Mukden, Battle of 1905

Mukden, Battle of (1905)

 

a major offensive operation of the Japanese forces from February 6 (19) to February 25 (March 10) in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–05.

The capitulation of the Russian garrison of Port Arthur in December 1904 and the failure of the January offensive of the Russian troops on Sangtiehp’u placed the Russian Army in an unfavorable strategic position in Manchuria. The Japanese forces (commander in chief, Marshal I. Oyama) were reinforced with the Third Army, which was brought up from near Port Arthur and numbered 271,000 infantry and cavalry soldiers, 1,062 artillery guns, and 200 machine guns. The three Russian Manchurian armies (commander in chief, General A. N. Kuropatkin) had 293,000 infantry and cavalry soldiers, 1,475 artillery guns, and 56 machine guns; the Russian troops were evenly distributed over a 140-km front.

The Japanese command planned to divert the reserves of the Russian forces with an offensive by the Fifth and First armies on the right wing of the front (east of Mukden) and then to strike the main blow southwest of Mukden with the forces of the Third Army in order to envelop the right wing of the Russian troops. The Russian command was also preparing a new offensive on Sangtiehp’u by the forces of the Second Army.

The Japanese forestalled the offensive of the Russian troops. On the night of February 5 (18), General K. Kawamura’s Japanese Fifth Army passed to the offensive, and on February 11 (24) it pushed the Russian Ch’inghoch’eng Detachment to the Taling isthmus and then farther north. General T. Kuroki’s Japanese First Army passed to the offensive on February 11 (24) but could not break through the defense of General N. P. Linevich’s Russian First Army until February 18 (March 3). Kuropatkin had already sent on February 12 (25) almost all his reserves to support the First Army and the Ch’inghoch’eng Detachment, having assumed that the enemy would direct the main blow there.

General M. Nogi’s Japanese Third Army began the offensive on February 13 (26). Its movement was discovered by the Russian cavalry on February 14 (27), but on February 15 (28), Kuropatkin sent only one brigade to the area northwest of Mukden. Only on February 16 (28), when it became clear that the right wing of the Russian front was threatened with envelopment, did he order the First Army to send back the reinforcements it had received. To cover Mukden from the west, a composite corps commanded by General Topornin was hastily formed and General A. V. Kaul’bars’ Second Army was ordered to deliver a counterblow, but its forces were pinned down by the attacks begun on February 16 (March 1) by General Y. Oku’s Japanese Second Army. The enveloping columns of the Japanese Third Army turned toward Mukden on February 17 (March 2) but encountered stubborn resistance from Topornin’s troops. Oyama moved the Third Army farther to the north and reinforced it with units from the inactive sectors and from the reserves. The counterblows of the Russian Second Army on February 20–21 (March 5–6) were poorly organized, were executed without coordination and with insufficient forces, and ended in failure. The Japanese Third Army continued its northward march.

On the evening of February 22 (March 7), Kuropatkin began leading the armies to the Hun River in order to shorten the front; troop control was disorganized, and the offensive that started on February 24 (March 9) against the Japanese Third Army was unsuccessful. On the same day the Japanese broke through the front of the Russian First Army near the village of Kiuzan’, and the Russian troops were threatened with encirclement. On the night of February 24 (March 9) they began a general retreat toward T’iehling. Despite the difficult situation, the main Russian forces made it to T’iehling and then to the Ssup’ingkai positions.

Because of the inability of the tsarist generals to organize the efficient control of troops and to quickly take the necessary measures to counteract the enemy, the Russian armies were defeated. In the battle of Mukden the Russians lost 89,000 men, including about 30,000 prisoners, and the Japanese lost 71,000 men. The defeat of the Russian armies in the battle of Mukden was of great importance for the favorable outcome of the war for Japan and for the development of the Revolution of 1905–07 in Russia.

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