Even after Tsushima, Russia had serious chances to win the 1905 war of the year.
During the Russo-Japanese War in spring 1904, the country's leadership decided to form the Second Pacific Squadron. She had to go to the Far East and help the Russian army defeat Japan. However unparalleled in stories The campaign ended in May 1905 with a defeat near Tsushima Island.
Since then, more than a hundred years have passed, a lot of books and articles have been published on this topic, the course of the Tsushima battle has been disassembled almost by the minute, but even now many people are tormented by the question: how could this happen? It is not the fact of defeat that is surprising (after all, in the history of any fleet there were failures): the scale of the defeat is astounding. The huge Russian squadron ceased to exist, and the enemy escaped with only minor losses.
Tsushima is often compared to the Battle of Trafalgar 1805, when the British inflicted a heavy defeat on the Napoleonic fleet. However, there is no mystery. The revolution in France led to the fact that many experienced and highly skilled naval officers were removed from service, managerial chaos reigned in the fleet, and this fact undoubtedly affected the combat capability of the French fleet. So the outcome of the battle at Cape Trafalgar is largely logical.
But what happened at Tsushima? The researchers cite a whole list of reasons, among which the lion’s share is the enumeration of the gross errors of the squadron commander Zinovy Petrovich Rozhestvensky. But if you look closely, it is noticeable that the answer is not given to the question that was asked. The main question is not at all what mistakes Rozhestvensky made, but why he made them. And here comes the universal answer: yes, simply because Rozhestvensky is a lack of talent, and that’s what he did.
Everyone knows Hanlon's Razor, a pseudo-intellectual rule of analytics, calling for not looking for malicious intent in actions that can be explained by stupidity. In fact, here we are dealing precisely with this principle, which is convenient, seemingly scientific, simple and ... in general, completely wrong. Moreover, in their daily lives, people, on the contrary, will begin precisely with suspicion of malicious intent. For example, if we did not find our car, left in the yard in the evening, in the morning, we will rush to report to the police about the hijacking. No one would even think of embarking on abstract arguments about unknown fools who simply got into a strange car by mistake and would soon return it. Here, from this point of view, let us analyze the actions of Rozhestvensky.
It is no secret that the Russian ships were generally inferior to the Japanese in speed. And what does our admiral do in such conditions? He takes with him into the breakthrough low-speed supply vehicles. Agree, a very strange decision. Where it is necessary to rush at full speed, relying on the fact that the Japanese will notice the squadron as late as possible, or even miss it, the caravan for some reason went at the speed of the slowest camel, and such a camel was the transports. Explain this act stupidity will not work, because it will take too prohibitive stupidity, and Rozhdestvensky certainly was not mentally retarded. What then is the matter? Perhaps, transports carried some so important cargo that it was impossible to do without it? For example, if the squadron did not have enough coal in order to reach Vladivostok, and the transports were needed just as coal transports, everything falls into place. But alas, it is not.
In the Russian Empire, a military commission was created at the Naval General Staff, which studied in detail the actions of the fleet in the Russian-Japanese war. And here is what she writes: “Admiral Rozhestvensky was forced to haul transports along while he was on the march, that is, in the event of a breakthrough through the Korea Strait no further than Shanghai or its immediate environs. The decision to leave the transports with the squadron in mind, having in mind a breakthrough, cannot be justified in any way, especially since these transports did not have any such cargoes that were vital for the squadron ... Situation in which the squadron was engaged in combat to cover its transport and the main forces of the fleet were sacrificed for their own supply — more than strange. ”
Pay attention: the commission did not find any reason justifying or at least explaining such strange behavior of Rozhestvensky. Moreover, a special piquancy of the situation is added by the fact that one of the transports carried pyroxylin. Few enemy shells, so we’ll also take the flammable substance with us!
In order not to bother the reader with a long enumeration of the mistakes made by Rozhestvensky, I will quote the general conclusion reached by the commission: “In the actions of the squadron chief, both in conducting the battle and in preparing it, it is difficult to find at least one correct action. The subordinate flagships acted sluggishly and without any initiative. Admiral Rozhestvensky was a man of strong will, courageous, ardently devoted to his work, a skillful organizer of supplies and economic units, an excellent sailor, but deprived of the slightest shadow of military talent. The march of his squadron from St. Petersburg to Tsushima was unprecedented in history, but in military operations, he showed not only a lack of talent, but also a complete lack of military education and combat training — qualities that he could not communicate to his squadron. ”
So, all the actions of Rozhestvensky were recognized as erroneous, that is, the commander failed all that was possible. We fix this moment. It is important, but it is also important in what form the commission says so. Judge for yourself: it is said that Rozhestvensky is both a strong-willed person, a courageous person, and a good organizer. But why did he, having such qualities, brought the squadron to total defeat? The commission claims that it turns out that he completely lacks a military education. But this is a well-known lie: after all, Rozhestvensky was one of the best graduates of the St. Petersburg Mikhailovsky Artillery Academy. Specialty - naval artilleryman.
The Commission writes that he did not have military training. This is also a lie. Rozhestvensky participated in the Russian-Turkish war, served for many years as a flagship officer on various ships, commanded a battleship and a cruiser, became chief of the Naval Staff ... In general, from all points of view, he was a well-deserved, experienced and well-prepared man. Why did the commission need to lie, and so deliberately awkwardly, telling tales about Rozhestvensky's lack of education and incompetence?
I think this is done on purpose so that everyone understands: it’s unclean. I believe that the commission considered Rozhestvensky a conscious saboteur, but did not dare to write directly about it. The consequences of such a statement would be too dangerous: after all, it was not a matter of banal betrayal. “If I were in the place of Nikki, I would immediately abdicate the throne. He could not blame anyone but himself for the Tsushima defeat, ”wrote Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich in his memoirs. The defeat of the fleet is a blow to Nicholas II, and the threads of sabotage, if there was one, of course, led to the very top. We know that the king was overthrown in the year 1917. Then the first persons of the state spoke against Nikolay, and it is possible that among them were the grand dukes. It is clear that the plot has ripened for a long time, and if you look at the 1905 revolution of the year as the “rehearsal” of February-1917, the version of sabotage during the Russian-Japanese war looks even more reasonable.
By the way, the commission notes that all the work of the general staff of the squadron was carried out personally by Rozhestvensky. This is an important detail: after all, if the admiral deliberately led the squadron to death, then he had to strive to complete the management decisions as much as possible. Other officers should not be aware of his plans. The fact that Rozhdestvensky replaced the General Staff with him is also indirect evidence of the admiral’s malicious intent.
The Tsushima defeat became a loud slap in the face to Nicholas II personally and to “tsarism” as a whole. But, although the ringing from it is heard so far, nevertheless, ordinary "Tsushima" reasoning is manipulative.
Recall the most popular of them: Russia was defeated at sea, which led to defeat in the war, and after Tsushima nothing remained but to make an unequal peace. Of course, all this is served along with streams of squeals in the spirit of "rotten tsarism", "mediocre admirals", "shame" and so on. But we will miss this sickening vulgarity: have we heard enough of it? Turn to the point.
So Tsushima is a defeat. Right? Right.
Russia signed an unequal peace treaty. Right? Right.
But how are these two true statements related? Please note: usually the link is replaced by propaganda noise. Almost no one bothers to demonstrate how the second follows from the first. And this clearly shows that before us is the most natural manipulation. Now let's open it up.
Let's start with the obvious. Japan is located close to Manchuria, and the main forces of Russia are very far away, and all the supplies to the Russian army were provided by the Trans-Siberian Railway. In turn, the Japanese are transferring armies by sea, which means that if we succeed in destroying the Japanese fleet, thereby cutting off supplies, this will automatically lead our country to victory. Moreover, Russia was considering the possibility of landing troops in Japan and seizing Tokyo. The second Pacific squadron was sent to the Far East precisely in order to change the situation at sea in favor of Russia. Yes, she ended her way to Tsushima, but what did the Japanese achieve thanks to their victory?
1. They are not allowed to cut their maritime communications.
2. They protected themselves from the threat of Russian troops on the Japanese islands themselves.
And where is about the defeat of Russia in the war? Here, only about the fact that the Russian will not land at Tokyo, and the Japanese will continue to supply their troops by sea. But the Russians, as before, continue to transfer their armies by land. That is, the status quo is preserved.
It was not possible to defeat the Japanese “by sea”, but this did not mean that Russia had no other means. The war went over Manchuria and influence in Korea, it was there that the Japanese landed their armies, it was there that the main events took place, there both sides suffered almost all their losses.
The war was overland, and in order for people to think differently, propagandists climbed and climbed so far. Of course, they are not able to prove anything, but they succeeded in shifting the accents of war perception, and that is why so much attention is paid so disproportionately to the events at sea. But we should not fall for the tricks of anti-Russian manipulators. Even after Tsushima, Russia still had serious chances for success, and we will talk about why they could not be implemented in the following articles.