Liaoyang, Battle of 1904

Liaoyang, Battle of (1904)


combat actions between August 11 (24) and August 21 (September 3) near the city of Liaoyang (northeastern China) during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05.

The plan of the Japanese command (commanded by Marshal I. Oyama) was to launch a decisive attack encircling both flanks of the Russian Army, but the forces of the Japanese troops (about 130,000 men, including 110,000-115,000 riflemen and 508 guns) were inadequate to carry out this intention. General A. N. Kuropatkin, commander of the Russian Manchurian Army, planned to initiate a decisive battle in the Liaoyang region and stop the enemy advance. Three defensive lines were prepared for this purpose.

By August 10 (23) the Russian Army (152,000 men, including 128,000 riflemen and 606 guns) was occupying the first defensive position on the Aihsiantsang-Lientiasan-Angp’iling line (30 km to the south and southeast of Liaoyang). The plan of the Russian command was to wait passively, and it gave the initiative to the enemy. On August 11-13 (24-26) attacks by Japanese forces in the Aihsiantsang and Lientiasan regions were beaten back. Having exaggerated information on enemy forces, Kuropatkin attached too much importance to the partial failure in the Angp’iling region and gave the order to withdraw to the second defensive line (called forward position) on the Mayeht’unTs’ofangt’un-K’aolits’un-T’aitzu River line (8 km to the south and southeast of Liaoyang).

On August 17 (30) the Japanese Second, Fourth, and part of the First armies attacked the Russian positions fiercely in the Mayeht’un and Ts’ofangt’un regions but without result. On August 18 (31) an assault on Mayeht’un was also beaten back. The encirclement of the right flank of the Russian forces was unsuccessful, and the Japanese troops suffered large losses. During the night of August 17 (30) a part of the Japanese First Army crossed the T’aitzu River near Lengt’ouwan with the objective of encircling the left flank of the Russian Army. The Russian command did not take countermeasures in time, and during the night of August 18 (31), Kuropatkin withdrew the forces of the right flank to the main position in the Liaoyang region and began a complex regrouping of forces on the left wing to prepare a counterstrike against the encircling group of enemy forces. On August 19 (September 1) the Japanese First Army took a number of hills on the left flank of the Russian Army but was unable to develop the offensive. The poorly organized counterattacks undertaken by the Russian forces on August 20 (September 2) were unsuccessful.

These partial failures and the reports of certain commanders, which did not reflect the real situation at the front, were the reasons for Kuropatkin’s ordering a retreat of his forces to Mukden. On August 21 (September 3) the Russian troops began their retreat. The Japanese losses were 24,000, and the Russians lost about 16,000. As a result of the mistakes of the Russian command, the Japanese forces achieved an operational success.