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yoshi Sakurai's13 narrative of his short spell of severe fighting before Port Arthur, entitled Human Bullets. Every army has its proportion of brave men, whose number and determination vary with national characteristics and with the discipline and moral of the force. But the campaign in the Far East developed a bravery of a type, which, whether we do or do not apply to it the epithets of Oriental and fanatical, wins whole-hearted admiration. The brave Anglo-Saxon faces battle with a determination to do his duty, if need be at the loss of his life; yet he seldom has any personal wish to die, and as a rule cherishes at the back of his mind the belief that it will be his individual fortune to be exempt from that supreme sacrifice. The brave Japanese soldier looks at things differently. The call to arms he regards as a summons not merely to risk his life, but to lay it down for his emperor and his country. Sakurai tells us how, before his setting out for the war, his mother filled for him the farewell cup of water, the Shinto viaticum, administered to dying persons by their nearest relative, and how when fight after fight left him and some of his comrades still unscathed it seemed that “the opportunity was slow in coming." He asks:
How was it that we were still alive after fighting one, two, three, already four battles, without having fallen like beautiful cherry petals of the battle-field ? I had been fully resolved to die on Taku-shan, but still I was left behind by a great many of my friends. Surely this time, in this general assault, I must have the honor and distinction of offering my little self to our beloved country. With this idea, this desire, this: determination, I started for the battle. And so, after preparing with his own hands from empty cigar boxes a little coffin to carry his ashes back to Japan, he went forward with his company into that amazingly fierce attack delivered on East Kikuan Fort on August 19. Yet Heaven accepted not his offered self-sacrifice; the attack failed, and the gallant little officer, though desperately wounded, was brought out alive by his brave men, and ultimately returned to Japan a cripple for life. When, a hundred and forty days afterwards, while still in bed, unable to move his hands or stand on his feet, he heard of the capitulation of Port Arthur, he tells us :
At the same time there came to me the thought of the great number of my dead comrades. I who had had the misfortune of sacrificing the lives of so many of my men on the battle-field, how could I apologize to their loyal spirits? I who left many brethren on the field and came back alone to save my life, how could I see without shame the faces of their surviving relatives?
13 Tadayoshi Sakurai, Human Bullets: a Soldier's Story of Port Arthur (Boston and New York, 1908); translated by Honda.
We may smile at the cigar-box coffin, we may pride ourselves on our high civilization, and our Aryan origin, but the whole-hearted devotion of this simple subaltern remains a noble example and a warning. A warning because a race which can assimilate to itself the best of modern civilization and yet remain not afraid to die will make much history.
To turn to a very different class of book, Captain Soloviev's Actual Experiences in War,14 is of great practical use to the professional soldier, and may be compared with the similar valuable reports of battle experiences by company officers which so stirred • military students immediately after the 1870-1871 campaign. It deals, however, entirely with tactical matters, and however grateful soldiers may feel to the American General Staff for its reproduction cannot be commended as likely to be of much interest to the historian.
Mr. McCormick, whose book has been already noticed, rightly entitles this campaign The Tragedy of Russia. In this Tragedy two figures stand out as the most unhappy, Rojestvensky, the commander of the fleet assigned to a hopeless forlorn hope, and Kuropatkin, the commander of an army doomed to unvarying defeat. Captain Semenoff in Rasplata has told the story of the former simply and truthfully, although the theme is one from which an Aeschylus might have woven a drama of remorseless destiny. Kuropatkin is his own historian. Two out of a series of volumes, issued by him in Russia but to be suppressed, have now been made accessible to the English reader.15 These volumes are the apologia of a man who failed, but they are, as the translator and editor point out in a joint preface, also something more. They present a strong and not unreasonable protest, that the war was not fought to a finish, that peace was concluded prematurely, at the moment when Russia's strength was at its greatest and that of Japan had begun to ebb. Nor are the great political issues of the period before the war ignored. Kuropatkin after serving as chief of the staff in the Turkish War of 1877–1878 and commanding a brigade with much distinction in the Aklad Tekke expedition of 1880-1881, was for seven years (1883–1890) in charge of the strategical branch of the Great General Staff at St. Petersburg and from 1898 until the outbreak of the Manchurian War held the portfolio of Minister of War.
In the light of after events it is therefore of great interest to find that in a memorandum addressed to the Czar in October, 1903, o
14 L. 2. Soloviev, Actual Experiences in War: Battle Action of the Infantry; Impressions of a Company Commander (Washington, 1906).
16 General Kuropatkin, The Russian Army and the Japanese War (New York, 1909); translated by Captain A. B. Lindsay and edited by Major E. D. Swinton.
and quoted verbatim in these volumes the future commander-inchief advised conciliation of Japan by the avoidance of contact with the Korean frontier and the military evacuation of the area between that frontier and the railway. The annexation of southern Manchuria would on the other hand, he pointed out, render critical all the questions outstanding between the two nations, and would confirm the Japanese in their suspicion that Russia intended to seize the Korean peninsula. He deprecated strongly the period of armed neutrality, which he thought would ensue, as injurious to "the vital interests of the people at large". Still more was he opposed to war itself, the final issue of which he regarded as by no means assured. Two months later a second memorandum, written for the emperor's eye by Kuropatkin as Minister of War, definitely proposed that to ensure a peaceful issue of the diplomatic struggle Port Arthur and the province of Kuan-tung should be evacuated and the southern branch of the Eastern Chinese Railway sold. In support of this proposal he urged that the national interests of Russia were not sufficiently involved to warrant war, and that war for an object which would not be understood by the nation should be avoided at a time of national crisis.
These two documents are of great importance. They establish that sound counsel, at any rate on the main political issues, was tendered to the Czar by his responsible military adviser. Unfortunately His Majesty, though personally anxious for peace, appears to have placed absolute confidence in his viceroy in the Far East, Admiral Alexeiev, and Alexeiev's folly and ignorance made peace impossible. That the man who by his incompetency had thus involved his sovereign unwillingly in war should have been left in supreme command of the naval and military forces in the Far East was a blunder for which Russia paid dearly. Until the viceroy's recall Kuropatkin was commander-in-chief only in name. The latter's plan of compaign is set forth in the second volume of the two Captain Lindsay has translated for us. Its essence was “ that during the first period of the struggle we shall have to assume a generally defensive rôle. Any troops we may have within the theatre of operations should so far as possible keep clear of decisive actions, in order to avoid being defeated in detail before we can concentrate in force." The area Mukden-Liaoyang-Hsuiyen was named for the primary concentration of the Russian forces, but it was contemplated at the outset by the commander-in-chief that a retirement in the direction of Harbin would be necessary. Alexeiev's interference with this plan caused the primary disaster on the Yalu and forced Kuropatkin to order Stackelberg's attempt to relieve Port Arthur. Alexeiev figures, therefore, not unjustly in a prominent position in Kuropatkin's apologia. His other pleas are in the main the imperfection of the army under his command and the premature declaration of peace. As to the latter it is clear that the internal condition of Russia would have made the further continuance of the contest with Japan a very dangerous course for the Czar's government.
The defects in the Russian army itself seem hardly points to be pleaded by Kuropatkin in his personal justification, seeing that he had held in his hands the portfolio of Minister of War for the seven years before the war.
Kuropatkin's defense can therefore be only partially accepted. He undoubtedly took over the command in the Far East under difficult circumstances and cannot be held wholly responsible for the initial moves of the campaign. But at Liaoyang and Mukden he was unfettered by higher authority and had then under his orders a brave and well-disciplined force, superior numerically to that facing him. The loss of the first of those battles must be attributed to Kuropatkin's mind being obsessed with defensive tactical ideas, and with that cult of positions which, though favored by a certain school of military thought, is incompatible with decisive victory. The Mukden defeat was also due to lack of military judgment and false tactical moves. History's verdict must thus needs pronounce Kuropatkin to have lacked those rare qualities which make a great commander. If a Napoleon, a Voltke, or a Lee had been in his position, the issue might have been very different. Yet General Kuropatkin remains an example of a gallant true-hearted soldier, who under less difficult circumstances might perhaps have achieved a high reputation. In any case the devotion to duty which inspired him after Mukden to serve loyally and cheerfully under his former subordinate, will ever merit the respectful admiration of all who have the honor to belong to the profession of arms.
A BRITISH OFFICER.
PRIVATEERS AND PIRATES OF THE WEST INDIES
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the work of policing the seas was given over to the casual attention of the royal navies of Europe. When piracy became so flagrant that it dared enter the very ports, a few men-of-war, generally the older, battered, less seaworthy vessels, would be detailed to suppress the pirates. These, after a sedate patrol of the coasts and the capture of a chance-met offender or so, would report the seas clear and lie up for repairs. Yet no sooner were they out of commission than the pests were back from the Scilly Isles, or the Orkneys, or the Canaries, or the desolate creeks and coves of Ireland, from any hiding-place or from the open sea, and the merchantmen must protect themselves again as best they could.
Under such trifling restraint, piracy continued undiscouraged in European waters. In the West Indies it flourished openly, almost respectably. There the sea was broken by a multitude of islands affording safe anchorage and refuge, with wood, water, even provisions for the taking. There the colonies of the great European powers, grouped within a few days' sail of one another, were forever embroiled in current European wars which gave the stronger of them excuse for preying on the weaker and seemed to make legitimate the constant disorder of those seas. There trade was rich but settlement thin and defense difficult. There the idle, the criminal, and the poverty-stricken were sent to ease society in the Old World. By all these conditions piracy was fostered, and for two centuries throve ruinously, partly as an easy method of individual enrichment, partly as an instrument of practical politics.
Piracy in the Indies began with the beginnings of Spanish colonization, in the high-handed actions of traders from all the European states, who ventured into the Caribbean in defiance of Spanish prohibitions. By the middle of the sixteenth century religious and patriotic zeal had become the justification of deliberate robbery of Spanish subjects by the Protestants of other nations. No catchword was ever truer than “No peace beyond the Line" during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; in 1684 one finds the translator of Bucaniers of America still declaiming it with conviction: "We know that no Peace could ever be established beyond the Line, since