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Dr. Anita Newcomb McGee and the Russo-Japanese War (1904 - 1905)

Army Nurse Corps Home > Dr. Anita Newcomb McGee: Founder of the Army Nurse Corps

NOTE:  The information on Dr. Anita Newcomb McGee's time in Japan during the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) was originally prepared for the exhibit American Angels of Mercy, 1904: Dr. Anita Newcomb McGee 's Pictorial Record of the Russo-Japanese War that took place at the National Museum of Health and Medicine, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, from 1 October 2001 through 28 February 2002.  Mr. Frederic A. Sharf, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, along with Mr. Michael G. Rhode, the Museum's Chief Archivisit, and Mr. J.T.H. Connor, the Museum's Assistant Directore for Collections, prepared the text reproduced here and the exhibit.  This text from the exhibit is presented in this format with the permission of Mr. Sharf and the National Musuem of Health and Medicine. The Office of Medical History, Directorate of Health Care Operations, Office of The Surgeon General, U.S. Army, gratefully appreciates the cooperation of Mr. Sharf and the National Museum of Health and Medicine for making possible the use of this information on the AMEDD History website.



Dr. Anita Newcomb McGee (1864-1940) attended Newham College, Cambridge University, as well as the University of Geneva, prior to her marriage in 1888 to geologist William John McGee (who later served as Secretary of the U.S. Inland Waterways Commission). Three children were born, the oldest in 1889, the youngest in 1902 (the middle child died at the age of nine months).

Mrs. McGee’s interests were wide-ranging, including geology, genealogy, history, eugenics, and anthropology. She graduated from what is now George Washington University in 1892 with a medical degree, then did postgraduate study in gynecology at Johns Hopkins University. She ran an active medical practice in Washington until 1896. She then turned to research and work with the Daughters of the American Revolution (among other activities, organizing a hospital corps for the DAR that could assist the U.S. Army and Navy in 1898). She fought hard for the establishment of an Army Nurse Corps, which finally received congressional approval in 1901.

In the fall of 1903, with war between Japan and Russia looming, Dr. McGee volunteered her services as a supervisor of nurses to the Japanese government. She had valuable experience; she had been an Acting Assistant Surgeon of the United States during the Spanish-American War, and had organized and served as president of the Society of Spanish-American War Nurses after the war. In February 1904 she assembled a team of nine nurses and accompanied them to Japan for a six-month tour of duty; they returned to the United States in early November 1904.

Arriving in San Francisco, Dr. McGee found that the United States government had decided to name her an official army attaché, attached to the United States Legation in Tokyo with specific permission to be assigned to battlefield duty, which was exactly what she had wanted to be part of. She embarked on 19 November for the return trip to Tokyo, arriving in Yokohama on 7 December 1904.

Dr. McGee received the Japanese Imperial Order of the Sacred Crown, the decoration of the Red Cross Society of Japan, and two Japanese war medals for her work during the Russo-Japanese War. She was buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.

The nurses who accompanied Dr. McGee were: Minnie Cooke, Mary E. Gladwin, Alice Kemmer, Ella B. King, Elizabeth R. Kratz, Adelaide Mackareth, Adele Neeb, Sophia Newell, and Genevieve Russell. Five came from the Red Cross Society of Philadelphia, the remainder from the Spanish-American War Nurses Society. The basic expenses of the trip were underwritten by a fund raised in the United States through the efforts of these two organizations. After arriving in Japan the ten ladies were guests of the Red Cross Society of Japan.

As early as 1877, a benevolent society was organized in Japan to care for sick and wounded troops from the civil war then being fought. Over the next ten years this became the Red Cross Society of Japan which in 1877, having grown to a membership of approximately 100,000, was officially recognized by the International Committee of the Red Cross at its annual meeting in Germany.

By 1904 the Red Cross Society of Japan had about one million members. This phenomenal growth was largely due to the personal involvement of the Imperial family and the members of Japan’s nobility. The leadership provided by the aristocracy created various adjunct organizations: the Ladies Volunteer Nursing Association, dedicated to raising the status of female nurses in Japan; the Ladies Patriotic Association, which organized hospitality centers for troop trains traveling across the country; and the Imperial Relief Association, which raised money for the families of soldiers and sailors killed or wounded in combat.

Dr. McGee and her team of nurses were not the only Western medical persons in Japan during the Russo-Japanese War; but they were unique in actually serving in a Japanese hospital. Most of those who came were observers, such as military attachés who were allowed to go to the battlefront, and a number of prominent individuals who came to admire the proficiency of Japanese medicine.

The most prominent observers were British: Dr. Francis E. Fremantle, Miss Ethel McCaul, Mrs. Theresa Eden Richardson, and Dr. Sir Frederick Treves all visited Japan in 1904 and shared a common history in having served in South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War. The most prominent American was Dr. Louis Livingston Seaman, who had served in the Spanish-American War (both in Cuba and in the Philippines), and had then served in China during the Boxer Rebellion. Dr. Seaman made two trips to Japan, and on his second trip was able to observe conditions at the Manchurian Front in the spring of 1905.


Dr. Anita Newcomb McGee:

A Chronological Summary of her Mission to Serve the Japanese War Effort.



29    Dr. McGee writes to the Japanese Minister in Washington, D.C., offering services of trained nurses from the Association of Spanish-American War Nurses, in the event of war.

31    Response from Minister Takahira; he appreciates the offer, there are rumors of war but Japan seeks peace.


1    Lloyd Griscom, American Minister in Tokyo, receives a copy of Dr. McGee's letter to Minister Takahira, along with pamphlets describing the work of her Association; he apparently also gets a copy of Takahira's reply.

16    Griscom writes to McGee, saying that army nursing in wartime Japan would be supervised by the Red Cross Society of Japan. He is aware of her contribution to American army nursing, and would recommend her services in the event of war.

26    The English-language Japan Weekly Mail of Yokohama reports that Japanese newspapers describe Dr. McGee's offer to the Japanese government. It is not clear how they obtained this information.



10    Japan declares war.

15    Baron Komura officially invites Dr. McGee to Japan with nine of her colleagues.


16    Dr. McGee departs Washington, DC for San Francisco.

24    Reception given for McGee by Mr. and Mrs. Okuda in Seattle, Washington.


1      McGee group departs from Tacoma, WA for Japan; arrives at Yokohama on the evening of 21 April (several days late).

22    McGee group disembarks to large receptions and sight-seeing.

23    McGee group departs Yokohama on 9:10 AM train for Tokyo; welcomed at Shimbashi Station by Red Cross Society officials.

27    Major reception at Arsenal Gardens, Koishikawa; hosted by Dr. Takagi.  


4      Red Cross Society of Japan petitions War Department to send McGee and her team to Matsuyama, where Russian prisoners are hospitalized (a large group is expected as a result of the Japanese victory at the Yalu River).

7      Luncheon reception at Ueno Seiyoken, hosted by Count Matsukata, President of Red Cross Society of Japan (Mrs. Richardson also attends).

10    Visit to Peeress' School to observe sports and training of girls to roll bandages and attend ambulances (Also attended by Baroness D'Anethan and Ethel McCaul).

23    Reception at Hospital of Red Cross Society of Japan, Shibuya, for the Empress (also attended by Mrs. Richardson).

25    McGee group leaves Tokyo at 6 AM from Shimbashi Station, en route to Hiroshima.

26    Reception at Gifu City Railroad Station, 1 AM, hosted by local Red Cross Society.  Arrival at Kyoto at 6 AM; sightseeing and hospital visits.

27    Group departs for Kobe by train, changing to Sanyo Line for Hiroshima train.

28    Reception at Himeji Railroad Station by military garrison at 3 AM; group arrives Hiroshima at 7 AM, settles into house in Otemachi district.

        [Ethel McCaul departs Hiroshima on the Hakuai Maru to visit Korean battlefields; she visits Antung and Wiju, goes to Kuroki's headquarters at Fengswangcheng, and returns to Hiroshima on 19 June. She leaves for Tokyo on 22 June without mentioning any contact with Dr. McGee].


9    McGee's group has a tour of the hospital ship Hakuai Maru, just back from Korea, hosted by Dr. Iwai and the ship's naval officers.


11    Departure for Manchuria on the Hakuai Maru of Miss Russell, one of McGee's nurses, as the first of the team to go to the Front.

24    Two more of McGee's nurses leave on the Hakuai Maru for the battlefront area.

29    Dr. McGee goes to Korea on the Kosai Maru.


2     Dr. McGee lands at Yongampo, Korea.

4     Dr. McGee visits Antung, Manchuria; takes up temporary residence at a temple.

6     Dr. McGee visits Wiju, Korea.

12    Dr. McGee embarks for Hiroshima on the Kobe Maru with a boatload of wounded Japanese soldiers and some Russian prisoners.

15     Dr. McGee back at Ujina after short three-day passage.


Hiroshima hospitals receive large influx of wounded soldiers from the battlefields at Port Arthur and Liaoyang.

Herbert Ponting spends 2 ½ weeks in Hiroshima documenting this activity.


10    Reception for McGee group in Hiroshima, hosted by Dr. Takagi.

11    Dr. McGee and the nine American nurses serving under her supervision receive decorations from the Emperor Meiji.

16    Reception for McGee group in Hiroshima, hosted by the Red Cross Society of Japan; attended also by Marchioness Oyama of the Ladies Patriotic Association in Tokyo.

18      McGee group departs from Hiroshima to Shimonoseki, visits teahouse where the 1895 Treaty that ended the Sino-Japan War was signed.

19      McGee group travels to Nagasaki.

21      McGee group departs for San Francisco on US Army troop transport Thomas.


5      McGee group arrives in San Francisco on Thomas.

19     Dr. McGee departs San Francisco for Tokyo on the S.S. Manchuria to take up her new assignment as Attaché to the American Legation in Tokyo, along with her colleage Captain Dr. Charles Lynch.


7        Dr. McGee and Dr. Lynch land in Yokohama and proceed at once to Tokyo.

9        Dr. McGee reports to the American Minister, who must officially ask permission for her to proceed to Manchuria.

26      Dr. McGee receives clearance from the Japanese War Department. She is assigned to General Oku’s 2nd Army, which has already gone into winter quarters along the Shaho River.



Dr. McGee visits the Military Hospital in Shibuya, the convalescent camp at Atami, the Military Hospitals at Hiroshima, and the Russian Prisoner of War Hospital in Matsuyama.


2   Dr. McGee and Dr. Lynch depart Ujina for Dalny, Manchuria aboard a Japanese hospital ship, the Rohilla Maru.

7     Dr . McGee and Dr. Lynch disembark at Dalny and spend the next two days visiting hospitals in that city.

10   Dr. McGee and Dr. Lynch visit Port Arthur.

11     Dr. McGee departs Port Arthur for 2nd Army Headquarters at Shi-Li-Ho.


2        Dr. McGee is an eyewitness to the start of the Battle of Mukden.

11      Dr. McGee enters Mukden, one day after the battle has officially ended.


10      Dr. McGee moves north to Tiehling, going from there to a small Chinese village where all Attachés remain until the war ends in September.


12      Dr. McGee and fellow Attachés depart Manchuria for Japan.

The American Nurses in Japan

Manuscript in the collection of
Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf

Material from this handwritten manuscript
was later published as part of an article in
Century Magazine, April 1905.

Had we been princesses, the hurrahs of the crowds could not have been louder, nor their friendly greetings more hearty, than they were when my nurses and I landed in Japan. We had crossed a continent and a great ocean to give a little help to a people engaged in a life-and-death struggle, and that people poured out its gratitude in a thousand ways during the whole of our stay in the land. We were told that Japan, high and low, rich and poor, had never before given such a welcome to a foreigner; but fortunately for our modesty, we knew that this was not a tribute to ourselves as individuals. To the Japanese we were the personal representatives, not of a government, but of a nation, and that nation the greatest, and to them the most friendly on earth. Besides, we were women. We belonged to another race, to another religion, and yet we had  travelled from the other side of the world to render service to their heroes. In their eyes this was the height of charity and friendship, and their admiration and gratitude knew no bounds.

The governor of the province and other officials of Yokohama with delegations from Tokyo and many representatives of the press and of patriotic societies came out to our steamer in decorated launches, and hundreds of people were assembled on the wharf to greet us. We passed through the city in beflagged rikshaws, bowing to the hurrahing crowds and were entertained at “welcome meetings” and banquets until we doubted whether all could be real. But if such was our reception at Yokohama, how can our welcome to the capital city of Tokyo next day be described? Representatives of the government and of the House of Peers; generals of the army; officers of the Red Cross Society; the governor and the mayor; princesses and other distinguished ladies, titled and untitled; missionaries; trained nurses; delegations of school children, and finally the common people of the city, all offered their heartfelt greetings.

At the time of our arrival in Japan the great battles of the war were yet unfought, and so general was the desire to see and hear us that we were kept in Tokyo about four weeks before being escorted to our main post at Hiroshima in western Japan. This time was filled to the brim with welcome-meetings, receptions, official calls, visits to  hospitals, to public, private, and missionary schools, to city improvements (some of them surpassing what we have in our own capital), to churches and temples. Everywhere I was called on to deliver an address or to respond to a speech. We were under orders from the moment of  landing, and our movements were directed by the officers of the Red Cross Society, especially by one who kindly acted as escort and guide on all important occasions. This was our honored friend, Dr. Takaki, surgeon-general of the navy, retired, and member of the House of Peers.

While we were in Tokyo, the Empress visited the Red Cross Society hospital in which a room is reserved especially for her use on such occasions. Here we were formally presented, and Her Majesty’s words to me, as interpreted by a maid of honour, were these: “Empress is very glad to hear about Mrs. McGee’s kindness of coming to Japan from such far-distant country on purpose to assist in the charity affairs of nursing the Japanese sick and wounded soldiers and also the others who belong to the present war.” (The last words evidently refer to the Russian prisoners.)

Both the Emperor and the Empress afterward gave repeated evidence of their interest and sent messages of thanks and appreciation. The same is true of other members of the imperial family and of high officials, especially the minister of war to whom we owe a great debt of gratitude for numerous kindnesses, both official and personal.

Of the enthusiasm and gratitude shown by the people themselves, a few typical instances may give some idea. The trip from Tokyo to Kyoto, the ancient capital, took about twenty-four hours, and although the train started at 6 o’clock of a rainy morning, bearers of some of the most honored names in the empire were there to bid us farewell. At every station we passed in daylight there was a crowd to greet us, to present addresses of welcome. They brought flowers, fruit, and local produce of all kinds, and shouted Banzai! (“Hurrah!”) Besides the governors of the provinces which we passed, and the mayors of the towns, we met delegations from patriotic societies, from Christian churches, from the army and the schools. Even where there were no stations the peasants were watching for us and ran toward the train waving flags. There was little sleep for any of us that night. At 1 A.M. when we stopped at Gifu, some thirty men and women, each bearing a lantern painted with a red cross, showed their respect by silently standing in a row opposite our car, all immovable except one who, when I bowed, approached to present flowers.

 The day in Kyoto was full of most delightful and interesting experiences, after which we continued our journey to Hiroshima under the escort of Baron Ozawa, vice-president of the Red Cross Society, and other gentlemen. The garrison city of Himeji, west of Kobe, was reached at three in the morning; and in spite of the darkness we were aroused by Banzai’s from the hundreds of people who crowded the platform. The train stopped long enough for the lieutenant-general and other high officers, the city officials and their wives, soldiers and citizens to offer us a welcome to Japan and thanks for our coming, and for me to reply from my window in a little speech which my interpreter knew by heart from scores of previous deliveries. A band—and bands are rare in Japan—was also there to play for us. Instinctively we turned to one another to ask, “How many generals of our army busy with war duties would go in full-dress uniform, in the middle of the night, to thank a party of foreign women for coming to nurse their soldiers?”

Three hours later, the 4th day of our journey was splendidly begun, for I stepped out upon the broad station platform, not only to shake hands with the usual delegations, including several American missionaries, but also to walk before rows of a thousand school children, whose bright earnest faces made one forget fatigue. The boys and girls of a great orphan asylum had gathered to sing a song composed in our honor, and they rendered it with genuine enthusiasm.

Later that day, at a hamlet which could boast no officials and no societies, yet where our train stopped ten minutes, there stood a typical country schoolmaster with his female assistant and their twenty elementary pupils. In very broken English, he bashfully told me he had been teaching his pupils about benevolence and charity and how these virtues were exemplified by our coming so great a distance to aid the people of another land. To impress the lesson more deeply on their memories, he said he had brought them to see and greet us. An incident like this throws a vivid light on the Japanese mind and ideas of education. One of the most remarkable things in the Japanese character is the combination of that fiery heroism in battle, of which all have read, with the gentleness, courtesy, and simple-minded, almost childlike frankness which was shown to us.

Every day of our stay we were more impressed by the marvelous possibilities of this new factor in world history, and by our own need, as a nation, to understand the Japanese people, to be friends with them, and to learn from them. On the other hand, I do not agree [with] the writers who have called them and their military organization “perfect,” any more than they themselves do. In fact, I found less vain self-esteem than we may see anywhere in these United States; and one of their strongest traits is the never-ceasing desire to improve themselves. For a generation they have studied, and they continue to study, the civilization of the outside world, but they are not mere copyists. On the contrary, their greatest strength lies in their ability to judge wisely; to adopt only what is good, and then to improve on that.

But let it not be supposed from the foregoing that we were welcomed only by the men of Japan. On the contrary, the women of this most courteous nation were not behind the men in showing the same feelings, though by somewhat different methods, and for many of them I grew to feel deep affection and esteem. Yet as every one knows, the growth which contact with the West has produced in Japan has but slightly affected its women. I maintain that a people whose men progress without its women is like a man trying to walk vigorously with one foot free while the other is wrapped in confining bandages. That the Japanese are beginning to appreciate this became evident in various ways. The subject was touched on in speeches and in several of the scores of addresses which were received from all parts of Japan.

The president of the Red Cross Society, Count Matsukata, one of the “Elder Statesmen” of Japan, in his formal address at the banquet he gave us, said: “We have every reason to believe that your services will be in a great measure helpful, not only to our society, but also to our countrywomen at large.” One of the finest speeches I ever heard was delivered extemporaneously in English by a Japanese professor of science in a school at Kobe. Addressing us, he concluded thus: “Your coming to the help of our country at the time of great need, I am sure, will revolutionize the old idea that has been so long clung to by our women, that they have no mission outside of their home. They will find out what there is in women by your noble example, and waken to their responsibilities.” Letters from missionaries tell the same story. One of them wrote of the excellent work being done by a patriotic society of women, founded in consequence of our coming to Japan, and she adds: “The women of this country have taken a great step in advance, since this war began, in finding how much they can do, in public and private, which before they never dreamed possible for them.”

To my surprise and great pleasure, the hand of fellowship was cordially extended to us not only by the Christians but also by the Buddhists of Japan. Their largest sect, the Zen of Soto, after gathering representatives of its priesthood from other parts of the country and assembling a large company of believers, gave us a “Welcome-meeting” at its Tokyo temple, and other sects were equally friendly and broadminded.

At the close of the specified six months of our service in the Japanese Army, it was planned by the authorities that we were to be taken on a tour of the country; but the nursing work was then so heavy that we begged permission to remain in Hiroshima until the time came for us to sail from Nagasaki on a United States Army transport. Before leaving Japan, however, the scenes attendant on our arrival were repeated on an even larger scale.

This story of our reception will have served its purpose if it conveys to Americans the message of Japanese friendship toward them with which I was charged, and if it helps them to understand and appreciate their neighbors across the western sea.

Personal Experiences in the Russo-Japanese War


This account of Dr. McGee’s service in 1905 was taken from a contemporary typescript of lecture
notes and slightly edited. It is derived from the collection of the National Museum of Health
and Medicine, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, in Washington, D.C.

At the beginning of the war it was not considered wise by our War Department to send medical officers as military attachés to either Russia or Japan, though our attachés from other branches of the service went out to the East comparatively early. As that great war progressed, however, it was realized that important lessons to our army were being lost through the absence of medical officers with the combatants. This led finally, in November 1904, to the selection of two such officers for detail as military attachés to the American legations at St. Petersburg and Tokyo for duty with the armies operating in the field. Colonel Valery Havard, Assistant Surgeon General, U.S. Army, was selected to go to the former, and the choice for the latter mission fell on me.  On arrival at Yokohama the Manchuria of the Pacific Mail, on which I was a passenger, was carefully piloted into the harbor. Supposedly this was necessary on account of the numerous mines placed there, but as no mines were removed from these waters at the close of the war when Yokohama was freely opened to the commerce of the world, it is safe to assume that the ceremony attending our entrance was merely an artifice of war.

Diplomacy is not to be hurried, and I found on reporting to our Minister in Tokyo that my plan of going to Manchuria immediately was not possible of fulfillment. The last days of the year 1904 were not characterized by any great activity on the part of either Russians or Japanese in the north, but at Port Arthur the latter were pressing nearer and nearer to the doomed fortress. Naturally, therefore, every foreign attaché, no matter what his special mission, was anxious to go to the 3rd Japanese Army, that of General Nogi at Port Arthur. In my own case this did not prove practicable and I was finally assigned to the Second Army commanded by General Oku.

I will touch very lightly on my experiences in Japan. Aside from boys hawking [newspaper] extras, which the Japanese term gomei, running swiftly through the streets ringing the bells which they all carried,1 and many war cartoons displayed on buildings, it was remarkable how little evidence of a life-and-death struggle with a powerful foe was apparent in journeying about the country. A good many soldiers are always seen in Japan, so their presence at the time of which I speak did not attract any particular attention from the visitor. In fact, the casual observer could hardly have realized that a war was going on except for the many sick and wounded who filled special trains on the railway and were carried from the stations in long lines to the hospitals.

During the war, Japan provided beds in her reserve hospitals at home for about 70,000 patients, and in addition, accommodations were furnished for about 10,000 suitable cases in convalescent camps. All of these sick, wounded and convalescents had every possible comfort which their country could supply. As an example of the efficiency of the Japanese medical department organization, it should be noted that some of the wooden wards of the hospitals were built and made ready for the reception of patients within 48 hours of the time when notification was received that they would be needed.

I made a thorough inspection of the hospitals in Tokyo and Hiroshima, the latter the most important place in Japan from the standpoint of the medical observer, and visited the convalescent camp at Atami, one of the most beautiful spots in Japan. Here not only were the material wants of the convalescent officers and soldiers provided for by a grateful government, but even their amusements were not forgotten. One of the most patronized of the latter were six little fish ponds in which soldiers were permitted to fish for goldfish.

I was also given the opportunity to go to Matsuyama on the Inland Sea, where the largest hospital for prisoners of war was located, which at this time had also a number of sound [healthy] Russian officers who had just been transferred from Port Arthur. The Japanese were rightfully very proud of Matsuyama, where they gave their captured enemies quite as good care as their own soldiers received.

On the 2nd of February 1905 I finally sailed from Ujina, the great war port. I was given passage on an old friend, the Rohilla, which had formerly been on the Hong Kong–Manila run. The Rohilla was one of the twenty hospital ships which the Japanese had in commission at this time. Two of them belonged to that model organization, the Red Cross Society of Japan. At the end of the war the Japanese had also 90 transports. This shows the military advantage of a great subsidized fleet.

Our passage to Dalny was a very slow one. The sea at this time was alive with floating mines, which necessitated special care in navigation, and we had an almost constant succession of snow squalls. Our delay really proved of little moment, however, as the harbor at Dalny had been frozen for a day or two immediately preceding our arrival, so we really reached the magnificent dock nearly as soon as would have been the case if the time of our crossing had been much shorter.

The excellent harbor which the Russians created at Dalny before the war proved of incalculable value to the Japanese, whose officers frequently stated to me that it would have been impossible for them to supply their armies in the field if the Russians had not been so kind to them. Dalny, after its capture, was always the principal Manchurian port under its new name, Tairen. The Manchurian railway led north from Dalny, with a branch to Port Arthur, and another to Yingkow. The main line passes through Tashichiao, Liaoyang, and Mukden on its way to Siberia. As it fell into the hands of the Japanese, they were compelled to change its wide gauge to their narrow one.

I had made a previous attempt to reach Port Arthur but had been refused. I now renewed this request. The military attaché is one of the greatest nuisances in modern warfare, as he is always ready with requests to go somewhere or to do something, and on account of this official position he must be shown every consideration. I finally did succeed in going to Port Arthur after a very few days at Dalny.

On entering Port Arthur the first sight which met the eyes of the visitor were the wrecked railway cars at the station. These had been hit many times during the siege. The defenses of Port Arthur were of a very elaborate character. Major Kuhn,2 of our own army, [accompanied me and] took photographs. Port Arthur was a very interesting place for me, not only on account of some of the scenes, but because of the sick and wounded, a number of thousands of whom remained at this time. I could not remain here, however, more than a very few days, for although it was still bitterly cold, the middle of February was approaching and I had a feeling that active operations could not be much longer delayed at the front.

I was suffering from an attack of the grippe when I left Port Arthur for the north [on 11 February]. Of course, my misfortunes multiplied. I missed the connecting train at Nanshan and found no shelter except a telegraph operator’s hut, where I found a place to lie on the floor in front of the only door. This was the only bad night I spent in Manchuria, and at the time I believed that every one of the three or four hundred thousand men which Japan had in that province fell over me, sometime between 9 P.M. and 4 A.M. the next morning when I took the train for Liaoyang. This was distant but little over two hundred miles, but the journey was then over twenty four hours long.

I finally joined the other foreign attachés on 15 of February at Shalaho [presumably Shih-li-ho], a little Chinese village. Up to the time of the battle of Mukden, my time was spent in seeing [the Japanese army outposts] and in making the usual visits of courtesy. On February 26, in a blinding snowstorm, we rejoined army headquarters, which had moved to a Chinese village about 15 miles to the west of the railway. The next day an opportunity was given to join a division headquarters. This possessed certain advantages, as at a division headquarters one was likely to get a nearer view of many of the phases of the battle than if one remained with army headquarters. On February 28, in company with three other officers, a German, a Frenchman, and a Britisher, I went to the 8th Division at Heikoutai, the scene of one of the most terrible battles of the war.

Early on the morning of March 1 we foreigners joined the division commander on a hill just across the river Hun from Heikoutai. From this point the battle was spread in an immense panorama, as the division to which we were attached was attacking Changtang [Changtan]. The battle literally raged all day on our front without much progress being made, but finally, by a night attack in the early morning of March 2, Changtang was taken by the 8th Division. 3

After taking Changtang, the 8th Division was not so heavily engaged, but the 5th Division to our right had a hard fight, which we saw very well from the roof of a temple. Flat ground such as that over which the battle of Mudken was fought by the 2nd Japanese Army makes it difficult for an observer to get close enough for a good view, but on the other hand, any slight elevation enables him to see everything within a wide area. We spent the night of the 2nd with division headquarters at Hochangtzu.

Early the next morning (March 3) the division headquarters again advanced. We were not so very seriously engaged on this day, though the advance was by no means unopposed. A Russian horse battery retiring to the northeast was particularly pestilential, as it would halt, fire sufficient shots to compel the infantry to deploy, and then limber up and go a mile or so, only to repeat its antics. We finally arrived at Huchishu just about dark. Rather a lively artillery duel was taking place at this time, but was soon stopped by darkness.

On the morning of the 4th a sharp fight occurred just to the north of Weichiapu. After this we advanced again, though the stiffer Russian resistance rendered our advance slow. At nightfall we had reached Hsiaoyusupu [headquarters remained here until the morning of 9 March]. We were now in contact with the main Russian position near Mukden, and during the succeeding days the fighting was very fierce.

On March 5 we all got out of the Chinese house where we lodged rather early because of sounds of very heavy firing. We found that we were just behind some Japanese mountain batteries which were engaged with some Russian field guns. The latter, on account of their longer range, rendered our position an uncomfortable one. In fact, except for a brief period at noon when we managed to get on the roof for a short time, we had to take shelter all day behind a wall. The hard frozen walls about all the Chinese compounds afforded excellent shelter from everything except explosive shells.

Towards night the Russian artillery fire slackened a little and I managed to visit a Japanese dressing station near where we were. This was badly exposed to the enemy’s fire and its personnel suffered a number of casualties. You know, of course, that in actual battle at the front the Geneva Cross offers just about as much protection as would a parasol.

Our headquarters remained in the same place through the night of the 8th. On the morning of March 6 we determined not to be penned up as badly as we had been the day before, and before it was light we made our way to the rear, finally reaching a hill which was the best point for observation anywhere near. Its advantage was appreciated by army headquarters, and General Oku spent most of his days here until the end of the battle.

You should know that there is no personal leadership by the higher commanders in the Japanese army. They sit back, preferably where they are not greatly exposed to fire, and so are not affected by the sights of the battlefield, leaving their division commanders to take more direct charge of operations. General Oku has been called the man of iron. The story is told of him at Nanshan when the division commanders, who were near enough to see the terrible losses which their troops were sustaining, reported again and again that their casualties were so heavy that it was improbable that the hill could be taken; he invariably replied that the hill must be taken, which was finally done.

On the 6th we saw a fierce infantry attack by the 8th Division, though an unsuccessful one. This was typical of such attacks so I will devote a few words to its description. First, the fire of all the Japanese guns available was concentrated on the position to be attacked. This was of course for the purpose of shaking the enemy and to make the Russian soldiers keep under shelter, thus preventing them from firing on the infantry—or, if they did fire, pointing their rifles too high on account of unwillingness to expose themselves. Then the infantry deployed, leaving their shelter. Meanwhile the Japanese artillery continued to fire over their heads. The Japanese infantry, of course, was extended rather widely, but the order was not as open as that we have seen recommended on account of the British experience in South Africa. This would be a bad formation against as obstinate an enemy as the Russians, for with it not enough men would be available at one point to make the final assault.

The Japanese infantry advanced by rushes, stopping now and again to lie down to fire and to get a breath. On this occasion the Japanese troops advanced a considerable distance, but the Russian fire was too heavy for them, and they hesitated, stopped, and falling back began to form little bunches. The soldiers did not give up all the ground they had gained, however, but intrenched themselves where they were with burlap bags.4 The ground was entirely too hard to dig intrenchments.

As soon as darkness permitted we stole back to our village. The night fighting was quite as severe as that by day, but it was not of much value to the observer.

On the 7th we were again on the headquarters hill at an early hour, and this day we witnessed the greatest field fight of the war. This was at Likwanpu, on our left, a salient of the Japanese position, where the Third Japanese division was attacked by three Russian divisions.5 Some high ground intervened between our hill and the village, which prevented us from seeing the fight itself very well, but we could see hordes of Russian soldiers going back into Mukden.

All of this time great streams of wounded were flowing in from the Japanese front. The field hospitals were especially busy places at night, when the many wounded who could not reach them by day came or were brought in. It was rather surprising to see how little professional work was done in the medical department organizations at the front; all wounded were hurried to the rear after their first needs had been attended to in order to provide room for new wounded.

Early on the morning of the 8th some Russian batteries gave some wounded Japanese a very lively dance just in front of headquarters hill. Fortunately, as with much shrapnel firing at rather long range, no casualties resulted. Some of the foreigners thought that the Russians intentionally fired on these wounded, but personally I hardly believe that to have been the case. We called certain Russian batteries the “mad batteries” on account of their apparent lack of objective—shooting here, there, and everywhere.

On the afternoon of the 8th we foreigners received a message to return to division headquarters, which we did. Just at this time our village seemed to bear the particular grudge of the Russian artillery, and the further side of a thick wall was decidedly the happiest place for the observer. The thorough system of the Japanese seemed a little ridiculous for once, since just at this time our mail was distributed in the usual manner. There seemed to be nothing else to do so we squatted in the shelter of the nearest wall and read our letters.

Hardly had we done so when we received an order to proceed to another place to rejoin divisional headquarters. It was evident from the character of the order that some mistake had been made, so we were compelled to go back to the headquarters hill, where we learned that we were to occupy our old quarters for the night. It was almost dark when this was settled, and we remained for a time to watch the brilliant spectacle. In front of us was Nienquantum [Ning-kuan-tun], which sheltered a Japanese brigade of our division, on which some Russian batteries were firing explosive shell, almost every one of which was marked by a fire. Behind us the sun was setting with the greatest splendor, the vast plain lying absolutely quiet under its rays.

The 9th was not a good day for the observer on account of a severe dust storm. We foreigners rejoined army headquarters, as the 8th Division was ordered to the assistance of the Third Army. On the 10th the Russians had retired from our front, and it was only possible to view the positions they had occupied, and for me personally to find out how the evacuation of the wounded was proceeding. On the 11th we entered Mukden and the battle was over as far as we were concerned. 6

1.  Lawson, Lady Kate, Highways & Homes of Japan, p. 287:
“In war-time the Japanese government controls the telegraph lines and the mails, and the newspapers are under the surveillance of a censor. But certain official reports are issued daily to the public from the war and navy offices, and in an incredibly short time their contents are known in every village in the interior that is reached by telegraph wires; while in the cities and towns, the newspapers issue extras, which are given free of charge to all subscribers. At every newspaper office throughout the empire, relays of news-boys (gogaiya) remain on duty night and day awaiting these extra editions; and the moment the slips containing special war news leave the press they seize them and hurry off to their different routes with jingling bells tied to their waist-belts, so that everybody may know that something has happened, for the police prohibit shouting in the streets. The importance of the news is emphasised by the number of bells, from one to six, fastened to the girdles, six bells denoting that news of supreme importance has been received...”

2.  Joseph E. Kuhn, Army Corps of Engineers, was already in Port Arthur; in her later slide lectures in the United States Dr. McGee used photos he took during her visit.

3.  Dr. McGee was assigned to the Eighth Division, which was part of the Second Japanese Army under the leadership of General Oku. After taking Changtan, the Eighth Division moved up the north bank of the river Hun in the direction of Likwanpu, where they would link up with the Third Japanese Army under General Nogi and thus encircle Mukden. The flanking movement was successful, and by 7 March the armies of Generals Oku and Nogi formed one continuous line to the west of Mukden. On that night the Russian commander in Mukden ordered his army to leave Mukden and retreat towards the north.

4.  Japanese infantrymen carried burlap bags into battle, which they could fill with earth and place in front of them as a defense against bullets when there were no protective trenches.

5.  This battle was one of the decisive events of the campaign. The Russians attempted to break through the Japanese lines for the last time and failed.

6.  The Japanese occupied Mukden at 10 A.M. on 10 March; there was scattered fighting on that date and resistance ended on 11 March.