Yalu River, Battle of

Yalu River, Battle of
   An early action of the Russo-Japanese War. At the end of April 1904, Russian forces under General Zasulich met Japanese forces under the command of General Kuroki at the point where the Yalu River meets the Ai River. The Japanese forces consisted of the three divisions of the First Army: 2,000 cavalrymen, 28,000 infantry, and 128 field guns, including some brand new Krupp 4.7-inch howitzers. The Russian forces were the Eastern Detachment and had 5,000 cavalry, 15,000 infantry, and only 60 guns.
   Strategically, the Battle of Yalu River showed the use of subterfuge, a relatively new concept in this context. Between April 25 and 27, Japanese engineers built a bridge intended as a diversion. The Russians fired on it, showing the Japanese where the Russian guns were. Tactically, the battle was dominated by new technologies. The Japanese Krupp howitzers could fire from further away than the Russian artillery. Thus the safe distance for the Russians guns was greater than their effective range. Both sides in this conflict were equipped with breech loading rifles, but only the Japanese grasped what this meant on a tactical level. The Japanese attacked in a long line, allowing them to cover a large field of fire. The Russians mocked this strategy and attacked using tactics best suited for single-shot muzzle loading weapons. The battle itself was surprisingly one-sided. The Japanese attacked in the morning on May 1, and by 5:30 P.M ., the Russian forces were retreating in disarray. The majority of the Russians escaped, and casualties were relatively minor: 1,300 Russians dead and 600 captured; 160 Japanese dead and 820 wounded. Symbolically, however, the Japanese had shown that an Asian army could win against a European power. As with much of the Russo-Japanese War, this symbolic victory was more significant than the military victory.
   See also <>; <>.
    Jukes, Geoffrey. The Russo-Japanese War, 1904-1905. Oxford: Osprey, 2002.

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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