Vice Admiral Zinovy Petrovich Rozhestvensky (1848–1909), who was seriously wounded in the head and both legs in the Tsushima battle and who considered himself worthy of death for surrendering the destroyer “Bedovy” on which he was unconscious, is a negative hero historical and fiction. This has been the case since the time of Tsushima by A. S. Novikov-Priboy, and maybe even earlier, from the newspaper campaign against Rozhestvensky in 1906.
The memory of him has remained unkind since. The classic characteristic of the admiral is an arrogant, stupid, inert careerist. Even the grave of Rozhestvensky at the Tikhvin cemetery of the Alexander Nevsky Monastery in St. Petersburg was not preserved.
Boris Glebovich Galenin, author of the fundamental two-volume book “Tsushima - a sign of the end of Russian history. The hidden causes of well-known events ”(M., Kraft +, 2009-2010), one of the main characters of which is Z. P. Christmas. The chief of the Main Naval Staff of Russia was by no means stupid - well, if only because the illustrious Russian naval commander Stepan Osipovich Makarov was not stupid, who spoke of Rozhdestvensky in 1894 as a "reliable naval commander."
And, of course, a person could not be a careerist, who at the very beginning of his military career put her at risk for reasons of principle.
In July 1877, during the Russo-Turkish war, while on the Vesta steamboat, Rozhestvensky took command of the artillery to replace the killed Lieutenant Colonel Chernov and inflicted damage on the Turkish battleship Fethi Bouland, which forced him to leave the battle. For this battle, Rozhdestvensky was promoted to lieutenant captain and awarded the orders of St. Vladimir of the 4th degree with swords and bow and St. George of the 4th degree. It would seem, live and rejoice. But Rozhestvensky at the end of the war published the article “Battleships and merchant cruisers” in the newspaper Birzhevye Vedomosti, where he criticized the technical backwardness of the Russian fleet and a call to reorient to the construction of battleships. The feat of Vesta, to which Rozhdestvensky was obliged by orders and an extraordinary rank, he called "shameful flight." The article caused a great scandal and led to the initiation of a lawsuit in the Vesta case. Admiral S.S. Lesovsky promised to “erase the powder” of the obstinate officer.
And at the beginning of the Japanese war, when still all the newspapers, including the liberal ones, were overwhelmed with headscarring sentiments and shouted that the Japanese adventure would soon suffer a complete ruin, Rozhestvensky predicted a different course of the war. “We will have to fight hard,” he told a French correspondent in late March, nine hundred and four. He already believed that in the current situation, our squadron had nothing to do in the Far East, because when it appears there, the Japanese will have time to transport guns, shells, ammunition, supplies in sufficient quantity to Korea many months. But he was ordered - and he led the squadron into battle. By the way, one of his predictions of that time came to pass, unfortunately, within a few days. Then the star of admiral S.O. Makarov, he was excitedly praised by the newspapers, and Rozhestvensky praised: "This is a wonderful sailor, energetic boss, skillful, courageous ...", but he immediately declared: "He is a prisoner of the state of things that he did not create and cannot change." But the same can be said about Rozhestvensky himself! Many, for example, accuse him of not trying to evade meeting with the Japanese United Fleet and breaking through to Vladivostok. But Rozhestvensky had a completely different order. “Twice in the king’s telegram addressed to Rozhestvensky it is indicated that the squadron was not the breakthrough to Vladivostok, but the capture of the Sea of Japan, that is, the battle with the main forces of the Japanese fleet and their defeat” (M. Petrov. Trafalgar. Tsushima. Jutlands fight. - M., 1926). And the orders, as you know, are not discussed.
By the way, April 1 1904, when the newspaper "Rus" reprinted the interview Rozhestvensky mentioned, she reported on another page about the death of the battleship "Petropavlovsk" and Makarova ...
Even 12 years ago, in the story “The Story of a Defeat” (Our Contemporary, 2001, No. 8), I predicted the appearance of such books as Tsushima by B. Galenin.
The author, like the hero of my story, hypothesizes that the Japanese in the most successful battle for them in the war with Russia - Tsushima - were a close to defeat.
The Russian combined squadron under the command of Vice Admiral Zinovy Petrovich Rozhestvensky opposed the Japanese United Fleet under the command of Admiral Heihatiro Togo. The Japanese, in addition to numerous auxiliary ships, destroyers, destroyers and gunboats, had 12 high-speed and well-armed armored ships, we also had 12, not counting the auxiliary, but only 4 of new ones, comparable in class to the Japanese. Just before the collision, in 12 20 hours of 27 minutes in May 1905, Rozhestvensky suddenly divided his ships into two parallel columns, which is believed to have halved their maneuverability and firepower. After all, with such a construction, it is difficult for ships to turn around to the enemy’s sides, where the main artillery was, and to fire without risking to get into their own ships. At that time, the “best maneuver in the form of a transverse stick over the letter“ T ”, that is, the coverage of the head and tail of an enemy column, was considered the best method of action. Naturally, Rozhestvensky could not make such coverage in two columns.
Russian sailors showed exceptional heroism, they did not leave burning ships, the fire from the guns were even seriously wounded, but the result for our sailors was sad. During the battle, which lasted almost a day, the Japanese burned, sank, captured the ships of the Russian squadron, excluding three ships that broke through to Vladivostok. Seriously wounded Rozhdestvensky was captured.
However, after returning home after the war, he wrote mysterious words in an explanatory note: “... I brought a squadron into battle - in a system in which all my battleships had to be able to shoot at the first moments on the headline of the Japanese line ... Obviously ... our first strike the squadron was put in unusually favorable conditions ... The benefit of this location of our squadron was to persist from 1 hour 49 minutes to 1 hour 59 minutes or more if the speed of the Japanese on the circulation was less than 16 nodes. " What kind of “system”, what “unusually favorable conditions” did Rozhestvensky say? After all, he is in 12. 20 destroyed this line, divided the squadron into 2 columns! "The wand over the" T "was no longer possible! But some experts, including Galenin, believe that Rozhestvensky would not have succeeded in this classic maneuver under any circumstances, because the Japanese had an advantage in speed, maneuverability and artillery armament. So, needed some other maneuver? And this explains the strange actions Rozhestvensky?
Similar assumptions were expressed earlier by historian V. Chistyakov, to whom Galenin belongs with great reverence, but 19 years ago they received documentary confirmation. Niece of the participant in the Tsushima battle of midshipman Ilya Kulnev (he is, by the way, a distant relative of the hero of the Patriotic War 1812, General J.P. Kulnev) I.F. Ogorodnikova handed me a manuscript of her uncle, entitled “Tsushima. From the notes of a non-rich officer. ” Then, in 1994, I published these notes with my comments in Moscow Journal, No. 8. On the last page of the notebook, Kulnev fluently drew a diagram of the beginning of the Tsushima battle. It is fully consistent with the schemes that Galenin placed in his book. So what do we see on it?
Top left - Japanese ships. On the right is the 1 Squadron of the Rozhestvensky squadron, the newest battleships Suvorov, Alexander III, Borodino and Orel. At the bottom left - outdated and low-speed vessels of the 1-th and 2-th Russian detachments at the head of the Oslyabya armored cruiser. But what is unexpected: we have not at all two regular parallel columns! The ships move with the famous “Ushakovsky Ledge”: the right column (high-speed) is ahead of the low-speed left by about half of its length. What does this mean?
First, it means that the ships of the left column did not at all prevent the ships of the right from firing (at least three of them). Secondly, the squadron of Rozhestvensky needed to reorganize into one combat column again, it took not a quarter of an hour, as Togo thought, but half as much - due to the “ledge” movement and higher speed of the right column. Thirdly, the Rozhestvensky maneuver was misleading the Japanese, bypassing the Russian squadron on the right sidewalk, and provoked them to approach the ships immediately, without completing their “wand maneuver” over the “T”. They did so without seeing from a distance (as evidenced by the testimony of the English military observer on the Japanese ships of Captain Packham) that not two parallel columns, but “Ushakovsky ledge” were moving toward them.
When the Japanese abruptly went to meet us (move left), Rozhestvensky began rebuilding in one column. Further, the chronicle of the battle shows that in 13. 45, along the Kyoto meridian, Admiral Togo finally saw through binoculars that Rozhdestvensky had deceived him, and immediately ordered his ships to turn left on the 180.
It was a desperate decision: after all, the Japanese had to turn right in front of the muzzles of the guns of the Russian ships moving on them, which were the first to fire on 13.49.
The Japanese themselves couldn’t shoot for 10-15 minutes, as their ships, which had already turned, prevented those who were still at the turning point from firing. It was precisely this, as Rozhestvensky later asserted, that he sought.
The dashed line of Kulnev, coming from the right-wing Russian squad, shows that Rozhestvensky told him to go to the left, and that, in turn, shifted to the right. For this, the Russians did not need 25 minutes, as if they were walking in two regular parallel columns, but half as much, given the speed of battleships like "Suvorov". In 13.49 (13.30 along the Vladivostok meridian), the left gun of the Suvorov flagship crashed along the Mikaz. The battle of Tsushima began. "All Japanese ships had to come to a certain point one by one and turn to 1800, and this point remained stationary relative to the sea, which greatly facilitated the shooting of Russian artillery" (Chistyakov). Rozhestvensky forced all the main ships of the United Fleet to pass before the barrels of their best battleships. The plan of the Russian admiral was universal: no matter how Togo turned, he substituted for guns battleships like "Suvorov" either a rear guard or the vanguard of his column.
What happened next? Why didn't the Japanese ships be torn to pieces during these 10-15 minutes, but left the fatal zone with minor damage, lined up in a new line and crashed into our ships?
Rozhestvensky himself considered the poor shooting of our gunners to be the cause of the failure, but the facts do not confirm this. According to the Japanese (and they had a habit of underestimating their losses), in the first minutes of the battle the Togo fleet received large-caliber 150 hits, of which 30 had to hit the Mikaz flagship, including the captain’s bridge, almost killing Admiral Togo himself . Why, then, did the Japanese sank only three destroyers and only a few battleships temporarily failed?
Galenin fully shares Chistyakov’s suggestion that Russian pyroxylin shells, damp for a long journey in the tropics, also had a delayed action (so that, after piercing their armor, to explode inside the ship), most of them did not explode at all, but beat dead Japanese into the Japanese ships cargo or, piercing through unarmored surfaces, flew into the sea. The Japanese shells, on the other hand, were stuffed with the so-called shimoza (liddite) and did not have an armor-piercing, but a high-explosive action. The shells were torn from the first contact with anything, from the slightest delay in flight. The temperature of the explosion of the shimozy was so high that it immediately flashed paint on the steel sides. Everything flooded the liquid flame, our sailors burned alive. According to the calculations of Chistyakov, by the weight of the explosive emitted per minute, the Japanese exceeded us by about 30 times. We obviously could not win their frontal artillery duel.
But, speaking of the historical lessons of the Russian-Japanese war, it is impossible not to mention such a condition of victory as the will to it. After all, even in the brilliant Sinop case, the Russian squadron was inferior to the Turkish fleet in terms of its military-technical characteristics. But then the Russian sailors were representatives of a single, not split people. And in Kulnev’s notes we read: “... before the squadron departed, the team behaved disgustingly, it got drunk drunk, answered rudely, worked reluctantly ... There were many propagandists among the workers, in the morning there were proclamations everywhere on the battleships:“ Kill officers, drown your ships, why you go to certain death. " To deep grief, the command was influenced by these proclamations ... The team wanted to find fault with each other in order to make a complaint, and on one ship they succeeded: they killed (one sailor) the young midshipman for wanting to silence ... ”.
In the open sea, much has changed, the sailors pulled themselves together, but not a single army in the world, not a single fleet escaped confusion in their ranks if it reigns in the state.
The plan of the military technocrat Rozhestvensky was designed for other performers, for another morale. And the victory, among other things, is also the morale of the people. It was very well understood by Stalin, who utterly crushed the Japanese in August 1945, at sea and on land.