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" The General stands higher than any other 
Russian officer, not only in Russian opinion, but 
in that of professional soldiers all the world over, 
and if any human agency can change the deplor- 
able situation to Russia's advantage, Kuropatkin 
may be the man to do it."* This sentence, 
J written by the military correspondent of the 
2 Times in February, 1904, well expresses the 
,tlt sentiment that predominated when General 
Kuropatkin's appointment to command the 
Russian army in Manchuria was announced. 
** " It may be that a military genius would have 

^ overcome the moral and physical difficulties we 
>* had to encounter. Possibly ; but an Alexeieff, 
^- a Kuropatkin, a Linievitch, a Grippenberg, a 
Kaulbars, and a Bilderling were unable to do 
so,"f were the words used by the General himself 
two years later when reporting to his Sovereign. 
Though these two quotations epitomize the 

* "The War in the Far East, 1904-1905," by the 
Military Correspondent of the Times. John Murray, 
t P. 68, Volume II., of this book. 
•• V 



7'aison d'etre and tendency of this book, they by 
no means afford a complete description of its 
scope. Were it nothing but an apologia, not 
even the former reputation and position of its 
author would save it from the neglect which 
invariably awaits the excuses of the man who 
has failed. But it is no mere apologia. For, 
apart from its tone of disappointment, apart from 
the dominant note of failure which is current 
throughout, and the explanations and reasons 
repeated on almost every page, the work is one 
long-continued protest. It is a protest from first to 
last that the war was not — as far as Russia was 
concerned — fought to anything like a finish ; that 
it was brought to a premature conclusion ; that 
peace was declared at the moment when victory 
lay within Russia's grasp, when her strength was 
at its greatest, and that of her enemy had begun 
to ebb. Whether true or otherwise, this view 
should not be rejected without consideration as 
the natural cry of an unsuccessful party. These 
pages give food for thought ; they, moreover, 
contain much that has hitherto rested in obscurity 
with regard to the attitude of the Russian War 
Ministry, its efforts to prevent the war, its 
general policy, and other matters. 

The author endeavours to drive home his 
protest by marshalling an array of facts, and by 
analogy from the military history of his country 
for more than two centuries. Whether he 


proves his case is for the reader to judge. Be 
that as it may, his book must claim attention as 
being the absolute opinion of the one man on the 
Russian side best qualified to throw light upon 
the causes and course of the greatest world- 
disturbing international struggle that has taken 
place for more than a third of a century. It has 
also a sentimental interest in that it is the utter- 
ance of one who, after a long and meritorious 
career in his country's service, and after holding 
the highest appointments his profession offered, 
has failed and retired discredited into the depths 
of the country. Whether he will reappear 
in public life or not is unknown ; but when 
his distinguished services for Russia are called 
to mind, and a few of the stupendous difficulties 
with which he had to contend in this last 
campaign are realized, it is impossible to with- 
hold sympathy. 

The son of a Russian provincial official, Alexei 
Nicolaevitch Kuropatkin was born on March 17, 
1845. After being educated in the cadet corps 
and the Pavlovsk War School, he was, at the age 
of eighteen, posted as a Lieutenant to the 
1st Turkestan Rifle Battalion, with which he saw 
active service in Central Asia. Having passed 
with success through the Staff College, and being 
graded as Staff Captain, he in 1874 accompanied 
a French expedition into the Sahara. In 1876 
he took part in the Central Asian Campaign of 


that year, being on Skobeleff's staff, winning 
many laurels, and being wounded. During the 
Turkish War of 1877-78 he was Chief of the 
Staff, and was again wounded. In the Akhal 
Tekhe Expedition of 1880-81 he once more 
distinguished himself, commanding the Turkestan 
Rifle Brigade, and being twice wounded at the 
storming of Geok-Tepe. From 1883-90 he 
was General in Charge of strategical questions 
on the great General Staff! In 1890 he reached 
the rank of Lieutenant-General, and from that 
year till 1898 did valuable service as Commander- 
in-Chief of the Trans-Caspian Military District. 
In 1898 he received his portfolio as Minister of 
War, which position he filled until February 20, 
1904, when he was appointed Commander-in- 
Chief of the Manchurian Army of Operations 
(having been promoted to General of Infantry in 
1900). On March 27, 1904, he reached Liao- 
yang to take up his duties, and after several 
battles, in which the Russians were almost 
invariably defeated, he was, in March, 1905, 
superseded in the chief command by General 
Linievitch. Henceforward he continued to serve 
on in a subordinate position in command of the 
1st Army until the end of the war. After peace 
was concluded, he remained in Manchuria super- 
intending the demobilization of the Russian 
forces, proceeding, on the completion of this 
duty, to his country seat in Russia, where he has 


since remained in retirement. It was during his 
stay in Manchuria, after hostiHties had ceased, 
and later at his home, that he wrote this book, 
with the assistance acknowledged by him in the 
introduction. Its publication in Russia was 
suppressed almost as soon as the book appeared, 
and it is believed that the subject-matter of this 
translation was never printed in Russia. Of the 
four volumes of the original work, the fourth has 
alone been translated, and is now presented to 
the British public in these pages.* 

Among the many facts presented to us by 
the author there are some which call for special 
reference. The first point to claim our attention 
is the fact that though General Kuropatkin was 
Commander-in-Chief of an army engaged in 
active operations in the field, he was for a long 
time not supreme. Indeed, from the day he 
arrived at Liao-yang until October 25, 1904, 
he was subordinate to an officer not actually at 
the front, being appointed as assistant (the italics 
are ours) to the Viceroy — Admiral Alexeieff — 
whose headquarters were at Harbin. Curiously 
enough. General Kuropatkin says very little 
upon this subject. He merely points out that 
he was really in supreme command only for four 
and a half months of the war — between Admiral 
AlexeiefTs departure and his own supersession by 

* With a small portion of the third volume in 
Chapter XIII. 


General Linievitch — and incidentally mentions 
various actions and orders of the Viceroy which 
forced him to act against his own judgment. 
How detrimental such control must have been 
to the conduct of operations needs no emphasis. 
It is not within the scope of this preface to 
attempt criticism or justification of the Russian 
strategy or conduct of the war — be it that of 
General Kuropatkin or another — but such a 
vicious system of command may account for 
much that has hitherto appeared inexplicable. 
Other points which stand out are : the absolute 
unreadiness of Russia, the causes which led her 
into hostilities in spite of this unreadiness, the 
overwhelming nature of the advantage gained by 
Japan with the command of the sea, the drag 
upon Russia's strategy constituted by the fortress 
of Port Arthur, and the fear of complications on 
the western frontier, which forced her to retain 
her best troops in Europe. The handicap that 
her inferior railway communications were to her 
arms is obvious, and less remarkable than the 
immense improvement in them effected during 
the course of hostilities. 

Of the author's opinions, that of most interest 
to his own countrymen is probably the one we 
have already mentioned — that the war was, for 
Russia, prematurely concluded. To us, how- 
ever, the value attached by him to a " national " 
war as opposed to an " army " war is instructive. 


while the forethought and care with which the 
possible price of Empire in the twentieth century- 
was worked out by the Russian War IMinistry is 
enlightening, for who has estimated the probable 
cost in blood and treasure of the expansion or 
maintenance of the British Empire during the 
next hundred years ? His views also as to the 
correct policy to be pursued by Russia on the 
Afghan and Persian frontiers, and generally with 
regard to Great Britain in India and the Middle 
East, are certainly important. 

One last point, and one which is much to the 
credit of General Kuropatkin, is that he was able 
to follow where he had once led, and after having 
been in supreme command, was content to accept 
a subordinate position, and do his duty in it, 
rather than return to Russia before the war was 
over. It is refreshing to find no word of repining 
over his supersession, nor any direct or indirect 
complaint of his treatment by his Sovereign. 

These pages are an exact translation of the 
portion of the work comprised within them. The 
only liberty that has been taken with the original 
is that some of the frequent repetitions — of which 
the author is a past master — and certain passages 
which are nothing but long lists of names and 
places, have been ehminated. There is still 
much repetition in the translation, but this has 
been allowed to remain, in order that the Eng- 
lish version might adhere as closely as possible to 


the shape of the original. As the translation had 
to be made mostly from a faint carbon copy of 
typescript, the work was attended with consider- 
able difficulties. The many faults in style and 
arrangement can perhaps be explained by the 
fact that the original had evidently not been 
corrected in proof by the^author. The fact, also, 
that no copies of the maps referred to by the 
writer (if such exist) have been available has added 
very much to the difficulty of the cartography of 
this translation. As the Russian system of trans- 
literating the place-names in Manchuria differs 
considerably from that used by the English, 
French, German, or Japanese, it has been im- 
possible without large-scale Russian maps to 
identify every village or locality mentioned in the 
narrative. Those that have been fixed are shown 
on the maps that have been prepared, and in all 
cases, whether a place has been located or not, the 
name has — as far as possible — been spelled accord- 
ing to " Wade's System of Transliteration."* By 
this means it is hoped that, when better English 
maps become available, some of the places not at 
present identifiable may be located. The large 
map is a reprint of that issued with vol. ii. of the 
" Official History of the Russo-Japanese War," 
and has been used by the permission of the 

* As adopted in the " Official History of the Russo- 
Japanese War," now being published by the Historical 
Section of the Committee of Imperial Defence. 


Controller of H.M. Stationery Office. A list of 
the most important actions, showing their names 
spelled according to the Russian and English 
methods, has been added. 

In order to elucidate certain references to the 
Russian troops and to the mobilization of the 
military districts, it may not be out of place to 
give briefly the system of mobilization which 
existed in Russia in 1904. The law of universal 
military service has existed in that country for 
many years, and when war broke out with Japan 
recruits were enlisted from the age of twenty for 
twenty-three years' service ni the army, of which 
five were passed in the regular army, thirteen in 
the reserve, and five in the militia. The period 
in the reserve was divided into two " categories." 
The 1st Category comprised those recently passed 
into the reserve, and the 2nd the older men. If 
a "general" mobilization were ordered, the 1st 
Category reservists of all districts were the first 
to be summoned to rejoui the colours. In case 
of a " partial " mobilization, however, the mobili- 
zation was by districts instead of categories, and 
in such a case men of both categories were to be 
ordered up from certain districts. The latter was 
the system employed in the war against Japan. 
The authorities, for reasons explained in the 
book, hesitated to employ the system of general 
mobilization, and so denude European Russia of 
all the 1st Category reservists. They therefore 


drew largely on the older men. The unfor- 
tunate results of this action are made clear by- 
General Kuropatkin. Again, as regards the 
troops sent from European Russia, a distinction 
must be made between "reinforcements" and 
" drafts." The former term has been used to 
signify formed units sent to the front ; the latter 
term is applied to bodies of men despatched to 
make good the wastage as required. 

A. B. L. 
E. D. S. 


March 1, 1909. 


In the first three volumes* of my work accounts 
are given of the tliree principal battles of the 
war — Liao-yang, the Sha Ho, and Mukden. 
Though compiled from the best information 
obtainable, it is impossible for such a book to be 
entirely free from inaccuracies ; for not only is 
our knowledge of what was done by the Japanese 
extremely limited, but it is derived from un- 
official sources. At the time these volumes were 
written, moreover, there were few reports avail- 
able from our own individual corps and armies, 
and what we had were sketchy in character. 
The most complete information, on the whole, 
was that given in the regimental reports, upon 
which we almost entirely depended ; but even 
these were far from perfect. Commanding 
officers naturally have a soft spot in their hearts 
for their own troops, and the separate narratives 
gave very diffisrent accounts of what was done by 
units of one and the same division or army corps. 
Great importance has therefore been attached to 

* [Of these only portions of the Introduction and 
Conclusion of Volume III. have been translated. — Ed.] 



such documents as copies of written orders for 
operations, dispositions and marches, casualty 
Hsts, and ammunition returns. Not that the 
latter could be accepted without careful scrutiny, 
as the ammunition lost on the march was often 
included in the total rounds fired. But, in spite 
of the admitted incompleteness and the partiality 
of the sources of information, the facts narrated 
in my first three volumes present ample material 
whereby to gauge the moral, the tactical fitness, 
and the armament of our troops — in short, to 
judge of the readiness of our army for war. 

The account of the battle of Liao-yang was 
written in Manchuria by Colonel Ilinski, of the 
General Staff, who was then on my staff, and 
was sent in November, 1904, to headquarters in 
St. Petersburg. This narrative, supplemented 
by additional material from the pen of the author, 
forms the first volume. The second, " The 
Battle of the Sha Ho," was drawn up under my 
guidance in Manchuria by Colonel BolkhovitinofF, 
of the General Staff. The third, " The Battle of 
Mukden," and the fourth, " The Summary of the 
War," I wrote myself, the former in Manchuria 
and the latter at my country home. For the 
collection of material, the compilation of statis- 
tics, and most of the cartography for the third 
volume, I am indebted to Colonel Si vers and 
Lieutenant- Colonel Havrilits, of the General 
Stafi', whilst Lieutenant-Colonel KrimofF, of the 


same branch, has undertaken this work for the 
fourth volume. Without the able and unre- 
mitting efforts of these officers, the completion 
and printing of this book, consisting of 2,000 
pages, with plates, maps, and plans, would have 
dragged on for years. 

Although the ordeal of war through which 
our country and our army passed in 1904-1905 
is now a matter of history, the materials so far 
collected are insufficient to enable us to estimate 
fairly the events which preceded the war, or to 
give a detailed and complete explanation of the 
defeats that we sustained. It is essential, how- 
ever, that we should take immediate advantage 
of our recent experience, because it is only by 
ascertaining the nature of our mistakes and the 
failings of our troops that we can learn how to 

In times past, when wars were carried on by 
small standing armies, defeat did not touch the 
everyday interests of the whole nation so pro- 
foundly as it does now, when the obligation 
to render military service is general, and most of 
the soldiers are drawn from the great mass of the 
people. If a war is to be successful in these 
days, it must not be carried on by an army, but 
by an armed nation. In such a contest all classes 
are seriously affected, and failure is more acutely 
felt than it was formerly. When the national 
pride has been humiliated by defeat, attempts 

VOL. I. b 


are usually made to ascertain the causes and 
persons responsible. Some attribute failure to 
general, others to specific, reasons ; while some 
blame the system or the regime, others blame 
the individual. Discontented political factions 
are quick to make use of a national disaster as a 
weapon against the Government, and so with 
us the party hostile to the Russian Government 
not only strove to injure it after the war, but did 
so — much to the disadvantage of our arms — 
during the actual course of military operations. 
This party would indeed have been genuinely 
glad to see us suffer defeat, as there would then 
have been a hope of undermining the prestige of 
the Government, and so bringing about a revolu- 
tion. Their motto was, " The worse things are 
— the better," and hundreds of thousands of pro- 
clamations were distributed among the troops 
going to the front — especially those from the west 
— urging the soldiers on to defeat, not victory. In 
Russia many journals, though not the organs of 
the above party, contributed materially to its 
success by abusing both the army and the 
Government. Again, many of the correspon- 
dents at the front, ill-informed as to our own 
operations, and worse informed as to the enemy's, 
did not scruple to despatch reports founded on 
entirely unreliable information, and so, by ex- 
aggerating the importance of every reverse, 
shook public confidence still more. Many 


officers, too, wrote home from the field,* and 
tried to show their smartness by hasty criticism, 
by making inaccurate statements, and by dis- 
cussing affairs in a pessimistic tone. Little 
was written of what really happened in the 
actual fighting-line — of the deeds of those many 
heroes who lay face to face with the enemy for 
months together, and fought on without losing 
confidence in eventual victory. The gallant 
private soldiers, modest young officers, com- 
manders of companies, squadrons, batteries, and 
regiments, did not Avi'ite — they had no time to 
scribble of their labours and exploits — and there 
were few pressmen who elected to witness their 
deeds : it would have entailed sharing their 
hardships and their dangers. 

Of course, there were brave men among the 
correspondents, and men who were genuinely 
desirous of rendering assistance ; but, lacking 
as they were in the most elementary military 
knowledge, their efforts were, not unnaturally, 
of little value where complicated operations were 
concerned. The persons really most capable 
of forming a judgment upon what they saw, 
and of putting matters in their proper light 
before the reading public, were the foreign 
military attaches. Many of them were in every 
sense picked men. They were interested in our 

* The motives of those who started writing upon their 
return to Russia, also, were not entirely above suspicion. 



soldiers, shared all their dangers and hardships, 
and, in return, gained their affection and respect. 
But while none of their reports were seen in 
Russia for a long time, many of our Press cor- 
respondents, who stayed in the rear and saw 
only the reverse side of war, revelled in harrow- 
ing accounts of the orgies and dissipation that 
went on in Harbin, and presented to the public 
an absolutely distorted picture of the life of the 
army. The result was that our Press to a great 
extent played into the hands of our foreign and 
domestic enemies ; instead of which, it might 
have called into being with the news of our first 
defeats a wave of patriotism and self-sacrifice, 
and, as the difficulties at the front grew thicker, 
might have appealed to the Fatherland for 
fresh efforts, cheered the faint - hearted, and 
summoned all the best of the country's man- 
hood to fill the gaps in our ranks caused by the 
enemy. What it did accomplish was to instil a 
hatred of the war into the masses, depress those 
departing for the front, undermine the private 
soldier's confidence in his officers, and weaken 
the authority of those in command. Truly 
the army had little encouragement to issue 
victoriously from its difficulties. On the con- 
trary, the troops sent forward from Russia carried 
with them the seeds of fresh disaster in the 
seditious proclamations with which they were 


A large number of valuable works upon 
different subjects suggested by the late war have 
appeared, many of them written with a sincere 
desire to do justice to the army ; but, owing to 
ignorance of what really happened, they contain 
numerous and serious mistakes. Passions are 
now calming down, and it is possible to separate 
into different categories the charges levelled at 
our forces and their representatives during and 
after the war. These accusations, in so far as 
they refer to the War Department, were mainly 
as follows : 

That the army was not ready for war with 

That, having taken insufficient steps to prepare 
for war, the War Department did not attempt 
to prevent it. 

That the leaders of the army did not make the 
best use of the men and material placed at their 
disposal during its course. 

I shall endeavour in my fourth volume both 
to refute these accusations conclusively and to 
emphasize the principal lessons for our future 
guidance to be drawn from the campaign. 

The work of the War Ministry of an Empire 
like ours ought not to be of a haphazard nature. 
Its success must depend on the amount of money 
allotted to military needs and the manner of 
expenditure of these funds. The country spends 
large sums on the army, thus starving numerous 


other urgent demands, and an unsuccessful 
war naturally leads to the conclusion that this 
expenditure has been thrown away. But, before 
forming any judgment, it is necessary to be in 
possession of full details of what had to be under- 
taken, and of the financial means available. The 
problems which confronted our War Depart- 
ment were the inevitable result of the policy 
pursued by it in former years ; they were, so to 
speak, the legacy of the nineteenth century to 
the twentieth. That the size and cost of an 
army must be in direct proportion to the growth 
of a nation and the military activity of its neigh- 
bours, is a fact that cannot be ignored if we wish 
to rest assured of the safety of our Empire. To 
us, in our comparatively immature state of 
civilization, the burden of the armed peace 
necessitated by the immense growth of arma- 
ments in Europe seems almost unbearable, and 
our available funds are inadequate to meet all 
the initial and recurring financial demands. It 
has only been possible to satisfy the most urgent. 
To decide which were most important among 
such things as the re-armament of the artillery, 
the construction of fortifications and barracks, 
the accumulation of reserves, and the improve- 
ment of the condition of the troops, etc., was a 
complicated and difficult enough matter for the 
War Department ; but the decision upon larger 
questions, such as which frontiers were most 


in danger of attack or on which side our policy 
of expansion called for another forward step, 
was beyond its scope. The solution was de- 
pendent on the general political programme, and 
this was, in its turn, the result of the policy 
followed in former centuries, and the outcome of 
the internal condition and needs of the Empire. 

On January 1, 1898, when I took over the 
duties of War Minister, I found many schemes 
actually in progress, and numerous others — 
worked out and marked as urgent — for the 
execution of which money had not been avail- 
able. Thanks to the ability and energy of my 
predecessor, the army was in a high state of 
efficiency as compared with former years, and I 
thus found myself in a favourable position to 
draw up a scheme of work for the next quin- 
quennium.* But, as has been explained, the 
policy of my department was bound up with 
that of the Ministries of the Interior, of Finance, 
and of Foreign Affairs, and there had been a 
difference of opinion between the late Wry 
Minister and his colleagues on some most im- 
portant points. As there was no co-ordinated 
programme between the AVar and Navy Depart- 
ments, I was forced to spend my first two years 
in office in framing an exhaustive statement for 

* The money put aside by the Treasury for the War 
Department is not allotted annually, but for quinquennia 


our guidance. In this I traced out and sum- 
marized the achievements of Russian arms and 
what the tasks before them had been in the 
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, showed 
which had been finished and which had been 
left over for completion to the twentieth century, 
and pointed out the sacrifices made by the nation 
towards this result. I reviewed the condition of 
each of our frontiers, indicated the numbers and 
organization that would be necessary for military 
operations in the different probable theatres of 
war, and estimated the power of offence of our 
most likely adversaries. Having thus arrived at 
some logical conclusions as to what had to be 
faced in the coming century, it remained to draw 
up definite proposals for the improvements 
necessary in the organization for war of the army. 
The General Staff Academy assisted me in my 
work. Colonel Mishlaivski helping in the history, 
]Maj or- General Zolotareff in the military statistics, 
and Colonel Gulevitch in the administration. 
Information on strategical matters was furnished 
by the General Stafit'. This analysis was com- 
pleted and submitted to the Tsar in the spring 
of 1900, and a few copies — with the secret 
strategic matter omitted — were, with his per- 
mission, sent to the Ministers of Finance, Foreign 
Affairs, and the Interior, to the State Comp- 
troller, and a few selected officials. The pro- 
gramme for the period 1898-1902 was framed by 


me upon the conclusions drawn from this state- 
ment. In 1903 a general report of all that had 
been carried out by my department during the 
previous fiv^e years was printed and submitted to 
the Tsar. This document showed the funds 
available, the total requirements which had been 
carried out, and those left undone owing to the 
lack of money. Later on in the same year a 
programme for the period 1904-1908 was sub- 
mitted and approved. Thus, for the twelve 
months immediately preceding hostilities work 
was carried out according to a strictly defined 
programme, from the printed record of which 
the results attained can be judged. In the same 
way that we in the War ]\linistry were forced to 
have recourse to the lessons of the past when 
framing our programme for the future, so in this 
work is it necessary, in order to explain properly 
what was done in the years 1898-1904, to refer 
to the conclusions upon which the programme 
for this period was based. 

My fourth and last volume consists of twelve* 
chapters. In the first chapters I shall include 
some necessary extracts from my analysis of 
1900, and my report of 1903 upon the work of 
the War Ministry for the quinquennium 1898- 
1902, omitting, of course, confidential matter. 
The last chapters will be based on papers relating 

* [Chapters I. to XII. in the following translation. 



to the recent war, on my diaries, and on articles 
that appeared in the Press. 

1 have been so intimately connected with the 
important events in the Far East, and have been 
so largely responsible for the failure of our 
military operations, that I can hardly hope to 
take an entirely dispassionate and objective view 
of the men and matters that I shall deal with in 
the present work ; but my object is not so much 
to justify myself by replying to the charges that 
have been brought against me personally, as to 
furnish material that will make it easier for the 
future historian to state fairly the reasons for our 
defeat, and thus enable us to avoid similar mis- 
fortunes in the future. 




An historical resume of the problems which confronted 
the Russian War Department dui'ing the past two 
centuries ----- 1 — 39 


Russia's frontiers in Europe and Asia — Conclusions as 

to their suitability to the needs of the Empire 40 — 77 


The expansion in numbers of our ai-my in the eighteenth 
and nineteenth centuries, the suitability of our 
peace and war establishments, and the growth of 
our neighbours' forces — The growing complication 
of our defence problems towards the end of the 
last century .... 78 — 95 


Deductions drawn trom the work of the army in the 
past 200 years, which may serve as some guide for 
the line our military policy should take in the 
beginning of the twentieth century - 96 — 110 




The work before the War Department in the conckiding 
years of the last, and the early years of the present, 
century— Money allotted to it from 1 898-1 90.S— 
Inadequacy of these sums to meet the demands — 
Measures which it was possible to undertake — 
Steps taken to improve and consolidate our position 
in the Far East - - -111 — 144 


The War Minister's opinion on the Manchurian and 
Korean questions from the year 1900 to 1903 — 
What he did to avoid a rupture with Japan - 145 — 198 


Why the Japanese were successful - - 1 99 — 228 


Reasons for our reverses : The minor part played by the 
fleet — The small carrying capacity of the Siberian 
and Eastern Chinese Railways — Absence of any 
diplomatic arrangements to permit of the un- 
hampered despatch and distribution of our forces 
— Delay in mobilization of reinforcements — Dis- 
advantages of "partial mobilization" — Transfer 
during the war of regulars from military districts 
in European Russia into the reserve — Delay in 
the ari'ival at the front of drafts — Weakening of 
the disciplinary powers of commanders as to the 
punishment awarded to private soldiers — Delay in 
promoting those who distinguished themselves on 
service — Technical shortcomings - - 229 — 309 


GENERAL KUROPATKIN - - - - Frontispiece 




H.I.M. THE EMPEROR OF JAPAN - - - - 200 

PRINCE KHILKOFF - - - - - 230 







e. As in Russian OriginaL 

As Translated. 




Y ... Turinchen (Battle) 

The Ya-lu 


Kinchau (Battle) 

Chin-chou (Nan 





Wafaugkau (Battle) 



... Feishuiling 

Fen-shui Ling 


... Sikhean 



.. Motieuling, Moduling 

Mo-tien Ling 





Taschichao (Battle) 



... Yanzeling 

Yang-tzu Ling 


jptember Liaoyang (Battle) 



TheShaho (Battle) 

The Sha Ho 




Sandepu (Battle), so called 

from the struggle round 
that village 



March Mukden (Battle) 



1 verst 

.. = 500 sajens = f mile 

1 sajen 

.. =7 feet 

1 square sajen 

.. =49 square feet 

1 pood 

.. = 36"11 pounds avoirdupois 

1 rouble 

= 2 shillings 

1 yen 

= 2 shillings 




An historical resume of the problems which confronted 
the Russian War Department during the past two 

During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries 
the chief work accomplished by our armed forces 
was that necessitated by the expansion of our 
Empire towards the north, west, and south, 
in her struggle to reach the shores of the Baltic 
and Black Seas. During the first years of the 
twentieth century our forces have been similarly 
engaged in an approach towards the ocean, for, 
some years before the recent war with Japan — 
but after she had defeated China — we occupied 
Manchuria and pushed forward our advanced 
troops into the Kuan-tung Peninsula and on to 
the shores of the Pacific. During the war we 
had to repel Japan's advance while we main- 
tained the position taken up by us as far back as 
VOL. I. 1 


1897. In the event we have lost both Kuan- 
tung and Southern Manchuria, and have been 
driven back in the Far East, with the result that 
we are now in immediate contact on the main- 
land with Japan, who is in military occupation 
of Korea, Kuan-tung, and Southern Manchuria. 
For Russia this has been more than a surprise. 
It has been a disaster. But now that the first 
outburst of natural grief has subsided, there is 
some possibility of being able to trace the 
various causes to which our military misfortunes 
are due, of drawing attention to the most im- 
portant, and of appreciating at their correct value 
the many hasty judgments pronounced upon 
military events by the Press. The complexity 
of the chain of circumstances which led up to 
hostilities, and the intricacy of the military opera- 
tions which followed, demand some detailed in- 
vestigation into the nature of the peculiar 
conditions which denied success to our arms in 
Manchuria. A proper understanding of the 
difficulties will, I think, be materially assisted 
by a review of certain events in our past military 

It was only after a severe struggle and a 
violent upheaval that Russia became one united 
Empire in the seventeenth century. At the 
commencement of the eighteenth there were, in 
our immense expanse of territory amounting to 
some 265,000 square miles (of which 79,000 were 


in Europe), only 12,000,000 inhabitants ; and 
our frontiers, though only partially defined, were 
already 9,333 miles in length. Our army was about 
150,000 to 200,000 strong, but was unreliable 
as a fighting force owing to inferior organization 
and training. Of the total State Budget — some 
£1,200,000 — half was taken up for the main- 
tenance of this force. The proper defence of 
our long frontier necessitated an immense army, 
for our boundaries were not strengthened by 
any natural features, while our neighbours were 
powerful kingdoms, such as Sweden, Poland, and 
Turkey, nomad Tartars, Caucasian mountaineers, 
and the Chinese, about whom little was known.* 

* On the north-west, from Varanger Fiord to Pskoff 
)about 1,350 miles), we marched with our powerful neigh- 
bour Sweden, who possessed an army of 100,000 men. At 
this disturbed period she was mistress of the country round 
the Baltic coasts and of the present province of St. Peters- 
burg, and possessed in the fortresses of Finland and in the 
Baltic littoral an enveloping base for a gradual movement 
on our PskofF and Novgorod provinces. On the west, from 
PskofF to Tchigrin (about 1,000 miles), we marched with 
Poland, the frontier re-entering like a wedge near Smolensk 
to a distance of 300 miles from Moscow. Poland, the ally 
of Sweden and Turkey, was Russia's natural enemy, for she 
was in occupation of our soil in White and Little Russia. 
On the south, from Tchigrin to Azov (about 400 miles), 
the boundary ran practically undefined, shared with the 
Tartar hordes subject to Turkey, who then possessed an 
army of some 500,000 men, and a strong fleet on the Black 
Sea. From Azov to the Caspian (about 400 miles) our 
neighbours were Tartars and nomadic Caucasian moun- 



In the eighteenth century, besides creating a 
regular army, we had to carry on the following 
work, handed to us as a legacy from the pre- 
ceding hundred years : 

In the north-west we had to continue the efforts 
of Tsars John III. and IV. to drive Sweden from 
the Baltic littoral, and so push forward our 
frontier to the coast-line. 

In the west, to proceed with the work of 
Tsar Alexie - Michaelovitch, and wrest White 
Russia and Little Russia from Poland. 

In the south, to follow the course indicated 
by the Grand Dukes SviatoslofF and Oleg, of 
advancing to the Black Sea coast and creating 
unrest in Turkey, as a preparation for our further 
move forward. 

In the south-east, to carry on the struggles 
of Tsar Theodore- 1 vanovitch and Boris GodunofF 
to convert the Caspian into a Russian inland sea, 
and obtain a firm foothold on the ridge of the 
Caucasus. In Asia, to extend the Empire in two 
directions — towards Central Asia, for protection 
against raids, and towards Russia's natural outlet 
in the East, the Pacific Ocean. 

During this century it was only the first three 

taineers, who were continually raiding our borders. Lastly, 
in Asia our frontier, which was here also only vaguely 
defined, marched with that of the Kirghiz tribes and races 
subordinate to China. 


of these projects that we really set ourselves to 
carry out. Our attempt in 1717 to gain posses- 
sion of Khiva ended in complete failure, which 
for a long time arrested our advance in Central 
Asia ; while in Siberia, thanks to the peaceful 
attitude of the Chinese and Japanese, and to the 
weakness of the Kirghiz, we were enabled to 
protect our 6,000-mile Chinese frontier with an 
insignificant number of men. Of the three tasks 
seriously attempted, the first — that of gaining 
possession of the Baltic sea-board — was the most 
difficult. For twenty-one years had that able 
commander, Charles XII. of Sweden, fought 
with a small but veteran army against the might 
of Russia led by Peter the Great. Even the 
genius of the latter did not avail to avert our 
complete defeat at Narva in 1700, but his deter- 
mined efforts to create an army well trained and 
numerically superior to the enemy were crowned 
by our victory at Poltava just nine years later. 
This struggle — the Great Northern War — only 
came to an end in 1721 with our annexation, 
under the Treaty of Nishtabtski, of Ingerman- 
land (the province of St. Petersburg), Esthonia, 
Livonia, and a small part of Finland, altogether 
3,500 square miles. The reasons of our defeat 
at Narva were that we put too few men — 50,000 
— in the field in the first instance, and that they 
were unreliable. During the course of the war 
the army was increased in numbers to 136,000, 


and at Poltava Peter the Great had a very large 
superiority in numbers, besides the assistance of 
experienced subordinates and veteran troops. 
During the whole war we put in the field a total 
of 1,700,000 men. Our access to the Baltic 
cost us 120,000 killed and wounded, excluding 
missing, and 500,000 invalided, but in gaining it 
Russia won a place among the great Powers of 
Europe. Our progress towards the Black Sea 
proved almost as difficult, and necessitated four 
wars with Turkey, In the first — in 1711 — we 
again committed the same initial error as we had 
against Sweden, and started operations with in- 
sufficient numbers, with the result that, in spite 
of the presence of Peter the Great, we were 
surrounded on the Pruth. Not only did we fail 
in our object, but we were forced by the Turks 
to surrender Azov, and to raze our fortifications on 
the Lower Dnieper ; but we brought up our total 
numbers during the fourth war (1787 to 1791), by 
gradual increases, to 700,000 men, and eventually 
defeated the Turks. Our maximum number in 
any one campaign was 220,000. By the Treaty of 
Jassy* we obtained the Crimea and the area be- 
tween the rivers Bug and Dniester. This final four 
years' struggle cost us 90,000 killed, wounded, 
and missing, and about 300,000 invalided ; the 
total number of men put in the field during 
the century in order to gain access to the Black 
* [In 1792.— Ed.] 

THE XIXth century 7 

Sea being 1,500,000. The prosecution of the 
third task — namely, that of regaining Little 
Russia and White Russia — was the cause of 
three struggles with Poland, after the last of 
which she ceased to be an independent State. 
In these campaigns the largest army taking the 
field on our side was 75,000 strong. The total 
numbers on our side taking part in the three 
wars were 400,000, our casualties being 30,000 
killed, wounded, and missing, and 75,000 in- 
valided. It is plain, therefore, in which direc- 
tions our efforts at expansion during the 
eighteenth century proved most costly. The 
brunt of these struggles was borne by our army, 
though our fleet, under Peter the Great — its 
founder — played a conspicuous and gallant part 
in the conflict with Sweden. 

The commencement of the nineteenth century 
found Russia a strong Power as compared with 
her condition a hundred years before. During 
the past hundred years the Empire had ex- 
tended in area from 265,000 to 331,000 square 
miles, and the population had increased to 
37,000,000. The revenues had also grown con- 
siderably, from £1,200,000 to £5,500,000 ; but the 
finances of the State had been severely shaken 
by incessant warfare. Though £2,200,000 had 
been spent on military requirements, the whole 
frontier was still in an unsettled state, and 
required special watchfulness on account of the 


many politico-military questions which might 
arise with Sweden, Prussia, Austria, the Cau- 
casus, and Central Asia.* The efforts which 
had been made during the latter part of the 
preceding century to develop our army had not 
been fruitless. It had improved in quality and 
^l:i professional knowledge, had produced such 
men as Rumantsieff and SuvorofF, and had 
grown in numbers ; but still its size was out of 
all proportion to the country's financial position. 
Economy was unknown in military affairs. The 
administration was defective, there was no higher 
tactical organization than the regiment, and the 
training given was not uniform. The steps 
taken by the Emperor Paul II. to rectify these 
defects were without success, and the war estab- 
lishment was reduced from 500,000 to 400,000. 

* In the year 1800 the weakest portions of our frontiers, 
which had increased since 1700 to a total length of 
11,333 miles, were: On the side of Finland (Swedish), from 
Neyshlot to the mouth of the Kumen (about 200 miles), 
owing to the proximity of this boundary to St. Petersburg ; 
from Grodno to Khotin (about 130 miles), due to the 
absence of natural obstacles and strong fortresses, and to 
the propinquity of Prussia and Austria ; on the Caucasian 
side only a portion lay within our sphere of influence, and 
after the annexation of Georgia conflicts became frequent 
with the Caucasians ; on the Central Asian side, because 
the annexation of the Kirghiz tribes, in the time of Anne 
Ivanovna, had brought Russia into immediate contact with 
the Khanates of Khiva, Bokhara, and Khokand, whose 
inhabitants looked upon our approach with no friendly eye. 


Theoretically, the army was distributed over 
twelve inspection areas or military districts ; but 
when the western districts became incorporated 
in the Empire, and we thereby became directly 
involved in the political problems of Europe, 
the greater portion of our troops was required 
to garrison the country west of the Dnieper. 
In 1799 about 100,000 men were stationed 
across the frontier,* approximately 130,000 
formed two armies in the south-western dis- 
tricts,! and in the north some 50,000 were 
distributed around the capital ; the rest were scat- 
tered throughout the country, about 25,000 being 
on the Siberian and Caucasian frontiers. Though 
a continuation of what had gone before, the 
military problems of the nineteenth century had 
to be faced under more complicated conditions. 
In the north-west Russia had still to put the 
finishing touch to her effort towards an outlet 
on the Baltic by gaining possession of the 
northern shores of the Gulf of Finland and the 
eastern shores of the Gulf of Bothnia. In 
the west the Poles had to be kept in subjection, 
and our frontier defended from Prussia and 
Austria. We had to maintain the position we 

* The troops of Suvoroff, Rimskov-Korsakoff, Herman, 
and those afloat in the fleet of Admiral UshakoiF. 

t The armies of Lassa (about 65,000 ; headquarters, 
Grodno) and of Gudovitch (about 65,000 to 70,000; 
headquarters, Kamenetz-Podolsk). 


had won, and also to oppose Napoleon's army 
of a million men. In the south we had to 
make permanent our footing on the shores of 
the Black Sea, and to guard its coasts from 
oversea attack. In the Caucasus and the Far 
East everything remained to be done. The con- 
solidation of our position in the two latter 
directions, so as to protect, before all else, the 
Russian population of the southern districts, 
demanded an energetic advance. 

It was upon the army that a large share of 
the execution of these projects naturally fell. 
Firstly, the beginning of the century was re- 
markable for our colossal struggle with France, 
of which SuvorofF's campaign in 1799 was the 
commencement. We advanced against Napoleon 
as the ally of Austria and Germany, whom he 
was in the process of destroying ; but the cam- 
paigns ended in our utter defeat at Austerlitz 
in 1805, and Friedland in 1807. The war in 
our country of 1812-14 was a continuation of 
the first two Napoleonic wars, and, notwith- 
standing the invasion of Russia by an immense 
army, and the fact that our troops were driven 
back beyond Moscow, Napoleon was defeated, 
Europe was freed from his yoke, and Poland 
became an integral portion of the Russian Empire. 
The determination with which Peter the Great 
and Alexander I. conducted their struggles 
against such opponents as Charles XII. and 


Napoleon is in the highest degree instructive. 
In both cases we commenced hostilities with 
inadequate numbers, suffered complete initial 
defeat at Narva, Austerlitz, and Friedland, but 
nevertheless continued the contest. In both 
cases our troops were reinforced, and gi^adually 
became trained and seasoned ; leaders were 
created by the war itself, and our numbers 
increased until we obtained superiority over the 
enemy, and finally ended the struggle victori- 
ously by winning the battle of Poltava in the one 
case, and by marching into Paris in the other. 

One result of these wars was the final defini- 
tion of our present boundary with Poland, which 
will soon have been established for one hundred 
years. Any alteration of it, as will be shown 
later, would not only be distinctly detrimental 
to our interests, but could only be brought 
about by a European conflict, which would entail 
such appalling sacrifices that any change would 
be on the whole as disadvantageous to Germany 
and Austria as to Russia. Thus we can at once 
dismiss the defence of our present Polish frontier 
from the probable tasks of the twentieth century. 
Still, the Poles, split up as they are amongst 
three great Powers, with their well-known 
national aspirations, have not up till now become 
reconciled to their fate, and the internal pacifica- 
tion and administration of Poland will doubtless 
prove one of the problems of this century. 


Though our most difficult piece of work in 
the eighteenth century had been the attempt 
to gain an outlet on the Baltic, the completion 
of this task in the nineteenth met with little 
opposition from Norway and Sweden. The 
campaign with the latter country in 1808-09 
lasted fifteen months, and ended with our 
annexation of Finland. During its progress the 
army was never stronger than 44,000 men, the 
total number put into the field amounting 
to 65,000. Our casualties were 7,000 killed, 
wounded, and missing, and 9,000 invalided ; 
total, 16,000. It is interesting to note that we 
were in superior strength in forty-three engage- 
ments, of which we won twenty-nine and lost 
fourteen. Although after this war we annexed 
Finland as an integral part of our Empire, we 
paid too little attention to its internal affairs, 
the result being that there grew up close to our 
capital a large hostile country, of which the 
population, though small in number, was stub- 
born and independent in character, and was 
imbued with ideals entirely differing from our 
own. The final incorporation of Finland in the 
Empire has been left for our statesmen of the 
present century. 

The consolidation of our position on the Black 
Sea, which we had gained in 1791, was proceeded 
with energetically, but was not completed, in 
spite of three wars waged with Turkey — in 


1806-12, 1828-29, 1877-78. The first ended in 
our annexation of a portion of Bessarabia. By 
the second we acquired the mouths of the Danube 
and a strip of the Black Sea Uttoral, 370 miles 
long. The interference of the European Powers 
in Russian affairs, in order to weaken us in the 
Near East, led to the Crimean War of 1854-56, 
which resulted unfortunately for us, as we lost 
our Black Sea fleet and the possession of the 
mouths of the Danube. At the time of the 
Crimean War we had a numerically strong army, 
and much excellent inaterial both among the 
officers and the rank and file. A great number 
of the former were of the nobility ; the men were 
long-service soldiers (twenty-five years) ; while 
the warrant and non-commissioned officers were 
experienced men, and wielded considerable autho- 
rity. But after the successful wars we had waged 
earlier in the century the army had deteriorated 
in war-training and fallen behind in armament. 
All ranks had been deeply bitten by ArakcheefF's 
views of military science, the senior ranks being 
specially weak. That an army was intended for 
war was quite forgotten. Spit and polish and 
parade smartness were considered far more than 
battle efficiency, and more attention was paid to 
the " manual exercise " and to ceremonial move- 
ments than to anything else. The best proof of 
the views held at this period was the way in 
which commanding officers of all arms permitted 


the rifles to be filed and burnished, so that, in 
performing rifle exercises, a thousand rifles would 
flash and ring together as smartly as one. An 
officer's military career depended on the interest 
behind him. Without influence only those got 
on who most slavishly performed the wishes of 
their commanders, however cruel or barbarous. 
The national movement towards greater personal 
freedom, initiated by Emperor Alexander I. after 
the Napoleonic wars, had penetrated to the rank 
and file of the army, but had now been replaced 
by an Administration which paralyzed every 
activity or impulse towards initiative throughout 
the country, and acted like a blight on every 
grade of the population, civil as well as mihtary. 
Everyone was, so to speak, dressed in a tunic 
buttoned right up to the chin, and looked as if he 
had " swallowed a poker." The whole country, 
army included, could say nothing but "Very 
good," " Quite so," and " All correct." The 
private soldier was treated with cruelty, and was 
badly fed ; peculation and dishonesty of all kinds 
were rampant. Not only did commanding officers 
largely augment their pay from the money granted 
for the purchase of forage, but this was winked 
at as being only natural. As had always been 
the system, the commands of regiments were 
given to the younger sons of the nobility, to 
enable them to exist, while the favouritism shown 
to the Guards was the curse of the service. Any 


display of initiative by soldiers was punished, 
and the Press was afraid to speak ; a discussion 
in a military paper of questions of dress even 
was considered to be harmful " free-thinking." 
The result was that while we were outdistanced 
in materiel by the armies of Europe, we made no 
progress in moral, despite our large numbers. 
Holding such views as, for instance, that the 
main use of a rifle was to make a pleasant noise 
in the " manual exercise," we naturally did not 
worry about re-armament, and entered upon the 
war of 1854-56 armed with smooth-bore weapons 
against our opponents' rifles. The spirit of our 
fleet, fresh from its victory at Sinope, and having 
such men in command as Lazarefl", NakhimofF, 
Korniloff*, and Istomin, was excellent, and its 
numbers were strong ; but, technically, it was 
even more behind the other fleets of Europe 
than our army was behind the land forces of our 
neighbours, and against our sailing-ships in the 
Black Sea the Aflies brought a fleet of steam- 
vessels. The peace strength of the standing 
army in 1850-60 was more than 1,100,000 men, 
but the greater part of it was stationed in the 
western frontier districts, in the Caucasus, and in 
the large cities. The peace strength of the Allied 
armies amounted to : France, 400,000 ; Great 
Britain, 140,000 ; Turkey, 450,000. Only a por- 
tion of these forces took part in the war, but 
nevertheless Russia was beaten. 


As regards our preparedness in our first cam- 
paign on the Danube, an officer who took part 
writes in his recently pubhshed Memoirs :* 

" The conflict with the West in the Crimean 
War of 1854-56 ought not to have taken us by 
surprise. Rumours of war were prevalent in 
the summer of 1852 ; and, on account of these 
rumours, particular anxiety was felt concerning 
the inefficiency of our transport and military 
equipment generally. Indeed, the late Emperor 
Nicolai-Pavlovitch, at his autumn inspection at 
Elisavetgrad, personally warned the troops of the 
proximity of hostilities. Finally, in June, 1853, 
our troops crossed the Pruth and occupied the 
Danube Principality, and in October Turkey 
declared war. Our brilliant victory and the total 
destruction of the enemy's fleet at Sinope aroused 
the enthusiasm of the whole nation, but gave 
France and great Britain a casus belli against 
us. Then began the long series of sad and 
scandalous disasters to the Russian arms. The 
Danube campaign of 1853-54 could not possibly 
have been successful, for it was carried out with 
no definite object. Either because we did not 
fathom Austria's real intentions, or else believed 
that she would remain neutral, we tried to meet 
her demands, and by so doing tied our own hands. 
Our defence of the left bank of the river was not 
favoured by one single piece of good fortune, and 
our offensive operations were soon abandoned 
under pressure from Austria. The campaign 
brought us neither honour nor gain, and while 
once more confirming the gallantry of the Russian 

* " Memoirs of a Sevastopol Man " (N. S. Maloshevitch, 
1904), chaps, ix., x. 


soldier, it exposed the criminal incapacity of 
his commanders and the many abuses which 
had crept into the Service. In June, 1854, we 
returned with shame and anger to our own 
country from the walls of undefeated Silistria, 
and the Allies turned their glances towards the 

The disembarkation of the allied armies, only 
50,000 strong, seemed madness in face of our force 
of 1,000,000 men and our strong fleet. However, 
Prince MenshikofF, tlie Commander-in-Chief, 
and a professional sailor into the bargain, allowed 
the landing to take place without hindrance at 
Eupatoria on September 14 and 15, though he 
had at his disposal sixty vessels, amongst them 
some steamers. Though the fleet could not, of 
course, have counted with absolute certainty on 
victory, we had it in our power then to wreck 
the enemy's plan of operations by dispersing their 
convoys of transports. The Allies were on the 
sea from September 8 to September 14 between 
Varna and Eupatoria, but we were unable to find 
them. At the Alma we had 33,000 men (42 
battalions, 16 squadrons, 84 guns), and offered 
a determined resistance ; but though we were 
operating in our own country, we did not 
know the locality, and General Boskey, leading 
his column by a path of whose existence we 
were ignorant, fell upon our left flank. This 
attack decided the day, and our troops were 

VOL. I. 2 


routed.* Then on September 26 began the 
eleven months' struggle for Sevastopol. Our 
exhausted fleet landed a number of guns and 
lent some experienced commanders to the army 
— chief of all, NakhimofF, KornilofF, and Istomin. 
Operations now assumed the character of siege 
warfare, in which our troops played their part 
most nobly ; but it must be remembered that the 
army of the Crimea was twice severely beaten : 
on November 5, 1854, at Inkerman, and on 
August 17, 1855, at the Tchernaya. Regarding 
the Battle of Inkerman, the above-quoted writer 

" Prince MenshikofF, with the arrival of the 
remaining two divisions of the 4th Infantry 
Corps, had, in addition to the Sevastopol garrison, 
an army of 40,000 men under him, but he lost the 
great battle of Inkerman on November 5, 1854. 
Its object was to seize Sapun Ridge, as a first step 
to raising the siege of the town, after which he 
would have driven the Allies towards Balaclava 
and then out of the Crimea. The battle was 
well planned, every arrangement was made to 
insure victory, but the result was, owing to the 
incomprehensible mistakes of individual com- 
manders, a bloody and decisive defeat. 

TS" ^ TP ^ 

" Ten thousand casualties, a loss of moral 
among the troops — the soldiers' lack of confidence 

* In this fight our weapons had a range of 300 to 450 
yards, as compared with the enemy's (Minie) rifle, which 
had a range of 1,200 yards. Our Rifle battalions, of which 
we had one per army corps, were alone armed with rifles. 


in their leaders, as well as Prince INIenshikofF's 
distrust of the army under his command — were 
the results of this disaster which for so long 
doomed our force to play a passive role. The 
ultimate issue of the Crimean campaign was 
really settled by this ; the moment for the relief 
of Sevastopol had been missed, and our field 
operations lost every trace of initiative. A moral 
deterioration set in which led to unheard-of 
irregularities in our army." 

MenshikofFwas replaced by Prince GorchakofF, 
but things became no better. The troops at the 
Alma* were commanded just as they had been 
at Inkerman. While individual commanders 
did not help one another, the attack delivered 
from Sevastopol did not support the operations 
on the Alma. On September 8 the Allies de- 
livered an assault, and seized MalakhofF Hill. 
Though they were driven back with great loss 
from other portions of the position, we were 
compelled to withdraw from the northern side 
during the night of the 10th. This retirement 
was decisive, and peace was declared — a peace 
dishonourable to us, for by it we were deprived 
of the right to maintain a fleet on the Black Sea, 
and lost the mouths of the Danube. This result 
was all the more painful as the Allies were 
inferior to us in strength, and, had we been 
determined to continue the war at all costs, 
would have been obliged to make up their 

* [? Tchernaya.— Ed.] 



minds to conquer the Peninsula. Even had 
they succeeded in taking it, we ought, re- 
membering Peter the Great's counsel in the 
Northern War, and Alexander I.'s example in 
the war of the Fatherland, to have continued 
the struggle. 

Our weak points were the incapacity of our 
seniors and of our staff, and particularly the 
inefficiency of the supply services. Of the 
different arms, the infantry, artillery, and sappers 
were the most reliable, while the cavalry, despite 
its numbers, played a small and inglorious part. 
It was very difficult to maintam communication 
with our own country in the rear, especially in 
the winter, when the roads were bad. The 
transport of supplies to the front encountered 
such great obstacles, and was so badly arranged, 
that the troops had not only to undergo great 
hardships, but were often in actual want of food. 
The medical services also were shockingly 
organized. Drunkenness and gambling amongst 
both officers and men, especially at a distance 
from the advanced positions, were of everyday 
occurrence, and looting and robbery of every 
kind became universal. But this was the seamy 
side of affairs, and did not imply that the whole 
army or the whole nation were rotten, for, 
despite all the mistakes of our commanders, the 
men kept up their spirit, and were quite ready to 
fight on until victory should eventually crown 


their efforts. The war produced Nakhimoff, 
KornilofF, and Istomin, who met heroic deaths, 
whilst amongst the survivors stood out the names 
of Khruleff, Todleben, Sabashinski, and others. 
Of the regimental commanders, most proved in 
every way fitted for their duties, and many 
junior officers of all arms became seasoned 
veterans whom the private soldiers would follow 
anywhere. The men were patient, enduring, 
brave, and ignorant. 

The finances of the country, moreover, were 
not crippled by this war. Throughout the 
operations only two loans were raised, amounting 
to £10,000,000; £43,000,000 of paper-money 
were issued, and £19,000,000 taken in State 
banks. Altogether the war cost us £72,000,000. 
Even in 1856 general belief in our power and 
resources was not shaken, and our credit stood 
high, in spite of our disasters in the field. We, 
therefore, could and ought to have continued 
the struggle. If we had done so, the AlHes 
would, as I have said, have been obliged to 
undertake the conquest of the Crimea. In pro- 
portion as they advanced from the coast their 
difficulties would have increased, while our army, 
gaining numbers and experience, would have 
become more and more formidable, and would in 
the end have hurled them back into the sea. 
In his notes on the war our historian, SoloviefF 
wrote as follows : 


" At the time of the accession of the new 
Emperor, the minds of all were full of the 
painful ending of the Crimean War. Alex- 
ander II. was forced to begin his reign with the 
conclusion of a peace such as no Russian Emperor 
had accepted since the peace after the Pruth, 
and the new Emperor felt to the full the weight 
of the burden imposed upon him. Foreign 
affairs were by no means in so critical a state 
that an energetic ruler could not have emerged 
from the war without loss of dignity or material 
advantages. In the interior of Russia there was 
no exhaustion ; the nation was by no means 
driven to extremities. The new Tsar, whom 
everyone desired to love, could undoubtedly, if 
he had appealed to this feeling and to the national 
patriotism, have aroused a tremendous enthusiasm 
which would have supported any action he chose 
to take. The Allies not only felt the burden of 
the war, but were desperately anxious for its 
close, and a firm announcement by the Tsar to 
the effect that he intended to continue fighting 
until an honourable peace was concluded would 
undoubtedly have compelled them to fall back. 

"... But for this course of action, breadth of 
view, daring, capability, and energy were necessary 
— qualities which the new Emperor did not 
possess. It would even have been sufficient if 
he had had round him advisers who would have 
lent him some support, but there was not a man 
of any moral or intellectual strength in his 
entourage. He was surrounded by those who, 
haunted by tlie groundless fear of having to fight 
the whole of Europe, had been partly responsible 
for Nicholas's retreat. The only voices to be 
heard now were those that cried : ' Peace I peace 


at any price !' And so, after the fall of Sevas- 
topol, peace was concluded at a moment when 
that place might have played the same role as 
Moscow did in 1812. After the sacrifice of the 
fortress we should have announced that, far from 
being over, operations were only just beginning ! 
With the Allies would have then remained the 
onus of finishing the war." 

Dissatisfaction with the results of the campaign 
was universal, and penetrated all grades of 
society. The root of the evil was seen to lie in 
our serfdom, so the Tsar Alexander II., the 
most humane of men, himself headed a movement 
for the emancipation of the serfs. They received 
their freedom. This event was of extraordinary 
importance, constituting, in truth, an epoch in 
Russian life, which affected all spheres of activity, 
not excluding that of the War Department. A 
new language was heard on all sides. Indeed, it is 
difficult now to realize the animated, convincing, 
and liberal tone of the articles which appeared in 
the Voenni Sbornik. But, alas ! everything soon 
returned to its former state. The Polish rebellion 
of 1863, the attempt to assassinate the Tsar, and 
the open conspiracies of a few evil-minded people, 
served as a pretext for the adherents of the old 
regime to strive for the reduction of the rights 
that had been granted. Their efforts were 
crowned with success, and a reaction set in which 
was particularly violent as regards educational 
and agrarian affairs. The War Department, 

24 THE WAR OF 1877-78 

however, was under the enUghtened guidance of 
General Milutin, who, as far as possible, reduced 
the effect of this reaction upon the army ; the 
department, indeed, was on this account for 
some time looked upon with suspicion. Though 
the Crimean War did arouse to some extent the 
latent patriotism of the masses, it was waged at 
too great a distance from the heart of the people 
to have earned the title of a national struggle. 

It is unthinkable that any great nation could 
ever have become reconciled to the terms of 
such a peace as that signed by Russia in 1856, 
when she engaged to abstain from maintaining 
a fleet in the Black Sea, and to give up the 
mouths of the Danube, won by her in 1828-29. 
How^ever involved, therefore, its causes may 
appear, the war of 1877-78 was in reality but 
a continuation of our two -hundred -year- old 
struggle tow^ards the Black Sea, on this occasion 
complicated by the necessity of assisting our 
kindred in the Balkans — the Servians and Bul- 
garians. Though we did not make the most 
of our opportunities, the time for preparation 
allowed us by the Turko-Servian War really 
decided the issue of that between ourselves and 
Turkey. It is true we mobilized and concen- 
trated the army in Bessarabia before the de- 
claration of war, but we delayed so long in 
making this declaration that the Turks also had 
time for preparation. The severe reverses w^e 


suffered after our initial successes showed that 
our opponents, who were now armed with the 
breech -loading rifle and organized on the Euro- 
pean model, were no longer the foe that we had 
faced in 1828, whose mobs of armed men were 
easily routed by small bodies of our troops. As 
usual, we put too few men in the field at first ; 
but the Emperor, upon the advice of General 
Milutin, pressed masses of reinforcements to 
the front, among them the Guards and the 
Grenadiers, the flower of our army. Our com- 
paratively short Une of communication enabled 
this to be done with considerable rapidity. It 
was at Ple\Tia, in August, 1877, that we suffered 
our last heavy reverse, and by October the 
Guards and Grenadiers had arrived at the front. 
Including the Roumanian, Servian, Monte- 
negrin, and Bulgarian militias, we succeeded in 
placing superior numbers in the field, our armies 
amounting altogether to some 850,000 men in 
both theatres of operations, and in spite of the 
enemy's gallant opposition, we advanced up to 
the very walls of their capital. But it was not 
a lightly-won victory. To break down the 
stubborn defence of the Turks, who were ably 
commanded at Plevna, we were forced to put 
thrice their number into the field. Dubniak 
Hill, which was very weakly fortified, was only 
taken by the Guards, who were five or six times 
as strong as the enemy at that particular point, 


after a desperate fight. Though their earth- 
works were mostly of field profile, and without 
any obstacles, such as wire entanglement, mines, 
and abatis ; though the defenders had no bomb- 
proof shelters ; and though we were three to one 
in men, and put many more guns in action, we 
were unable to seize Plevna by assault, but had 
to resort to a blockade. Our Commander-in- 
Chief, however, was ably supported on the 
European side by such distinguished leaders as 
Gurko, SkobelefF, Radetski, and Todleben, 
whose troops soon became seasoned, and brought 
victory to our arms. In the theatre of operations 
in Asia the Grand-Duke Michael NicolaefF was 
assisted by LazarefF, Heyman, Ter-Gukasoff — all 
energetic and able soldiers. Under them our 
Caucasian force did gallant service. While the 
force under Kridner and Zotovi was being 
driven back from the weak Plevna position, 
they were engaged in night assaults on the 
fortress of Kars. The defence of the Shipka 
Pass and of Bayazet, on the Turkish side, are 
among the most brilliant achievements in our 
military history. 

This war again showed up many blots in our 
organization. The supply and medical services 
were very inefficient. The work of the cavalry 
and artillery on the European side was not up 
to expectation. The whole burden of the cam- 
paign was borne by the infantry, and right well 


did this Arm issue from the ordeal. In some 
engagements units lost as much as one-third or 
even half their strength, and yet were able to 
re-form and continue the action. Nor was there 
anything to complain of as regards the reservists. 
Their long halt at KishinefF enabled them to 
shake down and to amalgamate with the serving 
soldiers. Certain units, however, just brought 
up to strength with reservists, and sent into 
action before they had had time to be properly 
trained and disciplined, were not on every occasion 
as steady as they should have been ; but, gener- 
ally speaking, our troops upheld their reputation 
for gallantry, steadiness, endurance, and dis- 
cipline. But we were stronger in defence than 
in the attack. Although this campaign — our 
first experience after the introduction of the law 
of universal military service — ended successfully, 
it emphasized the inferiority of our arrangements 
for rapid mobilization and concentration as com- 
pared with those of our western neighbours. 
The men were called up upon no regular 
mobilization scheme or system, and the reserve 
units were formed haphazard, and, owing to the 
inefficiency of the railways running to Roumania, 
the general concentration was slow. Our in- 
formation about the enemy was insufficient and 
unreliable — it was due to our ignorance of 
their strength that we took the field with such 
weak numbers. Our re-armament was not com- 


pleted owing to lack of funds, and we started 
operations with three different patterns of rifle. 
We did not have enough maps, and the recon- 
naissance sketches which had been made — of the 
Shipka position, for instance — were left behind 
in St. Petersburg. Our artillery materiel was 
technically inferior to the enemy's, our 4-pounder 
gun in particular being useless. The engineer 
services and stores were insufficient, and their 
distribution was bad. Thus, in the fights at 
Plevna on September 12 and 13, when Skobeleff 
and Imeretinski led the main attack on the 
enemy's fortified position, with an army corps 
consisting of twenty-two battalions, there was 
only a detachment of some thirty sappers, which 
I myself had by chance been able to collect ! 
Siege material was not forthcoming in sufficient 
quantity, and what there was was of obsolete 
pattern. I have touched upon the cavalry duties 
on the European side, which were, with few 
exceptions, unsatisfactorily and selfishly per- 
formed throughout the war. The work of the 
artillery, which on the Caucasian side was 
splendid and self-sacrificing, in Europe often 
left much to be desired. There were instances 
of batteries retiring because a few men had been 
wounded. Many of the most senior commanders 
were unfit foi* their positions, and capable artillery 
or cavalry leaders were few and far between. 
The staff work, particularly that of the General 


Staff, was seldom good. There was far too 
much correspondence before a battle, while to 
report the most important events, or to inform 
subordinates of what was happening, was a duty 
frequently forgotten in the stress of action. 
During the actual combat touch was not pro- 
perly maintained either laterally or to the rear, 
and as a result there was little co-operation 
between the different arms, the brunt of the 
fight being thrown almost entirely on the 
infantry. The light railway communication 
(via Roumania) was inadequate in capacity and 
badly organized. There were no rest-camps 
along the line, and in winter, when the roads 
were cut up, the transport of every kind of 
supplies was almost impossible. The attitude of 
our troops in Bulgaria towards the inhabitants 
was not always humane or just. Payment for 
produce brought in was made irregularly, or not 
at all, owing to the improper system whereby 
forage allowance was treated as the perquisite of 
a commanding officer. Away from the front 
disorder and debauchery were common. Owing 
to our hurried advance in insufficient strength, 
we were obliged to evacuate areas of the country 
once occupied, and the people who had at first 
received us with open arms as liberators were 
forced either to retire with us or be slain by the 
returning Turks. Consequently, for a time there 
was a general revulsion of feeling ; the Bui- 


garians lost all faith in us, and began to turn 
towards the enemy. Up to a certain point it 
was the Crimea over again. Strong in defence, 
we were weak in power of manoeuvre, and our 
attacks consequently suffered from clumsiness : 
this was notably the case at Plevna. On the 
other hand, there is no doubt that we were 
greatly assisted by the comparative unreadiness 
of the Turks for any offensive operations ; other- 
wise our cordon in Bulgaria might have easily 
been broken in August or September, before 
reinforcements reached us. We should then 
have been obliged to fall back behind the 
Danube. Only the jealousy and incompetence 
of the Turkish leaders, and the interference from 
Constantinople, saved us from misfortune. In 
spite, however, of all our want of organization, 
in spite of all our shortcomings, we defeated the 
Turks, capturing whole army corps at Plevna, 
Shipka, and Kars, and finally marched victori- 
ously to the walls of Constantinople itself. 

This was the last great war in which we were 
engaged in the nineteenth century, and imme- 
diately after it, in 1879, our military self-esteem 
received a severe blow in Central Asia. Re- 
peated raiding by the Turcomans, carried out 
even in the neighbourhood of Krasnovodsk, 
necessitated a special expedition into the Turco- 
man Steppe. The experienced and veteran 
leader. General Lazareff, was appointed to its 


command, but at his death, on the eve of the 
departure of the force from the Mne of the Artek 
towards Geok Tepe, the command unfortunately 
passed to the next senior — General Lomakin — 
who was quite unfitted for such responsibility. 
The expedition ended in disaster. The force 
reached Geok Tepe, the weakly fortified Turco- 
man stronghold, and made an attempt to storm 
it which was unsuccessful, though our troops 
consisted of the magnificent Caucasian regiments. 
We were forced to abandon several hundred 
breech-loading rifles, and to retire with great loss 
to the fortified posts on the line of the Artek. We 
had to make greater efforts, and had to organize 
quite a large force — measured by the standard of 
Asiatic warfare. General SkobelefF, an espe- 
cially able and energetic man, was given the 
command of it, and after a severe fight he de- 
feated the Turcomans and seized Geok Tepe. 
We twice met with reverses in the different night 
attacks made by the enemy, being overwhelmed 
by sheer numbers after desperate hand-to-hand 
fighting ; we lost three guns and the standard of 
one of the most distinguished of our Caucasian 
regiments.* But Skobeleff succeeded in instil- 
ling into the minds of all that, whatever the loss 

* Only fourteen men were left of the company in whose 
advanced trench the standard was. The officer command- 
ing the battalion, the company commander, and company 
subaltern, were all killed. 


or sufferings, they should continue to fight to the 
bitter end. So we won. This expedition showed, 
however, that the time had passed when columns 
composed of a few companies, like those under 
the command of Generals CherniaefF and Kauf- 
mann, could defeat greatly superior numbers of 
natives. Besides being very brave, the Turco- 
mans were armed with captured Berdan rifles, 
with which they managed to inflict severe loss 
upon us. Of the small force of under 5,00G 
which attacked Geok Tepe, we lost about 1,000 
in killed and wounded. The very last action in 
which our troops took part in the nineteenth 
century was the affair at Kushk in 1885,* when 
a small Russian force defeated the Afghans at 
the expense of forty-three men. 

The result of the Turkish War of 1877-78 was 
that we regained the mouths of the Danube, and 
obtained possession of Batoum and Kars. In 
our contests with Turkey in the nineteenth cen- 
tury our primary object was the freeing of the 
various Balkan nationalities still subject to 
Turkey. But this question touched too closely 
the interests of the other nations of Europe, who 
opposed us, by force at Sevastopol, and diplo- 
matically at the Berlin Congress. The lack of 
simplicity in our aims also militated against our 
success, for in our anxiety over the fate of the 

* [An affair of outposts on the Afghan frontier, which 
caused a considerable stir at the time. — Ed.] 


minor nationalities we lost sight of our own 
material interests. Consequently, the results 
attained in this century on the Black Sea did not 
on the whole correspond to the sacrifices we 
made. In the three wars with Turkey we put 
1,700,000 men into the field (bringing the strength 
of the army up to 850,000 men in 1878), and 
lost in killed, wounded, and missing 126,000 ; 
sick, 243,000 ; a total of 369,000. If we take 
into account that we put 1,300,000 men into the 
field during the Crimean War, and that our 
casualties in killed, wounded, and missing were 
120,000, and in sick 220,000, it appears that the 
acquisition of the Black Sea littoral, the mouths 
of the Danube, and the right to maintain a war 
fleet on the Black Sea, cost us 3,000,000 men put 
into the field, a loss in battle of 250,000, and 
460,000 invalided. Yet, in spite of all these 
sacrifices, the gateway out of the Black Sea 
remained closed to us and open to our possible 
foes. In 1878 we were virtually in possession of 
this gateway, but now it is guarded against us 
not only by the Turks, but by the Germans. The 
task of preserving our position on the INIediter- 
ranean from the Black Sea has passed to the 
twentieth century. 

To obtain possession of the Caucasus we had 
to fight twice with Persia in the nineteenth 
century, and were at war for sixty-two years 
with the mountaineers of the Caucasus. Before 

VOL. I. 3 


arriving at our present frontier in Central Asia 
we had been making expeditions for thirty years. 
Our operations both in the Caucasus and in 
Central Asia were productive of many gallant 
feats. Though in the former we crossed swords 
with a particularly brave opponent, and had to 
contend against extraordinary natural difficulties, 
we were in greatly superior numbers and far 
better organized than the enemy, and from a 
purely military point of view the contest did not 
present at all the same difficulties as the wars 
against the Turks. During our operations in 
Central Asia, from 1847 to 1881, we never had 
more than 15,000 men in the field at one time. 
The total number sent out was some 55,000, of 
whom we did not lose as many as 5,000 killed 
and wounded, and 8,000 sick. Our work in 
these two directions can be said to have been 
completed in the nineteenth century, for, as \vill 
be shown later, not only is no realignment of our 
present frontier necessary, but no change is pos- 
sible without risking serious conflicts with Turkey, 
Persia, Afghanistan, and, probably, Great Britain. 
But the character of the Caucasian and Central 
Asian peoples will demand constant watchfulness 
and a strong hand in order to prevent racial and 
rehgious risings. 

In spite of the small force maintained in 
Siberia, we considerably altered our frontier Hne 
in the east during the nineteenth century, and 


in the twentieth century we must be careful to 
preserve the peaceful relations which have lasted 
for 200 years between the Chinese and our- 

During that period we lost our possessions in 
America by making them over to the United 
States for a small sum of money. We also prac- 
tically forced the Japanese to give us the southern 
portion of Saghalien in exchange for the Island 
of Kurile, and annexed Kamchatka, the Amur 
and Ussuri districts, and finally the Kuan-tung 
Peninsula. The Ussuri district was awarded to 
us by the Peking Treaty of 1860, more or less as 
a reward for the assistance we gave China in the 
drafting of the Peking Treaty with the French 
and British after their capture of Peking. Simi- 
larly, our movement in Manchuria was, so to 
speak, a quid pro quo for our mediation and 
intercession on China's behalf after her unsuc- 
cessful war with Japan. Thus, while our ad- 
vance to the Baltic and Black Seas cost two 
centuries of Avork by the army and many lives, 
we were able to reach the Pacific seaboard in 
1897 without any bloodshed. But the success 
so easily gained was pregnant with the seeds of 

During the last two centuries the expansion of 
the Empire implied a gradual realignment of all 
our frontiers, except on the greater part of that 
between us and China, which, from the valley of 



the Katuna to the mouth of the Schilka, remained 
unchanged for 200 years. The western frontier 
had moved from a distance of 300 miles from 
Moscow in 1700 to one of 670 miles. In the 
north-west and south we had reached natural 
boundaries in the Baltic and Black Seas. 
In the same period we had pushed forward our 
confines a considerable distance from the 
Caucasus and in Central Asia. The following 
figures show us roughly what the two main 
struggles, between the years 1700 and 1900, have 
cost us in men : In our efforts to reach the Black 
Sea we lost 750,000 out of 3,200,000* men put in 
the field against Turkey, while the conflict with 
Sweden for an approach to the Baltic cost us 
700,000 out of the 1,800,000 combatants em- 
ployed. This is sufficient to convey some idea 
of what sacrifices we must expect from our army 
in any attempt on our part to reach the shores 
of the Pacific and Indian Oceans during the 
present century. Moreover, the growth of our 
territory has forced us to include within it many 
and different foreign and even hostile races, and 
our frontier is to-day (1900),f from a military 
point of view, therefore less soundly established 
than it was in 1700. Though the population of 

* [In the eighteenth century, 1,500,000 ; in the nine- 
teenth century, 1,700,000.— Ed.] 

t [This is apparently extracted from General Kuro- 
patkin's report of 1900. — Ed.] 


the Empire has increased from 12,000,000 to 
130,000,000, it must be remembered that we 
have now on and within our borders more than 
40,000,000 who are only partly connected to us 
by racial ties, but are more or less alien both by 
religion and by their historical past. 

Within the same period peace reigned in Russia 
for 71 f years. During the remaining 128|- years 
there were thirty-three foreign and two internal 
wars, which can be classified, according to the 
political objects for which they were fought, in 
the following order : 

1. For the expansion of the Empire — twenty- 
two wars, lasting about 101 years. 

2. In defence of the Empire — four wars, 
lasting 4J- years. 

3. In the interests of general European poli- 
tics — seven wars and two campaigns, taking 
10 years. 

4. Civil wars — two wars, lasting 65 years. 

5. For the suppression of revolts — 6 years of 
military operations. 

These conflicts exposed to the horrors of war 
some 10,000,000 of people, of whom about one- 
third were lost to the nation, nearly 1,000,000 
being killed and wounded. 

The gradual change in the war establishment 
of the army (excluding militia, second hne 
troops, and reserve) can be traced from the 
following figures : 


In 1700, with a population of 12,000,000, we 
had a war strength of 56,000 men — i.e., 0*47 per 
cent, of the population. In 1800, with a population 
of 35,000,000, we had a war strength of 400,000 
— i.e., 1*14 per cent. In 1900, with a population 
of 132,000,000, we had 1,000,000— 2.^., 075 per 
cent. It must, however, be noted that the army 
had only just been formed in 1700, and that 
very shortly afterwards its war strength rose to 
150,000 — i.e., 1*3 per cent. Thus, notwithstand- 
ing the introduction of a new system of recruit- 
ing our forces (the law of universal military 
service), and their gradual growth, the propor- 
tionate burden imposed upon the nation in keep- 
ing the ranks filled was at the beginning of the 
twentieth century about one-half of what it had 
been 100 and 200 years before. This is all the 
more remarkable, as in 1700 and 1710 the army 
had not been properly developed, and was con- 
siderably below its strength in 1800, owing to 
the reforms of the Emperor Paul Petrovitch. 
The great difference between the peace and war 
establishments first arose in 1855, on account 
of the Crimean War, but it became permanent 
upon the introduction of universal military 

As regards the work that would probably fall 
to the Russian armed forces in the twentieth 
century, I wrote the following in a report I made, 
as War Minister in 1901 : 


" With the limitations of human understand- 
ing, it is not possible to look ahead a hundred 
years, and we cannot, therefore, lay down what 
our army will have to undertake in the twentieth 
century ; but by analyzing the past and review- 
ing our present position among the great Powers 
of the world, it is both possible and essential 
to estimate the nature of the work that will 
come before our army in the next few years at 
least. In the last two centuries Russia's main 
work was connected with the expansion of the 
Empire. From this it seems that the matter of 
our frontiers is still the most urgent. It is, 
therefore, important to answer the following 
vital questions : Are we content with our present 
frontier ? If not, where and why are we not ? 
This is a matter which must not be considered 
only from our own point of view. If we are 
content with our position, and are not anxious to 
advance or retire our frontier, it is certainly im- 
probable that we shall undertake any wars of 
aggression in the twentieth century ; but in 
arriving, by great efforts and the immense sacri- 
fices of 200 years, at a position satisfactory to 
ourselves, we have, perhaps, so placed our neigh- 
bours that it may be their object in the coming 
century to regain the territory of which they 
have been deprived. If so, the danger of war 
will not have been removed ; it will have been 
changed in nature from that of an offensive to a 
defensive struggle." 


Russia'^s frontiers in Europe and Asia — Conclusions as to 
their suitability to the needs of the Empire. 

The second chapter of a report, made in 1900, 
when I was Minister for War, contained a 
strategical review of our frontiers. The general 
conclusions arrived at may be summarized as 
follows : 

1. Swedish Frontier* — This is 1,000 miles 
long, and traverses a rugged, inaccessible, and 
sparsely populated country. Starting from the 
extreme northern point of the Gulf of Bothnia, 
and running due north, it acts as a sharply 
defined ethnographical line between the Scan- 
dinavians on the west and the Finns on the 
east. The southern portion quite corresponds 
to our requirements, but the northern is too 
artificially drawn, and is disadvantageous to us, 
as it cuts Finland off from the Arctic Ocean, 
and gives all the coast to Norway. AVe would 

* The frontiers with Norway and Sweden were settled 
by the Treaty of Friederichsham in 1809, and the 
St. Petersburg Convention of 1826. 



naturally like to see a realignment of this portion, 
but the advantages to be gained are too insigni- 
ficant to warrant our quarrelling about them. 
Still, the situation on this section of our border 
cannot be considered to be all that is to be 

It has been shown in the preceding chapter 
what efforts and sacrifices have been made by 
Russia in order to gain access to the Baltic Sea 
and the Gulfs of Finland and Bothnia. We had 
to fight four wars with Sweden, and put 
1,800,000 men into the field, and only won at 
last after losing some 130,000 men in killed and 
wounded. The main factor in our success was 
the influence on events exercised by Peter the 
Great, for it was his victory at Poltava which 
opened the way for us. At the beginning of the 
eighteenth century the Viborg province was, to 
a certain extent. Russianized : Russian villages 
and churches were to be found in it, and our 
language was the predominant tongue. In 1809, 
by the peaceful Treaty of Friederichsham, 
Finland passed for ever into the Empire. All 
that then remained to be done was to take 
advantage of our victories, and quietly but firmly 
incorporate the conquered province with the rest 
of Russia. But we did not do this. Being fully 
occupied elsewhere — in fortifying our foothold 
on the Black and Caspian Seas, in advancing 
towards the Pacific, in a long struggle in the 


Caucasus, in wars with Poland and in Central 
Asia — we paid little attention to what was going 
on in Finland, and rested content with the out- 
ward peacefulness, order, and submission of its 
people. The Finns took advantage of this, and 
from 1810 to 1890 unceasingly worked against 
us, hoping always to succeed in obtaining com- 
plete autonomy. In 1811 the Viborg province, 
won by us at so great a cost, was again made 
over to them, though they have not to this day 
completely obliterated in it all traces of Russian 
citizenship. Then, with the assistance of certain 
of our statesmen, we learned by degrees to forget 
that Finland had ever really been an integral 
portion of our Empire ; we were gradually taught 
to feel that she ought to be administered accord- 
ing to the Swedish Constitution of 1772, and, 
finally, that she was not really a Russian pro- 
vince, but an autonomous State. In 1880 the 
law of universal military service was enacted. 
This gave Finland a national army — not a large 
one, it is true, but one which, by a well-thought- 
out system of reserves, enabled her to put in 
the field an armed force of 100,000 men near the 
Russian capital. Thus the Finns, without 
shedding a drop of blood, but by working 
cautiously, continuously, and systematically for 
eighty years, have succeeded in again shutting us 
out from the Gulfs of Finland and Bothnia, and 
have, to a great extent, robbed us of the fruits of 


our victories. Therefore, as the kingdom* of Nor- 
way and Sweden is weak, and as Finland, which 
stretches almost to the walls of the Russian 
capital, and screens not only it, but the whole of 
Northern Russia, is of immense importance to 
us, we ought, instead of planning any rectifica- 
tion of the Swedish frontier, to think how best 
to remove the causes of friction between the two 
countries. Sweden could only hope to take 
Finland from us if the Finns' dream of inde- 
pendence came true ; she could only risk opera- 
tions against us in that country if the inhabitants 
joined her or were at least sympathetic. Conse- 
quently, to insure our safety on that frontier, it is 
our duty to smooth the way as much as possible 
for the early unification of Finland and Russia. 
The following is a quotation from my report : 

" However just our claims to the possession of 
Finland may be, it must be acknowledged that 
our mistaken policy with regard to her, lasting 
for eighty years, cannot be rectified all at once. 
Hasty action in dealing with matters which touch 
the domestic life of a people can only irritate and 
intensify difficulties. A firm and, at the same 
time, cautious attitude, extending, perhaps, over 
many years, is essential in order that we may be 
able in the end to take our proper place on the 
shores of the Gulfs of Bothnia and Finland. 
We must be particularly careful how we intro- 
duce any change into the people's mode of life, 
and must frankly admit that Finland has reached 

* [Written before the partition. — Ed.] 


a more advanced state of civilization than many 
of our provinces, although this has been done 
mainly at the expense of the Russian people. We 
should respect Finnish culture, in the hope that 
when Finland is united to us it will assist and 
not harm us." 

2. Westeim Frontier. — From Cape Polangen 
on the Baltic Coast to the mouth of the Danube 
in the Black Sea Russia marches for 738 miles 
with Germany, 761 with Austro-Hungary, and 
467 with Roumania. 

The northern and southern extremities of this 
frontier line are fairly straight. In the middle, 
from Raigrod to Litomerj, it runs due west, and 
bending round, continues for 390 miles to 
Myslowitz, along the southern and eastern 
frontiers of Germany, and thence for 213 miles 
along the northern frontiers of Austro-Hungary. 
It juts out into these States, forming our Warsaw 
INIilitary District, important both by its position 
and its strategic significance. This area, formerly 
the kingdom of Poland, was joined to Russia by 
the Treaty of Vienna in 1815. By holding this 
area we can envelop the southern frontier of 
Eastern Prussia and the northern frontier of 
Galicia. Operating from this theatre, we can cut 
off those provinces from their neighbours by 
advancing towards the Baltic Sea on the north, 
or the difficult Carpathian range on the south. 
On the other hand, the district is itself liable to 


be cut off by offensive movements from north 
and south, directed on the fortress of Brest- 
Litovsk. Its position, therefore, makes it of 
decided importance. Were we more ready for 
war than our neighbours, it might constitute a 
source of strength to us. If, on the other hand, 
Germany and Austria together are able to 
throw greater numbers into the field, and can 
concentrate more rapidly than we can, it will 
merely be a weak spot. 

The German frontier, 738 miles in length, 
follows no natural feature. Beyond it lies our 
nearest neighbour — a nation with whom we have 
been in close social and economic relationship 
ever since we got into touch with European life. 
At the present time (1900) five separate lines of 
railway connect different parts of Russia with 
Germany's Baltic ports and with Berlin ; our 
annual trade with her amounts to £32,200,000 
(the average of the five years from 1893 to 
1897), or, in other words, to 26*5 per cent, of 
all our foreign trade. The yearly exports (five- 
years average) amount to £16,400,000, or 25*1 
per cent, of all our exports ; the imports to 
£15,800,000 (28-6 per cent, of our imports). 
In 1897 alone our German exports totalled 
£17,520,000, and our imports £17,980,000. 
Thus the economic connection between the 
two countries is very close. Our interests are 
reciprocal, and, consequently, economic reasons 


alone necessitate a preservation on our part of 
the present friendly relations. But it is of no 
use disguising the fact that the part played by 
the German Government at the Berlin Con- 
gress gave us reason to change a policy which 
had always been favourable to Germany, and her 
entry into the Triple Alliance, which was directed 
against us, was the origin of our rapprochement 
with France. The whole of the frontier is artificial, 
and quite exposed to invasion from either side. 
From the Baltic to Filippovo it acts as an ethno- 
graphical dividing-line between the Lithuanian 
races in the east and the Germans, German Lithu- 
anians, and Poles on the west, and separates our 
Poles from the German Poles. Though there 
exists no obvious natural boundary between us 
and Germany, the racial one has the same effect 
as a natural boundary. By a systematic policy 
Germany has succeeded in so Teutonizing the one 
Slav country of Eastern Prussia that it now con- 
stitutes one of the most loyal provinces of the 
House of Hohenzollern. The same policy, with 
less successful results, however, is being applied 
to Posen. On our side we are making great 
efforts to colonize the Warsaw Military District 
and the north-western countries bordering on 
Germany, so as to bind them closer to us. If 
we have not been so successful in our efforts 
as our neighbours, it is mainly due to the back- 
ward state of our civilization. Our vacillations, 


also, as to the best policy whereby to attain the 
desired result are responsible for the slow pro- 
gress made. 

By the expenditure of vast sums of money, 
Germany has made ready in the most compre- 
hensive sense to march rapidly across our borders 
with an army of 1,000,000 men. She has seven- 
teen lines of railway (twenty-three tracks) leading 
to our frontiers, which would enable her to send 
to the front more than 500 troop-trains daily. 
She can concentrate the greater part of her 
armed forces (fourteen to sixteen army corps) on 
our frontier within a few days of the declaration 
of war ; while, apart from this question of speedy 
mobihzation, she has at her command far greater 
technical resources, such as light railways, artillery, 
ordnance, and engineering stores, particularly for 
telegi'aphs, mobile siege-parks, etc., than we have. 
She has also made most careful preparation for 
a determined defence of her own border provinces, 
especially those of Eastern Prussia. The first- 
class fortresses of Thorn, Konigsberg, and Posen 
are improved yearly, entrenched camps are built 
at the most important junctions, and material 
lies ready stacked for the rapid semi-permanent 
fortification of field positions. 

The crossing-places on the Vistula have been 
placed in a state of defence, as have also the 
various towns and large villages. The whole 
population, indeed, is making ready for a national 


struggle. Since the Crimean War we also have 
worked hard to prepare the Vilna and Warsaw 
areas for hostilities ; but as Germany has done 
considerably more in thirty years than we have 
in fifty, she has outdistanced us. Her principal 
and most overwhelming superiority lies in her 
railways ; to her seventeen lines running to our 
frontier we can only oppose five. This advantage 
is overwhelming, and gives to her and Austria 
a superiority which can be counterbalanced 
neither by large numbers nor bravery. The 
fact remains that Germany, by spending milliards 
— part of which were supplied by the war in- 
demnity of 1871 — has prepared for hostilities, 
both in the shape of an energetic offensive and 
also a determined defensive. If a war should 
happen to go against us, she might attempt to 
annex the whole of the Warsaw Military Dis- 
trict, or even part of the Vilna District (on the 
left bank of the Dwina), for the peoples of these 
countries might considerably augment her mili- 
tary strength. On the other hand, those who 
analyze the possible consequences of such a 
war cannot see what advantage Germany would 
derive from such expansion. It is incredible 
that 100,000,000 Russians would ever become 
reconciled to the loss of territory which is bound 
to the Fatherland by historical ties, and which 
has cost so much Russian blood. Such thinkers 
are convinced, on the contrary, that we should 


concentrate ourselves on winning it back at the 
very first chance. If we were better prepared 
for war, or in a case where Germany's main 
forces were diverted in another direction, the 
Warsaw Mihtary District would constitute a 
place cCarmeSy cutting deep in between her and 
Austria, whence we might, with equal ease, 
advance rapidly on either Berhn or Vienna. 
The former is 200 and the latter 213 miles from 
our frontier ; St. Petersburg and Moscow are 
533 and 733 miles respectively from the German, 
and 900 and 800 from the Austrian, fi'ontier. If, 
however, we were successful in such a campaign, 
and sought to expand the Empire further, mili- 
tary considerations would point to the annexa- 
tion of the whole of Eastern Prussia up to the 
Vistula. Astride this river, with possession of 
both its banks and of its mouths and of the River 
Niemen, we should hold a very commanding 
position as regards Germany, and should have 
considerably improved our military frontier. 
But these advantages of position would be more 
than outweighed by the many disadvantages 
attending such an increase of territory. There 
would arise for us a question of lost provinces 
comparable to that of Alsace-Lorraine ; but it 
would be of a more acute nature, for the 
German nation would always be watching for 
an opportunity to regain — by war if necessary — 
territory with which the ruHng dynasty was so 

VOL. I. 4 


intimately connected. It may be assumed, there- 
fore — 

That, taking the armed forces of both nations 
as they exist to-day, and making allowance for 
their comparative readiness, an invasion of our 
territory by German armies is more probable 
than a Russian invasion of Germany ; 

That an invading German army would meet 
with fewer difficulties than ours if we marched 
into Prussia ; 

That certain territory might be taken from us ; 

That we might take Prussian territory from 
Germany, but that the population of the con- 
quered provinces would always be hostile to 
us, on account of the difference in their state 
of civilization, national ties, and traditional 
sentiment ; 

That both Russia and Germany are such great 
nations that neither could possibly accept a loss 
of territory nor rest until it had been regained ; and 

" That, taking everything into consideration, it 
would not suit Germany, and it would certairdy 
not suit us, to go to war for the sake of altering 
the existing frontier.'' 

3. Austro - Hungarian Frontier. — Austro- 
Hungary, 243,043 square miles in area, is 
larger than Germany, and in 1900 its popu- 
lation was 45,600,000 ; but while the German 
nation is exceedingly homogeneous and patriotic, 


the people of Austro-Hungary consist of many 
races. Of its population, 24-1 per cent, is 
German ; the numerous Slav groups comprise 
47 per cent. (Bohemians, Moravians, and 
Slovaks, 16-9 per cent. ; Croatian-Servians, 
11 per cent. ; Poles, 8 per cent. ; Rusins, 8 per 
cent. ; Slavonians, 3 per cent.) ; Hungarians, 16*2 
per cent. ; Roumanians, 6'6 per cent. ; Jews, 
4*5 per cent. ; and Italians, 1*6 per cent. As 
regards the feeling of these various races towards 
Russia, the Germans who live at a distance from 
our frontiers are not hostile ; the Hungarians, if 
not open enemies, are, at any rate, unfriendly on 
account of the part we took in suppressing the 
rebellion of 1849, and their latent dislike is 
fanned by the greatest of the Slav groups, the 
Poles. The rest of the Slavs are sympathetic 
with their kinsmen in Russia, but the main 
motive for this sentiment is fear lest they should 
be absorbed by the Germans or JNIagyars. 

The Austrian frontiers are nowhere simple, 
but ever since the conclusion of the Triple Alli- 
ance she has turned her attention — in a military 
sense — almost exclusively to her Russian fron- 
tier. On glancing at the map, one's first thought 
is that the natural boundary between the two 
countries should run along the Carpathian range, 
but the actual frontier is a long way on the Rus- 
sian side of it. Galicia forms, so to speak, a 
glacis of this main obstacle (the Carpatliians) 



running down towards Russia, and it has re- 
cently grown up into a splendidly prepared 
entrenched camp, connected to the other pro- 
vinces of Austro-Hungary by numerous roads 
across the Carpathians. It is strongly fortified 
and stocked with supplies of every nature, both 
for a protracted defence or an advance in force 
into Russia. Austria can now concentrate 
1,000,000 men in this area within a very short 
space of time. For 760 miles we have a common 
frontier, and the upper reaches of the Vistula — 
from Nepolomnitsa to Zavikhost — and a small 
stretch of the Dniester, with its tributary, the 
Zbruoz, form a natural boundary in this direc- 
tion. These rivers, however, possess no strategic 
value. The frontier is crossed by four lines of 
railway : 

(a) At Granitsa, on the Warsaw- 1 vangorod 

{b) At Radziviloif. 

(c) At Volochisk. 

(d) At Novoselits. 

Our economic relations with Austro-Hungary 
are not so important as those with Germany. For 
the five years 1893-97 the average value of our 
trade has amounted to only £5,800,000 per annum, 
or 4 "5 per cent, of our total trade ; of this, the 
exports are £3,500,000, and the imports £2,320,000 
(4"8 and 4*2 per cent, of the respective totals). In 
1897 our exports were £3,900,000, and imports 


£19,000,000. Though almost half the races of 
Austro- Hungary come of kindred stock to our 
people, and though much of our blood was shed 
in the nineteenth century in order to maintain 
the reigning house of Austria on the throne, war 
between the two nations is by no means impos- 
sible m the event of a general European con- 
flagration, for brothers by blood and religion will 
march against brothers. Such a war, which 
would, except in the imagination of a few Polish 
dreamers, be a calamity for all the Slav races, 
could not be popular with the Austrian- Ger- 
mans, however much their interests may be 
opposed to ours. In Austro- Hungary it is the 
Hungarians and Poles alone wlio hate us, having, 
as is well known, many and good reasons for 
siding with our possible foes. Upon the subject 
of a change of our frontier after war with Austria, 
I wrote in my report of 1900 as follows : 

" In the event of a successful war with us, the 
Austro-Hungarian Government — under pressure 
from the Poles — would probably insist on the 
annexation to Galicia of those Russian border- 
lands where the Poles predominate. Some of 
the Polish and Hungarian patriots even aspire to 
moving the Russian frontier back to Brest and 
the Dnieper. 

" It is certain that Russia would never accept 
any loss of territory, even after defeat, and would 
do her utmost to win back as quickly as possible 
any which had been taken. On the other hand, 
after a successful war against Austro-Hungary, 


and the probably ensuing break-up of that Em- 
pire, Russia will be confronted with the problem 
of whether she should take more territory, and if 
so, what ? There would then recur the cry for 
the ' rectification of the frontier.' The Carpathian 
Mountains seem formed by Nature for a boun- 
dary, so that the whole of Galicia might become 
part of Russia. 

"But we must put the position before our- 
selves clearly and in good time. Is such an 
increase of land and population necessary to us ? 
Should we be the stronger for such annexation, 
or, on the other hand, should we be creating a 
source of weakness and anxiety for ourselves ? 
Seventy or a hundred years ago a transfer of 
Galicia might very likely have been of advantage 
and have added to our strength, though even 
that is problematical, for it is by no means cer- 
tain that Austria would not have tried to win it 
back ; she would have had an excellent oppor- 
tunity in 1855. But now, after Galicia has for 
so long existed apart from us, it could only be 
torn from Austria by force, and therefore un- 
willingly. Neither the Poles of Galicia nor its 
Russian population are anxious to become Rus- 
sian subjects. We must not lose sight of the 
fact that for the Slavs of Austria, including the 
Rusins, we can only be a means to an end (eman- 
cipation), not an end in ourselves. Even the 
Bulgarians and Servians might turn against us. 
Nor are the Austrian Slavs in real need of our 
help. Every year they are gaining, by persistency 
and peaceful methods, more and more civil rights, 
which are gradually placing thein on an equality 
with the Germans and the Hungarians. Not- 
withstanding their grave economic position ; not- 
withstanding the grip the Jews are getting on 


the land, or the taxes, which are heavier than in 
Russia, and the inequahty of rights of Poles and 
Riisins, the people of Galicia consider themselves 
far more advanced than their Russian neighbours. 
In their opinion it would be a retrograde step to 
become Russian subjects. This is also a point 
we must always keep clearly in our minds, lest 
we imagine that we have only to move into 
Eastern Galicia for the people to rise against the 
Austrians — their eternal oppressors. If, on the 
contrary, w^e allow ourselves to be led away by 
the prospect of rounding off our possessions by 
means of natural boundaries, we shall certainly 
lay up endless trouble and expense for ourselves 
in the future. Joined to Russia, Galicia might 
in a lesser degree become an Alsace-Lorraine for 
us, just as Eastern Prussia would be." 

In the matter of railw^ay development the 
Austrians also have left us far behind. While 
they, by means of eight lines of rail (ten tracks), 
can run 260 trains up to the frontier every twenty- 
four hours, w^e can only convey troops up to the 
same point on four lines ! As any of tlieir troops 
on the frontier would be in advance of the Car- 
pathians, this range was formerly looked upon as 
an obstacle to retirement and to communication 
between Galicia and the rest of Austria. But in 
the last ten years it has been pierced by five lines 
of railway, and preparations have been made to 
lay three more. Notwithstanding our unreadi- 
ness, the Austrians, even if egged on by the Ger- 
mans, would not lightly attack us, for they well 
know that they would meet a determined foe 


and be committed to a national war. On the 
other hand, we must not deceive •ourselves with 
any idea that we could easily defeat the Aus- 
trians. Their army, which is of great size and 
splendidly equipped, would base itself upon the 
strong entrenched camp in Galicia, and could, if 
properly commanded, throw superior numbers 
into the field against us. I recorded the follow- 
ing conclusions upon the Austrian frontier in my 
report of 1900 : 

" It would he advantageous to neither Austria 
nor Russia to engage in tvar i?i order to bring 
about an alteration of the existing frontier. 

" It is satisfactory to be able to draw such con- 
clusions regarding our frontiers with these two 
powerful States. Having no desire for our neigh- 
bours' land, and being at the same time quite 
prepared to make any sacrifice for the defence of 
our own country, we may hope that if we on our 
side have no reason to force on a war, our neigh- 
bours will, on their side, use every means to avoid 
beginning one with us." 

4. Roumanian Frontier. — For 466 miles south 
of Austro- Hungary we march with Roumania. 
The frontier runs along the River Pruth and the 
northern branch of the delta of the Danube. It 
is there formed by a natural line of water ; it fully 
meets our requirements, political and military, 
and therefore calls for no change. The young 
kingdom of Roumania, consisting of some 51,000 
square miles, with a population of 5,000,000, is 
one of the second-class Powers of Europe. 


Our trade with her amounts roughly (taking 
the average from 1893-97) to £1,020,000 per 
annum, constituting 0*8 per cent, of our foreign 
trade. Our exports amount, on the average, to 
£750,000 per annum (1*3 per cent, of our total 
exports). Two lines of railway run to the 
frontier from our side : one to Ungens, whence it 
continues on to Jassy ; the other to Reni, whence 
communication extends to Galatz by road, there 
being no bridge across the Pruth. Although 
Roumania owes her very existence to Russia, the 
close relations into which she has entered with 
Germany, and still more with Austro- Hungary, 
and her evident anxiety to develop her army and 
fortify her frontier on our side, point in no un- 
certain manner to the possibility of her taking up 
arms against us in a European war. The reason 
may be that she wishes,, in the event of such a 
conflict, to wrest from us Bessarabia, half the 
population of that province being Roumanian. 

5. In Trans-Caucasia we march for 325 miles 
with Turkey and 465 with Persia. The territory 
of the former is in three continents, and amounts 
to 1,581,400 square miles, with a population of 
40,000,000. Our trade with her (taking the 
same years as before) reaches £2,110,000 per 
annum, or 2*1 per cent, of our total foreign 
trade. The frontier was fixed after our victorious 
campaign of 1877-78. As it runs for the most 


part along natural boundaries, such as water- 
sheds, it not only effectually guarantees the 
integrity of our possessions from any Turkish 
attempt at aggression, but it gives us an advan- 
tageous route by which to advance on Erzeroum, 
the most important point in Asia Minor, and 
the only fortress of any strength nearer than 
Scutari. Thus, the present frontier may be 
accepted as being quite satisfactory from our 
point of view, and no change is necessary. 

In Europe we have no long land frontier with 
Turkey, as Roumania and Bulgaria lie between us. 
The only point at which we are in direct touch 
with her on the mainland is in the Caucasus, and 
this is the only point where we can engage her by 
a direct advance across the frontier. But though 
we are content with our position, we must not 
forget that Turkey, given a favourable oppor- 
tunity, might make an effort to regain the 
territory we have taken from her. To make our 
position on her frontier safe, we should pacify 
the Caucasus, improve the conditions of the 
people and our organization of troops there, and 
strengthen our command of the Black Sea. 

6. East of Turkey we march with Persia for 
465 miles in Trans-Caucasia, to the east again 
for 275 along the Caspian Sea, and further still 
to the east on land for 593 miles up to Zulfikar 
on the Heri Rud. Including the Caspian shore. 


we have a common frontier with Persia of 
1,333 miles.* Our trade with her has gradually 
increased in the last ten years from £2,000,000 
in 1888 to £3,500,000 in 1897. Of all our land- 
borne commerce, this is only exceeded by our 
trade with Germany, Austria, and China. In 
nine years our exports have risen from £900,000 
to £1,600,000, and our imports from £1,100,000 
to £1,900,000. Our exports have, however, been 
artificially stimulated by very heavy rebates on 
the export tax on sugar and cotton, and the 
imports diminished by the high taxes on tea 
brought through Persia (from China and India) 
and an almost prohibitive tariff on foreign manu- 
factured goods. Her situation on the Indian 
Ocean, upon the shortest route to India from 
Europe, combined with the undeveloped state of 
her resources and her military weakness, makes 
Persia the natural arena for any struggle between 
the great Powers for predominance in the Middle 
East. Hitherto Russia and Great Britain have 
been the principal competitors, but Germany is 
now apparently ready to join in the race, for she 
is making serious efforts to establish her footing 
in Asia Minor. The fact that we are neighbours 
over an immense length ; our long-standing 

* In Trans- Caucasia the frontier along the Rivers Araks 
and Astara was fixed by the Treaty of Turkmanchai in 
1828, and in Trans-Caspia along the Artek and the Kopet 
Dagh ridge by the Agreement at Teheran in 1881. 


peaceful relationship ;* the privileges we enjoy 
from the Treaty of Gulistan, which give us a 
word in the internal administration of the country, 
and permit us to maintain exclusive supremacy 
on the Caspian, which washes the defenceless 
shores of Northern Persia ; and, finally, our com- 
plete military superiority, can be said to confer 
at present on Russia an effective political 
predominance in tlie country. As regards 
economic predominance, we have in our hands 
only the trade of the three northern provinces ; 
throughout the rest of the country it does not 
belong to us. In the southern provinces it is 
almost entirely in the hands of Great Britain. 
By seizing points on the coast of the Indian 
Ocean, by constructing railways^ and developing 
her trade with Persia, Great Britain apparently 
aspires not only to make certain of supremacy in 
the south, but gradually to capture the trade of 
the central provinces, and even to compete with 
us in the north. Germany will also soon be a 
serious competitor of ours ; she already controls 
the important trade route from Trebizond to 
Tabriz. The following is the conclusion I 
recorded in the report I have quoted from above : 

" Our Persian frontier has been settled and 
delimitated along its whole length, and neither 

* The Trans - Caucasian frontier has held good for 
seventy years. 

t [The line to Nusliki is evidently referred to. — Ed.] 


for strategic nor other reasons is any change 
desirable ; nor do we wish to obtain any further 
concessions of land from Persia. On the con- 
trary, not only would the acquirement of fresh 
districts filled by alien peoples, and the consequent 
expense of administration, be of no advantage to 
us, but any action likely to undermine the 
friendly feelings now underlying all our dealings 
with the Persians would be distinctly detrimental 
to our interests. From the military standpoint, 
there appears to be no need to realign the 
frontier. It separates kindred races only for a 
short distance — i.e., the Persians and Turkomans 
in Lenkoran and along the Artek. Following 
natural landmarks for the rest of its length, it 
acts as a racial division — in Trans-Caucasia 
between the Armenians and Turks ; in Azerbaijan 
between the Persians, Turko-Tartars, and the 
Kurds ; in Central Asia between the Turkomans 
and Russians of Trans-Caucasia, and the Kurds 
and Persians of Khorasan. For the last fifty 
years our trade with Persia, taking imports and 
exports, has increased enormously, and it is now 
our duty to preserve and develop it, and to take 
every step in order that the northern markets 
may, year by year, become more completely 
dominated by us ; but a further growth of trade 
is only possible if the people of the country feel 
secure and internal order is maintained. By the 
conquest of the Turkomans twenty years ago 
we guaranteed peaceful development to the 
people of Khorasan, and we are now reaping the 
fruits of our victory at Geok Tepe, for our trade 
in Khorasan alone amounts to about £10,000,000 
a year. If, therefore, the necessity should arise 
in the future, it will certainly be our duty to 
assist the Persian Government to maintain order 


in those portions of country nearest to our border. 
Consequently, our most urgent duties in Persia 
are, at present, the maintenance of order in the 
provinces nearest us, and of our command of the 
markets in the north of the country." 

7. Eastwards again from the Persian frontier 
runs that of Afghanistan, which has not long 
been delimitated. It is 1,259 miles long, and 
traverses a desert as far as the Oxus, and then 
runs along that river. This frontier is satis- 
factory, and well defined. 

Bounded on the west by Persia, on the south 
and east by Baluchistan and the Indian Empire, 
Afghanistan contains the immense range of the 
Hindu Kush Mountains, with their numerous 
ramifications. In size it is some 217,800 square 
miles, with a population of 5,000,000 to 6,000,000, 
of which 56 per cent, are Afghan and 44 per 
cent, non- Afghan tribes. As it lies between our 
territory in Central Asia and Great Britain's 
Indian Empire, it has long been an object of 
interest to the British, who have desired to 
establish in it an exclusive supremacy. Being 
afraid of an attempt on our part to march on 
India, they have followed our every move in 
Central Asia with a vigilant eye. So long ago 
as 1873 they tried to arrive at an agreement 
with us whereby, if they refrained from inter- 
ference in Bokhara, we, on our side, should 
undertake to abstain from any intervention in 


Afghanistan. Since then they have moved 
forward several steps on the frontiers of the 
country, and have even annexed a portion of it. 
But in proportion as they have advanced beyond 
the Indus, they have, instead of assuring more 
peace upon the border, met greater difficulties, 
with the result that their present position on the 
north-w^est frontier of India is unsettled and 
unsatisfactory. Afghanistan has not only not 
become British, but under twenty years of 
Abdur Rahman's energetic administration has 
become stronger — so much so that it is now 
really an independent empire,* with a sound 
military organization. As regards the country's 
sentiments, it is as hostile to us as it is to the 

Since 1873 we also have gi'eatly added to our 
possessions in Central Asia. We conquered 
Turkomania and the Khanate of Khokand, de- 
feated the inhabitants of Khiva, and turned it 
into a trading centre ; and although we did not 
annex Bokhara, by running a railway through it 
and including it within our fiscal area we secured 
absolute supremacy. In this way we pushed 
our frontiers on to Persia and Afghanistan, 
and, having drawn our boundary along natural 
features, ^ve now possess a clearly defined line 
along the whole of which we are blessed with 
peace. The conclusion I came to regarding the 
* [Sk.—EB.] 


Afghan frontier was expressed as follows in my 
report of 1900: 

" If Ave compare the success of British policy 
in India since 1873 with the results of our 
progress in Central Asia, we have reason to 
congratulate ourselves. We are at present better 
and more peacefully established than they are. 
There would not be any advantage in changing 
our present position for a worse one, which 
we would certainly do if we annexed part of 
Afghanistan. Since the non- Afghan peoples of 
Northern Afghanistan wish to be taken over by 
us, it would seem natural that we should annex 
Afghan Turkestan and the Herat province. 
Such annexation would bring us over 2,000,000 
new subjects, of whom the majority are indus- 
trious and skilled tillers of the soil ; would 
advance our frontier to the Hindu Kush, which 
has long been the dream of many Russians ; and 
would give us possession of the far-famed Herat, 
a place most undoubtedly of great strategical 
importance. At first sight the gain seems in- 
disputable ; but from a closer study of the 
subject, it is clear that the result of the realiza- 
tion of these schemes would be to create for 
ourselves immense difficulties in the present and 
possible danger in the future. In the first place, 
the geographical boundaries would not coincide 
with the ethnographical. For, in movmg our 
frontier up to the edge of the Hindu Kush, we 
should be forced to take over tribes of Afghan 
descent, and yet at the same time exclude some 
non-Afghan races kindred to those we had 
already taken over. This in itself bristles with 
difficulties. Where the inhabitants of the valleys 
are peasants, Uzbegs, and Tajiks, they would 


probably submit to us without opposition, but 
the hiUmen, even those of non-Afghan descent, 
would fight fiercely for their liberty. Even after 
conquering them, we, like the British in India 
to-day, would have no peace. Continual risings 
would take place along our new frontier, the 
hillmen from Afghanistan proper would begin 
to raid just as the tribes do on the Indian border, 
and continual expeditions would be necessary. 
We should be compelled in the end, just as the 
British have been, to move the frontier forward 
repeatedly, and to absorb more territory. So 
it would go on until our frontier eventually 
coincided with that of British India. Immense 
sums of money would be required for the organi- 
zation and administration of the country taken 
over, for the construction of roads and fortified 
positions for large numbers of troops, and to 
meet the cost of expeditions, etc. Finally, it 
must be remembered that the people of Afghan 
Turkestan and Herat, who now look on us as 
their liberators fi'om Afghan oppression, might, 
when taken over, change their feeling towards 
us. The consequence would be that, instead of 
keeping neighbours well disposed towards us, 
and ready to assist us when called upon, we 
should be acquiring fresh responsibilities in the 
shape of discontented subjects, who would re- 
quire military garrisons for their control." 

In 1878 — i.e., twenty-seven years ago — when 
I was in the Asiatic Section of the Headquarters 
Staff, I was con\dnced of the necessity for Russia 
and Great Britain to work together harmoni- 
ously in Asia, and I was opposed to every plan 
of offensive operations towards India. After 

VOL. I. 5 


our brush with the Afghans at Kushk in 1885, 
when relations with Great Britain became very 
strained, and a rupture might have occurred at 
any moment, we made preparations to concen- 
trate an army in Central Asia in case the British 
should declare war. I was nominated for the 
appointinent of Chief of the Staff to this force, 
and at the committee meetings, over which 
General Vannovski presided, I expressed my 
opinion openly as to the necessity for a peaceful 
agreement with Great Britain. I pointed out 
that the interests of the two Powers on the 
continent of Asia were identical, for both had 
to reckon with the natural desire of conquered 
nationalities to overthrow their masters, and that 
it would therefore be far more rational for our 
troops in Central Asia to assist Great Britain in 
her struggle with the local peoples than for us 
to advance towards India with the object of 
raising it against the British. When I was in 
command of the Trans-Caspian district from 
1890 to 1898, I did everything within my power 
to maintain peace on the Afghan border, and, 
after I had succeeded in obtaining the con- 
struction of a railway to Kushk, I urged the 
necessity of coming to an agreement with Great 
Britain, so that, by joining up the railway 
systems of India and Turkestan, we might once 
for all put an end to our rivalry in the Middle 
East. I still continued to advocate an agreement 


after becoming War Minister, and my resume on 
the Afghan frontier in the report already quoted 
concluded with the following words : 

" I cannot but express my firm conviction that 
the connection of the Indian and Central Asian 
railway systems by a line from Chaman to 
Kushk, via Kandahar and Herat, would create 
a line of international importance. Such a line 
would in the future assist the peaceful delimita- 
tion of our sphere of influence in Afghanistan, 
and if Great Britain will abandon her policy of 
everywhere putting impediments in our path, 
would facilitate a rapprochement * based upon the 
mutual interests of the two nations. Absolutely 
convinced as I am that the possession of India 
would in twenty years' time be a misfortune and 
an insupportable burden for Russia, I consider 
it botii natural and right that we should estab- 
lish an entente with Great Britain, so that in 
case of any great rising in India we should be on 
the side of the British. The twentieth century 
must see a great conflict between the Christian 
and the other nationalities in Asia. It is essential 
for the welfare of humanity that we should in 
such case be allied with the Christian Power 
against the pagan races." 

My opinions on the Chinese, Korean, and 
Japanese frontiers I will, on account of their 
importance, quote verbatim, where possible, from 
my report : 

"From the Pamirs almost to the Pacific, we 
march with China for 6,074 miles. China is 

* [This view is interesting in the light of more recent 
events. — Ed.] 



about 4,267,000 square miles in extent, and 
contains about 400,000,000 inhabitants, so 
that it has the largest population in the world. 
The great mass of the people are Buddhists, 
about 20,000,000 are Mohammedans, and about 
1,150,000 Christians. Our trade with China, 
which has been gradually increasing during the 
last ten years, has risen from £3,100,000 in 1888 
to £4,560,000 in 1897. 

" Notwithstanding the immense length of 
this frontier, our exports are insignificant ; but 
it is to be hoped that the railway-line through 
Manchuria, with its branch to Port Arthur, will 
alter tliis unprofitable state of affairs in our 
favour.'' Although we have had relations with 
China for two centuries, and although our 
frontiers are identical for over 6,000 miles, they 
have not once been violated by military opera- 
tions. The number of troops kept in Siberia 
has always been exceedingly small. This has 
been due to the generally peaceful disposition of 

* In 1897 the chief exports were : Cotton - stuffs, 
^£•344,100; naphtha and its products, d£^l 00,800; and wool, 
i^40,400. The chief imports were: Tea, <^3,21 0,900 ; 
cotton goods, X^l 70,200 ; woven materials, £165,800 ; 
hve stock, i?78,700 ; and leather, ^^72,300. Total exports, 
<£'640,000 ; total imports, i^3,920,000. 

The central and largest section of the Chinese frontier 
was fixed by the Nerchinsk Treaty of 1687, and the Burinsk 
and Kiakhta Treaties of 1727 ; the most western by the 
Treaties of Chuguchag in 1864, and St. Petersburg in 1881 
(after the pacification of Kuldja) ; the most eastern, along 
the Rivers Amur and Sungari, by the Treaties of Aigun in 
1858, and Peking in 1860 ; and our last acquirement of 
territory in China — the southern part of the Kuan-tung 
Peninsula — was ceded to us in 1898. 


the Chinese, to the position of the River Amur, 
and other natural obstacles— lofty mountain 
ranges and vast steppes — and to the absence of 
any really close tie between China and her 
subject races nearest to our frontier. 

'• Our occupation of the Ussuri district necessi- 
tated raising new bodies of troops for garrison 
purposes. Finally, the Chino-Japanese War and 
its consequences compelled us to take further 
and rapid action to strengthen our forces in the 
Far East. This war showed up the extreme 
political weakness of China on the one hand, and 
the great power and energy of Japan on the 
other — facts of immense significance in East 
Asian affairs. Our frontier with China is of such 
length that we naturally cannot remain indif- 
ferent to this development. Japan betrayed an 
intention of taking possession of Korea, our 
neighbour ; we were therefore compelled, by 
force of circumstances, to establish a sort of 
temporary protectorate over it, and, by an 
agreement with Japan, Korea was declared to 
be independent, and was ostensibly left to itself. 
But we did not confine ourselves to this. For 
the great services we had rendered China in 
the war, we obtained on commercial pretexts a 
concession for a railway through ^lanchuria 
from Trans-Baikalia to Vladivostok, and as the 
immediate consequence of this, we found it 
necessary to try and get a concession of part 
of the Kuan-tung Peninsula, with the ports of 
Dalny and Port Arthur.* This forward policy 

* The route through Manchuria shortens the line of 
the Great Siberian Railway, and is therefore of great com- 
mercial value, but is dangerous for military reasons. The 
route along the Amur would be bettei-, for it traverses 
Russian territory only, and is covered by that river. 


compelled us to augment our forces in the east 
with troops withdrawn from European Russia, 
thereby weakening, to a certain extent, our 
position in the west,* Notwithstanding the 
more active line we have taken up, and the 
inclusion of the whole of Manchuria within our 
sphere of influence, we must remember that we 
are at present quite content with our frontier, 
and that to change it by the annexation of any 
portion of JNlanchuria, for instance, would be in 
the highest degree undesirable. 

" On the extreme western side our boundary, 
running along the lofty spurs of the Tian-Shan 
INIountains, is so strong by nature that, although 
the people of Kashgaria on one side of it are 
racially akin to our native population in Eastern 
Turkestan on the other, there would be no gain 
in altering the boundary. Further north the 
border-line bisects the basin of the Hi, peopled 
partly by tribes of the same race. Annexation 
of the fertile province of Kuldja, projecting like 
a strong bastion to the east, would, on the 
contrary, have been of some advantage to us, as 
it would have facilitated defence, and would have 
acted as a menace to the Chinese. Such an advan- 
tage is of minor importance, however, and not 
enough to warrant impairing our relations with 
China. All the way to Manchuria the boundary- 
line runs across the Mongolian steppes, where 
its position is sufficiently strong for us to cope 
both with local conditions and with China's lack 
of control over her border tribes. Finally, in 
the extreme east — in Manchuria — the frontier 

* To enable us to provide sufficient units in Kuan-tung, 
the War Department was obliged to weaken the establish- 
ment of troops in the Odessa and Kieff Military Districts 
by 6,000 men. 


is less assured, and, owing to the construction of 
a line of railway to connect the Ussuri district 
with Trans-Baikalia by the shortest route through 
Manchuria, our position has become disquieting. 
"As regards the position of the Chinese 
province between the Amur district on the 
north, the Ussuri district on the north-east, and 
the Kuan-tung Peninsula on the south, the ques- 
tion naturally arises : \^"hat shall we do with it 
in the future ? To annex it would be very 
unprofitable, not to mention the fact that the 
seizure of this — one of the most important 
provinces of China — would for ever destroy the 
ancient peaceful relationship between China and 
ourselves. It would result in many Manchurians 
settling in our territory, in the Amur and Ussuri 
districts, which now are only thinly peopled by 
Russians, and our weak colonies would be 
swamped by the flowing tide of yellow. Eastern 
Siberia would become quite un-Russian, and it 
must be remembered that it is the Russians 
alone who form, and will form in the future, the 
reliable element of the population. Such an 
inrush of Chinese into the Pri-Amur district 
would undoubtedly improve the standard of its 
agi-iculture and convert its deserts into flowering 
gardens ; but, at the same time, surplus land in 
Siberia, every acre of which we ought to preserve 
for our own people, would be passing into the 
hands of non-Russian races. The population of 
Russia of the twentieth century will need it 
all. As this will probably amount to some 
400,000,000 in the year 2000, we must begin 
now to set aside land for at least a quarter of 
this number. It would, therefore, be preferable 
if Manchuria remained an integral part of China. 
But if we decide against its annexation, we 


ought undoubtedly to take every means to 
obtain absolute commercial control, consolidating 
our position by constructing lines through it, 
such as the Trans-Baikal-Vladivostok and Port 
Arthur railways. We should not obtain any 
further concessions from China, but our policy 
towards her in the near future should be — 

" 1. Not to permit any increase in, nor develop- 
ment of the training of, her armed forces, par- 
ticularly in the north, and to forbid the presence 
of foreign military instructors in that quarter. 

" 2. To develop our social and commercial 
relations with her as much as possible, in the 
northern provinces to commence with. 

"' 3. To avoid as far as possible any dispute on 
her soil with other European nations, to insure 
which we should confine our attentions to North 
China, and undertake no railway enterprises 
south of the Great Wall, more especially in the 
Yang-tsze Valley. 

" The last portion of our frontier marches with 
Korea, a country with an area of 80,000 square 
miles, and containing a population of at least 
11,000,000, amongst whom are only some 2,000 
to 10,000 Chinese, 45,000 to 55,000 Japanese, 
and some 300 Europeans.* The position of 
Korea is peculiar ; she is subordinate both to 
China and Japan, and yet, since 1897 — by the 
agreement between ourselves and the latter 
Power — her independence has been acknow- 
ledged. Extreme caution is therefore demanded 
in our dealings with and our policy concerning 
her. Though we feel no necessity to annex the 

* The recent arrivals are composed chiefly of Japanese, 
with a few Chinese. Their number is always gi-eater in 
the warm weather, when they come to Korea on business 
(fishing, timber-cutting, etc.). 


country ourselves, we can under no circum- 
stances consent to the establishment in it of an 
energetic Japan or any other Power. For the 
present, a Korea, weak, independent, but under 
our protection, is for us the simplest solution of 
the question. The immediate establishment of 
a Protectorate would not only necessitate all 
sorts of expense, but might drag us unprepared 
into war. And so in this case, just as in Persia 
and in North China, we must work systematically 
towards gradually acquiring absolute economic 
control of the country. The occupation of the 
Kuan-tung Peninsula, the permanent fortifica- 
tion of our position there, and the comple- 
tion of the roads running through Manchuria, 
are steps in advance, and important ones, in 
this problem of the future. At pi'esent -we 
are in no way ready to take an active line in 
Korea, and must, at any cost, avoid stirring up 
a conflict with Japan on account of Korean affair's. 
"We are certain to encounter Japan's strenuous 
opposition in our endeavour to obtain control of 
the Korean markets, even if it be only in the 
shape of political or mere trade competition, and 
if we cannot altogether avoid a conflict, we shall 
in all probability have to fight her in the begin- 
ning of the twentieth century." 

From this very brief survey of our frontiers it 
is seen how we are for over 11,000 miles in touch 
with nine States, and nowhere wish any realign- 
ment of our frontier. This is highly satisfactory, 
and if we are content with our present bound- 
aries, and concern ourselves in the present century 
solely with the consolidation of the position 
we have gained during the past 200 years, the 


danger of war with our neighbours seems remote. 
For the present generation such a course is abso- 
lutely essential. Immense were the sacrifices 
made by our forebears in adding to our great 
Empire, but the struggle which is even now 
necessary to preserve the existence of our fron- 
tier regions is so severe that it is retarding still 
further the naturally slow economic development 
of the mass of the people in Russia itself. Our 
border districts exist, in fact, at the expense of 
the interior of the country, and have up to the 
present been a source of weakness rather than of 
strength to the Empire at large. So over- 
burdened is the present generation with the 
many requirements necessary for their adminis- 
tration and defence, that to undertake at the 
same time any fresh foreign enterprises may 
soon become quite beyond our powers. But 
with a growing population, will our Empire be 
content with the existing frontiers, or will 
Russia have to solve further problems of ex- 
pansion ? And what will they be ? Such was 
the question I put to myself in submitting my 
report. I considered it natural that Russia, 
" without increasing her extent either in Europe 
or xlsia," should try in the twentieth century to 
gain access to warm seas, which are ice-free all 
the year round, such as the inner Mediterranean 
seas and the outlets which are open all the year 
round into the Pacific and Indian Oceans. As 


regards the difficulties and dangers in under- 
taking these schemes I said : 

" However natural our wishes may be to 
possess an outlet from the Black Sea and access 
to the Indian or to the Pacific Oceans, such aims 
could not be realized without inflicting grave 
injury upon the interests of almost the whole 
world. In fact, so much is this the case, that in 
the pursuit of such aims we must be prepared 
to fight combinations of any of the following 
nations : Great Britain, Germany, Austria, 
Turkey, China, and Japan. It is not the actual 
move on our part to any of the above-mentioned 
places that is feared by others, but the conse- 
quence of such a move — if successful. The 
possession of the Bosphorus and the passage 
into the Mediterranean would enable us to take 
decisive action as regards the Egyptian question, 
and to make the Suez Canal international,* and 
our presence on the Indian Ocean would be a 
continual menace to India. But the chief dis- 
turbing element in the minds of the more 
advanced nations of Europe and America (which 
are now the factories and workshops of the whole 
world) would be the fear of our competition in 
the marts of the world. Having in our hands 
the main lines of railway connecting the Pacific 
Ocean and the Baltic Sea, wdth feeder lines from 
the Bosphorus, the Indian and Pacific Oceans, we 
could, with our inexhaustible natural w^ealth, 
control the industry of the globe." 

Such has been the recent growth of armaments 
among all nations that the difficulties which will 

* [Sic. General Kuropatkin seems to have written this 
by an oversight. — Ed.] 


confront us in any effort to reach warm seas in 
this century will absolutely put into the shade 
any faced by us in the past, and the powers of 
the present generation may well prove unequal 
to the effort required to gain what is, after all, 
only necessary for our children's children. Indeed, 
a comparison of fighting strengths leads to the 
inevitable conclusion that not only is the present 
generation too weak to undertake fresh tasks to 
secure what is necessary for the existence of the 
400,000,000 of our future population, but that 
the relative greater power of our probable 
enemies makes it extremely difficult to guarantee 
the integrity of the Empire. The following is 
the reference to this point in my report : 

" AVithin the last fifty years the military 
resources of our neighbours have so increased, 
and Germany and Austria, more especially, are 
so much better prepared to invade us, that our 
western frontier is now exposed to greater danger 
than it has ever been in the whole of our history. 

" Our military position on the Turkish frontier 
also is no longer as favourable as it was in the 
beginning of the nineteenth century. This is 
particularly the case now that Germany seems 
to be taking so much interest in Turkish affairs. 
Again, the defence of the Caucasus has also be- 
come difficult. So, too, on the Afghan frontier we 
now have powerful neighbours, who in organiza- 
tion and armament are more on a level with our 
troops in Turkestan than they were in the begin- 
ning of the last century. An Afghan invasion 
of our territory is by no means an impossibility, a 


fact which compUcates considerably the defence 
of Turkestan. 

" China is at present alone in having no army 
worthy of serious consideration, and she is im- 
potent against us in the Pii- Amur * or Kuan-tung 
districts. But in the place of a weak China has 
arisen a powerful Japan, whose armed forces 
may prove a danger to our troops in the Far 
East until sufficient reinforcements can be sent 

" Still, notwithstanding our great length of 
frontier to be defended and the immense de- 
velopment in the military power of our neigh- 
bours, the difficulties in the way of defeating 
us on our own soil are so ob\aous and so great 
that, if we confine our actions to self-defence, no 
enemy will be likely to attack us." 

Finally, an analysis of the strength and 
resources of our nearest neighbours forced me 
to the conclusion that ^' our western frontier 
has never in the whole history of Russia been 
exposed to such danger in the event of a European 
war as it is 7iow, and that accordingly the atten- 
tion of the War Department in the first years of 
the present century should be coifined to strength- 
ening our position on that side, and not diverted 
to aggressive enterpiises elsewhere.'' 

* [The Pri-Amur is the Russian Amur Province situated 
on the north side of the Amur River. — Ed,] 


The expansion in numbers of our army in the eighteenth 
and nineteenth centuries, the suitabihty of our peace 
and war estabhshments, and the growth of our neigh- 
bours"' forces — The growing compHcation of our defence 
problems towards the end of the last century. 

In the year 1700 our forces numbered 56,000 ; 
in 1800, 400,000 ; while in 1894 our war strength 
amounted to 2,000,000 ; but the growth in the 
nineteenth century was attended by great fluc- 
tuations as compared with the gradual increase 
in the previous 100 years. The universal dis- 
satisfaction with the results of the Crimean War 
first brought about the awakening of public feel- 
ing which ended in the emancipation of the serfs, 
and the great efforts in the direction of economy 
made at that time led directly to the reduction 
of the army. Even while the guns were boom- 
ing at Koniggriitz in 1866, our standmg army in 
Europe was cut down from 600,000 to 372,000 
men. It was not long, however, before the 
Franco- German War opened our eyes to pos- 
sible dangers from the west. Up to that time 
we had been living upon tradition, upon expe- 


THE LESSON OF 1870-71 79 

riences of the days when war was waged by 
standing armies, and did not call for the mobili- 
zation of the whole of a nation's forces ; when 
armies moved by road, and several months elapsed 
between the declaration of war and the first deci- 
sive engagement. By her rapid concentration 
and by her ability to throw an immense army so 
quickly across the French frontier in 1870, Ger- 
many showed also what she would be capable of 
doing in our direction. We had for a long time 
neglected to keep up the fortifications on our 
western frontier, lest we should give Germany 
cause to suspect that we distrusted the long-stand- 
ing traditional good feeling between the reigning 
Houses. The speed, however, with which she 
disposed, first of Austria, then of France, her 
immense increase in power, and her evident 
ambition not only to protect herself, but to gain 
the hegemony of Europe, together formed a 
menace against which we were forced to take 
strong measures. Accordingly our army was 
again increased as quickly as possible, and between 
the years 1869 and 1880 the peace strength of 
the forces in European Russia rose from 366,000 
to 535,000 men, arrangements at the same time 
being made for the mobilization of a field army 
of 1,500,000. But during the same period our 
neighbours were able to perfect their own ar- 
rangements still more, both in the number of 
men mobilized and the speed of their concentra- 


tion. From a force whose strength was the 
same in peace and war our war army now became 
so large that it merited the title of " national. " 
But even a national army is not enough nowa- 
days. For the successful conduct of a conflict 
against a powerful opponent, a struggle which 
calls for the exertion of every effort — moral, 
mental, and physical — the whole nation itself 
must take part. In other words, to achieve suc- 
cess with an army mainly composed of men called 
up for actual operations, the people must be 
in sympathy with it, must recognize the import- 
ance and magnitude of its task, and must back 
it up unreservedly. 

The war of 1870-71 was prosecuted by the 
Germans in a truly national spirit. The attitude 
of all grades of society towards the racial struggle 
entered upon by their Government was one of 
the highest patriotism. The good tone and un- 
selfish devotion of the troops was well supported 
by the wave of patriotic feeling which, starting 
with the Prussians, ran through all the German 
nationalities from King down to peasant. It is 
a platitude that the German school-teacher was 
the real victor in the war of 1870-71. This figure 
of speech can perhaps be more truthfully ex- 
pressed in another way : the French were not 
conquered by the German troops, but by the 
German nation, which gave to the army both its 
sons and its moral support. There was no such 


close union between the French Emperor, the 
French army, and the French people. It was 
not France which fought Germany, but the 
French army. The result we know. When the 
country was overrun by the invader, the people, 
with few exceptions, did not exhibit a proper 
patriotic spirit, nor did they assist the soldiers to 
wage a national war. Some of the intelligent 
sections of the populace, indeed, thought fit to 
carry on an internal strife directed towards the 
overthrow of their Government whilst the war 
was actually in progress, and as soon as the 
Imperial forces were beaten and the Emperor 
taken prisoner, they succeeded in their effort. 

In this sense we fought against Turkey under 
favourable conditions in 1877-78. The sym- 
pathies of our people for the closely related Slav 
races in the Balkan Peninsula had been aroused 
by the preceding struggle of the Servians against 
the Turks, and we were, moreover, fighting our 
traditional enemy. Consequently, many volun- 
teers and large sums of money found their way 
from Russia into Servia. Society, worked up by 
the Press, was deeply moved, and brought pres- 
sure upon the Government to declare war, while 
active operations were of course the one desire of 
our soldiers. The eventual declaration of hostil- 
ities was hailed with acclamation. As has been 
explained, the slowness of our concentration in 
Bessarabia permitted the further training of our 

vol.. I. 6 


troops, especially of the reservists, and of the 
selection of the best men for command, and we 
consequently moved into Turkey fairly well pre- 
pared. Our troops were in the best of spirits, 
and their belief in victory boundless. But valu- 
able time had elapsed, and the resistance of the 
Turks was far more determined than anything 
we had expected. However, we reinforced 
rapidly, broke down all opposition, and eventually 
reached the walls of Constantinople. It really 
seemed as if we were on this occasion about to 
take full advantage of what had been done by 
our army, and place the protection of our Black 
Sea coast on a permanent basis. But we hesi- 
tated and delayed operations in front of the 
enemy's capital, and so allowed the fruit of our 
military success to be snatched from us by the 
ill-timed action of diplomacy. Great Britain's 
incorrect appreciation of the Eastern Question 
in 1877, combined with our distrust of Austria, 
and, most important of all, the fact that we were 
tired of war in high quarters, led to results quite 
out of proportion to the sacrifices we had made. 
When the Agreement of San Stefano was re- 
placed by the Treaty of Berlin, the national 
feeling of optimistic patriotism gave way to 
general dissatisfaction. Victors in war, we had 
been beaten in politics. 

Within twenty-five years Russia waged two 
European wars, which were prematurely con- 


eluded. In 185G at Sevastopol we acknowledged 
ourselves beaten at a moment when our enemies 
were themselves powerless to proceed. In 1878, 
though we had reached the very walls of Con- 
stantinople, we did not occupy it, and though we 
had conquered the country, we acknowledged 
that we alone were not strong enough to 
guarantee the peaceful development even of 
those districts of the Black Sea littoral which 
had belonged to us before. But these results, 
though surprising and disappointing to the army 
and the nation at large, brought their compensa- 
tions. It was the Berlin Congress that proved 
to us in unmistakable terms that we were alone 
on the Continent of Europe, and showed how 
necessary it was for us to set our house in order 
on the western border, if we did not wish to be 
taken unawares by neighbours already prepared. 
But it was no simple matter to improve our 
military position on that side — especially towards 
Germany — so that it might be on a level with 
that of our possible adversary. It meant large 
expenditure in the construction and improvement 
of fortresses, the making of roads, and the collec- 
tion of reserves of supplies, at a time when our 
financial resources had been crippled, and the 
War Department, instead of having increased 
funds at its disposal, was receiving a smaller 
grant than before the war. In our generosity 
we had taken so small an indemnity from Turkey, 



and had allowed payment to be spread over so 
long a period, that it could not be used — as was 
France's indemnity to Germany — as an " iron 
fund " towards the expenses of the war and the 
betterment of the army. About this time, also, 
the feeling of disquiet caused by the state of our 
western fi'ontier was increased by fresh complica- 
tions arising on the Asiatic side of the Empire. 

The first time we made any effort to use our 
position in Central Asia indirectly in furtherance 
of our general policy was in 1878, when we sent 
a force to Djam (near Samarkand), with the 
object of causing embarrassment to Great Britain, 
then at war with Afghanistan. This attempt to 
force Great Britain to give us a free hand in 
the Near East by means of pressure applied 
elsewhere (on the Afghan frontier) was not 
successful. By StolietofF's mission to Kabul the 
Afghans were assured of Russian assistance 
against Great Britain, but when the British 
marched into their country in force we held 
aloof When the Amir Shere Ali died, the 
country was again thrown into complete disorder. 
From Samarkand Abdur Rahman went into 
Afghanistan, and endeavoured to enlist the sym- 
pathies and obtain the assistance of some of the 
tribes in his attempts to gain the throne ; he 
also tried hard to obtain our support. But it 
was the British who gave him assistance, and, 
whether for good or evil, he remembered this 


fact during the Avhole of his reign, and was our 
enemy. In 1877-79 we might easily have con- 
verted Afghanistan into a friendly " buffer State " 
between us and India, but in spite of General 
Kaufmann's representations we failed to seize 
the psychological moment, and the " buffer " 
subsequently created by Great Britain was one 
hostile to us. Thanks to this short-sighted policy 
of ours with regard to this country, we lost 
prestige in Central Asia for some time, and 
numerous English emissaries charged with the 
task of stirring up the warlike Turkomans against 
us penetrated into the steppes of Turkestan. 
Raids by Turkomans into our territory on the 
eastern shores of the Caspian became more 
frequent and more daring, eventually reaching 
even as far as Krasnovodsk. We could no longer 
hold our hand, and decided to send an expedi- 
tion into the steppes to seize Geok Tepe. The 
failure of the first expedition under Lomakin, 
and the heavy losses suffered at Geok Tepe 
under General Skobeleff, were signs that we 
might expect serious trouble in Central Asia, 
and would therefore have to increase our gar- 
risons there, and also — which was more important 
— to improve the communications with Russia. 
The example of what happened to the Italians 
in Abyssinia showed what even pastoral tribes, 
if patriotic and well led, can do against European 
regular troops. It became increasingly clear that 


to leave our districts in Central Asia, 1,335 miles 
by road from Orenburg — Russia's outpost — with 
such small garrisons as they then had, was, under 
the then complicated conditions, to court disaster. 
We therefore began the construction of the 
Central Asian railway system, which reached 
completion only two years ago.* These lines 
cost a large sum, which had to be provided at 
the expense of our preparations on the western 
frontier and in the Far East ; but the wisdom of 
our action was amply proved in 1885 during the 
frontier trouble, ending in the defeat of the 
Afghan troops at Kushk.f After negotiations 
with Great Britain, which at some periods became 
almost critical, a modus Vivendi was reached, and 
our present fi'ontier with Afghanistan, delimi- 
tated by a special mixed Boundary Commission, 
has not been violated for the twenty years of its 
existence. I repeat that it is my firm convic- 
tion that this frontier is m every way satisfactory 
to us, and to alter it by advancing to Herat | 
would in no way be beneficial. The period of 
small expeditions, always ending in some slight 
increase to our territory, ceased with the de- 

* [This evidently refers to the Orenburg - Tashkent 
Railway, completed in 1904. — Ed.] 

t Our troops on that occasion numbered 2,000. It was 
an insignificant affair, in which we only had forty-three 

X Seventy-three miles from Kushk fortified post. 


limitation of this frontier. Of the two nations 
who now march with us in Central Asia — the 
Persians and the Afghans — the latter possesses 
such large armed forces that we should need a 
considerable army to carry out any advance into 
their country, irrespective of any assistance that 
might be given to them by Great Britain. On 
the other hand, the defence of our own extensive 
territory has become a very difficult matter, 
chiefly owing to the spread of the Pan-Slav* 
propaganda, and were the Afghans to attempt an 
invasion on the pretext of liberating our subject 
races, partial risings of the population are quite 
possible. We must, therefore, maintain sufficient 
troops in those regions, not only in case of war, 
but also to prevent internal trouble. In this 
way our position in Central Asia has become 
more comphcated during the last forty years— in 
fact, ever since we took Tashkent. Now, instead 
of the five or six battalions with which we con- 
quered the country, Ave have two whole army 
corps in Turkestan. 

Just as had been the case when the Emperor 
Alexander II. came to the throne, a great effort in 
the direction of military economy was made after 
the accession of Alexander III., and the army 
was reduced by 28,000 men ; but the conclusion 
of the Triple Alliance and the rapid gi-owth of 
our neighbours' armaments brought about a fresh 
* [Sic. ? Pan-Islamic. — Ed.] 


increase in the army, as well as a rapprochement 
between ourselves and France, who was equally 
menaced. To the creation of new units by 
Germany and Austria we replied by raising 
fresh troops or by transferring men from the 
Caucasus and the interior to the western frontier. 
In this severe race of preparation for war we 
were unable to keep up with our western neigh- 
bours, not so much in point of mere numbers as 
in necessary organization. We were too poor 
and too backward, for modern mobilization 
entails heavy drafts upon the whole reserve 
forces of a State, and is deeply felt by the whole 
nation. This is what that distinguished German 
writer, Von der Goltz, implied when he wrote 
that modern wars must be waged by armed 
nations, not by armies. Other things being 
equal, success is assured to the side which can 
quickest concentrate superior numbers in the 
field. These forces must not only be under 
competent leaders, but must be well supplied, 
reinforced, and equipped. It was chiefly in this 
respect that we soon felt our inferiority. By 
forming cadres without any strength, or with a 
very small strength, we are able, thanks to our 
large population, our numerous reserves and 
militia, to mobilize an immense number of troops 
of sorts — regulars, reservists, reserve units, and 
militia. But owing to the shortage of officers 
and lack of supplies, these units would vary 


much in their value for war. While our advanced 
troops only could be concentrated as quickly as 
those of our neighbours, the reserve troops could 
be mobilized but slowly, the reserve units would 
be quite inadequate, and, finally, the militia would 
not be embodied at the same time as the others, 
and even then only with great difficulty. But 
though we had plenty of men and horses, materiel 
— particularly technical stores — was insufficient 
(telegraphs, telephones, balloons, pigeon post, 
light railways, explosives, tools, wire, etc.). 
Owing to the constant advances in scientific 
knowledge, and to the continual demands made 
for increased strength in construction, fortresses 
are no sooner built than the whole of their 
masonry has to be remodelled. We could not, 
therefore, keep our armaments and defences up 
to date, and they were largely obsolete. Though 
our siege artillery had received a certain number 
of good and modern guns, it was not equal to 
our neighbours' in mobility, and we did not possess 
nearly enough technical troops, such as sappers? 
and mining and railway companies. There was 
no organization either for peace or war of the 
auxiliary services for the line of communications ; 
the depot troops it was proposed to form would 
not have been sufficient ; and there were no 
means of keeping up the numbers of officers and 
doctors. But our greatest danger lay in the 
inferiority of our railways. 


After 1882 we made great advances in efficiency, 
but only arrived at such a point that we were able 
to carry out a concentration on the frontier in 
double the time it would have taken our neigh- 
bours, so that not only were we condemned to the 
defensive, but our forces coming up in succession 
would be destroyed in detail. Since the lesson 
of 1870-71, we had become reconciled to the 
fact that we should never be able to catch up 
Germany in speed of mobilization, but we had 
flattered ourselves that in this respect we were 
ahead of Austria. Some ten or eleven years ago 
we were undeceived on this point also. The 
Austrian War Department had succeeded in 
working wonders in preparing the probable area 
of operations on our side for both attack and 
defence, and, owing to the many strategic lines 
of rail constructed through the Carpathians, this 
range had ceased to be a dangerous obstacle in 
rear of their advanced position.* Besides the 
sums allotted for the ordinary expenditure on 
the army, both the Austrians and the Germans 
had had recourse to extraordinary and special 
grants ; thus their storehouses were filled, their 
fortresses well built and equipped, and their roads 
constructed. Not only did our lack of funds 
handicap us in these directions, but our backward 
state of development proved an insuperable bar, 
especially as regards the construction of railways. 
* [Galicia.— Ed.] 


With our neighbours, the directions in which 
strategic hnes of rail were required coincided 
generally with their economic alignment. With 
us the two requirements were at variance, and 
each strategic line proposed on our side met with 
the opposition of the Finance Department as 
being economically unsound. 

In the Far East we had Uttle trouble for many 
years. Though our frontier with China was 
6,000 miles long, it was not till 1880 — twenty- 
seven years ago — that the increase in Japan's 
military power and the awakening of China 
compelled us to think about strengthening our 
position in that quarter. 

In 1871, when the western provinces of China^ 
were convulsed by the Mohammedan rebellion, 
we occupied the province of Kuldja in order to 
safeguard our own borders. The inhabitants — 
the Dunganites and Taranchites — who had 
previously completely defeated the Chinese and 
some of the Kalmuits, gave us very little trouble, 
and laid down their arms on our definite promise 
to make them Russian subjects. But while our 
soldiers were doing their work on the spot, our 
diplomats in their offices miles away, without 
consulting any of those with local knowledge, 
such as Kaufmann or Kolpakovski, thought fit 
to promise the Chinese that as soon as they 
quelled the revolt and arrived as far as Kuldja, 

* [So-called Chinese Turkestan. — Ed.] 


that province could be restored to them. As a 
matter of fact, we hoped, of course, that they 
would be unable to defeat Yakub Beg, and so 
would never gain possession of Kashgaria, and 
yet we were helping them towards this very 
object. The position was a curious one, and in 
1876, when I, as Russian envoy, was in Yakub 
Beg's camp near Kurlia""' negotiating as to the 
delimitation of the boundary of Fergana, just 
conquered by us, he himself remarked on it. He 
very justly reproached me with the fact that 
while I was dealing with him, another officer of 
the General Staff, one Lieutenant - Colonel 
Sosnovski, was, with the knowledge of the 
Russian authorities, supplying the Chinese troops 
moving against him. His statement was abso- 
lutely correct. After Yakub Beg's sudden death 
the Chinese quickly got possession of the whole 
of Kashgaria, advanced up to the southern edge 
of Kuldja, and asserted their rights to that 
province also. While Kaufmann urged most 
strenuously that we ought not to return the 
province to them, we procrastinated. In 1878, 
when I was at the head of the Asiatic Section of 
the General Staff, I put a memorandum before 
my Chief, Count Heyden, in which I pointed out 
the great strategic value of Kuldja to us. I also 
stated that, if we felt bound by our loosely given 

* Not far from Lake Lob Nor (discovered by Pre- 
jevalski), into which the River Tarin flows. 


engagement to return this province to China, we 
should most certainly be justified in demanding 
compensation for the expenses incurred by us 
during our eight years' occupation. I suggested 
a sum of £10,000,000 in gold, as being suitable 
and also opportune for the construction of the 
Siberian Railway. My contention was supported 
by Kaufrnann, but our diplomatists were against 
it. A special committee, consisting of M. Giers, 
INIinister for Foreign Aifairs ; Admiral Grieg, 
Minister of Finance ; Generals Kaufmann, 
Obrucheff, and myself, under the presidency of 
Count Milutin, was appointed to go into the 
question by the Emperor Alexander II. M. 
Giers and Admiral Grieg were in favour of 
returning Kuldja to China without demanding 
any compensation. Admiral Grieg asserted that 
Russia was in no particular need of money, and 
both JNIinisters held that we were bound by the 
promise to China — a promise lightly made by 
our diplomats without the knowledge of the ixien 
on the spot — while the other engagement made 
with the Dunganites and Taranchites in 1871 
could be forgotten. After prolonged discussions, 
it was decided to return Kuldja to China, and to 
ask for £500,000 as compensation. The member 
who was most opposed to obtaining a large sum 
of money from China was, of all people, the 
Finance Minister ; he apparently overlooked the 
possibility that would be conferred by this sum 


of carrying out the construction of the Siberian 
Railway ten years sooner. For this oversight we 
paid later. Meanwhile the Chinese assumed a 
stiff attitude, and threatened to seize Kuldja, 
moving troops towards it to Urumchi, Manas, 
Kunia-Turfan, and other points. We, in reply, 
hastily strengthened our position by sending up 
troops from Tashkent towards Kuldja. In 1880 
we fortified the Barokhorinski ridge, separating 
it from parts of Chinese Turkestan in the occupa- 
tion of the Chinese. I was in command of our 
advanced guard, and saw how gladly our troops 
would have obeyed the order to advance. They 
were disgusted at the thought of having to 
abandon the splendid country of which we had 
been in occupation for nearly ten years, and at 
the idea of breaking faith with the people to 
whom we had promised protection, who were 
even then crowding round our camps in alarm at 
the rumour that we were going to hand them 
over to the Chinese. Of course, at the time this 
question was decided we entertained a very 
exaggerated idea of the value of the Chinese 
troops themselves, and also of China's military 

Events afterwards moved rapidly. We com- 
menced the construction of the railway through 
Manchuria, and occupied the Kuan-tung Penin- 
sula, thus alarming not only China, but Japan. 

Thus, during the last quarter of the nineteenth 


century matters became more involved on all 
sides. Not only did we have to meet the 
preparations of Austria and Germany on the 
west, and threatened trouble in our frontier 
districts near Rou mania, Turkey, and Afghan- 
istan, but from 1896 to 1900 we had, in addition, 
to face the problem of safeguarding the position 
we had suddenly — and, for the War Department, 
unexpectedly — taken up in the Far East in our 
advance to the Pacific Ocean. The magnitude 
of the task of protecting 11,000 miles of frontier, 
and of keeping up forces so as to be in a position 
to fight different combinations of no less than 
nine adjacent States, conveys some idea of the 
colossal expense involved. 


Deductions drawn from the work of the army in the past 
200 years, which may serve as some guide for the 
line our mihtaiy policy should take in the beginning 
of the twentieth century. 

During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries 
the energies of the country were mainly absorbed 
in expansion and consolidation. In the prosecu- 
tion of these objects we were engaged in many 
wars, and the experience thereby gained should 
help to indicate what is in store for the War 
Department in the future. The following appear 
to be the principal deductions that can be drawn 
from the past : 

1. The duties in connection with our move- 
ment towards the shores of the Baltic and Black 
Seas, the expansion of Russian territory to the 
west (White Russia, Little Russia, Poland), to 
the south (Caucasus), to the east (Central Asia), 
were carried out by the army. From the analysis 
of our frontiers already made in Chapter II., it 
will be seen that, thanks to what has been done, 
Kussia is in no need of any further increase of 
territory. This conclusion is in the highest degree 


iviportant and satisfactory. At the same time, 
our militar-y position does not now compare so 
favourably as formerly with that of our neigh- 
bours, principally owing to our lack of railways, 
and our western frontiers are exposed to great 
danger through the perfect state of preparation o 
Germany and Austria. 

2. For only seventy-two years in the preceding 
two centuries did we enjoy peace ; during the 
remaining time Russia was engaged in thhty- 
three external and two internal wars. On an 
average, therefore, wars occurred every six years. 
They were particularly frequent during the first 
half of the nineteenth century, while in the latter 
portion, if the campaigns in the Caucasus and in 
Asia be excepted, we were only twice engaged 
in hostilities— in 1853-55 and in 1877-78. We 
entered the present century after twenty-two 
years' continuous peace, a longer interval than 
had occurred for 200 years ; but during this time 
many possible causes for hostilities had arisen 
on all sides. Not only had the Empire become 
oppressed with the burden of armed peace, but 
the strain was so tense that there were grounds 
for fearing lest " guns should begin to shoot of 
their own accord." The commencement of each 
of the three past centuries are full enough of sad 
memories for Russia ; it might, therefore, have 
been expected, taking into consideration the 
military forces which were straining at the leash, 

VOL. I. 7 


that the beginning of the twentieth century 
would not be free from war clouds. It only 
needed a spark on one part of the frontier to 
kindle conflagration everywhere. Serious poten- 
tial causes for hostilities existed on the western, 
Turkish, and Afghan frontiers, and in 1895 there 
was an actual casus belli on the Chinese border. In 
such circumstances international affairs required 
the most delicate handling, in order to avoid 
creating any additional excuses for war. 

3. If the Caucasus be excluded, we were 
engaged on our own soil in only six campaigns, 
lasting for six and a half years, out of all the 
struggles during this period, the remainder being 
waged beyond our frontiers. This conferred great 
advantages on us, and showed the high state of 
our preparation in those days as compared with 
that of our enemies. The offensive has such 
immense advantage over the defensive that we 
should always strive, by being as ready as our 
neighbours, to be in a position to attack. 

4. In the twenty-six battles of the nineteenth 
century, the casualties out of 1,500,000 com- 
batants amounted to 323,000 — i.e., almost 22 per 
cent. The heaviest were at Austerlitz — 21,000 
out of 75,000 engaged ; at Borodino — 40,000 out 
of 120,000 engaged ; and at Sevastopol — 85,000 
out of 235,000 engaged. The following table 
shows our total losses in the two centuries : 




Killed and 














While the numbers engaged, therefore, were 
practically the same in both centuries, the losses 
in kiUed and wounded in the nineteenth were 
almost double those in the eighteenth ; this 
indicates the more deadly character of war in the 
former period, and shows also that the losses 
became greater as weapons became perfected.* 
If we assume that Russia will probably have to 
put the same number of men in the field in the 
twentieth century as in the past, and that the 
growth of casualties will be in the same propor- 
tion, we must be prepared to face losses amount- 
ing to 2,000,000 killed and wounded — i.e., 40 per 
cent, of those engaged. 

5. To keep pace with our neighbours' con- 
tinually improving preparation, there is no doubt 
Russia will be compelled to increase her war 

* [This is not the generally accepted view. — Ed.] 



establishment. In our victorious combat with 
Turkey in 1827-29, the greatest strength to 
which our army ever rose in one campaign was 
155,000 men, while in 1877-78 the highest figure 
reached was 850,000. Our maximum in the 
Prussian War of 1756-62 was only 130,000. I 
am thankful to say we have lived at peace 
with our western neighbour for 150 years ; but 
if we were to fight in the west without allies 
now, ten times that number would be insufficient 
to defeat the German army, and — what is the 
main thing — crush the patriotism of the armed 
nation behind it. It follows, therefore, that we 
must not only be prepared in the present century 
to take the field with forces that are huge in 
comparison with those of former days, but also to 
face the colossal initial expenditure and recurrent 
cost demanded by their creation and maintenance. 
6. In the eighteenth and in the first half of the 
nineteenth century our army was a long-service 
one, formed on the European model, well armed, 
and in spite of its lack of training, quite equal 
to the forces of Sweden, France, or Prussia, 
while we were superior in organization, arma- 
ment, and training to our chief foe — Turkey. 
About the middle of the last century we began 
to fall behind the western nations in equipment 
and in all the technical means of destruction. 
At the battle of Borodino our firearms were not 
inferior to those of the French, but at Sevastopol 


we had only smooth-bore muskets, excellent for 
making a noise, for performing rifle exercises or 
bayonet fighting, but inaccurate, and of short 

7. It became only too clear during our last 
wars — in 1853-55 and 1877-78— that many of 
our senior officers were unfit for their work 
under modern and complicated conditions. The 
juniors were brave and active within the limits 
of their duties, but insufficiently educated. 
Officers commanding units were, with some 
brilliant exceptions, quite incapable of making 
the most out of the fighting qualities of their 
troops ; but weakest of all were our generals — 
our brigade, division, and army corps com- 
manders. The majority were incapable of com- 
manding all three arms in action, and knew 
neither how to insure cohesion among the units 
under them, nor to keep touch with the forces 
on either side. The feeling of mutual support 
was therefore with us quite undeveloped. In- 
deed, it often happened that while one of our 
forces was being destroyed, the commander of 
some other force close by remained inactive 
under the plea of not having received any orders. 

8. Generally speaking, at the time of the 
Crimea and Turkish War (of 1877-78) our 
troops had practically no tactical training, and 
we did not know how to attain the best results 
with the minimum of loss. In the attack we 





advanced almost in column, and suffered heavily ; 
while very little use was ever made of the 
auxiliary arms — cavalry, artillery, and sappers — 
indeed, they were almost forgotten. But we 
had one strong point : we were not afraid to die, 
and only asked to be shown in which direction 
sacrifice was required of us. 

9. Judging by the experiences of the wars of 
these two centuries, in order to insure success in 
the future we must be prepared to concentrate a 
superior force. Without superiority in numbers 
our troops were unable, especially in the attack, 
to defeat Swedes, Frenchmen, or, in the last 
war, Turks. 

10. But, quite apart from the grave question 
of how best to make ready to oppose the armies 
of our western neighbours, 2 millions strong, the 
War Department has to take into account the 
40,000,000 of non-Russian subjects, many of 
whom Hve in our Asiatic frontier districts and 
in the Caucasus, for their attitude really deter- 
mines the number of men we must leave for the 
defence of those frontiers in case of a European 

11. Finally, the work of the Department be- 
came still more complicated in tlie concluding 
years of the last century, owing to the greater 
frequency of the calls upon the troops to take 
part in the suppression of civil disorder in Russia 
itself. The discontent of all grades of the popu- 



lation has increased of recent years, and revo- 
lutionary propaganda have found in this dis- 
satisfaction their most favourable soil ; even the 
army has not escaped infection. It therefore 
appears that the maintenance of order in the 
interior of our country will not be the smallest 
task of the War Department in the coming 

12. In the last twenty-five years not only 
Germany and Austria, but our other neighbours, 
have perfected the organization of their forces, 
and have arrived at a pitch of excellence which 
will enable them either to take up a strong 
defensive, or rapidly to carry the war into our 
teiTitory ; consequently, we have to face greater 
expenditure, and arrange for larger concentra- 
tions also on the Roumanian, Turkish, and 
Afghan frontiers. We were at peace for nearly 
two hundred years on the Chinese border, but 
events occurred wdthm the last fifteen years of 
the last century which forced us to begin in- 
creasing our insignificant forces then in the Far 
East, although we quite realized that our best 
pohcy was to keep peace with China, and to 
avoid rupture with Japan. Thus the chief duty 
of the Wai^ Department in the first years of the 
present century is the defence of our p'ontiers. 
Of these, our Austrian and German borders, 
being the most dangei'ous, should receive our 
particular attention. 


There is no doubt that to carry on an ener- 
getic offensive is our best protection. But our 
power to do this does not depend upon the action 
of our War Department alone : it depends upon 
the relative national efficiencies. The more fully 
developed and efficient a nation is, the more 
numerous are its war resources of every sort. 
But the one factor which nowadays determines 
more than all else the nature and direction of 
operations is the railways. In this connection 
we have noted the large number of lines at the 
disposal of our neighbours in the west, and that 
is precisely the front upon which we are handi- 
capped almost to actual impotence by our back- 
wardness. There are so many other urgent calls 
for the expenditure of money that the con- 
struction of piu'cly strategic and economically 
unremunerative lines seems wasteful and the 
cost prohibitive. For this reason our strategy 
on this side calls for the greatest care and thought 
in order that we may conduct as active a defence 
as possible. The next thing to do after admit- 
ting our present disadvantages is to realize that 
it is upon this frontier that the largest portion 
of the funds available for military purposes 
should be spent, while the remainder can be 
apportioned between all our other frontiers. It 
is clear that we were in no position to spend 
money on the Far East, and after the forward 
moves made in that direction from 1896-1900, it 


was realized that in that quarter the purely 
defensive was our best policy. The communique 
of our Government of June 24, 1900, informed 
the whole world of our intention not to annex 
the territory we were then occupying in Man- 
churia, and gave us every reason to suppose that 
if we kept our engagements no trouble with 
China and Japan was likely. 

13. Even in the concluding years of the last 
century Russia was not preparing for any further 
advance in the Far East, but was fully occupied 
with the defence of her western front and with 
the maintenance of internal order. Thus, our 
unexpected forward movement, first in Man- 
churia and then to the shores of the Pacific 
Ocean, found the War Department as surprised 
as it was unprepared. In such circumstances 
our promise not to annex JNIanchuria was a very 
necessary one, not only on account of our desire 
not to disturb our friendly relations with China, 
but because we were aware of our military 
unreadiness in that part of the world. In the 
report I submitted in 1900 regarding the duties 
of the Department in the early future, I said : 

"While we must be prepared to defend our 
interests upon the Pacific Ocean, in Afghanistan, 
Persia, and Turkey, and also to fight at sea, we 
cannot afford either the men or the money to be 
at the same time equal in power to our western 
neighbours. We have given to Germany and 
Austria a decided advantage by directing our 


attention to the Far East. This disturbance of 
the balance of power menaces the integrity of 
the Empire, and I sincerely believe that it will 
not be permitted to continue by the Tsar. As 
the War Department's first task, therefore, I 
propose to develop the efficiency of our forces 
on the western frontier, and to formulate a 
definite plan of operations for them." 

From our Ally's point of view, also, it was 
only right to attend to this at once, for our 
comparative weakness on this side would in case 
of war allow the Powers of the Triple Alliance 
to contain us with quite a small force on our 
frontier and to crush France by overwhelming 

14. Our land forces bore the brunt of the 
national struggles during this period. After 
Peter the Great's time the role of the Russian 
fleet in all the wars in which we were engaged 
was insignificant. In the last two great wars of 
the last century we particularly needed the 
co-operation of the fleet, but our sailors at 
Sevastopol fought on land, owing to our naval 
inefficiency. In the war of 1877-78 the Turks had 
no fleet on the Black Sea. Russia is undoubtedly 
a land Power ; the small part played in the past 
by the fleet, therefore, was not accidental, but 
natural. If we had spent large sums in this 
period on our navy, we should only have made 
our position worse, for it was only by immense 
expenditure on the army that we were able to 


win. History has taught us that we should 
follow in our fathers' footsteps, and, considering 
the army as Russia's right arm, spend upon it 
the larger part of the sums allotted by the 
JNlinistry of Finance for general military needs. 
But our active ventures in the Far East forced 
us into naval expenditure, which was arranged 
for in the last years of last century by starving 
the army finances. The result is alarming. On 
this point I wrote in my report of 1900 : 

" If in the future the fleet is to be increased 
at the expense of the army, and if the increase 
of our forces on the eastern frontier is to be 
made at the expense of those stationed on the 
western, then our already weak position in regard 
to Germany and Austria will become still worse. 
With the growth of our navy will arise questions 
of coaling stations and ports, and as our ex- 
penditure on these as well as on our ships grows 
heavier, it will entail retrenchment on our most 
important frontier — that in Europe. Once our 
fleet had destroyed the Turkish sailing fleet at 
Sinope, it became impotent, despite its high 
moral, for it then had to contend against steam, 
against which it was powerless." 

15. In the war of 1877-78 we had an unfor- 
tunate experience. The Turks, whom we had 
conquered previously, although we had to fight 
against huge odds, were on this occasion 
organized on the European system by European 
instructors, and were better armed than we were. 
Their firearms had been made in the workshops 


of Germany and England, and were far superior 
to ours.* Now, other conditions being equal, 
not only does the better weapon tend to victory, 
because it causes greater loss, but because — and 
this is far more important — the knowledge of 
being better armed bestows confidence. Pos- 
sessed of a weapon even but little inferior to 
that of an enemy, men are inclined to ascribe 
their own faults to the superiority of the enemy's 
armament. There was in this respect no such 
difference between us and the Turks in 1877-78 
as had existed in 1853-55 ; but still, after our 
first misfortune at Plevna, our army lost con- 
fidence in its rifles and guns, and ascribed its 
misfortunes to the superior armament of the 
Turks. Everything, therefore, points to the 
necessity of keeping up to date in armament. 
In the past our difficulty in keeping pace with 
the various improvements so rapidly introduced 
was increased by the fact that we not only had 
to re-arm the regular army, but had to create 
an immense stock of weapons for the reserve 
troops, militia, depot troops, and again as a 
reserve for the whole of the forces. 

16. In our wars with minor enemies (such as 
Turks, Caucasians, and Central Asians) we 

* We had three rifles — the Berdan, the Krink, and the 
Karl ; most of them were Krink, converted from the " six- 
line rifle." The Turks' Peabody was a far more perfect 


were victorious, owing to our great numerical 
superiority. In meeting nations of a higher 
civiKzation than our own (sucli as the Swedes 
and the French), we generally suffered very 
heavily at first, but won in the end, in spite of 
our comparative lack of skill, owing to our 
dogged bravery and determination. Peter the 
Great carried on the struggle for nine years 
from Narva to Poltava, and Alexander I. fought 
for the same period between Austerlitz and the 
entry of our troops into Paris. The objects of 
these wars were clear to our troops, and the men 
were inspired to fight on to the end at all costs. 
As a result, our troops did win. In the Crimea, 
and in 1877-78, not only was our object in 
fighting vague, but the wars were prematurely 
finished before the army or the nation had really 
put out their strength, and in spite of our 
sacrifices and losses, we were in both cases un- 
successful. Every war brings in its train much 
unhappiness to both sides, and the loss of a 
campaign is for a great nation a supreme mis- 
fortune and one overwhelming the machinery of 
government. Therefore, strive as it may against 
commencing hostilities, when once a country 
takes up arms it should continue to fight until 
it wins ; otherwise it will lose the right to be 
considered a great nation, and will become a 
"collection of mere ethnographical material," from 
which other nationalities may be strengthened. 


The following words of my report of 1900 are 
as applicable to-day as when I wrote them : 

" Crises of world-wide importance arise sud- 
denly, and are not prevented by the unprepared- 
ness of a nation for war. On the contrary, the 
knowledge of unreadiness in any quarter only 
leads to a desire to take advantage of it in others. 
Therefore a struggle such as has never been seen 
in the world may come sooner than we think. 
It may burst forth even contrary to the wish of 
the Tsar, and against the interests of Russia. 
This would be a great calamity for the whole 
world. But particularly calamitous for Russia 
would be any cessation by her, before complete 
victory was achieved, of a war once started. 

" In the event of disaster in the first campaign, 
and after the first and serious consequences of war 
— -fajuine, disease, paralysis of trade, and, above 
all, heavy losses — have made themselves felt, the 
Russian monarch's character will need to be of 
iron to enable him to resist the universal clamour 
that will be raised to accept defeat and make 


The work before the War Department in the concluding 
years of the last, and the early years of the present, 
century— Money allotted to it from 1898-1903 — 
Inadequacy of these sums to meet the demands — 
Measures which it was possible to undertake — Steps 
taken to improve and consolidate our position in the 
Far East. 

In the Russki Invalid (No. 143 of 1895) an 

article appeared in reply to one by Demchinski, 

which had been published in the Slovo under the 

title of " Were we Ready for War ?" Demo- 

chinski endeavoured to prove that we spend 

more than other countries on national defence ; 

that the amounts allotted for this purpose in 

Russia are ample ; that the measures brought 

forward as necessary in order to prepare our army 

for war are merely a cloak for extortion ; and 

that lack of financial control in our administration 

allows great openings for the misappropriation of 

funds. In replying, the article in the Russki 

Invalid quoted from the standard works of 

Professor Maksheeff upon the army estimates of 

Germany and Russia from 1888 to 1900. During 



these thirteen years the expenditure amounted to 
£358,100,000 in Germany, and £347,900,000 in 
Russia. Therefore Germany, with half our peace 
strength, spent in that period £10,000,000 more 
than we did. The enormous length of our fron- 
tiers, amongst other things, forces us to maintain 
twice as many men in peace as Germany. Even 
of the lesser sum for greater numbers that we 
spend, we are obliged to allot almost the whole 
to meet maintenance charges (food, uniform, etc.). 
So that not only do we spend less money than 
Germany on the whole, but we can afford pro- 
portionately less on " special or extraordinary 
services," which include those of preparing the 
army for war. On this important question the 
writer of the article in the Russia Invalid ex- 
presses himself much to the point : 

" As the ordinary expenditure is urgent, and 
cannot be postponed, it calls for no comment, 
being allotted, in fact, to measures to which we 
are already committed. With regard to the 
measures which come under the head of extra- 
ordinary expenditure, the case is different. They 
are not urgent in the sense that we are absolutely 
committed to them, and they are, therefore, as a 
matter of course, not urgent in the opinion of 
those unversed in military matters. Consequently 
these persons are inclined to refuse sanction to 
such measures, to postpone them, or, under the 
most favourable circumstances, to spread their 
execution over a considerable period. The result 
is bad for national defence and for the prepara- 


tion of the army for war. Our forces might 
suddenly be called upon to take the field with 
inferior armament, with insufficient and unser- 
viceable supplies, and without well-organized 
communications. Upon analyzing the German 
army estimates, one is struck with the comparative 
magnitude of the initial and extraordinary ex- 
penditure, which shows that, although her army 
is half the strength of ours, she spends vastly 
more money on it than we do on ours." 

Our comparative unreadiness for war, in spite 
of our possessing a large standing army, first 
became evident, as I have mentioned, as far back 
as 1870, when the Germans were able to throw 
an immense army across the French frontier in a 
fortnight, and conduct a victorious campaign 
with extraordinary speed. The Turkish War of 
1877-78, again, exposed our weak points in or- 
ganization and mobilization, and profiting by its 
lessons, many measures towards improvement 
were undertaken during Count INIilutin's regime 
at the Ministry of War. The new grouping ot 
the Powers and the formation of the Triple 
Alliance, also, were events which emphasized the 
necessity for us to set our house in order as 
regards defence. During the sixteen years from 
1882 to 1898 Generals Vannovski and ObruchefF, 
guided by the opinions of the leading generals in 
command of troops, managed to increase the 
efficiency of the army and at the same time to 
strengthen our defences. On the western frontier 

VOL. I. 8 


a system of fortified positions was organized, and 
reserves of supplies collected at strategic points ; 
but, owing to the inadequate development of our 
railway system, it became necessary, in addition, 
to increase the number of troops permanently 
stationed in the western military districts. Steps 
were also taken for the defence of the Baltic and 
Black Sea coasts. But our attention was chiefly, 
and quite rightly, confined to the west, and as 
small appropriations as possible were made for 
the Caucasus, Turkestan, and the Siberian Mili- 
tary Districts. Thus, in Siberia, from the Pacific 
to the Ural Mountains, we only had a few batta- 
lions, and not a single fortress ; nor did we have 
any fortified posts in Turkestan. To strengthen 
the troops on the western frontier, indeed, we 
took troops from the Caucasus, and to find money 
for the formation of new units, we had to reduce 
the strength of those in Turkestan. This was 
done on the supposition that if we were strong 
on the German side, no one would attack us in 
the Caucasus or in Asia. In other words, our 
efforts were concentrated upon the most danger- 
ous frontier. But even then, taking into con 
sideration the many wants of the army, the sum 
available for our western side, though large, was 
insufficient to place us in all respects on a level 
with both Germany and Austria. Though great 
results were obtained as regards the acceleration 
of our mobilization, and some very useful strategic 


lines of railway were constructed, our speed of con- 
centration could not be compared to that of our 
neighbours, with their better-developed railway- 
systems. However economically the War Minis- 
try treated those measures which were unessential, 
and could therefore be shelved temporarily, pro- 
gress with the urgent services was not as rapid as 
could be desired. Confronted as it was, therefore, 
with many demands of the western frontier still 
unsatisfied, the Department, on the whole, could 
not but be a convinced opponent of a forward 
policy in the Far East, in Afghanistan, or in Persia. 
This practically represents the state of affairs and 
the feeling of the Department right up to the 
outbreak of the Chino- Japanese War in 1894. 

In 1898 I succeeded General Vannovski as War 
Minister, General SakharofF taking the place of 
General ObruchefF.* We fully recognized the 
necessity, when framing the estimates, of pursuing 
the same policy as our predecessors, and of placing 
first and foremost the improvement of our mili- 
tary position on the west, but we had by this 
time taken steps in the Far East which made it im- 
possible to confine our expenditure in that quarter 
to the small amount of previous years. Events 
out there had moved rapidly, and were such as 
called for expenditure of men and money in Kuan- 
tung, Manchuria, and in the Pri-Amur region. 

A schedule is drawn up for the allocation of 

* [As chief of the Headquarter Staff. — Ed.] 



the expenditure of the sum allotted to the War 
Ministry. In this, with the previous consent of 
the Finance Branch, the War Minister frames a 
general estimate for five years, in which the 
services are divided up according as the expen- 
diture is to be capital or recurring. The estimates 
for new and important services entailing initial 
expenditure are, after being examined by the 
Military Council, scrutinized by a special com- 
mittee before being approved. This committee 
is presided over by the President of the Depart- 
ment of State Economy, and the Finance 
Minister and the State Comptroller are members. 
The final list of measures to be undertaken during 
the five-year period are then submitted to the 
Tsar for sanction. The exposition of all the 
army's requirements constitutes one of the most 
important duties of the War Minister. Firstly, 
all general officers in command of districts* 
submit to the Tsar statements as to their require- 
ments for the troops under their command, as 
well as those for works, such as fortresses, rail- 
ways, etc. The heads of the chief departments — 
commissariat, artillery, engineers, etc. — draw up 
their estimates as to buildings, mobilization, and 
educational requirements, etc. These are classi- 
fied according as they demand initial or recurring 
expenditure, and many of the more important 
items are examined in the Military Council or by 
* [Russia is divided into thirteen military districts. — Ed.] 


special committees. This was the complicated 
procedure necessary in 1897 and 1898 to fix the 
total sum required by the War Department during 
the five years 1898 to 1903 for the maintenance 
of the army and the improvement of its military 
efficiency. The very limited amount allotted 
during the twenty years preceding this period 
had literally been doled out, not according to the 
needs of the army, but according to the amount 
available in the Treasury ; consequently the need 
of money had gone on increasing cumulatively, 
until in 1898 we were face to face with a situation 
which demanded greater sacrifices than ever. 

Early in 1898 a general statement had been 
drawn up by my predecessor's orders to show our 
urgent requirements. By this it was clear that, 
in order to satisfy all our wants, a supplementarij 
allotment of £56,500,000 was absolutely neces- 
sary beyond the sum required for the five-year 
schedule. This amount included expenditure 
on two items of a very special nature : the re- 
armament of the field artiUery with quick-firing 
guns (£9,000,000), and the increase of house 
allowances (£2,000,000). It must be remembered 
that the measures now put forward by General 
Vannovski did not even dispose of our many 
really important needs, for in his supplementary 
statement were included only those things that 
could not be postponed, or which had long ago 
been sanctioned, but not carried out for want 

118 <;e30,000,000 TOO LITTLE 

of funds. Amongst the most important of these 
were the following : 

1. The improvement of the organization of the 
army and increases to its establishment, including 
additions to the troops in the Asiatic districts, 
especially in Pri-Amur. 

2. The betterment of the conditions of service 
of all ranks, particularly as to an increase to the 
officers' pay and house allowance, and the intro- 
duction of field kitchens. 

3. The augmentation of reserve supplies in the 
Pri-Amur and Turkestan districts. 

4. An increase in the artillery in the Siberian 
Military District. 

5. The formation of extra engineer units and 
strengthening of fortresses. 

The Finance Minister, to whom this demand 
for a further allotment of £45,500,000* addi- 
tional to the schedule for the period of 1898 to 
1902 was submitted, replied that the state of 
the country's finances would not permit of the 
money being given. After much discussion 
he agreed to grant £16,000,000 instead of 
£45,500,000, and this lesser sum was finally 
approved. So we actually received for this five- 
year period about £30,000,000 less than was 
required, or a deficit of £6,000,000 per annum. 
Such a policy could have only one result, that of 

* Besides the allotments for artillery re-armament and 
house allowance. 


placing us further behind our western neigh- 
bours in the military race, as in many directions 
it compelled the cessation of work necessary 
for the strengthening of our position both on our 
European and Asiatic frontiers. Besides this, 
large sums were required for the general im- 
provement of the status of our troops on the 
peace establishment. In the first place, in order 
to obtain greater efficiency among the senior 
officers, it was essential to treat the whole body 
of officers in a more liberal spirit, so that zealous 
and capable men should be content to remain in 
the Service, and not wish to leave ; to modernize 
and add to the number of our military educational 
establishments, so that as large a number of 
officers as possible should receive a general train- 
ing of a standard equivalent to that given in 
the middle-class educational establishments. Our 
private soldiers were decidedly worse off than 
those of other armies as regards ready-money, 
food, dress, and equipment, and the expenditure 
required to improve their condition would of 
course be heavy. Again, our horses were not of 
a sufficiently good class, especially in the Cossack 
regiments and the transport. These were only 
the most pressing of the army's many needs. 

Thus the legacy left to me when I assumed 
the duty of War INIinister on January 1, 1898, 
was no pleasing one. The immense needs of the 
army were clear at a glance, but not clearer than 


the lack of funds wherewith they might be met. 
Consequently I had to examine all proposals 
most carefully in order to settle which could be 
carried out, and which must be indefinitely post- 
poned. I have already expressed my views on 
the importance of our western frontier, but to 
carry out what was necessary for our mihtary 
position on that side would have absorbed the 
whole of the additional £16,000,000 allowed on 
the supplementaiy estimate for all purposes during 
five years. Meanwhile there was the long list 
of almost equally pressing demands for the im- 
provement in the senior ranks and for the con- 
solidation of our position in the Far East, etc. 
The housing of our troops was in many cases 
so extremely bad that it was difficult to train 
the men, and this necessitated the construction 
of barracks at various stations. Finally, those 
services which had been started in the preceding 
five years had to be completed, particularly those 
touching the organization of reserve units. The 
Tsar investigated the relative urgency of these 
matters, and approved a scheme for 1899 to 
1903, which, with the exception of the re- 
organization of the reserve troops and the further 
increase to our troops in European Russia, was 
carried out completely. The services approved 
by the Tsar were noted by the War Ministry. 
The following are a few, and show the form in 
which they were officially recorded : 


1. With a view to possible complications in 
the Far East, the Tsar gave orders that our 
military position there should be strengthened. 

2. The War Minister's recommendations as to 
the necessity of improving the general condi- 
tions under which officers served, in order to get 
greater efficiency among the seniors, were warmly 
supported by the Tsar, who issued orders that 
the matter should be taken in hand at once. 

3. The Tsar was also pleased to order that 
the conditions of service of the soldiers should be 
made more liberal. Better quarters were to be 
constructed, and the issue of a tea ration was to 
be gradually introduced. 

4. The Tsar was pleased to recognize the 
particular importance of the re-armament of the 
artillery, and instructed the Minister of Finance 
to provide funds for it by a supplementary grant. 

The measures carried out by the War Depart- 
ment from 1899 to 1903 can be described in a 
few words : 

The Pri-Amur Military District as at present 
defined had only been formed in 1883. Its 
garrison originally consisted of 12 battalions, 
10 squadrons, 2^ Cossack battalions, 5 batteries, 
a sapper company, and 1 company of fortress 
artillery. Ten years later, in 1894, it had risen 
to 20 battalions of infantry. From 1895 we 
began to increase the troops in the Far East 
Tvdth some rapidity. Between 1898 and 1902 


they were increased by 840 officers, 37,000 men, 
and 2,600 horses. Altogether in that period our 
forces had grown to 31 battahons, 15 squadrons, 
32 guns, 1 sapper battahon, and 3 battahons of 
fortress artillery. Moreover, 5 railway bat- 
talions had been formed for work on the Eastern 
Chinese Railway, and the Frontier and other 
guards had been increased from 8,000 to 25,000. 
The general total increase in numbers in the 
Pri-Amur district, in Manchuria and in Kuan- 
tung, amounted to 60,000 men. The idea of the 
scheme of 1899 was to enable us to bring as soon 
as possible the establishment of the troops in 
these districts of the Far East up to 48 Rifle and 
48 reserve battalions, 57 squadrons, 236 guns, 
and 3f sapper battalions, organized in three corps. 
Compared with the few battalions in Siberia 
and the Pri-Amur district only a short time 
before, this was a large force, and its organization 
at so great a distance was most difficult. It 
depended to a great extent on the amount of 
money available and local conditions, and took 
some years to complete. As this force could be 
rapidly concentrated, the idea was that it should 
constitute a strong advance-guard, under cover 
of which the reinforcements from Russia would 
be able to concentrate. The fate of a first cam- 
paign must obviously depend to a great extent 
on the rapidity with which these reinforcements 
could be transported, and yet in 1900 the 


Siberian Railway was not constructed as a first- 
class line, and the Eastern Chinese line w^as not 
finished. I reported in 1900 : 

" To bring our forces up to the total specified* 
will take six to seven years. This fact, coupled 
with the incapacity of our railways to cope with 
any heavy traffic, calls for the greatest care in 
our external relations, lest we permit ourselves 
to be drawn into war at a disadvantage, with 
an insufficient number of troops which could be 
only very slowly concentrated." 

For various reasons, too complicated to ex- 
plain, this advice was not acted on ; the necessity 
for extreme care was not appreciated, and we 
were suddenly plunged into war when we were 
not ready. In 1902 our military position was 
good, and having begun to carry out our 
promises as to the evacuation of IVIanchuria, 
we had every reason to count on a continuance 
of peace in the Far East. But towards the end 
of that year there were signs of a possible rup- 
ture with Japan. The War Department was 
not bhnd to these, and the measures enumerated 
above, which, witli the money then available, 
were to have been completed by 1906 or 1907, 
were, by the aid of a supplementary allotment, 
carried out within a year. 

While hoping for peace, we steadily prepared 
for hostilities, and increased our troops in the 
Far East in 1903 by 38 battalions, and in the 
* 96 battalions, 57 squadrons, and 236 guns. 


same year formed 32 new battalions in European 
Russia ; so that by adding one to each of the 
East Siberian two -battalion* regiments, and 
thereby converting them into three - battalion 
regiments, aU the 9 East Siberian Brigades could 
be expanded into 9 East Siberian Rifle Divisions, 
with 12 battalions apiece. The allotment of 
artillery and sappers to these divisions was 
carried out under a special scheme. Thus tlie 
force of 19 battalions which we had in the 
Pri-Amur district at the time of the Chino- 
Japanese AVar should have swollen in 1903 into 
one of 108 rifle and 20 reserve battalions. 
Behind these stood 40 more reserve battalions, 
held in reserve in the Siberian Military District. 
Altogether our Siberian possessions were to have 
contained in 1903 an army of 168 battalions of 
infantry, with a due proportion of other arms. 
The railway, however, did not permit us to 
transport these additional units until the spring 
of 1904, when hostilities had commenced. Yet 
they were eventually received, and the force in 
the Pri-Amur — which was practically defenceless 
at the time of the Chino-Japanese War — had 
grown into an army of four Siberian corps and 
two independent divisions, which received the 
first blows in the Japanese War. Though 

* [Of the thirty-six East Siberian Rifle Regiments in 
the Far East when war broke out, all had two battalions 
xcept those of one brigade, which had three. — Ed.J 


hastily improvised between 1895 and 1903, 
thanks to the great efforts made to render them 
reUable, to the fortunate selection of their com- 
manders, and to their strong peace establish- 
ments, they proved to be our best troops. The 
principle upon which they were formed was the 
transference to them of complete companies 
chosen by ballot from the corps in Europe, and 
only under exceptional circumstances were the 
company officers permitted to be transferred 
from these new units. Each of the 32 battalions 
was formed from one of the army corps in 
Russia, one company being taken from each 
brigade, and picked officers were placed in com- 
mand of each battalion. The soundness of the 
scheme upon which these units were created is 
borne out by the fact that at the Ya-lu the 
3rd Battalions of the 11th and 12th Regiments, 
which had only just arrived to join their regi- 
ments, fought most gallantly. The 3rd Bat- 
talion of the 11th Regiment in particular, by 
making a counter-attack with the bayonet, in- 
flicted severe loss on the enemy. In the spring 
of 1905 the regiments of all 7 East Siberian 
Rifle Divisions were turned into four-battalion 
regiments. In the 1st Manchurian Army, which 
I had the honour to command, were 5 of 
these East Siberian Rifle Divisions, and their 
90* battalions were acknowledged to be the pick 
[* ^ic— Ed.] 


of all three armies. But to form all these new 
units we had to denude our German frontier to 
an alarming extent. 

Besides increasing the number of men in the 
Far East between 1896 and 1903, we formed 
supply depots, and hastily fortified Vladivostok 
and Port Arthur. Indeed, one quarter of the 
total sum allotted to all our fortress construction 
and maintenance from 1898 to 1902 was spent 
upon these two fortresses. Only on Kronstadt,* 
of all our land and sea strongholds, was more 
money spent than on Port Arthur. Many other 
difficulties besides those of finance confronted us 
in the provision of armament. It was vitally 
necessary that both Vladivostok and Port 
Arthur should have coast guns of the latest 
pattern, but it took a long time to get them 
delivered by the factories owing to the heavy 
orders already being executed for the Navy 
Department. As a temporary measure we were 
obliged to mount old-pattern guns. In a short 
time more than 1,000 pieces of ordnance were 
transported from European Russia to these two 
places. Progress was greatly delayed when the 
railway was interrupted during the rising in 
Manchuria in 1900, while work at Port Arthur 
itself was for a long time stopped by Admiral 
AlexeiefF's order. Had it not been for these 

* The proposals as to Kronstadt were approved before 
I became War Minister. 


delays, the place would have been much better 
prepared in 1904 than it was. But to appreciate 
properly what was accomplished there in a short 
time two circumstances should be remembered : 

yl. Owing to our fleet being shut up in Port 
Arthur, the Japanese possessed the command of 
the sea, and were able to remove the armament 
from several of their naval fortresses to Kuan- 
tung for the siege operations ; against these coast 
guns even masonry defences were of little use. 

B. The delivery of these hea\'y howitzers and 
the landing of other siege material was greatly 
facihtated by the existence of Dalny, a place 
which had been created entirely at the instance of 
M. de Witte, without any reference ha\dng been 
made to the War Ministry or the officer com- 
manding the Kuan-tung district, under whose 
control the locality actually was. 

A large quantity of food-supplies was collected 
in Port Arthur, and even at the time of its 
premature surrender there was enough in the 
place to last for one and a half months. INIore- 
over, the authorities on the spot were em- 
powered to purchase locally, and as the resources 
of flour, barley, rice, and cattle in the district 
were unlimited, there was nothing to prevent 
them doing this. Many unreasonable reproaches 
have been hurled upon the War Department on 
account of the inadequate strength of the forti- 
fications, but in the creation of this fortress great 


difficulties had to be overcome in a very short 
time. In estimating the ultimate strength of 
the place, it must not be forgotten that we only 
took possession of it at the end of 1897 ; that 
during 1898 and 1899 we had a very weak 
temporary armament on the sea-front ; and that 
the cumbrous official procedure then in force 
made it impossible to spend quickly large sums 
on new fortress works. Firstly, the scheme had 
to be drawn up by the engineers on the spot, 
then it had to be sent to St. Petersburg to be 
examined by the Engineer Committee, and 
afterwards to be approved by the Tsar. In the 
case of Port Arthur, in order to accelerate this 
routine, special authority was deputed to the 
local authorities ; while Major-General Velichko, 
a gifted and energetic Engineer officer, was sent 
to the Far East as the representative of the Head- 
quarter Engineer Administration. Indeed, when 
the scheme of fortifications at Port Arthur was 
put before the Emperor for his approval, a large 
portion of the works had, contrary to the usual 
procedure, been commenced in anticipation of 
sanction. As everything was stopped by Admiral 
Alexeieff, who was commanding the Kuan-tung 
district, during the rising in Manchuria in 1900, 
we only had three years (1901, 1902, and 1903) 
to finish these tremendous permanent works. 
Considering the time available and the rocky soil, 
much indeed was done. 


The armament, also, could not well have been 
provided more quickly. The ordnance had first 
to be made, and the orders for coast guns could 
only be executed slowly, as the Obukhoff factory 
was full of work for the Navy Department. The 
10-inch and 11 -inch Canet guns and large-calibre 
mortars ordered by the War Department wTre 
required simultaneously in all the Russian naval 
fortresses, especially in Libau, Kronstadt, and 
Vladivostok ; but, as a matter of fact, Port 
Arthur and Vladivostok received most of them 
at the expense of our strength in the Baltic and 
Black Seas. While awaiting the demands for 
new ordnance to be complied with, we robbed 
other places, so as to bring up the Port Arthur 
armament to some hundreds of guns. In the 
first years of its occupation, also, everything 
for this place had to be sent round by sea. 
Not^vithstanding all these difficulties, in four 
years (1899 to 1903) we succeeded in making 
Port Arthur so strong that the armament of its 
sea-front kept the whole Japanese fleet at a 
respectful distance, while the batteries on the 
land side withstood a severe test under the most 
unfavourable conditions. Not only were the 
enemy numerous and possessed of technical 
troops and material for the destruction of our 
defences, but being presented with a ready- 
made base in Dalny, they were able to land 
monster siege-guns. Once again, as at Sevas- 

VOL. 1. 9 


topol, our fleet was more useful on land than 
on its proper element. Yet the enemy lost twice 
as many men as the garrison, and Port Arthur 
held out almost twelve months from the com- 
mencement of the war. Even then its fall was 

Much attention was also paid to economy, and 
Treasury interests were by no means over- 
looked. The rapid concentration of troops, the 
large number of buildings that had to be con- 
srtucted, and the collection of supplies and 
stores for the commissariat and engmeer depart- 
ments, afforded ample scope for malpractices ; 
but the appointment of selected officers at the 
head of these two great branches of the army, 
and of picked men as their assistants, was natur- 
ally productive of good results, and the reputa- 
tion of these branches in no way suffered in 
the war. 

I am confident that if future historians take 
into consideration the enormous distance of the 
theatre of war from the centre of Russia, they 
will not only be amazed at the results achieved 
by the War Department in strengthening our 
position there between the years 1895 and 1903, 
but will see how unfounded was the accusation 
that adequate steps were not taken to prepare 
for war. I repeat that, with such money as was 
available, and with the limited time at our dis- 
posal, a great and responsible work was accom- 


plished, so much so that the Pri-Amur district, 
which was defenceless in 1895, was in 1903 so 
strong that a whole armed nation, in spite of its 
own great efforts and the entire uselessness of 
our fleet, was unable to touch our territory 
anywhere, with the exception of Saghalien. In 
1900 I recorded my opinion that the Japanese 
would be able, in the event of war, to put into 
the field about 400,000 men with 1,100 guns. 
Of course, it was not possible for us to pour such 
a number of men into JNIanchuria and Pri-Amur. 
This would have necessitated many years, and 
the expenditure of millions, as well as the earlier 
construction of railway connection with the Far 

The extent to which our strength in the Far 
East directly depended on railway efficiency is 
apparent from the fact that in our schemes of 
July, 1903, for the transport of troops, we could 
only count on two short military trains per diem. 
When instructions were given to carry four 
Rifle and one sapper battalions, two batteries, and 
1,700 tons of military stores as quickly as possible 
to Port Arthur, it was calculated, according to 
the mobilization schemes, that it could not be 
done in less than twenty-two days, and we 
were unable to make use of the full carrying 
capacity of the newly built Eastern Chinese line 
for six months after the opening of the war. To 
improve it an immense amount of work in laying 



sidings and crossings, arranging for water-supply, 
ballasting the track, and the construction of 
buildings, was necessary. All this implied railing 
up a large number of sleepers, rails, building 
materials, and rolling-stock ; construction trains 
vvere also required. During 1902 and 1903 the 
greater the number of troop-trains that ran, the 
less was the progress in the construction and 
improvement of the line. During the latter 
year the War Department took every advantage 
of the railway in order to increase our forces in 
the Far East, and it was only owing to the 
immense exertions of all the railway personnel 
that it was possible to transport the troops and 
military stores without stopping construction 
altogether. Notwithstanding the danger of such 
a course, we used the sea for the transport of 
troops as well as stores, and the great risk that 
we ran in doing so during the second half of 
1903, after the viceroyalty had been formed, is 
illustrated by the fact that some of the consign- 
ments of preserved meat sent for Port Arthur 
fell into the hands of the enemy a few days 
before war was declared. It is clear, therefore, 
to what extent BezobrazofF's project for the rapid 
concentration of an army of 75,000 men in 
Southern INIanchuria [sent to me in the summer 
of 1903] could be carried out. The scanty 
population and the absence of local resources in 
tlie Pri-Amur prohibited the maintenance of a 


large force there in peace-time. Over the wide 
stretch of territory from Lake Baikal to Vladi- 
vostok there are only about a million souls, and 
of this total only 400,000 are in the Amur and 
Maritime districts. From this can be gathered 
what an impossible burden to the State it would 
have been to attempt to maintain a large army 
in such a desert. Consequently we endeavoured 
to keep in Siberia and Pri-Amur only such a 
number as would be sufficient, in the first 
instance, to contain the enemy, and to form a 
screen, under cover of which the reinforcements 
could be concentrated. The conditions are the 
same on the western, Caucasian, and Afghanistan 
frontiers : the local troops form, so to speak, an 
impenetrable veil, under cover of which the 
main forces can be concentrated. 

Though this screen consisted, in the Far East, 
of 172* battalions, of which more than 100 could 

* Of this number, 8 East Siberian Rifle Divisions, 
96 battalions ; 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Siberian Reserve 
Divisions, 48 battalions ; independent reserve battalions, 
12 ; 2 brigades, 31st and 35th Divisions, 16 battalions — 
total, 172 battalions. All these troops were in April, 
1904, in Siberia, in the Pri-Amur district, and in Man- 
churia, Of them, 27 battalions constituted the garrison 
of Port Arthur ; 21 battalions the garrison of Vladi- 
vostok and the South Ussuri district ; the 1st Siberian 
Division was kept in rear; while the independent reserve 
battalions guarded the railway. In April, 1904, of these 
172 battalions, there were only 108 in the Manchurian 
army, distributed from the Ya-lu to Newchuang, and 


take the field, it was never, of course, intended 
that the issue of the war should hang upon their 
efforts alone ; but our difficulty lay in bringing 
up our main forces soon enough, for, as the 
enemy could concentrate quicker than we could, 
our reinforcements might be destroyed in detail 
as they arrived. So poor was the traffic capacity 
of the railway that we were neither able to send 
drafts to the advanced troops nor to support them 
in time with adequate reinforcements. If the 
arrangements had been such as I shall detail later 
on, we should have had double the number of men 
at Liao-yang and Mukden that we did have, 
and the issue of the battles must have been 
different. But the Ministries of Ways and Com- 
munications and of Finance were unable to carry 
out their promises, and our army only succeeded 
in concentrating eight months later than it 
should have done. By September, 1905, we 
were at last able to collect an army 1,000,000 
strong, ready in every respect to commence a 
second campaign, with troops and material of a 
nature to guarantee success. We had received 
machine - guns, howitzers, shells, small-arm 
ammunition, field railways, wireless telegraphy, 
and technical stores of all sorts, and the senior 
officers were mostly fresh. The War Department 
had, with the co-operation of other departments, 

from Ta-shih-chiao along the railway to Omsk, as the 
4th Siberian Corps was still on the way out. 

"L. OF C." 5,400 MILES LONG 135 

successfully accomplished a most colossal task. 
What single military authority would have 
admitted a few years ago the possibility of con- 
centrating an army of a million men 5,400 miles 
away from its bases of supply and equipment by 
means of a poorly constructed single-line railway? 
Wonders were effected, but it was too late. 
Affairs in the interior of Russia for which the 
War Department could not be held responsible 
were the causes of the war being brought to an 
end at a time when decisive military operations 
should really have only just been beginning. 

The re-armament of the artillery was accom- 
plished as follows. Owing to the introduction of 
the quick-firing gun in other armies, we were 
compelled to adopt it. The superiority of the 
quick-firer over the old pattern was obvious, for, 
apart from its greater range and accuracy, each 
quick-firing battery, by reason of the greater 
number of shells it fires, can cause destruction 
equal to that of a much larger number of non- 
quick-firing guns. After prolonged and ex- 
haustive trials of different patterns, amongst 
which were those submitted by the French 
factories of St. diamond and Schneider, the 
German firm of Krupp, and the Russian PutilofF, 
preference was given to the Russian design, and 
in the beginning of 1900 the first lot of 1,500 guns 
was ordered, further trials being also arranged 
for. Not everybody was convinced of the un- 


doubted superiority of the new type of weapon, 
and General Dragomiroff, who had always been 
opposed to quick-firing artillery, still remained 
a strong opponent of its adoption. In 1902 an 
order for a second lot of guns of a modified and 
improved pattern was given. To test the weapon 
thoroughly and under war conditions, the 
2nd Battery of the Guards Rifle Artillery 
Division, armed with this new 3-inch quick-firer, 
was sent, in August, 1900, to the Far East, 
where the Boxer campaign was then in progress. 
The division took part in four expeditions, two 
in the valley of the Pei-chih-li, one in the hills and 
sandy steppes of Mongolia, and one in the hills 
of Eastern Manchuria. It covered altogether 
about 2,400 miles of different sorts of country, 
under variations in temperature of from 35" to 
22° Reaumur. Most of the marches were as much 
as forty miles in length. The battery came into 
action eleven times, and fired 389 rounds at 
cavalry, infantry, buildings, and fortifications at 
ranges from point-blank to 2,500 yards. The 
results attained were quite satisfactory, par- 
ticularly if the arduous nature of the campaign, 
the season of the year, and the haste with which 
the battery was formed, be taken into account. 
Unfortunately, the test of shelling houses and 
field works was made against an enemy who 
made little resistance, so that faults in the 
ammunition which have recently come to light 


were not then discovered. Wishing to have 
as simple an equipment as possible, we adopted 
one pattern of shell, which was efficient with 
time-fuze against troops in the open, and could 
be used with percussion-fuze against troops 
under cover ; but we omitted to take into account 
the weakness of the explosive employed as burster. 
The projectile which did splendidly against 
exposed targets was of little use for destroying 
such cover as buildings, timber, or breastworks. 
In March, 1902, the necessary grant was made 
for re-arming batteries of the 2nd Category, 
and the orders were carried out in our arsenals. 
The re-armament made such progress that at 
the time of the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese 
War the whole of our artillery, with the excep- 
tion of some Siberian batteries, was armed with 
quick-firers. At this time a quick-firing mountain- 
gun was also invented, which proved very effec- 
tive. Generally speaking, the re -armament of 
the artillery was quickly and skilfully carried out. 
But besides the four points above mentioned, ""* 
to which the Tsar was pleased to give his 
particular attention, the War INIinistry had to 
make great efforts in other directions connected 
both with the life of the army and its efficiency. 
Amongst these tasks was that of improving our 
communications by building strategical roads 
and railways. These were constructed in order 
* [See p. 121.— Ed.] 


of urgency, according to a special scheme, as 
funds became available. Great efforts were 
made to push on with both the Bologoe-Siedlce 
and Orenberg-Tashkent lines, which were of 
particular strategic importance ; and in 1899 
considerable improvements were carried out in 
the Krasnovodsk-Kushk line. 

In 1902 we began to consider what would be 
required in the five years 1904 to 1909, and in 
1903 I submitted to the Finance Minister a 
demand for a supplementary grant of £82,500,000 
in addition to the ordinary Budget for these 
five years. He only found it possible to grant 
£13,000,000. Numerous pressing measures which 
had been already postponed in 1899 had again 
to be put off with a hope that perhaps in 1910 
Russia would be able to find means for the safe- 
guarding of her most vital interests — in other 
words, for the defence of the Empire. 

In submitting his annual report on the War 
Ministry in 1904 — the first year of the new five- 
year period — Lieutenant-General Rediger, in his 
capacity of War INIinister and as an acknow- 
ledged authority, made the following true and 
important observations : 

" The existmg defects in organization and 
equipment of our army are the direct result of 
the inadequate financial gTants made ever since 
tlie war with Turkey. The sum allotted has 
never corresponded either to the actual require- 


ments of the army or to the work it has had to 
do, but has been fixed entirely by the amount of 
money which seemed available. It has been made 
clear, in drawing up the scheme for the coming 
five years, that to satisfy only the most pressing 
needs a supplementary sum of £82,500,000* is 
required. Only £13,000,000 has been allotted. 
Thus the estimates for the current five years afford 
no hope of improving the existing situation." 

Owing to the large requirements of a peace 
army of 1,000,000, and the necessity for pro- 
tecting frontiers stretching for over 11,000 miles, 
the Ministry of Finance had undoubtedly gi'eat 
difiiculty in meeting the demands of the War 
Department. The requirements of the navy 
were also continually growing, with the result 
that less was available for the land forces. But 
if the Minister of Finance f had confined himself 
to his role of collector of revenue whereby to 
satisfy all the needs of the State, it could never 
have been suggested that the money so collected 
was spent except in accordance with actual re- 
quirements, for the decision as to which demands 
were the most urgent would not have been 
within this official's province. As a matter of 
fact, our finances were managed in so curious 
a manner that the Finance Minister was not only 
the collector, but also the greatest expender of 

* [In addition to the ordinary Quinquennial Budget. — 

t [M. Sergius de Witte.— Ed.] 


State moneys ! Besides having to bear the ever- 
increasing outlay in his own department^ — for 
establishment, for expenses connected with the 
collection of taxes and the sale of Government 
liquor — he formed in his own Ministry subsections 
of the other Ministries, such as Ways and Com- 
munications, War, Navy, Education, Interior, 
Agriculture, and Foreign Affairs. So equipped, 
he planned, built, and administered the great 
Eastern Chinese Railway without any reference 
to the Minister of Ways and Communications ; 
organized and commanded two army corps, one 
of Frontier Guards, and the other of guards for 
the railway, and actually chose the type of gun 
for their armament without reference to the 
Minister of War ; initiated and managed a 
commercial fleet on the Pacific Ocean, and ran 
a flotilla of armed river steamboats, which might 
be regarded as the duty of the Naval Ministry. 
As regards the work of the Department of 
Education, the Finance Minister founded the 
higher technical institutions ; as regards the 
sphere of Ministries of Interior and Agriculture, 
the Finance Minister had the most important 
administration — the so-called " alienated " strip 
of land set aside for the Eastern Chinese Rail- 
way — and the building of towns and villages, and 
the decision of questions concerning the taking 
up of land and its cultivation ; as regards the 
Department of Foreign Affairs, the Finance 


JMinister conducted negotiations with the highest 
representatives of the Chinese Administration, 
concluded treaties, and maintained his com- 
mercial and diplomatic agents in different parts 
of China and Korea. There is, I believe, a 
proverb to the effect that " charity begins at 
home."* Is it to be wondered at, therefore, 
that the grants for the pet projects of the 
Finance Minister were more liberal than those 
for corresponding services required by the other 
Ministries ? The appropriations for public edu- 
cation were cut down, but many millions were 
spent in constructing huge buildings for poly- 
technic institutes in St. Petersburg and Kieff, 
magnificent blocks for the Excise Department, 
and perfect palaces for officials. Immense sums 
were spent on the creation of the town of Dalny, 
on the Eastern Chinese Railway and its palatial 
offices in Harbin, and on the services connected 
with it. For this latter enterprise, which was 
both a commercial and State proposition (private 
as regards management, and official as regards 
the supply of funds), the money was mostly 
obtained from the so-called " surpluses." These 
"surpluses" expanded in a manner unprecedented 
in the financial records, not only of our own 
country, but probably of the world, and in our 
case much to the detriment of the most pressing 

* [Literally, " A man's own shirt is nearest his own 
skin.'— Ed.] 



needs of all departments. The idea underlying 
the creation of a surplus was simplicity itself. 
While all demands for money made by the 
different departments were cut down, the esti- 
mated receipts from revenue were also reduced. 
The results were amazing. The excess of receipts 
over expenditure at a time when the most 
pressing requirements for national defence could 
not be met for lack of funds amounted in some 
years to over £20,000,000. The following table 
gives the " errors " in estimating made by the 
Finance Minister in calculating the revenue 
between 1894-1905: 

The Revenue. 


Excess over 












This shows — 

{a) That the difference between the estimated 

ERRORS OF ^20,000,000! 143 

and actual receipts amounted in 1898 and 1899 
to more than £20,000,000 per annum. 

(b) That in eight years out of twelve the 
actual income exceeded the estimates by 
£10,000,000 j9^r annum. 

(c) That the revenue was little affected by the 
war, and that for 1904 and 1905 the excess of 
income over estimates was more than £8,000,000. 
Had the calculations as to receipts, therefore, 
been more accurate, it would have been quite 
possible to grant to the War Ministry the 
supplementary sum asked for, and thus to 
enable our preparations to have been more 
complete in east and west. 

In conclusion, the main reason for our military 
inefficiency was the inadequate funds granted by 
the Treasury. Funds for the War Department 
were stinted — 

(a) Owing to the greatly increased expendi- 
ture on the fleet. 

(b) Owing to the large expenditure upon the 
projects of the Minister of Finance in the Far East, 
and owing to the underestimation of revenue. 
But in spite of this, I think it will be allowed 
that from 1898-1903, during which time it dis- 
tributed its money according to a strictly defined 
plan, the War Department attained, on the 
whole, remarkable results in the strengthening 
of our military position in the Far East. The 
results in this direction of the ten years preceding 


the Russo-Japanese War can be gauged from 
the following figures. We had in the Pri-Amur 
district, Manchuria, and in Kuan-tung : 

In 1884 ... 

12 battalions 

In 1894 ... 

... 20 

In 1903 ... 

... 63 

In 1904 ... 

... 140 

200 K>0 


Opposite p. 145, vol. i. 


The War Minister's opinion on the Manchurian and 
Korean questions from the year 1900 to 1903 — What 
he did to avoid a rupture with Japan. 

Not only was the war unexpected ; it was against 
our interests, and contrary to the wishes of the 
Emperor. Had it ended victoriously, those who 
were responsible for it would have found them- 
selves national heroes for having laid the train 
for our success in the Far East with such 
sagacity ; but the premature peace forced on us 
by our internal troubles prevented a continuation 
of the struggle till victory was ours. All classes 
of society were convulsed by our misfortunes, 
and are now insistent in a desire to hear the 
truth as to the causes of the war, and to learn 
the names of those who turned a deaf ear to the 
Emperor's expressed wish for peace, and, by sins 
of commission or omission, so steered the ship 
of State as to bring about a rupture. The 
existing freedom of the Press has already per- 
mitted the publication of various opinions on 
these subjects, and amongst much fiction certain 
facts have now been revealed, the publication of 
VOL. I. 145 10 


which could only have been possible with the 
knowledge and permission of interested persons 
holding high appointments in the different 

The most important of many newspaper 
articles touching upon the causes of the war is 
one by M. GuriefF, entitled "The Outbreak of 
the Russo-Japanese War," and published in the 
Russki Viedomost in May, 1905. M. Gurieff 
evidently had access to many official documents, 
and the article reads as an ex parte statement, 
in which the author holds a brief for the defence 
of the Finance Minister, M. Sergius de Witte. 
As this lucubration must have been widely read, 
having been reprinted in foreign as well as in 
Russian newspapers and magazines ; as it is still 
being quoted ; and as the statements contained in 
it concerning the INIinistry of War are not correct, 
and have led to a wi*ong construction being 
placed upon the actions of that Department, I 
feel constrained to state in as few words as 
possible the part played by the War Minister in 
Far Eastern affairs between 1898 and 1903. 

The question of obtaining an outlet on the 
Pacific Ocean was discussed in Russia some time 
ago. It was thought that an exit to ice-free 
seas would eventually be a necessity in view of 
the immense growth of our population ; but as 
two centuries had shown us the cost of moving 
towards the Baltic and Black Seas, it was felt 


that particular care must be exercised lest, in our 
desire to get access to the Pacific coast, we 
should be drawn prematurely into war. Our 
possessions in the Far East and Baikalia are 
inaccessible wastes, where everything in the way 
of development remains still to be done. Our 
trade with the Far East was in every way so 
insignificant, that not only did access to the 
Pacific Ocean appear unnecessary for the present 
generation, but it actually seemed that the 
expense and sacrifices entailed in obtaining this 
access would be a burden of a nature to hinder 
our national development in other quarters. 
During the latter half of the last century the 
War Ministry — in conjunction with the Ministry 
of Foreign Affairs — systematically opposed any 
extension of our frontiers in Asia in view of 
what was going on in Europe. Consequently 
the successive steps of our advance into the 
heart of Central Asia often took place in defiance 
of the opinions of and the orders issued from 
St. Petersburg. The occupation of Tashkent by 
ChemefF in 1864-65 was considered premature, 
for it brought us into direct touch with the 
Khanates of Bokhara and Khokand, and after the 
expedition to Samarkand in 1868, not only was 
Kaufmaim not permitted to conquer the Bok- 
hara Khanate completely, but Shaar and Kitabj 
which had been captured by us after severe 
fighting, were returned to the Emir. In 1873, 



after conquering the Khiva Khanate, we con- 
fined ourselves to taking only the right bank 
of the Oxus, while we preserved the Khan's 
authority. In 1875, when traversing the whole 
Khanate of Khokand, we deliberately con- 
fined ourselves to occupying the town of 
Namangan, leaving the rest of the Khanate in 
the possession of its feeble ruler. In 1881 the 
War Minister did not assent to our retention 
of the Kuldja province, which we had captured 
ten years before ; and in 1882, after SkobelefF 
had seized Geok Tepe, he was strictly forbidden 
to advance on Merv. This consistent policy on 
the part of the War Ministry was in every case 
born of a fear of greater expenditure and fresh 
responsibilities which could only weaken our 
existing position on the western and Turkish 
frontiers. Above all was the Department opposed 
to starting complications with China or Japan. 
It accordingly viewed with alarm, and strongly 
opposed, the theory that "Russia is the most 
western of Asiatic States, not the most eastern 
of European," and that her future lies entirely 
in Asia. As has been explained, twenty years 
ago we were practically defenceless in the 
Far East. An enormous extent of country 
such as Saghalien was garrisoned by only three 
local detachments, totalling 1,000 men. Vladi- 
vostok had no defences, and its main communi- 
cation with Russia — a trunk road 6,000 miles 


long — was in a military sense absolutely useless. 
It was only after 1882, when we yielded 
to China over Kuldja, and when Japan began 
increasing her army, that we began to augment 
the number of our troops in that quarter. 

The Department was all the time keenly alive 
to the precarious nature of our communications 
between the Pri-Amur and Russia, and recruits 
and a large proportion of supplies were sent to 
Vladivostok by sea. Under such conditions it 
was, of course, quite out of the question to 
dream of any offensive operations or even schemes 
of oifence ; but the awakening of China and 
Japan caused much uneasiness for our safety east 
of Lake Baikal, and the project for the construc- 
tion of the Siberian Railway through our own 
territory was welcomed as facilitating communi- 
cation. The question of the construction of this 
railway-line was first discussed by a committee 
of Ministers in 1875, but the scheme was then 
confined to a line within the limits of European 
Russia as far as Tumen. In 1880 a resolution 
was passed sanctioning this portion. In 1882 
the Emperor Alexander II., dissatisfied with this 
partial scheme, decided that the line should be 
laid right through Siberia. Surveys were accord- 
ingly made, and three alternative routes were 
put forward. In 1885, after examining these 
alternatives, the committee were unable to come 
to any conclusion as to the most advantageous, 


but they decided to set to work at once to 
construct the first portion of the railway. In 
1886, upon receipt of a report by the Governor- 
General of Eastern Siberia, the Emperor wrote : 

"So far as I have read the report of the 
Governor-General, I am grieved to observe that 
the Government has up till now done practically 
nothing to meet the requirements of this rich 
but neglected country. And it is time — indeed 
time — that something should be done." 

Notwithstanding such a strongly worded anim- 
adversion on the part of the Emperor, it was 
only in February, 1891, that the committee put 
on record its decision to build simultaneously 
the Ussuri Railway and the portion of the 
Siberian line from Mias to Cheliabinsk. In a 
rescript to the Tsarevitch, who was then on his 
voyage round the world, it was explained that 
the line would run "right across the whole of 
Siberia," and be called the Great Siberian Rail- 
way. The idea underlying this scheme was as 
simple as it was bold, and the line would un- 
doubtedly have put life into a very slowly 
developing country, would have attracted a large 
number of colonists, and would thus have secured 
to us an important region. Of course, as it ran 
along the Chinese frontier for the greater part 
of its length, it would not have been free from 
danger ; but the risk was diminished by the com- 
parative inaccessibility of the part of Northern 


Manchuria adjacent to the railway and the weak- 
ness of China. Moreover, it was covered by the 
mighty Amur River. 

After the Chino-Japanese War we, in con- 
junction with other Powers, compelled Japan 
to abandon Port Arthur and the Kuan-tung 
Peninsula, which she had just conquered. This, 
the first of the acts of Russia to excite Japan's 
hostility, was also by far the most decisive. A 
new state of affairs now arose in the Far East 
which made our complete military unreadiness 
seem alarming, especially as the Pri-Amur was 
at that time practically defenceless against an 
offensive movement by the Japanese. Through- 
out the immense expanse of this mihtary district 
there were only nineteen infantry battalions, and 
we were at once obliged to start increasing our 
troops in the Far East and turning Vladivostok 
into a naval fortress ; but the most urgent question 
was that of establishing railway communication. 

Before the Chino - Japanese War no one 
imagined that the Siberian line would be laid 
anywhere but through our own territory. The 
weakness displayed by China at that time, how- 
ever, formed an inducement to carry it through 
Manchuria, and thus shorten the distance by 
over 300 miles. In vain did General Dukhovski, 
Governor-General and Commander of the troops 
in the Pri-Amur district, protest and point out 
the risks of such a course. He argued that, if 


the rail passed through Chinese territory, not 
only would it be of advantage to the Chinese 
instead of to the Russian settler population, but 
it would be insecure. His views did not find 
acceptance, and this great artery of communica- 
tion — of incalculable importance to us — was 
laid through a foreign country. The temptation 
to give as far as possible an international import- 
ance to this line by attracting all trans-conti- 
nental through-traffic proved too strong for the 
modest claim for consideration of the Pri-Amur 
district, though it was one that concerned us 
very deeply. General Dukhovski's fears were 
soon justified. Part of the line was destroyed 
by a rising of the people in 1900, and our troops 
in Harbin were forced upon the defensive. We 
lost a whole year, wasted millions of money, and 
only too soon began to realize that, except a very 
limited quantity of the most perishable freight, 
no goods would be sent by rail. Sea transport 
was cheaper and safer. We were forced to 
abandon our dreams of international importance 
for the line, and to confess that it merely consti- 
tuted a portion of the Siberian Railway, which, 
as it ran for 800 miles through a foreign country, 
would require special protection at great cost. 
Moreover, the Finance IMinister's estimate of the 
saving — £1,500,000 — to be effected by taking 
the line through Manchuria, instead of through 
Siberia, proved entirely misleading, as the 


mileage cost of the line worked out to a much 
larger figure than that of any railway under- 
taking in Russia! Not only was all idea of 
the line's international importance very quickly 
abandoned, but it soon became only too clear 
that its economic value, though important to the 
local Chinese population, would be very slight 
for Russia. Its raison d'etre must then have 
been mainly strategic. But, if built on strategic 
grounds, surely a route through our own territory 
would have been preferable? This unfortunate 
enterprise, which turned out so badly for Russia, 
was the first outward sign of an active policy 
which was to have such great results. The 
occupation of Port Arthur, the creation of 
Dalny, the construction of the southern branch 
of the line, the maintenance of a commercial 
fleet in the Far East, and our business enterprises 
in Korea, were all links in the chain which was to 
bind these distant tracts so securely to Russia. 

It is thought in some quarters that if we had 
confined ourselves to the construction of the 
northern line through Manchuria, there would 
have been no war ; that it was the occupation 
of Port Arthur and INlukden and, in particular, 
our activity in Korea which caused it. In the 
opinion of others, the railway through JNlanchuria 
cannot be looked upon as merely the commence- 
ment of our activity, but must be regarded as 
the foundation of it all ; for if we had run the 


line along the banks of the Amur in our own 
territory, it would never have occurred to us to 
occupy Southern Manchuria and Kuan-tung. 
It is quite true that the northern portion of the 
line passing through Manchuria could never 
have disturbed our friendly relations with China, 
and I am personally convinced that if we had 
been satisfied with this, Japan would never 
have started a war with us for the sake of 
Northern Manchuria. In any case, the line 
through Manchuria was built neither in the 
interests nor at the instance of the War Depart- 
ment, and was carried through in spite of the 
opposition of General Dukhovski, its representa- 
tive on the spot. The Boxer rebellion in Man- 
churia showed up our military weakness, and the 
hope of the Finance Minister that the local 
guards raised by him would be able to protect 
the line without the assistance of troops supplied 
by the War Department was not realized. Even 
when the rising became general, he begged us not 
to despatch to Manchuria the troops which 
General Grodekovi and Admiral AlexeiefF were 
holding in readiness in Pri-Amur and the Kuan- 
tung district. His advice was taken, but this 
delay in sending reinforcements to the railway 
cost us dear. Almost the whole of the line 
north of the Eastern Chinese main line, with the 
exception of the section near Harbin, as well as 
a great length of the southern branch, together 


with the stations of Kuang-cheng-tzu, Mukden, 
and Liao-yang, were seized by the rebels. The 
local railway guards, commanded by Generals 
Gerngros and Mischenko, behaved with gallantry, 
but, overcome by superior numbers, they were 
forced to retire from almost all the points they 
had occupied, and the greater part of them were 
concentrated at Harbin, where they were be- 
sieged by the insurgents. Finally, it was by 
direct order of the Emperor that the War 
Ministry took action in concentrating troops to 
put down the rising. Railway communication 
with Trans-Baikalia was then in existence, and 
the sea was also open to us, and by the autumn 
of 1900 we had collected by land and water 
an army of 100,000 men, and rapidly quelled 
the rebellion. The capture of Peking,* the head- 
quarters of the Boxer movement, by the Allied 
troops under General Linievitch was also instru- 
mental in restoring order in M anchuria, while the 
energy with which General Grodekovi organized 
and despatched columns into Manchuria itself, 
and so relieved General Gerngros in Harbin, is 
worthy of notice. Tsitsihar and Kirin were 
captured by General Rennenkampf; INlukden, 
by General Subotin. 

Once order was restored, the War Depart- 
ment set to work to withdraw our troops from 
the province of Pei-chih-li as quickly as possible, 
* [August, 1900.— Ed.] 


and succeeded in doing so in spite of the dis- 
approval of Count Waldersee;* all the rein- 
forcements from Siberia and European Russia 
returned. The damage done to the railway was 
considerable, and all idea of its completion during 
1900 was abandoned, and a whole year — the 
importance of which has been little realized — 
was lost. Had we been in sufficient strength to 
maintain order on the line in 1900, the railway 
would have been in a far greater state of readi- 
ness in 1904 ; the transport of reinforcements in 
1903, and the concentration in 1904, would have 
been accomplished far more rapidly than it was, 
and we should in all probability have had two or 
three more army corps at Liao-yang than we 
actually had. The rising in 1900 clearly showed 
that it was impossible, with our main line of 
railway running for 800 miles through Chinese 
territory, to count on maintaining secure com- 
munication with Russia in the future. To 
insure our position it was necessary to build 
a line rapidly within our own territory along the 
left bank of the Amur, and at the same time to 
place Northern INIanchuria in such a condition 
that it would not, with the aid of the line we 
had already built, continue to be a source of 
weakness to us in the Far East. 

As the IManchurian and Korean questions 

* [The German Field-Marshal commanding the Allied 
Forces of the Peking Relief Expedition. — Ed.] 


Opposite p. 1 jii, vol. i. 


were the causes of the war, it is necessary to 
touch on the War Minister's views with regard 
to them in some detail. The duties which 
Russia of her own accord took upon herself in 
Manchuria are based on the Government com- 
munique of September 1, 1900, in which a 
circular telegram from the INIinister of Foreign 
Affairs, dated August 25, 1900, was quoted. 
In this telegram it was stated that our Govern- 
ment was mainly guided by the following axiom, 
amongst others, with regard to Chinese affairs : 

" The status quo ante in China must be pre- 
served, and everything that may tend to a par- 
tition of the Celestial Empire is to be avoided." 

It continued that if, owing to any action of 
the Chinese, we should be forced to send troops 
into Manchuria and to occupy Newchuang, such 
temporary measures were on no account to be 
taken as evidence of any self-interested schemes 
outside the general policy of the Imperial 
Government, and that, as soon as order was 
permanently restored in Manchuria and the 
railway protected — 

" — Russia would not fail to withdraw her 
forces, provided that no difficulty were placed 
in the way of such withdrawal by the action 
of the other Powers." 

This announcement appeared at a time when 
we had over 100,000 men in arms in Asia. There 
can, therefore, be no question of our sincere in- 


tention — at that time — to evacuate Manchuria. 
In 1901 these promises were repeated by our 
Government in a similar communique of April 5. 
Neither the opposition of China nor the Anglo- 
Japanese Treaty concluded in 1902, which was 
unmistakably directed against us, were at the 
moment considered sufficient to warrant our 
abandoning all hope of fulfilling our promise to 
withdrew from Manchuria. 

But so long ago as 1900 it had seemed doubt- 
ful whether we should be able to carry out this 
promise. In the first place, it was impossible to 
ignore entirely the advice of the authorities on 
the spot, who did not consider a withdrawal was 
either desirable or possible in our own interests. 
The action of the Chinese officials in Manchuria, 
the existence of bands of Hun-huses, and the 
serious mihtary expeditions we had been forced 
to make in 1901 — all strengthened the opinion of 
our commanders out there that we had been in 
too great haste to promise the evacuation of the 
country. Notwithstanding these doubts, a treaty 
was concluded with China in April, 1902. This 
was but the logical development of the official 
pronouncements made in 1900 and 1901. At 
first it was supposed that this agreement would 
lead to a definite settlement of our position in the 
Far East, but it soon became apparent that there 
was little ground for such hope. The immense 
expenditure from 1900 to 1903 on the railway, 


the army, and the fleet, gave birth to and 
nourished the fixed idea that our most vital in- 
terests would not be sufficiently guarded if we 
strictly observed the treaty made in April. China 
viewed us with suspicion, and was almost openly 
hostile ; Japan was openly hostile ; while all the 
other Powers distrusted us. Our foothold in 
Manchuria also seemed precarious, and in spite 
of hurrying on the construction and increasing 
its guards, the railway was by no means secure. 
Trains had to be escorted on account of the fre- 
quent raids by Hun-huses, and no trust could be 
placed in either the natives or their officials. All 
this showed that if we confined ourselves merely 
to protecting the line itself, it would be destroyed 
in many places at the first rising. Our position 
would then be serious in the extreme if we should 
be attacked on the western frontier while carrying 
on a war in the east. There is no doubt what- 
ever that, if trouble had arisen in the west, and 
our troops had been withdrawn from Manchuria, 
a repetition of the Chinese disorders of 1900 
might easily have occurred ; our communications 
with the Pri-Amur would again have been inter- 
rupted, and we should have had to reconquer 
Manchuria.* With each month that passed the 
doubt as to our ability to carry out the terms of 
the treaty of April increased, and this difficult 

* Which the occupation of Port Arthur had made of 
considerable military importance to us. 


period of uncertainty turned to one of acute 
anxiety on account of the increasing hostility to 
us of China and Japan. Officially, we continued to 
give assurances that we should keep to our engage- 
ment, and we even carried out the first portion 
of it by withdrawing our troops from that part 
of the Mukden province up to the River Liao ; 
but we were, as a matter of fact, already taking 
steps essential to our own interests, but abso- 
lutely at variance with the treaty. 

Before the Boxer rising of 1900 I had ex- 
pressed the opinion that Northern and Southern 
Manchuria possessed entirely different values for 
us, the greater importance of the former being 
due to the various considerations. In the first 
place, the country through which the main Sibe- 
rian line passed was of special importance, because 
upon it depended the security of our communica- 
tion, and because the experience of 1900 had 
shown the extreme weakness of its protection as 
organized by the Finance Minister. I therefore 
asked that a small force of four infantry battalions, 
one battery, and one squadron of Cossacks might 
be stationed on the line as a mobile reserve at 
Harbin, in addition to the local railway guards. 
Barracks for a force of this size were built, 
and were ready for occupation in 1903 ; but 
placing troops merely along the line itself — and 
a small number at that — would have been of no use 
if China had intended to make things unpleasant 


for us in Manchuria. The Une would have been 
cut, and the culprits would never have been dis- 
covered, for the officials, who outwardly kow-towed 
to us, were all the time acting in accordance with in- 
structions from Peking. The only thing we could 
expect was an influx of Chinese into Northern 
INJanchuria, and the crowding of the tracts 
bordering on the Chinese frontier. Against this, 
even complete annexation of Northern Manchuria 
did not appear to me desirable, or likely to serve 
any useful purpose, as the Chinese population so 
annexed, possessing the rights of citizenship and 
settling along the left bank of the Amur, would 
have swamped the native population of the Amur 
and coast districts.* During the whole of the 
last century we had only succeeded in colonizing 
very sparsely with our own people that part of 
Siberia east of Trans-Baikalia to the sea, which 
means that the bonds binding it to Russia were 
extremely weak. In the Amur and coast dis- 
tricts, with a frontier of 1,600 miles bordering on 
China (from Trans-Baikalia to the sea), the whole 
population only consisted of 400,000. Northern 
Manchuria, of about 450,000 square miles in 
extent, includes the whole of the Kheilutsianski 
and the northern part of the Kirin provinces. 
According to available information, it had before 
the war only 1,500,000 inhabitants. This works 
out at three persons per square mile. Tlie Boxer 
* [The Maritime Province, — Ed.] 
VOL. I. 11 


rising of 1900 indicated that, so long as the affairs 
of the people in Northern Manchuria continued 
to be controlled from Peking, we must expect 
risings and attempts to destroy the line, for the 
Chinese Government always had a ready reply to 
our protests : " It is the Hun-huses who are the 
culprits." Nor could we regard without appre- 
hension the increases to the Chinese forces in 
Northern Manchuria, and the settling of Chinese 
on the waste lands adjacent to the Rivers Amur 
and Argun, where our people had for a long time 
been settled. It was necessary, therefore, that 
we should have, in some form or other, the 
right of control and of generally making our own 
arrangements in Northern Manchuria. Without 
this our weakly guarded railway might be a 
positive disadvantage, as it added to the vulner- 
ability of our frontier line, which makes a large 
bend to the north between Trans-Baikalia and 
the Ussuri region, the whole of the Kheilutsian- 
ski and the northern part of the Kirin province 
running wedgewise into our territory. Only by 
the security of Northern Manchuria could we 
feel sufficiently at ease about the Pri-Amur 
region to start its development. 

Now, Northern Manchuria is not next to Korea, 
and our permanent occupation of it would conse- 
quently not have threatened complications with 
Japan, nor were there in it important European 
interests which might have been disturbed. It 


was, however, undoubtedly important to China, 
with whom its forcible annexation by us might 
lead to complications. It therefore devolved 
upon us to find some method of consolidating 
our position in this region which would not cause 
a rupture with China. Thus I was strongly in 
favour of including Northern Manchuria in some 
way or the other within our sphere of influence ; 
but I was at the same time absolutely opposed 
to any quasi-political or military enterprise in 
Southern Manchuria. 

This region, up to the Kuan - tung district, 
includes the whole of the Mukden and the 
southern part of the Kirin province. Though 
only one-quarter the size of Northern Manchuria, 
the population was more than 8,000,000. This 
works out at more than seventy souls per square 
mile, as compared with about three for the 
latter. Mukden, sacred to the Chinese dynasty, 
might always be a source of misunderstanding with 
China, and our contact with Korea for 533 miles 
might easily lead to complications with Japan. 

Southern JNIanchuria, contractuig in a wedge- 
shape, borders on Kuan -tung, and has only 
530 odd miles on the Korean frontier. The 
occupation of it, therefore, would necessitate 
having two fronts, one towards Korea and one 
towards China. If an enemy were superior at 
sea, he could threaten a landing along the 
400-mile-long coast of Southern JNIanchuria. A 



landing in Newchuang,* for example, would have 
taken all our troops south of that place in the rear. 
In discussing possible solutions of this problem, 
it might be suggested — in the event of any un- 
friendly action on the part of China — that we 
should obtain possession of Manchuria in the 
same way as we had secured the Kuan-tung 
Peninsula. If we did, this would secure our 
communication with the latter. Being con- 
vinced, as I have said, that the inclusion of 
Northern Manchuria within our sphere followed 
as the natural consequence of running the Sibe- 
rian main line through Manchuria, I felt equally 
sure that any kind of annexation of Southern 
Manchuria would be dangerous. 

In a special memorandum upon the Manchu- 
rian question which I submitted to the Tsar in 
October, 1903, I expressed myself as follows : 

"If we do not touch the boundary of Korea, 
and do not garrison the country between it and 
the railway, we shall really prove to the Japanese 
that we have no intention of seizing Korea as 
well as Manchuria. They will then in all pro- 
bability confine themselves to the peaceful further- 
ance of their interests in the Peninsula, and 
will neither enter into a military occupation of it 
nor greatly increase the strength of their home 
army. This will relieve us of the necessity of 
augmenting our numbers in the Far East, and of 
supporting the heavy burden otherwise necessary 
even should there be no war. If, on. the other 

* Ying-kou. 


hand, we annex Southern Manchuria, all the 
questions that now trouble us and threaten to 
set the two nations by the ears will become 
more critical. Our temporary occupation of 
certain points between the railway and Korea 
will become permanent, our attention will be 
more and more attracted to the Korean frontier, 
and our attitude will confirm the Japanese in their 
suspicions that we intend to seize that peninsula. 

" That our occupation of Southern Manchuria 
will lead to a Japanese occupation of Southern 
Korea there cannot be the slightest doubt ; but 
beyond that all is uncertain. One thing, how- 
ever, is certain. If Japan takes this step, she 
will be compelled rapidly to increase her military 
strength, and we, in turn, shall have to reply 
by enlarging our Far Eastern force. Thus two 
nations whose interests are so different that they 
would seem destined to live peaceably, will begin 
a contest in time of peace, in which each will try 
to surpass the other in preparations for war. 
We Russians can only do this at the expense of 
our strength in the west, and of the vital in- 
terests of the people at large — all for the sake of 
portions of a country which really has no serious 
importance for us. Moreover, if other Powers 
take part in this rivalry, the struggle for military 
supremacy is liable at any moment to change 
into a deadly conflict, which may not only retard 
the peaceful development of our Far Eastern 
possessions for a long time, but may result in a 
set-back to the whole Empire. 

" Even if we should defeat Japan on the main- 
land — in Korea and Manchuria — we could not 
destro)^ her, nor obtain decisive results, without 
carrying the war into her territory. That, of 
course, would not be absolutely impossible, but 


to invade a country with a warlike population of 
47,000,000, where even the women participate in 
wars of national defence, would be a serious 
undertaking even for a Power as strong as Russia. 
And if we do not utterly destroy Japan — if we 
do not deprive her of the right and the power to 
maintain a navy— she will wait for the first con- 
venient opportunity — till, for instance, we are 
engaged in war in the west — to attack us, either 
single-handed or in co-operation with our Euro- 
pean enemies. 

" It must not be forgotten that Japan can not 
only quickly throw a well- organized and well- 
trained army of from 150,000 to 180,000 men 
into Korea or IManchuria, but can do this without 
drawing at all heavily upon her population. If 
we accept the German ratio of regular troops to 
population — namely, 1 per cent.* — we shall see 
that she can, with her 47,000,000 of people, main- 
tain, instead of 120,000, a force of 400,000 men 
in time of peace, and 1,000,000 in time of war. 
Even if we reduce this estimate by one-quarter, 
Japan will be able to oppose us on the mainland 
with a regular army of from 300,000 to 350,000 
men. If we mean to annex Manchuria, we shall 
be compelled to bring up our numbers to a point 
which will enable our troops in the Far East 
alone to withstand a Japanese attack." 

From the above lines it will be seen how 
seriously the War Department regarded such an 
antagonist as Japan, and how much anxiety it 
felt concerning possible complications with that 
Power on account of Korea. Still, so long as 
we adhered to our decision to evacuate Southern 
* [This ratio hardly seems correct. — Ed.] 


Manchuria, and not to interfere in Korean affairs, 
the danger of a rupture was removed. In 1900 
our Government had been obhged to respect the 
territorial integrity of China, and the question of 
evacuating Manchuria had been in principle de- 
cided in the affirmative ; and if we were preparing 
to leave the country, we certainly could not at 
the same time be preparing it as a theatre of 
military operations. 

As regards the evacuation, there was a differ- 
ence of opinion between Admiral Alexeieff (the 
Commander of the Kuan-tung district) and 
myself as to the importance to us of Southern 
Manchuria. I believed that the occupation of 
Manchuria would bring us no profit, and would 
involve us in trouble with Japan on the one 
side, through our nearness to Korea, and with 
China on the other side, through our possession 
of Mukden. I therefore regarded the speedy 
evacuation of Southern Manchuria and Mukden 
as a matter of absolute necessity. The Com- 
mander of the Kuan-tung district, on the other 
hand, whose duty it was to defend that district, 
thought fit to contend that a permanent occupa- 
tion of Southern Manchuria would be the best 
guarantee of our communications with Russia. 
There was also a minor difference of opinion 
between the Finance INIinister and myself with 
regard to the withdrawal of our troops from 
Northern Manchuria. He thought that it w^ould 


suffice to leave the Frontier Guards only for 
the protection of the railway. Guided by our 
experience in quelling the Boxer rising in 1900, 
I considered it necessary, after withdrawing our 
troops as quickly as possible from Southern 
Manchuria, to remove them from all populated 
places in Northern Manchuria which were off the 
line of rail, including Kirin and Tsitsihar, and to 
station a small reserve at Harbin on the line 
itself in case of disorder. This reserve need not 
have been stronger than two to four infantry 
battalions and one battery of artillery. More- 
over, I thought we ought to continue to guard 
communication between Harbin and Khabarovsk 
along the Sungari, and between Tsitsihar and 
Blagovieschensk, by the maintenance of a few 
small military posts. These differences of opinion, 
however, ceased to exist with the ratification of 
the Russo-Chinese Treaty of April 1, 1902. By 
the terms of that convention our troops — with 
the exception of those guarding the railway — 
were to be removed fi'om all parts of Manchuria, 
Southern as well as Northern, within specified 
periods. This settlement of the question was a 
great relief to the War Department, because it 
held out the hope of a " return to the west " in 
our military affairs. In the first period of six 
months we were to evacuate the western part of 
Southern Manchuria, from Shan-hai-kuan to the 
River Liao ; this we punctually did. In the 


Opposite p. IciS, vol. i. 


second period of six months we were to remove 
our troops from the rest of the province of 
Mukden, including the cities of Mukden and 
Newchuang. The Department regarded the 
arrangement to evacuate the province of Mukden 
wdth approval, and made energetic preparations 
to carry it into effect. Barracks were hastily 
erected between Khabarovsk and Vladivostok 
for the soldiers to be withdrawn into the Pri- 
Amur country ; the scheme of transportation 
was drawn up and approved ; the movement of 
troops had begun, and Mukden had actually 
been evacuated, when suddenly everything was 
stopped by order of Admiral Alexeieff, the 
Commander of the Kuan-tung district. His 
reasons for taking such action have not, to this 
day, been sufficiently cleared up. It is definitely 
known, however, that the change in policy which 
stopped the withdrawal of troops from Southern 
Manchuria corresponded in time with the first 
visit to the Far East of State Councillor Bezo- 
brazoff (retired). Mukden, which we had already 
evacuated, was reoccupied, as was also the city 
of Newchuang. The Ya-lu timber concession* 
assumed more importance than ever, and in 
order to give support to it and our other under- 
takings in Northern Korea, Admiral Alexeieff 

* [The Royal Timber Company. For fuller details of 
this undertaking and Bezobrazoffs connection with it, see 
Appendix I., p. 615. — Ed.] 


sent a mounted force with guns to Feng-huang- 
cheng. Thus, far from completing the evacua- 
tion of Southern JNIanchuria, we actually moved 
into parts of it that we had never before 
occupied. At the same time, we allowed opera 
tions in connection with the Korean timber 
concession to go on, despite the fact that the 
promoters of this enterprise were striving to give 
to it a political and military character contrary 
to instructions from St. Petersburg. 

This unexpected change of policy alarmed 
both China and Japan, and there is good reason 
to believe that the stoppage of the evacuation of 
the province of JMukden was an event of supreme 
importance. So long as we held to our intention 
of withdrawing all our troops from Manchuria, 
confined ourselves to the protection of the line 
by the Frontier Guards and a small reserve at 
Harbin, and refrained from intruding in Korea, 
there was little danger of a break with Japan ; 
but we were brought alarmingly near a rupture 
with that Power when, contrary to our agree- 
ment with China, we left our troops in Southern 
Manchuria, and entered Northern Korea in 
pursuit of our timber enterprise. The uncer- 
tainty as to our intentions, moreover, alarmed 
not only China and Japan, but even England, 
America, and other Powers. 

In the early part of 1903 our position became 
extremely involved. The interests of the Pri- 


Amur were by this time pushed completely into 
the background ; even General Dukhovski, its 
Governor- General and Commander-in-Chief, was 
not consulted upon the most important points 
concerning the Far East. Meanwhile, immense 
enterprises involving many millions of pounds 
were being created and controlled on indepen- 
dent lines in Manchuria, on Chinese territory. 
The JVIinister of Finance (M. de Witte) was build- 
ing and managing over 1,300 miles of railway. 
The alignment of the northern portion was, as I 
have explained, fixed in direct opposition to the 
opinion of General Dukhovski, our chief authority 
in those parts, while under the orders of the 
Finance Minister an army corps was organized 
for the protection of the line. So independent, 
indeed, was the latter in his conduct of purely 
military matters that a pattern of gun for the 
railway guard was settled, and the gun purchased 
abroad without reference to the War Ministry. 
To assist in the economic development of the 
railway, M. de Witte started a fleet of sea-going 
merchant ships ; for work on the INlanchurian 
rivers he ran a flotilla of river steamers, some of 
which were armed. \^ladivostok was no longer 
considered suitable as a terminus for a trans- 
continental trunk line, so, regardless of the fact 
that the Kuan-tung district was under the War 
Department and immediately under the officer 
commanding the troops in it (Admiral Alexeiefl'), 


Dalny was selected and created as a great port 
without reference to either. Huge sums were 
spent on this place, which adversely affected the 
military importance and strength of Port Arthur, 
as it was necessary either to fortify Dalny or be 
prepared for its seizure and employment by an 
enemy as a base of operations against us — a 
thing which afterwards happened. I should add 
that the Russo-Chinese Bank was also in the 
Finance Minister's hands. Finally, M. de Witte 
maintained his own representatives in Peking, 
Seoul, etc. (PokotilofF in Peking). It so hap- 
pened, therefore, that in this year our Minister 
of Finance was managing in the Far East rail- 
ways, a flotilla of merchant steamers, a certain 
number of armed vessels, the port of Dalny, and 
the Russo- Chinese Bank. He also had under 
his command an army corps. At the same time 
BezobrazofF and his company were developing 
their concessions in Manchuria and Korea, and 
promoting by every possible means their timber 
speculation on the Ya-lu in Northern Korea. 
One incredible scheme of BezobrazofF's followed 
another. His idea was to utilize the Timber 
Company as a sort of " screen " or barrier against 
a possible attack upon us by the Japanese, and 
during 1902 and 1903 his activity and that of 
his adherents assumed a very alarming character. 
Among requests that he made of Admiral 
AlexeiefF were to send into Korean territory 


600 soldiers in civilian dress, to organize for 
service in the same locality a force of 3,000 
Hun-huses, to support the agents of the Timber 
Company by sending 600 mounted rifles to 
Sha-ho-tzu on the Ya-lu, and to occupy Feng- 
huang-cheng with a detached force. Admiral 
AlexeiefF refused some of these requests, but 
unfortunately consented to send 150 mounted 
rifles to Sha-ho-tzu, and to move a Cossack 
regiment with guns to the latter place. This 
action was particularly harmful to us, as it 
was taken just at the time when we were 
under obligations to evacuate the province of 
Mukden altogether. As has already been stated, 
instead of withdrawing, we advanced towards 

The Ministers of Finance, Foreign Affairs, 
and War (de Witte, LamsdorfF, and myself), all 
recognized the danger that would threaten us if 
we continued to defer fulfilment of the promised 
evacuation, and, more especially, if we failed to 
put an end to BezobrazofFs activity in Korea. 
We three Ministers, therefore, procured tlie ap- 
pointment of a special council, which assembled 
in St. Petersburg on April 18, 1903, to consider 
certain propositions which BezobrazoiF had made 
to its members in a special memorandum. These 
proposals had for their object the strengthen- 
ing of Russia's strategic position in the basin 
of the Ya-lu. We three Ministers on the com- 


mittee expressed ourselves firmly and definitely 
in opposition to BezobrazofF's proposals, and all 
agreed that if his enterprise on the Ya-lu was to 
be sustained, it must be upon a strictly com- 
mercial basis. The Minister of Finance showed 
conclusively that, for the next five or ten years, 
Russia's task in the Far East must be to tran- 
quillize the country, and bring to completion 
the work already undertaken there. He said, 
furthermore, that although the views of the 
different departments of the Government were 
not always precisely the same, there had never 
been — so far as the JNlinisters of War, Foreign 
Affairs, and Finance were concerned — any con- 
flict of action. The Minister of Foreign Affairs 
pointed out particularly the danger involved in 
BezobrazofF's proposal to stop the withdrawal of 
troops from Manchuria. 

It pleased His Imperial Majesty to say, after 
he had listened to these expressions of opinion, 
that war with Japan was extremely undesirable, 
and that we must endeavour to restore in 
Manchuria a state of tranquillity. The company 
formed for the purpose of exploiting the timber 
on the River Ya-lu must be a strictly commercial 
organization, must admit foreigners who desired 
to participate, and must exclude all ranks of the 
army. I was then ordered to proceed to the 
Far East, for the purpose of acquainting myself, 
on the spot, with our needs, and ascertaining 


what the state of mind was in Japan. In the 
latter country, wliere I met with the most 
cordial and kind-hearted reception, I became 
convinced that the Government desired to avoid 
a rupture with Russia, but that it would be 
necessary for us to act in a perfectly definite way 
in Manchuria, and to refrain from interference 
in the affairs of Korea. If we permitted the 
schemes of Bezobrazofl" and Company to con- 
tinue, we should be in danger of a conflict. These 
conclusions I telegraphed to St. Petersburg. 
After my departure from that city, however, the 
danger of a rupture with Japan, on account of 
Korea, had increased considerably, especially 
when, on May 20, 1903, the Minister of Finance 
announced that, "after having had an explana- 
tion from State Councillor BezobrazofF, he (the 
Minister) was not in disagreement with him so 
far as the essence of the matter was concerned." 
In the council held at Port Arthur, when I 
arrived, Admiral AlexeiefF, Lessar,* PavlofF,f 
and I cordially agreed that the Ya-lu enterprise 
should have a purely commercial character ; and 
I added, moreover, that, in my opinion, it ought 
to be abandoned altogether. I brought about 
the recall of several army officers who were 
taking part in it, and suggested to Lieutenant- 
Colonel MadritofF, who was managing the 

* [The Russian Minister in China. — Ed.] 
t [The Russian Minister in Korea. — Ed.] 


military and political side of it, that he should 
either resign his commission or give up employ- 
ment which, in my judgment, was not suitable 
for an officer wearing the uniform of the General 
Staff. He chose the former alternative. 

All the military requests made by Admiral 
AlexeiefF, after consulting with the senior officers 
in the Kuan-tung district, were carried out with 
great promptitude. My recommendations and 
orders were made in Port Arthur, and issued 
by despatch. In the autumn of 1903 I was 
thanked by him for acting on his recommenda- 
tions so promptly. In view of the repeated 
assurances given me by Admiral AlexeiefF that 
he was wholly opposed to BezobrazofF's schemes, 
that he was holding them back with all his 
strength, and that he was a firm advocate of a 
peaceful Russo-Japanese agreement, I left Port 
Arthur for St. Petersburg in July, 1903, fully 
believing that the avoidance of a rupture with 
Japan was a matter entirely within our control. 
The results of my visit to the Far East were 
embodied in a special report to the Emperor, 
submitted August 6, 1903, in which I expressed 
with absolute frankness the opinion that if we 
did not put an end to the uncertain state of 
affairs in Manchuria, and to the adventurous 
activity of Bezobrazoff in Korea, we must expect 
a rupture with Japan. Copies of this report 
were sent to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and 


the Minister of Finance, and met with their 
approval. By some means unknown to me, this 
report was given pubhcity, and on June 24, 1905, 
the newspaper Razsvet printed an article, by a 
certain M. Roslavleff, entitled " Which is the 
Greater ?" the object of which was to prove that I 
ought to be included amongst those responsible for 
the rupture with Japan, because, through fear of 
BezobrazofF, I signed a paper drawn up in Port 
Arthur, which put the Ya-lu enterprise under 
the protection of Russian troops, and thus 
stopped the evacuation of Manchuria. This 
article has been reprinted by many Russian and 
foreign journals, and there has never been any 
refutation of the misstatements that it contains 
with regard to my alleged action in signing this 
imaginary memorandum. 

In view of the special publicity this effusion 
received, and of the gravity of the accusations 
levelled against me, I A^dll give a few extracts from 
it. M. Roslavleif quotes from my report to the 
Emperor the following sentences and paragraphs : 

"Our actions in the basin of the Ya-lu, and 
our behaviour in Manchuria, have excited in 
Japan a feeling of hostility which, upon our 
taking any incautious step, may lead to war. . . . 
State Secretary Bezobrazoff's plan of operations, 
if carried out, will inevitably lead to a violatoin 
of the agreement that we made with China on 
April 8, 1902, and will also, as inevitably, cause 
complications with Japan. . . . The actions of 

VOL. I. 12 


State Secretary Bezobrazoff toward the end of 
last, and at the beginning of this, year have 
already practically caused a violation of the 
treaty with China and a breach with Japan. . . . 
At the request of Bezobrazoff, Admiral Alexeieff 
sent a force of mounted rifles to Sha-ho-tzu (on 
the Ya-lu), and kept a body of troops in Feng- 
huang-cheng. These measures put a stop to the 
evacuation of the province of Mukden. . . . 
Among other participants in the Ya-lu enterprise 
who have given trouble to Admiral Alexeieff is 
Acting State Councillor Balasheff, who has a 
disposition quite as warlike as that of Bezobrazoff. 
If Admiral Alexeieff had not succeeded in stop- 
ping a despatch from Balasheff to Captain 
Bodisco with regard to 'catching all the Japanese,' 
' punishing them publicly,' and ' taking action 
with volleys,' there would have been a bloody 
episode on the Ya-lu before this. Unfortunately, 
it is liable to happen even now any day. . . . 
During my stay in Japan, I had opportunities of 
seeing with what nervous apprehension the people 
regarded our activity on the Ya-lu, how they 
exaggerated our intentions, and how they 
were preparing to defend by force their Korean 
interests. Our active operations there have con- 
vinced them that Russia is now about to proceed 
to the second part of her Far Eastern programme 
— that, having swallowed Manchuria, she is 
preparing to gulp down Korea. The excitement 
in Japan is such that if Admiral Alexeieff had 
not shown wise caution — if he had allowed all 
the proposals of Bezobrazoff to be put in train — 
we should probably be at war with Japan now. 
There is no reason whatever to suppose that a 
few officers and reservists, cutting timber on the 
Ya-lu, will be of any use in a war with Japan. 


Their value is trifling in comparison with the 
danger that the timber enterprise creates by 
keeping up the excitement among the Japanese 
people. . . . Suffice it to say that, in the opinion 
of Admiral AlexeiefF, and of our Ministers in 
Peking, Seoul, and Tokio, the timber concession 
may be the cause of hostihties, and in this opinion 
I fully concur." 

After quoting the above extracts from my 
report, M. Roslavleff says : 

" Thus warmly, eloquently, and shrewdly did 
Kuropatkin condemn the Ya-lu adventure, and 
thus clearly did he see on the political horizon 
the ruinous consequences that it would have for 
Russia. But why did this bold and clear-sighted 
censor not protest against the decision of the 
Port Arthur council ? Why, after making a few 
caustic remarks about BezobrazofF, did he sign 
the paper which put the Ya-lu adventure under 
the protection of Russian troops, and thus stop 
the evacuation of JVIanchuria ? Why did not 
the other members, who shared Kuropatkin's 
opinion as to the great danger of BezobrazofTs 
adventurous schemes, and expected a rupture 
with Japan to be imminent, prevent, on the 
authority of those July councils at Port Arthur, 
Bezobrazoff's political and economic escapades ? 
Why did they, on the contrary, with Kuropatkin, 
put their signatures to a document which admitted 
Bezobrazoff's enterprises as useful Government 
undertakings, ratify a treacherous policy in China, 
Korea, and Japan, and so lay the first stone in 
the monument of indelible shame erected by 
the war ? Why ? Simply because at that time 
everybody was afraid of BezobrazofF." 



Such accusations, which have had wide pub- 
Hcity, require an explanation. 

The council held at Port Arthur, in June, 
1903, was called for the purpose of finding, if 
possible, some means of settling the Manchurian 
question without lowering the dignity of Russia. 
There were present at this council, in addition 
to Admiral AlexeiefF and myself, Acting State 
Councillor Lessar, Russian Minister in China ; 
Chamberlain PavlofF, Russian Minister in Seoul ; 
Major-General Vogak ; State Councillor Bezob- 
razoff ; and M. Plancon, an officer of the diplo- 
matic service. We were all acquainted with the 
wish of the Emperor, that our enterprises in the Far 
East should not lead to war, and we had to devise 
means of carrying the Imperial will into effect. 
With regard to these means there were differences 
of opinion, but upon fundamental questions there 
was complete agreement. Among these were — 

1. The Mmichurian Question. — On July 3 the 
council expressed its judgment with regard to 
this question as follows : " In view of the extra- 
ordinary difficulties and enormous administra- 
tive expenses that the annexation of Manchuria 
would involve, all the members of the council 
agree that it is, in principle, undesirable ; and 
this conclusion applies not only to Manchuria as 
a whole, but also to its northern part. 

2. The Korean Question. — On July 2 the 
council decided that the occupation of the whole 


of Korea, or even of the northern part, would 
be unprofitable to Russia, and therefore un- 
desirable. Our activity in the basin of the 
Ya-lu, moreover, might give Japan reason to 
fear a seizure by us of the northern part of the 
Peninsula. On July 7 the council called upon 
Acting State Councillor Balasheff, and Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel MadritofF of the General Staff, to 
appear before it, and explain the status of the 
Ya-lu enterprise. From their testimony it ap- 
peared that the concern was legally organized, 
the company holding permits from the Chinese 
authorities to cut timber on the northern side, 
and a concession from the Korean Government 
covering the southern side of the Y^a - lu. 
Although the enterprise had lost, to a great 
extent, its provocative character after the con- 
clusions of the St. Petersburg council of 
April 18, 1903, became known in the province 
of Kuan-tung, its operations could not yet be 
regarded as purely commercial. On July 7 the 
company had in its employ 9 senior agents, of 
whom one was an officer of the army ; 97 or 
98 reservists, who went down the river in 
charge of rafts from Sha-ho-tzu to its mouth ; 
some 200 Chinamen (from Chifu), and about 
900 Koreans. Its affairs w^ere managed by 
Lieutenant- Colonel INIadritofF, although that 
officer was not officially in the company's 


After consideration of all the facts put for- 
ward, the members of the council came to the 
unanimous conclusion that, " although the 
Ya-lu Timber Company really appears to be 
a commercial organization, its employment of 
military officers of the active list to do work 
that has military importance undoubtedly gives 
to it a politico-military aspect." The council, 
therefore, in order to deprive Japan of a pretext 
for looking upon the Timber Company as an 
enterprise of a military-political character, ac- 
knowledged the necessity of "at once taking 
measures to give the affiiir an exclusively com- 
mercial character, to exclude from it officers of 
the regular army, and to commit the manage- 
ment of the timber business to persons not em- 
ployed in the service of the Empire." On 
July 7 these conclusions were signed by all the 
members of the council, including State Coun- 
cillor Bezobrazoffi I declined to go personally 
into any of the economic questions concerning 
Manchuria, and said that the proper person to 
do this was the Minister of Finance. State 
Secretary Bezobrazoff was asked to M^ork out the 
following points with the assistance of experts 
selected by him : 

1. " What action should be taken and what 
economic policy should be followed in Man- 
churia in order to reduce the deficit on the 
Eastern Chinese Railway. 


2. "To what extent the measures for in- 
creasing the revenue of the hne and the economic 
policy in Manchuria, recommended by the ex- 
perts, would affect the economic situation of the 
Pri-Amur region." 

Another duty entrusted to this sub-committee 
was the compilation of a list of all the private 
enterprises which were being carried on in 
Manchuria. At the last meeting of the council 
on July 11 the sub -committee's report on 
the economic question was read out, and it 
was decided "to take note of its conclusions 
without discussion, and to attach them to the 
council's proceedings." Admiral AlexeiefF sug- 
gested that to this should be added the words, 
" so that when considering the question of the 
further economic development in Manchuria, we 
should endeavour not to invest more State 
moneys in it." This addition was supported by 
all the members of the council, excepting State 
Councillor BezobrazofF, who did not feel himself 
able to offer an opinion on the subject.^ No 
other conclusions on economic questions gener- 
ally or any other enterprises in Manchuria were 
signed by the members of the council at Port 
Arthur, and matters of an economic nature were 
not looked into. 

It is evident, from the facts above set forth, 

* " Decisions of the Council on the Manchurian 
Question,^^ No. 10, July 11, 1903 (Port Arthur). 


that the statement in which M. RoslavlefF 
charges the members of the council with signing 
minutes of proceedings that gave the Bezob- 
razofF adventure a place among useful Imperial 
enterprises is fiction. Upon what it was based 
we do not know. The duty of immediately 
carrying into effect the conclusions of the council 
— to put an end immediately to the military- 
political activity of the timber enterprise on the 
Ya-lu — rested upon Admiral Alexeieff, by virtue 
of the authority given to him. The thing that 
he had to do, first of all, and that he was fully 
empowered to do, was to recall our force from 
Feng-huang-cheng, and the mounted rifles from 
the Ya-lu. Why this was not done I do not 
know. Personally, I did not allow I^ieutenant- 
Colonel MadritofF, of the General Staff, to con- 
tinue his connection with the Timber Company, 
and I may add that he and other officers who had 
associated themselves with the enterprise did so 
without my knowledge. But no matter how 
effective might be the measures taken by 
Admiral Alexeieff to give the Ya-lu enterprise 
a purely commercial character, I still feared 
that this undertaking, which had obtained 
w^orld-wide notoriety, would continue to have 
important political significance. In my report 
of August 6, 1903, which was presented to the 
Emperor upon my return from Japan, I there- 
fore expressed the opinion that an immediate 


end must be put to the operations of the Timber 
Company, and that the whole business should 
be sold to foreigners. The thought that our 
interests in Korea, which were of trifling im- 
portance, might bring us into conflict with 
Japan caused me incessant anxiety during my 
stay in the latter country. On June 26, 1903, 
when I was passing through the Sea of Japan 
on my way to Nagasaki, I made the following 
note in my diary : 

" If I were asked to express an opinion, from 
a military point of view, upon the comparative 
importance of Russian interests in different parts 
of the Empire, and on different frontiers, I 
should put my judgment into the form of a 
pyramidal diagram, placing the least important 
of our interests at the top and the most im- 
portant at the bottom, as follows : 

Our interests in 

Our interests in Man- 

Military District of the Pri- 

Amur. Safe-^marding of this 

territory for Russia. Defence 

against Cliina and Japan. 

Securing the safety of Russia against 
Turkey, Persia, Afghanistan, Great Brit- 
ain, and China. Military Districts of the 
Caucasus, Turkestan, and Siberia, 

Maintenance of domestic peace and order by 
the forces of all Military Districts. 

Maintenance of the territorial integrity of Russia 
against the Powers of the Triple Alliance. The foun- 
dation of Russia's safety in her western boundary. 


" This diagram shows clearly where the prin- 
cipal energies of the Ministry of War should 
hereafter be concentrated, and in what direction 
in future Russia's main powers and resources 
should be turned. The interests that lie at the 
foundation of our position as a nation are : 
(1) The defence of the territorial integrity of 
the Empire against the Powers of the Triple 
Alliance ; and (2) the employment of the forces 
of all our military districts for the preservation 
of internal peace and order. In comparison with 
these tasks all the others have secondary im- 
portance. The diagram shows, furthermore, that 
our interests in the Pri-Amur region must be 
regarded as more important than our interests in 
Manchuria, and that the latter must take prece- 
dence of our interests in Korea. I am afraid, 
however, that, for a time at least, our national 
activity will be based on affairs in the Far East, 
and, if so, the pyramid will then be turned 
bottom upwards, and made to stand on its 
narrow Korean top. But such a structure on 
such a foundation will fall. Columbus solved 
the problem of making an egg stand on its end 
by breaking the egg. Must we, in order to make 
our pyramid stand on its narrow Korean end, 
break the Russian Empire ?" 

Upon my return from Japan I showed the 
above diagram to M. de Witte, who agreed 
that it was correct. Notwithstanding the dis- 
astrous conclusion to the recent war, we did not 
adopt Columbus's method. Russia is not yet 
broken ; but undoubtedly, now that the war is 
over, the above diagram must be considerably 


The establishment of the Viceroyalty in the 
Far East was for me a complete surprise. On 
August 15, 1903, I asked the Emperor to relieve 
me of my duty as Minister of War, and after the 
great manoeuvres I was granted long leave of 
absence, of which I availed myself, expecting 
that my place would be filled by the appoint- 
ment of some other person. In September, 
1903, the state of affairs in the Far East began 
to be alarming, and Admiral AlexeiefF was defi- 
nitely ordered to take all necessary measures to 
avoid war. The Emperor expressed his wish to 
this effect with firmness, and did not, in any 
way, limit or restrict the concessions that should 
be made in order to avoid a rupture with Japan. 
All that had to be done was to find a method 
of making these concessions as little injurious as 
possible to Russian interests. During my stay 
in Japan, I became satisfied that the Japanese 
Government was disposed to consider Japanese 
and Korean affairs calmly, with a view to arriving 
at an agi'eement upon the basis of mutual con- 
cessions. The Emperor's definitely expressed 
desire that war should not be allowed to take 
place had, for a short time, a tranquillizing effect 
on Far Eastern affairs. In view of the disturb- 
ing situation in the Far East, I cut short my 
leave of absence, and, in reporting to the 
Emperor for duty, 1 gave this threatening state 
of affairs as my reason for returning. On 


October 23, 1903, the Emperor made the follow- 
ing marginal note upon my letter : " The alarm 
in the Far East is apparently beginning to sub- 
side." In October I recommended that the 
garrison at Vladivostok should be strengthened, 
but permission to reinforce it was not given. 
Meanwhile there was really no re-establishment 
of tranquilhty in the Far East, and our relations 
with Japan and China were becoming more and 
more involved. On October 28, 1903, I pre- 
sented to the Emperor a special report on the 
JManchurian question, in which I showed that, in 
order to avoid complications with China and a 
rupture with Japan, we must put an end to our 
military occupation of Southern Manchuria, and 
confine our activity and our administrative super- 
vision to the northern part of that territory. 

At the time when this report was presented, 
and later — in November — the negotiations that 
Admiral AlexeiefF was carrying on with Japan 
not only made no progress, but became more 
critical, the Admiral still believing that to show 
a yielding disposition would only make matters 

Bearing in mind the clearly expressed will of 
the Emperor that all necessary measures should 
be taken to avoid war, and not expecting favour- 
able results from AlexeiefF's negotiations, I sub- 
mitted to His Majesty, on December 6, 1903, a 
second memorandum on the Manchurian ques- 


tion, in which I proposed that we should restore 
Port Arthur and the province of Kuan-tung to 
China, and sell the southern branch of the 
Eastern Chinese Railway, securing, in lieu thereof, 
certain special rights in the northern part of 
Manchuria. In substance, this proposition was 
that we should admit the untimeliness of our 
attempt to get an outlet on the Pacific, and 
abandon it altogether. The sacrifice might seem 
a heavy one to make, but I showed the necessity 
for it by emphasizing two important considera- 
tions. In the first place, by surrendering Port 
Arthur (which had been taken away from the 
Japanese), and by giving up Southern Man- 
churia (with the Ya-lu enterprise), we should 
escape the danger of a rupture with Japan 
and China ; in the second place, we should 
avoid the possibility of internal disturbances in 
European Russia. A war with Japan would 
be extremely unpopular, and would increase 
the feeling of dissatisfaction with the ruling 

At the end of this memorandum occurred the 
following passage : 

" The economic interests of Russia in the Far 
East are negligible. We have as yet, thank 
God, no overproduction in manufactures, be- 
cause our domestic markets are not yet glutted. 
There may be some export of articles from our 
factories and foundries, but it is largely bounty- 


fed, and will cease — or nearly cease — when such 
artificial encouragement is withheld. Russia, 
therefore, has not yet arrived at the pitiable 
necessity of waging war in order to obtain 
markets for her products. As for our other 
interests in that quarter, the success or failure 
of a few coal or timber enterprises in Manchuria 
and Korea is not a matter of sufficient impor- 
tance to justify the risk of war. The railway- 
lines built through Manchuria cannot change the 
situation quickly, and the hope that these lines 
will have world-wide importance as arteries of 
international commerce is not likely to be soon 
realized. Travellers, mails, tea and possibly 
some other merchandise will go over them, but 
the great masses of heavy international freight, 
which alone can give such importance to a rail- 
way, must still go by sea, on account of the heavy 
railway rates. Such is not the case, however, 
with local freight to supply local needs. This 
the railroad — and especially the southern branch 
— will carry in increasing amount, thus deriving 
most of its revenue, and, at the same time, 
stimulating the growth of the country, and, in 
Southern Manchuria particularly, benefiting the 
Chinese population. But if we do not take 
special measures to direct even local freight 
to Dalny, that port is likely to suffer from the 
competition of Newchuang. Port Arthur has 
no value for Russia as the defence and terminus 
of a railway, unless that railway is part of an 
international transit route. The southern branch 
of the Eastern Chinese road has commercially 
only — or chiefly — local importance, and Russia 
does not need to protect it by means so costly 
as the fortifications of Port Arthur, a fleet of 
warships, and a garrison of 30,000 men. It thus 


appears that the retention of a forward position 
in Kuan-tung is no more supported by economic 
than it is by pohtical and miHtary considerations. 
What, then, are tlie interests that may involve 
us in war with Japan and China ? Are such 
interests important enough to justify the great 
sacrifices that war will demand ? 

'^ y^ '^ ^ M^ 

" The Russian people are powerful, and their 
faith in Divine Providence, as well as their devo- 
tion to their Tsar and country, is unshaken. We 
may trust, therefore, that if Russia is destined to 
undergo the trial of war at the beginning of the 
twentieth century, she will come out of it with 
victory and glory. But she will have to make 
terrible sacrifices — sacrifices that may long retard 
the natural growth of the Empire. In the wars 
that we waged in the early years of the seven- 
teenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries, the 
enemy invaded our territory, and we fought for 
our very existence — marched forth in defence of 
our country and died for faith. Tsar, and Father- 
land. If, in the early years of the twentieth 
century, war breaks out as the result of Far 
Eastern complications, the Russian people and 
the Russian army will execute the will of their 
monarch with as much devotion and self-sacrifice 
as ever, and will give up their lives and property 
for the sake of attaining complete victory ; but 
they will have no intelligent comprehension of 
the objects for which the war is waged. For 
that reason there will be no such exaltation of 
spirit, no such outburst of patriotism, as that 
which accompanied the wars that we fought 
either in self-defence or for objects dear to the 
hearts of the people. 

" We are now passing through a critical period. 


Internal enemies, aiming at the destruction of 
the dearest and most sacred foundations of life, 
are invading even the ranks of our army. Large 
groups of the population have become dissatisfied, 
or mentally unsettled, and disorders of various 
sorts — mostly created by revolutionary propa- 
ganda — are increasing in frequency. Cases in 
which troops have to be called out to deal with 
such disorders are much more common than they 
were even a short time ago. Secret revolutionary 
publications directed against the Government 
are being more frequently found, even in the 
barracks. . . . We must hope, however, that 
this evil has not yet taken deep root in Russian 
soil, and that by strict and wise measures it may 
be eradicated. If Russia were attacked from 
without, the people, with patriotic fervour, would 
undoubtedly repudiate the false teaching of the 
revolutionary propaganda, and show themselves 
as ready to answer the call of their revered 
monarch, and to defend their Tsar and country, 
as they were in the early years of the eighteenth 
and particularly in the nineteenth century. If, 
however, they are asked to make great sacrifices 
in order to carry on a war whose objects are not 
clearly understood by them, the leaders of the 
anti-Government party will take advantage of 
the opportunity to spread sedition. Thus there 
will be introduced a new factor which, if we 
decide on war in the Far East, we must take 
into account. The sacrifices and dangers that 
we have experienced, or that we anticipate, as 
results of the position we have taken in the Far 
East, ought to be a warning to us when we dream 
of getting an outlet on the warm waters of the 
Indian Ocean at Chahbar.* It is already evident 

* [On the Mekran Coast of Persia. — Ed.] 


that the British are preparing to meet us there. 
The building of a railroad across Persia, the con- 
struction of a defended port and the maintenance 
of a fleet, etc., will simply be a repetition of our 
experience with the Eastern Chinese Railway and 
Port Arthur. In the place of Port Arthur we 
shall have Chahbar, and instead of war with 
Japan, we shall have a still more unnecessary 
and still more terrible war with Great Britain. 

" In view of the considerations above set forth, 
the questions arise : Ought we not to avoid the 
present danger at Port Arthur, as well as the 
future danger in Persia ? Ought we not to 
restore Kuan-tung, Port Arthur, and Dalny to 
China, give up the southern branch of the Eastern 
Chinese Railway, and get from China, in place 
of it, certain rights in Northern Manchuria and a 
sum of, say, £25,000,000 as compensation for 
expenses incurred by us in connection with the 
railway and Port Arthur ?" 

Copies of this report were sent to the Minister 
of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Finance, and 
Admiral AlexeiefF. Unfortunately, my views 
were not approved, and meanwhile the negotia- 
tions with Japan had been dragging along and 
becoming more and more involved. The future 
historian, who will have access to all the docu- 
ments, may be able, from a study of them, to 
determine why the will of the Russian monarch 
to avoid war with Japan was not carried into 
effect by his principal subordinates. At present 
it is only possible to state definitely that, although 
neither the Emperor nor Russia desired war, we 

VOL. I. 13 


did not succeed in escaping it. The reason for 
the failure of the negotiations is evidently to be 
found in our ignorance of Japan's readiness for 
war, and her determination to support her con- 
tentions with armed force. We ourselves were 
not ready to fight, and resolved that it should 
not come to fighting. We made demands, but 
we had no intention of using weapons to enforce 
them — and, it may be added, they were not 
worth going to war about. We always thought, 
moreover, that the question whether there should 
be war or peace depended upon us, and we 
wholly overlooked Japan's stubborn determina- 
tion to enforce demands that had for her such 
vital importance, and also her reliance upon our 
military unreadiness. Thus the negotiations were 
not carried on by the respective parties under 
equal conditions. 

Again, our position at this period was made 
worse by the form that Admiral AlexeiefF gave 
to the negotiations entrusted to him. Japanese 
pride was offended, and the whole correspon- 
dence became strained and difficult as a result of 
the Admiral's unfamiliarity with diplomatic pro- 
cedure and his lack of competent staff* assistance. 
He proceeded, moreover, upon the mistaken 
assumption that it was necessary to display inflexi- 
bility and tenacity. His idea was that one con- 
cession would inevitably lead to another, and 
that a yielding policy would be more likely to 


bring about a rupture in the end than a policy 
of firmness. 

The paper Nasha Jizn, on July 4, 1905, pub- 
lished an article entitled " The Viceroy AlexeiefF's 
Firm Policy," which was circulated all over the 
world. It ran as follows : 

*' Now, when the disasters which have befallen 
our operations by land and sea, together with all 
the terrible, incredible sufferings of our soldiers 
and sailors, are turning our thoughts to the per- 
sons responsible for the wretched war, we must 
remember, in deciding the extent to which dif- 
ferent departments and persons were responsible 
for the 'preliminary events,' that Russian in- 
terests in the Far East were represented by the 
Viceroy, who was intimately acquainted with all 
the political circumstances, and who must be 
considered an authority on Far Eastern affairs. 

" Admiral Alexeieff 's policy was ' firm,' and all 
his endeavours were directed to prevent Russia's 
political position in those regions being weakened, 
and it was on this account that he did not feel 
able to recommend the evacuation of Manchuria 
after it had been occupied for tliree years. Not- 
withstanding the absolute necessity for making 
concessions, he reported in September, 1903, that 
the Japanese proposal was ' quite an impossible 
pretension,' that it must be definitely laid down 
as a preliminary to any negotiations with Japan 
that we should continue in occupation of Man- 
churia, and that he ' was firmly convinced ' that 
this was the only settlement in accordance with 
our position in the Far East. 

" The opinion of the late Viceroy, ' based ' on 
the general political situation, was such that a 



successful issue to the negotiations could only be 
' expected ' if the Japanese Government were 
clearly given to understand that Russia was 
determined to support her rights and interests in 
Manchuria by force of arms. With this idea, 
and owing to the 'provocative action of the 
Japanese,' AlexeiefF proposed a whole series of 
measures, amongst which was one that we should 
at once attack them on the sea in the event of a 
landing at Chemulpo, Chinampo, or the mouth 
of the Ya-lu. He was ' deeply convinced ' that, 
in order to arrive at an agreement with Japan, 
the most important thing was ' an inflexible reso- 
lution and timely action, which alone can prevent 
Japan realizing her extraordinarily ambitious 

" When, in December, 1903, the Japanese 
Government presented their proposals in reply 
to the draft agreement drawn up by Alexeieff, 
and described by him as ' an honourable retreat 
for her from a position which she has herself 
created by her arrogant behaviour,' he character- 
ized these as being ' equivalent to a demand 
that the Russian Government should formally 
acknowledge Japan's protectorate over Korea.' 
Indeed, he considered the requests made by 
her 'so presumptuous that we should at once 
reject them.' In presenting such requests, he 
said, 'Japan exceeds the limit of all reason,' 
and he consequently felt that no concession 
was possible, and that it would be better to 
break off negotiations, after clearly explaining 
that in her proposals Russia ' had reached the 
extreme limit of concession.' Then, when the 
Japanese began to occupy Korea at the end of 
December, 1903, Alexeieff represented most 
strongly that ' for self-defence ' corresponding 


steps should be taken to maintain the balance of 
power upset by the occupation of Korea' — i.e., 
that the lower reaches of the Ya-lu should be 
occupied, and the mobilization of the Far Eastern 
districts and the province of Siberia should be 
carried out. He was of opinion that Japan's 
final proposals, received in the middle of January, 
1904, were 'in tone and substance still more pre- 
tentious and bold than before,' and he insisted 
on the negotiations being broken off, asserting 
that their continuation ' could not lead to a settle- 
ment of mutual interests,' and that ' any display 
of yielding on our part would lead to a great 
loss of dignity to Russia and to a corresponding 
augmentation of the prestige of Japan in the 
eyes of the whole East.' 

" This was three weeks before the diplomatic 
negotiations were broken off. Has Russia's 
dignity not yet suffered in full measure ? 

" Finally, our last answer to Japan— despatched 
only a few days before the declaration of war — 
which contained a refusal to consider a neutral 
zone, and admitted Japan's right to predominate 
in Korea, was stated to be ' an exhibition of gene- 
rosity beyond which Russia could scarcely go.' 

" After three or four days — i.e., on February 6, 
1904 — diplomatic relations were broken off 
by Japan, and so began that awful war which 
might have been prevented without loss of dignity 
to us if the Viceroy's policy had been a little 
less ' firm,' and — it must be added — a little less 
eccentric. " 

My opinions with regard to the relative im- 
portance of the tasks which confronted our War 
Department made me a convinced opponent of 
an active Asiatic policy. 


Realizing our military unreadiness on our 
western frontier, and taking into account the 
urgent need of devoting our resources to the 
work of internal reorganization and reform, I 
thought that a rupture with Japan would be a 
national calamity, and did everything in my power 
to prevent it. Throughout my long service in 
Asia I had not only been an advocate of an 
agreement with Great Britain on that continent, 
but I was also certain that a peaceable delimita- 
tion of spheres of influence between us and Japan 
was possible. 

In my opinion, the carrying of the main 
line of the Trans-Siberian Railway through Man- 
churia was a mistake. I had nothing to do with 
the adoption of that route, as 1 was then Com- 
mander of the Trans-Caspian Military District ; 
it was also contrary to the opinion of General 
Dukhovski, representative of the War Depart- 
ment in the Far East. 



The army we put in the field was unable to defeat 
the Japanese in the time allotted to it. JNIany 
historians will probably essay to solve the riddle of 
how a Power, which we regarded as belonging to 
the second class, and one which not long ago pos- 
sessed no army, was able to crush us absolutely on 
the sea, and to defeat a strong force on land, and 
doubtless we shall eventually be furnished with 
the reasons in full. For the present I propose to 
mention only some general causes which contri- 
buted to Japan's success. Broadly speaking, we 
underestimated her power, particularly her moral 
strength, and entered upon the war far too lightly. 
The Japanese first became our neighbours 
when we occupied Kamchatka in the reign of 
Peter the Great. In 1860, after the peaceful 
occupation of the extensive Ussuri region — by 
virtue of the Treaty of Peking— we moved down 
to the frontier of Korea and the Sea of Japan 
This sea, which is almost completely enclosed by 
Korea and the Japanese Islands, is of immense 



importance to the whole of the adjacent coasts, 
and as the outlets from it into the ocean were in 
her hands, Japan might have easily prevented 
our obtaining free access to the Pacific. But, by 
our acquisition of Saghalien, we gained an outlet 
through Tartar Strait.* This, however, was 
frequently and for long periods icebound, and 
for about forty years the only spot developed on 
the Ussuri coast was Vladivostok. Our new 
neighbour did not attract any attention from us 
for a long time — so long, in fact, as her life did not 
come into contact with ours — and we remained 
confident of her military weakness. We knew the 
Japanese as skilful and patient artisans ; we were 
fond of their productions, of which the delicate 
workmanship and brilhant colouring charmed us ; 
our sailors spoke with appreciation of the country 
and its inhabitants, and were full of pleasant 
reminiscences of their visits, especially of Naga- 
saki, where they appeared to be popular with the 
inhabitants ; but as a military factor Japan did 
not exist. Our sailors, travellers, and diplomats, 
had entirely overlooked the awakening of an 
energetic, independent people. 

In 1867 the armed forces of Japan consisted 
of 10,000 men, organized in nine battalions, two 
squadrons, and eight batteries. This force, which 
constituted the cadre of the standing army, was 
trained by French instructors, from whom, also, 
* [? Straits of La Perouse. — Ed.] 


0pi)0sit3 p. 200, vol. i. 



the troops obtained the pattern of their uniform. 
In 1872, as a result of the Franco-German War, 
Japan was subjected to the law of universal 
service ; the French instructors were replaced by- 
Germans, who organized the army according to 
German ideas, and officers were sent every year 
to Europe to study their profession. At the 
time of the Chino-Japanese War the army con- 
sisted of seven infantry divisions ; but, being 
prevented from enjoying the fruits of her victories 
in this war by reason of her weakness both on 
land and sea, the nation strained every nerve to 
create an army and navy capable of protecting 
its interests. On April 1, 1896, the Mikado 
issued a decree for the reorganization of the 
military forces, by which the strength of the 
army would be doubled in seven years. In 1903 
this reorganization was completed. Statistically 
the creation and growth of this great naval and 
military force were not overlooked by us ; the 
construction of every warship and the formation 
of every new division of infantry was mentioned 
in the reports of our Navy and War Depart- 
ments. But we did not properly appreciate the 
meaning of these beginnings, and were unable to 
gauge the fighting value of the mere numbers by 
any European standard. Detailed information 
as to the organization and strength of the army, 
with an appreciation of its technical preparedness 
and capability of mobilization, was compiled in 


a handbook by the Headquarter Staff and revised 
annually. This book contained the following 
figures as to the strength of the Japanese troops 
which took part in the Chinese War of 1894-95, 
and in the expedition in 1900 to the province of 
Pei-chih-li : 

1. JVa?^ with CJdna, 1894-95. — In this war 
Japan was forced to put forward the whole of 
her military strength. Each of the seven 
divisions which then existed were mobilized and 
despatched from Hiroshima to the theatre of 
war as operations developed. Half of the 
5th Division was sent to Korea in the middle of 
June before war had actually been declared, 
followed in August, after hostilities had com- 
menced, by the other half and the whole of 
the 3rd Division. These two divisions con- 
stituted the 1st Army, which defeated the 
Chinese forces at Pingyang in September, forced 
the passage of the Ya-lu in October, and moved 
on Mukden through South-East Manchuria. 
After a naval engagement at the mouth of the 
River Ya-lu, the 2nd Army, consisting of the 
1st Division and half of the 6th, was, by Septem- 
ber 30, concentrated at Hiroshima. This army 
landed north of Pi-tzu-wo, and fought its way 
into Port Arthur. Towards the end of 1894, 
three and a half divisions, of a total strength 
of 52,600 men, were in Southern Manchuria. 
In the beginning of 1895, the 2nd Division and 


the other half of the 6th Division were landed 
on the Shan-tung Peninsula ; these troops com- 
posed the 3rd Army, numbering about 24,000 
men. Thus, by the beginning of 1895, more than 
75,000 men had been landed in China. Thirty 
vessels of a steamship company, subsidized by 
the Japanese Government, were chartered for the 
conveyance of these troops. On account of the 
roughness of the country in the theatre of war 
the land transport consisted mostly of carriers 
organized into corps, the majority of whom 
were recruited in Japan ; the remainder were 
coolies collected in Korea and Manchuria. For 
the preliminary expenses of the war the Japanese 
Treasury allotted £4,500,000 ; later, an internal 
loan of £15,000,000 was raised. When the 
whole of the extraordinary expenditure was 
totalled, it was estimated that the war cost 
Japan about £20,000,000, of which £16,420,000 
was chargeable to the War Department and 
£3,580,000 to the Navy Department. 

2. The Expedition to China in 1900. — At first, 
a force of three battalions, one squadron, and one 
company of sappers — total 3,000 men — of the 
5th and 11th Divisions was mobilized in July, 
followed about a month later by the mobilization 
of the 5th Division. The troops were conveyed 
to Ta-ku in twenty-one transports, chartered from 
the Nippon- Yusen-Kaisha.* Excluding thefii'st 
* [A Japanese steamship line. — Ed.] 


force, 19,000 men in all were taken (the whole 
of the 5th Division, the ZopolefF batteries, part 
of the railway battalion from Tokio, and 6,000 
to 7,000 hired coolies wearing miiform). Alto- 
gether, 22,000 men were transported — the 
5th Division with its units and coolies — and all 
the supplies were sent from Japan. During the 
whole time, about 6,000 sick and wounded were 
returned to the base, while one-half of the 
cavalry and artillery and three-quarters of the 
transport horses died. The cost of the expedition, 
estimated at £3,800,000 to £4,000,000, was taken 
from the fund of some £5,000,000 set aside for 
the construction of warships and emergency 
expenditure. Within seven years of the war of 
1894-95 Japan had almost doubled her armed 
forces, and was very largely enabled to do this by 
the war indemnity received from China, the pay- 
ment of which was made through our mediation. 

The strength of the Japanese army, before the 
war with us, was calculated by our Headquarter 
Staff to be as follows : 

The peace strength of the standing army 
(excluding the garrison of Formosa) was estimated 
at 8,116 officers and 133,457 men. For economy, 
however, only 6,822 officers and 110,000^men were 
actually with the colours in peace, and of these, 
about 13,500 were continually on furlough. The 
war strength was fixed at 10,735 officers (without 
depot troops) and 348,074 men. Thus, to bring 


the peace numbers up to the war establishment, 
about 3,900 officers and 240,000 more men were 
requh-ed. On January 1, 1901, there were in the 
standing army, reserve, and territorial forces a 
total of 2,098 staff and general officers, 8,755 
regimental and warrant officers, 35,248 non- 
commissioned officers, 6,964 second-lieutenants 
and yunkers, and 273,476 men, a total of 10,853 
officers and 315,688 men.* Taking the peace 
establishment of the standing army at 8,116 
officers and about 110,000 men, it is evident that 
on January 1, 1901, there were 2,737 officers and 
about 205,000 men in the reserve and territorial 
forces. Comparing these numbers with those 
required to bring the peace establishment up to 
war strength, we find that on January 1, 1901, 
the numbers could not have been obtained ; that 
there w^as a shortage of officers equal to those 
required for the reserve troops,f and a shortage 
of some 35,000 men. Taking into considera- 
tion the probable yearly contingent of recruits 
(45,000 men), and also the periods of service in 

* In addition to these there were 2,716 departmental 
officers — i.e.^ medical, veterinary, and supply, etc. 

t By January 1, 1901, in the reserve and territorial 
army there were 2,737 officers, and it was necessary to add 
in war-time, without the reserve troops, 2,619 officers; 
thus the establishment of officers of the standing army and 
ten-itorial forces could be fully completed, and 138 officers 
were left for reserve units. This was insufficient — i.e.., there 
were about 1,000 officers short. 


the different classes of troops, it may be said that 
by January 1, 1903, the number of men in the 
reserve and territorial forces was approximately 
205,000.* Finally, to complete the army in an 
emergency, some 50,000 men were obtainable 
from the reserve of recruits, the majority of 
whom were quite untrained. No mention has 
been yet made of reserve troops, but preparations 
were made for their formation, and, according to 
the number of battalions, they must have in- 
creased the standing army by two -thirds of its 
establishment. The latest information prior to 
the war which we had of the strength, organiza- 
tion, and training of the Japanese army was 
based on the reports of our military attache in 
Japan, Colonel Vannovski, of the General Staff. 
Colonel Adabash, who visited Japan in 1903, 
forwarded to General Jilinski, of the Headquarter 
Staff, very important information as to the 
reserve units, towards whose formation steps 
were then being taken ; but as this information 
differed completely from that sent by Colonel 
Vannovski, Major-General Jilinski unfortunately 
did not consider it reliable. Some months later, 
Captain Rusin, our naval attache in that country, 
an extremely able officer, forwarded to the Head- 
quarter Staff of the navy very much the same 
information as that furnished by Adabash. His 

* 145,000 in the reserve, and 120,000 in the territorial 


report was transmitted by the Navy Department 
to General SakharofF, Chief of the Headquarter 
Staff. It was ascertained later that both these 
reports were quite accurate, but that they had 
been pigeon-holed because neither General 
Jilinski nor General Sakharoff believed them. 
Consequently, the information in the printed 
handbooks as to the Japanese armed forces in 
1903-04 did not include a single word as to 
reserves. Similarly, we did not attach a proper 
value to their numerous depot troops. Accord- 
ing to our calculations, based on information sent 
in by our military attaches in Japan, the available 
supply of men for the permanent and territorial 
armies and for the depot troops amounted only 
to a little over 400,000. 

The official figures as to the Japanese War 
casualties have now been published by the 
principal medical officer of the Japanese army, 
Surgeon- General Kipke. From these it appears 
that their losses amounted to : killed, 47,387 ; 
wounded, 172,425— total, 219,812. The total 
killed, wounded, and sick amounted to 554,885 
[a considerably greater number than the total we 
thought they could put in the field against us], 
and 320,000 sick and wounded were sent back 
to Japan. From other sources we now know 
that they buried 60,624 killed in the Cemetery 
of Honour in Tokio, and that 74,545 besides 
died from wounds and sickness. They must 


admit, therefore, to 135,000 killed and dead. 
As Surgeon-General Kipke states that the killed 
and wounded amounted to 14 '58 per cent, of 
their total strength, it would appear that the 
total number of troops put in the field against 
us was over 1,500,000, or was more than three 
times the number anticipated by our Head- 
quarter Staff. In view of these facts, it is 
evident that our information as to their fighting 
strength was incorrect. As an instance of the 
neglect, referred to in the preceding paragraph, 
to take any account of the formation of reserve 
units, a scheme drawn up in Port Arthur in 
November, 1903, for the strategical distribution 
of our troops in the Far East in the event of 
complications, estimated the numbers that Japan 
could place against us as follows : 

"At the beginning of hostilities, when her 
territorial army is not completely organized, out 
of her 13 field divisions, she will only be able to 
put 9 divisions of a strength of 120 infantry 
battalions, 46 squadrons of cavalry, 10 engineer 
battalions, and 1 siege battalion — a total of 
125,000 combatants — in the field." 

This calculation agrees with the reports furnished 
in 1903 by our military attache in Japan, Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Samoiloff, of the General Staff, 
who informed me, when I was in Japan, that 
they could only put in the field 10 divisions out 
of 13 ; of the reserve troops he knew nothing. 


Again, in a memorandum written in the Opera- 
tions Branch of the Headquarter Staff, and 
submitted to me by the Chief of the General 
Staff on February 12, 1904, it was stated that, 
according to available information, the Japanese 
could put 11 of their 13 divisions in the field, 
leaving 2 in Japan. In this memorandum, again, 
no mention was made of the reserve units. 

The readiness of their army for mobihzation, 
owing to their adoption of a territorial system, 
and the consequent short distances the depot 
troops had to travel, was known to be very com- 
plete. We knew that the troops could complete 
their mobilization in three or four days, while the 
supply and other departments would require 
seven to ten. Information as to transports 
available showed that even in 1902 they could 
have collected in seven days 86 ships with an 
aggregate displacement of 224,000 tons, and in 
fourteen days 97 ships with a displacement 
of 268,000. For a mobilized division about 
40,000 tons are required for a journey of more 
than forty-eight hours, while 20,000 tons would 
suffice for a journey of less than forty-eight hours. 
Thus the tonnage available was sufficient to 
allow embarkation to be commenced at once on 
completion of mobilization of six divisions for a 
journey of not more than forty-eight hours, or 
of almost the whole army for a lesser distance. 

As regards the tactical readiness of the 

VOL. I. 14 


Japanese before the war, our people in Man- 
churia did receive certain information. The 
operations of large bodies of their troops of all 
arms had been commented upon by our Head- 
quarter Staff as follows : 

" The most noticeable points in the operations 
of bodies consisting of all three arms as seen at 
the manoeuvres were — 

" 1. The inclination to take up too extended 
defensive positions. 

" 2. A hard-and-fast, inelastic form of attack 
independent of local conditions. 

" 3. The absence of proper flank protection 
both on the march and in action. 

" 4. The tendency, when on the move, to keep 
the main body too far from the advance guard, 
which would in consequence have to fight un- 
supported for a long time. 

" 5. The absence of a definite objective in the 

" 6. The tendency to use up reserves too 
quickly. As a result, there are frequently no 
troops with which to meet turning and enveloping 

" 7. The disbelief in cold steel. 

" 8. The inclination to avoid enclosed and, in 
particular, hilly ground. 

" 9. The inclination to use direct frontal 
attacks without turning movements. 

" 10. The neglect of field fortifications in the 
defence ; infantry fire trenches, gun-pits and 
epaulements alone are made. 

"11. The complete absence of any idea of 

" 12. The tendency to retire too rapidly : the 


infantry of the main body withdraws first ; this is 
followed by the whole of the guns, and then the 
remaining infantry. 

"13. The disinclination for night operations. 

" 14. The absence of contact between divisions: 
each division operates independently without 
keeping in touch with others ; this is due to the 
lack of general control by the officer in chief 

" In reviewing their own operations against 
China in 1900, the Japanese Press expressed the 
opinion that the operations of small bodies were 
excellently carried out, but that the troops, if 
operating in force, would probably be consider- 
ably inferior to Europeans. In the last grand 
autumn manoeuvres in 1903 it was noticed that 
the troops were well trained. Considerable ini- 
tiative was observed amongst the junior officers, 
which was more than could be said of the seniors ; 
great interest was taken in the work, and every- 
thing was very thoroughly done. The technical 
services were excellent. The artillery and in- 
fantry manoeuvred well ; the cavalry were learn- 
ing to ride, and appeared keen, but the generals 
did not know how to use cavalry, and employed 
it little ; the instruction, however, was good. 
The thing which most attracted attention was 
the rapidity with which the mountain artillery 
came into action. On being ordered out from 
column of route, they got into action and opened 
fire in three and a half minutes." 

From the above remarks it may be gathered 
how badly the officers, to whom was entrusted 
the duty of studying the Japanese troops on the 
spot, carried out this duty ; particularly faulty 



was their deduction regarding the inabiHty of 
the senior officers to command in war. 

After the war with China, which ended in the 
expulsion of the Japanese from the Liao-tung 
Peninsula and our occupation of Kuan-tung, 
they began to prepare in haste for war with us. 
From a little more than £2,000,000 in 1893, 
1894, and 1895, their military Budget rose in 
1896 to £7,300,000, in 1897 to £10,300,000, and 
in 1900 to £13,300,000. In 1902 all her pre- 
parations were apparently complete, and the 
Budget again fell to £7,500,000. Of the expenses 
incurred from 1896 to 1902 on increases to the 
forces, the War Department spent £4,800,000, 
and the Navy Department spent in nine years 
£13,800,000 [in building ships for the fleet]. It 
should be added that, while developing her forces, 
Japan was in other ways preparing for hostilities. 
A number of officers were sent to study their 
profession in Europe, including our own country, 
and the probable theatre of operations was in- 
vestigated with great care, reconnaissances being 
organized in every direction. At great self- 
sacrifice also many officers were performing the 
most menial duties in our employ in the Far East 
in order to study our ways at a time when our 
military representatives in Japan were looking 
upon their nation with immense condescen- 
sion I 

As regards the organization of their forces, our 


information was sufficiently complete regarding 
everything which concerned the standing army ; 
we also knew the number of depot troops and 
the supposed dispositions of the territorial forces. 
But, while ourselves preparing to fight the 
Japanese with an army half composed of re- 
serve troops, we never suspected that they, too, 
were organizing a great formation of reserve 
units, and that, owing to our slow concentration, 
they would be able to complete this formation. 
Amongst their reserve troops were men of all 
classes, and while our " second category " men 
constituted, according to our generals in the 
field, an element of particular weakness, their re- 
serve soldiers, thanks to the patriotism and the 
martial spirit which permeated all ranks, fought 
not only no worse than their regulars, but in 
some cases better.* The appearance of their 
reserve units in the first battles was indeed a 
complete surprise for us. Nor did we properly 
appreciate the organization of their strong depot 
units, which enabled every regiment of the 
standing army to have its depot battalion, from 
which its wastage was uninterruptedly and 
quickly made good. Later, many of these bat- 
talions received extra companies, which brought 
them up to a strength of over 1,500 men, and 
some were moved into Manchuria and stationed 
close to the field troops. I fancy, also, that 
* Some of the regulars were undersized recruits. 


they were occasionally even used in the field — for 
instance, in protecting portions of positions which 
had been vacated by the field army — but their 
main function, that of repairing the wastage of 
men, was very successfully performed. The 
army possessed fewer battalions than we had, 
but they were kept up to strength even during 
a series of battles, and were usually superior in 
numbers to ours. Generally speaking, each 
Japanese battalion, taking the number of rifles, 
was equal to one and a half, and sometimes two 
and three, of ours. With us, on the contrary, 
the replacement of casualties was veiy fitful and 

Though our information as to the material 
points of the enemy's strength can hardly be 
described as good, we very much underestimated 
— if we did not entirely overlook — its moral side. 
We paid no attention to the fact that for many 
years the education of the Japanese people had 
been carried out in a martial spirit and on 
patriotic lines. We saw nothing in the educa- 
tional methods of a country where the children 
in the elementary schools are taught to love 
their nation and to be heroes. The nation's 
belief in and deep respect for the army, the in- 
dividual's willingness and pride in serving, the 
iron discipline maintained among all ranks, and 
the influence of the samurai spirit, escaped our 
notice, while we attached no importance to the 


intense feeling of resentment that we aroused 
when we deprived the Japanese of the fruits of 
their victories in China. We never recognized 
how vital the Korean question was to them, and 
that the " Young Japanese " party had long ago 
determined to fight us, and was only restrained 
by the wise action of their Government. True, 
when hostilities began we did see all these things, 
but it was too late. And at that time, when the 
war was neither popular with, nor understood by, 
our nation, the whole manhood of Japan was 
responding with unanimous enthusiasm to the 
call to arms. There were instances of mothers 
committing suicide when their sons were rejected 
for the army on medical grounds. A call for 
volunteers for a forlorn hope produced hundreds 
ready to face certain death. While many officers 
and men had their funeral rites performed 
before leaving for the front, to show their in- 
tention of dying for their country, those who 
were taken prisoners at the commencement of 
operations committed suicide. The one idea 
of the youth of Japan was to serve in the 
army, and all the great families tried to do 
something for their country either by giving 
their children to it or by providing money. This 
spirit produced regiments which hurled them- 
selves upon our obstacles with a shout of 
" Banzai !" broke through them, and throwing 
the corpses of their comrades into the trous de 


loup/^ climbed over them on to our works. 
The nation as well as the soldiers felt the vital 
importance of the war, appreciated the reasons 
for which it was being fought, and spared no 
sacrifices to obtain victory. In this and in 
the co-operation of the nation with the army 
and the Government lay the strength which 
brought Japan victory. And it was with an 
army weakened by the feeling of opposition 
in its own country that we had to face the 
armed might of such a nation ! 

While they had hundreds of secret as well as 
avowed agents studying our military and naval 
forces in the Far East, we entrusted the collec- 
tion of information to one officer of the Geheral 
Staff, and unfortunately our selection was bad. 
One of the so-called " Japanese experts " de- 
clared in Vladivostok before the war that we 
might count one Russian soldier as being as 
good as three Japanese. After the first few 
fights he modified his tone, and acknowledged 
that one Japanese soldier was as good as one 
Russian. A month later he affirmed that if we 
meant to win, we must put three men into the 
field for every Japanese ! In May, 1904, one of 
our late military attaches at Tokio predicted, as 
an expert, that Port Arthur would very soon fall, 

* [An obstacle formed of rows of conical pits, with a 
sharpened stake in the centre, and usually a wire entangle- 
ment across the top. — Ed.] 


and Vladivostok immediately after it. I repri- 
manded this cowardly babbler, and threatened 
to send him away from the front if he could not 
restrain his ill-timed and mischievous remarks. 

After the Chino-Japanese War, which I had 
studied with great care, I, personally, was in- 
spired with great respect for the Japanese army, 
and I watched its growth with considerable 
alarm. The behaviour of their troops which 
fought alongside ours in the Pei-chih-li province 
in 1900 only confirmed my opinion as to their 
value. In the short time I spent in Japan itself 
I was unable to get to know the country and its 
troops, but what I saw was sufficient to show 
me how astounding were the results attained 
by the Japanese in the previous twenty-five to 
thirty years. I saw a beautiful country filled 
with a numerous and industrious people. Great 
activity was Adsible on all sides, and underlying 
everything could be felt the national happy 
nature, love of country, and belief in the future. 
The system of education I witnessed in the 
Military School was of a Spartan nature, the 
physical exercises of the future officers being like 
nothing I had ever seen in Europe ; it was really 
fighting of the fiercest kind. At the end of a 
bout with weapons the competitors got to hand 
grips, and fought till the winner had got his 
opponent down and could tear off his mask. 
The exercises themselves were performed with 


the greatest possible keenness and determination, 
the men hitting one another with wild shouts ; 
but the moment the combat was over or the 
signal to stop was given, the usual wooden, im- 
passive expression again came over the faces of 
the combatants. In all the schools military 
exercises were very conspicuous, and the children 
and boys were greatly interested in them. Even 
their walks out were always enlivened by tactical 
tasks adapted to the localities ; turning move- 
ments as well as surprise attacks were prac- 
tised and performed at the double. The study 
of Japanese history in all the schools had 
strengthened the people's love for their native 
land, and filled them with a deep-rooted con- 
viction that it was invincible. Their successes 
in war were everywhere sung, the heroes of 
those campaigns continually extolled, and the 
children were taught that not one of Japan's 
military enterprises had ever failed. In the 
small-arm factories I saw large quantities of rifles 
being turned out, and the work was carried on 
with rapidity, accuracy, and economy. In Kobe 
and Nagasaki I inspected the shipbuilding yards, 
in which the construction not only of ocean- 
going destroyers, but of armoured cruisers, was 
proceeding ; everything was being done by 
Japanese workmen under their own foremen and 
engineers. The trade of the whole country was 
most splendidly and instructively represented at 


the Great Exhibition of Osaka, where there was 
a large collection of manufactured articles of 
every sort, including textiles and complicated 
instruments, such as grand-pianos, engines, and 
heavy ordnance. These were all made in Japan 
with Japanese labour, and mainly from Japanese 
materials, except in the case of raw cotton and 
iron, which were imported from China and Europe. 
Not less impressive than their progress in manu- 
facture w^as the orderly and dignified demeanour 
of the Japanese who thronged the Exhibition. 
Agriculture was still carried on in a primitive 
manner, but it was very close. Though the 
soil was most carefully cultivated, the keen 
competition for every plot of ground, the 
struggle to make even the hills productive, 
and the general scarcity of food- stuffs in the 
country (despite the intensive culture), showed 
how crowded the population was becoming, and 
how vital the Korean question was for the whole 
nation. After ten days spent among the fisher 
class, I got an idea of the reverse side of Japan's 
rapid development according to European ideals, 
and many were the complaints made to me of the 
heavy taxes, which had increased so rapidly of late, 
and of the great cost of all the necessaries of life. 
I saw some of their troops on parade (Guards 
Division, two regiments of the 1st Division, 
several batteries, and two cavalry regiments). 
Nearly everything was excellent, and the men 


marched well, and looked like our yimhers 
but the poor quality of the horses was very 
noticeable. Even after such short acquaintance, 
many of the officers and men gave the impres- 
sion of being fitted by training and knowledge of 
their profession to fill honourable posts in any 
army. Besides the War Minister (General 
Terauchi), whom I had known in 1896, when 
we were both attached to the 17th Army Corps 
at the great French manoeuvres, I met Generals 
Yamagata, Oyama, Kodama, Fukushima, Nodzu, 
Hasegawa, Murata, Princes Fushima, Kanin, and 
others. I also met numerous leaders in other 
spheres of life, among whom were Ito, Katsura, 
and Kamimura, and, in spite of the sad war which 
has placed a barrier between two nations that 
seem created to be friends and allies, I still feel 
affectionately towards my Tokio acquaintances. 
I especially remember the intense love of country 
and devotion to the Sovereign which permeated 
all, and showed itself in their daily life. In the 
report made after my visit, I stated my opinion 
that the Japanese army was fully equal to the 
armies of Europe ; that while one of our 
battalions on the defensive could hold two 
Japanese battalions, we would require to be 
twice as strong as they when attacking. The 
test of war has shown that I was correct. There 
were, of course, regrettable instances when the 
Japanese, with fewer battalions than were opposed 


to them, drove our troops from their positions ; 
but this was due to bad leadership on our side, 
and to the inferior war-strength of our battahons. 
In the latter phases of the Battle of Mukden, for 
instance, some of our brigades * could muster 
little more than 1,000 rifles. To be superior to 
such a brigade the Japanese only needed two to 
three battalions. 

Everything that I saw and studied concerning 
the country — its armed forces, and its work in 
the Far East — convinced me how necessary it 
was to come to a peaceful agreement with Japan, 
even at the expense of concessions which might 
at first sight appear to be derogatory to our 
national self-esteem. As already stated (in 
Chapter V.), I did not hesitate to recommend 
even the restoration of Kuan-tung and Port 
Arthur to China, and the sale of the southern 
branch of the Eastern Chinese Railway. I fore- 
saw that a Japanese war would be most un- 
popular in Russia, and that, as the reasons for it 
would not be understood by the nation, it would 
find no support in national feeling, and I showed 
that the anti- Government party would take 
advantage of it to increase the disturbance in 
the interior. But even I did not give our 
enemy credit for the activity, bravery, and 
intense patriotism which they exhibited, and 

* [A Russian brigade usually consists of eight battalions. 
Those of the E. S. Rifle Divisions had six. — Ed.] 


was, therefore, mistaken in the time I thought 
that such a struggle would last. We ought to 
have allowed three years for the land operations, 
owing to our very inferior railway communica- 
tion, instead of the one and a half years estimated 
by me. We did less than the world expected of 
us, and the Japanese did more. 

Major Emmanuel, of the German army, a 
lecturer at the Military Academy at Berlin, 
gives the following appreciation of the Japanese 
military forces in his work on the Russo-Japanese 
War : 

" At the beginning of the war the Japanese 
possessed an army, organized and trained 
according to the German ideal, but carefully 
adapted to the national peculiarities. It was 
excellently armed, in a high state of efficiency, 
and was commanded by a splendidly trained 
corps of officers, worthy of the deepest respect. 
The fleet is, however, the vital necessity of the 
country, and every Japanese is a born sailor, and, 
thanks to his intelligence and the practice he 
gets, handles the most modern ships admirably. 
Having adapted modern methods to her national 
idiosyncrasies, Japan has put in the field an army 
without nerves, and one that thoroughly under- 
stands the conditions of modern war. To great 
natural intelligence and aptitude for learning the 
Japanese soldier adds dash, a contempt for death, 
and a preference for the attack." 

The British General, Sir Ian Hamilton, who 
was attached to the Japanese during the war, 
states his opinion that a Japanese battalion has 


no equal in European armies. Of their charac- 
teristics generally, he says : 

"... and upon the patriotism which they 
have absorbed with their mother's milk, the 
Government has been careful to graft initiative, 
quickness, and intelligence. This is accomplished 
in the schools, which keep the soldierly virtues 
in the forefront of their curriculum."* 

^ JA. Ji- ^ Jfc 

•TV" "TV* TV" "TV* "«• 

With all their strong points, however, the 
Japanese had weaknesses which I need not 
enumerate here. There is a saying that " a 
conqueror cannot be judged," and we must bow 
to the victor. I will only add that the issue of 
the fighting was often in doubt and nearly in 
our favour, while in some cases we only escaped 
serious defeat owing to the mistakes of their 

It will be seen from the above that before the 
war we underestimated Japan's material, and 
particularly her moral strength. But I will add 
some further reasons for her success. Without 
doubt the main role in the war should have been 
played by our fleet. The Headquarter Staffs of 
the navy and army did keep a detailed account 
of all Japanese warships, but our naval repre- 
sentatives in the Far East made their calcula- 
tions in tons, and in the number and calibre of 
guns. Having thus arrived at a statistical total, 
satisfactory to us in comparison with the same 

* [" A Staff Officer's Scrap-Book," vol. i., p. 11.— Ed.] 


figures for our Pacific Ocean squadron, they 
came to the conclusion in 1903 that 

" Our plan of operations should be based on the 
assumption that it is impossible for our fleet to 
be beaten, taking into consideration the present 
relationship of the two fleets, and that a Japanese 
landing at Newchuang, and in the Gulf of 
Korea, is impracticable." 

The number of men we would require on land 
depended on three things : 

{a) The strength in which the Japanese might 
be able to move into Manchuria and into our 
territory ; 

{b) The strength of our own fleet, and — 

(c) The carrying capacity of our railway com- 

Of course, had our fleet gained an initial 
victory, land operations would have been un- 
necessary. But, putting this aside, it was only 
by actually gaining command of the sea that the 
Japanese were able to denude their own coast 
of defenders, and, what is still more important, 
risk a landing in the Liao-tung Peninsula. Had 
they been compelled to move through Korea, we 
should have had time to concentrate. Having 
gained a local superiority in armoured ships by 
their desperate attack [before a declaration of 
war] on the fleet in Port Arthur, they obtained 
the temporary command of the sea, and took 
advantage of it to the full ; while at this, the 


most crucial period of the war, our fleet did 
nothing to prevent their concentration. This 
was especially the case after the death of 
Admiral MakharofF, when even their operations 
close to Port Arthur were not hindered at all. 
The consequences of this inaction were most 
serious, for instead of being unable to land in 
the Gulf of Korea, as had been assumed by our 
Navy Department, the enemy were in a position 
to threaten the whole coast of the Liao-tung 

As our troops were so few in number. Admiral 
AlexeiefF decided to disperse, so as to be in a 
position to oppose landings at Newchuang, at 
Kuan-tung, and on the Ya-lu. He also permitted 
a dispersion of the fleet, with the result that we 
were scattered everywhere, and too weak in 
any one spot. The Japanese transport facilities 
enabled them to land three armies on the Liao- 
tung Peninsula and only one in Korea. Sending 
one army to Port Arthur, they commenced with 
the other three their advance against our Man- 
churian army, which was slowly concentrating 
in the Hai-cheng, Liao-yang area. Having 
taken the initiative at sea, they also seized it 
on land, and by their quick concentration and 
advance, were enabled fi-om the very first to 
place superior numbers against us. Their conse- 
quent success in the first engagements also 
elevated their spirits as much as it depressed our 

VOL. I. 15 


own. They possessed immense advantages in 
communication, and the transport of supplies, 
which took us months, was carried out by them 
quickly and easily. And, what was not less 
important, a continuous stream of war materials 
and supplies poured into their ports and arsenals 
from Europe and America, thanks to the abso- 
lute inaction of our fleet. Owing to our inferior 
railway communication, also, Japan was able to 
form a large number of new units whilst we were 
slowly concentrating our army. 

The theatre of operations in Manchuria had 
been known to the Japanese since their war with 
China. They were perfectly acquainted with its 
climate, its rains, its mud, its hills, and the pecu- 
liarities of kao-liang* In the hills, in which 
we were almost helpless, they felt at home. 
Having been preparing for war for ten years, 
they had not only studied the country, but had 
sown it with agents, who were of immense 
service to them. In spite of their severe, almost 
cruel attitude, the Chinese population assisted 
them greatly in their operations ; and, notwith- 
standing our superiority in cavalry, they gener- 
ally had good information as to our strength 
and dispositions. We, on the contrary, often 
operated in the dark. They were greatly 
superior to us in their high explosive artillery 
projectiles, their numerous mountain and 

* [A species of millet, which grows very high. — Ed.] 


machine guns, and their abundance of explo- 
sives and technical material, both for attack and 
defence, such as wire, mines, and hand-grenades ; 
while their organization, equipment, and trans- 
port were better adapted to the local conditions 
than ours. They also had a greater proportion 
of sapper troops than we had. Their educational 
system was calculated to develop their initiative 
and intelligence, and the battle instructions with 
which they commenced the war were very 
materially altered as it proceeded. For instance, 
their original regulations did not recommend 
night attacks ; but they soon became convinced 
of the advantages of this form of fighting, and 
frequently resorted to it. Owing to the more 
advanced education of their poorer classes, their 
non-commissioned officers were better than ours, 
many being quite fitted to take the place of 
officers, and their corps of officers exhibited the 
most determined bravery, foresight, and know- 
ledge, and wielded great authority. Even those 
in the highest ranks lived simple and strict lives 
at the front. But the principal thing which gave 
success to the Japanese was their high moral 
tone. It made victory seem worth any sacrifice, 
and led directly to that determination to win 
which characterized all ranks from Commander- 
in-Chief to private soldier. In many cases their 
forces found themselves in so desperate a plight 
that either to hold their ground or to advance 



required the most extraordinary effort of will. 
The officers possessed the strength to ask for 
this almost impossible effort ; did not hesitate 
to shoot men who tried to retire ; the private 
soldier, in response, made the effort, and thereby 
often robbed us of victory. One thing is certain : 
that if the whole army had not been saturated 
with patriotism, if it had not felt the friendly 
support of the nation behind it, if it had not 
realized the supreme importance of the struggle, 
the endeavours of its leaders would have been in 
vain. The order to advance might have been 
given, but the soldiers, unsupported by the feel- 
ing that the country was with them, would not 
have had the strength to perform feats of heroism 
almost superhuman. 



The minor part played by the fleet — The small carrying 
capacity of the Siberian and Eastern Chinese Railways 
— Absence of any diplomatic arrangements to permit 
of the unhampered despatch and distribution of our 
forces — Delay in mobilization of reinforcements — 
Disadvantages of " partial mobilization '"' — Transfer 
during the war of regulars from military districts in 
European Russia into the reserve - Delay in the arrival 
at the front of drafts — Weakening of the disciplinary 
powers of commanders as to the punishment awarded 
to private soldiers — Delay in promoting those who 
distinguished themselves on service — Technical short- 

After a succession of great battles,* our army 
retired fighting on to tlie so-called Hsi-ping-kai 
positions in March, 1905, and remained there, 
increasing in strength, till the conclusion of 
peace. This peace, which was as unexpected 

* [On March 10, 1905, the battle of Mukden, which 
had lasted for several days, ended with the retreat of the 
Russians and the occupation of Mukden by the Japanese. 
On the 16th the Japanese entered Tieh-ling, and on the 
21st Chang-tu Fu. The latter represents the furthest point 
reached in the northerly advance of their main armies. — Ed.] 



as it was undesired by the troops, found them 
putting the finishing touches to their preparation 
for a forward movement. Later on, in its proper 
place, will be described the high state of readi- 
ness to which we had arrived in August, 1905 
— a pitch of efficiency never before known in the 
history of the Russian army. 

General Linievitch was awaiting the arrival of 
the 13th Army Corps — the last to be despatched 
— before commencing decisive operations. The 
leading units of this corps had arrived at Harbin 
and its rear had passed through Cheliabinsk, and 
the army, now 1,000,000 strong, well organized, 
with war experience to its credit, and with 
established reputation, was making ready to con- 
tinue the bloody struggle ; while the enemy, so 
we learned from reliable reports, was beginning 
to weaken both in strength and spirit. The 
resources of Japan appeared to be exhausted. 
Amongst the prisoners we began to find old men 
and mere youths ; more were taken than for- 
merly, and they no longer showed the patriotic 
fanaticism so conspicuous among those captured 
in 1904. We, on the other hand, were able to 
free our ranks to a great extent of elderly 
reservists by sending them to the rear and to 
perform non-combatant duties ; for we had 
received some 100,000 young soldiers, a great 
portion of whom had volunteered for the 
front. For the first time since the commence- 


Opposite p. 230, vol. i. 


merit of hostilities the army was up to its full 
strength. Some units — the 7th Siberian Corps, 
for instance — were over strength, so that com- 
panies could put more than 200 rifles into the 
firing-line after providing for all duties. We 
had received machine-guns, howitzer batteries, 
and a stock of field railway material which made 
it possible to transport to the army the supplies 
which had been collecting for some months. 
We possessed telegraphs, telephones, wire and 
cable, tools — everything. A wireless installation 
had been put up, and was in working order ; 
the transport units were up to strength, and the 
medical arrangements were magnificent. The 
force was in occupation of the strongly fortified 
Hsi-ping-kai positions, between which and the 
Sungari River there were two more fortified defen- 
sive lines — Kung-chu-ling and Kuang-cheng-tzu. 
There is little doubt that we could have repulsed 
any advance of the enemy, and, according to our 
calculations, could have assumed the offensive 
in superior force. Never in the whole of her 
military history has Russia put such a mighty 
army in the field as that formed by the con- 
centration of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Manchurian 
Armies in August, 1905. 

Such were the favourable conditions existing 
when we suddenly received the fatal news that 
an agreement had been come to wdth Japan at 


It is clear, therefore, that the war ended too 
soon for Russia, and before Japan had beaten 
the army which was opposed to her. After 
defending every yard, we had retired to Hsi- 
ping-kai, and were, after a year's fighting, still 
in Southern Manchuria. The whole of Northern 
Manchuria, including Harbin and part of 
Southern Manchuria, with Kirin and Kuang- 
cheng-tzu, was still in our hands, and the enemy 
had nowhere touched Russian territory, except in 
Saghalien. Yet we laid down our arms, and besides 
ceding half the Island of Saghalien to the enemy, 
literally presented them— what was strategically 
far more important — with the Hsi-ping-kai 
and Kung-chu-ling defensive lines, together 
with the fertile districts which had fed our hosts, 
and it was with mixed feelings of shame and be- 
wilderment that we withdrew in October, 1905, 
into winter quarters on the Sungari River. 
None of the many misfortunes which had be- 
fallen us had such an evil effect on our troops 
as this premature peace. Upon assuming com- 
mand, I had assured the army that not a man 
would be allowed to return to Russia until we 
were victorious, that without victory we would 
all be ashamed to show our faces at home, and 
the men had really become imbued with the 
idea that the war must be continued till we won. 
This was even recognized by the reservists, many 
of whom said to me : " If we return home beaten, 


the women will laugh at us." Such a sentiment 
is, of course, not as valuable as a wave of 
patriotism and a display of martial spirit before 
hostilities ; but under the conditions in which 
this war had to be conducted, the mere acknow- 
ledgment by the whole army that without 
victory a return to Russia was impossible 
augured well for any future fighting. Such, 
then, being the conditions, the future historian 
must admit that, although unsuccessful in the 
first campaign, our land forces had grown in 
numbers, had gained experience, and had ac- 
quired such strength at last that victory was 
certain, and that peace was concluded before 
they had been really defeated. Our army was 
never fully tested ; it had been able to concen- 
trate but slowly, and, consequently, suffered in 
detail from the blows of a more ready enemy. 
When, after enormous sacrifices, it was eventu- 
ally able to mass in strength, and was furnished 
with everything requisite for a determined cam- 
paign, peace was concluded. 

It cannot be truly said that the Japanese land 
forces had defeated ours. At Liao-yang, on 
the Sha Ho, and at Mukden, a comparatively 
small portion of our army was opposed to 
the whole armed might of Japan. Even in 
August and September, 1905, when almost all 
our reinforcements had been collected in the 
Manchurian theatre of operations, we had only 


put about one-third of all our armed forces in 
the field. Our navy was almost entirely de- 
stroyed at Port Arthur and in the battle of 
Tsushima, but our army in the Far East was 
not only not destroyed, but had been gradually 
strengthened by the reinforcements received, 
and, after the battle of Mukden, by the ex- 
pansion of the three-battalion East Siberian 
Rifle Regiments to four-battalion regiments, and 
the formation of the 10th East Siberian Rifle 
Division. These measures alone added seventy- 
six battalions of infantry to its strength. We 
must, therefore, look further afield than to our 
numerical strength for the causes of our disasters. 
Why was it that right up to IMarch, 1905, our 
troops were unable to win a battle ? It is diffi- 
cult to reply to this, because we do not yet 
know the strength of the enemy m the principal 
battles. We know approximately the numbers 
of battalions of the peace army which were in 
the field, but not the number of reserve bat- 
talions at the front, and, consequently, the actual 
number of rifles. In war the issue is not decided 
by the number of men present, but by the number 
of rifles actually brought into the firing-line. 

It is quite possible that when a trustworthy 
history of the war compiled from Japanese 
sources is published, our self-esteem will receive 
a severe blow. We already know that in many 
instances we were in superior strength to the 


enemy, and yet were unable to defeat them. 
The explanation of this phenomenon is simple. 
Though they were weaker materially than we 
were, the .Japanese were morally stronger, and 
the teaching of all history shows that it is the 
moral factor which really counts in the long-run. 
There are exceptions, of course, as when the side 
whose moral is the weaker can place an abso- 
lutely overwhelming force in the field, and so 
wear out its opponents. This was the case of 
the Federals as compared with the Confederates 
in America, and of the British against the Boers. 
It is indeed a lucky army which, starting a cam- 
paign with the weakest moral, is able to improve 
in both spirit and numbers at the same time. 

This was the case with us. Between the 
battle of Mukden and the end of the war our 
army almost doubled in numbers, had taken up 
a strong position, and was quite ready to ad- 
vance. The strength of the Japanese, on the 
other hand, was exhausted (they were reduced 
to filling up their ranks with their 1906 recruits), 
and many things pointed to a weakening of their 
spirit. As Japan was pre-eminently a naval 
Power, our principal operations should have been 
on the sea ; and had we destroyed the enemy's 
fleet, there would have been no fighting on 
Chinese territory. As I have already pointed 
out, our fleet scarcely assisted the army at all ; 
for while taking shelter in Port Arthur, it did 


not attempt to prevent the enemy's disembarka- 
tion. Three Japanese armies — those of Oku, 
Nodzu, and Nogi — landed unhindered on the 
Liao-tung Peninsula ; the forces of Oku and 
Nogi actually landed close to where our squadron 
was lying. Though we possessed an excellent 
base at Vladivostok, our main fleet was col- 
lected at Port Arthur — in a naval sense a very 
inferior place, for it possessed no docks nor 
workshops, and no protection for the inner basin. 
As regards our naval strength, I am unable 
to refer to official figures, for I write from the 
country,* but I quote from an article published 
in the Ruski Viestnik in 1905 by M. Burun, as 
much of what he says agrees with what I had 
previously known. Our fleet began to increase 
after the Chino- Japanese War, the naval estimates 
reaching £11,200,000 in 1904. At the outbreak 
of hostilities it consisted of 28 sea-going and 
14 coast-defence battleships, 15 sea-going gun- 
boats, 39 cruisers, 9 ocean-going destroyers, 133 
smaller destroyers, and 132 auxiliary vessels of less 
importance. Between 1881 and 1904 we had spent 
£130,000,000 in the creation of this fleet. The 
naval estimates of the two nations for the years 
preceding the war were, in millions of pounds : 
1899. 1900. 1901. 1902. 1903. 

Russia ... 9 ... 9-6 ... 108 ... 11-2 ... 12 
Japan ... 6 ... 4-5 ... 41 ... 32 ... 3-2 

* [General Kuropatkin's country estate in Russia. — Ed.] 

The Japanese fleet consisted of : 

Sea-going battleships 
Coast-defence battleships 
Armoured cruisers ... 
Unarmoured cruisers 
Destroyers ... 




At the commencement of war our Pacific Ocean 
Squadron consisted of: 

Sea-going battleships ... ... ... 7 

Large cruisers (of which only four were 

armoured) ,.. ... ... ... 9 

Small cruisers and minor ships ... ... 4 

Destroyers ... ... ... ... ... 42 

Our fleet was neither ready nor concentrated. 
Four cruisers were at Vladivostok, one at 
Chemulpo, and the greater part of the Port 
Arthur Squadron lay in the inner roads. A few 
days before the attack of February 9 it moved 
out into the outer roads to carry out steam trials, 
but proper precautions were not observed, even 
though diplomatic relations had already been 
broken off. 

As far back as 1901 our Headquarter Staff 
had estimated that in the event of war our 
Pacific Ocean Fleet would be weaker than 
Japan's, but within two years of that date 
Admiral AlexeiefF, the Viceroy, stated in the 
scheme for the strategical distribution of our 


troops in the Far East* that the defeat of our 
fleet was impossible under existing conditions. 

In their night attack of February 9 the 
Japanese put several of our best ships out of 
action ; but, serious as the damage was, it could 
have been speedily repaired had we possessed 
proper facilities in Port Arthur. Though we 
had expended many milHons in constructing 
docks and quays at Dalny, Port Arthur was 
without a dock, and repairs could only be exe- 
cuted slowly. Still, our Pacific Ocean Squadron 
revived when Admiral MakharofF arrived, and 
for a short time its chances of success were 
much increased. After MakharofF's death the 
command passed to Admiral Witgeft, who, upon 
receiving instructions to force his way through 
to Vladivostok, put to sea and engaged Togo's 
squadron. Witgeft was killed, and the fleet 
inflicted some damage on Togo's squadron, and 
returned to Port Arthur without the loss of a 
single ship. The battle of August 10 was in- 
decisive, though our blue-jackets fought gallantly 
the whole day against a numerically superior 
enemy, and beat off" numerous attacks by de- 
stroyers. After returning to Port Arthur the 
fleet finally assumed its passive role, and was 
gradually disarmed — as in the Siege of Sevastopol 

* "Scheme for the Strategical Distribution of Troops 
in the Far East in the Event of War with Japan," 
November 18, 1900 (Port Aithur). 


—in order to strengthen the land defence of the 
fortress, where our sailors did most excellent 
work. What it might have accomplished on 
its own element can be gauged from the per- 
formances of the gallant little cruiser squadron 
under Admiral Essen, which made a daring sally 
from Vladivostok to the coasts of Japan. Not 
only did Essen's success cause considerable con- 
sternation in Japan, but it resulted in action of 
practical value to the army, for one vessel sunk 
by the squadron was conveying siege material 
for use against Port Arthur. On October 14, 
1904, Admiral Rozhdestvenski's fleet, consisting 
of 7 battleships, 5 first-class cruisers, 3 second- 
class cruisers, and 12 destroyers, with a com- 
plement of 519 officers and 7,900 men, left Libau 
for the Pacific Ocean, and Admiral Nebogatoff' s 
squadron left to join it on February 16, 1905. 
The latter consisted of 1 sea-going battleship, 
3 coast-defence battleships, and 1 first-class 
cruiser, with a complement of 120 officers and 
more than 2,100 men. Rozhdestvenski's squadron 
had to steam 16,400 miles to reach Vladivostok. 
In spite of the lack of coaling stations en route, 
and in the face of extraordinary difficulties, it 
eventually succeeded in reaching the Sea of 
Japan, where it was utterly destroyed on INIay 27 
and 28, 1905, off Tsushima. In twenty-four 
hours we lost 30 pennants sunk or captured out 
of 47, and 137,000 from a total tonnage of 157,000. 


The light cruiser Almaz and 2 destroyers — the 
Grozni and Bi^avi — alone reached Vladivostok. 
According to Admiral Togo's reports, he lost 
only 3 destroyers, while his casualties amounted 
to 7 officers and 108 men killed, 40 officers and 
620 men wounded. Many gallant exploits were 
performed by our sailors in the fight : the battle- 
ship Suvarqff continued firing until she sank, 
and of the Navarins complement only two men 
were saved ; while the small ironclad Ushahoff 
replied to the Japanese summons to surrender 
with a broadside, and foundered with the whole 
of her crew. M. Burun closes his remarkable 
article in the following words : 

" Undoubtedly many tactical mistakes were 
among the contributory causes of the Tsushima 
catastrophe : our initial error in allowing trans- 
ports to be with the fleet, the unseaworthiness and 
the conspicuous colour of our ships, and many such 
details ; but the real cause was the unreadiness 
of our fleet for war, and the criminal short- 
sightedness of our Administration. Such a con- 
tingency as war was never contemplated, and the 
fleet was kept up entirely for show. 

" Our crews were of the best material in the 
world ; they were brave and capable of learning, 
but besides being unversed in the use of modern 
implements of war (such as automatic gun-sights, 
etc.), they were not accustomed to life at sea. 
Our officers were possessed of a strong sense of 
duty, and thoroughly appreciated the immense 
importance of the task before them ; but they 
were new to the crews and to the ships, which 


they had suddenly to command against a fleet 
trained in the stern school of war. Born sailors, 
the Japanese seamen never left their ships, while 
our vessels had neither permanent nor full crews. 
Even in the last eight months of the cruise of 
our fleet our captains were unable, owing to the 
shortage of ammunition, to put their crews 
through a course of gunnery, or to test their 
training. The ships only carried enough ammu- 
nition for one battle. Yes, we lost our fleet 
because the most iinportant element — the per- 
sonnel — -was unprepared. We lost the war, and 
lost our predominance on the Pacific Ocean, 
because, even while preparing to celebrate the 
anniversary of the gallant defence of Sevastopol, 
we quite forgot that the strength of a navy is 
only created by the spirit of every individual 
member belonging to it. 

" But can it be that there is no one left of all 
those gallant sailors who so proudly sailed under 
the Cross of St. Andrew who possesses the secret of 
training men ? If so, then our Navy Department 
will never succeed in creating a fleet. However 
many the milliards spent, it will only succeed in 
constructing a collection of ships such as now 
rest at the bottom of the Sea of Japan. JNIere 
ships do not make a fleet, nor do they form the 
strong right arm of an empire, for the strength 
of a nation does not lie in armour, guns, or 
torpedoes, but in the souls of the men behind 
these things." 

Far from assisting our army, Rozhdestvenski 
brought it irreparable harm. It was the defeat 
of his squadron at Tsushima that brought about 
negotiations and peace at a time when our army 

VOL. I. 16 


was ready to advance — a million strong. As at 
Sevastopol in 1855, the only assistance given by 
our fleet to Port Arthur, except at Chin-chou, 
was to land blue-jackets and guns. 

Next to the absence of a Russian fleet, the 
most important factor to assist the Japanese in 
their offensive strategy and to impede us was 
the condition of the Siberian and Eastern Chinese 
Railways. If these lines had been more efficient, 
we could have brought up our troops more 
rapidly, and, as things turned out, 150,000 men 
concentrated at first would have been of far 
more value to us than the 300,000 who were 
gradually assembled during nine months, only to 
be sacrificed in detail. In my report upon the 
War Ministry in 1900 (before Japan had com- 
pleted her armaments), I wrote that she could 
mobilize 380,000 men and 1,090 guns, about 
half of which could be transported across the 
sea ; that there were immediately ready only seven 
divisions, with a war strength of 126,000 rifles, 
5,000 sabres, and 494 guns. In March, 1903, 
before visiting Japan, I calculated that if the 
views then held by our naval authorities as to 
the comparative strength of the two fleets were 
correct, we ought to be ready, in the event of 
war, to throw an army of 300,000 into Manchuria. 
In the battles of Liao-yang and the Sha Ho we 
only had from 150,000 to 180,000. If we had 
had a better railway, and had been able to mass 




at Liao-yang the number specified, we should 
undoubtedly have won the day, in spite of our 

As regards the railway problem, we counted, 
in August, 1901, on having for military trans- 
port purposes on the Eastern Chinese Railway 
20 waggons running in the twenty-four hours, 
while in the summer of 1903 we calculated 
we should have 75. We were promised from 
January 1, 1904, five pairs* of military trains of 
35 waggons each, or 175 waggons each way ; 
and it was supposed at the same time that the 
Siberian Railway would be in a condition to run 
seven pairs of military trains in the twenty-four 
hours, but these hopes were not realized. Let 
us see what actually did happen. 

In 1903 we were only able to reckon on four 
through military trains on the Siberian line, and 
on three short trains on the Eastern Chinese. 
Towards the end of that year relations with 
Japan became strained ; it seemed as if, having 
made all her preparations, she was seeking a 
pretext for war, and was therefore meeting all 
the concessions we made by fresh and quite 
impossible demands. Our unreadiness was only 
too plain, but it seemed at that time that we 

* [Being a single-line railway, the number of trains in 
one direction depended on those travelling in the opposite 
direction ; they are, therefore, alluded to in pairs. A pair 
of trains implies two trains, one each way. — Ed.] 



should be able, with two or three years' steady 
work, so to strengthen our position in the Far 
East and improve the railway, the fleet, the 
land forces, and the fortresses of Port Arthur 
and Vladivostok, that Japan would have small 
chance of success against us. It was proposed, 
in the event of trouble, to send out, to begin 
with [in addition to the troops already in the 
Far East], reinforcements consisting of four army 
corps (two regular and two reserve) from Euro- 
pean Russia. Owing to the unreadiness of the 
railways, and the uncertainty as to the time it 
would take to improve them, it was impossible 
to draw up concentration time-tables with any 
accuracy. According to these tables, 500 troop 
trains and a large number of goods trains would 
be necessary to transport from European Russia 
the drafts for the Far East, the 3rd Battalions 
of the East Siberian Rifle Regiments, several 
batteries, local units and ammunition parks for 
the East Siberian Rifle Divisions, the 4th Siberian 
Corps, and the two army corps from Russia 
(10th and 17th). Moreover, upon mobilization, 
the Siberian Military District would require 
local transport for a very considerable distance. 
This would add about three weeks to the time 
required for through transport of the above 

As I have said, we expected that from 
January, 1904, the Siberian and Eastern Chinese 


lines would be able to give us daily five trains 
each way ; but the concentration of one-half of 
the reinforcements to go to the Far East actually 
took five months from the declaration of war. 
One of the most important of the War IMinister's 
tasks, therefore, was to get the Siberian and 
Eastern Chinese lines into a more efficient state 
as rapidly as possible. My scheme was to improve 
them at first up to a capacity of seven trains 
each way in the twenty-four hours, and on the 
southern branch of the Eastern Chinese (along 
which movements would have to take place 
through Harbin from both sides, from Pri-Amur 
and Trans-Baikal) to fourteen pairs of trains. My 
proposal was approved by the Tsar, who noted 
against the figure fourteen the words, " Or even 
up to twelve pairs of military trains." In the 
middle of January, 1904, he appointed a special 
committee to consider the questions of the money 
and time required for the immediate improve- 
ment of the railways as suggested. This com- 
mittee, consisting of the Ministers of War, 
Ways and Communications, Finance, and the 
State Comptroller, was under the presidency of 
General PetrofF, of the Engineers. It was in- 
structed to ascertain what should be done to 
enable seven pairs of military trains to be run 
on the Siberian and Eastern Chinese lines, and 
twelve pairs on the southern branch (from 
Harbin to Port Arthur). 


On January 29, 1904, the Viceroy wrote of 
the state of the Eastern Chinese Railway as 
follows : 

" According to my information, there is reason 
to doubt the official figures as to the carrying 
capacity and the ability to cope with increased 
traffic of the Eastern Chinese Railway. Rolling- 
stock is deficient, and many engines are out of 
order. The water-supply is so uncertain that 
the officials have recently been forced to refuse 
to accept goods for transport. The soldiers are 
the only reliable portion of the subordinate 
railway staff, and on this account some alarm is 
already felt by the higher officials. But the most 
serious want is that of a sufficient fuel reserve. 
The bulk of the coal is stocked at Dalny, whence 
1,000 tons have to be distributed over the line 
daily, of which amount only half goes to in- 
creasing the reserve, the other half being required 
for current consumption. To transport the 
whole of the reserve by rail from Dalny would 
take about twenty-five days, but the railway 
would even then be able to cope with the in- 
creased traffic for a period of three months only. 
In war we can scarcely count on the large railway 
demands being met, as the coal is sea-borne." 

vVn official statement, prepared to show the 
then position of the railway, was laid before the 
special committee at a sitting held four days 
before the commencement of hostilities. Accord- 
ing to the Minister of Ways and Communications 
(Prince Khilkoff), the Siberian line could only 
run six pairs of through trains, of which four 
were military, one was passenger, and one service 


(for the railway) ; owing to the scarcity of rolling- 
stock, only three of the four military trains could 
carry troops, the fourth being given up to goods 
(trucks). But the War Department representa- 
tive in charge of Transport, who was at the 
meeting, pointed out that on the portion of the 
Trans-Baikal line, between Karim and Manchuria 
station, only three trains altogether, whether of 
troops or goods, could be run. The official 
information furnished by the Ministry of Ways 
and Communications thus differed from that of 
the military railway representative. The repre- 
sentative of the Eastern Chinese Railway stated 
that it would soon be possible to run a total of 
five pairs of trains on that line, while he calcu- 
lated on working up by April to a running 
capacity of six pairs along the main line and 
seven pairs on the southern branch. On going 
into details as to the work that would be neces- 
sary before this could be done, it was discovered 
that, owing to the very inferior equipment of the 
different branches of the Siberian and Eastern 
Chinese lines, the necessary additions to rolling- 
stock and the construction of sidings, crossings, 
and water-supply would absorb a very large sum. 
The workshops on the Eastern Chinese line were 
poorly equipped, and there were not nearly enough 
engine depots, while the large amount of rails, 
fish-plates, sleepers and ballast necessary would 
have to be conveyed while the transport of troops 


was going on. On March 9 I wi'ote to General 
SakharofF, then in charge of the War Depart- 
ment, and pointed out that, owing to what I 
had heard as to the deficiency of engine depots 
in the V^iceroyalty, and in order to faciHtate con- 
centration, I considered it essential that, up to 
Manchuria station, not more than one train a day 
should be taken up for goods, the remainder 
being reserved for troops. 

Lake Baikal was the great obstacle on the 
Siberian Railway. The ice-breaker did not work 
regularly, and progress on the construction of 
the Circum-Baikal line was slow. Prince Khil- 
kofF conceived and carried out the idea of lay- 
ing a temporary line across the ice of the lake, 
and so passing the waggons over. He also pro- 
posed to dismantle the locomotives, take the 
parts across by horse traction, and reassemble 
them on the eastern side. On February 16 I 
received the following letter from him : 

" I have returned from inspecting the Trans- 
Baikal line. The line will be able immediately 
to run six pairs of trains of all kinds. I have 
started work building sidings for nine pairs, but 
this number will not run until the warm weather 
sets in and we get rolling-stock. Almost all the 
rivers now are frozen solid. Thirteen temporary 
water-supplies are now under construction. I 
will write again about the warm weather and 
the increase up to twelve pairs of trains. Khor- 
vat, whom I saw in Manchuria, tells me that the 
following numbers of military trains can be run 


on that line * : three pairs on the western portion, 
five on the soutliern. The further traffic accelera- 
tion depends almost exclusively on the receipt of 
rolling-stock. Heavy snowstorms have some- 
what delayed the laying of the line across Lake 
Baikal ; but I have hopes of success. Arrange- 
ments are being made at Manchuria station for 
the temporary accommodation of 4,000 to 6,000 
men in hut barracks." 

It is clear from this letter that when we entered 
upon hostilities we had for mobilization, con- 
centration, and the carriage of supplies only 
three military trains in the twenty-four hours, for 
the carrying power of the western branch of the 
Eastern Chinese line from INIanchuria station to 
Harbin fixed the capacity of the line throughout 
its whole length from Europe to Harbin. Thus, 
in the first period of the war, Lake Baikal was 
not the only obstacle to rapid transit. The 
freezing of the rivers in Trans-Baikalia was also 
a serious difficulty, and necessitated the improvi- 
sation of water-supply at numerous stations. 
But what was most wanted was an early delivery 
of rolling-stock for the Trans-Baikal and Eastern 
Chinese lines, where the running capacity was 
considerable, but the carrying capacity was 
limited — owing to the shortage of rolling-stock 
— to three military trains in the twenty-four hours. 
Under normal conditions we should have been 
compelled to wait for the opening of Lake Baikal 
* [? Eastern Chinese Railway. — Ed.] 


in the spring before commencing the transport 
of rolHng-stock eastwards from it, which would 
have meant that we should have had to be con- 
tent with three pairs of trains till the middle of 
March. The ability and immense energy of 
Prince Khilkoff, however, rescued us from this 
serious plight. Though in very bad health, he 
took the matter in hand personally, regardless of 
the climate and all other difficulties. On March 6 
I received the following message from him : 

" On the 17th [February] we began to send 
rolling-stock across the ice [Lake Baikal]. More 
than 150 waggons have been sent across, and 
about 100 are now on their way over. If the 
weather is favourable, I shall start sending 
engines over." 

On March 9 I received another message, 
recounting the difficulties that were caused by 
the frequent great changes of temperature, for 
the ice on the lake cracked badly, and it was 
often necessary to relay the line just put down. 
He asked me to help him with fatigue-parties 
from the army, which I gave him. 

What had to be done in order to improve, *o 
some extent, the Manchurian line, is recorded in 
the report of the special committee submitted to 
me on March 9, 1904. The officials of the 
Eastern Chinese Railway calculated that to 
increase the carrying capacity of its main line 
up to seven, and of the southern branch to twelve, 


pairs of military trains, would entail an expendi- 
ture of £4,424,000. With this sum the following 
improvements in actual traffic might be made : 
On the main line, up to 7 pairs of troop trains, 
1 pair of passenger, 1 pair service ; total, 9 pairs ; 
running capacity, 10 pairs ; water-supply for 10 
pairs. On the southern line, up to 12 pairs 
troop trains, 1 passenger train, and 2 service ; 
total, 15 ; running capacity, 16 ; water-supply for 
16. Among the chief items were the laying of 
eighty odd miles of sidings, which necessitated 
the delivery and distribution along the Une 
of between 9,000 and 10,000 tons of rails, 
sleepers, and fish-plates, and the construction of 
224 engine-sheds, 373,400 square feet of work- 
shops, and 265,600 square feet of platforms. 
For the construction of dwelling-houses £400,000 
was necessary. The water-supply of the southern 
branch was to be increased by 60 per cent., and 
rolling-stock, of the value of £2,300,000, including 
335 engines, 2,350 covered waggons, 810 trucks, 
and 113 passenger coaches, were to be supplied. 
This increase in traffic to seven pairs of military 
trains on the Siberian and Eastern Chinese lines 
and twelve on the southern branch was, of course, 
only a first instalment of what was required. 
Orders were issued in June, 1904, when I Avas 
in Manchuria, for the respective lines to be 
brought up to the above capacity. 

Before my departure to take over command 


of the army in the Far East, I submitted a state- 
ment to the Tsar on March 7, showing what was 
most urgently required to enable us to fight Japan 
successfully. This was endorsed by the Tsar 
himself, and sent to the War Minister, General 
SakharofF. The following is an extract from it : 

" I have the honour to report that the follow- 
ing are the measures which, in my opinion, are 
most urgently required : 

" 1. Improvement of the Siberian and Eastern 
Chinese lines so as gradually to work up to 
fourteen pairs of military trains in the twenty- 
four hours over the whole length, and eighteen 
pairs on the southern branch. Every additional 
pair of trains will not only shorten the time for 
concentration, but will at the same time help the 
supply services. Great difficulties will be en- 
countered in carrying out what I recommend, 
especially in increasing the running capacity on 
the Central Siberian and Trans-Baikal lines. 
Once these difficulties are overcome, the necessary 
increase of traffic can easily be attained by means 
of a loan of rolling-stock from other lines. I 
venture to assert that of all urgently pressing 
questions, that of improving the railway com- 
munication between Russia and Siberia is the 
most important. It must therefore be taken up 
at once in spite of the enormous cost. The 
money expended will not be wasted ; it will, on 
the contrary, be in the highest sense productive, 
inasmuch as it will shorten the duration of 
the war. 

" 2. . . . Together with the carriage of troops 
and goods by rail, a transport service must be 
organized on the old Siberian road and on that 


alongside the Eastern Chinese Railway. For a 
successful concentration and the rapid transit of 
supplies, we ought to have thirty troop trains in 
the twenty-four hours. Even when the measures 
I suggest are carried out, we shall only have a 
total of fourteen pairs — less than half of what 
are really required. Our present precarious 
position, therefore, can be realized, as the total 
number of military trains we are able to count 
upon between Baikal and Harbin is four pairs !" 

When I travelled over the Siberian and Man- 
churian lines in March, 1904, I was accompanied 
byM. Pavlovski, who was in charge of the Siberian 
line. He told me that if he were given rolling- 
stock on loan, he would be able that year to in- 
crease the number of military trains to ten, and 
later on to fourteen, pairs, at a cost of £650,000. 
On receiving his report, 1 sent on March 19 the 
following message to General SakharofF: 

" With this I am telegraphing to Secret Coun- 
cillor MiasiedofF IvanofF as follows : 

"'I earnestly request you to arrange for the 
early improvement of the running and carrying 
capacity of the Siberian Railway. Engineer 
Pavlovski, in charge of the Siberian line, informs 
me that he has already represented that, in order 
to work up the number of trains on the western 
portion to thirteen, in the central to fourteen, and 
in the hilly portion fifteen (of which nine, ten, and 
eleven will be military) during the summer, an 
expenditure of £650,000 is absolutely necessary. 
Please arrange as soon as possible to credit him 
with this amount and an equal sum for the 
Trans-Baikal line. I have informed the Tsar 


as to my opinion of the necessity of eventually 
working up the whole line from the Volga to 
Harbin to fourteen trains, though it be only 
twelve at first. Pavlovski considers it desirable 
and possible to get seventeen pairs of through 
trains. I cannot hope to act energetically unless 
the railway to Harbin is improved to the extent 
I recommend. From Harbin onwards it is ab- 
solutely necessary eventually to have eighteen, 
and temporarily fourteen, pairs of trains. I 
earnestly beg you to support this request." 

By the middle of March Prince KhilkofF suc- 
ceeded in sending across the ice-line on Lake 
Baikal sixty-five dismantled locomotives and 
1,600 waggons. [When I met him he was very 
ill, but had succeeded in accomplishing a tre- 
mendous work, which it is to be hoped the 
country will appreciate.] Echelons* of troops 
marched twenty-nine miles over the ice in the 
day, every four men having a small sledge to 
carry their kit, etc. When I passed across the 
lake not more than four echelons were crossing 
in the twenty-four hours. The Trans-Baikal 
line was working very badly, and together with 
the lake was a great cause of delay. 

In order to expedite the troop moves in 
Southern Manchuria, I telegraphed to the Viceroy 
on March 16, emphasizing the necessity of impro • 
vising road transport on the many roads between 

* [An echelon of troops consisted of the troops from a 
certain number of trains. See footnote, p. 278. — Ed.] 


Harbin and Mukden for the carriage of units 
and supplies from the former place, and of not 
taking up more than one train in the day on the 
southern branch for goods. At the same time I 
drew attention to the fact that the troops should 
not be allowed to take with them more than 
their field-ser\ ice scale of baggage. I had noticed 
that the 3rd Battalion of the East Siberian 
Rifles, which I had inspected on the way to the 
front, were taking as much baggage as if moving 
in the course of ordinary relief. On March 27 I 
reached Liao-yang, where the weary wait for the 
arrival of reinforcements began. The first troops 
to arrive were the 3rd Battalions for the seven 
East Siberian Rifle Brigades, at first one and 
then two in the day. These were followed by the 
artillery units and drafts for the brigades of the 
31st and 35th Divisions. Meanwhile the money 
required for the improvement of the Siberian 
and Eastern Chinese lines had not been allotted 
as quickly as it should have been. On May 19 
I received from the Ministry of Finance a tele 
gram forwarding a copy of another to the \^iceroy, 
dated 15th. From this it appeared that the 
question of bringing the carrying capacity of the 
Eastern Chinese Railway up to seven pairs of 
trains, and that of the southern branch to twelve 
pairs, had been thoroughly gone into at numerous 
meetings of the special committee, and that the 
necessity for despatching the following to the 


line was recognized : 190 miles of rails with 
joints, 770 sets of crossings, 355 engines, 88 pas- 
senger coaches, 2,755 goods vans and trucks. 
In addition to these. Admiral AlexeiefF asked for 
30 miles of rails, 265 sets of crossings, and 1,628 
vans. The Finance Minister stated that it would 
be necessary, in order to improve and develop 
the line, to provide it with 3,000 truck-loads of 
various stores. But as it had only been found 
possible to send 200 trucks in April and 201 in 
May, or a total of 401, he was of opinion that 
" the whole amount could not possibly be 
guaranteed earlier than the autumn." The ex- 
tent to which the despatch of these was delayed 
is evident from the fact that out of 1,000 vans, 
only 60 had been sent off by May 18, and out of 
355 engines, only 105. By July 30, 120 more 
engines had been sent, but it was not proposed 
to forward the remaining 130 till a good deal 

Owing to three regiments of the 1st Siberian 
Division being detained in Harbin during the 
whole of April, the Manchurian army was not 
augmented by a single battalion. Meanwhile 
we had been defeated on May 1 at the Ya-lu, 
and on the 6th Oku's army had begun to dis- 
embark at Pi-tzu-wo. 

Though the 2nd Siberian Division reached 
Liao-yang in the second half of May, we were 
still very weak. On May 23 General Jilinski 


brought me a letter from the Viceroy, in which 
Admiral AlexeiefF wrote that the time had come 
for the Manchurian army to advance towards 
the Ya-lu or Port Arthur. In spite of my 
opinion as to our unreadiness for any forward 
movement, in spite of the fact that out of twelve 
divisions of reinforcements only one had arrived, 
in spite of the inefficiency of the railway, an 
advance with insufficient numbers was ordered 
and carried out. The result was the disaster on 
June 14 at Te-li-ssu. The leading units of 
the 10th Corps did not reach Liao-yang till 
June 17 ; thus it took more than three months 
from the beginning of hostilities for our troops 
in the Far East to receive reinforcements from 
European Russia. During this prolonged and 
particularly important period the burden and 
heat of the campaign was borne by five East 
Siberian Rifle Divisions, whose two -battalion 
regiments had been expanded into three-battalion 
regiments as late as March and April ; the 4th 
Siberian Corps, which arrived in May, did not 
take part in any fighting. Taking advantage of 
our inferiority in numbers, and especially the 
inaction of our fleet during these three months, 
the enemy disembarked their three armies on the 
Liao-tung Peninsula and in Kuan-tung. The 
1st Army, under Kuroki, moved from Korea into 
Southern Manchuria, and Japan won three 
battles on land — at the Ya-lu, Chin-chou, and at 
VOL. I. 17 


Te-li-ssu. Had the railway only been ready 
at the beginning of hostilities, even to run only 
six through military trains, we should have had 
three army corps at Te-li-ssu — namely, the 
1st and 4th Siberians and the 10th Army Corps, 
instead of only the 1st Siberian Corps. The 
issue of this battle would have been different, 
and this would undoubtedly have affected the 
whole course of the campaign, for we should 
have secured the initiative. 

The arrival of the first units of the 10th Army 
Corps was more than opportune, but events did 
not permit us to await the concentration of the 
whole of it. Kuroki's army was advancing, and 
the line Sai-ma-chi, An-ping, Liao-yang, on which 
he was moving in force, was only covered by our 
cavalry and one regiment of infantry. Conse- 
quently, as soon as the leading brigade of the 
9th Division arrived at Liao-yang, it was sent 
off in that direction. Similarly, troops of the 
17th Army and 5th Siberian Corps went straight 
into action from the train without waiting the 
concentration of their corps. It was only on 
September 2 — i.e., after seven months — that the 
three army corps (10th, 17th, and 5th Siberian), 
sent from Europe to reinforce the field army, 
were all concentrated in the Manchurian theatre. 
During the decisive fighting at Liao-yang, the 
85th Regiment was the only unit of the 1st Army 
Corps which had arrived, and it went straight 

21,000 MEN TO REPLACE 100,000 259 

from the train into the battle. If, at the beginning 
of the war, we had had only one more military- 
train a day, we would have had present at the 
battle of Liao-yang the 1st Army Corps and 
6th Siberian Corps, and with these sixty extra 
battahons must certainly have defeated the 
enemy. But the railway fatally affected us in 
other ways, for while we were feeding our army 
with fresh units as reinforcements, we were unable 
at the same time to find carriage for the drafts 
for the advanced troops, which had suffered heavy 
losses in killed, wounded, and sick. For ex- 
ample, in the fighting of five long months, from 
May 14 to October 14, the Manchurian army 
lost in killed, wounded, and sick, over 100,000 
men, to replace which, during that period, it 
only received 21,000. The enemy, on the other 
hand, were making good their casualties quickly 
and uninterruptedly. 

By the beginning of October the 1st Army 
Corps and the 6th Siberian Corps had arrived. 
Taking advantage of these reinforcements, 1 
ordered an advance. In the bloody battle on 
the Sha Ho, where we lost about 45,000 men, 
kiUed and wounded, neither side could claim a 
decisive victory. During the four months im- 
mediately preceding the February (1905) battles 
the army received drafts to replace wastage, and 
was reinforced by the 8th and 16th Corps, 
besides five brigades of Rifles, but in that month 



it was still short of its establishment by 50,000 
men — i.e., two whole army corps. In other 
words, as regards numbers, the 8th and 16th 
Corps might be said merely to have made up 
the wastage in the others. It is true these corps 
brought us additional artillery ; but looking at it 
purely from the point of view of their fighting 
value, I should have preferred to have received 
them in the shape of drafts ; I could then have 
incorporated them in the battle-tried corps, in- 
stead of having them as separate inexperienced 
units. Even with these considerable reinforce- 
ments our position in February, 1905, was worse 
than before, for the fall of Port Arthur enabled 
the Japanese to be augmented by Nogi's army. 
Immediately after the 16th Corps the field army 
was to have received two Rifle brigades, one 
Cossack infantry brigade, and the 4th Army 
Corps ; but their despatch was delayed for more 
than a month, in order to allow a quantity of 
stores which had collected on the line to be railed 
up. It was only on March 5 — i.e., five weeks 
after the arrival of the last units of the 16th 
Army Corps — that the leading battalions of the 
3rd Rifle Brigade (the 9th and 10th Regiments) 
reached Mukden, and they at once went into 
action. But for this break we should have had 
at the battle of Mukden a main reserve of more 
than sixty battalions, which, even allowing for 
our mistakes, might have turned the balance in 


our favour. In a full year, from the beginning 
of March, 1904, till the beginning of March, 
1905, we railed up eight army corps, three Rifle 
brigades, and one reserve division to the front. 
Thus each corps on the average required, roughly, 
one and a half months to perform the journey. 
These figures indicate the peculiar disabilities 
under which we laboured in massing superior 
numbers. Owing to our far too slow concentra- 
tion, our forces were bound to be destroyed in 
detail, as we were obliged to accept battle. 
With the transit of troops, the materials neces- 
sary for the work of improving the railways had 
to be railed up, and from August onwards the 
progress made in this work was remarkable. In 
October, 1904, 1 received a message from General 
SakharofF to the effect that, according to the 
Minister of Ways and Communications, the Sibe- 
rian main line would have a carrying capacity, 
after October 28, of twelve pairs of military 
trains. But this promise was not carried out for 
almost a year, though the traffic in October and 
November was heavy. Altogether, in one and 
a half months (forty-seven days), from October 28 
to December 14, there arrived in Harbin 257 
military, 147 goods (commissariat, artillery, red 
cross, and railway service), and 23 hospital trains 
(total, 427), which gives an average of nine pairs 
in the twenty-four hours, of which only five and 
a half carried troops. In ten months of war the 


railway had increased its traffic from tliree mili- 
tary trains to nine, so it took on an average more 
than one and a half months to add one pair of 
trains to the traffic. Finally, in the summer of 
1905, after sixteen months of war, the railways 
worked, I believe, up to a rate of twelve pairs of 
military trains on the main line and eighteen on 
the southern branch— z.e., on the main line we 
did not even then get so high as the number 
(fourteen pairs) which I had asked for on March 7, 
1904, when leaving for the front. 

From all I have said it must be amply clear 
what a decisive factor the railway was. Every 
extra daily train would have enabled us to have 
at our disposal one or two corps more in the 
decisive battles. Thus a very great responsi- 
bility — that of not losing a single day in im- 
proving the lines — lay with the Ministries of 
Ways and Communications, of Finance, and, 
to a certain extent, with the Ministry of War. 
Looking back to what was done by these de- 
partments, it must be confessed that the results 
attained were very great, and that the railway 
employes did magnificent service. By the end 
of the war we had within the limits of the Vice- 
royalty an army of 1,000,000 men, well supplied 
with everything necessary for existence and for 
fighting. As this army was conveyed while 
work was being simultaneously carried out on 
the railway-line, the result, though largely attained 


by forced labour, was, for a badly laid single line 
of railway, somewhat striking. By means of good 
lines of railway, mobilization and concentration 
are very quickly effected nowadays. Germany and 
Austria can throw about 2,000,000 soldiers on to 
our frontiers in fi'om ten to fourteen days, and 
their rapid concentration will enable them to 
seize the initiative. Our forces reached the 
front, so to speak, by driblets, which resulted in 
paralysis of all initiative on our part. 

Thinking that the information with regard to 
the railways, sent by the War Minister in 
October, 1904 [which reached me on November 8], 
meant the realization of my recommendations of 
February, 1904, I considered it time to submit 
to the Tsar my views as to the necessity for 
further work, for I considered it most necessary 
that the line should be at once doubled over 
its whole length. I expressed my opinion on 
this question in a letter to the Tsar, dated 
November 12, 1904. As there is nothing in this 
letter that can be regarded as secret, I will quote 
it literally : 

" Your Majesty, 

" Before leaving to join the army, I was 
permitted to give my opinion as to our principal 
requirements to insure success in the war. My 
opinion was submitted in a memorandum dated 
7th March, and was marginally annotated by 
Your Majesty. Eight months ago I expressed 


in this memorandum the opinion that, for a suc- 
cessful concentration and rapid transport of all 
the supplies necessary to an army in the field, 
the running of 30 pairs of military trains in the 
24 hours was essential. As a first step I con- 
sidered the improvement of the Siberian and 
Eastern Chinese lines should be taken in hand, 
so as to bring up the number of trains to 14 pairs 
in the 24 hours along the main line, and 18 pairs 
along the southern branch. Against the words 
' up to 14 pairs in 24 hours' Your Majesty was 
pleased to note, ' Very necessary.' In a mes- 
sage reaching me on the 8th November the 
War Minister has informed me that from the 
28th October the Siberian and Trans-Baikal lines 
will have a carrying capacity of 12 pairs of trains 
in the day, and that it is proposed further to 
work up the Siberian main line to 14 pairs, 
and that the Minister of Finance "* has been 
approached with regard to the urgency for im- 
proving the Eastern Chinese lines so as to 
correspond with the Siberian. Thus, we have 
not, in eight months, reached the number indi- 
cated as necessary in my former memorandum. 
I now earnestly request that as a first step the 
whole Siberian main line and the Eastern 
Chinese line as far as Harbin should be worked 
up to a carrying capacity of 14 pairs, and on the 
southern branch to 18 pairs. I know that this 
is no easy matter, but it is absolutely essential, 
and admits of no delay. These 14 pairs will 
by no means supply all our requirements. The 
larger number of men in the field has increased 
the demand for transport. It is calculated that, 
to supply the army with everything necessary, 

* [The Eastern Chinese line was under the Minister of 
Finance. — Ed.] 


and to carry back what is not required, not 
30 pairs of trains, but 48, are essential. This is 
not exaggerated ; it is the minimum under normal 
conditions. Each Manchurian army should have 
its own line (like the Bologoe-Siedlce)* giving 
48 pairs of trains in 24 hours. We must bow, 
of course, to the impossible, but we shall have to 
pay in human life and in money for a prolonged 
war. The urgency of every extra train can 
easily be seen. If we had had one more pair of 
trains available at the beginning of the war, 
we should have had 2 extra army corps — the 
1st and 6th Siberian Corps — in the August 
fights at Liao-yang, and our success would prac- 
tically have been assured. This one extra train 
could have brought in drafts during September 
and October an extra 50,000 men, of which we 
are now in such urgent need. 

" In the future, every month will increase the 
necessity of strengthening the line still more. 
When the field army was small, we drew our 
supplies almost entirely from local sources (wheat, 
barley, hay, straw, fuel, and cattle), but these 
will soon be exhausted, and the provisioning 
the army will depend on supplies from Europe. 
When we move forward our position will become 
worse, for we shall be moving into a part of 
Manchuria already devastated by war, and into 
a hilly tract which was never rich in supplies. 
The daily transport of provisions (flour, groats, 
oats, hay, and meat) for our present establish- 
ment takes up 5 trains, and we soon shall have 
to provide carriage for live-stock. But the army 
cannot live from hand to mouth. A quantity 
of supplies must be collected, sufficient to form 

* [A strategic line of railway in European Russia, some 
700 miles long. — Ed.] 


a reserve for the force for some months, besides 
satisfying current requirements, and this must 
be distributed in the advance and main depots. 
It will take 5 additional trains a day for one 
month to collect one month's reserve. Only by 
having a large number of trains can we organize 
our advance depots with necessary rapidity, and 
move them to fresh points. The demand for 
trains is greatest on those days when fighting is 
in progress. A number of urgent demands — 
amounting sometimes to hundreds during two 
or three days — are made, not only for sup- 
plies, but for the carriage of military and 
engineer stores, troops, parks, and the transport 
of drafts and of wounded. The needs of an army 
in war are so varied and so vast that it is con- 
sidered necessary in Europe to have for each 
army corps a special line of rails (single track), 
capable of running 14 to 20 pairs of trains in the 
24 hours. For our 9 army corps we have only 
one single line of rails running (in the last few 
weeks) from 8 to 10 pairs of trains. The inability 
of the line to cope with the necessities of the war 
is the main reason for the slow and indecisive 
nature of the campaign. Our reinforcements 
arrive in driblets. Supplies despatched from 
Russia in the spring are still on the Siberian 
line. Waterproofs sent for the summer will 
arrive when we want fur coats ; fur coats will be 
received when waterproofs are wanted. But so 
far, during all these months that we have been 
in contact with the enemy, have fought and 
have retired, we have not been hungry, because 
we have been living on the country. The situa- 
tion is now altogether changed, for local resources 
will last only for a short time longer. Our horses 
will soon have to be fed on hay and straw, and 


if we do not make extraordinary efforts to 
improve the railway and concentrate a large 
quantity of supplies at the advanced base, our 
men, who are concentrated in great numbers 
on small areas, will, after the horses, begin to 
suffer hardship and hunger, and will fall sick. 
Any accidental damage to the railway will be 
sorely felt. 

" I am expressing my firm conviction with 
complete frankness as the ofhcer in command of 
three armies, that, for their successful operations, 
we must at once start lading a second track 
throughout the whole Siberian trunk line and on 
the Eastern Chinese Railway. Our army must be 
connected with Russia by a line capable of run- 
ning 48 pairs of trains in the day. 

" I have some experience of my profession, 
and was for eight years in charge of the manage- 
ment of the Trans-Caspian Railway, and I am 
convinced that all these difficulties can be over- 
come if Your IMajesty is pleased to order it. 
Possibly the war will be finished before we shall 
have laid the second line of rails over more than 
a fraction of the whole distance ; on the other 
hand, it may continue so long that only a double 
track will save the situation. Only with a 
double line also shall we be able at the end of 
the war to send back rapidly all tlie troops which 
came from Russia and to demobilize. We are 
living in the midst of events of immense im- 
portance on which depends the future, not only 
of the Far East, but, to a certain extent, that of 
Russia. We must not shirk sacrifices that will 
insure victory and subsequent peace in the Far 
East. Neither a conquered Japan nor a sleeping 
China will permit such peace unless Russia pos- 
sesses the power to despatch army corps to the 


Far East more rapidly than she can at present. 
A double line alone will enable this to be done. 
While keeping this as our main ultimate object, 
we should make every effort now to work the rail- 
ways up to a traffic capacity of 14 pairs of trains 
as far as Harbin, and 18 beyond. 

" Having set to work to double the line, we 
must try to arrange that one section will give us 
18 pairs of military trains a day (perhaps it will 
be best to begin from the hilly portions). As 
the second line is laid, we shall be able to work 
up to a running and carrying capacity along the 
whole line to Harbin and southwards of at first 
24 pairs of trains, then 36, and eventually 48." 

Upon receipt of this letter from me, the first 
thing that the St. Petersburg authorities did 
was to work out the details of the preliminary 
arrangements for doubling the line. They tried 
to formulate some scheme whereby the necessary 
construction material could be carried on the 
railway without cutting down the number of 
troop trains. It was suggested that the rails 
should be sent via the Arctic Ocean, and ap- 
parently some attempt to do this was carried 
out, but later all idea of doubling the line during 
the war was abandoned. It was a pity, for the 
earth-work might have been carried out without 
interfering with the traffic. Had we carried out 
this important measure, we should have made 
our position in the Far East far stronger than it 
is now. 

While they were making ready for war with 


us, the Japanese concluded a treaty with Great 
Britain, by which they were assured of the non- 
interference of any other Power. We, on the 
contrary, had not only made no preparations for 
war in the east, but did not even consider it possible 
to weaken to any great extent our frontiers on the 
west, in the Caucasus, or in Central Asia. Our 
diplomats neither steered clear of war with Japan, 
nor insured against interference in the west. 
The result was that, while Japan advanced 
against us in her full strength, we could only 
spare an inconsiderable portion of our army in 
European Russia to reinforce the Far East. 
We had to fight with one eye on the west. 
The army corps stationed in Western Russia were 
in a much higher state of preparation than those 
in the interior as regards the number of men in 
the ranks and the number of guns, horses, etc., 
and they were armed with quick-firing guns. 
We, however, took corps that were on the lower 
peace footing (the 17th and 1st), and gave them 
artillery from the frontier corps ; while the effi- 
ciency of some of the units we took, which had 
companies from 160 to 100 strong in peace-time, 
varied a great deal. It was due to this quite 
natural fear for our western frontier that of five 
army corps sent to the Far East, three were 
composed of reserve divisions. We had to keep 
troops back for the maintenance of internal 
order ; Japan did not have to do this. Our 


picked troops — the Guards and Grenadiers — 
were not sent to the front ; on the other hand, 
the Japanese Guards Division was the first to 
attack us at the Ya-lu. Thus, though we had 
a standing army of 1,000,000 men, we sent 
reserve units and army corps on the lower estab- 
lishment to the front, and entrusted the hardest 
work in the field, not to our regular standing 
army, but to men called up from the reserve. 
In a national war, when the populace is fired 
with patriotism, and everything is quiet in the 
interior of the country, such a course might be 
sound ; but in the war with Japan, which was 
not understood, and was disliked by the nation, 
it was a great mistake to throw the principal 
work on to the reserves. In the summer of 
1905 we corrected this mistake, and filled up the 
army with young soldiers, with recruits of 1905, 
and drafts from the regular army. These young 
soldiers arrived at the front cheerful and full of 
hope, and in a very different frame of mind to 
that of the reservists. It was a pleasure to see 
the drafts of regulars proceeding by train to the 
front — they were singing and full of spirit. The 
majority of them were volunteers, and they would 
undoubtedly have done magnificently if they had 
had a chance, but more than 300,000 of them 
saw no service owing to the hasty peace. 

In her war with France in 1870, Prussia, 
assured of our neutrality, had nothing to fear 


from us, and was able to leave only an incon- 
siderable number of men on our frontier and to 
enter upon the struggle with all her strength. 
Similarly, Japan was able to throw her full 
strength into the struggle from the very com- 
mencement. We, on the other hand, considered 
it advisable to keep our main forces in readiness 
in case of a European war, and only a small part 
of the army stationed in European Russia was 
sent to the Far East. Not a single army corps 
was taken from the troops in the Warsaw 
Military District, our strongest garrison. Even 
my request to send the 3rd Guards Division to 
the front from there was not granted, while our 
numerous dragoon regiments were represented 
by a single brigade. We kept our dragoons on 
the western frontier, and sent to the war the 
3rd Category regiments of the Trans-Baikal 
and Siberian Cossacks, consisting of old men 
mounted on small horses. They reminded one 
more of infantry soldiers on horseback* than 
of cavalry. In my report to the Tsar on 
March 7, 1904, I requested that the reinforce- 
ments from Russia might be mobilized simul- 
taneously and immediately after the Easter 
holidays, and I gave the following reasons ; 

" By this measure the units, especially the 
reserve ones, will get time to settle down. It 

* [General Kuropatkin does not refer to mounted 
infantry. — Ed.] 


will also be possible to put them through a 
course of musketry and some military training, 
and it will give time to organize the transport, 
parks, and hospitals." 

I considered it important that units detailed 
for the Far East should have as long as possible 
to shake down, and to receive some training 
before starting for the front. 

The above memorandum, with the Tsar's 
remarks on it, was sent to the War Minister for 
his guidance ; but General Sakharoff either did 
not carry out some of the important recom- 
mendations I had emphasized most, or altered 
them, and carried them out too late. As re- 
gards the date of mobilizing the reinforcements, 
he did not share my view (1) as to the necessity 
for a simultaneous mobilization, and (2) as to 
the necessity for mobilizing immediately after 
Easter. In a memorandum drawn up by him, 
dated March 18, 1904, he asked permission to 
mobilize the reinforcements in three lots instead 
of at once. Six Cossack regiments were first of 
all detailed for mobilization in the end of 
April, then the 10th Army Corps on May 1, 
the 17th Army Corps on May 1 or a little 
later, and four reserve divisions of the Kazan 
Military District at the end of June. In a 
second memorandum (July 31) the question was 
again raised whether all the reinforcements 
should be mobilized simultaneously or at dif- 


ferent times. The Headquarter Staff preferred 
the latter alternative. Besides the poor carrying 
capacity of the Siberian Railway, the reason 
given was that — 

"... The political horizon might become so 
clouded as to make the simultaneous mobiliza- 
tion of all the troops mentioned in the statement 

Against this part of the memorandum I wrote 
the words, " It would be better to do it simul- 
taneously." On my way to the front I received 
a telegram from General SakharofF, dated 
March 21, in which he said that my request 
for the troops guarding the line to Harbin to 
be supplied from one of the divisions of the 
Kazan Military District, and for this division 
to be mobilized together with the other rein- 
forcing troops directly after the Easter holidays, 
could not be acceded to, owing to the incon- 
venience to which the people of that district 
would be put by so early a mobilization. He 
suggested that guards for the railway might be 
found from one of the divisions of the 4th 
Siberian Corps — in other words, that this corps 
should be broken up. The result of the rein- 
forcements being mobilized at different dates, 
contrary to my wishes, was that when the leading 
units reached the front, they had not settled down 
properly ; the men did not know their officers, 
and vice versa. Few corps had been able to do 

VOL. I. 18 


a musketry course, the 2nd Category reservists 
did not know the rifle, and hardly any had 
been tactically exercised, or if they had, it had 
been only for a few days. Divisions and corps 
had not been practised with the three arms. 
The 6th Siberian Corps was mobilized under 
fairly favourable circumstances, the 55th and 
72nd Infantry Divisions being sent into camp 
in 1904, but these divisions were trained without 
artillery or cavalry.* 

In former days troops had to make long 
marches in full field-service order before they 
reached the battle-field. If properly conducted, 
these marches hardened the men, and enabled 
units to settle down ; all superfluous baggage 
was discarded, the weaker men were left behind, 
and officers and men got to know one another. 
But nowadays, with railway transport, the results 
are very different. Going to the Far East, our 
men were crowded up in railway carriages for as 
long as forty days at a time, out of the control of 
their officers, who were in different compartments. 
In the old and well-disciplined units no par- 

* In his report to the War Minister, dated October 19, 
1906, General SoboloflP, the late commander of the 
6th Siberian Corps, said : " The general concentration in 
July, 1904, of the 55th and 72nd Divisions, which com- 
posed my corps, was by no means instructive, as the War 
Minister refused to let us have any artillery or cavalry. In 
Tamboff and Morshansk masses of infantry, 16,000 strong, 
manoeuvred about without a single gun or squadron."" 


ticular harm resulted, but in the case of newly 
formed units, whose reservists — particularly 
those of the 2nd Category, just summoned from 
their homes — consisting of peasants and town- 
bred men, were all in carriages together, instead 
of with regulars, it was most harmful. If to 
this fact be added their original unwillingness 
to go to the front, their lack of military spirit, 
and the frame of mind induced by the seditious 
proclamations with which they were lavishly 
supplied, the small fighting value of these rein- 
forcements can be easily imagined. Many com- 
manding officers of such regiments told me that 
not only did they not know the men under 
them, but that, in spite of a journey of from 
forty to fifty days, even the company com- 
manders had not got to know their companies. 

The command of the various units of the 
field army was in a bad enough way, for, owing 
to the numerous changes in the staff, there were 
many newly appointed commanding officers ; but 
among the reserve troops the case was worse, for 
almost all the commanders were fresh men. The 
value of even the regular units was still further 
diminished by the proportion and class of the 
reservists joining. For instance, in some com- 
panies of the 10th Army Corps there were only 
sixty regulars, of whom thirty were young 
soldiers who had hardly finished their recruits' 
course ; when 150 reservists from the Poltava 



province were added to this nucleus — all of them 
old men — a company lost almost all semblance 
of a regular one. The spirit of the Poltava 
reservists was at first specially bad, for a number 
of these men had taken part in the agrarian 
disturbances. Can it be wondered at that, in 
such circumstances, reinforcements which arrived 
from European Russia, and went into action 
straight from the train, were not so useful as 
they would have been had proper pains been 
taken with them ? 

What, then, were the motives which induced 
the War Minister (General SakharofF) to act in 
this important matter contrary to the recom- 
mendations I had made, both as War Minister 
in 1903 and as Officer Commanding the Man- 
churian Army in 1904 ? In a memorandum 
written by him on March 18, after explaining 
his views as to the number of days which he 
considered the 10th and 17th Corps would take 
on their journey to the front, he stated that if 
the reserve units were mobilized in the middle 
of April, at the same time as the ordinary units, 
as I had asked, they would have to wait an 
unnecessarily long time before being despatched, 
and that it would be sufficient if reserve units, 

". . . having finished their mobilization, had 
two or three weeks for field exercises. . . . The 
units mobilized at the beginning of April would 
have to wait some three and a half months 


before being despatched. This, besides taking 
the men away prematurely from their spring 
work in the fields, would put the War Depart- 
ment to great and unnecessary expense in main- 
taining some 60,000 men. Mobilized units, of 
course, do not require so long to settle down." 

Thus, in spite of the importance of the matter, 
and of the fact that we could have trained well 
the men going to the Far East, my request was 
refused for financial reasons, and in order that 
men who were to be soldiers should not be 
taken away at sowing-time ! The grounds for 
General Sakharoffs opinion that newly raised 
reserve units only required two or three weeks 
to shake down instead of three and a half months 
are not obvious. Did he not know that the 
three-line * rifle now in the possession of the army 
was quite new to the 2nd Category reservists ? 

The Easter holidays were early in 1904, 
coming on April 10. I had asked that the 
general mobilization of all reinforcements should 
be ordered immediately after the holidays — i.e., 
in the middle of April — but General SakharofF 
fixed the date for a month later ; thus the 
reservists of the 10th and 17th Corps received 
a month's less training before their departure for 
the front than I had stipulated for. The actual 
dates of mobilization were : 10th and 17th 

* [" Three line " indicates the caHbre of the rifle, a 
" Hne '"" being a Russian measure equal to ~jj of an inch. 
Three lines = -299 inches. — Ed.] 


Army Corps, May 1, 1904 ; 5th Siberians, 
June 14. The leading echelons* entrained as 
follows: 10th Army Corps, May 18, 1904; 
17th Army Corps, June 14 ; 5th Siberians, 
July 12. Thus those of the 10th Corps only 
had ten days to complete mobilization and get 
ready. If from this number be deducted the 
days on which reviews were held, it can be seen 
that the leading units of this corps could neither 
have gone through the shortest musketry course, 
nor have carried out any tactical exercises, while 
the rest of the corps had only about two weeks 
for this important work. The leading echelons 
of the 17th Corps were in a similar plight. 
The first units of the 5th Siberians, which 
was formed of reserve divisions, had one month 
from the day mobilization was ordered till it 
entrained. If review days and the time taken 
to mobilize be deducted, only a fortnight was 
available for instruction and shaking down, and 
the whole experience of the war has shown that 
this is insufficient, especially for 2nd Category 
reservists. Had the troops of the 5th Siberians 
only been mobilized at the same time as the 
10th and 17th Corps, its leading units would 
have had about two and a half months for this 
process of preparation. In these circumstances 

* [An echelon is a collection of trains containing a unit 
or units despatched together. In South Africa these 
collections of trains were sometimes called " coveys." — Ed.] 


the efficiency of its regiments would have been 
higher in the first figlits than they were in 
General OrlofF's column at Liao-yang. Another 
result of the postponed mobilization was that 
the first echelon of the 10th Army Corps 
(9th Division), which arrived at the front on 
June 30, was much below strength, especially 
as regards officers. Not only had the Poltava 
reservists not settled down with the regulars, 
but in some companies they almost came to blows 
with them after the first fights. The regulars 
reproached the reservists for leaving the ranks in 
action, to which the latter replied : " Y^ou are 
soldiers ; it's your job ; we're peasants." Feeling 
between the two classes of men ran so high 
that they were with difficulty restrained from 
actually fighting. I should in justice add 
that these peasants, under the coinmand of 
the able and gallant General Hershelman, be- 
came hardened soldiers, and in later battles 
fought most gallantly, especially at JNIukden. 
Units of the 5th Siberian Corps reached the 
front with their men in much the same state, 
and in the first battles some regiments of this 
corps did not display the steadiness they should 
have done, but later on, especially at Mukden, 
the 51st and 54th Divisions fought splendidly. 

Although we had a large number of reservists 
at our disposal, instead of mobilizing the youngest, 
in some districts we took men of all ages, while 


in others we did not discard the elderly men. 
Directly they arrived at the front it was noticed 
that the older reserve men were both physically 
and morally less reliable than the others. Indeed, 
according to their officers, they were an actual 
source of weakness instead of strength to the 
units they joined. Nearly all the men who left 
the ranks in action were 2nd Category reservists. 
Of course, there were splendid exceptions, but 
the one idea of the majority of these men was to 
get put on non-combatant duties on the line of 
communication, on transport work, or appointed 
as hospital orderlies, and after the first fights 
they were given their desire. Our peasants 
generally put on fat, grow beards, and lose their 
soldierly appearance when they get over thirty- 
five. Naturally, also, they find the discomforts of 
campaigning harder to bear than younger men. 
The "Little Russian" 2nd Category reservists 
of the Poltava province were too heavy to 
scramble over steep slopes, and found the Man- 
churian hills very difficult to negotiate after the 
plains of their native country. The small active 
hillmen of Japan had indeed a great advan- 
tage over our soldiers in the July and August 
battles. It must also be remembered that 
villagers of over thirty-five are generally married 
men with large families. Our reservists were 
continually thinking of the homes and families 
they had left behind, which was not exactly 


conducive to the cheerful mind so necessary to 
the soldier. Added to all this, they did not 
understand the reason for the war, and far from 
being urged on by their country to deeds of 
gallantry, were fed with seditious proclamations, 
advising them to kill their officers instead of 
fighting. During the retreat from INIukden 
several units retired in disorder, and many men 
were met who had thrown away their rifles. One 
of these was heard by my staff to ask : " Where 
is the road to Russia ?" On being told he was a 
cowardly cur, he answered : " Why should I have 
to fight ? I have got six children to support." 

The partial mobilization proved unsatisfactory, 
but it was not merely an accident of the war. 
Owing to the enormous extent of our frontiers, 
we might have been drawn just as easily into a 
European struggle that would have necessitated 
a general mobilization as into a war which re- 
quired only a partial one. Thus, in addition to 
having a plan for general call to arms, we had 
to work out different schemes for partial mobili- 
zation to meet certain contingencies. It was 
laid down as a basis for these schemes that their 
application should not interfere with a general 
mobilization if that also proved necessary, so 
certain areas had to be selected for the calling 
out of reserves which would not interfere with 
the general and more important scheme. The 
number of these areas could only be kept down 


by taking from them the maximum of reserve 
men — i.e., those of all categories irrespective of 
age. The first scheme for partial mobilization on 
these lines was drawn up and approved in 1896, 
when General Vannovski was War Minister, and 
when it was found necessary, in 1903, to work 
out fresh plans in case of complications with 
Japan, they were naturally based upon the old 
scheme. Having at that time complete faith 
in the reliability of the 2nd Category reservists, 
I (then War Minister) concurred in the general 
lines adopted, and submitted the new plan to the 
Tsar for approval, but only as regards the first 
reinforcements to be sent to the Far East. 
After I had seen the first consignment which 
actually reached the front, I asked that no more 
2nd Category reservists or men with large 
families should be sent. When the second partial 
mobilization (54th, 61st, and 71st Divisions) 
took place, a half-hearted attempt was made to 
reject men with large families ; but it was not 
till the fifth and sixth mobilizations that 2nd 
Category reservists and family men were, by 
the Emperor's wish, left behind. Neither the 
people nor the reservists could understand 
why 2nd Category reservists with families were 
taken from one district or one set of villages, 
and bachelors who had only just passed into the 
reserve from the colours were rejected in others. 
Future schemes for partial mobilization must be 


drawn up on entirely different lines from those 
of 1896 and 1903. Although 2nd Category 
reservists were being sent to the fi'ont, we con- 
tinued to allow men to pass as usual from the 
regular army into the reserve, even letting them 
go before they had completed their five years 
with the colours. This state of affairs was 
extremely harmful to the army, but can be 
partly explained as follows : — In the spring of 
1904, just after the commencement of the war, 
the recruits of that year should have begun to 
join aU units hi European Russia. In peace, 
infantry soldiers are usually passed from the 
colours to the reserve at the end of the man- 
oeuvres when they have done only three years 
and a few months' service out of five (four 
manoeuvres and three winters). It did not occur 
to the Headquarter Staff to make use of these 
men for the army in the field, though there were 
more than 200,000 of them — young soldiers, 
splendidly trained — ^who might have been en- 
rolled in reserve units and then sent as drafts 
to the front. In this matter Headquarters were 
guided by considerations quite unconnected with 
the war. The advisability of retaining in their 
regular units the men about to pass to the 
reserve was indeed considered, but it was put 
down as having many disadvantages. The 
political side of the matter was what carried 
mobt weight at Headquarters ; moreover, ques- 


tions of finance were involved, for the men so re- 
tained with the colours would, upon arrival of the 
recruits, have been supernumerary to the estab- 
lishment. But, owing to the shortage caused by 
the formation of new corps, it was found difficult 
to carry out guard and other duties, and in some 
units the men due to leave were retained with 
the colours till the young soldiers had joined the 
ranks. General officers in command of districts 
gave various replies when asked for their opinions 
on this matter ; some were for retaining the 
men, others for letting them go. In the summer 
of 1904 the War Minister asked the Tsar's 
permission to authorize commanding officers to 
pass men of the infantry, field artillery, and 
engineers into the reserve if they thought fit, 
provided that men were not kept with the 
colours longer than March 31, 1905. The 
transfer in other arms of the Service was to be 
as usual. Thus the retention in the ranks of 
these time-expired soldiers was the exception, 
and was not dependent on the war. Always 
fearful of a European war, we replaced the troops 
sent from Russia to the front by forming a large 
number of new divisions from the reservists. 
This course was also necessary for the main- 
tenance of internal order. On August 23, 1904, 
officers commanding districts were authorized to 
transfer men retained with the colours into the 
newly formed infantry and artillery units, and 


thus to get rid of the same number of 2nd Cate- 
gory reservists. Thus the reserve divisions 
formed for service in the interior of Russia 
began to be filled by good men and rid of 
2nd Category men before the divisions at the 
front were. In the autumn of 1904, at the 
request of the authorities in the field, authority 
was given to transfer men retained with the 
colours up to March 31, 1905, into the units 
mobilized and expanded by the seven partial 
mobilizations, and to discharge from these units 
the 2nd Category reservists and men of large 
families. It was only on December 27, 1904, 
when the young soldiers joined the ranks, that 
arrangements were made to transfer the men 
retained with the colours into the units that 
were not mobilized or expanded. These men 
were available for despatch to the front as drafts 
in the summer and autumn of 1904, but they 
only arrived a year later, after the Mukden 
battles, when they were too late. These splendid 
men saw no fighting at all. 

I have endeavoured to explain (Chapter VII.) 
on what a large scale the Japanese made use 
of their reserve troops, and how rapidly they 
replaced casualties. The organization of the 
reserve units in the Russian army, on the other 
hand, was not fully completed before the war, 
for we had only been able to go ahead as funds 
permitted. The number of reserve troops in the 


Far East corresponded to the small number of 
units stationed there in the first instance, but 
while we increased our numbers out there it was 
not considered convenient to increase the reserve 
units, the number of reservists living there and 
in Siberia being insufficient to fill them. But 
if we had had the cadres of a large number of 
reserve units there, it would have been easy to 
send the reservists to them from European 
Russia. The six reserve battalions stationed in 
Pri-Amur had lost most of their permanent 
cadres in the first fights. The army generally 
had to operate with a constantly decreasing 
establishment, due to a variety of causes : 

1. Units arriving as reinforcements sometimes 
came with a shortage of 15 to 20 per cent, 
among the men, and 25 per cent, among the 
officers. The 10th Army Corps in particular 
arrived very short — a fact which I immediately 
reported to the AVar Minister. 

2. Owing to the shortage of men in the ad- 
ministrative services and of the auxiliary troops, 
many duties had to be carried out by the regi- 
ments in the field^ — i.e., duties in rear, at camps, 
on the line of communication, at hospitals, in 
the commissariat and transport, as well as guards 
for the different store depots. Advantage was 
taken of these duties to get rid of the 2nd Cate- 
gory reservists. 

3. A large number of men had to be told off 


to guard property left in the staff quarters of the 
Viceroyalty, and the stores, supphes, and droves 
of cattle collected for the troops at work on the 
railways, bridges, and for other odd duties. 

4. On the days of heavy engagements the 
shortage increased by tens of thousands, and 
even in periods of comparative quiet the number 
of killed and wounded in some units was very 

5. Sickness. 

All these reasons combined necessitated a 
continual stream of reinforcements to the front. 
But owing to the state of the railway there 
were intervals, and fairly long ones, when the 
army received no drafts — as, for instance, in 
July, August, and September, 1904, when, as 
I have already mentioned, we lost 100,000 men, 
and only received 21,000. 

The advance at the beginning of October, 
1904, was made when the army was much below 
strength, some regiments having only half, and 
even less, of their proper complement. And 
this shortage of men was increased on the eve 
of a battle by the large numbers left with the 
transport, at the staff quarters and as officers' 
servants — men who were in reality combatants. 
Curiously enough, many commanding officers 
showed no particular anxiety to take their units 
into action as strong as possible. But what was 
most serious was the speed with which some units 


melted away as soon as they came under fire ; 
directly casualties happened this dissolution com- 
menced. ]\Ien were told off, with the knowledge 
of their commanding officers, to assist company 
and divisional stretcher-bearers in carrying the 
wounded out of action. If the number of 
wounded were large, an enormous number of 
un wounded men went to the rear. The cowardly 
and the skulkers did their best to get detailed 
for this duty, or went off with wounded men 
without orders, or left the ranks without any 
excuse. I have seen stretchers with wounded 
men accompanied by as many as ten unwounded 
soldiers. In some regiments the numbers thus 
voluntarily retiring from the field amounted to 
hundreds; in one regiment* more than 1,000 
men left the ranks in the first fight in which it 
took part. These were generally reservists, and 
chiefly those of the 2nd Category. The men 
with the colours, as a rule, did most of the 
fighting, and fought magnificently ; sometimes 
even when companies were reduced to a handful 
of men they continued fighting. Of course, 
there were some gallant men amongst reservists, 
but, as a rule, any brave deeds that were per- 
formed were done by the men with the colours 
and 1st Category reservists. Even for the drafts, 
the men sent to the front were not selected with 

* [A Russian regiment generally contains four battalions, 
and equals a British brigade. — Ed.] 


adequate care, and many were quite unfit for 
active service. In 1905, of some 76,000 who 
arrived for the 1st Army, 4,100 were sick or 
otherwise unfit. The following statement by the 
Adjutant- General of that Army is interesting : 

" The drafts sent to the Army before the 
battle of Mukden were composed of 2nd Cate- 
gory reservists who left the colours about 1887. 
They were quite ignorant of the present rifle, 
and their training was in other ways far below 
the level of the men forming the permanent 
cadres of their units. Many of them were 
physically quite unfitted to endure the hardships 
of a campaign or of any military service, being 
chronic sufferers from diseases such as rheu- 
matism. But those who arrived after the battle 
of Mukden were splendid. Reservists were 
sometimes drafted to an Arm of the service in 
which they had not served before passing to the 
reserve ; for instance, men were put into the 
artillery who had done all their colour service in 
cavalry or infantry, while to engineer units were 
sent men who had served in the infantry. This, 
of course, caused considerable complication as 
regards training, and could not but militate 
against our field operations, especially in the 
case of the technical troops." 

The above is an accurate representation of the 
facts. Until the battle of Mukden the drafts 
sent to the front were much less reliable than 
those arriving afterwards, when they were too 
late to see any fighting. Those which were 
composed of 2nd Category men were often so 

VOL. I. 19 


bad that if a fight were imminent, commanding 
officers asked to be reheved of them, as their 
steadiness could not be rehed on. These officers 
felt tliat their more or less veteran units would 
do better in the field, even if weak in numbers, 
than if filled up just before a fight with these 
men. Such a request was made to me by the 
officer commanding the 1st Army Corps and 
many others. 

The shortage of officers was also a bad feature 
of our arrangements. In spite of the stream 
sent out to replace casualties, many units went 
short of their proper complement of officers all 
through the war. Both the troops actually in 
the Far East and the reinforcements sent out 
were at their peace strength when hostilities 
commenced. Indeed, there were instances in 
the beginning of the war of companies going into 
action for the first time commanded by junior 
lieutenants. As things went on, this deficiency 
in leaders was found to exist even in those units 
whose muster rolls showed an excess above their 
proper complement, and after the first fights, 
owing to the specially heavy casualties among 
the officers, cases were quite common of bat- 
tahons and companies in action which were 
commanded by captains and second lieutenants. 
This dearth at the front was increased by the 
number of officers absorbed in departmental and 
other duties in the rear, and, in the case of the 


reinforcements, by so many — both medical and 
combatant officers — being left at the different 
bases ; the latter were, of course, intended, in 
case of a general mobilization, to be available 
for general or regimental duties with the newly 
formed units. These remarks apply more par- 
ticularly to the infantiy. In the cavahy and 
artillery the numbers, though less than the 
establishment, were generally sufficient to carry 
on with. This was due to the fewer casualties in 
those arms. There is no doubt that the question 
of providing officers for an army in the field is a 
very serious one, which is compHcated by many 
extraneous circumstances. We found that when 
the period of great battles and consequent heavy 
losses amongst the officers commenced, the 
discrepancy between the number of them shown 
on paper and of those actually present with a 
regiment rapidly increased. The names of a 
large number of wounded and sick were kept on 
the rolls for a long time. Some of the wounded 
and sick who stayed in the theatre of war 
gradually drifted back to their regiments, but 
the gi'eat number who had gone to Russia re- 
mained there, and did not rejoin even after they 
had quite recovered. There were instances 
where commanders of regiments, who had gone 
to Russia convalescent and had not returned, were 
still shown as commanding, and were still draw- 
ing command pay. Several who went home sick 



or wounded loafed about the streets of our cities 
or large towns for months, and the curious thing 
is that no one seemed to question such behaviour. 
In spite of what was done to obviate this, the 
medical officers and the medical board were far 
too lenient to those who wished to return home, 
and gave them every facility. On the other 
hand, many who were considered incompetent 
for field service, and sent back to Russia on this 
account, appeared again as fit, and returned to 
tlieir corps, thus squeezing out from the command 
of companies and battalions those who had 
honourably borne all the hardships of the cam- 
paign, had acquired war experience, and had 
earned accelerated promotion. An excellent 
article on this subject by M. Glinski, called 
" The Resurrected Dead," was published in the 
Razviedchik in 1906. It should be stated, in 
fairness to our officers, however, that if many 
remained absent who could have returned to the 
front, there were a very large number who, 
though they had been wounded, made every 
effiort to rejoin, often, indeed, doing so before 
they had quite recovered. Several officers 
rejoined after having been wounded two and 
three times, and these gallant gentlemen would 
have been a credit to any army in the world. In 
the 1st Army Corps, over 837 officers who had 
been wounded rejoined. For all these reasons 
my requests that fresh officers might be sent to 


the army were frequent and persistent, but the 
War Ministry were not always able to comply. 
They had to collect officers stationed in European 
Russia, the Caucasus, and Turkestan — wherever 
they could be obtained, and were not always 
able to pick and choose. Soine of them were 
quite useless owing to alcoholism, others to the 
irregular lives they had led, while several got 
drunk and became violent even on the way out. 
Such men stayed at Harbin as long as they could, 
did nothing but harm on joining the corps to 
which they were appointed, and were eventually 
removed. Our most reliable officers were the 
regulars, particularly those who volunteered for 
the front, many of whom greatly distinguished 
themselves. The least reliable were the reserv^e 
officers, who had been removed from the service, 
and had managed to squeeze into the reserve 
owing to our mistaken kindness. 

When I was War Minister I had directed 
General Narbut, a member of the INIilitary 
Council, to work out a scheme whereby a reserve 
of officers might be obtained in war. The 
essence of this scheme was that our cadet schools 
should, on mobilization, pass out a larger number 
of cadets as officers, and should then set to work 
to train as soon as possible those officers of the 
1st and 2nd Categories who volunteered, and 
also the men of the regulars who were possessed 
of an intermediate standard of education. 


thousands of whom were good enough to be 
given the rank and duties of lieutenant. Why 
this scheme was not carried out during the war 
I do not know, but unless steps are taken to do 
something of this kind in future we shall be in 
difficulties. We did not take advantage of the 
possibility when war was declared, or even 
immediately afterwards, of passing out a greater 
number of the senior classes of the military and 
cadet schools. In 1902 these colleges supplied 
the army with 2,642 officers; we might, therefore, 
have received at the beginning of 1904 and 1905 
more than 5,000 young officers wherewith to fill 
vacancies in the field. This is precisely what the 
Japanese did. Foreseeing how we should be 
placed, on March 19, 1904, I asked the War 
Minister that officers might be commissioned 
from the military and ywiker schools, before the 
manoeuvres, at the rate of 2 per battalion, 
1 per battery, 4 per Cossack regiment, and 
100 to the reserve. This was not done. On my 
repeated representations as to the urgent necessity 
for increasing the supply, I received in 1904 a 
curt reply to the effect that the maintenance of 
the number of officers up to establishment was 
the duty of the War Minister, not that of tlie 
officer commanding the army in the field. When 
the output was eventually increased, we received 
only a comparatively small number of those who 
had just got their commissions. These formed 


a most desirable element in the army, and in the 
majority of cases behaved splendidly in action. 

On the whole, our troops were, for the reasons 
explained, very short of officers in the greater 
number of actions. Although the War Depart- 
ment accomplished a great work in sending out 
the large number of officers that did go to the 
front, very httle discrimination was shown in 
their selection. It must be acknowledged, also, 
that we made little use either of our non- 
commissioned officers in the way of preparing 
them to take the places of officers, or of the 
splendid material to our hand in the cadets of 
the miUtary and cadet schools. 

The behaviour of our troops in the field was, 
on the whole, excellent, but the further from the 
advanced positions they were the worse did their 
discipHne become. Even at the actual front it 
varied with the different classes of men, as I have 
explained. Of course, had good discipline pre- 
vailed in the units in which the 2nd Category 
reservists served, they would never have been 
able to leave the field in action as they sometimes 
did. But men, even of the best regiments, when 
they saw looting all round them, and acts of 
violence being committed with impunity, were 
themselves liable to become tainted with the 
spirit of lawlessness, and to get out of hand. 
This especially applied to the lines of communica- 
tions, for strict and uncompromising discipline 


was maintained in the advanced positions. In 
the time of Frederick the Great the saying went 
that the soldier should fear the corporal's cane 
more than the enemy's bullet, but nowadays, 
though of course the liability of all to serve has 
improved and raised the average moral condition 
of the rank and file, it is not easy to make our 
uneducated peasantry appreciate what discipline 
is. Belief in God, devotion to the Tsar, love of 
the Fatherland, are the factors which have, up 
till now, welded the mass of soldiers in each unit 
into one family, and have made them fearless and 
obedient ; but these principles have latterly been 
much shaken amongst the people, and the result 
was, of course, felt in the recent war. It was 
chiefly noticeable in an increase in the number of 
men who were slack and insubordinate, who 
criticized their seniors, and generally exercised 
a bad influence on their comrades. Such men 
could only be controlled by severity, for fear is 
the only thing which appeals to them. But 
while this deterioration in the disciphne of the 
whole nation has been going on, our defence 
against it has been weakened, for in the summer 
of 1904 corporal punishment had been abolished 
in the army even on active service. I supported 
its abolition in peace myself — indeed, conducted 
the measure for this through the Military Council ; 
but many of us thought it unwise to alter the 
existing law which authorized its infliction in 


war, for the fear of it kept many bad characters 
from crime, and prevented the cowards leaving 
the ranks in action. However, our officers were 
deprived of this deterrent, and no substitute was 

In war such minor punishments as confine- 
ment to barracks or in cells and extra duty are 
out of the question. We therefore had no 
summary and effective punishment for many 
offences, such as insubordination, etc. A certain 
number of crimes are punishable with death, but 
what is lacking is some adequate punishment 
between the capital award and nothing at all. 
To make the position worse in our case, men 
who had been sentenced to a term of service in 
the disciplinary battalions remained on in the 
ranks, and at the slightest show of gallantry on 
their part our kind-hearted officers asked that 
their sentence might be remitted or modified. 
As if this were not enough, insubordinate sailors 
used to be sent to the army for punishment ! 
The action of the military courts was unsatis- 
factory, their procedure complicated and slow. 
The usual result of the withdrawal from com- 
manding officers of the power to award a flogging 
was that they let a man off altogether or else 
took the law into their own hands. Asa matter 
of fact, corporal punishment continued to be 
given in certain cases, sometimes on the verdict 
of the men and at their own suggestion ; but the 


culprits were beaten with cleaning-rods instead 
of canes. Taking into consideration the peculiar 
conditions under which this war was conducted, 
owing to the want of national sympathy in the 
struggle, and to the anti- Government propaganda 
which permeated all ranks of the army, this 
weakening of the disciplinary powers of officers 
M^as on the whole very ill-advised, and was 
carried out without reference to the officers 
actually in command of troops. 

The reasons for the unpopularity of the war also 
affiscted the steadiness of the troops in action. 
Amongst many instances of real gallantry, cases 
of cowardice in detachments, and particularly in 
individuals, were noticeable. Occasions when 
soldiers, and even officers, surrendered when still 
unwounded were only too frequent, and they 
were, unfortunately, not visited with the full 
severity of the law. INlany officers, on returning 
after release from capture, were not tried by court- 
martial at once, but were straightway placed in 
command of units going to the front, and then 
took command of companies and battalions as 
soon as they rejoined. This attitude towards 
those of our people who had surrendered could 
not but cause bad feeling amongst the best 
elements in the army who had been doing good 
work all along. This feeling of disgust was par- 
ticularly aggravated when it became known that 
various persons removed from the army for in- 


competence — even for cowardice — had received 
high appointments in Russia. Such action de- 
stroyed all discipline. For instance, the con- 
veyance of General Grippenberg by special train 
after he had just thrown up his command was 
in itself sufficient to encourage insubordination 
on the eve of decisive battles ; it certainly under- 
mined the authority of the Commander-in-Chief. 
The wholesale criticism pronounced on all ranks 
by the Press, the abuse of the officers, particularly 
of those in high command, together A\ath the 
underhand effiarts made to tempt the men not 
to fight, but to mutiny and kill their superiors, 
undermined their faith in their commanders, de- 
stroyed discipline, and made the troops cowardly 
in action. Such a state of affiiirs was enough to 
discount all the effiorts of the very best officers, 
and had the most evil effect on those who were 
already inchned to show the white feather. 

War is terrible ; therefore the methods of 
maintaining discipline amongst troops, to be 
effective, must be as terrible. We certainly 
desired success, yet how often did we not act so 
as to make success improbable, if not impossible ? 
The very causes which were undermining autho- 
rity in the army were those which kept victory 
from us. Peace reputations are no criterion of 
ability in war, and many commanders who had 
been noted throughout their career as " brilliant," 
" above the average," proved in physical strength 


and force of character of very little use. On the 
other hand, those who had remained unnoticed 
in the piping times of peace showed great strength 
of character and brilliant military qualities amid 
the stress of war. Amongst the latter was 
General Kondratenko, the hero of Port Arthur. 

After the first engagements it was found neces- 
sary to remove from the army as rapidly as pos- 
sible those officers who had shown themselves 
unfit for their duties, and, without attaching undue 
weight to mere seniority, to promote others who 
had proved themselves capable soldiers in the 
field. On June 3, 1 reported to the War Minister 
the unfitness of two generals commanding army 
corps then proceeding to the front, but no notice 
was taken. Every obstacle was put in the way 
of my efforts to get rid of incapable commanders 
of army corps and divisions, and amongst other 
things I was informed from St. Petersburg that 
I asked for commanders of corps to be changed 
far too often. JNly orders removing from duty 
a General Officer commanding an East Siberian 
Rifle Division, who was liable to attacks of 
nerves in action, and left his division before a 
certain great battle, drew a series of questions as 
to my reasons. As I have mentioned, persons 
who had left the army owing to incompetence, 
sickness, or even cowardice, sometimes received 
high appointments in Russia, and all my recom- 
mendations that gentlemen of this spirit should 


be removed from duty as speedily as possible 
were pigeon-holed. To turn to another point, 
some regiments were commanded for twelve 
months and more, by temporary commanders. 
A characteristic example of this kind is the story 
of the removal from duty of the officer com- 
manding one of the Caspian Regiments, Colonel 

F . This officer, who was slightly wounded 

(contusion) in the first fight in which his regi- 
ment took part, went in the beginning of 
October, 1904, to Russia to recover, and only 
rejoined after he had been absent nearly a year, 
during a considerable portion of which time he 
was quite well. In his absence the regiment 
was commanded by an excellent officer, a certain 
colonel, who was awarded the Cross of St. 
George for gallant behaviour when with the regi- 
ment at the battle of Mukden. During those 
twelve months I sent in ten recommendations 

asking that Colonel F might be gazetted 

out of the command, and that it might be given 
to the colonel acting for him. When Linie- 
vitch was Commander-in-Chief he supported my 
request, adding his own recommendation to mine, 
and sending it on to the War Minister and the 
Chief of the Headquarter Staff. The latter, how- 
ever, did not agree, and asked why Colonel F 

[who had then rejoined] was not commanding 
the Caspian Regiment. I again sent in my 
recommendation, and again received a refusal. 


These absolute refusals of my request were the 
more inexplicable as I had already received infor- 
mation that the officer commanding the troops 
in the St. Petersburg Military District was not 
opposed to the appointment of my nominee. 
In the end the long-waited-for appointment 
was made, but the Chief of the Headquarter 
Staff informed me that it was made at the request 
of General Baron Meyendorf, lately commanding 
the 1st Army Corps 1 Several colonels com- 
manding regiments specially distinguished them- 
selves in the early engagements, and showed fine 
military qualities, and owing to the lack of 
brigade commanders I frequently asked that 
some of them then in command of regiments — 
for instance, Lesha, Riedko, Stelnitski, and Dush- 
kevitch among others — might be promoted to 
Major- Generals, and I called attention to brigades 
in the army that were vacant. The Headquarter 
Staff delayed for a long time, continually asking 
for further information, and the end of the matter 
was that Colonel Ostolopoff, commanding the 
Omsk Regiment, a worthy officer, but one who 
had in no way distinguished himself in the field, 
and whose name came up in the ordinary way, 
was promoted before the above - mentioned 

My recommendations as to giving accelerated 
promotion to the best officers of the General 
Staff with me were negatived, because these 


gentlemen would then have passed over the 
heads of then* contemporaries polishing office- 
stools in Russia. For example, Captain Krui- 
mofF was an exceedingly capable officer of the 
General Staff on the staff of the 4th Siberian 
Corps. General Zarubaeff, his corps commander, 
and I several times recommended him for pro- 
motion to Lieutenant- Colonel* for distinguished 
service in the field. We were unsuccessful in 
our effort, but, to the amazement of myself and 
of the officers of the General Staff who were at 
the front, I ascertained that a contemporary of 
Zarubaeff, who was not at the war, and who 
was not qualified for the promotion, had been 
promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel. And this was 
only one instance of many. As regards the pro- 
motion of captains of infantry of the Line to 
Lieutenant-Colonel, the Headquarter Staff, I am 
glad to say, made no difficulty, and by this course 
we obtained a large number of energetic young 
staff officers. Some of them possessed, indeed, 
such brilliant military qualities that they might 
well have been put at once in command of regi- 
ments. I tried, in the interests of the public 
service, to get some officers who were personally 
known to me as good men appointed to the 
field army. Some were sent to me, others were 
not, the reason being given that the strength of 
the army was sufficient to satisfy all official needs. 
* [There is no rank of Major in the Russian Army. — Ed.] 


To organize intelligence work successfully 
special experience is required. I was dissatisfied 
with the way this important duty was being per- 
formed, and I asked that a certain officer of the 
General Staff, particularly well qualified for it, 
should be appointed, but I received a refusal on 
quite insufficient grounds. Again, the Head- 
quarter Staff paid veiy little attention to what 
they allowed to be published from the reports 
from the theatre of war, and gave out informa- 
tion containing the names of localities, units, etc., 
which must have made it easier for the enemy 
to fix the position of our troops. At the same 
time, though Headquarters knew the totals of 
our losses and the numbers of guns we had 
abandoned in the fights at Mukden, they for 
a long time did not contradict the Press reports 
which stated we had lost several hundreds of 
guns. The long absences from the army of 
officers commanding units compelled me fre- 
quently to ask that a time-limit should be fixed, 
after which, if they did not rejoin, the absentees 
should forfeit their appointments. This recom- 
mendation was eventually approved, and numer- 
ous general and other officers who had been for 
long merely officiating in command of brigades 
and regiments were, on the authority of the 
Commander-in-Chief, confirmed in their appoint- 
ments. But soon afterwards demobilization 
began, and an order was then issued from St. 


Petersburg to the effect that the Commander-in- 
Chief was, to the prejudice of his own authority, 
to issue an order canceUing his previous ones 
making the appointments, because the " resur- 
rected dead " thought of returning to the army, 
and wished to command the units from which 
they had so long absented themselves. It is 
essential that such harmful interference from 
Headquarters with an army in the field should 
be put a stop to, and that full power should be 
given to those in actual command on the spot. 

I have not alluded to our marked inferiority 
to the enemy in technical troops and material. 
This chiefly applies to the proportion of sapper 
units. With each Japanese division of all arms 
was a strong battalion of sappers, while we had 
only one to each army corps. But, owing to the 
demand for work at one and the same time on 
the line of communications, and in constructing 
bridges and raihvays, only two sapper companies 
of the battalion were as a rule actually with our 
corps. In other words, each division had one 
company, a proportion which proved to be quite 
insufficient. The Japanese telegraph and tele- 
phone troops were also far more numerous than 
ours, and their material was better, and it was 
only after the Mukden battles that w^e were able to 
remedy these defects. Owing to their sea trans- 
port, the enemy were of course able to deliver 
with far greater ease light-railway material in 

VOL. I. 20 


the theatre of operations, as well as technical 
material for construction of fortifications and for 
the attack. It was only after Mukden that we 
received an adequate stock of field railways, 
wire, cables, explosives, and tools. 

In spite of the superiority of our guns, we 
made a mistake in having only one type of 
shrapnel. We hoped, of course, that it would 
give good results when burst on contact *; but it 
turned out to be ineffective when used in this 
way, and for this we paid heavily, as we were un- 
able properly to prepare by artillery the attack 
of even hastily fortified positions. When the 
Japanese prepared by artillery for an attack on 
a village held by us, they destroyed it in the 
most thorough manner. The instructions issued 
to Kuroki's army (in October, 1904) contained 
the following remarks regarding our artillery ; 

" The enemy has apparently no common shell ; 
his shrapnel is ineffective, and the splinters do 
little damage, as the walls of the shell are too 

For a long time we possessed no mountain- 
guns, though we very often had to move by 
roads impassable by field-guns when operating 
in the hills. The enemy were greatly superior 
to us in this point. It was only for the Mukden 
battles that we were able to provide a few of 

* [Presumably with a percussion-fuse. — Ed.] 


these batteries to some of our army co^'ps 
operating in the hills on the east, but even then 
the force under General Rennenkampf was in- 
sufficiently supplied. 

The Japanese began the war with no machine- 
guns. We had a few machine-gun companies 
attached to some of the East Siberian Rifle 
Divisions, and in the very first fight — at the 
Ya-lu — one of these companies attached to the 
3rd East Siberian Rifle Division was most 
valuable. The Japanese were quick to profit 
by this experience, and, after the September 
fighting at Liao-yang, put in the field a great 
number of these guns of a light, portable type. 
These were of great service to them, particularly 
in strengthening the defence of hastily prepared 
positions held by small numbers of men. The 
supply of these guns to our army was carried out 
very slowly, and was, in fact, only finished by 
the time peace was concluded. The proportion 
also was too small — only eight per division. 

Our four-wheeled transport carts were unsuit- 
able both for hill-work and for the Manchurian 
mud ; but my request that two-wheeled carts 
should be substituted with the troops to come 
from Russia was not heeded. The quantity of 
ammunition with the guns was found to be 
insufficient for continued fighting. In spite of 
the reserves provided, the quick-firing artillery 
expended nearly all its ammunition at the 




fights of Liao-yang, the Sha Ho, and Mukden, 
and replenishment after each of these great battles 
was a slow process. We also found the need 
for howitzers firing high explosive shell. One 
battery for the army arrived as peace was con- 
cluded. Hand grenades, which were an innova- 
tion, were locally improvised, but were not 
sufficiently powerful in their action. 

In my memorandum, from which I have already 
given extracts, submitted before my departure 
for the front,'"' detailing what was most urgently 
required in order to insure success, I emphasized — 

1. The necessity of ordering ninety-six moun- 
tain-guns in addition to the forty- eight already 
ordered on my former recommendation. This 
was approved, and the order placed, but it was 
not carried out quickly enough. 

2. The necessity of despatching without delay 
to the Far East eight machine-guns per division 
already there and going out. 

According to official figures, the following 
were ordered and delivered in 1904 : 



Pack machine-guns ... 


... 16 

Machine-guns on wheels ... 


... 56 

Melinite shells 


Shells for 6-inch field-mortars 


Quick-firing howitzers 




.. 128 

* [March 7, 1904.— Ed.] 

"TOO LATE'' 309 

In 1905 a large number of machine-guns were 
ordered, amongst them being some Danish ones 
of inferior design ; but during the period the 
operations lasted — up to March, 1905 — we had 
to do as best we could with a very few machine- 
guns, without high explosive shell, without 
sufficient mountain artillery, and without howit- 
zers. All these had been supplied, or had begun 
to be supplied, in 1 905 ; but it was too late. 





By Harold Baker. 

With an Introduction by the Right Hon. R. B. Haldane. K.C. M.P. 

Crown 8vo, 5s. net. 

_'* Examination of the book shows that he has a complete mastery of his subject,^ combined 
with the admirable quality of a writer skilled in clearness of statement and exposition. . . . 
Will be found indispensable to members and Secretaries of County Associations, while all 
members of the Force would be well advised to possess and study it." — Army and Navy 



By Lieut. -Colonel C. Delme-Radcliffe, C.M.G., and J. W. LewiSj 

Late igth Hussars. 

With a Preface by F.M. the Earl Roberts, V.C, K.G. 

With Illustrations. Crown 8vo. 2s. 6d. net ; or without Illustrations, 

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By Monsieur E. K. Nojine, 

Accredited Russian War Correspondent during the Siege. 

Translated and Abridged by Captain A. B. Lindsay. 

Edited by Major E. D. Swinton, D.S.O. 

With Maps and Illustrations. Demy 8vo. 15s. net. 

" M. Nojine is unusually well qualified to offer testimony on the long beleaguerment. He 
writes with vivacity and force, and the translation is competent and spirited, both on account 
of its vivid narrative and by reason of the extraordinary revelations it contains. ... It is 
the most remarkable book aljout the war yet issued." — Times. 


ON 27TH MAY, 1905. 

By Captain Vladimir Semenoff (one of the survivors). 

Translated by Captain A. B. Lindsay. 

Crown Svo. 3s. 6d. net. 

" The most thrilling and touching records of naval warfare that we have ever read, and its 
very simplicity and lack of literary ornament make it the more impressive. . . . We share 
the emotions on board, feel the nervous thrill behind the gallant spirit and the cheerful 
countenance." — Westntinsttr Gazette. 





By the late Eugene Politovski, 
Chief Engineer of the Squadron. 

Translated by Major F. R. Godfrey, R.M.L.I. 
Large Crown 8vo. 2s. 6d. net. 

" Among terrible stories of the sea this is unique. In sentences whose graphic power 
Defoe did not exceed, he jots down from day to day what he sees and suflfers. . . . The 
story of the sinking of the British fishing-boats in the North Sea is told with superb sim- 
plicity." — Punch. 


By the Military Correspondent of "The Times." 
With Maps. Medium 8vo. 21s. net. 

" ' Imperial Strategy ' is one of the most valuable volumes published within recent years. 
The admirable volume should stand upon ihe shelf of every soldier, and of every thinker upon 
Imperial things." — Army and Navy Gazette. 


By His Excellency Lieut. -General Frederick von Bernhardi, 
Commander of the 7th Division of the German Army. 

Translated by Charles Sydney Goldman. 

With an Introduction by General Sir John French, 
K.C.M.G.. K.C.B., G.C.V.O. 

Demy 8vo. los. 6d. net. 

"* " Here at last, in the English language, we have a really important work on the German 
cavalry at first hand." — Broad Arrow. 


By Colonel David Henderson, D.S.O. 
With Diagrams. Small Crown 8vo. 5s. net. 

" The details of procedure suggested for a patrol are simpler, more practicable, and more 
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most important of those minor operations of war which form so great a part of its every-day 
reality." — Morning Post. 


Date n 


A A 001 411 798