203-METER HILL

Headquarters, Third Imperial Army, Before Port Arthur, Oct. 12th:

“Goddama’s here!”

“Who?”

“General Goddam–what’s his name?”

“Kodama?”

“That’s it. Who is he? They couldn’t do more for the
Emperor–special train, guard mounted, and all that. He came while
I was in the staff tent–a mite of a fellow in a huge coat.”

Thus Villiers two weeks ago announced the advent to the army of the
Chief of the General Staff. Who is he? The soldiers know, for they
have a verse in their interminable war song:

“On with Nippon, down with Russia
Is the badge of our belief;
The Son of Heaven sends us saké,
And Kodama sends us beef!”

But who is he? A poor, unlettered samurai of the famous Censhu
clan who to-day, at fifty-two years of age, rules Japan and guides
her armies. Many will dispute this. They will tell you that the
illustrious Mutsuhito, member of the oldest dynasty in the world,
rules Japan. They believe that the Marshal Marquis Oyama and the
Marshal Marquis Yamagata, veteran spirits, great warriors, shrewd
in counsel, valorous in conflict, guide their armies. They forget,
perhaps they do not know, that Gentaro Kodama, whose rank is that
of Lieutenant-General, his title Baron, his position Assistant
Chief of the General Staff, thinks while the others sleep and works
while the others eat; that the “illustrious ones” may “guide” and
“rule.” People seldom know the boss behind the President, the power
behind the throne, or the advisor at the general’s ear.

Most public men in Japan will tell you that Kodama is an unsafe
person of second-rate capacity. That is what the Directorate said
of Napoleon, it is what Halleck and his staff said of Grant, it is
what the Crown Prince said of Von Moltke. They will tell you that
his charge of the commissary and transport in the China war was
an accident. That is what the Directorate said of Napoleon after
Egypt, what Halleck said of Grant after Donelson and Henry, what
the Crown Prince said of Von Moltke before the Franco-Prussian war.

The public men sent Kodama to Formosa to get rid of him, as
Napoleon was sent to Italy, as Grant was sent to Pittsburg Landing,
as Von Moltke was shipped from Metz. Kodama went and raised Formosa
from savagery to commerce and prosperity. He could have been Prime
Minister. “No,” he said. “I would rather pull strings than be one
of the strings to be pulled. Russia is peeking up over the border.
Let us prepare. Give me a desk in the War Office.”

The public men shook hands, grateful that the unsafe upstart was
out of the way. Only soldiers and seers foresee war. Kodama is not
a seer. The public men reveled in peace and wondered occasionally
that Kodama should bury himself in that dry hole of a war office.
They were grateful because the unsafe upstart kept out of the way.

Then the war came and what a scrimmage there was as the public men
scrambled for place! One had his finger on things; this only one
knew just where, when and how to strike. He alone knew where every
merchant steamer in Japan was and how quick each could be turned
into a transport. He alone knew the points in the Korean coast
where an army could be landed and how quick it could be gotten
there. Above all he had audacity–the audacity of genius. His name
was Gentaro Kodama, sometime military governor of Formosa, sometime
chief of the etape bureau.

[Illustration: _From Stereograph, Copyright by H. C. White Co., N.
Y._

GENERAL BARON KODAMA

The photograph shows the Chief of the Japanese Staff on his
doorstep.]

How shameful for the upstart to command! He had never left his
native land. He spoke only Japanese. He had a most vulgar way
of pitching into things, of living on the tick of the watch, of
showing people in and out minus ceremony, of laughing as a boy
might at the things he liked and of frowning ingenuously at what
displeased him. More horrors! He scorned a frock coat for ordinary
wear and stuck to a kimono. Only upstarts defy the fashions.
Sometimes, however, the upstart happens to be a great man–a
Socrates barefoot, a Grant without his shoulder straps. Now
there were plenty of men who had been abroad, who could speak
French and English perfectly, who could crease their trousers and
who could add the proper dignity to a function. Besides, Kodama was
only a lieutenant-general, of whom the realm had a dozen others,
to say nothing of four full generals, two field marshals and an
emperor. Why should he run the war?

But Yamagata and Oyama knew and the Emperor knew. They were too
keen not to see and they were too patriotic to let Japan suffer.
They could not give Kodama the place, but they crowned him with
power. So to-day he has the only coach on the Japanese end of the
Trans-Siberian railway and is the first to pass over the rebuilt
road from Liaoyang to within sight of Port Arthur.

Yamagata stays in Tokyo, one foot in the grave, holding himself to
work with will and prayer, snowed with seventy years, in counsel
with the Emperor; Oyama, loved by the people, always a figurehead,
goes to command the northern armies, and Nogi is given the glory
of reducing the “Gibraltar of the East,” but Kodama, with his
hands on everything, the brains of all, unifies the whole. I saw
him leave Tokyo, cheered by the coolies of the streets, who, like
the Emperor and his marshals, know. Already the campaign was in
his hands. He went straight to Liaoyang and saw the first great
blow struck at Kuropatkin. Then he came here, stayed two days,
saw his plans being effected to his satisfaction and got back to
Liaoyang before the battle of the Shaho. It was on his way back,
during the day’s rest in Dalny, that I saw him for the second time,
when he granted me an interview, in which he made his first public
utterance.

Certain names flash across an age as meteors across a sky. Cæsar
and Napoleon are such names to the student of history, Bernhardt
and Irving to the lover of the stage, Shakespeare to the man of
books. Their mere pronouncement has a mysterious power, some occult
influence to startle and make dumb. Like a searchlight’s flare they
throw one into a hopeless sense of insignificance and awe. So it
was with me, a student of the war, when Villiers uttered that word,
“Goddama,” two weeks ago. I recalled the months in Tokyo when we
stormed the war office in vain, how London, Washington and Berlin
brought their influences to bear, how the cabinet was assembled,
how the ministers pleaded that correspondents, creators of that
vast, indefinable power called “public opinion” have some rights.
Kodama said they had no rights; they might have privileges, but
no rights. One day a grave-faced official announced: “I am very
sorry, gentlemen, but you will have to wait the pleasure of General
Kodama. We have done all we could for you. The question now is,
shall the ministers or Kodama run the war? I much fear Kodama is
the man of the hour.”

Thus the name rose over me as a symbol of power and hauteur. Three
days ago I started to Dalny from the front to lay in stores. There
was a four- or five-mile walk to Cho-ray-che, the field base where
acres are covered with rice and ammunition cases and where a
shattered Russian station is being used by the Japanese commissary.
On the siding lay the train of flat cars we were to take. In the
center was the first coach seen on the Liaotung since the battle of
Nanshan, May 26th. It was an ordinary Japanese third-class coach,
with paneled doors for each compartment, and hard seats. Out of
the corner chimney rose a whirl of smoke and it was easy to see
what an improvement even those hard seats would be over the tops of
ammunition cases where there was a three-hour ride to be made in
the face of a sleet Manchurian wind.

“Back to civilization,” I cried.

“Not for us,” said Gotoh, my interpreter. “That is General Kodama’s
coach. It was transported especially for him and he has just
brought it down from Liaoyang.”

Then I saw him, with his salient, pointed chin, and his goatee like
a French noble, bent over an improvised table, scanning papers.
Five or six members of his staff gazed lazily out at a company
of soldiers doing fatigue duty with the empty ammunition cases,
swarming up over the track and back again, human ants. They had
heard the captain say the eyes of Kodama were upon them and they
worked feverishly, with rhythmical precision. The General never saw
them. His staff did, but he had work to do, and he knew the men
were doing theirs.

As we lay shivering on that jolty ride into Dalny, day dying out
with bursts of grand color and night coming in to the orchestral
music of battle opening in our rear, Gotoh snuggled among the empty
cases at my feet, pulled his overcoat about his head, and hummed a
song composed by the biwa players of Kioto:

“As a slender boat alone in a great storm,” it ran, “so Japan
sails the sea of modern civilization; does she not then need great
leaders for her forty million souls!”

The mudflats of the bay were chocolate brown in late sunset as we
turned south and slid into the city, shivering, crouched low on the
pouches kept huge for bullets anon. Two kerosene lamps in the coach
and the sparks from the engine streaked the night as we tooted into
the revamped station of spruce and corrugated tin which stands
where the hole in the ground was out of which the Russians blew
their beautiful Byzantine architecture. We slipped to the ground,
cold, hungry, tired, and slouched under the two arc lights that
make Dalny a brilliant metropolis after our six weeks around camp
fires and tallow dips.

Hurrying along I suddenly found myself in a group of officers
bound the same way. All but one instinctively fell back and left
me ahead with a tub of a man in a fur coat and a red cap with two
braid stripes which told him to be a lieutenant-general. Swathed
to his ankles in an overcoat of thick martens he looked huge,
but the two red braids and the star of Nippon were level with my
armpit. When he shook hands he lost all the clumsiness of the fur.
As his fingers grasped mine in real earnest there passed from them
the spirit of the island empire–its tininess, its audacity, its
febrile intensity–for the grip was sinuous and sure as the clasp
of a wild thing, hearty and elegant as a comrade’s. He walked with
the stately swing of a star actor, poised his cigar with the air
of a gentleman of leisure and smiled roguishly on me as he talked.
A word brought a thin man in spectacles–his secretary–from the
group behind. Through him the General said he had not seen a
foreigner in three months, he remembered me from a chance word over
a tiffin in the Shiba detached palace last May, and would I be kind
enough to call on him to-morrow when he would have a day of rest
before his trip north toward the Shaho. We parted at the first
corner and he walked on with his stately swing, which his enemies
call the strut of a turkey cock, his staff grouped artistically
behind.

Dalny bristled with the military. The base now of all the armies,
it had become a huge supply depot through which passed the food and
ammunition for a third of a million men, and to which poured the
dribble of wounded. Every house in the Russian quarter, including
two magnificent churches and the fine hotel, were used for
hospitals, in which four thousand patients then were. A hospital
ship left every day for Japan, carrying from 200 to 1,000 wounded
and prisoners. Each day a transport came in bearing twice as many
fresh troops. A brigade had just landed and was to be sent north at
dawn to take the place of the lost in the Liaoyang battle. There
was no barrack room, and though the general wore a fur coat his men
stacked arms on the curbs and slept on the pavements. It was two
days after the arrival of the advance guard of the civic invasion
of Manchuria. Fifteen Tokyo and Osacca merchants had left home
with all their fortunes to try luck in a new land. In a Chinese
restaurant that night I met one of them, an old Tokyo friend who
spoke English. It was a great moment in his life, he said, this
parting with the old and taking on of the new. He had already been
given a house in the old Russian quarter at a nominal rental,
which he expected later to acquire from his government at a low
figure. In a few days he expected to open a store. He asked me to
call on him and gave me his card with an address in “Nogimachi.”
Thus I learned that all the town has been re-christened. The old
Russian names attached to the elegant streets which looked more
like roads among fashionable English villas were changed. Japanese
generals had been honored. The chief hospital was in Oyamamachi,
the etape office on Yamagatamachi, the reserve detail bivouacked on
Fukishimamachi and I slept on Kurokimachi.

In Kodamamachi Gotoh and I the next day called on General Kodama,
who was living in the Russian Mayor’s house. In a side room where
the secretary ushered us we waited for the General, then in his
bath. This gave us time to examine the house. The Mayor was the
engineer who laid out Dalny, and, naturally, he spread himself on
his own home. Three stories high, with a wide balcony, a yard full
of flowers and a big brick fence, it looks out on the convergence
of the two main streets. It is built like the early palaces on what
is now Tar Flat in San Francisco, with casements two feet thick,
buttressed by solid masonry. The walls are thick enough to harbor
great Russian stoves and bear evidence to the coming cold. The
ceilings are enormously high, the double windows stained glass, the
balustrades massive, the flooring of matched hardwood polished,
all conveniences in the latest modern style. I know of no house
in all Japan so fine. The panels were scratched in places where
the Chinese bandits had sacked, and there was little furniture.
Otherwise, all was in good condition. In scorn of the place the
Japanese guard had slipped his neat, low futon into an alcove,
but in respect he stood at “present arms,” his rifle loaded, to
prevent outlawry. The silence was deep, the dispatch of business
swift. Occasionally a messenger passed through the hall, with no
hurry and with no dignity. It would have been difficult to persuade
Sherlock Holmes that the army was about.

Presently the secretary announced that the General was ready,
and led us down a corridor to a side room on the west, which the
sunlight, falling through the stained windows, dyed purple and
gold. As we advanced I could not but think of the superb setting
Mansfield gave the throne room scene in “Richard III,” and how he
knelt by the dais as the light died out, whispering to himself,
“Richard, to thy work!”

Here there was no false splendor, only the light of purple and
gold–and a great character. I felt his presence before he advanced
to meet me with a lithe stride. He shook hands with the intensity
of the night before and again I felt that clasp as of a palm all
sinew and nerves. But there was gayety in his gesture as he threw
his hands out, palms up, like a Frenchman, and bade me welcome.
He wore a kimono and slippers–nothing more. I could see the bare
V sloping in to his chest, thin and skin-drawn, and it was plain
where the brown of sun-tan shaded into the clothes-covered white.
He stepped back around a table and, dropping the slippers, climbed
into a great chair, against whose russet leather he nestled the
kimono and became lost, curling his bare toes under, whence, from
time to time, they peeked and wiggled.

Overwhelmed by his littleness, for the swivel armchair could easily
have held three generals like him and have had room left, top and
bottom, for several colonels and a major, I thought of the huge
overcoat of the night before and remembered what Lincoln said to
Grant when the two met Alexander H. Stephens in a similar greatcoat
on the _River Queen_ in the fall of ’64: “That certainly is the
littlest ear out of the biggest shuck that ever I did see.”

Gotoh and the General plunged into the labyrinths of the impossible
Japanese language and left me to the joy of studying the toes and
mustaches of this remarkable personality. He did not touch his
mustaches, which, though long, had none of the ordinary poise and
polish. No. They partook of the nature of the man and seemed the
superficial ganglia of his sensitive alertness. Three single hairs
from each side, twisted in a loose wisp, glimmed the air furiously
like the whiskers of a cat, as the General’s salient, pointed chin
chopped out the sentences. Then I noticed a phenomenon. While the
body of the mustache and the whiskers on one side were as black as
my coat, untouched by time, the right wisp was white with hoary
snow. It was as if the Genius of his time had selected him from
among the common race of men and touched him there.

“The General wishes to apologize for receiving you this way–in
a kimono.” At last the interpreter spoke, after the two had been
chattering several minutes. Could it really be the great General
familiar with a mere man of words like Gotoh, so insinuating
the smile, so comradely the gossip? Yet, doubtless, in that few
minutes he got from Gotoh every pertinent rag of information the
interpreter had about me. “But he has been a long time without the
luxury of a good bath, and the Russian Mayor left a fine one—-”

“Tell the General,” I interrupted, “that he is the first man
I have met in six months who has given me the satisfaction
of appearing as he is. This is his finest tribute to Western
civilization–informality.”

Then they went at it again–chattering. The General, thrusting his
elbows on the table, banged his chops into his palms, and, with
his eyes, pierced first me, then Gotoh, a roguish twinkle lighting
up his face for an instant to be replaced by the curl of irony on
his lips. Could this be the man of lightning decision, and of iron
will, who gave the order on February 8th to attack Port Arthur
before a declaration of war? I looked at his head, round and small
like a bullet, yet singularly long from nose bridge to dome. The
absence of excess tissue, skin stretched tight over parietal bones
and neck scrawny from spirited strain, together with a peculiar
atmosphere of concentration and mastery which invested him, said
it was as full of meat as an Edam cheese. Not a statesman, the
ministers say, but a giant of organization, a master of detail, the
brains of new Japan.

Is he not also the greatest editor in the history of journalism?
Because it is he who for six months has cornered the news market of
the world, so that, until the present time, not a single authentic
account has come from the field except those issued in the official
reports of his own generals. He has controlled the news as he
has controlled the armies–noiselessly, perhaps clandestinely,
but nevertheless absolutely. If the telegraph announces Japanese
victories, he reasoned, the public will not listen to the wail of
the special correspondent. He has substituted fact for criticism,
and, like the Duke of Wellington, announces his victories first,
his reverses afterward. Now that the campaign is outlined and all
can see what he is driving at, the time for speech has come; so he
speaks.

“You have seen Port Arthur. You may think it easy to take,” he went
on through Gotoh. I protested.

“It is not easy,” he continued. “It is quite difficult to take.”

“Of course–of course–thirty forts–ten years of
engineering–impregnable natural defenses–a stubborn army of great
fighters–clever officers to face—-”

“But—-” he reached halfway across the table, not waiting for
Gotoh to tell him what I said, and I had no need of an interpreter
to know the five words he uttered:

“I hold Port Arthur there!” I looked into the hollow of his hand,
twitching nervously, and saw the palm that is without bones, the
palm all nerves and sinew.

“But where will the army winter? You are not building barracks.
You have only shelter tents, flimsy as paper, which the Manchurian
winds would laugh at.”

“Do not worry. You shall winter inside. We will take it soon. I
hesitate to use the big guns for fear of hurting noncombatants.”

Then the tea came, via a soldier whose shoulder straps bearing the
figure 9 showed him to be one of the few survivors of the famous
9th regiment, which lost 94 per cent. of its men in repeated
unsuccessful assaults on the Cock’s Comb forts during the three
days battle from August 21st to 23d, and I saw that Kodama, like
Nogi, rewards the heroism of private soldiers by relieving them
from duty on the firing line and giving them honorable work as body
servants.

The General fondled his tea, delicious in a lacquered cup; Giokuro
it was, the best Japan grows, and bits of the leaf glittered in the
bottom like particles of steel. The steam curled about his face.
He lit a cigar, puffed vigorously, and smoke wreathed with steam.
Through the haze his whiskers, twisted in a loose wisp, bobbed
spasmodically as his pointed chin spat out the sentences. He pulled
himself further together, tying his legs acrobatically, and made
room in the great chair for still another general. I wondered if he
would disappear entirely, wizard-like, in a cloud of smoke. Then I
thought of that criminal condemned to capital punishment, executed
in experiment by the tea expert, who drank and drank until he
shriveled and shrunk to powdery fiber. Plainly Giokuro, Havana and
hot baths had helped hard work in drying up this tiny great man.

“We can’t tell what damage the big guns will do,” went on the
aspirate voice out of the smoke. Gotoh was turning over the
sentences now as fast as they came. “This is the first time in
history that coast defense guns have battled with each other. We
have brought ours from Japan. As the Russians cannot use theirs
against our navy they have turned them landward.”

“Why not against your navy?”

“Because–” he quickly drew from a drawer a brass tube attached
to a pot of India ink. Out of the tube he drew a brush and began
sketching nervously on a piece of blotting paper. The brass tube
was a yatate, the first one I have seen in the army. Generations
before siege artillery Japanese warriors who took arrow holders
from the enemy disgraced them by converting them into ink pots and
brush holders, for to soil a thing with business in those days was
to disgrace it. But merchants found the device a neat invention
and made arrow holders in miniature. The idea spread and soon all
the men of business in the empire carried yatates in their belts.
The army discarded them in disgust. Now Kodama comes, oblivious of
tradition, satisfying his caprice and comfort, and to his work, as
a samurai of old, introduces the yatate. When he finds the samurai
superstition concerning the gaining of eternal life by a soldier
killed in battle of value in his chess game of war he cherishes the
belief, but when the silly prejudice against business gets in his
way he cuts acquaintance with the samurai.

Quickly, under the yatate brush, there grew a sketch of Port Arthur
and the peninsula–curves for the east and west harbor, a cross
for the town, fuzz for Liaotishan, a loop for the Tiger’s Tail.
Then from east to west of the Liaotung he drew a dotted line in a
semicircle and paralleled it with another dotted line.

“Our mines,” he said, pointing to the outer; “their mines,”
pointing to the inner. “We have laid a series of electric mines
counter to theirs, which, if firing at, they explode, will ignite
their series and damage their coast defenses and harbor. Locked in
this mutual mining our navy and their coast defense must remain
inactive, as neither cares to take an initiative. So they have
turned not only their coast defense, but their navy guns landward.
We, in reply, have landed our navy guns and brought from Japan
our coast defense artillery. So you will see the spectacle of two
great naval equipments fighting on land. I wish I could bring all
the tacticians in the world to witness. There will be much to
learn for future warfare.” He puffed vigorously. The whiskers
poised themselves. His eyes, looking at the sketch, were lost in
introspection. He was reveling in the situation.

“You think it, then, a battle of strategists?”

“Only that. This is entirely a game of strategy. The chief question
is: are our naval and siege guns, reinforced by field artillery,
more powerful than their naval and coast defenses reinforcing the
forts? Lesser questions concern the individual generalship of
divisions and brigades.”

“But the boy in khaki–is he not the deciding force?” My mind ran
back to those terrible August days when I lay in the broiling sun
watching the soldiers hurled against the barbed wire, under the
machine guns, onto the parapets, only to melt away like chaff
before the wind. I thought of the night in the storm when the
general in command gave the order to retreat, but before his
aide could deliver it to the colonel in the field, the soldiers,
impatient, went in and took the opposing trenches. I thought of
all the sights in that mighty game I had just left; great guns in
the shock of battle peppered by shrapnel but holding to their
work like bulldogs on the grip, the sappers creeping with pick and
shovel through the night hounded by shells, the pioneers going up
with pincers to nip the wire met by the death sprinkle of Maxims,
the infantry in a thin brown line following, the men popped out
as expert drivers flick off flies with a whiplash, but advancing,
advancing, till a handful out of a host creeps up, and flings
itself, fanatical with the lust of battle, worn in the gory charge
so that life never can be the same again in sweetness and in peace,
into the redoubt paid for a dozen times with blood, and which even
then is but curtain raiser for drama still more heartrending,
because, beyond, rising tier on tier, series after series, are
redoubts and forts, trenches and barbed wire, moats and gorges,
rifles and cannon until the soul grows sick with the thought that
Port Arthur must be bought with sacrifice so great, agony so
monstrous.

“No,” said Kodama. “This is a question of military strategy.” He
thrust the yatate from him, stretched back into his chair and
puffed cigar wreathings into the air. They looked like the smoke of
a volley from a battery of howitzers. As he settled down to the
talk again, sometimes his eyes flashing, sometimes his mustaches,
one black, the other white with a venerable sign, twitching, his
bare toes twisting with suppressed energy, I thought I saw a huge
black spider serene in the Russian chair.

“Will you bring any more reserves?”

“No. We have an army large enough to take Port Arthur. The enemy
has about 20,000 men, we about 60,000. Three to one makes the
odds about even when you consider the defenses. More men are not
necessary. It is not a question of men now, but of ammunition and
generalship.”

“How about food? It has been reported that you let junks and even
transports run the blockade, that you won’t starve them out, but
want the glory of forcing them to surrender?”

His eyes snapped as he answered: “That is absolutely false. We have
them entirely hemmed in and maintain a perfect blockade.”

“Do you find the forts stronger than you expected?”

“They are very well built–on the Belgian model, I believe. They
are like the forts on the Belgian frontier where the lay is
similar. Toward the sea side they are iron plated, but toward us
there is only earth, with some concrete and masonry. It is the
arrangement that puzzles us. A very clever engineer must have
devised them, for we find an absolute change from the Chinese war
of ten years ago when we took Port Arthur in a day. Then, one fort,
Issusan, taken the others fell. That was the key to the position.
Now, one cannot say that any single fort is the key. All are so
arranged we must take them in detail. The capture of one means
only the capture of an individual fort, not of a series as in the
old days. Study as we may we find it difficult to minimize their
strength. They have even carried the fortifications to such an
extent that the sea escarpments jut over and they bathe there with
ease and safety.”

He looked so cosy in his kimono, redolent of the bath, that I
ventured: “You envy them, then. Aha! This is the secret of Japanese
persistence. The Russians have such a fine place to bathe.”

He gurgled and continued: “We began yesterday to shell with our new
guns–the Osacca mortars. It will be most interesting to watch
their effect on the earth forts.”

The General paused. It was time to go. We had taken the better part
of an hour from him. We rose. He slipped from the chair, tickled
his toes into his slippers, and threw his shoulders back jauntily,
giving himself the air that a little man does unconsciously when a
sense of the physical is borne in upon him.

Then I felt that creepy clasp as of a boneless hand. When I closed
the door he crept back to his perch. So I left him, noiseless
leader of forty millions, swathed in the great Russian chair, lost
in the Mayor’s Byzantine house, withered to essence like a tea leaf.

And his salary is the same as that of a congressman of the United
States.

Before Port Arthur, Headquarters Third Imperial Army, Oct. 9th: We
have left the mountain–the Phœnix–where by day we saw artillery
duels and by night flashes of lightning illumining the big guns,
while the plains stood out under the searchlights. There we could
step from our lunch table and, down the cliff, look into the
upturned ecstasy of a victorious army, or feel the dull weight of
its despair surge in and close upon us.

Now we are with the army, part of it. From the Manchurian hut,
where we live in insect powder, on tinned beef, biscuit and jam,
we go a few rods to a plateau and look into Port Arthur. The path
of the army can be traced by beer bottles–Asahi, Yebisu, Kabuta
and Saporo–but in all the army there is not a guardhouse. If the
company has a man who doesn’t smoke cigarettes he is pointed out
as a curiosity; the empty boxes–Peacock, Tokiwa, Pinhead, Old
Rip, Cherry and Star–dot the fields thick as the beer bottles;
the price of a box is two days’ pay; there is no way to have money
sent from Japan to the front, but a field savings bank to take it
back; and yet, into this field bank, from the three cents a day
pay, in spite of the beer and the cigarettes, over $10,000 has gone
since the opening of the campaign. Approach a battery and find a
lot of uncouth boys, gentle and friendly as children, curious as
savages, as lacking in assertion as a comedian off the stage; you
take them for menials, for most Americans in such a place would
carry mountains of dignity and be covered with placards, “hands
off.” These are expert gunners, handling scientific instruments,
and yet simple. Generals the same! It is an unaccountable thing,
this naturalness and modesty, like the morality of a man of genius.
A paradox? Yes; when you think of what fighters they are! But how
does a hen know when to turn her eggs, and where does a girl carry
her powder puff?

But to us, of whom there are three–Frederic Villiers, the war
artist, James Ricalton, the war photographer, and myself. The
public knows about Villiers, hero of Plevna and the Soudan,
discoverer of artistic Abyssinia, decorated by seven governments,
veteran of seventeen campaigns, dean of the war correspondents,
who has traveled the world round lecturing, sketching, writing.
The public knows less of Ricalton, one of its obscure great men.
He has gone through a long life with his nose to his work, like a
dog to a scent, heedless of fame and money. He is original, alone,
and has done things no other man has done. It was he that Thomas
A. Edison sent into all the tropical jungles twenty years ago to
search for a vegetable fiber for the electric lamp. He took most
of the photographs for John H. Stoddard’s lectures. He was the
first foreigner to walk through northern Russia, 1,500 miles from
Archangel to St. Petersburg. He has traveled through every country
on the globe, exposing 75,000 negatives, and has photographed most
of the great men of his generation. Of late years he has become
one of the most expert of war photographers. In the Philippines
he was the only man to get troops actually firing on the foe. At
the battle of Caloocan a soldier near him was winged; Ricalton
picked up the useless rifle, grabbed the cartridge belt and went
up with the skirmishers. At the siege of Tien Tsin he stood on the
walls and photographed Americans as they were dropped by Chinese
bullets. Little the public knows when it sees photographs of war
how few of them come from the front. Ricalton is one of the few
who gets the real thing. He is sixty years old, yet he tramps ten
and twenty miles a day with a thirty-pound camera under his arm,
for he sneers at the snap shot and will carry a tripod. Yet he
outlasts the young men on the march. Here he goes everywhere–into
captured forts while the corpses are still about, through the most
dangerous artillery positions, among reserves waiting for battle,
into the actual fighting if they would let him. To-day he is off to
gratify one of his few remaining ambitions, for he is sighing like
Alexander at already exhausting the world. He wants to get one of
the new siege shells, 500 weight, as it leaves the gun on its trip
to the battleships in the bay. Four of these shells were dropped
yesterday into the _Retvizan_ and _Pallada_. To-day the gunners
will try to put in another. Ricalton plans to have his camera all
set and tilted at the proper angle behind. Then as the gunner
pulls the lanyard he presses the bulb. He has stuffed his ears
with cotton so the shock will not break the drums, for a gunner
yesterday was deafened for life. He will probably be hurled to
the ground and his camera may be smashed, but he wants that shell
hurtling through the air, no bigger than a bee, while the dust of
the recoil curls up over the emplacement and all the grand tensity
of power and motion is about the place.

“Why take the risk?” say I, “when you can so easily take the gun
at rest and then paint in a little dust and that wee dot up in the
air.”

[Illustration: BO-O-OM!

Discharge of the Japanese 11-inch Mortar during the Grand
Bombardment of October 29. The gun is a mile and a half away, and
is firing into the Two Dragon Redoubt. The vibration made a clear
photograph impossible.]

“But it wouldn’t be the real thing,” said he, as he started off.
Then I saw why he is Ricalton and not some faker at his ease over
a chemical tray in the city. Just now, looking out of the window
under which I write, I can see the battery where he has gone. It
lies snug among the hills, two great guns cocked on concrete and
flanked by howitzers aloft on peaks. The Russians have the range
and are pumping shells in, two or three a minute. It looks as if
nothing could live there, but I know that probably not a man is
injured, for I was there yesterday and saw how safe the dugouts
are. Villiers looks up from his sketching and watches the firing
through his glasses. A ten-incher plunges into the hillside and the
earth boils up as if the foundations were ripped away.

“I hope dear old Ricalton is out of that,” he exclaims.

“Don’t fear for him. He has gone through too much to be rapped by
that,” I reply. I remember how he walked there yesterday, his eye
always on a dodgehole. A ten-incher came just as this one to-day.
He threw himself flat on his stomach, hugging his machine, tenderly
as though it were a baby, in a ditch by the roadside. Ten yards off
the shell exploded. The pieces flew over and clods of earth fell on
him. Hardly had the pieces stopped before he was up and after them,
for he is as great a curio hunter as he is a photographer, and he
has a house in Maplewood, New Jersey, converted into a museum,
which the natural history experts declare is the finest private
collection in America. But enough of Ricalton.

Along a deeply rutted road in front of our village we gaze in awe
at the big guns and their accouterment spread beside a narrow-gauge
track. A pile of empty shells with points like needles and thick
as a telephone pole, so heavy two men can hardly lift one, lies
scattered down the slopes. A recoil vamp lumbers a truck. An
ungainly steel thing nestles belly deep in the sand while a company
of human ants sweats and wrestles with it. Then suddenly we come
upon the beautiful breech, delicate as clockwork, dazzling as a
jeweler’s case, gleaming in the sun, and Ricalton exclaims:

“The only thing that gives one respect for man–his achievement–is
to look at such a piece of mechanism. It has the power of a jungle
of elephants, yet is as sensitive as a little girl!”

Some days we take trips off to the various divisions and get close
in for a big battle, feel the pitch and pallor of war, see heights
assaulted, won and lost, hear the adventure of conflict from heroic
mouths and get in close upon the red anathema. Then we visit the
hospitals and know the slow agony of it–the suffering, endurance,
silent sacrifice. Two weeks ago I saw the same operation that was
performed on President McKinley–laparotomy. A soldier’s stomach
was pierced, as McKinley’s was. The surgeons took it out, sewed it
up and replaced it. To-day I was told the man would recover. He is
a strong, hardy chap, a peasant boy, who lives on rice, fish and
tea, which was not McKinley’s diet. The soldier at the same time
lost his right arm by amputation. Visiting him again yesterday I
asked how he was getting on.

“Well enough,” he replied. “The hard thing is not to think about
it. You’re all right if you only don’t think. It’s the mind that
rips one up, sir, the doctor says.”

Our village shelters most of the impedimenta that an army
headquarters must carry. Band-musicians are our neighbors. The
interpreters, next door, swap tea, cigarettes and news with us.
The Russian interpreter, who lived in Moscow three years, sketches
so well, Villiers says he will take him to Paris and make him the
fashion. Behind us are the Japanese correspondents, so clandestine
in their ways that even a Manchurian farmer must know they are
yellow journal reporters. Of a morning we see a curious pair
strolling off over the hills, one with a fowling-piece, looking for
snipe, the other with a camera watching for a chance to get a shell
as it explodes. One is Mr. Arriga, the expert on international law,
who will adjudicate all property rights as soon as Port Arthur
falls; the other is the official photographer.

Then there are the war correspondents, who have a camp three miles
off. In bargaining for junks to take the news out, two of the cable
men have become so bitter in rivalry that they go around with
Mauser pistols, each threatening to shoot the other if he tells how
the censor was evaded. There is the Norwegian nobleman with the
eyes of a viking who is writing serials for one of Harmsworth’s
London dailies. Finally, there is what Villiers calls “The Bartlett
pair”–A. Bascom Bartlett, Esq., son of the Hon. E. Bascom
Bartlett, M. P., who came out to see the fun and what Villiers
calls the Tossup, because it was a toss-up whether or not he should
come, and who is here to make fun. It was he, who recently, after
hearing a general tell of the desperate charge of a brigade,
patted the officer on the back and said: “A very noble act, sir. I
shall relate that in Tossup Hall.”

The elder Tossup is a country brewer in Yorkshire. The younger
insists that he is an officer and a gentleman and knows how to
conduct himself. But a few days ago he was caught, while visiting
an outpost with an officer, in a crossfire, and ducked into a
trench. The officer tried to reassure him by following into the
trench. There, while a battle was raging beyond, and in the
presence of all the sublime panorama that surrounds us here the
Tossup said: “I hope you will come and visit me in England. We will
go to the autumn maneuvers.”

The officer, not expert with English, pulled out his dictionary and
ran his thumb down the “ma’s.” “man–man–manur” he read. “Ah,”
he cried at last, “the autumn manuring! I see, sir, yours is an
agricultural country.”

What Blaine’s unfortunate “three R’s” were to his Presidential
campaign “203-Meter Hill” was to the siege of Port Arthur. Risen to
the dignity of key to the situation, it had, in an ordnance sense,
little to do with the case. It was but one of seven advance posts
for final assault. A pimple of progress to the engineer, it was
not permanently fortified, did not belong to the primary scheme of
defense, and was dominated by three of the finest forts–Etzeshan,
Anzushan, and Liaotishan: mountains of the Chair, the Table, and
the Lion’s Mane. For three reasons heavy guns could not be mounted
there. First, the cost in energy and life would be too vast,
because rifles whose barrels alone weigh from two to eight tons
each would have to be hauled by hand up 680 feet of rock, a task
heroic even in peace. In war, wedged among three magnificently
intrenched hostile positions, this would be impossible. Second,
even if these heavy guns–only of any value against forts or
fleets–had been gotten there, they would have been pounded to
pieces within an hour of arrival by the more numerous and better
emplaced artillery of the Chair, the Table, and the Lion’s Mane.
Finally, heavy guns are never emplaced on mountain peaks in an
offensive campaign.

“203” had one value–a great one. It was the best point of
observation the Japanese had yet had. Line of vision, not line of
fire, was what they needed. From “203” they could look into all
portions of the harbor that could float a warship, but, what was
more essential, they could look around the promontory of Golden
Hill into the cove, where the hunted remnant of the Russian fleet
had been hiding, at loose anchor, since the disastrous attempt to
escape on August 10th. They had no need for better artillery posts
than the positions which they had held for four months and from
which they had been able to place shells in any spot on the Russian
side.

[Illustration:

_Copyright, 1905, by Collier’s Weekly_

THE HYPOSCOPE

Showing Lieutenant Oda looking from 203-Meter Hill through the
hyposcope at the Russian fleet in the New Harbor of Port Arthur]

“Any spot,” that is, if they knew where the spot was. To locate
the spot had been the difficulty. “203” gave the line of vision,
but it was so wedged in among commanding batteries that its value
depended upon an instrument new to warfare–the hyposcope. This
is merely a telescope cut in half–the front half elevated above
the other, like the head of an ostrich above the body, and the two
connected by a further length of scope. In the joints thus formed
mirrors are placed. Thus a view of the interior of Port Arthur was
brought over the topmost trench of “203” to the eyes and brain of
the Japanese lookout, protected there by the rocks. Through the
hyposcope a lookout could observe the effect of every shot from his
own batteries, located not on “203” or anywhere near “203,” but
distant, most of them, two or three miles. While he operated the
hyposcope with his left hand, with his right he held to his ear
the receiver of a telephone connected directly with each of these
firing batteries. These batteries were emplaced, not on mountain
peaks, not on the front of the mountain range from which their
operations were being directed, but entirely behind this range,
which was parallel to the coast range, forming the permanent
line of Russian defense. From these points, scattered in the rear
of the Japanese position, distant from the Russians, the nearest
half a mile, the farthest three miles, the work of the bombardment
went on. The firing was what the military man calls “high angle” or
“plunging”; that is, the shell traveled in the line of a parabola
over two mountain ranges, which separated the Japanese batteries
from the Russian ships. The gunners never had a sight of what they
were firing at, the officers in command of the batteries never had
a sight of what they were firing at. Only the lookout on “203”
knew where the shells went, and he got his knowledge through a
mirror. This knowledge was used by the artillery officer, who found
the range by means of a quadrant. The hyposcope, the telephone,
the quadrant–these were the scientific ganglia that wiped the
mountains from the map of the Liaotung Peninsula, and brought the
operations, in the mind’s eye, to the level of a billiard table.
“203” was the cushion needed for successful caroming. It would be
useless to lug heavy guns up there; the hyposcope was carried up,
but not artillery.

Dispatches have said that the capture of “203” gave the besiegers
command of the town. Such dispatches concerning other captured
positions were published repeatedly. Their effect was to keep
the world continuously expecting the fall of Port Arthur. Let it
once be comprehended that none of the positions captured up to
December 15th was permanent, that none was a part of the grand
scheme of defense perfected by the Russians through the past seven
years; that there still remained seventeen primary and twenty-five
secondary positions on the land side in addition to the finest
forts which are on the sea side, and it will be apparent that this
expectation was not, until General Stoessel decided that further
resistance was useless, justified by the actual conditions.

Commanding the town meant little. The Japanese navy put shells into
the town on the 8th of February, and had been able to put them in
ever since; the army put them in on the 11th of August, and had
been qualified for destruction ever since. They wanted to save the
town. They looked upon it as their property. Why smash up what they
would have to rebuild? The fleet had been their chief objective.
Though inert for four months, it was a menace until sunk; that
out of the way, they need not worry. Of course their shells had
searched about for arsenals and storehouses; if the town got in the
way of the search–well, so much the worse for the town, but the
Japanese effort had been to save their own. It was not Port Arthur,
but Stoessel and his forts, that Nogi was after, just as it was not
Richmond, but Lee and his army, that Grant was after.

As for the strategic position, no one can say that any one fort
at Port Arthur is the key. Nature assisted expert engineers in
devising those forts. All are so arranged that each is commanded
by two or three, and, in some cases, by a dozen others; thus when
one was taken it drew Russian fire from its fellows until it became
untenable. Such was the situation at “203-Meter Hill.” The Japanese
had driven the Russians out, but they were unable to mount guns of
large caliber there, or do aught but locate a farther station from
which to direct final assaults. Ten years ago, when the Japanese
took Port Arthur from the Chinese in a day, one fort, Etzeshan,
taken, the others fell. That was the key. To-day no single fort is
so important. “203” is dominated by the Table fort, the Table fort
by the Chair fort, the Chair fort by Golden Hill, and Golden Hill
by the Lion’s Mane. And after all this was taken, there would still
remain the east forts. Yet, the capture of “203” was decisive. On
September 19th, the Japanese lost two thousand men in trying to
take it. The attempt failed. The division with the job in hand sat
down, waited, and worked. Two months and a half of sapping, and one
day of assault, on December 4th, turned the trick. Though it did
not mean the fall of Port Arthur, it meant the beginning of the
end. This for the reason that every contraction in the Russian line
meant a gain in Japanese strength. The smaller the circumference
the less the capacity for resistance. And, after all, the physical
fact of the fall was simply a question of mathematics. The loss
of life appalls, the spectacle attracts, the glory inthralls, but
the intellect, backed by whatever impulse it is that gives man
resolution for the supreme sacrifice, commands. A chessboard and
two master minds–such was Port Arthur, Nogi, and Stoessel. The
checking move was made as long ago as May 26th, when the battle of
Nanshan was fought. The fate of Port Arthur was sealed then just as
it was sealed again when “203” was taken.

Let us look at that September assault on “203,” of which the one in
December was but a repetition, and glimpse what it meant to storm
Port Arthur. Could all the bloody story of the siege be told, “203”
would be forgotten, a detail lost in vista, swamped in gigantic
operations, veiled in the mist of vast sacrifices. Yet the mind,
puny as it is, must grasp an incident and cling tight, as a poet to
the fringe of metaphor, for comprehension even distant.

Passing from the rear of the army to the front, you might realize
something of the tricky skill used to move those pawns over that
vast chessboard. To the eye of an eagle all would have been
invisible. The sum of his sight would have been a tongue of land
making faces at the sea, ridged with deep blotches from whose
recesses thin pricks of smoke slipped to the crack and roar of
great guns.

Yet lively work was seen. Close to the right rear was the first
battery, a six-gun emplacement of field four point sevens. At one
o’clock in the afternoon the telephone rang, the lieutenant in
command called, and instantly the redoubt swarmed with figures
that sprang like ants from the earth. Busy as ants, they answered
the order from brigade headquarters for the signal shot to open
the grand bombardment. They had come from their bomb-proofs, into
which they would dodge again as soon as the shot was fired. There
was much pride in the chief gunner as he took a cartridge from its
bomb-proof shell chest, ran to his gun, threw open the cordite
chamber, pulled out the breech block, rammed in the shell, snapped
the block, and stepped back to signal the lanyard man; more pride
than is usual in the Japanese gunner, a timid, simple being,
dexterously handling his delicate instrument with as little vanity
as he would handle a potato hoe.

Hurrying on the road to escape the shock, and looking back, the
battery was invisible. The bewilderment of the eagle, if told that
danger lurked there, would be overwhelming. A shell spat out,
revealing the battery behind a mass of earth forming a natural
redoubt. This was in a narrow valley with only a small range of
foothills between it and the sea, a place later called “The Valley
of the Shadow of Death.” Behind every mountain shoulder, and up
every gorge, firing high angle over the eminence in front, was
a battery nestled in its redoubt, with bomb-proofs for the men
and bomb-proofs for the ammunition. It was hardly a valley, but
a ravine, barren of grass, a torrential place through which, in
spring, huge rains tore. Soon other rain–red rain, powdery and
leaden–was to pour there.

Directly in front, out of the west, loomed “203,” flanked by its
gigantic brothers, granite-tossed, the Chair and the Table and the
Lion’s Mane. Bone of the world’s vertebræ, Russia had capped them
with science and determination. Their cordoned batteries, cunning
and intricate, spoke not a word in reply to the Japanese taunts
hurled in upon them, savage and vain. Why reply? They knew their
strength. Before “203” lay a height down on the map, like the
disputed key itself, under figures to denote in meters its reach
skyward; “176” they call it, lacking more intimate speech, but the
soldiers quickly dubbed the hill “Namicoyama,” for they saw its
resemblance to a flying fish abundant in these waters, called by
us the trepang, by Japanese the namico. The mongers of Kamikura,
after disemboweling, inflate this fish for hanging lamps. There
it lay–the namico–its slopes spread finwise, its two peaks,
furze-capped, rising above the mists of the valley as incandescents
struggle through the fog of the night. Ringed with barbed wire was
each peak and close about the top were lines of loopholed rock.
As the following step of a stair, “203” rose beyond, fortified
likewise. From the nearer peak the tardy glint of the sun caught
the brass muzzles of two cannon. From the farther, down the slope,
ran a trench continued to the sea.

The battle was on. Before the Russian outlook knew it the Japanese
advance was at the base of Namicoyama. Each man was stripped to
his khaki uniform, his cartridge belt and his rifle. Four hundred
rounds of ammunition were in the four leather boxes at his belt,
and in his hip pocket was a ration, dubbed with a soldier laugh,
“iron”–three hard biscuits with a piece of salt fish the size of
his palm.

Up they went cautiously, a squad of twenty at a time, slinking
along the ravines, their rifle-butts dragging the ground; one file
of twenty, then another and another, until the slopes were dotted
with figures colored like the earth–silent, nimble, tiny.

Now the artillery was at it heavily. Beginning with the battery we
had seen go into action, the pieces spoke up, one by one, until
near a hundred guns were spitting fire from the nooks behind;
astonishing to an eagle, but the Russians seemed not to mind.
The shots increased, the din augmented. A shell appeals to the
imagination–snarls like a wild beast, flings fierce shrieks into
unwilling ears, rends tooth and claw at fear. The place might have
been a nest of demons with the old devil hen hatching them out.
The Japanese kept those two ridges so hot with shrapnel that not
a man dared show himself. For twenty yards below the parapet the
slope bubbled as does a pot boiling above the kettle’s brim. Not a
sound from the nearer Russians. From Anzushan, from Etzeshan, from
“203,” and even from far-off Liaotishan the replies spoke distant
and absurd, but Namicoyama, slated for assault, was silent, silent
as though no brass cannon were mounted in the sight of all men, as
though no twenty companies of sharpshooters were lying low with
Maxims and repeating rifles waiting to receive the final charge.
Were there cowardly Japanese it was a secret shared by no man with
his neighbor. Sound to the core or not, they went on with the
precision of a clock. As the infantry advanced, occasionally a
huddled figure, inert, was grouped here and there with others who
moaned piteously. At times a squad, sinking, would lose itself in
a hollow, only to climb presently up the opposite slope, there to
sink on one knee, rifles at fixed bayonets, while the lieutenant
in command reconnoitered to right or left, searching for the line
of best deploy. Then on, skurrying another few rods, to another
halt, until they came to the precipitous rocks up which it seemed
a goat would have skinned his shins in climbing. Here, hugging the
mountain proper, having lost but few, considering the advance made,
they waited for night.

Meanwhile, aloft, hell reigned. Shells constantly bursting
apparently shattered guns and killed gunners, but when the dust
cleared all was instantly life again, the gnomish figures
busy–busy as ants with eggs. For a minute thus, then all would
drop back into the earth simultaneously with the reply, and at the
very moment that another Russian shell was in upon them.

Was it the same beyond in Namicoyama and in “203”? Doubtless the
Russians were as safe, though with them the shells must have
been multiplied by twenties, because the space of a few rods,
lying exposed to every range, received the constant fire of every
Japanese gun. The Russians had a wider target, a range of hills
from which occasionally they could see smoke curling upward. It was
far more difficult to hit than the Japanese target, for nothing
was plain, all was guesswork. The Russians could not see a thing
they were aiming at. A range of hills, seared with autumn, bare
of husbandmen, innocent of apparent defense, alive with hissing
venom, confronted them. They lashed it desperately as they could,
frantically as a boy beset with nightmare. The little men had a
plain target, parapets outlined against the sky, trenches clear and
distinct. Yet the Japanese were often covered with dust from bursts
on the slope beyond, and through the Valley of the Shadow the
diabolic screeches mounted with the dying of day. Night came with
the wild clamor on in full fury, the little brown squads still at
the base of Namicoyama, the reserves creeping around toward “203.”

Could they climb it–that six hundred feet of almost perpendicular
rock, where, in daytime, with sticks and hobnailed boots, the
best of mountain climbers would have found an adventure? And
they must go up dragging rifles, shrapnel dropping among them,
shells bursting overhead, bullets mowing them down, not to rest at
the top, but, once there, to plunge against troops well rested,
superbly intrenched.

The reserves threw up shelter tents and staked down the flaps with
heavy rocks, but the wind, howling across from the inlet, flung
them to the laugh of the rising equinoctial. Some sought rest on
bean straw, under blankets, the September moon streaming in, but
there was no rest.

A flash in the eyes and the mountain is thrown into a silhouette of
fire, then plunged into blackness. From the extreme Russian left
the searchlights are wheeling into position, one by one, until the
whole seven are out, playing day over the battlefield, throwing
suspicious investigation into the little squads of brown. Science
has intensified war. Formerly men could get their fill of fighting
by day, but now they needs must flare the candle at both ends. Like
Joshua, these generals are deciding their empires’ fates under
light of their own ordering.

The second searchlight comes out of the right. In between,
the others dance, now a minuet, now a tarantella. Then a red
line streaks the air, parabola-like, and its end breaks into
molten balls, illumining the Valley of the Shadow of Death as
by candelabra of stars. Its path is crossed by another. Still a
third leaps into life till the night is frightful with fireworks.
Processions peaceful and gay have danced through the cities to such
salvoes fostered by Pain. You have seen them on Coney Island, you
have watched for them on Manhattan Beach, you have romped through
merry summer nights canopied by their dazzle; you have seen them
split into golden bursts and rain diamonds of child joy; but do not
wish to see them bred by the Russians, grisly and deadly, laying
bare every joint of action and throwing into ghastly relief every
hope of surprise.

A growl among the mountains rolls into power, and a naval shell
from our left has burst in “203.” The forts respond, the mountains
reply. The small arms open up, the machine guns rattle, the pompoms
clatter in. Pitch, fuzz, dingle and pop are drowned. Crash, roar,
hurtle and boom are out. The devil is loose.

A clatter on the stones below comes nearer, steadily, rhythmically.
Listen! The tread of soldiers marching! Soon an indistinct line
wavers into sight. A low whistle and it turns square across the
Valley of the Shadow toward that terrible din. Another whistle and
it twists up from single to double file. Each man has his full
kit on his back, an extra pair of hobnailed boots, the pick, the
shovel, the rifle. The steel is hooded with brass caps, a challenge
to the dew. Officers’ swords, sheathed in dull cloth, defy the
glitter of sunlight and of searchlight. It is the reserve regiment
advancing to reinforce at dawn. Company by company it passes, and
at the end marches the gray-haired colonel, stumbling in the dark,
peering off at the searchlights, blinking at their bravado. The
troops enfile into the farther ravine and deploy by battalions. The
din lessens not. So another grist is fed into the mill of war.

The reserves’ echo dies to the incoming of crunches on the stones
as of a wagon lumbering–a heavy wagon. Then out of the mists
a caisson rolls behind six horses, the mounts walking, calmly,
slowly. Another caisson and another, then the guns–one, two,
three, four, five, six in all–while overhead whistles the shot and
beyond gleams the searchlight. The rear battery is going forward,
past the front battery, almost to the base of Namicoyama, where,
at a sixty-degree angle, it can reinforce the infantry as the sun
comes up.

Sleep is fitful when blaze is flirting with blackness and sentries
with death. Long before light the trench guards on the front ridge
are waiting for the big guns to salute the morn. The fire has
slackened. There is fair quiet. When one has heard the wild gabble
of a thousand guns he is _blasé_ before the chatter of a dozen.
Down the Valley of the Shadow a shell sometimes wings a nasty way
and the searchlights hold vigil, but the infantry sleeps.

Then a little light fades the immense shadows, and soon over
the rim of the world peers a new day. Peace, beauty, tingling
health–this for another moment–when off to the right a shell
wheezes. The snap is touched. The army wakes. Again it is on–the
fearful din, the unendurable bombardment. So it has been for two
months; so it will be until the end. Again and again.

But what is that under the crest of Namicoyama where it rises,
furze covered, its incandescent struggle fighting fog? A patch of
brown, then a patch of blue, then a flag–yes, a flag–a white
flag, with a red sun in the center, the most legible flag in the
Volapük of bunting, the Rising Sun of Japan!

In the night they have done it because they have slipped the thongs
of civilization and risen triumphant to the hold of rice paddy and
sacred mountain. What they did was simple–they changed shoes;
rather, they threw away shoes. If one asks how the Japanese took
“203” the answer is in terms of feet.

Such heights had been attacked before with scant success. Boots,
though the nails be hobbed, help no man trained as the chamois
to nature’s aid. Yet boots were all they had. The government in
flirting with the ways of white men recognized nothing but leather
and thread as proper footgear for Mikado worshipers. But that
was before “203.” Here, at last, the soldiers knew more than the
officials of state. They knew enough to toss aside a weapon made
for pavement fighting when they went against precipice and moss.
Reduced to essentials, fighting for life, they forgot the ambitious
new ways. Instead of boots they tied on their feet waraji, the
Japanese straw sandal. Having none of proper make, they improvised
from the rough rice sacking brought by the commissary. Since then
the government has been compelled to officially supply waraji.

Barefooted, but for the tight cling of the straw, hid from the
searchlights by the shadows of Namicoyama and “203,” in the night
they had climbed the heights and are now waiting the introduction
of Mr. Bombshell before they reel audaciously across the parapet.

The brown is khaki-covered men, the blue those with overcoats. Far
down at the lower left is a gray-haired figure standing apart–the
colonel. He makes no effort to shield himself. The artillery of two
armies have concentrated their fire above his head. That is their
business, no concern of his, so he hazily observes the unfurling of
day beyond the Tiger’s Tail as he would dwell upon the empurpling
of a convolvulus. At Nanshan he led the victorious charge. Three
bullets went through his coat and two through his hat. He wears
Shinto emblems and believes he was not born to be killed in battle.
He has been in forty-seven engagements without a wound. His name is
Tereda, and he commands the first regiment of the first division;
in rank but a lieutenant-colonel, his colonel slain May 26th.

Shrapnel begins bursting above. The Russians are far from sleep,
farther from death. It being high time for business, the white
flag with the red sun in the center waves once to the left, once
to the right, and twice to the front. It is the artillery signal.
Again the ridge falls under the terrific fire of the day before.
But this time the infantry is 150 yards nearer, and this 150 yards
is in a direction similar to that pursued by a telephone lineman
when he follows his calling. The men crouch low, their own shells
bursting less than fifty yards above them.

The introduction is long. The Russians are saucy hosts. They parley
and talk back with their big guns, and that bluster of the day
before is repeated. All day long Tereda and his men emulate the
furze, for when they take the fort they want night handy to help
them intrench, to give them a bit of cover despite the searchlights
and star bombs. Besides, one climb of that sort is enough for
twenty-four hours. They must have the cumulation of another
twenty-four for the final charge. Yet it is costly recuperation.
Blood spurts frequently. Wounded wilt under the sun, the dead lie
untouched.

At half-past four in the afternoon Tereda orders the final charge.
Three cheers go up–Banzai! Banzai! Banzai! With bayonets fixed the
squads deploying as before, the khaki-covered spots begin to move.
In advance the men crawl hand over hand, helped by blessed waraji.
Twenty feet from the parapet they pause and fling something that
leaps through the air like balls from catcher to second base.
These hand grenades of gun-cotton explode on and in the parapet,
introduction more intimate. The brilliant bursts play off the fast
settling evening as the khaki-covered ones go in, Tereda pausing
and peering with his glass. The entire battalion tumbles over the
parapet. Then the reserves begin climbing from the base.

Silence. All is over. What has happened? Five, ten minutes pass,
then the firing recommences, but now the object is changed; all the
Japanese shrapnel is playing over the road leading to the Chair
fort and all the Russian fire is directed against Namicoyama. The
Russians are retreating, throwing their rifles as they run. Over
Namicoyama floats the white flag with the red sun in the center.

Two hours later a fat old man with a heavy beard and baggy
trousers is brought in–a prisoner. An officer, originally in
the commissary, he had been called into the line, business being
dull in his department. He commanded six companies on Namicoyama.
Wounded in the arm and sullen, he has no greeting for us.

“The pigs,” he cried; “I stood at the end of the trench with my
pistol ready to shoot every bolter, but it was no use. The beasts!
Ah, my poor Russia.”

He had a son in a Siberian regiment shot four days previously
before his eyes. For a year he had had no word from his wife and
two younger children in the Trans-Baikal, but he was well fed.
Bearded, tanned, deep-eyed, he loomed with dignity and might above
his captors. There was no consoling him.

“The beasts,” he cried, “papa disowns them. Why didn’t I use the
pistol?”

There was plenty of flour and small-arm ammunition over there, he
said. The troops were in good morale, but needed bucking up by the
officers. What could be done for him?

“Nothing,” he replied. “My boy is dead, my wife, my children, where
are they? And Russia, ah, Russia, where is she!”

To him Port Arthur had fallen.

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