Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Russo-Japanese War

RUSSO-JAPANESE WAR. After the Boxer movement in China, Russia obtained from China a concession to build a railway in Manchuria, and hence allowed Russian troops to remain in that province to maintain order. Japan objected to the presence of Russia's army in Manchuria, and insisted upon evacuation. To this Russia would not agree, and after exhausting all diplomacy, the Japanese minister at St. Petersburg, Feb. 1, 1904, declared diplomatic relations at an end. At the same time the Russian minister at Tokio prepared to leave the Island Empire. The next day, forty Japanese transports were loaded with troops to be landed at various points in Korea. Also a naval division sailed from Japanese waters, and by the flagship of this fleet the first shot in the war was fired, on the night of Feb. 8. The Japanese admiral, Togo, sent a flotilla of torpedo boats into the harbor of Port Arthur to attack the Russian fleet. Japan had waived the formality of a declaration of war, and the sudden attack was wholly unexpected by the Russians. Admiral Stark, in command of the Russian fleet, and many of his officers, were on shore at places of amusement, and with the first shot the fleet was thrown into the utmost confusion. Defeat ensued for the Russians, who lost a battleship and two cruisers. The Japanese torpedo boats escaped unharmed. The next day the Japanese fleet opened a bombardment on the forts and ships at Port Arthur, and from that time forward, through the first three months of the war, the Japanese continued the bombardment at intervals of a few days—nine attacks in all—without effect. On Feb. 9, a division of the Japanese fleet, under Admiral Uriu, appeared outside the harbor of Chemulpo, Korea, and the Russian cruiser “Variag” and the gunboat “Korietz” came out in the hope of escaping in a running fight. Both the Russian vessels, however, were crushed by weight of metal, and both crawled back to the harbor, where they blew up and sank. Admiral Makaroff was later appointed to the supreme command of the Russian fleet, and General Kuropatkin reached Harbin, Manchuria, in April, to assume command of the Russian land forces. On April 13 the Russian fleet met with a disaster that was regarded in Russia as a national calamity. The battleship “Petropavlovsk,” with Admiral Makaroff aboard, while steaming out of the harbor of Port Arthur to attack the Japanese fleet, struck a mine, the ship turned turtle, after blowing up, and Makaroff and nearly the entire ship's company were drowned. On May 27-28, 1905, Admiral Rojestvensky's fleet was utterly annihilated by the Japanese navy in Tsushima Straits, with the deaths of 4,000 Russians and the capture of twice as many, and insignificant loss on the other side. This ended the war, and peace was signed at Portsmouth, N. H., on Sept. 5. Russia lost 400,000 soldiers and 83 ships of war, Japan 170,000 soldiers and 19 ships of war, and obtained half of the Saghalien Islands as compensation. Other provisions of the treaty called for the evacuation of Manchuria, Russian acknowledgment of Japan's paramount interests in Korea, Japan to take over Port Arthur, Dalny, and the Liao-tung Peninsula, and to control the Chinese Eastern railroad S. from Kunshien, which is 10 miles S. of Harbin.