Battle of Songhwan, 29 July 1894

Battle of Songhwan, 29 July 1894

Battle of Songhwan, 29 July 1894

The battle of Songhwan (29 July 1894) was Japan's first overseas battle for three hundred years, and saw the Japanese army in Korea defeat a Chinese force on the road to Asan in a battle that took place several days before the official outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95.

China and Japan had both moved troops to Korea in response to an uprising by pro-Japanese elements earlier in 1894. The Korean government had asked for help from China, and China had responded by sending a small army. The revolt quickly collapsed, but Japan still sent an army of its own, and occupied Seoul. The two armies were now separated by about fifty miles, as the Chinese were based at Asan, due south of Seoul.

On 25 July a Japanese force of around 4,000 men, made up of the Twelfth and Twenty-First Infantry Regiments, moved south from Seoul. It was commanded by General Oshima Yoshimasa.

The Chinese had built a camp at Songhwan, a key point on the road about seventeen miles from Asan. Their camp was located on a hill, protected by rice-paddies and wet ground, with a small stream in front of the hill. The Chinese had around 2,500-3,000 men in the position at Songhwan, commanded by General Yeh-chi-chao.

General Oshima decided to cross the stream very early on 29 July. His main force began to cross the stream at 2am, and for an hour there was no resistance. At about 3am, just as the last detachment was crossing the bridge, they were ambushed by a Chinese force that was hiding close to the bridge. In a fight that lasted around fifteen minutes the Japanese lose six dead to Chinese fire, 17 or 18 drowned and 15-16 wounded, while the Chinese lost 18 or 19 dead.

The main battle began at about 5am when the Japanese left wing opened fire. The two wings of the Japanese army then attacked the Chinese positions on the hill. The Japanese were caught by surprise for a second time, this time by a Chinese artillery battery in a wood on the Chinese left. This part of the Chinese line held out for longest, but after about an hour and a half the fighting was over. The Japanese reported losses of 34 dead and 54 wounded.

The Chinese retreated back towards Asan town, but they didn't make a stand there and instead retreated north towards Pyongyang. By mid-August the Chinese survivors had joined the main army at Pyongyang, but the Japanese weren't far behind. On 16 September 1894 the Chinese were defeated at Pyongyang and were forced to retreat north out of Korea.


Battle of Songhwan, 29 July 1894 - History

On the Japanese side, approximately 240,000 fighting men were mobilized for the campaigns in Korea and China proper, along with another 154,000 behind-the-lines laborers. Battlefield fatalities were surprisingly low, numbering only around 1,400 additionally, many died of illnesses, particularly those caused by severe winter conditions. Another 50,000 troops and 26,000 laborers were deployed in the relatively ignored Formosa campaign, where Japanese losses were actually higher. Overall Chinese casualties were much greater. In the battle for Port Arthur alone, for example, it is estimated that as many as 60,000 Chinese, including civilians, may have been killed.

In this moment of heady triumph, Japan did indeed seem to have &ldquothrown off Asia&rdquo and gained recognition as a modern power, just as Fukuzawa had urged more than a decade earlier. This great demonstration of military prowess not only hastened the end of the unequal treaties that the foreign powers had saddled Japan with ever since the 1850s. It also opened the door to an extraordinary, almost unimaginable prize: the conclusion (in 1902) of a bilateral military alliance with Great Britain.

As time would show, however, this proved a costly triumph for everyone involved. In taking the imperialist powers as a model even while condemning their arrogance and aggression, the Japanese had adopted an inherently ambiguous and contradictory role. And in &ldquothrowing off&rdquo China as they did&mdashnot merely decisively but also derisively&mdashthey exhibited a racist contempt for other Asians that, even today, can take one&rsquos breath away.

Lafcadio Hearn, the distinguished writer and long-time resident of Japan, immediately recognized the perilous nature of the new world Japan had entered. In 1896, the year after the war ended, he wrote this:


Perhaps the future danger is just in this immense self-confidence. It is not a new feeling created by victory. It is a race feeling, which repeated triumphs have served only to strengthen.


(Quoted from Hearn&rsquos book Kokoro by Shumpei Okamoto in Impressions of the Front.)

Although the Sino-Japanese War lasted less than a year, woodblock artists churned out around 3,000 works of ostensible battlefront &ldquoreportage&rdquo&mdashamounting, as Donald Keene has pointed out, to an amazing ten new images every day.

What we now regard as the great flowering of the woodblock-print tradition ended at the very end of the feudal era with artists of surpassing genius such as Katsushika Hokusai (1760&ndash1849) and Utagawa Hiroshige (1797&ndash1858). The &ldquoMeiji prints&rdquo that followed were less esteemed. Even generations later, after collectors and connoisseurs had belatedly come to recognize the enormous creativity and enduring value of the feudal-era prints&mdashhad accorded them, as it were, a kind of &ldquoclassic&rdquo stature of their own&mdashthe prints of the modern era were generally held in low regard.

It is only in recent decades that the Meiji prints have drawn serious attention. Partly, it must be acknowledged, this came about because they were lying around in considerable quantity and much less expensive to collect than the suddenly pricey feudal prints. Partly, too, this rise in interest occurred because these later prints were belatedly seen to have a distinctive vigor all their own.

There was, however, a third factor behind the rediscovery of Meiji prints. As historians began to turn increasing attention to &ldquopopular&rdquo culture (beginning around the 1960s), and to place more weight on studying &ldquotexts&rdquo that went beyond written documents per se, graphics and images of every sort were suddenly recognized to be a vivacious way of visualizing the past. One could, in effect, literally see what people in other times and places were themselves actually seeing&mdashand then try to make sense of this. One could &ldquoread&rdquo visual images much as one might read the written word&mdashnot simply as art, but also as social and cultural documents.

In the West, the &ldquojournalistic&rdquo role that woodblock prints played in late-19th-century Japan was largely filled by publications that featured engravings and lithographs based on photographs. By the time of the Sino-Japanese War, popular periodicals such as the Illustrated London News also featured photographs themselves. The impression of the world these Western graphics conveyed was, as a rule, both more &ldquorealistic&rdquo and more detached. They were literally, and often figuratively as well, colorless&mdasha sharp contrast to the vivacious and highly subjective woodblock prints.

Japanese photographers did cover the Sino-Japanese War an evocative woodblock by Kobayashi Kiyochika even takes them as its subject, standing in the snow and photographing the troops with a large box camera on a tripod.

There was no counterpart to this on the Chinese side&mdashno such popular artwork, no such explosion of nationalism, no such nation-wide audience ravenous for news from the front.

As it happens, there does exist a rare, anonymous Japanese woodcut engraving of one of the greatest battles of the Sino-Japanese War, the capture of Port Arthur in November 1894. Identical in size with a standard-size woodblock triptych (14 x 28 inches), this suggests how Japanese graphic artists might have depicted the war if they had adopted the Western practice of detailed black-and-white renderings. The detail is, indeed, meticulous&mdashso obsessively fine that the overall impression is almost clinical. The contrast to the animated multi-colored woodblock prints could hardly be greater.


&ldquoIllustration of the Second Army Attacking and Occupying Port Arthur,&rdquo artist unknown, 1894

[2000.369] Sharf Collection,
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

[2000.435] Sharf Collection,
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The overwhelming majority of war prints were, in fact, nothing of the sort. Although some artists and illustrators did travel with the troops, the woodblock artists remained in Japan&mdashcatching the latest reports from the front as they came in by telegraph and rushing to draw, cut, print, display, and sell their pictured version of what they had read before this particular &ldquonews&rdquo became outdated. (Occasionally prints were initiated in anticipation of the actual event!) Toshikata was offering an imagined scene&mdasha set piece that quickly became formulaic.

In these circumstances, prints often simply &ldquoquoted&rdquo other prints. In early November 1894, for example, Toshikata&rsquos colleague Watanabe Nobukazu produced a rendering of &ldquoOur Forces&rsquo Great Victory and Occupation of Jiuliancheng&rdquo that bore close resemblance to Toshikata&rsquos &ldquoHurrah, Hurrah&rdquo of over three months earlier. Disciplined soldiers looked down from on high, other troops advancing below them. The same military flag fluttered in the same right hand panel of the triptych a bent and gnarled pine, so beloved in Japanese art, was again rooted in the center of the image the foe retreated in the far distance.

The same Captain Higuchi&mdashflourishing his sword and leading his forces in attack while clutching a Chinese child found abandoned on the battlefield&mdashsteps into a print by Migita Toshihide in almost the identical heroic pose. Even the horizontal lines that streak across the scene to suggest gunfire appear in both prints. When Toshihide depicts &ldquoColonel Satō&rdquo in an entirely different battle, he essentially just turns his Captain Higuchi in the opposite direction and has him braving the bullets while holding a flag instead of a child. Later, when the Japanese army moved south to occupy the Pescadores, Toshihide&rsquos intrepid officer metamorphosed as &ldquoCaptain Sakuma raising a war cry&rdquo. Gekkō&rsquos version of the bearded &ldquoColonel Satō charging at the enemy&rdquo turned the hero back to the usual charging-left direction. Ginkō placed his intrepid hero-with-a-sword (in this case, unnamed) on horseback in his rendering of the great battle of Pyongyang.

The Predictable Pose of the Hero

Although prints of the Sino-Japanese War purported to depict actual battles and the exploits of real-life officers and enlisted men, the &ldquoHero&rdquo almost invariably struck a familiar pose&mdashlike a traditional Kabuki actor playing a modern-day warrior. Officers in austere Western-style uniforms brandished swords (the counterpart for enlisted men was the bayonet). Their posture was resolute, their discipline obvious, their will transparently unshakable.

While Japanese fighting men were invariably depicted as heroic, renderings of the Chinese foe also followed predictable patterns. Their brightly colored, old-fashioned garments posed a sharp contrast to the austere Western-style uniforms of the Japanese, and they were commonly depicted as being overwhelmed, routed, and slaughtered. Such images graphically captured the double implications of “Throwing off Asia” rhetoric: first, getting rid of old-fashioned and non-Western attitudes, customs, and behavior in Japan itself and second, literally overcoming Japan's Asian neighbors, who were perceived as having failed to respond to the Western challenge, and thereby imperiling the security of all Asia. Such attitudes reflected the survival-of-the-fittest ideas that the Japanese learned from the Western powers themselves.

There is nothing unique about valorizing and personalizing one&rsquos own side while diminishing the enemy. In the Sino-Japanese War, however, the Japanese were encountering war in unfamiliar ways. To begin with, although they possessed a deep history of warrior rule dating back to the late-12th century, this had actually ended with several centuries of peace. From the early-17th century until the arrival of Commodore Perry in the 1850s, Japan&rsquos samurai elite had been warriors without wars.

Story-tellers and actors and artists in late-19th-century Japan thus had a rich tradition and repository of images concerning medieval warfare to draw upon&mdashbut no major recent wars apart from domestic conflicts just before and after the Meiji Restoration. The long Tokugawa period (1600&ndash1868) that preceded the Restoration produced famous swordsmen rather than battlefield heroes. Beyond this, moreover, the &ldquosamurai&rdquo battlefield heroes of earlier times had come from a hereditary elite there were few commoners among them.

The Sino-Japanese War thus provided something very new&mdashnot only real war and real battlefield heroes, and not only heroes from the lower ranks and lower classes, but also a modern and highly mechanized war against a foreign foe. Before the Restoration, Japan was not a &ldquonation&rdquo per se. It did not define itself vis-à-vis other countries or interact in any serious way with them. The Restoration marked the real initiation of what we now call &ldquonation building&rdquo&mdashand the Sino-Japanese War carried this to an entirely new level. When Lafcadio Hearn spoke of the conquest of China as marking &ldquothe real birthday of the new Japan,&rdquo it was this sense of nationalistic&mdashand now imperialistic&mdashmodernity that he had in mind.

There was tension, danger, huge risk in all this&mdashand, certainly as the artists conveyed it, exhilarating beauty as well. Japan&rsquos leaders threw the dice when they took on China in 1894. Indeed, most foreign observers initially assumed that China&mdashwith its rich history and vast size and population&mdashwould prevail. Instead, as the Japanese war correspondents and artists breathlessly conveyed to their fired-up audience back home, Japanese victories came swiftly. Chinese forces were routed. Japan had mastered modern war&mdashnot only on land, but also on the sea.

Most of the woodblock artists who tried to capture this excitement were young. (In 1894, when the war began, Kiyochika, the doyen of these artists, was 47 and Ogata Gekkō 35. Toshikata was 28, Toshihide 31, Taguchi Beisaku 30, Kokunimasa 22, Watanabe Nobukazu a mere 20. Toshimitsu&rsquos birth date is unclear, but he was probably in his late 30s.) They not only imbibed the new nationalism, but seized the moment to introduce new artistic subjects (the weapons and machinery of modern war, explosions, searchlights, Asian enemies, real contemporary heroes in extremis)&mdashand, with this, what they perceived to be a new Western-style sense of &ldquorealism&rdquo that extended beyond subject matter to new ways of rendering perspective, light, and shade.

When all was said and done, what they visualized in their propagandistic “war reportage” was a beautiful, heroic, modern war. For what turned out to be a fleeting moment, the woodblock artists imagined themselves to be splendidly up-to-date.


Battle of Songhwan, 29 July 1894 - History

NEVER FORGOTTEN: Descendants of Chinese soldiers killed in the Jiawu War spread flowers onto the Dadonggou area of the Yellow Sea, the main battlefield during the war, on July 29 near Dandong, northeast China's Liaoning Province (CFP)

The war also played a decisive role in the collapse of the Qing Dynasty and the rise of Japan as an Asian power, according to Dai Yi, a professor with Beijing-based Renmin University of China.

"The war reduced China to a prey of Western powers and placed Japan on a fast track to becoming a modern power, especially with the huge war indemnities from China," Dai said.

On April 17, 1895, China and Japan signed the Treaty of Shimonoseki. In the treaty, China recognized the full and complete independence and autonomy of Korea—a stipulation that actually made Korea more susceptible to Japanese influence. The Qing government also promised to pay Japan 200 million taels (approximately worth $5.3 billion today) in war indemnities and ceded the Liaodong Peninsula, Taiwan and the Penghu Islands.

It also complied with the opening of four more treaty ports, including Suzhou in Jiangsu Province, Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province, Shashi in Hubei Province and Chongqing in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River. China also had to give Japanese nationals the right to open factories and engage in industry and manufacturing in China.

"Winning the war made the Japanese more confident in the country's military superiority. It misled Japan in believing that war and aggression can yield wealth and resources, which put it on a self-destructive path of militarism," Dai said.

The aftermath

The defeat of China in the Jiawu War altered the fate of China under the Qing Dynasty. "The defeat changed how China was viewed in both the East and the West. The perception of Chinese weakness led to far more aggressive intrusions by foreign powers," said Paine. Starting from 1897, the imperial powers, including Germany, Russia, Britain, Japan and France, cut China up between them.

However, Zong suggested that there was a silver lining to the defeat. "It was from the war that a true revival movement began, which led to the Hundred Day's Reform in 1898, the National Revolution in 1911 that overthrew the Qing government, the May Fourth Movement in 1919, and ultimately the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949," Zong said.

"We should realize it was the First Sino-Japanese War that opened the door for the Chinese people to rise to seek the real modernization step by step," said Ma Yong, another researcher with the CASS' Institute of Modern History.

He said the history also has modern-day applications, as China's leadership is now emphasizing both reform and a new focus on the country's development.

"All the implications of history can be boiled down to one sentence: We must build China into a real modern and civilized society, being respected by other countries," Ma said.

Major Events of the Jiawu War of 1894-95:

July 25, 1894: Japanese warships attack two Chinese vessels near the Korean port of Asan

July 29, 1894: The field armies of the Qing Dynasty and Japan engage on land at Songhwan. The battle ends with a Japanese victory the next day

August 1, 1894: China and Japan officially declare war

September 16, 1894: The Qing army is defeated in Pyongyang and retreats to the Chinese side of the Yalu River

September 17, 1894: The Beiyang Fleet is defeated by the Japanese Grand Fleet in the Battle of the Yalu River

November 21, 1894: The Second Army of Japan conquers Lushun, sometimes known as Port Arthur, in northeast China and commits the Port Arthur Massacre

February 2, 1895: The Japanese army captures the port of Weihai in east China's Shandong Province

February 12, 1895: The Beiyang Fleet surrenders to the Japanese in Weihai

March 30, 1895: Armistice is reached between the Qing Dynasty and Japan

April 17, 1895: The Treaty of Shimonoseki is signed between the two countries. The war ends.


Battle of Songhwan, 29 July 1894 - History

This year marks the 120th anniversary of the outbreak of the First Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95, commonly known in China as the Jiawu War. Time has passed, but the trauma of the conflict is still felt by the Chinese people even today.

Facing crises within and without, China and Japan both chose reform as the road to reviving their respective societies since the 1860s. While Japan's Meiji Restoration's focus was a long-term plan to build Japan into a powerful, modern country, China's equivalent Self-Strengthening Movement existed only to keep the Qing Dynasty alive.

July 25, 1894: Japanese warships attack two Chinese vessels near the Korean port of Asan

July 29, 1894: The field armies of the Qing Dynasty and Japan engage on land at Songhwan. The battle ends with a Japanese victory the next day

August 1, 1894: China and Japan officially declare war

September 16, 1894: The Qing army is defeated in Pyongyang and retreats to the Chinese side of the Yalu River

September 17, 1894: The Beiyang Fleet is defeated by the Japanese Grand Fleet in the Battle of the Yalu River

November 21, 1894: The Second Army of Japan conquers Lushun, sometimes known as Port Arthur, in northeast China and commits the Port Arthur Massacre

February 2, 1895: The Japanese army captures the port of Weihai in east China's Shandong Province

February 12, 1895: The Beiyang Fleet surrenders to the Japanese in Weihai

March 30, 1895: Armistice is reached between the Qing Dynasty and Japan

April 17, 1895: The Treaty of Shimonoseki is signed between the two countries. The war ends.


Impact of the Homestead strike

Though the Homestead workers initially enjoyed widespread public support, this changed after their brutal treatment of the Pinkertons, as well as an attempt made on Frick’s life in late July by the anarchist Alexander Berkman, who had no connection with the union. Homestead resumed operations in full by mid-August 1892, thanks to some 1,700 strikebreakers, including some of the state’s first Black steelworkers.

Many of the striking workers had returned to work by mid-October, and the union admitted defeat the following month. The strike’s leaders were charged with murder, and others with lesser crimes. None were convicted, but the damage to unionized labor at Homestead had been done. With Amalgamated out of the way, Carnegie slashed wages across the board, implemented a 12-hour workday and cut hundreds of jobs in the years to come.

The Homestead debacle helped turn public opinion against the use of hired help like the Pinkertons in labor disputes, and 26 states passed laws outlawing it in the years following the strike. Carnegie’s own reputation suffered irreparable damage, with critics branding him a hypocrite and a coward for hiding out in Scotland and allowing Frick to do the dirty work.

Still, profits at Carnegie Steel continued to rise as its productivity outpaced its competitors, even as membership in the Amalgamated dropped from more than 20,000 in 1892 to 8,000 by 1895. The Homestead strike broke the power of the Amalgamated and effectively ended unionizing among steelworkers in the United States for the next 26 years, before it made a resurgence at the end of World War I.


Jubal Early: Early Life and Military Service

Jubal Anderson Early was born in Franklin County, Virginia, on November 3, 1816. His father was a well-known farmer and politician, and Early grew up on a plantation tended by many slaves. In 1833 Early was appointed to the United States Military Academy at West Point. He graduated in 1837, finishing 18th in a class of 50. At West Point Early also earned a reputation for being irascible that would follow him throughout his career. His tendency toward insults played a part in an altercation with future Confederate General Lewis Armistead, who resigned from the Academy after he broke a plate over Early’s head during an argument.

Did you know? General Jubal Early’s abrasive personality and quick temper were notorious in the Confederate Army. Robert E. Lee, who respected Early as a field commander, was known to refer to him as the � Old Man.”

Commissioned into the 3rd U.S. Artillery Regiment, Early served in the Second Seminole War (1835-42) for a brief period before resigning from the military in 1838 to pursue law. He proved a successful lawyer and was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1841 before being appointed a commonwealth’s attorney in 1843. He held this position for several years, with a brief interruption for service as a volunteer officer during the Mexican-American War (1846-48). Early was a lifelong bachelor, but during his time as a lawyer he began a long public relationship with a Virginia woman named Julia McNealey. The couple would eventually have four children before she married another man in 1871.


Battle of Songhwan, 29 July 1894 - History



Category: The Asan Campaign - The Seikan Campaign [Seonghwan]) -- Beisen and his sons

Accession Number: DFJN2015PRJW0024

Title (Original): 大日本帝国万々歳成歓衝撃我軍大勝之図
Title: Dai Nihon Teikoku ban-banzai Seikan shōgeki waga gun taishō no zu
Translated Title: Long live the Great Japanese Empire! Our army's victorious attack on Seonghwan(British Library)

Recorded in the 1991 Worcester Art Museum publication &ldquoIn Battles Light&rdquo, as Hurrah! Hurrah! For the Great Japanese Empire! Picture of the Assault on Songhwan, a Great Victory for Our Troops. (Dai Nihon teikoku banbanzai: Seikan shūgeki waga gun taishō no zu). Catalogue number 39, p.72.
Recorded in the 2001 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts publication &ldquoJapan at the Dawn of the Modern Age&rdquo, as &ldquoBan-Banzai for the Great Japanese Empire! Illustration of the Assault on Songhwan, a Great Victory for Our Troops.&rdquo Catalogue number 26, p.71.
Recorded in the Shinbaku Books 2014 publication &ldquoMassacres in Manchuria: Sino Japanese War Prints 1894-1895&rdquo, edited by Jack Hunter, as The assault on Songhwan, with reporters (including the Kyoto painter Kubota Beisen) taking notes, page 29.
Recorded in the 1983 Philadelphia Museum of Art publication &ldquoImpressions of the Front&rdquo, as Banzai! Banzai for the Great Japanese Empire! The Assault on Songhwan (Dai Nihon teikoku banbanzai: Seikan shūgeki waga gun taishōno zu). Catalogue number 4. p.20.
Recorded in the 1983 publication &ldquoThe Sino-Japanese War by Nathan Chaikïn&rdquo, as &ldquoPicture of the fierce attack and great victory of our Imperial armed forces, during the Song-hwan battle. Hurrah for the Empire!) (Dai Nihon teikoku ban-banzai: Seikan shōgeki waga gun taishō no zu). catalogue number: 20. p.67.
Recorded in The Lavenberg Collection of Japanese Prints &ldquoSino-Japanese War Prints (1894-1895)&rdquo, (IHL Cat. #81) as &ldquoBan-Banzai for the Great Japanese Empire! Illustration of the Assault on Songhwan: A Great Victory for Our Troops.
Recorded in the 2008 paper Throwing Off Asia II: woodblock prints of the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95) by John W. Dower &ndash Chapter Two, &ldquoKiyochika&rsquos War&rdquo.pp.2-1 and 2-6. as &ldquoHurrah, Hurrah for the Great Japanese Empire ! Picture of the Assault on Songhwan, a Great Victory for Our Troops.&rdquo

Artist (Original): 水野年方 (1866-1908)
Artist:Mizuno Toshikata
Medium: Japanese woodblock print (nishiki-e) ink and colour on paper
Seal : Toshikata Osai shujin
Signature: Motome ni ojite (by request) Toshikata e Oju Toshikata e
Publisher (Original) :
Publisher: Akiyama Buemon. Nihonbashi-ku
Engraver: Unknown
Printer: Akiyama Buemon
Rinsha: Akiyama Buemon
Publication Date: Meiji 27 (August 1894)
Acquisition Date: 18 September 2015

Country of origin: Japan
Size: Vertical ōban. Triptych. 27 ½ x 14 (inches). 69.3 x 35.7cm

Followed with interest in newspapers and weekly magazines throughout Japan and the world, the Sino-Japanese War introduced a new occupation to the Japanese &ndash war correspondent. This print documents the new phenomenon and identifies those who accompanied the army in the assault on Songhwan on July 29, 1894, before the formal declaration of war. The figures on the right are simply classified as &ldquonewspaper correspondents&rdquo (shō-shimbunsha tokuhain), but those on the left are identified by name &ndash &ldquoartist Kinsen&rdquo (gahaku Kinsen-kun) and &ldquoartist Beisen&rdquo (gahaku Beisen-kun). Kubota Beisen (1852-1906), wearing the white pith helmet, was a well-known Kyoto painter. The most important Japanese reporter at the front, he sent eyewitness reports and illustrations that are a primary source of information on the battles. &lsquo His son Kinsen (1875-1954) was a correspondent during both the Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese wars. (&lsquoKubota Beisen, Nisshin sentō gabō (Picture Reports on the Sino-Japanese War), 11 Volumes (Tokyo, 1894-1895).
From the publication &ldquoIn Battles Light&rdquo, Catalogue number 39, pp.72 and 73.

Dramatic scene of Japanese imperial troops attacking Songhwan during the Sino-7Japanese War. From a steep hill, soldiers fire down on a Chinese fortress, raining a volley of shots over the frightened enemy, who flee in panic under clouds of smoke. In the centre, two officers rally the attack, waving their swords above their heads. Most interestingly, a group of reporters can be seen at right, one man scribbling in a notebook with a pencil while another draws a quick sketch with a brush and ink, a drawing board suspended from his back. A Japanese flag flutters in the breeze overhead. A terrific, bold composition, beautifully detailed.

Eight war correspondents observe the assault on Songhwan on July 29, 1894, in this woodcut. The foremost reporter, the white-capped Kubota Beisen (1852-1906), was also a painter, whose observations are recorded in a series of pictorial reports on the Sino-Japanese War. He wrote: &ldquoThe company taking the left wing arrived atop the heights northeast of Songhwan at 5:20 AM and, having dug in, started shelling the enemy camp, which was well in range, causing a great number of casualties. The infantry also advanced. &ndash&ldquoWith a full strike force our men captured five enemy camps by 7:30 AM and the battered Chinese fled, leaving countless quantities of ammunition and supplies, including eight field guns. In these two hours of fierce battle, China suffered five hundred casualties, and Japan, ninety, including two officers,&rdquo (&lsquoKubota Beisen, Nisshin sentō gabō (Picture Reports on the Sino-Japanese War), Volume 2, (November 1894, pp.4-5).

It was the first battle fought by Japan in a foreign war since three centuries, and it was the first experiment of the new army organised entirely on the European system. Although the Japanese were confident of success, it must have been satisfactory to them to find their expectations so fully realised. The Asan campaign was a small affair, but its prompt execution showed that the generals knew how to command, and that the army organisation worked smoothly, even in a country unprovided with good roads. For the first time, or so it seems, artists and newspapermen appeared on the battlefield. The Kubota trio, Beisen the father, Beisen and Kinsen, his sons, were the only ones to be seen on print, although in this one, we can observe the father and the younger son Kinsen, They were present during the Song-hwan engagement, basically sketching the memorable event, nattily dressed, while newspapermen were scribbling notes and comments. Although Beisen had to return home, due to a bout of dysentery, he apparently returned, since his name is affixed on a set of illustrated books, signed by all three. Most of the artists did their stint at home, as news of each battle reached Tokyo as soon as it took place in the fields. Names and places, hitherto unknown to most, came out of press and were digested into vivid depictions about the heroic virtues of the Japanese fighting spirit. At first, some of their creations were rather on the folkloric side, but as time went on, the level of their creations reached a much higher sphere of quality, and brought out many authentic masterpieces. The Manchurian, and even more the Wei-Hai-Wei campaigns, produced works of the highest standard and some breath-taking scenes of snow and storms unequalled to this day. From the 1983 publication &ldquoThe Sino-Japanese War by Nathan Chaikïn&rdquo.

A well-known print by Mizuno Toshikata depicting a battle in July 1894, suggests many of the conventions that came to distinguish the Sino-Japanese War prints in general. This was the opening stage of the war, and the print&rsquos title alone conveys the fever pitch of Japanese nationalism: &ldquoHurrah, Hurrah for the Great Japanese Empire ! Picture of the Assault on Songhwan, a Great Victory for Our Troops.&rdquo

  • In Toshikata&rsquos rendering, stalwart Japanese soldiers with a huge &ldquoRising Sun&rdquo military flag in their midst advance against a Chinese force in utter disarray. Can we trust the Toshikata&rsquos print we see a delegation of Japanese &ldquonewspaper correspondents&rdquo that includes at its head not one but two artists, identifies by name. Depictions such as this very print, Toshikata seems to be assuring his audience &ndash and right at the start of the war &ndash could be trusted to be accurate. The overwhelming majority of war prints were, in fact, nothing of the sort. Although some artists and illustrators did travel with the troops, the woodblock artists remained in Japan &ndash catching the latest reports from the front as they came in by telegraph and rushing to draw, cut, print, display, and sell their pictured version of what they had read before this particular &ldquonews&rdquo became outdated. (Occasionally prints ere initiated in anticipation of the actual event!. Toshikata was offering an imagined scene &ndash a set piece that quickly became formulaic). From From the 2008 paper Throwing Off Asia II: woodblock prints of the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95) by John W. Dower &ndash Chapter Two, &ldquoKiyochika&rsquos War&rdquo.pp.1-6 &ndash 1-8.

Condition: Excellent colour and detail. Three separate panels. Horizontal centrefold in each panel. One small hole, repaired. Slight creasing, a few small spots.

The Basil Hall Chamberlain Collection.
British Library.
The Lavenberg Collection of Japanese Prints.
Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts. (Gift of Mrs. Francis Gardner Curtis [Res. 27.180.a-c]).
Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Philadelphia Museum of Art.


In 1890, the Fon kingdom of Dahomey and the French Third Republic had gone to war in what was remembered as the First Franco-Dahomean War over the former's rights to certain territories, specifically those in the Ouémé Valley. [1] The Fon ceased hostilities with the French after two military defeats, withdrawing their forces and signing a treaty conceding to all of France's demands. [2] However, Dahomey remained a potent force in the area and quickly re-armed with modern weapons in anticipation of a second, decisive conflict.

After re-arming and regrouping, the Fon returned to raiding the Ouémé Valley, [3] the same valley fought over in the first war with France. Victor Ballot, the French Resident at Porto-Novo, was sent via gunboat upriver to investigate. [4] His ship was attacked and forced to depart with five men wounded in the incident. [4] King Benhanzin rejected complaints by the French, and war was declared immediately by the French. [4]

The French entrusted the war effort against Dahomey to Alfred-Amédée Dodds, an octoroon colonel of the Troupes de marine from Senegal. [4] Colonel Dodds arrived with a force of 2,164 men including Foreign Legionnaires, marines, engineers, artillery and Senegalese cavalry known as spahis plus the trusted tirailleurs. [4] These forces were armed with the new Lebel rifles, which would prove decisive in the coming battle. [5] The French protectorate kingdom of Porto-Novo also added some 2,600 porters to aid in the fight. [6]

The Fon, prior to the outbreak of the second war, had stockpiled between 4,000 and 6,000 rifles including Mannlicher and Winchester carbines. [7] These were purchased from German merchants via the port of Whydah. [7] King Béhanzin also bought some machine-guns and Krupp cannons, but it is unknown (and unlikely) that these were ever put to use. [7]

On the 15 June 1892, the French blockaded Dahomey's coast to prevent any further arms sales. [6] Then, on the 4 July the first shots of the war were fired from French gunboats with the shelling of several villages along the lower Ouémé Valley. [6] The carefully organized French army began moving inland in mid-August toward their final destination of the Dahomey capital of Abomey. [6]

Battle of Dogba Edit

The French invasion force assembled at the village of Dogba on the 14 September some 80 kilometres (50 mi) upriver on the border of Dahomey and Porto-Novo. [6] At around 5:00am on the 19 September the French force was attacked by an army of Dahomey. [6] The Fon broke off the attack after three to four hours of relentless fighting, characterized by repeated attempts by the Fon for melee combat. [8] Hundreds of Fon were left dead on the field with the French forces suffering only five dead. [8]

Battle of Poguessa Edit

The French forces moved another 24 km (15 mi) upriver before turning west in the direction of Abomey. [5] On the 4 October the French column was attacked at Poguessa (also known as Pokissa or Kpokissa) by Fon forces under the command of King Béhanzin himself. [5] The Fon staged several fierce charges over two to three hours that all failed against the 20-inch bayonets of the French. [5] The Dahomey army left the field in defeat losing some 200 soldiers. [9] The French carried the day with only 42 casualties. [9] The Dahomey Amazons were also conspicuous in the battle.

After the defeat at Poguessa, the Fon resorted to guerilla tactics rather than set-piece engagements. It took the French invasion force a month to march the 40 km (25 mi) between Poguessa and the last major battle at Cana just outside Abomey. [9] The Fon fought from foxholes and trenches to slow the French invasion. [9]

Battle of Adégon Edit

On 6 October, the French had another major encounter with the Fon, at the village of Adégon. [10] The Fon fared badly again, losing 86 Dahomey Regulars and 417 Dahomey Amazons. [10] The French suffered six dead and 32 wounded. [10] The French bayonet charge inflicted the lion's share of Dahomey casualties. [10] The Battle was a turning point for Dahomey: the royal court lost hope. [10] The battle was also significant in that much of Dahomey's Amazon corps was lost. [10]

Siege at Akpa Edit

The French column was able to cross another 24 km (15 mi) toward Abomey after Adégon, bivouacking at the village of Akpa. [10] From the moment they arrived, they were attacked daily. [10] From the French arrival until 14 October, Dahomey's Amazons were conspicuously absent. Then, on 15 October, they reappeared an were present in nearly every subsequent engagement, inflicting significant losses, especially against officers. [10] Once resupplied, the French departed Akpa on 26 October, heading toward the village of Cotopa. [11]

From the 26 to 27 October the French fought through the Dahomey forces at Cotopa and elsewhere, crossing lines of enemy trenches. [11] Bayonet charges were the deciding factor in nearly all engagements. The Fon penchant for hand-to-hand fighting left them at a disadvantage against French bayonets, which easily outreached Dahomey's swords and machetes. [11] The Amazons are reported by the French to have fought the hardest, charging out of their trenches but to no avail. [11]

Battle of Cana Edit

From the 2 November until the 4 November the French and Fon armies fought on the outskirts of Cana. [11] By this time, Béhanzin's army numbered no more than 1,500 including slaves and pardoned convicts. [11] On the 3 November the king directed the attack on the French bivouac. [11] Amazons seemed to have made up much of the force. After four hours of desperate combat, the Fon army withdrew. [11] The fighting continued until the next day.

The last engagement at Cana, which took place at the village of Diokoué, site of a royal palace, was the last time Amazons were used. [12] Special units of the Amazons were assigned specifically to target French officers. [12] After a full day of fighting, the French overran the Dahomey army with another bayonet charge. [12]

On the 5 November Dahomey sent a truce mission to the French, and the next day saw the French enter Cana. [12] The peace mission failed, however, and on the 16 November, the French army marched on Abomey. [12] King Béhanzin, refusing to let the capital fall into enemy hands, burned and evacuated the city. [12] He and the remnants of the Dahomey army fled north as the French entered the capital on the 17 November. [12] The French tricolor was hoisted over the Singboji palace, which survived the fire and remains in modern Benin to this day. [13]

The king of Dahomey fled to Atcheribé, 48 km (30 mi) north of the capital. [13] Attempts were initiated to rebuild the army and its Amazon Corps until the French chose Béhanzin's brother, Goutchili, as the new king. [13] King Béhanzin surrendered to the French on the 15 January 1894 and was exiled to Martinique. [13] The war had officially ended.


Coca-Cola sold in glass bottles for the first time

Though today there is almost nothing as ubiquitous as a bottle of Coca-Cola, this was not always the case. For the first several years of its existence, Coke was only available as a fountain drink, and its producer saw no reason for that to change. It was not until March 12, 1894 that Coke was first sold in bottles.

Originally developed as a non-addictive substitute for morphine, then marketed as a non-alcoholic "temperance drink," Coca-Cola was invented by John Pemberton, a druggist in Columbus, Georgia, in 1886. It was soon popular throughout the region, and the rights to the brand passed to Asa Griggs Candler. Candler&aposs nephew had advised him that selling the drink in bottles could greatly increase sales, but Griggs apparently wasn&apost interested. The first person to bottle Coke was Joseph A. Biedenharn, owner of a candy store in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Correctly determining that bottles could boost sales, Biedenharn put the drink into Hutchinson bottles, a common and reusable glass bottle that bore no resemblance to the modern Coke bottle. He sent Candler a case, but Candler continued to stick with fountain sales.

Five years later, Candler finally sold the national bottling rights to Coke𠅎xcluding the right to bottle it in Vicksburg—to two brothers from Chattanooga. Still convinced that bottling would not be a major source of revenue, Candler sold the bottling rights for a dollar and reportedly never collected even that. The contract stipulated that a bottle of Coke would cost 5 cents and had no end date, a legal oversight that resulted in the price remaining the same until 1959. In 1915, the bottlers put out a call for a new design, one so distinctive that one could recognize it if it were in pieces on the ground or by feeling it in the dark. The winning design, produced by the Root Glass Company of Terre Haute, Indiana, gave the world the iconic contoured bottle we know today.


First Sino-Japanese War

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First Sino-Japanese War, conflict between Japan and China in 1894–95 that marked the emergence of Japan as a major world power and demonstrated the weakness of the Chinese empire. The war grew out of conflict between the two countries for supremacy in Korea. Korea had long been China’s most important client state, but its strategic location opposite the Japanese islands and its natural resources of coal and iron attracted Japan’s interest. In 1875 Japan, which had begun to adopt Western technology, forced Korea to open itself to foreign, especially Japanese, trade and to declare itself independent from China in its foreign relations.

Japan soon became identified with the more radical modernizing forces within the Korean government, while China continued to sponsor the conservative officials gathered around the royal family. In 1884 a group of pro-Japanese reformers attempted to overthrow the Korean government, but Chinese troops under Gen. Yuan Shikai rescued the king, killing several Japanese legation guards in the process. War was avoided between Japan and China by the signing of the Li-Itō Convention, in which both countries agreed to withdraw troops from Korea.

In 1894, however, Japan, flushed with national pride in the wake of its successful modernization program and its growing influence upon young Koreans, was not so ready to compromise. In that year, Kim Ok-Kyun, the pro-Japanese Korean leader of the 1884 coup, was lured to Shanghai and assassinated, probably by agents of Yuan Shikai. His body was then put aboard a Chinese warship and sent back to Korea, where it was quartered and displayed as a warning to other rebels. The Japanese government took this as a direct affront, and the Japanese public was outraged. The situation was made more tense later in the year when the Tonghak rebellion broke out in Korea, and the Chinese government, at the request of the Korean king, sent troops to aid in dispersing the rebels. The Japanese considered this a violation of the Li-Itō Convention, and they sent 8,000 troops to Korea. When the Chinese tried to reinforce their own forces, the Japanese sank the British steamer Kowshing, which was carrying the reinforcements, further inflaming the situation.

War was finally declared on August 1, 1894. Although foreign observers had predicted an easy victory for the more massive Chinese forces, the Japanese had done a more successful job of modernizing, and they were better equipped and prepared. Japanese troops scored quick and overwhelming victories on both land and sea. By March 1895 the Japanese had successfully invaded Shandong province and Manchuria and had fortified posts that commanded the sea approaches to Beijing. The Chinese sued for peace.

In the Treaty of Shimonoseki, which ended the conflict, China recognized the independence of Korea and ceded Taiwan, the adjoining Pescadores, and the Liaodong Peninsula in Manchuria.

China also agreed to pay a large indemnity and to give Japan trading privileges on Chinese territory. This treaty was later somewhat modified by Russian fears of Japanese expansion, and the combined intercession of Russia, France, and Germany forced Japan to return the Liaodong Peninsula to China.

China’s defeat encouraged the Western powers to make further demands of the Chinese government. In China itself, the war triggered a reform movement that attempted to renovate the government it also resulted in the beginnings of revolutionary activity against the Qing dynasty rulers of China.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Adam Augustyn, Managing Editor, Reference Content.


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