ï»¿Conflict chronology (Part Two)
14 August - In the Naval Battle off Ulsan (or Battle of the Korean Strait), Admiral Kamimura's four armoured cruisers attacked the remaining three ships of Admiral Jessen's Vladisvostok squadron in the Korea Strait, sinking the cruiser Rurik. The other two ships fled, allowing Japan complete control of the strait.
Operations in Central Manchuria
August - In the preceding month, Russian and Japanese forces had come into contact in Central Manchuria. Despite respective losses of 3,600 and 1,200 men by the Russians and Japanese, the situation remained a stalemate. To prepare the Russian side for an impending Japanese attack, Kuropatkin decided to pull back his advance forces to Liaoyang for a united defence.
25 August - 3 September - The Battle of Liaoyang broke out when Japanese Marshal Iwao Oyama's three armies (under Generals Kuroki, Nodzu and Oku) were attacked by Kuropatkin's forces. Reinforced with troops from Europe, the Russians pit 158,000 men against the Japanese's 125,000. However, the Russian attacks were successfully repulsed by the Japanese. Despite losses of 19,000 (Russia) and 23,000 (Japan), the results were inconclusive. Believing that he has been defeated, Kuropatkin began an organised withdrawal towards Mukden (now Shenyang). While the Japanese tried to pursue, they were repulsed by effective Russian rearguard actions.
5 - 17 October - Subsequent reinforcements increased Kuropatkin's forces to 200,000 which allowed him to turn on Oyama's 170,000. Nonetheless, after almost two weeks of aggressive fighting, neither side could achieve a decisive victory, despite after lost 40,000 (Russia) and 20,000 (Japanese) men. Exhausted, both sides dug in for a future showdown.
Meanwhile, both Russia and Japan continued their struggle over Port Arthur.
19 - 24 August - In a closely-packed frontal assault, the Japanese attacked both the Chinese wall fortification in the northeast and the 174 Metre Hill in the northwest. Much of the fighting was done at night. After losing more then 15,000 men to ferocious Russian machine-gun fire, Nogi called off the attacks. Nonetheless, he had managed tocapture the 174 Metre Hill and one of the outlying gun batteries of the eastern defences. Russian losses were about 3,000. Nogi then called for reinforcements of heavy siege artillery, which he planned to use to systematically sap the Russian fortifications.
15 - 30 September - Nogi launched another front assault, this time on the northern and northwestern positions. However, 203 Metre Hill - the key point of the Russian defence fortifications - continued to resist the Japanese assault columns.
1 October - The Japanese siege artillery finally arived. This included 19 28-cm howizers, which could launch 500-pound projectiles. Nogi ordered a continuous month-long bombardment of the Russian defences while he planned for another mass frontal assault on 203 Meter Hill.
30 October - 1 November - The Japanese renewed their attack on the Russian defences. From morning, they launched simultaneous attacks on the northern and western defences, though many of the Japanese soldiers were cut down by the ferocious machine-gun fire. Meanwhile, the food supply in the Russian camp weas running low and the number of casualties mounting. When both sides received news that the Russian Baltic Fleet was now on the way to reinforce Port Arthur, the Russians' morale rose while the Japanese realised that they had to take Port Arthur before the fleet arrived.
November - A fifth assault was launched but was once again repulsed by the Russians. This attack cost the Japanese more than 12,000 casualties. After this failure, Nogi decided to focus his attention on 203 Metre Hill, given its tactical significance as it overlooked the harbour of Port Arthur about 4,000 yards away.
27 November - 5 December - After a day of bombardment, the Japanese launched their sixth assault in the dusk. After successive waves of attacks and horrendous loss of lives, the Japanese finally managed to overrun the Russian defenders. By then, 11,000 Japanese soldiers had died.
2 January - With about 10,000 soldiers left, Russian General Stesel surrendered to the Japanese, who also managed to capture a vast quantity of guns and small arms. All in all, the Japanese and Russians suffered 59,000 and 34,000 casualties in the battle for Port Arthur. With this victory, General Nogi prepared to join the other Japanese armies in the north.
With the loss of Port Arthur, the situation became more precarious for the Russians in Mukden, as Japanese forces previously engaged in Port Arthur could now move northwards to join the other armies.
26 - 27 January - Stationed at Mukden, Kuropatkin once again took the offensive in an effort to crush the Japanese forces before the latter were further reinforced from the south. Attacking in a heavy snow storm, the Russians came close to an initial victory, before Oyama's counter-attacks brought about another stalemate.
21 February - 10 March - In the Battle of Mukden, both sides faced each other on a 40-mile front. (This was also one of the biggest land battles in the world before World War One, involving 276,000 Russian and 270,000 Japanese troops.) The Japanese were able to exploit the Russians' lack of coordination among themselves to achieve tactical superiority. After fierce battles over two weeks, the Japanese troops finally managed to overwhelm the Russians and entre Mukden on 10 March.
The Russians lost 90,000 men and most of their artillery, guns and combat supplies. Concerned about further Japanese advances, Kuropatkin marched his remaining men for 10 days further north to establish a new defence line at Hspingkai (now Siping). While the Japanese might have achieved a landmark victory, they suffered about 75,000 casualties, which was also a higher percentage of their total strength, as compared to the Russians,
With these defeats, Russia has effectively lost the land campaigns of the war. The final outcome of the war would now depend on the impending naval conflict between the Russian Baltic Fleet, which was now travelling all the way from Europe to Asia, and the Japanese Imperial Fleet. The Japanese navy continued its vigilant watch at the Tsushima Strait....
To be continued in Part Three of the conflict chronology.