ROMANOV FAMILY: RUSSO-JAPANESE WAR, 1904

 

ROMANOV FAMILY: RUSSO-JAPANESE WAR, 1904

Tsar Nicholas II in 1904
Tsar Nicholas II in 1904

The Russo-Japanese war began on January 26 (N.S. February 8) 1904. A Japanese fleet unexpectedly attacked Russian ships that were docked on the outer anchorage of Port Arthur, prior to any  official declaration of war. As a result of this attack the most powerful ships of the Russian squadron had been taken out of commission. The official declaration of war between Japan and Russia occurred only on the 10th of February, 1904.

The main cause of Russo-Japanese War was the expansion of Russia to the East. However, the immediate cause was the annexation of the Liaodong Peninsula, previously captured by Japan. This triggered a military reform and the militarization of Japan.

Political cartoon of Nicholas II during Russo-Japanese war.
Japanese Political cartoon of Nicholas II during Russo-Japanese war.

The Japanese initially failed to capture Port Arthur, despite the active steps at the beginning of the war. But on August 6th they made another attempt. Forty five thousand troops were thrown into attack on the fortress , under the command of Gen. Oyama . This was met by a strong resistance, and having lost more than half their soldiers the Japanese were forced to retreat on August 11th. The fortress was handed over only after the death of General Kondratenko on 2 December, 1904.  In spite of the fact that Port Arthur could have held out for at least 2 months, the act of surrender of the fortress was signed, which all but destroyed the Russian fleet, and 32 thousand Russian troops  were captured.

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From the 1904 diary of Nicholas II:

Tsar Nicholas II in 1904
Tsar Nicholas II in 1904

26 January. Monday.  In the morning I had a meeting about the Japanese issue; It was decided not to initiate anything ourselves.  Breakfast: Olga and Petya (Aid-de-camp). Received the governors for a long time. All day we were in high spirits!  At 8 o’cl. we went to the theater; [they] played “Mermaid” very well. Having returned home, received a telegram from Alexeyev with the news that last night the Japanese destroyers made an attack on the “Tsarevich”, “Retvizan” and “Pallas”, all docked in the outer roads. This was without declaration of war. May the Lord help us!

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 27 January. Tuesday.   In the morning another telegram arrived with the news of the bombardment by the Japanese vessels of Port Arthur and battles with our squadron. “Poltava,” “Diana”, “Askold” and “Novik” received minor damages. The losses are negligible. At 4 o’clock [walked] through the crowded halls to the moleben at the Cathedral . On the way back, there were deafening cries of “Hurrah!”  Generally everywhere were touching manifestations of unanimous spiritual uplifting and indignation against the insolence of the Japanese. Mama stayed here for tea. After dinner, Nikolasha and Stana came over.”

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Nicholas II at Bobruisk train station in 1904
Nicholas II at Bobruisk train station in 1904

28 January. Wednesday.  The day passed without any news from the Far East. Of course various rumors flew around the city, especially the one about the defeat of Japanese fleet.   At 3 o’clock we rode to the Marine Corps, where I created all senior officers midshipmen. Having visited the infirmary, went home in a carriage plastered with Cadets. Took a walk. Had tea at Mama’s. Read before and after dinner and responded to numerous telegrams.

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Nicholas II at the Aeronautical Park in 1904
Nicholas II at the Aeronautical Park in 1904

 

29 January. Thursday.  Today was one more sad news:  the torpedo boat “Yenisei” stuck a floating mine during the Tamenvansk raid and was blown up.  3 officers and 92 sailors, and Capt. Stepanov were killed. Horrible incident.  Went to Mama’s in the afternoon. Spent the evening at home.

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Russian political propaganda cartoon during Russo-Japanese War.
These types of Russian propaganda cartoons were common during Russo-Japanese War, despite the fact that Russia lost.
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