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By J. N. Westwood

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Extra resources for Russia Against Japan, 1904–05: A New Look at the Russo-Japanese War

Sample text

Nicholas created the Viceroyalty of the Far East; Admiral Alekseev, the local commander in chief, became Viceroy and henceforth, said the Russians, the talks with Japan would be conducted through the Viceroy at Port Arthur. Although some diplomats were attached to the Admiral's staff, Alekseev was not the best man to conduct negotiations; he had long regarded war as inevitable, and the sooner the better. The transfer of the negotiations from St Petersburg to Port Arthur also reinforced the suspicions of the Japanese , for it seemed to downgrade the talks while at the same time emphasising the permanence of the Russian presence in Port Arthur.

Unlike the Japanese, they could not realise that war demanded a sustained and maximum effort. The relationships between these gentlemen-officers were peculiar in that junior officers did not invariably regard the wishes of their superiors as unquestionable. f Russia was a centralised and bureaucratic state , and it was natural that officers of bureaucratic temperament should reach the top . The bureaucratic approach does have its virtues when practised by energetic and intelligent men, but in the hands of below-average men it does not win wars.

The weapons of the two armies were similar. Although the Russian infantry was trained to revere the bayonet as the supreme weapon, it was nevertheless supplied with a good magazine rifle. Both the Japanese and Russian magazine rifles were of recent introduction, unfamiliar to the older reservists. 299 inch, and this difference inspired a fatuous comment from one of the many intellectuals who visited the front . The world-famous theatrical director Nemirovich-Danchenko had this to say: Japanese bullets are so noble.

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