RUSSIAN BOGATYR AND THEIR KINGS
Russian soldiers fought heroically always, both under Borodino and Austerlitz. But, alas, the results of the battle are not determined by the soldiers. Even Napoleon said: "The herd of sheep, led by a lion, is always stronger than the herd of lions, led by a sheep."
No one challenged the saying "King makes retinue." Recall the "Bonaparte Cohort", "Petrov's Nest Chicks", and the "Catherine Eagles". Well, who would you say are the “eagles of Nicholas II” - Kuropatkin, Sukhomlinov, Samsonov, Stoessel and others?
But the “Catherine Eagles” could not only defeat an external enemy. If Mother Empress, having abandoned state affairs, had gone into family life, playing sports, etc., she would have no chance of continuing the reign. On that they and "eagles"! Drummed - and the new sovereign would be on the throne.
After December 1825, Emperor Nicholas I radically changed the mentality of officers in the army and especially in the guard. The officers and generals were extremely limited in their judgments about politics, tactics, and strategy, and preferred to act in a pattern, so as not to upset the authorities.
By 1904, the control system of the Russian Empire was already peddling. As a result, it is very difficult to find those responsible for the shameful defeats of 1904 – 1905.
The Tsar retired with his family to his residences, and in St. Petersburg he visited occasionally on holidays for several hours and never spent the night in the capital. Nicholas II did not have any apparatus (secretariat) that would process, refine, check reports of ministers or other officials.
This is how a typical event of this kind took place. The minister was accepted by the king one-on-one, without strangers. The minister reported only while standing, the king was silent, occasionally made insignificant remarks, but never entered into an argument. The audience took a few minutes, only occasionally was delayed, there were never wordy conversations. Never in the 23 year of the reign did Nicholas II write even a couple of pages analyzing any report - the rare marks are extremely laconic.
The author knows about the quality of reports to the tsar not according to his memoirs. For many years I myself have been looking through all the reports on the Military Department of the times of Alexander II, Alexander III and Nicholas II without exception. To understand the real state of the armed forces of them is impossible. There is a solid bullshit. It was only clear that all was well.
For example, it was said in the 1902 report for the year that there are about 11 thousand guns in the land fortresses. Well, seemingly good. But here I take the reports of the military districts, training grounds, the Main Artillery Directorate, etc. submitted to the Minister of War for the compilation of the “All-Report” report. There is the most accurate information and in a very compressed form, where, how much and in what kind of soldiers, horses, cannons, machine guns, cartridges, shells, etc. And it turned out that by the 1909 year from 11 thousands of serf guns of large and medium caliber about 30% - sample 1877 of the year, 45% - sample 1867 of the year, 25% - smooth-bore systems from the time of Nicholas I - and not a single modern weapon. The same is true for the maritime office. It is difficult to imagine a different picture in the reports of other ministers.
So it is difficult to blame the emperor for making the wrong decisions, since he did not have the proper information.
The government cannot be blamed either, since it was virtually absent. Formally, there was a Committee of Ministers in the empire, but it was an empty talking room. Neither the chairman of the Committee of Ministers, nor all the ministers together could influence his colleague the minister. Each minister had the right to report directly to the king and reported only to him.
Accordingly, the foreign minister, the naval and military ministers were not free in their actions. They were intimidated by Nicholas II, who listened to them favorably, and when they returned to the ministry, they found a rescript rescript. And in the ministries themselves the ministers were not complete owners. So, if the Russian ministers were tried for the 1904 – 1905 catastrophe, they would have been able to rely on an acquittal verdict with a favorable jury composition.
EVERYONE HAS OWN ARMY
By 1904, the armed forces of the Russian Empire were led by a dozen people who were not subordinate to each other. And the existing laws and statutes did not provide for the separation of their powers.
So, the great princes led: fleet - Alexey Alexandrovich, artillery - Mikhail Nikolaevich and Sergey Mikhailovich, engineer troops - Pyotr Nikolaevich, cavalry - Nikolai Nikolaevich, guard - Vladimir Alexandrovich, etc.
In addition, among the mere mortals were the maritime minister and the minister of war. Both ministers could not command any grand duke, but none of them were subordinate.
Curious example. In November, 2017, at the opening of the monument to Alexander III in Yalta, it was said that in the reign of the emperor “peacemaker” in Russia, submarines appeared. Holy truth! The army was taken 50 submarines Dzhevetsky system. A typo? No, no. Up to August 1914, we had not only submarines, but also other vessels, such as minelayers, transports, gunboats, armored boats, etc.
The coastal fortresses were subordinate to the Minister of War, and in their armament there were not only coastal guns and torpedo tubes, but also ships of all these types. Another question is that there was no and could not be from submarines of the military department. But the courts of the other classes showed themselves well in the Civil War and even in the Great Patriotic War.
The Minister of Finance also had his own army. We are talking about the corps of the border guard, directly subordinate to the Minister of Finance and not subordinate to the Minister of War. Sergey Witte also had his own fleet, including the “border guard cruiser”. By the end of 1904, he only had a whole army under his gun in Manchuria - 495 generals and officers, about 25 thousand lower ranks and 9466 horses. Agree, this would be enough for a small European state. In the 1901 year, Witte had a row with the war minister and for his “army” instead of the new 3-inch guns of the 1900 model of the Putilov factory he ordered 75-mm Krupp guns through Argentina.
DISCUSSION OF RUSSIAN ARTILLERY
However, all this is minor compared to the state of the Russian artillery. In November 2013, a monument to Grand Duke Mikhail Nikolayevich, who led our army from 20 to 1852, was erected at the site of the Artillery Museum in 1909 meters from the monument at the execution site of the Decembrists. However, due to the early childhood of Michael from 1852 to 1862, the artillery was led by Baron Nikolai Karf. And on December 6 1862, Mikhail Nikolayevich is appointed the governor of the Caucasus and the commander of the Caucasian army.
How can I manage the Russian artillery from Tiflis without a telegraph and railway, I can not imagine. Alexander II did not understand this either, and without further elaboration, he found the brother of the “comrade” - Lieutenant General Alexander Barantzov. In 1862, he took over the post of chief of the Main Artillery Directorate (GAU) and comrade-general of field marshall. Since 1863, after the departure of Mikhail Nikolayevich to the Caucasus, Barantsov was entrusted with the direct control of all Russian artillery.
Despite the fact that the chief artillery chief was on the other side of the Caucasus Mountains, and perhaps because of this, a real revolution took place in the Russian army in 1864 – 1877. If by the beginning of the Crimean War, Russian artillery seriously lagged behind the leading countries of Western Europe in terms of its technical level, by 1867, the Russian guns, together with Prussians, were the best in the world. And this is not about prototypes. In 1865 – 1867, rifled breech-loading guns massively entered the Russian field, serf and ship artillery.
Fundamentally new Russian guns differed little from modern ones. In the 1867 sample guns of the year, lead belts played the role of the current copper bands on the shells, sometimes referred to as shells. And in 1877, modern shells with copper bands came into service with the Russian army. I will not go into details. Let me just say that the 6-inch (152-mm) 1877 model cannon can be fired from the Msta 152-mm howitzer, of course, by picking up the appropriate charge. By the way, during World War II, 152-mm (6-inch) and 107-mm (42-linear) guns of the 1877 model of the year fired shells of the 1928 model of the year.
Immediately after taking the throne, Alexander III removed his uncle from the governorship in the Caucasus and sent him to manage the State Council. I note that the elderly dignitaries and generals were usually sent there.
At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, Feldtseyhmeister General Michael lived mostly in France. On this occasion, General Alexander Mosolov (Head of the Chancellery of the Ministry of the Imperial Court) wrote: "He ... preferred his villa" Venden "in Cannes to the palaces he owned in St. Petersburg." And from 1903 onwards, Michael lived virtually without a break in Cannes, where 5 died on December 1909. Nevertheless, even while in France, the Grand Duke managed to inflict enormous damage on Russian artillery.
Even in the Caucasus, he began to prepare his successor for the post of General-Field Marshal in the person of his son Sergei. And in 1904, Sergey became the official deputy general-field officer of the field (from 1904, the inspector of all artillery, and from 1905, the inspector general).
The Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich and his metress, Matilda Kshesinskaya, together with the management of the Schneider company and the board of the Putilov factory, organized a criminal syndicate. It should be noted that the Putilov factory, where French capital prevailed, was the only private artillery factory in Russia. Formally, competitive tests of prototypes of artillery systems continued to be held in Russia, to which firms Krupp, Ehrhardt, Vickers, Skoda, and others, as well as Russian state-owned plants Obukhovsky and St. Petersburg guns, were still invited.
But in the overwhelming majority of cases, Schneider was the winner. The author personally studied in the archives of the Military Historical Museum reports on competitive tests of guns. For the sake of the Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich, the commission often went to forgery. For example, the weight of Schneider's guns was calculated without shoe belts and a number of other necessary elements, and Krupp's guns were complete. The report wrote that the Schneider gun was lighter and was to be put into service, but in fact it was heavier than its Krupp counterpart in a combat and marching position.
But it's not so bad. Krupp very quickly fulfilled all Russian orders and actively organized production at Russian state-owned factories, while Schneider’s company delayed orders over the years. Schneider's firm actually interfered in the internal affairs of Russia, stipulating in the contracts that the production of Schneider's guns was allowed only for the Putilov factory for so many years. And Grand Duke Sergei calmly waved down all the demands of the French.
As a result, the Putilov factory from 1905 to 1914 scored a huge number of orders a year and successfully piled them up, receiving huge money. With the beginning of the First World War, the government had to take control of the plant, willy-nilly.
However, the disasters of the Russian artillery were far from over. The French government imposed its doctrine on the Russian artillery. According to her, the future war should be maneuverable and transient. To win in such a war, it is enough to have one caliber in artillery, one type of gun and one type of projectile. Specifically, this meant that the army had to have 76-mm divisional guns, which could shoot only with one projectile — shrapnel. Indeed, by the end of the 19th century, effective samples of shrapnel were created in France and other countries.
The French doctrine of one caliber, one cannon, and one projectile would be very good in the era of the Napoleonic Wars when firing at closed infantry columns and cavalry lavas. It is worth noting that the French themselves, intensively developing divisional artillery, did not follow the theory of three unities. They did not forget about the heavy artillery, huge funds were used to rebuild the fortresses.
With shrapnel fire, a single 8-Russian gun battery could destroy an infantry battalion or even a cavalry regiment in a matter of minutes. For this, in 1914, the Germans nicknamed the three-inch “death scythe”. But how efficiently shrapnel struck at open, live targets was just as weak when it hit targets that were somehow hidden.
Few people know that by 1 January 1904, the Russian infantry and cavalry divisions were armed exclusively with rifles, checkers and revolvers - and not a single cannon or machine gun. All modern field guns - and these were exclusively three-inch 1900 model of the year - were part of the foot or horse artillery brigades. In the horse-drawn artillery brigades, there were fewer rounds of ammunition in the front, and all the servants rode. In peacetime, all the artillery brigades existed on their own, and in wartime they were attached (!) To the corresponding infantry or cavalry divisions. There was no battalion, but no regimental artillery in the Russian army at all. True, in 1916, it was not legal to put steel into the regiments (because regimental artillery did not exist) to penetrate short 3-inch guns of the 1915 model of the year.
FIGHT FOR PULMETS
In 1887, the American inventor Hiram Maxim delivered three 11,43 mm machine guns to Tripod machines to St. Petersburg. In 1887, Maxim’s machine gun was tested, converted to 10,67-mm (4,2-linear) cartridge of Berdan rifle with black powder. 8 March 1888 from 10,67-mm Maxim was personally shot by Alexander III. In the same year, Maxim delivered an automatic gun to Russia and the 37. She was tested on the cruiser Herzog Edinburgh and the battleship Nikolay I.
Russian generals and admirals united in arms against machine guns and Maxim automatic cannons - why do we need such a rate of fire?
16 April The 1891 linear Mosin system rifle with a smokeless powder cartridge was adopted for service on April 3, and in the 1891 – 1892, the first five machine guns for the 3 linear rifle cartridge were purchased from Maxim. But the generals in 1895 decided to send 3-linear machine guns to the fortress, where there was no special need. There were plenty of different types of canisters, antisurge guns, etc. And only in 1898, it was decided to send machine guns to field troops, but not to companies and even not to divisions, but to artillery brigades.
By March, 1904, in Manchuria, there were only eight machine guns in the field forces. Machine gun Maxim was put on a high gun carriage type. The funny thing is that on the move, despite the huge wheels, the carriage was weak and in the harness could only move in steps, unlike the artillery of the same brigade. Guessing to put the machine guns on the cart? Gentlemen officers are not the mentality. This is in 1918, the Makhnovists and, independently of them, the Lugansk fitter created the famous “battle chariot”.
The first domestic machine gun was assembled in Tula 5 December 1904, and mass production began in the spring 1905. But, alas, before the end of the hostilities, the Tula machine guns did not get into Manchuria.
The Russian-Japanese war is unique in that the Japanese waged it according to a pattern, practically copying the Chinese war of 1894 – 1895. They landed in Korea, Chemulpo and Busan, defeated the Chinese fleet in the Yellow Sea, besieged and took Port Arthur. I myself saw in the military history archive a memorandum of admiral Makarov, in which he predicted the course of a future war in the smallest detail. Moreover, two years before the Russo-Japanese War, captain 1 of the rank of Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich at a military game, playing for the Japanese, smashed the Russian army and navy into smithereens.
The reaction of Nicholas II followed immediately. Alexander Mikhailovich was appointed the "chief manager" of merchant shipping and ports. Especially for this, the Ministry of Finance was allocated this management. Since the main income of the management was brought by the ports, a pun was well quoted in Petersburg salons: “Alexander Mikhailovich removed ports from Witte”.
The first step towards confrontation with Japan was the occupation of Port-Arthur and parts of Manchuria, which had previously belonged to China, by the Russians in 1898. Whether such a move by the king was correct (I repeat, the king is just a label here, since you will not find the guilty) - the question is quite controversial.
Personally, I think that everything was done correctly. In 1898, Russia did not take Japan seriously and feared that the British would take Port Arthur and Manchuria, create a colony like India with a large native army that would threaten the Russian Far East. In addition, the Russian fleet needed an ice-free port in the Pacific.
Having decided on expansion in Manchuria, the king had to realize that he was coming to a conflict not only with Japan, but also with England. To protect Port Arthur and Manchuria, two completely useless adventures should be abandoned: plans to seize the Black Sea straits and build a port and fortress in Libava (Libau fortress is the top secret of Nicholas II, NVO from 10.03.17).
Three times more money was spent on the construction in Libau than on the modernization of the Chinese fortress Port Arthur. Libau forts were supposed to protect 11-inch (280-mm) shells, and new Port Arthur forts only against 6-inch (152-mm) shells. The firepower of the artillery of the Libavska fortress was X times more than Port Arthur. For the landing in the Bosphorus was created a top secret special reserve. By 1,5, it included 1898 guns and mortars, Maxim machine guns 116, hundreds of tons of ammunition, over one and a half thousand sea mines, tens of kilometers of railroad tracks, etc. Moreover, the entire special stock was located in Odessa and Sevastopol not far from the moorings and could be loaded onto ships in two or three days.
If the means and weapons of Libau and the special stock were brought to Port Arthur, then not only the fortress of Port Arthur would have become impregnable, but it was also possible to build an equally impregnable fortified area throughout the Kwantung Peninsula. Alas, our generals did not want to defend the port of Far, nor the entire Kwantung Peninsula. As a result, Port Arthur was occupied by the Japanese, while the Libau fortress completed in construction in 1907 – 1910 was disarmed and abandoned, and a special reserve was partially rotted, partially plundered.
30 July 1903, Nicholas II decided to create a governorship in the Far East and appointed Yevgeny Alekseev as deputy governor. Witte, Foreign Minister Lamzdorf and the other ministers learned about the establishment of the governorship and the appointment of Alekseev exclusively from the newspapers.
According to the “Highest Decree” of 30 July 1903, the Russian Far East and the Kwantung Oblast were included in the governorship, that is, in a piece of the Russian and Chinese empires. The viceroy was entrusted with the command of the naval forces in the Pacific Ocean and all troops stationed in the region entrusted to him, the management of diplomatic relations in the affairs of the Far Eastern regions with neighboring states, the highest authority in all parts of civil administration in the region, supreme care of order and security in the areas used CEL, and the immediate concern for the benefits and needs of the Russian population in the adjacent with the governorship of foreign possessions.
At that time, the situation with artillery in Port Arthur was more than catastrophic. According to the report card, it was supposed to have ten 10-inch guns, and in fact there were five. Moreover, the elevation angle of the most powerful artillery guns - 254 / 45-mm guns - did not exceed 15 degrees, which is why the maximum firing range was 12 versts. After 1905, the angle of elevation of these guns was brought to 20 degrees, which ensured the firing range at 17 versts; and then to 30 degrees, then the firing range reached 20,5 km.
But the most terrible situation was with shells. In Port Arthur for the five 254-mm cannons there were only 295 steel armor-piercing shells and 495 shells from ordinary cast iron (I will call such shells simply cast-iron). There were no high-explosive steel shells at all.
Steel armor-piercing shells at that time had satisfactory armor penetration, but a projectile weighing 225 kg contained only 2 kg of black powder, that is, its effect was insignificant, less than that of the 76-mm melinite grenade. Cast iron 254-mm projectiles had the same weight (225 kg), but contained 9,6 kg of black powder. Their action was weaker than that of the 120-mm Japanese howitzer projectile stuffed with shimozy. Worst of all, the cast-iron projectile could not withstand firing at full charge, but collapsed in the bore or, at best, right after taking off at the gun barrel. Therefore, cast-iron projectile fired with only half the charge.
For 9-inch cannon shells there were: 768 armor-piercing, 2232 cast iron and 180 segment. For 6-inch Cane cannons in 45 calibers: 1700 steel armor-piercing, 1931 cast iron and 2000 segment. For 6-inch guns in 190 pounds: 360 armor-piercing, 1000 cast iron, 1000 shrapnel. For 11-inch mortars: 2000 cast iron bombs, high explosive pyroxylin shells were sent to 500, but they did not reach Port Arthur. For 9-inch mortars, there were 830 high-explosive pyroxylin and 7300 cast iron projectiles. For battery guns, there were 1290 cast iron grenades filled with black powder, 960 shrapnel and 180 canister.
Thus, of all the coastal guns, only 9-inch mortars had effective high-explosive shells - 830 pyroxylin bombs, that is, less than 26 shells per barrel. I note that the shells, filled with pyroxylin and other potent explosives, were adopted by the Russian army and navy at the end of the 80-s of the XIX century.
Such a disgrace with the shells was due to the rampant theft of Russian admirals and senior officers. Guns, especially large calibers, were the opposite, and stealing the money allocated to them was problematic. With shells, everything is much simpler. For example, the presence of huge stocks of useless cast iron projectiles is explained by the fact that cast iron projectiles are several times cheaper than steel high-explosive.
The so-called segmental shells were intended exclusively for firing at small destroyers at short distances (from 254-mm guns - to 5760 m). The range was determined by the short response time of the 16-second distance tube.
Interestingly, for some reason, our generals in the Main Artillery Directorate adored shooting shrapnel from 152 – 203 mm heavy siege and coastal guns. What is the point of shooting shrapnel from an 6-inch gun in 190 pounds, making one shot in one and a half to three minutes, when an 76-mm gun of the 1900 model of the year can release up to 10 and more shrapnel in a minute? The only effective projectile for guns of caliber 152 mm and above is a high-explosive, stuffed with a substance like TNT.
The green light for the attack on Russia Japan opened the Anglo-Japanese Treaty of the Year 1902. England, with 1898, began preparations for an attack on Germany. For the war with her, London, in addition to France, decided to attract Russia. For this, an insidious multi-pass plan was developed - to help Japan defeat Russia in the Far East so that the interests of the king would be redirected to Europe. Then London planned to "throw a bone" of Russia. This was done in 1907 in the form of a section of Russian-English spheres of influence in Persia. So London managed to draw Russia into the anti-German coalition.