Battle of Te-li-Ssu

Battle of Te-li-Ssu

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Battle of Telissu
partof=the Russo-Japanese War


caption=Battle of Telissu map
date=14 June to 15 June 1904
place=North of Port Arthur, Manchuria
result=Japanese victory
combatant1=flag|Empire of Japan
combatant2=flagicon|Russia Imperial Russia
commander1=Genetral Yasukata Oku
commander2= Lieutenant-General Georgii Stakelberg
strength1=40,000
strength2=33,500
casualties1=217 killed
946 wounded
casualties2=477 killed
2,240 wounded
754 missing/captured;

The Battle of Te-li-ssu (Japanese 得利寺の戦い "Tokuriji no tatakai", _ru. Бой у Вафангоу), was a land battle of the Russo-Japanese War. It was fought at a hamlet some 80 miles north of Port Arthur, Manchuria. The hamlet is known today as "Delisi", and is located just north of Wafangdian, Liaoning Province, China. It was fought on 14-15 June 1904 between the Japanese Second Army under General Yasukata Oku and the Russian First Siberian Army Corps under Lieutenant General Georgii Stakelberg.

Background

After the loss to the Japanese at the Battle of Nanshan, the Russian Viceroy Yevgeny Alexeiev came under extreme political pressure to make a military advance to prevent the complete encirclement of Port Arthur. The Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Russian Army in Manchuria, General Alexei Kuropatkin, disagreed vehemently to this plan, which he felt to be both foolhardy and dangerous, and he preferred to wait in Mukden for the Trans-Siberian Railway to bring him the reinforcements he felt necessary for an offensive. The matter came to head on 27 May 1904, when Viceroy Alexeiev summoned General Kuropatkin to a conference in Mukden. The two men wound up shouting at each other, and the matter was referred to St. Petersburg for a decision. The Tsar decided in favor of the Viceroy, and General Kuropatkin was reluctantly forced to mount an offensive from Liaoyang in the general direction of Port Arthur, but it is clear that he had no expectation of reaching that port. Lieutenant-General Georgii Stakelberg commanding 27,000 infantry, 2,500 cavalry (under the command of Lieutenant General Simonov) and 98 guns in the First Siberian Corps, was chosen for the mission. They were later supplemented by 3,000 riflemen and two guns, which arrived just as the frontline troops were withdrawing.

After the Battle of Nanshan, Japanese General Yasukata Oku, commander of the Japanese Second Army, occupied and repaired the piers at Dalny, which had been abandoned almost intact by the fleeing Russians. On 5 May 1904, General Baron Nogi Maresuke arrived at Dalny to assume command of the new Japanese Third Army, consisting of the 1st and 11th Divisions. General Oku's Second army was restructured into the 3rd, 4th and 5th Divisions and an under strength 6th Division, with a total strength of 36,000 infantry, 2,000 cavalry and 216 artillery pieces. Leaving the 3rd Army to lay siege to Port Arthur, and having reports of the southern movement of Russian forces confirmed by cavalry scouts, Oku started his army north on 13 June 1904, following the line of the railway south of Liaoyang.

A week before the engagement, Kuropatkin sent Stakelberg southwards with orders to recapture Nanshan and advance on Port Arthur, but to avoid any decisive action against superior forces. The Japanese army had been moving slowly north since 30 May 1904. Both sides continued to build up their forces and used infantry skirmishes and artillery exchanges to test each other's strength. The Russians, believing the Japanese Second Army's objective to be the capture of Port Arthur, moved their command facilities to Telissu. Stakelberg positioned his troops astride the railway to the south of the town, while Lieutenant General Simonov, commanding the 19th Cavalry Squadron, took the extreme right of the front. Oku intended to attack frontally with the 3rd and 5th Divisions, one on each side of the railway, while the 4th division was to advance on the Russian right flank down the Fuchou valley. Being the superior force and having the definite purpose of fighting his way north, Oku began to move on the morning of 14 June.

The Battle

On 14 June 1904, General Oku, advanced his forces northward toward the entrenched Russian positions near the village of Telissu. General Stakelberg had reasonable prospects for victory that day. The Russians had possession of the high ground and field artillery. However, rather than cooperating with the defenders by charging straight up the valley into the Russian defenses, General Oku advanced the 3rd and 5th Divisions along the center as a feint, while maneuvering the 4th Divisions rapidly to the west in order to envelop the Russian right flank. Although Russian outposts detected this move, misty weather prevented them from using their heliographs to warn General Stakelberg in time.

The battle began with an artillery engagement, which demonstrated the superiority of the Japanese guns not only in number but also in accuracy. The new Russian Putilov M-1903 field gun was first introduced in this battle but was ineffective due to lack of training of the crews and the outdated conceptions of the senior artillery officers. The better Japanese artillery seemed to have a significant effect throughout the battle.

As the Japanese divisions in the center commenced skirmishing, the General Stakelberg judged that the enemy threat would come against his left flank, rather than his right flank, and thus committed his main reserve in that direction. It was a fatal mistake.

Skirmishing continued until late night, and General Oku decided to launch his main assault at dawn. Likewise, General Stakelberg had also determined that the morning of 15 June 1904 was the time for his own decisive counter-stroke. Incredibly, Stakelberg issued only verbal orders to his field commanders and left the actual time of the attack vague. Individual commanders, not knowing when to launch the attack, and without any written orders, did not take action until around 0700. As only about a third of the First East Siberian Rifle Division under Lieutenant General Aleksandr Gerngross committed to the attack, it surprised the Japanese 3rd Division but did not prevail, and soon collapsed in failure. Before long General Stakelberg received panicked reports of a strong Japanese attack on his exposed right flank. The Russians began to fall back, abandoning their precious artillery as General Oku's 4th and 5th Divisions pressed their advantage. General Stakelberg issued the order to retreat at 1130, but fierce fighting continued through 1400. Russian reinforcements arrived by train just as the Japanese artillery was targeting the train station. By 1500 General Stakelberg was facing total annihilation, but a sudden torrential rainstorm slowed the Japanese advance and enabled him to extricate his beleaguered forces towards Mukden.

The only Russian offensive to relieve Port Arthur thus came to a disastrous end for Russia.

Result

Total Russian casualties totaled around at least 3,500 (477 killed, 2,240 wounded, and 754 missing), although some estimates give figures as high as 10,000; 3,500 per official records. Japanese casualties totaled only 1,163 (217 killed and 946 wounded). The danger of any attack by General Kuropatkin's forces having been removed by the victory at Telissu, the Japanese advance against Port Arthur began in earnest. On the same day as the Battle of Telissu, Russian warships sank two Japanese troop transports off the coast of Japan, killing over 2000 men and costing the Japanese several batteries of siege guns that were badly need for the stalled Siege of Port Arthur.

References

* Kowner, Rotem (2006). "Historical Dictionary of the Russo-Japanese War". Scarecrow. ISBN 0-8108-4927-5
* Nish, Ian (1985). "The Origins of the Russo-Japanese War." Longman. ISBN 0-582-49114-2
* Connaughton, Richard (2003). “Rising Sun and Tumbling Bear.” Cassell. ISBN 0-304-36657-9
* F.R. Sedwick, (R.F.A.), "The Russo-Japanese War", 1909, The Macmillan Company, N.Y.


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