Naval War College Review


The naval museum in St. Petersburg once commemorated the Russo-Japanese War with photos of riddled warships and pieces of armor plate pierced by Japanese shells. That conflict yielded Russia no glorious trophies of war to adorn its display cases or walls. The literary record too is a dismal litany of tragedy and defeat, relieved only by occasional episodes of individual and collective heroism. The Russian tragedy was rooted in bureaucratic ineptitude and the failure of the tsarist leadership to coordinate the empire's foreign, military, and naval policies and capabilities. Japan's assault on the Russian fleet on the night of 26-27 January 1904--Admiral S.O. Makarov had warned in 1896 of a surprise attack-caught the Russian army and navy unprepared for war in the Far East.