« НазадПродовжити »
units thus reported proved, regard to this epoch-marking however, to be our friends the battle up to the present has not converted cruisers. But a liner been sufficiently elucidative to which was making the passage eradicate a certain amount of from Nagasaki to Shanghai presumption from any descripreported having passed two tion that we may attempt of the Russian second-class cruisers. great battle. But there seems This information was all that to be an impression amongst was vouchsafed on Saturday certain interviewed Japanese night the 27th of May. Every naval officers that the Russian one interested in this titanic armada changed its course after struggle went to bed on that sighting the Liau-kiau group, Saturday night convinced that with the express object of deludthe next twenty-four hours ing Togo into the belief that the would produce information of passage northward was a mere a naval shock unparalleled in feint. We doubt if this be true. the history of the seas. Nor But we rather lean to the view had they miscalculated, but that once Rojdestvensky had there were very very few who made Quelpart, he found that could have judged of the terrific the coast of Korea was shrouded nature of the issues which were in fog. Quelpart having given settled in Japanese waters, or him his bearing, he determined could have imagined that by to force the Korean Straits, Monday morning the proud fleet Togo or no Togo, fog or no fog, which had sailed in October sea or no sea. From the standfrom the Baltic, flaunting all point of pure heroics it was and sundry that came in its doubtless a fine resolve, but in way, should have suffered com- the interests of the 15,000 souls plete annihilation. It was a on board his fleet, and in the sequel the like of which not matter of the sacred necessity even the most sanguine had to his country, it is hardly the anticipated As we pointed manœuvres that we would have out last month, we had no suggested. . Rojdestvensky no reason to fear for the final doubt regulated his course so success of the Japanese on sea, as to make the peak on Quelbut even we never anticipated part Island by daybreak on the that Admiral Togo would be 27th, or he may have cruised able to bring his fighting fleet in the vicinity since the afterback to its anchorages in Japan noon of the 26th. As Quelpart practically complete in all its on the map is about one hundred units.
and twenty miles west of TsuThe actual course that the shima, twelve hours at ten Russians steered after they left knots would have brought the coast of Batan is not quite Rojdestvensky into action just certain, but it is probable that about the hour given in once the fleet was clear of Togo's official report. Once Formosa it headed for Quel- the Russian admiral had depart. The information which termined to force the Straits, has reached this country with there were three passages open
to him. Korea is separated east had raised a heavy sea. The from Japan by barely one warmer winds from the south hundred miles of water. Two caused the usual spring mists to groups of islands help to bridge envelop the horizon to the norththis narrow channel. These west, indicating the coast-line groups are Tsushima to the of Korea and all the dangers north and Ikishima to the in lurking destroyers it might south.
Consequently there conceal. Due north, Mount were three channels in these Auckland raised itself, a yellow Korean Straits which were and white peak, clear of the open to Rojdestvensky: Brough- shroud of vapour which enton Channel north of Tsushima, veloped the lower cliff-line of Oriental Channel separating Quelpart.
As the sun rose, Tsushima from Ikishima, and the colour of the seas changed the ordinary trade channel be- from dull grey to blue. In the tween Ikishima and the main- midst of all this crispness of land, which latter, in the circum- spring atmosphere and beauty stances, was naturally out of the of scene, the Baltic Fleet, the question. A glance at the coast- last hope of Russia in the Far line which encloses these chan- East, was steaming to its doom. nels is sufficient to demonstrate With his two squadrons in line the terrible risks which were ahead steering parallel courses, undertaken by the Russian the battleships to port and the fleet in its paucity in cruisers cruisers to starboard, with the and torpedo craft. Both coast- transports and repair ships lines furnish innumerable an between the lines, Rojdestchorages, and the passage vensky set his teeth and steered being controlled by the observa- for Tsushima, the great bluff tion posts on the two central clump of sentinel rock which groups of islands, it would be was the
the "switch-board” of impossible to imagine a more all Togo's intelligence. Never effective sea area for torpedo before in the history of sea tactics. Apparently in the warfare had necessity dictated morning the mists were heavy a simpler stratagem. But it enough to conceal Togo's fleet. à majestic sight. The Two divisions of this fleet were imagination can conjure up lying in the vicinity of the the picture. The line Broughton Channel, in two of dead - black - painted battlethe many anchorages in the ships, eleven of them, weatherMasampo Archipelago.
stained and smoke-begrimed, It is possible to picture in conforming to the direction of the mind's eye the impressive the Kniaz - Suvaroff; followed spectacle of the great Russian by the three squat coast-defence armada heading directly for ships, wallowing in uncertain Japan's territorial waters on alignment in the troughs of that beautiful but fateful morn- the heavy seas. Half a mile ing. All accounts agree that to starboard the ancient arthe weather was fine, though moured cruisers followed in the a strong breeze from the south- wake of the Admiral Nakhimoff,
making with difficulty, though waiting and preparing for the tide and sea were with them, last three months was at hand, the ten knots which kept them and the three main squadabreast of the flag-ship. Be- rons, under the command of Adhind them the more modern mirals Togo, Kamimura, and and smaller protected cruisers, Kata-oka respectively, shaped kicking and plunging in the their courses to their appointed lumpy sea, as if protesting at stations. It had been evident the little flutter of bunting to the commander of the Idzumo from the Kniaz-Suvaroff, which that AdmiralRojdestvensky was kept them churning their pro- steering for the Straits to the pellers behind three obsolete south of Tsushima. The main iron coffins when they should point in Togo's stratagem was have been patrolling the pass- to allow his adversary into the age now looming up in front Japan Sea, and there, by virtue of them. Majestically, with the of his own superior speed, to inmorning sun to their backs, the tern him, and then destroy him armada ploughed eastwards. at his own convenience. The About seven o'clock the cruiser Japanese entered into the squadron was able to make out struggle with every confidence. on its starboard beam the out- They had the self-reliance built line of a warship disentangling up of the knowledge that they itself from the horizon mist. had already destroyed Its three funnels proclaimed Russian fleet superior to their the newcomer to be of the own in weight and numbers, Idzumo class, and the Vladimir they had all the advantages Monomakh, which was steam- of pace and position, and every ing third in the Russian line, one of their heavy guns had was ordered to deal with the been replaced. intruder. These two vessels ex- Precisely at eleven o'clock changed the first shots of the the Japanese Third Squadron in great battle of Tsushima; but the following order, the Kasuga, the Japanese cruiser had not Niitaka, Chitose, and the Tsuyet come to fight,—she stayed shima, appeared on the port bow long enough to finally satisfy of the Russian Battle Squadron. herself as to the formation, As they maneuvred on this flank course, and exact composition the Russian admiral possibly of Rojdestvensky's fleet, and anticipated that the object of then disappeared back into the their manæuvre was to cut off mists out of which she had the transports and impedimenta come, transmitting information squadron; he therefore ordered to the admiral as she went. the Nicholas I. and Sissoi Veliki
Togo could not have wished to attend to Kata-oka's cruisers. for other information. Rojdest- A little long-range firing from vensky was playing absolutely the Russian Second Battle into his hands. Cables were Squadron, and the protected slipped, and by ten o'clock the cruisers sheered off. Almost Japanese fleet was at sea. The immediately, having passed the crisis for which they had been Straits of Tsushima, the Russian
admiral changed his formation. was steering to the north-west, His two leading divisions, nearly making a parallel course with steering the same course, practi- the First Russian Battle Squadcally brought the formation into ron. The armoured cruisers, line ahead for the entire fleet. however, were manoeuvring so Then the flag-ship changed as to maintain the broadside direction to the north - west. strength of the Japanese line The most serious phase of his of battle. The Third Squadron adventurous voyage was now in two subdivisions was manto commence. By this time the wuvring in order to strike the fog had considerably lifted, so rear of the Russian line. It was that when the Russian flag-ship evident that Togo need have altered her course, the look-out no fear of separating from his was able to distinguish on the armoured cruisers on the actual port beam those smudges on battlefield, since the Russians the horizon which mark the had not the steam power to position of a fleet of warships take advantage of any division under full steam. Twenty of Togo's forces. The Third minutes or so of suspense, and Squadron, under Kata-oka, then every ship in the Russian again appearing to the north, line knew that they must fight this time on the Russians' port a fleet action before they made beam, illustrated the calm conport again. One by one the fidence of Japan's commander. smudges became concrete, until Somewhere between half-past they developed into Togo's
Togo's one and two the Japanese flagmain fighting force, consisting ship put over her helm and of four battleships, eight ar steered across the bows of the moured cruisers, and the old Kniaz - Suvaroff. The action coast-defence ship Chin - Yen. was commenced by the latter Although we have studied all vessel at 7000 yards; but this the accounts that have so far distance was rapidly decreased reached this country of this to 5000 when the four Japanese battle, the translation of Togo's battleships concentrated the included, yet there is consider- whole of their 12-inch fire on the able uncertainty as to the actual Russian flag-ship. She made a maneuvring which brought lovely mark for the expert the rival battle squadrons into Japanese gunners.
Now she range. However, there is no no longer had the sea with uncertainty as to the fact that, her: she and her consorts are as the wind had freshened, Togo said to have heeled over in the with his superior steaming heavy water-way to such an expower was able to do pretty tent that much of the Japanese well what he liked with the shell-fire was able to hit them Russians. Between 1 and 1.151 below the armoured belt. Morethe battle squadron, consisting over, by this maneuvre, as the of the Mikasa, Shikishima, sun was now dropping towards Asahi, and Fuji, in line ahead, the west, Togo's gunners had
the light behind them, while the in similar formation passing Russians found it in their eyes. under their sterns. The JapanThe Russians tried manfully to ese gunners, who apparently master this rain of fire which made three hits to the Russian the Japanese poured upon the one, during the first hour con
of their column; but centrated the whole of the fire though they changed direc- of each squadron on Rojdesttion, the superior speed of vensky's most powerful units. their opponents defeated their By half-past two Rojdestvenelementary efforts at steam- sky's flag.ship had to leave the tactics. Manoeuvre as they line, surrendering the van to the would, they
they remained Borodino. Half-an-hour afterposed to a tornado of 8-inch wards the Osliabia, which had shells from Kamimura's squad been “trailing like a wounded ron which raked them fore duck,” turned turtle and sank. and aft. This squadron, reck- The beginning of the disaster ing little of the theory which had arrived. Already the prohibits armoured cruisers Russian commander-in-chief from taking their place in the had been badly wounded, and line, steamed to 2000 was transferred to the destroyer yards, and in the first five on which he was subsequently minutes of the action had captured. The whole of the made the injury in the 08- thinking staff went with him, liabia from which she presently though it is difficult to follow sank. All accounts agree that the train of thought which the shell-fire during this open- induced these staff officers to ing hour was simply terrific. consider it their duty to It must also have been ex- transfer with him. Admiral tremely accurate, since half-a- Felkersham had been killed dozen ships were on fire at the in his conning - tower during same time, and Togo subse- the first quarter of an hour quently reports that the smoke of the engagement; and even from the burning vessels was while the unfortunate flagso dense that his gunners lost ship was repairing its damtheir targets. It is certain ages
and transferring its that, no matter what happened valiant staff, the Japanese afterwards, the fate of the third cruiser division was in Russian fleet was decided dur- amongst the Russian impediing this first hour. Gunnery menta squadron sinking storewon the victory, the torpedo ships and colliers. From the simply completed it. It would moment that the Kniaz-Suvaralso seem that by three o'clock off sheered out of her alignthe Russians were completely ment, the day was destined to cut off from the Tsushima end in a debacle ; it remained Straits, and were in the course with Togo and his subordinates of being raked by a squadron to show how great this debacle of battleships crossing their was to be. It is impossible, bows in line ahead, and a as we sit still in this country squadron of armoured cruisers and read the meagre reports