Ars Bellica

Battles In Brief

Battle of Yingkou

March 4, 1895

The opponents

Yamagata, Aritomo (Hagi, Chugokuchi, od. Yamaguchi prefecture , 1838 - Tokyo 1922)

Born into a samurai family, participated in the revolution of 1868 against the shogunate and in favor of the imperial restoration and also took part in the Boshin War (1868-69). Consisting of the Meiji government (1868), he was appointed Minister of War in 1873, modernized the newborn imperial army and instituted conscription. In 1877 he led the suppression of the revolt of Satsuma. He was one of Genro and prime minister (1889-91 and 1898-1900). In the first two decades of the twentieth century had a considerable influence as imperial counselor, as well as leader of the conservative ruling elite, in matters related to foreign policy.

Li Hongzhang ( Hefei 1823 - Beijing 1901 )

Chinese general and politician of the late Empire of the Qing Dynasty, he organized (1853) the resistance against the Taiping rebellion that could stifle (1864) with the help of English Ch G. Gordon. Governor of Chihli (1870), later (1875), grand secretary of the Empire, as such he negotiated several treaties, especially with Peru and Korea. So, considering its ties with South Korea, Li was placed at the head of the Chinese forces during the disastrous First Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895 - even though he had tried to avoid it by all means. The defeat, non-assignable entirely to his person but more to the poor quality of his armies, relatively modernized, caused a drastic drop in popularity for him, but also the support of the imperial court. However, it was Li himself to negotiate a peace treaty with Japan (1895) and, as a result, he concluded a peace with the Allies after the suppression of the Boxer Rebellion (1900).

The Sino-Japanese War

The defeat of China in the Sino-Japanese War can be considered as the final blow to the traditional Chinese Tax System, which basically cease to exist after the loss of the last and most historically faithful vassal state, Korea. The latter was in fact became part of the territorial ambitions of Meiji Japan already in the 70s of the nineteenth century, but not only. Korea was under pressure even by Western powers demanded that the trade opening since the fifties, the pressures that gave rise to a series of accidents. In 1866, an anti-Christian persecution led to the killing of many French missionaries, in response to which France sent a fleet that took the island of Kanghwa and threatened Seoul. Still in 1866, the American merchant ship "General Sherman", was set on fire and his crew killed in Pyongyang, in response to this incident , the U.S. launched the Korean campaign of 1871, which however did not lead to trade immediate openings.

In 1876, however, Korea was forced from Meiji Japan to sign the unequal Treaty of Kanghwa, which provided for the opening of three Korean ports to trade and called Korea as "independent state". This definition was inconsistent with his status as a tributary of China. The reaction Qing was initially far from the front, the court instructed Li Hongzhang to take care of relations with the Choson Korea. Li Hongzhang tried to resist the pressures of Japan, making Choson to sign agreements with the Western Powers, with the intention of depriving Japan's exclusive control over Korea. Korea also signed further agreements with China, which sent a young Yuan Shikai to prepare troops for the Choson.

For all the 80s of the nineteenth century, the Japanese Army, and Navy, were greatly reinforced and their efficiency was definitely higher than what they thought the Chinese and Western observers. Yamagata Aritomo, introducer of military conscription in Meiji Japan and founder of the modern Japanese army, described Korea as belonging to the "line of interest" Japanese. On the political theory of the time, check the "line of interest" was crucial to the defense of the rearmost " Line of sovereignty" of Japan, made by the same Japanese Archipelago. These were the conditions that were the backdrop to two other events that precipitated the situation.

The first of these events was the killing in 1884 of Kim Ok-kyun by a fellow countryman in Shanghai. Mutilated, was brought to Japan on a Chinese ship, which broke out in Japan negative feelings. In the same year, the revolt broke out in Korea Hak Tong, inspired to Tong Hak religion, which forced the Choson Dynasty to ask the Qing for help, who sent their armies. The sending of troops from China, according to Japanese sources, would not have been notified to Japan, violating the terms of the Convention of Tianjin in 1885. Japan took the opportunity to send its troops.

Two days after the overthrow of the Government of Korea by Japan, June 25, hostilities opened with the Battle of Pungdo, in which the Japanese Navy won easily. With this first victory, Japan had cut off the supply line of the Chinese troops, who were quartered in Seonghwan, south of Seoul, in number of 3,500 units. On June 28, followed by the terrestrial clash of Seonghwan, and in this the Japanese won again, counting on higher number of troops deployed. Only after these two fights the war officially began with the declaration of war of the Japanese August 1.

Chinese troops en route, joined to the reinforcements sent by the Qing in Pyongyang, fortifying themselves and waiting for the Japanese. This latters arrived September 15, 1894, and launched simultaneous offensives from several directions beating, the remaining defenders that, taking advantage of the darkness, evacuated Pyongyang and retreated to Uiju on the coast. This defeat was followed by an even more disastrous defeat by sea near the mouth of the Yalu Jiang (Yalu River), in the battle, the Japanese Navy destroyed eight of the ten vessels employed by the Beiyang Fleet, fleet that proved highly inefficient, despite first impressions Western observers.

The Japanese victory on the sea sanctioned the definitive abandonment of Korea by Chinese troops and the beginning of the offensive the Japanese in Manchuria. Chinese troops retreated initially Jiuliancheng, on the Chinese side of the Yalu, but were overwhelmed by the Japanese Army advanced. The same japanese army was then divided into two columns, one headed north to the city of Shenyang, the other towards the south and the Liaodong Peninsula in pursuit of the Chinese routed forces. On October 24, 1894, more Japanese reinforcements were landed on the southern coast of Liaodong, occupying various cities, including the important city of Dalian, this acquisition opened the way to the outlet of the strategic port of Lushunkou. What remained of the Beiyang Fleet had barricaded himself in the fortified port of Weihaiwei, in Shandong, which was considered an imponent stronghold. The Chinese were not able to manage the lead given by their fortified position and fell after a siege that lasted 23 days. While Weihaiwei was captured , the Japanese columns were advancing deeper and deeper on the mainland, going to put pressure on the northern borders of China, especially in Manchuria.

The battle

After the last attempt to resume Haicheng, Qing forces have reinforced the contingent present in the port city of Niuzhuang with about 20,000 men, including a large department of cavalry. Another force of about 20,000 men Qing strengthened Liaoyang to the north, and on 1 February, the viceroy Liu Kunyi arrived to take general command of military Qing operations.

Liu launched an attack with 16,000 men against the Japanese forces in Haicheng on February 16. The attack, however, was immediately rejected, with a loss of 150 men in killed and wounded. However, when arrived the news of the Japanese conquest of Weihaiwei, February 12, the Qing army broke off the attack. Demoralized, many fighters of Qing forces began to desert.

On 28 February, the Japanese forces of General Nozu Michitsura began a counterattack against Liaoyang and Niuzhuang, who began with an artillery barrage followed by infantry offensive on a large front. The Qing forces did not have the ability to withstand the impact of a coordinated Japanese attack and began a disorderly retreat to the north-west to Jinzhou, offering a rare and sporadic resistance. A part of the Japanese Army under Lieutenant General Katsura Taro pursued the retreating enemy until you reach outside the walls of Liaoyang, March 3, while the main force to the orders of General Nozu, reached Niuzhuang March 4.

After a long artillery fire, which lasted more than two hours, the Qing forces abandoned the walls of Niuzhuang almost without resistance, fleeing out the city. However, with this further retreat, the Qing forces were able groped paper of urban guerrilla warfare, fighting street by street in the city that often turned into a conflict with bayonets. However, by nightfall the fighting ended with a large number of Qing soldiers who passed Japanese lines groped for the escape to the countryside, while the rest of the Chinese army (about 600 men) surrendered. As in previous campaigns, a large amount of military supplies and weapons were captured by the Japanese.

After the capture of the city, the Japanese forces of General Nogi Maresuke and Lieutenant General Yamaji Motoharu attacked and captured the coastal forts that controlled the entrance to the port of Niuzhuang, where the Qing forces were trying to regroup. Subsequently, on 6 March 1895, Japanese forces also bombed the city of Tianzhuangtai on the opposite side of the river Liao, and at last destroyed it.

The aftermath

The capture of Yingkou marked the final Japanese supremacy in the conflict and signed the end of the fighting on the continent. At the end of March, the Japanese also launch an offensive on the Pescadores Islands, near Taiwan. Following the Japanese victories of Yingkou and the Pescadores will come to peace with the Treaty of Shimonoseki. Japan looked so on the Asian scene as a leading power, the results of Japan's military growth will become even more apparent at the global level with the success of the country of the rising sun in the conflict with Russia that took place 10 years after the Sino-Japanese War.