Troop positioning on 1 September 1904
On the right flank, the 4 th Siberian corps (28 battalions, 5 hundreds and 62 guns) defended. His right wing rested on Fort No. VIII on the right bank of the Taijihe, the left wing extended to the railway. On the left flank stood the 2 Siberian Corps (20 battalions and 50 guns). The total reserve was the 3 Siberian Corps (24 battalion and 72 guns), which was located on the northern outskirts of the city. However, by the end of the day, the 3 Corps was launched against the Kuroki army. In reserve, the 2 regiment and 24 guns, which arrived to replenish the army, remained. The rest of the troops were sent against the army Kuroki. Thus, the cavalry detachment Samsonov and 54-I division Orlova advanced to the area of the Yantai mines. In addition, under the influence of false rumors about the movement of large enemy forces to the Taijihe River below Liaoyang, Kuropatkin formed and advanced a Kondratovich detachment to secure the right flank. The arriving units of the 1 Army Corps were left in Mukden in case of the Japanese Umeawa Brigade in the Mukden sector.
Kuropatkin and his headquarters all day worked out a plan for an offensive against Kuroki. According to Kuropatkin, 72-th. the army was to turn around at the front of the Sikvantun - Yantai mines. 17 Army Corps held positions at the Sykvantun; The 10 Corps was being advanced to the village of Sakhatun; on its left flank the 1 of the Siberian Corps was to be advanced. The extreme right flank was Orlov's division and Samson's equestrian detachment. The reserve was 3 th Siberian Corps.
However, no decisive goals were set for the grouping. At best, the successful movement of the Russian corps should have led to the ousting of the Kuroki troops. Japanese troops would have retreated across the Taijihe River according to the existing reconnaissance fords and pontoon bridges built. At the same time, Zarubaev’s grouping (4 and 2 of the Siberian corps) was ordered to hold their positions “to the last man”.
At this time, the 1-I and 4-I Japanese armies with the main forces came to the forefront and engaged in their equipment to the front of Liaoyang. They installed siege artillery. The forces of the opponents on the Southern Front were approximately equal: the Japanese had a 71 battalion, a 23 squadron, a 364 guns against the 72 battalions, a 14 of hundreds, a 184 guns of the Zarubayev group. Troops 1-th army Kuroki on the right bank Taizihe well as several advanced and employs 20 battalions, 6 squads, 60 guns, a total of about 18 thousand. People (12-Division, 15-brigade 2-th division, 29-th Reserve regiment and cavalry regiment). Against the Kuroki group were Bilderling troops of the 33 battalion, 20 squadrons and hundreds, and 150 guns. In total, Kuropatkin advanced against the threat from the eastern flank of the 95 battalions, 79 squadrons and hundreds and 352 guns (about 72 thousand people). This is not counting the various units allocated to protect the left flank.
Japanese troops 1 September did not show much activity. Japanese commander Oyama planned to launch an offensive the next day. Only the 4 Division received reconnaissance. In the afternoon, the 4 Division, under cover of artillery fire, advanced slightly. Around 16, the 4 Division’s artillery began heavy shelling of the city and a strip along the railroad. As a result, the Japanese disrupted the evacuation of Liaoyang Station. The loading was transferred to Liaoyang II station.
Japanese General Kuroki and his chief of staff Shigata Fuji
Offensive army Kuroki. Battle for Nezhinsky hill
Kuroki, having received news of spies that the Russian army is preparing for evacuation, decided to attack and try to intercept the railway. On the morning of September 1, the 12 Division began to move in a westerly direction. On its left flank moved 15-I brigade. Her commander was given the task to occupy the Nezhinsky volcano and the village of Sykvantun. In reserve were 29-th reserve regiment and cavalry regiment. Kuroki triumphed - the greatest moment of his life came. His actions could lead to the victory of the Japanese army in the decisive battle of the war and in the entire campaign.
However, his triumph was short-lived, and he was disturbed by the news of the movement of Russian troops from the Yantai mines. Kuroki deployed the right-flank 12 th brigade of Shimamura to the north, and the left-flank 23-I brigade of Kigoshi stopped. The Japanese went on the defensive. Kuroki called the 3 Brigade of the 2 Division to the Taijihe on the right bank. The Japanese general also ordered the Umesawa brigade, which was in Bensiha, to launch an offensive in the direction of the Yantai mines.
However, the threat was exaggerated. In the area of the Yantai mines, Russian cavalry reconnaissance led. She did not show offensive fervor in all previous battles and usually withdrew without a fight. Orlova's 54 Division did not dare to go beyond the mines and, going out to them at 14 for hours, began to dig in. Therefore, there was no real threat to the Japanese. General Orlov made no attempt to defeat the right flank of Kuroka's army with a bold strike. He went on the defensive, although nothing threatened him. In addition, the Russian command had a complete advantage in cavalry and could organize deep raids on the flanks and rear of the enemy, but this was not done. Although even one appearance of Russian troops on the flank of Kuroki made him go on the defensive and call in reinforcements.
At this time, the commander of the Japanese 15 brigade Okasaki, not knowing about the changing situation and the transition of the main forces to the defense, continued to move. More in the morning the Japanese forced the left flank of the Nezhinsky Regiment to retreat to the Nezhinsky Hill. Faced with weak resistance, Okasaki decided to continue the offensive. Kuroki promised to support the 23 brigade with his forces.
In this direction, the 35-division of Dobrzyński, supported by the New Ingermanland regiment of the 3 division, kept the defense. Nezhinsky hill occupied Nezhinsky regiment and part of Morshansky. On their left flank, the Novoingermanlandsky regiment defended, followed by the ledge was the Zaraysky regiment, on the right - the Bolkhovsky regiment. Next were the troops of the Ekka brigade. In general, there was a relative equality of forces in this area: 12 battalions and 42 guns of the 15 and 23 of the Japanese brigades against the Russian 13 battalions and 40 guns (not counting the Russian forces that were located in depth).
In 19 hours, the Japanese infantry, with the support of artillery, approached the Nezhinsky hill on 700 steps. Artillery fire began to subside, and the Russians felt that the battle was over for today. However, around 20 hours, Japanese artillery again opened heavy fire on Russian positions. The Bolkhov regiment could not stand it and left the Sükvantun, which the enemy immediately occupied. The left-flank regiment of the Okasaki brigade began a maneuver to cover the right wing of the Nezhinsky regiment. At the same time, the Japanese embraced the mound from the other flank. Nezhinsky and Morshansky regiments, yielding to panic, retreated. However, the Russian soldiers quickly recovered, and with the support of their neighbors, they beat off a bayonet counterattack.
The darkness prevented the Japanese from continuing the attack on rough terrain. The commander of the Japanese brigade decided to wait for the moon to appear. As soon as the moon lit the area, the Japanese again rushed to the attack with the support of artillery fire from the flanks. After a weak resistance, the Nezhin regiment again retreated to the village of Sakhutun.
Thus, one Japanese brigade managed to win the battle at the front of the corps and capture an important position. The excessive dispersal of forces of the 17 Corps, the inaction of Eck troops on the right flank, played its role. In addition, Orlov was not in a hurry to strike at the right flank of Kuroki, although such an attack could thwart all enemy plans and stop the attack of the Okasaki brigade in a westerly direction.
Source: N. Levitsky. Russian-Japanese War 1904-1905
September 2 Battle
By September 2, Russian troops were concentrating on Kuropatkin’s plan. They were lined up in two lines. 17-th army corps under the command of Bildernga remained in positions at Sakhatunya. The main forces of the 3 division occupied the height of 131. Yantai's position was occupied by Orlov's division, his left flank covered the Samsonov's cavalry. The link between the 17 Corps of Bilderling and the Orlov detachment was supported by the Mishchenko equestrian detachment. In the second line, the 10 th Army Corps, the 1 Siberian and 3 Siberian Corps were located.
Forces of Kuroki have since increased to 25 thousand people. However, the Guards Division was only preparing for the crossing of the Tai Chi. Thus, the Russian army on the right bank of the river had complete superiority and could, with a decisive offensive, crush the Japanese. Unfortunately, they did not even think about it.
Kuroki, in view of the success of the 2 and 4 army in the development of advanced positions, decided to continue active offensive actions. The 12 Division received the mission to advance towards Sandopa, the 2 Division on the Lotatai with preliminary capture of the 131 height. Guards Division, after the crossing, set the task to occupy the height of 151. The offensive of the 1 Army was not impetuous. For this there was neither strength nor resources. The troops were tired, not enough food and ammunition. Therefore, artillery fire was weak. Kuroki then did not even suspect that a powerful 72-thousand was concentrated against his two divisions. group of Russian troops.
At this time, the commander of the 17 Army Corps Bilderling decided to recapture the Nezhinsky hill. After a two-hour artillery preparation conducted by 96 guns, the Bilder troops launched an offensive. They were supported by a brigade of the 10 Army Corps. By noon, several Japanese companies were forced to move back. A bloody battle broke out for the Nezhinsky hill. The Japanese put up stubborn resistance. And the Russian troops, because of a stupidly organized attack, when the interaction of artillery and infantry was not organized, suffered unjustifiably high losses. In addition, the artillery fire was weak, because of the order of the army artillery inspector "to protect shells, since the real battle will be tomorrow." The Japanese could repel Russian attacks with small-arms fire (the artillery of the 15 brigade was imperceptible due to the lack of projectiles). Other Russian troops — the 1 of the Siberian corps of Shtakelberg and the squad of Mishchenko at that time were inactive.
Baron Alexander Alexandrovich Bilderling (1846 - 1912)
A new attack was prepared for the 17 clock. The 27 battalions were to go on the offensive under the general leadership of the commander of the 35 division of Dobrzhinsky. After the 17 watch, the 152 guns began artillery preparation. But she was sluggish, took care of the shells. In addition, the gunners were afraid to cover their infantry, which was moving in disarray and without mutual communication. Nezhin hill was not fired at all, as it seemed to the army artillery inspector that it was already occupied by Russian soldiers. The soldiers attacked in three groups, which included battalions of various regiments and divisions, which made organization and management even more difficult.
The attack on the right wing initially developed successfully. The team of General Ekka, passing the height of 131, cleared by the Japanese, pressed the enemy from the village of Sykvantun. However, further movement into the girth of the Nezhinsky sopka was stopped by strong fire. The troops ebbed away and mixed the offensive in the center of the regiments. Moreover, some of their groups were mistaken for the Japanese and attacked them with hostility.
The left wing of the Dobrzhinsky group reached the Nezhinsky hill already in the dark. The Japanese met them with strong artillery and small arms. In addition, here too, Russian units advancing along intersecting directions took each other in the dark and in turmoil for the enemy and engaged in a battle with “him”. So, one of the regiments lost one-third of the fire from their fire. Signals "hang up" and "gathering in a column" could not prevent chaos and disorder. Only the game of regimental orchestras was able to stop the madness. Most of the soldiers stopped firing, and rushed back. Despite this mess, parts of the Nezhinsky Regiment were able to occupy the northern part of the fells. Panic also began in the ranks of the Japanese Okasaki team. Part of the Japanese soldiers retreated. However, the heroic soldiers of the Nezhinsky regiment, not supported by other units, were forced under the pressure of the enemy to withdraw.
As a result, the 27 Russian battalions could not knock over the 7 Japanese battalions. Chaotic, and not supported by artillery, the Russian offensive ended in complete failure. Russian troops lost about 3500 people in this madness, Japanese - 1290.
The defeat of the squad Orlov
Orlov’s squad was subordinated to Bilderling, so in the evening of September 1, the commander of the 17 Army Corps ordered Orlov to go on the offensive according to a general plan. And if the Kuroki army struck the main blow to the 17 corps, Orlov had to support him.
Orlov's division was located south of the Yantai mines, on the flanks were the cavalry units of Samsonov and Orbeliani. The advanced guard detachment was advanced to the village of Tsyshan. The reserve was located at the Yantai village. The Japanese 12 Brigade of Shimamura was located on the heights south of the village of Dayyaopu. Orlov, fulfilling the order of Bilderling, planned on the morning of September 2 to attack the village of Dayeyopu. Orlov had 12 battalions, 32 squadrons and 34 guns, Shimamury had 7 battalions, 2 squadrons and 18 guns.
In the morning the Japanese shot down the advanced guard at Tsyshan. As a result, the connection between the forces of Bilderling and Orlov was broken. Eagles counterattacked some of their forces but the Japanese failed. Then he decided to dodge the battle and move to the village of Sahutun to join the Bilder’s corps. However, the beginning of the movement of Orlov's troops coincided with the transfer of the main forces of the Japanese brigade from Dayayopu. The oncoming battle began.
The Japanese skillfully began to cover the left flank of the Orlov detachment with a simultaneous blow to the right flank. In addition, advancing in Gaulian, the Japanese were able to use their artillery, carrying with them towers for the observers and fire correctors. Russian artillery was inactive. The soldiers, mostly recruits, who had just arrived, panicked and ran. The situation could have been reversed by parts of the 1 Siberian corps of Shtakelberg, which reached the nearby village of Liliengo. However, they did not render any assistance to Orlov.
The Japanese, who had seized the height of the Orlov detachment, had the opportunity to cover the Russian soldiers with heavy fire. Orlov's troops fled to Xiaodalyango to unite with the Shtakelberg corps. At the same time, soldiers fired at each other in thick Gaulian. Shtakelberg ordered Orlov to gather troops and counterattack. However, the division that panicked failed. Most of the soldiers fled towards the Yantai (Yantai) station. Orlov was able to gather around the battalion. Therefore, his counterattack ended in failure. The battalion was scattered by the Japanese, and Orlov was wounded. Orlov's troops lost more than 1500 people killed and wounded.
Meanwhile, the Japanese, developing the offensive, occupied the Yantai mines. Attempts by the Shtakelberg corps to attack the enemy failed. Russian troops suffered heavy losses. As a result, the 1 Siberian Corps retreated to Liliengo. Detachment Mishchenko was not involved.
Thus, the offensive of the Russian army planned for 2 September failed due to the passivity and indecision of the Russian command. In addition, the command could not organize the interaction between the various units, infantry and artillery. Bilderling organized the offensive actions of their troops ineptly, they suffered unnecessarily high losses. The troops in the center (Shtakelberg and Mishchenko) remained in place for a long time, mostly inactive. And Orlova's division suffered a defeat and retreated towards Yantai station from a numerically weaker enemy. Russian command acted unsatisfactorily.
In fact, two Japanese brigades that were active on the flanks of the 70-thousand the Russian army, not only were not swept away, but did not even allow the Russian troops to gain a foothold at the turn, which Kuropatkin considered to be the starting point for an offensive against the 1 Army Kuroki. And the left flank of the Russian right-bank group (Orlov detachment) was defeated, and was dispersed. Kuropatkin still had no idea about the correlation of forces on his eastern front. So, he recommended Shtakelberg to exercise extreme caution in his actions.
The situation on the southern front
The battle at the front of Zarubaev began at noon with the onset of the 4 Siberian Corps units at the front of the forts No. VIII and V. Kuropatkin wanted to make a demonstrative attack in order to distract the enemy near Liaoyan until the right-bank group of the Russian army achieved success at the front of the Kurok army. Russian troops encountered parts of the 4 of the Japanese division, which was preparing for an offensive.
The active actions of the Russians on the flank of the 2 Army disturbed the Japanese commander in chief, and he reinforced the 4 division that had been hit by four battalions from the reserve. The Japanese attacked the Russian attack with a counterattack. At this demonstration ended, and the Russian troops retreated to their original positions. In this battle, the Russian troops lost 1274 people, and the Japanese - 469 people.
After that, the Japanese forces launched an offensive, firing more 200 guns. Artillery fire led all day. However, artillery fire could not cause serious damage to Liaoyang forts. Nozu's 4 Army Frontal Attack also failed.
As a result, despite the successes of the Kuroki army, the general situation was extremely unfavorable for the Japanese army. The loss of the Sykvantun and the Nezhinsky volcano on the Eastern Front in the operational-tactical sense absolutely did not affect anything. Kuroki, who by the evening of September 2 had gotten an idea of the Russian forces in front of him, feared for the outcome of the ensuing battle. His troops were much inferior to the enemy in number, suffered significant losses, broke away from the rear, experienced a shortage of ammunition and food. The crossing of the guard division collapsed.
The attacks of the Japanese 4 and 2 armies against the powerful fortifications of the Liaoyang position ended in failure and led to heavy losses. As a result, the Japanese commander Oyama considered that his troops were exhausted and the losses were too high. The Japanese command had matured the decision to stop senseless attacks and withdraw troops. The KNUK 1 Army was supposed to withdraw beyond the Tai Chi River. The Kurokie forces were to begin their retreat at 6 in the morning. Marshal Oyama no longer dreamed of any flank coverage of the Russian army.
However, the Russian command ahead of the Japanese! Kuropatkin sent out an order to 4 September retreat in the morning at 3. It must be said that the news of the retreat of the Russian troops stunned the Japanese. Oyama even initially ordered not to pursue the Russians, suggesting that this was some kind of adversary’s cunning plan to lure the Japanese army into a trap.
The British military adviser, General Hamilton, who was constantly in the presence of the Japanese army, noted: “while the fate of Japan was already on the scales stories, the Russians began their retreat to Mukden. ” And the Italian military representative at the headquarters of the Russian Manchurian army, Colonel Bardonno, wrote in his report to the General Staff: “Not once during the whole Liaoyang operation did the commander of the Russian army lead the events. Having lost all faith in himself and in his subordinates, he passively submitted to the will of the enemy and, not being forced to do so, left the battlefield, admitting himself to be defeated. ”
Fort on the main Liaoyang position
Retreat of the Russian army
Despite the failure of the Japanese 2 and 4 armies, and the local successes of the Japanese on the Eastern Front, Kuropatkin’s will by the evening of September 2 had finally faded. General Zarubayev complained about the lack of troops and ammunition, which allegedly prevented him from holding the front. Bilderling reported the failure of the offensive in the area of Nezhinskaya Sopka. A dispatch came about Orlov's injury. Shtakelberg reported that his corps had lost its ability to attack.
At the same time, a false report was received from the double agents of an attack on the direction of some large Japanese formations in the Mukden area. Although in the area of Bensihu only one brigade of Umesava acted. This made a strong impression on Kuropatkin. The Russian commander-in-chief decided to withdraw the troops to Mukden. The southern front of Zarubayev was to hold the Liaoyang positions until the end of the day on September 3. The retreat of the right bank group of the Manchurian Army was covered by the 1 Siberian Corps, which remained in the area of the village of Liliengo.
The withdrawal of the right-bank group of the Russian army was ensured by the general passivity of the Kuroki troops. The 1 Army was exhausted by previous battles. Japanese troops fired only weak, disturbing artillery fire on Russian positions. The 2-I and 4-I armies of the Oka and Nozu 3 of September again stormed the forts of the Liaoyang position, but only advanced trenches were able to capture. The strong fire of the Russian artillery was restrained by the Japanese forces until the 18 hours, when the Japanese launched a decisive assault. By this time most of the group Zarubaeva was already on the right bank of the river. Therefore, this time the Japanese offensive was a success. They began to occupy the positions left by the Russian troops.
During the night, the Russian rearguards crossed freely to the right bank of the Taijihe, destroying the bridges behind them. But the railway bridge was left intact, and they did not destroy the railway. The Japanese did not pursue Russian troops. 4-I and 2-I Japanese armies were preparing to cross the river and arrange the rear. At first, KNUK's 1 Army didn’t notice at all the retreat of the Russian troops, and there was no connection with the high command. Only by 14’s clock, Kuroki learned of the withdrawal of Russian troops and the occupation of the main forces of Liaoyang. He ordered the pursuit, but he was not executed that day. Therefore, the Russian troops retreated calmly. The rearguard of the retreating Russian army - the 1 of the Siberian Corps, only 6 of September was attacked by Japanese troops, but threw them back with several bayonet attacks.
The Russian army did not use the opportunity to seize the strategic initiative in the war and defeat the Japanese forces. Although for this there were all the prerequisites - superiority in numbers, artillery, the ability to rely on powerful defensive lines (three lines of defense), which allowed to bleed the Japanese armies, and then to defeat the enemy with a decisive counteroffensive. Several chances of powerful strikes against the opponent who was substituted during the offensive were not used. Belief in the superiority of the enemy and a bet on defensive tactics led to the retreat of the Russian army on Mukden.
The inability of the 72-thousandth Kuropatkin right-bank group to overthrow the enemy or even destroy it during the third stage of the Battle of Liaoyang showed complete failure of the Russian generals in this historical period. These were “generals of peacetime”, who are well able to present themselves in the “corridors of power”, but who do not have decisiveness, aggressiveness and will to win in a real battle. At the same time, the Russian soldier once again showed his high fighting qualities, resilience and courage inherent in all wars. It was not the fault of the Russian soldiers that the management team could not use the general superiority of the Russian army and the qualities of the Russian soldier to achieve victory.
As a result of the Liaoyang operation, the Japanese troops again pushed the Russian army back, winning space, taking the Liaoyan fortified area and the city of Liaoyang. The Japanese captured an important operating base in Manchuria with large stocks of military equipment and supplies. All this property was delivered with great effort from the European part of Russia and Siberia. The Russian army lost its base of support, from which the offensive was being prepared for the liberation of Port Arthur.
At the same time, Japanese troops lost about 24 thousand people killed, wounded and missing (about 20% of the composition of the Japanese armies). Russian losses left about 17 thousand people (about 9% of the composition of the Russian Manchurian army). In general, the Japanese command was not able to achieve decisive success, as planned. There was no decisive victory, the Russian army was not defeated, the war continued. The time factor still played in favor of Russia. The Russian army was getting stronger, and the Japanese were breaking away from the supply bases, replenishing people. Yes, and the human resources of Japan were much less than in Russia.
However, the political significance of the Liaoyang battle in Russia was great. In Russia, they have been waiting for a decisive victory, and here such a failure. The retreat of the Russian army increased the political ferment in the empire. The morale of the army was undermined. The soldiers walked sullenly to the north, cursing their fate and worthless generals.
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O. Doinikov. The Return of Varyag // http://www.e-reading.me/book.php?book=137258.
Kuropatkin A.N. The Russian-Japanese War, 1904-1905: Results of the War. SPb., 2002.
Levitsky N. А. The Russian-Japanese War 1904-1905 M., 2003.
Utkin A. Russian-Japanese War. At the beginning of all troubles. M., 2005.
Shirokorad A. Japan. Unfinished rivalry. M., 2008.