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The Russo – Japanese War An Introduction For A Level History

This short introduction focuses on the changing nature of warfare for this little known war and is useful for A level History

Date : 11/01/2016


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Uploaded by : Paul
Uploaded on : 11/01/2016
Subject : History

The Russo – Japanese War by theme

The impact of factors directly related to the conduct of war:

Generalship, with the Russians was poor, Russian generals tried to conceal the extent of military defeats and as a result the Tsar had little idea what the real situation was to the point where the Russian general Kuropatkin had told the Tsar that the Battle of Liaoyang and the later one at Sha-ho had been a Russian victories when they had actually been major Russian defeats.

A series of quick Japanese victories, which astounded the world, resulted in the fall of Port Arthur in January 1905. This was followed by the victory of troops under General Oyama at Shenyang (Feb.–Mar., 1905), and the destruction of the Russian fleet under Rozhdestvenski at Tsushima by Admiral Togo`s fleet (May, 1905). Clearly Japanese leadership was superior to that of Russia but they underestimated the effects of Russian improvements to the defences at Port Arthur.

The quality of soldiers, The Russian soldiers defending Port Arthur were brave and determined the Japanese General Nogi now decided to attack Port Arthur by storming the fortifications at once. This was the first attempt in history to storm a fortress held with magazine rifles, machine guns, and quick-firing artillery, there was little justification for General Nogi belief that he would succeed against so determined an enemy as the Russians and this attack cost the Japanese 1,800 men against 1,000 Japanese casualties.

Strategy and Tactics – at Port Arthur the Japanese now ordered the construction of trenches, and began tunnelling under the walls of the Russian forts to permit mines to be planted to blow them up. The Japanese had the additional benefit of several fresh batteries of artillery and a reinforcement of 16,000 fresh troops from Japan, Powerful Krupp 11-inch howitzers were also en route from Japan. The siege may seem modern in some ways but the digging of trenches and tunnels by the attacking Japanese and the reinforcing of the defences by the defending Russians were a continuity all the way back to the besieging of a castle in the middle ages.

Military Theorists – This is one of these wars where technology is ahead of theories on war. The significant theoretical event comes at sea in the naval battle of Tsushima there the Japanese managed a tactical move called ‘crossing the T’ this allowed the Japanese to use most if not all of their ships guns while the Russians were unable to use theirs.,

Total War- During the siege the Russian garrison and people in the port were running short of food, which was now beginning to take its toll in the form of serious outbreaks of scurvy and dysentery.

The impact of technological change – At Port Arthur the 11- inch Krupp howitzers had arrived. These had to be manhandled from the railhead by teams of 800 soldiers along an eight-mile narrow gauge track. These, together with another 450 guns as well as mortars now began to pound the Russian positions. The Japanese had centralised their artillery, which had its headquarters connected by miles of telephone lines with every battery along their front. The massive Krupp howitzers could throw a 227 kilo shell over 9,000 meters and over 35,000 of these “roaring trains” as they became known, were fired. In addition over 1,400,000 other types of shell were rained down on the port.

Industrialisation – Modernisation of the military sector was a high priority for Japan in an era of European and American imperialism. In order to transform the agricultural economy of Japan into a developed industrial one, many Japanese students were sent abroad to study Western science and languages, while foreign experts taught in Japan. The government also directly supported the prospering of businesses and industries

Developments in communication and transport, - The transportation and communication networks were improved by means of large governmental investments. The Japanese used telephone lines to control their artillery at the siege of Port Arthur.

The development of weaponry- The Siege of Port Arthur saw the introduction of much of the technology used in subsequent wars during the 20th century, including massive 11-inch (280 mm) mortars capable of hurling 500 kilogram shells over 8 kilometers, as well as rapid-firing light howitzers, Maxim machine guns, bolt-action magazine rifles, barbed wire entanglements, electric fences, arc lamp searchlights, tactical radio signalling (and, in response, the first military use of radio jamming), hand grenades, trench warfare, and the use of modified naval mines as land weapons.

Planning and preparation – Port Arthur was one of the strongest fortified positions in the world. The Japanese had captured the port easily from the Chinese in a previous conflict, and overconfidence by the General Staff in Japan`s ability to overcome subsequent improvements made by the Russians during their occupation of the area, led to a much longer campaign with much heavier casualties during the Russo-Japanese War.

The effectiveness of alliances. In the second half of the 19th C the Japanese were forced to sign unequal treaties with Western powers. These treaties granted the Westerners one-sided economical and legal advantages in Japan. In order to regain independence from the Europeans and Americans and establish herself as a respected nation in the world, Japan was determined to close the gap to the Western powers economically and militarily. Drastic reforms were carried out in practically all areas. Conflicts of interests in Korea between China and Japan led to the Sino-Japanese War in 1894-95 where Japan defeated China and received Taiwan, but was then forced by Russia, France and Germany to return other territories. The so called Triple Intervention caused the Japanese army and navy to intensify their rearmament.

The direct cause of the war was the rival ambitions of both the Russians and the Japanese towards Korea and Manchuria where both powers wished to extend their ambitions. A major cause of the Russo-Japanese War was the leasing of Port Arthur by the weak Chinese government to Russia just three days after the Treaty of Shimonoseki had confirmed Japanese possession of these areas as captured during the First Sino-Japanese War. This decision came as a result of pressure from Russia, France and Germany on the weak Chinese Qing government. Not surprisingly the Japanese viewed the reversal of the terms of their victory over the Chinese (that had secured Port Arthur by treaty for Japan) as a hostile act. As the only ice-free naval base for Russia in the Far East, control of this territory was of vital strategic importance to Russian plans for further expansion of their empire in Asia. Once the Russians proved inflexible and unwilling to negotiate with Japan she broke off negotiations and attacked Port Arthur and the Russian fleet anchored there.

Developments in the organisation, command and control of armies – During the siege of Port Arthur the Japanese headquarters were connected by miles of telephone lines with every artillery battery along their front.

The relationship between relevant domestic factors and warfare: The Japanese government aimed to make Japan a democratic state with equality among its entire people. The boundaries between the social classes of Japan were gradually broken down. Consequently, the samurai were the big losers of those social reforms since they lost all their privileges, equally the feudal lords (daimyo) had to return all their lands to the emperor. The education system was reformed after the French and later. The disastrous outcome of the war for Russia was one of the immediate causes of the Russian Revolution of 1905. Japan gained the position of a world power, becoming the first non-European and non-American imperialist modern state.

The organisation of the state for war.

Public opinion – After about one to two decades of intensive westernization, a revival of conservative and nationalistic feelings took place including the worship of the emperor

Conscri ption – Universal conscri ption was introduced, and a new army modelled after the Prussian force, and a navy after the British one were created.

Economics, manpower and resources – In this war Russia could refill her ranks by drawing upon her massive reserve of manpower something the Japanese could not do. On this basis Russia could take greater casualties than Japan if she could win.

Task – where is there continuity here and where is there significant change? Is this war a turning point?

This resource was uploaded by: Paul

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