314. The war is going on
“Не спрашивай: какой там редут,
А иди куда ведут.”
“Что все твои одеколоны,
Когда идешь позади колонны.” 
Prutkov, ‘Military aphorisms’
“Believe me, with good troops and experienced generals and officers there are no impregnable fortresses...”
“[in diplomacy] You can always move from affection to threats - you can't always do it other way around.”
“From the point of the view of the nation's power, it was obvious that while we were fighting the Sino-Japanese war, every effort was to be made to avoid adding to our enemies and opening additional fronts.”
Hideki Tojo 
In mid-November situation on the fronts looked as following:
- The 1st Japanese Army split in two parts:
- One part kept advancing westward chasing the retreating Chinese units and isolating Liaoning peninsula.
- Another part advanced northward toward Mukden (Shenyang).
- The 2nd Japanese Army was advancing toward Lushun.
- The Russian Manchurian Army reached the Liao River but had no intention to advance to the South not to interfere with the Japanese operations. Instead it was concentrating forces on its right flank with a declared intention to advance into the Inner Mongolia.
- The Mongolian Army, strengthened by the Dzungarian Cossack host and rifle brigade from Irkutsk Military district, finished cleaning Outer Mongolia of the Qing loyalists and already reaching the Inner Mongolia (on the map below the road is solid line and caravan routes - dashed lines):
- The main force (Mongolian troops and Russian units), led by Khatanbaatar Magsarjav, had been moving Southward by the only good road going from Urga through Inner Mongolia and all the way to Hebei province of China.
- The army of Manlaibaatar Damdinsüren, had been riding to the east of it, using the caravan routes. Its task was to make contact with the Russian Manchurian Army in the eastern part of the Inner Mongolia.
The 1st Japanese Army was advancing westward, to secure operations of the 2nd Army, and to the north toward Mukden. Strictly speaking, the Chinese on that front were, for all practical purposes, in a desperate situation, having over 60,000 Russian troops in their rear but the Japanese pride was their savior: Japanese Imperial Headquarters insisted
that the Russians should not advance to the South of the Liao River. The glory must be all their and they did not need anybody help. Which was quite fine with their Russian “partners” (there was no formal alliance and nothing beyond a general agreement regarding not interfering with each other’s operations): their task was to provide independence of Mongolia, preferably in its largest legitimate
extent, and Japanese goals were pretty much irrelevant within that framework. The whole point of the cooperation was that Japan, to reach its goals
, took upon itself a burden of most of the fighting, which was very nice of its government and deserved some gratitude which will be expressed in a proper manner later. But, and Alexander III, was quite explicit about this in his conversation with Skobelev, the Russian soldiers should not be dying for the Japanese interests.
Battle for Lushun.
Decision of Li Hongzhang to remove fleet from Lushun had been quite controversial. He was considering Beiyang fleet a higher priority than the port, which probably was a correct logic in theory. However, due to the fact that Lushun was the only place with the adequate facilities for the major repairs, practical usefulness of the fleet without this specific port was questionable. As a psychological factor, this act definitely made already low morale of the local leadership even lower but, objectively, usefulness of the fleet’s presence in the harbor would not make a principal difference because the main attack was going to happen from the land side and the coastal artillery and fortifications were quite adequate for destroying Ito’s cruisers if they risk to come close. The entry could be mined by few boats to a degree making breaking into the inner harbor pretty much impossible and battle at the Yalu made it clear that in the open sea Beiyang fleet was going to be easily destroyed with a possible exception of its two battleships and even they could be damaged beyond ability to repair them in Weihaiwei.
Anyway, the fleet left Lushun, thus killing Ito’s hope to destroy it in Lushun but this disappointment probably was more than compensated by a panic caused by its departure. The Chinese commandant of the fortress of Lushun, Jiang Guichi, as well as many officers and officials, having taken everything valuable, fled the fortress in advance. Of course, it could be argued that the net result was positive: most of the incompetent cowards left and most of those remaining had intention to put at least some fight.
2nd Japanese Army was marching toward Lushun. The march was very difficult for both columns: the road was passing through a mountains and the coastal path was going through the soft sands of the beaches covered by water during high tide. The huge masses of the people were tightly compressed. It took the whole three days to get to Lushun.
On November 20 Japanese vanguard was within 4 km from the outer line of the land fortifications. The general assault had been scheduled for November 21. The attackers’ front was 9 km long and was within 2 - 2.5 km from the Chinese fortifications. In a process of getting into the position during the night some of the columns got into the wrong places but these trifles were disregarded.
At 6:30am all Japanese artillery concentrated its fire on fort Isuzan causing serious damages. However, Japanese regiment sent to take it had been met with a strong Chinese fire and attack stalled. Similar thing happened with attacks on other forts. An attempt to take fortress from the march failed and Oyama had to start a methodical siege.
Fleet did some pointless shooting but the next day weather changed to the worse and it left for Dailan.
But the general situation in Lushun was pretty much desperate because there was no single command and very little courage among the remaining generals. General Xu Bandao made a successful sortie from Lushun, defeating one of the Japanese columns conducting reconnaissance of the area, but was not supported by other troops and was forced to return to the fortress with trophies and prisoners. The next day, seeing that the combat impulse of his units was in vain, he left the fortress with his troops and broke north along the eastern shore of the Liaodong Peninsula. The Japanese didn't try to stop his units.
Discipline within the fortress was steadily deteriorating and in two weeks the defenses were broken and Japanese troops entered the town. In Lüshun, the Japanese seized huge stocks of military equipment and ammunition, a ship repair dock and an arsenal; the total volume of captured goods was estimated at 60 million yen. Chinese troops fleeing Luishun moved north, and after a retreat merged with units of the Huai Army. In the city, Japanese, presumably enraged by the execution of the Japanese prisoners, conducted a mass execution of the POWs and the local civilians.
After short rest part of the 2nd Army under command of general Nogi was sent to strengthen troops operating in Manchuria.
Li Hongzhang was deprived of all ranks, but he was allowed to remain in his position - a dignitary for North affairs. China decided to take advantage of the offer from the English Rothschilds to implement a 4% loan of £1,200,000 in gold.
Constantin von Hanneken, a German officer in China service, was appointed commander in chief with a task to form a new army of 100,000 under command of the European officers.
Born in Trier on the Rhine, Constantin von Hanneken served as a Captain in the Prussian Field Artillery before being hired as one of Detring’s military advisors. He moved to China in 1879 and quickly established himself as a close friend and advisor to Li Hongzhang, for whom he worked until 1887. Li put von Hanneken in charge of reorganizing and modernizing the Chinese army and in designing and building several naval forts including, most significantly, Port Arthur. Von Hanneken was highly decorated for having established Port Arthur in 1881, eventually rising to the rank of Chinese general, and later tasked with the fortification of Talienwan and Weihaiwei.
After receiving news of the fall of Lushun the British government ordered to strengthen its naval force on the Far East by adding to it 1st class cruiser Gibraltar
. The war was clearly being lost by China and the question was only in the conditions to which Japan will agree (the Russian operations inland were too far from anybody’s sphere of interest and more or less overlooked by other powers). The European states and the US started looking for a way to protect their own interests in a changed situation. Few offers regarding the armistice had been presented and promptly rejected by Japan: now it could dictate China the peace conditions and the main will be Liaodong peninsula. Well, perhaps Taiwan as well but it has to be captured. So, no peace for a while.
This position had been suiting the Russian government just fine (and deserved encouragement): Skobelev’s troops and Mongolian army had been in a process of getting control over Inner Mongolia so an extra couple months of a war between China and Japan would be a perfect distraction. If by the time their task is completed the war is still going on, the Russian troops are going to be in a position which, geographically, would force China to recognize Mongolian independence and accept other Russian demands. So, Japanese government was assured in Russian diplomatic support and, if need arises, other forms of support as well. The war must go on and as a stimulus Witte arranged for Japan through the Russian Rothschilds a loan of 2,000,000 gold rubles at 4.5%.
Japan was preparing to a winter campaign quite well. The troops got warm clothes, the horses had been getting the winter horseshoes and there were even easy to assemble heated barracks. As a side note, due to the absence of a relevant experience, Japanese notion of the warm clothes was slightly on the optimistic side and probably the same can be said about the diet.
However, winter weather in Manchuria proved to be colder than expected, terrain was quite difficult and Chinese began learning something. One of the 1st victims of a cold weather was commander of the 1st Army general Yamagata: he got a severe case of rheumatism and was replaced by general Nodzu. The 1st Army started facing serious resistance on both directions of its advance and the Chinese even managed to conduct a not only artillery duels on equal terms but also a number of successful local counter-offensives. As a result, by January 1895 advance on Mukden had been stopped and on the west front stabilized on Hunhe River.
Japanese troops advanced more than 600 km from the Yalu River marching through the mountains and were exhausted. Supplies, especially food supplies, started to be a problem again and, due to the cold weather there were thousands of the sick. By January 1, 1895, according to the report of army commanders, the total number of cases had reached 18,000. Hospitals were overflown and the army was losing its fighting capacity. However, the Chinese were beaten to such a degree and hardly capable of doing something until the spring when the Japanese could expect reinforcements.
Formally, the Chinese raised 200,000 new troops to cover Pekin direction but in a reality these troops were not battle ready. It was obvious that Li Hongzhang can’t be in charge of all military operations and Prince Gong had been made a supreme commander of all Chinese military forces. Absolutely all the troops in the country were subordinated to him, provincial governors lost the right to manage troops on their territory. The imperial decree ordered execution on a spot of all soldiers and even high ranking officials who refuse to obey. On the same day, the emperor announced the creation of a defense committee, of which appointed Prince Gong, Prince Qing and other persons, a total of six people. The main task of this body was to exercise the supreme command of the Chinese Armed Forces, as it was done by the Main Headquarters of the Japanese Army. But in a reality this was one more meaningless action of a foolish emperor: the committee members were not strategists, neither military nor political. The main occupation of his members was to reread the reports of Li Hongzhang and generals and try to give some speculative recommendations based on their position. Its creation did not improve the real situation at the fronts, but the opportunities to look for the scapegoats remarkable and this was what the committee members had been concentrating upon. Of course, candidate #1 was …. Li Hongzhang, who else?
It became obvious that the Northern Army alone can’t stand up to the Japanese and decree had been issued about moving to the theater armies of the Southern provinces. Which was another “brilliant” idea. All these armies consisted of the Southerners most of whom never saw snow. Their weapons were obsolete and their commanders worthless. Experience of fighting a well-armed modern army was absent and the obvious fate of these armies was death from cold and enemy’s fire. And, of course, these armies had been sent to the North to prevent capture of Mukden . Their first offensive failed and fighting on that theater temporarily dwindled to the local skirmishes.
At the court “party of war”, Li Hongzhang's opponents, led by the Minister of the Ceremonies, were joined by the main intellectuals of the country - professors of the Hanlin Academy, the first among them was lecturer Wen Tingshi (emperor’s tutor), and had a field day. Most of the generals and officers from the fighting army had been put on trial and demoted or executed to be replaced by the “true patriots”. Li Hongzhang was demoted, removed from a military command but was left responsible for the coastal defenses. War all the way to the victorious end was the slogan.
To avoid misunderstanding, the “peace party” of Li Hongzhang was not for immediate capitulation. Its members was for continuing a war until it was practically possible with a purpose to sign a peace on the acceptable conditions and use the breathing time for strengthening China by further development. Obviously “development” meant that the traditionalists will lose their influence and perhaps wealth as well so they were for the victorious war no matter the cost.
In a meantime in Hiroshima the Main Headquarters was trying to figure out a way out of the situation in which the 1st Army found itself. It task was to take Mukden and march on Pekin (aka advance in two seriously different directions) to dictate the peace conditions. But winter in Manchuria created absolutely unexpected situation: the army was sniffing, sneezing and complained about the aching joints. After a thorough discussion it was decided not to take Pekin, at least for a while, and instead attack Shandong Peninsula, Weihaiwei Naval Base and the Main Canal, through which rice was delivered from the south to Beijing. Now the main trophy of a war is going to be Taiwan. A new plan required creation of a new, 3rd Army, which would have to take Weihaiwei by end of the winter, before the Chinese raised strong reserves and before domestic opposition in Japan started asking questions about the military expenses.
While all excitement in Manchuria was going on, 50,000 Russian troops of the “Manchurian Army” had been concentrated in Horqin region just to the east of the Yan Mountains with the advance detachments already controlling the Gubei Pass
, the Xifeng Pass
, and the Leng Pass
and the Shanhai Pass
on the coast being within easy reach. The “Mongolian” army of 20,000, most of which being the Russian troops, stopped for the winter in a rich Hetao region of Inner Mongolia with a detachment in Jining on China border protecting communication with the “Manchuriam Army” and Outer Mongolia. Supply lines had been stretched but they were secured and supplies had been steadily coming and, not too surprisingly, the locals were ready to sell
food for silver . The soldiers, most of them from Siberia, had been much better used to the cold than Japanese and so far there were no health issues.
An ordinary soldier of the Russian army was prescribed such a daily diet: 1,539 grams of rye bisquit or 2.2 kilograms of rye bread, 238 grams of cereals, 716 grams of fresh meat (or canned food instead of this norm), 20 grams of butter or lard, 17 grams of flour (for the soup), 6.4 grams of tea, 20 grams of sugar, 0.7 grams of pepper. The soldier also relied on vegetables. Per day - about 250 grams of fresh or about 20 grams of dried vegetables (a mixture of dried cabbage, carrots, beets, turnips, onions, celery and parsley), which went mainly to soup. Food was given twice a day - in the morning and in the evening. Usually it was porridge, that is, a thick rich dish made of cereals, with meat, vegetables and spices crushed in it. And the second time they gave soup - a dish about the same in composition, only a little more liquid. Three times per week soldier was receiving 150 grams of vodka.
 “Don't ask: what kind of redoubt is there/Just go where you are being lead.”
 “What are all perfumes when you are marching at the end of a column.”
 Of course, this was about the second war but still applicable
 Mukden was a traditional burial place of the Qing emperors. Not being a strategic genius, can’t comment on its military value.