Jun 19, 2023
Last time we spoke about the situation after the disastrous losses at Pyongyang and the Yalu River as well as the battle for Port Arthur. Coming off their tremendous success at Pyongyang and the battle of Yalu, the Japanese performed an offensive fording the Yalu and easily defeating the Qing forces at Jiuliancheng. After this the Japanese began to advance into the Liaodong Peninsula. One by one, each town saw Qing forces fleeing while giving little battle. Eventually the Japanese seized Jinzhou and Dalian. With bases of operations in hand they then could attack the formidable fortress of Port Arthur. As the Japanese advanced into the Port Arthur region, they came across mutilated corpses of their comrades driving a fiery need for vengeance into their hearts. The Japanese would take Port Arthur with absolute ease as the Qing yet again fled the scene, but this time the victory was met with a disastrous massacre.
#53 The First Sino-Japanese War of 1898-1895 Part 5: The Battle of Weihaiwei
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 www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals. 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 massacre at Port Arthur was disastrous for Japan’s public image. Thomas Cowan of the London Times went to Hiroshima on his way home after witnessing the massacre and met with Foreign Minister Mutsu Munemitsu to tell him what he saw personally. Upon hearing the story, Mutsu told him “that an investigation would be made and that he showed no disposition to interfere with the correspondents duty and the reports were telegraphed on December 1st”. On December 16th the Japanese foreign ministry issued a formal statement to the foreign press on the matter "The Japanese Government desires no concealment of the events at Port Arthur. On the contrary, it is investigating rigidly for the purpose of fixing the exact responsibility and is taking measures essential to the reputation of the empire. Japanese troops transported with rage at the mutilation of their comrades by the enemy, broke through all restraints and exasperated by the wholesale attempts [by Chinese soldiers] at escape disguised at citizens, they inflicted vengeance without discrimination. While the Japanese government "deplores" the excessive violence, it protested "exaggerations" in the press reports and insisted that "the victims, almost without exception, were soldiers wearing the stolen clothes of citizens." Three days later the London Times reported “that most foreign reporters agree that the excesses were committed, but say that they were excusable, and that they have had their parallels in the best European armies. The Japanese military promised they would also launch an inquiry into the matter, but no one ended up being punished. Luckily for Japan the west would later on become obsessed over the peace terms and their attention was less focused on the Port Arthur Massacre.
Meanwhile the Qing government was trying to deny there even was a defeat at Port Arthur, let alone a massacre. The Shanghai China Gazette had this to say "The most strenuous efforts have been made by the Chinese officials to conceal the fact that the great stronghold has passed out of their hands, and is now a de facto Japanese naval yard. Telegraphic notices have been sent...all over the empire by the officials saying that a wicked report has been set on foot by the enemy that they have captured Port Arthur, but it was utterly untrue, the place being garrisoned by 30,000 brave Chinese soldiers who would never give it up to the Japanese. Official telegrams to this effect were published to-day in all the native papers, and thousands of Chinese will thereby be kept in blissful ignorance of the terrible position in which China stands to-day. Ostrich-like, most of the Chinese prefer not to believe the unpleasant truth and rather listen to the barefaced mendacity of their wretched rulers. But the stupidity of the latter gentry, who have brought the country to its present desperate plight, is only emphasized by this false manoeuvre." A month later the same China Gazette asserted this "By many it is not yet known or admitted that Port Arthur has been taken and is held by the Japanese - even of the 'well-informed' officials. The same is said to be true in Peking." Of course the Qing court had good reason to try and conceal the defeat at Port Arthur. The mandate of heaven was under attack, the Japanese were pouring into the Manchu homelands of Manchuria. Internal rebellions could spring up at any moment, everything seemed to be hanging from a thread. After the defeats at Pyongyang and Yalu, Emperor Guangxu demanded to take personal control over the prosecution of war in Korea. He even wanted to leave the throne under Empress Dowager Cixi so he could concentrate on the frontlines, but his advisers pretty much put their foot down on that one. The Manchu leadership needed to maintain their control over national security….and luckily for them and unluckily for Li Hongzhang they had a scapegoat for the disasters.
In October of 1894, just before losing at Port Arthur, Prince Gong had been reinstated. A decade earlier he had been demoted because of the disastrous losses during the Sino-French War, but in reality Cixi just considered him a rival. He was appointed high commissioner of the Peking Field forces, co-president with Prince Qing of the Admiralty, the Zongli Yamen and of War Operations. Yes the age old tradition of tossing a ton of titles on a single person. The Qing government even created for him a small general headquarters. Prince Gong was the 6th song of the Daoguang Emperor, uncle in law of Cixi and alongside Li Hongzhang, one of China’s top experts on foreign affairs. The foreign community respected him ever since the second opium war. Prince Qing had been the head of the Zongli Yamen since 1887. Thus two Manchu princes, Gong and Qing were in control of the capital’s defense. Gong and Li Hongzhang were sharing responsibilities for the war, but Gong was specifically only responsible for the defense of the capital while Li Hongzhang retained responsibility for prosecuting the war against Japan.
After the fall of Port Arthur, Li Hongzhang went to the Qing court seeking punishment and within 24 hours he was deprived of all his titles, honours and office, ompf. And when all was said and done…he remained at his post. As the New York Times headlines stated at the time "Viceroy Li Hung Chang Has Lost the Rest of His Wardrobe." The foreign press had learnt much about China’s practice of degrading and punishing officials, while simultaneously not actually implementing any policy change. Li Hongzhang would retain his post throughout the war, regardless of the titles and honours, he really was a scapegoat. And its not like he was not aware of this, upon receiving his punishments he began to toss mud at the Qing officials, blaming them for resisting railroad construction plans as now they were direly needed to deploy troops. He would also go on the record to complain naval funds had not been so forthcoming. Basically it was a big old Li Hongzhang “I told you so moment”. Colonel Maurice of the British Royal Artillery was very blunt when stating “Li Hongzhang is being treated as a scapegoat. He is the only man in China who has advocated European methods, and he is now being punished on account of the failure of the old Conservatives who refused to follow his advice."
Back to the frontlines, upon taking Port Arthur, the Japanese did not rest long to continue their sweep towards Beijing. But the next important target was the naval base at Weihaiwei. There was also suggestions amongst the Japanese military leadership to perform a winter campaign in Manchuria as a diversion. The thought process being, to hit the Manchu homeland to divert many of their land forces away from the shores of Bohai and Shandong. The Qing had divided their forces in Manchuria into three armies forming a line between the coastline at Gaiping all the way to Liaoyang. The northmost army was stationed at Liaoyang. They were to defend the road to Mukden from the east via the Motian Pass and the south via Haicheng. If you pull up a map, you will notice the Motian Pass forms this bottleneck between Fenhuangcheng and Liaoyang. The second army took up a position at the port city of Niuzhuang and walled city of Haicheng. Lastly the third army commanded by General Song Qing was positioned at Gaiping.
Now back at the end of October, Marshal Yamagata was pursuing Qing forces and his 5th division seized Fenghuangcheng unopposed. Their next objective was Haicheng, taking this would enable the 1st IJA in eastern Manchuria and 2nd IJA advancing up the Liaodong Peninsula to link up communications. It would also cut off the Qing in 3 directions, leaving them only a westward retreat. After Fenghuangcheng fell, General Song ordered 10,000 of his forces to advance to the Motian Pass threatening the rear lines of the Japanese marching upon Haicheng. This prompted General Nozu Michitsura to move his 10th brigade to Motian pass to prevent the Qing from concentrating there. He was successful at repelling the Qing forces gathering there and by late november the Qing were routing. From there the Japanese were forced to pull back to Fenghuangcheng to resupply, but in that time period the Qing began to reconcentrate at the Motian Pass. Then the Qing launched an offensive at Fenghuangcheng, but were served two terrible defeats on December 9th and 14th. While this was going on the 5th brigade under General Katsura Taro was pursuing a Qing Army led by General Ma, around 6000 men strong who looked like they were going to attack Port Arthur. Katsura pursued Ma’s forces to Haicheng where he not only defeated them, he also seized the city by December 13th.
The seizure of Haicheng had ruined General Song’s plans, now the Qing line of defense was cut in two by a Japanese army. General Song was forced to re-establish a new defensive line. On the 18th of december he ordered 10,000 of his forces to storm the town of Niuzhuang, but they were intercepted along the way by the IJA 5th brigade. They were forced to withdraw, suffering 500 casualties vs 440 for the Japanese. The next day, the Japanese attacked the retreating Qing forces around Ganwangzhai a town just southwest of Haicheng. The Qing put up a stiff resistance, but were forced to give ground. This prevented General Song’s army from reaching the road to Liaoyang to connect with the other Qing armies to the north. The Qing would try four times to retake Haicheng during January and February to no avail. Then on January 10th, the 2nd IJA launched a three-pronged attack upon the walled city of Gaiping. The cities 5000 strong garrison fought for their lives, they had prepared for the attack by causing the water in the nearby streamers next to the city to freeze on an incline, making it difficult for the Japanese to cross. While this tactic would have been high effective centuries ago, with modern artillery it was undercut gravely. The Qing would have 1200 casualties defending Gaiping while inflicting 307 upon the Japanese. 10,000 Qing reinforcements were arriving at the scene from Yingkou whereupon they found the retreating garrison and this tossed everything into a panic. But to the relief of General Song, the Japanese temporarily halted their advance, due to overstretching their logistical lines. Now the Japanese had an enormous supply route going all the way from Jiuliancheng to Haicheng and Gaiping.
General Song Qing would not give up and launched a major counteroffensive to retake Gaiping and Haicheng. 20,000 Qing forces stormed into the region and were beaten back mostly by the 5th Brigade. General Song’s men received 300 casualties for their efforts while inflicting only 41 upon the Japanese. Undeterred, General Song tossed two more offensives between January 17th to the 21st of February. The offensives greatly strained his men and just when their logistical supply lines were beginning to suffer, General Nozu prepared his counter offensive. On the 16th of February as 15,000 Qing soldiers attacked Haicheng in 3 columns led by Generals Zhang Xun, I K’o T’ang and Xu, they would also be aided by bandit forces the next day. On the 21st the Qing bombarded Haicheng with artillery, while they received reinforcements in the form of 10,000 men under Governor Wu Dacheng from Shanhaiguan. Meanwhile the Japanese were also reinforced by elements of the 1st division. On the 21st, the 1st division led by General Yamaji assaulted a large hill named Taping-shan being defended by forces led by General Ma Yukun. By the 24th General Yamaji seized the hill forcing the Qing to take up new positions in nearby villages, and soon Yamaji unleashed artillery from the hilltop upon them. The Qing had to withdraw from the area after receiving 800 casualties. The fighting was extremely rough for the hill, not to mention the winter conditions costing the Japanese 250 casualties from combat and another 1500 cases of frostbite.
On the 28th, General Nozu Michitsure unleashed his counterattack aimed at Niuzhuang and Liaoyang. He began with a large artillery bombardment, then sent his forces in a wide front offensive. The Qing defenders were driven into a rout, many retreating north towards Jinzhou, offering only rear guard actions as they did. Lt General Katsura Taro pursued some of the retreating Qing all the way to the walls of Liaoyang, reaching it by March 3rd while the main bulk, the 3rd and 5th divisions under General Nozu advanced upon Niuzhuang and Liaoyang eventually by the 4th of March. During the rout the Qing had taken another 400 casualties, while inflicting 124 upon the Japanese. General Song then tosses 2500 men led by General Xu at Haicheng yet again only to be repelled by the IJA 1st division.
On March 3rd, the 3rd and 5th IJA divisions began their assault of Niuzhuang by first softening the city up with an artillery barrage for 2 hours. The artillery barrage did more than soften up the city, all the Qing defenders abandon their wall positions and move into the interior. The Japanese 5th division enters the city with zero resistance to find 2000 of the 5000 Huai army troops defending Niuzhuang are fleeing. Those who stay fight fiercely against the 6000 men of the 5th IJA division, but in the end they are forced to abandon Niuzhuang after 1900 deaths. 633 Qing defenders are taken prisoner. The Japanese were forced to destroy nearly all the buildings in the city using artillery to smoke out Qing defenders and this goes on well into the night. By 11pm, the Qing have all departed the city.
While the battle over Niuzhuang was occurring, the 1st and 3rd divisions began an attack against Yingkou. General Song under threat of encirclement was forced to withdraw from Yingkou over to Tianzhuangtai. By March 7th, the battle for Yingkou becomes nothing more than sporadic resistance, but the port city falls with relative ease. At port in Yingkou the Japanese seized the gunboat Mei Yuan and two transports that were icebound. General Song rallied around 11,000 men at Tianzhuangtai to continue launching counter offensives, but General Nozu kept up the pace to hinder the Qing from recuperating. The 5th Brigade was left to garrison Niuzhuang and Yingkou as the rest of the Japanese advanced upon Tianzhuangtai. The Qing were taken off balance by this and tried to put up a defense, but were utterly defeated resulting in 2000 casualties and lost their entire artillery force which was captured by the Japanese. The Japanese loses were reported to be unbelievably low at 16 deaths and 144 wounded. As a result of this last defeat, General Song’s army ceased to exist as a real force.
Full scale combat in Manchuria pretty much ended with the seizure of Tianzhuangtai, though minor skirmishes would occur in hill areas with pockets of Qing resistance. The victory over Yingkou gave the Japanese complete control over the southeastern portion of Manchuria, and when April came around, Yingkou’s harbor would be ice free allowing for further supply lines via the sea. The Japanese had thus acquired a base of operations to perform offensives within Zhili and thus the road to Beijing was open. The offensive against Beijing would see the 1st and 3rd divisions of the 1st IJA marching towards Shanhaiguan, while the 5th division would garrison parts of Manchuria and the 2nd and 6th divisions would be held in reserve around Dalian.
At this point Emperor Guangxu began shuffling officials. Li Hongzhang was relieved of his command in the field, and this was handed over to a 6 man strong committee of defense headed by Prince Chun. Alongside this, Li Hongzhangs viceroyship over Zhili, something he had held for quarter of a century, was handed over to Liu Kunyi. Liu Kunyi tried to pretend he was too ill to take the appointment and would remain in Beijing through January of 1895, continuously trying to weasel out of the new post. Rumors began to emerge that Liu Kunyi was an opium addict, which was not unheard of, Generals like Ye Zhichao and Wei Rugui were known opium addicts. Despite his attempts to thwart it, Liu Kunyi now commanded the Xiang Army, composed of large numbers of Hunanese and Hubei forces. By December 28th, Liu Kunyi was made commander in chief of the imperial armies within and without the Great Wall, including the territories of Zhili, Shandong and Manchuria. The defense committee had organized 50,000 men for the defense of Zhili, stationing them around Shanhaiguan, with another 55,000 around Beijing. This meant Liu Kunyi had a whopping 105,000 men under his commander with 80,000 of the provincial forces within the theater of operations. General Song Qing meanwhile still held command over 35,000 men in Manchuria alongside another General who was commanded 10,000 at Liaoyang.
As all of the shuffling was going on for the Qing, the Japanese did not simply lay idle. Their primary objective remained Weihaiwei and in January of 1895 as their forces were marching through Manchuria slowly towards Beijing, they split up the 2nd IJA. In the third week of January the entire 2nd division and most of the 6th were handed over to Marshal Oyama who redeployed them across the Yellow Sea to Shandong Province in preparation for an assault upon Weihaiwei. Now when the Japanese attacked Port Arthur, they did so intended to take her naval facilities intact so they could use them, but for Weihaiwei the goal would be much different. The Japanese intended to destroy the Beiyang fleet within her port, so that the seaways would no longer be under any threat, thus allowing Japan to move troops at will, though by this point they had basically already achieved this.
The advance upon Weihaiwei began with a diversionary bombardment of the outlying town of Dengzhou on January 18th. Dengzhou was roughly 100 miles west of Weihaiwei and its defense consisted of four 210mm guns and six 150mm guns. The purpose of the diversionary attack was to turn the Qing attention westward, while the Japanese landed forces 30 miles east of Weihaiwei at the easternmost tip of the Shandong Peninsula known as Rongcheng. Japanese forces departed Dalian on January 19th and 22nd, landing between the 20-23rd. Dengzhou was bombarded by the cruisers Naniwa, Akitsushima and Yoshino as the 2nd IJA forces led by General Oyama Iwao landed at Rongcheng. His 2nd IJA consisted of the 6th division under General Kuroki Tamemoto and the 2nd division under Lt General Sakuma Samata.
The 2nd IJA divided into two columns marching west towards Weihaiwei, one over a coastal rode, the other around 4 miles further inland. The Japanese ushered in the Chinese New Year by timing the invasion of Weihaiwei on January 29th. It was the most important holiday to the Chinese and perhaps the Japanese chose it specifically to not only surprise the Chinese but also hammer in a message “that the old days were finished: Wake up and Modernize or suffer dire consequences” Once in the vicinity of Weihaiwei the Japanese performed a three-pronged attack upon the landward fortifications south and east of the town. Weihaiwei had three categories of defenses; those on two harbor islands, those on the mainland overlooking the northwestern entrance to the harbor and those on the mainland overlooking the southeastern entrance to the harbor. These fortifications were equipped with the best artillery available: a total of 161 guns, between 7-24cms worth, mostly of Krupp and Armstrong design; the northern forts had 43 guns; Liugongdao island had 61 guns; Ridao island had 8 guns; the southern forts had 49 guns and the harbor itself held 15 Beiyang warships, 13 torpedo boats and 248 sea mines and booms. Nearly 11,000 Qing defended the city, with another 4000 or so on their way from Tianjin, but they would not make it in time. The troops were led by Admiral Ding Ruchang and Commander of the Dingyuan Liu Buchan. The two Beiyang commanders had little faith in the Qing soldiers under their disposal, and only really trusted the sailors of the Beiyang fleet.
The IJN combined fleet had dispatched a naval patrol outside Weihaiwei’s harbor threatening any ships that tried to escape with torpedo attacks, leaving the entire Beiyang fleet bottled up. The weather conditions hit as low as -6, with severe blizzards, thus terrible for the incoming Japanese, but a typical summer for Canadians, haha. The most outlying forts were hit first by Japanese artillery. This resulted in a 9 hour long fight until the Qing defenders abandoned the forts, leaving them all nearly intact. During the storming of the outlying forts, Major General Odera Yasuzumi leading the 11th infantry regiment, was hit by shrapnel from a shell fired from the Jiyuan. Odera would die from his wounds and became the only Japanese general to die in combat during the war and the highest ranking Japanese death of the war. He would be posthumously promoted to 3rd Court Rank and his son was ennobled with the title of “Danshaku / Baron”. With the outlying forts seized, the Japanese began turning them upon Weihaiwei itself battering it before the men stormed Weihaiwei on February 2nd.
To probably no surprise of any of you listeners by now, the Japanese entered the city to find the garrison had fled the night before. It turned out when the siege began, the Chinese hospital staff were the first to flee, leaving some foreigners to try and take over medical services. Admiral Ding Ruchang only succeeded in having a few of the forts surrounding the harbor destroyed before the Japanese simply grabbed them. Now the very guns that were meant to protect the Beiyang fleet trapped within the harbor were unleashed upon them. To make matters worse on the night of February the 3rd the Japanese tried to remove the booms blocking the entrance to the harbor but were unable to. The following night they tried again and this time were successful allowing two squadrons of torpedo boats to enter the harbor. Two IJN torpedo boats began opened fire to cause a distraction as others snuck in to try and torpedo the Dingyuan. The Dingyuan received crippling damage as 3 other Qing warships were sunk. The following night a squadron of IJN torpedo boats made repeated attacks upon the largest Qing warships at anchor, disabling two and a transport. By February the 7th the IJA and IJN were launching combined bombardment attacks upon the Beiyang Fleet. In response the Qing torpedo boats not already disabled tried to make a break for it, unsuccessfully running into a IJN blockade. Out of 13 ships, 6 were destroyed and 7 were captured intact by the Japanese.
As defeat was certain, Admiral Ito Sukeyuki tried to make an appeal to Admiral Ding Ruchang, who happened to be his personal friend. He wrote a letter urging his old friend to come back with him to Japan. He advised ding to prevent any further loss of life by capitulating and to accept political asylum in Japan until the war’s end and that he assured him, he would return to his native land and could secure China’s future by setting new policies. "It is not the fault of one man that has brought China into the position she now occupies. The blame rests with the errors of the Government that has long administered her affairs. She selects her servants by competitive examination, and literary attainments are the test" In the modern age China owes her preservation and her integrity to-day wholly to the fact that she then [thirty years ago] broke away from the old and attached herself to the new." Now Ding despite being the Admiral of the Beiyang Fleet, in a typical Qing fashion was greatly out of his element. He had formerly been a cavalry officers, he actually held little naval training at all, he was not even very popular amongst the sailors. He was a man of Anhui province, but most naval officers hailed from Fujian. As was typical, the Qing dynasty favored loyalties rather than military experience, thus led Ding to where he was. He resisted capitulation until the very end and had actually tried to die in action multiple times by standing on deck when bombardments were occurring. According to a foreign advisor "Ding declared at first that capitulation was impossible; but later he said he could arrange it by committing suicide, and so save the lives of many." Depending on the sources you read, he chose to kill himself, or his sailors actually proded him with knives to do so. Admiral Ding Ruchang killed himself via opium overdose, followed by Admiral Liu Buchan and Captain Yang Yonglin who shot himself as the Japanese boarded the Dingyuan. Ding had no choice but to kill himself as Emperor Guangxu had already degraded him the prior summer for not preventing the IJN from entering Bohai. After the fall of Port Arthur the emperor degraded him again and tried to bring him to the Board of Punishment where he would have been beheaded, had it not been for Li Hongzhang intervening on his behalf. Before killing himself Ding wrote back to Ito "I am thankful for the admiral's friendship, but I cannot forsake my duties to the state. The only thing now remaining for me to do is to die." Liu Buchan before doing the same had ordered the scuttling of as many of the Beiyang warships as possible with explosives. Command of the Beiyang fleet fell onto the Scottish born Vice Admiral John McClure who wrote a letter of surrender in Admiral Ding’s name on the morning of February 12th. Per the terms of the letter; the remaining ships, forts and stores were surrendered to the Japanese at the request all the Qing troops, civilians and foreign advisors would be allowed to depart unmolested.
Dings suicide wiped away the stain of defeat and made him a tragic war hero to both China and Japan. The Japanese admired his final act since it fit within their bushido code. Admiral Ding alongside the other commanders who committed suicide were honored by the Japanese. They accorded them full military honors and granted their men extraordinary leniency. An American professor who taught English in Japan shortly after the war wrote of the event, explaining its significance to western audiences. "What would have been the feelings of the North for Robert E. Lee if, at Appomattox [when the South capitulated to the North at the end of the American Civil War], rather than share the fate of the gallant men he had surrendered, he had committed suicide from a sense of devoted patriotism? Instead of admiring him for the unsullied hero and knightly character that he was, North and South alike would have despised him. And yet nine out often of my Japanese schoolboys wrote of the suicide of Admiral Ting [Ding] as the noblest thing of which they had ever heard." The letter of capitulation would be the first one handed over to the Japanese without the use of the term Woren. Later on when the war was officially over, the Qing soldiers and officers signed promises not to take further part in the war and were set free by the Japanese. The officers were provided safe passage aboard the gunboat Kangji, which carried the bodies of Ding Ruchang and the other dead captains. The IJN went out of their way to fly flags at half mast and the flagship fired a long salute as the boat bearing Ding’s body left port.
The fall of Port Arthur had been Empress Dowager’s birthday present from Japan. Li Hongzhangs had come on Februray 12th, with the fall of Weihaiwei and 3 days short of his 72nd birthday. Back in Beijing, upon hearing the news of Weihaiwei’s fall, Emperor Guangxu in a fit of rage authorized the governor of Shandong province to behead all fugitives without requiring to report back to the capital. The New York Times said of the event "Emulating Alice's Wonderland Queen, China's Emperor Says of Wei-Hai-Wei Defenders, 'Off with Their Heads.'" Some of the Qing leadership began advising the court they should hire foreign mercenaries or even engage Chinese fishermen to attack the Japanese home islands. For men like these, the modern era had still not dawned. In reality, China should have offered peace negotiations after losing Port Arthur, but for many members of the Qing elite this was unthinkable. As allegedly murmured by some “Dwarves could not possibly bring China to her knees”.
On the eve of the offensive against Weihaiwei, Governor Wu Dacheng who now held the titles of assistant imperial commissioner of defense; president of the board of war; vice president of the court of congress; governor of Hunan and officer of the premier button made an official proclamation to the Japanese. It was he, who offered surrender. In his own words "I of a charitable state of mind, and so could not bear to see Japanese troops going to destruction before my fresh battalions in this severe cold." Meanwhile the Japanese publicly reported their objectives of war not yet attained and that the diet was prepared to grant whatever amounts were necessary for military expenses required to finish them.
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The Japanese had defeated countless Qing armies in Manchuria and now had neutralized China's last great naval port of Weihaiwei. Would the Qing court bend the knee to the Japanese, or continue the fight?