Sino-Japanese War 1894-95: The Port Arthur Campaign
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During the campaign against Chinchou, Major Saitō Tokuaki, commander of the First  Battalion, Fifteenth Regiment, sent cavalrymen to cut enemy telegraph lines. The enemy captured an enemy courier carrying a message from the commander at Port Arthur. Bound and left in camp, the captive tried to kill himself by hitting his head against a rock when the guard turned away. His gallantry reportedly impressed Major Saitō, who was seeking enemy secrets. He dissuade the prisoner from dying. Saitō admonished the young Chinese courier: “We are the forces of Great Japan and do not harm our captives. After the war they are to be pardoned and released. Yau are just a young man with a family; a mother, a father, and brothers. So behave and live to return home! Your parents anxiously await you homecoming. Do you not want to see their faces? Hearing these words, the prisoner cried, saying, “Alone, my mother awaits my return day and night.” So grateful was he that he exposed all the enemy’s secrets. Hakubunkan, comp., Nisshin sensō jikki (Tokyo), vol.II (December 1894). p.3.  Extract from the 1983 catalogue Impressions from the Front by Shumpei Okamoto”, catalogue no: 47, page 33.

Intriguing scene from the Sino-Japanese War of Major Saitō eliciting enemy secrets from a captured Chinese soldier. The officer stands at right, leaning forward with interest, his hands clasped before him. Bleeding from a head wound, the kneeling captive shares information, a map spread out on the ground before him. Another Japanese soldier stands quietly at left, and the tents of the Japanese camp can be seen in silhouette at left.

 On November 4, Major Saitōsent his company of cavalry on the Fuchow Road to cut the telegraph line; a messenger was also captured bearing despatches from Port Arthur to Fuchow announcing the approach of the Japanese. This Chinese prisoner attempted to kill himself by bashing his brains against the stones. Major Saitō, admiring his courage, informed him that the Japanese never killed their prisoners, and asked if he had a father and a mother. The Chinaman was moved at these words, and answered that he had a mother who was praying day and night for his return.(Vladimir, p.20). from the 1983 publication “The Sino-Japanese War by Nathan Chaikïn”,

Most certainly, Beisaku was inspired by Kuniyoshi’s woodcut: “Yamamoto Kansuke wounded to death at Kawanakajima.”

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