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  • Writer's pictureGeorge Castrioti

January 27th, 1905 - The Battle of Sandepu

Conflict: Russo-Japanese War

Combatants: Japanese vs. Russians

Location: Manchuria (China)

Outcome: Japanese victory

In the early twentieth century, years of Russia's growing power in the Far East, especially in the area of Korea, prompted the Empire of Japan into action. In the shadow of fruitless negotiations, the Japanese attacked the Russian fleet at Port Arthur in February of 1904. War declarations followed two days later. After nearly a year of stalemates and defeats, Russia was forced to surrender Port Arthur to the Japanese.

Russian troops at the Battle of Sandepu from a Russian postcard

In late January of 1905, Russian General Aleksei Nikolaevich Kuropatkin, commanding three armies of 300,000 men, launched an offensive against three Japanese armies at Sandepu in Manchuria. Anticipating Japanese reinforcements from Port Arthur, Kuropatkin pressed the attack over January 26 and 27th despite heavy snows. The 220,000 Japanese soldiers, led by the competent Iwao Oyama, counterattacked and the poorly coordinated Russian advance stalled. Kuropatkin had no choice but to withdraw his forces to Mukden and dig in.

General Aleksei Nikolaevich Kuropatkin by an unknown photographer
Iwao Oyama, Commandor of the IJA Manchurian Army during the Russo- Japanese War by P. F. Collier & Son

Points of Interest:

  • The disastrous naval defeat at the Battle of Tsushima all but ended the war for the Russians. In September of 1906, U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt helped negotiate a peace treaty between the two empires. Russia lost Port Arthur and withdrew from Manchuria. Roosevelt received the Nobel Prize.

  • A few months after Sandepu, Kuropatkin was relieved of command. He later wrote a book about his experience in the Russo-Japanese War and was recalled to serve as an army group commander in World War I. He was briefly imprisoned by Bolsheviks after the Russian Revolution. After his release he retired to his home village and taught school. He died in 1925.

  • Oyama retired after the Russo-Japanese War and, unusual for the time, remained out of Japanese politics. He died in 1916.



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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