Historicity: 9 Feb 2022
Your daily dose of curated historic curiosity.
9 February, 1904 - 118 years ago today, in China
In a stunning move, the forces of Imperial Japan conclude the Battle of Port Arthur against the Russian navy during the opening salvo of the Russo-Japanese War.
Both the Russian and Japanese empires had designs on Korea and Manchuria. Port Arthur was a critical Russian warm water port which had been leased from the Chinese - Russia's only year-round, ice-free access to the Pacific.
Japan saw this as a threat on it's plans for mainland Asia.
In the early morning hours of February 9th, Admiral Togo, commander of the Japanese fleet, launched a Pearl Harbor style surprise attack on the Russian Eastern Fleet at Port Arthur. His fleet consisted of 6 battleships, 5 cruisers, 15 destroyers, and 20 torpedo boats.
The attack was unexpected, and caught the Russians completely unprepared to defend. Russian Admiral Starck found his fleet of 7 battleships and 6 cruisers caught in port within range of defensive artillery batteries, but few of those batteries were actually operational, their funding having been spent elsewhere.
Although the Japanese had surprise on their side, they failed to press the advantage early. The battle lasted most of the day, and by the end both sides had taken significant hits, but no major warships were lost.
This still favored the Japanese, however, who had a nearby safe port to accomplish repairs. On the other hand, the Russian fleet at Port Arthur had very limited repair capabilities with no alternatives nearby.
Two days later, the Russian minelaying ship Yenisei was laying mines at the entrance to the port when a mine came in contact with it’s rudder and exploded. The ship sunk itself, taking with it 120 sailors and the only map to where the mines had been laid. The Boyarin was sent to investigate the accident, but also stuck two mines and sank.
The worst losses in the opening moves of the year-long war were self inflicted.
Why weren't the Japanese able to take advantage of their carefully planned surprise attack and superior numbers?
Where were the Russian command staff when the attack started?
Why did it take almost 8 hours for the Russian fleet to get up to steam for a counterattack?
How did the impacts of the Russo-Japanese War contribute to the later Soviet-Japanese War?
World War Zero - the Russo-Japanese War video from The Great War on YouTube. 📺
Russia’s Pearl Harbor on National Interest.
Battle of Port Arthur image collection on WikiMedia. 📸
What else makes February 9th special around the world?
Today is the Welsh holiday Gwyl Mabsant, or the “Feast of the Patron”, a fair or festival commemorating the patron saint of a parish. Although a religious holiday, these festivals gained a reputation as rather rowdy affairs, thanks to the great gluttony of feasting, drinking, and betting local parishioners enjoyed. Celebration of Gwyl Mabsant appears to have died out by the mid 1800s.
In Lebanon, today is Saint Maron Day. Maron was the father of the Maronite Christians, an important religious demographic in Lebanon.
It is National Pizza Day today, as well as Read in the Bathtub Day. 🍕📖🛀
The 24th Winter Olympic games continue in Beijing, China today, as does the World AG Expo in Tulare, California.
Famous births on February 9th, under the sign of Aquarius
American atheist, radical & revolutionary Thomas Paine (1737-1809),
9th U.S. president William Henry Harrison (1773-1841),
Home Alone actor Joe Pesci (1943-),
and country singer Travis Tritt (1963-).
“He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself."
- Thomas Paine
Today is the 40th day of the year on the Gregorian calendar. 325 days remaining.
It is 18.104.22.168.17 on the Mayan long count calendar.
It is day 13 - Movement, in the 13 day cycle of the Snake, in the solar year of the Rabbit on the Aztec calendar.
It is 8 Adar I, 5782 on the Jewish calendar.