A Grand Assault on Port Arthur’s Forts by Richard Barry, Special Correspondent with the Japanese Third Army

“Description of the Desperate Attack of October 29, by
which the Japanese had hoped to caputre the Fortress”

On a recent trip to Japan, I had an opportunity to visit with Katsuyuki Kondo Sensei of Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu at his home. During our visit, he shared with me a copy of “Collier’s” Magazine dated January 21, 1905. It contained a lengthy article about a particular siege of the Russo-Japanese War along with very impressive photos from the battlefield.

The magazine bears an address label that reads as follows: “Isam Takeshita, 1464 R.I. Ave., Washington, D.C.” This is of course the famous Admiral Isamu Takeshita. Takeshita would later become a patron and student of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. In 1905, he was living in Washington, D.C. where, at that time, he was serving as a military attache. Takeshita arranged for a judo teacher to come from Japan and give private lessons to President Theodore Roosevelt. He also actively trained with the President who loved boxing, wrestling, and the Japanese martial arts.

Readers will recall that Morihei Ueshiba was a foot soldier during the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905). It is not known whether he was on the front lines or served in a support capacity. In any case, Morihei spent considerable time under life-threatening conditions during this brutal war. Morihei was a member of the 61st Osaka Regiment and troops from Osaka are specifically mentioned in this article. It is certainly possible that the young Ueshiba found himself nearby during this particular battle since he was stationed in Dalien, not far from Port Arthur. We will never know the truth of the matter, but this article and the accompanying photos will give readers a glimpse of the atmosphere of this horrific war that the Founder survived.

Last week Mr. Barry, who spent four months with the Japanese forces besieging Port Arthur, described the attack on Namicoyama and 203-Metre Hill. The present paper describes the grand assault of October 29, which followed weeks of sapping and trenching. The attempt cost over 2,000 lives, and resulted only in the capture of the “P” fort, an improvised outwork of the great Keekwan battery. From a military standpoint, the whole action would be called a reconnoissance in force, for the advance sent up as here described found that to take the positions in toto would entail too frightful a cost. Consequently, the commander-in-chief issued an order that night to continue the sapping. That is why the Japanese did not celebrate the Emperor’s birthday with an entry into Port Arthur. The description of this grand assault gives a perfect idea of the magnitude of the operations conducted by the Japanese in their desperate endeavors to take the fortress. Next week Mr. Barry will detail the conditions at the time of surrender.

Noon found me well up toward the firing line, assured by the staff that it would be the day of days. To get there I passed a mile and more of batteries-the Osaka guns vomiting balls of fire, puff-balls of smoke and fat, heavy balls of steel; the howitzers-coyotes of artillery-spitting from peaks, snap louder than the monsters growled below; the naval six-inch turret firers rakishly sunk in valleys, their greyhound noses dappled with mud, and baying out reverberations at which even the sulking sun might have shuddered; the field four-point-sevens, bag-redoubted, conventional as pictures, flinging forth the business barks of house dogs; then, finally, the hand one-pounders, hauled well up the parallels, their bodies angled half-wise and as forlorn amid such colossal music as a penny whistle before a symphony orchestra. To be in it, to pass through it, to feel this whiz and boom people the air above with demon gossip, to sniff from ravines the gusts seeped with cordite and with phosphorous, while in the far-stretched vistas bluecoat files wind through the fierce, vain taunts hurled in among them-ah, this is the atmosphere-the grand, the fearful, the unspeakably sublime atmosphere of war!


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