From "1904 The Russo-Japanese War" by Captain F.R. Sedgwick, (R.F.A.)


Disembarkation of 2nd Japanese Army

One hundred and three transports crowded with troops had been lying at Chinampo awaiting the news of the result of the battle of the Yalu. These transports carried the 1st, 3rd, and 4th Divisions, and an artillery brigade, which were destined to land on the south coast of Manchuria, between Takushan and Talienwan, to cut the communication between Port Arthur and the main Russian army, and advance along the railway against Liaoyang. For reasons connected with the suitability of the coast line, the point selected for the disembarkation was Houtushih, near the mouth of the Tasha river. Elaborate precautions were taken by the fleet to block the approach of Russian torpedo boats. The straits between Eliott Islands and the mainland were mined and patrolled. On 6th May the disembarkation commenced, and was not interfered with by the Russians, who hurriedly fell back northwards after making a reconnaissance; on the 7th and 8th the 3rd and 1st Divisions occupied a line along the Pitzuwo-Chinchou road from the Tasha to the Shouyi rivers. On the 10th the 4th Division began to land and assamble at Machiatun.

The Railway cut

 On the 6th a force of the divisional cavalry supported by one and a half battalions had moved at once on Pulantien and cut the railway. It appears, however, that the demage was made good, and the communications were only definitely cut about the 13th.

Movement on Chinchou

 There was constant skirmishing, and on the 14th the 1st Division, with a brigade of the 4th Division, moved on Chinchou, and on the 16th attacked the Russian advanced force under General Fock, four battalions and a battery, at Shihsanlitai. The Russians abandoned the heights north and east of Chinchou, but held the town. Thus Oku's army stood on the 20th May: 1st Division and one brigade of the 4th near Chinchou, remainder of the 4th at Pulantien, 3rd Division on the line of the Tasha. On the 25th the disembarkation point had been shifted to about fifteen miles south of Pitzuwo. On the 23rd the 5th Division and a cavalry brigade commenced to disembark.

1st Army

 Meanwhile, on the 4th May, Kuroki advanced towards Fenghuangcheng, occupying that town on the 6th. By the 11th his army was concentrated at that place. On this flank the Cossacks were active. On the May 10th Colonel Madritoff, whose movements were referred to in Chapter II., attacked Anju, with some 500 men. He was beaten, and his retreat harried by the Koreans.

4th Army

  On May 19th General Kawamura arrived off Takushan with the 10th Division, which was to form the nucleus of the 4th Army, and commenced to disembark near that place. All along the front from near Aiyangcheng to near Takushan there was constant skirmishing with the Cossacks. In order to further embarrass the Russians, a demonstration was made by the fleet near Kaiping, as if to select a landing-place.

Operations of the 2nd Army

  At 10 A.M. on the 21st General Oku issued orders to his army to concentrate on a line Shihsanlitai - Mount Sampson _ Saitzuho. Each division left a detachment of two squadrons and one battalion. At the same time the G.O.C. 5th Division received instructions to occupy a line from Pulantien along the Tasha River with the cavalry brigade, his own division, and the detachments mentioned, and cover the rear of the army.

Garrison of Port Arhtur

 The Russians had used the period that had elapsed since the commencemnt of the war to good purpose, to push on the work on the defenses of Port Arthur, to provide and equip the fortress with every necessary, and to place a very strong garrison at the disposal of General Stoessel, the commander. This garrison consisted of:

4th and 7th divisions of East Siberian Rifles complete with the guns (56 pieces)
5th Regiment of East Siberian Rifles
1 battalion of East Siberian Engineers
3 battalions of fortress troops
1 battery of 5.7 Q.F. guns
1 sortie battery
1 company of fortress engineers
1 company of fortress miners
1 telegraph section
Some frontier and railway guard troops
Total - 35,000. (There were also some volunteers.)

Russian Troops at Nanshan

  To delay the enemy's advance General Stossel had pushed forward the 4th East Siberian Rifle Division (General Fock) with the 5th East Siberian Rifle Regiment and five batteries towards Chinchou, and a strong position had been prepared on the Nanshan Hill south of Chinchou.

The Position

  "This position is well illustrated by laying the left hand on the table with the fingers slightly bent and a little apart. On the spurs represented by the thumb and the fingers were redoubts with trenches along their front and sides protecting the valleys, while the highest point of the hill is like the knuckle of the middle finger."

  The hill had command of about 250 to 350 feet over the plain in front. The extant of the position is 3300 yards, and the flank rests on the sea. The field of fire is good, but within 600 yards, particularly on the west side, where the command is greatest, the ground is broken and deep twisting ravines lead in places directly into the position. The road communications are good; two (unmetalled) roads and the railway afford lines of retreat. The hill of Nankuanling affords a good position de repli. This position, naturally strong, was most formidably entrenched. Thirty heavy guns, of old pattern it is true, but powerful, were mounted in closed works of a semi-permanent character. Lines of fire trenches with zigzag communications were placed in tiers, and all the works, even the advanced works, were closed by shelter trenches. The front and flanks were covered by a network of wire entanglements and number of naval mines. There were two searchlights. It seems, however, that the trenches and traverses were often badly sited.

 To occupy these formidable lines General Fock had available some 13,000 men and eighty guns, and in addition the works near Talienwan, also mounting some heavy guns, could take part in the defense. On the position of Nankuanling only works for the field guns were constructed.

  No arrangements were made for counter-attack. The lines were at present held by the 5th E. S. R. Regiment, a detachment of frontier guards being in Chinchou.

The Attack

 The attack was intended to take place on the 25th, and 5:50 A.M. the artillery opened fir at Chinchou and silenced the four frontier gurds' guns there. The infantry then attacked, but were repulsed. The co-operation of four gunboats in Chinchou Bay was expected; the weather, however, prevented their arrival. General Oku therefore decided to postpone the attack till next day.

  On the evening of the 25th orders for the attack were issued as follows:

4th Division to move on Chinchou, attack it at midnight, and occupy the south face of the town down to the sea at Chinchou Bay.

1st Division to occupy a line from the south-east corner of Chinchou to Chilchuang, with guns on the right flank and reserve at Tangwangtun.

3rd Division to be by daylight on the line Chilichuang-Hsinchiatun; guns in rear of the left flank.

Russian Distribution

  General Fock had distributed his troops on the position as follows:

On the hill of Nanshan, with a company in Chinchou:
5th E. S. R. Regiment
Two mounted scout detachments
Two companies 9th E. S. R. Regiment
Approximately 2700 bayonets

Of whom only three and a half companies could form local and general reserves.

On the hill of Nankuanling, the 4th East Siberian Rifle Division.

On the right:
1 regiment
1 battery
In the center:
1 regiment
1 battery
On the left:
1 regiment
3 batteries (two of the 7th E. S. R. Division attached)

At the junction of the Dalny and Port Arthur railway lines:

1 regiment
1 battery


 Such a distribution showed a determination to utilize the strong-defended position of Nanshan merely as false front to the position of Nankuanling. Had General Flock had any intention of assuming the offensive at any time, he would have held more than one regiment in his own hand.

Japanese Attack

  A furious storm prevented the 4th Division from occupying Chinchou, and therefore the guns of the 1st Division could not get into action. Towards dawn the 1st Division occupied, itself, the town. By 5 A.M. the divisions were in their allotted stations. About 5:30m A.M., when the fog lifted, the guns all along the Japanese line came into action, and by 8:30 A.M. most of the Russian guns had ceased firing. At 9 A.M. the infantry of the 4th Division had gained some ground, and a simultaneous attack was made, without firing until 600 yards from the position, and by 10:30 A.M. the troops had pushed close up to the foot of the slopes of the hill. The guns now advanced to closer range. About 6 A.M. the Japanese gunboats from Chinchou Bay were able to assist the attack; a Russian gunboat and the Talienwan forts taking part in the defense.

  Half a battery from Nanshan retired to the hill south of Ssuchiatun, whence they could fire on the right of the 4th Division; two more batteries shortly withdrew to the Nankuanling Hill. The 1st Division, which had advanced up close to the obstacles, found itself hard pressed, and was reinforced from the general reserve at 10:30 A.M. The 3rd Division, enfiladed by the Russian gunboat and a battery of field guns near Talienwan, was very severely handled. About this time the Japanese gunboats, which the ebbing tide had forced to retire out of range, were able to again take part in the attack.

  Nevertheless bodies of gallant men dashed forward to the obstacles again and again, only to leave two-thirds of their numbers lying on the bullet-swept ground. All day forward and backward swept the lines of battle, charge after charge was met and repulsed. As the day wore to evening, and every man had been set in firing line, report after report reached general that no more could be done, and that ammunition was running short, but still he refused to call off his men, and right well did they justify his confidence. As the sun was setting, the 4th Division in a last effort succeeded in working round the enemy's left, wading through the sea; a trench was enfiladed, men were able to swarm into some of the ravines on this flank, and at about 6:30 P.M. the Russians were forced to retreat.

Advance to Nankunling

 As the fire of the machine guns ceased and the rifle fire slackened, the 1st and 3rd Divisions dashed forward over the obstacles, and by 7:30 P.M. the Japanese flag was floating from the summit of the hill, while a long line of artillery of the 4th Division, pushing forward in pursuit, was firing on the crowds of men retreating on Nankuanling Hill. At 8 P.M. Oku issued orders to bivouac on the captured position. On the 27th a brigade occupied the abandoned Russian position Nankuanling Hill.

 On the 29th the army again advanced, and on the 30th entrenched a position west of Dalny. Operations to clear the harbor of Dalny of mines were at once begun.

Russian Action

  After the battle Fock had retired his troops to the fortress, leaving a weak observation line about five miles west of Dalny. The Russians occupied this line in some strength on the 30th.


  The losses in the battle of Nanshan were: Russians, 850; Japanese, 4324. Tha Japanese captured some guns, variously estimated from eighty-two to thirty. The Japanese official report says sixty-eight.


  The battle does not prove that frontal attack against a fortified position is impossible, yet it was to the menace on the flank that the Russians actually yielded. The only reinforcements sent up by Fock to Nanshan were the bulk of the 12th East Siberian Rifle Regiment to reinforce the right-this was done about 9 A.M. and two and a half companies 14th East Siberian Rifle Regiment, sent up too late to the left. Thus at the end of the day Fock still had under his hand three regiments, and at least sixty-eight field guns, of wich forty-eight at least were quick-firers. This disposes at once of the usual criticism, which appears in many continental authors' works, that a reserve should have been held in hand. The statements that Stoessel himself conducted the battle seem wrong, and even Fock only arrived during the morning. The picture of the confusion, the orders and couter-orders the marching and counter-marching, of the Russian troops previous to the battle, as drawn by Nojine, is most remarkable. For example, the 15th East Siberian Rifle Regiment was sent back to the Port Arthur on the 20th and back again to Nanshan on the 24th. Seeing that the Russians had had more than three months to elaborate their arrangements, this seems peculiar. The quarrelling and jealousy among the senior officers of the troops under Stoessel, coupled with their incompetency in many cases, were no doubt largely responsible for the Russian failure. Little more than 3000 men, with eighty or ninety guns, held the Japanese 35000 and 198 guns fast all day. There is little doubt that General Fock lost such a chance as seldom can occur. No doubt his orders were explicit that he was not to expose more men than necessary, but one can well imagine how one of the great subordinates of former wars would have acted- Lannes, a Davout, a Manteuffel, a Von Werder, a Hill or a Crawford or a Sheridan.

  Three battalions sent forward on the left to repulse the attack of the 4th Division, while on the right the remaining six battalions, advancing in a strong line of battle against the 3rd and 1st Division, already exhausted and short of ammunition, would surely have carried all before them, and the whole Russian force of 12,000 to 15,000 bayonets, supported by the fire of eighty guns, would have reached the batteries, would have captured the pieces, and, if urged forward as Stonewall Jackson would have urged his men, would have so dealt with Oku's troops that the victory of nanshan would have revenged the rearguard defeat Hamtang, and have altered the whole aspect of the war. But "It was the characteristic of the Russian leadership that throughout the war it never found the right way of escape from the defensive attitude which it adopted almost of its own free will."

Tactical Comments

  With regard to the tactics of the battle, the great value machine guns in the defensive is to be remarked, and also the fact that the Japanese artillery, although they specially sought to do so, did not locate and silence them.

  The 198 guns of the 3rd Army were controlled by the commanding artillery officer stationed on a small but commanding hill (near H.Q.). The enemy's position had been carefully reconnoitred, and sketches made of it and of the positions to be occupied by the guns. These sketches were distributed to the batteries. It is understood that this system of command did not have the desired effect. However that may be, the concentration of the Japanese fire on battery after battery in turn seems to have been the means by which the Russian pieces were silenced.

  The position of the Russian Howitzers on the top of the hill seems curious. The air lines of the telephones in the Russian position which connected the batteries were destroyed early in the battle; thus intercommunication was impossible.