History[edit | edit source]
Considering each other's rivals in territorial expansion through Far East Asia, war broke out between the Russian Empire and the Empire of Japan a little after the turn of the 20th century. The Russo-Japanese War, which lasted between 1904 and 1905, was a conflagration fought across two stages: land and sea.
On the seas, the Japanese navy scored a spectacular victory against their Russian counterparts. The Russian Empire ordered the bulk of its Atlantic fleet to the Asian Far East, traveling all the way over the tip of Africa to reach the Sea of Japan. These Russian ships were then unceremoniously annihilated by their Japanese opponents at the Battle of Tsushima. This loss, combined with the earlier destruction of its remaining Pacific Fleet Power in Port Arthur, put the Russian navy out of commission. The Japanese success in this battle cemented victory in their war with the Russians, while demonstrating to skeptical Western observers that Japan was a force to be reckoned with.
Over land, the Japanese army's successes were fewer and far bloodier. The technology and tactics of modern warfare that heralded the carnage of The Great War in the Battle of Cold Harbor during the American Civil War would resurface again before World War I in the Japanese Siege of Port Arthur. Machine guns, hand grenades, trenches, and artillery bombardments combined to turn the battlefield into a human meatgrinder. The defending Russians would lose over 30,000 soldiers in the year-plus campaign, and the Japanese would shed nearly twice that number in manpower. The Battle of 203 Hill alone cost the Japanese over 8,000 men, ravaging the ranks of the Japanese army's 7th Division.
The Imperial Japanese victories in the Tsushima Straits, Port Arthur, and others, costly or otherwise, convinced the Russian Empire to seek peace. With American President Theodore Roosevelt presiding as a broker, these peace talks resulted in the Treaty of Portsmouth.
Even with its victories, the Japanese were stretched thin in capital and soldiers by the end of the war, and continued fighting would drain the empire of ever more precious treasure and manpower
Battle of 203 Meter Hill[edit | edit source]
White Sash Brigade[edit | edit source]
The White Sash Brigade (白襷隊, Shiro Dasuki-tai) was a special force made up of 3000 Japanese military soldiers assembled to make a night assault. The soldiers wore white sashes in order to see each other in the dark and staged a suicidal assault on the Russian position, with most of the men killed in a single night. However, the ferociousness of the White Sash Brigade planted the seeds of fear in the hearts of the Russian troops that contributed to their eventual surrender.
Saichi Sugimoto is a survivor of the White Sash Brigade.