Port Arthur stood formidable and haughty on the night of February
8th, when Togo first saluted it with his turret six-inchers. That
salute of the shell was lengthy and costly. For ten months it kept
up from nearly seven hundred guns, approximately two hundred and
forty in the navy and three hundred and fifty in the army. Each gun
fired its weight in metal twenty times over. About two thousand
tons of bursting shell went into that proud and mighty citadel,
cordoned with its cunningly hung and ingeniously intrenched forts.
Each firing cost an average of twenty-four gold dollars. Thus
the moneyed treasure hurled against the fortress exceeded thirty
millions. And men–but of the human later.

What bait lured and what force repelled that money and blood? To
comprehend we must review briefly Port Arthur, its fortification,
and its siege. Nature there was the greatest ally the Russians
ever had. Topographically, Port Arthur was fitted with a defense
that taught tricks to the most skillful engineers. Two ranges of
hills, almost concentric, surrounded the harbor. The crests of
these were broken by a series of successive conical elevations.
Here was a suggestion that the mightiest engineer–an Archimedes
or a Michelangelo–would have seized. The Italians who helped the
Russians in laying out their defenses, taking these concentric
ranges for the primary grand scheme, ran completely about the
city two concentric lines of fortifications. Massive masonry
forts were built on the shoulders of the high summits, and were
connected by continuous defensive works. Hugging the city close,
distant from one thousand yards to a mile and a half, lay the
inner line of permanent defense, whose backbone was an old Chinese
wall, broadened, deepened, and loopholed. Beyond, and filling the
interstices between these forts, were semi-permanent works. The
forts were so related to each other that they gave mutual support.
Each one was dominated by fire from neighboring heights, and it
often happened that the Japanese seized positions, which, though
untenable for the Russians, they were unable to hold themselves.
The slopes of the hills were steep. Also, they were smooth and free
from cover. To rush the works charges had to be made over a broad
glacis, swept by the shrapnel, machine gun, and rifle fire of the
defenders. Should the assault survive the scientific deathtraps
of this danger zone, the valiant few were confronted by massive
masonry parapets, through which they could not force an entrance.

This wonderful network of fortifications, strong by nature, strong
by virtue of the skill and care with which it had been built, was
distinguished from all previous defensive works by the fact that
here for the first time were used all those terrible agencies of
war which science in the last century has rendered available. There
were steel shields to protect skirmishers, machine guns, smokeless
powder, artillery of high velocity and great range, high explosive
shells, the magazine rifle, the telescopic sight, giving marvelous
accuracy of fire; the range-finder, giving instantaneously the
exact distance of the enemy; the searchlight, the telegraph and
the telephone, starlight bombs, barbed-wire entanglements, and a
dozen other diabolic inventions, the sum of which, allied to this
stupendous fortification of nature by man, enabled the military
authorities of the world to pronounce upon Port Arthur that
superlative word, impregnable.

Reducing the scale of this fortress, we might see in miniature
its intricate construction if we looked upon the hair-clippers
of a barber. The forts were the teeth, the murderous scientific
apparatus the death blades of this monstrous clipper. For five
months they shaved clean everything that approached them.

At the beginning of the operations, in the War Office at Tokyo, the
plan of campaign against Port Arthur was laid out as all Japanese
campaigns are laid out–by the General Staff. With a passion for
detail and a mania for precision, the fortress was plotted and the
operations against it mathematically separated into stages. Now
that Port Arthur calls on history for an answer, the exact nature
of this plan, and how rigidly it was adhered to, may be for the
first time disclosed.

There were to be four stages in the reduction of the fortress.
The work was divided into stages, because the Japanese are so
practical that they must plainly see on paper what they project.
They live by system. They have reduced accomplishment to a problem
of economics. They believe that the most successful man is he who
makes the closest analysis. It was fore-ordained that they would be
successful, for they analyzed Port Arthur.


The first of the four stages laid out comprehended the capture
of the Chinese wall, which is the main line of permanent Russian
land defense on the east, and its protection of twelve forts;
three permanent, four semi-permanent, and three redoubts. The
second stage comprehended the taking of Etzeshan and Anzushan (the
Table and Chair forts), which are considered the keys to the west
defenses, with the lunettes, batteries, and redoubts which formed
their out and in works. The third stage comprehended the capture of
the town of Port Arthur, and the great sea forts located on the
Tiger’s Tail and Golden Hill. The fourth and final stage, in which
it was expected that the desperation of defense would mount to the
height of a fierce guerrilla warfare, comprehended the taking of
the tip of the peninsula, called Liaotishan.

The first stage was the most vital military move, for once
accomplished it meant the crumbling of the Russian line, though the
defense might linger after that for months.

The second stage was politically the great essential, for not until
it was well accomplished could the world be told that Port Arthur
had fallen. Through this Chair fort the town was taken ten years
ago, but now it rises so formidably that the Japanese have not even
dared to attack it. It looks like the crater of an extinct volcano,
bulwarked with loose sand at a seventy-five degree angle, so that
on assault men sink to their knees and lie inert under merciless
fire. “203” was but a semi-permanent outwork of this Chair fort,
which dominated it.

Such was the project. Execution needed only Stoessel and his
defenders to make the plan of the Tokyo War Office precise. They
failed on the defense of the last three stages, so that when the
Japanese accomplished the first stage, Port Arthur fell. Nogi’s
original intention was to pierce the Russian right center through
the line of forts from Keekwanshan and Ehrlungshan, while he
demonstrated on the left, where lie “203” and Etzeshan. He pursued
this plan to the end and was consistent through a bitter, costly
half-year. He planned to enter Port Arthur, through Keekwanshan
and Ehrlungshan, on August 21st. He entered Port Arthur through
Keekwanshan and Ehrlungshan, January 2d–four months and a half
late–but he got there, as he originally planned.

It was predicted that if the Russian line could be broken at any
one point, the fortress would fall. No one but the mathematical
heads in the War Office took stock in the idea of the four grand
stages. But Nogi and his generals held to the plan by foreseeing
beyond the actual defense, by checkmating it at every point that
might possibly have bearing upon these various stages, and as a
chess player surveys every possibility of defeat, counting on
consummate ability in the opponent. Then they finally got what
they were after, even before they expected it.

Had Nogi met what his foresight led him to expect–a consistently
determined defense–his capture of Ehrlungshan and Keekwanshan in
the last days of December would have left him only with one-quarter
of his work finished. But as a general giving full credit to his
adversary, he could not count on the Russian failure in the two
vital respects which spelled the final surrender. These two vital
things were ammunition and _morale_. If the Russians had had plenty
of ammunition and had been pervaded, rank and file, with Stoessel
spirit, they would have fought on while they held Anzushan and
Etzeshan, and all of that great chain of forts from Golden Hill
through to Liaotishan.

The siege of Port Arthur presents many phases–military, political,
ethnical, scientific, spectacular, and dramatic–in short, all the
great vital phases of human life. About the siege of Sebastopol the
libraries hold thirty volumes–about Plevna twenty. Port Arthur
surpasses both. Politically, vaster interests were at stake. In
a military sense the operations were more extensive; so we cannot
hope to cover the ground delved into by hundreds of writers about
former sieges.

We can but pick the grand salient features that seared themselves
into the memory of the few who lived through it. Of these the chief
is the proof that human tenacity and valor are as great to-day as
at any time in the world’s history. The great guns at Port Arthur
were marvelous. They impressed one with that power seen in a jungle
of elephants, yet they were sensitive and delicate as a little
girl. The battling under searchlights was as grand a spectacle
as the imagination can devise. The ingenuity and precision of
the movements outlined by generals bred in all the duplicity and
culture of the schools, and reared through every vicissitude of
camp and march, were astounding. The ingenious, quiet deviltry of
the engineer puzzled the brain. But all would have been useless
without the private soldier. The boy in khaki–he did the trick.

And after all the story of Port Arthur has been thrashed out, its
questions settled, that soldier of Nippon, with a calm, plain
face, stamped with the soil, rises supreme, saluting his equally
glorified yokel brother from the Trans-Baikal.

Shells make a lot of noise and led the hotel correspondents many
miles away to see blood on the face of the moon, but at Port Arthur
their damage was out of all proportion to their cost. Only one out
of four hundred of the Russian shells was effective in the Japanese
camp. It is not likely that more than twice that ratio–namely, one
out of two hundred–would cover the proper statistics of Japanese
effectiveness. Of course, the Japanese had the great advantage of a
plain target.

Bullets did the harm. There were about forty million discharged
during the five months of the siege, and forty million bits of
steel flying with cutting velocity are bound to hit some hearts in
Japan and other hearts in Russia. The weight of the total number
of men killed at Port Arthur on both sides, if compared with the
weight of the steel sent from the large and small guns of both
armies, will show that the death of every soldier cost his weight
in metal.

But the deaths were not frightful. It was life that was frightful.
In the contested redoubt of the Eternal Dragon, where the Japanese
drove the tip of their wedge into the Russian right center in
mid-August, and which they held against numberless sorties for
three months, the Japanese soldiers lived in conditions that would
be impossible to men of any other race. The enemy was within forty
yards of them on three sides. Their way back to their base of
supplies was across half a mile of valley, every yard of which
was swept by the enemy’s fire. Few prisoners were taken on either
side. Through the four chief months of the siege only seventy-one
Russians were captured, and the number of Japanese found alive in
Port Arthur at the time of its surrender was less than one hundred.

There are a few instances on record of mutual devotion between the
enemies, which is vastly heightened by the other frightful record
of mutual unswerving hatred. One day a Russian sergeant appeared
in front of a Japanese trench, bearing over his shoulder a wounded
Japanese lieutenant, whom he had picked up with a shattered leg
under the parapet of one of his own forts. This sergeant had been
on the point of thrusting his bayonet through the brain of the
Japanese lieutenant, when the other man moved, moaned, opened his
eyes, and from his pocket took a bit of biscuit, offering it to the
other. The Russian dropped his bayonet, bound the shattered leg,
hoisted the Japanese to his shoulders, and walked by moonlight that
night to the opposing trenches.

That Port Arthur would fall on the 21st of August was believed by
every man in the Japanese army; the island nation was sure of it;
the world thought it certain. And the Japanese did try. They lacked
neither the bravery, nor the numbers, nor the skill. They failed
because Nature stood in their way. Nature built the mountains,
and without the mountains the Russians could not have defended
Port Arthur as they did. The forts were so arranged that each was
commanded by two or three others, and some by ten or twelve. One
taken, the others immediately concentrated fire there and made
it untenable. One thing only could be done–take all the forts
simultaneously. Since there were seventeen permanent, forty-two
semi-permanent, and eighteen improvised fortifications, two miles
of fortified Chinese wall, and a triple line of trenches eight and
a half miles long, defended by a stubborn foe, this was impossible.

“Impossible?” That is an English word. The Japanese do not
understand it. “You are expected to do the impossible things,” read
the first imperial order their troops received. They have done
impossible things. So have the Russians done impossible things.
The ordeal has raised the story of the siege of Port Arthur into
an epic. Without the perspective of Troy, it has some of Troy’s
grandeur. The glory, to us, is that we have touched shoulders with
an age that has produced men as willing as any ever have been to
fight nobly and die heroically.

[Illustration: HOME

The Shack occupied for three months (800 yards from the firing
line) by General Oshima, Commander of the Ninth Division.]

[Illustration: PLUNDER

Adjutant Hori, Secretary to General Oshima shown standing amid a
quantity of plunder from one of the captured Forts.]

Skill and bravery had their value, of course, but to take Port
Arthur a man was needed–a man like Grant, who could fight it out
on one line all summer and all winter. This man was Nogi; with a
face parchment-crinkled, brown like chocolate, with beard gray,
shaded back to brown where it met the skin, so that he seemed a
monotone in sepia, with eyes small and wide apart, perfect teeth,
tiny, regular nose, and a beautiful dome of a head flaring out from
the temples in tender and eloquent curves. He stands five feet ten,
unusually tall for a Japanese, showing the loose power of a master
in his joints and in that mighty jowl shaded by the gray-brown
beard. He has had to weather fierce storms of public indignation
in Japan for two reasons–because he did not take Port Arthur as
scheduled; and because he sacrificed so many lives. Turn over
the pages of our history and read the story of Grant’s campaign
from the Wilderness, through Cold Harbor and Spottsylvania, to
Petersburg and Richmond, and you will read the story of Nogi’s
campaign against Port Arthur. In northern Virginia the mighty
battle-ax cut down the keen Damascene sword. On the Liaotung Thor’s
hammer smashed the straying fasces of an overripe empire. The North
cried out that the man who felt himself an agent of Destiny in
conquering northern Virginia was a butcher; just so Japan cried
“butcher” against the iron man who reduced Port Arthur.

In 1894 Nogi saw the Chinese besieged and Port Arthur taken by a
feint. He saw the big Japanese demonstration then made against
the front while the bulk of the army slipped along the coast to
the west and south, enveloping the enemy’s left wing and driving
the silly Chinese into a net where they were caught fast under
the great forts, which speedily fell. Again, apparently, the
same strategy was about to be repeated. But instead of making
the real attack in the rear of the Russian left flank, Nogi made
only a demonstration there, where “203” is on the west, and drove
his straight, hard blow into the eastern line of permanent land
defense. To pierce the Russian right center, enfilade its left
flank, and stand Port Arthur on end–this was the plan. Gloriously
it was attempted, gloriously it failed. Regiment after regiment
went in, regiment after regiment went down. Corpses lay eight deep
in the creek which ran red to the sea.

This grand assault–the first–began August 19th. For seven days
and nights without cessation the battle raged, in the vain endeavor
to pierce that right center. It is said that the Japanese are all
heroes–that none are cowards. Some are also sensible. There was
the Eighth Regiment, which, when ordered in to the assault where
the regiment before it had been swept down, sent back through its
commanding officer the word that the way was impossible. This word
was so new to the Brigade-General that he ordered the regiment
to the rear for fatigue duty, the worst punishment that can come
to Japanese soldiers in an army where there are no guard-houses.
Another regiment, the immortal Ninth, was ordered to cross the
field to the foot of the slope on which lay, dead and dying, many
of the men of the regiment which had gone before. The Colonel,
Takagagi, surveying the task set for his regiment, sent back a
report that it was not feasible. The Brigade-General Ichinobe
replied hotly that one regiment was enough to take one battery.
Takagagi stepped out of the ravine, in which he had been seeking
shelter, at the head of his command. Before, he had been marching,
as colonels usually do, in the rear, while his line officers led
the advance. Now, he leaped forward up the slope, out in front of
his men. A dozen paces from the ravine he fell with four bullets
through his breast. The Lieutenant-Colonel took up the lead and
was shot a few yards farther on. The majors were wiped out. Every
captain but one went down. The last Captain, Nashimoto, in charge
of D Company, found himself, at length, under the Chinese Wall
with seventeen men. Looking down upon the shell-swept plain,
protected for the moment from the sharpshooters above, with that
handful of heroes, a mile and a half in advance of the main body of
the Japanese army, he grew giddy with the success of his attempt.
Of a sudden he concluded that he could take Port Arthur with his
seventeen men. He started in to do it. There was only the wall
ahead–the wall and a few machine-guns–beyond, the city itself–a
five minutes’ run would have brought him to the citadel. He scaled
the wall and fell across it–his back bullet-broken. Eight of his
men got over, scaling the height beyond, called Wangtai or the
Watch Tower, a place to which the Russian generals formerly rode
on horseback to survey the battlefield. On this slope, for three
months, in full sight of both armies, the eight lay rotting. The
Russians referred to them as “The Japanese Garrison.”

This was the high tide of the advance made in August. Nogi paid a
frightful price to learn his terrible lesson–that he could not so
quickly wipe out a foe thus allied with Nature. The lesson cost him
twenty-five thousand men. After the first ghastly assault he sat
down with his army and went sensibly and slowly at the enormous
task. Instead of storming Port Arthur with his army, he and Kodama
saw that he must dig into it. Realizing that Nogi was sure to pass
into the fortress through the earth where he had failed to enter
above ground, Kodama might well have chuckled as he said that he
held the besieged city in the hollow of his hand.

Yet both Kodama and Nogi thoroughly realized what they had to
face. The permanent forts of the Russians were built on the
advantageous shoulders that projected two-thirds of the way down
the slopes. The mountains, fortunately for the Russians, were so
situated that, though irregular in detail, yet their line formed
a complete semicircle enveloping the city. Making use of these
natural advantages, they were able to build a grand fortress with
seventeen locks, for every one of which they held the key. The
Japanese might spring one of the locks, but the fortress could
be instantly closed with any or all of the other sixteen. Each
depression between the main shoulders of the mountains was used for
the emplacement of a battery. Batteries and forts were connected
with barbed-wire entrenchments, and the glaces were made sheer and
slippery. Some were formed of concrete, some were built crater-like
of a sliding sand, so that a man advancing found himself slipping
to the knees and quagmired. Around the great forts moats of
unknown depth and width were built. In these moats caponieres were
placed to enfilade daring assaulters. Some of the barbed wire was
electrically charged, so that men attempting to cut it with nippers
were electrocuted. Down the forward slopes of the mountains mines
were sunk in the earth; some were exploded by contact with an
electric button on the surface, others by direct contact from some
tripping man as he passed over the spot. Around two of the forts
torpedoes taken from the ships were buried, and their finlike stems
were turned into contact flanges projecting from the earth. All
these defenses were connected with a network of covered ways; in
two places deep tunnels ran from fort to fort, and from all of the
principal forts back to the Chinese Wall was a deep tunnel. Behind
the wall lay machine guns, the most deadly weapons in modern
warfare, sprinkling bullets as a hose sprinkles water.

The very names of these forts characterized the forms of the
granite of which they were built and out of which they rose. The
Eternal Dragon, the Two Dragons, the Chair, the Table, the Lion’s
Mane, and that flippant old rooster, who is the grimmest and
sauciest of them all, the Cock’s Comb, stood out defiant in Chinese

To get across the plain, up the slopes, and into those forts by
digging trenches and tunnels was the problem, and the Japanese were
able to solve it. In those two months one hundred men at a time did
the job, for only that number could work at once in the tunnels.
Often shells found them out; rifle-fire harassed them every hour.
The loss was many companies, but they never lacked the one hundred
to do the work, always by night, always silently; crawling through
the night, pick and shovel in hand, came that antlike hundred, the
individuals constantly varying, as figures in a kaleidoscope where
death is at the handle, but never quitting its terrible task.

In darkness a company begins its labor in unison. Guided by clever
engineers, the picks advance through the blackness; the shovelers
smartly after. The Russian searchlight swings menacingly to play
upon the little group. A shell hurtles in. A dozen men fall,
some never to rise again. Up with the first aid, down with the
stretchers, to the rear with the victims. Advance another squad–on
goes the hundred. So for two months–and then through the finished
trenches the rest of the army walked impudently in the broad sun,
laughing at those useless bullets singing so saucily overhead.

The plain lay overripe with harvests, but not a living thing was
on its surface. The autumn sun hung indolent and golden. Blackened
villages were deserted. Among the chain of forts, bristling with
cannon, there lay one with its nearest side completely honeycombed.
All the other forts were silent and bare on their near sides.
That honeycomb was made by the gridironing of Japanese trenches.
Between it and the line of mountains, parallel to the Russians on
the north, the ground was ridged with mounds of fresh earth, as if
some gigantic mole had zigzagged across the plain. From neither
army was there the slightest evidence of life, except that between
the two lay that telltale fresh earth, as though a huge animal had
been busy in the night. Yet, behind the northern parallel range,
the distance of a rifle-shot from the Russians in Port Arthur,
ominously silent, monstrously at work in preparation, was the
Japanese army–siege-mortars cocking their twenty tons of steel on
solid masonry as a Mauser pistol cocks on a man’s fist; monster
naval guns, rakish devils, buried in the earth, with frightful
noses menacing the blue; howitzers perched on peaks; lines of
transport laden with rice and biscuit; hospitals brilliant as the
sunlight and quiet as its stillness; regiments of men receiving
instructions–how to escape beri-beri, how to keep nightdews from
the rifle-barrels, how to bind a fractured leg, how to scupper an
adversary in a hand-to-hand fight–but on the field of battle,
on the opposite sides of which the opposing hosts were held like
hounds in leash, there was nothing human–only silence, beauty,

From September 19th to the 25th occurred what is known as the
second assault, although it might more properly be described as a
reconnaissance in force. As an assault it failed. Then on the last
day in October the war-demon awoke again to his full ferocity.
Where the twenty-five thousand had been lost in August, a division
could now be poured right up to the parapets of the Russian forts
without losing a man. Coast-defense guns had been brought from
Japan to battle against the Russia coast-defense guns, which
had been turned landward. The Japanese had hauled their guns by
hand, eight hundred men to a gun, through mud, up the mountains,
in the dark, under fire, and had placed them in silence on solid
concrete foundations. But after they had crossed the valley the
Japanese still had a frightful obstacle to face. There was but one
way to get to the forts–up the slopes. Every inch of these was
commanded by guns trained carefully through three months of actual
use against a real foe and through four previous years against an
imaginary one. The Russians lay confident and calm above their
terrible fortress. They did not have to bluster with bombardments.
They knew their strength. They merely waited until the Japanese
advance reached a certain spot on the slopes. It was not a question
of aiming the guns, as it is where troops are constantly fighting
over fresh ground. All that was necessary was to pull the triggers.
There was about the proceeding little of the sport of war. The
order to advance was as certainly fatal as the hangman’s signal in
an execution-chamber, and when the Japanese did advance the few who
survived the murderous fire found behind those superb entrenchments
men just as brave, just as cunning, just as strong as they
themselves. If it is ever asked which is the braver, Japanese or
Russian, no answer can be given. No one nation distinguished itself
at Port Arthur. The glory belongs to both.

It was in the third grand assault, when the final operations
commenced, that General Ichinobe, the commanding officer who
had ordered the sacrifice of Takagagi and his immortal Ninth
Regiment and who had summarily sent the sulking regiment to the
rear, became the Japanese Marshal Ney. Two battalions under his
command succeeded in entering the P redoubt, an outwork of the
great Cock’s Comb fortification. Ichinobe left his battalions
after midnight, secure in the conviction that his work had been
successful. Toward three o’clock in the morning he was roused by
an orderly, who reported that the men had been driven from the P
redoubt. Ichinobe was then half a mile as the crow flies, nearly
one and a half miles as the trenches lay across the valley, from
the slope of the redoubt. Leaping from his couch, he called about
him his staff-officers, issued hurried orders to the reserves, and,
at the head of his immediate followers, ran through the zigzag
trenches. Reaching the foremost line, now under the fire of Russian
machine-guns, he found his men not demolished, but surprised,
outnumbered, and being driven sullenly back. Drawing his saber,
Ichinobe thrust the ranks aside, passed through, and charged up the
slope, leading his heroes for the second time into the contested
fort. With his own hand he killed three Russians. When dawn came
his brigade occupied the P redoubt. His immediate commander,
General Oshima, had an account of the exploit telegraphed to the
Emperor at Tokyo. That afternoon an Imperial order reached the
army, christening the fort “Ichinobe.”

In the assault of August 19th to 26th, the few men who reached the
parapets had received in their faces storms of what the Chinese
call “stinkpots”; that is, balls of fresh dung. This assault
wholly failed. The dead were left to rot, and the wounded were
shot as they lay, the stench of the corpses being used as a weapon
of offense against the Japanese, who were trying to maintain
the advantage they had gained at the foot of the slope. The
demonstration of September 19th, which also failed, was met with
hand-grenades of guncotton. In the third assault on October 29th,
halfway up the Cock’s Comb, the advance stumbled over a mine, and
the entire lower shoulder of the mountain was blown into the air,
taking with it some twenty-five men, heads awry, legs and arms
twisted, trunks shattered. Nevertheless, new volunteers advanced
through the crater thus formed, up the glacis of the redoubt, until
they reached a new and dangerous obstruction. This was a moat so
cunningly concealed under the very edge of the parapets that an
observer below could gain no hint of its existence even with
the most powerful field-glasses. The ditch was so deep that once
in, a man could not get out even by climbing over another man’s
shoulders. To fall in was certain death, for in every turn of the
concealed moat was a masonry projection called by the cunning men
who devise such traps, a caponiere. These caponieres were built
of stone and covered with earth. They were tiny forts, concealing
and protecting four or five Russian riflemen and a machine-gun.
Consequently, under perfect protection and with their foe in
limited area, trapped like woodchucks in a hole, unable to escape,
the Russians merely had to deal out whistling steel at their
leisure. The Japanese did not falter. The first men who leaped into
that moat knew that they were leaping to certain death, but they
knew, too, that the men in the caponieres could be overwhelmed by
the force of the numbers to come after. The two caponieres were
captured at once.

Under the parapets of this fort, dominated by all the artillery
of the two armies, occurred some of the grimmest fighting that
history records. It was at midnight of the second day of final
occupation. The black mountains lay behind, the black forts in
front, the blacker plain below. A Japanese lieutenant, Oda, asked
for a volunteer _Keissheitai_, or certain-death party. Thirty
_Keissheitai_ men came forward. Oda put himself at their head and
ventured along the bed of the moat toward the rearmost caponiere,
with the idea of capturing it. The fort is very long–about one and
a half times the length of an ocean liner–so he found room and
time for adventure. There was no moon, and the moat was too close
to the Russians for them to depress their searchlights sufficiently
to illuminate it. In the blackness, halfway down the moat, Oda
and his men met a Russian lieutenant prowling with a squad of men
behind him, bent on the recapture of the two caponieres which the
Japanese had seized. They had it out, not with bullets, but bayonet
to bayonet, fist to fist, and even teeth and nails. Oda and the
Russian, in locked embrace, reeled back and forth, falling, rising,
scratching, first one on top and then the other, each losing sight
and control of his men, all of whom were engaged in individual
combats just as savage.

The two leaders, grappling for an opportunity that each sought,
bumping against the walls of the narrow moat, reached, without
knowing it, an embrasure which led to the rear of the fort and into
the gorge. Tripping over this, not knowing where they were going,
the two plunged headlong down the slope. Above frowned two Russian
batteries. Beyond rose the great red-capped sky line of the Cock’s
Comb. A hundred yards, scratched by the stones, smashed by the
shale, they slipped and writhed, until they struck a tiny plateau
halfway down the mountain. Here the two, clinched, stopped as might
a dislodged stone toppling from its socket. In the struggle Oda had
been able to get his right arm free, which he reached over across
his enemy’s back, grasping the hilt of his straight, samurai sword.
Pulling it halfway out of the scabbard, which was tightly lashed to
his waist, he sawed and pulled until the slender, tapering steel
had gashed through the Russian’s clothing, full to his backbone.

Late the following night, after the sun had gone, Oda crawled into
his own trenches at the base of the mountain. His men had been
repulsed by a second party of Russians who had made a sortie to
relieve the first. But, still the Japanese held the two caponieres
in front and the Russians the two in the rear. Oda got no medals
nor applause. Two days later a breast-wound which sent him to a
hospital in Japan saved his life, for had he stayed he would have
certainly gotten himself killed.

The Japanese during the first two nights hastily dug out approaches
and had a partially covered way from the base of the mountain to
the moat. This gave them their vital hold on the north battery of
the Cock’s Comb. So resolute were the Russians in holding every
inch of ground that it was a full month and a half after that
before the Japanese could take the complete fortification. And when
the complete fortification was taken it availed but little, for it
was but one of three great batteries which formed the series known
as East Keekwan, which was itself but a portion of the eastern line
of permanent defenses.

To see how the rest of the great Northeast Keekwan (Cock’s Comb)
Battery was taken is to see how Port Arthur was taken, for all
the forts were reduced in the same way. 203-Meter Hill, the Two
Dragons, the Eternal Dragon, Quail Hill, Wangtai, and the Pine Tree
fell as did the Cock’s Comb. The only difference lay in incident.

It must be remembered that the fight was never over with the taking
of the outer parapet. Inside the forts, beyond the parapets, well
protected by moats and caponieres, was a sheltering earthwork
called the contrascarp, crossing which, storming parties met a
close and unerring fire from men concealed beyond, in ways formed
of timber balks and sandbags, and called traverses. Below these
traverses were galleries where the garrison lived; and below the
galleries were the bombproofs protecting the ammunition. Under the
traverses, covering the galleries and bombproofs, was heavy masonry
from two to three feet thick.

To undertake the capture of the whole chain of fortifications by
such sacrifices as those which gained a single one of the Keekwan
forts might have entailed the extermination of the whole besieging
army and of all the reinforcements which could have been sent to
its support. But with one fortress in the chain in Japanese hands
there was another way–sapping.

Through November the Japanese engineers were busy digging
underground from the advantageous hold they had on the north
battery. They started straight down through the solid rock. Only
a few men could work at a time, and these could dig only while
the trench protecting them, which was a few yards in advance,
was held by their comrades, vigorously firing, to keep down the
Russian garrison, now not more than a hundred feet away. Moreover,
sometimes when the Japanese sappers were half concealed in the
earth, sometimes when they were wholly underground, companies of
desperate Russians would suddenly break forth on them, spurred by
Stoessel’s promise of the Cross of St. George and a money prize to
whoever should break up any Japanese work. Thus at night, hounded
by shells, sleuthed by searchlights, and harassed by heroes from
across the way, the hole was dug. Forty feet down it had to go
to get below the level of the galleries and bombproofs, then
another twenty feet forward to find a spot under the vitals of the

Stupendous as the task was, the tunnels were finished at last,
and on December 18th a quarter of a ton of dynamite was placed
in two such mines, and the galleries and bombproofs of the north
battery were blown into the air, with the demolished bodies of some
forty-five men of the garrison.

And even this was only the beginning of the end. Already the
Japanese had accomplished a herculean task. They had sweated,
endured, writhed in agony, died, and they had taken only one
battery. Ahead of them still rose, tier on tier, forts and
batteries, moats and walls, until the soul grew sick to think
that Port Arthur must be bought with sacrifice so vast. But the
Japanese did not turn back, did not weep, showed no despair. They
came to work, to meals, as cheerfully as ever they had done in the
rice paddies. And this, notwithstanding that winter was on them,
that the keen, equinoctial gales blew in from both seas, that the
thermometer fell to zero and below. They were surrounded by charnel
houses of their own making, and protected only by miserable, hasty
dugouts shielded from cold and wind by a few broken boughs, light
shelter-tents, and hastily packed earth. Death was preferred to
a wound, for the wounded had small hope of succor; yet life was
cherished and fostered.

Meanwhile the Russians were busy. They devised a new scheme of
defense. Kerosene was taken through a subterranean gallery of the
Two Dragons into a moat and there poured on piles of straw. Then
they waited.

At the fifth grand assault, when the north battery of the East
Cock’s Comb was taken, the Two Dragons were simultaneously
attacked. A company of Japanese headed for the moat. The kerosene
and straw were set on fire and the men who leaped into the moat,
expecting to find caponieres as they had found them in the Cock’s
Comb, were caught by flame. Many perished miserably. Some valiantly
fought the flames, but few survived. These few–that is, the few
who do the work in warfare–the few who accomplish that for which
the thousands die–made possible the Japanese advance. Through,
over, and beyond these few, the Japanese finally entered Port

Science is well, up to a certain point. Then it becomes useless
and cruel. The genius of the engineer helps the soldier across
the valley and to the parapet, but there leaves him in an agony
of suspense, over electric mines, under dynamite batteries,
crisscrossed by machine guns. If the nerves of this marvelous
soldier survive the ordeal, and if his body escapes the flying
chunks of steel, he is reserved for the extremity of modern
torture–hand-to-hand fighting in scientific warfare. At a moderate
distance he tosses balls of guncotton; he closes with stones and
stinkpots; he parleys with the bayonet, and finishes with teeth and

[Illustration: IN ACTION

Loading a 4.7 gun of the ordinary field artillery during the
assault of September 20.]

By chance, one morning in September, as the dawn came in, there
was revealed in a captured bombproof one little instance of the
hideousness of the conflict. The arm of a Japanese boy in khaki
hung limply across the back of a huge blond fellow in baggy
trousers. From the hand of the boy had fallen a pistol, which had
caught in the blouse of the big one; it had not fallen too soon,
for just below the muzzle the blouse was matted thick with the
life stream that had welled out in response to the death call.
The big teeth were clinched deep and tight into the little
jugular. On the boy’s slant-eyed face, good-natured, yet stamped
with the strange pathos of a people close to the soil, was written
a mute appeal for mercy. To that appeal there was no answer. The
boy’s dead face stared into the unresponsive block timber of the

In the bloody angle of the Eternal Dragon, the most fiercely
contested zone at Port Arthur, you might have seen these boys
any day of those three frightful midsummer months, when the slim
wedge was being driven inch by inch into the Russian right center.
Everything was covered with the white powder of dried mud. All was
wrecked. The path lay through a series of shell holes, connected
rudely with pick and spade. Up to that point the ground had been
neatly cut, but here it became rough and crude. No inch of dirt
had been unnecessarily touched, because the enemy lay within forty
yards on three sides. The _débris_ of battle was all about–torn
Russian caps, conical and heavy, mingled with the light brown of
Japanese uniforms, cartridge pouches half filled, shattered rifles,
demolished sabres, a gun carriage smashed till the wheel spokes
splintered the breech, rocks pounded by bullets as by a hammer,
and, over the wall, seen as you stole by the chinks, khaki bags,
loose over rotting bones.

All through the night when this bloody angle was first taken and
after it had been protected with trenches from recapture, Oshima,
the general commanding the division, sat in his tent without sleep.
He was shaken by sobs, for he had been compelled to order that the
entrenchments be made of the bodies of the dead and wounded. Only
rock was there and to hold the place a quick shelter was essential.
The half-dead men whose bodies were used by comrades to stop the
steel hail smiled in approval at the work; they knew it was done
for the best, but Oshima could not sleep; he wept bitterly all

Along that bloody angle and through all the eight-mile front for
many months lay on duty the soldier of the Emperor, the boy who
won the victory. He crouched under the parapet, rifle to cheek,
its steel nose through a loophole, his finger on the trigger. The
tensity of his muscles and his eyes glancing down the barrel in
deadly aim, made him look like a great cat pausing for a spring.
One leg was drawn up and his cap was pulled viciously over his
eyes. The sun beat upon him as he lay, venomous with pent-up
passion, cut in silhouette against the trench, a shade darker than
the shale. A minute before he had offered tea and cigarettes; now
he dealt out hot lead. He might be a university student, or a
merchant, or a professional man. Wherever he came from he was the
pride of his neighborhood. Physically he was superb–perfect eyes
and teeth, digestion hardy and fit as clockwork; this must have
been so or he would not have been allowed to enlist. Moreover, he
was a veteran of four months’ severe campaigning, seven pitched
battles, and two months’ hard siege. Here he stood, far out on the
firing line, clashed between two civilizations, hurled into the
pallor of conflict, tossed by the greed of nations. Yes. Down there
in the ditches lived the real besieger of Port Arthur. Not science,
nor generalship, nor race bravery reduced Port Arthur; it was done
by men who could live and die with the simple heroism of cavemen
and vikings.

One morning in August General Nogi stood before his battalion
commanders at Port Arthur with a pick in his hand. Its nose and
heel had been worn away until the shank of rusted iron resembled
an earth-dappled cucumber. Fondling it, the General said: “Take
a lesson from this Russian pick. Your men must dig. They are too
eager to ask, ‘Why intrench to-night when we are going forward in
the morning?’”

Nogi here went to the heart of his problem. It had cost him
25,000 men to learn that the military engineer must precede siege
assaults, as his brother, the civil engineer, precedes rapid
transit in New York. The lesson, taught by Julius Cæsar to the
legions in Gaul nineteen hundred years ago, Nogi and his heroes
re-learned before Port Arthur in 1904. The advance in that cycle
of time has been not in digging, but in ways of digging. The
Japanese had to cross a valley a mile wide and six miles long,
dominated at all points by every degree of hostile fire. This did
not appall them. They accepted the problem, grappled with it, and
mastered it.

They honeycombed the valley, in the classic manner, with eighteen
miles of trenches and tunnels. The chief element in the problem
was to hide these from an enemy with lookouts above the plain.
“Till Birnam wood do come to Dunsinane,” the prophecy that sounded
Macbeth’s doom, had already been heeded by the Russians before
Kuroki’s northern operations. Here the witch, whispering in
Stoessel’s ear, might have warned him of his end when “maize-stalk
fields shall climb the Dragon’s front”; for it was under the
protection of maize-stalks, twisting through a shell-swept plain,
that the sappers crept on their slow but inevitable advance.

The Japanese attaché in South Africa had seen the Boer commandos,
under fire, suddenly vanish in waving stalks of corn, projected,
screen-like, across a telltale front. It was a savage trick,
learned by the Boers from the Kaffirs; and though school-bred
British minds sneered at a ruse apparently so childish, yet many
times their game was lost through such maneuvers. The Boers used
their maize in wholesale fashion, covering their front with deep
layers of whole sheaves. The Japanese improved on this. Students
of nature, disciples of nature, they gave no gross imitations. In
late autumn, over a field battle-tossed for three months, trampled
by two armies, and sickled by the husbandman Death, they advanced,
resurrecting the corn-fields as they went, till the Russian eye
beyond could not guess the point where maize standing by chance
left off and maize erected by besiegers began. Each angle of
advance was concealed by these brown, withered sheaves.

But maize was only the screen, and could not hide the thousands
of tons of earth which had to be taken from the plain. To throw
the earth beside the trenches, thus bringing into Russian sight
a furrow like that of a gigantic plow, would have revealed
the Japanese position as clearly as a blue pencil could have
diagrammed it on white paper.

To hide the earth of this digging was the appalling task. It was
done gloriously. The advance sappers threw their first trickle of
mole-like progress backward between their legs from the furious
indent of their tiny spades. Helpers behind immediately deepened
and widened the rivulet of shelter thus begun. The infantrymen,
closing in at daybreak throughout the hot sun, perfected it, but
the reserves accomplished the new thing. As fast as the earth was
displaced they carried it with gabions and bamboo stretchers back
through the zigzag lines behind the mountain range which concealed
their own heavy guns. Here, parallel with the Russian defense,
mile after mile of fresh-smelling mounds slipped up through the
cautious, industrious months following that frightful August.
Passing across the valley through these tunnels, deep enough to
shelter regiments, three months after the Aceldama of midsummer,
one could, in safety, be frowned on by hostile batteries, distant
three hundred yards, or look into the plain gridironed with cunning
trenches, and, like the foe above, see no evidence of life. The
maize-stalks hid the trench turnings, and though the plain was
alive with its thousands of armed men, even the practiced eye that
had just been among them could not tell where they lay. Where had
the output of that enormous digging gone? As well ask the chipmunk
where he puts the dirt from his hole. It was a new experience for
the Russians to fight a foe who could wiggle through the earth as
easily as he could cross it, and, underneath, escape the death that
he met on top.

Both sides had sailors on land. The Japanese emplaced the navy
six-inch guns in the bottom of a valley. The army field guns were
perched along the peaks in front, from which they could bark down
like noisy house-dogs. But the savage bite came from the big guns,
a quarter of a mile behind, the location of which was mistaken by
the Russians as identical with that of the blustering field-pieces
on the ridge. The sailors did not trust alone to the improbability
of their hiding-place. They cut out earth the size of a ship’s
hull, mended the broken crust with timber balks, and thrust the
noses of the six-inchers out of two square openings that might
have been turret-holes. Thus, entirely protected, though within
easy range of the enemy, they escaped serious injury. This was the
most effective Japanese battery; it has become famous for tenacity.

For the first time coast-defense guns battled with each other.
The Russians turned most of theirs landward. The Japanese learned
that field artillery was useless against either the fleet or the
permanent forts. Such knowledge prompted the assignment of a
naval brigade to the initial bombardment, which, with the first
grand assault, failed. Then they immediately turned to home for
heavier ordnance. Mortars for coast-defense along the Straits of
Shimonoseki and on the Bay of Yezo were all but completed in the
military shops at Osacca. Twenty-six of them were immediately sent
by transport to Dalny, and thence by rail over the tip of the
mended Trans-Siberian to the last station outside the zone of the
Russian fire.

The shipment of these great guns, the mortar-barrel of one
weighing eight tons, up to that point where cranes, steamships,
and locomotives of the finest type were available, was a gigantic
undertaking. Arrived at the shattered station in the night–for
day work was impossible–the task was only begun. From there the
guns were hauled by hand, for horses or Manchu oxen could not be
used where silence and concerted intelligence were essential. Eight
hundred men were detailed to each gun, which was mounted on skids
such as lumbermen use in the North Woods. Four abreast, with hemp
thongs across their shoulders, and all attached to a long cable as
thick as a man’s leg, the men labored on through the mud, after
dark, with the Russian shells flinging out searching challenge over
their heads, occasionally a quart of shrapnel bullets spurting
promiscuously into their ranks. Of the positions to which the
guns were thus taken the nearest were a thousand yards and the
farthest three and a half miles away. Once they were there, no
emplacement of shale or earth, such as sufficed for field artillery
and for naval guns, would do. So under each gun was laid eight
feet of concrete, firm and deep; and when it had hardened the gun
was emplaced. All this was done under fire, in the night, the
men being spat upon frequently by the glare of the searchlight,
pelted sometimes by wind and rain, and, toward the end of autumn,
seared by the winds howling in from two seas. It was prodigious
toil, obscure heroism unbelievable. But it was successful, for
it was this coast-defense artillery that sank the Russian fleet.
None other could have done it. The monster labor of placing these
guns on the bleak Manchurian hills, from which they have contested
with the finest defenses in the world, is one of the thrilling
engineering feats of modern times.

For the first time in history armies battled under searchlights.
There had before been fights at sea, and at Kimberley a few
skirmishes under searchlights; but in front of Port Arthur they
have lighted up decisive engagements, extensive maneuvers, and vast
losses. Science has intensified war. It has limited numerical loss,
but it has increased individual suffering; and, as in modern city
life, it strains brain and nerves to the breaking-point.

In August, for seven days and seven nights without cessation, a
great battle was fought–the first grand assault, which failed
and failed and failed until Nogi learned his lesson. Maneuvers as
intricate and almost as extensive as those in the north at Liaoyang
were conducted alternately under sun, moon, and searchlight.
The crux of this action rested on one of Stoessel’s searchlight
tricks, played on the night of the seventh blow of Nogi’s hammer,
desperately driving a wedge into the fortress. All the afternoon
the Japanese artillery had been fiercely bombarding the ridges
of the Cock’s Comb, the Eternal Dragon, and the Two Dragons. One
by one the Russian batteries ceased firing. It seemed that they
were silenced. Night fell, with prospects fair for assault. A
rising storm increased the Japanese hope, for in wind and rain
the searchlights would be nullified. Then, as night and rain came
down together, the searchlights struggling with both, the Japanese
shrapnel opened up against the lights. They had tried before,
unsuccessfully, to reach the dynamos hidden in the hills. This time
the attempt apparently succeeded. The man behind the light waited
until a Japanese shell burst in the line of vision between him and
his foes, and then turned off the switch, giving the Japanese the
impression that the light had been shattered. In this manner, one
after another, three of the searchlights playing over the center
of the field were “shattered.” With lights and guns apparently out
of the contest, and favored by the storm and the night, Japanese
expectation rose higher.

After midnight the most desperate of the eleven assaults conducted
through the seven days was made against the Cock’s Comb and the
Eternal Dragon. Halfway up the slope of the Cock’s Comb the three
“shattered” lights, converging at one point, threw the advance out
in silhouette against the red earth and the white shale. At the
same moment the “shattered” batteries opened up, every gun alive.
Simultaneously a regiment of Siberian sharpshooters sortied from
the Two Dragons, caught the flanks in their onslaught, and all but
annihilated the two regiments in front. Reinforced, bringing to the
task that dour pluck that has given the Anglo-Saxon his hold on
his big corner of earth, a quality the possession of which by the
Japanese was once questioned, the reserves hammered the Siberians
into their trenches; and though the assault against the Cock’s Comb
failed, shortly after dawn the Eternal Dragon fell. This was the
tip of the wedge, driven at fearful cost into the Russian right
center, and was the objective needed by the engineers to outline
across the valley the vast mining operations of those three months.

Between the hostile lines, held all summer and autumn with
desperate determination, lay a zone on which the dead were not
buried or the wounded succored. To send Red Cross men into this
field was to lose two fighting units for every one saved, and no
general would be guilty of such folly. The intensity of scientific
conditions, the forces of which are the searchlight and the star
bomb, the military engineer and the hyposcope, thus brought the
fulfillment of Archibald Forbes’s prophecy, made twenty years ago.
The time has come, as he said it would, when the wounded cannot be
rescued from a battlefield.

Kimberley saw the dawn of the fireworks branch of warfare. It was
left for Port Arthur to bring into permanent use this _feu de joie_
of holiday nights, a delight in peace, in war a spy. Rockets,
such as we use on the Fourth of July, bursting above the plain,
threw phosphorus over the advancing sappers and lighted up acres as
though by candelabra of stars. The Russians used three batteries of
such star bombs, and their dazzle added spectacle to horror. Some
Japanese officers contended that they caused no annoyance, but my
observation of the results was that they gave annoyance, but were
not a decisive factor. By lying low, advancing troops could always
escape being seen when the light came their way.

It was to be expected that a people like the Japanese, inventive,
versatile, and industrious, would develop extraordinary resources
when confronted with such a problem as Port Arthur, the reducing
of which has caused them great agony and cost vast treasure.
Archimedes would have rejoiced to know Colonel Imazawa. Major
Yamaoka of General Nogi’s staff once said: “The world makes too
much fuss over the unreasoning bravery of the private soldier. It
pays too little attention to the obscure effort of the engineer,
who risks as much, but with full realization of what it means.”
Yamaoka was speaking of Imazawa. The two are friends.

Imazawa’s most effective device was the wooden grenade gun, an
invention to save assaulters from death by their own explosives. He
found that a soldier carrying hand-grenades of guncotton up a slope
under fire, if properly hit, became a more frightful menace to his
comrades than an opposing mine. So he made a wooden barrel three
feet long, erected it at an angle of forty-five degrees on a wooden
upright, and by a catch-spring tossed the balls of guncotton from
it several hundred yards into the Russian parapet.

After the taking of Hatchimakiyama (the Turban Fort), Imazawa found
his men for the first time on a height above the Russian trenches.
Then he invented the dynamite wheel. This is a steel cylinder
containing five hundredweight of dynamite, with a projecting shield
for soldiers who roll it forward under fire until it reaches the
declivity down which it is hurled. The opposing trench precipitates
the explosion.

Imazawa also improved the saphead shield, used by besiegers since
the Middle Ages. Formerly it was a heavy log of wood, protected by
armor-plate, behind which pioneer soldiers advanced their trenches
when close to the enemy and under outpost fire. A solid log was too
heavy for the Japanese purposes, so Imazawa contrived a framework
of kiri-wood, both light and tough, over which he built a steel
shield such as Maxim put on his machine-gun. The shield stuck out
in advance of the framework like a cow-catcher on a locomotive. It
was rolled out of the saphead one or two feet toward the enemy.
Behind it two sappers, on their bellies, dug out from under their
legs the beginning of a wide, safe trench in which, two days later,
a regiment could find shelter. Nervous work this, with bullets
raining overhead like hail on a tin roof; but Imazawa made it

Before he finally hit on his grenade gun, Imazawa employed a
bamboo grenade lift, his first device to let assaulters hurl their
explosives into redoubts without danger to themselves. These were
twenty-foot lengths of heavy bamboo, to the ends of which balls of
guncotton were tied. Two soldiers carried one of these lifts up a
slope, projected the grenade over a trench or a parapet, and let
the furious Russians smash it and themselves into destruction.

The last thing Imazawa did was a mistake–not his, but still a
mistake. In preparing for the third grand assault on October 29th,
after the sapheads had been worked to within a hundred yards of the
parapet on the Two Dragons redoubt, it was found that a dry moat
separated the Japanese from their prey. The width and depth of this
moat were difficult to determine. In the most fiercely contested
zone, and on a plateau so situated that it could not be accurately
seen from any of the heights possessed by the Japanese, its exact
nature remained a mystery. Scouting was difficult, for it was
commanded not only by the batteries of the Two Dragons, but also by
the batteries of the greatest forts at Port Arthur–the Chair, the
Table, the Cock’s Comb, and Golden Hill. To reach it a scout would
have to cross several hundred yards of red earth, bare to every
sight, and commanded by sharpshooters. Of those who went in for
information about that mysterious dry moat, for a week none came
back. Finally one scout, more cautious than the rest, returned and
reported to Imazawa, “Ten meters.” Thirty-nine feet is big width
for a moat, and no one could wonder that, sneaking along there in
the dark, with momentary fear of searchlights and sharpshooters,
the scout, finding a hole wider than his imagination, thought the
distance great if it was ten meters. So Imazawa made his bamboo
ladders fourteen meters long. On the day of the assault, everything
having progressed favorably up to that point, the bombardment and
the flank work against forts on each side being successful, the
advance went in with Imazawa’s fourteen-meter ladders. Under fierce
fire nearly half of the men dropped from the ranks, and only enough
were left to handle three ladders, the glacis of the redoubt being
littered with four others whose bearers had been slain. The hardy
scaling party at last placed their ladders securely on one edge
of the moat and dropped them across, expecting the next moment to
dash across them to victory, leaving the reserves crouched in the
trenches, waiting for the word to follow. Judge of their dismay
when the ladders fell from the perpendicular to horizontal, from
the horizontal to the perpendicular again! They failed to touch
the other side, failed to touch bottom, and disappeared. The moat
was fourteen meters wide. The dismayed assaulters hastened back to
Imazawa. That night a party advanced and dropped a thousand bags,
at one point, into this terrible moat. These sand bags disappeared,
and not a ripple of their indent could be seen. This sunken road of
Ohaine baffled the army and was the chief reason that Port Arthur
did not fall on the Emperor’s birthday. Had they passed it, the
Two Dragons redoubt would have fallen and the town could have been

Those who charge the Japanese with suicidal folly should remember
that when confronted with this crack in the earth they did not
emulate emotional Frenchmen at Waterloo. They sat down and gave
Imazawa a chance to study. They did not die in a climax of frenzy.
Their sacrifice is for a grand and patriotic idea. Sensational
despatches about losses spread the belief that they die like flies.
The truth is, they never waste a life.


_Copyright, 1905, by Collier’s Weekly_


Loading the 11-inch Coast Defense Mortar during the general
bombardment of October 29. Two miles from Port Arthur.]

The use of many successful inventions showed the Japanese equal to
all the progress of the age. The hyposcope enabled them to observe
what went on in the town, and from 203-Meter Hill revealed the
fleet. This is a telescope cut in half, the front elevated two feet
above the rear by a further length of scope, and the line of vision
between made straight past the angles by two mirrors. It gives a
lookout within a few hundreds yards of the enemy’s line a chance to
explore calmly at his leisure.

Bombproofs for the generals were cut in the solid rock a thousand
yards in advance of the artillery and overtopping the firing-line.
Thus commanding officers could get the traditional bird’s-eye view
of the battlefield. Instead of sitting at headquarters, miles in
the rear, as the generals in the North were compelled to do, and
directing the action from an office desk, as a train-despatcher
regulates his system, the divisional, brigade, and regimental
commanders with their own eyes could observe all that was going on.
The commander-in-chief had a fine lookout in the rear center of
his army, two and a half miles from the town of Port Arthur. From
there his eye glanced over as grand a battlefield as the world has
yet produced, for within an area of ten square miles was brought
every possibility of modern warfare. Even cavalry maneuvered. While
his optic vision was extraordinary, his mental horizon was vast
and comprehensive. Telephones centering to a switchboard in the
next bombproof connected him with every battery and every regiment
under his command. He was in instant touch with the most outlying
operations, and, almost with the ease and certainty of Napoleon at
Austerlitz could march and countermarch, enfilade and assault.

Telephone and post office follow the flag. In the advance of the
Japanese army down the peninsula, telephone linesmen bearing
on their shoulders coils of thin copper wire, not much larger
and of no more weight than a pack-thread, followed through the
kaoliang-fields on each side of the commander. The moment he
stopped, a table was produced, a receiver was snapped on the wire,
and a telegrapher stood ready. More remarkable was the advance of
the telephone into the contested redoubt of the Eternal Dragon,
where a station was placed and operated for four months, with the
Russians holding trenches only forty meters distant and on three
sides. At this station, along the front of which twenty men a day
were slain by sharpshooters, mail was delivered every time that a
transport arrived, which was almost daily. Men on the firing-line
received postal cards from their sweethearts and mothers an hour
before death.

Telephone and post office followed the flag; the Red Cross preceded
it. The medical corps came, not in the wake of the army, but close
on the heels of the pioneers. Before even the infantrymen entered a
Chinese village it was explored, the water of its wells analyzed,
its houses tested for bacteria, and the lines of encampment
laid down. This unusual sanitation is looked upon by surgical
authorities as perhaps the chief cause of Japanese success.

But one could find another cause of Japanese success, if the
analytical probe is to be used and the mystic impulse which gives
men resolution for supreme sacrifice ignored. This great cause may
be called originality. The record of superficial observers of her
recent advance is that Japan to-day selfishly and slavishly reaps
the values wrung from time and chance through many centuries by
other nations. If this be true, she is original enough to survive
the ordeal of imitation. Had a single person shown the qualities
displayed at Port Arthur he would be charged with having the
audacity of genius. This audacity did not hesitate to make use
of anything, new or old, possible or impossible, conventional or
unconventional, which might win success from desperate conditions.

Let me give an instance: the problem that faced Japan’s soldiers
when they had dared to capture a minor position in the fortress’s
line of defense. Audacity won it, originality held it. The
trench-line of this bloody angle of the Eternal Dragon lay down
the slope and thus beneath the opposing Russian trench-line. The
maxims of assault declared it untenable unless the contiguous
positions to which it was subsidiary could be immediately taken;
wise generalship seemed to dictate that it be abandoned. To hold it
would be hardly worth the cost. Napoleon thus laid down in general
treatise and Von Moltke specifically so dictated; but not Nogi.
Give him an inch and he keeps it. Besides, he needed this inch for
his engineers.

In the bloody angle the ordinary sand-bag redoubt would not do.
There was no opportunity to erect the permanent masonry or even the
semi-permanent timber redoubt. The men must have some protection
that would let their heads be sheltered a foot or more below the
top of the trench, and yet give them loopholes for firing. Any
conventional trench built from experience or laid down in the
text-books was impracticable. A French, a German, an English, a
Russian soldier would have thrown up his hands because his father
and his grandfather knew no medicine for such a hurt. The American,
had he been far enough away from red tape, might have improvised.
The Japanese did not hesitate. Around the bloody angle he raised
a trench modeled on the medieval bulwarks of his samurai fathers.
It was built with ingenious quickness due to his twentieth-century
training. He erected a front of rock, like the turret of a
castle, and through the deep embrasures of this turret fired his
machine-guns, while the ragged skyline overtopped and kept him
safe. On the spot he married old with new. He was following the
destiny of his race–to tie the ages together.



D’Adda–the Marquis D’Adda of Rome–had studied history well,
and he declared that the end would come at “ze psychologique
mo-ment–in ze wind, ze rain, when ze high spirit go low.”

D’Adda was wrong. Port Arthur did not fall–it capitulated. It was
not stormed and won. It was worn out. The military critics of the
world were right. Port Arthur is impregnable, and well may some
other power some day learn this, when it is defended by Japanese
soldiery, properly provisioned, properly officered, and properly
supplied with ammunition. It was because the Japanese were ever
vigilant and never lost an opportunity to push their victorious
arms onward that they entered the city as soon as they did.

The end came unexpectedly with the new year. There was nothing
dramatic about it–nothing spectacular, and he who wanted
excitement would have required excess imagination to find in the
event the dramatic climax of a great war. When Port Arthur was
taken ten years before, it collapsed in a day, and the unspeakable
carnage before and after furnished one of the lurid chapters of
history. Chinese were massacred, the town was plundered, and the
world rang with outrage. When Plevna fell, thirty years before,
the Turkish prisoners marched through the snow, across the Volga,
dropping thousands of starved, scurvy-ridden, frozen comrades by
the ebbing mile stones. When Metz went down a vast army came to
the victor, and hemisphere-resounding was the scandal. Nothing
of the sort distinguished the surrender of Port Arthur on the
morning of January 2d, 1905. A stalwart, grim-visaged soldier in
Turkoman cap rode on a white charger out of the town to a little
village on the plain, saluted his victorious adversary, and
presented him the beautiful white horse. The adversary, Nogi, with
exquisite courtesy, refused the gift. On being pressed by Stoessel,
in the Turkoman cap, he accepted it on behalf of his army.
Complimented upon his achievement he replied: “I see no reason
for exaltation–the cost has been too great.” The next day this
courteous soldier, Nogi, the soul of chivalry, a prince of leaders,
marched in at the head of his worn but marvelous followers. The
Russians marched out, some to honorable parole, and some to tender
care among their enemies. There was no massacre, no spectacle, no
great dramatic incident. War had become a business. It was thus
that these two great men–Nogi and Stoessel–wrote “finis” at the
close of the first chapter of this interesting new volume, called
“Civilized Warfare.”

It is less than fifty years since Sebastopol fell, and not forty
since Lee abandoned the trenches at Petersburg. Yet the weapons
used at these memorable sieges are now as obsolete as the catapult
and the crossbow. And yet Port Arthur was won as were Tyre, and
Carthage, and Constantinople. Men will charge on machine guns as
readily as on crossbows. Apparently no defensive works or engines
can stop first-class soldiers. Nothing so well describes the last
few days of the great siege as this letter which came to me in New
York a month after Stoessel started on his way to St. Petersburg.
It was written by a man whose whole knowledge of English came from
his own countrymen. His position is that of Adjutant of the Ninth
Division of the Third Imperial Japanese Army; his service that of
private secretary to Lieutenant-General Oshima, who commands the

The letter is transcribed, spelling and all, as it was written:


“_Jan._ 3d, 1905.

“_Dear Sir_:

“At last Port Arthur strongly defended and well known in the
world came to the end quite late yesterday. Let me tell you
a little about it. After you left here we took front part of
Niryuzan as far as to the ditch which was 14 meters wide and
deep. We made two roads into the ditch destroying two caponires
and reaching the other side of the ditch, we dug four holes under
the Russian bom-proof–the holes were about 14 meters deep. Then
we filled them up with gun cotton to blow it up. On the 28th of
last month we blew that up using 2.700 kirogram of gun cotton,
at the same time our soldiers made an asolt, and took hold of it.
By that explosion many Russians, large stones, and sand went up
high into air. It was just like a volcano. The Russians increased
and threw out many hand granates and very hard fighting went on.
But about 5:30 of that evening the whole fort was occupied by our
men, after six hours of continual fighting. After that we opened
the road to push out beyond Niryuzan. On the 31st the first
division captured Shojuzan greatly helped by our men in Niryuzan.
Before the dawn of the 1st of this month this division took hold
of all Russian line from H. peak to Banryuzan new fort, except
Bodai. By a severe attack of the 35th regiment at 4:20 of that
afternoon, Bodai was taken by us. Though we had a good battle
on the happy new years day, yet the rest of the army did not
have any. Early next morning General Stoessel sent in an officer
and had the letter of surrend sent to General Nogi. On the 2nd
negociation took place and the battlefield began to be entirely
calm, by and by no sound of a rifle. I felt something.

“I really wished you could stay here till this time to walk in
together to Port Arthur. I got slightly wounded after you left
and lost hearing of one ear. Wishing to see you at Mukden and
with best regards,

“Yours faithfully,


“9th Division.”