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  • Writer's pictureGeorge Castrioti

February 9th, 1904 - The Battles of Port Arthur and Chemulpo

Conflict: Russo-Japanese War

Combatants: Japanese vs. Russians

Location: Manchuria

Outcome: Japanese victory


In the aftermath of the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895), Russia scooped up Port Arthur and the Liaotung Peninsula from the defeated Chinese. The Japanese seethed over the growing Russian influence and encroachment in Manchuria and Korea. At the turn of the 20th century, Japan prepared for war with the Russian Empire.


Battle of Port Arthur by Torajirō Kasai

On the night of February 8th-9th, the Japanese launched a surprise attack on the Russian fleet at Port Arthur. Port Arthur was the only Pacific port operated by the Russians which was ice-free throughout the year. The city's capture would be a terrible blow to the operational capacity of the Russian navy in the Pacific.


The destruction of Russian destroyers by Japanese destroyers at Port Arthur by Torajirō Kasai

Making use of both torpedoes and bombardment from destroyers, the Japanese managed to damage several Russian warships. Vice Admiral Heihachiro Togo then ordered his fleet to blockade the port. On the following day (February 9th), a squadron of Japanese warships entered the port of Chemulpo, Korea, and engaged two Russian cruisers there. One Russian vessel was sunk and the second was damaged and scuttled.


Japan declared war on February 10th.


Admiral Togo in 1907 by an unknown photographer

Points of Interest:

  • Port Arthur would not surrender until January of 1905. By this time, all Russian battleships in the harbor had been sunk by the Japanese.

  • The Treaty of Portsmouth ended the Russo-Japanese War in 1905. But, many Japanese felt they were unfairly compensated by the Treaty despite their clear military victories over the Russians. Hundreds of Japanese committed suicide; others rioted.


Port Arthur from Gold Hill (showing wrecks of Russian battleships) by Imperial Japanese Navy General Staff

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Sources:


Dupuy, Trevor N., Johnson, Curt, & Bongard, David L. (1992). The Harper's Encyclopedia of Military Biography. New York: Castle Books (HarperCollins).


Dupuy, R. Ernest & Dupuy, Trevor N. (1993). The Harper's Encyclopedia of Military History. New York: HarperCollins.


Eggenberger, David (1985). An Encyclopedia of Battles: Accounts of Over 1,560 Battles from 1479 B.C. to the Present. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.

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