A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 30


THE WORLD DRIFT TO WAR


resources of her own islands to draw upon, while Russia's resources in men at least were incalculably greater. But she could bring her whole force to bear at once; of Russia's naval squadrons one was icebound at Vladivostok, while she could reinforce her armies in Manchuria only by way of the single-line trans-Siberian railway, which was still far short of completion.

On February 9 Japan broke up the second Russian fleet from Port Arthur, whither she drove it back and which she proceeded to blockade. A little later she was able to invest it on the land side also, while the Russian commander Kuropatkin was endeavouring not to overwhelm but to hold back her main army on the Yalu till he should be adequately reinforced. Port Arthur held out stubbornly, and in spite of heavy fighting the Japanese commander could make no impression until a desperate effort was put forth at the end of the year in order to anticipate the expected arrival of a new Russian fleet, the Port Arthur squadron having sallied forth in August, only to be annihilated by Admiral Togo.

Kuropatkin had been pushed back from the Yalu in May; he was again pushed back upon Mukden in August, as the result of the nine days' battle of Liao-yang; in which the Japanese actually suffered more heavily than the Russians. Being at last reinforced in October, he resumed the offensive, but was again compelled to retire upon Mukden after a fifteen days' battle on the Sha-ho, which left both armies so exhausted that neither could take the offensive. Port Arthur, however, was so hard pressed by Nogi's final onslaught that it was forced to surrender on January 1, 1905.

Nogi was thus released to reinforce the main army after which another prolonged and exhausting struggle drove Kuropatkin from Mukden at the end of February back to the lines which he was able to hold for the remainder of the war, since there was no more heavy fighting on land. The sea, however, provided one more episode. Rozhdestvensky's fleet arrived in May, only to be obliterated by Togo in the battle of Tsushima. The war was ended by the treaty of Portsmouth, USA, in August, 1905; Russia evacuating Manchuria, while Japan retained Korea and also the Liau-tung peninsula.

As concerned Europe, no change in the isolation of Great Britain had taken place when the 20th century opened. It was a moment when every country on the European continent was sympathising

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