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Ages of Conquest: a Kings and Generals Podcast

Oct 9, 2023

Last time we spoke about the beginning of the Russo-Chinese War of 1900. Though its been only referred to as the Russian invasion of Manchuria during the Boxer Rebellion, this event was far larger and more impactful than it seems. The recent Russian acquisitions after the Triple Intervention brought numerous railway workers and guards into the Manchu homelands. It was a joint venture between the Qing and Russian empires, but the year of 1900 brought the Boxer movement into the mix. The Russians were isolated in various pockets throughout Manchuria and were being attacked by Boxers and Manchu’s who likewise shared their anti foreign sentiment. Violence broke out in places like Hsiungyuehcheng, Baitouzi, Liaoyang and Haicheng, seeing Russian forces fleeing one to the next, trying to consolidate for protection. The Russians have received a pretty bloody nose, but they were just about to punch back.


#69 The Russo-Chinese War Part 2: The Blagoveshchensk Massacre on the Amur River 


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 Russo-Chinese War is a bit more difficult to talk about in a chronological order as so much is going on in different places at roughly the same time. It differed from the conflict going on in China proper also in the fact it was very much bilateral rather than international. However there were exceptions seen in places like Yingkou. Yingkou was a treaty port on the Liaodong gulf and had an international settlement. Foreign consulates and missions were present. Yingkou was going to be connected to the South Manchurian railway line and would experience Boxer agitation early on. Boxers began by plastering the city with anti-christian placards, proclamations and youth were practicing martial arts in her streets. Then adult Boxers began pouring into Manchuria where they gradually harassed westerners. It did not happen overnight, it was gradual work, but soon Boxers were fortifying positions.

In June of 1900, Vice Admiral ALekseev telegraphed the Russian Minister of War from Yingkou, indicating he required more guards. The Minister of War forwarded the telegram to the Minister of Foreign affairs with the recommendation the Admiral should be given authority to take whatever measures necessary to prevent the outbreak of hostilities near Russian held railway territory. The foreign Minister, Count Mikhail Murav’ev agreed and recommended Russian forces not go far beyond the Kwantung region in their efforts. Tsar Nicholas II also added comments “It is extremely important for us not to scatter our forces”. When Tientsin saw an outbreak of violence, and the railway lines in Manchuria were being attacked, Colonel Dombrovskii was sent from Port Arthur to Tashihciao with the 11th East Siberian Rifle regiment, a battery and a Sotnia of Cossacks. Colonel Khoreunzhenkov followed this up with his detachment from Port Arthur coming via train to Tashihciao while the 7th and 8th East Sierian rifle regiments proceeded to Yingkou and Tashihciao via sea transport. Because Yingkou was a treaty port, Russian gunboats were on hand when the violence erupted. When Qing forces began to mass up around Yingkou a bit due north, the Russians sent an envoy to meet with the local General Shou to inform him Russian gunboats would level the city to the ground should the Chinese attack the Russian settlement. General Shou was livid at this, but kept everything at Bay until August 4th. By that point in time, Russian Consul Andrei Timchenko-Ostroverkhov had asked Colonel Mishchenko and General Fleisher who arrived on July 29th not to disrupt the peace with any military actions. 

Meanwhile General Chin Cheng the commander of Qing forces in the province of Fengtian decided to counteract Russian occupations of key points in the Liaodong Peninsula. He deployed large numbers of troops to Yingkou and Anshanchan, while retaining a reserve at Shahotzu. Chin Cheng also sent a request to Beijing to release 20 battalions to the Liaodong Gulf to operate behind the Russian lines and smash their railway lines. Smaller detachments would fight delaying actions while gradually pulling back to Yingkou. The Qing’s plan was to lure the Russians over to Anshan, then overwhelm them with superior numbers from 3 directions coming from Yingkou, Shahotzu and the Chienshan mountains. The detachments coming from Yingkou and Beijing would cut off escape routes. Before this, the Qing were more or less uncoordinated and not very effective in their military actions. However now with forces larger than, 50,000 men each, with 60 or so artillery pieces under the command of a commander in chief, they were about to become a lot more threatening. 

Now while this large maneuver was being prepared, a smaller battle took place at Yingkou on July 26th. Mishchenko now at Yingkou received reports that Khorunzhenkov had pushed out many Qing forces away from Hsiungyuehcheng, and now those said forces were enroute to Yingkou. Mishchenko elected to go out and meet them head on with two and a half companies alongside two artillery pieces. His forces advanced northeast of the city walls and proclaimed the Qing there had one hour to remove their forces from the walls. The Qing defenders armed with Mauser rifles fired off in defiance and soon messengers from incoming Qing forces began galloping towards the city. 15 minutes before an hour had passed the Russians began deploying themselves to a fight. Konstantin and Mamonov led their companies towards the northern and eastern forces; Troitskii and Prokipenko with their 7th siberian companies guarded the right flank incase Qing came from the city. When the ultimatum expired the Russians began to open fire, met equally back with Qing fire. Within 15 minutes the Russians had battered the walls with their artillery and were scaling the walls. The Qing fired back while making an evacuation of the city. Two Cossack squadrons with sabers in hand pursued the fleeing Qing. The Russians gradually advanced against the city, then suddenly a special message arrived from the Consul demanding they halt the attack. The fleeing Qing forces from Hsiungyuehcheng whom Mishchenko was trying to cut off from Yingkou had found out about their attack and were now scattering amongst neighboring towns. Thus Mishchenko’s actions seemed to have worked. Mishchenko’s forces would have to sporadically raise up similar actions against the hostile elements within Yingkou, seeing countless Boxers and sympathizers flee the city. This peaked one day seeing a small battle before the Russians finally stormed the city now greatly depleted of its warriors. The Russians captured the arsenal and military stores and left a half company to guard the entrance to the city.

On August 5th, Vice Admiral Evgenii Alekseev arrived at Yingkou on the cruiser Zabiiaka. Alekseev was 55 years old at the time, a short stocky man, with a rather large head and hooked nose. His large beard was beginning to gray, but the man was full of energy and demanded swift action from his men. He issued a speech on August 6th “the hostile behavior of the Chinese authorities who had first encouraged the rebellion and then declared that they could not maintain order ended in an open attack on our forces placed in the city in accordance to the wish of the Consular body. During the said attack the Chinese authorities had fled leaving the town to its fate. To avoid disorder and looting by the Chinese mo and with the object of protecting the commerce of the port and the property of the foreigners the Russian military authority found it necessary to place the town under the guard of the Imperial Russian troops.” Foreign consuls began to request Alekseev send for more reinforcements, stating if he did not do so they would have to ask the Japanese. The British were not very keen on the Russian occupation, and when the Russians attempted placing their flags over British owned establishments it got pretty heated. But the foreigners did feel more at ease with Russian forces guarding the international settlement, for now it seemed peaceful.

Over on the western side of the Amur River at its juncture is a place called Blagoveshchensk. It was founded in 1856 as a military post, originally named Ust-zeisk. In 1858 because of its strategic location and economic value, it became the military, civil and judicial center of the newly formed Amur province. It also held a seat for a military governor. It was renamed Blagoveshchensk meaning “good news place” and its first governor General, Nikolai Murav’ev Amurskii announced its annexation in 1858. Soon some Cossacks moved in to form a local village called Verkhne-Blagoveshchensk “upper blagoveshchensk”. The city grew quickly, by 1900 she had nearly 38,000 inhabitants with over 3700 houses. An American traveler descried the city “as fine for its leading banks and stores as Portland, Maine or Oregon could show, or any smaller city of the Union. ”.The city had schools, libraries, a theater and telephone service. Now the Amur river formed the boundary between the Qing dynasty and the Russian empire going for hundreds of miles. To the east opposite Blagoveshchensk was the Manchu city of Sakhalian. Sakhalian had opened up to foreign trade in 1858 when there was a Manchurian gold rush and in the 1880’s her population boomed to 50,000. Both cities freely went back and forth by boats and junks or over ice in winter to trade. 

In May of 1900, reports of unrest in China reached Blagoveshchensk, but this aroused little concern, it sounded to everyone like the common troubles of any given year. The people of Manchuria resented foreign activity in their heartland and were eager for the Russians to withdraw, but for decades relations between the Russians and Chinese were pretty good, friendly, certainly more so than with other western powers at least. The residents of Blagoveshchensk failed to see the signs of the looming conflict. On July 8th, Chinese living in Blagoveshchensk suddenly began crossing the Amur river, with all of their belongings. 

By late May some Russians went to trade for cattle in Sakhalian and reported sighting 7000 troops in the mountains beyond Sakhalian. The activity was dismissed as routine maneuvers. On June 24th word was received that the 8 nation alliance had just ceased the Taku forts and that same day posters emerged in Blagoveshchensk about mobilizing the Priamur region. Reservists began pouring into the city from neighboring towns, ships were carrying men up the Zeia river. The city’s residents thought everything was ridiculous, how could China resist so many powers, was this all necessary? A resident of Blagoveshchensk, A .V Kirkhner wrote this of the situation “So accustomed had everyone become to looking on China and the Chinese with utter disdain, and so familiar had their cowardice become to all inhabitants along the border, that there was hardly anyone who expected a serious war with china”. The russian reservists were pretty angry about the situation. They had been pulled away from their work, their families, now with nothing but bottles of vodka to drown their sorrows. Many cursed the Chinese for driving wages down in the region and this led to violence on the Russian side. Angry Russians would frequently harass neighboring villages, causing many Chinese to flee across the Amur.

On June 28th telegrams came to Blagoveshchensk conveying the Russian government's declaration made on the 24th that there was no war with China, the troops that took Taku and Tientsin were merely helping the Qing government crush the insurgents who were destroying railroads. This created more confusion for the people in the Amur region. The governor feared things might get out of hand so he closed down bars and warned residents to not spread false rumors or cause panic and above all else not to molest the Chinese inhabitants, anyone who did would be punished. The military began preparing measures to stop internal disorder, to quell possible bandit raids. Cossacks were dispatched out to protect telegraph lines and patrols were sent to thwart banditry. Chinese and Russian homes began to be robbed or at least rumors suggested as such and the different nationalities became suspicious of the other. Newspapers began spreading messages to thwart violence, asking the Russian population to have a “sober view” of things.

News came of von Kettelers murder on July 12th, and of the outbreak of hostility at Harbin and along numerous railway lines in Manchuria. However the people of Blagoveshchensk simply believed all of the hostility was confined to the area of Beijing and perhaps the interior of Manchuria, certainly it would not reach them in such a remote place. On July 14th a private steamer, the Mikhail enroute from Khabarovsk to Blagoveshchensk alongside 5 barges passed by the Qing village of Aigun, when Qing officials signaled them to dock. The Russians failed to understand what they wanted and kept going. The Qing opened fire on Mikhail until it stopped, they then came aboard and saw the cargo was all military supplies, thus they placed the crew under arrest. A few hours later the Russian steamer Selenga was going downstream and came over to investigate the Mikhail. The Qing officials on the shore screamed at the vessel and her commander COlonel Kol’shmit could see there were Qing troops set up on the shore. He quickly ordered his men to go full steam ahead, but when they did the Qing opened fire. The Colonel, 4 Cossacks and 2 sailors were severely wounded in the mayhem. Kol’shmit rushed Blagoveshchensk with his battered ship. 

News of the conflict raised an alarm that this was a premeditated act of war. The arrested men of the Mikhail were let go and returned bearing a message from the district chief of Aigun stating he had acted on the orders of the military governor of Tsitsihar, not to let any ship pass. That same night two companies of the 2nd East Siberian line battalion, 6 artillery pieces and the Amur Cossack regiment crossed the Zeia river taking up defensive positions. The next day Blagoveshchensk organized a volunteer defense force. On July 15th, everything seemed quite calm, some Manchu came over to Blagoveshchensk calmly asking to fetch some belongings. A steam cutter patrolled the Amur and police searched any Chinese who came over. The reservists were at ease, many cooped up in their barracks. Suddenly the Qing began firing from across the river caughting the Russians by surprise. Panic ensued, residents fled the Amur river area, pursued by Qing bullets. Rumors spread that the Manchu were landing on their side of the river, countless turned to defend their homes, women and children surged out of the area. When volunteer fighters found Chinese trying to get across the river away from Blagoveshchensk they immediately attacked them, all having heard of the rumors Chinese had landed ashore on their side. Chinese tossed grenades in the streets wounding many innocent civilians. By 9pm the Qing guns finally went silent as volunteers dug trenches along the waterfront. Steamers Mikhail and Selenga proceeded up the Amur and saw Chinese forces building ramparts along the river bank. 

On July 16th the Qing opened fire again, this time on a larger scale. Men were now in foxholes, police were running through the streets looking for Chinese. Boxer posters were discovered in the Chinese quarter of the city. Allegedly, these posters stated that Manchu had landed ashore and for all Chinese in the city to raise up arms against the Russians. The police began rounding up any Chinese they found, aided by volunteers. Many Chinese were beaten up, all weapons were confiscated. Wild rumors were rampant amongst the residents. At 5pm a force was seen on the horizon, many thought it was Manchu coming to kill them all. It turned out to be more Chinese being herded from local villages by Cossacks. All the Chinese were being kept at the police station, but now the numbers were swelling to several thousand. There was simply no room for the mass of people at the police station, so many were moved to a lumber mill along the Zeia. They were left under the guard of 80 recruits armed with axes. The night was quiet, none tried to escape. The next day, the first group of Chinese, around 3500, were moved to the Verkhne-Blagoveshchensk station for deportation across the river. They were escorted by a small forces, marching 6 miles during a particularly hot day. Many of the old and sick collapsed and some police officers ordered them axed to death, several were killed. Evidence later would show countless were robbed. A number of armed Cossacks rode out to meet the caravan and help convoy them across the river. There were no boats, not even sampans at the shore they were brought to. Some Russians argued they could not send the Chinese back, as there was a siege-like situation. They argued they could not provide the guards for 3000 Chinese in the city. 

Ten years after this controversial event that had been argued to this very day, a Russian journal called Vestnik Evropy tried to tell the story of what happened based on gathered evidence and testimony of locals. This is what the article had to say “Nevertheless the point of crossing was the width of the river at this place was over 700 feet, while the depth reached 14 feet. The current was very strong here, and furthermore a considerable wind was blowing. Having chosen the place, it was decided that this was enough, that nothing further was needed for the crossing. The Chinese were simply driven into the water and ordered to swim. Part of those in front went into the water. Some swam, but soon began to drown. The remainder did not dare to go into the water. Then the Cossacks began to urge them on with nagaikas (whips) and all who had rifles, Cossacks, settlers, old men and children opened fire. The shooting lasted about half an hour, after which a considerable number of Chinese corpses piled up on shore. Then, after the shooting, the commander of the detachment decided to resort to ordinary arms as well. The Cossacks chopped with their sabers, while the recruits were ordered to kill the “disobedient” Chinese with their axes. When some of the recruits lacked fortitude for this, the Cossacks threatened “to decapitate them as traitors”. The Chinese cried; some crossed themselves with the “orthodox cross” pleading that they not be killed, but nothing helped. Before the completion of the crossing a mounted party of Cossacks from one of the Amur Cossack regiments also participated in the shooting at the Chinese. The commander of the mounted party at first had not wanted to fire, but upon the demand of the Police chief ordered his men to fire five rounds each, and then continued on his way, in spite of the request of Ataman N (commander of the Cossacks who came out to meet the caravan), to remain with his detachment and “shoot a while longer”, as the Cossacks of the settlement had run out of ammunition. He agreed only to take a note from the Cossack commander to the squadron commander about the sending of help; but this request remained unfulfilled. During the crossing of the first party of Chinese, it was found, the majority had perished, some had drowned, others had been slain. Not more than a hundred Chinese had swum to the other shore and saved themselves. The article goes on to state the crossing was more of an extermination. Many recruits testified during the investigations after that orders were to drown the Chinese. 

This massacre did not seem to satisfy the Russians involved, for on July 19th and 21st two more parties were sent to the crossing of 170 and 66 Chinese. They were killed in a similar fashion, all of this was overseen by the chief of police. Some Chinese swam to safety, but not many. The people who butchered the Chinese did not hide their actions, though their superiors sent reports that most of the Chinese had swam to the other side and only a few were killed for disobedience. The military governor of the Amur region demanded an inquiry be made, but he did not self report the matter to the Governor General after the investigation showcased the horror. General Griskii was indicted for the crime, he argued in his defense that he acted in accordance with preserving the peace and that he left the matter to the chief of police. He had taken no interest in the details of what occurred during deportation operation. The chief of police accused a Colonel chairman of the Amur military government for being responsible for the massacre. 

There was an investigation looking into atrocities committed elsewhere in the Amur region. It was found out in the village of Poirkovkaia, 85 Chinese including a Qing colonel were arrested and the chief of police at Blagoveshchensk telegram the police over there “send Chinese river or annihilate if they resist”. When the police replied whether they were to drown the Chinese or just let them cross the river the chief replied on July 20th “one must be crazy and foolish to ask what to do with the Chinese. When one is told to do away with them, one should do so without deliberation. The Chinese colonel is not to be kept in a separate place, but in a cell on the same level as the others. Everything in his possession should be taken away. All my orders are to be executed without any evasion; do not act willfully or bother me with nonsense.” The chief would then sent a circular telegram out to all his subordinates stating “annihilate Chinese appearing on our side, without asking for instructions”. The police force at the village testified they provided boats to the Chinese, but that Cossacks who were providing escort had fired upon them and killed most of them.

At the village of Albazinskaia it was reported that 100 Chinese were peacefully boated across the river when they saw the telegrams. At the village of Pokrovka, the local forces asked for confirmation of the telegram orders from General Gribskii, who ordered on July 20th “that it be impressed on the local Russian authorities that Russia’s struggle was with armed Chinese, who engaged in hostilities against them. Peaceful, harmless Chinese, particularly unarmed ones, are not to be harmed in any war. To save their lives, they are to be sent to their side on boats or steamers”. Upon hearing this, the police chief of Blagoveshchensk suddenly reversed his telegram orders and now stated that peaceful Chinese must not be molested. 

In the end, the investigation found no real steps were taken by the Russian government to punish the guilty. General Gribskii was relieve of his duties, but in consideration of his otherwise perfect record, he was not dismissed from the service. The chief of police was dismissed from his position and other culprits of the ordering of atrocities were discharged dishonorably, but all subordinates who performed the murders were freed of the responsibility. In the public eyes, Gribskii and the others were disgraced. The topic of the massacre on the Amur was one the Russians would continue to avoid. Not all the villages in the region treated the Manchu poorly. At Dzhalinda, Markova and Ignashina, where boats were available, they safely moved the Chinese across. At Stretenskaia station Chinese residents were not molested. But certainly at Blagoveshchensk it saw the very worst horrors. 

The gunfire across the Amur gradually ceased, the Russian population on their side of the border were relieved many of the Chinese had crossed to the other side. The Russian residents of Blagoveshchensk began returning to their homes. However the lull was a deception. During the night thousands of Chinese crossed the Amur river between Aigun and military post no 1 near the mouth of the Zeia. They got over undetected and were within 1400 feet of the military post, guarded by a handful of soldiers with some militiamen, around 400 men strong in all. At dawn on July 18th the Chinese opened fire at the militiamen. The men of the military post fired back, but made a withdrawal over to Blagoveshchensk. The Chinese followed quickly towards a part of the Zeia. Fortunately for the fleeing Russians a steamer was coming that way carrying a large number of Cossack troops who immediately landed and began to face the Chinese. One of the Chinese detachments tried to flee across the Amur and was wiped out. Rumors spread in Blagoveshchensk that the Manchu were trying to get around the city from the rear, and this caused a panic. The situation was critical, the few military troops in the area were moving back and forth between Blagoveshchensk and Aigun exhausting themselves. If the Chinese had seriously tried to invade, they would have easily overwhelmed the Russians settlements, but they didn't. It could perhaps be due to simply fear or poor strategy, but the Chinese never took advantage of the situation. Russian artillery, vastly outnumbered, tried to reply to the Qing artillery. One night when the Chinese fire was slack, 150 Russians crossed the Amur to prod the Chinese positions leading to a minor skirmish. 

On July 19th, the Chinese tried to cross the Amur in two places, but were repulsed. The Qing gunfire continued to pound Blagoveshchensk and harass the Russian forces who were slowly being reinforced by men coming over from Khabarovsk. The Russians gradually were crossing the Amur to harass and cease Qing held outposts. Between July 19-21st, many smaller Chinese settlements on the Russian side of the Amur beyond the Zeia were plundered and destroyed. On the 22nd the Sungari made its way to the city dropping off large quantities of ammunition and guns from Khabarovsk. 380 rifles were then brought via horseback from Poiarkova and 700 new recruits were landed by the steamer Chikoi. The bombardment of Blagoveshchensk continued sporadically, but the Chinese were losing morale and disertions were increasing.

On the 27th the steamer Selenga performed a reconnaissance of the enemy fortifications at Sakhalian as the Chinese fired wildly upon it. Selenga bombarded the enemy entrenchments and on the night of the 29th landed a detachment of Cossacks. General Gribskii estimated the Chinese had around 18,000 men and 45 artillery pieces in the Aigun-Blagoveshchensk region. By the end of the month the Chinese opportunity to take the city had passed, now the Russians were pouring their troops between Aigun and Blagoveshchensk, pressing the war upon the Chinese side. The Russians planned to attack Sakhalian and Aigun on the night of August 1st. In overall command were Major General Subotich and Captain Zapol’skii. The plan called for Colonel Pechenkin and Lt Colonel Ladyzhenskii to take the 4th and 5th Sotnias of the Amur Cossack regiment and 1st Sotnia of the Nervchinsk Cossack Regiment over the Amur just above Verkhne-lagoveshchensk. They would perform reconnaissance and take up an assembly position on the right flank. Colonel Frimann with 4 companies of the 2nd East Siberian Line battery, 8 guns of the 2nd east Sierian artillery brigade and half a sotnia of Amur Cossack regiment across from Verkhne-Blagoveshchensk. Frimann would be followed up by Colonel Shverin with 3 companies of the Chita Reserve regiment, 3 companies of the Stretensk reserve regiment, 8 guns of the 1st battalion of the Transbaikal artillery division and half a sotnia of the Amur Cossack regiment. Lt Colonel Poliakov would cross with the compositie reserve battalion of 5 companies. The steamer Aigun and the barge Kalifornia alongside 52 smaller vessels would convey the troops. 

The Chinese artillery fired upon the steamers Selenga, Grazhdanin, Mikhail and Sungari who were going up and down the Amur trying to deflect enemy attention from the invasion. The Chinese expected a landing near the No 1 military post and placed their units accordingly. Where the Russians would actually land had a very small number of Chinese defenders. The Russians encountered little resistance landing and by the time the Chinese advanced to the landing site from the direction of Sakhalian, the Russians had already occupied strategic positions. The Russians bombarded the coastal entrenchments from the flank, driving the Chinese to abandon them. By 7:30am the Russians advanced against the incoming Chinese. At first the Chinese were withdrawing orderly, continuing to fire back, but by noon they began to route and fled for the mountains towards the road to Aigun. A major blunder on the side of the Chinese was continuing to use their artillery on the Russian steamers rather than hitting the advancing troops. The Chinese believed the steamers were carrying the invasion force and were duped. 

Sakhalian was being evacuated without a fight, Cossack raiders would enter the city putting everything to the torch leaving just a few buildings standing. By 6pm when the Russian infantry reached Sakhalian, the Manchu town ceased to exist. While Sakhalin was being taken, the military transports and reserve of Major General Aleksandrov were ferried across the Amur and the Chinese were regrouping at Aigun. The Chinese dug into the mountains building up fortifications. When the Russians prodded their defenses on August 3rd, the Chinese fire was heavy upon them. However when the Chinese tried to follow up their successes, the Russians flanked them forcing them back to their entrenchments. The Russian Cossack cavalry made wild charges followed up with bayonet charges overrunning the Chinese positions. Most of the Chinese fled south for other mountain spurs in the direction of Tstsihar. Many of the units were scattered unable to provide much resistance. Around 200 Chinese were killed in the mountains while the Russians reported 5 deaths and 24 wounded.

At 2pm on August 4th, the Russians resumed their offensive against Aigun, expecting a fierce resistance as it was an important commercial town. The main defensive entrenchments between the mountains and Aigun had to be taken one by one. For 5 hours the Russians advanced under Chinese fire, but their losses were light. The Chinese attempted a counter attack in the mountains, but were met with harsh artillery fire forcing them back by 7pm. Once in range Russian artillery began smashing Aigun. Fotengauer guns were setting the town ablaze while 400 Chinese infantrymen valiantly fought on the open field to their death to try and stop them. The Chinese were forced to abandon Aigun during the night. The following day the Russians moved in fighting house to house against the stubborn towns defenders who did not flee. In Aigun the Russians ceased cannons, machine guns and ammunition. Meanwhile Rennenkampf’s Cossack pursued the fleeing Chinese from village to village fighting skirmishes. Between August 7th to the 9th, Chinese rear guards, roughly 800 men with 300 cavalry, tried to fight the Cossacks off. On August the 10th the Chinese rallied to make a stand at the Hsing-an mountains. Rennenkampfs force of around four and half sotnia’s and 2 cavalry guns ran right into 4000 Chinese infantry and another 4000 Manchu Cavalry supported by 12 guns. The Cossacks galloped beyond the Chinese positions causing an onslaught that devolved into a struggle for survival for all. Cossacks slashed wildly as Chinese fired at point blank range. Artillery blasted the area causing carnage. The Chinese eventually were dislodged, but Rennenkampf had to wait for reinforcements to do so. It was on August 16th the Russians stormed the Chinese positions and on the 17th the Hsing-an pass was taken. Rennenkampt received a report the Chinese had fled to Tsitsihar and so he carried on for it. Tsitsihar was the capital of Heilungchiang province and on August 20th as Rennekampf’s cavalry approached 45 miles from it a flag of truce bearer sent by General Shou Shan, the Manchu General of the province proposed armistice. Rennekmapt rejected the offer and pushed forward.

On August 18th Rennekampf took the city with 460 Cossacks while one of his units secured the ford across the Nonni river. The Chinese offered light resistance, General Shou Shan had poisoned himself. Rennenkampfs forces entered the city on August 29th captured 31 guns, it was an incredible set of victories. From this point Lt General Gribskii made a official proclamation to the Chinese of Manchuria telling them they had started the war by attacking Blagoveshchensk and now Russian held Aigun and countless towns in the region. Soon they would come to all of their villages and if they did not shoot at them, no harm will come to them. He said the Russians only wanted to peacefully build railroads and everyone would be left in peace to tend to their fields as was before.

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.

The horrible massacre that occurred along the Amur river is a sore spot to this very day between Russia and China. What began as a rather small conflict quickly unfolded into a full blown Russian invasion of the Manchu homeland.