China’s Declaration names the Japanese people “dwarves”, inflaming public determination there.
Continuing The Sino-Japanese War,
with a selection from The Japan-China War (1894–95); compiled from official and other Sources by J. MacGowan published in 1895-96. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages. This selection is presented in 2.5 installments, each one 5 minutes long.
Previously in The Sino-Japanese War.
Time: August 1, 1894
The result of this action of Japan was to precipitate hostilities. Troops from both countries were hurried into Korea, and though war was not formally declared, it was manifest that in the minds of the Japanese, at least, a state of war existed. Their conduct in the case of the English steamer Kow-shing showed this plainly. This vessel had been chartered by Li Hung Chang to convey eleven hundred troops to Korea. On July 25th, as she was nearing her destination, she was met by the Japanese man-of-war Naniwa and ordered to stop. A Japanese officer went on board and told the captain that he must consider himself and all on board as prisoners of war. The Chinese general and soldiers threatened the captain and officers with instant death if they at tempted to obey the Japanese, and their loaded guns and menacing words showed their determination to carry out their murderous threat. After a time, the Naniwa signaled the English to leave the ship, an order that could not be obeyed, and after a short delay a torpedo was fired at her and a broadside of five guns, which sent her to the bottom, only two hundred of the soldiers being saved and two or three of the English crew. Four days after this the Chinese and Japanese troops met in hostile array near Yashan, and after three days of severe skirmishing the Chinese were compelled to retreat.
The aspect of affairs now became still more serious, for, both sides being confident of success, anything like an accommodation of their differences by consultation was entirely out of the question. Accordingly, on August 1st war was formally declared between China and Japan, the former Power exasperating the latter by calling its people “the dwarfs” in the royal proclamation, a term that more than anything else aroused the determination of the Japanese not to stop the war until they had avenged themselves on their haughty and contemptuous enemy.
The first great battle of the war was fought at Ping-yang on September 15th, when the Chinese were defeated with the loss of more than six thousand men, large quantities of arms, and a great supply of provisions. The remnant of the Chinese army was so demoralized that it fled in isolated bands to the north, spreading terror and desolation wherever they went. The Chinese soldiers, when on the march and under the control of their officers, are usually a curse to the region through which they pass, but much more so when disorganized and without any commissariat and under no military discipline.
Two days after this decisive victory a naval battle was fought off the mouth of the Yalu River. The Chinese fleet consisted of eleven men-of-war and six torpedo-boats, while the Japanese had the same number of ships, but no torpedoes. The battle began about ten o’clock in the morning and lasted six hours. The Japanese, who had the faster ships and better guns, displayed more science and good seamanship than the Chinese, though the latter showed considerable pluck in allowing themselves to be knocked about for so long a time. Four of the Chinese vessels were sunk, while another was destroyed by fire. The Japanese ships suffered severely from the fire of their enemy, but subsequently they were all repaired and found capable of joining their squadrons. The victory on this occasion was with the Japanese, and it would have been still more decisive had they had as many torpedoes as the Chinese.
The result of these two engagements was to give the Japanese a decided advantage in their plans for the invasion of China; and the arrival of a second army corps of thirty thousand men, under the command of Count Oyama at Kinchow (October 24th), thirty-five miles to the north of Port Arthur, gave them so strong a force that they were enabled to advance confidently against the Chinese. Aware of the value of time, the victorious troops hastened from Ping-yang to the Yalu, the boundary line between Korea and Manchuria, and, crossing that without any serious opposition, they took possession (October 25th) of Chin-lien-cheng.
A dread of the Japanese arms seemed from this time to have seized upon the hearts of the Chinese troops, and although armies were brought up again and again to fight them, they never were able to stand their ground in any general engagement, but fled before there was any real necessity for their doing so. One can give no other valid excuse, excepting this, for the cowardly way in which they allowed the Japanese to enter Manchuria, the ancestral home of the reigning dynasty, almost without resistance. No sooner did the Japanese make preparations for the passage of the river than a panic seized upon the Chinese on the other side, and they fled in the wildest dismay, thus leaving the roads to Mukden and Peking absolutely open, and if the Japanese had advanced at once on either place they would have captured it without difficulty.
In all their movements, the Japanese showed not only military skill, but also profound common- sense. Wherever they advanced they gained the good-will of the common people, who brought a plentiful supply of fresh provisions into their camp. Everything was paid for with the utmost punctiliousness, and the provost-marshals took care that no violence or injustice was exercised while the troops were on the march or in the camp. How different was the conduct of the Chinese soldiers! Murder, rapine, theft, and cruel treatment were the order of the day wherever they went, till at last the people longed for the appearance of the invaders to save them from the barbarity of their own defenders.
here. Jurichi Inouye begins here.
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