on the east it was commanded 
by high hills, and on the west was a plain which 
rendered it easy for the Japanese to turn the 
Russian right. It appeared that a few days pre- 
viously (on July 25th), General Oku had un- 
expectedly attacked the Russians at Ta-shi-chao 
and driven them out of their positions. As at 
Wa-fang-ho, artillery had played an important part 
in the fight. The Russians on this occasion were 
commanded by General Zarubaieff of the 4th 
Siberian Army Corps, and under him Baron 
Stackelberg had the ist Siberian Army Corps. 
The Japanese artillery fire was very heavy, and 
before it the 4th Siberian Army Corps had to 
retire, as well as the ist Siberian Army Corps, 
which, posted on the extreme right, did not bear 

the full brunt of the battle. At the same time the 

73 



74 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

Japanese had swept down on General Sassulitch, 
driving him from his post of Simucheng in the hills 
to the east, and hotly engaged General Mischenko, 
whose cavalry lost heavily. Stackelberg had been 
forced to retreat, and was now at Hai-Cheng with 
the Japanese at his heels. All this I learned from 
Mr. Baring, who had been at the Ta-shi-chao 
battle. With Mr. Baring I now rode on, past the 
train from which Kuropatkin was directing the 
operations, to a convenient hill whence we could 
watch the fight. The day was hot — hotter indeed 
than the hottest day I ever experienced in South 
Africa — and the troops were utterly exhausted. 
They were holding the enemy at bay — mainly by 
artillery fire — whilst along the road to Hai-Cheng 
transport blocked the way. Some of the men had 
been in the firing line sixteen hours, and the strain, 
together with the hot weather, told on them heavily. 
Their condition was unnecessarily aggravated by 
the cumbersomeness of the uniform and kit the 
Russian infantryman is compelled to bear. His 
kit is too heavy, especially in view of the large 
amount of ammunition it is essential to carry, his 
high boots are not suitable for long marches in hot 
weather, and his small forage cap gives no protec- 
tion against the sun. Needless to say, there were 
many cases of sunstroke. It seemed to me also 
that the Russian soldiers were not able to endure 
long fatigue, or great heat, as well as our own men 
in South Africa. 

The rear-guard were fighting a very pretty 
action, and there seemed no immediate prospect of 



THE RUSSIANS EVACUATE HAI-CHENG 75 

the Japanese turning us out of Hai-Cheng. Going 
back to the town, we saw many a sad sight — 
wounded men dragging themselves along the dusty 
road ; others, more sorely hit, carried on stretchers 
or on a large strip of canvas tenting fixed on two 
rifles. At the railway station were hospital trains 
in waiting, and down on the platform were placed 
the blood-stained stretchers. Then the poor 
shattered fellows were taken in charge by the 
nurses — devoted women, whom to praise suffi- 
ciently seems impossible. It was with the greatest 
admiration I watched them at work. With one 
arm they would support some badly hit soldier, and 
in the other carry his rifle and heavy kit. They 
did not seem to feel fatigue or weakness, but 
quietly and methodically worked on all the day, 
amid the hurry and bustle incident to the prepara- 
tions for retreat. The confusion in the town was 
great, and most men's nerves that day were 
"jumpy" ; at any time the Japanese might come 
through the hills east of the railway and cut the 
Russian line. The clerks at the telegraph office 
were distraught, and though I handed in a press 
message that had passed the censor, I could not get 
it forwarded. To incidents like these the war 
correspondent is liable, especially when with an 
army in retreat. Why, after all, should the corres- 
pondent be favoured ? Of what moment is it to 
the hurried telegraphist — or the General in com- 
mand^that people at the other end of the world 
should discuss their misfortunes over the breakfast 



76 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

That evening I spent with an American corres- 
pondent in a village near by, in which several 
infantry battalions were bivouacking. The heavy 
transport of the army had been going back all the 
afternoon to An-shan-chan, and now the rattle of 
wheels continued in the darkness. The night was 
too warm to rest on the kang, so wrapping our- 
selves in our blankets we went to sleep in the 
yard. But we were not destined to enjoy peaceful 
slumber. I had hardly closed my eyes when I was 
aroused by a terrible din, caused by men galloping 
past and carts being driven rapidly, mingled with 
hoarse yells and shouts, among which I thought 
I could distinguish the word "Japonetzt." My 
American friend — a Pole by birth — dashed into 
the street, coming back quickly with the report 
that the Japanese had surprised the camp and were 
sweeping through it with fixed bayonets ! Mount- 
ing our horses we prepared for eventualities — we 
certainly did not wish to be spitted in mistake 
by a fiery Jap. The street presented a scene 
of extraordinary uproar. Transport drivers were 
wildly urging on their horses ; foot-soldiers were 
running by at top speed. We stopped some of 
the fugitives, but they answered our questions con- 
fusedly, and we could not make out the true cause 
of the panic. Whilst gazing on the scene and 
wondering why there was no sound of shooting, I 
was made to understand the danger of impeding 
a great current by being nearly knocked over by a 
cart rattling by. We sent Mr. Baring's Monte- 
negrin to try and find out the reason for the 



THE RUSSIANS EVACUATE HAI-CHENG 77 

panic, but he failed to return, and, deciding to go 
with the crowd, we turned our horses' heads 
towards An-shan-chan. We stopped, however, 
after going a few versts, at a spot where a party of 
Cossacks were camping by the banks of a stream. 
As they kept a guard we felt that we should 
receive warning if the enemy in reality came down 
upon us. They didn't, and we tried to resume our 
interrupted slumbers. I lay on some sand by the 
banks of the stream. Now, sand does not make a 
luxurious bed, it "packs" or shifts about under 
you, invariably making nasty hard places just 
beneath the softest part of your anatomy. To 
those contemplating sleeping on the sand, I tender 
in all charity Mr. PuncKs advice to those about to 
get married — " Don't." Get a more stable founda- 
tion. Sand is as ill to sleep on as to build upon. 

As nothing happened during the night, we 
returned to Hai-Cheng in the morning. The 
Russians were still there^ and from no one could 
any explanation of the night's panic be obtained. 
However, though not at the point of the bayonet, 
the town was being abandoned, and soon came the 
order from General Kuropatkin, that the evacuation 
was to be completed by four o'clock that afternoon. 
The day was again excessively hot, and the 
infantry straggled along the road to An-shan-chan 
as best they could. They were utterly worn out, 
and kept no formation on their march ; how could 
they — hungry, footsore, burdened with a heavy kit, 
and the pitiless sun beating down upon them ? 
And so the retreat was carried out ; organisation 



78 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

was lacking, and the men seemed sick at heart ; 
their morale had been seriously tried. It appeared 
to me that here was a brilliant chance for the 
Japanese cavalry ; but advantage was not taken of 
the opportunity. The hospital trains and rolling- 
stock generally got away, and without molestation 
from the enemy the Russians were allowed to 
fall back, a weary 22 miles to An-shan-chan, 
where the engineers had constructed defensible 
works in a range of friendly hills. General 
Kuropatkin was one of the last to reiire; he passed 
me on horseback as I, too, was making for the 
north. I stopped once at a fangtsa to feed my 
horse. Numbers of Chinese were about ; they 
eyed the soldiers curiously as they plodded pain- 
fully along. It may have been fancy, but I thought 
I caught a smile of satisfaction flitting over the 
faces of these " celestials." I passed within a mile 
or so of the high rocky hills through which the 
railway in this part of its course runs. Here, close 
by An-shan-chan ("the saddle-shaped mountain" 
is the English equivalent of this word), a battle 
was fought during the Chino- Japanese war of 1894, 
To-day there were, fortunately for the Russians, no 
troops to bar their road. I stayed at a small inn 
that night, and in the morning found the tail of the 
Russian army marching by, the men so exhausted 
that they could scarcely move. Three soldiers 
looked into the inn yard ; we bade them enter, and 
my friend the American correspondent, who had 
plenty of provisions, gave them tea and tinned 
sausages. Poor fellows, they were pathetically 



THE RUSSIANS EVACUATE HAI-CHENG 79 

thankful, and told us they had eaten nothing for 
twenty-four hours. 

General Kuropatkin halted his force at An- 
shan-chan, sorely in need of a little rest. He is 
said to have retired from Hai- Cheng without giving 
battle, in consequence of a report brought by a 
distinguished Cossack officer, that two divisions of 
Japanese were already round his right flank — a 
report which proved inaccurate. Of the need of 
the army for rest there could be no doubt, for, 
apart from the many killed and wounded, there 
were, as I was informed by a member of the 
Medical Corps, 2000 cases of sunstroke during 
the fighting at Ta-shi-chao and Hai-Cheng, 
and the retreat to An-shan-chan. Some of the 
military attaches with Kuropatkin's personal staff 
had a narrow escape during the retreat ; among 
them Sir Montagu Gerard, the chief of the British 
Mission. The attaches had ridden out to see 
the expected rearguard action as Hai-Cheng was 
evacuated. No action, as a matter of fact, was 
fought ; but the attaches, going beyond the Russian 
lines, suddenly found themselves facing the Japanese, 
600 yards away. They turned and galloped back, 
pursued by the bullets of the Japanese. Such are 
some of the adventures of lookers-on at the war- 
game. 

It was at Hai-Cheng that we learnt the sad 
news of the death of Count Keller — killed in the 
battle of Kuchitze on the eastern hills a day or 
two after I had left that army. He had gone to 
watch the firing of a battery. Whilst there, a 



80 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

Japanese shrapnel burst in front of the guns, and 
the Count received in his body over thirty bullets. 
His death caused general sorrow in the army, 
especially in his own command, where he was 
intensely popular. He was a courteous gentleman, 
and as brave a soldier as ever bestrode a horse. 
In the fight in which he lost his life his troops were 
also defeated, and were obliged to retreat nearer 
Liao-Yang. Thus in the east, as on the south, 
the tide of war was forcing back the Russians. 



CHAPTER XIII 

NOTES ON THE RUSSIAN FIELD FORCE 

One effect of the retreat of both wings of the 
Russian army — that of Baron Stackelberg's and 
that lately commanded by Count Keller — was to 
bring General Kuropatkin's forces closer together. 
It was in the early days of August disposed in 
semicircular formation in positions stretching from 
An-shan-chan in the south to Anping in the east. 
Roughly equidistant from each was Liao-Yang, 
where great efforts were made to complete and 
strengthen the fortifications. Another measure 
now adopted by the Russians was to cut down 
the tall kowliang in front of their positions to 
within some two feet of the ground. By this 
means, while obtaining a clear field of fire for 
themselves, the short sharp stubble left would 
seriously hinder the Japanese, by preventing their 
troops lying down with any ease. At An-shan-chan 
also extensive defensive works were made, there 
being, besides the main position and the outposts, a 
third position between the other two. The lesson 
taught by the shallow trenches of Wa-fang-ho had 
been taken to heart, and at An-shan-chan the 
trenches were all deep and narrow. There were 
6 



82 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

besides these trenches, closed redoubts of strong 
profile and traverses with a ditch, placed some 
600 yards apart, and each containing a company 
of infantry. Besides all this there were plenty of 
gun emplacements, and pits for eight guns each, 
eight guns constituting a battery. Anping, too, 
was prepared for defence. In this direction the 
Japanese army under General Kuroki was menac- 
ing the Russian left flank, and, as the event proved, 
was more dangerous to the safety of Liao-Yang 
than the force under General Oku, whose advance 
it was General Zarubaieff's task at An-shan-chan to 
prevent. There was now a pause of some three 
weeks, during which, so far as the Manchurian 
army was concerned, there was little hard fighting. 
Not that the times were uneventful. At Liao- 
Yang, which I now made my headquarters, we 
heard the news of the world — newspapers were 
published which told of the desperate sortie and 
dispersal of the Port Arthur fleet ; of the prepara- 
tions for the sailing of Admiral Rozhdestvensky, 
and of the birth of an heir to the throne of Russia. 
All these and many other things were known 
within a day or two of their occurrence, and 
according to the tenor of the tidings our spirits 
rose and fell. But our preoccupation was with. our 
own affairs. The opportunity was now offered me 
of noting several interesting points in the Russian 
organisation. From the high hills overlooking the 
railway near An-shan-chan a magnificent view of 
the country could be obtained, extending north to 
Liao-Yang and south to Hai-Cheng, whilst to the 



Notes on the Russian field force 83 

west were the Liao-ho and Tai-tze-ho. These 
hills were naturally selected as heliograph stations, 
though curiously enough, although Manchuria is a 
country eminently suitable for using the "helio," 
the Russians took comparatively little advantage of 
the fact. They used the heliograph at Ta-shi-chao 
and in the eastern hills, but there was nothing like 
the general use made of the apparatus by the 
British army in South Africa. Signalling by flag 
I only saw once throughout the campaign. The 
Russians make considerable use of the field tele- 
graph, but their favourite method of communication 
is the telephone ; wherever you go, with no matter 
how small a force, you will see the telephone wire 
stretched snake-like along the ground, dangling 
from the branches of the trees, or fixed to the walls 
of houses. When, as often happened, these wires 
were stretched across a road they became a great 
nuisance at night-time, being at just the height as 
you rode alopg to catch you across the chest, or 
worse, the throat. In the eastern army the field 
telephone was made use of in a very prompt and 
practical manner. The map of the country was 
divided into squares, numbered one, two, three, and 
so on. The artillery were not always able to judge 
on which part of the enemy's position to fire, but 
every battery had its telephone communicating with 
the General Officer Commanding, who, according to 
the necessities of the case, transmitted orders to fire 
on number such-and-such a square. Besides all 
the methods mentioned, another was used at night 
which was reminiscent of olden times. Posts were 



84 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

stationed at all the fords and passes and along the 
hillsides to watch the road, and whenever anyone 
passed any of these posts a fire would be lit, and 
burn brightly for a few minutes, to inform the next 
guards of the approach of strangers. 

Besides the Japanese, whose attack was con- 
stantly expected, there were now four or five other 
matters which afforded much food for reflection. 
One thing that impressed itself strongly was the 
absence of food — in sufficient quantity — for the 
body ; many were the complaints from staff officers 
of the insufficiency of supplies and of transport. 
On paper everything had been provided for, but in 
actuality the system was most faulty — not that the 
Russians have a monopoly in discrepancy between 
fact and theory. Another little straw indicated a 
weak point in the organisation of the field force. 
When the Japanese took Ta-shi-chao, Yinkow, 
and a day or two later Nuichwang, fell into their 
hands, though not without a sharp little fight, in 
which General Kosagovsky had been wounded. 
I had visited the General in hospital at Hai- 
Cheng and heard of the fight, but it appeared 
that a whole week elapsed before the news 
was reported to Baron Stackelberg. Tokio, 
St. Petersburg, London, Paris, and New York all 
knew it before the officer who was Kosagovsky's 
immediate superior. Officers with whom I talked, 
though still professing confidence in the ultimate 
issue of the conflict, bitterly complained of this 
state of affairs, and of the conduct of the war 
generally. And all the while the Japanese were 



NOTES ON THE RUSSIAN FIELD FORCE 85 

informed of every new movement in the Russian 
army by means of their spies, who must have 
swarmed in the camp. It was a matter of great 
difficulty to deal with the spies, for the simple 
reason that they were to all appearance just 
ordinary coolies, straw-hatted and blue- robed. It 
is said that at night they tied dark handkerchiefs 
over their hats to be able to move about with less 
chance of being seen. Ugly rumours were spread 
of these spies resorting to bribery, and one of 
General Kuropatkin's interpreters was reported to 
have tampered with the Commander-in-Chief's 
correspondence, and to have been hanged or shot. 

The Hunhutzes now became a real source of 
trouble in the south, as they had already been 
in the east. There, when General Rennenkampf 
was at Si-mat-ze, they used to kill the Cossack 
who carried the mail, until it was arranged for an 
escort always to accompany the postman. In the 
south the Japanese success at Ta-shi-chao, and the 
fact that the kowliang was now high enough to 
afford cover, stirred the Hunhutzes to activity. 
The flat country west of An-shan-chan was chosen 
as their chief "sphere of influence." Solitary men 
who went along the roads in that district were 
often never heard of again, or their bodies were 
discovered mutilated. The brigands became so 
bold as to infest the main roads between An-shan- 
chan and Liao-Yang. Two or three attempts were 
made to blow up bridges, and a train was fired on. 
A captain of the railway guard, sent to find a suitable 
place between the towns named for headquarters 



86 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

for Kuropatkin, was attacked and wounded by Hun- 
hutzes. These brigands were in the pay of the 
Japanese, and the annoyance they occasioned the 
Russians may be easily imagined. 

We were getting during the middle of August a 
great deal of rain, if not " the rains "par excellence. 
There were no carefully kept meteorological records, 
but some idea of the violence of the rains may be 
gathered from the fact that the Tai-tze-ho rose 
eight feet in four hours. As a consequence the 
roads were in an awful condition. In order to walk 
more easily the Russian soldiers used to take off 
their long heavy boots and carry them over their 
shoulders. The vile nature of the roads led to a 
little adventure, which illustrates a fact I have 
pointed out already, the popularity of the English 
in Manchuria. Mounted on my pony I left Liao- 
Yang one day (August 13th) for An-shan-chan, 
20 miles off by the main road, which distance 
I thought to lessen by taking a short cut. The 
start was made, but, alas ! the path was speedily lost 
in the waterlogged fields. There was nothing for 
it but to flounder through the kowliang in hope of 
reaching firmer ground. Every step took me 
deeper and deeper into the black and sticky mud, 
till at length my pony stopped, the mud up to his 
belly. Having dismounted, only to sink to the 
waist in the mud myself, I thought it best to 
retrace my steps, and the pony had reached the 
same conclusion. After much wading through this 
slough of despond pony and owner arrived hot, 
hungry, wet, and weary at a village. Thoughts of 



NOTES ON THE RUSSIAN FIELD FORCE 87 

Hunhutzes and their summary methods of treating 
solitary travellers came into my mind, but to get 
food was essential, and after politely knocking at 
the gate I entered the yard of a respectable-looking 
house. Within the house I could see several 
Chinese placidly gazing at the rain. They took 
scarcely any notice of me, and when I asked for 
fodder for the pony they replied monosyllabically, 
"Mao" (Chinese for "no.") Like the lad in the 
song I wasn't going to take " no " for an answer, so 
tying up my pony I entered the house, and going up 
to the men said, " Ingwa." Hearing this they eyed 
me up and down and fell to discussing my appear- 
ance, which from the Bond Street standpoint must 
have been deplorable. "He certainly is not a 
Russian," said one, and, having so decided, in a 
moment their whole demeanour changed. They 
rushed forward with eager hospitality, took my 
pony and gave him a feed, brought me into their 
best room, and insisted on my having tea and 
shamee (a kind of porridge made of small millet 
and pleasant to the palate). They were delighted 
to see an Englishman, they said, and asked me 
all kinds of questions, and examined my telescope 
and compass with great interest. When the time 
came for me to go they all came out in the rain to 
see me off, and one man volunteered to put me 
on the right road. As some slight recompense 
for their hospitality I pressed a rouble into my 
host's hand, but he absolutely declined to take it. 
This fact in itself is significant, for the Chinese 
villager is, as a rule, "only too willing" — to use 



88 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

appropriately, I hope, a much abused phrase — to 
accept payment for the least act of kindness. 

On the day following this incident. General 
Kuropatkin held a parade of the troops at An-shan- 
chan to celebrate the birth of the Tsarevitch, and 
in honour of the two days' old baby all the foreign 
attaches put on their finest uniforms. The parade 
was attended by many staff officers, and by a 
representative detachment of every corps in the 
district. As a spectacle it was scarcely equal to 
an Aldershot review. The ground chosen, of neces- 
sity, was a kowliang field, through which the men, 
in heavy rain, waded rather than marched past. 
A band did its best to make us merry, and the 
Commander-in-Chief in an appropriate little speech 
told the men that he hoped soon to lead them to 
victory. And thus we showed our loyalty to the 
Little Father, and our sympathy in the joys of the 
Imperial House. 

At this time the Japanese, while perfecting 
arrangements for the next blow, did not, on the 
southern front, indulge in any useless pin -pricks. 
They had the great advantage of compelling the 
Russian force to conform to their own movements, 
and with this power of initiative were content. 
There were, of course, occasional meetings of 
hostile patrols, and one day the Russians on the 
left flank discovered a Japanese notebook and 
forage cap. They were found in some sulphur baths 
five or six miles in advance of the Russian position. 
These baths, by the way, had an unfortunate history. 
They originally formed part of a sanatorium put 



NOTES ON THE RUSSIAN FIELD FORCE 89 

up by some enterprising company. The buildings 
were burnt down by the Boxers, and were being 
rebuilt when the war with Japan broke out. It is 
not unlikely that some time yet must elapse before 
the company owning the baths reaps any reward 
from its undertaking. To return to the military 
situation. The troops at An-shan-chan, on General 
Kuropatkin making Liao - Yang again his head- 
quarters, were placed under the command of General 
Zarubaieff. On the 1 7th of August they were dis- 
tributed as follows : — On the right (west), the ist 
Siberian Army Corps ; on the left (east), the 2nd 
Siberian Army Corps ; and, a mile or two in the 
rear, the 4th Siberian Army Corps. General Mis- 
chenko held an independent command. 

The strength of the Russian Field Army on 
that day was placed by staff officers at 147,000 
men, combatants only. All told, the army was 
said to number 248,000 men, the various con- 
stituents being given thus: — In Port Arthur 
(soldiers only), 27,350. Vladivostok, 31,850. ist 
Siberian Army Corps, 21,400 ; 2nd S. A. C, 30,600 ; 
4th S. A. C, 21,700; 17th Army Corps (European 
troops), 16,600; Eastern Detachment, 20,500; 
loth A. C, 36,370. At Mukden, 10,950 ; Engin- 
eers, 6350; Frontier Railway Guards, 25,000. To 
verify these figures was impossible, and they must 
be taken as official only. Reinforcements, it was 
said, were arriving rapidly. A staff" officer assured 
me that ten military trains reached Mukden daily ; 
that in four days one division (16 battalions) and 
three batteries had detrained. Some 6-inch siege 



90 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

guns, which now reached Liao-Yang, added con- 
siderably to the strength of the fortifications. It 
was obvious that with the passing of every day 
Kuropatkin's force, both in men and guns, in- 
creased. The waste from battle and sickness 
had not been excessive, so far ; Port Arthur 
apart, the Staff of the Commander - in - Chief 
reckoned the casualties in battle on their side 
at 20,000, up to August 25. As to sickness it 
was very difficult to get information, as one always 
met with an evasive answer to questions concern- 
ing the health of the troops. Probably the staff 
officers never knew the correct figures ; the minute 
trouble taken over every case of illness in the British 
army is not imitated in that of Russia. There was 
a certain amount of dysentery and a little typhoid, 
the latter of a malignant character. The dysentery 
was caused by the men eating uncooked vegetables, 
which were growing abundantly in the gardens of 
towns and villages. An order was issued forbid- 
ding the men to touch uncooked vegetables — it had 
about as much effect as the order issued in South 
Africa forbidding the troops to drink dirty water. 
When men are hungry and thirsty it is impossible 
to prevent them satisfying their cravings with any- 
thing that they can get, however conscious they 
may be of the danger of so doing. As proof that 
there were neither sick nor wounded in great 
numbers, it was averred that of the 138 military 
hospitals at the theatre of war, only 82 were in 
use, and in those 5100 beds were empty. 

This chapter of olla podrida may fittingly 



NOTES ON THE RUSSIAN FIELD FORCE 91 

conclude with a reference to the strength of the 
Japanese. We have seen that Kuropatkin's Staff 
put their combatants on August 17 at 147,000, with 
considerable daily additions thereafter ; of their 
enemy they asserted that Japan could not mass 
a greater number of soldiers against them than 
300,000. Though very uncertain as to the fqll 
strength of Japan, I ventured to controvert this 
estimate, and expressed the opinion that a country 
with as large a population as France, and where 
conscription had prevailed for twenty years, could 
in a time of national crisis place in the field an 
army far exceeding three hundred thousand. 
Events have justified my belief. 



CHAPTER XIV 

THE RETREAT FROM AN-SHAN-CHAN 

The period of comparative inactivity had lasted 
about three weeks. August the 24th brought a 
great change in the situation. General Kuroki's 
army was again active — and this was ever the 
signal for serious events. The Russian left was 
compelled to give way again, and came in closer 
to Liao-Yang. At the same time, General Oku 
threatened An - shan - chan, and thither I went 
(August 25th), to find the Japanese making a recon- 
naissance in force — the preliminary to a big battle, 
as all supposed. General Zarubaieff was fully pre- 
pared for an attack, the troops had recovered their 
TKorale ; throughout his command there was an 
anxious desire to avenge previous defeats. Day- 
light on August 26th found our outposts engaged 
all along the front. A gun boomed now and then 
in the grey dawn like the prologue to some great 
drama. 

But the firing died away, and the morning 
passed with nothing more than desultory shots. 
Towards the afternoon the Russian batteries 
awoke. The gunners either saw or were informed 
of the position of the Japanese, and opened fire, 



THE RETREAT FROM AN-SHAN-CHAN 93 

covering the country with bouquets of white smoke 
which rose from the bursting shrapnel. To view 
the fight I had betaken myself to the top of the 
saddle-shaped mountain directly above the main 
position of the Russians, and from that vantage 
ground could locate every one of the batteries 
below, (There were six or seven in action, all 
carefully concealed, as at Ta-shi-chao, where gun- 
pits were purposely made on the crests of hills, with 
intent to deceive, the guns being in reality placed 
below the hilltops. This lesson of hiding the 
guns had been taught at Wa-fang-ho and earlier 
battles.) The day was dark and cloudy, and the 
flash from the guns and from the shells bursting in 
the distance showed livid against the dull sky. 
Save for the boom of the guns and the shriek of 
the shells the air was perfectly still. Fascinated by 
the magnificent sight I stayed on the hilltop till 
nightfall. 

When I left, the troops were preparing them- 
selves for a cold rainy night in the trenches. The 
day's work had been preliminary ; the Japanese, 
too, had used their artillery, searching the Russian 
positions. The morrow seemed destined to witness 
the decisive battle. Coming down from the hill I 
made my way to the railway station, hoping to find 
an empty carriage in which to sleep. The previous 
night had been spent on a bench with the rain 
dripping down my neck, and I was determined to 
enjoy something really luxurious on this occasion — 
something, that is, which should be wind and water 
proof. The waiting-room of the station I found 



94 AN EYfi-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

converted into a hospital, for some 300 men had 
been wounded during the day. The condition of 
some of the wounded was pitiable. Those who had 
been brought in from the outpost lines could be dis- 
tinguished by the mud which covered them. The 
only possible sleeping-places were some horse- 
trucks in which were wounded men ; in one of 
these trucks the head-doctor gave me leave to pass 
the night. I lay close to an officer terribly injured 
by the bursting of a shrapnel, three bullets having 
entered his stomach. His groans never ceased till 
death came in mercy to end his sufferings. He 
had a wife and family to mourn him, and just 
before his death asked one of the nurses to write 
a note foi' him to his wife. Viewing the mangled 
body, in my ears the cries of agony from other 
lips, I thought bitterly of the insensate passions 
which produce such misery and pain. If only the 
nations could realise the horror of it, there would 
surely be less fighting ! 

Such musings of the night season are none the 
less true in the sunshine, but with the dawn come 
other thoughts also — thoughts of the two armies 
yonder in the hills, of the courage and fortitude of 
the soldiers, their loyalty and tenacity of purpose, 
and one seems to see that even war is not wholly 
evil. 

As the shadows of night began to pass away, I 
left the railway station to return to my observation 
post on the hill. The outposts had fallen back, 
and the artillery had come into the main position. 
An air of depression was plainly observable in a 



THE RETREAT FROM AN-SHAN-CHAN 95 

group of three or four officers whom I questioned 
as to the situation. They were silent at first. But 
what was the use of keeping back news that must 
shortly be common property ? so presently one of 
the officers said — 

"The order to retire has been given." 
Then followed the explanation. During the 
past two days General Kuroki had attacked the 
eastern army with great vigour near Lan-jan-san, 
and had captured important positions which enabled 
him to threaten the left flank of the An-shan-chan 
army. Thereupon General Kuropatkin thought it 
expedient to lessen his front and fall back on the 
very strong position prepared at Liao-Yang. At 
An-shan-chan both officers and men were much 
disappointed that they were not allowed to offer 
battle to the Japanese. From the spectacular 
point of view I shared the disappointment ; never 
again in a lifetime might I find a position so 
perfectly placed for witnessing a battle as was the 
hill whereon I sat in relation to the two armies 
below. 

Meanwhile day had broken, and through our 
glasses masses of Japanese infantry could be made 
out marching along the hills eastward. Turning 
our gaze southward towards Hai-Cheng, snake-like 
columns of the enemy were seen extending rapidly 
over the plains. Truly the whole Japanese army 
seemed in motion. Beneath us were two or three 
Cossack outposts. Sweeping the valley with my 
telescope, beyond these outposts I espied a body of 
cavalrymen advancing cautiously in our direction. 



96 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

Turning to the officers near by, "I think those 
men are Japanese," I ventured to remark. The 
officers looked and laughed, "No," they said, 
"they are our men." Convinced that I was right 
I offered to bet one hundred roubles that the men 
were Japanese, but found no " takers." The cavalry- 
men were lost to sight for a while in the kowliang, 
from which they presently emerged close to a 
Cossack post. The Cossacks did not detect their 
presence, but it was otherwise with the Japanese, 
for such in truth they were now seen to be. Dis- 
mounting, they left their horses in a village, went 
forward on foot, and having ascertained what they 
wanted to know concerning the disposition of the 
Russians, walked back to their horses, mounted 
and rode away. It was a little drama played out 
under our eyes, and not without its lesson on the 
fortunes of the war generally. I say "beneath our 
eyes," but the Russian officers had this excuse — 
they were for the most part either without glasses 
or provided with very indifferent ones. They 
were always glad when opportunity offered to 
borrow the telescope of a correspondent or attach^. 
All this while the retreat of the main Russian 
force was going on ; everywhere was bustle and 
movement. Long lines of transport were streaming 
northward towards Liao-Yang ; train after train 
left the railway station for the same destination ; 
regiments took the route with standards flying and 
bands playing, making a brave show whatever their 
feelings in being compelled to execute "a strategic 
movement to the rear." The sight, had the troops 



THE RETREAT FROM AN-SHAN-CHAN 97 

been advancing instead of retiring, would indeed 
have been inspiriting — solid masses of infantry and 
artillery, with thousands of bayonets glittering in 
the sunshine, passed steadily along hour after hour. 
The woodwork of the railway station was taken 
down, and preparations made to burn any stores 
that in the end it might prove impossible to trans- 
port. It became at length necessary to consider 
my own retreat, as, having lent my horse to an 
officer, I didn't wish to have to tramp through the 
awful roads the twenty-two miles to Liao-Yang. 
So, not waiting to see the rearguard action, obvi- 
ously inevitable in view of the rapid approach of 
the Japanese, I left my hill and took a seat in one 
of the last trains to leave An-shan-chan. We 
steamed slowly away, and, entering the plains, drew 
up for the night at a siding some ten miles on the 
road to Liao-Yang. Looking back late in the 
evening a red glare was seen to light up An-shan- 
chan — abandoned (for ever?) by the Russians. 
Down the slopes of the hills came the Russian 
rearguard. They had been closely pressed by the 
enemy, and had lost a whole battery. This battery 
had stuck in the mud, and all the efforts to move it 
failed. Teams of horses and strings of men were 
brought up to pull at the guns, but without effect ; 
they sank lower and lower in the mire. Soon the 
Japanese from behind began firing at the battery ; 
every minute men and horses fell dead or wounded. 
One shrapnel killed outright Colonel Von Raben 
of the Imperial Guards, and General Rudkovsky, 
the gallant officer who commanded the rear- 
7 



98 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

guard. The efforts to get the guns along were 
now abandoned — the battery was left as a present 
to the Japanese. The night of the retreat, General 
Stackelberg passed on to Liao-Yang to report to 
General Kuropatkin. By an officer of his Staff I 
was told that a telegram had been received an- 
nouncing the fall of Port Arthur. It was a false 
rumour, for the great assault on the fortress had 
been gloriously repulsed, but the report found 
credence among the Staff, and added to the gloom 
in the army. 

The next day I returned to Liao-Yang. There 
needed no telling that the spirit of war was brooding 
over the city. Liao-Yang was no longer simply 
the advanced base of the Russian army ; it was 
the central position upon which even now, from 
east and south, the forces of Kuropatkin were 
concentrating. For the first time the trembling 
citizens could hear the noise of battle, which 
rumbled from the eastern hills. In that direction 
fate had been indeed unkind to the troops of the 
Tsar. General Ivanoff, who had succeeded Count 
Keller, had lost several guns and had had to 
abandon Sui-lin-tze to General Kuroki, the loth 
Army Corps having been previously forced to 
retreat from Anping. Riding out along the An- 
ping road I met the Russians retiring. Solidly, 
sullenly, unhasting, unpausing, they came back to 
take their places in the positions already prepared 
nearer Liao-Yang. South and west the troops 
from An-shan-chan were occupying other points in 
the line of defence. 



THE RETREAT FROM AN-SHAN-CHAN 99 

What a wonderful and never-to-be-forgotten 
sight the plain presented on that 29th of August ! 
No watcher from the old pagoda had ever seen 
its like before. There one might recognise the 
familiar features — the railway running due north 
and south, the Tai-tze-ho, now swift and deep, 
sweeping round the northern walls and then glitter- 
ing away to the west, the hills to north and east 
where the valley of the river narrowed, and, looking 
south and west, the fertile fields dotted with many 
villages. All these things might be seen, but to- 
day they formed but the framework of the picture. 
For round the wall of the ancient city was a vast 
army, collected to decide whether Tsar or Mikado 
should henceforth be master. Transport trains, 
ammunition columns, parks of artillery, moved 
hither and thither to their allotted posts ; the 
frightened villagers fled to the town, staff officers 
in brilliant uniforms passed by, and everywhere in 
orderly disorder the soldiers sought their proper 
camping-ground. In that huge host were men 
from every part of the Russian Empire — Mongol- 
ians from Transbaikalia, Caucasians, Daghestanis, 
the brave Siberians, reservists torn from homes 
in far-off Europe ; the Pole, the Finn, the Moslem, 
and the Jew, all were there. Within the walls there 
was agitation and fear among the Chinese popula- 
tion, augmented as it was by many refugees. The 
streets were packed with anxious faces. None 
dreaded the morrow more than these poor people 
who had seen their villages seized and their crops 
destroyed by the foreigners, and who now feared. 



100 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

with good cause, that the shells of the enemy — 
however unintentionally — might batter down their 
walls and houses, and make desolate their homes. 

As the watcher in the pagoda, or from the city 
wall, gazed on this picture, the far-off sound of 
guns and the sight of a shell bursting in the 
eastern hills served to stimulate the imagination 
and convince him that the great battle, so long 
delayed, was about to open. It could not indeed 
be otherwise. Hitherto both the Russian and 
Japanese armies had been divided, now each was 
concentrated and in close proximity. Now must 
the carefully constructed fortifications around Liao- 
Yang be put to the test ; now, in short, must the 
issue be joined. No longer could the Russians use 
their self-consolatory phrase, " The war has not yet 
begun" — the coming issue would be a true test of 
strength, a fight to a finish ; perchance a Sedan. 

Thoughts such as these formed themselves as 
I gazed admiringly at the magnificent spectacle. 
Except for "the distant and random gun," the 
fighting had ceased. There was in the air the 
hush of expectation — the calm before the storm 
burst. And in full fury the battle raged on the 
morrow. 



CHAPTER XV 

THE BATTLE OF LIAO-YANG OPENS 

Just as the first streak of dawn illumined the sky, 
on the morning of the 3Qth of August, the first gun 
boomed. The battle of Liao-Yang had begun. 
Before attempting to describe this memorable fight 
— the biggest artillery battle of which history has 
record— a few words must be given to the dis- 
position of the troops engaged. The Russians 
occupied a line of rocky hills which, at a distance of 
something over three miles south of Liao-Yang, 
rise precipitously from the level plain and sweep 
round in a half-circle eastward to the Tai-tze-ho. 
These hills extend west only as far as the railway 
line running south to An-shan-chan. Beyond the 
railway the country is perfectly flat, and in August 
is covered with high kowliang. In this direction 
on the extreme right of the Russian position was 
General Mischenko's cavalry ; next to them, more 
cavalry under General Gourko (a son of the famous 
field-marshal), and then, posted in a line of villages 
coming right up to the railway, part of the ist 
Siberian Army Corps. The duty of this right 
wing was to protect the railway line. Immediately 
east of the railway rises Shushan Hill, occupied by 



102 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

the remainder of the ist Siberian Army Corps. 
This corps was under the command of Lieut. - 
General Baron Stackelberg, who had his head- 
quarters on Shushan Hill. The hills extending 
eastward of Shushan were held by the 2nd and 
3rd Siberian Army Corps. On the right bank of 
the Tai-tze-ho (Liao-Yang being on the left bank) 
were the loth and J7th European Army Corps, 
under General Baron Bilderling. They held a 
very strong position, and were charged with the 
duty of preventing the Japanese cutting the Russian 
communications with the north. Besides the corps 
named. General Kuropatkin had at his disposal 
the 4th and 5th Siberian Army Corps and a large 
part of the ist European Army Corps. These 
were held in reserve in the plain of Liao-Yang. 
It is hard to estimate the number of troops in all, 
as many battalions were much under strength. 
But Kuropatkin's army at Liao-Yang was about 
200,000 strong. 

As to the enemy. General Oku's troops opposed 
the Russian right and centre ; General Nodzu 
the centre and left ; while farther east was 
General Kuroki, whose object it was to force the 
passage of the Tai-tze-ho and get behind the 
Russian main body. 

Such is a brief outline of the general situation. 
A few details may be added concerning that part 
of the army with which I was posted and the 
particular force opposing it. The ist Siberian 
Army Corps numbered about 20,000 infantry, 
possessed 70 or 80 guns, 8 machine guns, and 



THE BATTLE OF LIAO-YANG OPENS 103 

included Gourko's cavalry. It had to hold a 
position extending from six and a half to seven 
versts (i.e. some five miles), so that there were 
about 3000 men per verst. General Oku, our 
assailant, had two divisions and ten or twelve 
batteries. He occupied hilly country 3000 to 4000 
yards distant from the Russian positions. Shushan 
Hill, the central point of Stackelberg's force, is 
462 feet high, and is a very rocky eminence. On its 
eastern side, in a gap separating it from the next hill, 
runs the main road to An-shan-chan ; at its western 
foot is the railway. From the An-shan-chan road a 
path goes up the hill through a grove of magnificent 
firs to the summit, crowned by a curious stone build- 
ing, ancient and very strongly made and in appear- 
ance like a truncated tower or large cairn. In this 
tower, which served as Baron Stackelberg's head- 
quarters, had been placed the field telephone. The 
position, both at Shushan and all along the front, 
was a distinctly strong one. The trenches had 
been laid out with great skill and afforded good 
cover. One trench was dug just below the stone 
tower on the side facing the Japanese, and it com- 
manded a capital view of the country over which 
the enemy must attack. Trenches and gun em- 
placements for three batteries extended down the 
hill towards the Japanese position. The batteries 
of the Corps were in general placed in pairs in gaps 
of the hills, and everything was done to protect and 
conceal them. In the plain extending behind the 
position to Liao-Yang were hospitals and field 
ambulances, artillery parks and regimental trans- 



104 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

port. It was a scene of continuous movement. 
From the railway, light lines of rails had been laid 
down which ran to the rear of the hills, and along 
these lines trolleys loaded up from the railway were 
pushed by soldiers. In this manner the ammuni- 
tion was supplied to the artillery parks. From the 
parks it was transferred by waggon to the limbers, 
and from the limbers taken to the batteries by 
hand. A similar system was adopted by the 
field ambulances. Stretcher-bearers carried the 
wounded from the firing line to dressing-stations 
placed beyond the range of the enemy's guns. 
First-aid having been rendered at these stations, 
the men were taken to the ambulances, and thence 
to the field hospital or to the train, and so to Liao- 
Yang. 

These details will, I trust, enable those of my 
readers unversed in military technicalities to under- 
stand something of the mechanism of the battle. 
I must now ask them to accompany me to the 
firing, line. It is early morning, yet the guns are 
already thundering in chorus. With General 
Stackelberg we climb up Shushan Hill and take 
our post in the deep trench in front of the stone 
tower already described. Six-fifteen a.m., and from 
our post overlooking the railway right round the 
eastern hills the battle is raging. Only the firing 
of artillery as yet, but it is a gigantic "only." 
Both sight and sound are astonishing, — terrifying. 
The whole line of hills is wreathed in clouds of 
white smoke. Each separate ball of snow, burst- 
ing in the air 20 to 30 feet above the hills, 



THE BATTLE OF LIAO-YANG OPENS 105 

is a shrapnel raining bullets on the foe beneath. 
They come unceasingly, unerringly, — 60 to 70 
shells burst on the Russian position at the same 
moment. The air is torn with the continuous roar, 
altogether baffling description. It is like the 
multitudinous waves of ocean dashing in fiercest 
fury against a rock-bound shore. Hurtling through 
the air, the shells whistle and shriek in agony ; it 
seems that nothing living can withstand them. 

To the tremendous cannonade of the Japanese 
the Russian guns made vigorous reply. On both 
sides the firing was maintained without intermission 
for over five hours. What damage the Russians 
did the enemy we could not well make out ; on 
Shushan and the neighbouring hills the terrible 
fire had many a victim, but owing to the well- 
constructed trenches the loss of life was not so 
great as the tornado of lead seemed to portend. 
At half-past eleven General Oku brought his 
infantry into play. Under cover of an artillery 
fire, even hotter than before, the Japanese troops 
advanced, with the object of turning our right. 
With eager, strained attention we watched them 
advance towards the trenches lined with the 
Siberians. When about 800 yards from the 
Russian position the Japanese were obliged to 
leave cover. This was the moment for which 
the Russians had waited. They rose in their 
trenches and fired a volley point blank at the foe. 
The Japanese line quivered, many a man fell 
never to rise, but the survivors pressed on. It 
might not be that they should win ; volley after 



106 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

volley rang out from the Russian rifles, and the 
Japanese ranks crumbled like a sand-castle before 
the advancing tide. The few men left wavered, 
and turned; the first assault had been repulsed. 
None but the bravest troops could have faced such 
a terrific fire at all. 

Meanwhile the Japanese artillery had made a 
target of the tower on Shushan. They had got 
the range to a nicety, a fact which it was impossible 
quite to appreciate, and shell after shell, even 
bouquets of shrapnel at a time, burst over our heads. 
There one sat squeezed against the parapet, watch- 
ing shrapnel bullets plant themselves in a pattern 
on the opposite side of the trench. Against the 
stone tower where was the telephone the bullets 
rained like hail. It was impossible to leave the 
trench, save at great risk ; and, as the telephone was 
not sufficient, communication down the hill was 
established by a line of men who lay flat on their 
stomachs and passed the notes written by the 
general from hand to hand, moving their bodies 
as little as possible. Under this severe bombard- 
ment we suffered several casualties, though fewer 
than might be imagined. One soldier lying close 
to me had his rifle broken in two by a fragment of 
shell case ; another man got two shrapnel bullets 
through his leg, because he would stick it out too 
far in order to get ease. During all this trying 
time Baron Stackelberg sat calm and cool, writing 
his orders, and occasionally raising himself to 
look over the top of the parapet, — a dangerous 
proceeding, as, whenever we showed a head, 



THE BATTLE OF LIAO-YANG OPENS 107 

it at once became the target of some Japanese 
gunner. 

Below us and on our right, the Russian gunners 
worked and sweated, prodigal of life. They 
resembled nothing so much as stokers shovelling 
on the coal at the trial trip of a new torpedo boat. 
No finer example of bravery and endurance than 
that given by these gunners have I seen. The 
Japanese had the exact range of nearly every 
battery, and their shrapnel rained death on the 
devoted Siberians. Where they fell, they lay, 
and instantly new men stepped into their places. 
The blood of the dead bespattered the guns, their 
bodies jammed against the wheels ; but what was 
the worth of a dead soldier? Other hands must 
feed the gun, send another shell whirring towards 
the enemy. Never must the battery be silenced. 
And so hour after hour they worked on. 

, Towards five o'clock the Japanese tried another 
— this time a greater — turning movement on our 
right. Reserve battalions from Liao-Yang, with 
General Mischenko's cavalry, opposed this move- 
ment, and a fierce engagement followed. It was 
difficult to see clearly what was happening ; but 
the infantry fire was furious, it sounded like the 
crackling of an angry fire. 

Determined to view this fight at closer quarters, 
I left the shelter of the trench and ran down the 
hill. I had reached the bottom without mishap, 
when a shrapnel burst just above my head. I heard 
the bullets rattling all round, and saw a soldier who 
had been following me fall to the ground. Calling 



108 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

another man to my aid, we gently lifted the stricken 
soldier and carried him to a dressing - station. 
Blood covered his face, his neck, and his chest. 
Our help was needless — he was dead. 

Turning to cross to the right flank I passed 
two or three men burying a fallen comrade, and 
noted the blood - stained paths along which an 
endless train of wounded were being borne — those 
who could be moved whilst the fight still raged. 
Presently I reached the battery of the 3rd Trans- 
baikal Horse Artillery, the gunners doing their 
best to silence a Japanese battery posted in a 
village some 3000 yards away, and which all the 
day had enfiladed some of the Russian trenches. 
(Mr. Baring accompanied this battery for months, 
sharing its dangers and going into action with it on 
all occasions — sometimes under a very hot fire.^) 
The Japanese attack was being very vigorously 
met, but the tall kowliang and the numerous 
villages in which the troops were placed made it 
difficult to comprehend what was happening. 
Determination was opposed to determination, and 
as often as the Japanese showed in the open, the 
crackle of infantry fire greeted them. And all 
the while the gunners stuck grimly to their task, 
making the earth itself vibrate with the shock of 
the exploding shells. To move was to court 
danger, and from out of a field or village, appar- 
ently deserted, would come a sudden gust of bullets 
whistling around one in a most unpleasant manner. 

' Mr. Baring has told his story in a book entitled With the 
Russians in Manchuria. 



THE BATTLE OF LI AO- YANG OPENS 109 

Had every bullet found a living billet that day, 
both armies would have been annihilated. It takes 
a ton of lead to each man killed — which is a very 
pretty calculation, writing after the event, and 
counting the numbers engaged and the casualties 
suffered ; but creeping along by the trenches here 
in the open plain, with bullets singing by every 
second, the thought, even should it occur to one, 
presents no comfort. 

Darkness was now falling, and it betokened a 
temporary cessation of the conflict. The great 
turning- movement on the right had been almost 
completely repulsed — not entirely, for to the 
desperate valour of the Japanese the Russians 
had been forced to yield one village. With this 
exception Baron Stackelberg held all his positions. 
For an hour or two there would be a slight, a very 
slight, relaxation of the strain on commander and 
men. I turned back to the town to send off 
a message to London ; was there not the great 
British public to be considered, avid for news of 
battle, served "hot and hot"? On the way to 
Liao-Yang I passed fresh battalions of the ist 
European Army Corps marching proudly to the 
front to the accompaniment of a lively tune — a 
different spectacle this to the melancholy train of 
wounded men seen a little earlier. The sight of 
these fresh troops was inspiriting, it acted like a 
tonic after a very trying day. 



CHAPTER XVI 

SECOND DAY OF THE BATTLE 

Desultory firing on the Russian right continued 
throughout the night. In the centre more serious 
work was in hand. All the day the troops holding 
that position — the 3rd Siberian Army Corps, under 
General Ivanoff — had been subjected to as murder- 
ous a cannonade from the batteries of General 
Nodzu as had those of Baron Stackelberg on 
Shushan. Darkness to them brought no reliefj 
for during the night the Japanese infantry threw 
themselves against impossible positions with a 
courage unequalled by the most reckless of Dervish 
warriors charging a British square. Their dead 
lay in hundreds round the Russian trenches. 
Furious as were their assaults, and great as were 
the Russian losses, every charge was repulsed. 
Morning dawned to see the gallant 3rd Siberians 
holding their own. On the right, to the west of 
the railway, the Japanese had also attacked the 
troops in the plain and driven them back a few 
hundred yards. Early in the morning the Russian 
infantry drove them out, and regained their old 
positions. 

If the night had been thus filled with tumult 



SECOND DAY OF THE BATTLE 111 

and the clash of bayonets, the 3 1 st of August was 
but a few hours old when the great artillery duel 
recommenced. Again the white clouds wreathed 
the whole line of the Russian hills, again the roar 
of guns continued in ceaseless fury, again the 
bursting shrapnel rained down leaden death. By 
six o'clock the battle had recommenced along the 
whole line. To-day, however, the character of the 
fight changed. Without relaxing his bombard- 
ment of the hills held by Baron Stackelberg, 
General Oku realised that the weak spot in the 
Russian position was the extreme right, that is the 
flat plain west of the railway. Could this be 
turned, the railway might be gained and the whole 
Russian position threatened. To turn this right 
was only possible by the free use of infantry, and 
with such men as his, to whom death was a 
glorious privilege, anything might be attempted. 
So the day was to prove one of close fighting and 
trench storming, when, with the lust of blood in 
the eye, men surge forward eager to flesh the cruel 
bayonet in the bodies of the foe. Seldom, how- 
ever, does the resolution of the defenders hold 
before the glint of cold steel, though here and 
there were cases of men standing their ground to 
the last. 

Far out to the west Japanese troops began 
moving north, presently to close in on the trenches 
and villages held by the enemy. At a quarter past 
seven in the morning they attacked one of the 
trenches on the Russian extreme right, and carried 
it after furious resistance. The company which 



112 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

had rushed the trench were without supports, and 
from their trench came no sound. A hundred 
yards away was another trench held by the Rus- 
sians. The tension was too great for one young 
Russian. Raising himself he dashed across to the 
Japanese trench. Then came a cry of joy. " My 
comrades," he shouted back, "they have no more 
ammunition." Up leapt the Russians then, and 
in five minutes not a Japanese was left alive 
in the trench — the bayonet had done its work. 
Throughout the morning attack after attack was 
made by the Japanese, and little by little they made 
good their hold. The fighting was very close, and 
trenches were taken and retaken more than once. 
At 12.35 P-'"- General Stackelberg on Shushan 
Hill received an urgent message from Major- 
General Kondratovitch — one of the commanders 
on the extreme right — asking for reinforcements. 
But there were none to give, and Stackelberg 
sent back word that Kondratovitch and his men 
"must die at their post" — the last duty of a 
soldier. 

Let us leave this hard-pressed right flank for 
the time and return to the tower on Shushan. 
From 6.45 a.m. the hill had been violently bom- 
barded by Oku's gunners. The Russians replied 
with equal vigour, and forced one Japanese battery 
to retire. The position on the hill became, how- 
ever, one of increasing danger, the enemy concen- 
trating a cross shrapnel fire upon it despite all the 
efforts of the Russian gunners. Baron Stackelberg 
was forced to leave the trench below the tower and 



SECOND DAY OF THE BATTLE 113 

take refuge within that building, against which the 
bullets were pattering like large hail-stones against 
the window-pane. More troublesome than the 
bombardment of the trenches was the bursting of 
shrapnel among the Russian reserves. As early 
as half-past six the Japanese had shelled a village 
which held reserves for the trenches on our flank, 
now their artillery sought out the reserves lying 
among the rocks on the Liao-Yang side of the 
hills. Informed doubtless of the exact position of 
these reserves by Chinese spies, the guns had 
located the Russian reserves exactly, and the 
dreaded shrapnel poured down on them as they 
lay utterly unable to reply. To lie still and be 
shot at is perhaps the most trying experience of 
the soldier ; the highest test of discipline, one 
which the finest troops cannot always stand, as 
was proved at Plevna when General Skobeloff in 
one of the battles repelled a counter-attack of the 
Turks by firing, not on their front line, but on 
the reserves, who fled in panic, drawing the fight- 
ing-line after them. Suffering much from the fire 
of the Japanese gunners the morale of these re- 
servists was seriously shaken, and a panic among 
them might be fraught with serious consequences. 
Seeing this, General Stackelberg left the tower and 
went down to the men, reminding them of their 
duty to their Emperor, and exhorting them to 
stand firm. His words, fitly chosen, had the 
desired effect. 

The day was going badly for Stackelberg's 
troops, and the General began to consider the 
8 



114 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

possibility of having to retire. He was suffering 
from illness, and had received a severe contusion on 
the leg, which caused him much pain. But through- 
out he exhibited remarkable endurance, giving his 
orders calmly amid the rain of bullets. Seeing 
that the outer line of trenches beyond the railway 
could not be held much longer, at 4.15 p.m. an 
engineer battalion, at Stackelberg's orders, began 
to dig trenches about 1000 yards in their rear. In 
these trenches the General placed a battalion, whose 
duty it was, by their sudden and unexpected appear- 
ance, to delay the Japanese after the outer trenches 
had been evacuated. The position of the right 
flank, in view of the repeated attacks of the 
Japanese, whose turning movement had now fully 
developed, became extremely critical, so much so 
that at a quarter to six in the evening General 
Stackelberg found it necessary to issue orders that 
the troops were not to retire without permission. 
It was a variant on the order to Kondratovitch, to 
die at his post. There was every need for resolu- 
tion, for every half- hour the Japanese attacks 
increased in intensity, and, despite everything, the 
right wing had to give way before their impetuosity. 
At this period (6.40 p.m.) the shrapnel of the 
enemy was bursting with such rapidity as to 
resemble infantry fire. On the Russian side the 
firing was not so rapid, a battery which should be 
able to fire ninety-six rounds a minute {i.e. twelve 
rounds each gun in the minute) was not firing more 
than sixty-four, which is about the quickest gun-fire 
on the Russian side that I have seen. Moreover, on 



SECOND DAY OF THE BATTLE 115 

the Russian side, ammunition for the guns was 
running short ; the loaded limbers, urgently asked 
for at 5.45 p.m., did not arrive till seven o'clock. 
During the hottest of the firing it took an hour to 
send a note from Shushan, a distance of 400 yards, 
and get a reply, a fact which emphasises the utility 
of signalling with a flag. 

The Russian batteries suffered terribly, despite 
the fact that they had been well extended. Yet it 
was not always the most exposed guns which 
suffered most. At the moment when the Japanese 
flankers threatened to come close to the railway, 
one battery of the 9th Division sent forward two 
guns right into the open. Unprepared for such a 
change of position, the Japanese guns were not 
able to alter their range properly, and these two 
guns suffered no loss. Again, one battery in the 
gun-pits of the same division had about a hundred 
casualties in a very short time, whilst another 
battery close to it was not hit at all. The battery 
which had been so severely punished then shifted its 
position a little, and thereafter suffered no loss, the 
Japanese gunners continuing to fire at its former 
emplacement. 

As the evening drew on I rode out towards the 
right flank. As we have seen, it had been des- 
perately engaged all day long, and now had been 
driven back almost flat against the railway, the 
embankment of which afforded the troops cover. 
Artillery parks, ambulances, hospitals, and trans- 
port had been obliged to retire towards Liao-Yang. 
Again I passed, as on the previous day, along 



116 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

strings of wounded men all dappled with blood, 
some pale and wan, others tossing about on the 
ambulance groaning or shrieking in their pain. And 
here and there, in a dark pool of blood, lay some 
form still in death. 

The day was now ended, and with the setting 
of the summer sun the firing ceased all along the 
line. The 3rd Siberian Army Corps had had its 
full share of the day's work, and had again repulsed 
all the assaults of General Nodzu. Save for the 
driving in of our extreme right, the whole Russian 
position south of Liao-Yang was intact. Not a 
battery had been silenced. The whole brunt of 
the fighting had fallen on the ist and 3rd Siberian 
Corps. Of the losses as a whole I need not now 
speak, but a few instances of regimental loss may 
bring to the minds of some readers a more vivid 
idea of the intensity of the battle than any word- 
pictures are able to do. In the two days fighting 
the 34th East Siberian Regiment lost 1700 men 
killed and wounded — several companies at the end 
of the second day were without officers. I was 
told by a staff officer that one battalion of this 
regiment went into action, on the 30th, 600 strong, 
and on the night of the 31st had only So men left. 
The 35th East Siberian R.R. lost 35 per cent, of 
its effective strength, whilst the officer commanding 
the East Siberian Artillery Brigade Division (four 
batteries) reported that he had lost 124 killed and 
40 wounded. The disproportion between killed 
and wounded illustrates the terrible nature of 
shrapnel fire — the shell bursting overhead, the 



SECOND DAY OF THE BATTLE 117 

bullets from it cause chiefly head wounds, which 
are, as everybody knows, usually fatal. 

The men had been fighting from 3.20 a.m. to 
8.0 p.m., and were still in good heart. This day, 
and the previous day, the Commander-in-Chief 
directed the battle from his train on the railway 
near to the town, but on each day he had mounted 
his horse and gone the round of the whole line, 
speaking words of encouragement to the men and 
consulting with the generals. The spirit of the 
Siberian troops was unbroken, and they were pre- 
paring to face the morrow with confidence. The 
Siberians were also heartened by a message from 
General Kuropatkin, that all was going well — that 
the Japanese were "crushed." We had perhaps 
not seen much of the "crushing" on our immediate 
front, but we took it to mean, at least, that the 
enemy had failed in his object. The message, alas, 
was nothing but a "campaign lie," which the ist 
Siberians bitterly realised when, just as the fighting 
ceased for the day. Baron Stackelberg received an 
order from General Kuropatkin to retire. It was 
with chagrin and disappointment the order was 
obeyed. The positions held were not immediately 
evacuated, parts of the 2nd and 4th Siberian Army 
Corps coming to relieve us, and the 3rd Siberian 
Army Corps closing up slightly to our left. The 
relief, fortunately for the Russians, passed unnoticed 
by General Oku, or the moment would have been 
chosen to renew the attack. General Stackelberg, 
however, withdrew his troops in the most masterly 
manner, and afforded the foe no inkling of what he 



118 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

was doing. It was a chance missed by the usually 
vigilant enemy. As it was, the Japanese just 
before midnight made an assault on what had been 
the extreme left of the ist Siberians. The position 
was then held by the 3rd Siberians, who, encour- 
aged by a message from Baron Stackelberg to hold 
out at all costs, gallantly repelled the enemy. 

It is time now to explain the reason for Baron 
Stackelberg's recall, which was the first step in a 
withdrawal of the whole army from the position so 
tenaciously held during the two days. Before the 
battle began a council of war had been held at 
Liao-Yang, at which it was unanimously decided 
to fight the battle out to a finish — to conquer or 
to die. That this was the intention of General 
Kuropatkin himself is beyond question. What, 
then, was the cause of the sudden change of plan, 
seeing that both Generals Oku and Nodzu, with 
the exception indicated, had failed to shake the 
Russian position ? It lay in the action of General 
Kuroki. The reader will remember that in the 
general sketch of the position of the two armies, 
at the beginning of the battle, Kuroki's troops 
were on the extreme right of the Japanese army, 
where the hills closed down on the valley of the 
Tai-tze-ho. Kuroki naturally had not been idle, 
and the success which had hitherto attended his 
operations did not desert him. He was able on 
the afternoon of the second day to force the 
passage of the river at a ford called Bensihu, 
25 miles to the east of Liao-Yang, and to 
threaten the loth and 17th European Army Corps. 



SECOND DAY OF THE BATTLE 119 

The Japanese horns were now closing round 
Kuropatkin. When, together with the news that 
Kuroki was across the Tai-tze-ho, General Kuro- 
patkin was informed by his Intelligence Officers 
that he had with him four divisions, the Russian 
Commander-in-Chief was staggered. He had 
understood that Kuroki's force numbered no more 
than two divisions, and, believing his communica- 
tions with the north to be in imminent danger, he 
at once decided to withdraw from the outer fortifica- 
tions in the hills south and east of Liao-Yang to 
the inner line nearer the city, and to send his tried 
Siberian troops to the aid of the two European 
Corps who had to meet the attack of Kuroki on 
the farther side of the river. Thus in a few hours 
the whole situation was changed. Afterwards the 
Russians learned to their great disgust that the 
report received by Kuropatkin had exactly doubled 
the strength of Kuroki, and that that General had, 
in fact, only two divisions with him when he 
crossed the Tai-tze-ho. General Kuropatkin 
blamed his faulty Intelligence Department for 
causing him to retreat ; but excuses don't win 
battles. There is no doubt that the strength 
generally of the Japanese at Liao-Yang was over- 
estimated by the Russians. The defenders (and 
the losers) had the stronger position and the 
greater number of men. However, at this time 
(evening of 31st of August), the battle was by no 
means lost, though, by abandoning the outer 
fortifications, the Russians gave the enemy a 
position which commanded both the inner fortifica- 



120 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

tions and the town of Liao-Yang. The inner 
fortifications were nevertheless of great strength, 
and could be held indefinitely, so that if the troops 
across the river were able to defeat Kuroki and 
cut off his retreat, the battle might yet be won by 
the Russians. General Kuropatkin gained this 
one advantage by retiring into the inner position 
— his front was less extended and could be the 
better defended. Though superior in force to his 
enemy, his troops were hardly sufficient to hold the 
outer line of the 30th and 3 1 st of August. 

The transition from the sublime to the ridiculous 
is one easily made. All day long I had witnessed 
the tragedy of men " made in the image of God " 
bringing their utmost skill and science to the 
hateful task of mutual murder ; at night I was 
witness of the " tragedy " of a dog's death. I 
had made my way past several large hospitals, 
where the surgeons were working untiringly, to 
the telegraph office at Liao-Yang. There I met 
a young Russian, the war correspondent of the 
Russ, who had been shot right through the chest, 
but true to his calling was sending off his "wire" 
to St. Petersburg. Then, thinking the time had 
come to leave the city, I went to collect my 
worldly goods, which were in a tent in a garden 
inside the walls. In the same garden lived another 
correspondent — a German who had as pet a small 
Chinese puppy, of which he was very fond. He 
was in distress about this pet. " I can't find the 
kleine hund" said he. I helped him to search for 
the missing dog, but all our efforts to find it proved 



SECOND DAY OF THE BATTLE 121 

futile. At last our suspicions were aroused on 
seeing a group of Chinese sitting round a fire 
over which hung a flesh-pot. Their attitude, the 
greedy glisten in their eyes, awoke our worst fears. 
We hurried up only to find our premonitions over- 
true — the kleine hund was inside the pot. 

The town was comparatively quiet, the sound 
of the guns having almost ceased ; I lay down to 
rest — to be once more awakened by the angry 
crackling of rifles. 



CHAPTER XVII 

JAPANESE CLOSE IN ON LIAO-YANG 

During the night the entire outer position south of 
Liao-Yang had been evacuated by order of General 
Kuropatkin. As already told, the General wished 
to strengthen the force on the other side of the 
Tai-tze-ho operating against General Kuroki, and, 
with that object, had hurried over the ist Siberian 
Army Corps, whilst the 3rd Siberian Army Corps 
was kept in reserve. No praise too lavish could 
be bestowed upon these men. Some idea of the 
character of their forty-eight hours' fighting has been 
given in the last two chapters, it should also be 
realised that during that period they had scarcely 
tasted food or enjoyed rest, and, after having been 
assured that the foe had been beaten, were suddenly 
ordered to retreat, to march through the darkness 
of night to take up a position where more hard 
fighting awaited them on the morrow. The men 
in these trying circumstances were wonderfully 
patient and enduring. Needless for them the ex- 
hortations, commonly addressed to the troops by 
their generals, to strain every nerve for the fight, 
"for to-day the Russians must attack and conquer." 
Certainly on this occasion the opinion among the 



JAPANESE CLOSE IN ON LIAO-YANG 123 

Russian officers was that Kuroki's attempt to cut 
their communications would fail ; rather they 
believed that the Japanese General would find 
himself cut off by General Kuropatkin and forced 
either to surrender or to witness the annihilation 
of his men. The troops which had not been sent 
across the Tai-tze-ho now occupied the inner line 
of fortification carefully constructed around Liao- 
Yang on all sides, save that where the river came 
close to its walls. On either end these fortifications 
rested on the river, and, though built on the open 
plain, presented a most formidable barrier to the 
advance of the Japanese. In front of the redoubts 
and trenches the ground was honeycombed with 
trous-de-loups and covered with wire entanglements. 
On what, during the two previous days' fighting, 
had been the Russian extreme right the enemy was 
closer in to the railway line and the city than in the 
direction of the hills, and chiefly from this side 
came the heavy infantry fire which awoke all Liao- 
Yang that morning of the ist of September — the 
day when sportsmen at home are early astir after 
quarry of another kind. Knowing that it could 
not be long before the Japanese discovered that 
Shushan and the other hills had been abandoned 
to them, I listened for the sound of shells coming 
into Liao-Yang itself, and especially in " Russia 
town," the European settlement round the railway 
station. However, the artillery fire seemed distant, 
as if directed against the empty outer positions. 
Taking advantage of the interval afforded before 
the situation developed, I got my kit together. 



124 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

placed it all on a cart hired for me by my good 
friend Colonel Potapoff, and joined the exodus 
across the Tai-tze-ho. Beside the railway bridge 
(available also for foot and horse passengers), the 
river was spanned higher up by two pontoons. 
The Tai-tze-ho was now past the season of full 
flood, and the pontoons afforded an easy means of 
crossing. All the bridges were carefully guarded. 
The roads were crowded — military transport of all 
kinds, ambulances full of wounded men, Chinese 
and other merchants with hastily packed goods, all 
sought safety beyond the river. Having seen my 
belongings across, I left the cart in a convenient 
place in charge of the driver, a Chinaman, and 
made my way back to Liao-Yang anxious to see 
what happened. The rifle fire was still very hot, 
but the guns were silent — the Japanese, although 
they had by this time occupied the hills, did not 
seem in a hurry to bombard the town. 

The restaurant at the railway station was open 
and was packed with people scrambling for food. 
With difficulty I managed to get something to eat, 
and having satisfied my hunger fell to watching the 
motley crowd. There were officers from the firing- 
line whose faces had seen neither soap nor water 
for days, and whose canvas shirts were begrimed 
with mud and powder. Others there were still 
spick and span, bearded men in strange uniforms, 
hospital folk snatching a moment from their un- 
ending labours, and merchants anxious to get by 
train to Mukden. The keeper of the restaurant 
and his assistants, all Greeks, beamed with satis- 



JAPANESE CLOSE IN ON LI AO- YANG 125 

faction at the rich harvest of roubles this crowd 
represented. As far as the bustle and confusion 
permitted, the platform had been transformed into 
a hospital. Doctors and nurses attended to the 
wounded as they were brought in ; the patients 
were then placed in the hospital trains in waiting, 
which one after another steamed away north. 
Suddenly there came a familiar but unwelcome 
sound — a deep boom and then the whistling of a 
shell as it passed over the railway station and 
burst a hundred paces away in " Russia town." 
The Japanese artillery had awoken, and its first 
object was to destroy the railway station ! Boom 
— a second shot followed the first and rapidly 
emptied the buffet. Proprietor and waiters stood 
open-mouthed and aghast, for not only were the 
shells whistling around, but their patrons had fled 
without waiting to settle accounts. The latter was 
probably their most serious grievance. With the 
rest I left the buffet, and, taking my horse from the 
terrified man who held it, rode off to the town wall, 
thence to watch the fray. On my way I met a 
party of Greek store-keepers hastening towards 
the bridge. The bombardment had got on their 
nerves, and when a shell was heard approaching 
they threw themselves in panic on the ground. 
The shell burst twenty paces from them, and they 
rose uninjured. They ran on, leaving their cart 
behind. But to abandon property went sore against 
the grain, and, gradually regaining confidence, the 
Greeks dashed back for their cart, and having secured 
it continued their journey towards Mukden. 



126 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

Ascending the city wall I basked in the sun 
whilst watching the Japanese shot fall on " Russia 
town." The enemy had got guns on Shushan Hill, 
and, from a comfortable distance of 5000 yards or so, 
were shelling the Russian line of communication. 
(The Chinese city they did their best to avoid, 
though during the two following days some shells 
did burst within the walls, causing considerable loss 
of life.) The infantry fight also continued, signal- 
ised by occasional bursts of rifle fire in the plain, 
but the high kowliang effectively prevented the 
looker-on from seeing much of either combatant. 

Towards evening the Japanese began to use 
6-inch guns ; weapons, I believe, captured from 
the Russians at Kinchau in the previous May. 
The shells from these guns fell with a great " flump," 
and sent up a volume of thick black smoke on 
bursting. Unfortunately one 6-inch shell fell on 
the railway platform among the wounded men, 
several of whom it killed or further injured. The 
shot also struck two nurses, one dying of her 
wounds. Notwithstanding the bombardment, 
doctors and nurses had gone on with their duties 
regardless of the risk they ran, and even after this 
tragic interlude they continued their labour of love 
calmly and coolly. It did not need this example to 
show that women, when danger threatens, can 
exhibit as brave and serene a spirit as any member 
of the other sex, but to my mind the incident 
demonstrates the inadvisability of allowing women 
nurses to enter the danger zone. It should, of 
course, be understood that the Japanese were not 



JAPANESE CLOSE IN ON LIAO-YANG 127 

firing intentionally on hospital or hospital train, 
they were only doing what they were in duty 
bound to do — endeavouring to destroy the Russian 
communications. The fault lies perhaps in the 
Russians turning a railway platform into a hospital 
station. Nevertheless, in the last resort, wounded 
men cannot be allowed to interfere with military 
exigencies ; a hard saying, illustrated by an order 
issued this day by the Russians, namely, that no 
man should leave the ranks to help a wounded 
comrade. The wounded too sorely hit to go alone 
to the dressing stations were to lie where they fell. 
Part of the reason for this order is to be found in 
the inclination of some of the fighting-line men 
(stretcher-bearers not being always available for 
the purpose) to make a very long job of helping 
a wounded man — they themselves being out of 
danger whilst the job lasted. 

The bombardment went on till dark, and even 
after nightfall, with little intermission. I deter- 
mined to rejoin Baron Stackelberg's Corps and see 
the fight with Kuroki. Leaving Liao-Yang for 
good, I crossed the river, but could nowhere find 
my cart and driver. Fortunately I had some food 
in my wallet, otherwise I must have gone supperless 
to bed. "Bed" was provided by the river bank. 
The night was far from still. The boom of the 
guns continued, and bursting shell illuminated the 
heavens. Trains rumbled across the bridge and 
away to the north, cart after cart filled with stores 
rattled by. So many noises made sleep almost 
impossible, and one longed for daylight again. 



CHAPTER XVIII 

GENERAL KUROKI PROVES VICTORIOUS 

Early the next morning (September 2nd) General 
Kuropatkin and his Staff crossed the railway bridge 
at Liao-Yang and rode out eastward to the hills 
where the loth and 17th European Army Corps 
were posted to oppose General Kuroki. The 
Japanese were now attempting to capture Liao- 
Yang by direct attack, and at the same time to 
cut the communications between Kuropatkin and 
Mukden. Success in the second undertaking would 
render the fall of the city certain ; should Kuroki's 
effort fail, however, the Russian Commander would 
be able to hurl his whole force against the foe 
outside Liao-Yang, with consequences probably 
disastrous to the Japanese. 

The utmost importance attached, therefore, to 
the operations north of the river. The field of 
battle on this side extended parallel to the railway 
as far as Yentai Station (14 miles in a direct line), 
and thence eastward to the Yentai coal mines. 
The Russian force faced east with its back to the 
railway. Between the line and the hills which 
rose eastward was a plain three or four miles wide 
covered with tall kowliang, now ripe for harvest. 

128 



GENERAL KUROKI PROVES VICTORIOUS 129 

The nearest hills were held by the Russians ; 
beyond, threatening the whole front, was the army 
of General Kuroki. 

General Kuropatkin had ordered the ist Siberian 
Army Corps (Stackelberg's) to march to Yentai, 
which became the extreme left of the Russian 
position. It was surely asking too much of these 
brave fellows, after their two days of incessant 
fighting south of Liao-Yang and the night march 
across the Tai-tze-ho, to make another tiring march 
— and under a blazing sun — at the end of which 
they were expected to meet and beat the enemy. 
The task entrusted to General Stackelberg was to 
attack Kuroki's right flank, while the European 
Army Corps attacked the left flank, the combined 
movement being intended to cut off the Japanese 
from the Bensihu ford of the Tai-tze-ho, and there- 
after to fall upon Kuroki and defeat him in detail. 
The idea was a sound one, and perfectly feasible in 
favourable conditions. The reason why it failed 
will be apparent when the end of this chapter is 
reached. It was with Stackelberg's Corps, as the 
reader remembers, that I had been on Shushan 
Hill, and I now wished to rejoin it. This proving 
impracticable, I determined to keep nearer the 
river, as by that means I could not only watch the 
fight between the loth and 17th Army Corps and 
Kuroki's left, but also get some idea of how the 
battle round the city was progressing. The shelling 
of the Russian positions outside Liao-Yang had gone 
on intermittently all night, at dawn the attack was 
renewed with full vigour. From the railway bridge 
9 



130 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

I watched for awhile the conflict. The Japanese 
infantry in the plain were pouring a hot fire on the 
trenches ; the field artillery kept up an incessant 
roar, while above the tumult could be distinguished 
the deep boom of the 6-inch guns. Turning from 
the bridge I mounted my horse and followed the 
direction taken by General Kuropatkin, intending 
to join the 17th Army Corps. To reach the hill 
they held it was necessary to cross the kowliang- 
covered plain mentioned. It was a distance of 
some four miles ; the millet stood three or four feet 
above the head of a man on horseback, and the 
whole plain was covered with a network of small 
paths, and dotted with villages all of one pattern. 
To find one's way in such conditions was a task of 
the utmost difficulty — a fact which later in the day 
was to have an important bearing on the result of 
the battle. At length I gained a village on rising 
ground round which a brisk fire was being main- 
tained. On the right were the hills overlooking 
the Tai-tze-ho, occupied by the loth and 17th 
Army Corps. A little in advance of these hills 
were two mamelons. These mamelons were the 
scene of the opening phase of the battle of Yentai. 
General Kuroki having crossed the Tai-tze-ho in 
the afternoon of the 31st of August, had spent the 
I St of September in making secure his positions, 
and, this done, at dawn on the 2nd his troops 
attacked and captured the two mamelons. Just 
before I reached the scene the Russians had 
recaptured the positions, and were then holding 
them, in face of a very severe artillery fire. 



GENERAL KUROKI PROVES VICTORIOUS 131 

Standing about 800 yards in the rear of the 
mamelons, I could see admirably everything that 
went on, and in especial the effect of the Japanese 
fire. On the mamelon just above me two battalions 
were posted. One battalion had been able to throw 
up cover sufficient to protect it from the shell fire, 
but the other occupied rocky ground, and the efforts 
of the men to get shelter proved vain. All the 
while the Japanese shells were bursting over them. 
The guns had got the range perfectly, and the 
battalion suffered terribly. No troops could stand 
such punishment long, and, unable to endure it, the 
battalion began to retire up the hill on their main 
body. To reach the cover they so sorely needed 
the men had to climb some 1000 yards in the open. 
It was not crossing a fire zone merely, but a death 
zone. The moment the Russians rose from the 
mamelon, the Japanese gunners (some three bat- 
teries) opened a terrific fire upon them, and followed 
them with shrapnel the whole way. As an exhibi- 
tion of scientific slaughter the firing was lacking 
in nothing. The range of the guns was exact, the 
shooting perfect. The shrapnel burst over the 
heads of the retreating troops, as it were in large 
patterns. There was no cover, no escape for the 
unhappy Russians. Under this awful hail of 
bullets the men dropped like wheat beneath the 
sickle of the reaper. Death most truly was 
gathering a rich harvest. All the way up the 
slope was carpeted with little dark forms — few 
indeed of the battalion gained cover in safety. 

Incidents like these bring home with terrible 



132 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

reality the frightful curse of war, but in the battle 
it was simply what I have called it — ^an incident. 
The Japanese fire continued all the morning, and 
to it the Russians replied from batteries placed in 
the kowliang. These, firing at a considerable range 
and over the mamelons, tried to silence the hostile 
guns. The range of the Russian guns is superior 
to that of the Japanese by several hundred yards. 
But while the Russian field and horse artillery was 
provided with shrapnel only, the Japanese had 
both shrapnel and percussion shells. The enemy 
tried hard with percussion shells to find the where- 
abouts of the Russian batteries. In this they were 
not sucdessful, though now and again a chance 
shell would burst near the Russian guns. 

In the afternoon I ascended the big hill on 
which was the main body of the 1 7th Corps. The 
situation in our immediate front was practically un- 
changed. General Kuropatkin had gone back to 
Liao-Yang, in which direction the fight raged as 
fiercely — more fiercely, in fact — than before. From 
the commanding position of the hill some general 
idea of the battle could be obtained. Away to the 
east one could see across the Japanese positions, as 
far as Bensihu, 25 miles away, where Kuroki had 
crossed. Behind was the city, surrounded by a 
ring of smoke and flame ; the smoke hiding from 
sight scenes of slaughter almost unparalleled, as 
Oku's men threw themselves again and again 
against the Russian trenches. Turning one's gaze 
northward towards Yentai it was obvious that the 
fighting in that direction, where were Stackelberg's 



GENERAL KUROKI PROVES VICTORIOUS 133 

brave Siberians, was very severe. One could see 
the flashes of the guns showing clear against the 
dark hills. However, it was but partial attention 
one could give to the distant fight, so absorbing 
was the contest waged immediately below us and 
with us. The infantry on the hill were lying flat 
on the ground, as Japanese shells occasionally came 
plump among them. These shells must have been 
fired at a great distance and more or less haphazard. 
They were percussion shells, and loaded with the 
high explosive skimosa, which is of the same char- 
acter as lyddite and melinite, but more combustible 
than either the British or French explosive. The 
shells on bursting give off a suffocating black 
smoke, and split into many small fragments, which 
cause ugly wounds. 

Towards evening the Russians got together 
nearly two hundred guns, and, massing the batteries 
in threes {i.e. 24 guns), endeavoured by an over- 
whelming cannonade to demoralise the enemy. All 
the guns began firing at the same moment, covering 
the Japanese position in a canopy of white smoke 
from the bursting shrapnel. A more magnificent 
spectacle than this display of artillery I have never 
seen. The position here was that of the Japanese 
bombardment of the outer position at Liao-Yang 
reversed — only with more of artistic effect. (I 
am writing of it now simply as a spectacle, which 
those on the Russian side could regard at ease and 
in comparative safety.) The guns were ranged in a 
long line and fired sometimes together, sometimes 
in sequence. Three massed batteries fired a salvo. 



134 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

and as the shells rushed through the riven air, with 
the sound as of a great screw being turned, the 
next in the line of threes thundered forth, and all 
down the line the other batteries took up the tale. 
Then again the massed batteries at the right of the 
line bellowed and belched, and all the others 
followed in order. Words entirely fail to depict 
the scene ; some faint idea of the intensity of the 
fire may be gathered from the fact that the Japanese 
guns did not attempt to reply. Not a single gun 
broke the silence from that side, indeed it seemed 
impossible that anything could live within the range 
of the Russian artillery. It was not that the 
Japanese, who are quick at finding out a range, 
could not locate the hostile batteries, but that 
under such a tempest of lead no gun could be 
worked. The Japanese gunners on this occasion 
did, probably, what they generally did when sub- 
jected to a fire such as this — left their guns and 
sought cover to right or left some distance away. 
These tactics can only be adopted when the guns 
temporarily deserted are in a safe position, as they 
were on this occasion. The bombardment while it 
lasted was as severe as that by the Japanese on the 
Siberians on the 30th and 31st of August. There 
the guns were not left, and the havoc wrought was 
terrible. Combining the double experience, the 
concentrated fire of Oku's batteries on Shushan 
and this of the Russians on Kuroki, it might almost 
be said that no greater display of the power of 
artillery is possible. Doubts as to the value of 
artillery have been expressed by officers who went 



GENERAL KUROKI PROVES VICTORIOUS 135 

through the Boer War; after Liao-Yang there is 
no room for doubt either as to its moral or material 
effect. 

The bombardment of the Japanese position 
continued till darkness set in. Just before the sun 
went down large reinforcements marched in from 
Liao-Yang, the men singing and bands playing. 
It was a little theatrical effect, meant to inspire the 
corps who had been fighting all day with fresh 
courage. It was also designed, perhaps, to obscure 
the fact that the Russian plans had all miscarried. 
Though in numbers greatly superior to the Japanese, 
the loth and 17th Army Corps had barely succeeded 
in holding their own, and towards Yentai defeat 
had overtaken the Russians. Notwithstanding that 
in the morning the position of the Japanese had 
been a most precarious one, the attempt to cut off 
General Kuroki had ended in dismal failure. The 
reasons for this result may well be combined with 
an account of the day's fighting north of the posi- 
tion in which I had been stationed. 

We have seen that apart from their artillery 
"show off" the loth and 17th Army Corps had 
remained practically supine. This was due to the 
lack of any controlling mind. On the hill on which 
I was, there were towards evening, in addition to 
General Bilderling, three or four commanders of 
corps, but each refused the responsibility of command- 
ing the whole of the troops, and no orders came from 
General Kuropatkin as to what should be done. 
Nothing therefore was done, and in this fashion the 
Russian chances of success on the right flank were 



136 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

thrown away. For the left flank the day had been 
most trying. The ist Siberian Army Corps, after its 
long march under a hot sun, came into action about 
half-past three in the afternoon, when they were 
fiercely shelled by the enemy and thrown into con- 
siderable confusion. The gallant heroes of the 
Liao-Yang fight rallied later on, and at Half-past 
six attacked the Japanese right wing, but were 
driven back with heavy loss. The coal mines at 
Yentai fell into the hands of the Japanese, who 
pressed on almost to Yentai Station on the main 
line. They were, however, prevented from taking 
it by the Siberians, who at the close of the day still 
protected the railway. 

But the worst feature of the battle for the 
Russians was the dispersal of the force commanded 
by Major-General Orlofif. This force (8000 to 
10,000 strong), consisting of a division of the 5th 
Siberian Army Corps and one regiment, had 
been lent to General Stackelberg, to whom it 
would have been invaluable. It was composed of 
troops newly arrived from Siberia and mostly re- 
servists. Sent down from Mukden for the purpose 
of helping Baron Stackelberg, General Orloff was, 
however, more anxious to help the 17th Corps, and 
on his own responsibility marched off in the direc- 
tion of that body. His division lost its way in the 
tall kowliang which, as already noted, covered 
the plain. Various regiments got separated, mis- 
took each other for enemies, and attacked one 
another. The whole of Orloffs force was thus 
thrown into confusion. All chance of its recovering 



GENERAL KUROKI PROVES VICTORIOUS 137 

cohesion vanished when the Japanese (who had 
been watching the fratricidal strife from the neigh- 
bouring hills) swept down and poured volley after 
volley into the unhappy Russians. A panic at once 
ensued, all organization was broken up, and a great 
part of the division annihilated. General Orloff 
himself escaped with a slight wound. The disaster 
was afterwards attributed in part to the non-delivery 
of a message sent by Orloff to the 1 7th Corps ; the 
messenger (it was said), trusting to a bad map, lost 
his way, while no duplicate message had been sent. 
The bald facts herein set forth tell their own tale, 
and render it needless to seek excuses for the 
disaster. 

It has been pointed out that under proper con- 
ditions the Russian plan for cutting off Kuroki 
should have succeeded, and Kuropatkin's staff 
officers certainly believed that it would succeed. 
They did not consider the condition of mind of the 
men. Had they done so they might have realised 
that the i st Siberian Corps at least went into action 
that day a beaten force. How else could it be ? 
After being assured that "the Japanese were 
crushed " they had been suddenly ordered to retire, 
had been marched about incessantly and given no 
time for proper meals or for sleep. The reader 
may perhaps think I labour this point overmuch, 
but it is of the essence of the case. From the moment 
the Siberians were withdrawn from the outer posi- 
tions at Liao-Yang they concluded that the enemy 
had won, and fought on September 2nd with that 
impression still strong upon them. Unfortunately 



138 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

the action, or inaction, of the staff and the com- 
manders of other corps all helped to make this 
impression come true. The want of a man with 
resolution enough to take command on the Russian 
right led to impotence in that direction; Orloff's 
action stands self-condemned; add to all these 
causes a great want of care in sending orders and 
the absence of maps (these were unprovided because 
the Russian plans did not contemplate the possibility 
of the Japanese getting north of Liao-Yang !), and 
sufficient reason has been shown why the Russians, 
though in superior numbers to their enemy and 
holding quite as strong a position, gave way before 
them. If we turn to consider for a moment the 
other side, we cannot but marvel at the extraordinary 
activity and inexhaustible energy of the Japanese. 
Night and day, since the 27th of August, they had 
given the Russians no rest. They displayed no 
great inventive genius, perhaps, but, finding the 
results satisfactory, they carried out the precepts of 
the military text-books to the letter. Had they 
been in greater numbers they would have achieved 
greater success, but what they did accomplish was 
sufficiently remarkable. 

As the battle died down with the dying day we 
learned that on the Liao-Yang side the successive 
attacks on the Russian positions had all failed. 
General Kuropatkin still made the town his head- 
quarters. The chance of defeating the Japanese 
had gone, but the Russian position was not hope- 
less. I did not return to the town, but found 
quarters in the village not far from the hills. About 



GENERAL KUROKI PROVES VICTORIOUS 139 

midnight I was awakened by the sound of heavy 
infantry fire in the kowliang near the mamelons. 
The Japanese, I supposed, were indulging in a 
favourite pastime, that of creeping up through the 
tall millet during the night, close to the Russians, 
who were ill at ease beneath its cover. On such 
occasions the Russians were usually driven back. 
The firing continued intermittently throughout the 
night, and I was early astir in the morning, when 
the main battle was renewed. 



CHAPTER XIX 

GENERAL KUROPATKIN ABANDONS LIAO-YANG 

It was now (September 3rd) the fifth day since the 
great Japanese attack on Liao-Yang had begun. 
The previous day had been really decisive of the 
issue, and the task left to the Russians was reduced, 
practically, to warding off the attack of General 
Kuroki whilst opportunity was given for the evacua- 
tion of Liao-Yang, to be followed by a general 
retreat to Mukden. It was not without a final 
effort to win the battle that General Kuropatkin 
was compelled to accept this view of the situation, 
for the firing I had heard during the night was 
caused by a night attack on Kuroki's left by the 
loth and 17 th Corps. The attack failed, as was 
inevitable. The only matter for surprise is that 
it should have been made. The men had had a 
most trying day. They had been kept almost 
entirely on the defensive, had suffered severely 
from artillery fire, and were tired out. To expect 
such men at the end of such a day to turn the 
Japanese, elated with victory, out of their positions, 
was unwarrantable. When daylight came the 
fight was fierce near the village in which I was, 
and the Japanese were evidently attacking. Soon 



KUROPATiaN ABANDONS LIAO-YANG 141 

afterwards Major-General Kastalinsky and a body 
of men passed through to reinforce the troops in 
action. They had not gone more than 600 yards 
when they were assailed by a hail of shrapnel 
and forced to retrace their steps. Shortly after- 
wards a force of Cossacks went by. It was 
extremely difficult, without getting on the hills, to 
find out how the fight progressed. All one could 
tell was that the Russians still kept possession of 
the roads leading north. 

The childlike curiosity of the Chinese in the 
village received an amusing illustration. The 
owners of the house in which I had slept thought 
they would like to have a " look-see " at what 
was going on, so they climbed to the roof. I 
tried to explain that by doing so they were likely 
to attract the attention of the Japanese gunners, to 
their own manifest danger, but they failed to 
understand me. For a while they perched on the 
roof in contentment, till a shell whizzed by rather 
near, when they tumbled down helter-skelter, quite 
satisfied that they had seen enough. A shrapnel 
shell is an efficient educator ! 

Soon the Russian wounded in the night attack 
began to come through the village. It was a 
ghastly procession. The hospital organisation had 
broken down, and these men were in most pitiable 
condition. There were no stretchers, no ambul- 
ances, no dressing-station near, nor anyone in the 
village who knew where to direct the men to get 
aid. All were covered with mud, and many with 
blood. They had put rough bandages round their 



142 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

wounds, but stood sorely in need of proper treat- 
ment. Some could walk fairly well, others were 
only able to crawl, and some too weak to stand 
were carried by their comrades on bits of canvas 
fixed on poles or rifles. The blazing sun added to 
their sufferings. The less badly hit surrounded 
the wells, clamouring for water. A Russian cor- 
respondent and I did what we could for the poor 
fellows, and the brandy we had was given to the 
worst sufferers. The case of these men was very 
hard, but that of other of the wounded was worse. 
Hundreds of casualties occurred in the thick kow- 
liang, and the stricken men lay hid in it undis- 
covered by their comrades, and unable to move. 
In a retreat there was no time to search the fields, 
and these men left behind had a lingering and 
terrible death. That there were many such cases 
is, I fear, unhappily true. 

Having passed the morning in the village, I 
started about midday for Yentai Railway Station, 
which I reached after some misadventures in the 
kowliang. It was already obvious that the retreat 
of the army had begun. Hospital trains bearing 
wounded from Liao-Yang v/ere going north ; the 
roads round the station were filled with troops and 
transport. I entered the station hoping to find the 
restaurant open, but in this was disappointed. 
However, I met a Russian doctor of my acquaint- 
ance, and he invited me to have a cup of tea and a 
slice of black bread in his hospital, which was the 
station waiting-room. I thankfully accepted his 
hospitality, and accompanied him to the room, in 



KUROPATKIN ABANDONS LIAO-YANG 143 

which were many wounded men. One of the 
nurses spoke English, and told me she had lived in 
England a considerable time. Near us, as we sat 
talking, lay a poor artillerist with a big piece of 
shell in his stomach. His life was fast ebbing 
away. The doctor asked him if he had a fancy for 
anything, and at his request a bottle of beer was 
brought, but he was unable to drink the contents. 
An officer, noting his condition, inquired if he 
would, like to send a last message home, and one 
was written to his wife at his dictation. A minute or 
two afterwards he died. His was a more fortunate 
lot than that of most of those who died for the Tsar 
in Manchuria. As a rule, the death of husband 
or son is unknown to the waiting wife or mother 
till the regiment finally comes home. Then may- 
hap a comrade tells of " the unreturning brave," 
how Ivan Ivanoff died in such and such a battle, 
and how Alexis Petrovitch fell in a night attack. 
That is all ; no casualty lists are published, con- 
sequently there are no anxious crowds besieging 
officials for news of their dear ones. The men 
have fallen. Let the dead bury the dead. 

One object I had in coming to Yentai was to 
send news of the battle to England, and I got a 
telegram passed by the censor, who happened to 
be at the station. As on a previous occasion, 
the telegraph officials refused to forward it — no 
doubt the wire was busy with messages from Kuro- 
patkin and Alexeieff; but one of my colleagues 
was going to Mukden and promised to send my 
message from that town. This left me free to 



144 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

watch the operations in the neighbourhood of 
Yentai. Part of the ist Siberian Corps had 
moved farther north along the railway line. They 
formed the extreme left wing of the army. A 
few miles east, in the direction of the coal mines, 
Baron Stackelberg with a considerable force was 
still opposing Kuroki's right. It was all important 
that railway and roads leading to Mukden should 
remain in Russian hands, and some batteries 
shelled the Japanese positions, which, it was 
rumoured, were to be assaulted. The assault, it 
is almost unnecessary to state, was not made. 
However, the Russian movements went on with 
comparatively little interference from the enemy. 
The Japanese (who were not nearly so numerous 
as the Russians supposed) were doubtless obliged 
to take some rest. So that this day the fury of 
Kuroki's attack somewhat abated. On the right 
wing of the Russian force the 3rd Siberian Corps 
— one of the corps which had so gallantly held 
the outer fortifications at Liao-Yang — replaced 
the 17th Corps, which took the road for Mukden. 
The 3rd Siberians had had on the ist and 2nd 
of September a respite from fighting, and were 
therefore fresher than their comrades of the ist 
Siberian Corps, whose trials I have already enlarged 
upon. The position they — the 3rd Siberians — now 
took up was one of great danger, their duty being 
to protect the flank of the retreating army. 

That night I and a colleague slept in a village 
near Yentai Station. Impelled by the pangs of 
hunger we ate all our provisions — a rather serious 



KUROPATKIN ABANDONS LIAO-YANG 145 

thing, as we found in the morning, when there 
was no food to be bought nor black bread or 
tea to be begged from my friend the doctor, for 
doctor and hospital had moved north. We learnt 
that a great deal of transport and many regiments 
had gone along the road towards Mukden during 
the night, and presently news came that Liao- 
Yang had been abandoned. The great army 
which six days previously was confident of deliver- 
ing a smashing blow on the Japanese was now 
in full retreat before those same foes. Not, 
however, the whole of the army — for there were 
many mounds of newly turned graves and many 
a corpse which remained unburied. The Russians 
had lost thousands of their bravest in those days 
of blood. 

Liao-Yang was evacuated early in the morning 
(September 4th), and the same day Tokio received 
with rejoicing Marshal Oyama's despatch announc- 
ing his triumphant entry into the city. Both the 
defence of and the attack upon the inner position 
round Liao-Yang had been most determined. Of 
the utter recklessness which the troops of Generals 
Oku and Nodzu showed in attacking I have 
already spoken. I saw little of this part of the 
far-flung fighting line, but eye-witnesses assure 
me that it is impossible to exaggerate the utter 
disregard of death exhibited by the Japanese. 
They perished in thousands under rifle fire while 
clearing the trous-de-loups and wire entanglements 
and in attacking the trenches. The Japanese 
commanders acted as if the whole burden of the 



146 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

battle was on them, and that victory would be 
lost if the defenders were not hurled across the 
Tai-tze-ho. The Japanese got their chance of 
mauling the Russians when the latter commenced 
the evacuation. Once more troops who had 
successfully held their own were called upon to 
give way. It was none the less disheartening 
because inevitable, and it affected the morale of 
the troops, to whom it must have seemed that 
they were struggling against an irresistible fate. 

As soon as the evacuation began, the Japanese 
guns opened fire on the Russians, who had for 
line of retreat only the railway bridge and the 
two pontoons across the Tai-tze-ho. Nevertheless 
the retirement was carried out with great cool- 
ness, and the loss sustained in crossing the river 
was comparatively small in view of the difficult 
position from which the Russians had to extricate 
themselves. All the artillery was got away. But 
if the evacuation of Liao-Yang was cleverly 
effected the army of Kuropatkin was still ir 
great danger, and the Commander-in-Chief seemec 
really afraid that a large part of his force would 
be cut off. It was a reasonable apprehension, 
for General Kuroki's army began the day with 
renewed vigour, and drove back the 3rd Siberiar 
Corps, who only just managed to keep the line o: 
communication open. In view of the gravity of the 
situation, the corps and transport north of Yenta 
received orders to march on Mukden at once— 
they at least could be saved. 

In melancholy frame of mind the whole arm) 



KUROPATKIN ABANDONS LIAO-YANG 147 

marched northward, with Kuroki continually press- 
ing its flank and the fear that Oku would ere 
long be on its heels. On the right of Yentai 
artillery fire continued, and 1 rode out and watched 
the shells bursting. The fight was indecisive, 
or rather the Russians fulfilled their object, for 
evening came and the Japanese had failed to 
capture Yentai Station or to bar the line of retreat. 
A forage on my part for food had resulted in 
getting nothing save a bottle of green Chartreuse ; 
and with a ration of this liqueur I had to be content 
for supper. After all it was better than nothing. 
The night proved rainy, and I sought shelter in 
a deserted house — from several of the villages 
round which the fight had raged the inhabitants 
had fled. The smell of the dye in the manufacture 
of the cotton clothes so dear to the Chinese heart 
was, however, so strong that I was driven from 
the house. Having seen that my pony and saddle 
were safe, I built for myself a wigwam of kowliang, 
into which I crawled, Alas, my architectural skill 
was at fault — the wigwam was not water-tight ! 
Perhaps it mattered the less, for I was again 
disturbed by heavy rifle fire, the Japanese making 
another night attack. The position was full of 
awkward possibilities. Though I saddled my 
pony I dared not leave the shelter of the wall 
surrounding the house in which I had stabled 
the horse, for to do so was to make myself a 
target for the Russian troops in the village, who 
would most likely have taken me for an enemy. 
When daylight at length arrived I set out to 



148 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

get food for man and beast, and fortunately met 
one of my Liao-Yang friends, Colonel Panoff of 
General Kosagovsky's staff. The Colonel had 
tinned provisions, and gave me an excellent break- 
fast, of which, after a supper of Chartreuse seul, 
I stood in some need. Whilst we sat smoking, 
an orderly rode up to say that Yentai had been 
evacuated and that the rear-guard was moving 
off. It was clearly time to be gone, so I 
saddled up and turned the pony's head towards 
Mukden. 

All day and all night of the 4th of September 
the retreat from Liao-Yang had been going on, and 
by this morning, the 5th of September, the Russian 
troops had been brought as far north as Yentai. 
General Kuropatkin had strong parties of cavalry 
and infantry protecting either flank, while the 17th 
Army Corps was acting as rear-guard. Though 
harassing the flanks, the pursuing troops were still 
some way behind the rear of the Russian army. 
The situation was for all that full of danger, the 
retreat being hampered by the execrable state of 
the roads. (The railway was employed in remov- 
ing the wounded and heavy guns, the troops and 
regimental transport had to go by road.) The 
retreat was conducted along two main roads, one 
that ran alongside the railway and the Great Man- 
darin Road farther east. Throughout the whole 
distance from Yentai to Mukden both roads were 
packed with men and carts. The transport drivers 
were exhausted with their labour, and in a condition 
of nervous dread ; the troops were in little better 



KUROPATKIN ABANDONS LIAO-YANG 149 

case. Shortly after Yentai was left behind, 
Kuroki's guns began firing on the Russian right 
flank, but the shells fell several hundred yards short 
of the road. The sound of the shells — the whiz 
through the air, the sharp explosion following — 
terrified the drivers, who in panic and confusion 
began whipping up their horses. If the Japanese 
shells had come a little farther and fallen on the 
road, there would without doubt have been a 
dibacle. As it was, the protecting force suffered 
heavily, and the ist Regiment East Siberian Rifles, 
attacked by the enemy with infantry fire and 
machine guns, lost 400 men whilst holding a rail- 
way siding. It seemed to me that there was still 
a chance of the Russians being cut off, and not 
wishing to fall into the Japanese lines I rode on 
somewhat rapidly. I passed the ist Siberian Army 
Corps on the way, Baron Stackelberg riding among 
his men and encouraging them to persevere. I was 
struck by the scanty number of dead horses along 
the road — in fact, considering the great strain put 
upon them, most of the horses looked well 
favoured. 

No day is without its humorous incident ; that 
of to-day was provided by the officer told off to 
keep up communications between the ist Siberians 
and the 17th Corps. He scales about 22 stone, and, 
mounted on a stout nag, he went backwards and 
forwards, lolling in his saddle and presenting a 
ludicrous appearance. Despite everyone's fatigue, 
his was the only case of lolling I saw on that 
march. Another thing which arrested attention 



150 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

was the admirable service of the Field Soup- 
Kitchens, without whose help the men would not 
have been able to get on, for most truly an army 
marches on its stomach.^ 

Travelling much more quickly than the troops, 
I was at last rewarded with the sight of the towers 
which at each point of the compass stand sentinels 
round Mukden. I crossed the Hun-ho and rode 
into the city and to the little house which, with 
several colleagues, I had rented. After many days 
of toil and stress I was glad to get a good dinner 
and a peaceful night. 

^ In the Manchurian army, travelling soup-kitchens were attached 
one to each company or battery. Their capacity was from 5 1 to 82 
gallons, according to model, and they required fuel to the amount of 
27 kilogrammes of wood to attain their highest capacity. The soup 
was cooked on the march, about two and a half hours being taken 
from the time of lighting fires to the distribution of the soup. Each 
kitchen has two men to look after it, one being detailed to drive and 
engineer the concern, whilst the duty of the other included keeping a 
sharp lookout for gardens on the route whence fresh vegetables 
could be begged, bought, borrowed, or stolen ! Meat rations were 
provided, and the resultant soup was strong and nourishing. 



CHAPTER XX 

RETREAT TO THE HUN-HO — LIAO-YANG REVIEWED 

Early the next morning (September 6th) I rode 
back along the road to Yentai. Part of the army 
had already crossed the Hun-ho, a tributary of 
the Liao-ho which passes about a mile south of 
Mukden ; but the bulk of it was still south of that 
stream, the rearguard being perhaps ten miles off. 
A detachment of cavalry under Major-General 
Samsonoff was in touch with the Japanese, and 
between 5.0 and 6.0 a.m. firing was heard. After 
this the enemy was quiet and gave up the pursuit. 
This was, without doubt, due to physical ex- 
haustion. The troops of the Mikado had had a 
test of endurance even greater than that imposed 
on the Russians, and now perforce they were 
obliged to let their prey escape. General Kuro- 
patkin had been out-generalled and out-fought ; 
but, favoured by fortune as fully as by his own 
dispositions, he had brought his army away to a 
place of temporary safety. 

The Japanese might well be content with what 
they had achieved ; for the first time in history an 
Oriental army had routed a great European force 
equipped with every device of destructive science. 

161 



152 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

It was now possible to watch the retreating 
troops with a degree of detachment hitherto 
impossible, with no fear of a Japanese shell inter- 
rupting one's observation, or the disturbing thought 
of having neither food nor shelter. There was little 
of comfort in the sight of that army trudging 
wearily onward, knee high in mud, travel-stained 
and spiritless. One could mark now the sad 
gaps in many a regiment ; some companies barely 
numbered fifty men, and had lost all their officers. 
Guns stuck in the mud and were extricated with 
difficulty ; men threw away part of their heavy kit, 
and frequent halts were necessary. In contrast 
to the example of Baron Stackelberg and some 
other commanders who shared the fatigues and 
privations of their men, was that of several senior 
officers who made the retreat in comfortable 
barouches surrounded by a large staff and escort. 
This mode of travel was too often indulged in by 
officers in high position in critical periods of the 
campaign. Their numerous carriages and escorts 
were always given precedence, thus hampering the 
progress of both troops and transport. On the 
moral effect of this method of commanding troops 
it is unnecessary to enlarge ; the soldiers, had they 
been acquainted with the subtle humour of Mr. 
W. S. Gilbert, might have thought of the Duke of 
Plaza-Toro, who 

"... Led his regiment from behind 
(He found it less exciting). 
But when away his regiment ran, 
His place was at the fore, O ! " 



RETREAT TO THE HUN-HO 153 

Not that these officers lacked courage, but they 
loved ease. 

The troops passed the Hun-ho by a wooden 
trestle bridge, which, despite appearances, stood the 
strain. All day long the march continued, and it 
was not until the following day that the weary 
tramp ceased, by which time trenches were being 
dug along the northern bank of the river, and 
a new defensive position planned. For a time 
there had been question of an immediate retreat to 
Tiding, and a great part of the transport was 
actually sent thither. For political rather than 
military reasons it was, however, decided not to 
move the army farther north. The Viceroy 
Alexeieff, who had betaken himself to Kharbin, 
probably insisted on General Kuropatkin remain- 
ing at Mukden. As the capital of Manchuria, and 
the ancestral home of the reigning dynasty in 
China, its continued occupation was judged essen- 
tial for maintaining the prestige of Russia at 
Peking. To give it up would be virtually to con- 
fess failure in the eyes of the millions of China ; by 
still holding it they could "save-face,"and explain 
Liao-Yang away. So at Mukden the Russian 
army rested, though the position was not 
considered a strong one. The construction of 
fortifications and trenches was rendered difficult by 
a scarcity of entrenching tools ; many tools had 
been lost or thrown away during the retreat. 

During the series of battles round Liao-Yang 
and the subsequent retreat, it had not been possible 
to get tidings from every part of the field ; as the 



154 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

army settled down at Mukden, it was possible to 
piece together the various incidents and gain a 
clearer idea of the operations as a whole. The 
reader has had already the advantage of informa- 
tion only obtained by me at Mukden, and no 
essential picture of the great battle — as seen from 
the side of the defence — has been omitted. But 
advantage may be taken of the pause, whilst the 
troops are trench-digging along the Hun-ho, to 
add some further details and set down some general 
impressions. 

In the seven days' fighting (August 30th to 
September 5th) the Russians had lost in killed and 
wounded over 20,000 men, and a few score taken 
prisoners. Definite figures are practically impos- 
sible to obtain ; the Russians are at the same time 
indifferent as to their losses and reticent as to mak- 
ing them known, but the number quoted is within 
the mark. One particular illustration may be given. 
Major-General Kondratovitch, commanding the 9th 
Division of the ist Siberian Army Corps, at the 
end of the fighting had only 93 officers left in the 
division, which consisted of 12 battalions and 4 
batteries. Considering the nature of the fighting 
the percentage of casualties in the army as a 
whole was not high. The Japanese must also have 
suffered very severely ; the sacrifice of life in the 
attacks on the inner position at Liao-Yang was 
awful. The fighting there had been so terrible that 
it drove several officers and men mad. They lay 
in hospital now at Mukden completely demented, 
recalling in their ravings the scenes of horror in 



RETREAT TO THE HUN-HO 155 

the inferno of the trenches. Although the wounded 
were many, the sick were few, a tribute to the 
healthiness of campaign life. The ist Siberian 
Corps, for instance, with whose hardships the 
reader is familiar, had only 400 sick, a small num- 
ber when the conditions in which they had fought 
and marched are considered. 

One thing which the fight had clearly demon- 
strated was the ignorance of the Russian Staff of 
the topography of the country north of Liao-Yang. 
If good maps exist, they were not consulted. That 
used was on the scale of 4 versts (2.65 miles) to an 
inch, which was at least four times too small. On 
these maps few of the villages were marked, and 
the natural consequence was endless and needless 
marching and counter-marching of the troops 
throughout the critical days of ist to 3rd September. 
A regiment would march to one village, to be told 
that they had come to the wrong place, would then 
be marched off somewhere else, only to find them- 
selves marched back again. With the mud and 
the sun to help in exhausting them, this was no 
proper preparation for fighting the enemy. The 
reason why only these bad maps were available 
was owing to the belief, already indicated, of the 
Russians that the Japanese would never cross the 
Tai-tze-ho. Why then bother about maps ? Con- 
nected with the bad mapping was the defective 
supply. Unless with a railway line at their backs 
the Russians proved unable to run either transport 
or supplies smoothly. They constantly got into 
great difficulties. Considering the lack of organ- 



156 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

isation (and the bad roads), it was more by hit 
than wit that the transport came safely through 
from Liao-Yang.^ Rumour had it that two baggage 
columns had been lost, but this report proved un- 
true. In this case the rumour was more credible 
than the fact. 

Reviewing all the incidents, one can confidently 
affirm that Liao-Yang was not lost through any 
fault of the rank and file. As Sir Redvers Buller 
said of the troops at Spion Kop, "the men were 
splendid." Excepting Major-General Orloffs 5th 
Division, which became panic-stricken on the 2nd 
of September, the infantry never lost their discipline, 
and never gave up a position without strenuous 
resistance. In most cases positions were only 
evacuated by superior orders. Nor was it in the 
fighting only that the troops showed their fine 
qualities, for discipline was maintained also during 
the retreat, even when, as in the case of the ist 
Siberian Corps, they had been for thirteen days 
consecutively either fighting or marching. 

To what then was the disaster attributable ? At 
first the Russians had believed that they were 
fighting a force considerably stronger than theirs, 
but as papers from China and news from St. Peters- 
burg reached Mukden it was realised that this 
belief was incorrect, and that the Japanese were 
inferior in number. Russian officers were inclined 
to throw a great deal of the blame on Major- 
General Orloff and the 5th Division, to whose 

' A great quantity of the stores in that city had been burned when 
the place was evacuated. 



RETREAT TO THE HUN-HO 157 

behaviour all the ill-luck at the battle of Yentai 
was attributed. But most officers were ignorant of 
what had been General Kuropatkin's intentions at 
Yentai. While the opinion most widely expressed 
was that if OrlofF had not disobeyed orders, Kuroki 
and his army would have been cut off and beaten, 
another view was that the attempted flank attack 
on Kuroki on the 2nd of September was merely 
intended to gain time for the troops in Liao-Yang 
to cross the Tai-tze-ho and get away north. But 
on the subject of the Siberian troops there was no 
division of feeling — it was unanimously acknow- 
ledged that the ist and 3rd Siberian Corps had 
covered themselves with honour, and were fully 
the equals of the best regiments from Europe. 
Even Baron Stackelberg's enemies had to confess 
that, alike in defending the Shushan position and in 
his retreat therefrom on the night of August 31st, 
he had shown consummate skill. 

A factor not generally taken into account in 
discussing Liao-Yang (an unending theme of con- 
versation at Mukden) was that, though reliant and 
defiant when the battle began, the spirit of the 
Russian troops had been sufficiently shaken by the 
events which preceded it, that, when the first sign 
of doubt as to the issue was manifested by General 
Kuropatkin's change of plans, the memory of the 
numerous previous retreats surged up and rendered 
victory almost impossible. The vacillation of 
General Kuropatkin did the rest. This vacillation, 
however unwarrantable, was due, no doubt, to the 
erroneous information he received as to the 



158 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

strength and disposition of the Japanese, who 
thoroughly earned their victory by their audacity, 
tenacity, and fortitude. On their side was no 
hesitation, no change of plan. They saw their 
goal straight before them and worked to attain it 
to the very utmost of their ability. 

Attention has been called in a previous chapter 
to the demonstration of the effectiveness of artillery 
afforded by Liao-Yang. Never since the Franco- 
Prussian war have so many guns been brought into 
action at the same time. Indeed, this was the 
first campaign since 1870-71 in which both sides 
had plenty of artillery. In four days the Russians, 
with something over 400 guns, expended 1 20,000 
shells ; the Japanese, who fired rather more quickly 
than their enemies and who had fully as many 
guns, must have fired a considerably larger number 
of shells. As to the effect of this half-million 
shells, the Russian General Staff computed that 
60 per cent, of the losses at Liao-Yang were due 
to artillery. Had the Japanese shrapnel burst per- 
sistently lower than it usually did, the Russian 
losses would have been still heavier. The fact that 
throughout the fighting not a single Russian 
battery was silenced, shows that to put out of action 
guns provided with proper cover is extremely diffi- 
cult. Although the flash of the guns can be seen 
distinctly, it is gone in a moment and leaves no trail 
of smoke, so that to locate a battery exactly is a 
very hard task. It is, of course, otherwise with 
guns in the open ; but batteries are rarely so placed 
when within the reach of the enemy's fire. That 



RETREAT TO THE HUN-HO 159 

there is a great future for powerful mobile artillery 
does not admit of question. It is, in fact, scarcely 
possible to attach too much importance to the use 
of artillery on a big scale. 

It is high time that we returned to consider the 
condition of the erstwhile draggled-tailed army 
encamped around Mukden. By the nth of Sep- 
tember the troops had settled down in their new 
quarters. Thankful for the opportunity, men 
washed their clothes and bathed their bodies in 
the waters of the Hun-ho, and, once more getting 
proper rations, began to look life more cheerfully in 
the face. The recuperative power of the Russian 
and Siberian peasant is great ; one would scarcely 
have recognised in the bright, even gay soldiers the 
weary and seemingly heart-broken troops who had 
plodded in from Liao-Yang. The Japanese gave 
scarcely a sign — they too were busy repairing waste 
and making good their hold on the country as far 
as Yentai ; and the quiescence of the enemy also 
tended to restore confidence among Kuropatkin's 
men. General Kuroki was reported to be some- 
where to the south-east about 20 miles away, but 
as usual the Japanese movements were shrouded 
in mystery, and, however shrewdly one might guess 
at what they were doing, little positive could be 
found out about them. On the 13th of September, 
a big cavalry screen was formed under General 
Rennenkampf, some of the Frontier Guard being 
also organised as cavalry. The cavalry, spreading 
semicircularly around the Russian position, acted 
as the eyes and ears of the army, and did some 



160 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

good work. Reinforcements came down from 
Kharbin, but traffic on the line was very con- 
gested. Winter was now approaching, the nights 
were already cold, and the troops felt the lack" 
of warm greatcoats. Considerable quantities of 
clothing had been left behind at Liao-Yang, and 
it was a long while before the deficiency was 
replaced from Russia. 

The advent of the army completely transformed 
Mukden. It was no longer the quiet Chinese city I 
had known a few months previously. Now soldiers 
were to be seen everywhere, long lines of transport 
carts blocked the streets, sorely trying the temper of 
the Cossack orderlies, who rode to and fro between 
headquarters (Kuropatkin's train occupied the siding 
vacated by the Viceroy) and the Corps Staffs 
established in some of the best Chinese houses. 
Greeks opened stores, restaurants sprang up like 
mushrooms in a meadow, all was animation and 
noise. Soldiers chaffered with the store-keepers, 
officers sought for curios and furs (the fur trade 
is one of the staple industries of Mukden), going 
hither and thither in the handy rickshaw drawn by 
perspiring coolies. Wherever three or four officers 
were gathered together at some cafd, the topic of 
conversation was the same— the fortunes of the 
campaign past and future. Nor were they averse 
from discussing the faults committed by the army, 
or resentful of criticism. By much talking, the 
Russian officers reached, by successive stages, a 
very comforting conclusion as to Liao-Yang. First, 
there came the stage of excuses, such as that there 



RETREAT TO THE HUN-HO 161 

never had been any intention of holding Liao-Yang, 
that the retreat was "an advance northward" to 
cut off Kuroki, which was certain to have succeeded 
but for that "stupid" Orloff and his "rotten" 
reservists. And, anyway, it was a poor sort of 
Japanese success. Then came the next stage, when 
the officers began to question whether after all the 
Japanese had been successful ; had not they (the 
Russians) beaten back Kuroki ? Properly con- 
sidered, Liao-Yang was a Russian victory. All 
that was needed, in the opinion of some enthusiasts, 
was an immediate advance, as the Japanese after 
their recent enormous losses would fall an easy 
prey to the prowess of Russia. Whole volumes 
of fiction were reeled off in the glare and glitter 
of the restaurants. Truly a little rest and a 
little vodke make a wonderful difference in one's 
feelings ! 



II 



CHAPTER XXI 

PREPARING FOR THE BATTLE 

The Russian army, as the event proved, was 
destined to spend about a month in the positions 
on the Hun-ho. The entrenchments made ex- 
tended for many miles along the north bank of 
that river. Westward of Mukden the country was 
flat, a few miles eastward of the city rose the fir- 
clad hills surrounding the Imperial Tombs. The 
Japanese had their advanced position at Yentai 
coal mines. In the country between, the outposts 
of either army were stationed. Despite glorious 
weather and the constant coming and going of 
motley crowds, life in the Russian camp tended to 
be dull : after the recent exciting experiences there 
was nothing more stirring in the fighting line than 
occasional skirmishes between parties of Cossacks 
and Japanese cavalry. The ist Siberian Army 
Corps took up their position at Fuling in the hills 
by the Tombs. The peaceful resting-place of the 
founders of the Manchu dynasty underwent a strange 
and ungracious transformation on the arrival of the 
soldiers. Not that the tombs were desecrated or 
the trees within the cemetery enclosure touched. 
The Chinese were naturally very sensitive on this 



PREPARING FOR THE BATTLE 163 

point, and the Manchu Viceroy at Mukden made 
urgent appeals to General Kuropatkin to preserve 
the sanctity of the graves. Moreover, representa- 
tions were made from Peking to St. Petersburg on 
the same subject. On his part General Kuropatkin 
gave a solemn promise that the inviolability of the 
Tombs should be respected and that the trees 
should be uninjured. From the Russian point of 
view the promise was kept, and to ensure the graves 
from any act of vandalism a guard was placed over 
them. Nevertheless the amenities of the place 
were completely destroyed. From the crests of the 
hills the Russians built trenches all the way down 
to the banks of the Hun-ho, all trees and bushes in 
front of the position being cut down to give the 
troops a clear field of fire. The beautiful irises and 
the rose bushes which had gladdened our hearts a 
short time previously were now either eaten or 
trampled under foot by the transport animals, and 
instead of the quiet little pAanza was all the bustle 
and unsightliness of a camp. 

Farther east and on the left of the ist Siberian 
Corps was posted the 3rd Siberian Army Corps. 
Their line stretched as far as Fushun, near which 
place are rich coal mines, whose possession was 
then a matter of considerable importance to the 
Russians, especially as the Yentai mines had been 
wrested from them, Fushun marked the extreme 
left of the Russian position. On the farther or 
southern side of the Hun-ho a railway was being 
built from Mukden to the coal mines, which were 
specially guarded as being beyond the protecting 



164 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

line of the river. Along the centre and right of 
the Russian position were our friends of the other 
corps mentioned as present at Liao-Yang or Yentai 
battles, as also the 6th Siberian Army Corps. 

All through September reinforcements were 
reaching Kuropatkin in large numbers. They 
were entirely composed of Siberian reservists, sent 
to make good the gaps caused by the desperate 
battles in which the corps had been engaged. 
Such gaps could be the more easily filled, for two 
reasons : the men came, as stated, from Siberia, and 
had therefore a less distance to traverse than if 
they had been drawn from Europe, and being 
reservists they travelled with nothing but their 
rifles and personal kit. Had they been parts of a 
new corps their progress would have been impeded 
by the necessity of bringing with them all their 
regimental transport. Special efforts were also 
made to hasten the arrival of fresh ammunition and 
provisions, whilst the warm clothing lost at Liao- 
Yang was replaced by other clothing sent on from 
Kharbin. 

This great activity betokened something more 
than preparation to meet the next attack by the 
Japanese ; the army had not been more than a 
fortnight before Mukden, when the talk of the 
cafds — and that of the common soldier too — began 
to be of an advance against the foe. Every day 
assertions of the coming advance were made with 
greater and greater conviction. It might be all 
"gyp," but the talk was curiously persistent. 
Meanwhile stirring appeals were made to the esprit 



PREPARING FOR THE BATTLE 165 

de corps of the men. On 21st September General 
Kuropatkin, from his headquarters on the railway, 
rode over to the camp of Baron Stackelberg at 
Fuling. The occasion was the consecration of 
colours for the Siberian Rifles, and, after the bless- 
ing of the banners by Orthodox popes, Stackelberg 
addressed the men. He bade them remember that 
their conduct was being watched by all Russia and 
by the foreign officers attached to the army, and, 
after this incentive to increased effort, the General 
made a telling reference to the defeat of Major- 
General Orloff and the 5th Division Siberian Army 
Corps at Yentai. He spoke of the shame of twelve 
Russian battalions having yielded to five Japanese 
battalions. Such a thing had never previously 
happened in the history of the Russian army. 
And Baron Stackelberg ended with the words, sting- 
ing like a whip, "Die like men, not as cowards /" 
A striking and impressive speech, addressed for 
the most part to troops of proved courage and 
endurance, but intended to stiffen the weak-kneed 
among them, and to render a second disaster like 
that of Orloff's impossible. 

Speeches of the character of Baron Stackel- 
berg's are often a prelude to battle, and so it 
seemed in this instance, for preparations were now 
made at the hospitals for the reception of many 
patients — not sick, but wounded from the next 
battle. Such preparation does not, curiously 
enough, have any depressing effect upon the 
soldiers — on the contrary, it rather inspirits them, 
for nothing so quickly dispels the ennui of the 



166 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

camp as the scent of battle. Towards the end of 
September members of General Kuropatkin's Staff 
expressed their opinion that the advance would be 
ordered immediately, and they proved to be well 
informed. Russia, it was argued, was badly in need 
of a victory ; she must gain one battle before the 
winter, otherwise the morale of the troops would 
suffer. It must be remembered that Kuropatkin's 
army had not, up to that time, obtained a single 
success, and the desire to score a point may well 
have been strong with the Commander-in-Chief. 
Certainly the excitement and enthusiasm among 
the men grew in proportion as they saw that an 
advance was coming. Everybody talked of what 
would be done, of reticence there was none. " We 
have hitherto been on the defensive," an officer 
would explain, leaning over one of the little tables 
at a favourite restaurant, "now we are going to 
take the offensive. The Russian soldier fights 
best in an attack, our troops are now seasoned, 
they know their enemy and do not fear him, 
victory must be ours." Whatever was known or 
guessed at as to the army's doings was public 
gossip, and by the Japanese spies, who were 
numerous in Mukden, Marshal Oyama was kept 
well informed of what was happening. The 
Japanese had ample time and warning to prepare 
for the coming attack. 

I found it hard, nevertheless, to believe that 
an advance was really intended, and thought that 
the authorities might simply be engaged in a 
great game of bluff. It was most unusual for the 



PREPARING FOR THE BATTLE 167 

Russians to speak openly of what they meant to 
do. However, when on and October General 
Kuropatkin's address to the army appeared, it was 
no longer possible to doubt that the hazardous step 
of attacking the foe was to be undertaken. That 
address, the real authorship of which is one of the 
unsolved mysteries of the campaign, contained the 
following remarkable passages : — 

" More than seven months ago, the enemy treacherously 
fell upon us at Port Arthur, before war had been declared. 
The enemy ... in his arrogance continues to dream of 
complete victory. The troops of the Manchurian army, in 
unvarying good spirits, have hitherto not been numerically 
strong enough to defeat the Japanese army. ... It is for 
this reason that in spite of the repeated repulse of the 
attacks upon our positions at Ta-shi-chao, Lan-san-jan, and 
Liao-Yang, I did not consider the time to have arrived to 
take advantage of our successes to begin a forward move- 
ment, and therefore gave the order to retreat. You with- 
drew under most difficult conditions. . . . Attacked by 
General Kuroki's army you marched through almost im- 
passable mud, fighting throughout the day and extricating 
the guns and carts with your hands at night, and returned 
to Mukden without abandoning a single gun, prisoner, or 
wounded man, and with the baggage train intact. . . . The 
Emperor has assigned for the conflict forces sufficient to 
assure us victory. ... If the regiments already sent out 
prove insufficient, fresh troops will arrive, for the inflexible 
will of the Emperor that we should vanquish the foe will 
be inflexibly fulfilled. . . . Now the moment to go and 
meet the enemy, for which the whole army has been long- 
ing, has come, and the time has arrived for us to compel 
the Japanese to do our will. . . ." 

There was much speculation in the camps along 
the Hun-ho as to whether the advance was under- 



168 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

taken for purely military reasons and on General 
Kuropatkin's own initiative. The Viceroy has 
emphatically denied that the advance was made at 
his request or suggestion, and Admiral Alexeiefif's 
story has not, so far as I am aware, been contra- 
dicted by General Kuropatkin. Yet at the time, at 
Mukden, the belief was common that Kuropatkin 
was playing a hand not of his own choosing. It 
should be stated, however, that the Commander-in- 
Chief did not consider the Hun-ho position good, 
and was desirous of getting a better line farther 
south. And as to the tone of the now famous 
proclamation, it must be remembered that reading 
it in Europe after the Sha-ho and Mukden battles 
is a very different thing to reading it on the eve of 
advance with the issue undecided. Moreover, it is 
quite the usual course for Russian generals to make 
high-flown appeals to the patriotism of their men. 
The sobriety of language habitual to British com- 
manders must not be looked for among a race of 
soldiers both " old fashioned " and half-Oriental. 

On the day following the appearance of General 
Kuropatkin's proclamation, I received an intimation 
to join the corps at Fuling, and thither I rode on 
the morning of the 4th, ready and eager for the 
fray. Baron Stackelberg, instead of one corps only, 
had been given the command of an army, and at 
the request of Colonel Waters, the British military 
attach^ I was allowed to join the Baron's Staff — an 
honour which I highly appreciated. 

It may be of interest at this point — the eve of 
the next great movement — to give the estimate 



PREPARING FOR THE BATTLE 169 

made at the beginning of October by the Russian 
Intelligence Department of the strength of the 
opposing army. For the accuracy of this estimate 
I cannot vouch. Its value lies in this, that, right or 
wrong, it was that on which General Kuropatkin 
had to depend. Here is the Russian estimate of 
the force and disposition of their foe : — 

Four divisions posted close to the railway, and 
not far north of Liao-Yang, but with outposts 
reaching almost to Yentai. Two divisions at the 
Yentai coal mines, and one, with considerable en- 
trenchments, at Beaneapudze on the Sha-ho. These 
three divisions formed the Japanese right, and 
were south-east of the Russian position on the 
Hun-ho. Then one division was said to be west 
of the railway line, forming the Japanese left, and 
another further advanced towards the Russians at 
Sandepu. The outer line of the Japanese entrench- 
ments was along the Sha-ho, a small tributary of 
the Tai-tze-ho, which, at a distance of 15 to 20 
miles south of Mukden, flowed in an east to 
west direction across the railway line, thereafter 
turning south to join the Tai-tze-ho. In all, the 
Japanese were credited with nine divisions. These 
they divided into armies of the following strength : 
Kuroki's army — "jS battalions, 18 squadrons of 
cavalry, and 276 guns. Oku's army — 60 battalions, 
26 squadrons, and 252 guns. Nodzu's army — 44 
battalions, 9 squadrons, and 120 guns. In the case 
of the armies of Kuroki and Oku, the guns included, 
besides those attached to the battalions, a separate 
artillery force of 108 guns, which could be used as 



170 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

an independent unit and sent from one army to 
another at need. Altogether Marshal Oyama's 
army was estimated at 144,000 infantry, 6380 
cavalry, and 648 guns. 

Against this force the Russians could bring the 
1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th Siberian Army 
Corps and the ist, loth, and 17th European Army 
Corps ; a total of nine corps. A Russian corps 
and a Japanese division contain about the same 
number of men, but this is only a rough approxima- 
tion, for the strength of a Russian corps might 
vary from 10,000 to 30,000. Taking an average 
of 20,000 for a corps, the force at General Kuro- 
patkin's disposal would be 180,000. His army, 
however, exceeded that number ; indeed, it was 
well over 200,000 strong. A more definite figure 
cannot be given, the greatest reticence being ob- 
served by the staff as to the strength of the 
different corps. 

Baron Stackelberg's army, from its position in 
the Russian line known as the Eastern Army, 
consisted of the ist, 2nd, and 3rd Siberian Army 
Corps, with Rennenkampf s and Samsonoff s cavalry. 
It was the very flower of the force at General 
Kuropatkin's command. Occupying a central 
position and acting independently was the 4th 
Siberian Army Corps under General Zarubaieff. 
On the west were the European Army Corps and 
the 6th Siberian Army Corps under General 
Bilderling. The 5th Siberian Army Corps was 
held in reserve. Such was the disposition of the 
Russian army when the advance was decided upon. 



CHAPTER XXII 

stackelberg's army on the march 

Great animation prevailed in the camp of Baron 
Stackelberg on that night of the 4th of October. 
No thought of the danger attending the movement 
to which the army was committed troubled the 
minds of the soldiers — nor, apparently, of the 
officers either ; all seemed delighted by the orders 
for a general advance. At the mess of the head- 
quarters staff we drank enthusiastically to the 
success of the new venture, whilst an Engineer's 
band enlivened us with martial music. Glasses 
clinked, champagne flowed, toasts were exchanged. 
After dinner I lit my pipe and took my way 
through the camp. It was a beautiful autumn 
night, the air cool but not chilly, above us the stars 
shone brilliantly in a clear sky. I passed into the 
big fir trees which lined the upper slopes and the 
crest of the hill. All around, fitfully lit up by the 
flames from the camp fires, were seated the Siberian 
infantry, their evening meal ended. Many among 
them trolled songs — some wild and inspiriting 
songs of war, others with the softer note of home. 
Regimental bands vied with one another in play- 
ing stirring marches and popular tunes. Martial 

in 



172 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

ardour filled each breast ; the men joyed in the 
very uncertainty of the morrow. From these sights 
and sounds I turned to look down the slope of the 
trench-lined hills to the silvery river and the plain 
beyond — and to the dark mysterious mountains in 
the distance. What awaited the Russian host in 
the unknown beyond ? Would the tide of war 
turn in their favour, or was I to witness another 
disastrous retreat? These were unspoken ques- 
tions to which there came no answer. Certainly 
the Russians — despite their Intelligence Officers — 
knew little of what the Japanese were doing. 
Oyama, I suspected, was probably preparing some 
new trap for his unwary assailants. The situation 
was sufficiently striking to give much food for 
thought. It was scarcely a month since I had seen 
these same men extricate themselves from a perilous 
position — exhausted, heart-broken, crushed. And 
now they were buoyant, singing and rejoicing at 
the prospect of another encounter with the foe who 
had so badly mauled them. Their morale was 
certainly excellent, and their generals must have 
felt a thrill of pride in having such troops to 
command. The foreigners in the camp — attaches 
and newspaper men — all felt great admiration for 
men who could recover so quickly from experiences 
such as the Siberians had passed through. This 
capacity of the men for rapid recovery of morale 
is one of the striking characteristics of the Russian 
army. To whatever cause due — a dulness of 
imagination, maybe, or a simple child-like nature — 
it is a factor to which weight must be given in 



STACKELBERG'S ARMY ON THE MARCH 173 

estimating the fighting capacity of the legions of the 
Tsar. The men may know when they are beaten, 
but the memory of a reverse is soon blurred, and 
the soldier becomes again his usual careless self. 

The dawn of morning found the army ready to 
advance. Along the slopes overlooking the Hun-ho 
stood great blocks of grey-coated Siberian riflemen 
waiting for the order to march — looking east or 
looking west the eye fell on mass after mass of 
men. And now from their quarters the command- 
ing officers rode down to where their battalions 
were stationed, and gave them the customary morn- 
ing greeting, " How are you, my children ? " As 
with one voice — deep and thunderous — the men 
reply in the accepted formula, " Long life and good 
health, Your Excellency." This little ceremony 
ended — it is one which appeals to the imagination 
— the order to march was given, and with bands 
playing and standards flying the great army moved 
forward, the ist Siberian Army Corps on the right, 
the and in the centre, and the 3rd on the left. It 
was in truth an army worth commanding, the three 
finest corps in all Siberia : veterans who had fought 
shoulder to shoulder at the Yalu, at the Mo-tien-ling, 
at Wa-fung-ho, at Ta-shi-chao, at Liao-Yang, and 
at Yentai. One's blood tingled at the sight of this 
host of tried warriors stepping proudly along, like 
hounds on the leash, with all the pomp and circum- 
stance of war. Band, banners, priests, all helped 
the illusion that one had gone back a century or so, 
and that what we saw was a Marlborough at the 
head of his troops or a Napoleon at Jena. It was 



174 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

all so different from the utilitarian and unspectacular 
ways of the British army in South Africa — or of 
modern armies generally. But if these Siberian 
troops were going to battle in the spirit of days long 
since dead in Western Europe, they were provided 
with the very latest weapons of destruction. As I 
rode behind Baron Stackelberg, who was seated on 
a white charger, I imagined that I discerned a smile 
of pleasure, of quiet confidence and satisfaction, on 
his thoughtful and deeply bronzed face. 

Baron Stackelberg, the commander who had 
been (Orloff apart) the most severely criticised of 
all the corps leaders, the man whom intriguers had 
sought to overthrow, rode to-day at the head of the 
Eastern Army, the only lieutenant-general to whom 
such a great trust had been given. General Kuro- 
patkin, despite all the efforts of the Baron's enemies, 
had recognised his sterling merit, and had chosen him 
to share the responsibility in the fate of the army. 

At the head of their brigades and divisions rode 
Stackelberg's trusty lieutenants — a brave and 
gallant band. There was y little Major-General 
Kondratovitch of the gthyDivision, ist Siberian 
Army Corps, the hero of^a hundred fights in this 
campaign and in the Boxer Rising, always cheery, 
always with a kind word alike for officer and 
private soldier. There was the stolid figure of 
Major-General Krause ^ at the head of his new 

^ It should be explained that on the promotion of Baron Stackel- 
berg to the command of the Eastern Army, his post as Chief of the 
1st Siberian Army Corps was given to Lieutenant-General Gem- 
gross, while Major-General Krause, formerly a brigade commander, 
was placed at the head of the ist Division. 



STACKELBERG'S ARMY ON THE MARCH 175 

command, and, leading the ist Siberian Army 
Corps, the tall form of the fearless Gerngross,^ with 
his handsome face and red beard. In the centre 
was Lieutenant-General Sassulitch, who had com- 
manded at the Yalu, leading the 2nd Siberian 
Army Corps. On his breast was the ribbon of 
St. George, won under Skobeloff in the Turkish 
War. Away to the east rode Lieutenant-General 
Ivanoff, Count Keller's successor in the command 
of the 3rd Siberian Army Corps. Ivanoff was an 
artillery officer, and had left a post in Central Asia 
to join the forces in Manchuria. Behind him was 
Major-General Daniloff, one of the heroes of the 
defence of the inner position at Liao-Yang, whose 
conspicuous gallantry had earned the coveted dis- 
tinction of the St. George's Cross. Next to Dani- 
loff was Major-General Kastalinsky, a jovial man 
with bright sparkling eyes. He had been wounded 
at the Yalu while extricating the 1 2th Siberian Rifles 
from a very warm corner. In front of us, many 
versts distant, were the dashing cavalry leaders 
Rennenkampf and Samsonoff with their Cossacks, 
working their way towards the Japanese position. 
Could any commander have wished for braver or 
better officers to help him in a perilous enterprise ? 
I felt it a privilege to be allowed to accompany 
such men on such an errand as they had under- 
taken. Nor must it be forgotten that Stackelberg's 
troops were the 6\ite of the whole Russian army, 
and the consciousness of this fact added to the 
satisfaction with which we marched along. In all, 

1 See footnote opposite. 



176 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

Stackelberg had from 50,000 to 60,000 men under 
him. 

Had it been possible that day to have seen, not 
only the Eastern Army, but the centre and right of 
the Russian force advancing to seek their foe, what 
an impressive picture it would have been — some 
170,000 men in serried ranks crossing the wide 
plain beyond the Hun-ho ; not one soldier sick or 
sorry, each and all with — 

" Nae thought but how to kill 
Twa at a blow." 

General Bilderling's army went south and a little 
west, following somewhat the line of the railway ; 
Stackelberg's army had taken a south-east direction, 
towards the Japanese right ; Zarubaieff 's corps, in 
the centre, inclined more towards the Eastern than 
the Western Army. It is only the movements of 
the army with which I was, that I can chronicle in 
detail. As we crossed the river valley, with its 
willow-tree swamps, flocks of wild geese got up 
and whirled about overhead, noisily protesting 
against this rude invasion of their special domain, 
and causing me considerable regret that I had no 
gun. We marched 21 versts (14 miles) that day, 
traversing the plain in the morning, and getting 
into hilly country in the late afternoon. For one 
mercy we were all duly grateful — nearly all of the 
terrible kowliang had been harvested, and it was 
possible to see where one was going. For all that 
it was, with the badly drawn and inaccurate maps 
supplied, a difficult matter to find the route. The 
plain was a criss-cross of countless small roads, 



STACKELBERG'S ARMY ON THE MARCH 177 

with nothing to indicate which were of most 
importance, and on the maps at the disposal 
of Major-General Baron Brinken, the chief of 
Stackelberg's staff, only one road would be shown. 
The wonder is that there was not much more use- 
less marching and counter-marching than was 
actually the case. The sun had shone brightly all 
day; as night fell it became much colder. Head- 
quarters halted for the night at the village of 
Badiavoise. Here Captain Reichman, of the 
17th U.S.A. Infantry, who had served in the 
Philippines and had been with the Boers in 
South Africa, shared a house with Colonel Waters 
and me. 

Early the next morning, while strolling up and 
down the road through the village, I met Baron 
Stackelberg, who was polite enough to ask my 
opinion of the army and the advance. " Have you 
a servant ? " he then inquired ; and on being told 
that I had none, " You must have an orderly 
placed at your disposal at once," he exclaimed, 
smiling ; and he promised to speak to his Chief of 
Staff for me. This kindness from the Commander 
of a great army, to one who had no claim on his 
consideration, was more highly appreciated by me 
than even the excellent service of the orderly proved 
— Private Masquisovitch of the Siberian Rifles — a 
man who had been wounded in one of the early 
fights of the campaign, and who wore the 
St. George's Cross and Chinese War medal. That 
day (October 6th) the march of the army was con- 
tinued, with all the full-dress parade appearance of 



178 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

the previous day. The country through which we 
passed was very beautiful. On either side rose 
lofty hills, some grass clad, some clothed with the 
sombre fir trees ; others, again, bare. Between the 
hills were verdant valleys watered by running 
streams — a land certainly worth possessing, as is 
all Southern Manchuria, though scarcely fertile 
enough to support a large army, unless careful 
attention be paid to the gathering of food-stuffs and 
the establishment of dep6ts. 

After a short march of 15 versts (10 miles), 
camp was pitched early, and the men gave them- 
selves up to feasting and to song. Who knew 
when the next chance for such an indulgence would 
come ? Already the advanced guard was in con- 
tact with the enemy, and the morrow or the next 
day might see the army engaged. So to-night the 
bands played, tales were told, and songs sung, till 
the men were too sleepy to do aught but roll 
themselves in their blankets and dream of avenging 
Liao-Yang. As it turned out, the main body 
remained in their camp the two following days 
awaiting developments. As the Japanese positions 
were neared, it was necessary to act with more 
caution. Both morning and evening of the 7th of 
October gun fire was heard, and a report was 
spread that General Rennenkampf had got a 
brigade across the Tai-tze-ho (a false report ; but of 
that we could only guess). Idling the time away, 
Captain Reichman and I both proved our capabili- 
ties as foragers — the captain caught a chicken, and 
I a small pig. That night we had a royal feast. 



STACKELBERG'S ARMY ON THE MARCH 179 

A little incident on the following day brought 
out forcibly the Russian deficiency in maps, I 
have already commented on their small scale and 
on their incompleteness. It now appeared that 
even of the maps they had, there were but few 
copies. A request was received from General 
Kastalinsky, who commanded the left wing of the 
3rd Siberian Army Corps, for three copies of the 
revised edition of the map of the country.^ The 
General, it appeared, hadn't a map at all ! The 
commander of the corps. General Ivanoff, had 
had but eight maps supplied to him. Baron 
Stackelberg's headquarters were even worse off, 
for General Brinken and his second in command 
had between them only one map of the district in 
which the army was about to operate. Another 
fact which came to my knowledge helps to make 
clear — taken in conjunction with the scandal of the 
maps — why it was that though the men were of 
dauntless courage, and the great majority of the 
officers earnest and capable men, the Russians were 
so uniformly unsuccessful. An important army order 
issued that morning was not forwarded to General 
Kastalinsky. Hearing of it the General sent to 
headquarters for a copy, and finally obtained the 
order at half-past one in the afternoon. This method 
of working adopted by the headquarters staff was 
distinctly prejudicial to the well-being of the army. 
On Sunday, the 9th of October, the forward 
movement of the army was resumed, a distance 

* This revised edition had been hastily brought out, and was a 
slight improvement on the maps first issued. 



180 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

of 14 versts being covered. The south-easterly 
direction had been changed for one south-westerly, 
and the afternoon brought us to the banks of the 
Sha-ho, at a spot some 15 miles N. N.-E. of the 
Bensihu ford of the Tai-tze-ho (the place where, 
as the reader will remember. General Kuroki had 
crossed that river during the battle of Liao-Yang). 
All day long our advanced guard had been heavily 
engaged, and the artillery fire lasted till nightfall. 
When we reached the Sha-ho it was to find that 
the Japanese had given way before our advance, 
and had abandoned their line of fortifications along 
that river. We crossed the stream by two pretty 
little trestle bridges obligingly left by our opponents 
and camped at Beaneapudze — a place with which we 
were destined to become painfully familiar. In our 
front rose rocky, rugged mountains, and against that 
dark background the flashes from the Russian guns 
could be seen. The two armies were once again 
in conflict. Our casualties that day were few, as 
were those of our enemy, though we boasted some 
twenty Japanese brought in prisoners. The advance 
guard was in permanent touch with the enemy, but 
another day was to elapse ere the real battle began, 
for on the loth there was nothing more than heavy 
gun firing on our left, that is in the direction of 
Yentai. 

Colonel Polteratski, of Baron Stackelberg's staff, 
Captain Reichman, and I took advantage of the 
opportunity afforded by the pause before the 
Eastern Army struck home at the Japanese, to 
visit the position of which we had become some- 



STACKELBERG'S ARMY ON THE MARCH 181 

what easy masters. This was the first chance the 
Russians had had during the war to view the 
enemy's entrenchments. The Japanese, I imagine, 
had scarcely completed the fortifications. The 
trenches and gun - pits were, however, carefiilly 
arranged. As we saw no signs of wheels we con- 
cluded that the guns had never been placed in 
position. The camp gave evidence of having been 
evacuated hurriedly, though nothing of material 
importance had been left behind. Matting, rice- 
bags, postcards, and letters were scattered about, 
and there were hundreds of empty cardboard cases, 
amply demonstrating the appreciation in which the 
Japanese held Murai Bros. Peacock Brand of 
cigarettes. Shelters of kowliang had been built to 
protect the troops during the nights, which were 
now quite cold. I was struck, too, by another 
instance of the care shown by the Japanese for 
the health of their men. Within what had been 
their line a small stream ran down a sloping bank 
to the level ground. To get the water the Japanese 
had split open the long firm stalks of the millet, 
and had fixed them into the hillside in such a 
manner as to catch the water as it came down. 
Passing into the millet conduits the water had a 
clear fall away from the earth, and could thus be 
collected perfectly pure and sweet. A great con- 
trast this to the way in which the Russian soldiers 
invariably polluted the water in the village wells, 
until at length it was found necessary to station 
guards to regulate the water supply and keep it 
clean. 



182 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

Baron Stackelberg received a telegram that day 
from General Kuropatkin, congratulating him on 
his successful march and on the occupation of the 
Beaneapudze position. The Baron had now his 
army in the following order : On the left, slightly 
forward and facing south-west, the 3rd Siberian 
Army Corps ; in the centre, the ist Siberian Army 
Corps; and close up to it on the right the 2nd 
Siberian Army Corps. These two corps faced due 
south. Zarubaieff's 4th Siberian Army Corps had 
converged somewhat on our right, and was also 
attacking in hilly country. Bilderling's army was 
away west in the plains. 

In the Eastern Army that night all was activity. 
The headquarters' staff sat up till daylight getting 
out the orders made by Baron Stackelberg for the 
battle on the morrow. That this time the issue 
would favour Russia seemed the universal feeling 
— among the Russians. 



CHAPTER XXIII 

OPENING OF THE SHA-HO BATTLE 

The fight — the commencement of the great series 
of engagements known collectively as the Battle 
of the Sha-ho ^ — began early in the morning of the 
1 1 th of October. The task entrusted to Baron 
Stackelberg was to drive the Japanese from the 
lofty hills immediately facing the Russian lines. 
To accomplish this object the 3rd Siberian Army 
Corps endeavoured to turn the Japanese right by 
securing the passage of the Tai-tze-ho at Bensihu. 
By so doing they would threaten Liao-Yang. 
Meantime the ist Siberian Army Corps made a 
frontal attack on the Japanese position, the 2nd 
Siberian Army Corps being held in reserve. The 
4th Siberian Army Corps under General Zaru- 
baieff, who were on the right of the Eastern Army 
but acting in conjunction with it, also made a 
frontal attack on the enemy. The operations could 
be seen perfectly from a high hill in rear of the 
Russian camp, and to this hill General Stackelberg 
rode early in the morning, directing thence the 
movements of his troops. The hills on which the 

^ Sha-ho means the Red River, a strikingly appropriate name for 
the bloody contest fought in sight of its banks. 

183 



184 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

Japanese were entrenched swelled gradually from 
the plain, and the lower slopes had been carefully 
cultivated by the Manchu farmers. Above these 
slopes the sides of the hills were scarred by many 
water-courses and their surface covered with short 
brown grass, affording but a precarious foothold. 
Towards the summit the hills became rugged and 
precipitous. Through them ran three passes, of 
which the chief and central one was the Tu-min- 
ling. To capture these passes, which formed the 
key of the Japanese position, was the immediate 
object of the ist Siberian Army Corps. It was 
no easy task, as the position was one of great 
natural strength, even if held by a compara- 
tively weak force. I could not help comparing 
it to that of the Boers at Vaal Krantz and Spion 
Kop — the formation of the hills was exactly 
similar. 

Soon after daybreak there had been sharp fight- 
ing in front of and along the lower slopes of the 
hills, the Japanese being driven back to their main 
positions, though not before great anxiety had been 
caused to the Russians by the flank of the 4th 
East Siberian Rifles being turned. This turning 
movement left two batteries of the Russian guns 
exposed and in imminent danger of capture. Re- 
inforcements were hurried up and the guns saved, 
the Russians bringing several machine guns into 
action. By ten minutes to seven, when, from the 
direction of the 4th Siberian Army Corps came the 
subdued roar of heavy artillery fire, the Japanese 
had been ' cleared off the lower slopes. The real 



OPENING OF THE SHA-HO BATTLE 185 

battle was now beginning. The Russian batteries 
massed in the plain opened a terrific fire on the 
enemy's trenches, under cover of which the infantry 
commenced to climb the slippery heights. To this 
bombardment the Japanese artillery replied, not, 
however, paying much atten,tion to the Russian 
guns, but directing a severe shrapnel fire on the 
long lines of advancing infantry. From the spot 
where I was posted the ist Siberians could be 
plainly observed as they crossed the foothills and 
began the ascent towards the trenches held by the 
enemy. They advanced in extended order, often 
slipping over the dry and treacherous grass, taking 
advantage of every scrap of cover afforded by 
mound or bush, following generally the line of a 
dry nullah, and ever and again halting to pour in 
two or three volleys at their opponents, or crouch- 
ing low to avoid the bursting shrapnel. From a 
distance they looked like tiny specks dotted along 
the hill-sides, now advancing in a swift rush, now 
swept back by a particularly heavy fire from the 
Japanese above. The progress of the Siberians 
was very slow, but by a little before noon the 
attack had developed along the whole line, and an 
efforX was being made to take all three passes by 
simultaneous assault. News came in that the 3rd 
Siberians were also heavily engaged, and a battery 
from the reserve was sent to their aid. The action 
had evidently become general, as firing could be 
distinctly heard all along the line towards Yentai. 
How the fight was going, on the extreme right, 
with Bilderling's troops, it was however impos- 



186 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

sible to tell, and if Baron Stackelberg received 
reports, they were not made generally known. 

All the morning the Russian guns had kept up 
a brisk fire on the Japanese, numbers of whom 
could be distinctly seen lining their positions along 
the upper slopes of the hills. The Russian artillery 
was superior to that of the enemy — both in number 
and weight ; the Japanese, indeed, had only moun- 
tain guns, whilst General Stackelberg had his field 
artillery and a 6-in. howitzer battery, which, how- 
ever, was not used on the i ith. The Japanese 
gun fire slackened as the morning wore on, and 
their batteries had some difficulty in locating the 
Russian positions. This appeared, therefore, a pro- 
pitious moment for the ist Siberians, and at 12.50 
p.m. orders were sent verbally from Stackelberg to 
the artillery on the left to press home the attack, the 
infantry of the centre left wing making at the same 
time a bold advance in three lines. It looked as if 
the ebb and flow which had hitherto marked the 
Russian attack was to end in the surging of the 
Siberians right up the hills ; but the Japanese 
batteries woke up, and, by concentrating their fire 
on the advancing riflemen, checked the rising tide. 
The batteries were, however, soon silenced by the 
Russian guns, which, completely out of range of 
the enemy, were able to pound them without inter- 
ruption or danger. Helped by this heavy fire the 
1st Division of the ist Siberian Army Corps, under 
General Kondratovitch, made considerable progress 
up the hill, but lacked sufficient strength to go on, 
the firing line seeming to me to be too weak to 



OPENING OF THE SHA-HO BATTLE 187 

accomplish the task set it. The ground over which 
the advance had to be made was very rough as 
well as slippery, and the riflemen were encumbered 
with a heavy kit and handicapped by their clumsy 
boots, ill adapted for hill climbing. It was now 
past two o'clock, and nothing substantial had been 
gained. The battle was not going as the Russians 
had hoped and expected, and Baron Stackelberg 
was obviously dissatisfied. 

However, fresh efforts were to be made, and 
two new Japanese batteries, which came into action 
shortly before three o'clock, having been silenced, a 
fresh regiment was sent forward on the left to aid 
the firing line. Advancing in face of a severe rifle 
fire, Kondratovitch's men succeeded in gaining the 
foot of the highest slopes. But at the top of the 
escarpment were the Japanese, as determined as 
ever. Try as they would, the ist Siberians could 
make no further advance, though from our left 
flank General Ivanoff (3rd Siberian Corps) sent in 
word that his infantry were so close to the crest of 
the hills they were attacking, that his artillery had 
had to cease fire in order not to hit their own men. 
The infantry failed nevertheless to reach the top, 
and the same misfortune attended the 1st Siberians. 
They, however, maintained the position they had 
gained, and throughout the long afternoon made 
rush after rush in vain attempts to scale the heights. 
No wonder that Baron Stackelberg looked more 
and more thoughtful and displeased with the day's 
work. It seemed to me that a mistake was made 
in the manner in which the firing line was rein- 



188 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

forced. All day long Baron Stackelberg told off 
driblets to this work, a battalion or two at a time — 
numbers insufficient, in my judgment, to make any 
effective difference, whereas what was needed was 
the sending forward of a really large force. No 
doubt the task of the Russians was one of great 
difficulty, but it was not impossible to accomplish 
had the firing line been more powerful, especially 
as the Japanese were not numerically strong. 

Towards the end of the day further reports 
were received as to the progress of the battle in 
other parts of the field. We learnt to our dis- 
appointment, if not to our surprise, that the 4th 
Siberians, under General Zarubaieff, had made no 
headway ; the hills in front of them were, as in our 
case, still held by the enemy. From the extreme 
left the news was more cheering. General Rennen- 
kampf sent in word that his men were holding a 
position within fifty paces of the crest, which he 
hoped to capture. 

Darkness did not put an end to the fighting. 
General Kondratovitch's men, who had got a foot- 
hold within a hundred feet of the top of the hills by 
the Tu-min-ling, crept up under cover of the night 
towards the enemy's trenches, hoping to get close 
enough to charge with the bayonet. The Japanese 
were not caught napping, and, on each occasion 
that an attempt was made to rush the heights, the 
assailants were swept back by point-blank rifle-fire. 

It had been an extremely interesting fight to 
watch, the battlefield being set out before one like 
a panorama. But with darkness I gave up watch- 



OPENING OF THE SHA-HO BATTLE 189 

ing the contest, and sought shelter in the house 
which I shared with Colonel Waters and Captain 
Reichman. The night being cold we lit the fire 
beneath our kang, but with most distressing results, 
for the genial warmth of the fire had the effect of 
restoring to full activity myriads of small denizens 
of the matting, which rendered sleep an impos- 
sibility, and against whose attacks we had no means 
of coping. The Japanese, I have learned, were 
wiser in their generation, and every soldier carried 
in his kit a " ration " of insect powder. 



CHAPTER XXIV 

THE JAPANESE PIERCE THE RUSSIAN CENTRE 

For the troops on the hills there had been no 
interval for rest during the night, and even if the 
"small deer" of the kang had not kept us from 
sleep, the firing at the trenches would have effectu- 
ally aroused us. Throughout the hours of dark the 
firing continued, and in the early morning (October 
1 2th) it was terrific in its intensity. The whole 
efforts of Kondratovitch's men were concentrated 
on traversing the short space — not more than lOO 
yards — which divided them from the enemy. If 
only they could close with the foe ! To carry the 
pass at the point of the bayonet and let the rising 
sun greet the Imperial Eagle, that was the ambition 
of commander and of men ; but it proved a task 
beyond the compass of the gallant division. The 
Japanese, who were probably reinforced during the 
night, held a superior position on the very crest of 
the hills, and with untiring vigilance repelled every 
attack, firing straight into the Russians as again 
and again they endeavoured to bridge the narrow 
gap. A few men indeed reached the Japanese 
lines, but only to perish. The first to do so was 
the chief of staff to General Kondratovitch. This 

190 



JAPANESE PIERCE THE RUSSIAN CENTRE 191 

officer, sword in hand, led some men of the 9th 
Division up the slope. The men were swept back, 
all save those who lay still in death. The officer 
returned not. He was seen to gain the height, but 
no one of the Russian force witnessed his end. 

At half-past six in the morning, reinforcements 
were sent on by Baron Stackelberg to the sorely 
tried firing line, with orders to do everything pos- 
sible to push home the attack. At eight o'clock 
Baron Brinken stated that the hill directly in our 
front had been occupied by the Russians. One 
short hour sufficed, however, to show us that the 
report was not true ; try as they could, the i st 
Siberian Corps could not dislodge the Japanese 
from the Tu-min-ling. But with a stubbornness 
not to be daunted by ill-success the men held on to 
their task. 

Meantime news had reached Stackelberg's 
headquarters concerning the fight of the previous 
day between the Japanese left and the Western 
Army under General Bilderling. The hoped-for 
success had not been obtained, and on the night 
of the nth Bilderling's men were no more than 
holding their own. At half-past ten further and 
serious news was received. It came from General 
Zarubaieff, who with the 4th Siberian Army Corps 
was in the centre of the Russian lines, and who, 
as already stated, had had no success on the nth. 
On receipt of this message Baron Stackelberg 
was visibly perturbed; he became restless, and 
anxiety was obvious in every line of his face. A 
few minutes of consideration and then Stackelberg 



/ 



192 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

and his staff mounted and rode westward. I went 
in his train. Instead of the walk or slow trot 
at which the Baron generally marched, he put 
his horse to the gallop, making for a ridge of 
high hills on the extreme right of his army. 
These hills jutted into the plain towards Beanea- 
pudze at a sharp angle from the main range, and 
separated the Eastern Army from the 4th Siberian 
Army Corps. They were in advance of the 
Japanese positions, but were unoccupied by the 
Russians, They rose abruptly and shut from our 
view the operations in progress beyond. Arrived 
at the foot of these hills we dismounted and 
climbed to the top of the nearest peak. On 
gaining the summit a wonderful sight met our 
eyes — wonderful, and for Stackelberg and his staff 
most painful. The Russian centre had been 
broken and beaten — driven completely back, it 
was in full retreat in the direction of the Sha-ho. 
Nor was this all, for, while the centre had been 
pierced, Bilderling's army far out on the plains to 
the west had also been forced back. The grand 
advance begun with such pomp and ceremony 
had reached a sorry end. Looking over the hills 
nothing could be seen for mile beyond mile but 
the balls of white smoke from the Japanese 
shrapnel as it burst over the retreating Russians. 
The 4th Siberian Army Corps, some nine or ten 
miles distant from our vantage point, were hotly 
pressed ; and it appeared quite possible, from the 
rapid progress the Japanese were making, that 
the enemy might cut the Russian forces in two 



JAPANESE PIERCE THE RUSSIAN CENTRE 193 

and defeat them in detail, or press on to Mukden 
before Kuropatkin could get his army together 
again to defend it. Thoughts like these flashed 
through our minds as we stood gazing at the great 
drama being enacted in the plains. 

General Stackelberg did not take long to make 
up his mind what to do. A battalion was ordered 
to occupy at once the hill on which we stood, whilst 
four regiments from the reserve (2nd Siberian 
Army Corps) were sent to attack the Japanese 
force pushing forward through our shattered centre. 
There was still the chance that these regiments, 
by joining hands with the 4th Siberian Army 
Corps, would close the gap through which other- 
wise the Japanese would pour. Of the difificulty 
of preserving the battle-line intact, some idea may 
be formed when it is realised that from east to 
west the front of the Russian forces must have 
stretched fully 50 miles. 

Meanwhile the ist and 3rd Siberian Army 
Corps were continuing their attack on the Tu- 
min-ling and other passes away on the east. 
Could the hills be carried the Japanese position 
would be in turn threatened, and in any case it 
kept part of the enemy on the defensive. All 
day long the battle continued, regiment after 
regiment of Stackelberg's reserve being drained 
off on a long march to the west, where Zarubaieff's 
men were still struggling to escape from the toils 
of the foe ; and not long after four o'clock in the 
afternoon it could be seen that the 2nd Siberian 
Army Corps had filled part of the big gap between 
13 



194 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

ourselves and the centre. By this time nearly 
all the reserves of the Eastern Army seemed to 
have been used up, and the forces assaulting the 
passes were left without further reinforcements. 
They were still struggling to capture the positions, 
but were barely able to maintain the advantage 
gained during the night. Stackelberg must have 
been aware that the chance of saving the day 
was gone, for the order was given that the 
baggage of his army should be sent back along the 
road to Beaneapudze. This town by the Sha-ho 
seemed to be the objective of the entire army. 
By concentrating on it, the wedge which the 
Japanese had driven into the Russian forces would 
be flattened out. To convey an adequate idea 
of the whole battle-front is impossible, nor could 
its full extent be seen by one man, although from 
various points of vantage a very great area could 
be seen. While the Eastern Army was still on 
the offensive, the Centre and the Western Armies, 
though in retreat, were not in flight. Bilderling's 
Corps were giving way as slowly as possible ; his 
guns replied to those of the Japanese, and the 
roar of cannon was continuous. It diminished, but 
did not cease as evening came on. 

Late in the day I met Mr. Charles Hands, 
who had been with the 3rd Siberian Army Corps 
on our extreme left, and learned from him that 
there, as at the Tu-min-ling, the Russians had 
made no substantial progress. Rennenkampf had 
not succeeded in crossing the Tai-tze-ho, although 
he had secured a position overlooking Bensihu. 



JAPANESE PIERCE THE RUSSIAN CENTRE 195 

The casualties among the 3rd Siberian Army 
Corps had been heavy. Among the wounded was 
that fine soldier General Daniloff, of whom the 
reader has already heard, who commanded a divi- 
sion of the corps. Though severely wounded in 
the thigh and unable to walk, he insisted, as soon 
as his wounds had been dressed, on his men carrying 
him back to the firing line, whither he was taken 
on a litter, and where he remained for the rest of 
the day calmly giving his orders. General Daniloff 
had already won the St. George's Cross for his 
brilliant defence of Liao-Yang, and for his heroic 
conduct on this occasion — for the gallant fellow 
made an excellent recovery ; he was afterwards 
given the Sabre dor, a coveted distinction in the 
Russian army. 

That night I spent with General Stackelberg's 
staff at Beaneapudze. One could now sum up the 
position and contrast it with that of the previous 
night. What a vast difference the twenty-four 
hours had made in most parts of the field. The 
position of the ist Siberian Army Corps attacking 
the Tu-min-ling was unchanged, but their reserve 
corps, the and Siberian Army Corps, had gone 
west to occupy the hills which jutted out so awk- 
wardly into the plain, and the 3rd Siberian Army 
Corps was " no forrarder " than before. Thus the 
Japanese had held the three corps comprising 
the Eastern Army for two whole days, and the 
Eastern Army was the least unsuccessful of the 
Russian forces engaged! Elsewhere, as we have 
seen, the Russians were in retreat, whilst the 



196 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

Japanese had pushed a wedge into the centre of 
their position, assailing them on their most sensi- 
tive point. The situation of Kuropatkin's vast 
force was critical, and Stackelberg and his staff 
spent a most anxious night, and only brief snatches 
of sleep could be obtained. Similar anxiety and 
activity were of course experienced by the staffs 
of the Centre and of the Western Army and at 
General Kuropatkin's headquarters. Messages 
were being sent and received all the night through. 
Until and unless the gap caused by the piercing 
of the Centre was closed, the danger of over- 
whelming disaster to the whole army was real 
and imminent ; and although Stackelberg's Staff 
expressed confidence that the gap would be closed, 
they were manifestly depressed at the turn events 
had taken. 



CHAPTER XXV 

THE RUSSIAN ARMY IN FULL RETREAT 

A NIGHT of anxiety was succeeded by another day 
of fierce conflict. All along the extended front 
the battle was resumed. Resumed is scarcely the 
correct word, for the fight had not ' ceased during 
the night; in fact, since the morning of the nth 
the strife had gone on without a break of more 
than an hour or two, and then in parts of the field 
only. Bilderling's army had had the bulk of the 
fighting during the night of the 12th, but at the 
same time the pressure on the Russian centre was 
maintained. 

Early in the morning of the 13th, Baron Stack- 
elberg rode over from his headquarters to the new 
position which the 2nd , Siberian Army Corps had 
taken up. The troops were busy entrenching 
themselves on the range of hills which ran out into 
the plain and which overlooked the positions held by 
General Zarubaieff. Several batteries had been 
placed in position, and so far the Japanese had 
made no attempt to interfere with their operations, 
a somewhat remarkable fact, as the possession of 
these hills was of considerable importance. With 
Stackelberg and his staflf I climbed a high peak, 

197 



198 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

destined to be the scene of sharp fighting later on ; 
it was the rugged eminence which became known 
as Temple Hill. The temple after which the hill 
was named, and from which we obtained a magnifi- 
cent view of the surrounding country, contained 
frescoes depicting the punishrilents awarded the 
wicked in the world to come. Curious as were 
these mural decorations, we did not stay to gratify 
our aesthetic tastes by any minute inspection nor 
to moralise on the imaginative powers of the 
painter, for attention was soon riveted on the 
doings in the plain. Below us we could see three 
Japanese batteries hotly shelling the retreating 
Russians, while Japanese infantry was also being 
pushed forward, the men showing in the distance 
in large dark masses. The Japanese were advanc- 
ing in a line parallel with the hills on which we 
and the 2nd Siberian Army Corps were, and to 
me and the other foreigners privileged to accom- 
pany the staff of the Eastern Army it seemed that 
here was an excellent chance of severely harassing 
the Japanese force attacking the Russian centre. 
Nothing, however, was done ; we simply stood still 
and watched the fight. We did not even occupy 
the most westerly of the hills between us and 
Zarubaieff 's men. The hills ran in a sort of double 
chain, with a narrow valley between, and the 2nd 
Siberian Army Corps had taken the line of hills 
nearest Beaneapudze. The opposite range was left 
for the enemy to seize, if he chose, and naturally 
he did choose. As far as could be told, the battle 
was continuing on this the third day in much the 



THE RUSSIAN ARMY IN FULL RETREAT 199 

same fashion as on the second : the ist and 3rd 
Siberian Army Corps were still assaulting the 
passes ; Bilderling was still in retreat, and the 
Japanese still had their wedge right in the Russian 
centre. It was two o'clock in the afternoon ; the 
staff had left Temple Hill and were eating a hasty 
lunch, when news came of an attempt to drive 
the wedge home. A squadron of the Primorsky 
Dragoons galloped up to say that the enemy were 
even then occupying the crests of the hills opposite 
those held by the 2nd Siberian Army Corps, and 
were threatening our line of retreat. This an- 
nouncement appeared to be unexpected, for it 
threw the staff into manifest confusion, which lasted 
some minutes. It was, however, no time for hesita- 
tion, and presently Baron Stackelberg ordered the 
5th Siberian Rifle Division to drive the Japanese 
off the hills. The order was at once obeyed, the 
Siberians going into action at the double, the 
artillery thundering past at the gallop. It was an 
inspiriting sight, and one could but wish success 
to these fine fellows as they set off to redeem the 
advantage lost. Baron Stackelberg, seated motion- 
less on his charger, called out words of encourage- 
ment as the troops ran past, and the men shouted 
back their acknowledgments in the familiar phrase, 
"Good health and long life, Your Excellency." 
The Rifles had to round the base of Temple Hill, 
cross the intervening plain, and scale the farther 
hills, on the crests of which the Japanese could 
now be seen hurriedly digging cover. Regaining 
our post of advantage, we could follow every move- 



200 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

ment in the attack and defence. It was not long 
before the Russian batteries opened fire, and then 
the infantry could be made out scrambling through 
the tangled brushwood and over the big boulders 
which strewed the hillsides. The Japanese were 
ready for them. They had already got their guns 
in position, and as the Russians came on the 
batteries opened fire. And now Stackelberg had 
the mortification of witnessing a repetition of what 
had been going on at the Tu-min-ling for near 
three days. The riflemen came on in extended 
order, seized every opportunity to get cover, ad- 
vanced by rushes, fought with conspicuous bravery, 
but could never gain the summit. The Japanese 
rifle fire was heavy and accurate, and though the 
Russian batteries posted below worked hard all 
the afternoon they failed to silence the enemy's 
guns or to shake their infantry. Once and again 
the Russians got within a hundred yards or so of 
the foe, but withered away under the hot fire. 
The failure of his force in every direction must 
have weighed heavily on the General, and the staff 
were most anxious as to the safety of the Eastern 
Army. Leaving Temple Hill as night began to 
fall, Baron Stackelberg turned his horse's head 
towards Beaneapudze. On the way back we saw a 
battery posted on a hill commanding the road, and 
such was the tension and uncertainty among the 
staff that for a considerable time no one could 
determine whether the guns were Russian or 
Japanese ! In the end they proved to be Russian. 
It was now evening of the third day of the 



THE RUSSIAN ARMY IN FULL RETREAT 201 

great fight, and the only matter in doubt was the 
extent of the Japanese victory, and whether the 
Eastern Army would be able to join hands with 
the Centre and Western Army. The attack on the 
Tu-min-ling had been abandoned during the day, 
and orders were now issued for a general retreat of 
Stackelberg's force. The transport had all gone 
back north on the road to Mukden, and the ques- 
tion now was whether the various corps would be 
able to follow, or whether the Japanese would pour 
in on the retreating troops. How different was the 
scene that night at Beaneapudze from that of four 
nights ago, when the staff sat up, confidently 
planning the attack which was to reverse Liao- 
Yang. Now all the planning and the scheming 
was how to save the army from the terrible foe. 
The night was spent in a Chinese pawn-shop, and 
such sleep as we got was obtained by lying down 
booted and spurred on the cold flags and with the 
keen air of an October night to chill the bones. 
We were short of food, and had to be content with 
a scanty ration from half-empty wallets. All night 
our horses remained saddled ready for emergencies. 
At midnight arrived Lieut. -General Gerngross, the 
commander of the ist Siberian Army Corps, who 
had brought back his men safely from the Tu-min- 
ling. The 3rd Siberian Army Corps were also 
falling back, and urgent orders were sent out to 
accelerate the retirement. When morning broke 
on the 14th the bulk of the army had crossed the 
Sha-ho. The staff Were still at Beaneapudze, and 
Baron Stackelberg was going with the rear-guard. 



202 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

now the post of danger. With their faces turned 
northward the right and left of the army was 
reversed. The ist Siberian Army Corps were in 
the centre, the 2nd on the left, still endeavouring 
to keep back the Japanese wedge which threatened 
to isolate us, and the 3rd Siberian Army Corps 
away on the right. What was the position of 
Zarubaieff's corps and Bilderling's army we did 
not know, beyond that they were still struggling 
back to a place of safety. As for Stackelberg's 
army, its retreat was conducted in orderly fashion, 
and the Japanese (losing a good chance as it 
seemed) did not seriously molest it 

With the whole Russian army now in full 
retreat the time had come when some account of the 
titanic conflict should be sent home, so at half-past 
ten I started for Mukden, not without some fear of 
falling into the hands of the Japanese, as I intended 
taking a short cut which led across the line of 
retreat of the 4th Siberian Army Corps, where the 
enemy's troops were most advanced. Though I 
escaped the attentions of the enemy, the ride was 
a very unpleasant one. The rain came down in 
torrents and drenched me to the skin. I met dis- 
organised bands of tired soldiers, trudging wearily 
along the roads, all their spirit gone, and careless 
apparently as to what became of them. Halting in 
the afternoon at a Chinese farmhouse I asked for a 
feed for my horse, offering ample payment. But the 
owner of the house absolutely refused my offer. I 
have on two or three previous occasions given par- 
ticulars of the kindness and hospitality I experienced 



THE RUSSIAN ARMY IN FULL RETREAT 203 

from the Chinese in Manchuria, but they are not all 
and not always celestial in their behaviour. They can 
be exasperating beyond words, and on this occasion 
this man tried my patience almost beyond endur- 
ance. His churlish refusal to give bite or sup to 
my poor pony wrought me to a frenzy. Mad with 
rage I drew my revolver, and for some seconds the 
Chinaman's life hung in the balance. No one was 
there to witness what I did, and to shoot was easy. 
But conscience came to my rescue, and I put my 
revolver away. I was at the same time determined 
not to be baulked, and, turning my horse into the 
yard, I ransacked for forage, and found all that I 
wanted. Taking the saddle again I continued my 
journey and reached Mukden late at night, after a 
45 miles' ride over terrible roads. The sound of 
heavy firing had been continuous all day, especially 
from the westward where was Bilderling's army ; 
but the state of the roads convinced me that if it 
rendered the Russian retirement slow, it equally 
hindered the pursuit of the Japanese. 

I sat up all that night writing out a despatch 
for Reuter — with the fear of the censor before my 
eyes — informing that agency of the progress of this 
great battle, the greatest of the campaign, as far as 
it had gone, and, up to then, the biggest fight, 
probably, of which history has record. 



CHAPTER XXVI 

THE SHA-HO BATTLE — JAPANESE TACTICS 

Having written a long despatch, describing the 
fighting I had witnessed, very early in the morning 
I rode over to the press censor's office and handed 
in my telegram for his visa. It was a faithful 
record of what had happened — too faithful, it 
appeared, for the censor, after reading it through 
most carefully, took up first a blue and then a red 
pencil, and covered the paper with obliterating 
marks. Still, thought I, something will be left. 
A vain imagination, for the censor changed his 
mind and, to my utmost mortification, deliberately 
tore up my despatch. What I felt may be more 
easily imagined than described — but to protest was 
useless, and equally useless would it have been to 
write such a despatch as the censor would have 
passed. It was one of the disagreeable incidents 
in the life of a war correspondent — a life full of 
strange and stirring experiences, a life which, on 
the whole, has more of the agreeable than the 
disagreeable in it. I speak as I have found it, and 
am not now considering the position of a war 
correspondent from the standpoint of the soldier 
or of the newspaper proprietor. 

201 



SHA-HO BATTLE— JAPANESE TACTICS 205 

If I was not permitted to send news home there 
was no restraint on my movements. I was free to 
see what happened, if not free to describe what I had 
seen. It was the 15th of October, that is, the fifth 
day of the battle of the Sha-ho. I have already 
stated that the Eastern Army under Baron Stackel- 
berg had recrossed the Sha-ho on the night of the 
1 3th- 1 4th. It was permitted to retire from a most 
trying and dangerous position with little molesta- 
tion. This slackness in pursuit enabled it to close 
up with the centre under Zarubaieff, and the fear 
of the Russian army being cut in two was over. 
In all likelihood the force opposing Stackelberg in 
the Tu-min-ling was not strong enough for effective 
pursuit. It is certain the Japanese had placed in 
the hills a comparatively weak force, being con- 
fident of their ability in mountainous country to 
oppose successfully a force much superior to them 
in numbers. The bulk of Marshal Oyama's troops 
were massed in the plains south-west and south of 
Mukden to meet the attack of General Bilderling, 
and it was principally in this direction that the fight 
raged on the 15th. Bilderling's troops were being 
steadily driven back, but were still on the farther 
side of the Sha-ho. General Kuropatkin, from his 
temporary headquarters at Hoanchantze, a village 
east of the railway and some five or six miles on 
the Mukden side of the Sha-ho, had sent a message 
to Baron Stackelberg commanding him to despatch 
reinforcements to the aid of General Bilderling. 
The choice of Stackelberg fell on his own old 
corps, the brave ist Siberian Army Corps, and 



206 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

Kondratovitch with his 9th Division was at once 
sent off to the help of the Western Army, the rest 
of the corps following. 

While all this was happening in the field the 
excitement in Mukden became very great, and 
increased as the roaring of the artillery grew near 
and more near. From the town walls, on which 
were crowds of Chinese watching with anxious 
faces, the shells could be seen bursting in the 
distance, and other evidence of the nearness of the 
fight were abundant. Empty ammunition waggons 
rattled along the road to the magazine, there to 
refill their cases with death - dealing shells, and 
officers from headquarters came dashing in with 
messages. But the most painful evidence of the 
battle was the long convoy of wounded being taken 
to the hospitals. I have said little so far as to the 
casualties in the Sha-ho fight, but when about a 
quarter of a million men engage in combat for 
several day^, the number of wounded must be great. 
Now, on the fourth day of battle, they were coming 
into the city in an almost continuous stream, and 
never shall I forget the heart-rending groans of 
some of these poor fellows. It is impossible to 
contemplate such suffering without wishing for 
some other solution of national quarrels than the 
dread arbitrament of war. As had been the 
case at Liao-Yang there were now not enough 
ambulances, and insufficient hospital accommoda- 
tion, despite all the preparations made before the 
battle. All the hospitals were full, and still the 
long train of wounded poured into the city. The 



SHA-HO BATTLE— JAPANESE TACTICS 207 

doctors and nurses, as always, worked nobly, but 
for all that many a poor fellow was unattended, and, 
as far as could be judged, at any moment it might 
be necessary to evacuate the town ; and Mukden 
be added to Ta-shi-chao, Hai- Cheng, and Liao- 
Yang in the list of places from which the Russian 
troops had " advanced northward." The Russo- 
Chinese Bank packed its money and other valuables 
to be ready for any emergency, and even despatched 
consignments of silver to Kharbin. Despite all 
appearances the Manchurian Army Gazette came 
out with a glowingly worded article, announcing 
that the Russians had gained a glorious victory at 
the Tu-min-ling and that Rennenkampf was over 
the Tai-tze-ho and close to Liao-Yang. This was 
news indeed, news which would even please the 
censor. It was no incomplete account, moreover, 
but something calculated to bring the blush of 
shame to the cheek of the mere chronicler of the 
plain unvarnished truth. Precise details of the 
fight were given, all as plain as a pikestaff and 
as clear as crystal ; the author's imagination must 
have been splendidly vivid. Although, save for 
one or two correspondents who, like myself, had 
ridden in from Beaneapudze, no one outside the 
highest military officials knew exactly what had 
happened to the Eastern Army, the Mukden public 
were not deceived by the yarn of the gazetteer — 
the roar of the approaching guns was even more 
eloquent than the pen of the romancist. 

I made up my mind to see something of the 
fight in Bilderling's army, and mounted my pony 



208 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

with that intention. However, before I could get 
away, a little incident happened which for the 
second day in succession caused me to lose my 
temper with a Chinaman. My landlord, fearing 
(apparently) that I was going to bolt without pay- 
ing my shot, closed the gate of the yard in my face 
and insisted that before I left I should pay an ex- 
orbitant rent. (The Chinese number among them, 
let me parenthetically remark, the most avaricious 
people I have ever met.) Having given my host 
no reason for his insolent behaviour I resolved on 
strong measures. I had been told, and indeed 
believe, that the worst thing a European can do, 
in a dispute with a Chinaman, is to strike him — it 
is the assailant, not the assailer, who loses "face," 
but this notwithstanding, I now seized hold of my 
landlord's pigtail and twisted it until he yelled for 
mercy. This " new way " with troublesome land- 
lords is not recommended for general adoption, 
but it had the merit of being effective, and a few 
minutes later I was on the Great Mandarin Road 
riding south to the nearest point of the field of 
battle. The plain around and beyond me was 
thickly populated, being valuable agricultural land. 
The unfortunate villagers were great sufferers by 
the battle, and I met hundreds of refugees whose 
houses had been either destroyed or seized by the 
Russian troops in their retreat. The refugees were 
making their way to Mukden with the few chattels 
they were able to carry. 

In an hour or two I had reached the battlefield, 
a flat expanse (if an occasional hillock be excepted) 



SHA-HO BATTLE— JAPANESE TACTICS 209 

dotted with villages and groves of trees. In 
convenient situations were placed dressing stations, 
to which blood-stained men could be seen slowly 
hobbling. The Russians were being heavily shelled 
by the enemy's shrapnel, whilst now and again, 
instead of the white balls of smoke made by the 
shrapnel, a skimosa (high explosive) shell would 
hurtle through the air, burst with a terrific bang 
as it struck the ground, and emit dense clouds of 
black smoke. Though the firing line was main- 
tained intact, the Russians were still losing ground, 
and might even be forced back to the Hun-ho 
entrenchments. There was in Bilderling's army 
an amount of demoralisation, there was little co- 
hesion, the corps had got mixed, and each com- 
mander seemed to be fighting on his own account. 
So the day wore on and night fell with the two 
armies still engaged. Bivouacking on the plain I 
regaled myself on a ration of some of those won- 
derful tinned foods which give you a choice of 
dishes and of meats, in accordance with the way 
they are prepared. Thus, on the label one reads 
this — or something Hke it — "For boiled rabbit 
simmer over fire one hour : for rabbit soup boil for 
an hour and a half : for hashed partridge add water 
and boil rapidly for half an hour." By whatever 
name you choose to call it, the ration is grateful and 
comforting to the hungry man. 

The situation on the i6th of October was much 

the same as on the 15th; the fight went on, and 

Bilderling was forced back to the Sha-ho. General 

Kuropatkin was still at Hoanchantze, though at 

14 



210 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

one period of the battle the Commander-in-Chief, 
eager to see for himself the progress of the fight, 
had joined Bilderling's army, and whilst at the 
front had come under an extremely hot shell fire. 
It was not yet certain if the Japanese pursuit had 
spent its force, or whether the Russian army, its 
various units now closer together, could compel the 
enemy to stop. The headquarters' staff appeared 
to think that Marshal Oyama had received from 
the army besieging Port Arthur a reinforcement 
of a division and a half, but this proved not to be 
the case. It was now possible to obtain particulars 
of the fighting of the Western Army in the first two 
critical days, and to ascertain the tactics followed 
by the Japanese. As has been already stated, the 
Japanese had concentrated their strength in the 
plain, primarily with the object of getting the great- 
est force to meet the Russians on a field of battle 
more liked by the soldiers of the Tsar than broken 
or mountainous country. The Russian prefers to 
fight on the flat, and therefore might there be con- 
sidered more dangerous. 

On the opening day of the great fight the 
Russian Western Army made a furious assault on 
the Japanese positions. For this the enemy was 
prepared, and every attack made was repulsed, the 
loss of life being great, especially on the Russian 
side. The Japanese, whose strategy and tactics 
always savoured of the text-books, followed the 
method advocated by German tacticians for an 
army on the defensive, and adopted the " Active- 
Passive " system. Having successfully withstood 



SHA-HO BATTLE— JAPANESE TACTICS 211 

the onslaught of BilderHng's troops on the nth, 
they did not wait for a renewal of the attack, but 
on the 1 2 th themselves took the offensive, and 
falling upon the Russians with almost incredible 
fury pressed home their attack and drove the Rus- 
sians back pell-mell. What happened to Bilder- 
ling also befell Zarubaieff, as has been described. 
It was the victorious advance of the Japanese 
which I had witnessed afar off from Temple Hill. 
Now, from the lips of those who had been in 
the fight, I heard many stories of heroism and 
death. When the Japanese turned the tables on 
their foes the Russians lost 24 guns. These 
batteries were out in the open, waiting for orders 
which never came, whilst, unknown to them, their 
infantry escort had withdrawn ; and without a pro- 
tecting force a battery is practically helpless, when 
it comes to close quarters. Seeing their oppor- 
tunity a body of Japanese infantry carefully stalked 
the batteries, and having got near unperceived, or 
else been taken by the Russians for their own 
escort, the Japanese opened a heavy fire on the un- 
fortunate gunners. Most of them perished whilst 
endeavouring to save the guns, which were secured 
by the enemy. One incident brought to my notice 
reveals clearly the terrible nature of the fighting 
during the first three days. During the retreat, a 
general commanding a division noticed an officer 
and some forty men returning through the lines. 
It appeared as if this was a small party which had 
been charged with some outpost duty and had 
shown the white feather. Incensed at their appar- 



212 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

ent cowardice the general rode up to the officer and 
asked him what he meant by deserting his post. 
With a somewhat grim smile the officer, saluting, 
said, " Sir, this is all that is left of my regiment." 
That regiment had gone into action over 2000 
strong. Could any word-painting be more eloquent 
of the nature of the struggle than this simple recital 
of fact ? Among the killed, it may be worth noting, 
was a man who had previously needlessly intruded 
himself into a quarrel with which he had no con- 
cern, namely. Colonel Maximoffi This officer was 
one of the Boer mercenaries in the war of 1899- 
1902, and had been with Commandant Kolbd in 
numerous engagements with the British, notably 
the battle of Sand River. 

Some of the camp stories of the battle were 
decidedly amusing. There was a yarn about the 
balloon section which may bear repeating. Two 
officers who intended to ascend to ascertain the 
Japanese position had taken their place in the car 
and given the signal to let go. The ascent had 
hardly begun when a sudden gust of wind caught 
the balloon and carried it towards the Japanese 
lines, but minus the car, which snapped its con- 
necting ropes. The astonished aeronauts were left 
up in the air staring into space, but not for long, as 
down came the car with a very decided bump. 
The Russians, it may be added here, did not find 
balloons generally as useful as was expected. They 
must always be held captive, and they afford a 
target for the enemy's artillery, as had been shown 
at Liao-Yang, when the Japanese by the use of 



SHA-HO BATTLE— JAPANESE TACTICS 213 

shrapnel disabled a balloon — the bag being pierced 
in several places. Then from any considerable 
height it is difficult to ascertain the formation of 
the ground, folds and depressions big enough to 
conceal troops appearing perfectly level. On the 
other hand, a captive balloon over one's own camp 
is invaluable for signalling purposes — as is indeed 
obvious. 



CHAPTER XXVII 

CAPTURE OF PUTILOFF SOPKA — ADVENTURE AT 
ERDAGO 

The troops of Generals Bilderling and Zarubaieff 
were finally forced to retreat behind the Sha-ho, 
but the Japanese, who must have been almost 
as exhausted as their foes by the week of fighting, 
now relaxed their efforts. The pursuit ceased, and 
the Russians set about to make a new position for 
themselves. Mukden was safe for the time being, 
nor was it necessary to go back to the Hun-ho 
lines. The position taken up was in general 
parallel with the Sha-ho and along the ridge of 
hills which overlooked its valley. These positions 
were not taken without interference, for the Japanese 
main position was the other side of the river, 
the two armies being within range of gun fire. 
Each army, too, had an outpost, as it were, within 
the enemy's camp. Temple Hill, beyond the Sha- 
ho, was still held by Stackelberg's army, two 
battalions being posted upon it. On the other 
hand, a small hill on the farther side of the river, 
considerably to the west of Temple Hill and some 
three or four miles east of the railway, had been 
seized by the Japanese during the pursuit, and was 



CAPTURE OF PUTILOFF SOPKA 215 

still held. On the summit of this hill was a solitary 
tree, and when events rendered the hill famous it 
was promptly and appropriately named in England, 
Lonely Tree Hill. Its native name is of no im- 
portance, and what the Japanese call it I do not 
remember, but to the Russians it will for ever be 
known as Putiloff's Sopka ; ^ its capture was the 
only real success of the Russians throughout the 
war. 

Of all the incidents in the Sha-ho fighting, the 
capture of this hill stands out as the most striking. 
Not only was it a victory for the Russians, the 
most decisive they gained, it was the only occasion 
on which Japanese field-guns fell into the hands of 
the enemy. Decisive as was the victory, it was 
only purchased at enormous cost. I learned the 
particulars of the fight from a staff officer. A few 
hours before dark, on the i6th of October, General 
Kuropatkin made up his mind that it was necessary 
to dislodge the Japanese from the hill, and gave the 
order that it was to be done, despite the fact that 
the general commanding at that part of the field 
declared it to be an impossible task. General 
Putiloff was told off to accomplish this "impossi- 
bility," and he succeeded. However, it was only 
by bringing a force of fully twenty to one against 
the foe that he achieved his purpose ; the Japanese 
were simply overcome by weight of numbers. 
They held the hill with about two battalions sup- 
ported by two batteries. After a severe artillery 
preparation. General Putiloff gave the order to 

1 Sopka. This word is Russian for Hill. 



216 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

storm the hill. From almost every side the 
battalions advanced to the attack. There could 
be no going back of the leading battalions,, save 
on to the bayonets of their comrades pressing 
behind. (One of the leading battalions was said 
to have been purposely given this post of danger, 
so that it should be compelled to redeem the 
character it had lost in the previous fighting by 
too easily concluding itself defeated.) Up the hill 
swarmed the Russians, the foremost files continu- 
ally falling before the withering rifle fire of the 
defenders, while every shrapnel found many victims. 
They had too good a target to miss, firing straight 
into the brown of the foe. Little by little the 
Russians advanced, the defenders never flinching.; 
indeed, they had no thought of giving way, and so 
at last the Muscovite and the Jap came to the final 
hand-grip, the fierce bayonet thrust. Fighting to 
the last gasp, the defenders were nearly all killed or 
wounded. Friend and foe lay dead in hundreds 
all over the little hill. And the guns? With a 
fierce shout of joy the two batteries were seized by 
the victors ; here was something whereof to boast, 
something to fill an official despatch. It was night 
when the summit was won, and hardly had the 
guns been seized when from the farther side surged 
up more Japanese in an endeavour to recapture 
the post. At this juncture occurred one of those 
dramatic scenes which live in memory when vastly 
more important events are forgotten. A young 
officer of Kondratovitch's Division had been sent 
to General Putiloff with a message, and reached 



CAPTURE OF PUTILOFF SOPKA 217 

the hero of the fight in his moment of victory. 
Looking round, the youngster saw the lonely little 
tree right on the summit, and a longing to touch it 
seized him. Impulsively he turned to the General, 
his heart beating high with patriotic fever, and 
besought his permission to just touch the tree. 
Permission was granted, the officer darted forward, 
put out his hand and accomplished his desire. At 
that moment the Japanese counter-attack swept up 
the hill and caught the officer in its tide. Hemmed 
round by the foe, he defended himself bravely with 
his sword, but presently a Japanese bayonet crashed 
through his chest, and pierced to the heart the 
young hero fell. The victor had no time to rejoice, 
for as he tried to withdraw his bayonet he was 
himself struck dead by a Russian bullet. In the 
end Putiloff remained master of the hill. Costly 
as had been its capture, its possession was worth 
the price paid. 

By Wednesday, the 19th of October, the battle 
had ended, but there was intermittent firing along 
the line of the Sha-ho, the proximity of the armies 
keeping each on the alert. By this time the various 
Russian corps had taken up the positions which, 
as the event proved, they were destined to occupy 
for months. Stackelberg's, or the Eastern, army 
formed the left wing. The 3rd Siberian Army 
Corps was posted on the extreme east, the 2nd 
Siberian Army Corps in the centre, and the ist 
Siberian Army Corps on the right. The main 
position was along the chain of hills already men- 
tioned as overlooking the Sha-ho, which was 



218 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

perhaps two miles distant. In front of the 3rd 
Siberian Army Corps was the village of Beanea- 
pudze, which instead of being Stackelberg's head- 
quarters was now only held by an outpost. It was 
a dangerous place to be in, being within range of the 
Japanese entrenchments on the farther side of the 
river. Opposite the position of the 2nd Siberian 
Army Corps was Temple Hill, the post beyond the 
river being held by the Russians. Baron Stackel- 
berg's new headquarters were at a village called 
Kandolesan, which was, roughly, midway between 
the camps of the 2nd and ist Siberian Army Corps,, 
but some distance in the rear. From it ran in a 
N.W. direction roads to Mukden and Fushun. A 
second line of hills ran behind those on which 
Stackelberg had his main positions. Just beyond 
his right these hills retreated from the river, making 
a bend north at a fairly sharp angle and forming 
consequently a weak point in the Russian line. 
Farther to the right and near the Sha-ho was the 
village of-Erdago, which became famous later on 
during the battle of Mukden. Thence the Russian 
line extended west past Putiloff Sopka and the rail- 
way for several miles. 'The Japanese faced us all 
along our front, and kept outposts or reconnoitring 
parties at places on our side of the river. 

It was now my desire to rejoin the ist Siberian 
Army Corps, and on the 19th I left Mukden for 
Kandolesan. I had promised to take provisions 
for Colonel Waters and Captain Reichman, and had 
a pack pony to carry them and a Chinaman to guide 
the pony. A procession of two we left the city. 



CAPTURE OF PUTILOFF SOPKA 219 

Crossing the bridge over the Hun-ho I heard 
shouts, and was horrified on looking round to see 
pony and provisions disappear into the river. A 
passing cart had collided with my pony, and sent 
him against the frail wooden rail at the side of the 
bridge. The rail gave way, with the result stated. 
Happily the water was shallow, and I recovered 
most of the bottles and tins of meat as well as the 
pony. As usual the byroads were very difficult to 
find, and more difficult to follow, owing to the quag- 
mires which marked their course, a consequence of 
recent heavy rains. Meeting one of Stackelberg's 
staff officers escorting two waggons containing stores 
for the mess at Kandolesan, I was invited to put 
my things in one of the waggons. This done, the 
Chinaman and pony were sent back to Mukden, 
and I went on with the provision waggons. That 
night was spent at Hoanchantze, where General 
Kuropatkin maintained his headquarters, and where 
we were entertained by three doctors and a priest 
with true Russian hospitality. In the morning a 
visit was paid to the Commander-in-Chief's head- 
quarters. Drawn up in a line in front of General 
Kuropatkin's house were the Japanese guns cap- 
tured at Putiloff Sopka. They were objects of 
great interest, crowds of soldiers minutely inspect- 
ing them. There were mountain guns and field 
guns, some thirteen or fourteen in all. There were 
also a good many Japanese prisoners at Hoan- 
chantze, and what with having captured, besides 
Lonely Tree Hill, the guns, and quite a number of 
prisoners, Kuropatkin's staff were a little elated. 



220 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

It was a time with them to be thankful for small 
mercies. Among the prisoners were a good many 
wounded, and I gladly testify to the great care and 
even tenderness shown to them by the Russians. 
It seemed to me that more was done for these 
men than for the Russian wounded. The guards 
showered presents of cigarettes and eatables upon 
their charges, and even tried to carry on a friendly 
conversation with them. 

Leaving headquarters, my companion and I 
continued our way to Kandolesan, but the waggons 
made very slow progress through the heavy roads. 
We had not gone far when we found General 
Mischenko in action, busily shelling the Japanese 
lines, and lingered a while to watch the fight. 

Later in the day we had been overtaken by a 
non-commissioned officer and four infantrymen of 
the I St Siberian Army Corps on their way to rejoin 
the corps, and they augmented our little party. 
Shortly before reaching Erdago we were riding 
slowly along when a bullet whistled by our ears, 
immediately followed by another. Looking round, 
we saw in a grove of trees about 150 yards away 
four or five Chinamen with rifles in their hands. 
We at once gave chase, but the men ran like hares, 
and succeeded in dodging us among the rocks which 
dotted the hills. Our assailants were, beyond a 
doubt, Hunhutzes who had come down to the road 
to take pot shots at passers-by. 

We had got rid of the Hunhutzes, but our 
misadventures that day were not ended. My 
officer-companion informed me that there was a 



CAPTURE OF PUTILOFF SOPKA 221 

large Russian post at Erdago, and there we con- 
templated spending the night. Entering the 
village in the afternoon, the sound of rifle-shots 
from the direction of the Sha-ho, which was close 
at hand on our right, greeted our ears. Instead of 
finding a large post in the place, we could see no 
one ; the village was deserted, and we began to 
feel in an unpleasant predicament. However, in 
the yard of a house at the farther end of the main 
street we found a few Cossacks saddled up and 
ready, in accordance with their instructions, to re- 
tire at the first appearance of the Japanese. There 
was obviously no safety in staying at this spot, nor 
could the Cossacks give us much information con- 
cerning the road we should take. I had my own 
opinion as to the proper route, and so had the 
captain in charge of the mess waggons. He trusted 
implicitly to his map (a strange thing, considering 
how defective the maps had proved), and chose a 
road which kept fairly close to the river. I felt 
very doubtful about this being the right road, but 
was overruled by the confidence of my companion. 
There was for some time not a sign of life any- 
where save in our little caravan, and the villages 
we passed had all been deserted. At length one 
of the Cossacks accompanying us rode up and 
pointed to the hills directly to our right, and there, 
sure enough, were the Japanese. It was impossible 
to take them for Russian outposts. Upon seeing 
this the captain lost confidence in his map and the 
road we were taking and turned to me for advice. 
I told him that in my opinion we were either within 



222 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

the Japanese outposts, or else between the lines of 
the two armies. The situation was a little awkward, 
as night was now falling and our waggons could 
not cover more than three or four miles an hour. 
Left to settle our course, I decided on a road going 
more northerly than that by the river, and following 
it we reached a Russian outpost in safety. Here 
the captain wished to pass the night, but I advised 
going still farther back, as, if the outpost was 
attacked during the night, the waggons would 
seriously hinder our movements and might get 
captured. I did not forget that the stores to re- 
plenish my own and friends' mess at Kandolesan 
were in the waggons. At that moment the non- 
commissioned officer in charge of the Cossacks rode 
up and said that he was short of ammunition, and 
that his orders were to fall back at once should the 
Japanese attack. This decided the captain, and 
continuing our journey we reached in about an 
hour a village occupied by a sotnia of Cossacks. 
Here we spent the night, becoming the guests of 
two Cossack officers, as excellent men as one would 
wish to know. We learnt from them that we had 
really been within the Japanese outposts, and to 
illustrate the dangerous nature of the road we had 
traversed they told us the fate of an orderly sent 
that morning to Erdago. As he did not return, a 
search party was organised, and they found him by 
the road, dead, his body stripped naked and slashed 
all over in the manner a salmon is crimped, and his 
horse shot dead by his side. There is little doubt 
that this was the work of the Hunhutzes whose 



CAPTURE OF PUTILOFF SOPKA 223 

acquaintance we had made in the morning, and who 
had unfortunately escaped us. The next day we 
reached Baron Stackelberg's headquarters, and 
were most heartily welcomed, as the mess stores 
were almost empty. The captain and I said little 
about our adventures on the road, and how nearly 
the mess provisions had gone as a present to 
General Kuroki. 

There was a good deal of activity at Kandolesan 
at that time, the Eastern Army being engaged in 
occupying and fortifying the position overlooking 
the Sha-ho, The men were very fatigued and 
somewhat depressed, but for two or three days 
there had been, skirmishes apart, no fighting, and 
with a chance of regular food and sleep the men 
were recovering their condition. During the battle 
the commissariat arrangements had broken down, 
and for two days the ist Siberian Army Corps, 
attacking the Tu-min-ling, had had no rations issued 
to them. It was wonderful to see how patiently 
these men, and the Russian soldiers generally, 
endured hardships and privations. As a rule the 
common soldier is content with little food, and will 
even bear an empty stomach without much grum- 
bling. And I may here set down a fact I often 
remarked, namely, that the men preferred their 
black (rye) bread to any other ration, even soup or 
meat. On the march this bread is baked hard, 
broken up into fragments and called biscuit, being 
carried about in sacks. 

After staying a day or two at Kandolesan I 
gathered that there would be no more heavy 



224 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

fighting immediately, and with Colonel Waters I 
returned to Mukden. 

Though in the Eastern Army all was quiet, 
General Mischenko was still harassing the Japanese 
in the centre, while the enemy was continually 
shelling Putiloff Sopka. These were the last 
echoes of the great battle of the Sha-ho. 



CHAPTER XXVIII 

SOME REFLECTIONS ON THE SHA-HO BATTLE 

The battle of the Sha-ho was ended, but it was 
weeks before Mukden regained its normal appear- 
ance, or before the Russian army recovered from 
the effects of that terrible contest. It was, how- 
ever, now possible to form an estimate of the battle 
as a whole. The Russian losses had been far 
greater than at Liao-Yang, but it was not the loss 
of life which was the most serious effect of the 
battle. That lay in the fact that, at last, the 
Russians began to understand that they were 
inferior to their opponents. Of the rapidity with 
which the Russians recover their spirit after a crush- 
ing reverse I have already written, and the men and 
the majority of the officers, at first much cast down 
by their non-success, regained their tone in a week 
or two. They were not, it is true, as confident as 
they had been after previous reverses, for they had 
marched from the Hun-ho gaily in full expectation 
of victory, and had come back shattered, their 
ranks depleted, and with many a gun lost. Still 
to a large extent both officers and men had re- 
covered their self-reliance, and were ready once 
more to meet the foe. Though this was generally 
15 



226 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

the case, the more thoughtful among the officers, 
including many of those in high positions who were 
forced to look facts in the face, took another view. 
It dawned on them at length that the Russian 
army had been given a task beyond its power to 
accomplish, and a feeling akin to hopelessness beset 
them. The Commander-in-Chief suffered a little 
from this moral malaise ; a nervousness as to the 
future rendered him uneasy, and from officers who 
enjoyed his close companionship I learned that 
General Kuropatkin was a "smaller man" than 
before the battle. It was natural, nay inevitable, 
that it should be so. Practically a third of the 
mighty army he had launched against the forces of 
Marshal Oyama had fallen in the battle. The 
losses were stated at first to be 45,000 killed and 
wounded, but as the full tale of disaster was dis- 
closed the estimate had to be revised, and it was 
found that the total casualties were fully 75,000. 
This was an enormous weakening of the army, and 
it proved more difficult than it had done after 
Liao-Yang to fill up the gaps in the regiments. 
Over 1000 officers had been killed or wounded. 
The brunt of the battle fell on the Russian right 
and centre {i.e. Bilderling's army and ZarubaiefPs 
corps) ; in the ist European Army Corps alone the 
losses were put at 273 officers and 7109 men. The 
Eastern Army had lost thousands in the attack 
on the Tu-min-ling, and at Bensihu ; but once 
Stackelberg had been forced to retire his losses 
were light, save in the ist Siberian Army Corps 
which had been lent to Bilderling, and which 



REFLECTIONS ON THE SHA-HO BATTLE 227 

again lost heavily, especially Kondratovitch's 9th 
Division. The number of men killed outright was 
far above the average in big battles, and the 
number of dead bodies that one saw was appalling. 
It is said that nearly 15,000 Russian dead were left 
on the field. As at Liao-Yang, artillery fire played 
a most important part in the fight, and although 
the Russians took the offensive, 50 per cent, of 
their casualties were caused by gun fire. The 
Japanese made the very best use of their artillery, 
and the execution they did reflects the highest 
credit on their gunners, for the Russian guns were 
undoubtedly superior in range to theirs and pro- 
bably there were more of them. Whilst they had 
weapons inferior in calibre, the Japanese guns were 
more mobile than those of the Russians, and they 
approached boldly close to the Russian batteries.' 

While the Japanese artillery was excellent, their 
infantry was superb, and showed extraordinary 
dash and mobility, especially on the 12th, 13th, and 
14th of October. They had by then considerably 
worn themselves out, and although the battle did 
not really end until the 19th, the Russians, from 

1 The Russian guns were from 35 to 37 cwts. draught weight. To 
compensate for this heaviness the batteries were magnificently 
horsed. Indeed, the Russian artillery and transport horses were 
excellent, and there was little sickness or death among them. This 
was not attributable to the men in charge, for the transport drivers 
were both bad and careless horsemasters, usually driving at top speed 
over all sorts of rough ground. The health of the horses was due 
rather to their own good qualities, to the short marches they had, 
and the long rests they enjoyed, and also to the excellence of the 
climate, the freedom from poisonous grasses, and the absence of 
horse diseases usually so prevalent amongst armies in the field. 



228 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

the 1 5 th onward, found that they were better able 
to hold their ground. The Russian infantry had 
had an enormous strain put upon them in this nine 
days' fight, and, apart from the moral effect of being 
in retreat, the suffering then endured from want of 
food and want of sleep can hardly be appreciated. ■ 
They were kept in the firing line for very long 
periods, and suffered in efficiency thereby, a point 
which emphasises the importance of replenishing 
the firing line from the reserves at comparatively 
short intervals. The supply of ammunition for the 
men was also a matter of great difficulty, and 
to obviate this the soldiers went into action with 
over 300 rounds of cartridges per man. (As it was, 
practically all the ammunition accumulated prior to 
the battle was expended during the fighting.) The 
heavy kit in which the men had been accustomed 
to march during the summer was now largely cast 
aside, being either left on the ground when they 
went into the firing line, or placed among the 
regimental transport. 

During the battle the Russians had used every 
available man and gun, and, disastrous as had been 
the result, there was this one tangible advantage 
gained — the new position was a better one than that 
formerly held on the Hun-ho. The Sha-ho position 
certainly acted as a better buffer than that on the 
other river against an attack on Mukden, and for 
political reasons the Russians were most anxious 
to avoid a battle under the walls of the Manchu 
capital. The officers as they discussed the incidents 
of the battle had that comfort wherewith to solace 



REFLECTIONS ON THE SHA-HO BATTLE 229 

themselves, and it was almost the only comfort they 
could extract from it, except the assertion that the 
Japanese had lost so heavily that the victory was 
not worth purchasing. This, however, was not the 
case, for the Japanese losses, though very severe, 
were by no means as great as those of the Russians. 
Reviewing the situation, the events preceding, 
during, and after the battle, I gradually formed the 
conclusion that the war had failed to produce a 
single Russian General equal to handling success- 
fully such large bodies of men as were now in the 
field. The Russian character appears to me un- 
methodical, a lack of forethought is manifest, and 
the sort of feeling that somehow or other things 
will look after themselves and "we will put it off 
till to-morrow" — the manana of the Spaniards. 
This state of mind leads in a battle — as it did on 
this occasion — to many orders and counter-orders, 
inevitably causing much confusion. In these cir- 
cumstances the Russians had experienced great 
luck in extricating themselves from the perilous 
position in which they were throughout the 13th 
and 14th of October. Once their centre had been 
broken there seemed nothing to prevent the Japanese 
dividing the Russian armies in two, and, as stated 
in a previous passage, defeating either wing in 
detail or occupying Mukden. On the 13th Baron 
Stackelberg had expressed the opinion that either 
of these things might happen. Most of my col- 
leagues and the foreign attaches with Stackelberg 
seemed to think that the Eastern Army would be 
cut off from the rest of the Russian force and from 



230 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

Mukden, and compelled to retire on Fushun and 
thence to Tieling. But, as the reader knows, this 
did not happen ; the Japanese pursuit of the Eastern 
Army unaccountably slackening, due perhaps (as 
was the general belief in the Russian camp) to the 
exhaustion of the Japanese troops. 

The general inclination in the army was, as 
usual, to blame Baron Stackelberg for the non- 
success at the Sha-ho. In the first place, it was 
frequently said, Stackelberg ought to have broken 
through at the Tu-min-ling, or crossed the Tai-tze- 
ho at Bensihu and threatened Liao-Yang. 1 he 
reader can judge for himself how hard Stackelberg 
had striven to gain the passes, and how unjust it 
was to reproach him for not doing so. Then again, 
it was urged, and with great insistence, that when 
the 4th Siberian Army Corps under Zarubaieff had 
been driven back and the Japanese wedge forced 
into the centre of the Russian army, Stackelberg 
should have at once abandoned his attack on the 
passes and the attempt to outflank the enemy, and 
concentrated his entire strength against the left 
wing of the Japanese centre [i.e. the force which 
had wedged itself past Zarubaieff s men). To have 
done so would have been excellent policy, and — as 
the accoujit of the battle already given shows — 
Stackelberg, as soon as he knew of the disaster 
to the Russian centre, did send the 2nd Siberian 
Army Corps to threaten the Japanese wedge. 
Whether or not he could have done more than he 
did is a matter of opinion, but the 2nd Siberian 
Army Corps was the only corps he had in reserve. 



REFLECTIONS ON THE SHA-HO BATTLE 231 

and to get the 3rd and ist Corps away from their 
positions (where they had lost heavily) and hurl the 
tired men on the Japanese wedge would have taken 
much time. And time meant everything, for had 
the (supposititious) flank attack on the enemy proved 
a failure, it would have meant absolute disaster to 
the entire Russian army, as in that case there would 
have been nothing to prevent the Japanese from 
surrounding the Russians and cutting them off from 
their base. What Stackelberg did lack was a 
reserve of cavalry or mounted infantry. If when 
the centre was first broken he could have poured 
10,000 good horsemen on to the Japanese wedge, 
it would either have been broken or forced to retire, 
and the Russian line thus re-established. As it 
was, the cavalry that the Russians had was not 
where it was wanted in the hour of trial. In short, 
in my opinion Stackelberg did everything that was 
possible with the for^e he had at his command. 
Moreover, I think it extremely probable that 
General Kuropatkin, never anxious to risk too 
much, ordered him to retire when he did and not 
hazard everything in an attack on the Japanese 
centre. And with this apologia for the Eastern 
Army, to which I was attached, I will end my 
reflections on the tactical aspects of the battle. 

One of the saddest consequences of the battle 
was the misery it entailed on the Manchurian 
peasantry, at which I have briefly hinted in a 
former chapter. The country between Liao-Yang 
and Mukden is thickly inhabited by a race of 
industrious farmers. Nearly all of them suffered 



232 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

greatly during the retreat of the Russians. Living 
in Mukden, one had on every hand too patent 
evidence of the trials these innocent people had 
had to endure. Long trains of unfortunates, 
mostly women and children, toiled painfully into 
the city, where in a short while many thousands 
of refugees had collected. Many of these women 
and children were wounded, and piteous were the 
tales they told of husbands and fathers killed, of 
whole villages turned out of their homes, the wood- 
work and the furniture of their houses used for 
firewood, their provisions seized by the famished 
soldiers. It was only too apparent that large 
numbers of Chinese men had perished at the hands 
of the Cossacks. Their inability or indifference to 
distinguish between a peaceful farmer and a bandit 
had caused the death of many an innocent man ; 
sabre cuts and bayonet wounds told plainly that 
many of these refugees had been the victims of 
the soldiers. The conduct of the troops to the 
inhabitants had indeed undergone a startling 
change since the days in the eastern hills with 
Count Keller, when a Cossack dare not take the 
smallest liberty with a Chinese except at the risk 
of condign punishment. Well was it now for the 
unfortunate refugees that they could look elsewhere 
for help than to the Russians, who did absolutely 
nothing to relieve the distress caused by the war. 
The Chinese in Mukden, however, showed them- 
selves keenly alive to the calls of humanity. A 
Relief Committee, which received the support of 
the Manchu Governor of the city, was formed, and 



REFLECTIONS ON THE SHA-HO BATTLE 233 

many substantial subscriptions to this fund came 
from wealthy mandarins and merchants. The 
Chinese, according to my observation, are gener- 
ous in their dealings with the unfortunate, and 
certainly the mandarins most widely respected 
were those conspicuous for good deeds. The 
Chinese Relief Committee worked hand in hand 
with the British missionaries, who proved the 
truest helpers of the refugees, as they could care 
for the sick and wounded as well as for the 
destitute. Dr. Christie, Dr, Ross, Dr, Young, 
Mr. Ingles, Mr. Pullar, and Mr, Fulton, all mem- 
bers of the Scotch or Irish Protestant missions in 
the city, were untiring in their care of these poor 
people, giving them food and lodging, clothes 
and money to the utmost extent of their ability. 
Besides this, Dr, Christie and Dr. Young, assisted 
by Chinese medical students they had themselves 
trained, relieved hundreds of the Chinese wounded 
in their magnificent hospital. From the lips of 
the patients one heard distressing accounts of the 
hardships they had endured. I remember the 
story told by one unfortunate girl who lay in bed 
riddled with bullets. She narrated how she and 
her family decided to leave their home and seek 
safety in the city. Confused by the movements of 
the troops and frightened by the noise of battle, 
they lost their way and found themselves between 
the two armies. Hardly knowing what to do, they 
ran first towards the Japanese lines. The Japanese 
did not cease their fire, and most of the party were 
hit. The remainder then turned round and ran 



234 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

straight for the Russian lines. It was equally 
impossible for the Russians to avoid hitting them, 
and the girl in hospital was the only survivor of 
her family. From her condition it seemed to me 
that before long she too would have joined the 
majority. Still, she, with hundreds more, had the 
greatest attention from the hands of the noble- 
hearted men who had devoted their lives to the 
physical as well as the spiritual well-being of those 
with whom they had chosen to dwell. It is largely 
owing to the life work of Dr. Christie and such as 
he that the name of England is so honoured in 
Manchuria to-day. Well may we be proud of them, 
and help forward their great mission. 

A pendant to the battle of the Sha-ho was the 
capture of Temple Hill by the Japanese. After 
the battle this position was the only one on the 
farther side of the Sha-ho held by the Russians, 
and for a time the two battalions placed on it were 
not seriously molested by the enemy. Both armies 
were, in fact, busy strengthening their new positions, 
the Russian soldiers being kept at work trench- 
digging day and night. The artillery of either 
army would indulge in desultory firing, and this 
firing was occasionally heavy. However, the 
Russian position was made day by day stronger, 
and Temple Hill served them as a very useful 
outpost, standing, as it were, within the Japanese 
line, and from its height affording those on it a 
magnificent view of the country towards Liao- 
Yang. Then came a day when the foe determined 



REFLECTIONS ON THE SHA-HO BATTLE 235 

that the Russians should no longer enjoy this 
advantage. Placing artillery in a position secure 
from reply by the Russians, they subjected the hill 
to a severe bombardment. To send guns to aid 
the defenders was an impossibility for Stackelberg, 
as the river would have to be crossed under a 
terrific fire from the Japanese main position. On 
the hill itself there were nothing but machine guns, 
and the battalions holding it were thus in an almost 
hopeless situation, unable to reply to the enemy's 
fire and cut off from succour from their own side. 
The Japanese shrapnel wrought terrible havoc 
among them, and under cover of this fire the 
Japanese infantry climbed the hill and carried it 
by assault. The Russians fought desperately, and 
lost about 800 men killed and wounded, the re- 
mainder effecting their retreat across the Sha-ho, 
a stream easily waded. The Japanese had taken 
the hill, captured several machine guns, and in- 
flicted a heavy loss on the defenders, — it was in its 
way their revenge for the loss of Putiloff's Sopka. 

After this incident the two armies kept each to 
their own side of the river, and Temple Hill was 
the last serious engagement for many weeks. On 
the Russian side the authorities employed the time 
in hurrying out fresh troops to make good the 
losses sustained at the Sha-ho and in replenishing 
the ammunition of the army. 



CHAPTER XXIX 

ALEXEIEFF RETURNS HOME — NEWS OF THE NORTH 
SEA OUTRAGE 

Except for occasional heavy rain, the weather for 
some time had been agreeable and the temperature 
high. As October drew to an end the night air 
grew cold, even frosty ; one could no longer sleep 
with no roof save the canopy of heaven, and it 
became necessary to get shelter of some sort. 
The soldiers by the Sha-ho made for themselves 
burrows, — zemliankis, as they called them, — real 
underground chambers, which in the winter gave 
excellent protection against the cold, as well as 
the fire of the enemy. The troops cantoned in 
villages sent in to Mukden for matting and paper 
windows. The windows in Manchuria are filled, 
not with glass, but with white parchment paper, 
which, though it admits light, obscures the vision. 
These paper windows had suffered severely during 
the fighting and the wholesale destruction of vil- 
lages, and the demand for them in the Mukden 
market was great. On the 5th of November we 
had our first fall of snow, which caused those who 
could afford it to pay visits to the houses of the fur 
merchants, where most comfortable (and expensive) 

236 



ALEXEIEFF RETURNS HOME 237 

goods were to be had. It was about this time that 
two or three trains arrived from Moscow laden with 
warm clothing and all sorts of luxuries in the way of 
wines and provisions. The trains were drawn up 
on a siding under the care of officers who superin- 
tended the disposal of the goods. The sale was 
conducted on the same lines as in the Field Force 
canteen in South Africa, and, besides officers, all 
attaches and war correspondents were allowed to 
buy. 

At Mukden and in the camp at the Sha-ho 
there was a good deal of speculation as to the fate 
of General Kuropatkin, in consequence of the last 
defeat. According to some authorities, his recall 
was imminent ; but whether they thought this 
probable or not, most of the officers hoped that he 
would remain. Confidence in him had been lost to 
a surprisingly little extent, and with the rank and 
file Kuropatkin's popularity remained. The army 
did not blame its chief for the reverses it had met ; 
apart from criticism of this or that commander, the 
feeling was that the non-success of their arms was 
due to the interference of the politicians, to the 
Government in St. Petersburg, and more particularly 
to His Excellency the Viceroy Alexeieff. The truth 
of the matter can be known to very few people, 
but, judging by events, the Viceroy rather than the 
General was held responsible in Russia, for while 
Kuropatkin remained, Alexeieff went. The an- 
nouncement, within a fortnight of the battle of the 
Sha-ho, that Admiral Alexeieff had been ordered 
to start at once for home " in order to confer with 



238 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

the Emperor," was hailed by the army with delight, 
and every one joined in ascribing the disasters of 
the past to the man who had lost the favour of his 
master. The Viceroy was allowed to depart with- 
out any sign of public sorrow. After a final 
manifesto to all and sundry he left Kharbin 
showering decorations on the members of his staff. 
At last General Kuropatkin was free and in 
supreme command in the East. Sanguine spirits 
foretold all sorts of good things as likely to result 
from this change. 

The army in Manchuria was not much behind 
the times in the receipt of the news of the world, 
and from telegrams and Chinese newspapers, 
printed in English in Tientsin and Shanghai, we 
were informed of the North Sea outrage. To us 
at Mukden, as to the rest of the world, war 
between England and Russia seemed likely to 
result from this killing of British seamen, and on 
the whole the majority of the Russians (or the 
majority of those whose opinions carry weight) 
would have welcomed a war. Such was certainly 
the view taken by Kuropatkin's officers, with some 
exceptions. They looked upon the conflict with 
Japan in which they were engaged as caused by 
the Machiavellian diplomacy of England. Nothing 
could convince the ordinary regimental officer that 
Japan was other than a tool used by England in 
order to injure Russia. That Japan on her own 
initiative should have dared to defy Russia was to 
them unthinkable. So when what had happened 
off the Dogger Bank on the anniversary of Trafal- 



ALEXEIEFF RETURNS HOME 239 

gar Day came to be known, the conviction in the 
army that torpedo-boats had been sent out by 
England to destroy the Baltic Fleet was unshak- 
able. I was told so again and again by the closest 
of my Russian friends. The torpedo-boats, they 
would argue, might not have been English, but 
Scandinavian, and hired for the purpose, and, 
of course, the Hull fishermen were in league with 
the Japanese agents ; and so on, and so on. The 
chances of war led to the discussion of the 
probable scene of operations, which, all agreed, 
would be on the north-west frontier of India. An 
infantry colonel, with whom I had a long con- 
versation on the subject, expressed the opinion 
that it would be quite easy for Russia to drive 
England out of India. His view was the one held 
by most officers to whom I talked on the subject, 
and I had many a friendly argument upon it. 
They were quite prepared to talk about what they 
would do, and how they would do it, and in return 
showed no resentment of adverse criticism on their 
own army. 

At the same time that we received the news 
about the firing on the fishing-boats, we learned 
that Port Arthur was in a very bad way. Accord- 
ing to our information nearly all the houses in the 
fortress had been demolished by shell fire, and 
attacks were constantly being made by General 
Nogi's troops on the weary garrison. Many 
officers stated that the arrival of the Baltic Fleet 
and the defeat of Admiral Togo was now the 
only chance left of finishing the campaign -satis- 



240 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

factorily. "We shall, of course, beat the Japs in 
several battles yet, but without the help of the 
fleet it will be hard to drive them back to their 
own country." At the same time there was a 
good deal of unfriendly comment on the personnel 
of Admiral Rozhdestvensky's command. In illus- 
tration of the spirit that animated some of the 
younger officers I may mention that I was told 
by two or three of them that they had ordered new 
tents and outfits for the summer campaign in 
Korea. The summer of 1905 has come (one 
may hope more certainly in Manchuria than in 
England), but those young officers are not in 
Korea. If not killed they are somewhere north 
of Tieling. 

On the 6th of November we got Chinese papers, 
which, to the relief of some of us and to the dis- 
appointment of more, told us that the danger of 
an Anglo-Russian war had passed. The news 
was more true than some of the stories which 
appeared in these papers — stories which, if lacking 
veracity, were curious and entertaining. Soon after 
the battle of Liao-Yang, one of these journals 
printed a detailed account of the capture of 
Mukden ("Intelligent anticipation" this), and of 
the battle which raged beneath its walls. There 
was nothing skimpy or mean about the account ; 
the things which hadn't happened were told to 
the last circumstance, with names of generals and 
corps engaged. It may have been this splendid 
piece of enterprise which led astray the Man- 
churian Army Gazette, which, as the reader knows. 



ALEXEIEFF RETUHNS HOME 241 

described Stackelberg's great "victory" at the 
Tu-min-ling. 

By the middle of November the thousands of 
wounded who had been brought into Mukden from 
the Sha-ho had been removed to the large base 
hospitals at Tieling, Kaijuan, and Kharbin. The 
work cast upon the hospital staff at Mukden had 
been enormous, and the way in which it was got 
through was worthy of all praise. The great 
majority of the wounded recovered, especially 
among those who suffered from rifle wounds. In 
the care of the sick and wounded the Red Cross 
hospitals took a conspicuous part. Rumour had it 
that the Red Cross authorities were short of cash, 
although ample funds had been subscribed for their 
use at the commencement of the war. It was said 
that a considerable proportion of the money sent in 
by the charitable public could not be accounted for. 

There was little fighting at this period ; every 
morning and evening the big guns would boom 
forth, and occasionally a lively skirmish took place. 
There was, too, a good deal of firing at night, and 
the concussion caused by the discharge of the big 
guns shook the houses at Mukden and at first 
rendered sleep difficult. But one got accustomed 
to the noise and the shaking after a while and 
slept on undisturbed. Old residents in Manchuria 
now began to assure us that the cold in the winter 
would be so intense that active operations would 
have to cease. Terrible stories were told as to 
the effect of the cold, stories that forcibly reminded 
one of the prognostications in the summer about 

i6 



242 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

"the rains." I was inclined to be sceptical as to 
the cold, seeing that the prophecies concerning 
the rains had come to naught. Reservists from 
Siberia and fresh troops from Europe came 
through in large numbers, so that in two months 
or so the waste of the Sha-ho was more than 
made good. It was in these November days that 
I determined to take a little holiday and go 
sight-seeing at Tiding, being accompanied on 
this expedition by Major Schonmeyer, the Chilian 
military attach^. A journey of a few hours 
brought us to our destination, and here we found 
quarters at the Hotel Poltava, which rivalled the 
Carlton in its tariff if not in its comfort. Tieling 
at that time was the headquarters of many Greeks, 
Circassians, and other " robbers," who had estab- 
lished large stores, containing provisions imported 
from Tientsin vid Sinminting. These they sold 
at prices varying from lOO to 500 per cent, above 
the purchase money, and did a thriving trade. 
Your Russian spends money freely, and is careless 
as to the cost so long as he has any roubles in 
his purse. The fair sex at Tieling was well 
represented, by ladies whose virtue, it is to be 
feared, was not over rigid. The town, in short, 
was a smaller edition of Kharbin, and boasted 
of a theatre, which Major Schonmeyer and I 
patronised. Tieling is Chinese for "the Place of 
Iron," and the town takes its name from two 
large stones, fallen meteors, which lie by the 
door of the principal temple. As at Mukden and 
Liao-Yang, the inner town is enclosed by a wall 



ALEXEIEFF RETURNS HOME 243 

with a gate at each of its four sides. All round 
the town are steep hills which rise directly from 
the plain, and on these hills the Russians had 
constructed fortifications. One day sufficed to 
view the sights of the place, and so we returned 
to Mukden. On the way back we passed many 
troop trains, and were interested to note that to 
relieve the congestion of the railway at Mukden 
many of the trains were stopped at stations up 
the line, and troops with their transport and 
artillery detrained, to march thence by road to the 
front. The main roads were in good condition, 
so that this plan was perfectly feasible. The new 
troops which arrived about this time included the 
8th European Army Corps. 

Baron Stackelberg now went on sick leave. 
He had never completely recovered from the 
contusion to his leg sustained at the battle of 
Liao-Yang, and the work and anxiety of the 
battle of the Sha-ho had broken down his health. 
He was placed in the hospital at Gun-zuh-ling. 
In his absence General Sassulitch took over the 
command of the Eastern Army. Gossip had it 
that Stackelberg would not return, but the report 
had no foundation, save in the wishes of those 
unfriendly to the General. 



CHAPTER XXX 

SOME ASPECTS OF LIFE IN MUKDEN 

By the middle of November winter had set in. 
Snow covered the ground, and the rivers were 
frozen over, though for some time yet the ice was 
not thick enough to afford transport or guns a 
secure crossing. As day by day passed without 
any development of the military situation, one had 
leisure to study the city, and I found Mukden and 
its peoples intensely interesting. Most of the war 
correspondents went home during the next six 
weeks, and among the first to leave was Colonel 
Gaeke, the German military critic who had been 
sending accounts and criticisms of the campaign to 
a Berlin paper. His comrades entertained him at 
a farewell banquet on the 15th of November. 
This was but one of several entertainments given 
by the war correspondents, who welcomed their 
guests at a Chinese hotel which they had appro- 
priated. For my part, though spending part of my 
time at the hotel, I set up housekeeping in a small 
private house, being attended by an excellent 
Chinese servant. 

While it is impossible to give a complete 
account of the various phases of life in Mukden, 



SOME ASPECTS OF LIFE IN MUIODEN 245 

some of the more striking aspects of the city may 
be indicated. The Manchu name for the town 
means " the Prosperous," and probably never in 
its long history was it more prosperous than during 
the winter of 1904-5. Although the war had 
wrought indescribable misery in the surrounding 
country, it had greatly benefited Mukden and its 
industries. The Russians placed with the mer- 
chants enormous orders for the quilted goods which 
the Chinese use in cold weather (instead of woollen 
clothes, which they do not manufacture), for fur 
caps, for grain and other foodstuffs, for timber and 
for all the necessities of transport. Thus some 
millions sterling were disbursed in the town. At 
times there was considerable difficulty over the 
currency. After the occupation of Manchuria at 
the time of the Boxer Rising, the Russians had, 
with considerable trouble, accustomed the Manchu 
merchants to accept paper money, and, when the 
war with Japan began, both sides at first paid for 
their requisitions in notes. But, with the successes 
of the Japanese, the Chinese became alarmed, and 
the merchants began to look with suspicion on 
paper money.^ Russia, they argued, would be 
beaten, and her notes be worthless. So there arose 
a demand for payment in coin, and to satisfy this 
demand the Russian bankers imported large quan- 
tities of bar silver. By so doing the value of the 

1 The Japanese, with their wonderful power of imitation, put into 
circulation many thousands of false rouble notes, but this had little 
to do with the disinclination of the Chinese to accept paper in pay- 
ment. It was merely a little irritating device of the enemy. 



246 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

paper rouble was fairly maintained. The currency 
question was further complicated by the great 
variety of coins in circulation. There was the 
rouble, the Mexican dollar, the Hong-Kong dollar, 
the Chinese dollar, and the Japanese yen, besides 
brass " cash," of which for a shilling you bought a 
long string. The fluctuations in the value of silver 
led to a good deal of gambling on the Exchange at 
Mukden. The Chinese are born financiers, and 
some of the operators on the Mukden market could 
give points to the most astute member of the 
London, Paris, or Johannesburg Exchanges. 

The freedom with which the Russians spent 
their money made them popular in Mukden, nor 
was their expenditure confined to that incurred 
by the Government. The Russian officers were 
generous buyers of the " curios," jewellery, and furs 
with which the town was abundantly furnished. 
Rents went up, and landlords reaped golden harvests 
from the heavy charges they were able to obtain. 
Many besides the Chinese sought to share in the 
profit to be made out of the Russian custom, and in 
addition to the inevitable Greeks and Caucasians, 
other white traders, some of them French, sought 
for vacant houses in which to open shops. Any 
afternoon one could see in the streets crowds of 
officers and soldiers, and many well-dressed China- 
men, and occasionally the pretty uniform of the 
hospital sisters. There were always convoys 
marching to and from the town and the position 
on the Sha-ho, or to supply dep6ts placed outside 
the town. The streets were efficiently policed by 



SOME ASPECTS OF LIFE IN MUKDEN 247 

both Russian and Chinese gendarmes, who were 
under separate control. At night the thoroughfares 
were well lighted up, but it was the custom of the 
Chinese to bolt and bar themselves in their houses 
when evening came, and then the streets would be 
left almost entirely to the Russians and the Euro- 
pean hangers-on of the great army. At dark the 
big city gates were closed, after which time no one 
could gain admittance to the city unless in uniform 
or in possession of a pass issued by the Russian 
commissionaire. 

Despite the motley collection of nationalities in 
the town — people from every part of the world 
seemed to gather there — perfect order was main- 
tained, and, in striking contrast to the bad conduct 
too often exhibited in the country districts, no 
Russian soldier dared to misbehave in Mukden. 
During all the months I spent in the city, I never 
saw an instance of ill-treatment of the Chinese by 
the Russians within the walls. 

Unacquainted with Chinese civilisation, and 
with but hazy ideas of their manners and customs 
before going among them, the thing which, perhaps, 
impressed me most in visiting at their houses was 
the wonderful artistic sense they showed. The 
houses of the mandarins and rich merchants were 
beautifully and luxuriously furnished, of course after 
Oriental fashion. I was privileged to visit many 
of these houses, and the owners, who always re- 
ceived me with great hospitality, were delighted, 
to show their treasures when they found that one 
took a pleasure in such things. Of china and 



248 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

curious paintings I saw many marvellous collections. 
Especially interesting were the carved figures of 
men, trees, monkeys, and all kinds of odd crea- 
tures, jade being a favourite material for these 
statues. No connoisseur in Europe could be more 
proud of his collection or more appreciative of all 
that was antique and artistic than these educated 
Chinese. One of the mandarins with whom I 
made acquaintance was called " Chop Dollar," a 
nickname he acquired in consequence of smallpox 
marks all over his face. This official looked after 
the Imperial Palace, now uninhabited, and I spent 
many delightful hours examining the treasures of 
the Manchu Emperors stored in it, restraining with 
difficulty a desire to loot. This would have been 
a very easy proceeding, as the guards on duty were 
not sufficient to look after the building properly. 

No less interesting in their way were the street 
sights in the Chinese city. There were opium dens 
and Chinese cafds, always well patronised, and busy 
bazaars which were the resort of the professional 
story-tellers — born orators they seemed. These 
raconteurs were seated by little tables, round which 
collected large crowds to whom they wove romances, 
histories, love stories, poetry — whatever might be 
the mood of the moment. I listened with great 
interest. Not that I understood a word of what 
was said, but their gestures and the faces of the 
crowd afforded much amusement. Then there were 
the native doctors, and, as they conducted their 
consultations and operations in little shops without 
fronts, one could study their methods at leisure. 



SOME ASPECTS OF LIFE IN MUKDEN 249 

To me they appeared to be, one and all, charlatans 
practising on the credulity of their patients — faith- 
healers, if you will. Their surgical treatment was 
barbarous. A man would come with a sore, or a 
bullet lodged in his body. Into the wound the 
doctor would pour quicksilver, and then seal it 
with some sort of wax or other material. In 
a day or two the patient would return, the seal 
be removed, and as the quicksilver ran out the 
doctor declared that that was the bad matter causing 
the trouble ! Another favourite device was to run 
hot needles into the eye.^ No wonder the hospitals 
and surgeries of the missionaries were patronised 
by many who lost faith in these methods. From 
the doctors', one would stroll to the quarters of the 
fur traders or the blacksmiths, for each trade had 
its separate location. The blacksmiths' work was 
excellent, and native-made iron goods were pre- 
ferred to those of European manufacture.^ 

Though in respect of public order Mukden was 
a model city, it was sadly lacking in the matter 
of sanitation, and the most awful odours I have 

1 The reader may be interested in the following prescription, 
which is guaranteed to cure any disease of the eye : — Caterpillar 
skins, 4 oz. ; vegetable oil, 4 oz. ; petrified snake-spittle, 200 cash 
worth ; spiders, 50 cash worth. Place all in a new pot, cover 
with a piece of new cloth, and bury in a damp place for 100 
days. The mixture will then be in solution and ready for 
application. 

2 Iron and coal abound in Manchuria, but the mining industry 
is not developed, save in a few places by foreigners. In some cases 
where the coal seams are near the surface, the natives dig it out ; 
and a fair amount of iron ore is extracted. Gold is also found in 
Manchuria. It is not mined, but alluvial gold is obtained from the 
rivers. In Mukden the gold is sold in bars. 



250 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

ever endured were wafted about the streets, especi- 
ally after a slight thaw. Among the denizens of 
the city the dogs were very noticeable. They 
abounded in every direction, and, as in Turkey 
and other cities of the East, acted the part of 
scavengers. Hundreds of hideous fat black pigs 
also perambulated the streets, and pork was the 
chief meat eaten by the inhabitants. The pork 
market, where enormous quantities of frozen pork 
was kept, was also largely patronised by the 
Russians. Frozen fish of curious shape were 
another common article of merchandise, and phea-' 
sants and sand-grouse were plentiful and cheap. 
As good pheasant as can be got in England one 
could buy for fifty kopecks a brace, and that was 
an abnormally high price for game. Fowls were 
cheap too, but they were of great muscular develop- 
ment. On the other hand all grain foods were 
dear, and one had sometimes to pay as much as 
a shilling for a small loaf of bread. 

As in ancient Athens, there were altars to nearly 
all the gods in Mukden. Of its many temples 
some were in good condition, others were very 
dilapidated. Those of the Buddhists were the 
best kept. The Buddhists were a numerous body, 
and the lamas were well looked after by their 
people. Then there were Taoists and many 
Mohammedans and Christians. The United Free 
Church of Scotland had a large mission with hos- 
pitals for men and women, and seven or eight 
churches, some in charge of native pastors. The 
Irish Protestants had a mission also, and the 



SOME ASPECTS OF LIFE IN MUKDEN 251 

Roman Catholics another. The Romanists have a 
cathedral presided over by a French bishop. 

The pitiable state of the thousands of refugees 
has already been dwelt upon. Their distress was 
somewhat alleviated by the brisk demand for labour 
in the city, and all the able-bodied refugees were 
enabled to get work. The outlook for these people 
on their return to their ruined villages was, how- 
ever, very gloomy. In many cases the men had 
been killed, so that farms could not be tilled, while 
the last harvest had not been gathered owing to 
the ravages of the war. Although there was plenty 
of grain in the country north of Mukden, the 
prospects for the coming year in the southern 
districts were very black, and famine began to be 
feared. The Chinese did what they could to pro- 
vide against such a contingency, and a sum of 
money to relieve distress was put aside by the 
Peking Treasury, and several societies were formed 
in China to alleviate the lot of the innocent victims 
of the war. In this connection I may mention that 
one day the Jang-Jung (Chinese Viceroy of Muk- 
den) invited me and several other correspondents 
to luncheon. We entered his yamen — a building 
conspicuous for cleanliness and comfort — through 
lines of well-dressed (Chinese) soldiers and officials, 
and were shown into a room where a meal was 
served in European fashion. The Jang-Jung did 
not receive us personally, but sent a very important 
mandarin to do the honours. The only drawback 
to the luncheon was the persistence with which the 
waiters refilled our glasses with sweet champagne 



252 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

bought for the occasion. The repast over, the 
mandarin, who presided, stated that it was his 
Excellency the Jang-Jung's desire to approach the 
foreign correspondents to seek their aid in raising 
subscriptions in Europe for the benefit of the 
refugees. Having had some experience of Chinese 
methods in handling money we gave an evasive 
answer, stating that the difficulties in the way 
would be almost insurmountable in consequence 
of the attitude of the Russians. This mandarin 
and all the high Chinese officials with whom I 
talked struck me as well educated and exceedingly 
'cute men. 

It was an interesting study to watch the attitude 
assumed towards the Russians by the Chinese. I 
found that the Chinese were exceedingly good 
judges of character, and those who came into con- 
stant contact with the Russians never allowed 
themselves to be bullied, assuming and enforcing 
an equality of condition with the invaders of their 
land. Many Chinese hawkers went in and out 
among the troops with carts laden with all sorts of 
useful things, and as far as I know they were never 
robbed, — indeed, I have seen a single Chinaman 
rout a dozen soldiers who tried to steal his wares. 
In one respect the Chinese suffered at the hands of 
their own countrymen. The Russians employed 
numbers of Chinese interpreters and guides, 
attached to the various staffs or to Cossack regi- 
ments. These men often behaved in a most dis- 
graceful fashion. For instance, if a sotnia of 
Cossacks were out foraging and came across a 



SOME ASPECTS OF LIFE IN MUKDEN 253 

herd of cattle the Chinese guides would ride up 
and demand money from the herdsman, and if the 
blackmail were not at once forthcoming the guides 
woujd tell the Russian commander that the cattle 
were stolen, whereupon the commander would at 
once appropriate the herd. As all cattle were paid 
for by the Stores Department at Mukden, the ofifi- 
cers were sometimes not very particular to sift the 
statements made by the guides. Another method 
of extracting blackmail, used by the interpreters and 
guides, was to inform villages that unless they met 
their demands they (the villagers) would be de- 
nounced as Hunhutzes. No wonder that these 
interpreters became hated by all the country side. 

This chapter may end with a version of the 
cause of the Boxer Rising, which was told me at 
Mukden by a Scottish missionary who had been 
thirty years resident in Manchuria. According to 
my informant, while hatred of Europeans was the 
underlying motive, the immediate cause of the 
rising was the Boer War. The Dowager Empress 
of China apparently had feared England more than 
any other Power, and reasoned that as the Boers, a 
small nation, had so easily embarrassed the English, 
a great nation like China would be able to fight a 
combination of the European Powers with a chance 
of success. Hence the Boxer outburst, Russia 
has been credited with having made a secret treaty 
with the Chinese, whereby in return for Manchuria 
being given to her she would help China against 
all comers elsewhere. If that be so, the Russians 
during their occupation of Manchuria have hardly 



254 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

acted in a way to enlist Chinese sympathy. And 
whatever may have been the attitude of Peking, 
the original occupation of Manchuria by the troops 
of the Tsar was most unpopular. The Russian 
soldiers in Manchuria during the Boxer troubles 
were called by the Chinese "the rebels," and that 
period is always referred to by the Chinese as " the 
year of the Russian Rebellion." The Chinese 
memory of Blagoveshchensk is tenacious ; they do 
not forget that thousands of their fellow-men, 
women, and children, were driven into the Amur, 
to drown, by terror-stricken Cossacks. 



CHAPTER XXXI 

GETTING READY FOR ANOTHER TRIAL OF STRENGTH 

Among the visitors to Mukden during November 
were several from Vladivostok, and, judging by the 
tales they told, life in that seaport was no more 
serious than at Kharbin. The arrivals included 
Captain Eyres, the British naval attach^, who had 
been to Vladivostok in the hope of witnessing a 
naval engagement, but had waited in vain. He 
had, however, seen the damage done to Admiral 
Jessen's squadron in August by the ships of Admiral 
Kamimura. The attach^ expressed astonishment 
at the small loss of life on board the Russian ships, 
when one saw how the cruisers had been hit all 
over. Kamimura's squadron kept up the fight at a 
long range, never closing in, and thus two of the 
Russian boats escaped. The Japanese Admiral, as 
we know now, was obliged to act as he did owing 
to insufficiency of coal. It was on this occasion 
that the Rurik was lost. Her steering-gear was 
smashed, and the ship could only go round in a 
circle. Surrounded by Kamimura's small and slow 
vessels she blew herself up. While the news from 
Vladivostok was of this nature, the reports received 
from Port Arthur became worse and worse, and to 



256 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

many in the Manchurian army the fate of the 
fortress appeared to be sealed. 

The Japanese were at this time (November) 
believed to be concentrating in force at Lin-shin-pu. 
This was a village directly south of Mukden, near 
to the railway line, and at this point the two armies 
were closest to each other. The Russians held one 
part of the village and the Japanese the other. Large 
tunnels and deep trenches were constructed by the 
Russians right into the village. They were lined with 
sand-bags, and afforded excellent protection from the 
enemy's fire. The Japanese also had made trenches, 
and I was assured that so close were the two parties 
that the Russians could hear the Japanese talking. 
By tacit agreement the men from either army drew 
water from the well in the middle of the village 
without being shot at. Nor was this the only 
place where such courtesies were exchanged. At 
Kandolesan both Russian and Japanese soldiers 
went down to the river for water unarmed. Still it 
was not safe to place absolute reliance on being 
unmolested, for during the nights little raids and 
surprises were frequently organised by one party 
or the other, and if either combatant considered 
that the other side had played a mean trick, they 
"got even" with them when they came to draw 
water. Free-fights with fists occurred on the river 
bank more than once. 

The accuracy of the Japanese fire on Putiloff's 
Sopka, which was maintained daily, was extra- 
ordinary. Their guns covered the whole hill 
with skimosa shells. The marks of where the 



ANOTHER TRIAL OF STRENGTH 257 

shells fell could be seen distinctly. They made 
a perfect honeycomb pattern on the ground, layer 
after layer being systematically worked out. Being 
very strongly entrenched, the Russian loss from 
this continuous firing was not great. Similarly 
at Kandolesan the Japanese shelled the camp with 
shimosa. When the bombardment began there 
was much confusion at first, then everyone ran 
into their zemliankes, like rabbits bolting into 
their holes, and in those shelters waited till the 
storm of shot and shell ceased. The fact was, 
each army was so well entrenched that any 
offensive movement in strength was certain to 
entail enormous loss of life, and with the terrible 
results of the last battle deeply impressed on their 
minds, neither army seemed anxious to take a 
decisive step. The Russians massed their men 
closely in the firing line, while the Japanese were 
posted in more extended order. A well-known 
foreign military attach^ informed me that, in his 
opinion, neither army could risk an attack without 
a preponderance of force. Owing to the more 
extended formation of the Japanese, that pre- 
ponderance, if on their side, would give them 
greater strength on the flanks than the Russians, 
with their close formation, were likely to obtain. 
As far as it was possible to ascertain, reinforce- 
ments were arriving for the Japanese in about 
the same time and numbers as for the Russians, 
though, as usual, accurate information of what the 
foe was doing could not be obtained, despite the 
attempts of the Cossack to penetrate within the 
enemy's lines. So for the present the two armies 
17 



258 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

sat waiting and watching each other. Still every- 
one knew that sooner or later another big battle 
must be fought, and General Kuropatkin was 
untiring in his efiforts to prepare for the coming 
blow. An important addition to the Russian 
resources was made available by the completion on 
the 1 7th of November of the railway from Mukden 
to the Fushun coal mines, whence it was now easy 
to draw large supplies for the railway services. 

Heavy firing at nightfall on the i8th November 
startled me. Such firing during this period did 
not usually denote an infantry attack, but on this 
occasion the artillery fire was a prelude to an 
assault on Putiloff's Sopka. A battalion of 
Japanese attacked the hill in force and succeeded 
in getting within 30 yards of the Russian trenches, 
where they were stopped by the enemy's fire, and 
retreated, leaving, according to the Russians, 
100 dead behind. The attack was obviously 
made, not with an intention of capturing the 
position, but to ascertain the strength and dis- 
position of the Russians on the hill. The firing 
by the defenders lasted but six minutes, and was 
at such close range that the bodies of the Japanese 
slain were riddled with bullets. Most of the rifles 
picked up were smashed. Many fights of this 
nature occurred along the extensive front, and 
were thought of little account ; the army generally 
only learned of them through the official gazette. 

General Putiloff, who remained in command of 
the height he had captured, was an extremely 
energetic man, and was very proud of what he 
called " my hill," and ever ready to show round 



ANOTHER TRIAL OF STRENGTH 259 

any visitors and recount the story of the Russian 
victory. It is said that when Admiral Skrydloff 
visited him on his way home from Vladivostok, 
Putilofif had arranged to have a small fight for 
the Admiral's benefit, but that General Kuropat- 
kin, anxious for the safety of his guests, had 
given strict injunctions to his aide-de-camp, who 
accompanied Skrydloff, not to run any risks. So, 
much to Putiloff's chagrin, the fight had to be 
abandoned. 

In pursuance of his plan to have everything 
ready for the next trial of strength, General 
Kuropatkin ordered branch lines of railway to be 
constructed between Mukden and the front of the 
army, and these lines were put in hand at the end 
of November. They proved of very great advantage 
in the supply of food and ammunition to the army, 
and facilitated the movements of the staff and of 
all those having to go between the various posts. 
The Commander-in-Chief removed his headquarters 
to Shansamutung, a station on the Fushun line 
a little south of the Hun-ho. One could now 
take the train from Mukden to Fushun or the 
front, just as a city man leaves London after a 
hard day's work for his home in the suburbs. 
Officers would come into the town in the morning, 
do some shopping, dine at a restaurant, and return 
to their posts at night. At the attaches dining- 
car, which was drawn up at the principal railway 
station, it was said that one could meet half St, 
Petersburg society. The whole plain between 
Mukden and the main position of the army came 
to resemble the suburbs of a city. The roads 



260 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

were thoroughly relaid and much widened, lamps 
were placed along them, as well as big white 
posts to guide travellers, and by the sides of the 
roads were many store dep6ts, artillery parks, and 
hospitals — a strange transformation of the country- 
side. One might forget, in going about these 
roads, that a war was in progress, so orderly and 
calm was the life, until the boopiing of the big 
guns by the Sha-ho brought back to one's mind 
the grim reality. 

On the 24th of November the foreign corres- 
pondents and the American attaches at Mukden 
celebrated Thanksgiving Day right royally. Our 
Chinese cooks combined to give us an excellent 
meal, and the dining-room was made gay with 
American and British flags. Soon afterwards the 
ranks of both correspondents and attaches became 
much thinned. On the ist of December, to my 
great regret, my good friends Colonel Waters, the 
British military attach^, and Mr. Maurice Baring 
of the Morning Post, left for England. Colonel 
Waters had seen practically all the fighting up to 
the time of his departure, and few men know the 
Russian army better. Mr. Baring had also always 
been where fighting was to be seen, and he won 
the affectionate regard alike of his fellow-corres- 
pondents and of the Russian officers. We bade 
the Colonel and Mr. Baring farewell with sorrow. 
Two American attaches also returned at this time, 
together with M. de la Salle of the Agence Havas, 
an experienced campaigner and a good comrade. 
Truly the happy party of " war-look-see-men " was 
breaking up. 



CHAPTER XXXII 

REORGANISING THE ARMY IN THE FIELD 

On the ist of December General Rennenkampf, at 
the head of a considerable body of Cossacks, started 
from the east on a reconnaisance in force, to ascer- 
tain the exact extent and position of the Japanese 
right flank. Rennenkampf's movement was at 
first successful, but, elated by the defeat of a mixed 
body of the enemy's cavalry and infantry, the Rus- 
sian general pressed too far forward, and finding 
himself in the presence of a much superior force 
was compelled to retire hurriedly. However, he 
brought back as trophies of his prowess close on 
loo prisoners. These prisoners were well and 
warmly clad, and their appearance was in direct 
contradiction to the reports which had gained cre- 
dence among the Russians, that the Japanese were 
very badly off for winter clothing. It had been 
constantly stated by the Russians that their foes 
would be unable to withstand the excessive cold of 
the Manchurian winter as well as they (the Russians) 
could, but the wish was evidently father to the 
thought. I could not help pointing out to the 
officers who talked so assuredly on this matter, that 
during the Chino-Japanese War of 1894 the Islanders 



262 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

had fought with ease in the Liao-tung peninsula 
right through the bitterly cold winter. And, as the 
event proved, the Japanese found the winter now 
no more trying than their opponents. Thus an- 
other of the many theories put forward by the 
Russians during the campaign broke down. 

At this period a reorganisation of the Russian 
army in Manchuria was in progress. Admiral 
Alexeieff having been recalled to Russia, the entire 
direction of affairs cast on General Kuropatkin was 
held to necessitate a rearrangement of the other 
commands. At the Sha-ho, as we have seen, there 
had been an eastern army and a western army 
and a central force of one corps. These designa- 
tions were now to be altered into the ist, 2nd, and 
3rd Manchurian armies, and as reinforcements 
came in these armies became more powerful, both 
in men and guns, than the three commands at the 
Sha-ho. To the reorganised armies new com- 
manders were appointed. General Linievitch, one 
of the three new commanders, had however already 
been engaged in the war. As commander of the 
forces in the Vladivostok district he had done 
creditably all that could be done with the troops at 
his disposal, and had more than once annoyed the 
Japanese by raids into North-east Korea. He was 
now transferred to Manchuria, and had journeyed 
to the front vid Kharbin. Pending the putting of 
the new system into force Linievitch established 
himself at Hoanchantze, Kuropatkin's old head- 
quarters. The First Army, of which he was to 
assume the chieftainship, was Stackelberg's old 



REORGANISING THE ARMY IN THE FIELD 263 

command, the Eastern Army, temporarily in charge 
of General Sassulitch. The centre had been 
assigned to Kaulbars and was to be known as the 
Third Manchurian Army. Bilderling's old com- 
mand, transferred into the Second Manchurian 
Army, still formed the Russian right; the com- 
mand of it was assigned to General Grippenberg. 
Kaulbars and Grippenberg had to come from 
Russia to take up their posts, and did not arrive 
till some time after Linievitch had joined General 
Kuropatkin. Very shortly after his arrival I 
chanced to be the guest of General Linievitch. 
Capt. Eyres, R.N., desiring a post where he would 
have better chances of seeing things than at 
Vladivostok, had been attached to the staff of the 
3rd Siberian Army Corps, and I had volunteered 
to pilot him to his destination. We stayed on our 
way at Hoanchantze, where General Linievitch 
entertained us with cordial hospitality. Linievitch, 
who has since obtained the supreme command of 
the Russian forces in Manchuria, is a man of about 
seventy, strong and vigorous for his age, an open, 
frank-spoken man, loved and respected by his men, 
whom he treats in a kind fatherly fashion, cracking 
jokes with them, and generally making them feel 
that their interests are his. He had been in 
command of the Russian forces in Manchuria 
during the Boxer troubles, and was well acquainted 
with the country. 

On the day (December 2nd) that Capt. Eyres 
and I rode to Hoanchantze the guns were steadily 
firing in the direction of Putiloff's Sopka. We 



264 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

ascended a big hill which overlooked the camp, and 
from which the captain obtained a good view of the 
Japanese position. At Hoanchantze I met several 
old friends, including General Harkevitch, who had 
been Quartermaster-General to General Kuro- 
patkin, and who had now become chief of the staff 
to General Linievitch. From him I learned that 
the consumption of food and forage of the troops 
assigned to the ist Manchurian Army was 
220,000 poods per day. As a Russian pood equals 
36 lbs. English weight, it will be seen that the task 
of supplying the whole army, and not Linievitch's 
command alone, must have been one of enormous 
difficulty and demanding the most careful manage- 
ment. The next morning Capt. Eyres and I con- 
tinued our journey to Kandolesan, where General 
Sassulitch was still in command. Many members 
of the staff were away on short leave at Mukden 
or elsewhere, and General Sassulitch expressed the 
opinion that there would be no serious fighting for 
some time yet. This was, however, the period 
when several adventurous young officers distin- 
guished themselves by crossing the Sha-ho at 
night with a few men and, entering the Japanese 
lines, annoying the enemy by blowing up stores or 
even houses in which soldiers were billeted. The 
Japanese were supposed to dislike greatly these 
little plaisanteries, but they retaliated in kind, and 
usually managed, I believe, to "get their own 
back." Save for little entertainments of this 
nature, the life at Kandolesan and its neighbour- 
hood was uneventful ; at Putiloff's Sopka, and 



REORGANISING THE ARMY IN THE FIELD 265 

away towards the west, the conditions were cer- 
tainly more exciting. 

Life at Kandolesan tended indeed to be dull, 
at least it must have been so for the majority of 
officers and men. The weather was too cold for 
parades, and military routine was relaxed. The 
men had occasional rifle practice, and they were 
more or less busy fortifying the position ; but after 
a time this was made as strong as it could possibly 
be. The soldiers who could read did so, but they 
were a very small minority. Unfortunately for the 
foreigners attached to the staff, the literature was 
nearly all Russian, and few of the correspondents 
could master that, the most difficult of European 
languages. However, as I was the only foreigner 
on the staff of the ist Siberian Army Corps, the 
complaint is perhaps a selfish one. The arrival 
of the mail, the receipt of letters or papers from 
home, was hailed by all with great rejoicing, and 
made the camp happy for a whole day. In the 
lack of other occupation card-playing was in- 
dulged in, and in some regiments very large 
sums of money changed hands. The staff of the 
I St Siberian Army Corps, throughout the period 
I was associated with it, was however never idle ; 
Baron Stackelberg always impressed on his officers 
the necessity of working hard and attending to 
their duties to the last minutiae, and with them 
cards were only played as a relaxation after the 
toils of the day. 

In describing the daily round at Kandolesan 
I have neglected Captain Eyres, whose journey 



266 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

did not end there, but at the headquarters of the 
3rd Siberian Army Corps, which were six miles 
away. Thither we went on the 4th of December, 
arriving at the very instant when a large party 
was sitting down to a luncheon given in honour 
of the conferment of the St. George's Cross on 
Lieutenant-General Ivanoff, who commanded the 
corps. Among the party were all the recipients 
of the same Cross stationed in the neighbourhood, 
and many officers of high rank. We two English- 
men were invited to join the party, and we did 
so, sitting down to table at eleven o'clock in the 
morning. But what a luncheon ! Surely never 
has a function of this sort lasted longer, for it 
was nine o'clock at night before we could leave 
the hall. Many were the healths drunk and the 
speeches made ; indeed, before it was all over, 
nearly every one of the 1 50 guests seemed to have 
made a speech. Many of the officers present spoke 
perfect English, and it may here be noted that, in 
my experience, when a Russian speaks our lan- 
guage he does so better than other foreigners, 
and with scarce a trace of accent. Although the 
North Sea "incident," and its consequences, were 
still fresh in the minds of every Russian, great 
hospitality was shown to the representative of the 
naval might of Britain and to myself. Cordial 
good fellowship was expressed, distinguished 
officers like Generals Ivanoff and Kastalinsky 
doing all they could to make us feel at home. 

The toast of " The British Navy " was received 
with acclamation, Captain Eyres making a graceful 



REORGANISING THE ARMY IN THE FIELD 267 

reply in Russian. The speech of the day was 
that made by General Ivanoff, in which he referred 
to the courage, endurance, and magnificent dis- 
cipline of his troops, without which discipline, he 
pointed out, they could have achieved nothing. 
Ivanoff had indeed a corps of which to be proud. 
The 3rd Siberian Army Corps had ever fought 
with the utmost gallantry, and numbered among 
its regiments the famous 12th Siberian Rifles, who 
were present in almost every battle from that of 
the Yalu onward. In compliment to their fine 
record the infant Tsarevitch had been nominated 
Colonel-in-Chief of this regiment — an honour well 
bestowed. 

All the while the speech-making continued the 
champagne had been flowing freely, mingled with 
vodke and the wines of France, and misgivings as 
to reaching the blankets on my kang in the neigh- 
bouring village assailed me. However, the inn 
was reached safely, though I turned in very un- 
certain as to what my head would feel like next 
day. My fears were groundless. I awoke in the 
morning as fresh as a lark. The corps staff and 
Captain Eyres started to make a tour of the outpost 
line and to take part in another Gargantuan meal, 
this second luncheon being given to commemorate 
the promotion to the rank of Major-General of 
Colonel Schwerin, commandant of the artillery of 
the corps. Fearing a repetition of the over-generous 
hospitality of the previous day, I declined the in- 
vitation to accompany the party, and rode back to 
Mukden, a distance of some 50 miles, I had. 



268 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

moreover, previously visited the outpost line of the 
3rd Siberian Army Corps, Among the places held 
was Beaneapudze. The village stood but 300 to 
400 yards from the Japanese lines. It was occupied 
by a " few men posted in the houses, and sheltered 
by thick walls from the Japanese "snipers," who 
kept a sharp watch on every movement in the 
village, rendering it a most dangerous place to visit 
in the daytime. On the farther side of the river 
one could see the Japanese, who again held the 
trenches which they had hastily evacuated at the 
beginning of the battle of the Sha-ho. On the 
hills which I had visited six weeks before, and 
where there were then only gun emplacements, 
guns were now mounted, and these occasionally 
shelled our position on this side of the stream. At 
one point the Russians had massed forty guns. 

When I reached Mukden late that night it was 
to find that most of the other newspaper men had 
gone home during my absence. At the " corres- 
pondents' pkanza " as the Russians called it, only 
two were left besides myself — one a Frenchman and 
one a German. A few other correspondents were 
scattered in various parts of the city. The follow- 
ing day (December 6th) heavy firing was again 
heard in Mukden ; it was not the big battle un- 
expectedly precipitated, but was occasioned by the 
17th Army Corps making a demonstration. 



CHAPTER XXXIII 

THE RUSSIANS IN WINTER QUARTERS 

By the end of the first week in December the cold 
had become intense. The ground was frost-bound 
to a depth of several feet, while the ice on the rivers 
was sufficiently strong to bear the very heaviest 
guns or transport. The common costume of the 
soldiers now, a costume which I and other foreigners 
with the army adopted, included fur-lined breeches, 
high boots lined with felt, thick cloth overcoats 
lined with sheepskin, and a fur or sheepskin hat 
called a papaha, as well as a hood of sheepskin, 
termed in Russian barshlick. In this dress I could 
not be distinguished from a Russian soldier, save 
for the red brassard,, the badge of the war corres- 
pondent, on my arm. Winter in Manchuria is, 
however, a deceptive season, as I found on my next 
visit to the front, on which occasion I was accom- 
panied by Mr. M'Cormick, an American gentleman, 
who also represented Reuters Agency. (Mr. M'Cor- 
mick had lived in Peking a considerable time, and 
spoke Chinese well.) The sun was shining brightly 
and the day was so fine that I did not bother to get 
myself a sufficiently thick pair of gloves. Half an 
hour afterwards I had good reason to regret bitterly 



270 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

my carelessness, for my hands became perfectly life- 
less, and I could no longer hold my pony's reins. 
It was with difficulty that I managed to get my 
fingers warm again. The fact is that people un- 
accustomed to the climate are usually deceived by 
brilliant sunshine, and forget at the start the bitter 
cutting wind which neutralises the effect of the sun. 
Nothing but the thickest furs suffice to protect one 
on a long march. The Chinese cart drivers, har- 
dened as they may be to the severities of the winter, 
find it necessary to wear ear-flaps, made with one 
side much longer than the other) and adjusted so 
that the longer side affords protection against the 
prevailing wind. 

On the ride with Mr. M'Cormick we passed 
near Erdago. From its geographical position this 
place was naturally, as the reader will remember, a 
weak spot in the defences of the Eastern Army, 
but by hard work the !^ussians had done much to 
remedy this defect. In front of the position many 
thousands of yards of barbed wire had been spread, 
and the ground was honeycombed with trous-de- 
loups. From Erdago we passed on to Kandolesan, 
whence Mr. M'Cormick continued his journey to 
General Rennenkampf's position far away in the 
hills to the east. I remained at Kandolesan with the 
staff of the Eastern Army, which was to be broken 
up very shortly on the arrival of General Linievitch. 

This was an excellent opportunity to observe 
the army in its winter quarters. Not only was the 
ground frozen hard, it was covered in a mantle of 
snow. In general the aspect of the country was 



THE RUSSIANS IN WINTER QUARTERS 271 

bleak and barren, affording few signs of life. As a 
matter of fact, the army had gone to earth ; the 
majority of the troops had become troglodytes. 
Here and there in the hills and plains behind the 
entrenched positions were whole villages of under- 
ground dwellings. They were not absolutely 
beneath the surface, for the gabled roofs of the 
semliankes, as these dug-outs were called, projected 
above the level, and gave them a means of ventila- 
tion. These roofs, made of timber and sods, stood 
some few feet above the surface, were provided 
with windows, and from them rose miniature 
chimneys. The appearance of these villages or 
camps are singular and interesting. Viewed from 
a distance they looked like so many mounds of 
earth, from which wreaths of blue smoke curled up 
to heaven. The zemlianke villages differed from 
each other as stars differ in magnitude. One could 
always tell the encampment of a smart regiment by 
a glance at the dug-outs. These would be made 
in perfectly regular lines, and by the side of each 
zemlianke a whitewashed stone placed, and little fir 
trees planted in between. These avenues of firs 
and stones gave a very effective appearance to the 
camps. Besides the large camps, other semliankes 
were built just behind the trenches for the use of 
the soldiers not actually on outpost duty. This was 
a great boon, enabling the men to warm themselves 
and cook their meals in comfort. 

The semliankes generally held from 8 to i6 
men. Their earthen floor and sides were covered 
with matting, and whatever the cold outside, it was 



272 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

always beautifully warm in the dug-outs. Some of 
them were luxuriously furnished, and all had stoves. 
When the stoves were alight, as they generally 
were, they caused the hard ground to thaw, and the 
atmosphere was consequently very damp as well as 
close. I asked a doctor if these dug-outs were 
healthy, and his reply was, " Faut de mieux." 
Besides their underground dwellings, each regi- 
ment was provided with baths (the Russian baths 
are similar in construction to Turkish baths) ; but 
these lacked cooling rooms, and the bather sat 
outside in the snow to get cool. It was a suffici- 
ently ludicrous sight, but no one, so far as I know, 
ever felt the worse for sitting in the snow "mid 
nodings on." Besides this careful attention for the 
comfort of the men, underground stables were built 
for the horses. This seemed almost superfluous, 
as both Cossack and Chinese ponies can be kept in 
the open without covering and without catching 
cold. Their coats become very long, and this 
affords them protection. Forage being scarce, the 
horses were often on short commons. The Trans- 
Siberian Railway was wanted for so many purposes 
that little forage was receiived from the north, and 
the resources of the country were well-nigh ex- 
hausted. Foraging parties were out daily to get 
what they could, but often the horses were reduced 
to living on kowliang stalks. The stalks seemed 
hard and unappetising, but the ponies got accus- 
tomed — they had no choice — to their meagre diet.^ 

1 Not only forage but fuel was very scarce at this time. Fuel was 
a more expensive item than either provisions or lodgings. 



THE RUSSIANS IN WINTER QUARTERS 273 

The trenches of the Eastern Army had been 
very well designed, and were now completed, as 
well as the emplacements for the guns, which were 
carefully hidden and protected. Roads had been 
made in every direction to facilitate the moving of 
the artillery, and, as has been already pointed out, 
the whole position was one of vast strength, very 
much stronger, indeed, than the lines held by the 
Russians at Liao-Yang. I could not help being 
struck with this fact as I visited point after point in 
company with my good friend Colonel Polteratski 
of the 1 2 th Regiment, an officer who was in the 
Peking Relief Expedition of 1900, when he won 
the St. George's Cross for conspicuous bravery. 

Looking across the Sha-ho one could see the 
Japanese, not more than 1500 yards away, calmly 
walking about smoking cigarettes. Their appear- 
ance did not create the impression of an eager wish 
to resume hostilities. The enemy had their dug- 
outs too, and in them they also passed much time. 
It was curious to reflect that thousands of troops 
had suddenly disappeared underground, where 
they passed their days comfortably. The winter 
seemed to have dropped its mantle of pure snow 
over the earth, in order to cover up the signs of 
the blood and misery which both hill and plain 
had witnessed. Its iron grip imposed at least a 
temporary peace on the combatants. If either 
army had advanced, the ground was so solidly 
frozen that new positions could not be entrenched, 
and the troops would have been without cover. So 
there was this period of rest for the weary, of 
18 



274 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

strengthening for the weak, and of restoration of 
spirits to the depressed. It was a welcome relief, 
and, instead of thinking of fighting, one wondered 
whether the cook would do his best for dinner. 
The cook of the staff at Kandolesan was a very 
disappointing fellow, and gave us the same pre- 
paration of beef day after day ; it really was too 
bad, considering the trouble the staff had taken to 
bring him from Warsaw, 

An amusing incident happened one morning 
when I was making the rounds with Colonel 
Polteratski. We had gone close to Beaneapudze, 
wishing to examine a new type of zemlianke, and 
the officer commanding the battalion came up to 
greet us. However, on learning that I was an 
Englishman he nearly fainted. He spoke earnestly 
to the colonel for some minutes, evidently objecting 
to my presence, but allowed himself to be persuaded 
that I was not a dangerous person. Afterwards 
the cplonel told me that the officer in question 
thought it a very risky proceeding to let me see the 
position, considering my nationality. The English- 
man might, said this officer, inform the enemy of 
what he had seen ; "at any rate," he added, " I 
wash my hands of the responsibility of letting him 
walk through my lines." Colonel Polteratski was 
good enough to say to his suspicious comrade that 
I was a fairly respectable person, and attached to 
General Stackelberg's staff. What information of 
value the battalion officer thought I should gain 
by looking at a row of dug-outs it is difficult to 
imagine. 



THE RUSSIANS IN WINTER QUARTERS 275 

The headquarters staff of the Eastern Army 
broke up on the 14th of December, when General 
Linievitch took over the command, and the army 
was renamed the First Manchurian. General Sas- 
sulitch and Baron Brinken, the former Chief-of- 
Staff, returned to their respective corps, as did also 
the other ofificers. I parted from them with great 
regret. They had shown me much kindness and 
hospitality, and I had never been allowed to pay 
for anything at their mess. The orderly whom 
General Stackelberg had placed at my disposal, 
Private Masquisovitch, had also to return to his 
regiment. The good fellow kissed my hand and 
cried bitterly when we parted, and I was deeply 
touched. He had been an excellent servant, indeed 
a friend. The old staff being broken up, I deter- 
mined to return to Mukden for the time being. I 
found the roads dreadfully slippery, and my pony 
made slow progress. He collected balls of snow in 
his hoofs, and these speedily froze. My efforts to 
remove these frozen masses of snow were quite 
unavailing, and their presence caused the pony to 
fall down repeatedly. At length I had to give up 
all idea of riding him, and I reached Mukden on 
foot. 



CHAPTER XXXIV 

CHRISTMAS REJOICINGS; — THE FALL OF PORT 
ARTHUR 

It was about this period, the middle of December, 
that I rode out to Kuchiatze, a village in the plain 
between Mukden and the Sha-ho, to visit my 
friend Count Apraxin, who, as the reader may re- 
member, was in charge of the hospital of St. Eugene 
in which Middleton had been so tenderly cared for 
during his fatal illness. The hospital had shifted 
its quarters as occasion required, and had proved 
extremely useful. It was a model of cleanliness 
and comfort. The wounded were in tents re- 
sembling those used in the field-hospitals in the 
South African campaign, but they were superior 
to the British tents, being provided with double 
flies and lined with felt. The tents had, more- 
over, windows fitted with glass, across which neat 
curtains were drawn. There was no difference in 
the accommodation for officers and men ; all the 
tents had a warm and snug appearance. The 
hospital had also excellent baths and a church — 
cleanliness and godliness went together here, 
though among the Russian popes are some whose 
sanctity could not be gauged by any hygienic 

276 



CHRISTMAS REJOICINGS 277 

standard. It happened to be Sunday when my 
visit was paid to St. Eugene's, and the popes (or 
priests) were busy going from patient to patient 
who sought spiritual consolation and who were too 
ill to attend the service in church. I was kindly 
greeted by the priests who had buried Middleton, 
and whose goodness on that occasion I well re- 
membered. Chatting with one of them, he told me 
that during the bombardment of Liao-Yang a shell 
from a Japanese big gun had fallen between him 
and a nurse not ten yards away. Fortunately the 
shell did not explode but buried itself in the 
earth, so that instead of being killed they were 
only covered with mud. During that bombard- 
ment both doctors and nursing sisters had worked 
on under fire, and several of them were now wear- 
ing the St. George's medal, bestowed upon them 
by General Kuropatkin in recognition of their 
services in the cause of humanity. The noble 
and unselfish manner in which the hospital sisters 
worked evoked my deepest admiration. They 
devoted themselves heart and soul to their patients, 
and seemed unmindful of the dangers and privations 
they were often called upon to endure. There 
were, it is true, a few unworthy women among 
them, but these were an insignificant minority. 
The stories current in many Russian and foreign 
newspapers concerning the conduct of the sisters 
were nearly all vile fabrications. 

On this occasion I was taken round the hospital 
by Count Apraxin, who drew my attention to the 
interesting cases. Several patients were suffering 



278 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

from anthrax, or what is known in Russia as 
Siberian plague. These men were believed to 
have contracted their illness through wearing 
shuhas (greatcoats) made of sheep skins infected 
with the germs of the disease. These patients 
were carefully isolated. Sufferers from Siberian 
plague, I was told, rarely recovered. There were 
in the hospital a number of cases of a malignant 
form of typhoid. The doctors stated that there 
were far more serious cases of typhoid in the winter 
than in the summer. I saw many hospitals besides 
this of St. Eugene, and though the cases of sickness 
were numerous the proportion of illness was far 
less than in the British army during the Boer 
War. Considering the privations endured and the 
alternation between torrid and arctic weather ex- 
perienced, the health of the Russian army was 
remarkably good. 

The efforts made to fill up the depleted ranks 
of the army since the Sha-ho battle were very 
successful. By the 19th of December, exactly two 
months since the battle ended, 85,000 reservists 
without regimental impedimenta had been received, 
and fresh troops were coming from Europe. The 
army on this date was announced to be over 
250,000 strong. The officers looked at this great 
host and felt more confident as to the issue of the 
next battle ; the very elaborate preparations that 
Kuropatkin made all indicated a determination to 
leave nothing undone which might help toward 
success when the next great contest came. At the 
front the Japanese remained quiescent, while the 



CHRISTMAS REJOICINGS 279 

Russians now showed an inclination to bombard 
the Japanese at every chance afforded them. The 
inaction of the Japanese was attributed in part to 
the alleged withdrawal of a large proportion of their 
army to press the attack on Port Arthur. Stories 
turning on the siege and blockade of that fortress 
were numerous ; I relate one which demonstrates 
the suspicion with which the Russian officers re- 
garded the action of England. Reports were 
constantly circulated that the Japanese battleship 
Yashima had been sunk by a mine off Port Arthur, 
but no one could ascertain her true fate.^ The 
Russians believed the ship was at the bottom of 
the sea, but were not sure about it. However, said 
they, it will make no difference. The "they "in 
this case means the more unreasoning and ignorant 
of the Russian officers, those whose ideas of the 
rules of neutrality and foreign politics were slight. 
In a knowing voice men of this stamp would avow 
that the Ocean, a British battleship on the China 
station, was a sister ship to the Yashima, that the 
Ocean had been sold to the Japanese, and that she 
would take part in the next naval engagement as 
the Yashima. It was as impossible to persuade 
these people that such a thing could not happen, as 
it was to convince them that the torpedo boats in 
the North Sea were merely phantoms of the ima- 
gination of over-excited officers. It was with 

1 On the 31st of May 1905 — after the destruction of Rozhdest- 
vensky's fleet by Admiral Togo — the Navy Department at Tokio 
admitted that the Yashima had been sunk by a mine on the 14th of 
May 1904 while blockading Port Arthur. 



280 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

these people another instance of the perfidy of 
England. This distrust of England contrasts 
strongly with the cordiality shown to individual 
Englishmen ; the Russians and the English when 
thrown together get on remarkably well, and one 
cannot help regretting that the two nations are not 
better acquainted. 

The time passed pleasantly enough, and Christ- 
mas came and we kept it with good cheer, killing 
and eating the fatted goose. The old adage that 
" Christmas comes but once a year," if strictly true, 
did not appear to be so with us, for we celebrated 
two Christmases within a fortnight, the Russian 
festival falling thirteen days later than ours. It 
was at this time that a stroke of luck enabled me 
to borrow a shot-gun and a few cartridges, and 
with one of the Austrian attaches for companion 
I made frequent excursions into the surrounding 
country, going close up to the Sha-ho position. 
We, organised a band of beaters among the Chinese 
boys, whom we armed with sticks ; the biggest boy 
became head-keeper. These lads possessed great 
intelligence, and took genuine pleasure in the sport, 
rivalling any of their western confreres in the know- 
ledge of how to beat a cover properly. It seemed 
strange to bag a brace of partridges or quail, and 
to hear at the same time the loud boom of the 
cannon close at hand. Hares, quail, partridges, 
pheasants, sand-grouse, and bustard fell to our 
guns, and once we shot a fox behind the head^ 
quarters of the 17th Corps. Many a general's 
menu was agreeably diversified by our sporting 



CHRISTMAS REJOICINGS 281 

expeditions, which proved most enjoyable. General 
Sir Montague Gerard, chief of the British Mission 
with the Russian army, took great interest in these 
trips. Sir Montague is a prince among sportsmen, 
and has killed more tigers than any man living. 
He has had a most distinguished career in the 
army, and the Russian ofificers were proud to have 
him among them. With them, with the numerous 
military attaches, and with all who came in contact 
with him, he was deservedly popular. To him I 
owe my happiest days in Manchuria. 

The Russian Christmas was celebrated with 
great festivities ; many dinner parties were given 
and many healths drunk. The soldiers gave them- 
selves up to carousings, to dance, and to song ; but 
at the same time a watchful eye was kept on the 
Japanese, it being thought that the enemy would 
signalise the occasion by making an attack. No 
attack, however, was delivered, and the army was 
left to enjoy itself and to revel in letters and news- 
papers from home. The ist Siberian Army Corps 
had special cause for rejoicing in the return to the 
command of General Stackelberg, now restored to 
health and as energetic as ever. The Baron found 
the corps in a state of high efficiency, and its ranks 
filled up by reservists. Its condition was mainly 
due to the efforts of Major-General Kondratovitch, 
who insisted on there being rifle practice on a 
large scale, an important point which seemed to 
be neglected by many corps. Baron Stackel- 
berg was beloved by his men, and his return gave 
an added zest to their festivities. 



282 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

It was at this season of Noel that the army in 
Manchuria heard of the final act in the great drama 
at Port Arthur. It cannot be said that the news 
was unexpected, for we had learned of the succes- 
sive capture of important positions by the Japanese 
under General Nogi, how High Metre Hill had 
been wrested from the Russians at the end of 
November, and the ships in the harbour sunk, and 
how about a month later Erhlingshan Fort had been 
captured. The Army Gazette had told us of these 
disasters, and that the fall of the Port was inevit- 
able, yet when, hard on the news about Erhling- 
shan, came the tidings that the city had been sur- 
rendered, many and bitter were the comments on 
the conduct of General Stossel. The army was 
hoping, or at least trying to make itself believe, 
that it was still possible through its efforts to relieve 
Port Arthur, and they had credited General Stossel's 
statements that he would resist to the death. Hence 
arose the feeling of deep mortification. General 
Kuropatkin was greatly perturbed by the news, 
which would naturally have a considerable effect 
on the future conduct of the war. .He cancelled 
all his engagements for the next four or five days, 
and would see no one save his chief military sub- 
ordinates. 



CHAPTER XXXV 

MISCHENKO'S RAID ON NUICHWANG 

If one may judge by events, the fall of Port 
Arthur decided General Kuropatkin to adopt an 
active policy. There was an obvious advantage 
in striking a blow before Marshal Oyama could 
be reinforced by the troops under General Nogi 
(of which more in the next chapter), and a success 
for the Russian arms would do something to 
counteract the effect of the surrender of Stossel 
with his garrison of over 40,000 and 546 guns. 
It is also possible that the fact that the Berlin 
bankers were hesitating about the issue of the 
loan of ;^2 5,000,000, desired by Russia, may have 
had its influence ; it was constantly rumoured that 
political considerations had much to do with 
military decisions. Be these things as they may, 
something daring and picturesque was arranged, 
namely, the great Cossack raid on Nuichwang and 
Yinkow by General Mischenko. It was organised 
in the early days of January. Mischenko was 
posted on the extreme right of the Russian army, 
and when he organised his raid to harass the 
enemy's line of communications he determined to 
take his force right to the Liao River, which was 

283 



284 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

nominally the limit of the theatre of war, and 
which was considerably to the west of the left 
flank of the Japanese. By following the course 
of the Liao-ho south, Nuichwang is reached in 
about 1 20 miles from Mukden. Both Nuichwang 
and Yinkow (the port of Nuichwang — the places 
are a few miles distant from each other) were 
supposed to be held by a weak force, and if they 
could be captured, and the railway from Nuichwang 
destroyed, serious annoyance would be caused to 
Marshal Oyama. It will be seen that the idea of 
the raid was excellent. From Nuichwang, it must 
be remembered, the Japanese were drawing sup- 
plies from China, just as at that period the Russians 
got supplies from the same country, and largely 
over the same rails, via Sinminting, a town just 
west of the Liao-ho, and less than forty miles from 
Mukden. Before Mischenko's raid there had been 
attempts to destroy the railway south of Liao- 
Yang, but only by small parties of Cossacks — never 
more than a couple of sotnias — and these attempts 
had all ended in failure. 

Mischenko now took the field (January loth) 
with from 7000 to 10,000 cavalry and several 
batteries of horse artillery, marching parallel with 
and close to the Liao, so as to avoid a collision 
with the Japanese left flank. After the first day's 
march he divided his force into three columns, 
sending one party east to cut the railway south 
of Liao- Yang, and a second to destroy the line 
lower down at Hai-Cheng. With the major 
portion of his command he continued his march 



MISCHENKO'S RAID ON NUICHWANG 285 

on Nuichwang. That night he camped about 
four or five miles outside the town and made no 
attempt to enter it, although he had received 
information from Chinese sources that the place 
was held by a very weak Japanese garrison. The 
Japanese, however, had not been idle. The officer 
in command at Nuichwang, as soon as he learned 
of the approach of the Cossacks, had telegraphed 
for aid to Dalny and other places where strong 
garrisons were stationed ; and, while Mischenko 
slept outside the town, Japanese reinforcements, 
which had not more than a hundred miles or so 
to come, and with the railway at their disposal, 
poured in. 

At daylight General Mischenko attacked 
Nuichwang, but the opportunity to seize it had 
been let slip, and the Cossack leader found both 
it and Yinkow strongly held. There was nothing 
left for him but to retire as rapidly as possible, and 
this he did, without effecting any more damage to 
the Japanese than the burning of some forage 
stores. The forces sent to Liao-Yang and Hai- 
Cheng met with no more success than did the 
main party ; a few rails, easily replaced, were 
removed, and that is all. Not a single bridge 
was blown up, and it is by the destruction of 
bridges alone that a railway line can be seriously 
damaged. The removal of rails is only effective 
in so far that the next train passing along may 
be wrecked, supposing the driver does not detect 
the injury done and pull up in time. 

While Mischenko was retiring on the Russian 



286 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

position a combined force of Japanese and Hun- 
hutzes lay in wait and ambushed the Cossacks, 
who lost a considerable number of men, and who 
were obliged to hasten their retreat. The whole 
raid had been mismanaged, and although I am 
told that it was considered in Europe to have 
been a very fine and successful achievement, it 
was in reality an utter failure. This failure was 
attributable to a variety of causes. To start with, 
General Mischenko was cumbered with far too 
many pack-horses, carrying a quite unnecessary 
amount of transport, for the country they traversed 
(untouched as yet by the war) would have pro- 
vided plenty of food for the troops for the few 
days the raid was to last. Again, the time taken 
to reach Nuichwang was longer than necessary, 
and then came the unaccountable halt which gave 
the Japanese time to bring up reinforcements. In 
short, the Cossacks again gave an exhibition of 
their general uselessness as scouts and raiders. 

In mass formation, and for the shock tactics for 
which they are trained, the Cossacks are no doubt 
magnificent, and they are certainly wonderful 
horsemen ; but in the present war they have had no 
opportunity of showing their capabilities in this 
respect. They felt that they had a distinct griev- 
ance against the Japanese on this ground. As one 
cavalry officer put it to me, "Our cavalry is no 
good out here, because the Japanese have none." 
The Japanese were certainly not strong in cavalry, 
and their generals were too wise to draw them up 
in the open for the Cossacks to charge, but what 



MISCHENKO'S RAID ON NUICHWANG 287 

cavalry the foe had appears to have fulfilled its 
object. This is more than can be said of the 
Cossack regiments. 

For ten or twelve days after the return of 
Mischenko nothing of importance happened. 
Generals Grippenberg and Kaulbars had arrived 
from Europe, as well as a number of 6-inch guns. 
The guns were sent to the positions at the. Sha-ho, 
the majority being massed together, so that when 
the time came they could pour a terrific fire on the 
Japanese centre at Shi-li-ho, where a large propor- 
tion of the Japanese reserves were supposed to be, 
besides much stores. With the guns came more 
and more troops, and these were assigned to the 
various armies, now definitely constituted. 



CHAPTER XXXVI 



THE BATTLE OF SANDEPU 



The Russian position in the third week of January 
this year presented a very long front. On the 
east it extended for many miles along the Sha-ho, 
so as to protect Fushun from flank attack. Going 
west it followed practically the river as far as the 
railway, which cut the centre of the Russian lines. 
A little west of the railway, at Lin-shin-pu, the 
Sha-ho, which is a small stream, takes a decided 
bend south-west, eventually joining the Tai-tze-ho. 
Leaving the Sha-ho at this bend the Russian lines 
struck across country to the Hun-ho, the large 
affluent of the Liao-ho, which after passing Mukden 
flows south and west. Crossing the Hun-ho the 
Russians had a position at Zifonti, their outposts 
extending north and west to the Liao-ho at 
Sinminting. Thus the Russian lines were in the, 
shape of a bow, with Mukden behind and equi- 
distant from the two ends. On the right or 
western flank were Mischenko and Kosagovsky 
with their cavalry. Between them and the railway 
was Grippenberg's Second Manchurian Army, with 
its headquarters at Zifonti ; Kaulbars held the centre, 
and Linievitch the east. From Linievitch's or the 



THE BATTLE OF SANDEPU 289 

First Manchurian Army the well-tried ist Siberian 
Army Corps under Baron Stackelberg had been sent 
to strengthen Grippenberg's army, which consisted 
largely of European corps. At this period the 
force under General Kuropatkin's command was 
some 400,000 strong, and had about 2000 guns. 
All stores had been amply replenished, and the 
branch railway lines from Mukden to the Sha-ho 
were finished. In short, the Russian preparations 
for battle were complete, and the only deterrent to 
fighting was the hard weather. On the other hand, 
the position of the Japanese was extremely strong. 
They held no fewer than three fortified lines — the 
first along the Sha-ho, and, on the west, the left bank 
of the Hun-ho ; the second at Yentai (this position 
had been made very strong) ; and the third at Liao- 
Yang. West of the railway the Japanese first line 
stretched, as has been said, to the Hun-ho, and 
here the village of Sandepu formed the key of 
their position. This left wing was under the 
command of General Oku. Strong as was the 
Japanese army, it was known to the Russians that 
it would soon be strengthened by the addition of 
General Nogi's veterans from Port Arthur. Nogi's 
force was reckoned by the Russians at 65,000 men 
and many big guns, and, as I have already hinted, 
General Kuropatkin seemed anxious to take the 
offensive before Marshal Oyama was reinforced 
by this force of Nogi's. 

I had ridden out one day to Shansamutung, 
General Kuropatkin's headquarters, to be received 
by the Commander-in-Chief. Unfortunately, when 
19 



290 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

I arrived it was to find that His Excellency had 
been obliged to leave. My errand was nevertheless 
far from fruitless, as I learned from members of the 
staff that on the following day an advance was to 
be made. This was indeed news, of which not 
the slightest hint had been allowed to be known in 
the army generally. According to the information 
now given me, the battle was to be begun by the 
Second Manchurian Army (Grippenberg's) crossing 
the Hun-ho and endeavouring to turn the Japanese 
left flank. When this turning movement had been 
carried out, the centre under Kaulbars and the 
left under Linievitch were also to attack the 
Japanese. Such was the story told me. Since 
the fight then impending, and which is now known 
to the Japanese as the battle of Hei-kau-tai and 
to the Russians as the battle of Sandepu, other 
versions of General Kuropatkin's intentions have 
been circulated. To this point we shall return 
later on. I considered myself very fortunate to 
have heard of the impending movement in time, 
and was pleased when one of General Kuropatkin's 
aides-de-camp told me that if I cared to return 
to headquarters at 6 a.m. he would conduct me to 
my corps. I packed my kit that night, taking 
nothing that I could not carry on my saddle, and 
by six in the morning was back at headquarters. 
The aide-de-camp was as good as his word, and 
we were soon on the road to Zifonti. It may be 
explained that whenever a big battle was expected 
General Kuropatkin sent to each corps a staff 
officer, who drew up a report on the work of the 



THE BATTLE OF SANDEPU 291 

corps for the benefit of the Commander-in-Chief. 
As we went on, we passed General Kaulbars' 
headquarters, and saw a large quantity of transport 
going westward. I ventured to ask my companion 
whether he really thought that a battle was to be 
fought, or whether the impending operations were 
intended merely as a reconnaissance in force to 
ascertain the strength of the Japanese left flank. 
To this the aide-de-camp replied that General 
Kuropatkin had made up his mind to fight a 
decisive engagement and to drive the Japanese 
out of their position on the Sha-ho. From Kaul- 
bars' headquarters we rode on westward, the day 
being bitterly cold, to those of General Grippen- 
berg. Branch lines of railway ran to the head- 
quarters of both generals, who were provided with 
special trains, in which they lived as a rule. We 
reached General Grippenberg's train as the general 
was about to leave for the front on horseback. 
The commander of the Second Army was a grey- 
bearded man of medium height, and a face full of 
seriousness, as, with map before them, he discussed 
matters with his chief of staff. His staff had just 
arrived from Europe, and I never saw soldiers who 
had so heavily encumbered themselves with bag- 
gage as had these men. Having ascertained the 
exact position occupied by the ist Siberian Army 
Corps, the corps we were seeking, we rode on, but 
it was dark ere we reached Zifonti ; and then, 
instead of finding Stackelberg's men, as we had 
anticipated, we learned that the corps had marched 
off, with the intention of attacking the enemy at 



292 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

daylight. We decided to stay in the village till 
2 a.m., and then continue our march. We were 
Very tired after our 80 versts (55 miles) ride. 
Before turning in that evening, I discussed the 
situation with several Russian officers round a 
roaring fire, which was much needed to keep out 
the cold. The officers seemed highly pleased at 
the prospects of the fight, and, getting down the 
map, pointed out, with significant looks, that we 
were not so far from Liao-Yang-. 

The voice of a Cossack orderly roused us in 
good time, and we rode on. The sky was, fortun- 
ately, clear, and we found without much difficulty 
the village in which Baron Stackelberg had his 
headquarters. One could not help noting that 
in this district the villages, which were very large, 
bore a prosperous look, and were full of grain and 
forage. The war had hitherto not affected them, 
and they were still tenanted by the Chinese. A 
broad ditch and high mud walls surrounded every 
village — as a protection against the Hunhutzes, 
presumably, for the neighbourhood abounded in 
those gentry. The country here was a wide, flat 
plain, with many villages and a good deal of 
timber, while low sand-hills diversified the land- 
scape, still in its white mantle of snow. 

Stackelberg was within a mile of the outer line 
of villagCiS held by the Japanese, and at dawn the 
I St Siberian Army Corps advanced to the attack of 
the enemy's position. I joined the ist Division 
under Lieut. -General Gerngross ; on our left was 
General Kondratovitch with his 9th Division; on 



THE BATTLE OF SANDEPU 293 

his left were the 8th and i6th Army Corps — corps 
which now fought their first action in this war. 
With these corps was General Grippenberg. On our 
right, that is to the west, were Generals Mischenko 
and Kosagovsky and their Cossacks. It was a 
grey morning and snow was falling heavily, making 
it extremely difficult to see far in front of one. In 
these conditions the battle began. 

After a brisk fight we drove back the Japanese 
outposts and captured two villages. Directly after- 
wards I rode into one of these villages. On the 
ground, their still warm blood dyeing the snow 
crimson, lay the dead — both Russian and Japanese. 
One Russian infantryman, with a dark hole in his 
chest, lay side by side with a Japanese, whose head 
had been completely shattered. The dead, the 
blood-stained snow, the quaint houses, the dark 
mass of infantry sheltering behind the mud walls — 
for the enemy had begun to shell us — combined to 
make a picture of war rarely seen ; one worthy the 
brush of a Verestchagan or a Detaille, and which 
words of mine are able but feebly to depict. 

Two batteries of Russian artillery came into 
action and the Japanese gunners were soon silenced. 
All the day the fight went on, with snow underfoot 
and snow still falling. The ist Siberian Army 
Corps continued to make progress, and several 
more villages fell into their hands. Away to the 
right, large masses of Cossacks could be made out 
moving forward, and on the left one could tell from 
the firing that the 8th Army Corps was also engag- 
ing the enemy. From the direction of the railway 



294 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

line I thought I detected the boom of big guns, and 
concluded that Kaulbars was shelling the Japanese 
centre. Towards evening I rode over to where 
General Kondratovitch was posted and watched 
the 9th Division "at work." Night fell, and I had 
to spend it in the open wrapped in my greatcoat, 
a poor protection against the biting cold of a Man- 
churian winter. Besides the intense cold, I suffered 
from hunger, being unable to get anything to eat 
save some kowliang, which I secured from some 
Chinese. My experience was that of many of the 
Russian soldiers. Many were unable to obtain a 
roof to shelter under. 

On the following day the battle was renewed 
with great fury. The ist Siberian Army Corps 
were now close to the Japanese position, but they 
were unable to make further progress. For some 
unknown reason the artillery did not come into 
action till late in the afternoon, and by that timfe 
the corps was in a most precarious position. The 
9th Division had advanced on a line of villages held 
by the enemy in great force. The snow was falling 
fast and the troops were in close formation, when 
suddenly the Russians were assailed by a terrific 
rifle and machine gun fire. The 33rd and 34th 
Siberian Rifle Regiments bravely struggled against 
the hail of lead, but were cut to pieces and forced 
to retire. General Kondratovitch was severely 
wounded in the chest, and had to be borne from 
the field, while his chief of staff was shot in the 
head. Thereupon the 9th Division feU into a state 
of chaos, and it was only through the efforts of the 



THE BATTLE OP SANDEPU 295 

I St Division and of the artillery that it was rescued 
from its desperate position. The corps made a 
fatal mistake in not using its artillery to better 
purpose ; but no words can praise too highly the 
gallantry and persistency shown by the infantry in 
their advance. Caught as the 9th Division was 
in close formation, and having to stand such an 
appalling fire, its losses in a very short time were 
enormous. An officer afterwards told me, as illus- 
trative of the fierceness of the fire, that one of his 
men had his head almost cut off by the rain of 
bullets from a machine gun. The fact is, I believe, 
that the ist Siberian Army Corps, elated by their 
success during the previous day's fighting, imagined 
that they had already turned the Japanese left, or 
that it was weakly held, and on the second day 
advanced without due caution. The ist Siberian 
Army Corps had sustained heavy loss in every 
battle since Wa-fang-ho, and such a brave corps 
deserved a better fate than that which befel it. 

As with Stackelberg's corps, so it was with 
the Cossacks. On the right, Mischenko and 
Kosagovsky pushed some troops up to and 
across the Hun-ho ; but General Mischenko was 
wounded in the foot, and eventually both divisions 
were driven back. But, on our left, greater success 
had attended the Russian advance. General 
Grippenberg, crossing the Hun-ho at a place 
called Changtan, on the first day (January 25th) 
succeeded in capturing the village of Hei-kau-tai, 
a little west of Sandepu. Here Grippenberg 
mounted thirty guns, and did his best to make his 



296 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

position secure. At the same time his troops 
threatened and almost surrounded Sandepu. On 
the 26th the Japanese were engaged all day in 
endeavouring to retake Hei-kau-tai and save 
Sandepu. The 8th and loth Army Corps, like 
the I St Siberian Army Corps, had suffered severely 
in attacking the villages held by the enemy. The 
high walls and deep trenches of these villages 
afforded magnificent defensive positions, and al- 
though the Russian batteries kept up a heavy 
shrapnel fire on them, it was without the effect 
desired. On their part the Japanese gunners 
knocked to pieces with their shimosa shells the 
villages held by the Russians, who had no high 
explosive shells wherewith to reply. A sad feature 
of the fighting was the frightful suffering of the 
wounded. For hours they lay on the field 
unattended, the ambulance arrangements having 
broken down through faulty orders. The ambul- 
ance waggons were sent to villages where they were 
not needed, and, when they did reach the field, 
no one knew whither the wounded were to be 
taken. Meantime the frost and snow to which the 
men were exposed increased the agony caused by 
their wounds. Indeed, the tortures endured by 
these men is beyond description — many a soldier, 
who would have recovered in the summer, now 
died of frost-bite. How serious might be the 
consequences of exposure to the cold I was myself 
to experience. As on the night before, I could get 
no shelter this night, and had to pass it in the 
open with the thermometer about 10° below freez- 



THE BATTLE OF SANDEPU 297 

ing. I became ill ; my temperature indicated high 
fever, and although the battle was not ended I was 
obliged to return forthwith to Mukden. 

On the third day of the battle General 
Grippenberg improved his position, and almost 
surrounded the Japanese at Sandepu. It looked 
as if the Russians had a chance of winning. On 
January 28th there was further desperate fighting, 
and on the night of that day the Japanese again 
assaulted Hei-kau-tai. They lost very heavily, but 
pressed home the attack, and at nine o'clock on the 
morning of January 29th re-occupied the village. 
That virtually ended the fight, and by the evening 
of the same day the Russians were everywhere in 
retreat, and hotly pursued by their foe. For several 
days afterwards there was more or less severe 
fighting of an indefinite character, but it did not- 
materially alter the situation. The Russians had 
suffered another heavy reverse. Grippenberg's army 
was very sore over its defeat, every man in it felt 
that they had been badly "left" by the rest of the 
Russian forces. Neither Kaulbars nor Linievitch 
had moved a man or fired a gun to relieve the 
pressure on the Second Army, if we except a slight 
and ineffectual artillery demonstration by Kaulbars 
on the opening day of the battle. Grippenberg 
had been allowed to fight a lone hand, and this 
fact struck everyone of us as most extraordinary. 
Fully 20,000 men out of a force of about 85,000 
had been killed or wounded ; and when it was 
known throughout the army that these casualties 
had been incurred in a battle fought and lost by 



298 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

the right wing, absolutely unsupported, a very 
painful feeling was created. For Stackelberg's 
corps much commiseration was expressed ; " that 
unfortunate ist Siberian Army Corps" was the 
universal remark. General Kuropatkin left his 
quarters at Shansamutung and returned to Mukden, 
where he visited the hospitals and spoke words of 
encouragement to the wounded. His looks were 
even more eloquent than words, for his face at this 
time bore an expression of sadness and sympathy 
which required no translation into speech. 

For the next few days the nature and cause of 
the disaster at Sandepu formed the universal topic 
of conversation. A complete mystery seemed to 
envelope it, and though many startling stories were 
told, no credence could be placed in any of them. 
One theory was that the Commander-in-Chief had 
never intended to fight a general action, and that 
Grippenberg had risked more than he should have 
done. Another opinion was that the Second Army's 
failure was entirely due to want of support. A 
third statement was that, when Grippenberg was 
on the point of victory, Kuropatkin, having learned 
how the I St Siberian Army Corps had been cut up, 
ordered a retreat of the whole of the Second Army. 
All that was patent was that a gigantic mistake 
had been made by some one. The intention to 
fight had been kept so secret that not one of the 
military attaches had any inkling of it, and none 
were with Grippenberg. Nor — excepting myself 
and one other correspondent, who was staying with 
General Mischenko — were there any onlookers 



THE BATTLE OF SANDEPU 299 

present at all. Many officers were at Mukden 
on leave, and knew nothing of what was hap- 
pening until the sound of heavy firing told 
that a battle was in progress. A more extra- 
ordinary situation it is impossible to conceive. 

Suddenly the news came that General Grippep- 
berg had sent in his resignation, and followed it up 
by immediately starting on his return to Russia. 
Such behaviour at such a critical period evoked a 
good deal of unfriendly comment. One thing 
everybody confidently affirmed, namely, that there 
had been "an awful row" over Sandepu between 
General Kuropatkin and the chiefs of the three 
armies. What actually happened it is impossible to 
say, but Grippenberg's abrupt departure is evidence 
sufficient of the gravest differences between officers 
whose cordial co-operation was essential for the 
welfare of the army. 

The battle of Sandepu had a most deplorable 
effect on the whole Russian army. The work of 
three months and more of reorganising the forces 
since the battle of the Sha-ho was almost entirely 
thrown away. Prior to the defeat of Grippenberg 
the army had recovered its tone. There were 
officers, more thoughtful and better informed than 
the majority, who still had misgivings as to the 
ability of the Russian army to reverse Liao-Yang 
and the Sha-ho, but they did not affect the general 
spirit. The men, well clothed and well fed, 
cheered by the presence of new comrades, had en- 
joyed a long rest, and were full of courage. Guns, 
ammunition, and supplies had arrived in plenty, 



300 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

and confidence in the future was almost universal. 
Then came Sandepu, with its disastrous qnding : 
over 20,000 casualties, the morale of the men 
greatly weakened, and, worst of all, acute dis- 
sension caused in the ranks of the superior officers. 
All this had a most depressing effect, and it is 
beyond question that the defeat of Sandepu was 
one of the chief causes of the subsequent rout of 
the Russians at Mukden. For it is not only the 
effect of the battle on the beaten that must be con- 
sidered ; Sandepu had an equally important effect 
on the victors. Besides giving the Japanese an 
opportunity of ascertaining (and strengthening) the 
weak spots in their western position, it filled them 
with elation, increasing their self-confidence and 
the belief in their power of defeating the foe on 
any and every occasion. The Russians had 
certainly played into the hands of their enemy ; it 
may be doubted whether the Japanese could have 
wished for anything better, even if the formation 
of the Russian plan of attack had been left to 
them. 



CHAPTER XXXVII 

THE RUSSIAN OVERTHROW AT MUKDEN 

My little establishment at Mukden was broken up 
on the 3rd of February, and I had to refuse the 
repeated requests of my Chinese servant that he 
might accompany me home. 

Obliged to return to England, for private 
reasons, I left the Manchu capital within three 
weeks of the opening of the battle of Mukden. At 
the beginning of February, however, no one knew 
when the next blow would be struck, though it was 
almost certain the Japanese would take the initi- 
ative before long. The journey of some 200 miles 
from Mukden to Kharbin occupied five days, 
which is eloquent testimony to the congestion of 
the line. Between the two towns were then the 
great base hospitals for the Russians, notably those 
at Kaiyuan and Guntzuling. I passed during 
those five days many hospital trains, bearing west- 
ward thousands of the wounded from Sandepu. 
They had to be constantly shunted to make way 
for the densely packed troop trains coming east- 
ward from Russia. The country, especially north 
of Kaiyuan, was very barren and exceptionally 
cold, even for a Manchurian winter. On reaching 

301 



302 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

Kharbin (where I had to remain some ten days 
owing to illness) we learned that the railway line 
had been broken the day before near Guntzuling 
by a mixed body of Japanese cavalry and Hun- 
hutzes, while, on the day following, a strong force 
of Japanese cavalry surrounded a party of 300 
Russians engaged in protecting the line, and killed 
or captured almost every man. The enemy also 
captured a gun, and succeeded in partly destroying 
a railway bridge. Both the bridge and the line 
were repaired in a few hours, but these sudden and 
successful raids perturbed the Russians. Up to 
that period the line had hardly been damaged, the 
attempts made having been almost invariably frus- 
trated by the vigilance of the Frontier Guards. 
But now the Japanese seemed bent on emulating the 
achievements of General Mischenko in his raid on 
Nuichwang and Yinkow, and on making a better 
job of their business than did the Cossack leader of 
his. As the Russians themselves put it, " they are 
going to give us yet another lesson of how things 
ought to be done successfully." At this time also 
two regiments of Japanese cavalry were reported to 
be but eight miles east of Kharbin. The strength 
of the garrison — nine battalions with sufficient artil- 
lery — rendered it improbable that any serious 
attempt would be made by a raiding party on the 
Sungari bridge or on the town. The presence of 
these scouts so far behind the Russian ri^ht flank 
was, however, indicative of the strength of the 
Japanese on the west, and of the great turning 
movement which the armies of Generals Nogi and 



THE RUSSIAN OVERTHROW AT MUKDEN 303 

Oku were preparing. There was considerable 
excitement at Kharbin in those mid-February days. 
Reinforcements were streaming in and being sent 
forward, and great stores of ammunition were ac- 
cumulating, Kharbin possessing an arsenal in which 
shells were manufactured. Meantime at the front 
General Kuropatkin was endeavouring to repair the 
bad impression created by the fiasco at Sandepu ; 
while the plans of the Japanese for a smashing blow 
at their foe were well-nigh completed. 

The battle of Mukden began on February 23rd, 
while I was on my way west across Siberia. 
Details of the fighting were hard to obtain, eager 
as everyone was for information. At Moscow and 
at St. Petersburg the news given out was more 
scanty than that which the public in England 
obtained. Intimately acquainted with the scene of 
the battle, and knowing well the force engaged on 
the Russian side, the accounts of the struggle con- 
veyed a more vivid impression, perhaps, to me than 
to those who had not been privileged to pass nine 
months as the guest of the Russian army in the 
field. The battle in its broad outlines was a 
repetition of the fight at Liao-Yang. Everything, 
however, was on a more gigantic scale — there 
was a vastly more extended front, and probably 
double the number of combatants. The force at 
Kufopatkin's disposal was well over 350,000, 
reckoning only the troops at the front or at Muk- 
den in reserve, while Marshal Oyama had as 
many, if not more, soldiers under him. So that 
some three-quarters of a million men were engaged 



304 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

in this battle, or series of battles, for the fighting, 
reckoning only to the date on which the Japanese 
entered Mukden, lasted fifteen days. The first 
movement was made by Kawamura against the 
Russian left, and on February 24th General 
Kuroki — considered by the Russians the most 
redoubtable of their opponents — began his attack 
on the entrenchments in which the First Manchur- 
ian Army, under General Linievitch, was posted. 
A day or two later Nodzu opened a fierce bom- 
bardment of the Russian centre, while on February 
28th Oku's army began to advance across the 
Hun-ho. This was the weak spot in the Russian 
defence. The morale of the Second Manchurian 
Army had been badly shaken by its repulse at 
Sandepu, and when it was assailed by General 
Oku's troops, with a fierceness and intensity which 
could not be exceeded, it gave way, being com- 
pelled to retreat on to the railway and the defences 
round Mukden. The Japanese had been well 
advised in striking the Russian right with all their 
might, for they knew that this part of their enemy's 
force could not have recovered from the severe 
mauling it had received when Grippenberg made 
his disastrous attack. 

At the same time that Oku's army delivered its 
blow. General Nogi and his veterans from Port 
Arthur were sweeping north-west across the plains 
of the Liao-ho, and on the following day (March 
ist) the Japanese entered Sinminting. Besides 
cutting off from the Russians a very important 
source of supply for contraband from China, 



THE RUSSIAN OVERTHROW AT MUKDEN 305 

General Nogi by this move obtained a position 
from which the Russian line of communication 
behind Mukden could be threatened. The next 
five days the great fight raged in every part of the 
field. The stubbornness with which the Russians 
defended their positions was equalled by the per- 
sistency with which the Japanese pressed their 
attack. Marshal Oyama was clearly endeavouring 
to surround the Russian host, a task of immense 
difficulty. The reader will have learned from 
previous chapters how immensely strong were the 
positions held by the Russians, and soldiers who 
could force them are surely unsurpassable in 
courage and tenacity. The issue was in doubt 
until the 5th of March, on which day General 
Kuroki forced the left of the Russian entrench- 
ments on the Sha-ho. Meanwhile Nogi had 
advanced northward from Sinminting, and was 
almost up to the railway. To General Kuropatkin 
it now seemed that, if he were not to be caught in 
the Japanese vice, Mukden must be abandoned, 
and on the 7th of March the order for a general 
retreat was given. The day following, Nogi cut 
the railway north of Mukden, and the only question 
remaining was the extent of the Japanese victory. 
The Russian left, under Linievitch, had fallen back 
on Fushun, where it was being followed by Kawa- 
mura's army, the new force which Japan had 
organised since the battle of the Sha-ho, and which 
gave them the necessary preponderance on their 
right flank. Kuroki's troops were now between 
Linievitch and Mukden, and when on March loth 
20 



306 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

Kawamura carried the Fushun position, Linievitch 
was obliged to retreat direct to Tieling. On the 
same day Mukden was entered by the victorious 
Japanese ; as the troops of the Mikado marched 
in, the prestige of Russia in China vanished. 

For another week the pursuit continued, the 
Japanese pressing the enemy hard. Russians and 
Japanese were at one time marching in parallel 
lines, and Kuroki's artillery poured shrapnel upon 
the columns of the enemy with terrible effect. But, 
with all their efforts, the Japanese generals failed 
to "round-up" Kuropatkin, and though Tieling 
was occupied on the i6th of March, the bulk of 
the Russian army had succeeded in escaping north. 
The casualties, however, had been enormous, and 
on the Russian side alone reached something like 
140,000, or more than a third of their entire force, 
Mukden may well claim to be the greatest battle 
ever fought. That Kuropatkin realised the enor- 
mous loss a battle would entail, is shown by the 
fact that, in anticipation of the attack which he 
was contemplating when the Japanese took the 
offensive, he ordered the hospitals to prepare to 
receive 70,000 wounded. The sufferings caused 
by the retreat cannot be exaggerated. It must 
be remembered that the weather remained intensely 
cold, and that the arrangements for collecting the 
wounded were all disorganised. Hundreds of 
poor fellows must have perished from frost-bite. 
Defeat, it may be added, was wholly unexpected 
by the Manchurian Army. And that view was 
shared by the foreign attaches and the war cor- 



THE RUSSIAN OVERTHROW AT MUKDEN 307 

respondents. Whatever their opinions might be 
as to the possibility of General Kuropatkin march- 
ing on Liao-Yang, they felt confident that the 
Japanese would be unable to turn the Russians 
out of the positions so long and so carefully 
prepared. The Japanese accomplished this seem- 
ingly impossible task, and the occasion may be 
seized for an expression of my profound admiration 
for the marvellous qualities constantly displayed 
by the forces of Britain's ally in the Far East. 

Following on the disaster of Mukden, General 
Kuropatkin was relieved of his command, ex- 
changing places with General Linievitch. The 
new Commander-in-Chief fixed his headquarters at 
GuntzuHng, where the shattered army was re- 
formed. It was constantly added to. For instance, 
while on my way back, I passed, at Irkutsk, part 
of the 4th European Army Corps on its way to 
Kharbin. The rate of increase of the Russian 
troops in Manchuria since February may be taken 
at an army corps a month. But of the trials of 
the army under Linievitch it is not my purpose to 
write. These pages are a record of personal 
experiences, and the slight and imperfect sketch of 
the battle of Mukden which this chapter contains 
is the only important battle mentioned at which I 
was not present. It must therefore be regarded 
as a digression, for which I crave the indulgence 
of my readers. Those who retain any interest in 
the writer are now asked to bring back their minds 
to Siberia in winter -time, and to accompany his 
train across its snow-covered, wind-swept plains. 



CHAPTER XXXVIII AND LAST 

THE DESIRE OF THE ARMY FOR PEACE 

Of the journey from Manchuria homeward little 
need be said ; the country has already been de- 
scribed, and I saw it at much the same season as on 
my way out to the front, only now there was no 
sign whatever of spring. It struck me, too, that the 
arrangements made for the defence of the railway 
did not compare favourably with the system adopted 
by the British in South Africa. The Russians had 
erected no blockhouses, placed no barbed wire 
entanglements, nor dug any trenches even in that 
part of the line which lay in Chinese territory. 
The Frontier Guards had sand-bagged the windows 
of their little stone houses, two or more guns were 
stationed in redoubts on or near large bridges, and 
mounted patrols traversed their sections of the line 
daily. This was the extent of the Russian pre- 
cautions, and with one or two exceptions they have 
proved sufficient. From Kharbin to Irkutsk my 
companions on the train included about 200 
Japanese prisoners, among them four officers who 
were being sent to the prisoners' camp near Nijni 
Novgorod. They seemed reconciled to their lot, 
though evidently they did not relish their rations of 



THE DESIRE OF THE ARMY FOR PEACE 309 

black bread and meat. None of the party spoke 
Russian, but one officer knew English, and I acted 
as interpreter between them and the Russian com- 
mandant, who was anxious to do all he could to 
render the journey of his charges agreeable. The 
Japanese officers had provided themselves with 
Russo-Chinese grammars and dictionaries, and were 
constantly busy studying Russian. I bade them 
good-bye at Irkutsk, where one changes trains, and 
has a choice of the express to Moscow or the 
ordinary train. The latter takes twenty days to 
accomplish the journey, but the express managed to 
cover the distance in seven. I arrived in Moscow 
penniless and travel-stained ; in a costume, in short, 
which would at once have gained me admittance to 
the casual ward ; but these minor inconveniences a 
little time sufifices to remedy. I became at once 
painfully conscious of the atmosphere of suspicion 
which surrounds everyone in Russia, and could but 
contrast it with the freedom and liberty I had 
enjoyed in Manchuria. This, however, is a matter 
on which I have no desire to enlarge. 

My story is ended, for it is no part of my 
purpose to discuss the political situation or to make 
forecasts which time may falsify even before the 
indulgent reader has read thus far. A few words 
as to the feeling of the army in Manchuria and of 
Russian society towards the great question of peace 
or war, I permit myself nevertheless to write. As 
long ago as last February the majority of the 
officers of the Russian army in the field were in 
favour of peace, in view of the plain facts of the 



310 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

case. They had no belief in the prospects of 
recovering the ground lost. The view of these 
officers is not likely to have been modified by what 
has happened since. As to the men, constant defeat 
has killed enthusiasm ; besides, with them the war 
has been unpopular from the first, and the commonest 
question put to one by the soldiers was, " You are a 
stranger, and can take an unbiassed view. When do 
you think the war will be over ? " Nor must it be 
forgotten that in several corps, notably among 
the Siberian corps, the ranks have lost all their 
original complement, and the places have been 
filled by reservists, mostly married men, who 
resent being taken away from home and family. 
One and all of these men pray for the day when 
the order shall be given for the army to return 
home. Another factor to be taken into account 
is, that many men in the ranks have adopted the 
ideas of the revolutionary parties in Russia. These 
men, like everyone else in the army, are aware of 
the discontent and rioting in Russia. The news 
of what happened was told them freely. The 
official newspaper published on the field described 
fully, for instance, the shooting of the workmen 
in the streets of St. Petersburg on Sunday the 
22nd of January. The private soldier in Man- 
churia, I repeat, desires peace. He bears no 
enmity against the Japanese, nor does he under- 
stand for what the war is being waged. The 
opposition to peace has come not from the army, 
but from the governing class in St. Petersburg, 
and the Bureaucracy in Russia generally. The 



THE DESIRE OF THE ARMY FOR PEACE 311 

contrast between the feeling in Russia and that in 
Manchuria I found very marked. The official 
element in the capital refused to recognise that, 
as far as it is possible to foresee, the Japanese 
will always be able to maintain in the field a force 
fully equal to that which the Russians can keep 
in Manchuria. They have realised the danger of 
bringing a discontented army back to Russia, and 
have hoped, fervently hoped, that by a superhuman 
effort the army would win one great victory, and 
thus enable them to escape from the situation 
" with honour." Such is official Russia — prepared to 
gamble away men's lives in an endeavour to save its 
own face. But among the middle classes, notably 
the merchants, the general voice is in favour of 
peace. It is urged by this class that millions of 
roubles have been expended on building the Trans- 
Siberian Railway, in developing Port Arthur, and 
in creating Dalny, without any compensating ad- 
vantage. " Even if Russia should prove victorious 
and regain those places," argue many merchants, 
"of what avail will that be? It can only be done 
by the sacrifice of thousands of valuable lives, and 
it would be followed by the spending of more 
millions in rebuilding and developing the ports, 
for which there will be no commercial return." 
As an indication of what the Russian peasants 
think, one may point out that it is chiefly from 
the peasant class that the army is recruited, and 
the views of the army are probably its views. 

It is of the army that my last words shall be. 
I have written that it desires peace, that it thinks 



312 AN EYE-WITNESS IN MANCHURIA 

victory well-nigh impossible, that its reverses have 
killed the enthusiasm and spirit which are so essen- 
tial to the soldier. Moreover, I have had occasion 
to criticise both the tactics and strategy displayed 
by the generals in command. All this is true, but 
it in no wise detracts from the magnificent courage 
which the army has ever shown, the fortitude it 
has always exhibited, and the loyalty reposed in 
its leaders. What other troops in the world would 
have again and again met the enemy unflinchingly., 
after such terrible reverses? Success has been 
denied to their arms, but none the less I am glad 
to have lived among them for nearly a year, to 
have seen them at work and at play, in circum- 
stances of joy and of sorrow, and under the moj * 
trying conditions to have proved the worth of their 
comradeship. May we never meet again save in 
the beaten path of friendship! 



THE END. 



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