THE INVISIBLE ARMY

Dalny, August 3d: Guns have blown their thunder to us distantly
all the afternoon. The sounds boom a low thud with monotonous
distinctness. Lounging on the taffrail of a small cargo steamer in
Dalny Bay they strike those of us who are innocent of war, who have
never felt the thrill, the halt and the plunge of battle as tame;
almost without interest. In a California cottage, a summer’s night,
a mile from the seashore I have listened before now to the surf
climb up and lay down upon the beach with the same heavy lust.

This sound has in it, too, something of nature’s immanence and
majesty; an elemental force of decay and a primal grandeur of
progress. Yet it is ominously deadly. The sky above is a perfect
azure, the sea below a perfect turquoise, the town beyond a haze
of tranquil ocher. We are lying among warships, but they are
silent. Beyond us a troopship is unloading a thousand conscripts
for the trenches, but they are silent. The city of Dalny is
beautiful–and silent. Silence everywhere. Then comes that
boom–silence–boom–boom–boom! The captain steps up and speaks a
few words. We begin to realize that we are listening to siege guns
pounding the life out of a doomed city. The captain waves an arm
toward a point of land to be seen faintly through a glass. Only
half a day’s walk that way and beyond–to the southeast–lies Port
Arthur.

We are ten. Yesterday there landed here eight military
observers–four British, one Spaniard, one German, one Chilean and
one American. These eighteen have been assigned by the Japanese
Government to the army now operating against Port Arthur. The
eighteen are the only Occidentals who will see the siege.

[Illustration: WAR CORRESPONDENTS

Richard Barry and Frederic Villiers. Mr. Villiers (in
knickerbockers) the veteran of seventeen campaigns, was Dean of the
War Correspondents before Port Arthur.]

Four days ago we left Moji in a transport steamer, the _Oyomaru_.
The ship’s name tells of the trip–“The prosperous ocean
ship.” We might have come across a millpond so placid was our
journey. Yesterday afternoon we sighted a line of sand piles and
verdure-covered rocks rising out of the ocean. We were about to
steam past when a flash of sunlight, like a gay salute from a boy’s
pocket mirror, struck our bow. It was the heliograph. The _Oyomaru_
put to port and slid in under the lee of the islands. As we came up
an old gray battleship veered on her anchor to give us room and as
we turned her bows we floated in among the fleet, dragging at its
chains, steam up, waiting to dash at the word to Port Arthur, four
miles away.

We were at the Elliot Islands, inhabited by fisher folk and seized
by the Japanese for a naval base. Around us lay the silence of
death, though twenty men-of-war were within gun shot. Only the
spiral upshoot of smoke from fifty stacks and the heave and push
of tide-driven fighting craft gave evidence of the tensity we were
in. From the highest hill a thin shaft, like a straw in the wind,
cut against the sunset. There lay the wireless-telegraph station
to which are flashed signals from the torpedo craft and cruisers
guarding the mouth of Port Arthur.

At dawn we left the fleet, silent, with that lazy curl of smoke
uplifting its ragged fringe. On for five hours we came at ten knots
until we rounded a cape and turned into Talienwan Bay. In the
farther curve, as a pebble in a sling, lay Dalny.

“It looks like Greece; the Piraeus with Marathon in the distance,”
said Frederic Villiers. I thought of another place; San Diego Bay
with Point Loma curving a crescent out of the Pacific.

The Russians came here to stay; that is plain. We can see miles of
brick buildings, some five stories high. The great brick chimney
of an electric light plant towers above the city. The public
buildings, hospitals, schools and railroad station are as fine as
those of Los Angeles. Costly villas with spacious grounds, coolie
covered, stretch back under the hillsides. A zoological garden of
several dozen acres can be seen off at the left. There are miles
of new wharves cemented and built with stone. Two piers strike out
four hundred yards into the harbor, locked down by solid masonry.
A breakwater half a mile long stretches at our stern.

Ten years ago could the Romanoff seated in the Winter Palace at
Petersburg, placing a finger on the map of western Asia, as he
said: “Let there be a Russian city here;”–could he possibly have
foreseen to-day?–the Russians gone, half of the magnificent
city burned, the safe and beautiful harbor filled with Japanese
transports and men-of-war, the railway held for a Japanese line of
advance and Russian prestige on the Manchurian littoral smashed
like a rotten egg!

This afternoon we have found how desperate the silence is. For mere
movement after three days on shipboard and five months solitary
confinement in Tokyo we asked to launch the ship’s boat and row
about the harbor. The captain assented. Eight of us got in and
started off among the transports. Next to us was a hospital ship
painted white with a green stripe running across her middle like
an abdominal bandage round an invalid. “Looks as enticing as a
cocktail before dinner,” said one of the boys. It did have a cool
glance that must be grateful to a wounded man just in from the
battlefield. We but turned her bows when we ran into a warship–a
gunboat of the third class. She was in black, with red stripes
about her portholes and stanchions. The gun carriages were outlined
in red–stuff put on to keep off rust. Just beyond the gunboat lay
a torpedo destroyer–the most devilish craft that floats–long,
thin, low, with four thick funnels above engines like a bull’s
lungs.

As we passed the gunboat a bugle piped “to quarters” and several
officers turned their glasses on us. But on we went, gay with
the freedom of the lark, and stretching our ship-bound muscles
against the buffeting of the choppy sea. Yonder lay the torpedo
boats and brother destroyers and beyond an armored cruiser of the
second class. The cruiser piped “to quarters” and more glasses were
leveled on us.

About this time the coxswain turned her nose to the _Oyomaru_, but
before we got there the ship’s sampan glided alongside, the mate in
her alive, jabbering Nipponese and gesticulating toward the ship.
We hurried back.

As we climbed on board Villiers yelled: “You’ve spoiled it now.
You’ll never see Port Arthur.”

Then we found we had created a sensation–this strange boat manned
by eight foreigners, appearing in broad afternoon in the harbor
of the nearest naval base to the scene of the fleet’s activities.
Two warships had prepared to fire on us at word of command and
signaling from the fleet to the shore had only found that it was
“supposed” we were “neutral allies,” but that officially we could
not be recognized. The captain was reprimanded and we were told to
keep close to the ship until released. Tokyo had said nothing of us
to Dalny. To-morrow we will be released. But we will not again go
about the harbor. We will go on shore. We will have ears and eyes,
but no legs or tongues.

Ho-o-zan, (the Phœnix Mountain) three miles from and looking into
Port Arthur, Sept. 14th: Here we are with the Third Imperial Army
waiting for Russia’s downfall in the Far East. With her fleet gone,
Russia’s sea power has vanished. With Kuropatkin smashed it will be
another year before she can have a great army in the field. So now
there remains only impregnable Port Arthur to say that Russia but
eight months ago held all Manchuria.

Ten of us are privileged to follow the fortunes of the army of
investment. We alone of eighty-four war correspondents who entered
the field are here to record the details of a siege that promises
to go down in history with Plevna and Sebastopol. At the present
time I may tell you only of how the army lives and works, and what
sensations engulf one in the midst of this elemental contest at
the apex of a world, where two civilizations are in life and death
throes.

Impregnable is the word for the line of forts confronting us.
Military authorities innumerable have predicted it would never
be taken from a white soldiery, although Japan ten years ago did
take it, in a single day of fierce assault, from the weakly armed
and poorly trained Chinese. But through seven years Russia has
been preparing for what she faces to-day–a great army of veteran
troops from a warlike nation, equipped for scientific fighting and
officered by men trained in the best schools in the world. She has
repaired and rebuilt the old Chinese Wall till it lies across the
back of the city, from sea to sea, a buttress of protection and
menace, plentifully loopholed for rifles and hung at intervals,
like huge fobs on a gigantic chain, with forts. Every natural
elevation is commanded by a battery, and every weak depression
built up for similar defense. Six miles from sea to sea, convex
into the valley, and cutting off the apex of the Liaotung peninsula
as a conical cake might be cut by a spoon, lies this bristling
line. Looking at it, and what confronts it from above, this
appears as grand a battlefield as the mind can conceive.

The mere names of some of the forts bring gleams of the situation.
To our right, in the center, lie Anzushan and Etzeshan, the Chair
and Table Mountains. Some giant might hang his legs over Anzushan
and sup from Etzeshan, but were he built in proportion he would
be nearly two thousand feet high, for they rise from the valley
precipitously half that distance. It was here, the key to the
center, that the Japanese pierced the line ten years ago, but
they have tried no such move this time; a different foe confronts
them now. Far beyond the Chair and Table Mountains, the key to
the outer, we see Golden Mount, the key to the inner defenses, at
once a sea and land fort. It shines glorious and confident in the
sunlight, the model of a conventionally built fortification, rising
square and solid from the hills, buttressed with sod and sand bags
and parapeted on a bevel.

After all the outer seventeen forts have fallen and after that
terrible Chinese Wall has been pierced, there still remains Golden
Mount, the Tiger’s Tail and Liaotishan. Just below Golden Mount,
to be seen only from a certain angle in the valley in front of
us, lie the shattered remnant of the Russian fleet–three gray
old battleships, four tarnished cruisers and a half dozen torpedo
boats, smashed and done by Togo’s fleet, whose smoke curls
irregularly over the sky line as it tugs warily there on perpetual
watch, a watch uninterrupted for seven months, in which the
monotony has been varied by three great naval battles.

To the right of Golden Mount and still below it lies the new town
of Port Arthur built by the Russians. Hid behind a hill is the old
town of frame houses. There is not a living thing to be seen on the
streets, lying in plain view through a strong glass, as though in
miniature on the palm of your hand. It is unharmed and spotless,
seemingly in fresh paint. Four sticks piercing the sky line tell
of the wireless telegraph station. To the right a huge crane can
be seen sticking up to indicate the dock yards and a patch of
blue, landlocked water, the west harbor. Nearest us the arsenal
and railroad shops are plain. Then comes the railroad mockingly
deserted in the sunlight. Then a high embankment shuts the view,
but we know that under the embankment nestles a series of barracks.
Far out on the plain, between the two armies, and between us on
the mountain and the Russian forts, two miles off, a lone factory
chimney up-slants to the blue; though bursting shells have been
thick about there it is unharmed, and, so far as we can see, Port
Arthur is unharmed. So far the Japanese have not shelled it at all.
But we are told the navy has wrecked the Russian quarter. The army
scorns to destroy the city which now lies at the mercy of its siege
guns, just as it scorns to starve out the beleaguered garrison. It
is a civilized game the Japanese are playing, one of strategy and
force.

Far down in the plain called the Mariner’s, or the Shuishiying
Valley, a little to the left and back of the lone chimney, is a
great fort known as the Two Dragons, a most difficult place to take
because of its long approaches. It is the advance guard of the
Russian line; only eight hundred yards from the Japanese trenches.
Far out to the right, resting on the northern arm of Pigeon Bay,
is a bald-headed peak some eight hundred feet high. This is
Liaotishan, the extreme left of the Russian position. Behind the
town are great peaks, the highest hereabouts, and on them, in the
early morning, four brass cannons can be seen glittering. They are
thought to be dummy cannon, for they have not yet spoken.

To the left of the town, with its Golden Mount, begin the really
great forts, scenes of carnage destined for history’s brightest
page, and about which have taken place the battles I am about
to describe. The Eternal Dragon and the three batteries of the
Cock’s Comb are the essential. Far behind this Eternal Dragon and
the wall, a few hundred yards from the sea, is a wooded driveway,
leading to a mountain called Wangtai, or “the watch tower.” Up
this, of an afternoon, a carriage can sometimes be seen drawn by
white horses. Prisoners tell us it is General Stoessel’s carriage
and that he thus goes to his headquarters. Why is he not fired
upon? Because he is out of close rifle range and the Japanese never
waste a shell on a single man or on even a group.

Occasionally we can see men moving a heavy gun about, or walking in
squads through the town. The Japanese wait to concentrate their
fire; they never harass the enemy. On the contrary, the Russians,
now when they should hoard every shell, waste hundreds each day.
They will fling a six-inch screamer at a mule or an umbrella, and
no part of the Japanese rear is safe, though distances are so great
that the chances of being hit are one in a thousand.

[Illustration: OFF FOR PORT ARTHUR

A reserve regiment leaving Dalny for the firing line eighteen miles
away.]

All is quiet except that now and then a Russian shell whizzes.
The sound can no longer be called the “boom of cannon,” so savage
and rending is the detonation of these mighty modern charges. To
hear one explode even half a mile off sets every fiber of the
body in action, so angry is the report. Infantry popping can be
heard, oftenest in the night, as the outposts come together, or the
sentries chaff each other by showing dummy heads or arms. But over
beyond that ragged line we know that twenty thousand men, driven
into a corner–and what a corner it is!–are fighting like rats
in a hole, that they are of the same blood that defeated Napoleon
when on the defense a century ago, the same that half a century
ago stubbornly contested Sebastopol, the same that a quarter of
a century ago, at appalling loss of life, reduced the marvelous
Plevna. They sit thus hunted, at bay, well ammunitioned and
provisioned, determined to sell every ounce of blood dearly.

To take Port Arthur seems impossible. It takes men drunk with
victory and strong in ancient might to dare the task. It is only
looking at what the Japanese have already taken that makes one have
faith in their ability to do what they are now trying; otherwise,
looking across at that six-mile line, one would say as he might
have said of the ridges lying behind us: human energy and prowess
cannot force them; only madmen would attempt it. But the Japanese
have already forced at least five positions, seemingly as difficult
as Port Arthur. First, they took Nanshan, which was even worse than
this, for the approaches were gradual for two miles, while here
precipitous heights and deep ravines give shelter. Nanshan the
Japanese took in a single desperate day; Kenzan, where they had to
climb hand over hand, they scaled in a night; Witozan, where they
broke in over parapets built on rocks seven hundred feet above the
sea, they reduced at high noon; Anshirey, where the road climbs
up a spiral for a mile, and is raked at every yard, they enfiladed
and took in two days; and Taikushan, a saddle of malachite and
granite straddling the main road to Port Arthur, they shelled out
in thirty-six hours. Thus it is we have faith that some morning the
world will wake to hear that the Rising Sun flies over Port Arthur,
which the military experts of the Powers have declared impregnable.

Bitter as the contest is, war has not touched the bowels of the
land. Looking into the plain behind me I can see a score of busy
and peaceful villages serene in a sea of golden harvest. Maize and
buckwheat, beans and millet, cabbage and barley alternate green
and russet over the meadows. Springless bullock carts, ancient as
Jerusalem, helped by tiny donkeys and naked children, painfully
garner the grain. Women sing in low monotones at the primitive
stone mills where blindfolded donkeys travel all day in a circle,
grinding out the seed and flour. Lines of coolies wend through
the footpaths, spring-kneed with huge weights on limber poles.
Shells at the rate of four or five an hour drop into this great
area, separated from the field of battle by a range of mountains,
plowing up a hill, shattering a house, tearing a road, killing a
donkey, wounding a coolie, but of no great damage. No one minds.
The harvest goes on. The glorious, golden September continues. The
women sing, the naked children play, the tiny donkeys labor.

It is the plain in front, under the Cock’s Comb and the Golden
Mount, guarded by the Two Dragons that has desolate quiet. There
the maize is untouched and the heavy heads of the millet fall from
sheer weight, while the cabbages are crushed by infantry passing in
the night. Fires have blackened the villages, the Manchurians have
fled, and in ragged lines from sea to sea the two armies hold their
hostile trenches, from which, through the twenty-four hours, goes
up the intermittent ping and pop of rifle bullets.

What of the army? You cannot see it; much less can you hear it. An
army of a hundred thousand men is here, around us, among us, but
we do not know it, we can hardly guess it. Little would one think,
were it not for the firing, that so much as a company were idling
along that plain. A machine gun rattles, a low, deep boom comes
from the sea; the forts reply, a flash streaks the air, we see a
puff of smoke, then a cloud of earth is thrown up; finally, after
a long while, as we are about to turn away, the angry shriek of a
shell comes over and we hear it burst a thousand yards below in
the valley. Only our ears tell us that war is on. The Japanese are
as invisible as the Russians. It will take days and weeks to spy
out the labyrinthine ways of this great army as it toils among the
hills, into the valley and up the ravines, mounting its guns, and
digging its way up to the parapets, where its units will cling,
like barnacles to a ship, until the monstrous hulk founders.

But getting down into the rear plain, traveling the road, taking
a different one each day, passing among the villages and through
the hills, one begins to realize that the country is honeycombed
by grim activity. Back and forth, from the front to Cho-ray-che, a
railroad station halfway from Port Arthur to Dalny, travel lines of
transport. Each line has from one to five dozen light wagons drawn
by single small shaggy horses, each guided by a small dust-visaged
soldier.

“There is the strength of our army,” said an officer to me one
day as a company of them passed, grimed, heated, menial. They are
the flower of Japanese youth, clerks, professional men, students,
exiled on rice and pickled plums, getting none of the glory of war.
They are the unnamed and unknown but all-powerful commissary.

As the transport passes in, loaded with bags of rice, there comes
out another line, this time of coolies, paired, and well burdened
with human freight. They are bearing the wounded, in bamboo
stretchers that do not jolt the piteously shattered frames, to
the railroad station, whence they go by train to Dalny, thence by
hospital ship to Japan. Every day comes this dribble of wounded,
some days only a score, but after a battle the ways are thick with
them–hundreds, thousands.

Occasionally, but very seldom, a battalion or a regiment of
infantry will be seen moving in, with compact lines, knapsacks on
back, bearing rifles with the barrel holes brass covered. The
other night over by the western sea I suddenly came upon a troop
of cavalry racing along the sands in the sunset. They rode their
horses well, considering that the Japanese is not a horseman. Each
had an extra mount. They frolicked like plainsmen till the coves
rang. I had not seen so much gayety before in all the Japanese
army. But what can cavalry do at a siege?

For the sublime we need not go to the firing line where men risk
their lives and lose them. At the front of our mountain lies a deep
rutted road, at the end of which, hid well among the hills, is
the hole for a concrete gun-emplacement, redoubted with sandbags,
the glacis slippery with shale. Along this road as the sun sinks
we see what looks like a gigantic snake, its tail pulling an ugly
head slowly backward, its dust-covered belly squirming laboriously.
Descending we find a cable thick as a man’s thigh stretched between
two long lines of men, each of whom has hold and is pulling
that ugly head–a siege gun–nose and breech clap-boarded, and
wallowing, without its carriage, on wooden rollers. We count the
men–300. Men alone can do the work, for they alone can move in
unison, quietly, at the word of command. There is no noise. The
commands cannot be heard five hundred yards away. The three hundred
bend their backs as one and the Pride of Osacca bunts her nose
through the dust a rod nearer emplacement. They toil there a week
to get that monster into position, pygmies moving a power that
will rend the mountains, as tradition has it that Hendrick Hudson
and his crew moved the ships’ cannon into the Catskills for the
eternal generation of Knickerbocker thunder. To look upon that gun,
helpless but disputatious in the hands of the three hundred, to
realize that a week hence its bulk, into which one of these naked
Manchurian children can easily creep, will toss five hundred weight
of shell five miles through the air into one of those Russian forts
where it will shatter the skill, labor, and life of an Empire–ah,
that is sublime! Is it not also terrible?

The same scientific skill with which the gun is handled is seen
throughout the army. Even after a battle, in the disorder of
regiments, the search for the wounded, the burial of the dead,
there is no confusion. All moves quietly and quickly. No officer
swears, for the simple reason that the Japanese language hasn’t
the words. Only the interpreters, who know English, swear. They,
however, can be excused; they handle the correspondents, to whom
they can’t speak, as the soldiers do to the Russians, with lead.
You read of “the confusion and bustle of an army” and “the terrors
of war.” There is no confusion, no terror here. No shrieks, no
shouts, no hurrying. Once, as a regiment, after losing half its
men, scaled the top parapet of one of those lower forts across the
way, it gave out three rapid “Banzais.” Just that triple cry in the
early dawn, from troops drunk with victory and mad with fatigue,
is about the only evidence I have that the army possesses nerves.
It rings in my ears yet and will always ring there–a wild shriek
of samurai exultation floating out of the mist of the valley above
the voice of rifle and cannon. “The officers lost control for a
few minutes, but not for long,” explained a certain general to me
later, apologetically. He didn’t countenance such enthusiasm. War
is business here–the most superb game of chess ever played upon
the chequered board of the world.

One thing that relieves the situation of much of the evident hurry
that once made war picturesque is the absence of the orderly. The
mounted officer, riding for life, dispatch in breast-pocket or
saddle bag, from the general to his brigadiers and his colonels,
is food for reminiscence. The telephone rang his knell. This
is the first time in history that the field telephone has come
successfully into extensive active use. General Nogi can sit in
his headquarters, four miles from Port Arthur, and speak with
every battery and every regiment lying within sight of the doomed
forts. Little bands of uniformed men, carrying bamboo poles and
light wire frames on transport carts, and armed with saws and
shovels, have intersected the peninsula with lines of instantaneous
communication. It is the twentieth century. Yet, as I walked over
the hills near the headquarters of the commander of artillery
yesterday, I saw, hanging from one of the bamboo poles and all
along a wire leading from it to the artillery commander’s tent,
strips of white cotton cloth called “goheis.” You can see the same
before all the Shinto shrines in Japan. They are offerings of
supplication to the spirits of the fathers. Some simple linesman,
garbed in khaki and wearing an electric belt, not content with
telephonic training, would thus guard his general. “Oh, ye who
have watched over Japan, in peril and in safety, from the age of
Jimmu, even to the present day,” he cries, “now, in a foreign land,
faithfully guard this, our talisman and signal!”

I have said there are no sounds in the Japanese army. But there
are–a few. At night, from far back on the rear plain, comes
the monosyllabic sound of singing, several companies in unison,
interspersed with light laughter–nothing hilarious, nothing loud,
only an overflow of happy spirit into the night–never in the
daytime, always at night. The song is a long one by Fukishima, a
Major-General now in the north with Marshal Oyama, with a refrain:
“Nippon Caarte, Nippon Caarte; Rosen Marke-te.” (Russia defeated
is, Japan victorious.) The laughter comes from the game they play,
something like our fox and geese, an innocent sport with nothing
rough about it. Of late the Osacca band has been here, playing
for the generals at luncheon and for the convalescents in the
field hospitals, but very quiet music–The Geisha, some Misereres,
waltzes from Wang, and Sir Arthur Sullivan’s tunes. They avoid
the military, the dramatic, and the inspiriting. The music is
taken to soothe, just as their surgeons use opium when necessary.
How different from the Russian, of whom each regiment has a band
busy every day with the pomp and circumstance of conflict! One
day, a week before we came here, the Russians made a sortie into
the plain, parading for several hundred yards in front of the Two
Dragons. That was before the lines were as closely drawn as they
are now and the Japanese looked with amusement on the show-off.
At the head marched two bands, brassing a brilliant march. Then
came the colors flashing in the sun. The officers were dashingly
decorated, and the troops wore colored caps. It was a rare treat
for the Japanese, for they had never seen anything such as that in
their own army. Like a boy bewildered at the gay plumage of a bird
he might not otherwise catch, the simple and curious Japanese let
the foe vaingloriously march back into the town. So here they sit,
playing children’s games, to the chamber music of women, as gentle
as girls–but you should see them fight!

The transport camps are sheltered by mountains so high and steep
that Russian shells cannot be fired at an angle to drop in behind
them. Through one of these nooks I came one morning, unable to
find the main road, and pushed among the horses. As I emerged at
the farther end a soldier rushed at me with a bayonet and slashed
at my legs. The bayonet was sheathed and I had a stout stick, so
no damage was done. I soon explained who I was. He sullenly let me
pass and his comrades began chaffing him. Some officers across the
ravine also laughed. I thought they were laughing at me. Almost any
human nature laughs at the foreigner. That was the first evidence
of violence and the first evidence of rudeness I had seen in the
Japanese soldier. I passed the day off in the regiment and, as
night fell, came back through the horses, where I went without
comment. Round a corner, out of sight of the camp I suddenly came
upon the same soldier apparently waiting to see me. I grasped
my stick tightly, but he was weaponless, and advanced smiling,
cigarette box in hand. He wanted to apologize and be friends. His
comrades had been laughing at him, not at me, and had taunted
him till he felt so ashamed of himself that unless I smoked with
him and returned for some tea he would never stand right with
them again. We had the tea and the whole mess joined in. That was
a private soldier–a hostler. The courtesy of the officers is
embarrassing, it is so continuous and exacting. Everywhere, from
general to private, it is real and delightful, especially toward
an American. I have heard many say that it is only a crust, that
underneath the Japanese is a devil and a dastard. But a very nice
crust. Let us enjoy it; as to the pie underneath, let the Russians
testify.

For the essence of courtesy and thoughtfulness there is General
Nogi. James Ricalton and I went to call on him two days ago. He
spent half an hour with us at his headquarters in the village of
Luchufong, which is Chinese for Willow Tree Apartment. It is one of
the prettiest villages in the great plain, on the edge of a brook,
fringing the zone of fire. Everything shows seclusion and quiet,
though there is located the brain that directs these gigantic
operations, the girth of which Nogi alone comprehends. “Do you
understand the situation?” I asked weeks ago of Frederic Villiers,
the veteran English war artist, survivor of seventeen campaigns,
present ten years ago at the other fall of Port Arthur, and dean of
the war correspondents.

“No,” said he, “I was at Plevna with the Russians, but that
was jackstraws to this game of go. I know nothing of go. Ask
the military attachés.” In turn I asked the different military
attachés–the German, French, English, Chilean, Spanish, Swedish,
and finally the young lieutenant here for the United States. They
all understood all about Port Arthur, but the trouble was, no two
knew it the same. So I went back to Villiers. “Nogi is the only man
that knows,” said he; “Nogi alone can tell you how the batteries
are placed, how the divisions and regiments are to be deployed
and played, what forts are the keys, what Russian batteries the
weakest, the reserve force, the commissary and hospital supplies.”

So, naturally, coming to meet such a man we must have some awe,
some curiosity and some respect for the master strategist,
commander of the army which drove the Russians down the peninsula
and which holds it now in a death trap. We expected to meet a man
of iron, for Nogi is the General whose eldest son, a lieutenant in
the Second Army, was killed at Nanshan; who has under his command
a second son, a lieutenant, and who wrote home after the first
disaster: “Hold the funeral rites until Hoten and I return, when
you can bury three at once.”

The General received us in his garden. He was at a small table,
under a willow, working with a magnifying glass over a map. He wore
an undress blue uniform with the three stars and three stripes of
a full general on the sleeve–no other decoration, though once
before I had seen him wearing the first class order of the Rising
Sun. His parchment-crinkled face, brown like chocolate with a
summer’s torrid suns, beamed kindly on us. His smile and manner
were fatherly. It was impossible to think that any complicated
problem troubled his mind. A resemblance in facial contour to
General Sherman arrested us. Lying near, in his hammock, was a
French novel. He reads both French and English, but does not trust
himself to speak in either. Miki Yamaguchi, Professor of languages
in the Nobles School, Tokyo, for seven years resident in America,
and graduate of the Wabash college, was the interpreter.

“Look after your bodies,” the General said after greeting us. “I
was out to the firing line the other day and came back with a touch
of dysentery, so take warning. I do not want any of you to be sick.
At the first sign of danger consult our surgeons. We have good
surgeons.”

“We are of little account, General,” said Ricalton, “but it is a
very serious thing for a man on whom the world’s eyes are centered
to have dysentery.”

The General smiled. “I am quite well now,” he said; “but how old
are you?” he asked, looking at Ricalton’s gray hairs. They compared
ages. Ricalton proved to be three years the older.

[Illustration: _From Stereograph, Copyright 1904, by Underwood &
Underwood, New York_

GENERAL BARON NOGI

The photograph shows the Commander of the Third Imperial Japanese
Army studying the defenses of Port Arthur in his garden in the
Willow Tree Village, Manchuria]

“The command of the army, then, belongs to me,” said Ricalton. “I’m
your senior.”

“Ah,” said the General, “but then I should have to do your work
and I fear I could not do it as well as you do.”

That night a huge hamper came to Ricalton’s tent in charge of the
headquarters orderly. It contained three huge bunches of Malaga
grapes, half a dozen Bartlett pears, a peck of fine snow apples,
and bore a card reading: “The General sends his compliments to his
senior in command.”

“He is a great man,” said Ricalton, “who can so notice, in the
midst of colossal labors, a passing old photographer.”

But, as Nogi goes, so go the other generals, and so goes the
army. Villiers and I went yesterday to call on a certain
Lieutenant-General who commands the most important third of the
forces. His division has borne the brunt of the fighting, and
he doesn’t live as Nogi does, on the edge of the zone of fire,
but close under the guns within a mile of the Russian forts, so
close that in his lookout two of his staff officers were recently
killed. His home is a dugout in the side of a mountain. It is large
enough for him to lie down in and turn over. He had a heavy white
blanket, a rubber pillow to be inflated with lung power, a fan,
an officer’s trunk that carries sixty pounds, and a small lantern
of oiled silk–this was his furniture, his complete outfit. On a
peg hung his sword, and outside, on the ground, lay his boots. Some
member of his staff had fixed up an iron bedstead and a water bowl,
but they were lying off at the side of the dugout, untouched. He
came to meet us in a thin pair of rubber slippers, his uniform a
bit worn, the string on his breast, where the order of the Rising
Sun is usually worn, barren, his eyes kindly, his manner fatherly
and his hospitality generous; he spread a lunch bountiful as Nogi’s.

“I know the Russians,” said Villiers that night. “I was with them
all through the Russo-Turkish War. I remember Skoboleff, their
great cavalry leader, a magnificent type of man, a soldier to the
ground, but fiery, emotional, vivacious, vain, fond of orders,
jewels, wine and women, looking on war as a lark, dashing and
brilliant, the scourge of Europe! He was not this type of man–a
scientific chap, sober, full of business to the chin, no lugs to
him, and as unemotional as a fish. Kuropatkin was Skoboleff’s
Chief of Staff and you see what these fellows have done with him.
The day of cynical dash and reckless valor has gone by in war, my
boy. We are living in an age of modesty and gentleness, of science
and concentration; Japan is the master.”

We lay under the searchlights, which were turning the night valley
into a noontide halo, as Villiers spoke. Every light came from
the Russian side, which lay wary and restless beyond us. From the
Japanese side came no light, no sound. All was secrecy and silence.
Yet we knew those hills were alive with toiling brown figures,
that a ten-mile line of rifle pits was guarded at every rod by a
sleepless soldier watching for the Rising Sun and that the tents
of those Generals blinked unceasingly with the steady glow of the
oiled silk lanterns, quivering cabalistically with ideographs.

As I looked upon swaying and heavy searchlights, I could think only
of the Indian cobra and his mortal enemy, the mongoose. Silently,
rolled in a ball, alert for a fatal spring, the little mongoose
watches, and the hooded cobra swings ponderously, more nervous
with each move. All other enemies he can crush; none other he
fears; his body is murderous, his fangs deadly, his stealthy glide
noiseless and sure. How well he knows his power! Despot of the
jungle, why should he fear? And yet, since the world dawned his
tribe has done well to avoid the mongoose.

Steadily swings the cobra; viciously he lunges. Now look! In the
folds of the cobra’s neck those incisive teeth, those death-dealing
claws! With the fury of whirlwinds lashes the cobra. With eternal
calm cling the teeth and claws. Hour after hour goes the unequal
struggle. The huge coils relax, the great head falls. Then the
beady eyes twinkle. The mongoose slips off in the darkness; prone
lies the cobra. Who sheds tears?

Tokyo, June 1st:–Who pays for the war? Here are a few telling
one another that they are the bankers. It is at a Sunday concert
in the fifth city of the world, a wilderness of sheds flimsy over
two million human beings. In the midst rise vast acres of country
solitude and rest. A tangle of cryptomeria and fir shade puzzled
paths winding through furse of elderberry and hawthorn. Haze and
vista spread away past hills and forests, past hothouses and
lawns of firm packed earth. A lake dimples a vale, as a smile the
cheek of a lovely woman, and its pebbly bed reflects the laughter
of the sun. About it fluttering flags, new and gay, festoon the
sentiment of all nations, one–Russia–excepted. Thousands, tens of
thousands, dot the paths, are merry with the lake, instill from the
greenery a quiet joy. Hundreds of voices, atune with instruments,
filter the fragrant air with music. Beyond the fence is squalor so
dense three sen a month pays for a dwelling; here is leisure so
luxurious the senses float in dreams. In a corner a moldy Diabutsu,
the calm of Nirvana on his face, nods on a leaf of lotus; “out of
the slime itself spotless the lotus grows.”

Tokyo is beautiful–brunette and beautiful. This first day of June
she has risen past the cherry blossom, past the wistaria, through
the freshness of spring to the full radiance of summer. Pink, like
the fleece of clouds in the sky, and heliotrope, like the first
flush of sunrise, are past. Now green, rich and deep from a soil of
winnowed sustenance, mantles her in Oriental splendor–a splendor
simple and elegant with the wealth of the east, shadowy and sunny
with the blow of Japan. It folds her about with the assuring clasp
of a lover, and she responds with the shy, voluptuous acceptance of
a maid o’erwon.

This is a summer of content, a dream of gayety, of insouciance.
A million babies gurgle with the baby glory of it. A million
mothers coo and coddle at the eternal freshness of it. But here,
to-day, in this wilderness of terraced garden, in this bouquet of
smiling East, have assembled the daintiest mothers in the land–the
peeresses. The son of one is a major-general. Others have captains,
colonels, aides-de-camp to tug their heartstrings with fear, to
inflate their pulses with pride. Have we not penetrated to the very
viscera of war’s nature when we find the mothers of its heroes thus
assembled?

One of these mothers, a Princess, passes. Should she buy that
delicate lace and lingerie, so charming with all that’s feminine,
from boxes labeled and graded, she would choose misses’ sizes,
so tiny is she. A toy of a woman, demure and pretty; yet put
up by the finest of Parisian makers. The dotted mulle of her
veil sweeps slightly away, scallop-like, from a face thin with
aristocratic aquilinity. Behind that face, with wax complexion and
eyes of bead-like purity, scintillates a mind bred on intellectual
fashions. She speaks with the cultured English of Vassar. She knows
Omar Khayyam as well as any. The major-general is her son. Beside
her walks another son, his gold-rimmed spectacles completing a
fine picture of esthetic pride. His silk tie is the envy of every
Japanese not bred abroad, for his clothes are from Piccadilly.
The garden is full of these and such as these. They are giving a
concert for the relief fund.

The music! It is the choicest that the sensuous imagination of
man has built out of rules and dreams. “William Tell” thunders
its diapason from the hid footholds of the earth. The audacious
march of Leroul spits out its song of triumph. “America” murmurs a
swelling hymn. A Weber overture sparkles, ascends, leaping crags,
whirling diaphanous gayety through cloud and shadow.

Then a Japanese aria, weird with the rapt genius of the land,
molten with Malay poise, floats a mystery of ancient longing
through the broad day’s haze. It weaves through fir and
cryptomeria, assaults the hearts of thousands, and, triumphant,
storms the heavens; is lost in the faint sky, a sky blue with the
dreaminess Whistler would have etched in immortal phantasy.

The Relief Fund gets fifty sen apiece from these peeresses with
Piccadilly sons, brothered by major-generals. And all other manner
of folk, down to the little sister, carrying on her back a future
soldier of the emperor, daughter of a rice cleaner in a three-sen
dwelling beyond the gate, thus while the pleasant hours away.

On the heights of Tokyo they are paying for the war.

* * * * *

Here are the heights of Nanshan on the 27th of May. It is 5.20
o’clock in the morning and seas of sunlight are hid in a fog across
Korea Bay. The fog lifts, and as the day bursts in along the
whole line the banner of the Rising Sun is planted on the Russian
ramparts of Kinchow. Since midnight the artillery of the third
division has been hammering from the right, off toward Talienwan.
At intervals the infantry of the first and fourth divisions charge
from the front whence they have been advancing for two days. It
is the second army of 60,000 Japanese and the investment of Port
Arthur has begun. The railway has long been cut. Now Kinchow is
taken and the Russians are helter-skelter Dalnyward.

Here, then, is the theater, scene of such sublime assault and
conquest as the eye of history has not looked upon since Grant
stood on Orchard Knob and watched his thin blue line scale
Missionary Ridge; the hill of Nanshan, key to the advance on
Port Arthur. Turned in its lock Nanshan confronts the Japanese,
impregnable, ghastly grim in the fresh sunlight. We may well
pause to inspect the position. It rises, formidable, the height
of a church steeple, from a narrow plain. The edges of this
plain dip sheer down a hundred feet of slippery rock to the two
bays–Talienwan and Kinchow. From bay to bay is scarce three miles.
From Nanshan we may see, through a glass, the bay of Kinchow.
Riding on it are four of the enemy’s gunboats. Their shells are
flying over our heads. They have not yet found the range. To the
left in Talienwan, a Russian gunboat, guarding four transports, is
enfilading the third Japanese Division and supporting a regiment
of its own men flanking the base of the hill. The hill has been
cleared of underbrush and terraced, divided into four intervals
and on these intervals trenches built. One hundred and ten cannon
are there manned. At the bottom are barbed-wire fences, Spanish
trocha, not like the fences of a cow pasture, but dovetailed and
doubled so that if a man breaks through one he stumbles into the
oblique, bloody arms of another.

This the Japanese are to assault before noon. There is no timber,
only a few bushes and rock the size of a bull’s head, hard things
to wade through, but no defense. They must cross the open plain,
500 yards, in full range of those one hundred and ten cannon,
smash the barbed wire, climb the terraced plateaus where they will
be picked off like rabbits in a shooting gallery, assault the
trenches and finally take the heights. To take one trench seems
heroic achievement, four an impossibility. Impossible but for
one thing–orders. The navy was ordered at the outset of the war
“to exterminate” the Russian fleet, this Second Army went out to
“take Port Arthur.” And they obey orders–these Japanese. So why
contemplate that to attempt that Hill of Nanshan is folly, to take
it madness?

The Russians wait. All is silence–the awed hush preceding carnage,
terror, death. Waiting they sing, not light tunes heard so bright
and gay on the heights of Tokyo to-day; chansons of France,
Italy’s peerless compositions, America’s solemn new-born hymn or
Japan’s flute note weird and penetrating. From deep bass throats
and barytones majestic rolls organ music of fierce, wild grandeur,
as through some vast forest aisle the harmonies of winds and
woods and waves unite in mighty pæans, celebrating to the august
fastnesses glories yet fresh to man. Schools, traditions, customs
civilized have not touched the fiber of that central gauntness,
shining up through the spirit of the singers, like dreamland on a
tragedian’s afterglow. Siberia with all its wildness, with all its
immensity, where aback the mammoth wallowed; the Caucasus tossing
aloft primeval ecstasy the long slant of the steppes, and Russia,
bold, defiant, revengeful; all rolled in one, are in that note.
The clothes of the men are heavy, ungainly, ill-made, nothing
serviceable but the boots, which are well adapted for running away.
The faces–sodden with ignorance and vice–reflect only stolid
endurance; no initiative, no individuality. Only through the song
shines the soul.

The singing ceases. There is a dreadful hush. It is eleven
o’clock. Off toward Kinchow, which is hid by a fringe of low
fir trees, something is moving. Soon hunchbacked dabs can be
seen bobbing across the furze, leaping over the stones, pausing,
searching, then onward dashing. The firing begins. Two machine
guns–only ten of the one hundred and ten are quick-firers–lead
off. You can easily tell them. The sound is little, like the
popping of a dozen beer bottles in quick succession. Then silence.
The strip of cartridges is torn aside, another inserted, again a
dozen pops. So it goes until the ten are brought into action and
there is no intermission. Flicks of dust are kicked up by the
shells, most falling short, a few passing on through the trees. One
of the bobbing dabs falls, the rest press on. Now the gunners are
getting the range; the shells pick off more hunchbacks.

But there is no stop. This is not reconnoisance; it is battle.
The skirmishers deployed and well up, now the main line advances.
Out from the trees on a dog-trot springs a battalion. It is going
to try that griddle of death. The men dash valiantly on, agile
fellows, intense as fanatics. Now the hundred field cannon come
into play. Most are Chinese of ancient date, some are modern,
rim-firing. Smoke fills the plain. It is difficult to see. The
torrent of lead is on. Snatched through the noise of firing you
can hear great cries; they grow spasmodic, then cease. The firing
slows. Soon only the automatic pops are heard. The smoke drifts
off. The foremost man is there on the wire, gutted. He hangs, a
frightful mass, limp on the barbs. Here and there a poor fellow is
crawling, as you have seen some worm trodden on vainly seek its
hole. Not a man of the battalion has survived. A thousand brave,
faithful soldiers are gone. So this is civilized warfare!

Yes. They now see it was folly to attempt the hill of Nanshan. So
they open up with artillery, a whole regiment of it, infinitely
superior to the sixty antiquated cannon, the forty Canet pieces
and the ten quick-firers. For an hour they rain that leaden taunt
back at dubious Nanshan, who austerely barks out a thin reply,
coughs a wheezy growl and ceases. Meanwhile the thousands in leash,
battle inflamed, recall that the dead battalion are Osacca men,
and, being merchants from the Japanese Chicago, had been hailed as
cowards by sons of samurai. A company of Osaccans went down, stuck,
like pigs, in the _Kinshu Maru_. But after Nanshan the pork packers
of Osacca will hold their heads decently high with the boldest.

Toward three o’clock the second advance is ordered. Half the third
division and a part of the first, nearly 15,000 men, close in. They
get across the plain, dropping a few hundreds, and smash the wire.
Drunkenly dizzy, flaring with the lust of battle, the vanguard
tears clothes, limbs, and tosses on the treacherous barbs.

They have no scissors, no choppers, no axes. Worse, they have
no time. They keep on at the fence, gashing shins, stripped of
impediments, down to the instincts and passions, all discipline
gone, every vestige of civilization lost. Now they are through,
half-naked, savage, yelling, even Japanese stoicism gone. Up to the
very muzzles of the first entrenchment they surge, waver and break
like the dash of angry waves against a rock-bound coast. It seems
no tide or wind can melt that precipitous front. But only seems.
A rest, a terrible breathing spell, the slow, wounded gasp of an
animal in pain, and again the intrepid Japanese lash their haggard
forms against that low trench. Glory! They win! The Rising Sun
glares in the afternoon as it greeted the sun of that morning above
Kinchow.

Yet only a quarter of the battle is won. Another rest. Another
assault. Again and again they go up. Nine times they hammer away,
muskets to jowl, heads down like bulls in the ring, with one
thought; nay! not a thought, an instinct–to win or die.

The officers are picked off by sharpshooters, as flies are
flicked from a molasses jug. Two colonels are killed, the list
of done captains swells. Then, through the haze, commanding the
first division, looms a prince of the blood, the general whose
peeress-mother is but this afternoon smiling serene on Tokyo
heights. He below Kinchow, smoke-stained, grimed with death, hears
the artillery report that ammunition is about gone, but one round
left and Nanshan still Russian. Defeat stares Prince-General in
the face. Retreat, disgrace seems right ahead. And orders were to
“take Port Arthur.” Smiling, he tells the gunners to wait. “Charge
again,” he says.

So up they go, for the tenth and last time. At the top more
civilized warfare. Spottsylvania Court House was no more savage.
Japanese bayonets clash with Russian sabers. Bayonets struck from
hands they grasp knives carried suicidally in belts. Thus, hand
to hand, they grapple, sweat, bleed, shout, expire. The veneer of
centuries sloughed, as a snake his cast-off skin, they spit and
chew, claw and grip as their forefathers beyond the memory of man.

The Prince-General waits, ready to fire his last round, and
retreat, hopeless. It has been a desperate fight–yes, reckless,
unparalleled. If lost he loses nobly. “Are you through, General?”
his aide asks. “I have just begun my part of the fighting,” he
answers. His name is Fushimi–remember it. As he speaks a weak cry
goes up–weak because even victory cannot rouse spirits so terribly
taxed.

It was a bloody sun going down in Korea Bay that night, but it saw
its rising counterpart flaunting above Nanshan, while the Russians
were making use of the best part of their apparel, sprinting
towards the Tiger’s Tail.

The cost! The fleeing ones left five hundred corpses in the four
trenches. The others paid seven times that price–killed and
wounded–to turn across the page of the world’s warfare that word
Nanshan, in company with two others, perhaps above them–Balaklava
and Missionary Ridge.

Now who pays for this war?

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