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The capture of Kin-chow  Nov 6-7

and Talienwan ( Port Arthur) Nov 21, 1894

 

 

 

a company of Japanese mountain artillery in action around Port Authur

 

Port Arthur, or Lii-shun-kou, as it is called by the Chinese, is not only very strongly defended by sea and land, but its approaches offer such natural ad- vantages that, properly defended, they are almost impregnable. The prosperity of the town began with the determination of the authorities in 1881 to establish a naval dockyard at the port. At first the work was entrusted to native contractors, who however proved to be quite incapable of carrying out so extended an undertaking, and in 1887 a French company took up the contract, completing the work in three years. The port then boasted of a large basin with a depth of wenty-five feet at low water. Spacious wharves and quays bordered this basin, and were connected with the workshops by a railroad. Two dry-docks were built ready for repairing ships of all sizes, from ironclads to torpedo vessels. Foundries and workshops were constructed on the most improved models, and conaining the best modern machinery. The fact that the harbor was always free from ice, even in the coldest of winter, added to its value. By the time of the beginning of the war, the number of houses had multiplied until they were able to contain a popuation of about six thousand, exclusive of the garrison. There were also two large temples, two theatres, and several banks, besides the necessary stores and warehouses. The southern part of Sheng-cliing, one of the three Manchurian provinces, juts out into the sea, forming at its extremity an elongated peninsula with a very narrow isthmus called the Regent s Sword. Port Arthur is at the extremity of this peninsula, and the neck or isthmus is defended by the fortified city of Chin-chow and by the forts of Ta-lien Bay, the anchorage of the Chinese fleet. In their march to Port Arthur the Japanese were obliged to attack Chin-chow, but when they had captured that city and the forts of Ta-lien Bav, not onlv was the road to Port Arthur open, but they held its defenders closed in a bag. It was decided to attack that place on the 6th of November.

 

The forts defending Poet Artur were armed with heavy Krupp guns, and the artillery men were especially trained by a German officer.Within the defenses there were all of the most recent scientific appliances, electric search lights, torpedo factories, etc., and the forts were connected by telephone

 

The Gate of Kin-chou (Yinkou) after Japanese capture

On the 4th Major met a small body of Chinese at Liu-chia-tun (Liu- house Village) that were easily dispersed. This was the first engagement of the Second Army after its landing in China. Major Sai to was followed by the first division, which left Pi-tzu-wo on the 3rd o November, under General Yamaji, its van, composed of a regiment of infantry, a troop of cavalry and a company of mountain artillery, was commanded by Major-General Nogi, and its rear was under Major- General Nishi.

Chinese dead outside Chin-chow

To understand the operations against Chin-chow it is necessary to bear in mind the configuration of southern Sheng-king. The promotory, as it advances into the sea, narrows until at the south of Chin-chow the land is only about two miles broad. Therefore the two roads which run along the coasts gradually approach each other and join at Chin-chow. This town can be approached by two main roads, one from Hua-yiian-kon and Pi-tzu-wo, and the other from Fuchow and Pu-lan-tien (Port Adams). When the Japanese approached Chin-chow, it was not diflficult for them to pass from one road to the other and employ their usual tactics of disconcerting the simple- minded Chinese by a double attack.

Chinese prioners taken at Chin-chow

On the 4th Major Saito sent his company of cavalry m the Fuchow road to cut the telegraph-line : a messenger was also captured bearing despatches from Port Arthur to Fuchow announcing the approach of the Japanese. This Chinese prisoner attempted to kill himself by dashing out his brains against the stones. Major Saito, admiring his courage, informed him that the Japanese never killed their prisoners,, and asked if he had a father and mother. The Chinaman was moved at these words, and answered that he had a mother who was praying day and night for his return.

 

On the 5th of November the Japanese came upon the first defences of the Chinese ; these consisted of two forts built on hills flanking the road, and each mounted with four guns.During this attack there was a curious episode. Major Tseiji had advanced at first to the gate, but finding it coul dnot be stormed he retired about 120 yards, when he remarked on the ground a cross- 30 feet long. Not liking the suspicious marks he advanced again, and, the gate having been blown up, entered the city. Afterwards the engineers dug up the place and found a mine which by its explosion might have killed nearly 100 men if the officer had not withdrawn in time. The Chinese put great faith in such contrivances, which require great labour and waste of powder, and seldom produce any effect. At  the taking of Feng-Huang-cheng the Japanese had a mine exploded right in front of them, but which only killed a luckless dog.

 

The Tiger Tail with Chinese Navy base in Port Arthut (Lushun)

The Japanese pursued and killed some of the Chinese, who, in their hurry to escape, even threw themselves from the walls. But the fighting around Chin-chow on the 5th and 6th of November was very tame, as the Japanese had no killed, and only a few wounded. They remark themselves that it was an event unparalleled in military history, but it was surpassed by the events of the next day. After the capture of Chin-chow the next object of attack was Ta-lien Bay, the anchorage of the Chinese navy, whose land forts protected the narrow isthmus of the Regent's Sword peninsula. As this place was considered next in importance to Port Arthur and Wei-hei-Wei, the Japanese made elaborate preparations for an attack on the morning of the Tth of November. Three detachments, each, consisting of a regiment of infantry, besides cavalry and artillery, were to advance on the various forts. The soldiers, in high spirits after their victory, swore they wouldd take the forts,

Map of Port Arthur

The bay  was defended by many armstrong and Krupp guns which can fire across the harbour and protect the land forts. The guns mounted on these forts were numerous, Even if we admit that the Chinese camps, as is usually the case, did not contain their full complement of men, still there must have been about 10,000 men in the place, a force fully adequate for a stubborn' resistance. General Yamaji expected it, and talking with an officer, while marching to Port ilVrthur, he calculated losing over a thousand men before taking this formidable fortress, which Admiral Courbet con- sidered could hold out a long time against a strong fleet and an army of 20,000 men. The attack was fixed for the morning of the 21st of November, but the heavy siege guns did not arrive till the night from the 20th to the 21st; they had been dragged over the difficult mountain roads by the transport coolies, who, in their patriotic ardour, worked incessantly for two days and nights to bringthe artillery. General Yamaji naturally relied very much on his siege-train for the success of the assault which he meditated for next morning : the �attack on Chin-chow had shown him that a heavy preliminary cannonade soon demoralised the Chinese, and rendered an assault possible. He intended to concentrate on Port Arthur the fire of thirty-six siege guns and sixty-four field-pieces : the assault was to he delivered

fort defending Port Arthur

The division was to take first the three forts on I-tzu-shan (Chair Hill), and then the one on Sung-shu-shan (Pine-tree Hill) ; the Mixed Brigade 'was to wait for the capture of these forts, and then attack the seven forts on Erh-lung-shan (Two Dragon Hill) and Chi-huan-shan (C*ock's-comb Hill) ; the left column, which had marched to Port Arthur by another route, was to make a demonstration to the north- east of the line of forts and divert the attention of the Chinese from the main attack, which was to be delivered at the opposite extremity of the land defences. These directions were thought sufficient for the day, but the attack proceeded with such rapid success that the programme was exhausted a little after noon, and it had to be extended during the battle.

 

The Japanese marched to take up their positions at midnight, and at 2 a.m. all was ready for the attack. Before daybreak, siege, field and mountain guns opened fire, arousing the Cinese from their slumbers : on the I-tzu forts alone forty guns were pointed and fired incessantly. These forts answered vigorously and were assisted by Sung-shu-shan (Pine-tree Hill) and Huang-chin-slian (Golden Hill) forts, the latter also employing the heavy coast guns, which could be pointed in every direction. After about an hour, the guns on I-tzu-shan (Chair Hill) were silenced, and the Japanese infantry, which had taken up its position to the west of that hill, rushed to the assault. Major Marui, who had been driven back by the Chinese at Tu-cheng-tzii (Mud Town), burned to revenge this disgrace, and with his battalion he rushed into the first fort, killing or driving out the garrison.

Meantime the Japanese were getting to work all along the line. Each battery had a telescope fixed to bear on the desired target, hough the dense morning mist and the thick clouds of smoke frequently made it quite impossible to see for a time. It was easy enough to tell that the Japanese had got the reins from the very

A Japanese squadron made up of  the Matsusima, Chiyoda, Itsukusima, Hasidate, Yoshino, Naniwa, Akitsushima, Takachiho, Fuso, Hiyei, and Kongo also bombarded Port Arthur

. The opening shot of the day, which all watched with intense interest, had struck within five yards short of a Krupp gun in the nearest of the three forts. The closeness of this shot, in semi-darkness, at an unknown range estimated to be one thousand yards, was a fair indication of what followed. One by one the Chinese guns ceased fire towards eight o'clock, and suddenly a great shouting came across the valley from the fort. The Japanese infantry were singing a march song as they charged the orts, and in a few minutes a huge cheer ran all along the line over the hilltops and In the valleys where the rest of the Japanese were, and great cries of " Kot-ta � Victory ! " The Chinese emptied their guns and small arms as the Japanese swarmed up on three sides, firing every few yards and then rushing forward. The enemy, not numerous enough for hand to-hand combat, waited no longer but fled over the edge of the hill, down to the fortified camps before the town', and the Table Mountain forts displayed the flag of the Rising Sun.

 

The Japanese lost eighty killed and wounded in this assault. The capture of I-tzu-shan (Chair Hill) fort, which was effected at 8 a.m., so scared the Chinese in An-tzti-shan (Table Hill) and Wang-tai (Hope Terrace) forts, that they all fled, but were met by General Nogi, who, with a regiment, was advancing to the parade-ground between I-tzu-shan and Sung-shu-shan. Man-tou-shan (Bread Hill) fort began firing shells to assist them, but the fugitives were all dispersed ; and as they tried to escape north, after running along the side of the harbour, they were shelled by the Japanese men-of-war, which were cruising to the west of the Port Arthur peninsula. Tlie poor hunted Chinese were oWiged to take refuge on the rocks of Lao-tieh-shau (Old Iron Hill). Now the field guns were brought up to attack the Sung-shu-shan (Pine-tree Hill) fort, but the Chinese were so disheartened, that a few rounds of shell sufficed to put them to flight. The capture of I-tzu- shan forts, from their elevation, and position slightly behind the line of defence, enabled the Japanese to fire down on the rear of the other forts. When General Yamagi, who has a very grim, saturnine expression, saw the fall of the Sung-shu-shan (Pine-tree Hill) fort, ke smiled, and the circumstance was thought so ex- traordinary that an otticer at once communicated the itiformation that he had seen liis General smile. The Sung-shu-shan fort was taken at 11 A.M. The Mixed Brigade had the haideat fighting of the (lay. Great part of it� force had been detached to the Left Column, so that it was reduced to a single regiment ; moreover, as there were no field-pieces on that side, and the siege guns were too far, only mountain guns couldbrought to play on the forts which it was their object to attack.

The attacking force was composed of the 3rd battalion against the Chi-huan-shan (Cock's-comb Hill) forts, and the 2nd battalion against the Erk- lung-shan (Two Dragon Hill) forts, as these troops were not found sufficient. Three companies of the 1st battalion were sent to reinforce them. The Japanese advanced under such a heavy fire that they had to take refuge in a small hamlet, and then after- wards in a spot where the guns could not fire, and which was too far for the enemy's rifles. For a time, before Sung-shu-shan fell, they were exposed to a double flank fire from that fort and those on Chi- huan-shan. It was resolved then to take the latter first, and at 11.30 a.m. the 3rd battalion took the Chi-huan-shan (Cock's-comb Hill) forts. At 12.30 the 2nd battalion took the Erh-lung-shan (Two Dragon Hill) fort, and the whole land defences of Port Arthur had fallen.

There are two dramatic episodes connected with this attack of the Mixed Brigade. Major Hanaoka was mortally wounded, but still he rushed up to the fort shouting, " Long live the Emperor ! Long live our flag ! " When afterwards taken to the hospital, and asked if he had any parting words to say, he replied : he died for his country, and begged his mother to take care of herself, and his children to study. Asked if he had any words for his soldiers, he answered : his good wishes. The officers around his death-bed com- forted him by saying that he had earned eternal glory in taking such a strong fort ; but he replied, ' What have I to do now with the glory of this world ? " The bystanders then mournfully said what a pity he can- not see Pekin ! This last observation sounds strange those who do not know the wild enthusiasm in the Japanese army to enter the great capital of China.

Kani, the captain of one of the companies detached attack the Erh-lung-shan (Two Dragon Hill) forts, lad long been suffering from dysentery, but on the day of the assault he overcame his weakness and marched at the head of his men ; but when within 100 yards of the fort, he broke down, and had to lie on the ground, while his men rushed on. Taken to the hospital, he never could forgive his weakness, and on the morning of the 28 th of November (a week after the battle) he escaped from the hospital, went to the spot where he had succumbed, and killed himself with his sword.

The 2nd Regiment wl had not yet been engaged, was oideied to att Huang-chin-sban (Golden Hill) fort, which was principal coast fort, and had rendered import assistance to the defence during the morning. ' Japanese passed through the streets of the town Port Arthur, and charged up the hill, taking the i without much difficulty. There still remained forts on the Tiger's Tail, and the other's on the opposite side of the entrance of the harbour, the Chinese abandoned them and fled during the night, it may said that the formidable fortress of Port Arthur taken in a single day. This wonderful result was owing to the fundamental error of the Chinese, wlio consider that war consists in preparing a vast amount of first-class war material, regaixlless whether the soldiers that are to use it are a mere undisciplined rabble enlisted on the spur of the moment. The Chinese fired their guns willingly, but did not employ much infantry fire ; ^and when they used their rifles it must have been at v-ery long range, judging from the small proportion killed to wounded among the Japanese troops. By the fall of Port Arthur the Japanese were in ion of the best dockyard in the Far East,

Japanese in Port Artur

But the Japanese did not allow their enthusiasm to interfere with business. On the 26th of November a telegram from Hiroshima (the imperial head- quarters) announced, with Spartan terseness, that the naval base of operations was transferred to Port Arthur. It was the epitaph of the Chinese stronghold, which had cost so many millions and years of labour to Viceroy Li-Hung-Chang. The Regent s Sword peninsula was for administra- tive purposes divided into two districts, and Japanese officials appointed. On the 1st of December, Marshal Oyama transferred his headquarters to Chin-chow. The Japanese fleet had prepared to take part in the operation, hoping that the Chinese admiral. Ting, would strike a blow in defence of Port Arthur ; but though Admiral Ito on the 11 th of November, with a squadron of twelve vessels and six torpedo-boats, tried to tempt him out of Wei-hai-wei, Ting wisely declined to risk his remaining fleet.

Port Arthur Massacre

Japanese coolies removing Chinese dead

Afte the Chinese had mutilated several Japanese bodies and displayed them at the entrance of the city, this infuriated the JapaneseThe massacacre of the remaining population of Port Arthur, between two and three thousand, without distinction of age or sex, and that by the soldiers of Marshal Oyama's army, for a time passed practically without mention in the newspapers of England and the United States. Three of the famous correspondents who entered the town with the Japanese army were Creelman of the New York Worldy Villiers of the London Standard^ and Cowan of the Lon- don Times. The first detailed description of the atrocities wit- nessed by these correspondents was that made by Creelman, and for a time after his story was published, other leading American jour- nals denounced it as false. One month later it was found that Creelman's shocking story was true in every essential particular.

This report if from western observer:When the Japanese army entered Port Arthur on the 21st, beginning a little after two o'clock in the afternoon, the Chinese had resisted desperately till the last, retreating slowly from cover to cover, until they got back among the buildings on the out- skirts of the town. Then at last all resistance ceased ; they were thoroughly defeated, and made a stampede through the streets trying to hide or to escape, east or west as best they might. I was on the brow of a steep hill called " White Boulders," in Japan- ese Hakugoku, commanding a close view of the whole town at my feet. When I saw the Japanese march in, firing up the streets and into the houses, chasing and killing every live thing that crossed their path, I looked hard for the cause. I saw prac- tically every shot fired, and I swear positively that not one came from any but Japanese. I saw scores of Chinese hunted out of cover, shot down, and hacked to pieces, and never a man made any attempt to fight. All were in plain clothes, but that meant nothing for the soldiers flying from death got rid of their uni- forms how they might. Many went down on their knees, suppli- cating with headif bent to the ground in kowtow, and in that at- titude were butchered mercilessly by the conquering army. Those who fled were pursued and sooner or later were done to death. Never a shot came from a house as far as I could see, and I could hardly believe my eyes, for, as my letters have shown, the indisputable evidence of previous proceedings had filled me with admiration of the gentle Japanese. So I watched intensely for the slightest sign of cause, confident that there must be some, but I saw none whatever. If my eyes deceived me, others were in the same plight ; the military attaches of England and Amer- ica were also on Boulder Hill and were equally amazed and hor- rified. It was a gratuitous ebullition of barbarism they declared, a revolting repudiation of pretended humanity.

leading into the broad lagoon. Here swarms of boats were moving away to the west, loaded to twice their normal limit with panic-stricken fugitives, men, women, and children, who had stayed too late in the beleaguered town. A troop of Japanese cavalry with an officer, was at the head of the creek, firing sea- ward, slaughtering all within range. An old man and two children of ten and twelve years had started to wade across the creek ; a horseman rode into the water and shished them a dozen times with his 8Wor.d. The sight was more than mortal man could stand. Another poor wretch rushed out at the back of a house as the invaders entered the frontdoor, firing promiscuously. He got into a back lane, and a moment later found himself cor- nered between two fires.

We could hear his cry for quarter as he bowed his head in the dust three times; the third time he rose no more, but fell on his side, bent double in the posture of peti- tion for the greatly vaunted mercy of the Japanese, who stood ten paces off and exultantly emptied their guns into him. "More of these piteous deaths we saw, unable to stay the hands of the murderers ; more and more, far more than one can relate, until sick and saddened beyond the power of words to tell, we slowly made our way in the gathering gloom down the hill, picking a path through rifle-pits thick with Chinese cart- ridge cases, and back to headquarters. There at the Cldnese general's pavilion, facing a spacious parade ground, Field Mar- shal Oyama and all his officers assembled, amid the strains of strange music from the military band, now a wierd, characteristic Japanese march, now a lively French waltz, and ending witli the impressive national anthem, " Kaminoga,'' and a huge roar from twenty thousand throats, " Banzai Nippon ! " All were overflow- ing with enthusiastic patriotism and the delight of a day's work done, a splendid triumph after a hard fought fight ; none of the Japanese dreamed that their guests from the west were filled with horror, indignation, and disgust.

It was a relief to get away from that flood of fiendish exultation, to escape from the effusive glee of our former friends, who would overwhelm us with their attention which we loatlied like caresses from the ghouls of hell. To have to remain among men who could do what we had seen was little short of torture. " Robbed of our sleep on the eve of the battle, and utterly ex- hausted, we lay long next morning until the sound of shooting roused us. To our surprise and dismay we found that the mas sacre of Wednesday, which might have been explained though certainly not excused on the ground of excitement in the heat of battle, the flush of victory, and the knowledge of dead com radeti mutilated, was being continued in cold blood now. Thurs- day, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were spent by the soldiery in murder and pillage from dawn to dark, in mutilation, in every con- ceivable kind of nameless atrocity, until the town became a ghastly Inferno to be remembered with a fearsume shudder until one's dying day. I saw corpses of women and uhildreii, three or four in the streets, more in the water ; I stooped to pick some of them out to make sure that there could be no possibility oftake. Bodies of men strewed the streets in hundreds, perhaps thousands, for we could not count � some with not a limb unsev- ered, some with heads hacked, cross-cut, and split lengthwise, some ripped open, not by chance but with careful precision, down and across, disemboweled and dismembered, with occasionally a dag- ger or bayonet thrust in private parts. � I saw groups of prisoners tied together in a bunch with their hands behind theirbacks, rid- dled with bullets for five minutes, and then hewn in pieces.

I saw a shipstranded on the beach, filled with fugilives uf either sex and of all ages, struck by volley after volley until � I can say no more. Meanwhile every building in the town was thoroughly ran- sacked, every door burst open, every box and closet, every nook and cranny looted. What was worth taking was taken, and the rest destroyed gr thrown into the gutter. Even Mr. Hart, Rent- er's war correspondent on the Chinese side, whom we found when we entered Port Arthur, was robbed of everything but the clothes he had on, while his cook and two scuUy boys in the same house were shot at their kitchen stove, while doing nothing but their reg- ular work. Mr. Hart himself had told the Chinese hotel keeper be- fore the battle not to leave the town, because the Japanese would certainly do no harm to citizens or property. So thoroughly had been the discipline maintained, and so perfect the show of civilized methods in warfare, that the present outburst of cold-blooded bru- tality was the very last thing to have been thought possible. " The Japanese alleged that the populace of the town had been armed with guns and express ammunition, and that the army when entering the town had been attacked from the houses. I did af- terward find cartridges such as these lying about ; but I never saw one fired. I never saw any attack from the houses. I saw the Japanese firing before they entered, and as they entered, without intermission. "

The Japanese who had been wounded and tilled or captured in several skirmishes before the day of the battle, had been horribly mutilated by the Chinese. We saw several bodies along the line of march, and it is said others were found in the town, with hands and heads cut off, stomachs opened, etc. And some were burnt at Kinchow, and one said to be burnt in Port Arthur. More- over, placards have been found offering rewards and stating prices, for heads, hands, or prisoners. So the Japanese soldiers swore re- venge, and they carried out their vow thoroughly in barbarous eastern style. All that can be said is that the Chinese committed nameless atrocities which the Japanese repaid a hundred fold. " It is unavoidable that innocent persons must be killed in war I do not blame the Japanese for that alone . I saw hundreds killed after being captured and tied.When Port Arthur fell, not even the presence of the horrified British and American military attaches and of foreign newspaper correspondents served to check the carnival of murder.The sign of the Red Cross was jeered at, and in the midst of the orgies of blood and rapine, with troops tramping over the bodies of unarmed victims who lost their homes, the fat field marshal and his generals paced smiling, content at the sound of rifle shots mingling with the music of the national hymn and the clink of wine glasses. I am satisfied that not more than one hundred Chinamen were killed in fair battle at Port Arthur and that at least two thousand unarmed men were put to death

While the Japanese army was taking Port Arthur, the small garrison which had been left at Chin-chow to guard the isthmus was exposed to a dangerous attack ficom the Chinese, who suspected that the place was insufficiently defended, and might be taken by a coup de main. The garrison, though far inferior in numbers, made a most gallant resistance. A few marines from the fleet taught the infantry to handle the fortress guns captured at Chin-chow, and even the transport coolies volunteered to fight, and on one occasion made a desperate sortie, armed only with cudgels against a body of Chinese fugitives

 

 

 

Invasion of China

Oct 24, 1894

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