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Ages of Conquest: a Kings and Generals Podcast

Nov 13, 2023

Last time we spoke about the Red Bearded Honghuzi Bandits. Yes Manchuria and many parts of China proper have had a bandit problem going back to ancient times. The borderlands between the Russian Empire and Qing Dynasty proved to be the perfect grounds for bandits to evolve. The Honghuzi were getting larger, more organized and certain leaders amongst them would have long lasting impacts on the history of China. Such names that come to mind are Zhang Zuolin and the Dogmeat General Zhang Zongchang. Such forces were incorporated officially into the Qing military to thwart other bandit groups and eventually to harass the Russians or Japanese in conflict looming on the horizon. Everything seems to be hot in Manchuria, Russian has full on invaded her and is reluctant to drag her troops out. There are those unhappy with this circumstance and they will soon make themselves heard loud and clear. 


#73 The Yellow Peril and a War in the East


Welcome to the Fall and Rise of China Podcast, I am your dutiful host Craig Watson. But, before we start I want to also remind you this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Perhaps you want to learn more about the history of Asia? Kings and Generals have an assortment of episodes on history of asia and much more  so go give them a look over on Youtube. So please subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out If you are still hungry for some more history related content, over on my channel, the Pacific War Channel where I cover the history of China and Japan from the 19th century until the end of the Pacific War.

The Boxer Rebellion is over. The Russo-Chinese War in Manchuria is over. Order had been restored to Beijing and in Manchuria things were significantly quieted down. Now the other nations of the 8 nation alliance had their hands full dealing with the expedition against Beijing and they sort of turned a blind eye to what was a side conflict in Manchuria. But when things were settling down and 177,000 Russian forces had more or less invaded and were occupying Manchuria, well a lot of eyeballs bulged. Britain and Japan sought common cause, both had significant investments in the Asia-Pacific. For example Britain had Weihaiwei and was literally staring down at the Russians over in Port Arthur and Dalien. Japan had been slighted by the triple intervention by Russia, Germany and France, losing her acquisitions of Port Arthur and Dalien to the Russians. Manchuria was always seen as a buffer zone to the Japanese, she now hand a toehold in Korea and such large Russian activity in Manchuria was very threatening. Let us not forget the entire war between the Qing dynasty and Japan over Korea, to a lesser extent also had Russian as a 4th party. Russia did meddle in Korea and continuously antagonized Japan. Thus with common cause Japan and Britain formed an alliance on January 30th of 1902. In response Russia and France formed their own on March 16th of 1902. The alliances basically worked to thwart any other great powers from getting involved in a potential war between Japan and Russia. 

Now Russia also agreed to the rest of the great powers that she would gradually withdraw her forces from Manchuria. It was to be rolled out in 3 periods of 6 months. The first phase saw southwest Manchuria evacuated and returned to China, but when it came to the second phase, suddenly Russia was making demands for concessions to the Qing dynasty.  Britain, Japan and the US protested the demands and this bolstered China to reject them. Now turned back the clock a bit there was another sticky situation. When chaos was erupting in Korea, King Gojong ran to the Russians for protection for over two years. This turned the nations favor towards the Russians over the Chinese and Japanese. Russia seized this opportunity to strengthen her forces in defense of her legation in Korea, and this action was met with actions taken up by Japan.

Japanese and Russian officials met and this was the result verbatim:

A further agreement between Russia and Japan had been signed in Tokyo on 25 April 1898. The agreement contained three understandings: The independence of Korea was assured; neither country would interfere in Korea’s domestic affairs. There would be no appointment of military or civil advisers without discussion with the interested parties. Russia agreed not to hinder Japan’s development of trade with Korea

Aside from this the Russians of course wanted to seize as much as they could. A Russian-Korean bank was formed in 1897, and a timber cutting contract was given to Russian industrialists in the Yalu river area. In 1901, Tsar Nicholas II told Prince Henry of Prussia, "I do not want to seize Korea but under no circumstances can I allow Japan to become firmly established there. That will be a “casus belli." The contract only came into effect when the Manchurian railway projects were kicking off and when able bodies were around, which came about during the occupation of Manchuria. In april of 1903 Russians acquired some land and established a fort at Yongampo near the mouth of the Yalu river. America and Japan received similar concessions in the region. The Japanese began receiving reports, indicating Port Arthur was being heavily stocked with supplies and a large body of Russian troops were advancing across the Liaodong Peninsula towards Korea. Thus from the Japanese point of view it looked clear Russia was not honoring her agreements.

On July 28th of 1903, the Japanese ambassador at St Petersburg was instructed to make it known to the Russians, the 7 demands they made to China was not seen as a “relaxation of her hold on Manchuria but rather a consolidation” Two days later, Russian Admiral Alexeiev was appointed Viceroy of the Far East. Alexeiev would hold supreme power to exercises diplomacy between Russian East Asia and her neighbors as well as command the Russian military and naval forces in the east. From the Japanese point of view, a permanent Russian occupation of Manchuria would be prejudicial over her own security and interests. It would also threaten Korea, which was her sphere of interest, one she was not looking to share. Russia agreed to consider drawing up a new treaty. On August 12th of 1903 a draft was presented at St Petersburg, but in the meantime Russia was strengthening her position in the far east.

This tense situation kept going, until January 13th of 1904 when Japan offered to recognize Manchuria as being outside her sphere of interest, if Russia would agree Korea was Japan’s sphere of interest. It was to be blunt a very fair deal. Japan requested an early reply to the proposal, but by February 4th of 1904 no reply was forthcoming. Two days later the Japanese ambassador, Mr. Kurino called upon the Russian foreign minister, Count Lamsdorf to take his leave. Kurino explained to Lamsdorf that the Japanese government had decided to adopt some “independent action” deeming it necessary to defend its established rights and legitimate interests. Basically Japan's patience had come to an end. The Russian ambassador to Tokyo, Baron Rosen, had continuously sent warnings to his superiors in St Petersburg that if they continued to corner Japan, she would most certainly fight them. Such sentiment was shared by War Minister General Kuroptkin who resigned in a state of exasperation some months earlier. Tsar Nicholas II did not want a war, but he was continuously assured by his advisers, Japan was not strong enough to fight them.

When Mr. Kurino took his leave, the immediate signal was made to Admiral Alexeiev, who was in Tokyo at the time. The new viceroy saw with his own eyes evidence of Japanese mobilization and he advised St Petersburg accordingly. The Japanese foreign ministry confirmed their government had run out of patience. However all of this was taken to be a bluff. It has been theorized Alexeiev was simply not averse to a war with a country he certainly deemed inferior to his own. It is also theorized Tsar Nicholas II probably believed if a war would to break out it would be a short and victorious one, and perhaps such an event could distract the tide of revolution hitting his nation, the people of Russia were not happy anymore about the Romanov rule. Funny enough, all of these talks, deceptions and plans were to take shape in China. The Chinese were literally never even thought of or spoken to, and soon a war would literally occur within their borders against their will. How did this all come about?

It might sound a bit funny, but a large reason the Russo-Japanese War would occur would simply be a result of, pardon my french, shit talking by one Kaiser Wilhelm II. When Kaiser Wilhelm I died on March 9th of 1888, Germany fell to Frederick III who died of throat cancer only 99 days after taking the reins. On June 15th, a 29 year old Kaiser Wilhelm II took the throne. Now for those of you who don’t know, Otto von Bismarck, the man who unified Germany was during the late 19th century one of the greatest political players in the world. Bismarck had an incredible understanding of the balance of power theory and studied all the most powerful nations national interests. He brokered international deals using his knowledge to increase Germany’s standing in global politics and he also in many ways designed a system of international alliances to thwart a global war….which ironically would in many ways cause ww1. If you want to know more specifically about this by the way, check out Kings and Generals alliances that caused WW1, I wrote that script and its a fascinating story. Dan Carlin famously referred to Bismarcks work as creating a giant hand grenade, that if the pin got pulled out, only Bismarck understood how to put it back in. While Bismarck was in power things were pretty good, but he was such a colossal figure, that when the young Kaiser came into power, many of his advisers suggested he was being overshadowed by Bismarck. Kaiser Wilhelm II listening to his advisers, sought to stop Bismarck from taking the quote en quote “day to day” administration. Conflicts began to arise between the two men. Wilhelm did not understand the complexities of Bismarcks international relations and saw him as far too peaceful. Wilhelm gradually fell under the influence of his military leaders to the dismay of Bismarck who thought the Kaiser would lead them swiftly into a war with a nation like Russia. In 1890 Bismarck resigned under pressure from Wilhelm II and other German leaders, and as Dan Carlin would say, now the grenade he created was set to go off.

Now when the new Kaiser venturing into international relations, he was deeply influenced by a ideological concept that he would use as a tool to coerce international players to act out. The concept is known as the “yellow peril” “le Peril Jaune” as coined by Russian sociologist Jacques Novikow in the late 19th century. In essence the yellow peril was a racist ideology that held asians to be subhuman, like apes and monkeys, but also that as a racial group should they unite, they would threaten what was thought to be the superior race of the day, whites. Basically the idea was that if all the nations of asia were to unite, they could retaliate against the White nations who were at the time colonizing or forcing unequal treaties upon them. There was also a religious element to it, that Christianity was under threat from the hoards of the east. 

Now back to Wilhelm II, one of his advisers was the diplomat Max von Brandt who advised him that Imperial Germany had major colonial interests in China. The Triple Intervention that Germany endorsed was justified by the Kaiser under the guise it was to thwart what he began calling “die Gelbe Gefahr / the yellow peril”. The Kaiser began a propaganda campaign using the famous allegorical lithograph “Peoples of Europe, Guard your Most Sacred Possessions” created in 1895 by Hermann Knackfuss. You can google the image. The lithograph portrays the European monarchs with Germany as the leader of Europe personified by a “prehistoric warrior-goddesses being led by the Archangel Michael against the yellow peril from the east. The east is seen as a dark cloud of smoke which rests eerily upon a calm Buddha, wreathed in flame”. The imagery is very apparent, white and christianity is under threat from asian and their eastern religions. This type of ideology goes all the way back to Ancient Greece and Persia, its the age old west vs east stuff. Today you would call this sort of talk, a race war. Now you are probably asking, ok this leader of Germany is just a racist dude, how does this cause a war between Russia and Japan? This story is rather hilarious and hard to believe, but in summary, the Kaiser used the ideology to trick his cousin into war. 

For those unaware, Kaiser Wilhelm II was first cousins with King Geoerge V of Britain,  to Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, to Queens Marie of Romania, Maud of Norway, Victoria Eugene of Spain, and even the woman he would eventually marry, the Empress of Russia. Now the Germany presented to Wilhelm was involved in some alliances. I mentioned Britain and Japan had an alliance and France and Russian had an alliance. Wilhelm and his advisers sought to increase Germany’s stature. Wilhelm believed that if Russia went to war with Japan, it would break up the Franco-Russian alliance and with no one else to turn to, Russia would seek an alliance with Germany. Wilhelms reasoning was that France was not supporting of Russians expansion into asia and such aggressive actions like going to war with Japan would be highly disapproved by France. The French Premier Maurice Rouvier publicly declared that the Franco-Russian alliance applied only in Europe and not Asia and that if Japan and Russia went to war, France would remain neutral. Such rhetoric seemed to prove Wilhelms beliefs. Germany meanwhile felt threatened by Britain and had embarked on what was known as the Tirpitz Plan in the late 1890s. The Tirpitz plan was Germany’s plan to achieve world power status through naval power, but the world's greatest navy of course was Britain at the time. What essentially happened was Germany challenging Britain to an arms race in the form of naval warship building programs. Everything the Kaiser pursued during the late 19th century was what was called “Weltpolitik / world politics” which essentially was just Germany's imperialistic foreign policy to become a global power. Wilhelm and his advisers were playing world politics to weaken rivals and strengthen Germany plain and simple. 

So Wilhelm believes he can break the French-Russian alliance and squeeze himself in Frances place if he can get the Russians to go to war with Japan who just happened to be allied to Germany’s main rival, Britain. Some real game of thrones stuff here. Wilhelm also believed if Germany could pull this off, France would be compelled to join them, forming a triple alliance against Britain and Japan so they could all pursue their expansionist policies in places like Asia. There was also the belief pulling this off would pull Russia away from the Balkans which was a huge source of tension with Germany’s main ally Austro-Hungary. Thats all fine and dandy, but how does Wilhelm get his cousin Tsar Nicholas to go to war with the Japanese, here comes the yellow peril. 

Starting in 1895, Kaiser Wilhelm began using the Yellow Peril ideology to portray Germany as the great defender of the west against the barbarism of the east. But then all of a sudden Wilhelm began sending personal letters to his cousin Nicholas praising him as the quote “savior of the white races” and began urging him to take a more hardened approach to Asia. The letters between the two have been referred to as the “willy-nicky” letters, consisting of 75 messages sent back and forth between 1895-1914. I wont list them all of course but lets take a peak at how Wilhelm wrote to his cousin.

In 1895 Wilhelm wrote this from Kaltenbronn Schwarzwald. I will paraphrase of course there's a ton of fluff.

Dearest Nicky,

I thank you sincerely for the excellent way in which you initiated the combined action of Europe[27] for the sake of its interests against Japan. It was high time that energetic steps were taken, and will make an excellent impression in Japan as elsewhere. It shows to evidence how necessary it is that we should hold together, and also that there is existent a base of common interests upon which all European nations may work in joint action for the welfare of all as is shown by the adherence of France to us two. May the conviction that this can be done without touching a nations honour, take root more and more firmly, then no doubt the fear of war in Europe will dissipate more and more. The kind and most valuable messages which you sent me through Osten Sacken[28] by Count Eulenburgs transmission in Vienna have given me a signal proof of your loyalty and openness towards me. I shall certainly do all in my power to keep Europe quiet and also guard the rear or Russia so that nobody shall hamper your action towards the Far East! For that is clearly the great task of the future for Russia to cultivate the Asian Continent and to defend Europe from the inroads of the Great Yellow race. In this you will always find me on your side ready to help you as best I can. You have well understood that call of Providence and have quickly grasped the moment; it is of immense political and historical value and much good will come of it. I shall with interest await the further development of our action and hope that, just as I will gladly help you to settle the question of eventual annexations[29] of portions of territory for Russia, you will kindly see that Germany may also be able to acquire a Port somewhere were it does not "gêne" you.

You can see how Wilhelm is egging on his cousin about how Germany will have his back if he were to be bolder in Asia. Also the cute end bit about Germany acquiring some ports. 

In 1898 for a New Years letter Wilhelm sent this

Dearest Niky

May this New Year be a happy one for you dear Allx and the whole of your house and country. May the plans, which you mature be fullfilled for the wellfare of your people. Henry's mission^ is one of the steps I have taken for the help and countenance of your lofty Ideals—without which no sovereign can exist—in promoting civilisation I. e. Christianity in [41] the Far East! Will you kindly accept a drawing I have sketched for you, showing the Symbolising figures of Russia and Germany as sentinels at the Yellow Sea for the proclaiming of the Gospel of Truth and Light in the East. I drew the sketch in the Xmas week under the blaze of the lights of theXmas trees

Here Wilhelm is pressing upon the religious aspect and is basically flattering Nicholas.

Again in 1898 Wilhelm wrote

Dearest Nicky

I must congratulate you most heartily at the successful issue of your action at Port Arthur ; we two will make a good pair of sentinels at the entrance of the gulf of Petchili, who will be duly respected especially by the Yellow Ones ! I think the way you managed to soothe the feelings of the "fretful Japs"by the masterly arrangement at Korea a remarkably fine piece of diplomacy and a great show of foresight; which Is apt to show what a boon it was that by your great journey,^ you were able to study the Question of the Far East locally and are now morally speaking the Master of Peking!

Fretful Japs indeed

In 1902 we get probably the most important letter involving the yellow peril

Dear Nicky

This is the more necessary as/certain symptoms in the East seems to show that Japan is becoming a rather restless customer and that the situation necessitates all coolness and decision of the Peace Powers. The news of the attachment of the Japanese General Yamai^—former leader of the Jap. troops in China—to the Legation at Peking in order to take in hand the reorganisation of the Chinese Army—i.e. for the unavowed object of driving every other foreigner out of China—is very serious. 20 to 30 Million of trained Chinese helped by half a dozen Jap. Divisions and led by fine, undaunted Christian hating Jap. Officers, is a future to be con- templated not without anxiety; and not impossible. In fact it is the coming into reality of the *'Yellow Peril" which I depicted some years ago, and for which engraving I was laughed at by the greater mass of the People for my graphic depiction of it ... Your devoted friend and cousin, Willy, Admiral of the Atlantic"

And there it is, an army of millions of Chinese led by Japanese officers, the yellow peril. So for years Wilhelm egged on his cousin, making him believe he was this savior of the white race, holding the yellow hoard back from sweeping over Europe. Wilhelm also made sure to leave ambiguous ideas that Germany had Russians back, that if war came and let's say a nation like Britain jumped into the mix, Germany would jump in too. Arguable if there was any reality behind these claims.

Now back to the situation in the far east, King Gojong found his nation stuck between two tigers again, this time it was Japan and Russia. He believed the key to the issue was Manchuria and sought for Korea to remain as neutral as possible so she could hope to preserve her independence, I would saw independence with finger quotes. Meanwhile the Chinese ambassador to St Petersburg, Hu Weide was receiving reports from Beijing on whether Russia or Japan were likely to win such a war and how it would favor China. It was argued it was in China’s interest for Japan to win, because a Japanese victory would likely breakdown Russians stronghold on Manchuria and perhaps China could wrestle it all back in. China decided in December of 1903 to remain neutral if war came, because while she knew Japan was the only one in the far east capable of pushing Russia out, she also did not know what Japan’s ambitions might be in Manchuria. 

In early 1904 negotiations continued between Russia and Japan, but like I mentioned earlier Japan gradually figured out Russia was not being serious. This was more than likely due to an infamous message sent by Wilhelm to Nicholas in December of 1903. 

Since 97—Kiaochow—we have never left Russia in any doubt that we would cover her back in Europe, in case she decided to pursue a bigger policy in the Far East that might lead to military complications (with the aim of relieving our eastern border from the fearful pressure and threat of the massive Russian army!). Whereupon, Russia took Port Arthur and trusting us, took her fleet out of the Baltic, thereby making herself vulnerable to us by sea. In Danzig 01 and Reval 02, the same assurance was given again, with result that entire Russian divisions from Poland and European Russia were and are being sent to the Far East. This would not had happened if our governments had not been in agreement!

Nicholas for his part was prepared to compromise with Japan, but the incessant letters from Wilhelm egging him on as a coward for thinking about compromising gradually broke the Tsar. The Kaiser wrote this:

undertaking the protection and defence of the White Race, and with it, Christian civilization, against the Yellow Race. And whatever the Japs are determined to ensure the domination of the Yellow Race in East Asia, to put themselves at its head and organise and lead it into battle against the White Race. That is the kernel of the situation, and therefore there can be very little doubt about where the sympathies of all half-way intelligent Europeans should lie. England betrayed Europe's interests to America in a cowardly and shameful way over the Panama Canal question, so as to be left in 'peace' by the Yankees. Will the 'Tsar' likewise betray the interests of the White Race to the Yellow as to be 'left in peace' and not embarrass the Hague tribunal too much?.

Nicholas replied he still sought peace, and Wilhelm replied in telegram “oh you innocent angel, this is the language of an innocent angel. But not that of a White Tsar!” Regardless of the Tsar’s feelings, Japan was firmly under the belief Russia was not serious about seeking a peaceful solution to their dispute over Manchuria and Korea. When Japan proposed recognizing Manchuria was Russia’s sphere of influence if Russia would respect their sphere of influence over Korea, the Russia counter proposal was basically, no, Russia would retain Manchuria and Korea would be open game. 

Potential diplomatic resolutions between the two nations had thus failed. Historians generally argue it was the fault of Nicholas II who pushed his administration to give no ground. Why he acted this way though has two major arguments, one I have highlighted, the egging on by the Kaiser, but there was another element at play. The Russian people were frankly fed up with the royal family, the people were looking for change. To start a war and rile up patriotism could have been an attempt to quell the Russian people from revolutionary actions and in retrospect it certainly seems the case. The Tsar’s advisers despite being hawkish did not seek a war with Japan, they simply wanted to bully what they thought was a weaker nation into submission. Because the reality was, Manchuria was far, the trans siberian railway was not complete, moving troops and provisions such a distance was a colossal task. 

Japan performed a large scale study of the Russian power in Manchuria. The Japanese had been secretly surveying and mapping as far as east of Lake Baikal. In 1904 the Japanese had 380,000 active and reserve army forces, 200,000 in the 2nd reserve, another 50,000 in conscription reserve and 220,000 trained men of the national army, thus they could in theory toss 850,000 men into a conflict and by conscripting perhaps 4,250,000 who would all have to be trained taking time and money. Japan’s effective strength was 257,000 infantry, 11,000 cavalry and 894 artillery pieces. They held 12 infantry divisions each containing 11,400 infantry, 430 cavalry and 36 guns a piece. Their troops received 12 months training, once the war started this would be cut to 6 months. Their artillery battalions held 3 batteries with both field and mountain guns ranging in caliber of 2.95 inches to 4.72 inches. Their infantry were equipped with a modern 1900 .256 inch magazine rifle that could fire 2000 yards but was effective at 300. Each soldier carried a knapsack, greatcoat and shelter tent. In their sacks were two days rations and entrenching tools. For machine guns they would receive Hotchkiss guns. The logistical system for the Japanese would be much better than the Russians. They had a series of lines of support. The soldiers carried two days rations, with echelons of transports that carried provisions behind them. Each division had its own transport battalion, including an ambulance train to deal with casualties. Chinese carts, Chinese and Korean coolies would all be paid premium prices for logistical aid. The Japanese would buy local foodstuff from the Koreans and Chinese at premium prices to earn the local populaces support over the Russians.

For the Russians their army stood roughly at 4.5 million, but only 6 of the 25 European army corps would play an active role in the far east. By February of 1904 the Russians had roughly 60,000 troops, 3000 cavalry and 164 guns posted at Vladivostok, Harbin and Port Arthur. By Mid february this would be increased to 95,000; with 45,000 at Vladivostok, 8000 at Harbin, 9000 in Haicheng; 11,000 near the Yalu and 22,000 around Port Arthur. The Russian had the European 1st, 4th, 8th, 10th, 16th and 17th army corps each numbering 28,000 rifles and 112 guns. Alongside these were 7 Siberian corps. While the Russians held the advantage in numbers, the trans siberian was not complete and the route going around Lake Baikal formed a massive delay. Lake Baikal is basically the size of Switzerland, around 386 miles long. Thus the forces in Manchuria would be at the mercy of local foodstuffs for provisions, which meant they were competing with the Japanese to purchase them, while the Japanese had their own nations foodstuffs coming via sea transport, from Korea and of course within China. The Russian troops were armed with a .299 caliber rifles, but their training was lackluster and required all men to fire at short range on orders from superior officers. The upcoming war would catch the Russian gunners in the midst of a  re-equipment programme. A third of their guns were a new 3 inch quick firing gun with a range of 6000 yards, capable of battering the Japanese artillery. However the gunners training period was quite literally on the job. Thus many of the gunners were coming into the conflict with a new technology they had not even fired yet.

Japan’s population was then 46.5 million, Russia’s 130 million. The Russian military opinion saw the Japanese “as little people who lived in paper houses…and wasted hours on flower arrangement and tea ceremonies”. However, Minister of War Kuropatkin visited Japan in 1903 and was impressed by their infantry and artillery, stating that they were equal to any European army, and advocated avoiding war with them. Russia’s navy was much larger, but divided between the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea and the Pacific, whereas Japan’s was concentrated in her home waters. By 1902, Russia began strengthening her Pacific squadron and, by the end of 1903, had 7 battleships, 7 cruisers, 25 destroyers and 27 smaller ships. The IJN (the Japanese Navy) consisted of 6 battleships, 10 cruisers, 40 destroyers and 40 smaller vessels. The Russian ships were a hotchpotch of differing types, armaments and speeds, with a varied amount of armor protection. The Japanese ships were nearly all British built, uniform and faster. Alcohol excess amongst Russian crews was a serious problem. Baltic crews spent the 6 months of winter ashore because the gulf of Finland froze and because of bureaucratic demand for uniformity. So did the crews of the Black Sea fleet. Thus, Russian sailors spent less time at sea and less time training. The Japanese navy under British instruction spent more time at sea, and trained intensively. Japanese sailors were literate, while most Russian sailors were not. These variables would come out to play when dealing with steam-driven warships, the most technologically advanced weapons of the day.

At the outbreak of the conflict the Russian Far East fleet would have 7 battleships, 6 cruisers and 13 destroyers at Port Arthur. At Vladivostok were 4 first class cruisers, with a number of torpedo boats. At Chemulpo in Korea were the protected cruisers Varya and gunboat Koreyetz. A crucial component of the conflict would be commanding the sea ways. Both nations recognized this fact all too well. The Russian far east fleet was constrained from year the round training by being icebound in Vladivostok for 3 months of the year. Her fleet was also a ragtag bunch with different armaments, speed, armor and flexibility. Russia was dependent on foreign built ships, though she was fully capable of building her own. Russia had ships built from Britain, Germany, France and the US. The Russian navy was based on conscription at 7 years with 3 years of reserve. 

The IJN combined fleet was led by Vice-Admiral Heihachiro Togo. The two divided squadrons of the Russian Pacific Fleet were commanded overall by Admiral Oskar Ludvig Stark. The Main Russian squadron was in Port Arthur and the other cruiser squadron was at Vladivostok under the command of Admiral Nikolai Skrydlov. Port Arthur offered some shore artillery battery defense, though it was underfunded due to divestments for the development of Dalny, and its dry dock capabilities were quite limited compared to that of Sasebo. The Russians were bluffing the Japanese while continuing the strengthen their position in the far east. But the Japanese would not wait for them to do so.


I would like to take this time to remind you all that this podcast is only made possible through the efforts of Kings and Generals over at Youtube. Please go subscribe to Kings and Generals over at Youtube and to continue helping us produce this content please check out If you are still hungry after that, give my personal channel a look over at The Pacific War Channel at Youtube, it would mean a lot to me.

Kaiser Wilhelm II had egged his cousin Tsar Nicholas II into facing against the Empire of Japan. Little did the Russian Tsar know, but he was about to send his nation to their doom, for the Japanese had done their homework and were determined to rid Manchuria of the Russian menace