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WITH THE COSSACKS 




MISHCHENKO AND HIS COSSACKS 



SNAPSHOT TAKEN DURING THE ATTEMPT TO CUT OFF KUROKI, 
EAST OF LIAOYANG, SEPT. I, 1904 



WITH THE COSSACKS 

BEING THE STORY OF AN IRISHMAN WHO 

RODE WITH THE COSSACKS THROUGHOUT 

THE RUSSO-JAPANESE WAR 



BY 



FRANCIS McCULLAGH 




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LONDON 
EVELEIGH NASH 

1906 



" Oh I why art thou so troubled? " asked the Cossack of the Don, 
11 Oh ! why, m muddy eddies, does thy turbid stream flow on ? 

Oh ! quiet Don Ivanovitch I Oh ! famous, quiet Don ! 

Our bdtyushka ! * Our Nourisher ! why is thy brightness gone ? " 

And glorious Don Ivanovitch he answered and he said: 
" No wonder that my banks are broke and muddy is my bed, 
For the Cossacks are my bulwarks, the Cossacks are my stay, 
How can I flow on gently when my Cossacks are away ? " 

Ballad of the Don Cossacks. 



* Grandfather. 



DEDICATED TO 
THE MEMORY OF MY FRIEND 

FERDINAND BURTIN, 

LIEUTENANT IN THE TIRAILLEURS 

ALGERIENS AND SO TNI A' IN THE 

COSSACKS OF VERKHNYUDINSK: 

KILLED NEAR YINKOW DURING 

MISHCHENKO'S FAMOUS RAID, 

JANUARY io, 1905 



PREFACE 

The letters which form the basis of the 
following chapters are reprinted from the New 
York Herald, by whose kind permission they 
are here reproduced ; and the writer of them 
takes this opportunity of thanking Mr. James 
Gordon Bennett, the proprietor of that paper, 
for placing him, in the first instance, in a position 
to write these articles at all. 

The author originally intended to give a full 
description of his experiences in Port Arthur, 
and of all the battles in the late war at which 
he was present — i.e., of every battle save the 
comparatively unimportant battles of the Yalu 
and Vafangow, but, as he found that in that 
case he would have to produce three large 
volumes, instead of one small volume, he 
reluctantly abandoned the idea. 

Moscow, January 20, 1906. 



CONTENTS 



PART I 
IN PORT ARTHUR 



CHAP. 

I. From Tokio to Port Arthur 
II. Life in Port Arthur 

III. The Gathering Clouds . 

IV. On Board the " Columbia " 
V. Inside Port Arthur 



PAGE 

3 
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38 
80 



PART II 
WITH THE ARMY 

I. I Join Mishchenko . 
II. Before Mishchenko's Raid 

III. A Christmas with the Cossacks 

IV. Mishchenko's Raid . 
V. How I Left Mishchenko 

VI. The Battle of Sandypu . 

VII. Mukden Before the Battle . 

VIII. The Battle of Mukden . 

IX. March 1 and March 2 . 

X. A Vast Vodka Debauch . 



95 
116 

130 
160 

185 

201 
201 
221 
228 
245 



XI 1 



CONTENTS 



XI. General Kuropatkin's Train 
XII. March 5, 6 and 7 . 

XIII. The Retreat from Mukden 

XIV. Our Capture 
XV. Face to Face with Kuroki 

XVI. Back to Liaoyang . 
XVII. From Liaoyang to Dalny 
XVIII. From Dalny to Japan as a Prisoner of War 



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ILLUSTRATIONS 



Mischenkos and his Cossacks .... Frontispiece 
Dragoons Drinking at a Wayside Well 
Francis Mc&dlagh and his Cossack, Philipoff 
Mischenkos Raid ..... 
A Japanese Prisoner .... 

The South Gate of Mukden 
The Retreat from Mukden 
Russian Priests Blessing Rennenkampfs Cossacks before the 
Russian Advance on Pen-shi-Hu, October 1904 



Facing 
page 



34 
112 

162 

204 

212 

282 

320 



PART I 
PORT ARTHUR 



CHAPTER I 

FROM TOKIO TO PORT ARTHUR 

When the Russo-Japanese War broke out I was on 
the staff of the Novi Krai* newspaper of Port Arthur. 
To explain how I, a British subject, came to find my- 
self in that singular position I shall go back a little in 
point of time. In 1903 I was employed on the staff 
of a Japanese paper, and having previously been editor 
of a French paper in Siam, I thought that it would not 
be a bad idea to complete my education in Far 
Eastern politics by going over to the Russian side. 

Accordingly I began to take lessons in the Russian 
language with Father Sergius Gleboff, Chaplain of the 
Russian Legation in Tokio, and in August 1903 I 
resigned my position on the Japan Times of Tokio in 
order to go to Port Arthur, where we should, I ex- 
pected, have war within about a month, that is on 
October 8, by which time the Russians had promised 
to evacuate Manchuria. 

I must say that I found it hard to tear myself away 
from Japan, not only because I liked the country and 
its people, but also because to go to Port Arthur was 
to take a leap in the dark, for I did not know if I could 
get employment there. 

True, I had arranged to send a circular letter several 

* " Novi Krai " is the Russian for " New Land." 



4 WITH THE COSSACKS 

times a week to a number of Far Eastern papers, but 
it turned out that the money I got at irregular intervals 
from this source was not quite sufficient to pay for my 
washing. Luckily I had not been long in Port Arthur 
before I joined the Novi A>#z and was appointed corre- 
spondent of the New York Herald, a paper which I 
had represented in Siam some five or six years earlier. 

I went to Port Arthur in a Japanese vessel, the 
Tairen Maru, and Dalny was the first Russian port 
we touched at. I got my first view of Dalny early one 
morning, when, on getting up, I found that we were 
approaching a quay of solid masonry, provided with all 
modern appliances for loading and unloading cargo, 
and with railway trains waiting close by to carry off 
that cargo, not only to Siberia, but to Europe. The 
length and amplitude of the quays, and the magnificent 
blocks of concrete used in their construction, impressed 
me profoundly when I went ashore. The men who 
were responsible for that work had evidently built, not 
for an age, but for all time. There was no necessity 
for making the quays so large and elaborate, but there 
was something Roman, something characteristic of the 
empire-builder, about this lavish waste of money ; and, 
in view of the threatening attitude of the Japanese, 
the serene confidence which this vast expenditure 
indicated was particularly impressive. If somebody 
had prophesied to me at that moment that inside of 
eighteen months I should be a prisoner of the Japanese 
in a conquered Dalny, I should have been little dis- 
posed to believe him. 

Dalny itself was a brand-new European town, with 
nothing Chinese about it save a few streets of Chinese 
hovels, which were only to remain temporarily ; for 



FROM TOKIO TO PORT ARTHUR 5 

the Australians themselves are not more resolved now 
to keep the Yellow Race out of Australia than the 
Russians then were to keep the Yellow Race out of 
Dalny. 

Considered as a great port, Dalny's one defect was 
that it had practically no inhabitants. It was like a 
city of the dead. 

The only people one met were soldiers or function- 
aries. A stonemason would walk slowly down the 
street, and the echo of his footsteps would have died 
away in the distance before any one else would come 
along. Then a Cossack would gallop! past on a 
hairy, unkempt Chinese pony. 

Sometimes an " izvoshcheek " (carriage), with an 
officer in it, would tear past at a great rate. Then 
silence would again prevail. 

Can the reader picture to himself a suburb of some 
European or American town which has been suddenly 
run up during the prevalence of a building craze, and 
which has almost, but not quite, left the hands of the 
builder? Many families are living in rows of un- 
plastered houses, with blinds on the windows and 
glaringly new tiles on the roof. Other houses are 
completed, but are still unoccupied, and the floors are 
encumbered with mortar, nails and pieces of brick. 
Still other houses are surrounded by scaffolding, and 
only half completed ; and, in their vicinity, planks, 
heaps of mortar, piles of brick, stone and slates are 
lying about in all directions. Imagine what such a 
suburb looks like at some unearthly hour in the morn- 
ing, say at 4 a.m., in the summer-time, and you have a 
good idea of what Dalny looked like when I visited it 
at noon one day in September 1903. I must admit, 



6 WITH THE COSSACKS 

however, that the day in question happened to be a 
Russian holiday, and that work had, in consequence, 
been suspended. Everybody was in the little brand- 
new church, which I entered and found crowded to 
suffocation with people — mostly soldiers — who were 
all standing up and all crossing themselves at frequent 
intervals, while black-bearded Russian priests, perspir- 
ing in gorgeous vestments, celebrated the Mass. The 
only busy place in the town was the railway station, 
from which a company of soldiers marched singing. 

Dalny's only place of amusement seemed to be a 
public garden situated at a distance of some versts 
from the town, and planted with trees that were all 
very young and did not look as if they would ever 
get much older. The greatest attraction in this 
garden was a small zoological section which contained 
deer, monkeys, and two bears. On the occasion of 
my visit two tall Russians were apparently deriving 
great amusement from the work of giving these bears 
lumps of sugar, and two very small Japanese in faded 
European dress were looking on with simulated 
interest from a respectful distance and cackling obse- 
quiously. 

With regard to scenery, I found Dalny to be about 
the bleakest place I had ever set eyes on. High, 
bare, quartzite hills, yellowish in colour and with 
hardly a blade of grass to hide their repulsive naked- 
ness, lay at the back of the town and stretched away 
towards Port Arthur. 

The appearance of these hills was not improved by 
the fact that the Russians had evidently begun quarry- 
ing for stones on almost every one of them, and had 
abandoned nine out of every ten of the quarries, 



FROM TOKIO TO PORT ARTHUR 7 

after having made ugly yellow gashes on the flanks of 
the mountains and strewn the hill-sides with clay and 
with unsightly blocks of quartzite. At Port Arthur the 
case was exactly the same. 

We left Dalny for Port Arthur at about three o'clock 
in the morning, and I got up at daybreak and remained 
on deck until we had reached our destination, for 1 
had a presentiment that this coast would become 
famous. The rocky shore was to the last degree 
bleak and inhospitable, the only signs of life I saw 
being the poles of a military telegraph wire which 
here and there stood out against the sky ; and, in one 
place, a Chinese fishing village at the foot of the 
cliffs. 

Long before we had reached Port Arthur we saw 
in the heavens a striking object which indicated that 
we were in the vicinity of Russia's " inaccessible 
stronghold " and of the fleet which Admiral Alexeieff 
had been gradually concentrating there for years past. 
That object as a colossal pillar of black smoke, 
ending at the top in a mushroom-shaped cloud, which 
could be seen towering over the mountain tops in the 
remote distance. It rose from the Russian battleships 
assembled at Port Arthur. There the King of the 
North had his chariots and his horsemen and his many 
ships. 

Skirting the huge bulk of Liao-Tau-Shan, which 
rose, black, bleak and menacing, fifteen hundred feet 
above the sea, we cast anchor at about eleven o'clock 
in the morning opposite the entrance to the inner 
harbour. 

Above us towered Golden Hill, with its summit all 
cut away in order to make room for the huge guns, of 



8 WITH THE COSSACKS 

which six or seven were clearly visible to the naked 
eye. On the left-hand side of the summit was a 
flagstaff for signalling purposes. Behind the flagstaff 
was a low stone house, and in front of it was a platform 
of cement, on which, on February 9 of the following 
year, I was to see Admiral Alexeieff and his staff 
watching the naval battle raging below. 

From their unmistakable, pared-away tops it could 
be seen, even by the most unpractised eye, that most 
of the other hills in sight were also fortified. Tower- 
ing over Tiger's Tail Peninsula, I could see the masts 
and the sinister fighting tops of the Russian warships 
in the inner harbour; and, inside the entrance on the 
left-hand side, was the torpedo-boat shed, the sea-front 
around which looked as if it had been covered thick 
with the stumps of trees. These were the short masts 
of a swarm of new torpedo-boats. 

" These boats come by rail, in sections, from St. 
Petersburg," said a Russian passenger to me, " and 
we put them together here at the rate of two every 
month, so that every month Japan waits she'll have two 
additional torpedo-boats to reckon with." 

Beside us in the outer roads, lay the Rurik, in com- 
parison with which we looked very humble indeed. 
Little think'st thou, O Imperial Rurik ! awesome in all 
thy warlike panoply, that, a twelvemonth hence, that 
Sunrise flag shall send thee flaming to the bottom of 
the Japan Sea ! 

My first impressions of Port Arthur city were not 
favourable. The sea-front was covered with hillocks 
of coal flanked by enormous piles of vodka casks ; the 
day was hot, the air was full of dust, and the reflection 
of the sun from the buildings and the bare stony hills 



FROM TOKIO TO PORT ARTHUR 9 

made walking very disagreeable. The streets were 
crowded, principally with soldiers and sailors, most of 
whom wore enough medals to drown them in case they 
fell into the water ; and the izvoshcheeks that tore past 
every moment made it sometimes risky to cross them. 
I was surprised to find this love of rapid motion in a 
half Oriental people like the Russians, although Gogol 
might have prepared me for it. 

After having rescued my luggage from an onrush of 
jabbering coolies, I tried to find a room in one of the 
hotels, or " nomeras " as they are called, but it was 
difficult work. 

These " nomeras," I should explain, were merely 
Chinese houses, whitewashed and with glass windows 
let into each of the very small, stuffy and dirty rooms 
into which the interior was divided. The windows 
were never opened, and, though they never seemed to 
admit air, they certainly admitted large quantities of 
fine dust, so that no matter how often a room was 
cleaned, it always remained dirty. I went from one of 
these hotels to another, wearily looking for a room, 
but in the first three I met with such an indignant 
" nyet " that I wondered what on earth I had done. 

It could not be that there was anything wrong with 
my manner of asking, as my interpreter was a Russian 
who had long been resident in Port Arthur, so I 
simply put it down to ill-breeding. 

In the last available "hotel" — a place called " the 
Efeemoff," from the name of its proprietor — I found 
a small, dirty, ill-ventilated chamber, for which I paid 
three and a half roubles a day. This did not include 
lighting, water, towels, soap, bedclothes, etc. etc., 
so that I paid as much per day for this wretched 



io WITH THE COSSACKS 

hole as I would have paid for a room in the Carlton. 
The chamber was so small that there was hardly space 
for the bed in it, and the door was secured on the out- 
side by a padlock and hasp, which completed its 
resemblance to a stable. Most of the other rooms 
seemed to be occupied by young Jewesses, who were 
beautiful but had no visible means of support. Their 
frequent cries of " boyka ! boyka /" indicated that a 
Chinese " boy " was supposed to attend on us, but 
though on several occasions I listened to his voice, 
his celestial features I never had the honour of gazing 
on during all the time of my stay in the " Efeemoff." 

I had to go outside for my food, as there was none to 
be had on the premises, and, as no " samovar " in Port 
Arthur was heated before ten or eleven o'clock in the 
morning, I quickly contracted the pernicious habit of 
late rising. 

All the Port Arthur hotels, save one, were kept by 
Armenians, and all of them sheltered young damsels 
of the same type as those in the " Efeemoff." When- 
ever I mildly hinted to Russians that in England it 
would not be considered respectable for all the hotels 
in a town to contain such guests, they would jump 
with amazement at my Puritanism. "Why, you 
should have seen the place six months ago ! " they 
would invariably cry. " It's a monastery now, com- 
pared with what it was then ! " 

It was just the usual luck of the Russians, I suppose, 
that two fine new hotels were completed in New Town 
just in time to serve as targets for the Japanese. 

The reader already knows that there were an old 
Port Arthur and a new Port Arthur. The old Port 
Arthur was simply the Chinese village which existed 



FROM TOKIO TO PORT ARTHUR n 

when the fortress was garrisoned by Celestial troops. 
Nearly all the Chinese houses remained, but their 
interiors had, like the "nomeras," been altered so as 
to make them serve as shops and European resi- 
dences. 

The shape of the town was, roughly, that of a 
triangle — the base, which fronted the bay, being about 
two hundred yards long, and consisting mostly of small 
houses built in the European style, and the sides meet- 
ing a few hundred yards inland. A continuation of 
one of these sides contained the most important shops 
and commercial offices in the town, and led eventually 
to the new Chinese town, several miles distant. 

The new Russian town was situated along the bay 
to the west, and was reached by a road running along 
the shore of the bay from Old Town. The two towns 
were about a mile or so apart, and the road between 
them was always, except in winter, either so dusty or 
so muddy as to be well nigh impassable. 

Towards nightfall Port Arthur was at its worst. It 
was not lighted at all, and the narrow wooden footway 
that ran along the streets and raised one above the 
roadway, on which in summer time the mud was ankle 
deep, was full of treacherous holes. Some planks 
were all right as long as somebody was walking on 
the other end of them. When this was not the case — 
well, then they were not all right, as I several times 
learned to my cost. 

The shops in Port Arthur generally sold liquor, 
tinned meats, lamps and other such necessaries of life. 
Thrifty people bought their goods in Chinese stores, 
while officers and their wives were always to be found 
in the large stores such as Kunst and Albers, Sietas 



12 WITH THE COSSACKS 

Block, etc., where they were always attended to before 
a civilian. Business was always very brisk. 

The only bank in the city was the Russo-Chinese 
Bank, which was small and always crowded like an 
important but inadequate railway station, with officers, 
soldiers, and shaggy business men. Unless one was a 
lady or a military officer, he had as a rule to wait 
there in a foetid atmosphere for at least four hours 
before being attended to. At the Post-office things 
were nearly as bad. 

The new town of Port Arthur was built in a good 
position, commanding as it did the bay, and being at 
the same time well sheltered by high hills from the 
piercingly cold northern wind that blows well-nigh 
all the winter. No Chinese were allowed to reside in 
it, and all the houses had to be built in European 
style. Quite a considerable number of houses had 
been built at the time the war broke out, but from an 
architectural point of view the whole effect was not 
exactly good. Many houses were built in weak 
imitation of the German style, that is, with little turrets 
and odd gables and chimneys. The quarters of the 
General Staff consisted of a massive block, two 
storeys high, near which an Officers' Club was being 
constructed, at an estimated outlay of about ,£20,000. 
The naval barracks at the far end of the bay were 
completed at the time the war broke out, and were 
the best buildings of their kind in all the Far East, 
with the exception perhaps of some of the barracks in 
India. They are three storeys high, above three 
hundred feet long, and capable of accommodating very 
comfortably one thousand sailors. Opposite them, on 
Tiger's Tail Peninsula, were other barracks much on 




FROM TOKIO TO PORT ARTHUR 13 

the same plan and capable of housing about the same 
number of men. In these barracks the men's food 
was prepared, and in winter the whole place was heated 
by steam. 

New Town resembled Dalny inasmuch as it con- 
tained a great number of half- completed buildings, and 
was at all times as deserted as a graveyard. The two 
or three shops that were opened there looked painfully 
new, and as no customer ever by any chance strayed 
into them, the shop assistants were generally to be 
found dozing in a back room. In July 1904 Old Town 
was to be abandoned and afterwards razed to the 
ground, but, in spite of this, few of the merchants took 
any steps to provide themselves with premises else- 
where. Perhaps they had a presentiment that New 
Town would never receive them. 

The most remarkable public work that was going on 
in Port Arthur at the time the war began was the 
Sobor or Russian Cathedral. The top of the hill 
between New Town and Old Town and overlooking 
the harbour had been sliced off at enormous expense 
in order to make room for the massive foundations 
which, looking like the stump of some gigantic feudal 
castle, formed a striking feature in the landscape. This 
unfinished work was the first thing my eyes used to fall 
on in the morning after I had left my house in New 
Town to walk to the Novi Krai office, and I can still 
remember it covered with pigmy figures of stone- 
masons and Chinese labourers going to and fro. The 
broad roadway that wound gracefully up to it was the 
only good road in Port Arthur, I suppose because it 
was the one road that was never used. 

When completed, this Cathedral was to have been 



i 4 WITH THE COSSACKS 

as high as St. Paul's, and, if one can judge from the 
designs, of great architectural beauty. In fact there 
would have been in the Far East no Christian church, 
save perhaps the Russian Cathedral at Tokio, to com- 
pare with it ; and the Russians often told me that the 
powerful electric light which would be placed on the 
cross at its summit would be visible to mariners far off 
at sea. Alas ! that light will never shine ! 



CHAPTER II 

LIFE IN PORT ARTHUR 

On the second day after my arrival in Port Arthur I 
went to see Colonel Artemieff, the editor of the Novi 
Krai, a Russian tri-weekly paper supposed to be the 
organ of Admiral Alexeieff, and well known at that 
time on account of its periodical outbursts against 
Japan. I found that the colonel had been informed of 
my arrival, and had published a flattering notice of me 
in his paper. He told me that he was going to start 
an English edition of the Novi Krai in a month or so, 
and that he would like me to edit it. In the meantime 
he would pay me a retaining fee. As this was a 
straightforward business offer which left me free to 
write as I liked about the Russians, I at once accepted 
it ; and, a few days after, the colonel got me a little 
sanctum of my own at the office in Pushkin Street, and 
asked me to come there every day to get practice in 
Russian by conversing with the members of his staff, to 
whom he ceremoniously presented me as u our new 
English editor." The publication of the English paper 
was, I may remark, the idea of the Viceroy, who 
was pro- English, and very anxious to come to some 
arrangement with England instead of with Japan, 
which he regarded as an upstart Asiatic Power. 

The Novi Krai office was somewhat different to the 



16 WITH THE COSSACKS 

newspaper offices to which I had been accustomed, 
inasmuch as nearly everybody in it was either an 
officer or a soldier. The colonel seemed incapable of 
writing an editorial unless he were in full uniform, with 
his sword hanging by his side. The printer's devil 
was a soldier who saluted and stood to attention when 
he brought the proofs, and the office was filled all day 
long with Siberian Fusiliers carrying messages from 
their chiefs, and also carrying rifles and fixed bayo- 
nets. One would have thought that the serpent of 
treason would never enter such a military Eden as 
this, but, some time after my arrival, our manager 
was discovered to belong to a revolutionary body, 
and was accordingly lodged in the "arrestny dom," or 
house of detention. Another of our men was a student 
who had for political reasons been exiled from St. 
Petersburg, a third was the son of a political exile, 
and a fourth was a young man called Trotsky, who 
had a somewhat remarkable history. The son of a 
prefectural Governor in European Russia, he was 
cursed by a bad temper, which had led him just 
before my arrival to assault a superior officer, for 
which offence he was court-martialled and reduced to 
the ranks. When, in the middle of 1904, I joined 
General Mishchenko, I met Trotsky in that com- 
mander's etat-major, still a private soldier but attached 
in some way to the staff. He took part in all the 
fighting, always displaying great bravery, and, just 
before the battle of the Shaho, he made, with three 
or four Cossacks, an important reconnaissance, which 
necessitated his lying hidden for days in the " Kiao- 
liang fields, with the result that his health was 
seriously impaired. He was promised a commission, 



LIFE IN PORT ARTHUR 17 

however ; but, while celebrating the occasion in a 
Mukden tavern, he assaulted a colonel, for which 
offence he was court-martialled and shot. 

At first I felt a great repulsion for the Russians 
and an intense dislike for Port Arthur. This was 
primarily due to a feeling of acute mental distress, 
une inquietude de deracine, which I suffer from 
every time I change my country, but it was also due 
to home-sickness for Japan, whose loveliness now 
seemed by contrast to be something heavenly. This 
feeling gradually wore off, however, as my circle of 
friends widened, and I soon began to take a lively 
interest in the Russians and in their great fortress 
over which the shadow of war then lay deep. 

What contributed a good deal to dissipate my 
gloom was the fact that I soon got comfortable quarters 
in the house of Captain Yanchivetsky, an officer of the 
Fortress Artillery, who lived in New Town. Yanchi- 
vetsky, who was a good sculptor in wood and an 
enthusiastic gardener, spent all his spare time with his 
wife and little children, and led, in short, the happy 
domestic life that the average Russian officer leads. I 
generally walked to Old Town every day, dining 
there in the evening at the " Saratoff," a small 
bungalow-shaped building which faced the harbour 
and which was regarded as the Cafe Royal of the 
city. The " Saratoff" was almost always crowded 
with officers drinking amber-coloured tea out of beer 
glasses, and speaking loudly, and occasionally it was 
difficult for a mere civilian to get served at all. Some- 
times I used to wait hours there, the Russian waiter 
peevishly shouting, "Sichas!* Sichas ! " (Immedi- 
ately ! Immediately !) every time I called " Tchelovek I" 



1 8 WITH THE COSSACKS 

and then going off and forgetting all about me. I 
never before saw such dirty table-linen as that of 
which the u Saratoff " boasted, and its clientele was on 
a par with its table-linen, for most of the people I met 
there — and they included some of the leading business 
men of the place — looked as if they made it a habit of 
sleeping in their clothes. 

As a rule there was more noise than drunkenness 
in the " Saratoff," but occasionally, owing to some 
trifling circumstance, such as an air that recalled the 
Don or the Volga or the singing of the Tsiganes at 
the "Tachkent" or " Samarcande " in St. Petersburg, 
from the broken-down string band which performed in 
the verandah, a wave of intoxication would sweep 
over the place, and those overwhelmed by it would 
wake up next day in the Amerikansky Dom or the 
Yaponsky Dom, or perhaps in the middle of the 
street. 

There were few outdoor amusements in Port 
Arthur. Sometimes I went with some Russian friends 
on a picnic to Pigeon Bay or Louisa Bay or the 
Waterworks, in which latter place a few stunted trees 
and several blades of grass made the scene look 
almost home-like. 

Sometimes we hired a "sampan " (Chinese boat) and, 
passing down the formidable lane of battle-ships, had a 
swim and an al fresco lunch somewhere along the 
rocky coast. Horse-races were held once or twice a 
year on the parade-ground, and at these races a good 
rider named Collins won many prizes, and became in 
consequence a great favourite with the Russian 
officers. Collins, who is half English and half 
Japanese, is now serving a sentence of penal servitude 



LIFE IN PORT ARTHUR 19 

in Japan, where he was arrested soon after the war 
broke out on a charge of espionage. 

Port Arthur was a strange cross between Waldersee's 
Lager and a mining camp in the Wild West with a 
strain of the St. Petersburg salon. If it had been 
garrisoned by English troops it would have been 
clean, respectable, and deadly dull. Under the 
Russian regime it was very dirty and very gay. The 
Viceroy, the generals, the admiral and the higher 
civil, military and naval officers were continually 
giving dinners, but the two great social fixtures of 
each week were the balls at the Morsky and Garizonye 
Sobranie (Naval and Military Clubs). 

The Naval Club was installed in an old Chinese 
temple near Admiral Alexeieffs house, and, on special 
occasions, the balls there were attended by the 
Viceroy, who never danced however, but generally 
sat at the head of the hall, talking to Madame Starck 
in German, for, like her husband the admiral, Madame 
Starck did not speak Russian very fluently, 

After the Saturday night ball at the Military Club 
there was always a theatrical performance given by 
amateurs, and at every one of these performances 
Madame Stoessel insisted on playing the leading 
female part. Luckily she played well. Scenes from 
the Russian dramatists, generally Ozerov, Tolstoi, 
Tchekoff, Griboiedof, Tchirikov, Andreeiv, and Gogol, 
and from English, French and German dramatists, 
were usually selected. In January there was a fine 
exhibition of Russian and French oil paintings which 
the Viceroy had persuaded somebody, by the offer of 
a subsidy, to bring all the way from Irkutsk. 

The balls were very enjoyable functions, and, owing 



20 WITH THE COSSACKS 

to the overwhelming preponderance of the military 
element, very picturesque. The sight of the officers 
dancing the Mazurka in their variegated uniforms and 
with jingling spurs, while, outside, the clouds gathered 
thick on the political horizon, made me frequently 
repeat to myself that well-worn quotation from Byron 
in which the lamps shine o'er fair women and brave 
men. What added, in a way that I cannot quite ex- 
plain, to the eerie feeling of impending disaster that 
sometimes took possession of us was the whisper which 
one heard repeated everywhere among the Russians, 
that the Viceroy who ruled this turbulent, doomed city 
owed his position to the fact that he was a natural son 
of the Tsar Alexander II. by a Roumanian woman, and 
the admiral's personal appearance lent some support to 
this theory. 

As is generally the case in Russia, the dancing was 
the best in the world, and the music was such as is 
seldom heard in the Far East ; but, unfortunately, the 
tragic events which followed so rapidly make this gay 
music, when I hear it now, sound in my ears like a 
funeral march. To quote the Russian poet Vaesemsky : 

That ballad ! — 'tis now a funeral dirge, 
That dance ! — the memories of it chill me, 
Like the sheeted ghosts of the dead. 

Over a dozen dear friends whose acquaintance I made 
at these functions are now at the bottom of the Yellow 
Sea. Two of them went down in the Petropavlovsk. 

Most of the Russian naval officers I found to be 
much superior in manners and in education to the 
average military officer. The only fault I could find 
with them — and it was not a serious one from a sailor's 



LIFE IN PORT ARTHUR 21 

point of view — was that some of the younger men were 
too ostentatiously immoral. As for the bluejackets, 
they all looked like farm-hands that had never been 
aboard ship in their lives ; and at Christmas, Easter 
and other solemn holidays of the Church, they got 
drunk with a unanimity and a completeness that has 
never, perhaps, been surpassed in any navy, even in 
Nelson's. 

Happening to call on some friends at the " Morsky 
Lazarette" (Naval Hospital) on New Year's Day, 1904, 
I found such a stream of wounded men being carried 
into the building that I came to the conclusion that a 
battle was being fought somewhere in the neighbour- 
hood. The explanation was that the men had all got 
so dead drunk that they were being constantly run 
over by " izvoshcheeks," falling down staircases, and 
getting into all sorts of scrapes. 

Another place of amusement was the subsidised 
theatre, the Tifontai Theatre as it was called after its 
proprietor, a Chinese millionaire, who owned an enor- 
mous amount of property in Port Arthur, Dalny, 
Liaoyang and Mukden, and was a great favourite with 
the Russians. Some fairly good Russian companies 
performed in this theatre during the winter I spent in 
Port Arthur, the plays of Tchekoff and Gogol being 
the favourites. Gogol's " Vli " was a great success in 
January ; and just before the war broke out, Jerome K. 
Jerome's play, Miss Hobbs (or as the Russians spelt 
the name, owing to the deficiencies of their alphabet, 
Gobbs), was being played ; but the great attractions at 
that time were a circus, Barowfski's Circus, in which 
there were some good performing horses, and a new 
cafe chantant in " Novi Gorod " (New Town), both of 



22 WITH THE COSSACKS 

which places were well attended, even on the night of 
Togo's attack. At that time the new cafe chantant 
was still respectable enough for married people to go 
to, but a few days more and it would have gone the 
way of its predecessor the Palermo, in " Stare Gorod " 
(Old Town) which had to be closed on account of the 
orgies which officers used to indulge in there. 

The Russian officer is, as a rule, a sober, well- 
behaved man, with a good knowledge of the beautiful 
literature of his own country ; but in every regiment 
there are a few Russian officers who take their plea- 
sures, not sadly, but madly, rushing on the stage to 
embrace actresses, firing their revolvers, hacking at 
chairs and tables with their swords and behaving 
generally like gay young seigneurs at the Strelna or 
Mauritania in Moscow. Unfortunately these men 
have given a bad reputation to the whole 
army. 

As for the soldiers, the only specimen who came 
directly under my observation at this time was a young 
Pole, one of Captain Yanchivetsky's orderlies, who 
tidied up my room every morning. He used to enter 
cautiously in high boots, great coat and busby, looking 
like some large winter animal that has lived all its life 
in the outer cold and consequently feels uneasy inside 
of four walls. The other soldiers in the garrison 
seemed to spend most of their time carrying huge 
ikons for the regimental church or the pots and pans 
and furniture of their officers. Sometimes Russian 
officers went in too systematically for making money 
out of their men, with the result that the higher au- 
thorities had to interfere. I remember that one 
wretched, weedy-looking private used to come around 



LIFE IN PORT ARTHUR 23 

to my house every morning in order to sell me milk 
and cheese on the part of his captain's wife. 

The Jews had a remarkable hold in Port Arthur. 
All the leading merchants seemed to be Jews, and 
almost all the people who made money out of Russia 
along the China coast throughout the war were Jewish 
capitalists. One rich Russian Jew in Shanghai made 
enormous profits out of the repatriation of the wounded 
and paroled soldiers and officers from Port Arthur ; 
and another, the well-known Baron Ginsberg, probably 
trebled his vast wealth by supplying stores to Rodjest- 
vensky's fleet. I met Ginsberg's brother supervising 
this work in Saigon, and I regret to say that a lot of 
the stores he supplied were refused by the captains of 
the German transports which accompanied the Fleet. 
Some of these captains curtly declared that the stores 
were rotten, but I do not know if this was really the 
case. 



CHAPTER III 

THE GATHERING CLOUDS 

It was an important day for me who had spent so 
much of my life in the torrid zone, when I saw my 
Polish soldier double the windows in my room and 
light a fire in the tall Russian stove, for I knew that I 
was going to see for the first time what a northern 
winter was like. 

Stern winter was kind as a mother to Port Arthur. 
She covered his scars and wrinkles with a mantle of 
snow, so that sometimes he became marvellously 
beautiful. This was especially the case in the early 
morning when the red sun rose behind Golden Hill, 
throwing a long bridge of light across the blue-green 
sea, when 203-Metre Hill wore a spotless robe of white, 
and Liao-Tau-Shan's scarred summit, crowned with a 
diadem of snow, stood out clear-cut against a cloudless 
sky. Towards Christmas the water along the sea 
shore was frozen hard, a cutting wind had set in from 
the north, and nobody ventured out without a great- 
coat. The days became gloomy, but not so gloomy 
as the political horizon, which was now as black as 
Erebus. In fact, from the day I landed in Port Arthur, 
the clouds, which afterwards burst in such a terrific 
tempest, slowly began to gather ; but, in some manner 
that I cannot quite explain, we were all blinded to the 



THE GATHERING CLOUDS 25 

logical outcome of the situation, and believed till the 
very last that there would be no war. The fatal 
October 8 came, and Alexeieff celebrated it by com- 
bined naval and military manoeuvres, whose meaning 
was emphasised by an editorial which he caused to be 
written in the Novi Krai. In this editorial Artemieff 
— or rather Alexeieff — declared that the Russians 
would never leave Manchuria, and made use in this 
connection of MacMahon's famous phrase, fy suis ; 
fy reste. 

The manoeuvres were followed by a naval review off 
Talienwan, after which Alexeieff went on board each 
ship and made an appropriate speech to the officers 
and men. 

On the Sevastopol, for instance, he spoke of the 
brave defence which the city of Sevastopol had made 
against the English and French, and declared that, if 
necessary, the Russians of to-day would fight as well 
as their fathers had done. 

On Sunday, October 11, there was a great review 
in the Suwarov Parade-ground, on which occasion 
Alexeieff, addressing the officers, hinted that they 
might soon be called upon to prove their devotion to 
the Tsar and to Russia. The Russians told me that 
there were about 40,000 men at that review, and I 
accordingly said so in my wire to the Herald, but I 
afterwards discovered that 15,000 or 20,000 was 
nearer the mark. Mr. Davidson, an American Consul, 
who was present, was told that the number was 75,000, 
and I understand that he believed it, and wired the 
American Government accordingly. 

The Novi Krai came out next day with a most 
enthusiastic account of this function and of the appear- 




26 WITH THE COSSACKS 

ance of the troops, and inveighed at the same time 
against Japanese spies, who were, it declared, getting 
infromation of every military movement that was 
taking place in Manchuria. This was, I think, on 
account of the presence at the review of a number of 
Japanese, who seemed too absorbed in the enumeration 
of the forces and the examination of the soldiers' 
shoulder-straps to pay any attention to the indignant 
glances that were levelled at them by the Russians. 
As a result of this incident, perhaps, all the Japanese 
workmen employed at the new naval dock were dis- 
charged on October 16. 

About this time (October 19), the Novi Krai 
scolded America for insisting on Mukden being 
opened to international commerce ; and on October 19 
I saw Alexeieff in his house, and, among other things, 
asked him about this Mukden business. But he 
responded airily, with the observation : 

" We shall settle that matter easily, without 
impairing our old friendship with America. Inter- 
national commerce must have its way." 

When I told him what the Japanese and English 
papers were saying about Yongampho, he said : 
" These stories are all fabricated with the object of 
causing a sensation. There's no fort, no cannon, not 
a single Russian bayonet at Yongampho." 

He spoke about the trouble he had with the bandits 
in Manchuria. " Outside the railway zone," said he, 
" and especially in the east of Manchuria between 
Harbin and Vladivostock, we have trouble with them 
all the time. Manchuria is a robber-ridden country. 
I often receive petitions from the Chinese begging 
me to retain my troops in the country, and I should 



THE GATHERING CLOUDS 27 

receive many more such petitions were it not that 
the people are terrorised by the Mandarins." 

In November there was a lull, but in December the 
clouds began to thicken, and the air was filled with 
rumours of war. On December 20 we heard of an 
assembly of military transports in Hiroshima. A few 
days after we learned that 2000 picked recruits had 
passed the Dardanelles in the Kazan. 

In common with most other Russian papers in 
Europe and Siberia, the Novi Krai began at this time 
to get very anxious about the future of the White 
Race owing to the Yellow Peril, and came to the 
conclusion that it would be necessary to oppose a pan- 
European alliance to the pan-Asiatic alliance which 
Japan was forming. For a short sime I was impressed 
by this cry, for I thought it possible that the Russians 
had an instinctive dread of again coming under the heel 
of the Yellow conqueror, who had trampled on them 
for centuries ; but I finally came to the conclusion that 
all their fears of the Yellow races over-running 
Europe were simulated. 

The English edition of the Novi Krai was to come 
out on January 1, but, when questioned about it, 
Alexeieff, whose nerves were at this time beginning to 
give way under the strain of the negotiations with 
Japan, exclaimed with a dramatic gesture : " How 
can you expect me to think about a newspaper at such 
a time as this, when the clouds are becoming blacker 
and blacker ?" 

Early in January, the Novi Krai, which was now a 
daily paper, came out with a very violent utterance 
on the Manchurian question. 

' 'Manchuria," it said, "is henceforth Russian and 



28 WITH THE COSSACKS 

will never be surrendered. At present the Russo- 
Japanese negotiations deal only with Korea, and these 
negotiations will terminate most favourably for Russia if 
she keeps a powerful fleet at Port Arthur, and 300,000 
bayonets in Manchuria. Russia is not afraid of war 
but she does not want it, and is therefore trying to 
make it impossible." 

The Japanese Foreign Office seems to have called 
the attention of the Russians to this statement in the 
Novi Krai, for that paper now placed in a prominent 
position on its front page a standing notice to the 
effect that it was not semi-official. 

On January 6, a month before diplomatic relations 
were broken off by Japan, the Russian warships, then 
lying in the inner harbour, began to put on their war- 
paint, and, singularly enough, quite a number of young 
naval officers, nearly all of them belonging to the 
Petropavlovsk, began about the same time to get 
married ! 

My first glance as soon as I left my house every 
morning was now directed towards these ominous 
black battleships as they lay in the inner harbour, for 
I felt that as soon as they went to sea, it was war. 
My excitement was great therefore when on the 
morning of January 7 I found that four warships 
were missing. At the Novi Krai office they told me 
that these four had gone outside with sealed orders, 
but that their object was probably to reinforce the 
Russian cruisers already at sea, by which I suppose the 
Vladivostock and Chemulpo vessels were meant, and 
in combination with these to attack a Japanese squadron 
of four ironclads that were approaching the Korean 
coast. 



THE GATHERING CLOUDS 29 

Three days after, we heard that the Vladivostock 
warships started to come south, but that, after having 
gone a certain distance, they had returned to port. 

The object of these mysterious movements was to 
bring about a junction of the Vladivostock and Port 
Arthur squadrons ; but the Russians saw that, sooner 
than allow this junction to take place, the Japanese 
would make war at once, and they therefore fell back on 
their old policy of waiting. 

On January 12 we got a wire saying that the elder 
statesmen of Japan had been assembled by the Mikado, 
and, while we were wondering what this might mean, 
the Japanese shopkeepers in Port Arthur and Dalny 
began with one accord to sell out. Great crowds of 
Russians, especially officers' wives, attended these sales, 
and I took advantage of the opportunity to buy some 
expensive furniture for my room in Novi Gorod. The 
Japanese shopkeepers indignantly denied that anybody 
had told them to clear out. They said that they were 
going away of their own accord, because they were 
afraid that there would be war. As is generally the 
case in a clearance sale, they all got very good prices 
for their goods. 

Then arose a crop of rumours, in the midst of which 
came, silently, one disquieting fact. The sailing of all 
the Nippon Yusen Kaisha steamers had been cancelled ; 
the lines to America, Australia, Bombay and Europe 
had been suspended ; and eighty fine passenger steamers 
were now at the disposal of the Japanese Government. 
From this date the Japanese flag was seen no more in 
Port Arthur until it came to stay. 

The Russians, who had up to this believed that the 
Japanese were only " bluffing," now began to look 



30 WITH THE COSSACKS 

serious, for on January 18 a meeting of generals was 
held to make arrangements for mobilisation. 

On January 20, and during the succeeding few 
days, 7000 troops belonging to the 3rd Brigade of the 
East Siberian Rifles left Port Arthur by train for the 
Yalu. They were accompanied by several batteries 
and several sotnia of Cossacks, and were carefully 
watched by three Japanese, whom I can scarcely call 
secret agents, for their mission was plain. 

One day, while this ominous exodus of troops was 
taking place, and while I was reading Turgieneff in 
my over-heated Russian room, a seedy-looking man 
came to see me. He at once told me that he was a 
military officer of a certain great Power — in fact, I 
may as well say that he was Colonel Ducat, the British 
military attache at Peking — and had come to Port 
Arthur incognito, in order to see for himself how things 
stood there. He questioned me very closely about 
the garrison, and finally suggested, in an affable, off- 
hand way, that I should procure for him any military 
lists, regulations, etc., that were being printed at the 
Novi Krai office. Now, as a matter of fact, the Novi 
Krai was very busy at this time printing such docu- 
ments, but of course I could not betray my Russian 
employers in this way. 

On the 20th we got word that the Aurora, 
Orel, and nine torpedo-boats, had entered the canal, 
and that the Kasuga had left Aden and the 
Nisshin had left Perim. The race was getting 
exciting. 

On January 24 all the flour in Port Arthur was 
bought up. On January 25 all the horses belonging 
to residents were examined by the military authorities, 



THE GATHERING CLOUDS 31 

who said that, if necessary, they would impress such 
as proved suitable for military purposes. 

On January 28 AlexeiefT had a wire from the 
Russian military attache at Tokio, respecting the 
mobilisation of the Japanese army. 

On February 1 the Kassuga and Nisshin were at 
Singapore. On February 2 the Retvizan, Peresviet, 
Tsarevitch, and Sevastopol, which had, up to this time, 
been in the inner harbour, joined the outside fleet, 
which consisted of the battle-ships Pobieda, Petro- 
pavlovsk, Poltava, and the cruisers Diana, Pallada, 
Askold, Bayan and Boyarin, and on February 2 
all the vessels were in battle array in the outer harbour. 
Just before this junction was effected a British 
merchant steamer collided with another steamer in the 
inner harbour, and ran down a steam-launch on its way 
out ; and this led the Russians to say that the Japanese 
had offered the captain 50,000 roubles if he would sink 
his ship or some other ship in the narrow entrance, and 
thus prevent the two sections of the Russian fleet from 
joining for a day or two. The story is not incredible ; 
anyhow it scared the Russians very much ; and on the 
pretence that several cases of cholera had been dis- 
covered in Chefoo, they now imposed forty-eight hours' 
quarantine on all foreign steamers, and, when that 
period was expired, insisted on a Government tug-boat 
tugging them into Port Arthur. In this way they 
could not accidentally sink themselves, and could not 
run on mines. On the 5th the quarantine was lifted 
for about ten minutes and then reimposed again. 

Things were now getting exciting, so I went to see 
M. Plancon, the chief of Alexeieff s Diplomatic Bureau, 
and found him exceedingly wroth with the Japanese. 






32 WITH THE COSSACKS 

" They're mad ! The Japanese are mad ! " he cried. 
" They're now making naval demonstrations along the 
Korean coast. There are even transports with their 
fleet. Now, they expect us to go out and sink those 
transports and thus begin the war." 

" And will you ? " I asked breathlessly. 

"Well, I can't say what we'll do," said M. Plancon, 
"but I can tell you that if this sort of thing goes on 
much longer Russia will strike, and will strike hard." 

"Well now, between ourselves, M. Plancon," said 
I, " what do you think it all means ? " 

"I think," said he, "that it means this. Japan is 
now awaiting our answer to her last proposal, and she 
thinks by these demonstrations, which really mean 
nothing at all, to make us yield as much as possible. 
But she'll find that she's mistaken. We shall just 
make the same proposals as we should have made had 
there been no demonstrations at all." 

I wired to the Herald, through Chefoo, a resume 1 of 
this conversation, but I don't think it ever reached 
the Herald. It reached the Japanese Consulate in 
Chefoo, however ; for, a few days after, Mr. Midzuno 
startled me by accidentally bringing into the conver- 
sation some of M. Planc^on's phrases, and by adding 
bitterly, "Yes, Mr. Plangon will soon see if the Japanese 
are mad." 

On January 30 the order to mobilise was received 
in Port Arthur. I happened to be in the naval quarters 
at the time, and everybody seemed to think that there 
w T as no longer any hope. The doctors had received 
orders to prepare to receive wounded, and vast quan- 
tities of lint and bandages were on their way from 
Europe. 



THE GATHERING CLOUDS 33 

I now watched the Russian fleet in the outer har- 
bour with the same attention as I had watched it 
when it was in the inner harbour ; but on looking 
for it one morning — February 3 — I found it had 
vanished. 

I at once hurried into town, where they told 
me that the fleet had left at dawn "with sealed 
papers." There was a good deal of excitement at this 
time on account of the British Mission to Thibet, 
and it rather looked as if a universal war were 
brewing. 

The excitement was considerably allayed, however, 
by the return of the Russian fleet at four o'clock on 
February 4, but was fanned again by the report that 
sixty Japanese vessels were off Wei-hai-wei — a report 
which led to new tirades against the English. 

On the 5th many Japanese left Port Arthur, and we 
got a telegram to the effect that the Nisshin and 
Kasuga had left Singapore. But, hurrah ! Admiral 
Wirenius has left Suez. The day after he left Suez 
Japan broke off diplomatic relations. 

There had been so many false alarms, however, that 
there was not much excitement in town. Twenty 
Norwegian steamers full of coal were lying in the 
inner harbour, and on the jetty a number of Chinese 
coolies, under the direction of a soldier, were working 
on a submarine mine ! 

Before this time there had come overland from 
Europe a large number of bluejackets, among whom 
were the best gunners and mechanicians of the Baltic 
and Black Sea squadrons. I wonder what kind of 
a showing the Russian fleet wouid have made if these 
men had not come ! 



34 WITH THE COSSACKS 

The last time I saw the Viceroy before war broke 
out was early in February, at a belated celebration of 
the Russian New Year, in the Realny Uchilishtch6, a 
fine Russian Government school in New Town. It 
was a function which did not tend to give any of 
those present the impression that the city would be 
bombarded in a few days. The class-rooms were 
richly decorated ; there was a band in attendance ; 
there were plenty of refreshments ; the Viceroy was 
surrounded by his brilliant staff ; the guests were nu- 
merous, and there was a surprisingly large number of 
clean, fair-haired boys and girls, who, after the Rus- 
sian custom on such occasions, danced sedately to- 
gether for hours. Among these children were about a 
score of fine Chinese lads, whose rich silk gowns and 
caps added a picturesque foreign touch to the scene. 
Every child seemed to get a prize of some kind, 
and, at the end of the distribution, the Viceroy went 
around among the children cracking jokes with them. 
After talking for some time in Russian to the Chinese 
boys, he turned to the Russian boys and told them 
that they should be ashamed of themselves for not 
being able to talk Chinese as well as these Chinese 
talked Russian. 

As a matter of fact, the Viceroy was very keen on 
the subject of bringing the Chinese and the Russians 
together ; and with that object in view he had, a few 
days before, induced the head master of this school to 
engage a Chinese-speaking Russian, probably the only 
one in Port Arthur, to teach Chinese to as many of the 
Russian boys as cared to study it. 

He had also persuaded, or perhaps ordered, Colonel 
Artemieff, the proprietor of the Novi Krai, to make 



THE GATHERING CLOUDS 35 

arrangements for getting out a Chinese paper at the 
same time as the new English paper ; and a very in- 
telligent Chinese, who spoke Russian perfectly, was 
engaged in advance as editor. 

While visiting English steamers which touched at 
Port Arthur I discovered about this time that nobody 
was now allowed to leave or enter the port without 
a special permit ; and that Japanese were continually 
travelling to and fro between Port Arthur and Chefoo. 
To put a stop to this latter practice, a military officer 
was told off to visit each ship before it left, but as he 
had a number of whiskeys and soda on board every 
vessel he visited, he was not always able at the end 
of his tour to distinguish a Japanese from a ship's 
binnacle, though I must say that he invariably began 
with the best intentions. 

One or two Russian deserters, generally German- 
speaking Jews, now left by every steamer, generally 
bribing the Chinese crew to conceal them, for the 
English captains would not take them if they could 
not show their passports. It reminded me of rats 
deserting a sinking ship, although in this case the rats 
were deserting "the most impregnable of all first-class 
fortresses " for the unstable sea ; and the event proved 
their wisdom. Was it instinct that made these 
intensely ignorant men fly from the doomed fortress, 
or had some sort of warning been circulated among 
the Jews ? 

The steamer on which I felt most at home was the 
Columbia, a little British vessel built originally for 
river traffic in South China, but at this time running 
between Chefoo and Port Arthur. 

On the evening of February 6 I was sitting in 



36 WITH THE COSSACKS 

the cosy dining saloon of this vessel, telling Mr. 
Wright, the chief officer, how I had to go some 
time or other to Chefoo in order to charter a steamer 
for the New York Herald. That day I had tried to 
charter a launch from Baron Ginsberg, the great 
Jewish capitalist, whose timber concessions on the 
Yalu had been the last straw on the back of Japan's 
patience, and the Baron had tried to sell me a launch 
which would be pretty sure to sink beneath me before 
it had got half way across. I therefore said that I 
had better go to Chefoo, whereupon Mr. Wright said, 
" Why not come with us to-night? We're sailing at 
eleven, and there are no other passengers. Besides, 
there's no quarantine now, so that you'll have no 
trouble getting back." Finding that I had an hour to 
spare, I went to my lodgings, put a few shirts into a 
little carpet - bag, and bade a hasty good-bye to 
Captain Yanchivetsky and his wife, telling them that I 
would be back on the morning of the 8th. Little did I 
think that at that moment diplomatic relations between 
Russia and Japan had been severed, that Kurino had 
left St. Petersburg, and that Togo had left Saseho. 

As we passed through the fleet, which was now 
anchored in the outer harbour, the officers told 
me how annoyed they had been on a previous 
trip by the searchlights of the battle-ships which 
almost blinded them, and, on this night, a searchlight 
shone on us until we dipped below the horizon. 
Wrapped in my great-coat I watched the receding 
fleet, until the lights on the mast-head of the Angora 
had disappeared, and then, being almost paralysed by 
the intense cold, which instantly froze the spray that 
fell at our feet, I went down to my cabin or rather tc 



THE GATHERING CLOUDS 37 

the captain's cabin, which had been kindly placed at 
my disposal, and got into bed. 

At Chefoo next day I found that my mission was 
vain, owing to the impossible terms asked by the ship- 
owners there. Not only did they expect me to pay 
exorbitant charter-money, but they insisted that if the 
captain saw on the horizon any of the rival fleets, or 
even specks which he took to be battle-ships, he was 
at liberty to return at full speed to Chefoo. This being 
the case I went back to Port Arthur the same evening 
by the Columbia. Arriving in the outer harbour on 
the morning of the 8th, I was delighted to see that 
the fleet was still there and that no naval action had 
taken place in my absence. 



CHAPTER IV 

ON BOARD THE COLUMBIA 

Before I had left Port Arthur on board the Columbia 
I had ascertained that the quarantine on vessels coming 
from Chefoo had been raised, so that my disappoint- 
ment was great when, on my return, I found that we 
had to go into quarantine for the space of twenty-four 
hours. To be thus compelled to remain inactive on 
board a wretched little steamer in sight of Port Arthur, 
where great events were likely to take place at any 
moment, almost drove me mad. We had been told to 
anchor in the outer roads, nearly opposite the entrance 
to the inner harbour and within a stone's throw of the 
Novik, so that with the ship's telescope I could dis- 
tinctly see the people passing to and fro in the town, and 
the "izvoshcheeks" driving about at their usual speed. 
I suffered the tortures of Tantalus, for though I could 
see Port Arthur I could not get any news of what was 
going on there. Noticing my agitation, the Russian 
soldier who had been placed on board as a guard, 
watched me carefully ; but I managed to elude him for 
a moment, and to throw a letter into a Government 
launch of some kind that was passing very close to us 
on its way from some of the battle-ships to the shore. 
This letter I had addressed in Russian to an intimate 
friend of mine who was at the head of the quarantine 



ON BOARD THE COLUMBIA 39 

service, and who would at once have brought about my 
release if he had known that I was on board. But the 
only result of this attempt was that the launch stopped 
for a moment at our gangway and that a soldier brought 
me back my letter, unopened, and then remained on 
board. Thus we had now two guards patrolling the 
deck with rifles and fixed bayonets. We made frantic 
attempts to get the Chinese " sampan " men, who were 
paddling around, to come close enough to take letters 
to another British steamer which was lying a short 
way off, also in quarantine ; but our guards pointed 
their rifles at these Chinamen and refused to allow 
them to approach. Captain Anderson was determined, 
however, to communicate with his brother captain, so 
he got the Chinese " boys " on board the vessel to coax 
the two Russians below, on the shallow pretence of 
giving them breakfast — "shallow," I say, for breakfast 
time had long passed — whereupon he managed to 
throw a letter and a few coins, contained in an empty 
cigar-box, to an enterprising ' ' sampan " man, who at once 
conveyed the message to its destination, and afterwards 
brought back a note saying that there was nothing 
new except that the Japanese Consul at Chefoo was at 
that moment in Port Arthur, his mission being to take 
away all the Japanese residents of that port in a British 
merchant steamer which he had chartered for that 
purpose at Chefoo. This news made me feel still more 
discontented at my detention, for it plainly indicated 
that, although nothing seemed to have changed, things 
must really have taken a serious turn. As a matter 
of history, they had taken a serious turn, for on the 
previous evening Togo had left the Korean coast with a 
fleet of fifty ships, and sailed towards the Elliott Islands. 



40 WITH THE COSSACKS 

I remember that on this day the weather was 
particularly fine, the sun shining brightly, and the air 
being sufficiently warm to admit of my strolling at 
intervals along the deck without an overcoat. Some- 
times I went inside and worked in a leisurely manner 
at a newspaper article, in which I clearly demonstrated 
that, even if war did come, the Japanese would never 
dare to attack Port Arthur. This article I need not, I 
suppose, reproduce here. 

Sometimes I watched one of the war vessels engaged 
in target practice, the target being a miniature man-o'- 
war which was towed by a steam launch, and, although 
the shooting was not good, it was not quite so bad as 
I had previously been led to believe. At mid-day a 
band played magnificently on board one of the battle- 
ships. "What a pity," thought I, "if a nation of 
musicians like that should ever be crushed by a people 
who have no music in their souls ! " 

Of course I again and again scrutinised closely, 
through the ship's telescope, the imposing array of 
battle-ships and cruisers by which I was surrounded. 
The little training-ship Gilyak afforded us some 
amusement by the clumsy attempts of the boys on 
board to furl the sails, attempts which were so un- 
nautical as to make our skipper curse dreadfully, and 
further to sour his temper, already badly affected not 
so much by the quarantine as by the favouritism shown 
to a steamer belonging to a rival company. This 
steamer had come at the same time as we, but owing 
to the fact that she had cattle on board, no quarantine 
was imposed, and after discharging her cargo she 
left the same evening. Besides the cattle she had 
also on board two rival correspondents from Chefoo, 



ON BOARD THE COLUMBIA 41 

and as I watched them going into the inner harbour 
and afterwards leaving for the south and a free wire, 
no doubt with a big budget of news in their note-books, 
I was strongly tempted to follow Captain Andersons 
example and use profane language. 

I noticed that the battle-ships had all partially cleared 
for action and, in some cases, sent ashore their boats. 
But as the day wore on and nothing more happened, 
we gradually ceased thinking of what these ominous 
signs portended, and confined ourselves to wondering 
if we would get out of quarantine next morning or get 
an additional dose of twenty-four hours. 

In the afternoon the tide swung us so close to the 
Novik that we could read her name, in Old Slavonic 
letters, on the bow. Towards dusk the three torpedo- 
boats that had been in the habit of patrolling outside 
the fleet every night swirled past us with a great 
splashing and pounding, leaving a stream of foam- 
flecked, broken water in their wake. 

On the whole there was a good deal of traffic all day 
between the fleet and the shore, steam-launches, either 
hooded naval launches or open launches belonging 
to trading companies, passing continually to and fro. 
Some of these launches carried coal, to make up for 
that burned by the warships during the day ; one 
carried some ladies, who probably went to dine on 
board one of the vessels, and another carried a ship's 
band that had doubtless been performing at some 
function ashore. 

Alongside the Novik we noticed a small boat with 
a red flag. We thought at first that this boat carried 
powder, but the extraordinary length of time it re- 
mained alongside the cruiser, the fact that no powder 






42 WITH THE COSSACKS 

seemed to be passed into the vessel, and the move- 
ments of the men in the boat, led us to conclude 
afterwards that below the boat was a diver who was 
searching for some leak or other defect in the Novik. 

At this moment Togo was anchored off the Elliott 
Islands, only sixty-five miles east of Port Arthur. The 
tragedy was deepening. The crouching lion was about 
to spring. 

I watched the sun disappear that evening. It was 
a sea sunset — orange shot with red. And in its glory 
there was no hint of tragedy. 

About eight o'clock, just after we had finished 
dinner on board the Columbia, a sound of singing 
reached our ears, and, on going outside, I heard the 
Russian sailors chanting their night prayers, which 
consist of the " Pater Noster" in old Russian, the 
" Ave Maria," or a prayer corresponding to that 
favourite invocation of the Latin Church, and finally 
a short prayer for the Tsar and two stanzas of the 
Russian National Anthem, saddest and most melodious 
of national hymns, brimful of the music and the 
melancholy of the Slav. The Russians are generally 
good singers, and the hymns of the Greek Church have 
a weird and unearthly beauty, which, on ordinary 
occasions, is very impressive, but which at this solemn 
moment affected me as I have never been affected by 
the most sublime oratorio. 

Softened by distance, the chants from the adjoining 
vessels rolled solemnly over the bay, blending together 
harmoniously, and it was difficult indeed to believe 
that this music was produced by common sailors. 
Even the singing on the Novik, which vessel was 
nearest to us, sounded singularly soft and sweet, while 



ON BOARD THE COLUMBIA 43 

the hymns from the more distant battle-ships were 
naught but a faint melodious whisper. Had it not been 
for the unfathomable sadness of the melody, we might 
have imagined that we had been privileged to hear the 
orbs of heaven " choiring to the young-ey'd cherubim." 

No doubt my singular position there, in the outer 
roads of Port Arthur, contributed to create this feeling. 
The night was dark, for the moon was in her last quarter 
and would not appear before daylight. The only 
seaward lights twinkled on board the widely scattered 
battle-ships. Against the black sky on either side 
stood out a blacker blotch of land, land that looked 
dark and lonely enough, at that time of night, to be 
the abode of lost souls. 

Perhaps the spirits of dead Japanese, of the sons of 
daimyo and ronin and samurai who have perished on 
these bleak hill-sides, are watching there till their 
brethren come back. Be still, O restless spirits of 
the mighty dead ! your ten years' vigil will soon be 
ended. You have not long to wait. Behold ! the 
hour of your deliverance is at hand ! Ere midnight 
your countrymen will be in the outer roads ! 

Behind me, the great black bulk of Golden Hill 
showed more clearly against the sky, and a few of the 
lights in the town were clearly visible, the rest being 
cut off by the intervening peninsula of Tiger's Tail. 
The glow of the city, faintly reflected in the sky 
overhead, looked as hospitable as the glow of a house- 
hold fire, but my present banishment from that familiar 
hearth made me feel like an outcast. Moving back- 
wards and forwards along the narrow space of town 
which our position commanded, were the lights of 
•' izvoshcheeks." 



4* WITH THE COSSACKS 

When the singing had ceased, a sense of infinite 
sadness came over me, for what I had heard was not 
the triumphal crash of a conqueror's chorus, it sounded 
more like a Litany for the Dying. And such, indeed, 
it was. It was a Litany for a great Navy, whose long 
death-agony was to begin that night, for an historic 
flag which was soon to pass away for ever from the 
Pacific. 

And all this time, Togo's relentless destroyers are 
coming nearer. THREE-QUARTER-SPEED ! 
On his conning-tower, in oilskins and sea-boots stiff 
with ice, stands the lieutenant, peering into the gloom 
profound. At the wheel stands the coxswain, silent 
and dripping. At last they can make out the massive 
silhouette of Golden Hill. 

In the sky overhead they can see the faint reflection 
of Port Arthur and city. At a distance that seems 
infinite, our lights show up before their starboard 
beam. SILENCE! LIGHTS OUT! As you 
value your lives, no flaming from the funnels ! Nearer 
still, they can see the long, ghostly arms of our search- 
lights groping for them in the dark like the arms of 
some silent, blind, gigantic octopus. The white wash 
boiling away astern fills them with apprehension. The 
churning of the screw, the rhythmic throbbing of the 
engines, sound like thunder in their ears. 

I then returned to the saloon and sat down to 
finish the newspaper article of which I have already 
spoken, and in which I had laid it down as a funda- 
mental proposition that the Japanese would never 
attack Port Arthur. 

What increased my feeling of confidence, though it 
ought not to have done so, was the fact that the 



ON BOARD THE COLUMBIA 45 

Russians seemed to think it unnecessary to make any- 
considerable use of their searchlights. Previously 
they used to annoy the officers of merchant steamers 
by the way in which they blinded them with their 
flashlights, either until they were out of sight on the 
way to Chefoo or until they had entered the inner 
harbour of Port Arthur. 

On leaving Port Arthur for Chefoo the previous 
Friday I had seen for myself that a light was kept 
flashing on us till we were out of sight ; but on our 
return we were not, I was told, subjected to such a 
long-continued scrutiny, and on Monday night no 
light had been flashed on us at all up to the time 
I have now reached. 

When it was nearly half-past eleven a feeling of 
drowsiness, partly due to ennui, partly to a heavy 
supper, came over me ; and, as everybody else save the 
officer on watch had retired for the night, I decided to 
follow their example. 

The Chinese " boy " who had sat up with me to turn 
out the lights was asleep on a chair, and, without 
waking him, I passed noiselessly from the saloon into 
the outer air, for my cabin was an outside one. 

Before entering my room I took a last glance at the 
inky shore. A profound trance seemed to hold sea and 
land. A sharp northerly wind was blowing outside, 
but here, in the shelter of the mountain, there was not 
even the wash of a wave. Now and then a moving 
light in the distant town showed me that stray 
" izvoshcheeks " were still passing through the streets 
of Port Arthur, but otherwise the fortress-city was 
dark as the mouth of a sepulchre. 

Far out at sea a solitary searchlight on the Angora 






46 WITH THE COSSACKS 

swung lazily backwards and forwards, as if worked by 
a man who was half asleep. 

But everybody was not half asleep that night. 
At this moment, only twelve miles off the land, Togo's 
darkened messengers of death are sweeping round as 
in a big semicircle, like a hawk circling above its prey 
before making the ultimate, downward swoop. They 
are bracing themselves up for the final rush. The 
lieutenant's hand is on the " telegraph " ready to jam it 
down. The torpedo gunners stand by, ready to press 
the fatal button. FULL-SPEED! Dead for our 
betraying lights come the torpedo-boats of Togo. 

At exactly 11.30 I was undressing in my cabin 
when I heard three muffled explosions, which made the 
ship rock, and which were followed almost immediately 
by the discharge of small guns. 

The transition was so abrupt, the silence of the 
night was torn so rudely, that for a second I was 
startled, and the wild thought, " The Japanese are on 
us ! " rushed through my brain. 

O brassy-throated bugle and hoarse words of com- 
mand, how ye stir my blood ! O faint, distant, throb- 
bing drum, almost thou persuadest me that this is not 
mere mimic war ! 

But in another instant I regained myself and 
laughed, laughed in this the most solemn moment of 
my life, because from amid the blankets in an adjoin- 
ing room I heard the bitterly ironical voice of Captain 
Anderson say, " War's declared ! " 

If the captain had cursed the Russians for half an 
hour for disturbing him in his first sleep by their 
practice-firing he could not have conveyed a deeper 
impression of disgust. 



ON BOARD THE COLUMBIA 47 

Once I had got over my first start, I thought it a 
nuisance myself that the fleet should begin practising 
at such an unearthly hour of the night, especially as 
the air was now so cold for sight-seers ; but, as I could 
not afford to miss even a merely spectacular display, I 
hastily pulled on my boots and overcoat and went on 
deck. There I saw an extraordinary sight. 

A transformation had come over the scene, like that 
which takes place in a darkened theatre when the 
curtain is lifted ; and, as a matter of fact, though then 
I knew it not, the vast curtain of night had risen on 
one of the mightiest dramas that the world has seen 
since Troy town fell. It was a tragedy to whose 
gloomy grandeur only ^Eschylus could do justice. 
All the Russian vessels were now using their search- 
lights, so that the sea around them shone like a sheet 
of silver, and the air was traversed by long, oscillating, 
windmill arms of light, resembling gigantic shafts of 
sunshine shining through a chink in the shutter of a 
darkened room. One or two searchlights carefully 
swept the beach backwards and forwards, and espe- 
cially the entrance to the inner harbour. Several 
searched again and again every cranny of the 
mountains and the rocky shore. One blazing eye 
glared at the Columbia for fully five minutes, making 
us all feel slightly uncomfortable, as if a policeman's 
bull's-eye had been suddenly flashed in our faces. 
Strong, however, in the conviction of innocence, the 
little group on deck bore that blinding stare unflinch- 
ingly, making at the same time sundry uncomplimentary 
remarks about the owner of that particular search 
light. We might not have stood the ordeal quite so 
well if we had known what was happening, and how 



48 WITH THE COSSACKS 

many times during the next few days panic-stricken 
Russian officers would fire on harmless British 
merchantmen. 

Meanwhile we did not hear the faintest swish of a 
distant torpedo-boat : there was absolutely nothing to 
suggest that the Japanese were prowling about, and 
not one of us ventured to entertain such an extravagant 
idea. It would have been hysterical, un-English to 
do so. A humorous, scoffing scepticism was the 
correct attitude. On the China coast it is bad form to 
take anything seriously. 

We did not realise that, having done their deadly 
work, the Japanese destroyers were now rushing sea- 
wards at thirty knots, with Russian shot ploughing up 
the water all around them. 

Dazzling bright lights now signalled like ejaculations 
on the mast-heads of the Russian ships — dash ! dot ! 
dash ! dot ! dash ! — and I looked on vaguely interested, 
not realising in the least the nature of the thrilling 
drama that was now being played before me. 

I noticed that some searchlights were directed 
upwards at an angle of about forty-five degrees, and 
did not seem to be brought into requisition at all. I 
also noticed that the lighthouse lamp burned brightly, 
and that the guiding lights at the entrance of the 
harbour had not been extinguished. 

Some war-ships were, however, in complete darkness, 
and if I did not know that it was all make-believe I 
should have considered their appearance as awe- 
inspiring. They had ceased to be ships and become 
dreadful black blotches on the water, still as death, but 
liable to burst at any moment into manifestations of 
hellish energy. 



ON BOARD THE COLUMBIA 49 

Meanwhile the firing of light guns — six-pounders, I 
should say — continued every two or three minutes, but 
the noise was nothing to what I had heard on other 
occasions of practice-firing and the like, and I began to 
feel that the sight was not worth the inconvenience it 
caused me. I therefore returned to the saloon, where 
the captain asked me and the mate to join him in a 
whiskey and soda he was having. 

" Let's drink to the war just begun," quoth the 
captain in his most ironical tone, and, laughing at the 
skipper's sally, we all clinked glasses and drank to 
" the war just begun." 

" Well, they're in desperate earnest to-night, any- 
how," remarked the mate in a serious voice as he turned 
to go. " You must have noticed that these first three 
explosions were submarine. Didn't you remark how 
the boat trembled ? Quite a different thing, a sub- 
marine explosion, to an explosion that takes place 
above water." 

4< Yes," said the skipper, "they were submarine ex- 
plosions right enough, those first three. Should say 
that one of their mines exploded." 

The excitement of the Chinese crew caused us 
great amusement, and when the skipper discovered 
that one of them had lighted the compass and engine- 
room telegraphs — which are, of course, only lighted 
when a vessel is going to sea — and had taken up his 
position at the wheel as if we were going off im- 
mediately, he and the ship's officers laughed loudly. 

I also laughed myself when the joke was explained 
to me, and on going forward and seeing the lamp that 
showed the compass throwing its pale light on the 
frightened face of the Chinaman who had perpetrated 



5 o WITH THE COSSACKS 

the joke, I laughed again. I also felt quite pleased 
with myself for knowing so much more than this 
ignorant Celestial, and tried hard to persuade our two 
Russian guards that war had been declared. But, 
although also somewhat excited, they were too 
cunning for me. 

" No, it's only practice," they said gruffly. 

At twelve o'clock the firing slackened, and I came 
to the conclusion that I had had enough amusement 
for one night. I told the captain so as I gaily bade 
him good-night, adding that, although I had not been 
able to do anything in Chefoo, I was getting value for 
my money now. Just as I was falling asleep, I heard 
the firing recommence, and I noticed that somewhat 
heavier guns were now being fired. I also heard the 
whizz of shells, but even that failed to make me get up 
again, and I slept the sleep of the just until about 5.30 
next morning, when the mate roused me to say that a 
Russian officer had come aboard and wanted to say 
something, but could not manage to make himself 
understood, as he only spoke Russian, a language 
with which the mate was not acquainted. 

Without stopping to take breath, our chief officer 
went on to tell me that two big battle-ships had taken 
up their position right opposite the entrance to the 
harbour. 

" A most extraordinary thing ! " he added. " They 
must really have got a scare last night after all. The 
firing ceased, by the way, at about three this morning. 
These two battle-ships I speak of came abreast of the 
entrance at one o'clock. At about half-past one a 
number of young naval officers came aboard of us, 
evidently very flurried about something, and one of 




ON BOARD THE COLUMBIA 51 

them tried to talk to me in French, but as he always 
relapsed in his excitement into his mother tongue, I 
could not make head or tail of what he said. Why 
didn't I wake you up then? Oh ! Well, you see I didn't 
want to disturb you at such an hour. It can't be a 

very important matter, anyhow. Some d d red 

tape or other. Usual thing with the Russians. No, I 
couldn't for the life of me make out what that fellow 
wanted. He got so muddled that he simply danced 
round the deck in pure madness, and finally went away, 
leaving behind him a fine rope with which he had 
made his boat fast to our gangway." 

All this time I was trying to find the matches in 
order to strike a light, but before I had found them 
the Russian officer came to the open door, and as he 
took off his cap I saw by the reflection from the 
searchlights that his temples were glistening with 
great beads of perspiration. 

He was polite, but seemed very excited. I asked 
him if he could speak German, and he answered in 
that language that he could, and then went on to speak 
to me in Russian. His words were : 

" His Excellency the Viceroy has issued a decree 
ordering that no commercial ships leave or enter the 
harbour of Port Arthur." 

In other words, the Columbia was not to attempt 
to enter the inner harbour or to go away to 
Chefoo. 

After having twice repeated his warning and apolo- 
gised for disturbing me, the naval officer turned 
abruptly and disappeared. I never thought of asking 
him if anything had happened during the night, and 
I dare say he took it for granted that we knew, and put 



52 WITH THE COSSACKS 

our extreme calmness down to the fact that we were 
English. 

I cannot say that I was in the least disturbed by 
this visit, for I saw nothing unusual in an order 
evidently issued with the object of keeping merchant 
steamers from getting into the way of the war-ships 
while the latter were engaged in manoeuvres. What 
most disturbed me at that particular moment was — the 
cold. 

I felt it in my bones as I stood there in my pyjamas, 
and the plan of campaign which I rapidly drew up and 
swiftly executed was to get under the blankets again 
as soon as possible. Having done so, the idea 
occurred to me that it might not be so abnormally 
early as it seemed, so I lit the candle and looked at 
my watch. It was about twenty minutes to six, so I 
got up again, put on some of the more necessary 
articles of dress, and went out on the deck. 

There was now no firing, but the searchlights of the 
vessels were as busy as they had been when I had gone 
to bed the night before. The position of some of the 
battle-ships had changed, and, true enough, as the chief 
officer had already informed me, there were two big 
men-of-war lying close to the mouth of the harbour, 
with all their lights burning and their flashlights play- 
ing around them. 

The lighthouse lamp had gone out, though it was 
still dark, but the guiding lights burned brightly. 

" I cannot for the life of me understand," said the 
mate for the twentieth time that morning, " what they 
mean by placing these war-ships in such a position. 
Most extraordinary position, isn't it? Sure enough 
they must have got a bad scare last night." 






ON BOARD THE COLUMBIA 53 

Then we tried to warm ourselves by walking up and 
down the deck. The moon was now shining. There 
was a light southerly breeze, and a whitish mist lay on 
the horizon. The peacefulness of nature was in strong 
contrast to the agitation of man. It was long after 
day had dawned before the Russian vessels ceased 
using their searchlights, and by that time the practised 
eye of one of the officers of the Columbia had detected 
something unnatural in the position of the two war- 
ships lying at the harbour mouth. He was not very 
long in coming to a conclusion. 

" They've had a collision or met with some acci- 
dent," he said emphatically, " there can be no doubt 
about that. See the list that big one has got ? Why, 
her name-plate is nearly touching the water. And the 
other has a list aft. Besides, they're both aground. 
There cannot be more than seventeen feet of water 
there." 

" By Heaven ! " he added, slapping his thigh in 
sudden excitement, "one of these Chinese boys told me 
just now 'two piecee ship strike together in night time/ 
and, dammit ! you see he's perfectly right after all. 
There must have been a collision. But how the 
deuce did he know it ? And what do they all mean, 
I wonder, by flying their flags at the mast-head ? 
Can that be the Retvizan, one of the finest battle-ships 
afloat ? I'll go in and get my Brassey." 

It took us some considerable time to realise that 
two of Russia's best and biggest battle-ships lay help- 
less almost within a stone's throw of us. Then we 
all asked simultaneously : "What will the Japanese 
do when they hear of this?" And the answer each of 
us gave was that Japan would declare war at once. 



54 WITH THE COSSACKS 

By-and-by somebody suggested that perhaps the vessels 
had been torpedoed or had run on submarine mines, 
but that view was considered too far-fetched, and the 
general opinion was that there had been a collision. 

I, for one, was so convinced that this was the only 
rational explanation that I wrote out a telegram to be 
despatched to the New York Herald from Chefoo, 
and gave it to the mate with instructions to send it 
off on his return to Chefoo by the Columbia in case I 
did not see him previously. 

I did this because I felt sure that the tug would 
come along for us in a few moments and that I would 
have " tiffin " that day in Port Arthur. 

After having made arrangements for the despatch 
of this telegram I came on deck again and found that 
the excitement of the ship's officers about the torpedoed 
vessels had only increased. It was generally recognised 
that the Russians would do all they could to keep the 
news back for some time, even if they had to cut all 
communication between Chefoo and Port Arthur and 
to administer repeated doses of quarantine to the 
Columbia and other British ships in harbour. 

" In that case," quoth the skipper, dryly, " Old 
England may have some little suggestions to offer." 

" But the Japanese who are left in Port Arthur will 
soon find out about it," said the mate, "and no power 
on earth will prevent them from carrying the news to 
Japan. They'd walk all the way to Corea, they'd go 
to sea in a * sampan.' Japan is bound to know of this 
in a few days." 

"And as soon as she knows of it, she'll strike," 
remarked the second officer ; " the two fleets are now 
on an equality as regards battle-ships, and the Japanese 



ON BOARD THE COLUMBIA 55 

are not likely to give Russia time to repair these 
two." 

This was the tone of our conversation as we rapidly 
walked the deck in the faint, grey, chilly dawn of that 
bleak winter morning. We could never get away 
from the one point, and we were so overwhelmed by 
the magnitude of the disaster that we could only con- 
verse about it in monosyllables. These monosyllables 
generally constituted abrupt and sometimes profane 
exclamations expressive of the gigantic nature of the 
misfortune that had overtaken the Russian fleet, of 
the great chance the Japanese had got, of the certainty 
of war. 

Never was there such unanimity of opinion onboard 
a ship. It was so perfect that nobody listened to 
anybody else. Each jerked out explanations abso- 
lutely identical with those jerked out by his neighbour, 
and then, after brooding over his own remark for a 
few moments in silence and taking yet another long 
searching look at the disabled men-o'-war, repeated 
the same remark in another form. It did not seem to 
strike any of us at the time that this was an absurd 
form of conversation. Sometimes this monologue 
was varied by a new discovery. 

14 There goes a boat-load of wounded ! " shouted 
the mate once. " That must have been a bad 
collision." 

While the searchlights were still flashing on the 
face of the waters, and the dawn was still a sickly, 
pallid light in the east, fourteen Russian torpedo-boats 
splashed tumultuously past us on their way out. By 
the flashlights I could see the gloomy countenances of 
their commanders as they stood on the bridge wrapt 



56 WITH THE COSSACKS 

in their great-coats, and I noticed that some of them 
levelled their glasses at us and inspected us carefully, 
as if they were not sure but that we might be a 
Japanese war- vessel. 

"On what mysterious mission have they gone?" 
I asked myself, musingly, when they first dwindled 
into black specks on the water and then vanished in 
the misty portals of the dawn. 

When the light had become stronger we noticed 
other things. We noticed that a large number of 
cables or chains connected the Tsarevitch with the 
adjacent shore, and that steam launches, tug-boats 
and lighters, filled with Chinese coolies, were fussing 
around her like courtiers around a wounded monarch. 

We could also see that the forts had been manned 
during the night — rather a strange thing we thought. 
In some places where there were galleries, long lines 
of men were visible, and the heads of others peeping 
over the breastworks showed that the fortress artillery- 
men must have been at their posts all night. 

On the highest point of Golden Hill Fort stood a 
large group of men, evidently high officers, all scan- 
ning the horizon with glasses. That group stood there 
throughout all the anxious hours that followed, in fact 
as long as the Columbia remained in Port Arthur. 
One of the group — a stout man standing a few paces 
in advance of the others, and never once taking his 
binoculars from his eyes, or turning round to say a 
word to his companions — resembled the Viceroy in 
the general contour of his figure, but on account of the 
distance I could not say for certain that it was 
Alexeieff. I afterwards found, however, that one ot 
the Japanese passengers on the Columbia had arrived 






ON BOARD THE COLUMBIA 57 

independently at the conclusion that it was the 
Viceroy. 

By-and-by the sun rose, and, owing to the light 
mist that lay upon the water, it was very round and 
red, looking for all the world like a red-hot cannon- 
ball. 

"That's an ominous sign," I remarked, with a super- 
stitious shiver, for that rising sun recalled at once to 
my memory the flag of Japan. 

In the rays of this sinister orb the windows of the 
houses in Port Arthur became red as blood. Against 
the ensanguined sun itself stood out the hulls and the 
masts of three vessels, apparently cruisers, lying 
motionless, about five miles off. These could not 
be Russians ! What on earth were they ? The ship's 
telescope soon conveyed to me the astounding infor- 
mation that they flew the flag of the Rising Sun. 
They were, in fact, the swift cruisers, Yoshino, Taka- 
sago and Chitose, and they were calmly lying there, 
trying to find out through their glasses the exact 
amount of damage that the torpedo-boats had done. 

I shall not try to describe my sensations when I 
first saw the Japanese so close. I could not if I tried. 
I was thunderstruck. A tremendous electric shock 
seemed to go through me. I dropped the telescope. 
My breath left me. The deck sank beneath my feet. 
I was as one alone in interplanetary space, receiving 
an appalling supernatural revelation. 

Millions of thoughts shot through my head every 
second. The first one was, of course, "It is war!" 
The second was, " Japanese torpedo-boats were in 
amongst us last night, and damaged these two battle- 
ships." 



58 WITH THE COSSACKS 

After pinching myself and smiting my head, and 
rushing a couple of times up and down the deck to 
make sure I was awake and sane, I turned to have 
another look at the torpedoed vessels, and noticed how 
the men were gathered together with white, scared 
faces on the deck. There seemed for the moment to 
be no captain, no officers, no order. The sailors were 
no longer important parts of a formidable fighting 
machine : they were a mob — a silent, scared mob — 
looking with terror towards the abyss from which the 
monsters of the night had emerged. 

Some of them, it is true, still seemed to go about 
their duties in a mechanical manner, and I particularly 
remember seeing one man throw water over the 
side. 

Finding that the captain had been shouting at me 
for the last five minutes, I entered into conversation 
with him. We agreed that these Japanese vessels 
could not be supported by the Japanese fleet. They 
were simply a few prowlers that had come with the 
torpedo-boats to do as much damage as they could 
and then rush off again. The Russians would be out 
after them directly. In true Anglo-Saxon style we 
minimised the miracle that had happened. We also 
left it to be inferred from our remarks that we had 
suspected all along that something like this was bound 
to occur. 

No satisfaction was expressed by anybody on board 
the Columbia at the terrible blow the Russian Navy 
had received. There was something so pathetic in 
the helplessness and in the unnatural position of these 
tremendous engines of war, which had been so sud- 
denly disabled, that we all remained looking on sadly, 



ON BOARD THE COLUMBIA 59 

in silence. It was like being an eye-witness of the 
downfall of Napoleon. 

A Danish pilot employed by the Port Arthur 
Harbour Board now swirled past us in a launch. We 
asked him if the two battle-ships at the harbour mouth 
had been torpedoed. 

" Three have been torpedoed," he shouted back; 
" there's the third on your right, the Pallada." 

And, sure enough, we had been commenting pre- 
viously on the suspicious list to port which that big 
cruiser had, and on her awkward appearance, which 
made her look as if she were aground. Everybody 
had had his doubts about her, but nobody had dared 
to express them. The English hatred of exaggeration 
had prevented him. 

Before he was out of earshot the pilot had bawled 
to us to clear out at once, as the whole Japanese fleet 
was coming up, and, if we did not move immediately, 
we should find ourselves right in the line of fire. 

The captain bellowed back that we had been told 
not to leave the port, and that any attempt to move 
might draw on us the fire of the forts, but by this 
time the pilot-boat was churning up the sea three 
miles away. 

Meanwhile the Japanese cruisers had made a very 
long, leisurely survey of the Russians, and had then 
gone away slowly, whereupon the whole Russian fleet 
weighed anchor and started in pursuit. It is a singular 
instance of the effect of habit that, on weighing 
anchor, the Russian sailors very carefully cleared all 
seaweed, sand, etc., from the anchor chain, as if they 
could not have postponed that operation to a more 
convenient time. 



6o WITH THE COSSACKS 






Before steaming out, the Russian ships hastily 
threw overboard bedding and furniture, which were 
at once seized upon by eager Chinese " sampan " men. 
I noticed one man paddling ashore with something 
that looked like a ping-pong table, and several went 
very far out in their quest for booty. 

These amphibious beings seemed to be the only 
people who were not thunderstruck by the appearance 
of the Japanese. To them it was simply " Yeebin 
whalai" (The Japanese have come back), just as if 
ten long years had not elapsed since the Three Nations 
had made them haul down their flag from Golden 
Hill. 

These Chinese boatmen all disappeared very 
quickly, however, when the shells began to fall. But 
no shells fell just then, for the Japanese cruisers had 
gone away, with the Russians after them. This was 
at about nine o'clock. 

Admiral Togo probably wanted to lure the enemy 
outside and to fight them in the open ; but he did not 
succeed, for, on sighting the Japanese fleet, the 
Russians all returned to the harbour. 

The attention of those on board the Columbia was 
temporarily withdrawn from these great events by the 
appearance of a naval doctor, who declared the quar- 
antine at an end, but could give us no information 
as to whether we could leave or not. He said he 
would go ashore and inquire. 

The Russian fleet returned at about ten o'clock, and, 
immediately after, there took place a flagrantly impos- 
sible event. Sixteen Japanese war-vessels, six of them 
clearly battle-ships, appeared in a long dark-grey line 
on the horizon. They appeared so suddenly that they 



ON BOARD THE COLUMBIA 61 

seemed to have risen from the sea, or to have material- 
ised from the mists of the morning. They were only 
five miles off, and at the mast-head of every one of 
them a Japanese naval flag shouted defiance. I felt 
that I was present at the inception of an historical 
event not less momentous than the fall of Constanti- 
nople. For the first time in the history of the world 
the pagan war-flag of the Sun Goddess was opposed 
in field of battle to the banner of the Cross. 

I could not take my eyes off these menacing war- 
ships. They were not unfamiliar objects. I had lived 
under that flag myself. I had seen those battle-ships at 
Hakodate, Nagasaki, Ujina, Kobe. In the lovely In- 
land Sea they had seemed to me to be merely masses 
of ugly machinery, desecrating the landscape. Here, 
off the bleak, fortified headlands of Port Arthur, they 
harmonised perfectly with the sternness of nature. 
Evidently they had not been built for Miyajima or 
Shikoku. These floating fortresses had been built for 
Port Arthur Bay. 

Things now looked desperate for us on board the 
Columbia, and our captain took down the quarantine 
flag and ran up the signal, " Will you give me permis- 
sion to leave ? " 

The Russian soldiers we had with us got a little 
excited when they saw the quarantine flag taken down, 
and asked for an explanation ; and the skipper, who 
was fast losing control of his temper, wanted to throw 
them overboard, rifles and all, but I restrained him and 
tried to pacify them as best I could. I also tried to 
distract their attention by pointing out to them the 
Japanese vessels on the horizon. They laughed at my 
simplicity, and said that these were Russian vessels. 



62 WITH THE COSSACKS 

No answer was signalled to the Columbia, but after 
a while a naval officer came aboard and requested us 
to " move." The captain furiously demanded if he 
might " move to Chefoo," but in a menacing tone the 
officer said no, he had better not attempt to leave Port 
Arthur until permission had been signalled to him from 
the shore. He might, however, have the kindness to 
move just a little out of the way, as a cruiser wanted 
to take up its position in the place the Columbia 
occupied. Then, after saying something in a low tone 
to the soldiers, the naval officer left the ship. 

At this unpropitious moment, there approached us a 
"sampan" in the bows of which stood a gentleman whose 
putties, Norfolk jacket and bored sang froid all pro- 
claimed him English. He informed the captain that he 
was a British military officer and would like to be taken 
to Chefoo ; but the captain was in such a rage at his 
signals not being answered and at the mess he had got 
into generally, that he acted as Hotspur once did under 
similarcircumstances, and not only refused to entertain 
the proposition but told his countryman, in the most 
violent language at his command, to begone instantly. 
The other looked for a moment as if he would come 
on board in spite of us, but at this juncture our Russian 
soldiers resumed their old trick of pointing their rifles 
at the " sampan " man, who thereupon retreated with 
great rapidity. 

I must frankly say that I was glad this English officer 
did not get on board, for, if he had, I would never 
have made the journalistic " scoop " I did ; but at the 
same time it is a pity, from a general point of view, 
that he was unable to accompany us, as, owing to his 
superior technical knowledge, he would doubtless have 






ON BOARD THE COLUMBIA 63 

made the most of the splendid opportunity we had 
of seeing the battle. 

While the captain was giving orders to get under 
way, a sudden wild idea that it was all a mistake, a 
regrettable misunderstanding, flashed across my mind. 
"Let us be reasonable," I said to myself, "the whole 
thing is too dramatic to be true. Lurid events like 
this don't happen in these prosaic days. To-morrow 
we'll all be laughing about this scare, in the ' Saratoff.' 
The collision theory is right after all. Russia and 
Japan have arranged their little differences. The 
Japanese fleet is here on a friendly visit." 

And my eyes sought the Japanese line-of-battle for 
some confirmation of this view. And the Japanese 
line-of-battle spoke. 

At that instant — it was then a quarter-past eleven — 
there was a big bright flash from the starboard side 
of the Mikasa, then about five miles distant, and, 
immediately after, a vast, invisible Something rushed 
over the mast-head of the Columbia with the mighty 
sound of a railway train hurled into space, and every 
one on board, from the cook who had deserted his 
galley to the captain who had not yet left off swearing, 
ducked suddenly and reverentially. 

It was the first shot of the Russo-Japanese War! 
The table had been overturned, the diplomatic chess- 
board kicked across the room, and one of the armed 
players had jumped to his feet and smitten the other 
on the face ! 

In the pause that succeeded that first shot, I felt, 
like the weight of Atlas, the awed, tense silence of the 
world. The child of the nations had drawn his tiny 
sword on the mighty behemoth of Muskovy ! David 




64 WITH THE COSSACKS 

had challenged Goliath, and, if he failed, his punish- 
ment would be such as to make the nations white with 
terror. If he did not fail, the consequences would be 
more terrific still. They would be the fall of the 
House of Romanoff. 

No more proposals, counter-proposals, amendments 
to counter-proposals, mutual engagements, notes ver- 
Safes, reciprocal recognitions, bases of understanding ! 
No more delays, due to Count Lamsdorf being "very 
much occupied," to the Tsar being "absent at military 
manoeuvres," to the Empress being sick, to the neces- 
sity of transferring the negotiations to Tokio, or to 
" the lack of a suitable formula ! " 

Admiral Togo has found the formula which he 
considers suitable, and, a thousand feet overhead, it 
now goes wailing and shrieking towards the doomed 
fortress ! 

Some seconds after, the shell, which was, I should 
say, a 12-inch one, burst with a terrific roar in the 
small space of sea intervening between the torpedoed 
battle-ships and a group of frightened-looking torpedo- 
boat destroyers. 

The report of this gun was like the report of a pistol 
fired into a powder magazine, for the reply which it pro- 
voked was terrific. The Russian batteries thundered 
like gods hurling a tremendous anathema at some sacri- 
legious intruder. Golden Hill Fort howled in gigantic 
remonstrance. The electric battery bellowed forth 
thunder. On the middle batteries there was a deafen- 
ing, interminable chorus of cannon. The guns on 
Wieyuen Fort and Tiger's Tail erupted like active 
volcanoes. Spouts of smoke poured from Liao-tau- 
shan, where smokeless powder did not seem to be 



ON BOARD THE COLUMBIA 



65 



used ; and at intervals White Wolf Hill joined with a 
crash of artillery in this prodigious litany. That noise 




POSITION OF RUSSIAN WARSHIPS IN OUTER HARBOUR AT 
PORT ARTHUR AT THE TIME OF JAPANESE ATTACK 

1. The Rasboinik ; 2. the Gilyak ; 3. the Columbia; 4. the Novik ; 5. the 
Boyarin; 6. the Petropavlovsk (admiral's flagship); 7. the Poltava; 8. the 
Sevastopol; 9. the Cesar evich ; 10. the Peresvet (vice-admiral's flagship) ; 11. the 
Retvizan ; 12. the Pobieda ; 13. the Bayan ; 14. the Pallada; 15. the Diana; 
16. the Askold; 17. the Angara (the volunteer fleet steamer which was con- 
verted into a cruiser). 

seemed too great to be terrestrial ; it pertained to the 
solar system. It was as if the seven thunders had 



66 WITH THE COSSACKS 

uttered their voices. It was as if the five thousand 
isles of Japan were hurling themselves on us bodily. 
It was as if the earth had come into collision with 
Mars. With the voices and thunders and lightnings, 
it was like Armageddon. 

It is difficult to measure things that pass all limit 
of measurement. It is difficult for a great writer, and 
impossible for a minor journalist, to give in writing an 
idea of what far transcends the ordinary. Nobody can 
get from books an accurate conception of the ocean, the 
Pyramids, the Himalaya mountains, the Grand Canon 
of the Colorado. He must go and see them for him- 
self. And nobody that has not heard a great cannonade 
can understand from books what it is. It towers above 
ordinary noises, as Fujiyama towers above the hovels 
of Hakone. What peculiarly struck me about it was 
its quality of stupendous and overwhelming vastness. 
But the supreme limit of noise had not been reached, 
for whenever the 63-ton guns at the entrance to the 
harbour went off all together with a vast shout like the 
crack of doom, all the lesser thunders were drowned ; 
and through the air ran a giant, rending sound and a 
violent vibration, almost strong enough to knock me 
off my feet as I stood on the deck of the Columbia. 
On such occasions my knees smote one against another, 
and I felt inclined to throw myself prostrate on my 
face, as if I had heard the voice of Jehovah. 

The first shell had evidently been intended for the 
torpedoed battle-ships, and it went so near its mark 
that it must have splashed them with spray from 
the big liquid column that shot from the sea at the 
point where the projectile touched the water. Near 
this point of contact there happened to be a Chinese 






ON BOARD THE COLUMBIA 67 

boat, which must have been injured, for we saw the 
entire crew jump into the sea. 

The Japanese did not pause to contemplate the 
effect of their first shell. All their vessels now opened 
fire, running south-west in a stately line. The air 
was filled with the whizz of high-velocity projectiles, 
hundreds of which seemed to pass over our heads every 
minute ; the surface of the sea in our neighbourhood 
was dotted with columns of water, as the surface of a 
pond is dotted during a heavy rain-storm ; and the din 
was intensified tenfold. 

The Columbia was now moving, but, of course, I 
expected she would soon anchor again. 

The Russian fleet divided into two parts. One part 
ran parallel to the shore on the right-hand side of the 
entrance, the other parallel to the shore on the left- 
hand side, all the vessels, — even the torpedoed battle- 
ships — firing continuously at the Japanese. On the 
whole, they seemed to manoeuvre clumsily. Some of 
the war-ships revolved without changing their position, 
and the whole fleet was evidently placed at a disad- 
vantage by reason of the cramped space and of the 
consequent danger of running ashore. The Novik and 
some other cruisers ran out pluckily until within a 
short distance of the enemy, whose torrents of shell 
sometimes hid them from our view. The Poltava and 
the Diana were wrapped in flames. 

I must confess, however, that I was not calm enough 
just then to watch the fight with the amount of atten- 
tion necessary to give a very detailed report of it. 
The reason of this was that we were running parallel 
to a line of Russian cruisers, which drew on us the 
fire of the Japanese. We were so close to the beach 



68 WITH THE COSSACKS 

that I could have thrown a stone ashore, and were still 
going south. I wondered vaguely why we had not yet 
anchored, but was afraid to ask the captain, as he was 
now absolutely unapproachable. Besides, what did it 
matter ? We could no more expect to escape those 
thick-falling shells than a man standing outside in a 
thunderstorm can expect to escape the drops of rain. 

The skipper had now hoisted his biggest British 
ensign to the mast-head. " D — n them," said he in a 
surly tone, speaking more to himself than to us, and 
jerking his thumb upwards, while in his eyes there 
burned a lurid light which I took at the time to be 
the light of insanity, " d — n them, let them fire on 
that ! " 

This remark seemed to me to be one of those 
childish but infinitely mystic and significant things 
which, all unconsciously, dying soldiers sometimes 
say. Did the captain imagine that there was some 
potent, storm-quelling magic in the ensign that had 
won the over-lordship of all the seas ? Did he think, 
for drowning men grasp at straws, that the Japanese 
might refrain from firing on that flag out of friendship 
or the Russians out of fear ? If the former were the 
case he was mistaken, for the Japanese projectiles 
continued to fall very close. One fragment of shell 
made a small hole in the deck forward, another frag- 
ment tore the flag itself. 

Before the engagement began I had been reflecting 
with exultation that there was a chance of my getting 
to Chefoo before any other war-correspondent ; but 
when the shells began to sing through the air and 
raise huge pillars of water before, behind, and close to 
both sides of the ship, I forgot all about that matter, 






ON BOARD THE COLUMBIA 69 

or if I reflected on it at all, it was only to curse my 
luck at falling in a fight which was not mine. For I 
regarded myself as already doomed. I thought of 
writing a farewell letter to one dear friend ; but the 
reflection that letters never find their way from the 
bottom of the deep made me stop after the first few 
words. 

What annoyed me most was the uselessness of my 
death. To die for a great cause is glorious. To die 
as a combatant on board one of those war-vessels 
would be an honour. 

I felt, oddly enough, that if I had died as a regularly 
attached correspondent on board one of the Russian 
battle-ships, I would have been satisfied. Even if I 
had knowingly, willingly, sailed into the fray on board 
the Columbia, the prospect of death would not have 
been so horrible. But it was by the merest accident 
that I had got caught in this whirlwind of great events, 
that I had got mixed up in this gigantic contest of 
empires. Any fool might have done the same. I 
ardently longed to get outside the danger-zone so that 
I could bid my friends good-bye with a sad, sad smile, 
and then sail back again to meet my fate. 

The only bright spot in this gloomy outlook was the 
conviction that my paper would manfully lie for me, 
would say that with eagle eye I had foreseen all that 
was going to take place, and had steered straight for 
the heart of the battle. I also reflected with melan- 
choly satisfaction that I had certainly got the better 
of those Chefoo shipowners who had insisted, a few 
days before, that in case I chartered one of their 
vessels, even at a most exorbitant rate, I would have 
to agree that the captain would be at liberty to turn 



70 WITH THE COSSACKS 

back in case he saw any of the rival fleets on the 
horizon. 

But in truth my death was going to be miserable. 
A non-combatant, struck by a stray shell while running 
away from the fight on board a harmless merchant 
steamer — Good Heavens, what a fate ! 

I looked into the engine-room and was surprised at 
the regularity with which the cranks and connecting- 
rods were doing their duty. I looked around generally, 
and it occurred to me that the Columbia had shrunk to 
the dimensions of a row-boat. Compared with the 
iron leviathans which were battling around her in 
smoke and flame, she resembled a pet lamb that has 
got mixed up in a bull-fight. 

I have a dim remembrance of moving about the 
ship with inconceivable rapidity. I fancied that if I 
remained still for a second a shell would surely fall on 
top of me. First of all I went aft as far as I could. 
I don't know why I went aft, but I had a kind of 
vague idea that if the front part of the ship were 
blown away, I could hang on to the rear. Here I 
found chief-engineer Smith, his face of a pallor which 
moved me more than eloquence, one side of it splashed 
with powder or some black stuff shot up by a shell 
that had burst near the screw, and the other side 
glistening with perspiration. 

Mr. Smith did not seem to hear the banal, con- 
solatory remarks I addressed to him ; but in spite 
of his glassy stare and very preoccupied manner he 
showed that he was aware of my presence by telling 
me, in extremely emphatic language, the sort of fool I 
was for not having gone ashore in the doctor's boat. 
I did not, however, understand all he said, for, strange 



ON BOARD THE COLUMBIA 7 i 

to say, he had relapsed in his excitement into the 
broadest of broad Scotch. 

The Chinese crew looked as if they might, in their 
madness, do something desperate, but the Chinese 
passengers remained all the time crouched behind the 
little wooden structure that formed the saloon and the 
cabins, and seemed to think that they were quite safe 
there. One of them said to the ship's officers : " What 
for you standee out there in open ? All right here," 
and seemed hurt and astonished when he saw that 
none of us accepted the invitation to get under cover. 

There was always present in my mind the terrible 
certainty that there was no longer any cover, no more 
protection. A glance at the terrific splashes made by 
the shells that fell around showed me that, if one of 
those formidable missiles struck the Co/umdia, all was 
over with us. 

Yet, in spite of this, I must say that I always breathed 
more freely for a second or so after I had got behind 
something, no matter what it was. I also had at times 
the strongest possible inclination to go below, to get 
down to the very keel of the ship, to go through the 
keel if possible, to dive to the bottom of the sea, coming 
up for breath in the intervals between the shells. The 
chief-engineer seemed to have the same inclination, 
for I once caught him hesitating at the top of a ladder, 
which he clutched with a grasp of iron. He did not 
descend that ladder, however. He said that he saw 
there was no good in doing so, and, indeed, there was 
a better chance on deck than below. 

Between the cabins aft and those forward there was an 
open space, and I suddenly took it into my head to 
traverse this space in order to join the ship's officers, 



72 WITH THE COSSACKS 

who were all gathered together at the other extremity 
of the boat. I did so, running as quickly as my legs 
could carry me, as if I were running from one certain 
shelter to another and might be caught half-way across 
if I did not hurry. Of course I did not reason about 
the matter. My legs simply ran off with me. 

Outside the saloon, on the side facing the forts, I 
found our two Russian soldiers crossing themselves at 
a great rate and praying fervently. A few minutes 
before, they had gone forward with their rifles, and 
wanted the captain to stop the boat, but I had 
explained to them that we were going " nyemnozhko 
dalsche," just a little further, so as to be out of the 
way of the projectiles ; that, in doing so, we were only 
obeying the orders we had just received from the last 
naval officer who had visited us, and that directly we 
rounded that point yonder we would drop anchor. 

This, combined with something in the eyes of the 
Englishmen, pacified the soldiers, and saved us from 
a bloody struggle which I had, at one moment, regarded 
as inevitable. The soldiers seemed to particularly 
appreciate the idea of getting away from the shells, 
and when the latter fell like rain around us they were 
too much occupied in prayer to pay any attention to 
external things. After a while one of them completely 
disappeared, going down below, probably in obedience 
to that blind instinct of self-preservation which all of 
us found it so hard to struggle against and which the 
Chinese so cheerfully obeyed. He reappeared when 
all was over and we had almost lost sight of land, 
but neither he nor his companion caused us any further 
trouble. 

On my reaching the " shelter" of the forward set of 






ON BOARD THE COLUMBIA 73 

cabins, I found, in the unprotected space in front of 
them, that is in the extreme bows, the captain and 
the rest of the officers grouped together, wild-eyed, 
pallid, and silent. The quartermaster was at the 
wheel. 

The mate casually threw a rope's end overboard, with 
the object, as he afterwards told me, of having some- 
thing to hold on to in case the ship was struck. At 
the same time I conceived the brilliant idea of 
throwing some woodwork into the sea and jumping 
after it. How fine it would be to swim ashore — we 
were, as I have already said, running very close to the 
land — with the assistance of this woodwork ! As my 
imagination dwelt on this flattering prospect, a large 
shell dropped on the spot where I had imagined 
myself to be swimming and caused me to abandon 
the idea hastily. 

I decided, then, to stick to the captain. At the same 
time I began to conceive an intense animosity for the 
Japanese in general and for Admiral Togo in particular, 
for how can one retain his good opinion of people who 
are throwing 1 2-inch shells at him ? I thought it 
vile, treacherous. " O ! wont I ' roast ' them in the 
Herald if ever I get out of this ! " I told the captain 
what I would do, but did not catch his reply, for at 
that instant a shell exploded with a tremendous detona- 
tion right under the bow, splashing the deck with 
water and making the gallant little craft first baulk like 
a horse and then tremble violently from stem to stern. 
Everybody's face grew a shade whiter, and with a 
shiver that penetrated to the marrow of my bones I 
caught the dreadful words, "contact mine." The 
faces of the Chinese sailors grew livid, and it looked 



74 WITH THE COSSACKS 

as if they would rush overboard, carrying the rest of 
us along with them. 

I ran into my cabin and remember feeling astonished 
and hurt for the millionth part of a second on perceiving 
that things were just as I had left them on getting up 
in the morning — tooth-brush, soiled water in the wash- 
basin, bed unmade, pyjamas lying on the floor, half- 
smoked cigarette on the ash-tray, enlarged photograph 
of the captain's wife beaming at the head of the bed. 
Had everything been wrecked and had there been a 
smell of gunpowder in the air, and my blanket been 
standing on end looking like the ghost of Hamlet's 
father, I should have considered it the proper thing ; 
but this common, comfortable vulgarity of a bedchamber 
that has just been slept in seemed monstrously out of 
place. 

Glancing mechanically at the looking-glass, I was 
horrified to see reflected therein a face that was not 
my face at all, but that of a disinterred corpse. Then 
a terrific, vicious whiz-z-z-z-z-z overhead made me 
suddenly bury my head in the bed-clothes and stop my 
ears with my fingers, but hardly had I done so than 
an uncontrollable desire to get outside into the open 
air seized upon me. I felt that if I remained in that 
cabin a second longer I should smother. I felt that if 
I joined some group or knot of men I should be safe. 
Accordingly I fled from the room like one pursued by 
the furies. I went so quickly that I might have gone 
overboard had I not heard the captain say at that 
moment in his usual tones to his Chinese " boy " who 
was standing white-lipped beside him, and dressed, for 
some reason or other, in his best silk gown : " Boy, 
bring me some cigarettes ! Hurry up ! D you ! 






ON BOARD THE COLUMBIA 75 

_ 1 _ I ! _ J J J _ ! ! ! ! —!!!!!" whereupon the boy's 
tense face relaxed, as if he had been instantaneously 
cured of some painful malady, and he went away, 
smiling and assuring his panic-stricken countrymen, 
who were bunched behind him in the attitudes of men 
about to go mad, that it was all right. The skipper's 
lurid blasphemies had saved us from a mutiny. 

One of the officers said he thought it best to run the 
Columbia ashore, but, as the shells were bursting more 
thickly on the beach and on the face of the cliffs than 
on the line we were taking, this plan was not adopted. 

As a matter of fact we did the best thing we could 
under the circumstances. We ran between two lines 
of shells, the shells intended for the Russian fleet, 
which went too far, that is, which went beyond the 
Russian battle-ships, and the shells intended for the 
forts, which fell short, that is which fell at the point 
where sea and land met. I saw this afterwards. 

The Russian battle-ships were frequently hit. One 
of the Japanese shells knocked a funnel off the Askold, 
leaving that vessel with four funnels ; another hit the 
Sevastopol, covering her with a dense cloud of black 
smoke, from which, however, she seemed to emerge 
uninjured. Several other Russian vessels were struck, 
but none of them seemed to be seriously damaged. 

So much for the first line of Japanese shells. 

As for the second line, — that intended for the forts, — 
a good many shells fell short, as I have already 
remarked, many bursting in the sea close to the shore 
and many striking the hillside and raising clouds of 
yellow dust. Two or three burst on the very summit 
of the forts, hurling up tons of earth, which hung out 
against the sky like a banner. One exploded a 



76 WITH THE COSSACKS 

magazine on Golden Hill Fort, raising an enormous 
column of smoke. 

While pouring in this rain of projectiles, the 
Japanese vessels kept sailing majestically south-west, 
afterwards wheeling round and returning along a line 
almost parallel to that by which they had come ; and I 
dare say that if I had been in a place of safety I 
should have admired their perfect order and the grace 
with which they carried out their evolutions. 

After forty minutes of the sort of experience that I 
have been trying to describe, the Columbia got clear 
of the rival fleets. For some time after we had got 
out of reach of the shells we still felt uneasy, for a shot 
from the forts or a Russian torpedo-boat might yet 
overtake us ; but at last the battling navies and the 
headlands of Port Arthur sank below the horizon, and 
we were safe. The change was so sudden that for 
some time I had difficulty in remembering who and 
where I was. The air was so rarefied and the silence 
so profound, that I wondered if we were not floating in 
the clouds above the highest peak of the Cordilleras. 
My voice sounded singularly small, as if it were not I 
that was speaking but a diminutive person inside me, 
and, owing to the drumming in my ears I could not for 
some moments hear anybody else. I had a vague idea 
of having seen the skipper before. It must have been 
about a thousand years before. I wondered what he 
had been doing in the meantime. At present he was 
concocting a bowl of marvellous and potent punch. 
With Chinese unconcern the waiter was laying the 
table for luncheon. Good heavens ! it was only half 
past one o'clock, and all these things had happened 
during the last four hours ! The officers were affec- 



ON BOARD THE COLUMBIA 77 

tionately examining the ship, just as you examine a 
favourite horse which has run away, smashed things, 
and had thrilling and admirable adventures. The 
bare-footed Celestial crew were picking up twisted 
fragments of projectiles with the happy smiles of chil- 
dren gathering shells by the sea-shore. A dim, far- 
away voice told the captain about his flag having been 
torn by a projectile. The captain did not curse. He 
smiled tolerantly, saying, " No matter ! Haul it down, 
and let's have a look at the old rag ! " We drank to 
the health of the rival fleets and of each member of 
the British Royal Family. Feeling sleepy and over- 
come, I finally went in the direction of my cabin, 
where I found that my almond-eyed attendant had 
made the bed and was now making things " all 
proper " as he expressed it. As I was falling asleep I 
heard a voice like that of an Oriental bonze chanting 
a litany in an unknown tongue. It was the skipper 
steadily working his way downwards through the 
Dukes and Duchesses of the House of Brunswick. 

After a long nap I got up with my head as clear as 
a bell and found everybody telling everybody else that 
he had acted throughout in the most courageous 
manner. We fully expected to meet the Japanese 
fleet, but that caused us no anxiety. We did not meet 
it, however. 

The Russian soldiers still remained with us of 
course. There had been some talk of putting them 
ashore on the Liaotung coast in an open boat, but as 
they did not seem to object to being abducted, we did 
not trouble ourselves any more about them. I felt 
sorry for the poor fellows, however, and went to 
see them. I found them sitting on deck with stolid, 



78 WITH THE COSSACKS 

expressionless faces, across which the shadow of a smile 
flitted as I approached. 

We happened to have on board three Japanese 
passengers, one of whom was from Dalny, spoke some 
Russian, and was, I should imagine from his cast of 
countenance, one of the many Japanese who were 
occupied along the Chinese and Siberian coast in le 
commerce ambulant des femmes. This Japanese was 
speaking to the Russian soldiers when I came along 
the deck. What he was saying I do not know, but I 
rather imagine that he was impressing on their minds 
the fact that their fleet had just got an awful beating. 

I told the Russians that they were going to Chefoo, 
and that they had better see their consul there. They 
did not seem to know what sort of a " tchinovneek " a 
consul was, and, addressing me as barin (gentleman), — 
in the morning they had always used the contemptuous 
"thou" (Tui) and sometimes even durak (fool), — 
they innocently asked if there were Russian soldiers 
in Chefoo. I believe that the British consul in 
that Chinese port afterwards explained the fact of 
their appearance in Chefoo on board a British vessel 
to his Russian colleague, with the object of preventing, 
if possible, their being shot as deserters on their return 
to Port Arthur, and I think that they afterwards 
returned by rail to that fortress, but what happened to 
them there I cannot say. 

I shall never forget the joy with which I saw 
again in the distance the calm harbour lights of 
Chefoo. An age of horrors seemed to have elapsed 
since I had seen them last. The captain anchored 
afar off, alongside a Russian steamer, which, in blissful 
ignorance of all that had just occurred, was getting 






ON BOARD THE COLUMBIA 79 

ready to proceed to Port Arthur with a cargo of cattle. 
He then sent me ashore in the ship's boat, so that I 
could send off my wire before any of the corre- 
spondents in Chefoo got the news. It was an hour's 
long rowing before we reached the pier ; and then, 
though the boat with its Chinese crew immediately 
pushed off again, leaving only me and the chief officer 
of the Colmnbia on the land, a few quick sing-song 
monosyllables which passed between the men in the 
boat and the pig-tailed loungers about the quay 
betrayed our secret to the keen Celestial merchants of 
the town, and within an hour the Russian rouble had 
fallen to depths such as it had never before fathomed. 
As I hurried towards the telegraph office I laughed 
hilariously at the utter sleepiness and respectability of 
this staid little outport, which reminded me strongly of 
an obscure village in England on a wet Sunday after- 
noon, for I knew that I carried news that would stir it 
like an earthquake. The telegraph office was as silent 
as a church on a week-day. An invisible clock 
ticked loudly, and an old woman was explaining a 
telegram to a pale, bored-looking clerk, who gazed at 
me reproachfully when I came in, judging doubtless 
from my appearance that I was drunk. In ten minutes 
more that clerk rushed out from his sanctum with 
flushed face and gripped me in silence by the hand. I 
wound up that night in the Japanese Consulate, where 
Commander Mori, of the Imperial Japanese Navy, was 
displaying to an enthusiastic audience, which included 
Mr. Brindle of the Daily Mail and Mr. Denny of the 
Associated Press, a British flag torn to rags by a shell. 
It was the flag which had fluttered at the masthead of 
the Columbia on her mad race from Port Arthur. 



CHAPTER V 

INSIDE PORT ARTHUR 

I shall now try to give some account of what was 
happening at this time inside Port Arthur. 

On Monday, February 8, the stranger who landed 
in that fortress-city found himself immediately in an 
atmosphere charged to the highest degree with 
electricity ; and, no matter how languid he may have 
felt on corning ashore, he soon became, like all those 
around him, excited, nervous, full of expectation and 
vague dread. 

It might almost be said that the change was brought 
about more by something in the atmosphere of the 
place than by anything that was heard or seen, for 
nothing was to be seen save groups of excited people, — 
ladies,shop assistants, Chinese "boys," "izvoshcheeks," 
etc., — gesticulating wildly on the pavement, and nothing 
was to be heard save a babble of confused and incom- 
prehensible talk, in which, owing to frequent repetition, 
the words " Yapontsi " (Japanese) and " voina" (war) 
alone fixed themselves in the memory. 

The "Saratoff" was so thronged with people that 
no standing room was left, and the Russian waiters 
had had to cease in despair the cry of "seichass" 
(immediately) with which they had previously been in 
the habit of making customers wait for hours before 



INSIDE PORT ARTHUR 81 

being served. They had evidently come to the conclu- 
sion that, on such an occasion, it was useless for them 
to hold out even the faint hope signified by 
" seichass." 

The congestion was great. The very limited re- 
sources of the "Saratoff" were, in fact, overtaxed, and 
Pankratoff, the Armenian proprietor, looked on help- 
less and dumbfounded, through his enormous mous- + 
taches, like a torpedoed battle-ship looking at a fleet of 
the enemy's transports. Besides, nobody ever thought 
of eating, everybody was too busy talking. 

The " izvoshcheeks " had gone on strike a few days 
before, so that crowds of people collected in the 
middle of the street undisturbed by the fear of being 
run over by one of these rapid vehicles. Suddenly 
there was a movement among these crowds of people. 
An "izvoshcheek" appeared, a sorry-looking specimen. 
The people fell back from it on both sides and stared. 
Why ? Was an " izvoshcheek " such a curiosity as all 
that ? 

The soldiers and policemen saluted the " izvosh- 
cheek." A hush fell on the crowd of gabblers. 
Something very unusual was taking place. The 
people in the rear craned their necks. The " izvosh- 
cheek " came nearer. What was it, anyhow ? It was 
something unusual. 

Seated inside the vehicle was a figure which excited 
an odd mixture of feelings — an object which, while 
slightly ridiculous, was at the same time portentous. 
Some boys laughed. The brows of the elders clouded. 

The person who caused these conflicting feelings 
was Mr. Midzuno, the Japanese consul from Chefoo. 
Mr. Midzuno was dressed in his gorgeous official 



82 WITH THE COSSACKS 

robes, which gave him something of the air of an 
Armenian patriarch ; but his face and figure contrasted 
strongly, almost ludicrously, with his ceremonial dress, 
for, like most of his countrymen, he is small, slight 
and boyish-looking. He would have looked all right 
in knickerbockers and a Norfolk jacket. Opposite 
Mr. Midzuno sat the constable of the Japanese 
Consulate in Chefoo, a clean-shaven, square-jawed 
man of medium size, who was also clad in his robes of 
office. 

Some residents of Port Arthur recollected dimly as 
they gazed on the swarthy face of the " constable" 
that they had often seen him in Port Arthur before. 
He had always been in civilian dress on such occasions, 
sometimes in very shabby civilian dress. Well, per- 
haps on those occasions he had been merely running 
to earth some law-breaker. At all events he could 
have been doing nothing serious, for, although in 
social life the constable is sometimes a formidable per- 
sonage, he is not a factor of any particular importance 
in international politics. I shall, therefore, say nothing 
further at present about Mr. Midzuno's " constable." 

Behind the carriage came a motley collection of 
Japanese, those that had not yet fled from Port 
Arthur. The men did not form a striking procession. 
In shabby, ill-fitting European clothes and ancient 
hats, they looked like a collection of bankrupt tailors. 
Behind them came a number of richly dressed Japanese 
women, many of them young and handsome, and 
most of them smiling right and left at the Russian 
officers, with that excessively light and easy manner 
which marks the woman of a certain class all over the 
world. 



INSIDE PORT ARTHUR 83 

Many of the men belonged to a profession in which 
a considerable number of the Japanese settled along 
the Chinese and Siberian coast were actively en- 
gaged ; they were professional procurers. I have 
since heard that some of them combined this profes- 
sion with the more honourable one of officers of the 
Imperial Japanese Staff, but I do not know whether 
this is a Russian calumny or not. 

Some of the women were " amahs" (nurses), and 
had been employed in the families of the leading naval 
and military people in the port. Whether or not they 
picked up any valuable information in this way I do 
not know, but I am inclined to think that, especially 
in their cups, Russian officials sometimes forget that 
Japanese women have got sharp ears and unusually 
active brains. 

Mr. Midzuno had chartered an English steamer, 
the Foochow, and came over in her from Chefoo in 
order to carry all his countrymen out of Port Arthur and 
Dalny. He had first spoken on this subject to Mr. 
Tiedelmann, the Russian consul in Chefoo ; and Mr. 
Tiedelmann, while protesting that there would be no 
war and that, even if war did take place, the Japanese 
in Liaotung would never be molested, extended every 
facility to his brother consul, that is he got the 
quarantine abolished in his favour at Port Arthur and 
he gave him a special pass which relieved him from 
a lot of troublesome formalities. 

" But excuse me," cried Mr. Midzuno, when this 
had been done, "my constable is going with me. 
Please give him a special pass also." 

Mr. Tiedelmann was only too happy to do so. He 
laughed lightly as he did it. The consul of his 



84 WITH THE COSSACKS 

Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Japan evidently 
meant to do this big u bluff" in style. Well, there was 
no harm in humouring him. 

In Port Arthur the consul and the constable were 
treated with true Russian hospitality, the consul at 
the tables of the great men of the place, the constable 
in the sculleries. The consul saw Mr. Plancon, the 
head of the Diplomatic Bureau in Port Arthur, and had 
an interesting conversation with him. He lunched 
with the Governor of Kwantung Province. Some of 
the military and naval leaders of the Russians were 
present at this lunch, and, in the good old Slavonic 
style, a considerable quantity of champagne was con- 
sumed in toasts. 

Consul Midzuno beamed with delight, but insisted 
on going away early. He probably knew what 
Russian luncheons mean. Besides, important work 
remained for him to do. Accordingly, he left by the 
Foochow in the afternoon, went to Dalny, got all the 
Japanese who had been left in Dalny aboard, and then 
steered for Chefoo. 

Eighteen miles off Port Arthur he met the Japanese 
squadron and, when abreast of the flagship, the 
Foochow lowered a boat, and in a short time the 
consul and his constable were in Admiral Togo's 
cabin. Here the constable laid before the admiral a 
chart on which the positions of all the Russian vessels 
were marked, and told him of the careless watch that 
was being kept. 

The admiral asked many questions about things 
which only a naval man will think of, and these 
questions were answered with remarkable lucidity by 
the " constable." No champagne was consumed, no 




INSIDE PORT ARTHUR 85 

" sake" " even ; but as the Foochow steamed away, her 
cargo of refugees cheered for the Mikado and his fleet. 
That was all the show of enthusiasm there was, and I 
dare say it was unsatisfactory from a European point 
of view, for the Japanese do not know how to 
cheer. 

In fact there was a hard, businesslike air about this 
remarkable meeting, which must have contrasted 
strongly with the enthusiasm of the Russian officers 
in Port Arthur, when, at about precisely the same time, 
they drew their legs under Admiral Starck's hospitable 
table in order to commemorate Mrs. Starck's birth- 
day. 

Admiral Togo kept the chart the constable had 
given him, and it soon turned out useful. Meanwhile 
the consul went home, and when the Columbia came 
flying full-speed from Port Arthur the following 
evening, neither he nor his constable was astonished 
at the news it brought. 

However, in order to celebrate the occasion 
worthily, the constable laid aside his humble garb 
and appeared in the consular drawing-room in the 
uniform of a Japanese naval commander. And he is 
a Japanese naval commander. He had been for a 
long time stationed at Chefoo, picking up hints, visit- 
ing Port Arthur himself, and sending trustworthy 
agents out in all directions, with the result that in the 
end he got to know more about the Russian fleet than 
Admiral Starck knew himself. 

On the evening of February 9, the consul told the 
present writer the above story, and the constable 
nodded corroboration. The latter afterwards got a 
pencil and a piece of paper, and, without reference to 



86 WITH THE COSSACKS 






any maps, drew, in the bold, sweeping style of drawing 
that the Japanese have all got, a remarkably accurate 
chart of Port Arthur, afterwards jotting down the 
ships — names, tonnage, armament and all, without an 
instant's hesitation. He then explained to me all that 
had happened, and how it had happened. I had been 
there and he had not, but he knew considerably more 
about the fight than I did. All I could tell him that he 
didn't already know for certain, was the number of the 
ships actually torpedoed. 

" Constable " Mori remained at Chefoo for a long 
time after, very quiet, but with his eyes and ears open. 
Owing to his command of the Chinese language, to his 
system of espionage, whose ramifications extended 
even among the Chinese junk-men and sampan-men, 
and, above all, to the superhuman zeal with which, 
like all Japanese, he threw himself into his work, he 
thwarted almost every plot hatched by the Russians 
in Chefoo, and having for its object the maintenance 
of communications between that place and Port Arthur. 
A friend of mine, an employee of the Chinese Maritime 
Customs, once discovered, by accident, a link in his 
marvellous intelligence system. 

He was sailing in a steam-launch at some distance 
from Chefoo, down near the headland which is 
crowned by a Chinese fort, when he observed a 
large, black object in the water. It was evidently a 
boat, but it showed no lights, it was in an unusual place, 
and it was of unusual shape for a merchant vessel. 

My friend's profession necessitates his being always 
on the look-out for smugglers ; in fact, he had under- 
taken this nocturnal expedition with the object of 
ascertaining if there was any truth in the reports he 



INSIDE PORT ARTHUR 87 

had heard about strange vessels being seen at night 
in this particular locality. Therefore, he watched the 
vessel narrowly, and soon perceived that she was 
signalling with the shore. When the signalling had 
gone on for a little while, my friend decided that it 
was time for him to interfere, and accordingly he 
steamed towards the mysterious intruder. He never 
overtook it, however. 

As soon as its sensitive ears heard the swish of the 
approaching launch, the strange barque shot off at 
eighteen knots an hour — my friend is prepared to swear 
it could not be less — the red fire inside being reflected 
in the smoke from half a dozen short funnels. The 
stranger was a torpedo-boat, and, far out, she joined 
nine or ten dim, unlighted shapes which were far too 
large to be torpedo-boats ; and, soon after, the whole 
fleet disappeared. 

I asked my friend to ascertain who had been sig- 
nalling from the shore that night, and he went to 
the signal station to inquire, They told him that it 
was a man from the Japanese Consulate. 

Meanwhile the good people of Port Arthur were dis- 
turbed in their sleep or in their revels on the night 
of February 8 by a sound of firing, which they put 
down of course to practice. Mr. Plan^on has since told 
me that on hearing this firing he simply turned on his 
side and went to sleep again, so convinced was he that 
it was nothing in particular. Next morning, however, 
there was wild excitement in the air. The Japanese 
had torpedoed three battle-ships in the darkness. The 
fleet of the Mikado was outside. The place was going 
to be bombarded. If the people had been excited 
before, they were doubly excited now. They crowded 



88 WITH THE COSSACKS 

in the street facing the harbour, straining their eyes 
towards the horizon. The Viceroy must have told his 
entourage to show themselves in public in order to 
calm the excitement, for soon Mr. Plan^on, Colonel 
Versheening, the Mayor, General Stoessel and other 
notables rode through the streets speaking affably to 
everybody and smiling mysteriously when questioned 
about the affair of the night before, as if to intimate 
that it was all a little surprise which they themselves 
had sprung on the town. Towards midday, however, 
when the guns began to boom again, a sickening fear 
clutched at every heart, and when a Japanese shell fell 
plump in the street nearly opposite Clarkson's, making 
a hole that you could bury a mule in, wild-eyed panic 
seized upon the people. It was as if the Judgment 
Day had come. 

One of the first shells fell in front of the office of 
Baron Ginsberg, whose timber concession on the 
Yalu had had a good deal to do with the war. 

On the very day before the bombardment, the baron, 
who, although a Jew of humble origin (his real name is 
Mess), and whose right to call himself baron is doubted, 
is a personal friend of Admiral Alexeieff, declared that 
there would be no war, and evidently believed what he 
said. 

The departure of the Japanese inhabitants looked 
bad, but did not damp the cheery optimism of the 
great Jewish capitalist, who opined that it was all 
" bluff." 

When a large shell fell in front of his office, partly 
demolishing it and making a big hole in the ground, 
the baron changed his mind about it being all " bluff," 
and suddenly disappeared from view. He was after- 






INSIDE PORT ARTHUR 89 

wards discovered cowering in the corner of a third- 
class railway carriage by one of his own employes, 
who was so affected by the sight that he jumped into 
the same train, and went off with practically nothing 
but his pocket-book and the clothes he had on his back. 
The number of sudden disappearances of this kind was 
large. 

The prosperous restaurant keeper with the big 
moustaches also vanished after the first shell, having 
evidently gone underground, for he as suddenly re- 
appeared again a few days after, as did also his door- 
keeper, a stout phlegmatic individual, who helped you 
on with your overcoat, accepted tips without hesitation, 
no matter how large the amount, and seemed the most 
unlikely man in the world to be disturbed by anything. 
But it was the dignified people that bolted on this 
occasion with the most undignified haste. A week 
later I met some of them at Chin-wan-tao, a hundred 
miles from Port Arthur, still running, still breathless. 
I don't believe some of them have recovered from the 
shock yet. 

I do not blame them, however, after having heard, 
from one of those who did not bolt, a description of 
his sensations on feeling that in all Port Arthur there 
was no longer any protection for him, that the strongest 
roof could resist the shells as little as a paper screen, 
and that a projectile might fall anywhere. 

The Novi Krai newspaper was, as I have already 
pointed out, perhaps even a greater opponent of the 
Japanese than Baron Ginsberg : and consequently it 
was but poetic justice, I suppose, when a Japanese 
shell broke all the windows in its office and wounded 
the manager. Although most of its staff and com- 



90 WITH THE COSSACKS 

positors were drafted into the army, the Novi Krai 
continued to appear until the end of the war. 

The overcrowding on the trains that carried 
away the first batches of fugitives was almost in- 
credible. Inside the carriages, people were packed 
on top of one another like herrings, outside they 
crowded the steps all night. After leaving Port 
Arthur the conductor requested the gentlemen to 
leave the train to the women and children ; but the 
gentlemen pointed out forcibly that many of the 
women carried large packages, which should be thrown 
out of the windows, and inveighed with tears in their 
eyes against the cruelty of separating husbands from 
wives and brothers from sisters. 

Finally, they carried their point and were allowed 
to continue their journey. Some of these " gentle- 
men " were in such a state of panic that, as I have 
already remarked, even in Newchwang, Shan-hai- 
kwan and Ching-wan-tao they hardly felt them- 
selves to be secure. It was strange the effect this 
panic had on some people. Silent men became loqua- 
cious, guarded men freely disclosed their vulgarity 
and self-conceit. Most of them seemed to attach too 
much value to their lives. For example, one obscure 
individual requested me to telegraph to Europe, as 
an item of news that would profoundly interest the 
public, the one fact that he was safe. 

On the busy little commercial world of Port Arthur 
the shells of Togo had something like the effect of a 
Gabriel's trumpet. Business people, friends of mine, 
who had for a score of years or so been accustomed to 
sit behind desks with pens in their hands and ledgers 
before them, had it suddenly borne in on them that 



INSIDE PORT ARTHUR 91 

there are other things in life besides pens and ledgers 
and £ s. d., — that there is war, and death. One of 
them was found, hours after the Japanese had with- 
drawn, rushing northwards without hat or coat. A 
clerk of the Russo-Chinese Bank disappeared, absent- 
mindedly, with a very large sum of money. The 
manager of a big firm seized all the spare cash in the 
till and departed with the observation that he would 
stand a good deal, but was " bio wed" if he would 
stand that. 

On the whole, the genial and energetic merchants 
of Port Arthur did not cut a particularly heroic figure 
when they heard the voice of the guns. They 
scattered like a flock of sheep which have heard the 
roar of the lion. 



PART II 
WITH THE ARMY 



CHAPTER I 

I JOIN MISHCHENKO 

I did not remain long in Chefoo, which, after its 
first rude awakening on the night of February 9, 
had become one of the drunkenest places in the Far 
East, but went on to Newchwang and afterwards to 
Mukden. From Mukden I went to Liaoyang and 
from Liaoyang to General Count Keller, and afterwards 
to the famous Cossack leader, General Mishchenko, 
whose brigade I joined in preference to any other 
section of the army because I had always heard 
Russians talk with bated breath of what the Cossacks 
were going to do to the Japanese. 

General Mishchenko, who looks like a typical old 
Hungarian hussar, with reddish, protuberant nose and 
grey hair and moustaches, kindly asked me to stay at 
his headquarters, eat at his table, and put up wherever 
he put up. 

After a few days he insisted on calling me, after the 
kindly Russian fashion, Franz Yakovlovitch (" Francis 
son-of- James," James being my father's name), and, as 
his officers and men were all very amiable, my sojourn 
among those famous horsemen forms one of the 
pleasantest experiences in my life. 

On the day after I joined Mishchenko, I went out on 
a reconnoitring expedition, and, as soon as I returned 



96 WITH THE COSSACKS 

to camp, the battle of Ta-shih-chiao began. Through 
out the battle I remained with the general on the 
artillery position ; for, instead of being allowed to worry 
the enemy with his Cossacks, Mishchenko had been 
ordered to remain at a point on the extreme left flank 
and try to do all the damage he could with his artillery, 
and these tactics he pursued until the close of the year. 
In fact Mishchenko is not a cavalry man at all ; he is an 
artillery officer. I may here remark that the Cossack is 
very fond of cannon, and makes a skilful artilleryman. 

After the battle we retreated in good order, fought 
an action of the same kind at Haicheng, and again 
retreated. 

Then came the battle of Liaoyang, which I watched 
from the top of Shushan hill. Everybody knows that 
Shushan is a triple-peaked hill, 426 feet high, a few 
miles to the south of Liaoyang, and that during the 
battle it was occupied by General Baron Stackelberg, 
with whom, instead of with Mishchenko, I had 
decided, by way of a change, to see this fight. On 
August 30, I ascended Shushan, and found the top 
cut up by trenches and traversed by wire entangle- 
ments, while at its base were trous de loup y fougasses 
and every other species of field defence one can think 
of. In the neighbourhood there were over a hundred 
guns in position. 

On the level ground, almost a thousand yards to the 
south-west of it, ran a trench filled with Russian soldiers, 
and towards this trench I saw the khaki- coated 
Japanese advance, evidently with the intention of 
turning the hill. When I say that I saw the Japanese 
I mean that I saw here and there a khaki-clad figure 
showing clearly for a second or so against the green 






I JOIN MISHCHENKO 97 

fields. These infrequent glimpses were enough for the 
scores of trained eyes that were watching from the 
top of Shushan. Bang ! bang ! bang ! went half a 
dozen batteries at once, and a row of fleecy shrapnel 
cloudlets hung low over the kiaoliang fields. One shell 
caught about a score of men as they crossed a road 
that ran between the trench and the railway, and killed 
all of them. The picture of that heap of corpses, that 
muddy road, that trench with its bristling rifles, and 
that railway line, is so branded into my mind, owing 
to the number of times that I looked at it through 
my telescope, that there are few spots on this earth 
which I know so well. Another object which I seem 
to have known from earliest infancy is a small wooden 
house built alongside the railway track and evidently 
intended for railway men. Outside this house, which 
was only about fifty yards distant from the nearest 
Japanese, were a few Russian soldiers, whose position 
was precarious, for they could not get away without 
being exposed for several hundred yards to the fire of 
the enemy. It was almost comical, however, to see 
how they kept peering round the corner to see if the 
enemy were advancing. 

Meanwhile the latter crept forward slowly, oh ! so 
slowly ! until they were within almost a hundred yards 
of the trench. I thought that they would then make a 
wild, dramatic rush forwards, but, instead of that, they 
lay almost twenty-four hours so well hidden that they 
must have burrowed their way into the ground, for the 
Russians had beaten down all the kiaoliang for 
hundreds of yards in front of the trench. 

A gigantic pounding and booming went on all this 
time, but I had no key to it. It was like listening to 

G 



98 WITH THE COSSACKS 

people squabbling in an unknown tongue. Feeling 
that war was a delusion, I went to sleep that night in a 
Chinese hovel at the foot of Shushan ; but half an hour 
or so after dozing off I suddenly awoke with the roar 
of imaginary cannon in my ears, and was more startled 
by the great silence than if a whole battery had been 
thundering beside me. 

About the middle of the night I was awakened by 
the rattle of real musketry, evidently very near. Some 
of the Russian officers who were sleeping in the same 
hut with me got up, lighted candles, and moved about 
uneasily, in the attitudes of men listening for the 
approach of a visitor ; but none of them went outside, 
and finally the firing died out, and we all went to sleep 
again. 

At daybreak on Wednesday morning, August 31, 
I was awakened by a cannonade, so loud and so 
continuous that I rushed out of the house in a 
panic. The scene was enthralling, It was a beautiful 
dawn. The sky was perfectly clear of clouds. The 
moon shone brightly, and alongside it burned one 
brilliant star. There was just enough darkness in the 
air to set off to the best advantage the bright, con- 
tinuous flashes of shrapnel, and enough of the rosy 
light of dawn to make the smoke of the bursting pro- 
jectiles look like the soft fleecy cloudlets from which 
angel heads emerge in a famous painting of Murillo. 
Over the whole scene was spread the estilo vaporoso 
of that great master. It was a morn on which the 
Holy Child might have appeared to St. Antony. 

I climbed Shushan, and gazed from that elevated 
point on a scene of rare beauty. The great plain of 
the Liao-ho was covered with a layer of mist which, 






I JOIN MISHCHENKO 99 

touched by the rays of the sun, had the appearance of 
a silver sea, out of which rose on the north the famous 
old pagoda of Liaoyang and the glittering walls and 
gates of what almost seemed to be the Holy City. In 
an hour or so this great white carpet had been rolled 
up for the day, and the rich plain was flooded with 
sunshine, but as yet no living thing was visible. The 
spectators were present, but the stage was empty. 

On the central peak of Shushan General Baron 
Stackelberg had installed himself in a ruined Korean 
tower, from which ran a number of telephone wires. 
I was on the eastern peak with Colonel Waters, the 
British military attache, and Captain Reichman, the 
American attache. An alleged bomb-proof had been 
constructed close by for the use of the attaches, but we 
all preferred to shelter ourselves behind a huge mass 
of rock which projected on the southern side of the 
peak, and over the shoulder of which we had a very 
good view of all that was going on below. 

Bullets had whistled overhead all day on Tuesday, 
and many shells had exploded against the southern 
face of this rock. We therefore thought that the 
place was not quite safe, which was true, for on 
Tuesday alone 3000 men had been killed in that part 
of the field by shrapnel. On Wednesday we had still 
more reason to think so. Early that morning Colonel 
Waters had cheered us with the intelligence that the 
Japanese would infallibly work round on the west, and 
shell us from that direction; and, sure enough, at 1 1 a.m. 
Captain Reichman saw the flash of a Japanese gun due 
west of us. It seemed at first, however, as if shrapnel, 
the invention of the white man, shrank from rending 
its parent. It was marvellous and incredible how it 



too WITH THE COSSACKS 

missed. It seemed to choose every open space it could 
find, but at last its yellow master forced it to obey. 

Shortly after eleven o'clock, shells began to burst in 
rapid succession on the north side of the rock. Soon 
it had become a regular downpour of exploding steel, 
and all the people that were on the mountain trembled. 
Black masses of smoke seemed to spurt out of the 
earth like geysers. Snowy puffs of shrapnel surrounded 
the summit. Balls whistled past like an equinoctial 
wind. Batteries big and little thundered and shrieked. 
We realised with horror and dismay that Shushan had 
suddenly become the pivot of the battle, the centre of 
the whole gigantic contest. It was a bombardment of 
hell. The roar waxed louder and louder, and the whole 
mount quaked greatly. It seemed as if the Japanese 
meant to pulverise it. I could not hear myself speak, 
but I fancied I could hear the pounding of my heart. 
I developed an intense desire to get away, but I could 
no more let go that rock than a drowning man can let 
go a straw that he has grasped. I had squeezed my 
person into the smallest possible compass at its base, 
and every time a shell burst close to me I backed up 
against that hundred-ton cliff with such violence that 
I feared I should knock it down. For days afterwards 
I was unable to account for those bruises on my back. 
I knew that it was dangerous to be near that rock, as 
the Japanese were probably using it as a mark to shoot 
by, but I saw that the path leading down the hill was 
more dangerous still, for shells were bursting on it 
every few minutes. The old Korean tower which 
sheltered General Stackelberg was hit again and again, 
and the telephone wires were cut in a dozen places. 
Colonel Waters got a bullet hole in his cloak. Before 






I JOIN MISHCHENKO 101 

long we saw General Stackelberg totter feebly down 
the hill, upheld on either side by two officers and 
followed by a retinue of bursting projectiles. He had 
sustained a concussion, his face was as white as paper, 
and he was barely able to walk. 

The departure of the general made a most gloomy 
impression on me. I felt as some of the inhabitants of 
Sodom must after all have felt in their secret hearts 
when they saw the wise man Lot go forth from their 
city. 

A curse appeared to hang over that mountain. 
Everybody seemed to have now deserted it. I felt it 
tremble beneath me. " God knows what's going to 
happen now," said I, for the twentieth time in forty 
minutes. " Hadn't we better clear out of this ? " I 
was fully convinced — although I did not like to say so 
in presence of the military men — that the enemy had 
undermined Shusan and that it would go sky-high in 
a few moments. I fancied I heard the subterranean 
sound of picks. 

"These Japs will storm the hill," whispered Captain 
Reichman hoarsely, adding, with extreme emphasis, 
" No d d thing can stop them ! " 

I glanced quickly over my shoulder, for there rose 
before me a swift vision of a wave of roaring fanatics 
with blood-stained bayonets cresting the rock above 
us. 

Previous to this I had been wounded in the hand, 
and at last I decided to leave this doomed peak, which 
the Japanese seemed bent on smashing to atoms. A 
Russian column had now come round on the right. 
We could hear their brass band playing and their wild 
" Ura ! ura ! ura ! " but it was impossible to look at 



io2 WITH THE COSSACKS 






them over the shoulder of the rock, as shells were 
bursting there every minute. I would have given a 
year of my life for one glance at the spectacle below — 
the most terrible of all war's terrible sights — the 
spectacle of a great bayonet charge ; but the price 
demanded was too high. It was my life itself. 

In the intervals between the explosions we heard 
behind us a sound as of broken potsherds. It was 
caused by shell-cases and fragments of shell rolling 
down the rocky face of the mountain. The colonel, 
the captain and myself finally decided to make a com- 
bined rush for it. I broke away, however, with the 
intention of rescuing an ink-bottle and some writing- 
paper which I had left^in the bomb-proof ; but, while I 
stood hesitating outside, uncertain whether to enter or 
not, a shell burst with a deafening roar in the very 
doorway. 

Amid the resultant smoke and dust I saw several 
pairs of soldiers' legs, but did not stop long enough to 
see if they were connected with bodies or not. I must 
have flown down that mountain like a bird, for two 
minutes afterwards I found myself sitting on the plain 
at the base of it, about half a mile off. I was covered 
with clay, had lost my hat and one boot, and was 
getting my hand re-bandaged in a German-speaking 
Red Cross Hospital, which consisted of several large 
straw mats spread on the ground and covered with 
half-naked, moaning men. 

The neighbourhood was littered with bandages, top- 
boots that had been cut from wounded legs, and strips 
of dirty and blood-stained shirts and "rubashkas." 
The mats were splashed with blood, and on the 
ground alongside them lay two soldiers whose wounds 



I JOIN MISHCHENKO 103 

were so bad that they were unconscious and had only 
a few moments to live. Their faces were covered by 
a piece of a muddy bag to which clung some oats, 
and I noticed that the breast of one of them rose and 
fell. 

Others — dead men — presented a terribly squalid 
and repulsive appearance as they were thrown into 
carts. A line of Red Cross vehicles stretched without 
a break from Shushan to Liaoyang. 

Some wounded officers were being held out like little 
children, as, with pitiful moans, they discharged the 
offices of nature. I suddenly found that I was sitting 
in a large black hole in the ground. It had been 
made by a shell, and other shells were falling all 
around. Some vindictive god seemed, like the 
executioners of St. Sebastian in the famous painting 
of Pollaiuoli, to be purposely planting his dread 
missiles in such a way as not to injure us mortally, 
so that we might experience the greatest possible 
measure of anguish before receiving the final, irre- 
vocable blow. 

Finally, Colonel Waters and Captain Reichman 
left me in order to follow Stackelberg, and, lest I 
forget it, I take this opportunity of thanking these two 
brave men, representing the two great sections of mine 
own people, for the kindness they showed me on this 
trying occasion. 

It was now six o'clock in the evening, and the 
Japanese were about to deliver their grand attack. 
We had been caught in the preparatory artillery fire 
which was concentrated on Shushan, and which Colonel 
Waters, a calm, well-read observer, declares to have 
been the hottest artillery fire in the history of the 



io 4 WITH THE COSSACKS 

world, "as hot," he says, u as the musketry fire in 
skirmishing line." 

When I viewed Shushan from the foot of the hill I 
failed to understand how we had managed to escape 
alive. The mountain stood out dark and lone against 
a blood-red patch of sky. The gathering darkness 
menaced it. Its triple summit was encircled by a 
crown of bursting shrapnel. Girt by thunders and 
lightnings, it recalled the Biblical description of Sinai. 
Some terrible god seemed to have descended on it in 
fire and smoke. The ruined tower was struck every 
ten or twenty minutes, and, each time, a cloud of dust 
and smoke shot upwards from it like the cheer of a 
great multitude. 

I watched it, awe-stricken, as a man who escapes from 
a wrecked ship watches the waves rush foaming over the 
masthead. Surely, I said to myself, nothing, whether it 
be beast or man, can live in such a downpour. The sky 
was filled with a soft, translucent mist, which I had 
hitherto supposed to be characteristic of a Japanese 
evening alone, and a picket of Ural Cossacks, who 
had happened just then to ride along some rising 
ground to the west, were glorified for a moment into 
archangels as they passed through this delicate veil of 
vapour, and as the picturesque outlines of themselves 
and their horses and lances stood out clearly against 
the gorgeous west. 

In that blood-red sky, apparently right over the 
heads of the Cossacks, but in reality some versts 
to the south-west, there were suddenly three beautiful 
flashes of white light, as if a magnesium ribbon had 
been burnt — no, there were four, five, six, seven — 
seven beautiful bursts of shrapnel light, which were 



1 JOIN MISHCHENKO 105 

instantly succeeded by small puffs of brownish yellow 
smoke that dissolved gracefully. 

In the north-west hung a huge black bank of clouds, 
presaging a thunderstorm ; and against this inky back- 
ground the lightning played almost perpetually. As 
yet there was no thunder, but the thunder came later. 

The approaching storm brought on night pre- 
maturely ; but the sunlight which was quenched was 
replaced by the red flare from two villages near 
Liaoyang, which the Russians had set on fire. 

Half-way between Liaoyang and Shushan, but a 
little to the west, is a grove of trees, under which 
General Kuropatkin, mounted on a white horse and 
surrounded by his staff and his body-guard of Amur 
Cossacks halted while the Russian reserves advanced 
against the Japanese who were threatening their 
right flank. 

Meanwhile the roar of the artillery had redoubled 
in violence. Darkness was closing in, and the guns 
thundered with great wrath, because they knew that 
they had but a short time. And when they had 
reached a pitch of loudness that seemed impossible to 
be exceeded, some big angry battery would suddenly 
and unexpectedly give vent to a series of terrific 
shrieks that seemed calculated to split the mountain 
from base to summit. 

At length the long-threatening thunderstorm burst, 
and, as if awed by the wrath of heaven, the earthly 
artillery gradually ceased, the last flashes of the 
shrapnel bursting in the darkness above Shushan as 
if to emphasise the importance of that position. A 
diminished rifle-fire afterwards continued at intervals, 
but finally there was silence. 



106 WITH THE COSSACKS 

As the village at the foot of Shushan in which I had 
slept the night before, was on fire, I determined to 
return to Liaoyang in the darkness, not thinking of 
what an extremely dangerous thing it was to do on 
such a night. The rain was coming down in torrents, 
and my horse had not floundered far through the 
sticky mud when I heard a voice cry : " Kto idyot ? " 
(Who goes there ?) I answered : " Svoi " (of yours), 
as I had been accustomed to do in Port Arthur ; but, 
whether it was because this was not the password or 
because of my foreign accent, the sentry refused to let 
me proceed. " Nelzya ! " (Impossible !) he said, and 
when I pressed him he kindly pointed out to me 
another road, a road which led to an intrenched 
position, where I stood a good chance of getting shot 
if I employed my " Svoi." 

I thanked him, and went in the direction indicated, 
but I had not gone far before I was brought to a halt 
by another " Kto idyot ? " more emphatic than the pre- 
vious one. My password was an even greater failure 
this time, for it led to my immediate arrest. In fact 
if I had told the sentry I was a Japanese officer 
he could not have shown greater promptness in 
arresting me. He rushed forward, and, catching 
hold of the bridle of my horse, questioned me 
further. 

II Who are you ? " he asked fiercely. 

" A war correspondent," I answered mildly, aware 
that among military men it is not a name to conjure 
with. 

" A war correspondent? " he repeated, with the air 
of a man who has had a new word added to his 
vocabulary. " Are you Chinese ? " 




I JOIN MISHCHENKO 107 

I told him my nationality, but he was still dis- 
satisfied. 

Having made me dismount, he passed his hand over 
my chin, and, finding that I had no hair on my face, 
he jumped back with an oath and was near bayonet- 
ting me on the spot. I must surely be a Japanese. 
On my imploring him to bring me to some of his 
superiors, he at last conducted me to a place where I 
was told that I would find a captain. With him 
went several rough voices, the owners of which I 
could not see. 

I was glad that he consented to conduct me to the 
captain, as I had now fully realised my danger, and 
had seen that it would take very little to make these 
frightened, ignorant men shoot or stab me. "The 
captain/' I said to myself, 4< will understand the 
situation perfectly, and release me at once." In this 
I made a great mistake, for the captain turned out to 
be twenty times as scared as the soldiers. He was 
standing with a number of men in a post a few paces 
off the path on which I was walking with my guard ; 
and when I heard his high-pitched, nervous voice call 
out in the darkness asking us what was the matter, I 
began to fear that it was all up with me, and my 
imagination became feverishly active. I felt a bayonet 
thrust savagely into the pit of my stomach, I felt the 
point come with a terrific jar against my backbone. I 
was smashed brutally over the head with a clubbed 
rifle. I heard my skull give way beneath the blow. 
I saw myself lying on the ground, in a dying con- 
dition, my bandaged hand twitching feebly. I saw 
in the newspapers a brief paragraph which said that 
I had been killed by a Japanese shell. 



io8 WITH THE COSSACKS 

When the circumstances of my arrest were related to 
the captain he became frenzied with excitement. 

" Bring him in ! Bring him in ! " he cried, waving 
his hands like a maniac. " He's a spy. He's a 
Japanese. See that he has got no weapons. A re- 
volver. He's sure to have a revolver. Search him 
carefully. Hold his hands tight. He's a dangerous 
fellow." 

A soldier now got on each side of me and held my 
arms, at the same time guiding me along a narrow 
passage which ran between two deep trenches. I saw 
that I was being brought into a covered work with 
parapets, traverses and bomb-proofs. A sentinel 
casually waved a lantern towards a row of black 
yawning trous de loup with sharpened stakes at the 
bottom. I felt all the terror of a man being led into 
an oubliette. The rear was brought up by the excited 
captain, who kept gesticulating and ejaculating all the 
time. 

As we passed over a narrow plank traversing a deep 
ditch, and descended into a small court beneath the 
surface of the ground, I felt that my life was in great 
danger, and I was confirmed in my worst fears when, 
in the light of the dark lanterns that were flashed in 
my face, 1 saw the captain. He was a thin, nervous- 
looking man, with a sparse, sandy-coloured beard and 
grey eyes that bulged in his head as he looked at me. 
I realised that long-continued fatigue and excitement, 
combined with want of food and sleep, had reduced 
him to a condition of nervousness little removed from 
lunacy ; and unfortunately his nervousness had 
evidently infected the ignorant soldiers, who formed a 
ring around me, and on whose white, scared faces I 



I 



I JOIN MISHCHENKO 109 

could read no more trace of pity than a tiger might 
see on the faces of a ring of hunters. 

Fortunately, a different type of officer happened to 
be in the fort at the time. This was the chief of 
staff of the Second Army Corps, as well as I can 
remember, an urbane, highly-refined, cool-headed 
officer, speaking French and German as fluently as he 
spoke his mother tongue. It took me about three 
minutes to satisfy this officer that I was what I pre- 
tended to be ; and then, over a glass of wine and some 
biscuits, he informed me that all Englishmen were mad 
for exposing themselves to danger when there was no 
necessity for it, and explained to me, in a tone of philo- 
sophic aloofness, the greatness of the risk I had run. 

M These soldiers," said he, waving his biscuit in a 
semicircle, " are from Europe and have not been long 
here, so that they know nothing of correspondents. 
Then, your dress and the fact that you are a foreigner 
found in the heart of a Russian encampment on the 
night after a battle and while the enemy are expected 
to make an attack at any moment, might well have 
cost you your life. 

"lam surprised," he added, in a dreamy, meditative 
tone, "that you were not shot, especially as two 
Japanese officers accompanied by some Chinese did 
actually enter our camp last night and were killed. 
Hullo! What's that?" 

At this moment the silence of the night was 
brusquely torn by a volley of musketry, followed 
instantly by another and another. Outside, it was as 
black as pitch, the rain was falling fast, but the continual 
flash of the rifles lit up white faces which gleamed in 
the distance like foam on the crest of a breaking 



no WITH THE COSSACKS 

wave. The Japanese were coming on, coming on, 
coming on. 

Between the startling r-r-r-rip ! r-r-r-r-rip ! r-r-r-r-r- 
rip, r-r-r-r-r-r-rip ! of the volleys there comes to us 
faintly the notes of a distant, savage chant of banzai ! 
banzai ! banzai ! 

It is like the cry of wild, invulnerable tribes! It is 
like the defiant shriek of Dervishes ! It swells on the 
air like a fierce Oriental Marseillaise. In this abrupt, 
staccato roar is something foreign, repugnant, disquiet- 
ing. It does not belong to the European brotherhood. 
It does not come from Christian lips. It does not 
even seem to come from human beings. It reminds 
me of the fierce Allah il Allah ! Allah il Allah ! that 
I used to hear in Mahommedan cities. It recalls the 
mad monotonous chant of Hosein el Hosa ! Hosein 
el Hosa ! on the anniversary of Kerbela. It evokes 
memories of India. It recalls the horrors I had heard 
in my cradle of Nana Sahib and the mutineers of 
Lucknow. With a start I recollect that these faces, 
which shine white in the flash of the Russian rifles, are 
the faces of Orientals, that this cry is for the blood of 
white men. It is not the cry of Frenchmen or 
Germans. It is something infinitely more disquieting 
and significant. It is the cry of that strange and 
monstrous Asia with which Europe has been at feud 
for thrice a thousand years. It demands vengeance not 
only for Port Arthur but for Kagoshima and Shim- 
onoseki, nay, more, for Salamis, for the Pink Forbidden 
City, for the Red River, for Plassy, for Kandahar, for 
Mindanao. 

Oh, England ! Oh, my country ! What deed is this 
thou hast done ? 



I JOIN MISHCHENKO in 

Meanwhile I most fervently thanked God that I had 
come into contact with the excited captain before this 
attack began. The officers around me were naturally 
excited by these terrible sights and sounds, and, rising 
unceremoniously, told me that I was free to go wherever 
I liked. But I was now in no mind to go, and I pointed 
out to them that if, according to their own account, I 
stood a good chance of being shot by a sentry before this 
attack began, I stood a still better chance now that the 
Japanese bullets were actually whistling overhead and 
the sentries were all in a state of intense nervousness. 
They said that they would send a soldier with me to 
the main road, a few hundred yards off ; but I answered 
that this was not good enough, the soldier would have 
to come with me all the way to the city, else I would 
rather prefer to sleep in the trench all night. Without 
deciding one way or another they went away, leaving 
me sitting there ; but in about an hour the chief of staff 
came back and told me that on account of the serious- 
ness of this attack, he was going personally to head- 
quarters in Liaoyang. Would I come with him ? 
Of course I would go with him. 

We reached the town without any mishap, and, on 
the way, my companion genially pointed out to me 
four different places where I would have been shot if 
I had tried to pass alone without the countersign. 

About the time I was arrested, the Russians 
evacuated Shushan. 

Next morning I went east with Mishchenko, to cut 
off Kuroki. I was with Rennenkampf in the attack 
on Pen-shi-hu, in October, and on this occasion I 
crossed the Taitsze river with a band of Cossacks, who 
advanced further south than any other section of the. 



ii2 WITH THE COSSACKS 






Russian army, and succeeded for a time in severing 
all connection between Kuroki and the gallant little 
Japanese force that held Pen-shi-hu. After the battle 
of the Shaho I again joined Mishchenko. I had now 
two Cossack orderlies (" vyestovo'i"), one Philipoff, a 
Siberian from Verkhnyudinsk, whose business it was 
to ride with me ; and the other a Buriat, who was 
charged with the care of my baggage. 

Philipoff was a lad of twenty-two, and he reminded 
me very much of a strong, healthy, farmer's son in 
England, only that he was not quite so clean. In the 
morning, it is true, his face shone like a schoolboy's if 
water was handy and it was not too cold, and he 
always kept his teeth as white as if he were a 
Japanese ; but I never knew his ablutions to extend 
as far as the back of his neck, save when he went 
to the steam bath which the Cossacks always estab- 
lished in a village where they were likely to remain 
any length of time. 

Philipoff had the usual big sword, top boots, trousers 
with a broad yellow band running down each leg ; and, 
cocked on his peculiar Cossack saddle, with a rifle 
at his back, this youngster was worth more to me than 
a cartload of duly stamped and sealed official docu- 
ments. In short, he was a passport to every place 
over which the Russian eagles waved. Other corre- 
spondents, who had got all sorts of special permits, 
but who had no Cossack, were arrested at every step 
by soldiers who could not read ; and even the attaches 
were not half as grand as I, for they had only got 
clumsy infantrymen whom they themselves supplied 
with horses. 

Philipoff had left a young wife at home, but had as 



I JOIN MISHCHENKO 113 

yet no children. The down of boyhood was still on 
his lip, and, except where horses were concerned, he 
was as simple as a child. As soon as he was placed 
under my orders he cautiously entreated me to take 
him to see Mukden, the glories of which ancient capital 
he had only as yet contemplated from the train which 
had brought him, some months before, from Harbin to 
Liaoyang. His longing to gaze on the ancient seat of 
the Manchus was like that of Jude the Obscure to see 
Christminster ; and, of course, I at once brought him 
to Mukden, where he was as happy as if it were Paris. 
I was at first afraid, after all the terrible things that I had 
heard about the Cossacks, that he would promptly get 
drunk and perhaps assault me ; but never once during 
the six months we passed together did this Russian 
lad get intoxicated or give me the slightest cause for 
dissatisfaction. He confessed to me, however, that he 
had got drunk once in his life, i.e., at his " knyazhenet- 
sky stol " (princely table), which high-sounding name 
the Cossack gives to his wedding-breakfast. He never 
tried to make a " kopeck " of profit on the many com- 
missions with which I charged him, and he used to 
tell me how disgusted he was at the way Chinese 
" mahfus " (grooms) of other correspondents defrauded 
their masters and starved their masters' horses. I 
think it is not egotistical of me to say that my horses 
were always in the pink of condition, for it is Philipoff 
that deserves the credit. 

From all that Philipoff told me about the Trans- 
baikal Cossacks, and from what I saw of them with 
my own eyes, I came to the conclusion that these 
much-maligned horsemen are gentle, inoffensive far- 
mers' sons, who do not like war at all, who are apt to 

H 



it 4 WITH THE COSSACKS 

fall asleep at any time in the day (Pushkin notes that 
characteristic in his " Prisoner of the Caucasus "), and 
whose only ambition is to till their fields, sing songs, 
and live happily with their wives, for all of them are 
married. And yet these simple lads are the folk of 
whom a Frenchman wrote in 1814, " le viol, le meurtre, 
le fer, le vol, le pillage, l'incendie, le carnage, tous les 
maux de la terre, leur sont familiers. Le recit de la 
ferocite de ces barbares fait fremir la nature." 

As for their officers and for Russian officers in 
general, they are an extraordinarily hospitable and 
genial people. It would almost seem as if Russian 
officers were influenced by that beautiful superstition, 
which still prevails among the Russian peasants, that 
one must never refuse to offer hospitality lest he 
repulse angels unawares. 

Scores of times throughout the course of the war, I 
lost touch with Mishchenko's detachment, and in such 
cases I had to rely on the hospitality of strange officers 
whom I happened to meet with. As a rule I did not 
know these officers, and my "udostoverenie" gave me 
no claim on them whatever, but nevertheless their 
treatment of me was invariably very kind. 

Again and again have I arrived when the officers 
were making a meagre dinner of a few tins of Russian 
preserves — a quarter of one small tin, say, to each 
man — and, although I have never been regarded as 
an entertaining individual, they always hailed my ad- 
vent as gladly as if I had brought them a fresh supply 
of provisions and a case of vodka. 

I sometimes stumbled on them in the early morning 
at an hour when no society tolerates callers, and when 
some of them were in bed and some of them walking 



I JOIN MISHCHENKO 115 

about in their pyjamas, but it never made any differ- 
ence in the manner of their reception. On such occa- 
sions they did not shake hands — for in the morning 
the Russians do not shake hands until after they have 
washed — but the loud, cheery tones in which they said, 
first, " Z dobrym utram " (good morning), and then, 
without pausing to take breath, "stakan chai paja- 
luista?" (a cup of tea, please?) were as brimful of 
friendly feeling as they could possibly be. 

On such occasions I have seen officers produce 
cherished stores of sweetmeats, a precious tin of butter, 
or a last box of chocolate — objects worth their weight 
in gold at such a time — and place them in front of the 
visitor whose name they did not know, and whom they 
never expected to encounter again. If these pages 
happen to meet the eyes of any Russian who has thus 
befriended me I hope he will take this as an expression 
of my warmest thanks. 

Another characteristic of the Russian officer is his 
high spirits and his marvellous health and vitality. 
He seems to be simply bursting with vitality and over- 
flowing with animal spirits. In most of the messes 
the officers are large-limbed, young, ruddy-faced, 
bright-eyed, and to hear the racy, enthusiastic, jovial 
way in which they recount their experiences would 
make the most confirmed old misanthorpe feel cheer- 
ful. Their hearty laughter is infectious ; and their 
gaiety does not depend on good food and good drink, 
for I have found them as cheerful after dining on a 
few fragments of stale bread as after a champagne 
lunch. 



CHAPTER II 

BEFORE MISHCHENKO'S RAID 

During the battle of the Shaho, Mishchenko had been 
stationed near the village of Fudyapu, on the banks 
of that river, a few miles south-east of Hwang-shan ; 
and, instead of doing anything with his Cossacks, he had 
been chained, as usual, to a bare hill-top, where his 
horsemen were quite useless. 

In November he left this village, and went into the 
reserve at a hamlet called Mudzetun, a few miles south 
of the Hun river. With their usual ingenuity, the 
Cossacks had marvellously transformed this erstwhile 
Chinese village, so that it had become as Cossack in 
appearance as Verkhnyudinsk or Arshinsk, the only 
evidence that it had ever been inhabited by Celestials 
being a small Buddhist temple on the roadside. 

The streets were carefully swept every morning. The 
numbers of the different "sotnia" living in this 
" stanitza " had been painted in white on the mud walls 
bounding the little courtyards, while the inside of all the 
houses had been carefully washed and papered with 
back numbers of Russian journals, among which the 
illustrated supplements of the Novoe Vremya were con- 
spicuous. The houses were heated by means of "kangs " 
and of small tin stoves constructed, after a European 
model, by the tin-smiths in Mukden. The sanitary 



BEFORE MISHCHENKO'S RAID 117 

regulations were strict, and one of the huts had been 
made air-tight and converted into an excellent Russian 
bath-house. 

The weather was now cold, but glorious. The 
ground was hard as iron ; there was little snow ; and, 
though there was plenty of sunshine, the cold wind 
pierced one to the marrow, unless one followed the ex- 
ample of the Russians and wore a pile of furs, which 
gave one the appearance of a small elephant. 

Bearded men suffered a good deal of discomfort 
from this cold, because the vapour from their mouths 
formed into icicles, the removal of which from their 
moustaches and beard was rather painful. 

A stream ran through our village, but it ran under- 
neath a coat of ice, thick enough to bear a railway- 
train. Every day the Cossacks cut holes in this ice 
to allow their horses to drink. The water for their 
own use they got at the village well, where, in accord- 
ance with the Russian custom, a soldier always stood 
on guard. In an enclosed space behind the houses, 
the horses were piqueted and fed on straw. 

While walking one morning through our village of 
Cossackville, I was surprised to see five or six 
wretched-looking Chinese standing by the frozen bank 
of the stream collecting the entrails of the cows and 
sheep that the Cossacks had just killed for dinner, and, 
for a moment, I was as startled at seeing these 
Celestials as a New Yorker would be at seeing a Red 
Indian stalking in paint and feathers through his back 
yard. 

Some village dogs had collected near them, partly 
for old acquaintance' sake — these gentlemen having 
probably been the aldermen of the hamlet under the 



n8 WITH THE COSSACKS 



I 



Chinese regime — and partly, no doubt, for the sake of 
the eatables. 

When the Cossacks entered into possession of the 
village, these dogs had left it in a body, and they had 
afterwards lived in the fields at a respectful distance. 
They were not hostile, however; they were onlypuzzled. 
Some of them had given hostages to fortune in the 
shape of pups, which the Cossacks took care of, and all 
of them seemed to see more or less distinctly that the 
newcomers were not wholly bad. They therefore 
refrained from barking at the Russians, and were 
probably open to an offer to come back on the old 
terms. But the Russians did not want them back, and 
I am afraid that the rigorous winter thinned their 
number. Often when I went out riding I found two 
or three of these poor animals frozen to death. In 
Mukden, Chinese beggars picked up these dead dogs, 
whose skins they sold, and whose flesh they ate. 

The case of the Chinese was indeed hard, for the 
whole country between the Shaho and the Hun, over 
a line extending eighty or ninety miles, had been 
swept clear of them, and the population of Mukden 
had consequently swollen to five or six times its usual 
size. Day after day I met the inhabitants of outlying 
villages coming in, sometimes with a mule and a few 
pots and pans, sometimes with nothing at all. Often 
I met a number of sturdy young men carrying on a 
door their aged grandmother or great-grandmother, 
one of those extraordinarily ancient people only to be 
found in China, where old age is worshipped. Once 
I met a cheerful young farmer carrying his two little 
children, each swung in a basket about the size 
of a hat-box, balanced over his shoulder, one in front 



BEFORE MISHCHENKO'S RAID 119 

and one behind. That poor fellow had lost everything 
in the world save these two children, but he was quite 
happy. 

The Cossacks never practised firing at targets, or 
in any other way ; but every morning they had cavalry 
drill on the village green, and sometimes, on returning 
from this drill, they would burst into a lively, rattling 
chant, which had always the effect of making me issue 
forth into the ice-cold, crisp morning air, radiant with 
sunshine, and, after the over-heated " fanza," pleasant 
to the taste as iced champagne in summer time. In 
fact the amount of singing they did was extraordinary, 
and it was excellent singing. Sometimes they sang 
that beautiful national chant, 

Mnogo lyet, mnogo lyet, 
Nashe Pravaslavny Tsar ! 

Many years, many years 

To our Orthodox Christian Tsar ! 

although a considerable proportion of them were 
neither Orthodox nor Russian, but Lamaists of pure 
Mongol blood, and with a strikingly Japanese caste of 
features, which, by the way, led many of the newly 
arrived European troops to shoot or arrest them pretty 
frequently at this time. 

There is a striking contrast between the blood- 
thirstiness of the Cossack's reputation and the peace- 
fulness of his songs, which principally deal with love 
and home, and seldom with war. 

Some of them are old and famous. The following 
is a free translation of the first stanza of a popular 
ballad, said to be more than two hundred years old, 



120 WITH THE COSSACKS 

but, nevertheless, only too applicable, alas ! to th< 
recent war : 

A Cossack rode out to a distant countrie, 

To a distant countrie, with his " sotnia " so gay, 

And in vain his fair " kazachka " looked o'er the lea 
From the rise of the sun to the close of the day ; 

For her young Cossack lover she never did see ! 

He died in the snow in that distant countrie. . . . 

Below I translate the first verse of a song which was 
composed by the famous Cossack leader Davidoff at the 
time of Napoleon's disastrous retreat from Moscow, 
and which was chanted by the Cossacks as far as the 
gates of Paris. Like most Cossacks, Davidoff was a 
hard drinker, and his ballad bears witness to that fact 
The first verse runs as follows : 

Happy he who in the strife 

Bravely, like a Cossack, dies ; 
Happy he who, at the feast, 

Drinks till he can't ope his eyes. 

Chorus : 
Silver on the horse's feet, 

Half a farthing for the master, 
Good oats for the charger fleet ; 

A crust for you — you'll ride the faster. 

Davidoff certainly interests me, for it is not often 
you find a great cavalry leader who is at the same 
time a good ballad-maker, and I should like to get 
more of his rousing songs. 

The collector of Cossack ballads will notice that there 
is nothing that in the least resembles Beranger's well- 
known song, " Le Chant du Cosaque," in which the 



BEFORE MISHCHENKO'S RAID 121 

Cossack is made to declare that he will trample down 
sceptres and — the Cross : 

faipris ma lance, et tout vont devant elle 
Humilier et le sceptre et la crotx. 

As a matter of fact, the Cossack is the strongest 
supporter the throne has got, and, if the Tsar is over- 
thrown, the revolutionists will have to reckon with the 
rider from the Don as the French revolutionists had to 
reckon with the peasants of La Vendee. Many of his 
songs are religious, and the expression " a man without 
a cross " (i.e., a man who does not wear a crucifix 
around his neck, as all Orthodox Christians are 
supposed to do) is, in his mouth, a term of reproach. 

Some of the Cossack songs relate to " the King 
Napoleon,'' who, in "the year twelve," and at the head 
of "the army of twenty nations," invaded "holy 
Moscow of the snow-white walls." 

In fact, Napoleon, or, as the Cossacks call him, 
" Poleon," seems to be the one foreigner, Julius Caesar, 
Belisarius, and scriptural characters excepted, with 
whose name the Cossack is familiar, and this is exactly 
as it should be, for it was the Cossacks of the Don that 
first conquered that mighty conqueror. Davoust, Ney, 
Eugene, even that brilliant horseman Murat, are all 
alike unknown to them, and of England they know as 
little as the average Athenian knew of the inhabitants 
of Ancient Britain. I remember once overhearing two 
Cossacks discussing me shortly after my arrival in 
Mishchenko's camp. 

"An Englishman! " quoth one of them in astonish- 
ment, " why, he is quite clean and civilised like our- 
selves ! " 



122 WITH THE COSSACKS 

The great hero of Cossack song is " the Cossack 
Platoff," who led the horsemen of the Don in the wars 
of Napoleon I. Him the Tsar sends disguised as a 
merchant to "the Frantzouz." He goes to the Court 
of France, and is questioned by u the daughter of the 
Frenchman Arina," who asks him to show her the 
portrait of " the Cossack Platoff," whereupon he shows 
her his own portrait and instantly flees, remarking, 
somewhat ungallantly, to the young lady as he mounts 
his faithful steed, "Ah, crow ! French brigand ! You 
can never alive take the Cossack Platoff! " 

Naturally Yermak is revered by his children, the 
Transbaikal Cossacks. One of their songs represents 
him as going to ask pardon of the Tsar before em- 
barking on the conquest of Siberia ; — 

On Mother Volga, 

On the Kama, 

Live the Cossacks, live the Freemen, 

Cossacks of the Don, 

Cossacks of the Caucasus, 

And they have for Ataman 

Yermak Timofeevitch. 

Like a silver clarion 
Sounding in the wilderness, 
Sounds the voice of Yermak, 
Yermak Timofeevitch, 
And it says, " O brethren ! 
Winter now is coming on, 
And no resting-place have we ! " 
Says Yermak Timofeevitch. 

He asks his men if they will go to the Volga, " where 
people treat us as brigands," to the Jaik which "is far," 



BEFORE MISHCHENKO'S RAID 123 

or to Kazan, " under whose walls is encamped Ivan the 
Terrible. " They finally decide to go to the banks of 
the Itych, to the town of Tobolsk, but first they must 
ask pardon of the Tsar. 

Accordingly Yermak advances at the head of his 
men. "Slowly and respectfully" he traverses the 
inner court, the vast court of the Tsar. He approaches 
the red staircase. He dismounts from his horse. 
" Slowly and respectfully" towards the white palace of 
the Tsar goes Yermak Timofeevitch. " Slowly and 
respectfully " enters he the palace. The Terrible is 
seated on his throne, surrounded by his Boyars. Yer- 
mak addresses him : 

Health to thee, O little Father ! 

Health to thee, most Christian Tsar ! 

Ivan Vassihevitch I 

I am Yermak. 

I ask pardon 

For the crimes I have committed 

On the sea and on the highway. 

I have seized ships full of pearls, 

Ships of Mussulman and Persian ; 

Even vessels of the Empire 

Have I captured, have I plundered, 

But these vessels of the Empire 

Bore not, Tsar, thy coat of arms. 

The Tsar, puzzled, asks himself aloud what he is to 
do with this man, and one of the Boyars expresses 
a decided opinion that hanging, or even decapitation, 
would be too good for him, whereupon Yermak 
Timofeevitch draws his trusty sword, and cuts off 
that Boyar's head at one blow. 



124 WITH THE COSSACKS 

On the footstool the head bounded, 
Rolled adown the spacious chamber. 
To the door fled all the Boyars, 
Tumbling over one another. 
Yermak feared he had offended, 
Had, perhaps, been somewhat hasty. 

But, though the song does not say so, we are left to 
conclude that this little outburst of temper won the 
Tsar's heart, and led to Yermak being entrusted with 
the conquest of Siberia. As a matter of fact, Yermak 
did not see the Tsar until he had already conquered 
Siberia ; but if there is one thing more than another 
that distinguishes the ballads of the Cossacks, it is 
their sublime inaccuracy. 

It is not generally known, by the way, that Yermak 
Timofeevitch is honoured by the Greek Church, which 
solemnly prays once a year for the repose of the con- 
quistadore's soul. In fact, he is almost regarded 
as a saint by the Cossacks, who, in this respect, treat 
their hero with more respect than the Spaniards treat 
Cortez or Pizarro, or than the English treat Give or 
Warren Hastings. 

In one of their songs, wherein a soldier is lying 
dead and his black horse is bending over him, all the 
Cossacks join, after every second line, in a wild 
barbaric chant of " Akh ! Mo'i Bozhin'ka ! Akh ! Moi 
Bozhin'ka ! " which is extraordinarily weird and effec- 
tive. Another favourite subject is a Cossack youth 
languishing in a Moslem prison. 

There are continual references to the great rivers 
along which most of the Cossacks live. In fact, the 
Don Cossacks regard the Don as the early Romans 
regarded Father Tiber ; it is almost a divinity. They 



BEFORE MISHCHENKO'S RAID 125 

call it Don Ivanovitch (Don, son-of-Ivan, for the 
Cossacks have a tradition that the Don is the offspring 
of Lake Ivan), much as the Japanese peasants call 
their famous mountain Fuji San (Mr. Fuji), and 
generally designate it as "the quiet Don Ivanovitch,'' 
by way, I suppose, of contrasting it with the unquiet 
peoples who roam its banks. 

Cossack ballad-makers refer often in their songs 
to beautiful girls, differing greatly in this respect from 
Japanese ballad-makers, who would as soon think of 
referring to the binomial theorem. 

The Cossack song lays great stress on a free life, 
independence, and contempt of death. 

It does not seem, however, to show any extra- 
ordinary respect to the Tsar, or at least to his repre- 
sentatives, some of whom the Cossacks decapitate and 
cast into the " quiet Don Ivanovitch," addressing 
insulting remarks to them as they float down the 
stream. No Tsar has ever been so reverenced by the 
Cossacks as Stenka Razin, who for years defied St. 
Petersburg and devastated all the country between 
the Volga and the Don. 

I once heard recited at the camp-fire a splendid 
ballad which a poet, called Zhukovsky, I think, com- 
posed in the Russian camp on the eve of the battle 
fought on the Tarutina during Napoleon's invasion 
of Russia. It begins with a powerful description 
of night in camp — 

Na polye brannom teesheena ; 
Ognee mezhdu shatramee ! 

Silence rests on the battlefield, 
Fires burn among the tents. 



126 WITH THE COSSACKS 

But the best thing in this ballad is the invocation 
of a dead hero, an invocation which B6ranger, by the 
way, borrows in his Chant du Cosaque. 

" Who," asks the poet, " is this tremendous giant, 
this horseman from the North, that glares with terrible 
eyes at the camp of the sleeping enemy ? 

" Ghosts fly with fearful cries from his path, which, 
far as the snowy fastnesses of the Alps, is strewn with 
thunderstorms. 

" The Gaul grows pale. Beneath this baleful glare 
the Sarmate trembles in his tent. Woe ! woe ! to the 
foeman ! 'Tis the spirit of our terrible Suwaroff ! " 

Naturally enough, the Cossack does not forget to 
mention the horse in his ballads. In fact, he manages 
to introduce him into the most unlikely subjects. One 
of the Russian marriage songs begins, for instance, 
as follows : 

Matushka ! What makes that dust on the plain ? 
Sadar'nya ! What makes that dust on the plain ? 
„ My daughter ! the hoof-beats, the hoof-beats of horses ! 
Sadar'nya I the hoof-beats, the hoof-beats of horses ! 

Of course the lover is astride one of the horses, 
although the fair one is not supposed to know it. 
Again, in another marriage song : 

'Tis not a falcon flying through the sky, 
'Tis not a falcon with its feathers blue, 
'Tis a bold youth who gallops bravely by. 

When winter came on, some of the "skazki" (stories) 
those Cossacks used to tell during the long nights 
around the samovar were calculated to make one's 
flesh creep, stories of the old days when a Cossack who 



BEFORE MISHCHENKO'S RAID 127 

had murdered another Cossack (if he killed a person 
who was not a Cossack, it did not seem to be regarded 
as murder at all or even manslaughter) was buried alive 
underneath the coffin of the man he had murdered. 
Sometimes the ghost of a murderer used to appear 
with the coffin of the victim on his back, and to pursue 
any one who passed his grave by night, and the fear of 
being chased in this frightful way was sufficient to 
prevent the boldest horseman from approaching the 
haunted spot. 

I first heard this story one night immediately after 
the battle of the Shaho, and in the middle of a desolate 
valley where some ten thousand men had just been 
killed, and I could not help thinking it strange that 
not one of the Cossacks, who, in Russia, would be 
frightened to death if asked to pass the grave of a 
murderer by night, was in the least disturbed when 
told to traverse alone, at any hour in the twenty-four, 
this valley of dead men's bones. The Cossacks 
seemed no more to expect ghosts to appear in a battle- 
field than in a butcher's shop. 

In the Cossack "skazki" the dead are sometimes 
represented under an altogether dreadful aspect, 
horrible stories being told of corpses, animated by 
demons, rising at midnight and attempting to rend 
their watchers. Warlocks, vampires, and all that 
terrible brotherhood trouble the Cossack imagination^ 
and sometimes, especially on a dark night, one gets 
quite unnerved by a course of these stories, which are 
so different from the sunny myths of the Japanese. As 
for the songs and superstitions of our Mongol and 
Caucasian contingents, I have neither the space nor 
the knowledge to deal with them. 



128 WITH THE COSSACKS 

The only outdoor exercise the Cossack got at this 
season, besides his daily drill, was attending to his 
horses and stacking up the straw and " kiaoliang," 
which was conveyed to Cossackville from villages to 
the north of Mukden in long lines of Chinese carts. 
This spectacle of the men building up stacks of straw 
was very peaceful and rural, and harmonised well 
with the sound of the hammer, which was always 
ringing on the anvil in our village smithy, but not, I am 
sorry to say, converting swords into plough-shares. 

As for outdoor sports, there was not such a thing as 
a football in the entire army, and the only exercise 
the officers got was riding into town or practising 
pistol-shooting for bets. Indoors they read Anton 
Tchekhov, Turgueniev, Grigorovitch, Pisarov, and 
heavy reviews giving a very complete account of 
foreign literature. Many of them took in the leading 
daily papers of St. Petersburg, and several received 
technical reviews, periodicals dealing with military 
matters, with the horse, etc. On the whole their 
reading was solid. They also played cards, but they 
were not happy till they had got from Harbin a 
gramophone, which reeled off Russian songs during 
mealtime. Sometimes a rattling old Cossack tune 
would so excite the younger members of our com- 
munity that they would jump up from table and dance 
the M Kazatchok." 

I still seem to hear this gramophone grinding out 
select pieces from Glinka's " Life for the Tsar." 
Meanwhile the steaming "samovar" purrs gently 
on the table, swift justice is being done to the 
" pirogi " (patties) and "caviare." The "borsch" 
is carried round by the boyish Zeemeen, whose wide 






BEFORE MISHCHENKO'S RAID 129 

kaftan is confined by a narrow belt studded with 
bright brass rivets like a prison door, whose head is 
crowned by a huge wolf-skin busby, even in the 
dining-room, and whose feet are always encased in 
high boots. We are also waited on by the jocose, 
mysterious-looking Buriat, Munkusha, whose name 
everybody pronounces in a different way. 

Owing to the fact that I wore no uniform, I was for 
a long time a puzzle to the Cossacks. 

PhilipofT once said to me, " I suppose, Vashe 
Blagarodie (one of noble birth), that before entering 
the service of his Most Gracious Majesty the 
Tsar, our Gosudar, you had to renounce allegiance 
to your own Gosudar ? " And when I told him I had 
done nothing of the kind, he attempted to cheer me 
up by saying that I would probably get a decoration 
anyhow. 

The Cossack never wearies of talking about decor- 
ations, and speculating on the order which he himself 
will receive when the war is over ; and when he does 
receive an order he seems to wear it continuously day 
and night. 

The Cossacks and the Russian soldiers generally 
are treated far more gently by their officers than the 
Japanese soldiers are by theirs. When I was in Japan 
there was a regular epidemic of suicide among soldiers, 
the result of ill-treatment on the part of officers, who 
were not brutal, however, but only over-zealous and 
over-anxious to imitate the German system to the 
letter. During my stay with the Russians I never 
saw anybody ill-used except in two cases. In one 
case all the orderlies in a houseful of officers got 
drunk, for which offence one of them — the worst 






130 WITH THE COSSACKS 

— was sent to the guard-room. As it was extremely- 
cold, however, Essaoul Cheslavsky, the officer on 
duty, gave orders that the prisoner was to be released 
in three or four hours. In the second case a Cossack, 
who formed part of an expedition which I accompanied, 
got intoxicated on some liquor which he had obtained 
in a Chinese house, and for this he was made to 
dismount and go for some distance on foot. 






CHAPTER III 

A CHRISTMAS WITH THE COSSACKS 

Towards the end of 1904, Mishchenko's whole force, 
now consisting of 7500 horsemen, including Cossacks, 
dragoons, mounted infantry, horse artillery, and 
Caucasian volunteers, suddenly moved from their quar- 
ters at Mudzetun to Suhudyapu on the Hun river, 
about a dozen miles to the south-west of that city, with 
the object, as afterwards appeared, of making south- 
ward raids during the winter and cutting the Japanese 
line of communications. 

At this time my position was rather difficult. 
Whether because of these raids being in contemplation 
and of the General Staff being unwilling that I should 
take part in them, or because some other correspon- 
dents had complained repeatedly about my being 
allowed to have mounted orderlies and to circulate 
generally wherever I liked, while they were now 
forbidden to leave Mukden, Colonel Pestitch, the 
censor, made repeated efforts to detach me from the 
Cossacks. 

One day I rode into Mukden and found some of my 
confreres of the Press very angry because the censor 
had made themall promise not toleavethecity. They had 
asked him if this promise was also to be exacted from me, 
whereupon he said " yes," and gave them to understand 



1 32 WITH THE COSSACKS 

that he was just lying low, waiting for me, and that as 
soon as I had entered the gates of the city he would 
pounce upon me, separate me from Philipoff, and make 
me remain in Mukden like my colleagues. This news 
greatly disquieted me, for I knew that the censor was 
living with his friend, the Russian Resident of Mukden, 
under whose orders were the soldiers who guarded 
the gates, and that these soldiers had received instruc- 
tions to let no correspondent pass. I was caught, then, 
like a rat in a trap ! But I determined to make a dash 
for freedom before the censor had got wind of my arrival, 
and accordingly sallied out. If I had left the city as 
usual by the south gate I should probably have been 
stopped, but, attended by my faithful Cossack, I 
galloped through the west gate, and, owing to my 
Russified appearance, to the headlong speed at 
which I rode, and to the fact that it was getting dark 
and that I wore no brassard, the soldiers at the gate 
were so impressed that, instead of arresting me, they 
called out the guard and gave me the military salute. I 
had determined to gallop past them in any case, and 
once outside the walls, it would not have been easy for 
them to catch me. 

I had no difficulty in finding my way back to 
Mishchenko, for a huge chunk of country to the north 
of Mukden was now traversed by broad roads, running 
east and west, north and south, and marked at every 
crossing with finger-posts pointing out the way of 
retreat, like the signs in the American theatres pointing 
to the fire exits. 

When I reached the Cossack camp and told my 
friends of my outlawed condition, they greeted me with 
as much enthusiasm as their fathers on the lower 



A CHRISTMAS WITH THE COSSACKS 133 

Dneiper would have greeted an outlaw flying to the 
Sitch ; and I think that if the censor had sent any 
emissary to bring me back, that emissary would have 
run a serious risk of being hanged. 

I found that the Cossacks had now got huge 
" papakhas " or wolf-skin busbies with stripes of cloth 
of gold on the crown — a very ancient style of Cossack 
headgear, which greatly altered their appearance for the 
better, and of which they were as proud as a lady is of 
a new bonnet or as an Assam buffalo ought to be of 
his horns. 

A few days later, a further change was made in 
their appearance when "polshuboks" were distributed 
amongst the men. These " polshuboks " were pelisses 
made of untanned white bearskin with the wool inside, 
fitting very tight, fastened down the middle of the breast 
by means of hooks, reaching nearly to the knee and 
smelling abominably. Philipoff brought me one, and 
it gave the finishing touches to my " Kazaksky " 
appearance. 

I found that the Cossack officers had changed 
too, but in a different way. They had all become 
very studious, and were taking a particularly keen 
interest in nitro-glycerine and the blowing up of railway 
trains and bridges. They even had night schools, in 
which lectures on this fascinating business were given 
by an anaemic-looking young officer in spectacles, who 
had been sent to us by the General Staff. I attended 
some of these classes, for I found it distinctly interesting 
to watch this pale-faced professor show the students 
seated around him how to wreck railway property and 
derail engines. It was like attending a meeting of 
anarchists. The object of the whole thing was of 



134 WITH THE COSSACKS 

course clear to me. We were going to send out 
expeditions to wreck the railway, 

Meanwhile a large quantity of nitro-glycerine arrived 
in camp, and was stored in an empty house next to the 
one which I occupied. A sentinel was placed at the 
door of this house, and one of the duties of the officer 
of the day was to go to this sentinel the first thing in 
the morning and get him to repeat a long string of 
cautions like a child repeating the ten commandments. 
He was not to allow any one to enter the hut with a 
light, with his boots on, etc. ; but, in spite of all this 
care, I half expected, from what I knew of " the care- 
less Cossack " (as Pushkin calls him), to find myself 
travelling rapidly skyward some fine morning, owing to 
the explosion of the whole magazine. 

Hearing, the day after my arrival in camp, that a 
party of two hundred men under Colonel Plaoutine 
was going to cross the Liao river next day, I deter- 
mined to accompany it, for it would be rather difficult 
for my friend Colonel Pestitch to get hold of me in 
case I was away down somewhere in the rear of the 
Japanese army. The only other foreigner who joined 
this party was Lieutenant Ferdinand Burtin, a 
young French officer from Algeria, who had some 
time before joined Mishchenko's detachment as a 
volunteer, with the rank of " sotnik " or centurion. 

Colonel Plaoutine's instructions were to cross the 
Liao river, which is the frontier of China, to proceed 
south as far as Davan, see if there were any Hunghuze 
in that district, or if the Japanese had been establishing 
any depots there, then march westward as far as the 
Kupanze-Tsinmintun railway and ascertain if that 
line were carrying any contraband for the Japanese. 



I 



A CHRISTMAS WITH THE COSSACKS 135 

His instructions went no further than this. He was 
not told to stop any train, or to arrest anybody ; he was 
told, however, that he was not to allow himself to be 
over-powered. As a matter of fact, he went much 
further south than his instructions warranted. These 
were the ostensible objects of the expedition, but I 
suspected that a deeper object, unknown even to Plaou- 
tine himself, lay behind, and at once wrote to the New 
York Herald, in a letter which was published about 
a month afterwards, saying that the real aim of the 
Russians in making this raid was "to reconnoitre the 
extreme left of the Japanese, with a view to sending 
Cossack expeditions that way in order to cut the 
railway south of Liaoyang." 

Before we started on this foray there was a good deal 
of excitement among the Cossack officers who were 
to take part in it, at the prospect of coming in contact 
with the Chinese troops or with the English officials 
on the railway. Everybody wanted to join in this 
expedition, and, late on the night of December 20, 
while the Russian officers were discussing the perilous 
ride in front of them, three lads, all of them about fifteen 
years of age, who had run away from home in order to 
join Mishchenko, came to our leader and implored him 
to grant them permission to go also. A vivid repre- 
sentation of the long rides in front of them and of the 
risks they must undergo, seemed only to whet their 
appetite for the adventure. In their eagerness for 
danger they reminded me strongly of English or 
American lads. They were Russian Tom Sawyers 
or Huckleberry Finns. But, for some reason or 
other, they did not turn up next day. 

The officers themselves thought that the danger 



136 WITH THE COSSACKS 

from the Hunghuze would be great, and that if they 
attempted to enter any station where an Englishman 
was station-master, there would be a row, which might 
run like wild-fire round the world, and in which not 
only Russia and England but other nations as well 
might be involved. 

They seemed greatly to relish, however, the pro- 
spect of coming directlyinto contact with these English- 
men, so troublesome, but so hard to get at ; and the 
railway was always alluded to by them as the " English 
railway." 

As is well known, of course, this Tsinmintun 
line had originally been almost an English strategic 
railway, run up from Shan-hai-kwan to a point as far 
north as Mukden, in order to counterbalance the 
Russian line on the other side of the Liao-ho, and to 
place the English in a position to watch Russia's 
descent from the north, and, if possible, to stop it. 
The previous relations of the Russians with the direc- 
tors of this Chinese railway had not been of the most 
pleasant character. On July 8, 1900, they had grabbed 
the whole line and turned out Mr. Claud W. Kinder 
and his staff, a step which was somewhat resented in 
England, owing to the fact that the line had been 
chiefly constructed by British capital, and was, to a 
large extent, mortgaged to British bondholders. At 
Yinkow and elsewhere they had seized fifty miles 
of railway material, and all sorts of machinery and 
stores, and sent them all on to Port Arthur, and they 
behaved everywhere in the same rather high-handed 
fashion. 

One thing that served to make the expedition popu- 
lar among the Cossacks was their expectation that, 



A CHRISTMAS WITH THE COSSACKS 137 

unless they came in contact with the English, it would 
not be those stubborn Japanese that they would be 
called upon to fight, but the Chinese. 

" I like fighting the Chinese soldiers," quoth Phili- 
poff. " As soon as they let off their rifles they run 
away. And, glory be to God, in China I have now, 
one of noble birth ! a chance of getting a better 
horse ! " 

And, as a matter of fact, during this raid, Philipoff 
once brought before me a Chinese farmer, who was 
feverishly anxious to swap his good horse for Phili- 
poffs bad one ; but as I was afraid that pressure had 
been brought to bear on the Celestial, I would not 
consent to the transfer. 

Anyhow, whatever were the reasons, the fact re- 
mains that every one who went on this expedition was 
keenly envied by those who stayed behind. I myself 
was among the envied ones, for to my own surprise I 
was allowed to go. When I applied to Mishchenko for 
permission to accompany Colonel Plaoutine, I hardly 
dared to hope that permission would be granted me, 
but granted it was, instantly and cheerfully. It was 
rather a damper, however, on my enthusiasm to 
receive immediately afterwards a small packet contain- 
ing an antiseptic bandage for wounds, and to hear the 
regimental doctor hurriedly explain to me how to use 
it, and assure me that I would probably need it before 
I came back. 

Below I give a plan of our wanderings. The 
reader is warned, however, that he must not look 
upon it as a map, my object being only to give 
him a general idea of our route, and of the respective 
positions occupied by the villages which we visited. 



138 



WITH THE. COSSACKS 



We first crossed the Hun river and went to Ei 
dagow, where we passed the night. Next day we 
crossed the Liao river at Kolama. This frontier stream 
is here very unimposing, flowing as it does through a 



line 



r SVHUDYAPU 
(Mishchenko's headqrs. 
Christmas 1JQ4.) 




ChjanUusntzi 
Jentai f-AH 



LIA0YAN6. 



level plain, and being only a few hundred yards across. 
The ice was very firm, and would evidently have sup- 
ported, without a groan, a railway train in addition to 
our two "sotnia." 

We crossed in the teeth of an icy wind that filled me 
with a perpetual fear lest my ears, or nose, or feet, or 
some other part of my anatomy should get frost-bitten 



A CHRISTMAS WITH THE COSSACKS 139 

without my knowing about it, and I was continually- 
putting my hands to these different sections of my body 
in order to ascertain if they were still there. The 
beards and moustaches of those who had got such 
appendages were thick with icicles, while horns of 
ice several inches long formed on the noses of the 
horses. 

We rested for the night in a little village near the 
Liao, and on the next day set out towards Davan, one 
"sotnia " going 'down the left bank of the river, the 
other down the right. On the way we captured twenty 
armed Chinamen, who wore the uniform of soldiers, 
but most of whose rifles did not bear the Russian 
mark, and were therefore broken in pieces by the 
Cossacks. 

I saved one of them, however — a German Mauser 
— for myself, and a large quantity of ammunition 
with it, and carried it until the end of the expedi- 
tion. The colonel warned me that if the Japanese 
took me prisoner with this rifle in my possession, 
they would certainly shoot me ; but, in spite of this, I 
continued to bear it. I did not mean to use it against 
the Japanese, but I did mean to use it against the 
Hunghuze in case I was left behind, wounded and 
dismounted. The prospect of being by some chance 
abandoned, unarmed, to a people who have reduced 
cruelty to a fine art, was one that did not appeal 
to me. 

This bit of business done, we proceeded on our way : 
to our left a fringe of trees bordering the banks of 
the Liao, to the right a vast plain to which we could 
see no end. As we rode along, I noticed that some- 
thing struck the ground sharply within a dozen yards 



140 WITH THE COSSACKS 

of my horse, which, alarmed at the little puff of dust 
raised by the missile, whatever it was, swerved sud- 
denly. I did not hear the report of firearms, but I 
was nevertheless under the impression that this was a 
bullet, fired from a great distance, probably by the 
Hunghuze, who caused us trouble later on, and the 
officers around me were of the same opinion. A few 
yards further on, a second bullet struck the ground, 
raising another handful of dust, but there was nothing 
further just then. 

After crossing the Hun river we passed the night 
at Erdagow, and crossed the Liao-ho into Chinese 
territory at Kolama. At a place called Asin, near 
Kolama, we learned that a number of Japanese 
soldiers and Chinese ex -bandits had been there the 
day before, conveying grain to the Japanese army. 
We met several caravans of Chinese carts carrying 
grain and goods from Yinkow to Tsinmintun, so that 
it was evident that the Japanese were not interfering 
with the traffic along the road. 

At Kolama we divided, and went down both sides 
of the Liao-ho as far as Davan, whence we pro- 
ceeded to Da-hwang-dee, a great business centre, 
where, in summer, bean cake is shipped in large 
quantities down the river. We then went still further 
south to a point about thirty miles distant from New- 
chwang and twenty miles from the sea, and then, 
turning north-west, struck the Chinese railway at 
Ta-ho-shan, returning to Kolama by the more 
northerly route indicated in the map. 

West of the Liao river, almost as far as the railway, 
there extended at that time a No-man's Land, with 
which I had previously been acquainted in works of 



A CHRISTMAS WITH THE COSSACKS 141 

fiction alone. My trip was like a plunge into the 
Scottish border of the sixteenth century. Instead of 
riding behind the Orange banner of the Cossacks, I 
seemed to be moving in the train of Shane O'Neil or 
Wallenstein. Instead of chasing Manchurian " Raz- 
boyneeke," I was chasing Irish Rapparees. 

In this No-man's Land the villages were all fortified, 
in a humble way of course, but still fortified, with 
mounds and trenches. There was as a rule no draw- 
bridge, only a very narrow path running through a 
gap in the ditch which surrounded the village. Inside 
the wall at this point there was always a little hut in 
which Chinese soldiers, with red-trimmed garments and 
an enormous Chinese character embroidered in crimson 
on the breast of each man's coat, kept watch and ward. 
On the eastern bank of the Liao-ho, the sole defen- 
sive weapons which the Chinese soldiers were allowed 
by the Russians to carry were long poles which for pur- 
poses of offence or defence were as pathetically and 
ridiculously useless as tooth-picks. On the western 
bank they were permitted to have rifles, so long as 
these rifles bore the Russian mark. The Russians 
were exceedingly apt to mistake them for Hunghuze 
and to shoot them on sight ; while the Hunghuze 
always regarded them of course as natural enemies, so 
that, taking one consideration with another, the life 
of the almond-eyed guardian of the peace on the banks 
of the Liao-ho was at this time one of considerable 
anxiety. The same must be said of the unfortunate 
villagers whom these policemen were supposed to pro- 
tect, for, though solitary bandits might be driven off, 
there was no chance of any village holding out against 
regular troops or even against the well-organised and 



142 WITH THE COSSACKS 

well-armed bands of robbers who at that time patrolled 
the Liao valley. 

Nevertheless, they seemed to have then collected 
inside their enclosures great quantities of " kiaoliang " 
stalks (for fuel) and of grain, and they used to keep 
their cattle there all winter, exactly as people did in 
troubled districts in Europe during the Middle Ages, 
as the names of many villages there still attest. 

I used often, as I saw children staring at me, 
open-mouthed, from the mud-walls of the villages, to 
exclaim to myself: " What a training this is for a 
child ! " And certainly, to live in a fortified village 
and frequently to see men killed is a unique if not a 
pleasant experience. But it was an experience our 
own fathers had. 

Every village seemed to be a little republic. The 
elders ruled. Their married and unmarried children 
alike looked up to them for guidance. China seemed 
to have no representatives, civil or military, among 
them. 

Lieutenant Burtin was astonished at this defence- 
lessness of the Chinese. 

"Why," he cried more than once, "this people 
deserve all they get. They have voluntarily disarmed 
themselves." 

Nevertheless, his sensitive conscience was some- 
times troubled about these poor Celestials. He did 
not like the way in which his Cossack orderly — who 
did not seem to have any conscience worth mentioning 
— commandeered Chinese forage, or crossed himself 
and said an elaborate grace over a chicken which he 
had not paid for ; and although I once assured him 
that a lump sum was always given by our colonel to 



A CHRISTMAS WITH THE COSSACKS 143 

the village headman, I feel sure that he privately paid 
something on his own account so as to avoid any 
infraction of the Seventh Commandment. I may here 
mention that this young Frenchman was a very earnest 
Roman Catholic. 

Owing to the severity of the winter the villagers 
had not much to do beyond gazing helplessly from 
their mud-walls on the different armed bands that rode 
within their ken. They crowded these walls as we 
approached, but wisely refrained from making any 
hostile demonstration. They always took the greatest 
possible pains, however, to induce us to go else- 
where. They invariably knew of a place a few "li " 
further on, where there were absolutely perfect 
houses —large, commodious, warm, overflowing with 
food and drink, and inhabited by kindly hearted people 
who simply doted on the Russians and had been 
waiting in vain for years an opportunity of enter- 
taining them. We never managed, however, to find 
these people, or, if we did, they concealed their pro- 
Russian proclivities with remarkable success. 

As we moved further west of the Liao river, we 
noticed a shade of difference in the character and even 
in the language of the people. There was also a slight 
change in the style of architecture. The houses were 
like this — 




No ceiling. 



144 WITH THE COSSACKS 






on the east side of the Liao ; on the west they were 
often like this — 



Ceiling. 



Many of the villages were very snug and prosperous, 
and some of the Chinese farmhouses were very fine, 
being (although I am an Irishman who says it) superior 
to the average Connaught cabin. In some places I 
saw attached to a single house a clean courtyard, 
large enough to hold a regiment ; spacious under- 
ground cellars for garden produce in winter, sym- 
metrical piles of "kiaoliang," strings of vegetables 
drying outside, great quantities of beans and sauces, 
and stores of beautiful silk dresses, for the members of 
the family of both sexes on festive occasions. 

Whenever we came to a village no violence was 
used in turning the people out of the houses which we 
had decided to occupy. They were simply told to go, 
and they went, — to a neighbour's house, taking all their 
warm clothing and cooking utensils along with them. 
Some of the more respectable of these houses had, 
pasted on the walls of the rooms, the most indecent 
pictures, by native artists, that I have ever seen in 
my life. They were really so bad that we felt it 
would be almost criminal to allow even our polygamous 
Buriat Cossacks to soil their minds by gazing on them. 
In others there were strange and unexpected tokens 
of Western civilisation. One such token was a number 
of rude pictures, representing a railway train, a factory, 



A CHRISTMAS WITH THE COSSACKS 145 

filled with pig-tailed Celestials, and something that 
looked like an overhead street railway. In every 
village we found mugs made in Japan, although 
genuinely Western in style, and bearing representa- 
tions of Japanese warships with hundreds of Japanese 
flags flying from them, and of gigantic porcelain 
factories labelled " Kobe, Japan." 

In entering the larger towns we created somewhat 
of a sensation. At Da-hwang-dee, which is only 
about a day's march from Newchwang, the people did 
not know whether to laugh at us as missionaries or to 
run away from us as outlaws. I remember that we 
entered one largish town while a market was being 
held in it, and the effect which our sudden appearance 
had was magical. From the far end of the town we 
could see people hurrying from the scene with mules 
and donkeys laden with grain and provisions ; those 
who remained behind stood in crowds on each side of 
the street, gazing at us with the appearance of people 
that had been suddenly petrified. 

When we reached the centre of this town I gave 
the owner of a little street stall a Chinese twenty-cent 
piece for some of the small native cakes which he sold, 
whereupon he hastily offered me nearly his whole stock, 
while the bystanders audibly commented on the mag- 
nanimity of a person who, with twice a hundred armed 
men at his back, would consent to pay for anything. 

I think that we could easily have got recruits if we 
wanted them, for at Shanlinze, not far from the railway, 
a young Chinese policeman, speaking about three 
words of Russian, came to offer his services as " boy " 
to any of us who wanted to employ him. None of us 
wanted him, but nevertheless he discarded his uniform 



146 WITH THE COSSACKS 

and accompanied us for the next two days with his 
horse and rifle. The rifle was soon rendered useless, 
however, by one of the Cossacks, who extracted the 
lock ; and this soldier of fortune was, later on, dropped 
unceremoniously en route, a suspicion that he was a 
spy having suddenly crossed our leader's mind. I 
believe myself that he was simply attracted by the 
blaze of martial glory which he saw pass through his 
native village in the shape of our humble selves, and 
I am afraid that he must have had a hard time of it 
afterwards, for if he escaped the Hunghuze, whom he 
professed to fear, he must have fallen into the hands 
of the Chinese authorities, who were doubtless aware 
of his desertion. 

On December 23 I went to sleep as usual with all 
my clothes on, even to my cap and " polshubok," and 
at two o'clock next morning I was awakened and told 
that we were now about to set out on our march to 
Ta-ho-shan station on the Chinese railway. As we 
rode along, Colonel Plaoutine told me that the Chinese 
policeman who had enrolled himself in our band had 
brought him the cheerful information that this station 
was guarded by English soldiers. About the exact 
number of these soldiers he was uncertain. First he had 
said that there were one thousand men. Then he had 
considerately reduced the number to six. There was a 
delightful vagueness about this which prepared us for 
almost anything ; but if there was only one English 
soldier there, I felt sure that he might fire a shot that 
would be " heard round the world." 

Our colonel asked me somewhat nervously if it were 
possible that British soldiers occupied this station, and 
I answered that I did not know where they could have 



A CHRISTMAS WITH THE COSSACKS 147 

come from, unless some tremendous scheme of army- 
reform had been suddenly put into operation since 
last I had had news from England. This grain of 
comfort was, however, modified by the lurid descrip- 
tion which I gave of the personnel of the railway we 
were just going to tackle. At the head of it was 
Mr. Kinder, a violent Russophobe, married to a 
Japanese lady; while all the leading employes, down to 
the station-masters and conductors, were also English- 
men, and generally ex-soldiers. " Naturally," I added, 
" they all take their cue from Mr. Kinder," and I 
assured the colonel that if he asked one of these 
English ex-soldier station-masters to hand over his 
books to him for inspection, the Englishman would 
undoubtedly refuse and there would probably be 
bloodshed. On hearing this, the colonel became 
very grave, but said that he had been ordered to see 
the books and must see them, bloodshed or no blood- 
shed. 

The rumour that the British were awaiting them had 
a very enlivening effect on the Cossacks. At last, 
then, they were to meet face to face this powerful, 
hostile people who had, from their sea-girt fastnesses, 
directed all the anti- Russian movements that had taken 
place in European and Asiatic politics for the last 
hundred years. I must say that the Cossacks never 
rode with such spirit to encounter the Japanese, 
against whom they never seemed to have any grudge. 

It was an ideal Christmas Eve. The moon was 
very bright. The cold was intense. The cloudless 
sky was studded with stars, and deep silence reigned 
over the vast plain which we were traversing, a 
silence which was broken only by the creak of 



148 WITH THE COSSACKS 

leather, the jingle of steel, and the steady, rhythmic 
ring of twice two hundred pair of horses' hoofs on 
the ground, which was frozen hard as iron. 

Save for the furious barking of the village dogs, 
there was a deathlike stillness in the sombre and 
sleeping villages through which we passed, and, of 
course, not a light showed. 

The village wells looked like the empty sockets of 
gigantic candlesticks, the broad sheets of ice spread 
all round them, and the rows of frozen drops hanging 
from the slabs of stone looking, in the white moon- 
light, like melted candle-wax. 

Alternately trotting and walking, and dismounting 
for about five minutes every hour in order to ease 
our horses, we at length drew near to Ta-ho-shan. 
The mountain which gives its name to the railway 
station rose above the horizon, and as it rose there 
was first one faint flash of light from its summit, 
then another ; and several voices in our party ex- 
claimed simultaneously : " They are signalling ! " 

In one of his novels, Sir Walter Scott makes some 
Highlanders whisper to one another in a tone almost 
of awe the name of one of the great rivers of Scotland 
which they are approaching by night during war-time. 

In approaching this Anglo-Chinese railway we ex- 
perienced the same superstitious feelings. I say " we," 
for, owing to the danger that now threatened all of 
us in common, we had become one gigantic argus-eyed 
monster with two hundred pairs of arms and one 
soul, in which mine was, for the time being, merged, — 
a monster that was rushing forward, perhaps to 
destruction. To-night we could understand how those 
Highlanders felt, for, under certain conditions, a 



A CHRISTMAS WITH THE COSSACKS 149 

railway becomes almost as romantic and as awe-inspir- 
ing as a great river. 

We felt that we were rushing into the lair of an alien 
civilisation. We had jumped at one bound from the 
tenth century into the twentieth, but it was not quite 
certain yet how the twentieth would receive us, for 
armed foreigners travelling in time of war are some- 
times received unceremoniously when they attempt, 
during the night, to enter places that do not belong 
to them. 

In the distance a railway engine whistled. It 
seemed an alarm, a tocsin, and we all broke into a 
" riceyou " (trot). Then the railway lights came into view 
over the brow of the hill, and a high column of grey 
smoke shifting spasmodically hither and thither indi- 
cated the whereabouts of a railway locomotive. After 
my plunge into the Dark Ages, I watched that moving 
column of grey smoke with as much interest as I had, 
when a child, gazed on a railway locomotive for the 
first time. 

In another moment we had reached the track. 
The Cossacks were left several hundred yards behind, 
and only the Russian officers and myself crossed the 
line and mounted the platform. 

There was no resistance. There were no English 
soldiers, and only a few Chinese sentries, who fled at 
our approach. It was dark, so we produced lights and 
went into the station-master's room. The station-master, 
a small, putty-faced young Chinaman, clad in that long 
robe which a Celestial seems to wear day and night, 
came towards us rubbing his almond eyes vigorously 
and repeatedly, and seeming to be considerably con- 
fused. He gazed in astonishment at his armed visitors, 



150 WITH THE COSSACKS 

whose huge woolly busbies, superabundance of cloth- 
ing, and icicle-laden beards and furs gave them on that 
Christmas morning the appearance of a number of 
Santas Claus. 

Colonel Plaoutine at once asked if there was an 
English station-master, or any foreigners in the place. 
No, there were no foreigners there just then. Our 
leader, who seemed to be relieved on hearing this, then 
asked if he could see the books, at the same time pick- 
ing them up in a casual sort of way and opening them. 
These books did not indicate, however, that the railway 
was carrying any contraband of war to the Japanese at 
Newchwang. 

" Are there any Japanese here ? " the colonel then 
asked abruptly. 

" Oh, no ! " returned the Chinaman, in a sad, re- 
proachful voice, as if rebutting a charge of gross 
personal misconduct preferred against him by a friend, 
the last person in the world from whom he had ex- 
pected such a stab. 

When the ordeal was over, the colonel shook hands 
with the station-master and bade him good-bye, and 
the station-master said, " Please come again." He 
seemed to be uncertain whether he was dealing with 
Russian or English officers, or whether he was awake 
or dreaming. 

It was still night when we left the station, but, by 
the time that we had found ourselves quarters in the 
neighbouring village, day was dawning. On this occa- 
sion, and on the following morning, the Cossacks' eyes 
were wide open with astonishment. "This is the 
English railway," they said, "but where are the 
English ? " They had heard all their lives long about 



A CHRISTMAS WITH THE COSSACKS 151 

these Englishmen, and for them the great attraction 
of this trip was that it would bring them into close 
personal contact with these fabled beings ; but, lo and 
behold ! there were no Englishmen to be seen ! It 
could not have been fear that had driven the English 
away, for the visit had been a surprise. No ! the fact 
was that, just as those Englishmen had got the Japanese 
to fight Russia for thern, so they were getting the 
Chinese to work their railway for them. Evidently 
they kept, as a rule, far in the mysterious background 
and pulled the strings. 

The surprise of the Cossacks was all the greater 
owing to the contrast this railway presented to their 
own. The Russian line was alive with Russians — 
passengers, waiters, railway officials, clerks, peddlers, 
and functionaries of all descriptions. But here there 
was not a single white man to be seen. Engine- 
drivers, conductors, station officials were all Chinese; 
yet everything seemed to work smoothly. 

" Where, then, are the English ? " asked the Cos- 
sacks in chorus. 

In the grey light of the early dawn a goods train 
came along from the south. It was chock-full of goods. 
What a contrast to the Russian line, which had for 
twelve months previous been carrying nothing to the 
front except soldiers and instruments of destruction, 
and nothing to the rear but wounded ! 

" It's a fine railway," remarked one of the officers 
briefly, as this long train slid slowly in and then came 
to a stop. 

" Search the carriages for Japanese," said the colonel; 
but there were evidently no Japanese about. So, at 
least, I thought at the time ; but I have since come to 



1 52 WITH THE COSSACKS 

think differently. Seeing a Chinaman seated on a pile 
of corn bags in an open truck, I asked, not because I 
wanted particularly to know, but because I had nothing 
else to say, " Yeebin yo mayo ? " (" Are there any 
Japanese about ? ") ; and he replied by pointing to a 
depression in the pile of bags, on the edge of which 
depression stood, outlined against the eastern sky, 
one of those small, frayed, brown leather hand-bags 
which Japanese will, for some reason or other, persist 
in carrying with them wherever they go. 

" By Jove! there's a Jap here, sure enough," I said 
to myself, as I clambered up on the truck so as to have 
a better view of the inside of the aforesaid depression. 
I was disappointed, however ; for inside there peace- 
fully slept a young Chinese, pigtail and all complete. 
Subsequent reflection has led me to entertain doubts, 
however, about the genuineness of that pigtail ; but 
even had a Japanese soldier been there in full uniform, 
I should not, of course, have felt myself justified, under 
the circumstances, in making his presence known. It 
was not my business. 

The passenger train from Tsinmintun was due at 
9.30 a.m., and Colonel Plaoutine sent an officer and a 
Cossack guard to the station to have a look at it. 
They did no more. The Cossacks stared for all they 
were worth at the Chinese passengers with which the 
train was laden, and the Chinese passengers stared 
blankly at the weapons and the wolfish busbies of the 
Russians. 

The station-master then appeared on the scene, and 
told us about some Russian deserters who had passed 
that way some days before. Having said this, he 
paused to see if we would confess that it was these 



A CHRISTMAS WITH THE COSSACKS 153 

deserters that we were looking after. He also told 
me in a confidential manner that he knew from the 
way I spoke that I was an Englishman, and then he 
tried to extract information out of me. In a flash I 
saw that he had become a different man since I had 
seen him last. Somebody had been galvanising this 
Oriental. He had had a wire from Peking, and it 
was no longer a Chinaman that I was dealing with, 
but the wizard Morrison or the astute Kinder. 

" PhilipofT," said I, turning to my Cossack, " you 
ask me where the English are. Well, the English are 
here." 

At about two o'clock in the afternoon we started on 
our homeward march. On the way we picked up a 
flock of fine sheep, which we paid for. Soon after, 
when at a distance of about twelve versts from Ta-ho- 
shan, we selected a number of cattle, but the Chinese 
owners refused, in what seemed to me to be an obstinate 
and exasperating manner, to let us have them. We 
said that we would pay for them, but they said they 
did not want to take money. They would not sell 
their cattle ; they wanted them back instantly. That 
was all. Amid the hubbub caused by this unexpected 
obstinacy, an incident that took place at the front 
escaped attention. A Cossack soon dashed in, how- 
ever, at full speed to report it. One of the two men who 
always ride at some distance in front of the vanguard 
had been shot by a Hunghuze. Immediately, the 
cattle were relinquished and the sheep also, and we 
all started forward at the gallop. 

" The Hunghuze ! The Hunghuze ! " was the word 
hat ran down along the line. 

We seemed to think that it was merely a matter of 



iS4 WITH THE COSSACKS 

riding into a group of indifferently-armed robbers and 
slashing them to pieces, and were consequently as full 
of innocent glee as children who have been just 
released from school. Not one of us seemed to foresee 
at this moment the dreariness and the horror of the 
night which followed. We soon passed a poor Cossack 
lying on the ground with a broken arm. The "feld- 
sher " was giving him first aid ; his horse was standing 
beside him, and some of his comrades were helping him. 

There was a village close by, and in front of it two 
parties of Cossacks dismounted and prepared to fire. 
In another instant the unfortunate hamlet would have 
been raked with bullets — for we did not know but 
that it might be filled with Hunghuze — but luckily 
our leader changed his mind and ordered his men 
only to advance and search the houses. Each party 
that advanced was headed by an officer, sword in 
hand ; and the search which they made was 
remarkably thorough. 

I accompanied the Cossacks into the village and was 
struck by the contrast between the set faces and reso- 
lute demeanour of the soldiers and the stupid counten- 
ances of the Chinese, who seemed unable to realise 
the danger in which they stood, and who kept feebly 
wailing in chorus "Hunghuze mayo .... Hunghuze 
mayo. . . . Hunghuze dalyoko dalyoko." (" There 
are no robbers here. There are no robbers here. 
They are far away.") 

One old man who was driving a little donkey which 
was attached to a big cylindrical stone under which 
corn was being ground, told us this over his shoulder 
and continued at his work. He did not seem to know 
how near he was to death. 



A CHRISTMAS WITH THE COSSACKS 155 

While this search was going on, and while other 
parties of Cossacks were scouring the neighbourhood 
in all directions, the robber had met his doom. One 
of our vanguard had noticed him a few versts further 
on, riding in the plain, a most suspicious-looking 
object, mounted on a Chinese pony and armed with a 
rifle, and had charged down on him at once. The 
robber made no attempt to escape. Reining in his 
pony and unslinging his rifle, he calmly awaited the 
on-coming horseman, and, taking deliberate aim, had 
shot him at close quarters in the stomach. But the 
wound, though it finally proved mortal, failed to stop 
the career of the Russian, who had just time to give 
the Hunghuze a sword-cut that severed his jugular vein. 
Then the Cossack fell from the saddle that he never 
sat in again. 

Before dying, the u razboyneek" made some remark- 
able statements. He said that he was one of Tulen- 
san's men (Tulensan was the most formidable robber 
chieftain in Manchuria), and that there were a Japanese 
general (!)and ten Japanese officers among the Hung- 
huze all of whom were now paid by the Japanese. 
What interested us more was his statement that, 
in the village which we had occupied the previous 
night, there was a band of his brethren, a thousand 
strong, anxiously awaiting us, and that he was one of 
their scouts. A letter was found on his body and 
afterwards translated. It was addressed to his " fifth 
brother," also apparently in the Hunghuze business, 
but contained little of interest, being full of the obscure 
allusions to domestic details and pre-arranged plans 
which — with abrupt gaps between — are to be found 
in the letters of the uneducated all over the world. 



156 WITH THE COSSACKS 

In this letter he also asked his brother to buy rifles 
and ammunition for the band, these, as well as money, 
being scarce. 

In no way did this document resemble any of the 
remarkable epistles found on the Japanese Hunghuze 
who were killed in Kobe and Tokio before the revo- 
lution of 1868, there being no patriotic allusions in it 
and no denunciation of foreigners. The writer never 
once seemed to rise above the level of the ordinary 
workaday highwayman, which was surprising, con- 
sidering the manly way in which he had met his death. 

I photographed him as he lay dead on the ground, 
which was ruddy with his blood. He was a strongly 
formed Chinese, somewhat above the middle height 
and between thirty and forty years of age. His 
dress was the blue dress of the ordinary native, the 
only thing distinctive about him being his new shoes, 
which resembled those worn by Chinese policemen. 
Either he had himself served in the police force, or 
else he had killed a policeman for his foot-gear. I am 
sure that the body was soon stripped by the local 
villagers for the sake of the clothes ; but, if the dogs 
did not devour it, it must have lain there naked in a 
perfect state of preservation owing to the cold, for the 
next three months. We took the Hunghuze's pony 
and rifle. The latter was a Russian service rifle. 

Darkness was now closing in, and the prospects in 
front of us were anything but cheerful. If we had 
come across that band of Hunghuze I am afraid that 
it would have fared but ill with us, had they all been 
as cool and as well armed as the gentleman we had just 
killed, for the two wounded men whom we had now 
on our hands greatly hampered our retreat. I coul^ 



A CHRISTMAS WITH THE COSSACKS 157 

never have believed, had I not seen it, that two men 
could so impede the march of two hundred. They 
were both carried on stretchers, one by his comrades 
and the other by villagers who had been impressed for 
the purpose, and who were frequently replaced by fresh 
men from other villages that we passed through, and, 
as these bearers went on foot, we were all reduced to 
a very slow walking pace, which was as irritating to 
our horses as it was to us. If, at this stage, a few 
hundred Hunghuze had begun sniping us — and, even 
by night, it would not have been difficult for them to 
hit somebody in such a large body of men — there 
would have been nothing for us to do but to run for it, 
leaving such of our wounded as could not ride, to the 
tender mercies of the Celestials. If we did not do so, 
we should have been all cut off. 

Needless to say, we kept a sharp look-out, for we 
expected an attack every moment. At seven o'clock 
we noticed a fire that looked like a signal, at a great 
distance to the right, and at the same time a powerful, 
steady, blood-red glow appeared on the horizon to our 
left. The peculiar appearance of the latter puzzled us 
until we found that it was the rising moon ! 

It was now out of the question for us to put up at 
any village in this dangerous neighbourhood, and our 
only hope lay in gaining, by a circuitous night march, 
comparative safety and the banks of the Liao. 

For hour after hour I saw nothing but the same 
distant, dim horizon fringed with trees. The frozen 
ground sparkled in the moonlight with diamond-like 
points of frost. Every strip of white snow that 
gleamed in the distance seemed to me to be the 
longed-for Liao-ho, but, after being disappointed a 



158 WITH THE COSSACKS 

hundred times, I began to think that we should never 
reach that friendly stream. Becoming impatient at 
the slowness of our progress I once rode on until I 
had almost reached the two horsemen who formed our 
extreme van. Then I looked back and, for a fraction 
of a second, a spasm of fear seized me. I was alone 
on this blasted heath between God and the world, and 
slowly towards me, with resounding jingle as of chains, 
crawled a long, dark dragon, an articulated monster, 
on whose bristles of steel the starlight flashed. 

My horse was dead tired after the great work that 
he had done for the previous week, so that I walked 
a good deal on foot. I was probably more tired 
than he was, but then he was absolutely necessary 
for my safety. It is extraordinary what a lot of 
interest one takes in his horse during war-time. It 
becomes a part of one's own body, and is looked after 
with corresponding care. You are more alarmed at 
your horse's appetite falling off than at your own. 
You take a far keener interest in its hoofs than you 
do in your own corns. You frequently examine its 
back to see that it is not getting saddle-sores. You 
arrange the blanket under the saddle, with the same 
care as you would arrange a shawl on the shoulders of 
a fair lady. I can now understand why statues to 
great warriors always represent them on horseback. 
Another reason why I walked on foot was because that, 
in spite of my heavy furs, I felt freezing cold on horse- 
back. 

Owing to my fatigued condition and to the weight 
of my carbine and cartridges, I often lagged behind, 
whereupon the Cossacks would call out on Philipoff to 
wait for his master, "the gospodeen korrespondent " 



A CHRISTMAS WITH THE COSSACKS 159 

(Monsieur le correspondant). When, finally, we did 
reach the Liao-ho, I was too tired to look at it. My 
only desire was to find a vacant " kang " in the village 
at which we stopped, and I must confess with shame 
that on this Christmas night I heard without an atom of 
sympathy — in fact only with irritation — the wail of 
women and children who were turned out of their beds 
and houses at that hour of the night to make room for 
the tired and desperate soldiery. 

In the one unoccupied house which I and some 
officers at length discovered, we encountered unex- 
pected opposition. The gate was barricaded, and 
when we climbed over the barricade we were met by 
three tall figures, all dressed from head to foot in 
white, who raised their arms and solemnly warned us 
not to enter. On finding that these people were 
Mahommedan Chinese and were in mourning for their 
father, whose dead body lay inside, we desisted in 
something like a panic and went elsewhere. 

Late next night, when we were sleeping in another 
village on the east bank of the Liao, we were 
awakened by a scout, who came to tell us in a some- 
what scared tone of voice that he heard a drum 
("baraban ") beating in the village where we had slept 
the night before. Whether this eerie performance had 
anything to do with our attempt to enter the house of 
death I cannot say. We did not stop to see. But, 
trifling as it may seem, the faint roll of that Chinese 
drum, beating in the night on the frozen banks of the 
Liao-ho, impressed my imagination as strongly as 
anything that I saw or heard throughout the war. 



CHAPTER IV 

MISHCHENKO'S RAID 

The advance of Mishchenko's three columns was the 
best thing from the spectacular point of view which I 
saw during the war, and, if not very successful, it was, 
at any rate, the most daring enterprise which the 
Russians essayed. 

On December 26, the day after the Russian 
Christmas, or January 8 with us, General Mishchenko 
crossed the Hun River, near Suhudyapu, at the head of 
twelve regiments, that is seventy-two squadrons of 
cavalry, with the object of destroying nine million 
roubles' worth of stores which the Japanese had 
accumulated at Yinkow for the use of their army, and 
which they had only left three hundred men to guard. 
The Russians had, of course, agents in Yinkow, 
who made them acquainted with these facts, and the 
expedition of Colonel Plaoutine, as well as various 
expeditions of other detachments of Mishchenko's 
command — one of which, carried out by the Tersko- 
Kubansky regiment, a force of Caucasian volunteers, 
went as far south as the Taitsze River — disclosed the 
fact that, with the exception of a few small and isolated 
Japanese posts at Shalin, east of Liaoyang, at old 
Newchwang, and in one or two other places, the 
road from Mukden to Yinkow, along the eastern bank 



MISHCHENKO'S RAID 161 

of the Liao-ho, was practically open. Mishchenko 
would not, of course, refrain from destroying any force 
of Japanese or Hunghuze, or from burning any of 
the enemy's transports that he came across, but his 
main object was Yinkow. • 

Naturally this was kept secret, and in spite of all that 
has been said about the excellent, not to say miracu- 
lous, manner in which their Chinese agents served 
them, the Japanese did not seem to have suspected, 
until we had almost reached Yinkow, that our raid 
was anything more than one of the usual small Cossack 
forays against the Hunghuze. The cutting of the 
railway between Liaoyang and Yinkow in order to 
prevent the despatch of troops southwards, was a 
necessary part of Mishchenko's plan. I must say, 
however, that at first I did not know where Mishchenko 
was going to, and this secrecy made the expedition 
extremely attractive to my imagination. The Cossack 
officers said that we were about to march against 
China, and my profound ignorance of what was hap- 
pening at that time in the outside world led me to 
believe it. There is a charm sometimes in being out 
of the world, in a place where you don't get your 
morning newspaper ; news from the outside then 
becomes so beautifully vague ! I had not seen any 
papers for months before, and I was not at all sur- 
prised, in consequence, to learn that this expedition 
would cross the Liao-ho and that it might be followed 
by trouble with England and the dismemberment of 
the Middle Kingdom. Why, this day week we might 
be stabling our horses in the Imperial Palace at 
Peking ! " What's the game now ? " I asked myself a 
thousand times as I walked along the frozen street of 



1 62 WITH THE COSSACKS 

our village. M I would give anything to know. 
Russia going purposely to fasten a quarrel on 
China in order to extend the area of the war and 
to give an excuse for the seizure of Turkestan, 
Mongolia and even, perhaps, Peking ? " There was 
nothing unlikely in this. England would cheerfully 
have done it in the grand old days before she had got 
tired of land-grabbing. But what an international sin ! 
The stupendous nature of the crime appalled and 
fascinated me. It brought back memories of the Tsar 
Peter and of Frederick the Great. " I am now," said 
I to myself, " about to see the initiation of a move- 
ment compared to which the Russo-Japanese war is 
as nothing. I must therefore move heaven and earth 
for permission to accompany this raid." 

The day before we started was the Russian Christmas 
Day, which, like good Christians, we observed.by eating 
"kootia" and "varenookha" and by holding high revel. 
Strangely enough, it was in the midst of this revel 
that I first heard of the fall of Port Arthur. Colonel 
Orloff had ridden in, late at night, and his first words, 
uttered in a low tone to a brother officer, were " Port 
Arthur is fallen, is fallen." But few of the officers 
and none of the men knew it until weeks had elapsed. 

Mishchenko had with him, in addition to his twelve 
regiments of dragoons and Cossacks, twenty-two 
cannon, that is almost three batteries. Two of these 
batteries fired melanite, the rest shrapnel. All of them 
were, of course, horse batteries, six horses pulling each 
gun. There were, besides, four Maxims with the Dag- 
hestan regiment, but these useful little guns were never, 
I think, used during the advance southward. We 
marched in three columns. The right column, which 



MISHCHENKO'S RAID 163 

consisted of the Primorsky, Nerjinsky and [Chernig- 
ovsky Dragoons and the Frontier Guards, was com- 
manded by General Samsonoff, and until the main 
force reached the Taitsze it traversed the west bank of 
the Liao-ho. 

The central column consisted of the Zaiba'ikal 
Cossacks, that is, of the Verkhnyudinsky and Chitinsky 
regiments, and of the Ural Cossacks. It was com- 
manded by General Abramoff, the leader of the Ural 
Cossacks, and General Mishchenko accompanied it. 

The left column consisted of the Don Cossacks and 
of the Caucasian brigade. It was under the command 
of General Tyeleschoff and was followed by the 
Zaiba'ikal battery, the soldiers of which bear in front 
of their black busbies a metallic scroll commemorating 
their bravery during the Boxer troubles. Besides, 
there was the mounted infantry, a fine body of men 
who should alone have carried Yinkow station on 
January 12. As is pretty well known, each Russian 
regiment of foot has attached to it about one hundred 
cavalrymen. As, under the conditions which then 
prevailed at the front, these horsemen were unneces- 
sary there, they were all drafted for the time being 
into Mishchenko's detachment, which therefore 
amounted in all to some 7500 men. From this force 
different parties were from time to time detached for 
the purpose of cutting the railway, but of this here- 
after. The four Maxims went with the Daghestan 
regiment of the Caucasian brigade, but it was not the 
Caucasians who were supposed to work these guns. 
Trained men had been brought from St. Petersburg 
for that purpose. They were under the command of 
Captain Chaplin, a promising young officer who had 



164 WITH THE COSSACKS 

served in the artillery at Warsaw, but who was un- 
fortunately the first man to fall on the occasion of thi< 
expedition. 

On the afternoon of the first day all our different 
columns met at a village called Sifontai, east of the 
Hun river, and what a picturesque gathering that was! 
When I attempt to catalogue the different forces which 
composed it I feel inclined, like Homer, to call upon 
the daughters of Jove to assist me, for of myself I am 
not able to do justice to so vast a subject. It was one 
of the most composite forces that ever met together in 
Asia, a force worthy of "the mighty behemoth of 
Muscovy, the potentate who counts three hundred 
languages around the footsteps of his throne." It 
comprised Buriats, Tunguses, Baskirs, Kirghises, 
mountaineers from Daghestan, Tartars, Cossacks of 
Orenburg, Cossacks from the Don, children of the 
men who had won such victories in Italy under 
SuwarofT, who had captured Napoleon at Malo- 
Yaroslavetz, who had chased Jerome Bonaparte 
from his throne, who had pitched their tents in 
the Champs-Elysees, Buriats, whose race has pro- 
duced " the most terrible phenomena by which 
humanity has ever been scourged . . . the Mongol 
Genghis Khan," descendants of the men who had 
followed the Scourge of God, flat-nosed Kalmuks whose 
very name recalls that great flight to China which 
De Quincey has immortalised, descendants of the 
Zaporogian Cossacks, that semi-religious order of blood- 
thirsty celibates who made their lair in the islands of 
the lower Dneiper. Mishchenko's force seemed to 
contain within it all the elements of a Yellow Peril, 
combined with a faint hint of a Moslem Peril. 



MISHCHENKO'S RAID 165 

Their green banners embroidered with red inscrip- 
tions in Arabic — all texts from the Koran — the Cau- 
casians rode past on their graceful Arab steeds. 
Among them was a representative of every race and 
language in the Caucasus. They were those Moham- 
medan mountaineers who held Russia at bay for a 
century. All of them were splendid at single combat, 
and bore swords of the best tempered steel. The 
young men were often singularly handsome, with 
figures like Greek statues, oval heads, bold noble pro- 
files, large dark eyes, delicately chiselled lips, and 
most murderous dispositions. It is impossible for me 
to give an idea of the proud dignity of their bearing, 
the grace of their movements and the fire of their look. 
They had got amongst them an extraordinary and 
valuable collection of fine Circassian swords and 
daggers, with damascened blades, often inlaid with 
gold, and always channelled so as to let the blood 
spurt out. Latin invocations to the Blessed Virgin 
inlaid in some of the blades seemed to indicate that 
they had changed hands as often as the poniard to 
which Lermontov devotes one of his poems. The 
sheaths of their numerous daggers terminated in a 
metal drop suggestive of blood. Their carabines they 
carried in covers of sheepskin with the hair outside, 
and they had also on their stirrups sheepskin covers, 
which are admirable protections against the cold. 
Later on I regretted exceedingly not having got such 
stirrup-covers myself. 

The same thing always happened when a Caucasian 
mounted his horse. One caught sight of him poised 
for a moment on one stirrup while the horse reared 
and pranced ; then there was a flop of variegated 



i66 WITH THE COSSACKS 

petticoats, a jingle of spurs, a rattle of weapons, and 
the rider had tumbled into the saddle and was telling 
his still prancing steed, in tones with more of admira- 
tion in them than of anger, that he was naughty, very 
naughty. 

None of those Caucasians spoke any Russian, a fact 
which detracted seriously from their value as scouts. 
To make matters worse, there were in our little force 
of Caucasians about fifteen completely different 
languages, and it was very seldom that a man spoke 
more than two or three of those languages at most. 
The Russians explained this diversity of tongues 
by saying that every invader of Europe had passed 
through the Caucasus, leaving amid these mountains 
a handful of his people who immediately proceeded to 
form a new community, until, finally, that country 
became the ethnological museum it is to-day. 

However they may rank as regular soldiers, there can 
be no doubt that in private life these Mohammedans 
are fierce. The first day I spent with them I saw one 
man draw his sword on another over some dispute 
about fodder. An officer, who was standing by, wearily 
told him to put up his weapon. " Reserve it for the 
Japanese," he said, and then he resumed an interrupted 
conversation about the latest opera at Bayreuth. 

I do not know if Russia did a wise thing in sending 
these men out to Manchuria at all, for if there is any 
truth in the accusations of barbarity the Japanese have 
made, these Caucasians must — although nearly all of 
them are princes — have been the guilty parties. They 
are decidedly picturesque, it is true, but they are not 
much good against plain unimpressive foot soldiers. 
Then again, they came to Manchuria under a misap- 



MISHCHENKO'S RAID 167 

prehension. They thought the war with Japan would 
be run on exactly the same lines as the war with 
China ; and they cannot be blamed for falling into this 
mistake, since their officers also thought so. As soon 
as they had ascertained that the Japanese were not 
naked savages, armed with bows and arrows, they got 
discontented and wanted to go home, but were refused 
permission to do so, whereupon many deserted and were 
immediately caught and shot. 

The Russian non-commissioned officers amongst 
these Caucasians belong to the Cossacks of Kuban 
and Terek, the " line of the Caucasus," names of rivers 
which recall bloody battles and the memory of the 
unhappy Lermontov. Up till a short time ago they 
fought continuously against these fierce Tcherkesses, 
whose arms and equipment they have adopted, and 
whose very features they seem to have borrowed — a 
fact which is explained by a venerable custom these 
Cossacks still have of massacring all the men in an 
aoul and conveying the best looking women to their 
" Stanitzi " in order to marry them. 

Like the Transbaikal and unlike the Ural or Don 
or Black Sea Cossacks, these Caucasians have no 
lances, but depend altogether on their good sabres. 
Among them rode the grandson of I mum Schamyl, who 
within the memory of living men troubled Russia with 
a guerilla warfare, which he conducted with a genius 
and energy scarcely paralleled in history. The St. 
George's Cross, which the aged standard-bearer of the 
Daghistan regiment wore, was won on the day that 
Schamyl surrendered. 

At the head of the Caucasian brigade was Prince 
Orbelliani, of an ancient Georgian family, which claims 



168 WITH THE COSSACKS 

to be descended from two Chinese princes who obtained 
in 240 a.d. the protection of Artaxerxes, whose son 
Sapor transferred them with their followers to Armenia. 
Prince Orbelliani did not, however, take part in 
the raid, being sick at Harbin, but his place was 
taken by an equally picturesque figure, Prince (Han) 
Nahitchivansky, a Mohammedan nobleman. The 
adjutant of Prince Nahitchivansky bore the name of 
Hadji Murat, a name which speaks for itself. 

The names of the officers with whom I rode were 
all historical. Some of them are borne by the 
oldest Cossack families — Grekoff, Plaoutine, Platoff, 
Kaznetzoff, Krasnoff. One young colonel from the 
General Staff, who accompanied us bore the name of 
that gigantic barbarian who loved Catherine the Great 
and who strangled her Imperial husband. He is a 
polished diplomatist, a great linguist, a landowner, a 
courtier, an influential man at headquarters. He rode 
on this occasion a horse which was almost worth its 
weight in gold, and, according to his invariable custom 
on such occasions, carried in his pocket a copy of one 
of Shakespeare's plays. His knowledge of English 
literature and of every nuance of expression in the 
English language is extraordinarily extensive. 

The colonel of the regiment to which I was attached 
was called Bunting, and was of English descent. One 
of the officers, a polite and well-educated young man 
from the Guards, was of Tartar descent, as his name, 
Turbin, indicates. Another was young Burtin, at one 
and the same time lieutenant in the Arab cavalry of 
France and centurion in the Mongol Cossacks of 
Mishchenko. 

To make our crowd still more variegated, there was a 



MISHCHENKO'S RAID 169 

full-blooded negro in it. He had been born in the 
Caucasus, spoke only Russian, and seemed to be 
exactly on an equality with his white comrades-in- 
arms. With the exception of Burtin, I was the only 
non-Russian at this memorable trysting-place in the 
valley of the Liao-ho. 

However much I might try to persuade myself that 
the Cossack is a thing of the past, I could not fail to 
be impressed by this great gathering of the men 
who guard the Russian frontier from the shores of the 
Pacific to the shores of the ebony and amber sea, and 
whose very designation, recalling the names of great 
rebels like Mazeppa, Stenka Razin, Pugatcheff, the 
false Dimitri, made me see, dimly, gigantic upheavals 
more Asiatic than European, and made me hear faintly, 
as at a great distance, the hoof-beats of innumerable 
hordes of horsemen galloping over the steppes. The 
Cossacks cannot fail to be interesting, for they are the 
only reminder we have left of the time when the popu- 
lation of Europe was fluid and nomad. 

How many shades of Christianity, Mohammedism, 
Lamaism, and Buddhism there were amongst us I 
dared not inquire. When at set of sun I saw the 
Mohammedan pray with face turned towards Mecca, I 
felt as if I were in a Turkish army. When I saw the 
Russian kiss the collection of ikons and crucifixes that 
he wore around his neck, I felt as if I were among 
Crusaders. When the indolent Mongol laughed at both 
Mohammedan and Christian, I felt that I was back in 
my own century. 

Thus we marched along in peace, each praying to 
God in his own way, some not praying at all. We 
were an overflow from the great Muscovite crucible, 



170 WITH THE COSSACKS 

in which all sorts of strange undigested elements boil 
and bubble without ever uniting ; and behind us came 
a helter-skelter of little cows trampling in a cloud of 
dust, beef still on the hoof, driven with blows of whip 
by a warlike people in migration. 

I have already said that I was with the left column, 
but I could make out distinctly with the naked eye the 
long line of horsemen composing the central column. 
These horsemen were generally on the very verge of 
the horizon, and owing, I suppose, to the clearness and 
dryness of the air, their figures were frequently sil- 
houetted with marvellous distinctness against the void 
of heaven, so that they looked like the little bronze 
Cossacks of Lanceray or Gratchoff, and that, in spite 
of the distance, I could see white atoms of dazzling 
sky between the horses' legs as they moved. To our 
left rode a strong flanking party, and, in all, the length 
of front swept by the three columns could not have 
been less than five miles. 

It must not be imagined, of course, that there were 
five solid miles of soldiers. We only moved four or 
five abreast, so that each column resembled a long 
snake crawling slowly southward. The central column 
was connected with the right and left columns respec- 
tively by a network of scouts, who passed continuously 
between them. 

As the scouts in front and rear and on the flanks 
were regularly relieved, there was no chance whatever 
for a strange horseman to accompany us without being 
observed. It would go hard, I am afraid, with any 
Japanese scout who attempted to get a view of us, even 
a long-distance view, for without doubt he would have 
been immediately " spotted." Once, in the rolling 



MISHCHENKO'S RAID 171 

dust, Colonel Bunting became doubtful about the 
character of a solitary horseman who was riding on 
our left, and at a word from him a Caucasian sped 
off like an arrow to investigate. So well did we sweep 
the country with our scouts that game and domestic 
animals fled before us for miles. A hare ran in front 
of us all the w way to Yinkow, and though again and 
again the Cossacks tried to overtake and kill it with 
their " nagaike," it invariably escaped them. 

This the Russians seemed to regard as a serious 
matter, but they laughed very much at the way in 
which all along our line of march young horses, mules 
and donkeys broke away from their Celestial pro- 
prietors and enlisted under our banners. These 
innocent beasts had never before seen such a collec- 
tion of their species, and were probably under the im- 
pression that it was a great equine rebellion against 
mankind. If so, they were quickly disillusioned, for 
we soon caught and saddled them. 

It must be admitted that the country was not the 
very best for horsemen, the land being all cultivated 
with the usual terrible thoroughness of the Chinese 
agriculturist, and traversed by interminable little 
ridges, which are bad enough for horses in any case, 
but which were rendered worse on this occasion by the 
countless millions of sharp kiaoliang stalks with which 
they were covered. 

On the first night after crossing the Hun river we 
halted at Sifontai, and next day we faced south, and 
continued marching south until we reached Yinkow. 

On the very day on which we reached Sifontai our 
scouts reported a conflagration in a village towards 
the south-east, but I should have concluded that it had 



172 WITH THE COSSACKS 

no significance and was probably an accidental fire had 
it not been for what happened next evening. 

On the second day we reached a village called 
Yowdyeze, near the confluence of the Hun and the 
Liao rivers, and it was here that we came for the first 
time into contact with the Japanese. Towards evening 
our foremost scouts overtook a small party of the 
enemy, who were conveying a transport train consist- 
ing of twenty Chinese carts filled with hay and 
kiaoliang. 

The main body of our column — that is, the right 
column — had no sooner reached these carts than we 
noticed an enormous cloud of black smoke rise from 
an adjoining village and hang suspended in the still 
air, a portentous omen to us and a warning to all the 
Japanese for scores of miles around. I had been 
previously disposed to scoff when I heard the Russians 
declare that every flash of light or column of smoke 
which they saw in the distance was a "signal;" but 
there could be no doubt about the nature of this con- 
flagration, for an officer of the Tersko-Kubansky 
regiment who entered the village found that the 
burning house was surrounded by empty tins of 
kerosene, the contents of which had evidently been 
poured over the building. 

It was on this day that I saw the last of my friend 
Burtin, the French officer, who was killed the next 
day. He had ridden over from the central column to 
my column, that is, the left column, along with a 
young sotnik of the name of Turbin, who was accom- 
panied by about a dozen Verkhnyudinsky Cossacks, 
and I can still see him bent forward, Arab-like, on his 
Cossack saddle, the refined, eager face of the enthusiast 






MISHCHENKO'S RAID 173 

scanning the horizon, and oblivious to everything in 
the near vicinity. 

When night came on we could see fire after fire 
being kindled in the east, one further away than the 
other, the remotest probably burning within easy 
distance of Yentai. They were certainly signals, and 
as from a hillock I watched the u ghastly war-flame " 
speed eastwards, I could not help recalling Clytem- 
nestra's description of the watch-fires which brought 
to Argos the news of the fall of Troy, and at the same 
time thinking how much inferior after all is the vivid 
imagery of the most warlike poetry to the bald truth 
of the " real thing." 

On the morning of December 28 (O.S.) we got 
ready before dawn — although, of course, there was 
not much to get ready, for we travelled as lightly as 
possible, and our horses were always kept saddled — 
and assembled to hear the order of the day in a vast 
sandy valley, one of those bits of the great Gobi 
desert that break out here and there like a rash on the 
smooth face of the interminable ploughed land. 

The scene was peculiarly striking. The sandy 
waste and the dunes, red with the kindling fires of the 
east, on which the figures of horsemen stood motion- 
less as Arabs at prayer, and sharply outlined against 
the glowing sky, reminded me of pictures I had seen 
of Morocco and the Sahara. The crimson light of 
dawn streamed over the bare hillsides, and if one 
ascended a cliff and looked down on the troops 
gathered in the glen below, he could not but be struck 
by the rich oriental colouring of the scene. Only 
Salvator Rosa could do justice to such a sight. 

When I gazed on this interesting spectacle from a 



174 WITH THE COSSACKS 

hillside and with the rising sun at my back, the extra- 
ordinary mixture of colours came out very effectively ; 
but when I descended the hill and looked at the 
Cossacks with my face turned towards the sun there 
was no colour, only one uniform dark grey, and no 
details of the figures before me, only silhouettes. 

It was clear to us all this day that something big 
was afoot. The signals of the night before had 
probably prepared the men for something, and you 
could not fail to notice that they were prepared by the 
vigilant glances they threw around them and the care 
with which they scouted. I happened to be riding on 
this occasion with the advance guard, not because I 
wanted to see the first shot fired, but because I had 
mistakenly supposed when it started that it was the 
main body. 

As our strong fresh horses bounded beneath us 
over the illimitable plain I began for the first time 
to understand the delight which the soldier takes in 
war. I had not been able to understand it previously, 
having been mostly occupied during battle in mourn- 
fully sitting on a bare hillside watching the Japanese 
shells creep closer and closer, and scribbling in my 
notebook instructions regarding the disposal of my horse 
and camera. That sort of warfare drives fear into the 
marrow of one's bones, but on horseback, his lungs 
filled with ozone, and his eyes bright with health, I 
think that even the coward gets an infusion of courage 
sufficient to make him laugh in the teeth of death, or 
at all events to bear himself like a man until the ordeal 
is past. 

As a pastime pursued for its own sake, war — of the 
kind which old Mishchenko gave us on that occasion — 



MISHCHENKO'S RAID 175 

leaves fox-hunting far behind. In both cases you have 
the hard riding and the open air and the glorious sweep 
of country ; but in war you have the piquant spice of 
danger, and even if you are a non-combatant the in- 
toxicating sense of power, without which a ride across 
country will ever afterward seem to you like salad 
without vinegar, like an egg without salt. Little 
wonder, then, that when, on the day after the fight at 
Yinkow, I left my orderly, my Caucasian friends and 
Mishchenko in order to ride into a part of the country 
that had not yet been visited by the belligerents, I felt 
like Brigadier Gerard after Waterloo, and determined 
to get back to the army again as speedily as possible. 

Nearly every Cossack engagement opens in the same 
way. A Cossack scout rushes back breathlessly to his 
leader, and somehow or other there is never any mis- 
taking the news he brings. On two occasions, at all 
events, when I marked the agitation of the courier 
and the fleetness with which he rode, and noticed our 
leader bend forward in his saddle in an attitude of keen 
expectation, I said to myself, "Something serious has 
happened," and on both occasions I was right — a man 
had been shot. One of these occasions was the present, 
but when the man reached Colonel Bunting and 
saluted, he gasped and remained silent. It was not 
that he was wounded or breathless. The reason of 
his silence was that he was a Caucasian and unable to 
speak a word of Russian. A few moments before, the 
first rifle had cracked, and Staff-Captain Chaplin had 
fallen from his horse, shot through the heart. 

An interpreter having been found, Colonel 
Bunting succeeded in ascertaining from the Cau- 
casian scout that there was a band of Hunghuze in 



176 WITH THE COSSACKS 

the vicinity of a village called Lee-quee-shou. H< 
therefore gave the order to charge, and the Tersko- 
Kubansky and the Donsky Cossacks received at the 
same time a similar command. The Hunghuze were 
on the opposite bank of the Hun river — we were not 
far now from the point where the Hun joins the Liao 
— and had apparently fired at us from behind one 
of the earthen mounds which the Chinese have con- 
structed for scores of miles along the banks of the river 
in order to protect their fields from inundations. The 
Cossacks, therefore, crossed the ice (see photo.) and 
swept like a whirlwind on the Hunghuze. The 
memory of that charge will remain with me the longest 
day I live. 

The horses rushed across the plain at a speed 
which one could scarcely have believed possible 
considering the nature of the ground, and, amid the 
clouds of dust raised by their horses' hoofs, the 
swords of the Cossacks flashed. The Hunghuze 
scattered so rapidly that I could form no idea of their 
number, but some officers put it at five hundred. 
Many of them stood their ground bravely, firing on 
the Russians until their heads were cloven by the 
Caucasians, who did not, I must say, keep them 
waiting long. They did not fall in heaps, however, 
as you see in battle pictures, but were very widely 
scattered over an immense plain, so widely that I only 
saw two corpses, both corpses of Chinamen, dressed 
like the Hunghuze we had killed during Plaoutine's 
raid, and with nothing remarkable about them. 

There can be no doubt but that this band of robbers 
was in the service of the Japanese, otherwise we 
should not have found them down there in the rear 



MISHCHENKO'S RAID i 77 

of the Japanese army. Besides, we captured from 
them a Japanese flag bearing a Chinese inscription 
meaning " the right camp of the left wing," a " camp " 
in the Chinese army consisting of five hundred soldiers. 
They were all hardy, well-formed men in the prime of 
life, and they rode good Chinese horses, but did not 
carry any swords or lances. Their Japanese instructors 
had evidently taken great pains to drill them, and on 
this occasion they were a credit to their teachers. 

Somewhat further south our central column got 
into a far stiffer fight. Near the confluence of the 
Hun with the Liao there is a small walled village 
called Shoutoze, and in this village several hundred 
Japanese infantry-men held out with characteristic 
obstinacy for all the rest of the afternoon, thus delay- 
ing us by half a day, and incidentally saving Yinkow. 

The Verkhnyudinsky Cossacks were ordered to 
dismount and advance against them, and they did 
so with great courage, their officers going in front. 
The first report we got was that the Cossacks 
were driven back and two of their officers wounded, 
one of these wounded officers being afterwards 
carried inside the village by the Japanese. But 
next morning we saw the leathern-coated men from 
Verkhnyudinsky advancing with the rest of us, and 
heard that they had taken the village on the previous 
evening, all the Japanese being killed or dispersed. 
Unfortunately, two brave young officers of the Verkh- 
nyudinsky Regiment lost their lives on this occasion, 
one Nekrasoff, a "sotnik" or centurion of great bravery, 
who had previously been wounded twice during the 
present war, and the other Ferdinand Burtin, the 
French officer of whom I have already spoken. 



178 WITH THE COSSACKS 

Burtin had gone forward on foot to attack a village 
with the "sotnia" to which he was attached, but was 
shot in the leg and . fell to the ground, when he had 
come within a hundred yards of the enemy. If he 
had remained quite still he would have been safe, but 
he raised himself to a sitting posture and waved his 
sword as a sign for his men to come in, whereupon he 
immediately got one bullet through the head and 
another through the chest, and died soon afterwards, 
without saying anything. The official paper of the 
army afterwards came out with a long eulogistic 
account of him. Lieutenant Burtin was not a person- 
age, he was only an ordinary French officer, but he 
fully maintained the French officer's high reputation 
for bravery, skill and courtesy, and deeply the 
Cossacks of the Transbaikal " voisko" mourn the loss of 
the gallant foreigner who could not tell them how he 
sympathised with them, but whose actions spoke 
louder than words. He was buried before dawn next 
morning, January it, General Mishchenko and all his 
staff being present, and the same day we crossed the 
Taitze and advanced on old Newchwang. Not all of 
us went that way, however. The Primorsky Dragoons 
cantered off toward Ta-shih-chiao in order to blow 
up some of the railway, and thus prevent the Japanese 
from bringing troops into Yinkow by rail. To hear 
these officers talking lightly of riding over to Hai- 
cheng and Yinkow made us almost inclined to imagine 
that we were back in January 1904, and that the fall 
of Port Arthur and the defeats at Vafangow, at Liao- 
yang and on the Shaho were merely dreams. I, for 
one, was inclined to rub my eyes when I saw again 
in the distance the familiar hills of Ta-shih-chiao. 






MISHCHENKO'S RAID 179 

On the previous day a mixed detachment, composed 
of half a "sotnia" of the Chitinsky Cossacks, half a 
" sotnia " of the Verkhnyudinsky Cossacks, and half a 
"sotnia" of the Uralsky Cossacks, had been des- 
patched eastwards with a good supply of nitro- 
glycerine in order to cut the railway north of 
Haicheng. They accomplished this task with the 
greatest ease and expedition, but in such a way that 
the line could be repaired again in a few hours. When 
they reached the railway there were only a few of the 
enemy there, and these retired without firing a shot, 
whereupon the Cossacks proceeded to look for a 
bridge underneath which they might plant their 
explosives. Unfortunately they could not find any 
bridge, so they had to content themselves with blowing 
up part of the line — damage which the Japanese pro- 
bably made good in a very short time. 

A detachment of the Tersko-Kubansky regiment 
reported that it had destroyed five hundred metres of 
the railway at another point, and at four o'clock next 
morning an explosion from the direction of Tah-shih- 
chiao led us to conclude that a bridge on the Tah- 
shih-chiao-Yinkow line had been blown up. But this 
could not have been the case ; for just before our 
attack on Yinkow two trains came through, probably 
from the south. 

At old Newchwang we had another tussle with the 
Japanese. Fifty of them occupied a house there, and 
as we could not afford to waste time taking it, we con- 
tented ourselves with making prisoners of two or three 
wounded officers — who, by the way, spoke Russian 
tolerably well — and then we pushed further south. 

At old Newchwang there was the usual litter of 



180 WITH THE COSSACKS 

Japanese telegraph and telephone poles and wires, and 
more than the usual capture of transports. In fact, 
too much time was spent, I think, in burning these 
transports, which included clothing, kerosene, pro- 
visions and ammunition. Hundreds of cattle and 
sheep were also taken and driven before us. Every 
Cossack had a small bag of flour at his saddle-bow, 
and the Japanese must have found the tracking of 
him closely to resemble a paper chase, for his route 
was marked by empty boxes of " Peacock " and other 
brands of cigarettes which the Japanese soldier loves, 
and which the Cossack had now got hold of. 

On the night of the i ith there were no less than two 
huge conflagrations reddening the horizon. They were 
Japanese transports on lire. We spent that night in 
the village of Hundyatun, twenty miles from Yinkow, 
and in the morning we set out with the determination 
of reaching our destination before sunset. We passed 
on our way still another flaming transport. On this 
last day the extraordinarily mild weather that had 
favoured us thus far, still continued, but unfortunately 
the warm sunshine thawed the surface of the cultivated 
earth, so that whenever there was a breeze blowing 
from any point of the compass we rode amid dense 
clouds of dust. Of the Cossacks a few yards in front 
of me I could only see a faint grey outline, like 
figures of men on an over-exposed photographic plate, 
and I could hardly recognise the officers who rode 
beside me, so powdered were their beards and faces 
with the grey dust. 

The country became richer as we approached nearer 
to Yinkow, the villages far more prosperous, and the 
land even better cultivated. I was under the impres- 






MISHCHENKO'S RAID 181 

sion that we were still at a considerable distance from 
our destination when, at about 4 p.m., boom ! went a 
gun on the right, and a little cloud of shrapnel burst 
over a village, which was situated, as I afterwards dis- 
covered, a short distance in front of the Niuchatun 
Railway station. Boom ! boom ! boom ! went other 
guns, and then came the rattle of a heavy musketry 
fire, and we knew that the fight had begun. 

Early on the morning of this day a Chinaman whom 
we met at Hundyatun had told us that there were only 
three hundred Japanese soldiers at the Yinkow rail- 
way station, and that there were no soldiers at all in 
the town. Our officers had been of the opinion that 
a party of Cossacks would be sent to smash up the 
Japanese administration buildings while the rest of us 
were burning the stores at the station, but, just before 
the fight began, General Mishchenko communicated to 
his officers his plan of action, which was as follows : 

The Japanese, who were found to be strongly in- 
trenched in front of the station, would be shelled and 
then attacked by a mixed force composed of detach- 
ments from the Tersko-Kubansky and other regiments, 
amounting in all to about one thousand men. If this 
attack were successful the Japanese stores would be 
set on fire, and then the Russians would fall back as 
fast as they could. Fearing that indiscriminate looting 
and subsequent complications with foreign Powers 
would take place if the Cossacks entered the town, the 
general forbade them to enter in any case. 

Just as we approached Yinkow a train filled with 
soldiers rushed in from Ta-shih-chiao. It was made 
up of sixteen trucks, and, calculating that each truck 
could accommodate forty men, it must have brought 



1 82 WITH THE COSSACKS 

the strength of the garrison up to about a thousand ; 
that is, it made them equal in strength to the attack- 
ing party, which had, therefore, of course, no chance, 
especially as the Cossacks were without bayonets and 
had no skill whatever in attacking intrenched infantry. 
It is a truism to say that cavalry can do nothing 
against an equal force of infantry calmly lying behind 
earthworks, with their eyes on the sights of their rifles. 
Our Cossacks dismounted, of course, and advanced to 
the attack sword in hand, but they suffered seriously 
from the Japanese fire, and could make no progress. 
The courage of the Cossacks seems to be outside 
of themselves (to apply to them what Tacitus said of 
the Sarmates), for once dismounted they are lost. 

Among those killed in our brigade was Captain 
Koulibakine, a wealthy and fashionable officer of the 
Horse Guards, who had volunteered for the war. 

Meanwhile the bulk of Mishchenko's force was held 
in reserve. I was with the Caucasian brigade on the 
left flank, that is, on the railway, where for some 
reason or other it was suspected that an attempt would 
be made to flank us. These suspicions were increased 
by the fact that a few shots were fired on this part of 
our line, but these shots were probably fired by isolated 
Japanese volunteers, or perhaps by our own scouts, 
who mistook one another for the enemy. Luckily, 
however, no harm was done, only two horses wounded, 
I think. But the fear of an enemy who was not there 
kept us close to the railway line until five o'clock, 
when the fight ceased. 

About half-past four, a Chinese building in front of 
the station and another on the railway line burst 
simultaneously into flames, and many of us thought 



MISHCHENKO'S RAID 183 

that the former building was the station itself, or, at 
least, some of the buildings in which the Japanese 
stores were kept. But the murderous fire of the 
enemy still continued, and it was easy to see that we 
were making no progress. Just then an imperative 
order from General Mishchenko reached us. It was 
to the effect that we must at once retreat as quickly 
as we could to a village seventeen versts north of 
Yinkow, and we lost no time in doing so. There was 
not the slightest panic or disorder in our retreat, and 
I do not think that there was the slightest panic or 
disorder in any of the other detachments. The 
general had evidently given himself an hour to do the 
work he had got to do at Yinkow, and had decided 
beforehand to leave, directly that hour was up. 

It was too dangerous to remain, especially with 
such a composite force. If a night attack had been 
carried out, these different races in our brigade might 
very probably have come into collision, each under 
the impression that the other party was the enemy. 
With the stores at Yinkow station left uncaptured, 
the success of the raid was, however, incomplete. It 
was a pity we did not destroy these stores. A little 
more would have done it. 

I have just said that we got orders to fall back on 
a village seventeen miles north of Mukden. We did 
so in good order, and reached our destination in two 
hours. It was a smart piece of work all round, for all 
the other regiments were there before us, all except 
the Verkhnyudinsky and the others that were guarding 
our rear. Unfortunately the village in question was 
too small to hold us all, so that most of us — including 
the present writer — had to sleep out in the open, by 



1 84 WITH THE COSSACKS 

no means a pleasant experience in Manchuria at that 
time of the year. 

We heard next morning that 20,000 Japanese had 
assembled at Haicheng and were going to cut us off 
by establishing a network of infantry posts from that 
city right across to the Liao River ; but neither this 
information nor the more startling news that a Japanese 
infantry force was advancing towards us from the east 
of Yinkow caused us to hurry in the least. 

By eleven in the morning we still occupied that 
village, or, rather, the surrounding country, for the 
village was just large enough to contain General 
Mishchenko's staff and no more, and were looking 
after our wounded and making preparations for our 
journey north. Before noon, however, the Caucasians 
advanced to the south-east, covering the artillery, 
which had been ordered to shell the approaching 
infantry. The infantry did not approach, however, 
so that in the afternoon Mishchenko marched due north 
with great rapidity, as if he intended to retreat the 
way he came. The Japanese probably expected that, 
and had made every preparation to give him a warm 
reception as he crossed the Taitsze and Hun Rivers. 
But just when it seemed certain that he was heading 
direct for the trap that had been prepared for him, the 
wily old Cossack swung suddenly to the left, and was 
on the west bank of the Liao before the Japanese 
could properly realise what had happened. Next 
morning the enemy had also crossed to the other side 
of the Liao, but Mishchenko made it hot for them 
from eight o'clock to nine with his artillery. Then he 
moved on until he reached the main Russian army. 



HAPTER V 



HOW I LEFT MISHCHENKO 



When Mishchenko made his attack on Yinkow I 
determined that if it was successful I would cross the 
river and, from the neutral territory on the other side, 
send off a telegram to my paper describing our success. 
I was told that there was a censor at the telegraph 
office on the right bank, so I offered to take him back 
alive if they sent a Cossack with me, explaining that 
the gratification I would thus confer on the corre- 
spondents with the Japanese would be almost beyond 
human conception. The detachment with which I 
was connected made its attack on the Japanese left 
wing, however, so that I was a long way from the 
river, on whose frozen surface I could nevertheless see 
reflected the light from the blazing house near the 
railway station. 

Seldom in my life did I experience keener vexation 
than when the Cossacks galloped north without having 
done anything, and I went with them. 

" Here," I said to myself, "is a magnificent oppor- 
tunity lost ! I could have struck west towards that 
burning building and crossed the river in its glare. 
But now, alas ! it is too late." 

So angry with myself did I feel that I kept a 
continual look-out on our left for the Liao-ho, and 



186 WITH THE COSSACKS 

if we had come within sight of it again, I should 
certainly have crossed it, although I now realise that 
under the circumstances it would have been an ex- 
cessively dangerous and foolish thing to do. Not 
to mention the risk I should run from Chinese, 
Japanese, and Russians, I should almost certainly be 
drowned if I attempted to cross the river on horseback 
at this point ; for, near Yinkow, it had not been quite 
frozen over that year, and even where I did cross it 
much higher up, next day, I had to take the advice of 
a local resident and to travel under his direction in a 
very zig-zag manner, otherwise I should have infallibly 
gone through the ice in several places. 

At last I caught the glitter of the moonlight on a 
great sheet of ice, and without further ado I informed 
Colonel Bunting that I was going to cross the 
river. 

" But that's not the river," said he, " that's a lake 
You're a long way from the river now." 

These words convinced me that it was hopeless to 
try to get away that night, but I made up my mind to 
get off next morning ; and, when next morning came, 
I took advantage of our delay in setting out to tell 
Colonel Bunting that I was determined to leave him, 
to cross the Liao-ho, and to send off my telegram 
from the town of Tenshwantai above Newchwang, but 
on the Chinese side of the river. 

He told me that Mishchenko would cross the 
Liao-ho himself a little further north, and that I might 
as well accompany him for some distance ; but, having 
studied the map, I thought it would be better for me 
to strike due west at once. Besides, the further north 
I went the greater danger I ran from the Hunghuze, 



HOW I LEFT MISHCHENKO 187 

whom I feared very much more than I feared the 
Japanese. 

Accordingly I induced Colonel Bunting to write 
me a statement to the effect that I had left the regi- 
ment with his permission in order to cross the Liao 
river, send off a telegram from neutral territory, and 
afterwards return to the Russian army by way of 
Tsinmintun. This document proved useful later on, 
when I did return to the Russians and found them 
labouring under the delusion that I was a traitor. 

I next engaged the Manchurian who had guided us 
to Yinkow to guide me across the Liao-ho. He was 
a young dare-devil of nineteen or twenty, probably a 
bandit, and if the Japanese had caught him I am 
afraid that he would have had a short shrift, for in 
his purse were the rouble notes which he had received 
from his Russian employers. I might also mention the 
fact that I carried some telegramswhich the commander 
of our brigade had casually asked me to send for him ; 
and though they were apparently private messages, the 
Japanese might have made short work of me too if 
they had found them on me. Worst of all, however, 
I carried on my person rouble notes to the value of 
about one thousand pounds sterling. At this time it 
was necessary for a correspondent on the Russian side 
to carry these large sums of money with him, as he 
never knew when he might have to send off a telegram 
which would require every kopeck he had got, for 
the Russian telegraph officials would not adopt the 
" receiver-to-pay" system that obtains elsewhere. And 
if a Japanese or Russian scout had caught me, searched 
me, and found all this money on me, I am extremely 
afraid that he would not have spared my life. 



1 88 WITH THE COSSACKS 

At first our young Manchurian guide was very re- 
luctant to go with me, but when our regular regi- 
mental Chinese interpreter had told him that I was 
Yingwa (English), and therefore a great favourite with 
the Japanese, his hesitation was at once overcome. 

In order to get past the lake which lay to our west, 
I had to ride some distance to the south — that is, in 
the direction in which a body of Japanese infantry was 
said to be advancing to attack us ; and I felt exces- 
sively uneasy, therefore, until I was able to ride due 
west. 

As soon as I got clear of the Russian scouts I took 
off the Cossack jacket which I wore ; but my Astrakan 
cap, my high boots, and a number of other things 
gave everybody I met the impression that I was a 
Russian soldier. Besides, it is nothing less than 
mysterious how closely one comes to resemble, even 
in face and manner, a foreign people among whom one 
has lived for any length of time. 

On approaching the first village on my line of march 
my heart beat rapidly, for the heads of all the inhabi- 
tants thereof were visible above the earthen wall which 
surrounded the hamlet, and it was as likely as not that 
somebody would have a pot-shot at me. I passed 
through in safety, however, and, in four or five hours, 
was near the Liao-ho. 

These four or five hours were not, however, among 
the most agreeable which I have spent in my lifetime, 
for the eyes were ready to start out of my head with 
the strain of keeping a look-out for Japanese. At one 
place I saw ten or twelve horsemen on the verge of 
the horizon, but my guide told me that they were 
Chinese peasants : and, anyhow, we did not encounter 



HOW I LEFT MISHCHENKO 189 

them. As a rule I made out distant objects myself, 
and I was surprised and gratified at the accuracy I 
had acquired ; for I remembered that at the battle of 
Ta-shih-chiao I had been practically unable to see 
anything of the enemy, while the officers around me 
were able to see them easily. 

Having at length come near to the Liao-ho, I was 
horrified to discover casually from my guide that there 
was a Japanese guard in Tenshwantai, and I made no 
secret of my alarm. 

" But I thought you were a friend of the Japanese ? " 
gasped my young Hunghuze. 

I tried to explain that I was not fighting against 
them, and had nothing to fear from them except 
delay, which, considering the business I was on, would 
have been fatal ; but all this failed to reassure the 
youth, who now came evidently to the conclusion that 
I was, like himself, a dangerous outlaw. I sometimes 
heard him discussing me in the villages through which 
we passed. He always referred to me as the "p'ing" 
(soldier), and did not, I think, give the inhabitants a 
very reassuring account of me. He took to lagging 
behind in a very sulky manner, and I began to wonder 
if his object was to shoot me from the rear — for he 
was armed — and then, in good old Celestial fashion, 
to carry my head to the Japanese as a peace offering. 
I induced him, however, to bring me to a crossing- 
place some four or five miles north of Tenshwantai ; 
and when I finally did — albeit not without some diffi- 
culty — effect a crossing at this point, under the guid- 
ance of a middle-aged Celestial, who trembled with 
fear as he stared at my strange accoutrements, I felt 
as elated as if I had discovered the North Pole. 



190 WITH THE COSSACKS 

It was not quite a safe place, however, for it was 
about here that, after the battle of Ta-shih-chiao, the 
unfortunate Russian gunboat Sivoutch was so pestered 
by Hunghuze, who fired on her night after night from 
the bank, that the position of the crew became almost 
as horrible as that of the Master of Ballintrae when 
he was tracked in the woods of America by vengeful 
Indians. 

The country through which I now passed was as flat 
as a billiard-table, but it was very well cultivated, and, I 
should say, very prosperous, for the war had never 
touched it. I felt it odd not to see shrapnel on the 
remote horizon, and to realise that there were no longer 
any of the enemy's horsemen to keep a look-out for on 
the edge of the distant plain. I thought it odder to 
see fat hens and chickens walking placidly about the 
village streets, as if there wasn't a Cossack within a 
thousand miles of them. Again and again I found 
myself directing covetous glances towards fine old 
Chinese houses, such as General Mishchenko would 
undoubtedly have made his headquarters if he had 
come that way. My horse seemed to be in an equally 
demoralised condition, for I sometimes had difficulty in 
getting him past some of the well-stocked farmyards. 

Towards evening my Chinese guide said that his 
horse was lame, and wanted me to stop for the night 
in some of the native inns which we passed ; but I 
did not believe him, and, besides, I was determined in 
any case to get my wire off that day. Furthermore, it 
would be safer to stop at a railway-station, where I 
might probably meet with a foreigner, or where, at 
any rate, I had a chance of getting off by train to a 
safe place, than in a no-man's land where the Japanese 






HOW I LEFT MISHCHENKO 191 

might still catch me themselves, or induce the Chinese 
authorities to detain me, as I had no passport and 
therefore no right to travel in the district. I had 
also to consider the safety of my guide, who seemed 
wholly unconscious, however, of the danger in which 
he stood. 

Accordingly I pushed on at my topmost speed, 
inquiring at every village how far we were from the 
railway. Luckily I understood enough Chinese to ask 
this question and to understand the answers to it ; 
otherwise my guide might have succeeded in persuad- 
ing me, as he tried hard to persuade me, that the 
distance was twice as great as was actually the case. 
I noticed, by the way, that he unblushingly mis- 
translated the answers of the villagers on this point. 
The distance was great enough, however. That 
railway seemed to fly before me like the horizon. 
Village after village I passed, and I seemed to be 
making very little progress. At last, long after the 
sun had sunk below the horizon, but while there was 
still some light in the sky, I descried at an immense 
distance a little square house standing out against the 
last faint flicker of red on the western clouds. From 
its foreign shape I knew at once that it was the 
railway-station that I was looking for, the station of 
Dava. As I came nearer I saw an embankment, 
then a railway bridge, then ten of the Viceroy Yuan 
Shikai's Chinese soldiers — the usual railway guard — 
strolling about on the line. On observing me they 
rapidly retreated towards the station, and I feared I 
was going to get one of their dum-dum bullets in my 
body just as I was on the brink of safety. 

I got safely into the station, however, had my horse 



19* WITH THE COSSACKS 

attended to, sent off my telegram, and slept that night 
in a crowded Chinese " hotel " of the dirtiest descrip- 
tion. 

A few days after, I went to Tientsin by train. The 
conductor of the train, a young Englishman, an ex- 
Tommy, who had been in South Africa, and who had 
naturally a keen relish for adventure, took an extra- 
ordinary but embarrassing interest in me, owing, I 
suppose, to my Russian attire and to the romantic 
circumstances under which I had made my appear- 
ance, and insisted on hiding me in the kitchen of the 
dining car. 

M Impossible," he said, " to go into the car. There 
are two Japs there ! One is the chief of police at 
Shan-hai-kwan. If you show yourself, they'll try to 
take you off the train at Kupanze. They've often 
done it with Chinese. Why, they dragged a China- 
man out of this train only a few weeks back, and shot 
him behind my house in Kupanze. He was probably 
a Russian emissary of some sort, or had betrayed 
them or something. No, the Japanese were not in 
uniform, of course. In fact, they were disguised as 
Chinamen, but we all know that they are Japanese. 
This is their great centre for the organisation of the 
Hunghuze, you know. Yes, they've often dragged 
people out of this train. But let them try it this time ! 
/'ll fix them. Now, keep quiet. Your revolver's 
loaded ? Good ! Have another whiskey and soda ! 
I'll be back in a minute to report." 

A few moments after he had left, however, and 
while I was sitting on my saddle and rugs trying to 
control my laughter, the little slide through which the 
dishes are passed from the kitchen into the dining-car 



HOW I LEFT MISHCHENKO 193 

was suddenly opened, and the aperture filled with a 
stern, beardless, yellow face, with ugly, determined 
mouth and slanting eyes, which pierced me unrelent- 
ingly like gimlets for fully a minute. It was the face 
of a Japanese ; and, though I was conscious of no 
crime, I felt as uneasy under its stare as if it had been 
the face of a judge drawing on the black cap to con- 
demn me to death. 

A few stations further on, I found a Japanese horse- 
man — undoubtedly a soldier, although he wore civilian 
dress — staring at me with equal intentness through 
the carriage window ; but, luckily, I passed Kupanze 
without being interfered with. 

Immediately after we left Kupanze, the slide which 
I have already spoken of was again drawn aside, and 
the aperture filled with a face very different to the last 
one. It was a fat, rubicund, Semitic visage, and at the 
same time a cheerful voice began speaking to me in 
bad Russian, offering vague, incoherent and respectful 
promises of help. The owner of the voice, a prosper- 
ous Greek or Jewish sutler who had just come down 
from Mukden and Tsinmintun, after having success- 
fully sold a large consignment of liquor to the 
Russians, was divided between awe of me, who might 
turn out to be a general, and intense curiosity to know 
what I was up to. 

I disappointed him keenly, however, by telling him 
coldly that I was an Englishman, and not a Russian. 

" Well, I only heard the people in the carriage talk- 
ing about you," he mumbled in an apologetic tone, 
" saying that you had been with that party which 
attacked Newchwang yesterday, that you came on at 
a wayside station where by right this train should not 



194 WITH THE COSSACKS 

stop, and that you were hiding here. I don't want to 
know anything about you, but" — mysteriously — "I 
may tell you that I'm working for the Russians myself. 
See here " — and he handed me a Russian paper which 
I at once saw to be merely a sutler's pass allowing 
him to convey goods inside the Russian lines at 
Tsinmintun. 

He then went on to speak of his intimacy with 
Colonel Agorodinkoff, the Russian military agent at 
Tientsin, and of the confidence reposed in him by 
Kuropatkin himself, until, to get rid of him, I left my 
hiding-place, and, to the unutterable horror of my 
English Tommy, walked right into the dining-car. Here 
I found several Greek sutlers, also on their way from 
Mukden for more liquor, a few Japanese, and a few 
Chinese, who were, no doubt, disguised Japanese 
officers. 

At Shan-hai-kwan, where we arrived after nightfall, 
my English friend insisted on enveloping me in a great- 
coat, giving me a bowler hat in place of my Russian 
cap, and bringing me with the utmost secrecy to his 
own lodgings, which I quitted next morning in a suit 
of my friend's clothes, and, to all appearances, quite a 
different man. My friend had even insisted on giving 
me the name of Brown ; but, of course, the Japanese 
intelligence officers in Shan-hai-kwan recognised me 
at once. One of them was within earshot when I 
asked for my ticket, and another never took his eyes 
off me all the way to Tientsin. 

I might here mention a trifling but characteristic 
circumstance, that afterwards occurred to me at 
Kupanze station, on my way back to the Russians. A 
Chinaman, whom I did not know, walked up to me 



HOW I LEFT MISHCHENKO 195 

and handed me a letter addressed to me by my real 
name — which, by the way, I had not used once during 
this trip. Forgetting for the moment that I was 
Mr. Brown, I accepted the letter mechanically ; but 
its contents were not in keeping with the mysterious 
manner in which it had been delivered to me, for it was 
simply a last demand from the tax-collecting bureau of 
Tokio (in which city I had lived for a long time) for 
the payment of income-tax. Meanwhile the China- 
man had disappeared, but how he had got to know 
my name was a mystery. 

All the way down to Tientsin the Greek sutler and 
his friends spoke loudly and disrespectfully about 
Japan, drank expensive wines, and freely displayed 
bundles of five-hundred rouble notes which they had 
got up in Mukden. I went down horribly in their 
estimation by suggesting that they might bring cameras 
and books into Mukden next trip. " What we makes 
money on, young man," said one of them, turning his 
back on me contemptuously, " is — booze ! " 

My object in coming to Tientsin was to purchase 
photographic supplies, a new suit of clothes, books, a 
fountain pen, and a number of other things which could 
not be had in Mukden ; but, as I intended to return 
immediately to the army, and as I wanted to keep my- 
self above all suspicion of having dealings with the 
enemy, I went to the house of Colonel Agorodinkoff, 
the Russian secret service agent in Tientsin, and, at 
his request, took up my abode with him. 

A few days in Tientsin showed me how it was that 
the Japanese were getting so much better informa- 
tion than the Russians. The latter had to depend on 
a set of most unreliable Greek, Armenian, Polish and 



196 WITH THE COSSACKS 

Jewish sutlers. The news these ignorant and bump- 
tious men picked up in their sober moments was unre- 
liable and inaccurate. Besides, they blabbed it to 
everybody who wished to "draw" them, and I am 
sure they would have cheerfully sold it to the Japanese 
if the latter had been foolish enough to bid for it. 
They used to come round after dark every day to the 
Russian agent's quarters, but the Japanese knew them 
all perfectly, for a Japanese agent had a room com- 
manding the entrance to the colonel's house, and in 
this room there was always a watcher, day and night. 
Besides this, Japanese, got up as Chinese "jinrick- 
shaw" men, were always stationed at our door, and 
nobody passed in or out without the head of the 
Japanese secret service organisation knowing of it at 
once. In fact, the Japanese system of espionage was 
absolutely perfect, and that because of the zeal with 
which every one of the Mikado's subjects in Tientsin 
worked for it. I shall give one example. 

Going into a Japanese barber's on one occasion to 
get my hair cut, I talked to the barber while the 
operation was being performed about his native town, 
which I knew thoroughly, and I think he got the im- 
pression that I had just been in Japan. On going 
away, I found I had only got Russian money to pay 
him with. Now in Tientsin at that time, Russian 
money marked the owner of it as having been in 
Mukden, and I am told that, in Haicheng and Liao- 
yang, the Japanese used to imprison, and even put to 
death, Chinese whom they found in possession of 
rouble notes which they could not give a satisfactory 
account of. Therefore, the fact that I had Russian 
money and that I had evidently just come from Japan 



HOW I LEFT MISHCHENKO 197 

at once aroused the suspicions of the barber, and 
he very cleverly managed to detain me while he sent 
for a soldierly-looking fellow countryman who was 
probably in the secret service, and who came almost 
instantaneously to have a look at me. 

It was their infinite capacity for taking pains that 
made the Japanese win in this war, and that made 
their intelligence service far superior to that of the 
Russians ; but, by saying this, I do not mean to throw 
any discredit on Colonel Agorodinkoff. In fact, I was 
surprised that he could have done as much as he did, 
considering the unreliable tools he had to work with. 
Unfortunately, any European nation that gets into 
trouble with Japan will have similarly unreliable tools 
to depend on. It will be a question of money against 
patriotic fanaticism. 

A Russian secret service agent in Mukden — I must 
explain that the censors were all secret service agents 
— once confessed to me that he found it absolutely 
impossible to get information from Japan. 

u It's amazing ! " he said. " It's as if the country 
were hermetically sealed. We can make no connec- 
tions. We can get no news of military movements." 

This was about the time that a persecuted Polish 
patriot, who had fled to Tokio, cursing the Tsar and 
all his works, had been coldly received by the Japanese, 
who had lost no time in seeing him on board the first 
outgoing steamer. 

Of course the Russians got some information. Like 
the Japanese, and like every political or Press agent 
who cared to spend the money, they got all the tele- 
grams that passed along the Chinese wires. A Russian 
newspaper correspondent, acting, I presume, for the 



198 WITH THE COSSACKS 

Russian agent at Shan-hai-kwan, with whom he lived, 
had bought my telegram about the Mishchenko raid 
over the counter of the railway telegraph office at Shan- 
hai-kwan, just as you would buy a box of cigars at a 
tobacconist's, and, when I came down to Tientsin, the 
Russians knew all about my despatch. This is not 
fancy on my part, for I afterwards met the corre- 
spondent in question in Shanghai, and he unblushingly 
acknowledged what he had done. 

A peculiar thing about the Russians in Tientsin was 
that, when introduced to them for the first time, they 
always asked me, with a certain odd intonation in their 
voice: " What brings you here?" — and I soon saw 
that this was a pass-word exchanged among their secret 
agents. I never tried to find out what the answer 
was, but, although I always remained outside the 
charmed circle, I felt that the Russians trusted me 
implicitly. 

Before leaving for the north, I paid a visit to 
Mr. Lessar, the Russian Minister at Peking, now, alas! 
dead. When I called on him, he was sitting before 
his desk with his legs extended on another chair. He 
wore the uniform of a general, and was looking very 
worn. He told me that he had been in Central Asia 
and had known Skoboleff ; but most of his conversa- 
tion was devoted to a heated exposition of the dangers 
to which European and American interests in the Far 
East were exposed through the Japanese propaganda in 
China. He told me in the most earnest manner (and 
I must say that, owing to his ghastly appearance, for 
he was then dying, his words had a great effect on 
me) that the Japanese were working, through Yuan- 
shih-kai and the Yangtsze Viceroys, towards the 



HOW I LEFT MISHCHENKO 199 

overthrow of the Manchu dynasty. They were ex- 
citing a revolutionary spirit in the country. They 
were at the back of some of the powerful secret 
societies, and they were even using their Buddhist 
monks down in the south to scatter the seeds of revolt. 
The Japanese wanted in China a strong new Govern- 
ment, which would be able to unite with them against 
Europe ; and England would be the first to suffer 
when Japan had attained this end. 

Mr. Lessar protested against the enormous quantity 
of ammunition and supplies that the Japanese were 
bringing into Newchwang through Chinese territory 
and against Admiral Togo's seizure of the Elliott 
Islands, a breach of neutrality of which the Powers 
had taken no notice. He would not, however, allow 
me to publish his name in connection with these 
remarks, so that I made no use of them at the time. 

I returned to Tsinmintun with a number of Russian 
Legation officials who were going home that way to 
Europe, and I again met my Tommy Atkins friend at 
Shan-hai-kwan, and heard from him a lot of strange 
stories about the prosperous Anglo-Chinese railway, 
for which he worked. It seems that since the war 
began, and especially before the fall of Port Arthur, 
the Russians had spent enormous sums in bribing the 
employes of this railway to convey food, ammunition, 
etc., from Tsinmintun to Shan-hai-kwan, or some other 
port, whence it was shipped to Port Arthur by captains 
who had also received enormous bribes, and who 
would each of them have been rich beyond the dreams 
of avarice if they had succeeded in bringing their 
precious freight of explosives into the beleaguered 
fortress. In spite of this outlay of money, which must 



200 WITH THE COSSACKS 

have come to millions of pounds sterling, Japanese 
agents — not one of whom received, I suppose, more 
than a pound a week — nipped nearly every scheme in 
the bud. Most of those they did not nip were nipped 
by Togo's blockading squadron. 

I left Tientsin for my Cossack camp with the greatest 
delight, for, after such a long absence from cities, the 
life of Tientsin disgusted me. To be separated from 
my horse, to sleep within four walls, to eat my meals 
in a restaurant, was intolerable. I could not under- 
stand how the people of Tientsin lived the unnatural 
life they led. I failed to comprehend how a clerk 
could sit all day at a desk, and great was my pity for 
the shop-boys who had to wear immaculate linen, and 
whose only exercise consisted in vaulting over the 
counter. I felt that I knew immeasurably more of 
life than they did, for I had seen wholesale death. I 
was accordingly delighted when, on reaching Tsin- 
mintun at nightfall one day, I found there a force of 
about twenty Cossacks awaiting to convey my friends 
from the Legation, inside the Russian lines. 

Assuming again my Russian top-boots, leathern 
jacket, belt, "polshubok," and cap, I went along with 
them on my faithful horse, which an English railway 
employt had kindly taken care of all this time, and for 
which I had now brought, by way of New Year's gift, 
a beautiful new English bridle that I had purchased 
in Tientsin. Three or four hours' headlong gallop in 
the dark brought us across the Liao-ho and to the 
first Uape, a very clean one, where we had a rousing 
reception. 

At last, after wandering long amid narrow streets 
and unsightly houses — at last I had come home ! 



CHAPTER VI 

THE BATTLE OF SANDYPU 

On my return to Mukden I found the wildest tales in 
circulation regarding my departure from Mishchenko's 
force. Cossack officers said that they had seen me 
with their own eyes ride into Newchwang, a general 
at the "etat-major " had declared that he would have 
ordered the Cossacks to fire on me as I went off, if I 
had dared to leave him under the same circumstances. 
Kuropatkin had complained to Mishchenko about me. 
Mishchenko (who had not heard my version of the 
story) had casually told his men to hang me if I ever 
fell into their hands. 

I found that I was as one excommunicated. The 
censor had wept at my treachery, and declared that 
his belief in human nature was shattered. Brother 
correspondents shook their heads dolorously, and said 
that it was all up with me. 

The Russian diplomatists with whom I had travelled 
from Peking, and who were now my guests in Mukden, 
solemnly advised me, after seeing some prominent 
Russian officials, not, as I valued my life, to go back to 
the front. The soldiers might do something violent. 

I went back, however, that very day. It was 
snowing and cold (20° below freezing-point at the time 
I started, but in a day or so it seemed to have gone 



202 WITH THE COSSACKS 

down to 50° below freezing-point). I had now no 
Cossack with me, for PhilipofY was with Mishchenko, 
but I thought it imperatively necessary to explain 
matters to the general at once ; so I set out alone, 
with but a very vague idea of where I was going to, 
for I knew that Mishchenko had left his old quarters, 
and was far away somewhere down along the Liao-ho. 

Towards nightfall I reached the village of Sahu- 
dyapu from which Mishchenko had started on his 
famous raid ; but as it was now the headquarters of 
General Grippenberg, a very severe disciplinarian, 
who had been maddest of all about my escapade, and 
who would have at once sent me back to Mukden if I 
had dared to call on him, I rode past as quickly as I 
could. The cold was now rendered intense owing to 
a cutting wind which blew from the north, and which 
seemed to penetrate to the marrow of my bones 
although it had to pass through no less than three 
thick coats each lined with sheepskin. It also blew 
snow in my eyes so that I could hardly see, and, 
anyhow, there was nothing to see — nothing but a vast 
snowy plain of infinite desolation. It was impossible 
for me to distinguish on the horizon where sky began 
and earth ended. I seemed to be caught in an 
immense sphere of snowy crystal. No words can 
express the bleakness of these polar wastes. 

At last I knew what a northern winter meant, and 
realised the force of Nekrassov's description of that 
terrible monarch : 

In the sepulchres, King Winter said, 
With flowers of ice I deck the dead ; 
I freeze the blood in living veins, 
And in living heads I freeze the brains. 






THE BATTLE OF SANDYPU 203 

Under these circumstances I was delighted to meet 
with a red-bearded Donsky Cossack, who told me that 
he was riding to rejoin the detachment of General 
Mishchenko. We managed to converse, after a 
fashion, on quite a variety of subjects, and finally 
became fast friends. 

By-and-by we met signs of life in this desert. The 
first signs of life consisted of a young Chinese woman 
and an old man who seemed to be her father, both of 
whom were being conveyed to the rear by a Cossack. 
Then came some more Chinese. An aged man was 
carrying on his back an old door ! One young couple 
had with them an ass and a baby boy. I thought of 
the Flight into Egypt ; but, alas ! this child is more 
likely to be a Genghis Khan than a Christ. Then we 
met signs of battle, wounded officers and men being 
carried on stretchers, and a score or so of Japanese 
prisoners. I talked with the latter, and noticed that, far 
from being downcast, they spoke up cheerfully, asking 
me to give them cigarettes. One of them, however, 
looked very sad. He was a handsome youth, and, in 
contrast with the jeering Cossacks, he had the calm, 
unexpected, foreign face of an Egyptian statue, of a 
Rameses II. or a Queen Tai. Late that night my 
friend met other Cossacks from the Don, who had 
established themselves snugly in a Chinese hut, which 
they had managed to make as hot as an oven. The 
Cossacks welcomed me, and asked me to share their 
simple meal of soup, beef and black bread, which I 
very gladly did, although the beef was handed to me 
in hands which were none too clean. I gained their 
hearts by repeating snatches of Russian songs that I 
had picked up, but grieved them, I think, by going to 



20 4 WITH THE COSSACKS 

bed, apparently without saying my prayers. "And 
thou, dost thou not say thy prayers, Little Hawk 
(sok61ik) ? " As for them, they prayed long and 
fervently, standing up facing the east most of the 
time, but very frequently dropping to the ground with 
startling suddenness and touching the floor with their 
foreheads. 

Next morning I found favour with them again by 
photographing them all in a row in front of the hut 
where we had passed the night. It took a long time 
before they had arranged themselves to their own 
satisfaction with drawn swords in front of the camera, 
but at last they were satisfied, albeit a trifle hurt at 
first because I could not give them the " sneemki " 
(photographs) there and then. 

After drinking some tea I and my companions set 
out again, and late that night we reached the house of 
an old general of the Don Cossacks, who delighted my 
heart by telling me that I was now at the extreme 
front — a fact which I had already discovered, however, 
from the continual rumble of cannon and the crackling 
of musketry — and that a big fight was going on a few 
miles off. Even while he was talking, a young 
Japanese cavalryman was led in prisoner, and in order 
to give the Donsky general a high idea of my utility, 
I forthwith attempted to converse with him. His name 
was Sakimoto, he came from Marga-Uchi, Inaga, and 
had been captured in a neighbouring village, which 
he and about a dozen other scouts had entered. The 
Cossacks had rushed the village, but all the Japanese 
had escaped save our friend, who told me to ask the 
" seokwan " (general) not to cut his head off. When the 
general heard this, he swelled visibly with benignity, 






THE BATTLE OF SANDYPU 205 

and, beaming on the prisoner like a father, he declared 
that Russians never put prisoners to death, etc. etc. 
Hearing some of the Russian officers using the word 
geisha, the prisoner told me that if they did not kill 
him he would bring back from Japan any number of 
geisha they wanted — very beautiful geisha too. In 
spite of this he was evidently convinced that he 
was going to be put to death, for nothing could be 
sadder than the look in his dark eyes as he gave 
me the military salute before being taken away. 
His last words were a request to feed his horse, 
which had been captured with him, and which had 
not had anything to eat since morning. The old 
Cossack leader was much affected when he heard 
this, and issued immediate directions for the horse 
to be fed. 

As soon as we had had a hasty meal of preserves, I 
wrapt myself in my warm overcoat, without of course 
removing my clothes or boots or hat, or cameras even, 
and laid down on the " kang," but at about three 
next morning, before I had been more than twenty 
minutes asleep, one of the officers awoke me, saying 
that we were all leaving immediately. When I went 
out into the courtyard I thought I should have dropped 
dead, for the cold was something beyond all description. 
I had never before experienced such a temperature. I 
had never imagined that human life could exist in such 
intense cold. The Kirghiz desert, the Antarctic table- 
land, cannot, I said to myself, be half as bad as this. 
Owing to the snow which had fallen during the night- 
time, and to the freezing of the natural vapour arising 
from my horse, that animal had the appearance of a 
pre-historic monster embedded in an Arctic snow- 



206 WITH THE COSSACKS 

drift. Its breath had frozen on leaving its nostrils so 
that there was a horn of ice a foot long projecting from 
its nose, and lumps of the hardest ice of unequal 
sizes had become attached to its hoofs. I think 
that at that moment I would have sacrificed all my 
prospects in this world and the next for a warm 
bed and safety. But, unfortunately, I had to go, and, 
in a few moments after I had been awakened, I had 
saddled my horse, although the bit burned my 
benumbed hands like frozen mercury, and was riding 
along with the Donsky Cossacks. The earth was all 
a white blank, the stars were of extraordinary bril- 
liancy, the cold prevented me from noticing more. I 
wore the thickest woollen socks that Tientsin could 
furnish, and over them I wore high felt-lined boots 
that would have been intolerably hot in the coldest 
English winter ; but, in spite of all this, the cold 
stirrups burned through the soles of my boots like red- 
hot irons, and, to save myself from the loss of my legs 
by frost-bite, I jumped off my horse and walked on 
foot. How long I walked I don't know, but I noticed 
that the hardy Cossacks were also on foot. At dawn 
we entered a deserted Chinese village at one end, 
while in at the other end came my friends the 
Verkhnyudinsky Cossacks and the men of the 
Caucasian brigade. I very soon explained to their 
satisfaction my ride across the Liao-ho, and they 
told me of the bloody battle of Sandypu and of how 
Mishchenko had been wounded during a desperate 
attack on the village of Wukiatsz, which a handful 
of Japanese had stuck to with their usual bull-dog 
tenacity. 

Now, for the retreat from Sandypu. I had just 



THE BATTLE OF SANDYPU 207 

made myself comfortable in a Chinese house, with my 
friends of the Daghestansky Polk, when the usual news 
came — instant retreat. It was now evening, and the 
snow was falling heavily. Displacing a fleecy pile of 
it from my saddle, I mounted and rode north through 
a country ensanguined, despite the thick white mantle 
which enshrouded it, by a blood-red glow extending 
all over the western heavens, in which the sun was 
now sinking. 

Long after darkness had fallen, we reached a village 
in which there were lights and crowds of soldiers and 
officers, and stopped in the outskirts of it for some 
time, trying to locate ourselves. Under the impres- 
sion that we were going to put up here for the night. 
I dismounted and entered a house, but soon discovered 
that my party had gone on elsewhere. Where to find 
them on such a dark night w T as now the question. 
Fortunately I encountered a soldier from the Daghe- 
stansky regiment, and followed him. It was very 
difficult to do so, however, for he rode a fine horse, 
and went at a break-neck pace, threading his way 
through crowds of other horsemen from whom it was 
difficult to distinguish him. In fact the only way I 
could distinguish him in the darkness was by the fact 
that the rump of his horse was grey and that a weapon 
by his side glinted at a certain angle. 

So much ice had become attached to the hoofs of 
my horse, that the unfortunate animal seemed to be 
walking on four stilts, no two of which were of the 
same length, and, to make matters worse, I almost 
lost all feeling in my own extremities owing to the 
intense cold. I should have liked to walk on foot 
in order to restore my circulation, but I could not 



208 WITH THE COSSACKS 

now do so, as I had got to keep up with this horse- 
man. 

Some time before daybreakmyguide and I blundered 
into a large body of cavalry standing compact and 
almost invisible on the outskirts of a village, and, in 
spite of the darkness, I could see at once from the 
multiplicity of strange banners which they carried 
folded up, that they were the Caucasians I was in 
search of. There seemed to be some difficulty about 
getting quarters in this village, for we had to remain 
on the outskirts for half an hour while our leaders 
held a heated discussion with some soldiers who were 
already in possession. 

Finally we crowded into two or three houses, at 
least the officers did so. The men lighted huge fires 
in the spacious courtyards of these houses and slept 
beside them. 

Prince Nahitchivansky and the Caucasian officers 
insisted on my coming into the house which they 
occupied and taking my place on the warm "kang" 
where, after an hour or so, I slowly began to thaw. 

Our next tribulation came in the shape of a frozen 
general and his men, all of them Donsky Cossacks, 
who insisted most emphatically that this village had 
been assigned to them. A long and heated debate 
on this subject raged between our adjutant and the 
adjutant of the Donsky general, the latter gentleman 
being apparently too frozen to speak for himself, and, 
while it lasted, our hearts almost ceased beating, for 
the prospect of having to leave our cosy quarters to 
face the biting cold outside was too terrible. It was 
like the prospect of being dragged from one's warm 
bed on a winter's day and thrown naked into a hole in 



THE BATTLE OF SANDYPU 209 

an icy river, and the reader may therefore imagine 
the agonising interest with which I followed the con- 
test between the prince from the frosty Caucasus and 
the general from the quiet Don. 

Luckily it ended in an amicable compromise, the 
general being given a place on the "kang" and his 
followers being allowed to sleep outside. My com- 
panions did not sleep, however. They played cards, 
and the words "clubs," "trumps," "hearts," and "ya 
eegrayu; yapanemayu "("I play : I understand"), — the 
strange rhyme which one hoarse-voiced player kept 
repeating every few minutes, — were the last sounds I 
heard as I dropped off. On such occasions the con- 
gestion was terrible and was made worse, in the morn- 
ing, by every one insisting on washing his face inside 
the hut. As a Russian officer, when he washes, 
requires the attendance of his orderly, who first pours 
water on his hands out of a cup and then pours it on 
his head, neck and face, it was generally impossible to 
cross the floor of a room without upsetting somebody 
or something. 

Under these circumstances it might be expected 
that rows would take place, but the Russians were 
invariably good-natured and forbearing. For my own 
part I always washed outside, but as I could never 
pluck up sufficient courage to take off any of my three 
overcoats, I am afraid that my ablutions were of 
rather a perfunctory character. 



CHAPTER VII 

MUKDEN BEFORE THE BATTLE 

Just before the battle, which will for ever make its 
name celebrated, the city of Mukden was at its best. 

In order to find that ancient capital presenting as 
picturesque and animated a picture as it did then, one 
must go back to the early days of the Manchus, to the 
days when Mukden was a real capital 

For several reigns it has not received an imperial 
visit. The palace is in decay, and it is hard to dis- 
cover what the Tartar-general does with the thousands 
of pounds sterling which he annually receives from the 
Court at Pekin for its upkeep. Probably he pockets 
them. Anyhow the continual neglect of the Court had 
doubtless a good deal to do with Mukden's loneliness 
two years ago. 

When I came to Mukden, in April 1904, I found the 
city very dull, contrasting strongly in this respect with 
Liao-yang. Filled with temples and with Buddhist 
monks, it seemed to be a sort of faded ecclesiastical 
capital, like Kandy in Ceylon, Ayuthia inSiam, or Kyoto 
in Japan. When travellers landed at the bleak little 
shanty which serves as the railway-station, they found 
the place almost deserted. The station-master, a Greek 
barber, and a few officers and soldiers, were the sole 
inhabitants of this sequestered spot. There was no 



MUKDEN BEFORE THE BATTLE 211 

buffet, and no "jinrikshas"or other means of conveyance 
waited outside. As the city is miles distant from the 
station, this lack of transport facilities was a serious 
matter ; and travellers had to walk toward that part of 
the horizon where they believed Mukden to lie, much 
in the same way as Red Indians out in the prairies of 
the Far West stalk stolidly homewards after leaving 
the train at some point where, barring the railway- 
station, there is not a house in sight. 

In the city itself there were only two or three houses 
where European commodities could be purchased. 
The streets were almost deserted, and the citizens 
had not yet got over their habit of staring at European 
customers as if the latter wore more than the regulation 
number of heads. 

February 1905. — What a change has now taken 
place ! 

The station is provided with a buffet, into which I 
have only been able to penetrate] once or twice, owing 
to the throngs of officers, doctors, and Red Cross 
nurses that always fill it. 

The crowd of " jinrikshas " that wait outside re- 
minds one of Shimbashi station at Tokio. There 
is a big detachment of soldiers going north, for a body 
of Japanese cavalry has just blown up a railway 
bridge at Changchun, 160 miles north of Mukden, and 
a brigade of the 41st Division has been sent to inter- 
cept them. Two regiments of Cossacks have also 
marched into Mongolia on the same fruitless mission, 
and, when they return, they will find that the battle of 
Mukden has been fought and lost. 

The streets of the city are as crowded as the streets 
of a flourishing market town in England during the 



212 WITH THE COSSACKS 

Christmas season. Sometimes, indeed, the congestion 
of traffic would do credit to the Strand. 

Interminable lines of transport-carts and horses get 
locked together at the gates and block the street traffic 
for hours together. 

M Jinrikshas," pedestrians, horsemen, and Chinese 
carters try to make their way through the swaying 
mass of cursing men and rearing horses with the result 
that they only render the confusion worse confounded. 
What a mixture of races and variety of types one 
now meets in the streets ! Here a Buriat Cossack 
sits in an "arba" (cart) on the side of the street, 
bargaining with a placid Chinese shopkeeper, who, 
patiently, smilingly, insistently demands five hundred 
per cent, above the market price. This Buriat has to 
take supplies to his " sotnia," which is fifty miles off to 
the south-east, and to-night he will sleep in his cart 
outside the walls, wrapped in his capacious but dirty 
" shuba," or sheepskin coat, with his purchases under 
him and his horse tethered to the shafts of the vehicle. 

Alas ! here comes a melancholy crowd of Chinese 
refugees — the inhabitants of some once prosperous 
village. Clad in rags and scarcely able to walk 
from hunger, they present a pitiable sight, and, strange 
to say, it is not the Russians but their own country- 
men and countrywomen who jeer at them as they 
stagger past. 

Half a dozen magnificent horses, half of them Arab 
horses, half English, are held by orderlies outside a 
small place which calls itself an hotel. These horses 
belong to officers who had volunteered from the Guards 
at the beginning of the war. They — the officers — had 
heard of the parade into Pekin in 1900 and thought 




THE SOUTH GATE OF MUKDEN 



MUKDEN BEFORE THE BATTLE 213 

that there was going to be a similar parade into Seoul 
and Tokio in 1904. They had therefore promised 
their friends souvenirs from the Mikado's capital, and 
had all been careful to provide themselves beforehand 
with handy little Russo-Japanese phrase-books. 

One of the greatest surprises in Mukden is the 
cosy little "interior" belonging to Dr. and Mrs. Ross, 
of the Scotch Presbyterian Church. It is a perfect 
British home, with library, drawing-room, clock ticking 
in the hall, warm blazing fire, everything complete. 
A supper with Dr. Ross after one has come in from 
some Cossack raid is enough to make one imagine 
that he has never left the English shore, and that all 
his recent experiences are only unpleasant dreams. 

Throughout the meal, the doctor, whose medical 
work among the Chinese poor has made him respected 
by every one in Mukden, speaks about China — on which 
country he has written several valuable books ; after 
supper is over and grace has been said, young Miss 
Ross plays the piano ; but it remains for the baby to add 
by its artless prattling the last touch needed in order 
to make one imagine oneself back in the old country. 
There are not many English folk in Mukden, but, 
nevertheless, English influence is strong there. The 
Chinese postal and telegraph officials are under Sir 
Robert Hart, and therefore pro-English. This is 
useful in many ways to the correspondents. For 
instance, we not only pick our own mail out of the 
mail-bags at the post office, but pick out all the news- 
papers addressed to the censor as well. As these 
newspapers sometimes contain uncensored articles 
their seizure saves trouble, but some correspondents 
go too far. One of them, for instance, an American, 



2i 4 WITH THE COSSACKS 

has had the audacity to intercept for a year or so all 
the English papers and periodicals that come to 
Admiral Alexeieff, the Viceroy of the Far East ! The 
censor, who has arranged to get two copies of each 
of our papers, is amazed sometimes at their non- 
arrival. He always manages to get hold of the New 
York Herald, however, and I was very proud of this 
fact until I discovered that it was not my articles 
which attracted him, but a series of coloured cartoons 
in the Sunday edition representing the career of an 
American enfant terrible called Buster Brown. 

Outside the west gate, the Dai- Lama's Temple, 
Quan-si-howlo, in which I lived for a time after 
coming to Mukden, has greatly changed. It has lost 
its pristine calm, and is full of Russian officers and 
soldiers. The young Lamas are rapidly acquiring 
Russian, but losing, I am afraid, their vocation. 
Luckily, however, monastic life in Lama monasteries 
is not too strict. 

Members of the Caucasian brigade are strolling 
down the street with their hands on the hilts of their 
swords and their brains — such as they are — busy 
with the solution of the perplexing problem, " Why is 
this place not delivered over to loot ? " 

These bold Mohammedan mountaineers have stout 
hearts and fine swords, and horses and a picturesque 
costume, but as soldiers they have, as I tell elsewhere, 
their shortcomings. Their discipline is anything but 
perfect, and no two of them speak the same language, 
so that when their colonel gives the order to charge, 
hours elapse before the numerous translators have 
made a fair proportion of them understand what is 
required of them. 



MUKDEN BEFORE THE BATTLE 215 

It is surprising how well the Russian privates and 
the Chinese fraternise. They shake hands, they play 
with one another like children. They are on terms of 
perfect equality. I have seen officers shake hands with 
Chinese interpreters. Just imagine what would happen 
if a choleric old Indian colonel stepped out on to the 
verandah of his bungalow one morning, and observed 
any of his men making as free with Ramasamy, 
as the Russian soldier does with " John Chinaman." 
He would immediately conclude that the man was in- 
toxicated. But whatever trouble he may give his 
superiors in other directions, Tommy Atkins is not 
likely to distress them by over-familiarity with the 
natives. Drunk or sober, he will stroll about in gloomy 
and magnificent isolation, so far as his dusky Aryan 
brothers are concerned, and be more likely to kill one 
of them with a kick than with kindness. 

At every step you see soldiers bargaining with in- 
flexible Chinese for a bottle of vodka or a handful of 
nuts or a pair of socks. Sometimes you see a soldier 
eating an apple at a fruitseller's stall. This soldier is 
supposed to discharge the duties of a policeman, and 
the apple represents bribery and corruption. 

A Manchu woman walks down the street with a free 
stride, which contrasts with the mincing gait of the 
small-footed Chinese woman. This and the arrange- 
ment of the hair are the only tokens by which you 
can distinguish the Manchu woman from the Chinese 
woman. As for the men, the Manchu is practically 
undistinguishable from the Chinese. Yet, once upon 
a time, the Manchu came down on the Celestial 
Empire like a wolf on the fold, even as the Russians 
have done. He has given a dynasty to China, but that 



216 WITH THE COSSACKS 

dynasty is now more Chinese than the Chinese dynasties 
that preceded it. The Manchu bannermen have be- 
come more cowardly and worthless than the Chinese 
soldiers whom they conquered ; and Manchuria, the 
mother country of the Manchu, is now overrun by 
Chinese. Has not Japan, therefore, been too hasty ? 
Whether Russia remains master of Manchuria or 
not, the Chinese will, in a few thousand years, be all 
over the Primosk, Ussouri, Transbaikal. A few 
thousand years are nothing to the Empire which has 
seen Assyria, Egypt and Rome flourish and decay. 

A Chinese "iperevodcheek," or regimental translator, 
rides by in all the glory of high boots, spurs, striped 
trousers, a fur cloak, a sword, a revolver and a busby. 
Beneath his gaudy headgear there is no pigtail ; he 
has cut it off, or some soldier has done so for him. He 
is a handsome boy of some sixteen summers, and I 
happen to know something of his history. He went 
originally from Chefoo to Port Arthur, where he 
learned Russian in a small Chinese shop, over the 
counter of which he many a time and oft handed me 
boxes of cigarettes and parcels of humble groceries in 
exchange for Russian roubles. On the outbreak of 
the war he first returned to Chefoo, then went to 
Yinkow, and was finally engaged as interpreter by a 
Russian colonel of Cossacks, then stationed in Liao- 
yang. He stops his pony in the street in order to 
question an old Chinaman who happens to be passing 
by, and a curious crowd quickly collects around him. 
The old man gazes sadly at the well-favoured youth, 
and answers his questions with the same melancholy 
sarcasm as an aged Tipperary man would employ in 
answering the questions of a fellow Irishman wh:> had 



MUKDEN BEFORE THE BATTLE 217 

forsworn the wearing of the green and was bursting 
with importance in a suit of " England's cruel red." 

Since the retreat from Liao-yang the streets of 
Mukden have all blossomed out into Russian signs, 
more or less grammatical. Some of them may possibly 
have been brought from Liao-yang, for I remember 
that on the day that General Stackelberg abandoned 
Shu-shan all of the Russian signboards over Chinese 
shops were hastily withdrawn. All of them are easily 
detachable, so that at a moment's notice they can be 
thrown into a cart and sent on to Tie-ling or Kharbin. 

Every second shop in Mukden is now selling 
European goods. It may have been a pawnshop 
before or a Chinese drug-store, but it is now selling 
Armour's beef, St. Charles' cream, Wright's health 
underwear and a variety of other European and 
American articles — all of them made in Japan, although 
the manufacturers refrain from stating that fact on the 
labels. 

Mukden's great original line is furs, of which there 
is an imposing display in the streets ; in fact, the whole 
city is one vast fur market. Sheepskins are especially 
plentiful — sheepskin gloves, sheepskin stockings and 
sheepskin overcoats. Most of the sheepskin in 
the gloves and stockings was originally worn by 
Chinese dogs, in the ridiculous belief that it was dog- 
skin, or by goats labouring under a delusion that it 
was goatskin. Nevertheless, there is enough good fur 
in Mukden to make me regret that the wise old 
custom of our ancestors, according to which a pagan 
city held by Christian troops was periodically looted so 
as to inspire the presumptuous burghers with the fear 
of God, has been allowed to fall into disuse. If that 



XI 8 WITH THE COSSACKS 

custom is revived there are one or two shops in 
Mukden that I should like to pay a visit to. 

There are crowds of horsemen, mounted and dis- 
mounted, vociferating outside the numerous saddlers' 
shops that line the street and dazzle the unwary rider 
with a display of imitation Cossack saddles that come 
to pieces at the end of a day's ride. 

A Chinese showman with a performing sheep is 
gladdening the hearts of the simple Russian soldiers ; 
while close by there passes, unobserved, a farmer 
carrying on his shoulders two trampled bundles of 
kiaoliang, or Chinese corn, representing the harvest 
yielded perhaps by a dozen acres of land. This har- 
vest he had tended with unwearied care until the 
storm of shrapnel burst, and men, horses, carriages 
and guns rolled like an avalanche over his crops. 

At this time a strange trade has sprung up in Mukden 
— the collection, at the front, of cart-loads of the little 
leaden tops of shells, and their sale to Chinese lead 
merchants in the city. I may mention that during a 
battle I often found these little caps useful as drinking 
cups, when nothing else was available. 

A long side street is entirely devoted to tinkers, who 
turn out the best work that is produced in Mukden to- 
day. They make those fine strong copper household 
utensils which are so largely used in China and which 
look so much better than our tin articles. Day by day 
they work in their little open shops, surprised and 
delighted if a foreigner manifests any interest in their 
humble labour, careless about wars and rumours of 
wars, and sure to be safe, no matter who wins or loses. 
Akin to the tinker is the old cobbler at the street 
corner, the man who makes small dough pies, the 



MUKDEN BEFORE THE BATTLE 219 

ragman, and all that honest humble brotherhood which 
is not interested in politics and has nothing to fear 
from the destruction of armies and the fall of thrones. 
A Mongol lama, with vestments of green and gold 
and shaven head, is slowly picking his way across the 
crowded street, fingering his beads all the time and 
feverishly muttering: " Om manepadme hun, om mane 
padme hun," for, owing to his lack of a pigtail, he has 
been already arrested six times to-day on suspicion of 
being a Japanese. Majestic mules move along, their 
upper lips curled as if in disdain, but really because a 
slender steel chain passes across the upper gum, and 
is used for guiding them. Mandarins go past in faded 
sedan chairs. 

Suddenly there is a commotion, and two long lines 
of Chinese dressed in red and carrying staves in their 
hands come along at a brisk trot. One can at once 
see by their bearing that they are the retainers of 
some great man ; and so they are, for behind them 
comes the famous Jan-June or Tartar-general, carried 
in a curtained palanquin. He is on his way to the 
temple, where he will return thanks to the gods, for 
to-day is the Empress Dowager's birthday ; and, as 
he is borne hurriedly past, one catches just a fleeting 
glimpse of his gorgeous robes, enveloping a tall, bent, 
meagre form, his worn parchment-like face of the 
Li-Hung-Chang type, with deeply marked semicircles 
underneath the eyes, his head crowned by a Chinese 
cap with the peacock feather, and his scanty beard 
and moustache. 

Are we in the China of the twentieth century or in 
the Jerusalem or Antioch of the Caesars ? It was under 
this mild old gentleman's regime that the Christians, 



220 WITH THE COSSACKS 

were martyred four years ago in this very city. Just 
outside the south gate stands the wreck of the 
cathedral where the massacre was carried out. 

Poor Pere has to say Mass now in a little 

shanty hung around with tawdry Chinese decorations, 
but I think I can say that I generally hear Mass there 
with more devotion than I ever experienced in any of 
the historic churches of the Continent. The strange, 
nasal, strident chanting of the Chinese congregation 
is not, it is true, conducive to devotion, but many of 
these men bear scars that they received at the sack of 
the cathedral ; and, though they wear pigtails, I fail to 
see the difference between them and the Georges and 
Andrews whose emblems are embroidered on royal 
standards. Some Polish soldiers also turn up every 
Sunday and thumb their way religiously through 
greasy prayer-books, and, on one occasion, I met there 
the late General Gerard, the British attach^ who 
probably never expected at that time that in a few 
months more he would be dead at Irkutsk. 

Meanwhile the Jan-June continues his march — but, 
hark ! Clear and unmistakable above the roar of the 
busy street comes the boom of distant cannon. If his 
triumphal progress through the city has lulled the hoary 
persecutor of the Christians into a sense of false 
security that ominous sound will quickly awaken him. 

The Japanese are thundering at the gates of Mukden ! 



CHAPTER VIII 

THE BATTLE OF MUKDEN 

In the beginning of March 1905, three great Russian 
armies lay in a line south of Mukden. On the ex- 
treme left of this line, in fact away over near the 
Yalu river, was Colonel Madridoff, with a small force 
of Cossacks and Russified Hunghuze. On the left 
was Linievitch with the first army. On the extreme 
right, that is, near the Liao river, were the Cossacks 
of Mishchenko and Tolmatcheff. On the right was 
General Kaulbars, who commanded the Second Army, 
composed of the 8th and 10th corps and of a mixed 
command made up of three rifle brigades, and whose 
headquarters were at Meturan. The headquarters of 
General Tserpitsky, who commanded the 8th corps, 
and to whom I was attached during the battle, were 
in a village a little east of Meturan. 

The space between Kaulbars and Linievitch was 
occupied by General Bilderling, whose headquarters 
were at Suiatun or Suchiatun station on the rail- 
way. 

Against Kaulbars came Oku with the 2nd Japanese 
army. Against Bilderling came Nodzu with the 
4th army. Against Linievitch came Kuroki with the 
1 st army. I need hardly say that Nogi with the 3rd 
army turned our right flank, and that on our right 



222 WITH THE COSSACKS 

therefore the fighting was hotter and more desperate 
than at any other point in the battle-field. 

On Friday, February 24, I happened to be in a 
village called Ubanyula, some ten or fifteen versts 
south-west of Sifontai, and, therefore, near the Liao 
River, and on the extreme right of the Russians. In 
this village, Rennenkampf temporarily commanded 
Mishchenkos Cossacks, Mishchenko being, as I have 
already intimated, in a hospital at Mukden, wounded 
in the knee. On this day a typical Cossack banquet 
was given by the colonel and officers of the Verkhny- 
udinsky regiment to commemorate the departure next 
day of Rennenkampf s whole detachment for the south. 
Orders had been received to march next morning as far 
as Davan, a place on the Liao-ho, some dozen miles 
further south. Nobody knew what was to be done 
after they had reached Davan, but the general 
impression was that they were then to march on 
Yinkow, or east on the Japanese railway. Next day 
however, this order was countermanded, and, shortly 
after, Rennenkampf was sent east to replace Alexeieff, 
who seemed to be handling his corps very badly. 
Mishchenko's cavalry force was then broken up to 
some extent, and Grekoff took what remained of it. 

Grekoff is a short, stout, red-faced man with Dun- 
dreary whiskers, very fond of the pleasures of the 
table, and formerly notorious in Mukden for hanging 
round the provision waggon of the Ekonomitchesky 
Obchestvo in the hope of buying some new delicacy for 
his kitchen, so that he was hardly the man to leave in 
command at this important point ; and, as a matter of 
fact, some Russians attribute the loss of the battle to 
the inefficient way in which at the outset this cavalry 



THE BATTLE OF MUKDEN 223 

leader handled his Cossacks. In the opinion of these 
critics — of whose qualifications to judge I must, how- 
ever, say that I know nothing — Grekoff should have 
been able, by means of his scouts, to hear of Nogis 
approach ; but probably the Cossacks, who were taking 
things easy after the withdrawal of the iron-minded 
Rennenkampf, whom they hated for the way in which 
he made them work, were somewhat to blame them- 
selves. However that may be, Grekoff was quite 
surprised to learn, on February 26, just as he was 
sitting down to dinner, that a strong Japanese column 
was approaching from the north — of all places in the 
world! — while another was coming from the south. 
The Cossacks had just time to escape, and, save for 
their subsequent repulse of an attack on the railway 
north of Mukden, I did not hear of anything done by 
them on the right flank at this battle. After all, 
Charles XII. was right when he said that the Cos- 
sacks are only good for cutting up a defeated army. 

I was not with the Cossacks on the occasion of this 
interrupted banquet, as I had left them the day before 
in order to return to Mukden. After passing through 
Sifontai, I came to the district occupied by the 1st 
Siberian Corps, and was astonished to find that it had 
been evacuated. All the villages were deserted, and 
sundry indications pointed to the fact that the soldiers 
had left only a few hours before. The names of regi- 
ments were still chalked up on the walls, but there was 
not a soul about, not even a solitary specimen of the 
aboriginal inhabitants, the Chinese. In the high wind 
that blew, doors swung violently on their hinges, and 
nobody cried to the soldiers to shut them. No smoke 
issued from the chimneys. There was no sign of life 



224 WITH THE COSSACKS 

save a few hungry dogs. The landscape was to the 
last degree sad. It was noonday, and the sun was 
making some attempt to shine, but a graveyard by 
moonlight would be a cheerful spectacle in comparison 
with the scene which lay spread out before me on that 
occasion. The surface of the illimitable, bare, brown 
plain had thawed, apparently to the depth of a few 
inches, and the dust flew from it in whirling clouds and 
pillars. Whenever one raised a foot, a huge puff of 
dust rushed out tumultuously from under it, like genii 
out of a magic bottle which had accidentally been 
uncorked ; and it was like being overwhelmed by an 
avalanche to find oneself on the windward side of a 
passing patrol of horsemen, or of a train of trans- 
ports. There was a thick coating of dust on every 
face, so that the passing soldiers looked like corpses. 
A ghastly grey mask covered their features and their 
beards. The wrinkles around their mouths and eyes 
looked like deep scars. The eyes themselves were 
distant and sunken. 

I overtook a company of Siberian foot soldiers 
trudging along the road, and learned from them that 
the i st Corps had been suddenly ordered to the ex- 
treme left flank. The soldiers and officers were so 
dead tired, so utterly done up, that they could hardly 
speak. They had not even enough energy left to 
arrest me for not having the password. They found it 
hard even to drag one leg after the other, and had to 
throw themselves flat on the ground every twenty 
minutes or so in order to get a short rest. A little 
further, however, they were able, I dare say, to take 
the branch railway to the main line, whence they could 
go by train to Fushun, but they had so far to walk 



THE BATTLE OF MUKDEN 225 

after they got to Fushun that they must have had no 
great desire for fighting when they reached their 
destination. A few days after, when Kuropatkin dis- 
covered that the Port Arthur army was on his right 
flank, instead of on his left, he brought the 1st 
Siberians back again to the extreme right, and, in 
spite of the fatigue and demoralisation all this aimless 
wandering meant, they resisted Nogi's terrible on- 
slaught with conspicuous bravery and stubbornness. 

I put up this evening at the head-quarters of the 
Second Army, that is, at the village of Meturan. 
This village is on the south bank of the Hun, and at 
the end of the branch railway running east along that 
river. It was a clean, whitewashed village, in which 
every house was numbered, and bore on its exterior a 
list of the people staying inside. In spite of its being 
a Chinese village, there was an air of severity, cleanli- 
ness and order about it which reminded one partly of 
a barracks and partly of a convent, so that when I saw 
the flames licking it up a few days after, I felt almost 
like a man who sees a dignified person knocked down 
and trampled on. 

I might, however, have early seen the seeds of 
decay beneath this fair exterior. The private soldiers 
I spoke to told me about an advance that was to take 
place that night on the left flank. Unaware of the 
true state of affairs, they thought that the Russians 
were taking the initiative, but they spoke of the matter 
without enthusiasm. They were melancholy and 
dispirited in this strange disagreeable land, which they 
did not want in the least to fight for. " I'm getting 
thirty-five kopecks a month," said one unwashed, 
melancholy young man. " I don't mind getting killed, 



226 WITH THE COSSACKS 






but if I lose a leg or arm I cannot work afterward, 
and I shall only get a pension of three roubles a 
month for the rest of my life." 

Nearly all the soldiers I came across in Meturan 
were depressed, sad-toned men, who frequently sighed 
as if they were suffering from some fatal internal 
malady. Even the songs that I heard the orderlies 
crooning to themselves were very mournful. One of 
the saddest of them, which described a conscript's 
leave-taking of his home, made me think, by way of 
contrast, of the gay processions I had often seen escort 
Japanese conscripts to barracks. An oldish-looking 
man, who looked after my horse, astonished me by 
saying that he was only thirty-five years of age. He 
was a reservist, and wanted to go home. They all 
wanted to go home. Among the few who were 
cheerful was a little lark of a fellow who had been a 
waiter in an hotel at Nijni Novgorod. He once 
whispered to me in a very confidential manner the 
news that he belonged to some very heterodox sect, of 
which I have forgotten the name. Another, a boy of 
seventeen or eighteen, with the gentle manner and the 
smooth face of a girl, told me that he was a Pole and 
a Roman Catholic, and that there were two Roman 
Catholic priests in the whole Russian army. 

After telling me a tale of woe that made me feel 
quite sad, one of the melancholy men said to me : " I 
suppose, sir, your lot here is also very hard." He 
looked surprised and incredulous when I told him that 
I could go home whenever I liked, and that to be sent 
home in a luxurious train, via St. Petersburg, was one 
of the direst threats held over the heads of the cor- 
respondents by the censor at Mukden. 



THE BATTLE OF MUKDEN 227 

I must say that I honestly tried to cheer up that 
young man, and to make him see the romance of war, 
but I did not succeed. On the contrary, he succeeded 
in making me very doubtful of the Russian chances of 
success in the battle which had just begun ; for I now 
remembered that the Cossacks, and every other branch 
of the army, were just as homesick and discouraged. 
Many of the officers had no better name for their 
generals than "prokhvost," while in medical circles 
the freedom and latitude of the criticisms indulged in 
shocked me — me, whom a year's stay in the army had 
led to regard a general as something peculiarly sacred. 
On one occasion, I remember, I was lamenting, in 
very guarded language, the comparative inefficiency of 
the Cossacks during the present campaign, whereupon 
a doctor remarked, with a dryness of manner that 
would do credit to a Scotchman : " The Cossacks are 
only good in the streets of St. Petersburg." 

The officers seemed to be almost as dispirited as 
the men. I found one of them reading a most gloomy 
religious book on " How to Prepare for Death," and 
another deep in the perusal of that unhinged genius 
Dostoievski. A third officer was reading Nek- 
rassov, whose funereal verses are the best antidote 
to martial enthusiasm that can be found in the whole 
range of Russian literature. 

Meanwhile Kuroki and Kawamura were rolling 
back the Russian left with such rapidity and violence 
that General Kuropatkin could be excused for believ- 
ing that the principal Japanese attack was to come 
from that quarter. 



CHAPTER IX 

MARCH 1 AND MARCH 2 

On March i I rode out with General Tserpitsky to 
his "positions." The scene was not one that would 
look well in a photograph. If a landscape painter 
were to paint it, people would think that his intention 
was to picture immensity, not to represent a battle- 
field. There were bright sunlight and warm spring 
weather, but it was not so warm that one could dis- 
pense with an overcoat while riding. There as no 
sign of life save a distant scattered line of soldiers 
advancing over the vast expanse. The silence and 
the great distances suggested to me, somehow or 
other, Sunday, the great sea, eternity. The shrapnel 
was bursting far away to the right, where Miloff was 
losing village after village, and falling back step after 
step and verst after verst before the terrible men who 
had taken Port Arthur. Against old Tserpitsky, how- 
ever, with his twenty-four batteries of field-pieces and 
four batteries of heavy guns, Oku did nothing, and I 
went home that night thinking that the Japanese had 
put their hand to a work they could not carry through. 
My home was in the very exiguous Chinese house of 
a Red Cross doctor, and, just before we turned in, the 
doctor received orders to hold himself in readiness at 
four o'clock next morning to accompany two divisions 



MARCH 1 AND MARCH 2 229 

which were to leave for Tsinmintun, which a large 
force of Japanese had, it was reported, seized. This 
news cast a gloom over all of us ; for, if the Japanese 
had a large force on the west of the Liao, they might 
easily succeed in turning our right flank and in cutting 
the railway in our rear. 

We lit our cigars and went out into the night to 
discuss this new development of the situation. The 
stars were clouded, the earth was dark, but, far away 
on the edge of the plain, search-lights were swinging 
their long arms backwards and forwards, unweariedly, 
in an acute angle, and, despite the darkness, shells 
were still bursting. Occasionally the heavy boom of 
a single cannon, followed at a short interval by its 
echo, reached our ears. Later on there came from 
the south-west a continuous crackling rifle-fire, which 
lasted, with few interruptions, all night. We after- 
wards learned that this rifle-fire marked several 
unsuccessful but desperate night attacks which the 
Japanese had essayed against Wangkiawopeng and 
Likiawopeng, and one unsuccessful counter-attack 
made by the Russians. 

When I awoke in the morning, my kind host, 
Dr. Pusep, had vanished, and with him all his assist- 
ants and furniture. There remained to me, however, 
a small but very valuable friend in the person of 
Andrew Mikhailovitch RikachefT, the correspondent 
of the St. Petersburg paper Nasha Jeezn. Andrew 
occupied a somewhat anomalous position in the 
Russian camp, for his paper, which had been impru- 
dent enough to declare that the war should be brought 
to an end, had been suspended for three months, so 
that he did not quite know whether to regard himself 



230 WITH THE COSSACKS 

as a correspondent or not. In spite of this discou- 
ragement, however, he worked with extraordinary 
zeal, while his patriotism and singular fearlessness 
endeared him to the soldiers. 

As soon as we had succeeded in getting a cup of tea, 
Andrew Mikhai'lovitch and I rode out to Davanganpu, 
the terminus of the branch railway. It was filled with 
wounded and with dusty, broken, and dispirited troops, 
who freely confessed — in Russian — that they had 
retreated because they could not keep back the 
Japanese. According to one soldier, the enemy kept 
coming on, coming on, like ants, four or five times in 
succession. At last the officer said, "Children, we 
cannot stay here any longer. We must go back." 

The Decauxville railway that ran south-west from 
Davanganpu was overtaxed owing to the multitudes of 
wounded. In one hospital alone, a hospital which 
normally could only accommodate a few hundred men, 
there were more than a thousand patients. 

We then rode over to Meturan, the headquarters 
of General Kaulbars. Here we found everything 
packed up, and everybody ready to move. Rikacheff 
and I got transferred to the 8th Corps, as that corps 
seemed to have most of the fun, but the trouble was 
where to find its headquarters. There was no diffi- 
culty, however, about locating the Japs, for their shells 
were bursting in showers at Dzeurpo, a few miles to 
the west. At last, by dint of diligent questioning, we 
got the name of the village in which Miloff would 
probably be found, and galloped towards it, passing, 
on the way, great bodies of troops slowly advancing 
in loose formation. We found the village all right, 
but we did not find Miloff, for he had gone away some 



MARCH 1 AND MARCH 2 231 

hours before, no one knew in what direction. The 
village looked like the Roman catacombs, for most 
of it was underground, and its underground houses — 
I mean of course the Russian trenches and dug-outs — 
were all deserted, as were also, indeed, its overground 
houses, in some of which large quantities of stores 
seemed to have been left behind. A regiment, the 
Volinsky regiment, lined the walls and houses at the 
back of this village, which the Russians called Tow- 
taidze, but the place was not under fire. In fact the 
Japanese shells were bursting a few versts in front of 
us, on a fringe of trees which marked the horizon of 
the usual naked plain. Just in front of this ultimate 
fringe we saw the Russian firing line. Some of the 
men who composed it were lying down, some were 
advancing by short rushes, some were getting jammed 
behind hillocks, farmhouses, the river bank, some 
were swinging with great caution to the right or to 
the left. While we were watching this scene, a score 
of soldiers were busy plundering the stores which had 
been left behind in Towtaidze by the staff, and which 
comprised many different kinds of provisions. In 
doing so they exposed themselves freely, but where 
was the harm in that ? The Japanese were not firing 
at them — probably could not fire on account of the 
range. The sky was clear, but the atmosphere was 
ominous and threatening, as if a thunderstorm were 
about to burst. 

Suddenly, like the first big drops of rain heralding 
a tropical downpour, a few shimose shells dropped 
casually in different parts of the village. At this time 
Rikacheff and I were following the colonel of the 
Volinsky regiment to a place furth e r back, where there 



232 WITH THE COSSACKS 

were some officers that he wanted to introduce us to. 
Before we had gone many steps, however, hell was let 
loose around us. Common shell tore up the ground. 
Showers of shrapnel bullets hopped on the road like 
hailstones. One projectile burst less than six feet in 
front of the colonel, who was leading the way, covering 
us all with dirt and clay. Our ears were filled with ex- 
plosions like claps of thunder. The rear of the village 
was, if anything, more dangerous than the front. A 
big trench that ran behind the usual mud wall was 
filled with anxious-faced soldiers. The ground behind 
them was strewn so thick with shrapnel that I soon 
filled my pockets with these sinister curios. 

The Volinsky colonel impressed me as one of the 
best soldiers I had ever met, simple, suspicious, calm, 
brave, uncommunicative. " We've got to hold this 
village to-day, and we'll hold it," he said. At any 
other time I would have thought that he was boast- 
ing, but not at such a time as this. He explained to 
me that the Russian line north of Sandypu and south 
of Changtang had fallen back, but that two divisions 
of Russians had gone to turn the Japanese left flank. 

The scene in Towtaidze at this moment is deeply 
engraved on my memory. The colonel is drawing a 
map in the ground with the end of his scabbard, and 
is talking, although the appalling visitations of shimose 
prevent me occasionally from catching what he says. 
Projectiles throw up dun clouds of earth. Shells burst 
among us with reverberating roar. It is an inferno. 
Two dead men are lying on the roadside and two 
living men are working hard to scoop out a grave for 
them in that frozen ground. There is a wild, frankly 
frightened look in the eyes of the soldiers who are 




MARCH 1 AND MARCH 2 233 

hidden in the trenches. The sky is overcast. The 
officers are remarkably affable, but nobody cares to 
look any one else straight in the eye lest his secret be 
revealed, lest it be found that his own eye is rolling 
unsteadily in its socket, that his cheeks are flushed and 
that his manner is slightly unstable and exaggerated. 
Our horses are feeding peaceably, as if there was no 
such thing as war. On such occasions one can always 
get them plenty of fodder which has been left behind 
in the confusion. Things are lying about — typical 
Russian things. Here is a long folded grey overcoat 
shaped like a yoke for a horse's neck, both ends meet- 
ing and clinched together by means of a very black 
and sooty tin porringer. It was evidently intended to 
be worn athwart the shoulder. There are also many 
blood-stained, nondescript rags, sad reminders of the 
wounded. A patriarchal soldier hobbles past, all 
hunched up as if broken in two. He is only wounded 
in the hand. Another man comes, reverentially carry- 
ing the overcoat belonging to the wounded man. A 
third brings his rifle and cartridges. The colonel is 
easy on these men. He does not curse at them and 
send them scurrying back to the front, as an English 
or American officer would have done. He talks to 
them affably for several minutes and then lets them 
go on. Shrapnel bursts among the trees on the 
other side of the road, sending the sparrows flying 
with sharp chirpings of discontent to every point of 
the compass and making the tethered horses jump. 
Bullets kick up the dust on the road. Evening is 
coming on, and Rikacheff and I are anxious to know 
where we can find the 8th Corps. We are told that 
their headquarters is at Davanganpu. The leaden 



234 WITH THE COSSACKS 

storm of shrapnel and shimose continues. I often 
discover myself muttering, " What terrible fellows 
these Japs are ! What superhuman perseverance ! 
What incredible bravery ! How little did I think 
that the awkward, smooth-faced lads in uniform 
whom I used so often to meet walking hand-in 
hand in Uyeno Park like Dresden shepherdesses, 
would prove to be such demons for warfare ! What 
can we, any of us — Englishmen, Germans, French- 
men, Russians — what can any of us do against a race 
which fears no more the supreme dolour of death 
than we fear a shower of rain ? And these, if you 
please, are a people ■ ayant une nature d oiseau ou de 
papillon, plutot que d'hommes ordinaires.' " Amidst 
the obstinate, incessant, exasperating uproar the 
words of that silly Frenchman ring in my ears like the 
mocking laughter of a fiend. 

Meanwhile the distant boom of the valiant Tser- 
pitsky's four-and-twenty batteries added to the nearer 
roar of Miloff s great guns and of the Japanese cannon, 
the unceasing crackle of infantry fire, the continuous 
rattle, rattle, rattle of the machine guns. At some 
point in front — I am afraid to raise my head to see 
where — some vital issue is in arbitrament, some point 
of ultimate importance is being discussed. Towards 
that point the troops are now rushing like water above 
a cataract. I quickly raise my head and glance in the 
direction in which they are going. What a scene ! 
The fighting line is marked by a pall of shrapnel 
smoke and dust, hanging in mid air like the mists of 
Niagara. The Japanese are coming on like the 
whirlwind from out of the North which Ezekiel saw 
in his terrible vision. 






MARCH 1 AND MARCH 2 235 

A colonel of the 1st Rifles (European) rides up to 
our little group. He is a stout, tired, flabby man, the 
ghastly pallor of whose face is rather heightened than 
otherwise by a thick coating of dust. He speaks 
French, has had severe contusion, sits down heavily 
near us on the roadside. The talk runs on contusions 
until something shrieks past and bursts with a bang 
somewhere close by but out of sight. Then the 
Volinsky colonel observes cheerfully that you never 
hear the whizz of the shell that kills you. As if to 
contradict his theory, a shell whose augmenting whizz 
we had been listening to not without anxiety for a 
second or two, bursts in the immediate neighbourhood. 
It does no damage to anything except to the colonel's 
theory, for it might just as well have alighted on top 
of us. And here, let me remark, parenthetically, that 
there is something peculiarly angry, vicious, abrupt, 
vehement and impolite about a shell that bursts close 
to you. It annoys and displeases. If it were human 
you would cut it dead ever after for giving you such a 
devil of a start. The angry bark of an unexpected 
dog within a few feet of your calves is like a maidens 
sigh in comparison. 

Rikacheff tries, in his ingenuous way, to get some 
information about the troops, but the colonel is very 
cautious and reticent. The conversation flags, and we 
turn our attention to the landscape. It is the same 
brown bare country, with the same long melancholy 
lines of men advancing over it. Sometimes they run. 
Dozens of little fleecy clouds of shrapnel hang over 
the distant villages. 

Suddenly a small excited man rides towards us. 
When he dismounts, we see that he is a lieutenant, a 



236 WITH THE COSSACKS 

plump man on the shady side of thirty, with a weak, 
babyish face, and round protruding eyes. His clothes 
are very good, his trousers fit tightly on plump legs, 
he is provided with brandy-flask, binoculars, compass, 
all complete. He is also in a state of awful, undis- 
guised "funk." Terror is writ large on his face, and 
in. every movement of his body. His unfortunate con- 
dition is in great contrast to his warlike and fashion- 
able equipment. He points to little clouds of shrapnel 
north and north-east. 

" They're getting round us," he blubbers, his fat 
face working like the face of a baby that is going to 
cry, "and the Cossacks tell me they have gone along 
the west bank of the Hun and are now near Mukden." 

The Volinsky colonel is very reasonable and calm. 
It seems so odd to find him so, for one generally 
associates personal uncleanness and disorder with 
drink and incoherence. 

" Impossible ! " he says. " I know the exact posi- 
tion. ..." (I could only catch fragments of the 
conversation ; the Volinsky colonel is very cautious). 
"The ioth Corps and 16th Corps are on the other 
side of the Hun River south of Sifontai. . . . Japanese 
will be caught between two fires . . . heard to-day 
seven attacks Baitapu . . . three days fight . . . de- 
monstration left, right, centre, but real attack from 
direction of Tsinmintun . . . yes, Kaulbars has got 
command of the army between Tsinmintun and 
Mukden. The Japs wanted to cut the Mukden- 
Tsinmintun road. Rifles ? General Staff sent the 
Rifles to strengthen the centre . . . the 17th and 
19th Rifles are with Kaulbars. . . . What? Over 
there ? Yes, the 14th Division is over there on the 



MARCH 1 AND MARCH 2 237 

west bank of the Hun, the 15th is on this side. Yes, 
Jentan was taken this morning, but we're going to 
retake it to-night." * 

A very calm courteous young officer rides up, dis- 
mounts, salutes — bad story to tell — " Japs awfully 
close, sir." Projectile whizzes viciously overhead, but 
young officer remains quite unmoved, his hand still to 
the salute. Colonel says things cannot be quite so 
bad. Still, to my unpractised eye, the outlook is 
black enough. A circle of fire, a thunder-striking 
girdle of artillery seems to be slowly closing in around 
us. A ring of shrapnel looking clearer and more 
dreadful in the gathering night is bursting round 
ninety degrees of a circle ; the little gap, the tenth 
degree, may be closed at any moment. If I were in 
command of the Volinsky regiment I am afraid that I 
would lose no time in making a bee-line for that gap. 
A young Polish officer, who has been looking at this 
awful scene for some time, quotes some of Mickiewicz's 
terrible verses describing Napoleon's advance into 
Russia, and immediately after gets into a violent 
argument with the Volinsky colonel. Rikacheff and 
I make another effort to get news of staffs and armies, 
but the colonel leaves us absolutely in the dark. He 
is kind enough, however, to remark that if we don't 
like to go away, we may remain with him in Towtaidze 
for the night. It is like an invitation to remain on 
the top storey of a burning house. All indications 
point to the likelihood of the Japanese making five 
or six bayonet attacks on Towtaidze under cover of 
the darkness, so we hastily excuse ourselves and 

* This is not an imaginary conversation. 



238 WITH THE COSSACKS 

mount our horses, which, having fed, are now standing 
sleepily by, with sad, pendulous under-lips which occa- 
sionally move as if in prayer. The colonel gives each 
of us a feeling handshake, and says that we both 
deserve a St. George, but he refuses to give us the 
password. "You may be challenged by Japanese, 
and give it to them involuntarily," he argues, " and, 
anyhow, you don't need it. If our people arrest you, 
they'll bring you direct to the staff, and isn't that 
exactly where you want to go ? ? 

Thus we parted with this brave, unsympathetic 
man, and lucky it was for us that we did so, for, 
perhaps, on that very night the terrible circle of steel 
and fire closed in around Towtaidze. I cannot say for 
certain, however ; for in those troubled days it was as 
hard for me to get any information of what was 
happening at a distance as it would be to get news 
about friends in England in case primeval chaos had 
returned to earth and upset all the postal arrangements 
of the nations. 

Just then, however, we are too much concerned 
about ourselves to mourn for the doom impending 
over this shell-battered hamlet. We hurry off like 
men pursued by a tidal wave. On right of us, on 
left of us we hear the roar of the Japanese advance 
grow louder and louder. It is like the deep rumbling 
of a sea that has burst its bounds. High above the 
plain on right of us, on left of us, far as the eye can 
reach, are long lines of fleecy shrapnel cloudlets, the 
foam and the spray of that on-rushing ocean. Two 
projectiles burst with an appalling crash right in front 
of us. We go forth, feeling like men going out on a 
torpedo-boat which stands a thousand chances to one 



MARCH 1 AND MARCH 2 239 

of being sunk. It is a beautiful evening ; the sky is 
lovely ; I count six villages burning on the horizon. 
Miltonic images arise in my mind as I contemplate 
this terrific battle-field. Can the pen of poet, can the 
brush of painter ever convey an adequate idea of the 
horror of such a night as this ? Never ! Never ! 

I have not the least notion where we are heading for. 
I soon became aware, however, that we are in a hot 
place, for the whizz of the bullets is unceasing ; and 
ominous, unseen things strike the ground in several 
places close to us, raising little puffs of dust. Shells 
hurtle overhead with long shrieks. The r-r-r-rip, 
r-r-r-rip, r-r-r-rip of the musketry is getting louder. 
The furnace roar of the battle now becomes deafening, 
We are going the wrong way ! We are approaching 
the enemy ! Panic-stricken, I persuade my com- 
panion to come back. Back ! Whither ? To Tow- 
taidze ? Impossible ! Towtaidze is nought now but 
one of half a score of burning villages, which flame 
like red torches in the immense black night above 
innumerable multitudes of men trampling by. Even if 
it still exists it will be impossible to find it. Whipped 
by the mad wind of panic, we gallop — I don't know 
in what direction. At last we meet several military 
waggons advancing, and join ourselves on to them. 
The drivers of these waggons are visibly perspiring. 
Vapour rises from their faces like steam, and they are 
crossing themselves briskly with large, unsteady hands. 
We notice that one of the flaming villages is Meturan, 
the former headquarters of Kaulbars. Alone and 
unprovided with the password, there is a great chance 
of our being taken for Japanese. But what infor- 
mation could a Japanese §cout get on such a night ? 




240 WITH THE COSSACKS 

He would lose the points of the compass. He would 
only run up in the darkness against large bodies of 
men standing he knew not where or marching he 
knew not whither. Of what use would such infor- 
mation be to him unless perchance he had, combined 
in his single person, the technical knowledge of a 
Moltke, the coolness of a Wellington, the bravery of 
a SkobelefT, and the topographical certainty of a local 
Chinese peasant? 

The night has come suddenly, but the darkness is 
rendered more confusing by reason of the tremendous 
glare from the burning villages — vast sacrificial fires 
roaring up from gigantic altars to bloodthirsty, pagan 
gods. There is a red glow in the sky overhead. 
Sharp, continuous explosions, sounding like rifle-shots, 
proceed from the burning houses, but whether these 
explosions are due to ammunition left behind or to the 
crackling and falling of the wooden beams, I cannot 
say. During lulls in this storm of noise there comes 
to us a faint ripple of sound like the washing of the 
waves on a shingly beach. It comes from away 
beyond Shahepu and the railway, where the stern 
Nodzu is vainly hurling his brave Kumamoto men 
against the bristling rifles of the Putiloff Asobke. 
Vainly, O children of Kato Kiyamasu ! Spartans of 
Japan ! throwing yourselves with a very fury of 
courage on that fatal hillside ? No ! not vainly ! You 
were never meant to take that hill. Man born of 
woman could not take it by frontal assault. You were 
merely meant to die there by thousands until trench 
and fosse and trou-de-loup were choked with your dead, 
until the Russian soldiers saw with horror the living 
carrying forward the frozen corpses of the fallen in 



MARCH 1 AND MARCH 2 241 

order to use them as a screen against that hail of 
bullets. You were merely meant to do all this so that 
the enemy would get the impression that the Japanese 
centre was overwhelmingly strong, and that it could 
not be cut. That centre was composed of two frail 
divisions ! 

At Chukwanpo on the east, and at Wanghsiutai on 
the west, the Japanese are making the last desperate 
bayonet charge which won them those places. At 
Changtien, some miles to the north of the river, five 
battalions of Russian infantry are madly, bravely, 
vainly, rushing on the veterans of Nogi. 

For Rikacheffand me things begin to look serious, in 
fact they have been looking serious for some time past. 
There is firing going on north, south, east, and west, 
and we do not know where is friend and where is foe. 
The Russians with whom we are travelling are as 
puzzled as we. As a matter of fact, they had thought 
we knew the way, and had been following us. At last, 
emerging from a swirl of smoke, we come suddenly on 
a big body of men, tense, waiting, with weapons 
levelled at us. It is like coming face to face with a 
tiger prepared to spring. As they prove, however, to 
be Russians, Rikacheff rides up to an officer and 
questions him with engaging and child-like frankness 
about things that should only be spoken of in a 
whisper at secret councils of war. And, wonderful to 
relate, he is answered. The answers come slowly 
and sullenly, however, like drops out of a withered 
orange. Then there is a pause, and the officer says, 
contemplatively half to himself, " Many Japanese 
spies around here. One cannot be too careful. One 
of them came here the other day, representing himself 

Q 






242 WITH THE COSSACKS 

to be from the General Staff and speaking Russian 
perfectly." 

Rikacheff laughs and says, " Well, if you're afraid 
that we are spies, we'll go along with you to the General 
Staff and we shall show you our papers." 

But the officer, who is very young and simple- 
minded, will not hear of this. 

" No, no," he hastily returns. " I don't mean you. 
But just now, just this very moment, a soldier came up 
to me and said : ' Vashe Blagarodie,' says he, ' perhaps 
these are not Russians.' " 

And sure enough, I had noticed one or two soldiers 
peering in the darkness at my face and strange saddle. 
My silence and Rikacheff's very small size are both 
sufficient to excite their suspicions. 

Finally, we come to Miloff s headquarters, a pillaged 
cabin in a half-burned village. The place is cold, un- 
comfortable, upside-down, and filled with high officers 
in furs and spurs, discussing things in a heated manner 
over maps, by the light of one dim candle. Miloff 
receives us in a kindly but distracted manner, but says 
that as there is no accommodation, and as he is leaving 
in a few minutes himself, he will send us on to 
Davangangpu with his adjutant, who is leaving 
directly. I wait for almost three hours listening to 
a discussion that I cannot understand, and trying tc 
read fragments of the Novoe Vremya which are 
pasted over cracks in the walls and holes in the 
windows, and which, taken in connection with other 
signs, indicate that the place has at one time been the 
snug quarters of some officers. 

Finally, the adjutant, a young, handsome, voluble 
man, tells us he is ready to start. When we go 



MARCH 1 AND MARCH 2 243 

out into the courtyard we find that it has been 
snowing, and that our horses and saddles are all 
white and fleecy. It can easily be seen, however, 
that the fierce cold which marked the first battle of 
Sandypu has passed. Lucky as ever, the Japanese 
have begun the battle at the right moment. A week 
earlier it would have been too cold ; a week later 
the ice on the rivers would have been too thin to bear 
artillery. Alas ! The stars in their courses have 
fought against us ! 

A few days before, I saw Davangangpu for the first 
time, and was powerfully impressed by the aspect of 
the place. It was like a busy railway terminus in 
Western America. A dozen sidings were filled with 
trains. Veritable mountains of provisions were piled 
along the railway and guarded by soldiers. Close by 
was a long row of hospital tents, whose inner shell was 
made of earth, and from the gables of which smoking 
stove-pipes projected. A dozen enormous siege-guns 
lay alongside the tents, and imparted an air of finality 
to the scene. 

Davangangpu now wears a different appearance. 
The tents, guns, and railway trains are gone, and the 
mountains of provisions are going — going up in flames 
and smoke. The whole place is lit up by a furnace 
glare. The windows vomit great red flames. It is 
like the mouth of the Great Pit. In the lurid glare 
there rushes past a frightened flood of men, horses and 
cannon. There remains, however, one good house, 
the house set apart for the use of General Miloff's 
staff. In this house I am asked to eat and to sleep, 
for death and defeat have failed to make the Russian 
officers forget their traditional hospitality. I lie down 



244 WITH THE COSSACKS 

in my boots, after midnight, and am lulled to sleep by 
the tremendous roar of the flames, which sound as if it 
were London that was burning, and am awakened at 
3.30 a.m., though we do not leave the village till day- 
break. I put in the interval looking after my horse, for 
which I had previously been unable to get a handful 
of oats for love or money, but which I am now in a 
position to present gratis with whole bags of corn — 
bags snatched from the burning. The great con- 
flagration is still going on within a few hundred yards 
of me ; and I now discern, as the light of dawn slowly 
filters through the eastern clouds, that what I at first 
took to be a low crenellated wall standing between 
me and the flames, is in reality an enormous swarm of 
humanity, the innumerable hosts of the Tsar, warming 
themselves, countless as a hive of ants, in front of the 
fire, against whose genial but expensive glow their 
heads show like crenellations. 

Two groups of prisoners are now brought into our 
courtyard. One is a group of Japanese, all of them 
wounded, the slightly wounded ones supporting the 
badly wounded ones with fraternal arms. The other 
is a group of Chinese, who are accused of having 
been caught signalling to the enemy. The two groups 
are kept separate, are looked upon with different eyes, 
will be treated in a very different fashion. It is now 
nearly dawn, but not one of these Chinamen shall 
see the sun rise. 



CHAPTER X 
A VAST VODKA DEBAUCH 

March the 3rd dawned beautifully. The stars faded 
away. The moon, which was the thinnest possible 
crescent, merely a geometrical line, also disappeared. 
The pale light of dawn was reflected from the snow, 
which lightly covered the ground. 

Finally the sun rose, promising a bright day. With 
the rising of the sun the retreat commenced. 

We pushed on towards Suhudyapu, along the branch 
railway, forming three columns of enormous length. 

At the beginning of the year I had been living in 
Suhudyapu, or Suhupu, with Mishchenko's Cossacks, 
and my feelings on returning to it were like those of a 
man who returns to his native village after a long 
absence. Suhudyapu had been quiet, sequestered, 
roomy ; now a railway ran past it, and it was dreadfully 
busy, overcrowded, and forgetful of me. General 
Mishchenko's former residence was choke-full of 
stores ; and the former " Sobranie " (club) of the 
Verkhnyudinsky Cossacks had been converted into a 
Red Cross Hospital. RikacheiT and I managed to 
discover a Greek store, in which some tinned provisions 
still remained, and here we made the first decent meal 
that we had had for some days. While we were 
eating, a strange thing happened. I chanced to see at 




246 WITH THE COSSACKS 

the door a venerable Manchu woman, with a fine face, 
almost Roman in the regularity of its outline, and with 
a striking dignity of manner which was sadly in 
contrast to the dry leaves and pieces of straw which, 
frozen to her dress, indicated that she had been sleeping 
out in the open. She was looking wistfully into the 
house, and, anxious to air the few words of Chinese 
that I know, I asked her what she wanted. She then 
came into the room, carrying a little child in her arms 
and leading another by the hand, and, pointing with a 
dramaticgestureto the "kang," shesaid inawhimpering 
voice and with tears in her eyes that her children had 
been born there. It was a striking way of saying that 
the house belonged taher, and the superstitious Greek 
became visibly uncomfortable. He became still more 
uncomfortable a few hours later, when a Japanese 
shell frightened him out of that house and almost out 
of his wits. 

At Suhudyapu railway station I saw a sight that 
made a greater impression on me than anything that 
I had witnessed so far. A large quantity of " vodka," 
bread, conserves and other eatables and drinkables 
had been thrown to the soldiers, as it was impossible 
to save it ; and, considering the thousands of men there 
were around who had not eaten a morsel for days, it 
is easy to imagine what occurred. Fierce currents of 
humanity set in simultaneously from north, south, east 
and west towards this loot. Many of the men imme- 
diately carried away loads of preserves, most of which 
they would undoubtedly have to drop before they 
had marched a mile. Nevertheless they snapped 
ferociously at any comrade who offered to relieve 
them of a tin or two. Some sat down on the ground 



A VAST VODKA DEBAUCH 247 

and began to cut open tins with their swords and 
bayonets and to devour the contents on the spot. 
The veins stood out like whipcord on their temples, 
their eyes were bloodshot, and the perspiration 
streamed down their faces as they savagely attacked 
the food. Others cut open more preserves than they 
could eat in a week. Their hunger seemed to be 
appeased by the mere sight of the food, and their 
excitement was so great that they sometimes cut their 
fingers without noticing it. But the great scenes 
raged around the " vodka" casks. The barrels had 
been stabbed with bayonets and hacked open with 
knives, swords, and axes until they bled from scores 
of wounds. A frantic crowd of men struggled around 
these openings, seeking to apply their mouths to them 
or to catch the precious liquid in cups, cans, empty 
sardine tins, and even in the cases of the Japanese 
shells that were falling conveniently around. A huge 
red-capped Orenburg Cossack jumped on one of the 
barrels, wielding an axe, with which he soon stove in 
the head of another barrel amid wild cries of drunken 
triumph. The sight of that red-capped Cossack and 
the frenzied crowd that surged around him recalled 
ominous historical scenes from the pages of Carlyle. 

" This is more dangerous for you than Towtaidze," 
whispered Rikacheff, white as a sheet ; " for God's 
sake don't speak English." 

This warning was necessary, for of late the soldiers 
had developed a distinct tinge of Anglophobia. They 
had all got the idea that the Japanese could not have 
carried on the war so long had it not been for the 
financial assistance given them by the British and the 
Americans, and this financial assistance they seemed 




248 WITH THE COSSACKS 

to regard as a breach of neutrality, a casus belt 
almost. 

A drunken infantryman rolled unsteadily towards 
me, his beard and the breast of his coat all wet with 
" vodka," and began to speak volubly and unintel- 
ligibly ; but Rikacheff, who probably did not want to 
see my head smashed in with the butt of a rifle, as 
soon as the soldier had discovered that he was address- 
ing a Britisher, edged in between us and took up the 
tangled thread of the discourse. 

The " vodka" that overflowed from the burst 
casks had collected a foot deep in a depression of the 
ground. Men knelt down to drink the muddy liquor. 
Some scooped it up in the hollows of their hands, as 
you would scoop up water from a well. Some fell 
into it bodily. Many were wetted by the jets of liquor 
from the barrels squirting over them. Buriat Cos- 
sacks, Mahommedans from the Caucasus (forbidden by 
their religion to touch drink), riflemen, dragoons, all 
sorts and conditions of military people, joined in this 
mad spree ; and, with the dust and the smoke 
from the burning stores eddying around them, they 
looked like alcoholic demons struggling in the reek 
of hell. 

The liquor made some of them insane or good- 
natured, I don't know which. I saw men working like 
slaves at handing out tea, meat, etc. to their comrades, 
laughing hilariously all the time. One very unwashed 
soldier applied himself enthusiastically to the task of 
giving away bars of soap ! Officers shouted to their 
men to stop, and, finding that their orders were dis- 
obeyed, turned to me and said : " All discipline is 
gone." 



A VAST VODKA DEBAUCH 249 

Then they themselves began to loot Government 
property from the train that stood close by. 

Meanwhile I looked on awed and thunderstruck, as 
one who sees the small but unmistakable beginning of 
great events — the first miracle of Christ, the crossing 
of the Rubicon, the march on Versailles. 

It is, I said to myself, the commencement of la de- 
bacle russe, and I am the only foreign spectator of it. 
It is the first fatal, unmistakable sign of disintegra- 
tion and decay in a great military body that has awed 
Europe and Asia for fifty years. 

There were little hillocks of " sukharee " (hard tack) 
and of fine, newly baked bread, but nobody touched 
them. They were not valuable enough. It was 
pleasanter far to destroy costly preserves and scatter 
them all over the ground than to eat black bread. The 
love of destruction for its own sake had seized upon 
the soldiers and threatened to become uncontrollable. 
Letting troops loot their own stores is like letting 
partially domesticated tigers taste blood. Unfortu- 
nately for the Russians, they had, from the beginning 
to the end of the war, no stores to loot save their own. 
And at Tah-si-chiao and Liaoyang they had not much 
to loot — only a few waggon-loads of preserves. In 
Mukden, and all around Mukden — at Fushan, Quan- 
shan, Kandalusan, and Suhudyapu — they were turned 
loose on an enormous accumulation of provisions. 
The result was that many drunken soldiers fell into 
the hands of the Hunghuze over by Tsinmintun 
during the great retreat, and were put to death 
with horrid tortures ; and that, after the Russian 
evacuation, the railway station at Mukden was strewn 
with the corpses of Russians who had been murdered 



250 WITH THE COSSACKS 

and stripped by the Chinese while lying there 
drunk. 

What lent a zest to this looting ot the stores was, I 
think, the feeling among the soldiers that they were 
doing with impunity what they could not have done 
the day before without being shot. These stores were 
then guarded, and a private soldier hardly dared look 
at them. The sudden removal of all restraint caused 
them to lose all control of themselves. They felt as if 
God had suddenly repealed the Ten Commandments. 

I don't know if it would not be better for retreating 
generals to let all the supplies they cannot carry off 
fall into the hands of the enemy. In that case only a 
few soldiers would be scandalised ; whereas, when the 
soldier is let loose on his own stores, everybody in the 
army hears about it, everybody sees the columns of 
smoke, and shares the pilfered dainties, hitherto sacred 
to officers alone. 

By the light of these burning stores, the ignorant 
mujik gets one awful, fleeting glimpse of a new world 
— a world without police, without rulers, without laws — 
and the sight is not good for him. There is something 
peculiarly demoralising in the wholesale, deliberate 
destruction of millions of roubles worth of valuable 
property, something calculated to make even a Car- 
thusian giddy. The corner-stone of society is knocked 
away ; all the copy-book maxims about thrift seem the 
veriest drivel ; and it suddenly occurs to one, with all 
the force of a supernatural revelation, that he has been 
on the wrong tack all the time, that the " small profits, 
quick returns," system is absurd, and that for all who are 
not monarchs or millionaires the one sound political 
faith, the one true religion in this world, is — anarchism. 






A VAST VODKA DEBAUCH 251 

The fact that all these men were armed, and the 
accidental discharge of a rifle now and then in the 
middle of the throng, made this orgy tragical. Some- 
times a dusty Cossack rode in with the news that the 
Japanese were coming. " They fired on us half a 
mile off — other side of the river." On such occasions 
there was a momentary commotion, bloodshot eyes 
and flushed faces were turned towards the frozen 
stream, fire-arms were clutched, preparations were 
made to fly, to advance ; but, a few moments after, 
the panic had subsided, and the orgy had recom- 
menced. 

Being Irish, I can understand a crowd of men 
getting drunk in order to make themselves cheerful, 
but this was the most sombre crowd of drunkards I 
had ever seen. Instead of making them gay, the 
drink made them mad. 

Meanwhile there were the usual contrasts in which 
war is so prolific. A short distance from the station 
I met three officers of the Zamostie regiment, who 
looked dirtier and more wretched than even their 
own soldiers. One was wounded ; two were suffering 
from contusions, which were probably worse than 
wounds. Dazed and feeble, with arms around each 
others necks, these unfortunate gentlemen staggered 
along — a tragical parody on Burns's famous drinking- 
song. 

Still more neglected, of course, were the wounded 
privates. I met long strings of them in the streets of 
Suhudyapu. Several of them came to me on one 
occasion with their wounds bound up in dirty pocket 
handkerchiefs, and asked me " for Christ's sake" 
(radee Khrista) the way to the " Perevyazyochny 



252 WITH THE COSSACKS 






Punkt." Not being able to give them the necessary 
information, and knowing that my accent would at 
once betray me, I remained silent, whereupon one of 
the wounded men caught at the arm of a man worse 
wounded than himself, saying: 

"Come along, little brother! Come along, go- 
lubchik tui moi (my little pigeon). You see nobody 
will answer. Nobody speaks." 

His tone was charged with sorrowful resignation, 
not with anger. He was a typical Slav. 

Some of the Cossacks excited my admiration by 
stealing bags of corn for their little ponies before they 
themselves tackled the " vodka," thus unconsciously 
carrying out the orders of their Cossack-poet Davidoff. 
Close by, a gang of soldiers were working hard, 
loading boxes of shell into a train. Why they did not 
throw all discipline to the winds and join in the mad 
revel that was going on beside them, I cannot imagine. 

Other soldiers were carefully lifting the wounded 
into poseelkee (stretchers). Even in the midst of this 
indescribable uproar, some Red Cross sisters, all 
honour to them, remained at their posts not only self- 
possessed, but cheerful. I remember little Rikacheff 
significantly drawing the attention of one of them, a 
large, red-cheeked lassie, with the bearing of a Tsar- 
itza, and the serene self-possession of one of Tur- 
geneffs heroines, to his horse, which he was tying 
up in the yard of the hospital, the inference being 
that she would keep an eye on it, for at this time 
all the distinctions between " meum M and " tuum " had 
completely disappeared. After listening for a second, 
her dark eyes brimming over with merriment, she flew 
lightly backwards towards the door of the hospital, 



A VAST VODKA DEBAUCH 253 

clapping her hands together, and giving vent to a 
clear, ringing laugh, the memory of which did me 
good for weeks after. " So ! so ! " she said, " you 
want me, then, to mount guard (' vstupeet' v'karaool ') 
over your precious horse. ' Spasibo ' (thanks), I've 
got enough to do looking after my little boys " — 
and sure enough she had, poor girl, for the wounded 
were being carried in by scores. 

The reports brought us from time to time by the 
Cossacks with regard to the advance of the enemy were 
not exaggerated. The Japanese were coming on with 
the force of an inundation. Their right wing rolled 
like a tidal wave into the villages of Sankiatsz, Hsiao- 
fanghsin and Mentapu. Their centre drove the 
Russians out of Meturan, Davanganpu (which I had 
left only a few hours before), and Danjanhay, Tser- 
pitsky's former headquarters. Their left wing swept 
along the west bank of the Hun, capturing Wokiapu, 
in the rear of Suhudyapu, the village in which I was 
standing. One could almost fancy that he heard the 
increasing roar of this fierce advance, that he could 
catch, like the deep rumbling of unchained waters, the 
sound of this oncoming ocean of armed men. 

Meanwhile, in the north, Nogi and his outflanking 
army were literally carrying all before them. They 
even reached Tehshengyingtsz, due north of Suhu- 
dyapu, and almost in a straight line between that place 
and Mukden. Indeed, as I shall afterwards tell, 
Japanese horsemen rode as far as Madyapu or 
Mokiapu, the point where the road from Suhudyapu 
to Mukden crosses the Hun river, and fired on the 
retreating Russians there. 

We watched this terrible advance as Arabs in the 



254 WITH THE COSSACKS 

desert might watch in the heavens the approach of 
the dreaded simoom. We could not see the enemy, 
but we could mark his progress by an awe-inspiring 
precursor, by a reverberating vanguard of shrapnel 
and shimose which scourged the earth for half a dozen 
miles ahead of him. 

To-day we are conscious of defeat. We live in the 
shadow of a final cataclysmal disaster, the news of 
which has not yet been broken to us. What are these 
ominous whispers about Tsinmintun, Teihling, the 
road to Mukden. Oh, tell us, Vashe Blagarodie, one 
of noble birth ! is the battle lost ? Is our retreat cut 
off? 

We feel like an unarmed man groping in a dark 
room, where he knows that a strong enemy awaits 
him, in silence, hidden, with uplifted sabre. 

Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we shall die. 
O source of hope ! Orthodox Tsar ! O Little 
Father ! O Gosudar ! You were once our God, but 
now God and you have alike failed us. Holy 
Russia, we shall never see you again ! God we 
shall never see, for there is no God ! Our popes 
have lied to us about Him. If God existed He would 
never allow His chosen people to be butchered like 
swine by the savage Hunghuze and the pagan 
Yapontszi. 

I left Suhudyapu before the Japanese appeared on 
the scene and brought to a conclusion this Belshazzar 
revel. I afterwards asked the practical-minded con- 
querors what they had seen, but they did not remember 
anything beyond the exact number of the bags of corn 
which had been captured on this occasion. 



I 



CHAPTER XI 

GENERAL KUROPATKIN'S TRAIN 

On the evening of March 3 I left Suhudyapu with a 
Finnish officer in order to join General Kaulbars west 
of Mukden. The road to Madyapu was crowded with 
retreating troops. At Madyapu itself some excite- 
ment was caused by a Japanese patrol firing on the 
Russians. The audacity of the Japanese in coming so 
far inside the enemy's lines was one of the most 
remarkable things in this battle, while the entire 
absence of Cossack patrols at that point was a piece 
of inexcusable neglect on the part of the Russians, 
In fact, the Cossacks were more useless during the 
battle of Mukden than they had ever been before in 
this war, and that is putting the case against them very 
strong indeed. It is true that the Japanese are bad 
riders and have bad horses, but their superior audacity 
and pluck more than counterbalance these defects. 

Crossing the Hun we rode northward for some 
distance, thinking that we should find Kaulbars in that 
direction, but several circumstances induced us to 
retrace our steps. The first was that all the villages 
in front of us and to right and left of us were ablaze. 
I counted about a dozen different conflagrations on 
the horizon, and unless we expected to find Kaulbars' 
staff in the middle of a burning village it seemed that 



256 WITH THE COSSACKS 

the only safe thing for us to do was to go west to 
Mukden. Then, again, we noticed a number of sus- 
picious-looking horsemen riding about in the distance, 
and though it might be that they were Russians, there 
was a considerable probability they were the very 
Japanese who had been firing on us half an hour 
before. 

We returned therefore to Madyapu just in time to 
witness an unpleasant incident. There was a big 
uproar in a Chinese farmers house, and riding up to 
the kiaolang fence which surrounded it we looked over. 
Inside, a Russian officer, whose eyes were concealed 
by large black goggles and the rest of whose face was 
as effectively hidden under a thick coating of grey 
dust, was ordering, with violent gestures, the arrest of 
all the Chinese in the house. A handsome young 
Chinese woman, with a baby in her arms, threw her- 
self at his feet, but he repulsed her violently. An old, 
palsied woman was dragged out of the house by a pair 
of soldiers. A young Chinaman, evidently the husband 
of the young woman, lay on the ground outside, almost 
unconscious and evidently unable to move, despite the 
blows and kicks that were rained on him. An old man 
was dragged out, then an elderly woman. The sight 
was enough to have melted the heart of a stone, but in 
the faces of all these thousands of soldiers there was 
not the faintest gleam of pity. I do not know the 
rights and wrongs of the case, but the general cry of 
" signalizieravat !" seemed to indicate that these people 
had some connection with the arrival of Japanese 
scouts in the near vicinity. These poor people may 
have been spies, but this cry and the blows by which 
it was accompanied reminded me more than anything 






GENERAL KUROPATKIN'S TRAIN 257 

else of another cry : " He is a blasphemer! Crucify 
him ! Crucify him ! " 

Such things may be necessary for the prosecution of 
war, and they may be done on the Japanese side as 
well as on the Russian, but, if so, I hold that victory 
gained at such a price is too dearly gained. 

North of Madyapu we made another attempt to 
reach Kaulbars on the west, and, in fact, if we had 
gone north we should undoubtedly have reached 
him, for, as we afterwards learned, the Japanese had 
not yet come so far. But again we were intimidated 
and checked by the number of the burning villages. 
In some cases the horizon was lighted up for miles by 
an unbroken line of red, leaping, wavering flames, 
from which rose enormous columns of smoke. We 
rode up to the nearest of these conflagrations and 
found it to be the bakery of the Eighth Corps. Here 
we remained for a moment discussing our plans. The 
Finnish officer met a compatriot, also an officer, and it 
was strange to hear them talking in their own proscribed 
tongue, while Russian soldiers, tired to death, lay all 
around on the bare ground, fast asleep. I asked for 
an explanation of the arrests at Madyapu, and was 
told that the Chinese had set their house on fire in 
order to give notice to the Japanese that it was a good 
time to attack. 

Another suspicious circumstance was that a Chinese 
boy was found bringing to this house the latest issue 
of the Vyestneek Manjchurskoi Armee, the official 
Russian newspaper of Mukden, the inference being 
that this paper was to be passed on to the Japanese, 
though, as it only chronicled Russian victories, I do 
not see how it could have contained much news just 



258 WITH THE COSSACKS 

then or have been of much assistance to the enemy. 
But if these Chinese were really spies, they were 
certainly in good position to supply their employers 
with news, for all the troops that went to the Russian 
right had to pass through or near Madyapu. 

The Russians also pointed out to me that, on the 
night before, big conflagrations, started by the Chinese, 
had revealed to the enemy the headquarters of General 
Kaulbars and those of Generals Miloff and Tserpitsky 
respectively ; but I am still unconvinced by these 
arguments, feeling sure that these fires were lighted 
by the Russians themselves. At the same time I am 
also convinced that the Japanese got a vast amount of 
valuable information from their Chinese spies during 
the course of the battle. 

There was at this stage a lot of the usual flapdoodle 
among the Russian officers about Kuropatkin being 
c< very angry with Kaulbars for burning all these 
stores," and, again, about Miloff being perfectly able 
to hold out if " that idiot, Kuropatkin," had not 
ordered him to retire. 

Finally we got lost in the swollen torrent of men, 
horses, guns, Red Cross waggons, transport carts and 
commandeered Chinese vehicles that was rushing 
toward Mukden. The dust, combined with the dark- 
ness, was such that for half an hour after I reached 
the Russian settlement I could not find the railway 
station. Lights shone all around me, but they were 
merely pin-points of varying degrees of brightness in 
the dense, dark grey haze. They threw no more 
radiance on the buildings around them than did the 
Great Bear. We seemed to pass dozens of lines of 
railway, from which I conjecture that we passed and 






GENERAL KUROPATKIN'S TRAIN 259 

repassed the numerous sidings about the station. In 
one of these sidings was Kuropatkin's train. Kaulbars' 
train was near it. Although the compartment of the 
commander-in-chief was lighted by electricity, there 
was also on the table, inside, a neatly shaded lamp, 
which suggested studious ease and literary seclusion. 
One window of the brilliantly lighted dining-saloon 
was blocked by the back of a typical waiter standing 
in faultless evening dress behind his master's chair, 
his spine bent at an angle of well-bred attention. 

On the steps of the carriage stood Kuropatkin's 
adjutant, bold, smiling, suave, exceedingly well 
groomed, every brass button and gold tag on his 
uniform shining like a mirror. He was chatting 
pleasantly with somebody and seemed as serenely 
oblivious of the hordes of beaten men who were 
tramping past as if he were standing in one of the 
most exclusive drawing-rooms in St. Petersburg. 

At last we found the station and made our way to 
the restaurant. It was packed with officers, so closely 
packed that the waiters could not circulate outside the 
counter, and dishes had to be passed to the people at 
the tables over the heads of the dense crowd in the 
centre of the room. Every one save Rikacheff and 
myself and the waiters was in uniform, and every one 
was talking loudly and excitedly. It seemed from 
what they said that all the Japanese attacks on 
the Russian left and centre had been repulsed with 
great loss, and this was perfectly true. It was only on 
the right that we were beaten back this day ; and this 
was due to the absence of the First Siberian Corps, 
which was now, however, on its way back to the 
west. 



260 WITH THE COSSACKS 

It was everywhere expected that next day — that is, 
March 4 — Kaulbars would deliver a decisive battle 
west of Mukden, with the object of isolating and 
destroying General Nogi, whose presence in that part 
of the field was now known, and I made an appoint- 
ment with an officer on Kaulbars' staff, who was to 
leave Mukden with the commander of the second 
army at five o'clock the next morning. 

Kaulbars did not start, however, at five o'clock the 
next morning. In fact, he did not start at all. I 
think he remained in his railway carriage at Mukden 
station for the next few days — that is, until the battle 
was decided. And no one can blame him for this, as 
the Japanese had now come so close to Mukden on 
the west, and from Mukden better than from any 
other point Kaulbars could direct the operations of 
his subordinates against Nogi. 

On this day, March 4, the excitement at the railway 
station reached fever-point. From morning till night 
troops poured in — Cossacks, artillerymen, dragoons, 
infantry. What became of them afterward I do not 
know. I suppose some were sent west and some 
north. Great numbers of wounded were also brought 
along. Long rows of tents were run up alongside the 
railway line for the reception of these wounded. Out- 
side these tents were piles of blood-stained first-aid 
bandages as high as your armpits. The great square 
in front of the station was black, or rather grey, with 
troops. There was a large Cossack escort waiting 
outside Kaulbars' railway train on a siding. There 
was another escort near Kuropatkin's carriage, which 
nobody was allowed to approach. There was a third 
escort outside the carriage of General Tserpitsky. 






GENERAL KUROPATKIN'S TRAIN 261 

Crowds of officers were also standing outside these 
carriages awaiting the behests of these and other 
generals. Inside heated discussions were going on. 
Through the window-panes you could see that some 
of the officers were standing up, gesticulating and 
pointing to maps. Messengers were arriving every 
few moments. Once an excited Cossack rode up 
shouting that the Japanese were only three versts off. 
The restaurant at the railway station was as crowded 
as ever. There was hardly standing-room on the 
platform. 

The number of trains that were in would have been 
no discredit to a big depot in America. Most of them, 
however, were Red Cross trains, white, and bearing 
the name and coat of arms of some princess or other. 

There was a crowd of czvoscheeks in front of the 
station. Private soldiers who seemed to have nothing 
else to do turned many a decent penny by holding 
horses. The collection of fine horses there reminded 
one of a horse show. The little village of Greek stores 
near the station did a roaring trade, and, strange to 
say, the prices were not exorbitant. 

In the censor's office, No. 15, sat Colonel Pestitch, 
the head censor, displaying a gold molar in an unceas- 
ing smile, the result of the good news he hourly 
received. This news he generally communicated to 
the correspondents. Colonel Pestitch was a personi- 
fication of optimism. 

In an open space on the road leading to the city there 
was to be seen on the 4th a sight which would, even in 
the days of miracles, have been considered striking. 
Four or five hundred of the former Hunghuzes which 
Russia had for some years past kept in her pay were 



262 WITH THE COSSACKS 

there marshalled. They were all young men, well 
armed, well mounted, dressed in flaring silk, yellow 
cummerbunds tied around their waists, golden orna- 
ments hanging from their necks. One could hardly 
believe that these men belonged to the peaceful Chinese 
race, so firm were their handsome faces, so fiercely did 
they return through their oblique eyelids the stare of 
inquisitive foreigners. On Russians whom curiosity 
led to finger those very unusual specimens of Celestial 
manhood they promptly drew their swords, and it was 
easy to see that when they did so they were not show- 
ing off, as Russian officers sometimes show off with 
naked sabres in the cafes chantants. 

These interesting gentlemen had evidently attained 
that enviable state of mind (which, with the exception 
of Japanese soldiers, few people in the modern world 
can be said to have attained) in which, every morn- 
ing that they open their eyes, they are»perfectly pre- 
pared to regard their own violent death as one of the 
most probable occurrences of the coming day, and 
when men reach that stage their conduct is not always 
distinguished by an excess of caution and self-restraint. 

From afar off, the good citizens of Nurhachu's ancient 
capital watched, in awe and wonder, this band of free- 
booters. Village legends and tales and old nurses' 
rhymes had often spoken of them, but never a single 
specimen had the good burghers of Mukden seen 
before, save, disarmed and bound, on the execution 
ground outside the west gate of Mukden. 

Where these desperadoes came from I do not know. 
Where they were sent to I do not know. I can only 
say that they all disappeared mysteriously next day. 
But on this day of troubles and rumours, their appari- 



GENERAL KUROPATKIN'S TRAIN 263 

tion excited no great attention, and, with the excep- 
tion of a local photographer, I think that I was the only 
foreigner to notice them or to snapshot them. They 
seemed to me like one of those mysterious but 
necessary signs which are, according to the Apocalypse, 
to precede the end of the world. Their coming and 
their going were alike mysterious, but in that day of 
death and destruction and red ruin, of the imminent 
fall of Mukden and the tottering of the Muscovite 
throne in Manchuria, the dead would hardly have 
excited attention had they risen from their graves 
and walked the streets. 

At 3 p.m. I set out with Tserpitsky for the west. 
With our Cossack escort we rode at great speed 
to the little village of Tapau, north of Madyapu 
and south-west of Mukden. Tserpitsky s new line ran 
from Kwanlinpu to Likwanpu. North of him was 
Gerngross and the brave First Siberian, or at least as 
much of it as had arrived. South of him was Gershel- 
mann, with the Forty-first Artillery brigade, and 
Roussanoff. We had now, among others, the four- 
teenth division. Previously the Japanese had been able 
to hurl against the numerically inferior Russian right 
no less than eight divisions, equivalent to the whole 
Japanese army at the battle of Liao-Yang. Now the 
fight would be fairer, for, in addition to Gerngross, an 
independent corps, to operate north-west of Mukden, 
was formed under Von Launitz, but, alas, it was already 
too late. 

After remaining at Tapau till the evening Tserpitsky 
started at nightfall for Yangshihtun. There were six 
huge conflagrations in front of us. As we drew close 
to them we discovered a long line of our infantry waiting 



264 WITH THE COSSACKS 

in a field. Tserpitsky, short, red, puffy, but brave as a 
Paladin, rode impetuously among them. They surged 
around him with fixed bayonets like frightened children 
around a father. They pressed close to him, shaken, 
terror-stricken, as if the sound of his words could 
confer invincibility. " Men of Minsk ! " he began, but 
this was too formal. M Rebyata ! " he said, " children ! 
Russia always conquers ! We'll conquer now ! Ad- 
vance and sweep those pagan Japanese to hell ! Now ! " 
imploringly, almost tearfully. " There will be no re- 
treat, no coming back ! " (A loud cry of " Nyet ! nyet ! 
vashe prevoshoditelstvo ! ") For a moment the old 
general was overcome by emotion. Then he mastered 
himself by a strong effort and recommenced : " Reb- 
yata ! molodtzi ! " but suddenly his voice broke, and, 
turning to his staff, he said huskily : " Give them 
vodka ! Give them anything ! Send them on ! God 
bless you ! God bless you ! " and, shaking hands fer- 
vently, tearfully, with the colonel of the regiment, who 
had at the time been standing at attention beside his 
horse's head, he plunged his spurs into his steed and 
went off at his usual breakneck pace. 

We now approached very near to one of the burning 
villages, trampling in the darkness over thousands of 
preserved meat tins, which had probably been carried 
off from Suhudyapu. On the walls of this burning 
village figures were outlined against the flames, figures 
of soldiers, small soldiers with round caps and overcoats 
of which the skin-lined collars swept upward round the 
face and ears after the manner of a lotus blossom. 
Crack ! crack ! crack ! They were firing at us. We 
had come too near. Increasing our speed we soon 
left the dangerous village behind and came, in the 



GENERAL KUROPATKIN'S TRAIN 265 

densest darkness, to another where there was no con- 
flagration, not even a gleam of light, and behind which 
thousands of Russians were massed in trenches. These 
men also Tserpitsky addressed, winding up by order- 
ing the colonel to give them one yen each ! On hear- 
ing this the poor, simple-minded, tow-headed Musco- 
vites, going in hundreds to their death, nearly went 
mad with delight ; but, good heavens ! that very 
morning a Chinese jinriksha coolie had nearly stabbed 
me in the streets of Mukden for presuming to offer him 
only three yen for an hour's work ! 

The General and his staff entered the village, while 
Rikacheff and I got a soldier to hold our horses. We 
promised him twenty-five kopecks ; and he was de- 
lighted. Taking us for Cossacks, he began to 
expatiate on how differently Cossack officers and 
infantry officers treated their men. " Why, one of our 
officers would never think of talking to us so friendly 
as that," he began, but without waiting to hear the rest 
of it, we left him hurriedly and joined the General in a 
Chinese house, where after sleeping somewhere in my 
boots, as usual, I was awakened toward daybreak by 
the loudest bombardment I had ever listened to. We 
were like insects living in a drum which was getting 
a tremendous whack on both sides every few minutes. 
The house shook as if from the shock of an earthquake. 
The paper window-panes bulged out like the sails 
of a ship in a typhoon and then relaxed with a shiver. 
We feared that with the next terrific bellow the 
flimsy structure would fall to pieces. Meanwhile, the 
rattle-rattle-rattle of the rifles was incessant, close and 
angry. Hearing that sort of uproar the first thing in 
the morning, whenit is dark and one is only half awake, 



266 WITH THE COSSACKS 

the average person is inclined to imagine that he has 
died during the night and is not waking up in heaven. 

It was my good friend Rikacheff who aroused me, 
and I remember that he spent a considerable time 
trying to make me grasp the fact that, so far, I was 
alive, and that if I intended to remain alive I had 
better hustle and find my horse, as we were leaving 
instantly. Oh, those horses ! the trouble they gave 
us ! they had never been unsaddled day or night for 
weeks, so there was no trouble on that score ; but they 
had such a habit of breaking loose, and it was so diffi- 
cult, with our hands almost frozen, to put the bit into 
their unwilling mouths. On this occasion the man we 
had bribed with twenty-five kopecks to look after them 
had disappeared, and so, of course, had the horses. 
Before we had found them we had received several 
kicks from strange irascible animals, whose hind- 
quarters we had unwittingly bumped against in the 
darkness, but bridling them was a task I should not 
like to undertake again. When I had got the bit 
under my horse's lip and all seemed to be well he would 
suddenly knock me down with a toss of his head, 
which seemed to say : 

" No, no, no ! By no manner of means ! Why, I 
haven't finished breakfast yet," and I would have to 
begin all over again. His usual plan, however, was to 
keep his teeth tightly clenched, evidently with the idea 
of convincing me that there was no opening in that 
quarter and that I had been mistaken in thinking that 
there was. Finally, however, I succeeded in getting 
the bit into his mouth, and, having done so, I had to 
wait full three hours before the General left ! 

It was, of course, our own artillery that made most 






GENERAL KUROPATKIN'S TRAIN 267 

of the noise, and not the Japanese artillery, but, never- 
theless, our danger was considerable, and I did not quite 
know whether to admire or to blame Tserpitsky for 
running such risks. When he sent me a message to 
come and have breakfast with him I decided, however, 
only to admire him. 

It seemed to me that the Japanese knew we were in 
this village — perhaps we had been followed thither by 
some of the soldiers who had fired at us from the walls 
of the burning village — at any rate, two shells exploded 
in the front yard of our house, and one shrapnel made 
a hole in the roof of the room where General Tser- 
pitsky and his adjutant were sitting, filling the room 
with dust, but doing no further damage. Many bullets 
also struck the walls of the house, and many more 
whistled harmlessly overhead. 

I spent only about an hour in this house after day- 
break, but I could write a book about it owing to the 
marvellous clearness with which at this period of ex- 
cessive strain every little detail impressed itself on my 
mind. I went into the street to wash myself at a frozen 
horse-trough, and I shall never forgot how deserted 
that street looked. It was not the desertion of early 
morning — it was the desertion of death. London 
town must have looked like that during the Great 
Plague. At the street corner a horse lay dead. 
Further off lay a dead man. By-and-by the Russian 
troops stole past me with the silence and cautiousness 
of thieves in a bedroom. I should not have been so 
particular about washing myself at this particular time 
had it not been for the fact that, not having washed for 
several days, my eyelashes had become clogged with 
dust. While I was washing myself three Shimose 



268 WITH THE COSSACKS 






shells fell in quick succession at the back of the 
General's house, and as it now seemed certain that the 
Japanese really knew we were there Tserpitsky decided 
to leave, and accordingly we went eastward across the 
plain, galloping at a great rate, amid the billows of 
impenetrable dust, which sometimes permitted the 
heads and bodies of the Cossacks to be seen — some- 
times the heads alone. We went as far back as Tapau 
or Dapu. 



CHAPTER XII 

MARCH 5, 6 AND 7 

March 5 fell on a Sunday, and, comparatively speak- 
ing, it had something of a Sabbath calm about it, as 
far at least as I was concerned. I remained all day at 
Dapu with Tserpitsky, watching a great semicircle of 
bursting shells at a safe distance. I soon began to feel 
bored, however. It was like watching a football match 
at such a distance that you could only see the dust 
raised by the players. It was a fine day, and the sun 
shone brightly on long lines of wounded being carried 
past and on numbers of unexploded Japanese shells 
scattered over the fields. 

It is a mistake to suppose that a battle is a display 
of terrible energy all the time. Sometimes officers and 
even generals take tea and smoke, and on such occa- 
sions the irresponsible correspondent comes perilously 
near to loafing. Two Zabaikal batteries and two sotnia 
of the Verkhnyudinsky Cossacks were this day attached 
to our force ; and, in spite of his wounded leg, General 
Mishchenko came all the way from Mukden in his 
carriage in order to give his old chief, Tserpitsky, the 
benefit of his advice. They had been together during 
the Boxer troubles in China, but, alas ! to use an 
expressive American colloquialism, they were now, 
" up against a different proposition." 



270 WITH THE COSSACKS 

How strange, pathetic almost, it was to read at 
this time in old newspapers of the great exploits of 
Russian generals against the Chinese in 1900, generals 
who were now unable to do anything against the 
Japanese! SakharofTs march along the Sungari, 
Linievitch's capture of Newchwang and Mukden, 
Rennenkampfs storming of Ai'goun, Orloff's cele- 
brated passage of the Khingan mountains, how great 
these feats would have looked if there had been no 
Russo-Japanese War ! How small they now seemed ! 
It was good for Pizarro and Cortes that they had never 
been called upon to fight some stubborn people like 
the English or the Dutch. Perhaps, too, it was good 
for us English that we never stirred up in India such 
a nest of hornets as the Japanese. 

At five o'clock in the evening, four mortar batteries — 
thirty-two guns, — moved slowly round on our left 
towards Madyapu in a long and most imposing line, 
which greatly cheered our soldiers ; but what we on 
the spot considered as the most important event of 
the day, although history may take a different view, 
was the fact that one of the fine kitchen waggons 
which the Russians made use of in their army, paid us 
a flying visit, which greatly improved our temper. 
Immediately after, however, a couple of ugly incidents 
rudely disturbed this happy state of mind. A party 
of one hundred and fifty Russians, who told a rather 
incredible story about having lost their regiment, were 
found wandering about near the Japanese lines in 
the direction of Madyapu, evidently with the inten- 
tion of surrendering. Tserpitsky gave them a terrible 
scolding, and immediately marched them into the very 
hottest corner in the whole field, a place where they 






MARCH 5, 6 AND 7 271 

might easily get killed, but could not possibly surrender 
without being cut to pieces by their own men. 

Then a Russian deserter was brought in with his 
hands tied behind his back, charged with having been 
among the Japanese, and having even fired on his 
own men. It was an extraordinary tale ; but the dusty, 
bitter soldiers who led him in asserted that he did not 
belong to any regiment in that part of the field, and 
that they had seen him leave the Japanese lines and 
come crawling in among them, evidently in order to 
ascertain their strength and then to bring the informa- 
tion back to the enemy. The inference was that he 
had surrendered to the Japanese, perhaps months 
before, and that they had ever since employed him to 
go about in his Russian uniform and get them inform- 
ation which neither they themselves nor their Chinese 
spies could obtain. This unfortunate renegade met 
with little sympathy from his captors. On his observ- 
ing with white lips that he had a wife and children at 
home, one of the soldiers told him not to worry about 
them, as " the Japanese will send them the money all 
right." 

The chief of staff abused him fiercely, winding up 
by asking him if he belonged to the Orthodox Church 
and if he wore a cross. It would have been a great 
discovery if he had turned out to be a Jew ; but, on 
the breast of his shirt being torn open, it was dis- 
covered that he did wear a cross — a Greek cross, too, 
not a Latin one. 

About the same time several Chinese, accused of 
signalling, were brought in. Most of them were 
knocked all in a heap, so to speak, with fright ; but 
one handsome, affable youth, who spoke two or three 



272 WITH THE COSSACKS 

words of " pigin " Russian, used an amount of diplo- 
macy which, considering the great disadvantages under 
which he laboured, was truly magnificent, although at 
times the awful fear clutching at his heart would show 
for a second through this veneer of self-confidence. 
Unable to make much use of his tongue, which must 
have been a very sugary one in his own language, he 
used his fine almond eyes and winning smile with all 
the skill of a coquette ; but he might just as well have 
ogled a milestone. I did not go to see him killed, but 
employed myself more usefully in going around the 
village with Rikacheff, trying to find a vacant house, 
for it was rather crowded at the general's. We were 
astonished to discover one fine house quite empty, and 
on inquiring why it had not been occupied, we were told 
that it was because a Japanese bullet had come through 
the roof on the previous day and killed a soldier as he 
was eating his dinner. Flattering ourselves that we, 
at any rate, were free from superstitious fears, Rikacheff 
and I at once took up our abode here, but when dark- 
ness fell we suddenly discovered that it was a mistake 
after all to separate ourselves from the Staff. 

On Monday, the 6th, things were again quiet, and 
even monotonous. This was all the better for us, as 
it showed that, in spite of their five or six general 
assaults daily, the Japanese had practically failed to 
move us from the positions we had taken up west and 
south-west of Mukden on the 4th. A day or so more 
and we would take root in those positions, as we had 
taken root in the positions south of the Hun after 
the battle of the Shaho. That day or so was not to 
be given us. On the 7th Nogi began one of the most 
terrible assaults in history. 






MARCH 5, 6 AND 7 273 

On the morning of that day I was awakened about 
an hour before dawn by the roar of thirty Russian 
batteries, 240 cannon, and by the continuous explosion 
of Japanese shells. 

I shall not soon forget the scene. It was the bare 
interior of a wretched Chinese hovel, which the staff 
had casually appropriated at a late hour the night 
before — I may here remark that, whether from chance 
or design, we slept in a different village every night — 
and I found myself lying on the " kang " wrapped in a 
Russian pelisse and with a brick for a pillow. There 
were several colonels on the same " kang," and the 
ground was strewn thick with orderlies, who were 
lying around in such a way as to suggest that they had 
all been killed by a shell. One, a Don Cossack, was 
even lying asleep in the doorway. 

There was a light in the adjoining room, and an 
excited voice was calling into a telephone. There 
seemed to be some difficulty about getting the party 
at the other end to understand, for the same phrase 
was frequently repeated. It was to the effect that the 
Japanese were advancing against Fudyatun, and that 
this was the commencement of a grand general attack 
on the part of the enemy. In the subsequent conver- 
sation the names of General Churnin (the gallant 
defender of Yangshihtun), General Roussanoff, General 
Pavloff (the commander of the Transbaikal brigade), 
and of other leaders were frequently mentioned. 
Sometimes it would be Tserpitsky himself that would 
shriek into that telephone. Sometimes it would be 
his adjutant, Yannoffsky. Now it was the General 
Staff at Mukden that was communicated with ; now it 
was some of the subordinate leaders in the firing line. 



274 WITH THE COSSACKS 

Meanwhile the Transbaikal and Stryelkovi cannon 
almost deafened us. Louder and louder became the 
roar ; swifter, angrier, more insistent, more breathless. 
And the greater grew that iron-throated clamour, the 
less confident I felt. I fancied I could detect in this 
frightful bellowing a whine of terror, a distinct note 
of fear. All this uproar simply meant that those 
yellow demons were just at their best for offensive 
purposes, when they should, had they been human 
beings at all, have been tired to death by their innu- 
merable onslaughts for more than a week past. How 
could we continue to withstand such a people ? 

While ruminating in this dismal manner I got a 
message from the general, asking me to have break- 
fast with him. I accepted the invitation with almost 
indecent alacrity, for Tserpitsky always brought an 
excellent Russian cook along with him. While I was 
eating, my host told me that he was going to 
Fudyatun that morning, and urged me to order his 
cook to make anything I wanted in case he himself 
was absent throughout the day. This was the last I 
saw of this brave and kind-hearted gentleman. I 
went out next day to see the fighting on the west, and 
was never able to return to the ioth Corps, which 
held on, however, to Tapau till ten o'clock on the 
morning of the fatal ioth. How Tserpitsky himself 
managed to escape is a mystery to me. He received 
several wounds, from the effects of which he died, and 
I am not surprised at it, for Skobeleff himself was not 
more indifferent to his life. 

Before leaving the ioth Corps Rikacheff and I 
paid another visit to the hard-pressed village of 
Yangshihtun, against which Nogi was at that 



I 



MARCH 5, 6 AND 7 275 

moment hurling his bravest. The sunlight now 
flooded the vast, grey plain, which, devoid of even a 
single blade of grass, seemed the very image of 
desolation. On the sky-line was a small Buddhist 
chapel, looking like a Catholic shrine in the Sabine 
Hills, and beyond it was the Chinese village which 
we wanted to reach. 

Half-way across the plain we could see several long 
widely-spaced lines of Russian soldiers lying on the 
ground, with heads raised slightly above the level of 
their bodies, and rifles projecting in front of them. They 
were not firing, however, for the firing-line, which they 
were on their way to reinforce or replace, was beyond 
the distant village. Very frequently we saw, afar off, 
small groups of men advancing towards us, slowly, 
mournfully, and as fearlessly as if they knew themselves 
to be invulnerable. When they came nearer we saw 
that each group was carrying a wounded comrade to 
the rear on a stretcher. 

Shells were falling at intervals all over the plain, 
raising volcanic columns of black smoke, which slowly 
dissipated as the wind whirled them lazily along. When 
not thus engaged, the wind amused itself by raising, on 
its own account, columns of dun-grey dust, almost 
exactly like the columns of shimose, and whirling them 
about in the same way. 

A soldier gravely told me that there was a wizard 
inside each of these " dust-spouts," and it did not 
seem at all improbable, for sometimes these pillars of 
dust went spinning down the wind like phantoms 
with long, flying robes. 

A semicircle of snow-white, fleecy, shrapnel cloud- 
lets hung over the line of prostrate Russians, like the 



276 WITH THE COSSACKS 

aureole of stars one sees in pictures of the Blessed 
Virgin ; and, like a youth in crimson garments, the sun 
now appeared in the east. On seeing that a regiment 
was slowly following us in extended formation, probably 
in order to stiffen the force already at the front, we 
reined in our horses and waited for it to come up. It 
was a beautiful sight so long as I watched it with my 
face to the east, for then the hard details of the ground 
before me were all obliterated, and the spaces between 
the soldiers were filled by a wondrous misty, golden 
haze, amid which, hooded and gowned like Franciscans, 
the men advanced solemnly, like silent files of the 
Beatified in some mediaeval Italian painting. 

But when they had gone by and I gazed after them 
with the sun at my back, all the hard lines on the 
brown earth, and all the sordid tokens of toil and 
stress on the men's persons, came out with ghastly 
clearness. The blaze of martial glory ceased all at 
once to dazzle. The golden mist of illusion and 
romance which surrounds the military profession passed 
suddenly away, and the hard, clear daylight of reason 
illuminated inexorably this reluctant march to a miser- 
able death. 

Rikacheff, however, was not disillusioned. He 
seemed on the contrary to become more enthusiastic 
than ever. Riding in amongst the men, he spoke to 
them of God and of Russia, coupling these two names 
together as if they were the names of the two great 
facts of the Universe. The men were visibly touched 
and impressed by the zeal of this young man, and 
many a rough voice was heard thanking him. Cir- 
cumstances such as these make me see in Russia 
a latent fanaticism which bodes ill, some day, for 



MARCH 5, 6 AND 7 277 

the countries on her frontiers both in Europe and 
Asia. 

On a level plain east of a frozen brook on whose 
western side lay Yangshihtun, we found two batteries 
pounding away at the Japanese, and as Rikacheff said 
that he knew an officer in one of them, we approached 
to make inquiries. The artillery officers were repos- 
ing on their backs in shallow pits, each man with a 
telephone at his ear, and some tattered novels and 
empty sardine tins lying on the straw beside him. 
They told Rikacheff that his friend was at that 
moment in the Kumernya or village temple on the 
other side of the brook. We accordingly visited this 
temple, which was being used as an observation station, 
and which was consequently the focus of a hot 
Japanese rifle and artillery fire. Once I got inside 
this temple enclosure, I discovered with a shock that 
I had never before known what a hot fire meant. 

Every Chinese temple has got an elaborate gate- 
way, with a covering like a roof. This particular 
temple had got a fine, large specimen of such a gate- 
way when I came in ; but there was not much of it left 
when I departed, somewhat precipitately, a few 
moments later. There was also an additional rent in 
the temple roof, while the ground outside was as full 
of holes as a pepper-pot. The courtyard of the temple 
would have been in the same condition had it not been 
for the fact that it was paved. Consequently shells 
did not go deep into it, but, whenever one struck it, 
showers of stone and iron flew about in all directions. 
A few moments before my arrival, part of the gable 
had been blown off the sanctuary, and in the new, 
white light from heaven that now streamed straight 



278 WITH THE COSSACKS 

down on their faces — for the first time probably since 
the temple roof had been put on — the distorted idols 
inside glared diabolically against the sombre back- 
ground. The light fell as in a painting by Correggio, 
but never did that joyful Italian make light fall on 
faces like those. My Celtic superstitiousness made 
my blood run cold at the prospect of meeting my last 
end in such an unholy spot, and my horror was in- 
creased by the presence of an insane Chinese bonze, 
whose sorceries and incantations, directed apparently 
against the unseen powers of the air that were smash- 
ing his temple to pieces, were demoniacal and 
uncanny. 

The officer in charge of this post lived in a bomb- 
proof, from which he frequently emerged to take a 
hasty look through one of those telescopes, which, 
by means of a series of mirrors inside, enable a 
person to look over a wall without raising his head 
above the level of it — a hydroscope, I think, they call 
it. It was good that he was provided with such an 
instrument, for the sheet of bullets that flew over that 
massive temple wall could only be compared to a 
slanting hailstorm. I was able to get just one glimpse 
of the Japanese, or, rather, of one or two jet-black 
Japanese heads bobbing up and down behind a group 
of Chinese tombs a few hundred yards off ; and of a 
single active little figure in a khaki-coloured overcoat 
that shot from one mound of earth to another. At 
this point the Japanese were overpoweringly superior 
in numbers, all that stood between them and us being 
a bleak grey line of Russian infantrymen lying, close- 
packed, behind the squat mud wall which surrounded 
the village. 



I 



MARCH 5, 6 AND 7 279 

Rikacheff duly discovered his friend, and, standing 
on a piece of ground littered with empty shell-cases, 
unexploded projectiles, and bits of twisted and tor- 
tured metal, they tried to talk. But, what with the 
rapid bang! bang! bang! of the shimose, the crash 
of falling masonry, and the ominous whistle of high- 
velocity projectiles passing overhead, it was almost 
as difficult to carry on a conversation as it would 
have been on board a ship during a typhoon. 

This was the very front. It was one of the hottest 
points of the battle, and in order to get a good view 
of it I went into the village. What a desolation ! 
There came into my mind biblical descriptions of 
cities wasted and empty and smitten by the hand of 
God. Soldiers whose faces were blanched with terror 
hid behind tottering walls. The grey-coated line in 
front fired steadily, steadily, as if they were automatic 
machines fixed to the ground. Meanwhile the Japanese 
outflanking army was sweeping round towards Pehling, 
the tombs of the Manchu Emperors. 



CHAPTER XIII 

THE RETREAT FROM MUKDEN 

On March 7 the Japanese outflanking army made a 
sudden sweep eastwards, which brought them close to 
the Imperial tombs and to the railroad. On the 
morning of March 8 I rode out to the north-west with 
my friend Rikacheff to see what was happening in 
that direction. We first came to Houta (or Howha, 
as the Russians call it), a village a little north of the 
Tsinmintun Road, and distinguished by a pagoda of 
much the same appearance as the famous pagoda at 
Liaoyang. Here we found the staff of the Second 
Army. 

Then we pushed on towards Padyaza, a few miles 
to the north of Houta, but, long before we had reached 
that point, we learned from the dull rumbling and 
pounding and the continual flash of the shells that a 
terrible battle was raging there. Before us, a grey 
monotony of desolation, the level plain stretched away 
to the horizon under a pallid sky, which seemed to be 
the reflection of the wearied earth. O great, sad 
plains of Mukden, torn by shells and wheels and 
horses' hoofs, stained with blood and littered with 
shrapnel, ye seem a land that God has cursed and 
condemned to remain for ever sterile ! 

Scattered over this plain like islands were clumps 



THE RETREAT FROM MUKDEN 281 

of trees which marked the position of villages. Behind 
the villages which were close to us lay Russian bat- 
teries which went boom ! boom ! boom ! steadily and 
exasperatingly. Their shells burst in clusters on the 
tree-fringed horizon, and at five or six points great 
sheets of flame and white smoke indicated where 
villages burned. A long column of Russians began 
to advance over the plain, in the midst of which 
shimose shells now began to explode in ominous black 
clouds. Half a dozen times in succession they burst in 
almost the same place. That place was in front of the 
column and on its line of march. The column turned 
at an acute angle and avoided the dangerous spot. 
It was evidently bound for Padyaza on the north-west. 
Everything seemed bound for Padyaza, where the smoke 
arose out of the earth as the smoke of a great furnace, 
and the sun and the air were darkened. Everybody 
watched Padyaza. Now and then batteries would rush 
past with all the clatter of fire-engines. Sometimes 
they stopped and unlimbered, but always they sent 
their shells towards Padyaza, beyond which there was 
something formidable massing. It is a vital point. It 
dominates the railway. If Nogi breaks through here, 
all is lost. 

Rikacheff and I hurry forward. We join a line of 
soldiers lying on the open ground in front of Padyaza. 
The dusty officers receive us civilly, but no longer with 
their old cordiality. I, at least, am but a foreigner 
come with an opera-glass in my hand to watch, with a 
critical air, the last agony of the Russian army, to see 
the end of this formidable drama. 

We are in an exposed position, and bullets are coming 
thick. A horse close by is hit. I feel somehow as if I 



282 WITH THE COSSACKS 

were facing a gale of wind. A Japanese machine-gun 
spouts out a stream of lead which can be easily traced 
by the puffs of dust it raises from the clayey promi- 
nences in the field. It swings backward and forward 
in an acute angle, like a search-light. Rikacheff lends 
his horse to a soldier, who has been told to go back for 
more ammunition. A column of smoke bursts from 
Padyaza, and the broken remnant of a Russian regiment 
retreats from it. A few khaki-clad figures flit under- 
neath the trees, and the captain, who has his binoculars 
to his eyes, tells his men to open fire on the village 
which, a moment before, was Russian. 

As the Japanese fire now became very hot, Rikacheff 
and I retired, and were soon followed by the Russian 
firing-line. The number of wounded was very great, 
so great that many of them could not be attended to. 
In one case I saw two soldiers, not Red Cross men, 
carrying back in their arms a wounded comrade, to 
whom even first aid had not been rendered owing to 
want of bandages. I gave them the little packet 
of lint I always carried with me, and Rikacheff helped 
them to bind the wound, which was a shocking one. 
Afterwards, by means of their rifles and of a little 
tente dabri which one of them carried, folded, athwart 
his shoulder, they managed to improvise a stretcher. 
There was a continual stream of slightly wounded men 
staggering or limping past unassisted, and I must say 
that few of them were bearing up well. They had the 
air of people that had got hurt in a row that didn't 
concern them. Most of them were moaning piteously. 
As they passed me, one of them drew his hand across 
his wounded forehead, and on finding the hand covered 
with blood, he said, as if grieved and astonished : 




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THE RETREAT FROM MUKDEN 283 

" Kroff idyot" (It is bleeding). Another, wounded 
in the left hand, talked to himself and sighed. A 
pathetic figure was an untidy, bent, middle-aged man 
trudging towards the hospital, the butt of his gun 
sticking out underneath his coat. 

RikachefT and I now went further north. Behind 
many of the low mud walls that divided the fields we 
found lines of soldiers ; and in one place there were no 
soldiers, but a great collection of boots, overcoats and 
blood-stained bandages, which probably indicated that 
a shell had wrought great havoc there. We sat down 
for a moment on this scarred, unlucky spot to eat 
some cheese we had brought with us, when suddenly 
a soldier rushed up and begged one of us to lend him a 
horse for a short time, as he wanted to order more 
ammunition. He got the horse and duly returned it, 
but no sooner had he done so than the Russian line in 
front of us — it consisted of a regiment belonging to 
the 1 st Siberian Corps — began to fall back. Thus, 
on this day I saw our firing-line give way at two 
different points, and in neither case was the movement 
such as I had previously imagined a retreat to be. It 
was no sauve qui peut, for the men trudged back 
slowly and sullenly, covered by their own batteries. 

They were too tired to go back quickly, and the 
Japanese were too tired to follow them up. On both 
sides the limit of human endurance had almost been 
reached, and, if finally the Japanese won, it was because 
their fanaticism had made them more than human. 

We now entered the great forest that surrounds the 
Imperial Tombs of Pehling, where, in the deep shade 
beneath the murmuring pines, the ancient monarchs 
of Manchuria had wisely chosen their last resting- 



284 WITH THE COSSACKS 

place. The peace that prevailed here was in startling 
contrast to the uproar outside. 

Even a company of soldiers who passed at a distance 
through the forest aisles seemed, in that cathedral 
light, to be transformed, beatified. Standing in the 
shady path, with the gentle rustling of the trees in our 
ears, Rikacheff and I instinctively lowered our voices 
as if we had been in a basilica. We seemed to have 
stumbled by accident on an ark in which God had 
preserved a specimen of a beautiful world which had 
been wrecked, smashed and over-run by a deluge of 
armed men. It suddenly occurred to me that the 
Almighty could not, after all, be the pitiless Jehovah 
whom I had heard about. 

There was not a soul in the great shady quad- 
rangles, not a priest in the reposeful ancient temples. 
Nest-building sparrows and the long line of gigantic 
stone animals which flanked the avenue appeared to 
be the sole inhabitants of this sequestered ruin. The 
manes of dead Emperors seemed to guard the spot. 

At length, however, a Chinese guide advanced 
cautiously towards us from a distant hut, but, in spite 
of his stolid appearance, he must have been very much 
upset, for he forgot to ask us, as usual, for money 
before unbarring the various iron-studded doors that 
led to the interior of the Mausoleum. Expecting to 
get a good view of the Japanese, I ascended the 
highest tower, but the huge trees and the white semi- 
circular earthen mound, beneath which lie the bones of 
Nurhachu, prevented me from seeing anything. Ricka- 
cheff and I wound up the day's proceedings by getting 
arrested as Japanese spies. 

Thursday was a day on which no sensible person 



THE RETREAT FROM MUKDEN 285 

would venture out of doors, for the dust-storm which 
raged was unparalleled even in the dusty annals of 
Mukden, and M. Naudeau, of the Paris Journal, and Mr. 
R. H. Little, of the Chicago Daily News, who returned 
from the front unrecognisable by their best friends, 
and looking as if they had rolled in dust all the way 
home, assured me that, even if I had gone out, I could 
have seen nothing owing to the storm. I employed 
myself therefore in the composition of a long telegram 
to the Herald, which I brought to the censor's office 
at the railway-station. Colonel Pestitch was not at 
home, being probably half-way to Tiehling by that 
time, but an English-speaking captain, who acted as 
his subordinate, took charge of my telegram and said 
he would translate it for the colonel. He assured me 
that the telegraph line was uninterrupted, and was so 
optimistic that I not only paid for this telegram in 
advance but made a small deposit with him to cover 
the expenses of future wires from Mukden. Of course 
he said absolutely nothing about it being necessary to 
leave the city that night, and nobody else gave me any 
warning. 

On my way back to the town, I went astray owing to 
the fierceness of the dust-storm (which, by the way, 
proved so useful to Nodzu that very night), but at 
length I regained my house in safety. 

Some six months earlier four correspondents — Mr. 
Charles Hands, of the Daily Mail ; Mr. R. H. Little, 
of the Chicago Daily News ; Mr. George Denny, of 
the Associated Press, and myself — had rented, for our 
use whenever we came to Mukden, a large Chinese 
house, which stood in a retired spot underneath the 
imposing south-east corner of Mukden's ancient 
battlements. 



286 WITH THE COSSACKS 

Late on the night of March 9 some of the corre- 
spondents — there were only six of us now left, and I 
was the only Britisher among them — were discussing 
in this house the position of affairs. With us were 
three American attaches and one British attache 1 . It 
was a serious and dramatic moment. We heard that 
Nogi had wrecked the railway to the north. We also 
heard that it had been repaired, but were not inclined 
to believe this. We heard that Oku had broken 
through the line to the south-west. It was now cer- 
tain that the battle was lost. The gigantic army of 
Muscovy was going to pieces. The whole fabric 
might come down at any moment, and the disaster 
would be terrible. 

We felt the responsibility of men on whom the eyes 
of the world are fixed. We were the sole repre- 
sentatives of England, Germany, France, and t America 
— the only White Powers now left on the face of the 
earth — at a battle which would change the course of 
history; and as we stood there, with the Yellow Wave 
toppling over us, it almost seemed to us asif old Europe 
were undone. We talked gravely, like ambassadors 
burdened with a great mission. 

" Can Kuropatkin make good his retreat? " was the 
question we all asked. The military men thought he 
could not. He was trapped at last. A terrible object 
lay across his path. That object was Nogi. Some- 
body muttered the word " Sedan." 

We sat there discussing every possible aspect of the 
situation. We wondered if the Russians would try to 
escape by the west. If they did, it would be Napoleon's 
retreat from Moscow over again. The mere thought 
of that great army of nearly half a million of men 



THE RETREAT FROM MUKDEN 287 

flying across the frozen steppes of Mongolia with the 
Japanese army behind them, the Chinese army on 
their flanks, and the Mongol horsemen in front, made 
us shudder. It would be one of the most frightful 
disasters in history. 

Probably the Russians would make a desperate 
resistance close around Mukden, and attempt to cut 
their way through the Japanese cordon at some point 
or other. This meant that Mukden would be shelled 
to-morrow morning. The attaches were so certain on 
this point that Captain Bill Judson, one of the Ameri- 
can officers, proceeded to draw up plans for a bomb- 
proof to be constructed in our courtyard. Principally 
out of Irish " contrariness/' but also with the object of 
lightening to some extent the gloom which had settled 
on our little party, I insisted that the Russians were 
not cut off at all that they would fight a successful 
rearguard action at Mukden as they had done at 
Liaoyang, and that they would not leave the city for 
three days yet. I made a bet on this subject with 
Mr. Little — principally because I felt certain that, if I 
lost, Mr. Little would have some difficulty in getting 
his money, as in that case we would be all scattered 
to the four winds of heaven — and I regret to say that 
when we met at Dalny, about a week later, this was 
one of the first things on which Little refreshed my 
memory. 

Meanwhile I congratulated myself on having sent 
my baggage north with Philipoff and the Cossacks. 

At Liaoyang I had missed some of the best fighting 
by leaving a day too soon, when, if it had not been for 
my baggage, I could have remained behind and fallen 
back with the Russian rear-guard ; and I was deter- 



288 WITH THE COSSACKS 

mined not to repeat this mistake at Mukden. I would 
leave it with the very last Russian detachment. So I 
did, and I was captured with that detachment. 

Meanwhile we solemnly used up our last tins of 
preserves and our last bottles of whisky, for it was a 
great occasion. It was the eve of the Deluge. There 
was bound to be a catastrophe next day, and God 
alone knew the form it would take. 

In the next room, Little's Chinese boy " Ding " was 
cleaning up the supper things, as the occasional clatter 
of a spoon on the stone floor or the tinkle of cups and 
saucers indicated. 

Outside there was perfect silence. The cries of the 
Chinese pedlars — various, mournful, persistent and 
mysterious as the cries of unknown animals in tropical 
forests — had now quite ceased. Nature was hushed in 
horror. With prophetic eye the earth was gazing, 
speechless, at a tragedy. She had already received 
into her bosom twenty-seven thousand Russian dead ! 
She had seen the greatest defeat in Russian history. 
She had seen the bloodiest fight men had ever fought. 
And now she foresaw the retreat. 

It is one o'clock. Hark ! there suddenly bursts 
forth to the south-east a heavy sound of rifle-firing. 
We all jump to our feet and gaze at one another in 
silence. 

For the last ten days we had been listening to 
rifle-firing day and night, but never had we heard 
anything so ominous, so menacing, so close as this. 
What gave an uncanny touch to it was the dominating, 
melancholy boom of a single great gun, which rang forth 
at regular intervals with surprising clearness, and was 
immediately followed by an echo almost as loud. No 



THE RETREAT FROM MUKDEN 289 

wonder that our faces paled with superstitious awe when 
we heard that funereal note, for it was the death-bell 
tolling for the loss of Mukden, for the passing away 
of Russia's empire in Manchuria, for the strangling in 
its cradle of a great Eurasian State whose arms might 
well, in manhood, have stretched to Bender Abbas and 
Cape Cormorin. 

Nay, who knows but that it was the death-knell of 
the Russian Empire itself? 

When that gun sounded, Nodzu had crossed the 
Hun River, and the ancient seat of the Manchus was 
for ever lost to Russia. Kuroki had crossed further 
east, and was advancing by forced marches in order to 
join hands with Nogi across Kuropatkin's line of 
retreat. Mukden was compassed with the armies of 
the Mikado. 

With one accord we all rushed outside. A distant 
village was flaming redly in the south. Shells were 
bursting afar off. In the sky there were mysterious 
glows, like great signs from heaven. Ghostly search- 
lights were moving backwards and forwards like 
gigantic fingers. But we could not read that mysterious 
handwriting on the vast wall of night. We could not 
surmise what was happening. It was all a gigantic 
enigma. We did not know that the secret net of fate 
had already been thrown over Mukden, and that we 
were all of us caught in its enormous sweep. I went 
to sleep that night in a rather uneasy frame of mind, 
for in such topsy-turvy times there was scarcely any 
kind of development that would have surprised me. 
Early on Friday morning there was a stillness in the 
air which, combined with the absence of Russian 
soldiers, was decidedly disquieting, for it reminded me 



290 WITH THE COSSACKS 

forcibly of the unearthly, unaccustomed calm which 
came over Liaoyang the day Shushan was evacuated, 
and which I had at first taken for conclusive proof of 
a Japanese retreat. It looked as if the Russians had 
withdrawn during the night, and, owing to the retired 
position of my house, they might easily have done so 
without my knowledge. Riding hastily forth, I found 
the gates of Mukden now guarded by Chinese instead 
of by Russian soldiers, the shops shut, and the streets 
swarming with a curious and excited populace. I felt 
rather nervous about riding through the city, now that 
it was no longer European, but there was no help for 
it, so I rode through. When I emerged at the west 
gate, I saw that the Russian railway station and all 
the buildings around it were in flames, while from 
various points on the outskirts of the city great columns 
of smoke and red tongues of fire indicated the where- 
abouts of Russian granaries. 

Outside the west gate I called at a Lama temple, 
where I was well known, and found the old Dai-Lama 
greatly distressed about the burning of one of his 
houses, which had contained Russian stores. I felt 
vaguely refreshed by his irritation ; for it proved that 
human nature had not, after all, been swamped and 
obliterated by the gigantic disasters that were happen- 
ing. Incredible as it might appear, the old Lama 
evidently looked forward to a time when the world 
would regain its ancient calm. At that moment, 
however, he was very much afraid of the drunken 
stragglers who from time to time found their way 
into his courtyard, and he hailed my coming with 
great joy, for he seemed to think that I would 
prove a protector against these desperadoes, and, 






THE RETREAT FROM MUKDEN 291 

as ill-luck would have it, one of them came roaring 
into the temple just while we were talking. Telling 
me to tackle him, the Dai-Lama hastily retreated 
to his room and carefully barred the lath-and-paper 
door thereof; but in China a door is very often 
little more than a symbol of privacy, and the big soldier 
could have walked through this one with but little 
knowledge that there had been any obstacle in his way. 
In a very mild and subdued voice I asked the soldier 
in Russian what regiment he belonged to ; and, taking 
me probably, in his drunken condition, for an officer, 
he soon went out again after some incoherent mutter- 
ings ; whereupon the Dai- Lama and his shaven monks 
emerged from their hiding-places and hailed me with 
one voice as their benefactor and their deliverer, whom 
Buddha would reward. I went away, however, as soon 
as my horse was fed, for I was very doubtful of being 
equally successful with the next straggler. 

At the railway-station the ground was covered with 
the usual litter of a flying army, and hordes of Chinese, 
looking like wreckers, were appropriating as much of 
it as they could, including some damaged rifles and 
bayonets. Many Russian soldiers were passing by in 
fairly good order, but dead tired. They frequently sat 
or lay on the ground to get a few moments' rest. Two 
or three of them had disinterred pathetic proofs of 
Russian aspirations in the shape of several ice blocks, 
of which the commissariat had buried a great quantity 
in the ground with a view to the coming summer, and 
were eating the ice greedily. I rode between the 
burning houses at the station until I found that, owing 
to the ammunition left behind in them, bullets were 
flying about as in a battle. 



292 WITH THE COSSACKS 

On one occasion I approached a soldier who was 
lying on the ground, evidently in a dying condition, 
and took a snapshot of him, feeling at the same time 
that I was a brute for doing so. To atone for my 
heartlessness, I afterwards approached the poor man 
in order to see if I could not help him in some way, 
but was disappointed when one of his comrades told 
me gruffly that he was only drunk. 

At about three o'clock in the afternoon I began to 
suspect that the rearguard action which I was expect- 
ing would not come off after all, and that, in fact, / 
was the rearguard. At first I intended, despite the 
scriptural injunction, to turn back again to my house, 
to take up some things which I wanted to carry 
along with me ; but on seeing the enormous crowds of 
Chinese through which I would have to pass, I changed 
my mind, and, riding as fast as I could, I soon over- 
took some tired and desperate-looking stragglers, one 
of whom shouted at me to stop, his object evidently 
being to deprive me of my horse. He continued 
bawling after me fiercely for about five minutes ; but I 
rode on, preserving at the same time an appearance of 
imperturbable deafness and calm, although I expected 
a bullet to whizz past my ear at any moment, for unfor- 
tunately the man had forgotten to let go hold of his 
rifle. I was rather glad when I overtook a young 
officer on a white horse and a few mounted infantry- 
men, and I hastily presented my credentials to the 
former, but he only said cheerfully: M O chort ! (devil !) 

/ don't want to see your d d papers," adding 

fiercely, M Have a cigarette ! " 

He belonged to the brave ist Siberian Corps 
which had suffered so terribly during this battle, and 






THE RETREAT FROM MUKDEN 293 

he told me that he had not heard till that very day of 
the retreat having been decided on. " We, the under- 
officers, know nothing," he plaintively remarked, blow- 
ing a cloud of cigarette smoke through his nostrils ; 
"the generals, you see, keep everything to them- 
selves." 

I reflected that it was very easy to understand why 
the generals had not told this poor fellow and his men 
that they were to be the scapegoats of the army. 
When travellers attacked by wolves in Siberia sacrifice 
a horse in order to gain time, they do not tell the animal 
why it is sacrificed. I took a liking to this young fellow, 
and decided I would stick to him as long as I could, so 
that I tried my best to interest him in myself. To 
convince him that I was above all suspicion, I began, 
first of all, to reel off the names of all the Russian 
officers belonging to his regiment that I knew ; but I 
am afraid that 1 only made him sad, for after every 
single name I mentioned, including that of the colonel, 
he repeated the one dreadful dissyllable " umer " (dead). 
If was like the " Kyrie Eleison, Christi Eleison" in 
a Litany for the Dead. 

As we went along, our party gradually grew larger, 
being joined by soldiers driving empty ammunition 
carts, by dismounted Cossacks, by slightly wounded 
men, by drunkards, by unarmed soldiers who seemed 
to be insane, and, generally speaking, by the flotsam 
and jetsam of war. We kept close to the railway on 
the eastern side, and, when we had reached a point a 
little north of the Imperial Mausolea at Pehling, we 
came suddenly on the traces of a big disaster. About a 
square mile of ground seemed to have been strewn thick 
with old mess-tins, over-turned carts, canteens, top- 



294 WITH THE COSSACKS 

boots, socks, pelisses, dead horses, bags of flour, rifles, 
bayonets, cartridge-clips and cartridges. The bayonets 
and rifles seemed a new-cut crop of some kind. Alas ! 
they were the only crop Manchuria yielded that year. 

With large eyes, we stood contemplating this wreck, 
as one would contemplate a corpse, when suddenly 
our reverie was broken by a sudden shower of rifle 
bullets. Ping ! ping ! ping ! ping ! they savagely buried 
themselves in the railway embankment alongside us, 
raising little puffs of dust. Now, this embankment 
was ten feet above the level of the plain, but, about 
twenty yards ahead, a road crossed it, and for that 
road we all made an instant and simultaneous rush. I 
have a dim recollection of our party making immediate 
and generous contribution to the collection of curios 
that already strewed the ground, of frenzied soldiers 
flogging on cart-horses, of horsemen taking that ten- 
foot embankment at one bound, of infantry men run- 
ning like hares, their accoutrements banging around 
them as if they were being whirled along by a 
typhoon. 

The young Siberian officer with whom I had been 
riding pulled in his restive horse with a tug that threw 
it back upon its haunches and, without taking his 
cigarette from between his lips, cursed steadily. That 
was the last I ever saw of him. 

When I got to the other side of the embankment (I 
was one of the first across) I found about five thousand 
soldiers there. Some of them were marching north- 
wards. A long line of them were lying on the top of 
the embankment, firing as hard as they could on the 
Japanese, who were quite invisible. A good many 
were standing motionless. I went close to the base of 



I 



THE RETREAT FROM MUKDEN 295 

the embankment so as to get the best shelter possible, 
but was horrified to find there the body of a soldier 
who had evidently been hit while he stood on that 
spot. 

Let military men explain the phenomenon as they 
may, that embankment was no protection. Further 
on I found another dead man. Then I stopped. There 
was no safety anywhere. 

Men now came rushing in out of the dust-storm to 
the north. They were in a hurry, as if pursued by 
cannibals. Among them was a young regimental 
surgeon, stylishly dressed, whom I ventured to ques- 
tion. For some time he could not speak, and his face 
worked as if he had taken poison. At last he waved 
his arms wildly and that seemed to relieve him, for he 
proceeded to tell a terrible tale. I expressed poignant 
sympathy, although I could only catch the words : 
" We were surrounded — shrapnelled — whole regiment 
wiped out." After a while, however, he was able to 
explain that the regiment with which he had been 
retreating had opened fire on some Buriat Cossacks 
whom they had mistaken for Japanese, and that, when 
the survivors were explaining matters to one another, 
the Japanese came upon the scene and were mistaken 
for Buriats until they had got very close. " Its the 
beginning of the tragedy," said I to myself, horror- 
stricken. " Like a wounded, blind, infuriated monster, 
the doomed army is beginning to devour its own 
children. God alone knows what's in store for us 
this coming night ! " 

On learning that I was a correspondent, the doctor 
implored me to go back to Mukden with him. I 
refused, whereupon he became hysterical and lost all 



296 WITH THE COSSACKS 

self-respect. An officer who had seen us from a dis- 
tance elbowed his way through the crowd, and asked 
what it was all about, whereupon the doctor told him 
that we were both going back to Mukden, to surrender. 

M Well, you're your own masters, gentlemen," 
dryly remarked the newcomer, turning away, after 
having given both of us a look. That look was too 
much for me : my race and my profession seemed to 
be on their trial before all these foreigners ; and I told 
the doctor, once and for all, that I would not go back 
with him. Correspondents should not, I said, contract 
the habit of getting captured. 

The officers with whom I decided to remain did not 
appear to care very much one way or the other. In 
fact, they seemed to regard me with distrust. So did 
the soldiers. 

4 'What regiment do you belong to, golubchik 
(little pigeon) ? " I asked of one of them. 

" We don't tell these things to the likes of you," he 
answered gruffly. 

Softening somewhat, about half an hour later 
(probably because that, in the meantime, he had got 
wounded in the arm) he asked me what "goobernie " 
(Government division of the Russian Empire) I came 
from. He asked this in the tone of a kindly judge 
giving a criminal a chance to exculpate himself, and 
when I told him that I came from a part of Europe 
which was not Russian, he seemed very puzzled. It 
was like saying that I came from another planet. 
Shaking his head sadly and incredulously, he turned 
away from me and never opened his lips to me again. 

Meanwhile the doctor continued to make a sad 
exhibition of himself. 



THE RETREAT FROM MUKDEN 297 

" Can any one give me a Red Cross brassard ? " he 
cried, waving a bundle of rouble notes in the air, "for 
God's sake a Red Cross brassard ! " 

One youthful Feldsher hastily gave him one, but 
refused to take any money for it. Then the officer 
started for Mukden, without bidding any of us good- 
bye, and I have never seen him since. 

Finding myself thus left alone among men who mis- 
trusted me and who did not know me, I felt disheartened 
and desperate, and did my best to gain some sympathy 
from them, first by showing them my Russian cre- 
dentials and then by climbing up the embankment and 
exposing myself to the dangers of the soldiers who lay 
there. This foolish performance seemed to touch them 
somewhat, and one of the officers then lent me a pair 
of binoculars, but I could see no Japanese. Coming 
down from the embankment I made the acquaintance 
of the other officers, who had now become friendly, and 
of the colonel, a brave old gentleman, who spoke to 
me in French. 

As time passed, and I showed no signs of treason, 
by waving of flags or lighting of fires, or by any other 
suspicious performance, the private soldiers also began 
to relent and gather round me. One of them, called 
Soikin, had been more than a year in New York, but 
could not speak one word of English. He had spent 
all that year in the house of a German whom he called 
Baris Enche, a rich man who had seven or eight 
horses and who spoke Russian. It was a corner 
house, he said, and situated on the main street. He 
seemed surprised that I did not identify it from that 
description. 

My conversation with Soikin was interrupted by the 



298 WITH THE COSSACKS 

order to march. The colonel devoutly crossed himself 
and said : " In God's name (S. Bogom) let us go." 

Night was now coming on, and, as the dust storm 
hid everything, our leaders thought that it would be a 
good time to break away. Their plan was to cross the 
railway, march as far as possible east, and then swing 
round towards the north, so as to get round the Japa- 
nese obstacle in front, instead of going bang into it. 

I then mounted the embankment and stood, probably 
for the last time in my life, between the metals of that 
fatal railway, that idol of wood and steel, for which 
tens of thousands of brave men had died — in vain. 
From Port Arthur to Telissu, from Telissu to Ta-shih- 
chiao, from Ta-shih-chiao to Liaoyang, from Liaoyang 
to Mukden, their bones were scattered on both sides 
of it, and, in the whirling dust, an army of gibbering 
ghosts seemed to rush northwards from a land over 
which the Russian eagles shall never wave again. 

As I crossed the track I threw a glance at the plain 
behind. It was as desolate as the valley of dry bones. 
Its only occupants were two corpses. One, who wore 
the little iron cross of St. George which is given to 
soldiers, lay on his back, but as he was propped up 
behind, probably by his large canvas bag, he always 
seemed to be raising himself on his elbow. His mouth 
was wide open. His head hung far back, and he was 
glaring straight up at the sky with an awful expression 
in his frozen eyes. He seemed to be uttering a gigantic 
blasphemy against God. 

The other lay on his face, his head resting on his 
bent arm, and he looked as if he were asleep. Beyond 
the dead men was a stunted tree with a single withered 
branch, which pointed ominously north. In the dust 



I 



THE RETREAT FROM MUKDEN 299 

and mist it seemed to me like the gaunt figure of a 
prophet. In the background was a mass of dark, 
storm-driven clouds, behind which faded, like the 
hopes of Russia, the last faint light of day. 

In the south, Mukden was now invisible, but, afar 
off, I could see the smoke of its burning. To the 
south-west, where there had been fierce fighting the 
day before, I could see a series of little fires. They 
were not burning villages, for all the villages had been 
already burned. No, they were the fires which the 
Japanese had lighted to consume their dead, and they 
twinkled in the distance like death-lights, like the 
ghostly flames which the Russian " mujik " sometimes 
sees glimmering above graves. 

Once we got across the railway, our old colonel 
addressed his men in the usual sing-song style of the 
Russian leaders, calling them " molodtszi " (brave 
fellows), and telling them that they would win and 
crush the Japanese ; but, instead of the long, measured 
shout with which the Russian soldiers are taught to 
reply to any speech of their commander, there was an 
absolute and ominous silence. The poor devils had 
heard that sort of talk too often. 

Even the subordinate officers had no hope of 
success. " We are surrounded,'* said one young 
lieutenant to me, gloomily ; "we shall be taken 
prisoners." 

This was the refrain of every conversation. One 
continually heard the private soldier saying otryezalee 
(" cut off"), propalee (" lost "), and nu bratszi shabash! 
(" now, brothers, we're done for"). There was some- 
thing poetical and at the same time disquieting in the 
way they always referred, vaguely, to the Japanese as 




300 WITH THE COSSACKS 

" he " (on'), as if we were pursued, not by human 
beings, but by some monstrous beast. 

For miles we seemed to be treading on nothing but 
rifles and cartridges, which some preceding column 
had thrown away. We also came across many of this 
columns wounded. One man, blinded in both eyes by 
a shot, rushed after us calling on us for God's sake 
(radee Boga) not to leave him. I halted till he came 
up, and spoke to him. He stumbled forwards with 
arms widely outspread so as not to miss me. At last 
one of his hands touched my holster, and he clutched 
it feverishly. " Thou art mounted, O brother, O 
little angel ! " he said. 

I did not know what to do with this poor fellow 
until a Chinese cart, driven by a soldier, came along 
and I tried to get him put inside ; but as it was already 
choke-full of wounded, the soldier in charge of it sug- 
gested, with the gruffness of a man who is afraid that 
he is going to sob like a child, that my protegS had 
better walk behind this cart, holding on to the end of 
it ; and, as this arrangement seemed to suit the blind 
man, it was adopted. A few minutes later, this vehicle 
with its load of wounded had disappeared as completely 
as if the earth had opened and swallowed it. It was 
the same with nearly everything else that I came in 
contact with throughout this evening and throughout 
the awful night which followed. I got acquainted 
with officers, baggage-carts, Cossacks, cannon, only to 
lose them again immediately, completely and for ever. 
A young lieutenant would come and speak to me in 
French. We would then walk side by side for a 
moment in silence, and when I would resume the con- 
versation, lo ! I would find that my youthful companion 



THE RETREAT FROM MUKDEN 301 

had suddenly become transformed into an elderly 
captain, sour and hirsute, speaking only Russian. The 
young lieutenant I would never meet again, It was a 
phantasmagoria, a wild jumble of transformation scenes, 
a feverish dream wherein all sorts of shapes and figures 
flit through the heated brain to disappear for ever. And, 
withal, it was a faithful epitome of life. 

As I was riding along I nearly passed over another 
man, wounded in the leg, and unable to walk. Dis- 
mounting, I helped him into my saddle and got a 
soldier to lead the horse. I did this not so much from 
pity for the man as from the conviction that I myself 
would go to my Last Account that night. For some 
hours I had been vainly trying to recall any good that 
I had done since my birth, and, in a panic, I had re- 
solved to lead a better life. Accordingly I gave the 
wounded men to drink from my water-bottle until the 
water was exhausted, and in every case they crossed 
themselves before tasting it, and thanked God and me. 
As Gogol say : " Pity for a fallen human creature is a 
strong Russian trait," and I think that if we had not 
spent so much time assisting the wounded, we might 
have escaped. I saw more acts of heroism that night 
than I had seen in twenty years of civil life. It was 
a mixture of the Millennium and Hell. 

Soon afterwards I got separated from my horse, but 
at midnight, while we were resting for a moment near 
a burning village, I saw him again, and, with a sudden 
return of worldly prudence, determined to keep my eye 
on him, if only for the sake of the valuable collection 
of photographs which I carried in my saddle-bags. 
But, as soon as we started, he seemed to vanish, and I 
never afterwards laid eyes on him or on the wounded 




302 WITH THE COSSACKS 

man whom he carried. They were not captured, they 
could not have escaped; it is impossible to say what 
became of them. 

Other wounded men lying on the ground continued 
to make their presence known to us by cries calculated 
to wring the heart of a stone. 

It was peculiarly affecting to notice the frequent use 
they made of the word " brother," and of the other 
affectionate terms of address in which the Russian 
language is as rich as the Japanese language is rich 
in honorifics. These affectionate terms of address 
strongly reminded me of the poetical expressions of 
the Gaelic-speaking Irish. So did the continual in- 
vocation of saints, and especially of the Holy Mother 
of God. One badly- wounded man prayed to the Holy 
Virgin of the Iversky Gate, another to Our Lady of 
Kazan, a third to the Smolensk Matushka. One dying 
soldier called out with a loud voice, " O ! Nicolai 
Chudotvorets (Wonder- Worker), Saint of God ! " and, 
immediately after, his life went out suddenly like the 
lamp before an ikon. 

Many, who were delirious, called out the names of 
friends whom they thought they recognised in the 
crowd of men that flowed past like an invisible, gloomy 
river. Ivan Tikhonovitch ! Andrei Petrovitch ! One 
called out the name of a woman. 

"Bratszi, Pomogeete mnye" (" Brothers, help me!"), 
wailed one poor fellow. An officer supported him till 
a cannon came rumbling along, and then managed, 
after a long argument with the artilleryman, to put him 
on the driver's seat, alongside a number of other 
wounded men who were clinging on, I don't know 
how. 



THE RETREAT FROM MUKDEN 303 

We disposed in this way of many wounded who 
were almost insane with terror at the prospect of being 
mutilated by the Chinese. Several times I put myself 
to much inconvenience attending to men lying inert 
and speechless across the road, only to discover, when 
they turned their faces towards me, that they exhaled 
a smell of " vodka "strong enough to make me stagger 
backwards. They were not wounded at all. They 
were only drunk. 

Yet, harassing as were these wails of the wounded, 
they were not so frightful as the silence of the dead, 
over whose stiffened corpses one or other of us some- 
times fell. Squalid, unsightly corpses these ; and yet 
at this moment, O poor soldiers ! mothers in distant 
Russia are praying for ye before the shrines of the 
saints, are making long pilgrimages to monasteries 
containing miraculous ikons, are even, in the dis- 
traction of their grief, weaving spells as heathenish in 
tenor and as Oriental in expression as those which 
many a poor Japanese mother is making use of this 
bitter night.* 

* Some of the spells are given by Sakharof in his " Pyesni 
Russkago Naroda." One runs as follows : — " From the red 
dawn have I wept all day long — I, his mother — alone in my 
upper chamber, looking out on the desolate plain. . . , 
There sat I in sorrow and in sadness, till the glow of the 
evening, till the heavy dews. But at last I grew weary of 
sobbing, so I pondered on what magic spells I should employ 
to charm away that bitter, deadly grief. ... I charm my 
never-sufficiently-to-be-gazed-on child over my nuptial cup, 
over running water, over my marriage handkerchief, over my 
marriage candle. I wipe my child's pure face with my 
marriage handkerchief, I clean his red lips, his bright eyes, 
his thoughtful brow, his ruddy cheeks. With my marriage 
candle I light up his long ■ kaftan,' his black bonnet, his 



3o 4 WITH THE COSSACKS 

One corpse, that of a blonde-haired lad of eighteen 
or nineteen years of age, was quite naked, having 
been already stripped by the Chinese. It looked like 
a fallen statue of Hercules, and reminded me of the 
words which Nekrassov puts into the mouth of a 
Russian mother lamenting her dead soldier son, words 
which express with a pathos which goes to one's heart 
like a dagger the poor woman's pride in her big boy, 
whose magnificent proportions had, she said, so struck 
the General when he saw the lad stripped for the 
physical examination. # 

figured belt, his stitched shoes, his fair curls, his young face, 
this swift step, ... I avert from thee, O never-sufficiently- 
to-be-gazed-on child, the terrible devil. I avert the fierce 
whirlwind. I drive away the one-eyed wood-sprite. . . . 
And then, my child, at night and at midnight, throughout 
the hours and at the half-hours, on the highroad and in 
byways, sleeping and waking, be thou hidden and concealed 
by virtue of this, my powerful spell, from hostile influences 
and from unclean spirits, preserved from sudden death and 
from misfortune and from woe. . . . And should the hour 
of thy death come, remember, O my child ! our great love 
for thee, our unsparing bread-and-salt, and, turning towards 
thy well-loved home, bend thy brow to the ground with 
seven times seven salutations, bid farewell to thy kith and 
kin and drop into a sweet and dreamless slumber." 

Another spell says : — M Mayest thou never be hurt, O my 
child ! by guns or by arquebuses, or by arrows or by 
wrestlers, or by boxers. May the champions not challenge 
thee nor strike thee with warlike weapons ; may they not 
pierce thee with lance or spear, or cut thee with halbert or 
hatchet, or crush thee with battle-axe, or stab thee with 
knife. May the aged deceive thee not ; may the young men 
do thee no injury ; but mayst thou be to them as a hawk, 
and may they be unto thee as thrushes." 

* " Podiveelsya sam eez Piter General na papnya etogo 



THE RETREAT FROM MUKDEN 305 

We passed several other naked corpses, one of 
which was headless and still warm — for when I fell 
over it my face touched it. I had at first thought that 
it was the body of a living man, and it was only when 
I attempted to give it a drink that I discovered it to 
be headless. For a long time after this I feared that 
my nervous system had been permanently injured by 
the shock I received on this occasion. I could not 
bear to even think of this incident for, whenever I 
did, it gripped my brain like an insane obsession. 

It was evident, then, that the Chinese were close 
by, and my heart sank like lead, for nothing so 
appalled me as the prospect of being beheaded and 
stripped stark naked, for I felt that, in that case, 
my own mother could not recognise me. I would 
lose my race, my individuality. I would lose that 
cachet, that special character which everybody 
imagines to mark him off from the common herd. I 
would simply become a lump of excrement dunged by 
War. Soul and body would, it seemed to me, be alike 
annihilated. Any one who has ever seen that mon- 
strous spectacle, a headless corpse, can understand the 
horror which I felt, and the longing with which I 
longed at that moment for a consecrated grave on 
some green hillside in Ireland. I dare say that all of 
my companions had the same longing, for I heard a 
dismounted Cossack say that he would not mind 
getting killed if only he were buried near a great 
river. 

kak v' rekrutskoe prisutstvie preevelee ego razdyetavo." 
. . . (" Why, the General at Piter was surprised himself to see 
how strong my lad was, when they brought the boy naked 
into the Hall of Examination "). 

u 



306 WITH THE COSSACKS 

Owing to a strange physical weakness that came 
over me at this time and also to the fear that I should 
be the first to fall in case an attack was made on us 
from the front, I tried to work my way into the centre 
of our column, but, as everybody else was trying to 
do exactly the same thing, I was unsuccessful. 

Nobody knew where we were going or who com- 
manded us or what troops we were composed of. 
" Ya nye magu znat " (" I don't know ") was the stereo- 
typed answer of the soldiers to whom I addressed 
myself for information. We were marching through 
the valley of the Shadow. Between us and Tiehling 
lay a chasm like that which divides the living from the 
dead. I felt that I had ceased to be a human being, 
and had become a thing, a piece of wreckage, tossed 
hither and thither in the crowd. 

I should soon have lost the party to which I had 
attached myself, and among which I had now made a 
few acquaintances, had it not been for the kindness of 
an officer who, seeing me fall repeatedly, told off a 
soldier specially to guide my wandering footsteps. 
I made the acquaintance of this soldier in deepest 
night, and I never saw him by daylight, so that 
I am to this day in ignorance of his appearance, 
but he seemed to be a bright, quick-witted young 
fellow. At first I used to lose him frequently, but 
then I noticed that the sharp top of his " bash- 
leek," or the detachable hood of grey felt, which he 
wore over his head, pointed upwards at a slightly 
different angle to the others, and also that there was a 
peculiar glint in the tin can he wore at his belt, for it 
is extraordinary how expert one becomes in detecting 
these infinitesimal points of difference when it is 



THE RETREAT FROM MUKDEN 307 

almost a matter of life or death for him to notice them. 
The fraternally authoritative way in which he used to 
say to me: "Come along now, 'golubcheek' (little 
pigeon) ! come along, ' bratetz ' (comrade) ! " when I 
had fallen behind or had continued to rest after the 
order to advance had been given, touched my heart 
like the embrace of a mother. 

This mysterious soldier, whom I shall call " the Man 
in the Bashleek," was very quick at finding the way, 
at circumventing obstacles, at helping his officers ; and 
he was not, I am sure, told off to watch me as a 
prisoner, for he always walked in front, and I could 
easily have escaped him at any time. I was very glad 
to keep close to him, however, for had I fallen into the 
hands of some strange detachment I might have fared 
badly. He asked me once if I was a barin (gentleman), 
and expressed his amazement at my not having re- 
mained behind in Mukden. I was just as amazed myself. 

I was carrying on my arm (for, though the night was 
cold, the walking had heated me) a very heavy fur- 
lined overcoat, under the weight of which I frequently 
stumbled ; and, perceiving this, a soldier kindly took 
the coat from me, saying, " Give it to me> O little 
brother (brateeshka)." For hours after, I was selfish 
enough to watch him staggering and tumbling under 
the weight of that unwieldy garment, but when dawn 
came, he and the ulster had both disappeared. Whether 
he had heroically fallen by the wayside still clutching 
that fatal coat or had wisely dropped it I cannot say ; 
but at such a time it was more than kind of him to 
carry it at all. 

Of course we had thrown out no scouts and, at any 
moment, we might walk into the gates of death. 



3 o8 WITH THE COSSACKS 

Before us was night, cruel night, inscrutable as the 
woman on whose forehead was mystery. Every tree, 
every shape was big with menace. A stray dog once 
caused a panic in which several of our soldiers shot 
each other. 

There was some light from the stars, and more, for 
a short time, from a burning village far in front. Some 
miles in advance of us, rifle-fire continued at intervals 
until near dawn. We seemed to be continually knocking 
up against lost columns like ourselves, armed bands 
marching towards all points of the compass, moving 
like wandering comets in the abyss of night. Some 
of our men were always killed on these occasions, for 
each party mistook the other for the enemy and com- 
menced firing. It was not till the wounded began to 
shriek in Russian that the mistake was discovered. 
A few of our men, who were most certainly insane, 
had to be forcibly made to cease firing, but their 
weapons were not taken from them. In one of these 
wandering columns Soi'kin met his brother and went 
away with him, for none of these other lost battalions 
ever joined us. They had always some mysterious des- 
tination of their own. And yet, in the long run, we 
all reached the same sad goal. 

Out of that impenetrable night there loomed up at 
intervals in front of us a mysterious figure on a white 
horse, but, though we called to it, it did not come closer, 
nor did it go away until we fired at it when it suddenly 
disappeared, the horse galloping wildly like a steed 
that is riderless. I reflected, with a sudden spasm of 
horror which made me sweat, that it might be the 
frozen equestrian corpse of the young Siberian officer 
who had given me a cigarette at the railway embank- 



THE RETREAT FROM MUKDEN 309 

ment some hours before. If this was so, our doomed 
column was being led on by Death itself. 

Once, while we were all resting for a moment, I had 
just thrown myself down flat on my back when I caught 
sight in the zenith above me of a great star that fell 
from heaven, burning as it were a lamp. This grand 
celestial phenomenon at once recalled to my mind the 
obscure and terrible prophecies of the Apocalypse ; 
and the soldiers seemed to be similarly affected, for 
they said it was the track of an angel flying to receive 
a departing spirit. 

Once every hour or so we were allowed to lie down 
on the ground and rest for a few minutes. I used to 
appreciate this repose keenly, and became quite a 
connoisseur in earth-couches. I found that the best 
way to rest was to lie athwart the furrows, my hips in 
one hollow and my heels in another, the back of my 
head resting on one ridge and my legs bending at the 
knees over a second. I used to become so comfortable 
in this luxurious position that I always fell fast asleep 
the moment I assumed it, but, luckily, "the man in 
the 'bashleek'" always woke me up promptly, so that 
I never had time to get frozen. Despite their extreme 
fatigue, the soldiers did not like these pauses, for the 
intense silence horrified them. The men held their 
breath, so that I fancied I could hear my heart beat- 
ing. Once, a dog howled dismally in a distant 
village. 

I noticed that we passed through four different kinds 
of country, first flat country over which a gigantic 
steam-roller seemed to have just passed, levelling 
everything, and leaving behind it naught but wounded 
men, dead horses, and broken carts ; then flat, culti- 



3io WITH THE COSSACKS 

vated land in which we had to cross the furrows ; then 
flat cultivated land in which we walked along the 
furrows ; and, lastly, grassy and slightly hilly country. 

These furrows were frozen as hard as marble, and 
walking athwart them was worse than marching with 
peas in your boots, for they were not far enough apart 
for a single stride, and, as they were invisible in the 
darkness, one frequently came a " cropper." Every 
now and then a big soldier would come down with a 
thud, and a rattle of accoutrements that sounded like 
the fall of a harnessed dray-horse. It was like walking 
the treadmill, it was like tugging the oar in a Moroccan 
galley ; but by-and-by I became used to it, just as I 
could, I suppose, become used to picking oakum, and 
plodded on stolidly and mechanically. It seemed as if 
I had been all my life engaged in this sort of work. 
I tried, but unsuccessfully, to imagine that at that 
very moment people were sitting down to recherchd 
dinners in the Carlton, buying " extra specials" in 
the Strand, and laying down the law about the 
battle in the clubs. It was hard to realise that some 
parts of the world were bored by the whole proceed- 
ings, but whenever I brought my mind to bear on this 
problem I missed a furrow and went headlong to the 
earth. Walking down these furrows was also very 
tiresome, as they were just a shade too narrow. The 
hilly country in which we found ourselves before dawn 
next morning was not much better than that which we 
had traversed during the night, as it contained un- 
expected gullies and stumps of trees. 

Towards morning we all became afflicted by a ter- 
rible thirst, and one of the officers earned my everlast- 
ing gratitude by allowing me on several occasions to 






THE RETREAT FROM MUKDEN 311 

drink from his water-bottle. At length this precious 
liquid gave out, and I keenly envied the soldiers who 
were able with their bayonets to cut lumps of ice from 
the frozen streams. At times, when the firing in 
front of us ceased, one might have thought that we 
had escaped, had it not been for a Japanese flash-light 
on the northern horizon. It was our constant aim all 
night long to hide from that flash-light, and, whenever 
we found its glassy, unpitying eye fixed upon us, a 
visible shudder ran down our whole line. 

At first we marched like a mob, but finally, by dint 
of hard work, the officers succeeded in creating some 
sort of order. This was not easy, as we consisted of 
the fragments of seven regiments, and as officers and 
men had been thrown together haphazard. 

I did not realise how demoralised the men were 
until once, when passing near a burning village, a 
Japanese patrol fired on us. Once again our whole 
force shuddered, but this time it was a shudder that 
might very easily have become a rout. The Japanese 
only fired a few shots at close quarters, but they pro- 
bably hung upon our rear till morning, carefully 
shepherding us into the trap that had been prepared 
for us. 

The soldiers are models of stoical resignation, and 
their conversation on the march seemed to consist of 
vague proverbs expressing fatalism. They trudged 
along with the humble resignation of beasts of burden, 
and, as I watched them, I could not help thinking of 
Tolstoi's Karatayef. 

Several times throughout the night I tried to say 
my prayers, but, I am afraid, with ill success, for before 
I could concentrate my mind sufficiently, I had lost 



3i2 WITH THE COSSACKS 

my place in the ranks, or stumbled over the trunk of a 
tree, or down a gully. Sometimes I was surprised to 
find myself mechanically saying my prayers in English, 
the language in which I had been taught them by my 
mother, but in which I had not said them for many 
years. I had none of those swift visions of my past 
life with which people about to die are supposed to be 
favoured. In fact, I had no time for visions. I was 
too tired and too much occupied in watching where I 
was putting my feet. 

Dawn came almost suddenly while we were sitting 
down on a hill-side There were now about three 
thousand of us, but very few mounted men and no 
cannon or carts. What became of the guns and gun- 
carriages, the latter laden with wounded, I do not 
know ; but as I saw some artillerymen riding artillery 
horses with the traces trailing on the ground, but no 
guns behind them, I surmised that cannons and cart- 
loads of wounded had all been alike abandoned during: 
the night. My own horse I sought for long and 
anxiously, but in vain. Poor old " Sobersides," who 
carried me all through the war, what fate has befallen 
thee? 




CHAPTER XIV 

OUR CAPTURE 

The first thing I remember about March 1 1 was being 
awakened by a soldier, for I had unwittingly fallen 
asleep. I must have been dreaming, for, half awake, 
I thought that I had been washed up by the sea, and 
the roaring of the surges was still in my ears. I found 
the world, which I hardly hoped to see again, bathed in 
a faint, cold grey light, in which I strove to recognise 
some of the friends I had made during the hours of 
darkness. 

It was a difficult task, for they seemed no more to 
correspond to the portraits which I had formed of 
them in my mind than mental portraits of authors 
formed by readers of their books correspond to the 
reality. I saw a soldier who might have been the 
" man in the bashleek," because he talked of our 
having been together throughout the night ; but he was 
only an ordinary, stale-looking elderly private, whoi 
when he stepped back among his comrades, became 
instantly undistinguishable from them. I shook hands 
with the officer who had given me water ; but he, too, 
was quite different to what I had expected him to be. 

The colonel, who was on horseback, bade me good 
morning in French, and thanked his men in Russian, 
calling them " Molodtsami, rebyata ! " (" Brave fellows, 



3 H WITH THE COSSACKS 

children ") but there was no answering shout 
" Radee starat'sya" ("Glad to do all we can") from 
the latter. They had heard these complimentary 
speeches too often. 

Soon after, we entered a broad flat valley with some 
heights beyond, the character of the country being, as 
I have already pointed out, quite different from that 
of the level Mukden district. 

To the south was a grove of pine-trees surrounding 
a little shrine and surrounded by a wall, and this grove 
some of our men went to beat, not for game, however, 
but for hunters — we were the game. And the hunters 
were there, as a volley from the grove and the whizz of 
bullets overhead clearly indicated. A lieutenant near 
me clapped his hand suddenly to his side and said 
" Chort vozmee ! " (" The devil take me ! ") He had 
been wounded, and in ten seconds he was dead. Our 
Colonel shouted out directions ; but, without listening 
to them, the men unanimously headed northward at 
a pace which very soon broke into a run. At the 
same time many of them shouted loudly that it was all 
a mistake, that the men concealed in the grove were 
Russians, and there were no Japanese there at all. 

These optimists continued to run, however, as fast 
as the rest of us, and, as they ran, they raised a wild cry 
of " Stoi ! Stoi ! " (" Stop ! Stop ! ") evidently with the 
intention of getting those, whom they supposed to be 
their own men, to cease firing. 

On reaching some rising ground to the north, we 
caught sight, in a plain far away to the west, of some 
squadrons of unmistakably Japanese cavalry; but though 
they were as different, of course, from the Cossacks as 
chalk is from cheese, some of our men joyfully cried 



OUR CAPTURE 315 

out, " Slava Bogu ! Nashe ! Nashe ! " (" Glory be to 
God ! Ours ! Ours ! "), and clapped their hands with 
delight. 

They were not long clapping their hands, for a volley 
from some concealed infantry to the northward soon 
drove us back like a flock of sheep, and showers of 
bullets from the east and the west completed our 
demoralisation. One man who fell wounded, cried : 
" Wait for me, my brothers, dear" (" Bratsui moi 
milenkiye "), but we left him lying there. 

The cry of "StOl! Stoi ! " was now taken up by 
almost everybody — including, I think, myself — and 
the effect was inexpressibly weird. It was varied by 
a wild, uncanny, lugubrious, inarticulate wail, which 
rose and fell at intervals like a funeral cry. When a 
child in Ireland I heard one night the unearthly cry of 
a banshee ; and on this Manchurian hillside, mingled 
with the despairing shrieks of those unhappy soldiers, 
rushing wildly backwards and forwards, lashed by 
bullets, maddened by fear, I heard again the blood 
curdling warning of that messenger of death. 

On getting into the broad, flat valley that I have 
already alluded to, the men all lay down instinctively 
along two shallow furrows, about a hundred yards 
apart, and, as I stepped over one of these lines in 
order to get inside, a man discharged his rifle close 
to my leg. It may have been an accident, but if I 
had been hit at such close range the wound would 
have been a bad one. 

The Russians now began firing, although they could 
see nothing, while the Japanese increased their fire 
because they could see us perfectly. Our furrow was 
no protection whatever, even if the Japanese had not 



316 WITH THE COSSACKS 

occupied higher ground. All our men had not yet 
taken their places on the ground with their com- 
panions, and many of them were still wandering aim- 
lessly at large in the space between the two furrows, 
when suddenly there was a loud report, and a shrapnel 
shell exploded a little way off. At the same instant 
about a hundred men simultaneously bit the dust, fall- 
ing down as suddenly as if each of them had been 
shot through the heart. A few moments later a good 
many of the corpses got up again and raced swiftly, 
with head bent, towards one or other of the absolutely 
unsheltered furrows. Of those that remained lying on 
the ground, it was easy to distinguish between the 
quick and the dead, for the latter lay in a position of 
absolute abandon^ while the former crouched and 
looked watchful. 

The bullets had frightened us, but the shrapnel 
drove the fear of God into our souls, and after several 
shells had exploded right in our midst, there were to 
be seen between the two furrows many men standing 
up waving their hats in sign of submission. Some 
mounted their busbies on the points of their bayonets 
and agitated them furiously ; but evidently the Japanese 
wanted more unequivocal tokens of surrender than 
this, for, after a moment's pause, they commenced 
shelling us harder than ever. The Russians now be- 
came panic-stricken. Those who had been lying 
down threw away their arms and sat up in such a way 
that the Japanese could not fail to hit them. Some, 
who must have lost their senses, stood up, gazing 
stupidly and listlessly at the bursting shrapnel, while 
the bullets whizzed around them and struck the 
ground at their feet. 



OUR CAPTURE 317 

Somebody shouted to the bugler to blow the 
" Cease fire," and, lying on the ground, he blew for all 
he was worth. No officer ordered the blowing of the 
" Cease fire" or the hoisting of the white flag. The 
men did these things of their own accord, while the 
officers stood by, listlessly expecting death. We could 
see that at the other furrow conditions were much the 
same as with us. The soldiers had all thrown away 
their arms and were exposing themselves carelessly. 
Between the two lines many soldiers, who still 
thoughtlessly retained their rifles, were walking about 
at random over the ridges from which the stumps of 
last year's " kiaoliang" crop still projected. One of 
them waved a large white flag, but still the Japanese 
made no sign, and their fire continued unabated. 

There now arose a fierce cry of " Throw away your 
arms ! " and some soldiers, not content with having got 
rid of their rifles, began to throw away their cartridges 
and their belts. 

Even at this stage there were still men foolish enough 
or crazed enough to shout : "That's not the Japanese 
at all. That's our artillery. It's all a mistake ! Stoi ! 
Stoi!'" 

And again the wild wail of "Stoi! Stoi !" would 
rise and fall like the waves of the sea, the melancholy 
bugles blowing all the while a useless " Cease fire ! " 

I am convinced that the men who led this cry of 
•' Stoi ! Stoi ! " were insane. They ran around like wild- 
eyed prophets who see a whole world rushing to per- 
dition ; and I feared that they would undo us all. 

In battle the Siberian soldier is apt to become un- 
hinged. At Tah-shih-chiao I had seen nearly a dozen 
insane foot-soldiers brought to Mishchenko's battery, 



3 i8 WITH THE COSSACKS 

and one of them, in a sudden access of fury, nearly 
routed the whole staff at a time when we were hard 
pressed by the Japanese. In his book on the war, 
M. Recouly tells a horrible story of a staff officer who 
went mad at the battle of the Shaho ; and a German 
correspondent who was captured with another detach- 
ment during this retreat from Mukden, and who was 
my fellow prisoner in Japan, where he showed symp- 
toms of great nervous excitement, afterwards shot 
himself. 

Close by was lying a thin, cold-faced man with his 
face wrapped up in his overcoat. He was nursing a 
minor wound, and kept ejaculating to himself at in- 
tervals the word " Smert ! Smert ! " (Death). Suddenly 
he rolled over like a person turning uneasily in his 
sleep, but nobody suspected that anything had happened 
to him until the Japanese came up, when we found 
that he was dead. A burly man, standing in the open 
field about fifty yards off, collapsed without a word, 
like a heap of old clothes. The colonel fell from his 
horse, shot through the brain, whereupon the frightened 
animal bolted. 

A short time before, some of his officers had warned 
him to get off his horse ; but he had answered, almost 
in the words of the heroic Grand Duke Svatoslav 
Sgorevich, that there was no disgrace in dying, 

Not perceiving at first that he had been shot through 
the head, we tore open the breast of his coat. Around 
his neck and inside his shirt were six or seven most 
beautiful religious medals and miniature " ikoni " of 
silver and gold suspended by fine chains of pure gold. 

The officers were not in the least intimidated by the 
colonels fate, for they continued to expose them- 



OUR CAPTURE 319 

selves recklessly, and were killed or wounded one after 
another. Good sharpshooters were evidently picking 
them off. 

These happenings froze every one of us with fear, 
and there were continual cries of " Gospodee Bozhe ! " 
("O Lord God!") 

A private soldier, evidently the spokesman of several 
others, now approached me on his hands and knees. 
His face was streaming with tears which made clean 
channels down his dusty cheeks, and he implored me to 
go out to the Japanese and beg them to cease firing. 

11 You are English, Batyushka (little father)," said 
he, " and the Japanese will do whatever you ask them." 

I refused, and told him to ask one of his officers, 
but he said, "We have no officers. These officers 
don't belong to our regiment at all ; " and continued 
to entreat me until I told him that the fire would cease 
directly. 

But it seemed hours before it ceased, and slowly the 
awful conviction began to dawn on me that the Japanese 
did not intend to give quarter. They were, after all, 
the bloodthirsty pagans they had been represented to 
be. The tales which the Russians had told of their 
savagery were true. They had got too many prisoners 
on their hands already. Our crowd would only be an 
incumbrance to them, so they had determined to shoot 
all they could and then finish off the rest of us with 
the bayonet. I was going to have convincing proof 
of Japanese barbarity, but I would never live to tell 
the tale. 

Just as I had given up all hope, the fire suddenly 
ceased, and at a distant point on our right a long line 
of men rose out of the ground and advanced rapidly 



320 WITH THE COSSACKS 

towards us. The order in which they marched and 
the sunlight shimmering on their broad sword-bayonets 
showed that they were soldiers, and, when they came 
nearer, their uniforms and their small size proved that 
they were Japanese. 

Onward they came, just as I had often seen them 
years before on the Aoyama parade-ground. At that 
time, I must say, I was no more impressed by their 
gorgeous French uniforms than if they had been 
Orange bandsmen parading the streets of Belfast on 
July 12 ; for what were they but copyists, birds in 
borrowed plumage, men who would, like all Asiatics, 
fade away before a White army like sinners before the 
wrath of God ? 

But now it was all different. Fifty thousand dead 
had made that uniform historic. A years fighting had 
placed them among Caesars legions and the Old Guard 
of Napoleon. 

I had seen them, in mimic fight at Kumamoto, per- 
forming, under the eyes of the Mikado, feats which 
every foreign military attachd present declared to be 
impossible in real warfare. In Manchuria I had seen 
them prove these foreign critics wrong a dozen times 
over. 

I was now to get a closer view of them than ever I 
had had in my life. On they came, all the same size, 
all wonderfully alike, as if they had been turned out of 
the same mould. On they came, with quick, elastic 
step, until I could distinguish each boyish beardless 
face, until I could see a long line of gleaming white 
teeth and glittering jet-black eyes. 

It was a dangerous moment, for they had heard as 
much of Russian treachery as the Russians had heard 



I 



OUR CAPTURE 321 

of Japanese treachery, and some imprudent act on the 
part of a crazy Russian soldier might have cost us all 
our lives. From the ugly gleam in their slanting eyes, 
from the angle at which they held their rifles clutched, 
I knew that they were prepared for anything. But 
they had nothing to fear from the poor Russkies, who 
stood all the time as calm as a herd of cows. 

On seeing the enemy approach to disarm them, a 
great weight seemed to be taken off their minds, and 
they even joked. One of them asked me if I was a 
Japanese officer, and, without waiting for an answer, 
expressed his candid admiration for the way in which 
I had done it. He even scowled on a companion on 
whose face he fancied he could detect a slight shade of 
disapprobation. An officer consulted me about the 
best manner of surrendering his sword. 

" Shall I throw it away," he asked genially, "or 
give it up ? " 

A second officer rushed forward to ask if he should 
continue or not blowing the bugle to announce the 
cesses feu ; but on this last point my expression of 
opinion was not waited for, as everybody roared 
simultaneously at the bugler to blow with all his might. 
Also, everybody roared at everybody else to continue 
waving white handkerchiefs. There seemed to be an 
impression abroad that if anybody ceased for a moment 
to wave something white, all was lost. 

The Japanese were now within forty yards of us. 
They were preceded by a breathless little non-com- 
missioned officer. The language difficulty remained, 
but it was an obstacle which was easily brushed 
aside. 

The Russians genially shouted " Hodya ! " a friendly 



3i2 WITH THE COSSACKS 

term they apply to Chinamen when they want the latter 
to come to them. The Japanese cried out in more 
unexceptionable Chinese M Li ! Li !" ("Come ! come !") 
At the same time several soldiers rushed towards 
us, breathing hard, devouring us with their almond 
eyes, still uncertain that there would not be treachery. 

One of them came near me, evidently taking me for 
an officer, but went away, puzzled, on seeing no sword 
and no epaulettes. Another, more fortunate, rushed 
up to a real officer, who stood close by, and laid his 
hand on the hilt of the latter's sword. This officer 
(who, by the way, had received a contusion on his 
head) smiled, and cheerfully allowed the Japanese to 
take the weapon. The next thing I was aware of was 
that the enemy had closed in on us all along the line, 
and that a tremendous amount of enthusiastic hand- 
shaking was going on between them and their captors. 
The Russians were laughing with joy, as if they had 
met long-lost brothers, and were trying to express their 
feelings by the frequent repetition of such " pijin " 
Russian phrases as " Shibka Znakom " (" Very good 
friends "), etc. The Japanese did not evidently under- 
stand these phrases, but their genial smile was worth 
a bookful of polite protestations. 

They seemed as pleased as children who have got 
new toys, and made no objection when, with eloquent 
gestures expressive of extreme thirst, the Russians 
went down on their knees and emptied the water- 
bottles that hung at the waists of their captors. Mean- 
while several mounted officers rode in among us, giving 
directions to the men, some of whom thereupon made 
signs for us to come along with them, while others 
picked up our guns and began discharging them in the 



OUR CAPTURE 323 

air. A number of Chinese coolies afterward appeared 
on the scene and followed us, dispassionately, with 
numerous bundles of surrendered firearms. 

All this time I was allowed to rush about, taking 
snapshots with my two cameras. Even the Japanese 
privates understood perfectly what I was about, and 
merely said to one another " Shashin-kikai desu" 
("It's a kodak"). Judging from past experience, I am 
afraid that it would not have been so safe to take 
photographs had I been with the Japanese and my 
captors been Russians. 

A long train of disarmed captives, we now wended 
our way slowly between two rows of armed Japanese, 
who accompanied us toward the hill from which 
the shrapnel had been launched and on which a 
great crowd of Japanese now stood revealed. Our 
captors took advantage of this opportunity to deprive 
the Russian officers of their binoculars and of some 
other objects which, under the rules of war, they were 
hardly entitled to seize. Spying a pair of fine fur- 
lined gloves in my pocket, a young private briskly 
snatched them from me, checking my remonstrances 
by threatening gestures. I afterwards heard the 
Russian officers complain to the Japanese commander 
of these petty thefts ; but as the Russian officers could 
not identify the culprits — for the Japs looked as alike as 
ducks' eggs — and as the Japanese commander sorrow- 
fully lamented his own inability to do so, the matter 
went no further. 

At the foot of the hill we came to a frozen brook, 
from which the Japanese cut chunks of ice with their 
bayonets for the now bayonetless Russians, who, still 
tortured by thirst, proceeded to eat this ice greedily. 



324 WITH THE COSSACKS 

Then we moved on again toward a gully from which 
the frozen stream proceeded, and while en route I 
casually remarked to a Japanese soldier who was walk- 
ing alongside me : " Anone ! Anone ! Watakushi-wa 
Igirisu-jin desu" ("I say! I say! I'm an Englishman "). 
On hearing this remark the soldier jumped as if he 
had been shot (he was the party that had " swiped" 
my fur-lined gloves), and regarded me with bulging 
eyes. He could not have been more astounded had 
it been his horse which had spoken. 

" Sayo de gozaimasu," I continued affably, in 
Japanese, which, if not faultless, was at least intelli- 
gible. " Watakushi-wa shimbun kisha desu." (" Yes, 
I'm a newspaper man.") Whereupon the soldier, after 
exchanging a few hasty words with his sergeant, 
rapidly disappeared. 

I felt as pleased and gratified at the outcome of this 
little incursion of mine into the Japanese language as 
a magician who has just tested a new and mighty 
spell with very satisfactory results. It seemed that, in 
spite of his colour, the tiny Jap had more respect for 
the Press than his European antagonist ; for on several 
occasions when I had told Russian privates in their 
own language that I was a correspondent, their faces 
remained as blank and expressionless as if I had 
informed them that I was a herbivorous dinosaur. 

We now entered a long narrow gully along both 
lips of which, Japanese soldiers were ranged. The 
Russian privates were told to accommodate them- 
selves as best they could in the flat bottom of the 
gully, while their superiors were requested to sit down 
on an upward break in the side of the glen, at the top 
of which stood a group of Japanese officers, one of 



OUR CAPTURE 325 

whose horses was held by a Chinese soldier in uniform. 
I seated myself on the ground and began to write up 
my notes, when suddenly a youthful Japanese lieutenant 
appeared before me, and said winningly in English : 

" You are an English newspaper man, I understand. 
May I ask if you represent the London Times ? " 

I had at first a wild idea of saying that I did repre- 
sent the Times, judging that a correspondent of that 
paper would be more favourably received in Japanese 
circles than a correspondent of the New York Herald. 
But I sternly repressed this inclination and told the 
truth. It made no difference, however. The young 
officer professed to be delighted. 

" Perhaps you are an officer in your own country ? " 
he asked. " Ah, no ! But no matter. Come here 
and sit with the Russian officers. We shall treat you 
as an officer." And the young man scurried up to the 
top of the hill to report. 

Next came the leader of the detachment, Captain 
Takashima, adjutant of the Imperial Guard. He 
introduced himself to me gracefully, and began filling 
a large beer glass for me. 

" Oh, thank you ! " said I ; " but you are giving me 
too much. It's white wine, I suppose ? " 

" No," said he, " brandy. You'll need it all after 
your fatigues in Manchuria." 

The Russian officers also got plenty of brandy, and 
they did immediate justice to it. I am certain that, 
just then, they would have preferred cold water or tea, 
but the Japanese is firmly convinced that at no hour 
of the day or night will a Russian object to brandy 
neat, and plenty of it. 

Then came Lieutenant Shibouya, also an adjutant 



326 WITH THE COSSACKS 

of the Imperial Guard — a young man who speaks 
French, and who inquired very particularly after a 
Russian officer called Ecke, an acquaintance of mine 
— in fact, we had been together on the Novi Krai 
in Port Arthur — whom he had met under a flag of 
truce just before the battle, and with whom he had, 
soldier-like, exchanged vows of eternal friendship on 
that occasion. Several of these meetings occurred 
just before the battle of Mukden. One took place in 
the centre of the line, and General ZarubaiefPs son 
was one of the Russian delegates. The other took 
place on the right flank on February 20, and most of 
the Russian representatives — there were three officers 
and three soldiers on each side — were Cossacks. Both 
parties had brought white wine, cooked chicken, and 
champagne with them, and, as the Japanese spoke 
Russian very well, a most enjoyable hour was spent, 
and everybody on both sides got impartially drunk 
and was photographed in that condition. 

It was the Japanese who had suggested these social 
meetings, and I think that they had no ulterior object 
in view. They simply wanted to show that they, too, 
could glory and drink deep even with the men whom 
they were going in a few days to attack with un- 
paralleled fierceness. They wanted to demonstrate that, 
despite the disgraceful stories that had been circulated 
anent their prudishness and their Sunday-school 
sobriety, they, too, were human and could sin as 
heinously as anybody. # 

# Since the above was written I find that, writing in a mili- 
tary periodical published in the United States, an American 
military attache takes a diametrically opposite view. He 
regards these meetings as instances of supreme Japanese craft. 



OUR CAPTURE 327 

Next came to me a number of Japanese war corre- 
spondents. Mr. Ota, of the Jiji; Mr. Konishi, of 
the Asahi ; Mr. Saito, of the Nippon, and others. 
Several of them I had known in Japan, and one I had 
met at the annual manoeuvres there. He explained to 
me how much Japan had profited by the observations 
she had made of European troops and their arrange- 
ments during the Boxer troubles, and was, as usual 
with Japanese, almost apologetic in speaking of his 
country's successes. A Japanese who boasts of his 
country's warlike prowess is to me inconceivable. 

Finally I met Colonel Hume, the British attache, 
with Kuroki's army ; Colonel Crowder, the American 
attache ; Major von Etzel, the German attache (whom 
I had formerly known very well in Tokio), and two 
other continental attaches. All these gentlemen were 
very kind to me, and so, I must say, were the Japanese, 
who pressed on me a limitless amount of hard biscuits. 
On learning that I was English, every private soldier 
seemed to consider it his duty to give me a box of 
cigarettes, until finally I had got a collection which it 
would require a small cart to remove. I appreciated 
this kindness all the more when I discovered how 
extremely little this Japanese column had brought 
with them in the shape of provisions or tobacco. 

One of the Japanese officers spoke Chinese. Another 
spoke Russian, and was in great demand as an in- 
terpreter. The Russian officers made much use of 
him, addressing him in loud and genial tones, such as 
they would use toward an equal. The Russian soldiers 
were also quite at home, being ordered about by a 
Japanese private who had been in Vladivostock, I 
suppose, and who spoke Russian ; but I could see 



328 WITH THE COSSACKS 

from the first that, despite the courtesy of the Japanese 
officers, there was a fundamental difference between 
the Russian estimate of a prisoner's status and the 
Japanese. The Russian seemed to think that a 
prisoner who has done his best has nothing to be 
ashamed of and can hold his head as high as anybody ; 
while on the inscrutable Japanese countenance I could 
detect a shade of contempt for men who had allowed 
themselves to be taken alive. In the Russian view a 
prisoner of war is a brave man, deserving not only to 
be treated but even to be spoken of and thought of as 
such ; in the view of the Japanese soldiery in general 
a prisoner is a disgraced person whom the rules of war 
save from the indignity of discourteous treatment, but 
who cannot be spoken of or thought of save with 
contempt. 

Holding this view, the Japanese could not sometimes 
conceal their astonishment at the free-and-easy way in 
which the Russians bore themselves, at the loud 
manner in which they talked and laughed. In their 
opinion a prisoner ought to hang his head, to speak in 
a low and broken voice, and, if he had any spunk left 
in him at all, to avail himself of the first favourable 
opportunity to commit suicide. 

I took an early opportunity of hinting that, though 
awfully sorry to leave them so quickly, I did not mind 
if they sent me as soon as possible to Newchwang, the 
residence of the nearest consul ; but they entreated me 
to consider that I needed a rest "after my fatigues in 
Manchuria," and said that, in any case, politeness re- 
quired me to call on General Kuroki. A prisoner! 
Oh ! no ! of course not ! 



CHAPTER XV 

FACE TO FACE WITH KUROKI 

For a long time we waited in that valley, and I took 
advantage of the delay to get the senior surviving 
Russian officer to write a short statement in my note- 
book describing my part in the affair, that is, saying 
that I had tried my best to join the retreating army 
and that I had acted with correctitude all the time I had 
been with the party. I had judged it well to do this, 
as the Russians are extraordinary people for inventing 
and believing stories about spies and traitors ; but when 
the Japanese saw me thus closeted, so to speak, with 
the Russian leader they sent a messenger to tell me 
most politely that, not being a military man, I was not 
to sit with the Russian officers, but was to come up 
and favour the Japanese staff with the light of my 
countenance. I obeyed these instructions, and, having 
done so, promptly fell asleep, and slept for several 
hours. 

Meanwhile the wounded were carried in and attended 
to. Then the Russian officers and men were led away. 
Some of the men were fast asleep and refused to get 
up. I saw a little Jap spend about half an hour gently 
trying to rouse one big giant who lay snoring on the 
ground, and who, even when aroused and set upright 
on his huge legs, became abusive and threatened to 



33° WITH THE COSSACKS 

fight. The man seemed to have had liquor, but, in 
spite of his disorderly conduct, the Japanese, in ac- 
cordance with their invariable custom, did not resort 
to force. They simply smiled, and seemed to regard 
the proceedings as funny. It was exactly as if the big 
grey-coated giant was a naughty child. 

In contrast with the loud and burly Russians, the 
Japanese officers seemed peculiarly slight, slim and 
effeminate, and their subdued and gentle manner greatly 
heightened this impression of fragility. After having 
been for a long time accustomed to the large Russian 
grasp I thought their hands remarkably small and thin, 
and everything else about them seemed to me to be in 
proportion. They did not take much interest in the spoils 
that were captured, the maps, bottles, horses, etc., but I 
saw one of them holding for a long time in his slender 
hand a large crucifix and gazing at it long and curiously. 
One of our officers turned out to be a lady. She was a 
rather hard-featured woman of about twenty-five or 
twenty-six, dressed in the complete uniform of a sub- 
lieutenant of infantry and with her hair cut short. 
There was not the slightest fear or embarrassment 
about her ; she seemed to be perfectly unconcerned, 
and whenever she wanted anything she asked for it 
in a voice which, although a woman's voice, had that 
clear decisive timbre in it which bespeaks the habitude 
of command. 

The Japanese showed great tact in dealing with 
this unusual capture. There was no crowding around 
her, and neither by look nor by sign did any one betray 
the fact that he knew her secret. Some privates gazed 
at her curiously from afar off ; but though really very 
much interested in her, the Japanese officers seemed 



FACE TO FACE WITH KUROKI 331 

to regard her just as an ordinary sub-lieutenant. At 
Kuroki's headquarters, however, she was allowed as 
much privacy as possible. 

Not being a very strait-laced people themselves, 
the Japanese were rather tickled than otherwise at 
this discovery, but it is remarkable how well they 
managed on their side to eliminate the lady peril from 
the field of military operations — far better than the 
English succeeded in doing in South Africa or the 
Americans in Cuba. Even lady nurses were not allowed 
to mix among the wounded as freely as on the Russian 
side, and I hope I am not reflecting in any way on the 
Russian Red Cross Sisterhood as a whole when I say 
that there were to be found among them women who 
were unworthy of the robe which they wore. These 
women were seldom professional nurses — they generally 
obtained the sacred robe of a Sister of Charity in 
order to be able to follow some influential lover in the 
field. 

I suppose there were, on the Russian side, cases of 
pure women dressing as men, in order to follow their 
husbands and lovers, for such a course would strongly 
recommend itself to the romantic-minded Russian 
damsel. I dare say that the Japanese will, with their 
usual care, collect all the facts bearing on this subject, 
and the collection ought to be very interesting. In 
some cases the girls passed for some time as youthful 
soldiers, until the fear of the public and compulsory 
bath at the Japanese quarantine station forced them 
to disclose their secret. In other cases ladies whose 
lovers had been captured rode into the Japanese lines 
and surrendered, so as to be able to rejoin their beloved 
ones in Matsuyama. 



332 WITH THE COSSACKS 

Each of the Russian privates had now fixed to his 
shoulder-strap a tag, such as the express companies in 
America fix to your luggage, and the whole batch was 
sent off to Kuroki's headquarters some eight or nine 
miles distant. I was told that I would be sent with 
the next batch. " We expect to capture another small 
force," said Captain Takashima, " and you'll be sent 
on to headquarters with them." 

I took advantage of this opportunity to speak with 
the captain on a confidential matter. With bated 
breath, I confessed that I had on my person a loaded 
revolver and ammunition. I was willing to surrender 
it, but the captain laughingly declined to insist on my 
disarmament, 

II Keep everything you have got," said he cheerfully, 
" You are a correspondent, and we don't want to take 
anything from you." 

And as a matter of fact that loaded revolver was 
never taken from me. I also kept a Russian map, 
and, more important still, a list which I had compiled 
in my notebook of the Russian forces in the field, for 
I was never searched even in the most cursory manner, 
and never questioned as to what documents I had in 
my possession. 

The other "small force" of which Captain Taka- 
shima spoke was duly captured, but, nevertheless, I 
was eventually sent on alone in charge of a little 
Imperial guardsman with red riding breeches and a 
horse which he and I rode by turns. He was so 
polite that, every time I dismounted, he protested that 
I had not remained in the saddle long enough, and he 
was hardly a moment astride the horse's back before 
he wanted to get off in order to make place for me. 



FACE TO FACE WITH KUROKI m 

In fact, we spent so much time trying to persuade one 
another to mount that there was serious danger of our 
never reaching our destination at all. He allowed me 
to fall behind or to gallop on in advance just as I liked, 
so that I was in mortal fear that I would accidentally 
escape and get the poor fellow into trouble. As a 
matter of fact, I would probably have tried to utilise 
my knowledge of the country in order to escape here 
or afterward on the way to Dalny, had it not been that 
my guards were invariably such kind, confiding fellows 
that I had not the heart to abuse their confidence. 
Several other things cooled my ardour for escape. 
Firstly, I might fall into the hands of the Chinese and 
be tortured to death. Secondly, I might, if captured 
by individual Japanese or Russian scouts, be killed by 
them for the sake of the large sum of money which I 
carried. Thirdly, I stood a fairly good chance, even 
if I reached the Russian lines, of being shot at by 
some of the outposts before I could explain myself. 

The country through which we passed was hilly, 
and near the end of our journey we crossed a river. 
Litde Red Riding Breeches asked me the name of 
that river, and I replied, " the Liao-ho," at which 
answer he seemed mightily pleased, for he had evi- 
dently got instructions to lead me backward and 
forward in such a way that I would quite lose all 
sense of direction. Of course it was not the Liao-ho 
at all. 

Sifontai, or Kuroki's village, as I had better call it, 
for I believe that the Japanese purposely gave us the 
wrong name, was a very small and a very much over- 
crowded hamlet, in which there was not enough accom- 
modation for troops, much less prisoners. It was 



334 WITH THE COSSACKS 

surrounded by a cordon of guards, one of whom 
challenged us, but allowed us to proceed on my 
guide giving the password. I was at once brought 
to the principal house in the village, the residence of 
General Kuroki's staff. 

In the outer room some clerks were working. In 
the inner room General Fuji, the chief of staff, received 
me very affably and offered me tea. He said that as 
the Japanese had derived much moral support from 
England and America he could not but regard me — at 
one and the same time British subject and American 
newspaper man — as doubly a friend. I so shocked 
General Fuji by bluntly asking him if I were a prisoner 
that, for a moment, he was unable to speak. " Why, 
didn't I tell you that you're our guest ? " he cried, as 
soon as he had recovered his voice ; "but," he added 
benignantly, "you need to have a rest, a long rest, in 
Japan." 

And in these words I read my fate. 

I was then sent to a Chinese house, in which I 
found the Russian officers who had been captured with 
me. The house had previously been occupied by 
soldiers of the Imperial Guard, and we slept among 
them that night, packed together like herrings in a 
barrel. They were clean lads, however, far cleaner 
than any Russian privates, cleaner, even, than the 
average Englishman, and they were very accommo- 
dating, too, for one of them gave me a blanket to cover 
myself with. 

The next morning I woke up late, to find everything 
in an awful muddle. The orderlies of the Russian 
officers, who had slept three deep on top of one 
another out in the porch, were continually rushing in 






FACE TO FACE WITH KUROKI 335 

with the object of making tea for their masters at a 
fire which burned on the floor, and the Japanese 
soldiers were continually putting them out again. 
The Russian officers could do nothing without the 
assistance of their " vestavoi," while the Japanese guard 
had had orders to admit no privates to that room, and 
were determined to enforce those orders. 

Some orderlies solved the difficulty by making the 
tea outside and handing it through the window, but 
the bawling out of orders, which were not obeyed, and 
the wails of hapless " vestavoi" seized at the doorway 
with steaming teapots were heartrending and ludicrous. 
A young soldier of the Guards who slept beside me, 
and who turned out to be a Greek Christian, greatly 
amused his comrades, on awakening, by reading them 
extracts from a Russo-Japanese phrase book which he 
had captured. The humour of the situation can readily 
be imagined on the discovery that some of the ques- 
tions asked were : — " Where is the road to Kobe ? " 
M Who is the Governor of Osaka fortress ? " " What 
is the strength of the enemy in Matsuyama ? " " Has 
the Mikado fled to Nikko or to Aomori ? " The 
Japanese Greek Christian laughed so long and so 
heartily at these unconscious witticisms that I thought 
his little looped-up eyes would never open again. 
Evidently he had no great belief in the political 
infallibility of his co-religionists. 

Meanwhile we were very much cramped for room, 
and I decided to go out into the yard, where I found a 
considerable number of Japanese guardsmen and a 
sprinkling of Russian officers. 

Thanks to the kindness of one of the guardsmen I 
again enjoyed the luxury of a wash, after which I 



336 WITH THE COSSACKS 

returned to the house and had some tea and hard 
biscuit, on which spare diet I lived for fully a week 
afterward, practically, in fact, until I reached Dalny. 

Next day more officers and soldiers came in, and 
the difficulty for the Japanese was to know where to 
put them. Some were taken in hand by a rough- 
looking Japanese private, who spoke Russian and had 
evidently been a coolie of some kind in Siberia. He 
ordered them into an empty outhouse, and told them 
they could sleep on the floor. The poor, long-bearded 
greycoats followed him meekly and made no remark. 
The main body was turned loose in a field behind 
General Kuroki's house. Then the Japanese soldiers 
were all removed from our cabin and the place given 
over to us entirely. A few "vestavoi" were allowed 
to attend us, and it was touching to see the affectionate 
way in which these poor lads waited on their masters, 
although the common disaster which had overwhelmed 
them might have led them to assert their independence. 
The Japanese privates seemed, by the way, greatly 
amused at the zeal with which the Russian privates 
discharged all sorts of menial duties for their officers. 
To them it seemed that their big Russian antagonists 
were more like nurses than anything else, for in the 
Japanese army all menial work is discharged by 
11 styohe,"or military coolies. 

The Japanese officers often bring their own servants 
with them, and in any case the simplicity of their life 
and of their food is such that their orderlies do not 
have to spend more than half an hour every day in 
what I may call personal menial attendance on them. 
The Russian officer, on the other hand, is always shout- 
ing for his "vestavoi, "and his "vestavoi* "spends all the 



I 



FACE TO FACE WITH KUROKI 337 

day and often a considerable part of the night, cooking 
for him, opening bottles for him, cleaning his clothes, 
etc. In Russia men are cheap, in Japan the soldier is a 
precious object. Japan emerged in thirty years from the 
intensely pleasant, intensely impracticable, old clan sys- 
tem, in which every "daimyo" and "samurai" was attended 
by crowds of retainers. Russia is still in the patriarchal 
stage. The soldiers are little children, the officers are 
their " fathers/' Despite the * 'emancipation of the serfs," 
the agreeable, old Biblical slave system still really sur- 
vives in Russia, and it will require a whole series of 
military disasters, and perhaps a great national upheaval, 
to do away with it completely. But why should you 
pity Russia for the pain this revolution will cause her ? 
Do you think that it cost the " daimyo " of Japan no 
pain to leave their moated " yashki," to disband their 
faithful "samurai," to sink from gods to common men ? 

On this day (Sunday) I was allowed to have an 
interview with Kuroki, the leader whose death by 
dysentery I announced in October 1904 in thelVew Yoj'k 
Herald 'on the authority of a Japanese prisoner. Dressed 
in a plain black uniform, this great Asiatic captain 
lived in a small bare room at the back of the build- 
ing occupied by his staff, and when I entered he was 
seated cross-legged on the " kang," just as if he were 
sitting on the "tatami" of his little white lath-and-paper 
dwelling at home. One or two small rectangular trunks, 
evidently containing clothing and personal effects, lay 
beside him on the " kang," while his sword, overcoat, 
and hat hung on the wall. On a small Chinese table 
beside him lay a Japanese map, which he had been 
apparently studying. 

The generals appearance was strictly in keeping 



338 WITH THE COSSACKS 

with the severity of his surroundings. He was a 
medium-sized unpretentious gentleman, with a greyish 
moustache and thick greyish hair. He greeted me 
very naturally and pleasantly, and, after the Japanese 
custom, continued smiling all the time I remained with 
him. He asked me to excuse him for being seated, as 
he was in his stockinged feet ; and he talked only in 
Japanese through an interpreter, Captain T. Okada, I 
think. As his back was to the window, I could not 
get a very good view of his face, but I carried away 
with me the impression of a plain, firm, grey-toned, 
friendly physiognomy, that could, however, be terrible 
if it liked. It was unmistakably military, but in the 
crowds at Shimbashi Station or Uyeno Park it would 
have attracted no special attention. You could only 
say, " That's some officer," but it might be a major, a 
captain in the navy, or somebody connected with the 
transport service. Yet this unimposing man dwarfs 
all the ancient heroes of Japan — Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, 
I eyasu, Kato Kiy emasu, K onishi, and all the rest of them. 
If Japan's religious customs do not alter he will yet 
be a god like I eyasu, like the Soga brothers. Other 
countries look back through the mists of years for their 
greatest captain. In the person of General Kuroki, 
Dai- Nippon has got hers in the flesh to-day. He may 
not be Japan's greatest general, but Europe will never 
forget his name, for he is the first Yellow leader who 
has beaten white men with modern weapons. 

The general did not ask me any leading questions 
regarding the Russians (he seemed to leave all this 
sort of thing to the astute Fuji, to whom, however, I 
refused to give any information that could do harm to 
Kuropatkin), but he wanted to know how long I had 






FACE TO FACE WITH KUROKI 339 

been with them. " Since the outbreak of the war," 
I replied. 

" Then," said he, casting a keen glance at my 
Russian coat, hat, and top-boots, " you have been so 
long with them that you have almost become a Russian 
yourself — so far at least as your dress is concerned." 

I explained that there had been no other kind of 
warm clothing to be had in Mukden, and that, besides, 
it was better for me to wear Russian garments, since 
if I looked too foreign, I might have had frequent diffi- 
culties with sentinels and patrols. 

He laughingly admitted the truth of this. When I 
asked him what he thought of the Russian generals 
he first turned the question by a compliment. "If 
they were as brave as the correspondents," he said, 
" they might do better." 

I thanked him on the part of the correspondents, 
but remarked that I thought the Russian generals were 
often too brave and exposed themselves too recklessly. 
I mentioned the case of Count Keller, who had been 
killed, and of Generals Mishchenko, Rennenkampf, 
Tserpitsky and others who had been wounded. 

General Kuroki did not seem impressed, however. 
He thought that the Russian generals were none of 
them capable men. 

" But hasn't some one of them given you more 
trouble than the others ? " I asked. 

"No," he replied, laughing. "They're all on the 
same level." 

He admitted, however, that the Russian soldiers 
were good fighters. Like General Fuji, he seemed 
anxious to know if the Russians were aware of the 
domestic troubles in their own country, and laughed 



340 WITH THE COSSACKS 

pleasantly when he heard that they were. As a matter 
of fact, the Japanese had taken particular pains to keep 
the Russians well informed on this point. For some 
time they used to sendsoldiers with a flag of truce and 
a bundle of literature regarding the trouble in Russia 
to places near the Russian outposts ; but, as after a 
while the Russians threatened to fire on any one who 
came on such an errand, other means for the propa- 
gation of information were resorted to. 

When I asked General Kuroki if the Japanese would 
be satisfied with the capture of Mukden and if there 
was any chance of the war ever coming to an end, he 
paused for a moment, like a man in deep thought, and 
then answered impressively : " The war must go on." 
In fact, the impression made on me at that time fr- 
ail the Japanese officers and men was that they would 
mutiny almost if the war were brought to a termination 
before the capture of Harbin and Vladivostock. 
Instead of being tired, they seemed to be only warming 
to their work. 

It is a Japanese custom to give presents of trifling 
value to visitors, and, on my leaving his room, General 
Kuroki presented me with a box of Turkish cigarettes. 
I then returned to my prison, where I was visited 
during the rest of the day by a number of very sympa- 
thetic Japanese correspondents and English-speaking 
Japanese civilians employed at Kurokis headquarters 
as censors and so forth. 

As I have already intimated, there was very little 
to eat or drink, for the Japanese carry few luxuries 
with them, so that they can never display anything 
approaching the lavish hospitality of the Russians, but 
they seemed to do all they could to entertain us. 



CHAPTER XVI 

BACK TO LIAOYANG 

On Monday, March 13, I was told to get ready to 
start in an hour for Dalny. I did not take five 
minutes to get ready, for I had no packing to do, and 
at daybreak I set out with — or, rather, " in custody 
of" — a young soldier called T. Hara. Hara San, 
who speaks English well, was a delightful travelling 
companion, and possessed in an exceptional degree 
the Japanese qualities of tact, good humour and physical 
endurance. He said to me: "Sir, you will be much 
civilised when you reach Dalny," meaning that I would 
have an opportunity of getting a good wash, and I 
thanked him for this piercing, but well-intentioned, 
comment on my personal appearance. 

During our little trip to Dalny Private Hara taught 
me some Japanese, and discussed all sorts of subjects 
with me, from the merest trifles to the most abstruse 
problems of philosophy, and his smile, his "aliveness" 
and his fine teeth were my entertainment all the way. 
In sooth, he was a very engaging little fellow, and if 
Japanese privates are all like him I am afraid that 
there will soon be no chance for us poor whites on the 
face of this planet. 

Like all Japanese, Hara was entirely under the Anglo- 
American influence, save in the matter of religion. 



342 WITH THE COSSACKS 

" None of us, Japanese, believe in religion," he said, 
proudly ; " we believe neither in a God nor in a here- 
after. In our funeral services, it is true, we address 
the spirits of the dead as if they were present, but that 
is only our politeness. Besides," he added cheerfully, 
a question twinkling in his eye, " no educated European 
or American now believes in Christianity." 

I quote him because, from a four years' experience 
of Japan, I am convinced that he speaks not only for 
himself, but for the more advanced portion of his 
nation. Of few things is intellectual Japan so perfectly 
certain as that religion is merely an old wife's tale ; 
and if an earnest man from Oxford or Maynooth thinks 
he makes a good impression on a Japanese philosopher 
by confessing that he believes in Christianity he errs 
grievously ; in fact, he might as well seek to make an 
impression on his Japanese friend by assuring him 
that he is one of an ancient band of believers who 
hold that the earth is flat. In short, the Japanese 
think that what they regard as the extraordinary 
delusion about Christianity is, perhaps, the one weak 
point in the European intellect. 

Hara said that the Japanese generals had no religion, 
and, so far as he was concerned, that settled it. He 
told me that there were Buddhist and Shinto priests 
in the army, some attached to the forces in the capacity 
of chaplains, some wearing the uniforms of private 
soldiers which they temporarily discarded for the 
sacerdotal robes whenever the necessity arose, but 
that, though the officers attended their services, they 
' 'did not believe in them." 

This did not, however, prevent these officers from 
encouraging the simpler soldiers to wear Buddhist 






BACK TO LI AO YANG 343 

amulets and phylacteries, so that in no way, even in 
the faith in supernatural assistance, would the Russians 
have the advantage of them. The Japanese have 
already adopted the Russian " bashleek," and in the 
Russian Prisoners' Quarters, where I was afterwards 
incarcerated, at Shizuoka I heard squads of soldiers 
engaged in a cheering drill a la Russe. If Christianity 
is found to increase the fanaticism of the soldier and 
to lessen his fear of death the Japanese will also 
adopt it. 

A long residence in the Far East is calculated to 
shake one's faith in Christianity. You find non- 
Christian tribes and nations contain about the average 
number of respectable citizens. If you bring forward 
the good points of Christianity, the educated heathen 
will promptly dig up something of the same kind out 
of Buddhist or Confucian theology. The sight of the 
Russian prisoners saying their prayers three times a 
day amid a circle of their polite but incredulous con- 
querors tempts you to believe that Christianity is, 
after all, a superstition, and that the agnostic Japanese 
are right. 

Soon after leaving Kuroki's village we passed a long 
train of transport carts driven by Chinamen, who 
grinned at me and shouted sarcastically, " Ta ta de 
kapitan ! " (" Great captain !"), and " Cush cush mayo ! " 
(" No food ! "), whereupon little Hara got angry and 
threatened them with his rifle, shouting at the same 
time as loud as he could, M Yingwa-Rin ! Yingwa- 
Rin ! " (" He's an Englishman ! He's an Englishman ! ") 
We also passed long trains of Japanese pack-horses 
led by "styohe," or military coolies, from whom, some- 
times, but seldom, a single abrupt, dispassionate shout 



344 WITH THE COSSACKS 

of " Russky ! " proceeded. At first Hara used to stop 
to explain to these good people that they had made a 
great mistake in calling me " Russky," but after he had 
done so for the two hundredth time or so, he got tired 
and even assented, if silence meant assent, to the 
people who asked him if I was not a Russian " shoko " 
(officer). 

The first dtape, or, as the Japanese call it, com- 
munication station, was at a place called Tudyatun, 
where we had dinner. The commandant of this etape 
asked me if it was true that, just before the battle, a 
number of wounded Japanese had been bound with 
ropes and dragged through the streets of Mukden, in 
order to make the Chinese believe that the Russians 
were winning. I said that I only knew of some 
unwounded Japanese having been marched through 
Mukden, and that they were not bound and not ill- 
treated along the route ; but I am astonished that, 
with tales like these, told them by constitutionally 
inaccurate Chinamen and accepted as gospel by the 
General Staff, the Japanese, who took me for a 
Russian, did not indulge in any hostile demonstration. 
I am afraid that things would have been different in 
any other country, but it is not impossible that the 
Japanese themselves would behave differently in case 
they were losing. It is to the credit of the Russians, 
on the other hand, that, despite their uninterrupted 
succession of defeats, they treated Japanese prisoners 
with unvarying kindness. 

All the way down the Liaotung peninsula and all 
the way from Hiroshima to Shizuoka I was taken for 
a Russian, but not even once was an angry remark 
addressed to me or an angry glance cast at me, either 



BACK TO LIAOYANG 345 

by the Chinese, who have suffered so much at the 
hands of the Russians, or by the Japanese. Sometimes 
Japanese soldiers, taking me for an officer, saluted me 
respectfully ; and once, while standing at the gate of 
my Japanese prison, a little girl of about three years 
of age was induced by some companions a year or two 
older to toddle forward and present me with a bough 
of cherry-blossoms. 

After leaving Tudyatun I passed further trains of 
Chinese transport carts, the Celestial drivers of which 
grinned at me with one accord, and shouted, " Poo ko 
bin!" a Chinese term which really means "cannot 
sell," but which seems to be used by the Japanese and 
the Chinese in their employ as the equivalent of "You 
are powerless. You cannot do anything." 

Some of them shouted " Kupetz ! " the Russian 
word for "merchant," whereupon, sooner than be 
taken for a camp follower, I resumed the brass- 
buttoned, double-breasted Russian coat which had 
previously caused me to be mistaken for an officer. 

Midway between Tudyatun and Kandalusan I came 
across a little village occupied by military coolies, who 
invited me into their best house, offered me such 
simple food as they had got, and were very inquisitive, 
friendly, and sympathetic. Most of them introduced 
themselves to me in a state of nature, for they had just 
been having a bath in a new bath-house which they 
had erected ; but as they themselves did not seem to 
realise that there was anything improper in their lack 
of attire I for my part did not manifest any surprise. 

All morning we passed long strings of pack animals led 
by "styohe," alternating with longer strings of Chinese 
carts driven by Chinamen ; and at noon a faint sound 



346 WITH THE COSSACKS 

of cannonading, away to the northward, showed us 
that Kuroki was again righting, as I had fully expected, 
for, on the morning on which I left him, his headquarters 
had been in a state of feverish activity. 

Passing on this day a collection of dug-outs, Hara 
began calculating the force of Russians it had con- 
tained. He also used every opportunity of enlarging 
his vocabulary of English military terms, taking care 
to jot down in his notebook every unfamiliar word 
that he heard me use. As I was equally keen, how- 
ever, on enlarging my Japanese vocabulary, there 
was a fair exchange on both sides. He had got 
three books in his knapsack, one Colonel Churchill's 
M Japanese Military Terms," the second a little Anglo- 
Japanese dictionary, and the third a Sino-Japanese 
gazetteer of Manchurian geographical names. When 
with the Russian army, I had^ometimes heard privates 
reading novels aloud for the delectation of comrades 
who could not read, but I never knew any of them to 
possess even as much as a map. 

But in the Japanese army the First Soldiers, as they 
are called, had always maps, and so had even ordinary 
privates sometimes. 

A Chinese countryman joined us in the evening and 
enlarged for a long time, in his own language, on the 
oneness of the Japanese and Chinese peoples. Accord- 
ing to him they were "yeega yang" (all the same) — 
same eyes, same black hair, same absence of beard, 
same rice, chopsticks and character writing. I realised 
that the occasion was a solemn one. I was watching 
the birth of the Yellow Peril. But Hara tactfully 
discouraged this conversation. 

In regard to the treatment of Chinese, I think the 



BACK TO LIAOYANG 347 

Japanese are ahead of the Russians, but there is in 
general as little fraternisation between the Celestials 
and the Japanese soldiers as if the latter were the 
troops of some civilised Malay empire which had 
adopted Chinese character writing. Contrary to my 
expectations, the Japanese do not speak Chinese any 
better than the Russians, but they have the advantage 
of being able to communicate with the Chinese in 
writing. 

In the evening I reached Kandalusan, about a 
day's journey to the south-east of Mukden, and for- 
merly the headquarters of General Zassulitch, com- 
manding the First Siberian Army Corps. As my next 
day's journey was to take me to the Yentai coal mines 
it will be seen that I was sent around in a semicircular 
sweep, so as not to be able to see anything of what 
was going on in the vicinity of Mukden. 

I found Kandalusan so little changed that I almost 
expected to hear the merry music and the sound of 
dancing which had proceeded from it when I had last 
visited it, several months before. But, alas for worldly 
grandeur, it had fallen from its high estate, and, instead 
of being the headquarters of a General, was now a mere 
communications station. Never again shall the voice 
of Muscovite harpers and musicians be heard in 
Kandalusan. 

The very house in which General Zassulitch had 
given me a frosty welcome and a frostier dinner was 
desecrated by the presence of a commissariat officer of 
low degree. This functionary received me almost as 
coldly as if he had been an English postmistress and 
I a customer coming to buy a stamp. He gave me 
good quarters, however, and got the servants to make 



348 WITH THE COSSACKS 

several attempts to light a fire in the " kang," but these 
attempts were all failures, and I woke up very cold 
at a quarter past 2 a.m. to find one soldier sleeping 
on the " kang " alongside me and another sitting at my 
feet with his rifle between his knees and his bayonet 
fixed to the rifle, watching me intently by the uncertain 
flicker of a new candle which he had just lighted, the 
first one having burned out. The guard over me was 
relieved every half-hour, the relieved always saying 
"Yoroshii!" ("All's well!") to the relievee, in the 
bated breath of a man guarding incalculable treasures. 

Next morning I asked Hara for an explanation of 
this singular watchfulness. 

" Oh, sir!" said he, "that guard is simply there 
to do you honour as correspondent." 

I thereupon thanked God that I was not a general, 
for in that case they would probably have taken it into 
their heads to have a brass band playing all night in 
my bedroom. 

Early on the morning of Tuesday, March 14, we 
started for Tanko, near the Yentai mines. 

An instinctive fear that the Japanese batteries would 
fire on us seized me as soon as we left Kandalusan, 
for, the last time I had been there, it was dangerous to 
wander to any considerable distance south of the 
Russian lines. But at length we passed what had long 
been the Land Debatable and reached what had long 
been the Japanese outposts. On one side of the 
Shaho (which was then, like the Hunho, almost free 
from ice and difficult to cross) the outermost Russian 
posts, with their palisades, their barbed wire fences 
and their pitfalls ; on the other side, the simpler 
Japanese dug-outs and trenches. The Russians seem 



I 



BACK TO L1AOYANG 349 

to have been everlastingly preparing against attack ; 
the Japanese to have been ever getting ready for an 
advance. 

All the way from the Shaho to Yentai ran a trolley 
line of far simpler and cheaper construction than the 
fine narrow-gauge railways which the Russians had 
constructed to the east and west of Mukden and 
which afterward fell entirely into the hands of the 
conquerors. 

On this day I met the usual endless stream of 
military coolies and Chinese carts. A Japanese 
soldier, asleep in one of the latter, was roused by 
the excited driver thereof, who shouted to him : 
" Quick! quick! Look! look! A white man! A 
hairy barbarian caught ! " But, greatly to my disgust 
— for up to that time I had attracted as much attention 
as a cow with two heads — the little Jap only cursed 
the Chinaman and went to sleep again, without hardly 
condescending to favour me with a glance. In the 
old days our fondness for having a whole bedroom to 
ourselves in Japanese hotels, our dislike of the publicity 
which obtains in the Japanese bath, and our unac- 
countable repugnance to going about like them inpuris 
naturalibus, led the Japanese to suspect that there was 
about our mode of existence and our bodily form 
something mysterious, something of which we felt 
ashamed and which we wished to hide ; but now that 
they have captured tens of thousands of us — men, 
women and children, including sick, wounded, naked 
and insane, now that they have buried our mangled 
dead, all the way from Port Arthur to Kaiyuan ; that 
they have watched all sorts of specimens of us day and 
night with the care of a naturalist studying a new 



3 so WITH THE COSSACKS 

variety of beetle ; that they have superintended us 
taking our compulsory bath, scores at a time in the 
quarantine stations at Ninoshima and Nagasaki, the 
edge must surely be for ever taken off their keen 
curiosity. 

I dined this day at a place south of the Shaho, called 
Sudyaze, where there was an enormous depot of Japa- 
nese stores of rice and barley packed in gunny bags 
covered by closely woven straw mats, and ready to be 
carted or carried off at a moment's notice. The officer 
in charge of the dtape was hospitable and communica- 
tive. He said that he had expected one hundred 
thousand prisoners, and was disappointed at getting 
word to prepare accommodation for only ten thousand. 
The total number of captives was higher than ten 
thousand, but the balance was going southward by 
another route. Personally he did not dote on Russian 
prisoners, whose clothing was, he said, dirty. He 
complained that a Russian regimental doctor who 
had been captured three days before and whom he 
had treated very well, had stolen a Japanese soldier's 
overcoat and vamoosed in the night-time. The soldier 
on guard had been deceived by the colour of the coat, 
but this did not save him from punishment next day at 
the hands of his incensed superior. 

While sympathising to some extent with the latter, 
I could not help feeling some sympathy for the un- 
fortunate Russian also, because I had been often 
thinking of doing as he did. At the same time this 
problem of escaping from watchful guardians is one of 
the hardest that ever confronted any ordinary man • 
for, apart from the great difficulty of getting past sleep- 
ing men and armed sentinels, there is the equally great 






BACK TO LI AO YANG 351 

difficulty of getting across a flat, bare, wasted country- 
traversed everywhere by the enemy. The more I 
pondered on this problem the more profound became 
my admiration for Jack Sheppard. In some ways 
Jack was a greater man than Napoleon Bonaparte. 

Here and elsewhere in Manchuria, more especially 
in Dalny, I found in the hands of the Japanese fine 
Russian dogs, which, seeing that I was a white man, 
used to rush towards me with sorrowful whines. 
Although they were well treated by the Japanese, it was 
rather sad to see them forced to lick the hands that 
had perhaps shed their masters' blood. 

Near Tanko we called on a friend of Hara's who 
had something to do with the canteen business, and in 
his house, strange to say, I found two Japanese servants 
who had been in Siberia and could speak Russian. 

The Chinese inhabitants seemed to be getting on 
fairly well under the Japanese sway in this part of the 
country. They had not begun to till their rice-fields 
yet, but this was, I suppose, because the ground was 
still frozen. A handsome young Chinese woman with 
a baby in her arms regarded me, as I passed, with 
curiosity, but not with hatred ; while the usual stream 
of Chinese carters indulged sometimes in the usual 
good-natured chaff, but generally confined themselves 
to a blank stare of wonderment. 

The Japanese had made themselves at home in such 
of the Chinese houses as they occupied hereabouts. 
They squatted with stockinged feet on the " kang," 
they had improvised u hibachi " out of old oil tins, and 
they generally had a fire burning in a hollow in the 
centre of the room, as in Hokkaido and other cold 
parts of their own islands. 






352 WITH THE COSSACKS 

After having had a fine Japanese dinner with Haras 
friends we crossed a ridge of hills at sunset, and, lo ! 
beneath us lay a lost Russian town ! a fine collection 
of European houses like those at Dalny or Tsingtau, 
with well-gravelled walks and with long lines of stone 
steps before the doors. Chinese lions carved in granite 
guarded the approaches to these steps, potted plants of 
many varieties adorned them all the way up. Lights 
twinkled from windows. Blinds were drawn. I could 
almost believe that I was in a prosperous Russian 
settlement had it not been for the flag of the Rising 
Sun, which was hauled down at sunset from half a 
dozen lofty flag-poles. 

Descending the hill we climbed one of the biggest 
flights of steps and entered a large room, all around 
which Japanese sat at desks. Some were in European 
civil dress, some were in semi-military dress, some were 
in " kimonos," and all were working hard at big ledgers 
and account books. 

Leaving me standing severely alone in the middle 
of the room, Hara went forward to the manager, with 
the ait of a man who is going to spring a good joke. 
He saluted, but for about five minutes the manager 
was oblivious of his presence, and in the meantime the 
clerks stared at me coldly, tittered slightly, and ex- 
changed comments on my appearance. One of them 
hit the right nail on the head with the remark, which 
he made in Japanese to a companion, that, judging from 
my camera, I must be a newspaper man. When Hara 
told his story, however, and he always told it, what- 
ever it was, with great gusto, a sudden change came 
over the scene. The manager shook hands with me 
heartily and asked me to pray be seated, while the 



BACK TO LIAOYANG 353 

glances directed at me by his satellites became all at 
once sympathetic. 

Nevertheless, I could not help thinking how un- 
enviable must be the feelings of a Russian prisoner, 
coldly received and coldly stared at, in a house which 
his money had built and in defence of which his blood 
had perhaps been shed. This must, however, have 
been the fate of many unfortunate Russians, for the 
manager told me that a colonel and one hundred and 
fifty prisoners had passed through to Liaoyang the day 
before, while about five thousand were expected next 
day. He also informed me with a laugh that formerly 
the Russian military governor of the place lived in 
that very house. 

I had so long identified myself with the Russians, 
I had so often eaten their khleb-sol (bread and salt), 
that this laugh of triumph somewhat jarred on me ; but, 
after all, I cannot say that I felt out of place among 
the Japanese. Although their ways are not always 
our ways, the Japanese are human ; and it does not 
take very long for a white man to forget that their 
skin is not quite the same colour as his. I f there is ever a 
" yellow peril," it will be an educated peril, and not the 
wild, barbaric, mysterious and inhuman monster with 
visions of which some people have tortured their brains. 

Fortunately there was a train leaving at once for 
Liaoyang, and Hara and I secured an empty goods 
waggon, in which we made ourselves comfortable with 
numerous red army rugs which the Tanko manager 
kindly lent us. 

About half-past ten at night we were in Liaoyang 
station. Liaoyang ? I could hardly believe my eyes. 
When last I had seen Liaoyang, the station platform 



354 WITH THE COSSACKS 

was crowded with Russian officers and the crowd in 
the buffet was dense. Angry cries of " Boyka ! " 
("Waiter"); "Chelovek!" "Peevo!" ("Beer"); " Itte 
syuda ! " ("Come here") ; and deprecatory responses of 
" Sichas ! " (" Immediately ") filled the air. Here and 
there was a Red Cross sister, or a Korean boy, who 
looked very much like a Japanese, and who did not 
seem to push the sale of his basketful of cigarettes 
with all the zeal that you would expect of a bond 
fide pedlar. Away down at the dark end of the 
platform a crowd of big, patient, clumsy privates 
were bargaining hoarsely with a Greek sutler, who 
kept a store there. A stone's throw from the station 
the lights of sundry Greek stores gleamed through 
innumerable rows of bottles and were reflected in an 
intervening lake of watery mud which was, in places, 
almost deep enough to drown one. 

Liaoyang had now the sober and settled tranquillity 
of a prosperous little market-town in England. Five 
pairs of rails glistened in the lamp-light, the buffet 
had become a traffic managers office, and the station 
was divided into compartments wherein prosaic, 
sedentary little men worked patiently and noiselessly. 
There was no crowd on the platform. Several people 
crossed it hurriedly with luggage. A few porters 
walked along it swinging their lanterns. Like one 
in a dream I issued from the train and passed through 
the wicket. Outside was no crowd of loud, abusive 
"jinriksha" men wanting three or four roubles to bring 
you a few hundred yards, no long line of pure-breds 
held by patient orderlies, no crowd of privates com- 
peting with Chinamen for the few kopecks the holding 
of a horse would bring them. 




BACK TO LI AO YANG 355 

The lofty tower of Liaoyang rose above me ; the 
houses of the Russian settlement twinkled with 
lights ; afar off the triple summit of Shushan looked as 
calm as if it had never known shrapnel. I passed 
over a road hard as iron, and after visiting several 
offices wherein pale, studious, polite young men, in 
semi-military costume and with spectacles and hollow 
cheeks were still writing patiently, sadly and silently, 
I was finally led into the gendarmerie quarter, a quad- 
rangular block of buildings situated at the base of the 
old pagoda. Here also, despite the lateness of the 
hour, sallow, sartorial-looking clerks were still at work. 
But there were others. At a sign from the chief 
clerk, to whom Hara had, with his usual swing and 
vim, told the whole story and handed his documents, 
two sturdy little soldiers, with rifles and fixed bayonets, 
came from somewhere or other and quietly but firmly 
attached themselves to me. 



CHAPTER XVII 

FROM LIAOYANG TO DALNY 

When I got up at 7.30 a.m. on Wednesday, March 15, 
I found everybody had already breakfasted and gone 
out to work, that the kitchen fire was cold, and had to 
be lighted again in order to prepare my breakfast, that 
the commandant of the gendarmerie had already been 
twice to see me. When I found this out and thought 
of the old Liaoyang, which regarded ten o'clock in 
the morning as scandalously early, I began to realise 
that there is something, after all, in that saying about 
the early bird. 

The commandant was very polite. He said that it 
would have been a dreadful thing if an English or 
American correspondent on the Russian side had 
fallen by a Japanese bullet, that it was an honour for 
me to have been captured as I was, and that it was an 
honour for him to be my host. But on learning that 
I had been in Liaoyang before and knew the lie of 
the ground perfectly, his jaw fell, and, immediately 
after, my guards began watching me intently, evidently 
under the impression that I was a kind of Irish 
leprecaun that was liable to disappear the instant its 
captor took his eyes off it. I was also refused per- 
mission to visit the city, to take a walk, to send a note 
to my old friend, Dr. Westwater of Liaoyang, or to do 



FROM LI AO YANG TO DALNY 357 

anything save remain all day in my room. I was 
treated, however, with much courtesy, and supplied 
with enough food and drink for two men. 

Despite his suspicious nature, the commandant of 
Liaoyang pleased me by the paternal interest he took 
in his involuntary charges. He consulted with me 
anxiously as to what the Russians got to eat when at 
home, and seemed surprised when I told him that, even 
in their worst times in Manchuria, they had always got 
plenty of black bread, thick soup, meat, " kasha " 
(porridge), and tea. He had evidently imagined that 
in their own country they lived exclusively on dog 
biscuits. He was a minute, conscientious, scrupulous 
man, however, and begged anxiously to know if four 
pieces of a hard cabin-biscuit kind of production per 
meal were not sufficient for each man. He was visibly 
disappointed and distressed when I told him that I 
hardly thought this sufficient. The Russian soldiers 
themselves were decidedly of opinion that it was insuf- 
ficient, and in conversation with me they contrasted 
the warm " zeemlyankee," abundant " borsh," and huge 
chunks of fresh black bread supplied to the Japanese 
prisoners by the Russians with the treatment meted 
out them by the Japs. 

Finally I rather put my foot in it by telling the old 
commandant that, when the next Russo-Japanese wa 
broke out, I would again join the Russians. " Then," 
said he sharply, " next time you are my guest it will 
be in St. Petersburg." 

In the afternoon I was brought to the station, and 
on the way I saw a sight that moved me more than 
anything I had seen during the whole war. In front 
of the Liaoyang railway depot there is a large fenced- 



358 WITH THE COSSACKS 

in space, and this space I found to be crammed with 
Russian prisoners who had passed the whole night 
there on the bare ground without any kind of covering. 
They were cold, hungry, dirty and miserable, to such 
an extent that their worst enemy might have wept for 
pity; and, all round, Japanese and Chinese pressed 
against the railings and grinned at the unhappy captives 
inside. 

There were eight tents for officers — for a time I 
occupied one of them myself — but, as far as I could see, 
there were no latrines, no decent privacy, and the 
natives watched the white men discharging the offices of 
nature with a critical and disgusted air. The unfor- 
tunate Russkies were exactly on the level of a collec- 
tion of gorillas that had just been captured and 
rendered harmless. Poor devils ! they had hardly 
room to turn round in, and as they had not washed for 
weeks, and as no soap or water was now given them, 
it is not surprising that the neat little Japanese soldiers, 
spruce as if they had just stepped out of a band-box, 
with shining cheeks and glistening white teeth, some- 
times held their noses, and that even the dirtiest 
Chinese coolies seemed to regard this Russky nuisance 
as something too great to be borne in silence. It was 
a fall indeed ; a fall so tremendous that words fail to 
convey a just idea of it. To be captured and driven 
into a cage by the yellow soldiers whom, at the begin- 
ning of the war, they had only one designation for — 
"makaka" (monkeys) — was a come-down in the world 
for the haughty Muscovites. To be driven into an 
enclosure like cattle, and allowed to stand or lie there, 
on a night when a considerate man would scarcely 
like to let his horse or his dog sleep out in the open, 






FROM LIAOYANG TO DALNY 359 

was bad enough ; but what made it worse was the fact 
that in the neat houses which the Russians had built 
for themselves years ago all around the station, the 
Japanese were now very snug and comfortable. 

Some of the Russians tried to converse with the 
Chinese whom they had formerly known in Liaoyang, 
while others accepted cigarettes which good-natured 
Japanese soldiers passed to them through the bars of 
the fence, the same as you would pass biscuits to a 
caged monkey at the Zoo. It was pathetic to watch the 
vain attempts of one or two to light a fire with a hand- 
ful of twigs and dried grass they had collected in order 
to boil water in the few sooty and dented old mess-tins 
that still remained to them, for the purpose of making 
their beloved "chai" (tea). Some prayed, with faces 
turned towards the sun and with the frequent cross- 
ings which the Orthodox Catholic employs. Japanese 
soldiers occasionally imitated them out of a spirit of 
fun, but the Russians did not take this unconscious 
irreverence in bad part. They only smiled, and taught 
the Japs how to cross themselves properly. 

I cannot say that the Russians were dignified in their 
misfortunes. They " bummed " around the limits of 
their cage, fraternising quite affably with the few 
Japanese who allowed them to become familiar, and 
begging piteously for food, Tor tobacco, for anything 
their keepers would condescend to give them. None 
of them seemed by his conduct to feel that he repre- 
sented Europe and must behave accordingly. It 
cannot be said that any of them stood gloomily apart 
like a Byronic hero in the hands of his enemies. On 
one occasion, however, when a young Russian private 
began to tell me how his party had been surrounded, 






360 WITH THE COSSACKS 

an elderly comrade interrupted him with the angry 
exclamation : M What's the use of talking about these 
things now ? Can't you wait till we get back to 
Russia ? " 

Late in the afternoon the Russians were led from 
their cage to the railway-station, where they were 
driven like cattle into open trucks. This long line of 
tall, patriarchal-looking, bearded men marched between 
two grinning rows of Chinamen and Japanese. As 
they did not march fast enough to please their masters, 
the latter made them run, and then laughed the 
silent, Asiatic laugh — at the " bashleeks " and the 
"papakhas" bobbing up and down as the big, docile 
men raced obediently towards the railway. 

There were about twenty trucks in the train and 
fifty men in each truck. For every fifty prisoners 
there was one armed Japanese, who sat stiff and 
upright on the side of the vehicle, his black eyes 
shining brightly above the high, fur-lined collar of his 
pepper-coloured overcoat, his rifle between his knees, 
the sinking sun glinting red on his broad naked 
bayonet, whose point and edge were as sharp as a 
razor. The Russians were all littered in the bottom 
of the trucks, only their heads and shoulders pro- 
jecting. Personally, I felt like one of the conquered 
in a Roman triumph. I had touched the lowest deep 
of abasement. Chains would not have added 
materially to my humiliation. 

After having passed one night, without covering, in 
an open field, the Russians were now to pass the next 
night without covering in open trucks. The Japanese 
evidently meant to test the boasted ability of the 
Muscovites to withstand cold. There was a moderate- 



FROM LIAOYANG TO DALNY 361 

sized crowd of Japanese and Chinese at the station, 
but they did not cheer or make any demonstration. 
The Japanese never cheers even when the "Tenno 
Haiku " (whom foreigners call the Mikado) passes by, 
and now he looked on with a grave smile at the loud 
undignified uproar of the Russians, among whom tins 
of hard biscuits were being divided. The Japanese 
guard in each truck had the task of distribution, and 
he threw the stuff among his prisoners as a man 
throws bread to dogs. Like dogs, too, the Russians 
scrambled for the food, with shouts of M Vozmee 
syuda ! " and " Dai khleb ! " that were not unlike 
barks. The decorous station precincts echoed to the 
roars of one big fellow who had got nothing, but the 
sentinel's only reply was gravely to raise the empty 
tin to show that there was no more. Some wounded 
Japanese officers in white " kimono " with a red cross 
on the shoulder, stood on the platform and looked on 
in contempt. They knew that had they been in the 
position of the Russians they would have starved to 
death sooner than raise such an unseemly clamour. 

To appreciate the significance of this historic scene, 
one should have lived for a long time in the Far 
East, and fully entered into the spirit with which the 
white settlers there regard the yellow inhabitants. 
When, seven years ago, I first travelled from Tientsin 
to Peking, a Chinese attendant on the train cere- 
moniously ushered me into a car in which only white 
men were allowed to travel. Mandarins, coolies, 
Chinese princes and Chinese prostitutes were all piled 
together in dirty third-class carriages. They were all 
yellow ; why make any distinctions between them ? 

No Chinese guest ever desecrated the sacred pre- 






362 WITH THE COSSACKS 

cincts of the Shanghai Club (which, up till a couple of 
years ago, would not allow a Japanese to cross its 
threshold — no, not even if that Japanese bore the name 
of Togo or Kuroki), and no European, unless he were 
mad or drunk, would ever dream of asking a Chinese 
gentleman to dinner. 

The Japanese were tarred with the same brush, and 
the language anent " yellow monkeys " in which Port 
Arthur used to indulge was tame in comparison with 
what one heard in the bar-rooms of the Yokohama 
hotels even after the outbreak of the recent war. 

I could hardly therefore realise that I was awake 
when I found myself at Liaoyang station surrounded 
by examples of Russian architecture, in a train drawn by 
an American engine ; but, nevertheless, one of a crowd 
of broken white men whom the despised little slant- 
eye had compelled, by the keen logic of the bayonet 
point, to travel in trucks which might have been useful 
for carrying coal or ballast, but in which, at that season 
of the year, no cattle-dealer would care to send cattle 
any considerable distance. Although the events of a 
year might have prepared my mind for it, this turning 
of the tables was so sudden and so complete that I 
looked on dazed and thunderstruck. It was like going 
into Calcutta and finding all the white men of that 
city acting as street-sweepers, coolies, syces, shoe- 
blacks and in other menial capacities, while the obese 
Bengalee lolled back in the best places on the trains 
and in the hotels. In making this comparison, I do 
not wish to offend the Japanese. My only object is 
to give the reader an accurate idea of the impression 
made on the mind of one who has lived half his life 
among the conquering whites of Asia. 



FROM LIAOYANG TO DALNY 363 

Nor do I wish to accuse the Japanese of having 
deliberately selected open trucks for the Russians in 
order that all Liaoyang and all the country between 
Liaoyang and Dalny could see their shame, for per- 
haps they had not got a sufficient supply of closed 
carriages ; but a more efficient way for destroying the 
prestige of the white race and dragging the renown of 
Russia in the dust could hardly be conceived. 

At dawn next day we reached the station of Van- 
galeen, and it was strange to see the Russian letters 
on the station and the Russian buildings all around. 
The Russians now looked so wretched, dirty, red-nosed, 
and blear-eyed that, in comparison with them, Kentish 
hop-pickers would be regarded as models of fashion. 
We had only a few moments to stop at Vangaleen, but 
the Russians hastened to avail themselves of those few 
moments, some for the purpose of discharging the 
offices of nature in the open space near the train, and 
others of lighting a fire with lightning rapidity for the 
sake of boiling tea. " Much civilised ! " said Hara, 
when he saw several of them using soap to wash 
themselves with. He had evidently thought that the 
Russians only used soap as an article of food. 

Some of the prisoners stand stupidly around an 
ex- Russian interpreter, really a low Chinese coolie, 
who happened to pick up a few words of Russian 
somehow or other, while he prods them familiarly with 
a walking-stick, at the same time impressing on them 
the fact that "all this would not have befallen you if 
you had not come to ' our' country," indicating, with 
a wave of the walking-stick, the Japanese and himself. 
As regards their treatment in Japan, he explains to 
them authoritatively, but in execrable Russian, that 



364 WITH THE COSSACKS 

they will get bread and rice, but no "vodka." A 
Russian remarks humbly that the Japanese prisoners 
are well- treated in Russia. " Oh, yes," says the " pere- 
vodcheek" loftily, "but the Japanese prisoners are 
very few — ' ochen malo ' — whereas the Russky 
prisoners are very numerous — one million ! " 

The bell announcing the forthcoming departure of 
the train now rang, and this coolie-" perevodcheek " 
made himself officious by driving the soldiers into 
the trucks with his cane, at the same time airing his 
knowledge of Russian expletives. Some, poor devils, 
suffering, perhaps, from bowel complaint, brought on 
by sleeping on the bare ground, were hardly in a 
position to re-enter their trucks just then ; but the 
Russian-speaking Chinaman had no mercy on them, 
and the Chinese and Japanese, who had been watch- 
ing their performances with the critical air of vulgar- 
minded children watching strange brutes evacuating, 
were delighted at the uncouth stampede of these 
grey, bearded animals, adjusting their tattered clothing 
as they ran. The men who had been making tea 
were driven off mercilessly just before their water had 
reached the boil. O Russky ! Russky ! Thy ill- 
trained " perevodcheek " has turned and rent thee ! 

It was an uninterrupted yellow grin all the way to 
Dalny. I have never before had such an opportunity 
of observing the mirthless Asiatic smile. It was a 
kind of noiseless laugh, and conveyed, not only an 
appreciation of humour, but amazement, keen satis- 
faction and scorn sharp enough to pierce the hide of a 
rhinoceros. It was like the smile you might see on 
the faces of London street arabs gazing at the corpulent 
form of a pompous but unpopular police-sergeant who 



FROM LIAOYANG TO DALNY 365 

had got beastly drunk and was being solemnly carried 
frog's-march to the police station, only that the street 
arabs would dissipate a lot of their venom in jocular 
and abusing shouts, while the Chinese concentrated 
all theirs in that characteristic smile. There was no 
tribute to bravery, no pity for suffering in that cruel 
grin. The Chinese can see nothing honourable in 
captivity ; most of them were probably convinced that 
the Japanese would hereafter make slaves, draught- 
cattle, of these white-skinned prizes of war. Being 
Orientals and belonging to a nation as old as Assyria, 
they probably thought that the natural thing to do 
with us was to treat us in the shameful way that 
prisoners of war were treated in the days of Assur- 
Nusir-Pal. 

It seemed impossible to sate the curiosity of these 
Celestials. They drank in the tremendous significance 
of the scene with their eyes as thirsty men drink water, 
and their curiosity seemed unappeasable. Many 
Chinamen, who had probably supposed the Great 
White Tsar to be God in Heaven, were suddenly 
petrified when they saw us, and remained in that con- 
dition until the train had passed. Chinese boys in 
padded winter dress that gave them the appearance 
of corpulent little elephants, ran wildly across fields 
to see the show, intimating meanwhile by shouts and 
gestures that they fully grasped the enormous signifi- 
cance of this great haul. Parents, with an historical 
prescience that did them credit, brought out their 
little children to gaze on the train-load of fallen white 
men passing by. 

And how shall I describe the way in which the 
Chinese regarded the Japanese? To borrow M. 



366 WITH THE COSSACKS 

Berard's fine comparison, they seemed to lock 
this victorious, kindred people, whom the infallible 
Occident had declared to be smitten by the same in- 
feriority as themselves, as Homeric soldiers might be 
supposed to look upon comrades who had all at once 
and without effort assumed the mighty casques and 
armour of those vast gods whose weight made the 
axle-trees of their chariots creak. 

Meanwhile the Russians talked of their capture just 
as if they had been captured by the Germans or the 
English or any other race of kindred. They failed to 
grasp the fact that the Germans and the English are 
their brethren, while, to all Europeans, the Japanese 
are as mysterious and incomprehensible as the inhabit- 
ants of Mars. They failed to see that they were 
prisoners of this strange and monstrous Asia, which, 
since the time ot Herodotus, Europe has constantly 
regarded with distrust and hatred, not unmixed with 
fear. They were captives to the vague, legendary 
Cipango. They failed to see the fact, clear as the sun in 
the heavens, that history had opened a new account, 
that the axis of the earth had shifted, that the Universe 
had entered on an entirely new phase. They were as 
little alive to the tremendous nature of the occasion as 
was Columbus's cabin-boy when the New World was 
first sighted. Not since the days of the Golden Horde, 
since the days when Russian princes had to kneel in 
person before the Khan of Serai, has Russia endured 
such a gigantic humiliation. No such disaster has be- 
fallen the White Race since the time of the Mongols. 
Adowa was nothing in comparison with it. No 
such disaster befell the Russians in the recent war. 
There were not many Chinese to see the shame of 



FROM LIAOYANG TO DALNY 367 

Port Arthur, while Ta-shih-chiao and Liaoyang were 
practically barren of captives. But the publicity of this 
dishonour may be gauged by the fact that for two 
months, according to the jubilant Japanese calculation, 
it would take a train like the one in which I travelled, 
running daily, to convey all the Russian captives 
through Manchuria to Dalny. By the end of that 
time the Manchurian peasant might well be excused 
for believing that the entire White Race was tilling 
the soil of Japan under the whip of the Japanese slave- 
driver. 

The shame was so flagrant, so glaring, that one felt 
reluctant to regard it, just as he would feel reluctant 
to regard the shame of a man dragged naked to prison 
in broad daylight through howling streets. One longed 
to shut his eyes. One wished for the darkness to come 
and hide the horror, for some natural catastrophe to 
take place and distract the universal attention. One 
wished to be small and beardless like a Japanese. One 
felt ashamed of being white, inasmuch as his white 
skin exposed him to some of the unspeakable reproach. 

It were nothing if the disgrace had been fictitious, 
temporary, but it was real and eternal. Some sixteen 
months before, General Wogack had told the statesmen 
of Peking that, if Japan dared to attack Russia, she 
would be crushed like a fly on the wheel of a war- 
chariot. During their sullen retirement from Liaotung 
and the Valu, the Russians had declared that they were 
only enticing the Japanese to their doom, and that 
very soon they would roll down like a tidal wave, not 
only on Port Arthur, but on Tokio. Yes, the Russians 
were now rolling swiftly towards Port Arthur and 
Tokio, but not exactly in the manner of a tidal wave. 



368 WITH THE COSSACKS 

The man who had borne the White Man's burden, 
to the easternmost limits of the Asiatic Continent, the 
lineal successors of Alexander, Crassus, and Heraclius 
in their revenge — Greek, Roman and Byzantine — on 
Asia, was now being borne along himself by some 
of the fluttered folk and wild whom he had come to 
civilise, while I, much to my astonishment, found my- 
self guarded by Japanese soldiers and figuring promi- 
nently as one of the new-caught, sullen peoples. 

We were an army of long-bearded patriarchs escorted 
by a handful of smiling, chubby-cheeked school-boys. 
Truly the Russians are a docile folk. If we had been 
all English or American captives, I am inclined to 
think that we should have made short work of the 
handful of Japs who were guarding us, and imme- 
diately afterwards have made tracks westward for the 
Liao river, only a day's march distant. But what did 
these poor Russians know of the Liao river or of 
Chinese neutrality ? As little as a sheep being led to 
the slaughter knows of the Habeas Corpus Act. 

We could now see of what enormous value to Japan 
were her three lines of communication, the line from 
the Yalu which Kuroki had opened up and in which 
Kawamura had worthily trod, the line from Dalny, and 
the line from Yinkow. Over the two last lines came 
an enormous quantity of supplies, not only by train 
but by road. This advantage alone would have been 
almost enough to secure the victory for Japan. 

It was war — or at least the memory of war and the 
preparations for war — all the way down to Dalny. 
Enormous stores of supplies at Liaoyang, Ta-shih- 
chiao and elsewhere along the line. Japanese 
soldiers at every station, Japanese soldiers convoying 



I 



FROM LI AO YANG TO DALNY 369 

transports, the Chinese seeming to exist only for the 
purpose of working on the railway or of driving 
waggons. 

What, I wonder, will these lads from Niigata and 
Kagoshima and Aomori think of the boasted white 
man when this war is over ? Forty years ago the 
white man was a mysterious being in Japan, an 
objectionable being perhaps, but one possessed of 
diabolical powers and therefore to be cultivated. The 
Japanese have pretty well analysed him now. Half a 
century ago the " black demon-ships " of the American 
Admiral Perry excited awe and terror as, spouting 
smoke, they steamed into Yedo Bay. Some Japanese 
who — like Admiral Togo — were boys of ten years 
old then, know a thing or two about these " black 
demon-ships " now. 

Later still, we find England bombarding Shimono- 
seki simply because Shimonoseki had not behaved 
with proper respect to white men, although these 
particular white men were not Britishers. In those 
days England believed in making common cause with 
her white brethren against the yellow race, and that 
feeling has scarcely died out yet among the English 
in Japan. Many of these people used, after the 
Japan-China War, to complain of the overbearing, 
I'm-as-good-as-you-are style of the Japanese officers, 
meaning that the white race was treated as if it were 
not superior to the yellow. What reputation is now 
left to the white race in Japan ? 

On went the train with its load of captives. Station 
after station it passed. As the names of some stations 
were cried out, the Russians raised their heads with 
the air of men who, in a foreign land, hear familiar 

2 A 




370 WITH THE COSSACKS 

words. They had heard the names of Russian defeats 
— Haicheng, Ta-shih-chiao, Telissu, Kinchow. 

It was midnight when we passed Ta-shih-chiao, with 
its long line of provision stores which Mishchenko's 
Cossacks might so easily have destroyed on the previous 
January. It was morning when we came to Telissu, with 
its broken bridges and overturned locomotives — the 
only relics of the great battle that remained. 

At Kinchow the Russian barracks still stood, also 
some huge, damaged Russian guns. Many of the 
prisoners left the train, but not to weep over these 
reminders of their lost dominion. It was only to get, 
for the purpose of making tea, some of the hot water 
which a Chinese coolie was distributing. But the 
Chinese coolie ordered them away with a threatening 
wave of a stick and insisted on serving the Japanese 
first. The Japanese looked on, laughing in the good- 
natured, self-complacent way in which one laughs at 
an imbecile. They laughed until their eyes looked 
like two oblique slits, at the big, uncouth, bearded 
babies waddling after them, meek, docile, dirty, utterly 
humiliated. 

At some distance apart, a well-groomed group of 
Japanese officers, station functionaries and doctors 
had collected, and were smiling in an affable and 
patronising way at the awful specimens of humanity 
that disfigured the landscape. Beside them orderlies 
held magnificent Russian horses, some of the wide- 
strewn spoils of Port Arthur. 

Dalny ! the name brought vividly to my mind the 
first visit which I paid to Liaotung, in September 
1903. I recalled the profound impression of Russian 
might the place made on me then. I recalled my 



FROM LIAOYANG TO DALNY 371 

first sight of that fine European town, the easternmost 
limits of a White Empire, of Europe, my first glimpse 
of the harbour fit to shelter navies, of the enormous 
piers built not for an age but for all time. 

This monument of Russian might was now an 
eternal monument of Japanese bravery. This fine 
European town was Japanese. This frontier post 
of Europe had ceased to be European. This harbour 
sheltered only Japanese ships. These piers echoed 
only to the triumphant clink of Japanese " geta." 

At Dairen I met three other correspondents who 
had been captured at other parts of the battle-field — 
M. Ludovic Naudeau, of the Journal (Paris), Mr. 
Richard Little, of the Chicago Daily News, and Baron 
Bilder von Kriegelstein, of the Berlin Lokalanzeiger. 






CHAPTER XVIII 

FROM DALNY TO JAPAN AS A PRISONER 
OF WAR 

The most interesting sea trip I ever made in my life 
was the trip from Dalny to Ujina, Japan, in the middle 
of last March. I went as a Japanese prisoner of war 
in a hospital ship, the Awa Maru, a fine little vessel, 
formerly on the Nippon Yusen Kaisha's European 
run, with a German captain in command of her, and, 
down in the engine-room, two canny Scotch engineers, 
who were making big pay but were mortally afraid 
that if they went hame to their ain countrie they would 
be promptly run into gaol under the " Foreign Enlist- 
ments Act." 

The number of wounded Japanese on board that 
boat was considerable, and the way in which the 
privates were accommodated in tier upon tier of 
shelves in the hold was marvellous and economical. 
Japan did wonderful things in the late war, but 
nothing more wonderful than the way in which she 
cut down expenses without sacrificing efficiency, pre- 
senting in this respect a great contrast to Russia, 
which, although comparatively a poor country, spent 
money with a lavishness which would make even 
wealthy nations like America or Great Britain stand 
aghast. 



FROM DALNY TO JAPAN 373 

Without paying anything for it, however, Japan 
derives from her geographical situation advantages 
which all the gold in the Russian treasury could not 
buy. The Russians brought their wounded by jolting 
carts to the railway, and such of them as survived 
that preliminary trial were brought by jolting trains to 
Chita, Verkhnyudinsk and Irkutsk, where they ran a 
good chance of dying from ennui in the monotonous 
Siberian plains, while the Japanese wounded could in 
a few days be transported from the battle-field to the 
loveliest islands in the world. 

The change from dusty Manchuria to the clean sea, 
the bright sky, the green islands, the snowy seagulls, 
the glad vinous air, the sunshine sparkling on the 
polished brasswork of Awa Maru, the snowy billows 
dancing before the prow, the white foaming water 
spouting continually from the condenser at the side, 
the sea churned into foam underneath the propeller, 
the deck as white and spotless as the snowy quarter- 
deck of a British warship, the clear-cut horizon, — this 
change was so great that I felt — well, I felt as if I had 
just drunk a deep draught of some rare wine. 

A narrow white fringe of crumpled water leaped 
before the bows and formed on each side an ample 
band of tossing creamy surf, running back, swift as a 
mill-race. Behind the screw the carded, torn water 
rushed away like the stream below a cataract. On 
every side stretched a glassy sea, glassy save where 
we cut through it, and there it effervesced, and one 
could see myriads of white air-bubbles dancing below 
the surface and showing distinctly against the deep 
blue. I spent hours listening in the intervals between 
the rhythmic beats of the calm, pulsating engine, to 



374 WITH THE COSSACKS 

the delicious fizz of the water, and watching the creamy 
foam that mantled on its surface, and the little, joyous, 
crested wavelets rushing back gracefully, like sea- 
nymphs, in feigned alarm from the rude touch of the 
keel. 

The first astounding thing we noticed once we got 
out of sight of land was that there was no dust ! Air 
— real air — without a solitary speck of dust ! Was it 
possible ? 

The four correspondents, who had passed a year in 
Central Manchuria, looked in one another's eyes 
amazed, and all asked the same question simul- 
taneously : M No dust ? " It was almost disquieting. 
It was as if some ever-present phenomenon, absolutely 
necessary in the economy of nature, were by some 
strange chance missing ; as if we had suddenly found 
ourselves in a sinless world. 

How came it that we could at last see the blue sky 
above us, the white fleecy clouds ? We seemed to be 
regarding nature through some wonderful optical instru- 
ment which heightened the colours, cleared the air, 
made all things marvellously and exuberantly distinct. 
For my own part, I felt as if I were looking again on 
the world of my childhood, that world which had all 
the glory and the unexpectedness of a new, brilliantly 
painted wooden horse, but which had, alas ! for such a 
long time past been common, grey, and stale. 

It is on occasions like this that one realises how 
much we owe to the sea. It makes nations clean, 
great, and adventurous. A single turn on the clean 
wind-swept deck of the Awa Maru, " fierce with the 
flavour of illimitable seas," is enough to show how this 
war was won, is better calculated than a cart-load of 



FROM DALNY TO JAPAN 375 

learned treatises to explain the predominance of the 
Anglo-Saxon. 

And to imagine that few of these Russian soldiers 
have ever before gazed upon the sea ! To-day ought 
to be a red-letter day in their lives, but, as a matter of 
fact, it isn't. Their minds have been too cramped by 
a long, vegetable-like existence in Siberia to be capable 
of solving at a glance the riddle of the Deep. As well 
expect a man who has never listened to music to appre- 
ciate Wagner at the first hearing. 

In their attitude toward the sea these soldiers belong 
to the ancient world, to the school of Horace and 
Dr. Samuel Johnson. The only things in the ship that 
seem to interest them are the mysterious orifices from 
which they can get hot water to make tea. 

There are on this ship two cabins superior to the 
others, and the Japanese have given both of them to 
the captured correspondents. The material comforts 
are beyond praise, and the consideration shown us 
makes us feel like princes. Really, it is not good for 
a war correspondent to get captured by the Japanese ! 
He is liable to imagine that he is a minister pleni- 
potentiary. He runs the risk of degenerating into a 
sybarite. 

When Nippon next draws the sword I should not, 
however, advise any newspaper correspondent to get 
captured by the Japanese if he can help it ; for Japan 
is on her good behaviour this time, and next time she 
can permit herself to indulge in the usual barbarities of 
Christian nations. 

When, in the red rays of the sinking sun, the bin- 
nacle flamed like a pillar of gold, a sudden revulsion of 
feeling seized me. Would I never more live with the 



376 WITH THE COSSACKS 

free wandering people of the Transbaikal? Was I 
back again in this artificial life from whose trammels 
I thought that I had for ever emancipated myself? 
Would I never again press the hand of Serge Ivano- 
vitch or Nicolai' Mikhailavitch, or give orders to my 
faithful Philipoff, or listen to the entrancing old Malo- 
russky melodies in the u Sobranie,' 5 or see the Cossacks 
dance the gay u Kazatchok " ? With a desire that 
was almost pain, I longed for the society of the rude 
friendly Cossacks, in whose sad superstitions and songs 
and mysticism there was so much to remind me of my 
own folk, the merry, melancholy Gael. I longed for 
old Mukden. I hated these snug berths with their 
immaculate linen. I pined for the sleep in the open 
air with the solemn moon overhead, the free wind of 
heaven blowing on my face, the large vague sounds 
of the night coming wafted gently like fairies' whispers 
o'er the dim swaying harvest fields, the tethered horses 
nosing around in the vicinity, sometimes tumbling 
awkwardly to the ground asleep, sometimes kicking 
and whinnying and raising an uproar fit to wake the 
whole "sotnia." I heard again the reassuring sound of 
the sentry's footsteps, I heard him calm the frightened 
horses with soft musical Slavonic sounds such as a 
mother might use to soothe a fretful babe. Again was 
I lulled to sleep by the gentle, continuous munching of 
my faithful pony " Sobersides." 

Neither the deep philosophy of M. Naudeau nor the 
sparkling wit of Dick Little sufficed to reconcile me to 
my sumptuous imprisonment, and, as late that night I 
sat on the deck of the Awa Marti while the foam- 
flecked sea rushed past like a flood in the calm radiance 
of the electric lights on board, I thought, with a heart 



I 



FROM DALNY TO JAPAN 377 

full of unutterable sadness, of the bivouac, the night 
alarm, the joyous ride with the Transbaikalians in the 
red of the morning, the creak of leather, the tinkle 
of steel, the clickety-clack of the horses' hoofs, and 
sorrowfully reflected that in all probability I would 
never see those days again, that never again would I 
gaze so close on the glorious face of danger. I felt 
that the leaden hand of peace had descended on me, 
that the most interesting chapter in my life had come 
to an end, that, like all picturesque and interesting 
things, the Cossacks were coming to an end too. 

After having tasted of the horror and the sublimity 
of war I was to return to the contemplation of — nay, 
more, unfortunately, to an active part in — that sordid, 
eternal squabble for pence which they call peace — a 
squabble in which there is no red cross, no quarter, 
no regard for age or sex, no truth, no dignity, not a 
single redeeming feature. 

Farewell, O Cossacks of the Transbaikal ! I shall 
always hear your melancholy songs resounding in the 
infinite immensities of Russia. I shall always hear the 
hoof-beats of your little ponies ringing in boundless 
waste places. But yourselves I shall never see again- 

It may seem a humiliating and unmanly confession 
to make, but I must confess that my anguish was such 
that, instead of going to bed like the good boitrgeois 
I now was, I sat for half the night on that cold 
deserted deck, weeping in secret, like a child. 

Our companions in the first-class are all wounded 
Japanese officers going home to places whose names 
sound like music — Omori, Arima, Oiso, Hanada, Nara, 
Tosa, Mito, Orio. They wear spotless white ''kimonos," 
with a small red cross on the shoulder, and they look 



378 WITH THE COSSACKS 

far better in them than they would in foreign dress 
while, on the other hand, the Russian wounded look 
in their "kimonos" like men in their night-shirts. Small, 
slender, beardless, gentle, young, moving noiselessly 
about in their "waraji" or straw sandals, they remind 
one of Franciscan nuns. Two years ago I would have 
laughed with contempt if you had told me that these 
men would hurl headlong from the city of Mukden an 
army of three hundred and fifty thousand Russians. 

To me, fresh from the Russian camp, everything 
about these Japanese officers is as striking as if they 
came from another planet, but two things especially 
strike me : one is their youth, the other is their 
gentleness. Accustomed for over a year to married, 
middle-aged Russian lieutenants and captains, I feel it 
odd to find myself among a shipful of officers most of 
them not over twenty-three years of age, and not one 
of whom is married. It is like being in a boys' school 
or in the warrant officers' mess on board a British gun- 
boat, say the Espiegle. Russia sent to this war her 
old, grey-bearded, grandfatherly reservists. Japan 
sent the cream of her manhood. The result is clear 
for all men to read. It is also, like everything else in 
the topsy-turvy world, paradoxical. The enthusiastic 
youth, with strong limbs and with a long life before 
him, throws that life away with a laugh ; the fretful, 
pessimistic grey head, with only a few sordid years to 
live, hugs his life as if it were valuable. 

The gentleness of the Japanese officers is hard to 
describe. In no other country is there such an officer. 
America, England, France, Germany, Russia, have all 
in their armies men of much the same type — but it is 
a type which is not found in Japan. Some drink more 




FROM DALNY TO JAPAN 379 

than others, but all of them drink. Some are gayer 
than others, but all of them are gay. It is only a 
question of degree. 

A timid, girlish youth who enters the British or 
American army soon changes his character or leaves 
the army. An ocean of tradition, old as Julius Caesar, 
sweeps away either him or else his little sand-heap of 
principle or prejudice. Missionaries and strict parents 
may deplore this state of things, but men of the world 
recognise that ample allowance must be made for the 
overflowing vitality required in one who embraces the 
military profession. Gordon may be enshrined in the 
British Nonconformist heart, and even military men 
may like him, now that he is dead ; but the language 
British officers use about living comrades of the 
Gordon type is not fit for publication. 

You cannot both eat your cake and have it. If you 
want an army you must nerve yourself to stand a lot. 
You cannot expect it to be a Sunday-school. Old- 
fashioned parents sometimes imagine that they can 
find for their little Francis Xavier a holy regiment. 
They can never find it. They could not have found it 
among the Crusaders or in the Papal Guards. It does 
not exist. It never existed. It is a contradiction in 
terms. 

In the Japanese army, however, there seems to be 
no tradition of boisterousness. I noticed this during 
my residence in Japan ; I noticed it in Manchuria ; 
and now again I noticed it on the Awa Maru. It 
would almost seem as if the Japanese army borrowed 
asceticism from their enemies the Jesuits, even as the 
Jesuits borrowed some points in their organisation 
from the army. 



380 WITH THE COSSACKS 

If the Azva Maru had been a Russian boat you 
could not have heard yourself speaking for the noise in 
the dining saloon. Orderlies in top boots would be 
tumbling over one another in their haste to execute 
the orders of their respective masters. Cold ham, 
novels by Danchenko, spilt beer, the Novoe Vremya, 
smashed match-boxes, somebody's revolver (loaded), 
a number of cigar ends, a half empty box of cigarettes, 
and a bottle of vodka, would be inextricably mixed 
together on the table. 

But the dining-room of the Awa Maru is like a 
Trappist refectory. White-robed figures glide in, eat 
sparingly of the simplest Japanese food, converse in 
subdued tones and then glide out again. It is not 
that they are in a low state of health, for all belong to 
the " slightly wounded " class, the greater number of 
them suffering from simple bullet wounds in the arms 
or legs. It is the Japanese custom. 

After dinner some of them play the game of "go," 
while one, with some musical pretensions, gently 
murders various simple European melodies on the 
piano, always winding up with the " Kee Mee Gai 
Yo," the national hymn of Japan. 

They are extraordinarily clean. As they go bare- 
footed, save for their sandals, one can see that their 
toe nails have evidently been washed and polished and 
pared as thoroughly as a fashionable lady's finger 
nails. 

Their teeth are so white and their mouths so well 
washed that one is inclined to believe that their saliva 
consists exclusively of soap suds. Their only draw- 
back is their high Mongolian cheek-bones and their 
wide nostrils. It is a trifling drawback, but Japan 






FROM DALNY TO JAPAN 381 

must still spill oceans of blood before Europe consents 
to overlook it completely. 

Some of them are, however, of almost perfect 
European type, straight eyes, unobtrusive cheek- 
bones and small nostrils. I told a young lieutenant, 
answering to this description, that he was descended 
from the Portuguese who settled in Kyushu in the 
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, but he did not 
appear to be flattered. No Japanese is complimented 
by being told that he has foreign blood in his veins. 
Nevertheless, in the case of this young man, I was 
probably right in my surmise, for he came from 
Kumamoto, a great missionary centre of the Portu- 
guese, and he looked more like an Iberian than a 
Japanese. 

During this trip I was brought into closer relations 
with the Japanese officers than ever I was before, and 
I must say that I found them very pleasant companions. 
Their courtesy and their clear pronunciation of their 
own beautiful language were delightful, while their 
English was quaint, with an unspeakable charm. Nor 
were they suspicious. They told me everything they 
knew about the disposition of their forces ; but the 
Japanese War Office need not be alarmed, as, in the 
first place, they did not know much, and in the second, 
I have not communicated what they told me to any- 
body. 

And here I may remark that, as a rule, the young 
Japanese officer is as civil and unsuspicious as any 
young English middy. During this war he was, how- 
ever, under the influence of the stern men who were 
born under the rule of the Shogun and fed in their 
early days on the iron traditions of the Samarai ; but 



382 WITH THE COSSACKS 

it is, in the nature of things, impossible that this 
stoicism can last much longer. I could, if I liked, 
give many instances of its breakdown. 

In these days of commercialism, when many of us 
have become cosmopolitans and few of us are dis- 
interested patriots, the little Jap officer can teach us a 
good lesson. He gets at first only thirty-three yen 
fifty sen (or about £$ IOS -) a month, and his salary, 
even when he has attained high rank in the army, 
would be scornfully laughed at by the average foreign 
clerk in Yokohama. With him, therefore, money is 
as little an object as it is with a Carthusian novice. 

He devotes his life to an ideal — the glory of Dai- 
Nippon — and if, philosophically considered, it is not a 
very high ideal, it is surely better than none at all. 
It is a great privilege in these decadent days to be 
able to die for something. 

The conversation of these young men was as original 
and piquant as the first taste of an excellent strange 
wine or the first perusal of an interesting foreign author. 
I shall select some examples of their small talk : 

" Russky no Heitai-wa wari-wari no teketoshite-wa 
amari yohaee." 

" The Russian soldier is not worthy to be our 
enemy, because he is too timid. ,, 

#Jt- JA. M. M. 

TV" TV TV" TV* 

"When come Russky prisoner, then I feed poor 
man (aware-nashto) ; I give whisky, b(u)randy, cake 
and milk. Prisoner not enemy. . . . Yes, I catch 
Russky prisoner, many I catch" (" watakshi-wa horio 
wo takusan toriimashta "). 

The above, by the way, from a young fellow of 






FROM DALNY TO JAPAN 383 

twenty-one, with a face so mild that you would think 
butter would not melt in his mouth. 

# # # # # 

A phrase, often repeated during the latter end of 
this trip, was " Nippon-wa chikai desu " (" Japan is 
near "). 

# # # # # 

A youth, whom I congratulated on his luck in 
getting home, responded seriously : — " I am not glad 
to return to my native country because the war is not 
finished, and, when my wound is healed, I shall again 
return to Manchuria." 

# # # # # 

It was surprising the unanimity of opinion they 
showed with regard to their enemies. The Russian 
soldiers were good, the officers not good, the generals 
bad. 

It was also surprising how unanimous they were in 
thinking that Kuropatkin ought to commit suicide 
sooner than accept a subordinate command. 

TT W TV" "A- -7V" 

" I have a bottle of whisky for when my courage is 
gone ; severe attack of enemy, long, long march down 
the hills, along the valley, then whisky very grateful." 

# # * # # 

"Watashi-wa Tokio-no Rikogun dai gakko ko ni 
hairimai sosh'te sambo shoko ni narimasho." 

("I will re-enter military college, Tokio, and from 
that school will become staff officer.") 

^ W ^ W T& 

One officer admitted that the Russians were braver 
than the Chinese — an admission which reminded me 
that, just before the outbreak of the war, Russian 



384 WITH THE COSSACKS 

privates at Port Arthur used to admit that the little 
Jap would give them more trouble, perhaps, than the 
Chinaman. 

# • # # # 

It is significant of the very different spirit with 
which the Japanese and the Russians entered on this 
war that an intensely poetic, imaginative and musical 
people like the latter have no songs about the conflict 
save one very long and very dull ballad written by an 
Orenburg Cossack ; while the Japanese, a materialistic 
people without music, have produced a considerable 
number of rousing war songs. Many of these songs 
are written to European and American airs, but the 
style is typically Japanese — that is, the hearer is 
generally left to guess at the meaning, for even Kipling 
himself is not as cryptic sometimes as a Japanese 
ballad-maker. One song, a great favourite among the 
soldiers, goes to the air of" Marching through Georgia." 
The chorus runs like this : — 

Heerah ! heerah ! to goon kan kee ! 
Heerah ! heerah ! to nisho kee ! 
Itsu tzu no chayenju fu setsu ritzu shee 
Kai beewo genishay you ya ! 

A rough and ready translation of the above would be : 

Hurrah ! hurrah ! for our sun-burst flag ! 
Hurrah ! hurrah ! for our rising sun flag ! 
Five naval camps have been formed ! 
Five impregnable war-ports are ready. 

Another, beginning "Ana uray-shee yoriko-bashi," 
may be translated as follows : 

O ! gladly, gladly, I welcome the battle ! 

We are victorious ! 

Many foemen fell before us ! 



FROM DALNY TO JAPAN 385 

All the enemy are gone. 

Glorious, glorious, this victory for my country, for my 

Emperor ! 
Happy any of us whom death awaits ! 

Chorus. 

Fight for country ! Fight for Emperor ! 

Mother said to me, " Be patriotic ! " 

Joyful will my father be to hear of this great day. 

Homeward, full of honours, shall we finally return. 

The happy day of meeting with our parents is not far. 

These songs indicate that the Japanese are coming 
into line with the rest of the nations. In fact, they 
are now introducing regimental singing and shouting 
after the Russian fashion. The officers are even 
beginning to drink Scotch whisky. Like all novices, 
they dislike it, but the time will come when they cannot 
do without it. I have, therefore, said a good deal 
about them as they now are, because in their next war 
they will have lost all the charm of originality which 
they now possess. 

As we watched the sea one day we saw a whale 
spouting, and the Japanese officers described to me 
with great vivacity the way the fishermen capture 
whales at a certain island called Oshima, not far from 
Kobe. The animal is first lured into shallow water, 
and made fast. Then follows a scene the description 
of which reminded me of gory Bacchanalian rites. 
All the people of the village swarm round the great 
helpless beast, and, while it is still alive, make huge 
wounds in it, into which bloody openings naked men 
plunge bodily, emerging again covered from head to 
foot with blood, and evidently intoxicated by the 
experience, for they shout and dance like madmen and 

2 B 



386 WITH THE COSSACKS 

slash the still quivering body with their knives. The 
Japanese seemed to revel in these horrible details; 
but I, on the contrary, rather sympathised with the poor 
whale, just as I had sympathised with Russia while that 
gigantic and unwieldy Empire was receiving stab after 
stab from these fanatical little islanders. To make 
the parallel more exact, the Japanese had often during 
the great heats of the previous summer charged the 
Russian positions in a state of total nudity. At 
Haicheng, hundreds of them had fallen before a strong 
Russian position on which they had rushed with no 
clothing save rifles, bayonets, a belt for carrying cart- 
ridges, and a cap to protect their eyes from the sun. 
The pile of naked corpses which lay in front of that 
Russian trench reminded me of a mediaeval battle-field 
after the corpse-strippers had done their work. 

Japan ! Japan ! Seventh Great Power ! Enfant 
mystdrieux of the world ! The keel of the Awa Maru 
cuts at last through the deep narrow seas which inter- 
vene between the innumerable, green, tumbled, rocky 
islands, amid the gnarled pines on whose slopes and 
summits is bred this extraordinary race of soldiers. 
We are now in the lion's mouth. We have entered 
the one country in the world where the white man has 
not prevailed. 

We are now among those ultimate, mysterious 
islands wherein the forlorn hope of Asia is fashioning 
its thunderbolts. And what a beautiful land it has 
chosen for that deadly work ! How lovely are these 
volcanic peaks emerging from the most profound 
abysses of Ocean ! The Japanese do not believe in 
Adam's sin, and I do not blame them for their disbelief, 
for theirs is the world before the Fall. I can well believe 



FROM DALNY TO JAPAN 387 

their legends which say that these beauteous isles were 
born of the gods, and grew up, little by little, like 
children. 

After the cataclysmal happenings I had seen during 
the preceding year I expected to find Japan unrecog 
nisable ; but, in sooth, nothing had changed outwardly. 
The little fishers' huts were there still, and the broad 
semicircle of lights on our lee showed that the fisher- 
man was still pursuing his toilsome occupation in the 
night. 

And when we went inland we thought, at first sight, 
that everything was much the same as usual. The 
despatch of half a million men to Manchuria did not 
seem to have caused any sensible decrease in the male 
population. 

It was a novel sensation to be taken through Japan at 
this juncture as a prisoner of war, but it was not alto- 
gether a disagreeable sensation, as one was compen- 
sated for his loss of liberty and for the undesirable 
attention which he excited by the conviction that he was 
assisting at the birth of great events. There was an 
electric feeling in the air around him, for though out- 
wardly all was the same, a new soul had entered into 
Kami-no-kuni, the Land of the Gods. 1 1 was like passing 
through England at the time of the Spanish Armada, 
during the breathless pause before Trafalgar. Verily 
those were spacious days in Dai-Nippon ! 

The destruction of the Russian power in Eastern Asia 
has had the same effect on the yellow races as the fall 
of Napoleon had on the white, as the collapse of the 
Roman Empire had on the Europe of the time. It is 
the overthrow of invincibility. 

The conveyance of the Russian troops through 



388 WITH THE COSSACKS 

China as prisoners of war is only comparable to the 
carrying into captivity by the northern barbarians of 
the generals and senators of Imperial Rome. All along 
the China coast Russia's disgrace was advertised by 
smashed ships, broken soldiers, and penniless refugees. 

Hitherto the white man has been, in Japan, the 
Sensei, the master, at whose feet the little Jap sat for 
thirty years, and whose very shadow must be respected. 
But, while the war with Russia lasted, Young Japan 
regarded with a rather irreverent smile the spectacle of 
the white master being carted through the country 
wholesale, and with no more respect than a trainful of 
returned empties. 

When foreigners first came under Japanese jurisdic- 
tion, Europeans in treaty ports used sometimes to 
write indignant letters to the local papers, pointing out 
that they had seen with their own eyes drunken British 
or American men-o'-war's men marched through the 
street by " native " policemen, their arms screwed 
behind their backs, and on their faces a consequent 
expression of anguish calculated to lower the prestige 
of the white race in the eyes of the Japanese. 

I noticed that in 1905 these indignant scribes were 
dumb. Some of them had, I suppose, died of apoplexy, 
induced by the sights they saw that year. 

To one who could recognise the greatness of the 
recent crisis in Japanese history there sometimes seemed 
to be lacking in the Japanese people a proper apprecia- 
tion of that crisis. There was a certain amount of 
phlegmaticism ; there was an absence of appropriate 
external display. It was as if you gave a cabman a tip 
of twenty pounds and he pocketed it with an expres- 
sionless face. But perhaps the same might be said of 






FROM DALNY TO JAPAN 389 

all the great events (with the possible exception of the 
Deluge) that have taken place since the world began — 
of the passage of the Rubicon, of the miracles of Christ, 
of the fall of Rome. 

Many Japanese gathered at the railway-stations to 
see us pass, but a greater number preferred to continue 
at their ordinary avocations in field or shop. 

Those who came to see us were silent, but on their 
faces I fancied I could detect a strange, half-amused, 
half-pitying expression, such as one might expect to 
see on the faces of good-natured gentlefolk watching 
the gyrations of a lord mayor in liquor, a man on his 
honeymoon, or a person guilty of any other pardonable 
weakness. 

This journey through Japan made Japan's victory 
seem to us all the more wonderful. Our train load of 
hairy giants, with voices like thunder, gazed with bulg- 
ing eyes at those frail, delicate, fairy-like people, and 
asked themselves, " Are these the folk who gave us 
that awful beating ? " 

Slender women passed with little black-eyed dolls of 
children clad in rainbow-coloured garments. On the 
platforms variegated infants tottered towards happy 
chubby-cheeked mothers not much older apparently 
than themselves. In ten years more some of these 
children will be Japanese officers. 

A youth in a " kimono " and with a startling extent of 
bare leg sauntered home from the village bath, singing 
like a lark. In a month's time, I said to myself, that 
youth may be one of the iron legionaries of Nogi. 
Gentle girls with eyes turned up towards the temples, 
looked at us with infinite sadness. A young man 
passed by, carrying in his arms, without the slightest 






390 WITH THE COSSACKS 

trace of self-consciousness, his own tiny baby; and the 
Russians did not know whether to wonder most at so 
boyish a person being a father or at so small a baby 
being capable of independent existence. 

Often we passed southward-bound trains of soldiers, 
trains of ammunition, trains full of horses. The 
soldiers were young, hardy, filled with youthful enthu- 
siasm ; the stations were gaily decorated in their honour 
with Rising Sun flags and lanterns, and crowded with 
friends come to see them off. 

Afar, on the hillsides, we could see new troops 
drilling, advancing cautiously against an imaginary 
enemy, carrying off " wounded," going through all 
sorts of military evolutions with the zest of born 
soldiers, and at the same time with the solemnity of 
priests engaged in some solemn rite. Imperial Guards- 
men pranced about like fierce dolls on horseback. 
Formerly I used to laugh at them when they came 
a cropper. On this occasion I didn't. Groups of 
demure " nesan," groups of bare-legged boys with 
children on their backs watched them seriously. 

A very young soldier with a very new uniform, 
made of fine cloth and evidently by a good tailor, also 
with a painfully new sword attached to his person by 
straps and buckles that seemed to have come out of the 
harness-maker's hands only the day before, came into 
our carriage, followed at a respectful distance by his old 
father, who had probably come to see his son off to 
the wars, and who, after the lapse of an hour or two, 
offered him rice, lighted his cigarette and attended on 
him generally as if he were a god. So might the 
father of Marcus Curtius have treated his son before 
his departure for that yawning chasm in the forum ; 



FROM DALNY TO JAPAN 39t 

and such a reversal of the relations usually existing 
between parents and their children would be no less 
remarkable in ancient Rome than it is in modern 
Japan. 

All the officers who from time to time accompanied 
us as ordinary passengers had been wounded, most of 
them in that Place of Death, Port Arthur. Every one 
of the young soldiers who mounted guard over us in 
the little Japanese house wherein we were confined at 
Shizuoka had been wounded in Manchuria, some of 
them repeatedly wounded ; but all were intensely 
anxious to start again for the front. 

One brisk young fellow, who had got permission to 
go, was as envied by his comrades as a schoolboy who 
gets home before the holidays. He came to me in 
my picturesque little lath-and-paper prison to bid me 
goodbye, and I remember that he was accompanied 
by a bright-eyed companion somewhat older than 
himself, with whom he was on such terms of joyful 
intimacy that I thought they were merely "pals." 

But the companion turned out to be his father ! 
11 Isn't he young? " said the son to me later on, looking 
after the retiring form of his parent, his eyes glistening 
with filial pride and affection. 

In this extraordinarily strong desire of the private 
to get to the front lay the secret of Japan's success. 
The meanest soldiers and coolies in her army were mad 
to win, while the Russians were generally indifferent. 
But it would, of course, be a mistake to suppose that 
in this respect the Japanese are unequalled in the 
history of the world. The conscripts of Montmirail, 
the Americans who fought at Bunker Hill, the British 
tars of Nelson, the Germans of 1870, were all quite as 



392 WITH THE COSSACKS 

fanatic and probably more capable than the Japanese 
soldier of to-day. But it is too much to expect that 
the French, British, Americans or Germans will dis- 
play, in defence of their respective possessions in the 
Far East, the same fanaticism as they displayed in 
fighting for their national existence and their homes. 
So far as I can see, therefore, the Japanese are bound 
to have it all their own way in the Far East for a 
long time to come. But I question whether, at the 
apex of their prosperity, they will enjoy anything like 
the national happiness which is theirs to-day. Success 
will bring satiety. Knowledge will bring disillusion- 
ment. They will learn, alas ! that Matsuhito is the 
last Mikado who is divine. Time and wealth and 
factory servitude, the great corroders of all martial 
virtue, will gradually take the fine edge from off 
their valour. 



GL 



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