Ferdinand Heinrich Grautoff.

Banzai! by Parabellum online

. (page 15 of 23)
Online LibraryFerdinand Heinrich GrautoffBanzai! by Parabellum → online text (page 15 of 23)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

be seen by all on the fields of Nippon, Hokkaido and Kiushiu, and the
fleet was surely not hidden from view. It was the world's own fault that
it could not interpret what it saw, that it imagined the little yellow
monkey would never dare attack the clumsy polar-bear. Because the
diplomatic quill-drivers would only see what fitted into their schemes,
because they were capable only of moving in a circle about their own
ideas, they could not understand the thoughts of others, and the few
warning voices died away unheeded. It was not Japan's fault that the
roads at Port Arthur roused the world out of its slumber. What business
had the world to be asleep?

"Never speak of it, but think of it always" - the adversary must be put
to sleep again, he must be lulled into security and his thoughts
directed towards the points where there was nothing to be seen, where no
preparations were in progress. He must be kept in the dark about the
true nature of the preparations, and on the other hand put on as many
false scents as possible, so that he might not get the faintest idea of
the real plan.

This is the reason why all those things were done, why the quarrel over
the admission of Japanese children to the public schools of San
Francisco was cooked up, why so much national anger was exhibited, why
the Japanese press took up the quarrel like a hungry dog pouncing upon a
bone, why so much noise was made about it at public meetings that one
would have thought the fate of Japan hung on the result. And then, as
soon as Washington began to back down, the dogs were whipped back to
their kennels and the "national anger" died out as soon as Japan had
"saved her face." The Americans were allowed to doze off again, fully
persuaded that the school question was settled once and for all and that
there was nothing further to fear in that direction. Then, too, Japan
apparently yielded in the vexed question of Japanese immigration to the
United States, but instead of sending the immigrants to San Francisco
and Seattle, as she had done hitherto, they were simply dispatched
across the Mexican frontier, where it was impossible to exercise control
over such things, for no one could be expected to patrol the sandy
deserts of Arizona and New Mexico merely to watch whether a few Japs
slipped across the border now and then. It was therefore impossible to
keep track of the number of Japanese who entered the country in this
way, more especially as the official emigration figures issued at Tokio
were purposely inaccurate, so as to confuse the statistics still more.

"Never speak of it, but think of it always!" That is why a Japanese
photographer was sent to San Diego to photograph the walls of Fort
Rosecrans. He was to get himself arrested. But of course we had to let
the fellow go when he proved that better and more accurate photos than
he had taken could be purchased in almost any store in San Diego. The
object of this game was the same as that practiced in Manila, where we
were induced to arrest a spy who was ostentatiously taking photographs.
Both of these little maneuvers were intended to persuade us that Japan
was densely ignorant with regard to these forts which as a matter of
fact would play no r√іle at all in her plan of attack; America was to be
led to believe that Japan's system of espionage was in its infancy,
while in reality the government at Tokio was in possession of the exact
diagram of every fort, was thoroughly familiar with every beam of our
warships - thanks to the Japanese stewards who had been employed by the
Navy Department up to a few years ago - knew the peculiarities of every
one of our commanders and their hobbies in maneuvers, and finally was
informed down to the smallest detail of our plans of mobilization, and
of the location of our war headquarters and of our armories and
ammunition depots.

For the same reason the Japanese press, and the English press in Eastern
Asia which was inspired by Japan, continually drew attention to the
Philippines, as though that archipelago were to be the first point of
attack. For this reason, too, the English-Chinese press published at the
beginning of the year the well-known plans for Japan's offensive naval
attack and the transport of two of her army corps to the Philippines.
And the ruse proved successful. Just as Russia had been taken completely
by surprise because she would persist in her theory that Japan would
begin by marching upon Manchuria, so now the idea that Japan would first
try to capture the Philippines and Hawaii had become an American and an
international dogma. The world had allowed itself to be deceived a
second time, and, convinced that the first blow would be struck at
Manila and Hawaii, they spent their time in figuring out how soon the
American fleet would be able to arrive on the scene of action in order
to save the situation in the Far East.

"Never speak of it, but think of it always!" While Japan was
disseminating these false notions as to the probable course of a war,
the actual preparations for it were being conducted in an entirely
different place, and the adversary was induced to concentrate his
strength at a point where there was no intention of making an attack.
The Japanese were overjoyed to observe the strengthening of the
Philippine garrison when the insurrection inspired by Japanese agents
broke out at Mindanao as well as the concentration of the cruiser
squadron off that island, for Manila, the naval base, was thus left
unprotected. With the same malignant joy they noticed how the United
States stationed half of its fleet off the Pacific coast and, relying on
her mobile means of defense, provided insufficient garrisons for the
coast-defenses, on the supposition that there would be plenty of time to
put the garrisons on a war-footing after the outbreak of hostilities.

Japan's next move came in March and April, when she quietly withdrew all
the regular troops from the Manchurian garrisons and replaced them with
reserve regiments fully able to repulse for a time any attack on the
part of Russia. The meaning of this move was not revealed until weeks
later, when it became known that the transport ships from Dalny and
Gensan, which were supposed to have returned to Japan, were really on
their way to San Francisco and Seattle with the second detachment of the
invading army.

After the destruction of the Philippine squadron, the Japanese reduced
their blockade of the Bay of Manila to a few old cruisers and armed
merchant-steamers, at the same time isolating the American garrisons in
the archipelago, whose fate was soon decided. The blockading ships could
not of course venture near the heavy guns of the Corregidor batteries,
but that was not their task. They had merely to see that Manila had no
intercourse with the outside world, and this they did most efficiently.
The Japanese ships had at first feared an attack by the two little
submarines _Shark_ and _Porpoise_ stationed at Cavite; they learned from
their spies on land, however, that the government shipyards at Cavite
had tried in vain to render the little boats seaworthy: they returned
from each diving-trial with defective gasoline-engines. And when, weeks
later, they at last reached Corregidor, the four Japanese submarines
quickly put an end to them. The strongly fortified city of Manila had
thus become a naval base without a fleet and was accordingly overpowered
from the land side.

As the far too weak garrison of scarcely more than ten thousand men was
insufficient to defend the extensive line of forts and barricades, the
unfinished works at Olongapo on Subig Bay were blown up with dynamite
and vacated, then the railways were abandoned, and finally only Manila
and Cavite were retained. But the repeated attacks of the natives under
the leadership of Japanese officers soon depleted the little garrison,
which was entirely cut off from outside assistance and dependent
absolutely on the supplies left in Manila itself. The only article of
which they had more than enough was coal; but you can't bake bread with
coal, and so finally, on August twenty-fourth, Manila capitulated.
Twenty-eight hundred starving soldiers surrendered their arms while the
balance lay either in the hospitals or on the field of battle. Thus the
Philippines became a Japanese possession with the loss of a single man,
Lieutenant Shirawa. All the rest had been accomplished by the Filipinos
and by the climate that was so conducive to the propagation of
mosquitoes and scorpions.

Hawaii's fate had been decided even more quickly than that of the
Philippines. The sixty thousand Japanese inhabitants of the archipelago
were more than enough to put an end to American rule. The half-finished
works at Pearl Harbor fell at the first assault, while the three
destroyers and the little gunboat were surprised by the enemy. Guam, and
Pago-Pago on Tutuila, were also captured, quite incidentally. About the
middle of May, a Japanese transport fleet returning from San Francisco
appeared at Honolulu and took forty thousand inhabitants to Seattle,
where they formed the reserve corps of the Northern Japanese Army.

* * * * *

Japan's rising imperialism, the feeling that the sovereignty of the
Pacific rightly belonged to the leading power in yellow Asia had, long
before the storms of war swept across the plains of Manchuria, come into
conflict with the imperialistic policy of the United States, although
invisibly at first. Prior to that time the Asiatic races had looked upon
the dominion of the white man as a kind of fate, as an irrevocable
universal law, but the fall of Port Arthur had shattered this idol once
and for all. And after the days of Mukden and Tsushima had destroyed the
belief in the invincibility of the European arms, the Japanese agents
found fertile soil everywhere for their seeds of secret political
agitation. In India, in Siam, and in China also, the people began to
prick their ears when it was quite openly declared that after the
destruction of the czar's fleet the Pacific and the lands bordering on
it could belong only to the Mongolians. The discovery was made that the
white man was not invincible. And beside England, only the United States
remained to be considered - the United States who were still hard at work
on their Philippine inheritance and could not make up their mind to
establish their loudly heralded imperialistic policy on a firm footing
by providing the necessary armaments.

Then came the Peace of Portsmouth. Absolutely convinced that his country
would have to bear the brunt of the next Asiatic thunder-storm, Theodore
Roosevelt gained one of the most momentous victories in the history of
the world when he removed the payment of a war indemnity from the
conditions of peace. And he did this not because he had any particular
love for the Russians, but because he wished to prevent the
strengthening of Japan's financial position until after the completion
of the Panama Canal. America did exactly what Germany, Russia and France
had done at the Peace of Shimonoseki, and we had to be prepared for
similar results. But how long did it take the American people, who had
helped to celebrate the victories of Oyama, Nogi and Togo, to recognize
that a day of vengeance for Portsmouth was bound to come. In those days
we regarded the Manchurian campaign merely as a spectacle and applauded
the victors. We had no idea that it was only the prelude of the great
drama of the struggle for the sovereignty of the Pacific. We wanted
imperialism, but took no steps to establish it on a firm basis, and it
is foolish to dream of imperial dominion when one is afraid to lay the
sword in the scales. We might bluff the enemy for the time being by
sending our fleet to the Pacific; but we could not keep him deceived
long as to the weakness of our equipment on land and at sea, especially
on land.

The wholesale immigration of Mongolians to our Pacific States and to the
western shores of South America was clearly understood across the sea.
But we looked quietly on while the Japanese overran Chili, Peru and
Bolivia, all the harbors on the western coast of South America; and
while the yellow man penetrated there unhindered and the decisive events
of the future were in process of preparation, we continued to look
anxiously eastward from the platform of the Monroe Doctrine and to keep
a sharp lookout on the modest remnants of the European colonial dominion
in the Caribbean Sea, as if danger could threaten us from that corner.
We seemed to think that the Monroe Doctrine had an eastern exposure
only, and when we were occasionally reminded that it embraced the entire
continent, we allowed our thoughts to be distracted by the London press
with its talk of the "German danger" in South America, just as though
any European state would think for a moment of seizing three Brazilian
provinces overnight, as it were.

We have always tumbled through history as though we were deaf and dumb,
regarding those who warned us in time against the Japanese danger as
backward people whose intellects were too weak to grasp the victorious
march of Japanese culture. Any one who would not acknowledge the
undeniable advance of Japan to be the greatest event of the present
generation was stamped by us an enemy of civilization. We recognized
only two categories of people - Japanophobes and Japanophiles. It never
entered our heads that we might recognize the weighty significance of
Japan's sudden development into a great political power, but at the same
time warn our people most urgently against regarding this development
merely as a phase of feuilletonistic culture. Right here lies the basis
for all our political mistakes of the last few years. The revenge for
Portsmouth came as such a terrible surprise, because, misled by common
opinion, we believed the enemy to be breaking down under the weight of
his armor and therefore incapable of conducting a new war and, in this
way undervaluing our adversary, we neglected all necessary preparations.
No diplomatic conflict, not the slightest disturbance of our relations
with Japan prepared the way for the great surprise. The world was the
richer by one experience - that a war need have no prelude on the
diplomatic stage provided enough circumstances have led up to it.

_Chapter XIV_


On the rear deck of a ferry-boat bound for Hoboken on the morning of May
12th stood Randolph Taney, with his hands in his pockets, gazing
intently at the foaming waters of the Hudson plowed up by the screw. It
was all over: he had speculated in Wall Street, putting his money on
Harriman, and had lost every cent he had. What Harriman could safely do
with a million, Randolph Taney could not do with a quarter of a million.
That's why he had lost. Fortunately only his own money. The whole bundle
of papers wasn't worth any more than the copy of the _Times_ tossed
about in the swirling water in the wake of the boat.

Randolph Taney kept on thinking. Just why he was going to Hoboken he
really didn't know, but it made little difference what he did.

"Halloo, Taney," called out an acquaintance, "where are you going?"

"I don't know."

"You don't know? How's that?"

"I'm done for."

"You're not the only one; Wall Street is a dangerous vortex."

"But I'm absolutely cleaned out."

"How so?"

"Do you know what I'm going to do, James Harrison?" asked Taney, with
bitter irony in his voice. "I'll apprentice myself to a paperhanger,
and learn to paper my rooms with my worthless railway shares. I imagine
I can still learn that much."

"Ah, that's the way the wind blows!" cried the other, whistling softly.

"What did you think?"

"It was pretty bad, I suppose?"

"Bad? It was hell - - "

"Were you in Wall Street on Monday?"

"Yes, and on Tuesday, too."

"And now you want to learn paperhanging?"


"Does it have to be that?"

"Can you suggest anything else?"



Hubert pointed to the button-hole in the lapel of his coat and said: "Do
you see this?"

"What is it?"

"A volunteer button."

Taney looked with interest at the little white button with the American
flag, and then said: "Have I got to that point? The last chance, I
suppose?" he added after a pause.

"Not the last, but the first!"

"How so?"

"At any rate it's better than paperhanging. Look here, Taney, you'll
only worry yourself to death. It would be far more sensible of you to
take the bull by the horns and join our ranks. You can at least try to
retrieve your fortunes by that means."

The ferry-boat entered the slip at Hoboken and both men left the boat.

"Now, Taney, which is it to be, paperhanging or - ," and James Harrison
pointed to the button.

"I'll come with you," said Taney indifferently. They went further along
the docks towards the Governor's Island ferry-boat.

"I have a friend over there," said Harrison, "a major in the 8th
Regulars; he'll be sure to find room for us, and we may be at the front
in a month's time."

Taney stuffed his pipe and answered: "In a month? That suits me; I have
no affairs to arrange."

The two men looked across in silence at Manhattan Island, where the
buildings were piled up in huge terraces. All the color-tones were
accentuated in the bright clear morning air. The sky-scrapers of the
Empire City, mighty turreted palaces almost reaching into the clouds,
stood out like gigantic silhouettes. The dome of the Singer Building
glistened and glittered in the sun, crowning a region in which strenuous
work was the order of the day, while directly before them stretched the
broad waters of the Hudson with its swarm of hurrying ferry-boats.
Further on, between the piers and the low warehouses, could be seen a
long row of serious-looking ocean-steamers, whose iron lungs emitted
little clouds of steam as the cranes fed their huge bodies with nice
little morsels.

The two men had seen this picture hundreds of times, but were impressed
once again by its grandeur.

"Taney," said Harrison, "isn't that the most beautiful city in the
world? I've been around the world twice, but I've never seen anything to
equal it. That's our home, and we are going to protect it by shouldering
our guns. Come on, old chap, leave everything else behind and come with

"Yes, I'll come, I certainly shall!" came the quick response. Then they
took the boat to Governor's Island and Taney enlisted. They promised to
make him a lieutenant when the troops took the field.

When they returned two hours later Randolph Taney also wore the button
with the flag in the center: he was a full-fledged volunteer in the
United States Army.

On the return trip Taney became communicative, and told the story of the
eighth of May, that terrible day in Wall Street when billions melted
away like butter, when thousands of persons were tossed about in the
whirlpool of the Stock Exchange, when the very foundations of economic
life seemed to be slipping away. He described the wild scenes when
desperate financiers rushed about like madmen, and told how some of them
actually lost their reason during the bitter struggle for existence,
when not an inch of ground was vacated without resistance. Men fought
for every projecting rock, every piece of wreckage, every straw, as they
must have fought in the waves of the Flood, and yet one victim after
another was swallowed by the vortex. In the midst of the mad scrimmage
on the floor of the Exchange one excited individual, the general manager
of a large railroad - with his hair disheveled and the perspiration
streaming down his face, one of his sleeves ripped out and his collar
torn off - suddenly climbed on a platform and began to preach a confused
sermon accompanied by wild gestures; others, whose nerves were utterly
unstrung by the terrible strain, joined in vulgar street-songs.

Harrison had read about these things in the papers, but his friend's
graphic description brought it all vividly to mind again and caused him
to shudder. He seemed to see all the ruined existences, which the
maelstrom in Wall Street had dragged down into the depths, staring at
him with haggard faces. He thought of his own simple, plain life as
compared with the neurasthenic existence of the men on the Stock
Exchange, who were now compelled to look on in complete apathy and let
things go as they were. The rich man, whom in the bottom of his heart
he had often envied, was now poorer than the Italian bootblack standing
beside him.

The ferry-boat now turned sharply aside to make room for the giant
_Mauretania_, which was steaming out majestically from its pier into the
broad Hudson River.

The thrilling notes of the "Star Spangled Banner" had just died away,
and a sea of handkerchiefs fluttered over the railings, which were
crowded with passengers waving their last farewells to those left
behind. Then the ship's band struck up a new tune, and the enormous
steamer plowed through the waves towards the open sea.

"There go the rats who have deserted the sinking ship," said Randolph
Taney bitterly, "our leading men of finance are said to have offered
fabulous prices for the plainest berths."

The flight of the homeless had begun.

_Chapter XV_


Only a small Japanese garrison was left at Seattle after the first
transports of troops had turned eastward on the seventh and eighth of
May, and the northern army under Marshal Nogi had, after a few
insignificant skirmishes with small American detachments, taken up its
position in, and to the south of, the Blue Mountains. Then, in the
beginning of June, the first transport-ships arrived from Hawaii,
bringing the reserve corps for the northern army, with orders to occupy
the harbors and coast-towns behind the front and to guard the lines of
communication to the East.

Communication by rail had been stopped everywhere. No American was
allowed to board a train, and only with the greatest difficulty did a
few succeed in securing special permission in very urgent cases. The
stations had one and all been turned into little forts, being occupied
by Japanese detachments who at the same time attended to the Japanese
passenger and freight-service.

In all places occupied by the Japanese the press had been silenced,
except for one paper in each town, which was allowed to continue its
existence because the Japs needed it for the publication of edicts and
proclamations issued to the inhabitants, and for the dissemination of
news from the seat of war, the latter point being considered of great
importance. This entire absence of news from other than Japanese sources
gave rise to thousands of rumors, which seemed to circulate more
rapidly by word of mouth than the former telegraphic dispatches had
through the newspapers.

On the morning of June eighth the news was spread in Tacoma that the
city would that day receive a Japanese garrison, as several
transport-steamers had arrived at Seattle. Up to that time only one
Japanese company had been stationed at Tacoma, and they had occupied the
railroad station and the gas and electric works and intrenched
themselves in the new waterworks outside the town. Through some strange
trick of fortune the gun-depot for the arming of the national guard
which had been removed to Tacoma a year ago and which contained about
five thousand 1903 Springfield rifles had escaped the notice of the
enemy. The guns had been stored provisionally in the cellars of a large
grain elevator and it had been possible to keep them concealed from the
eyes of the Japs, but it was feared that their hiding-place might be
betrayed any day. This danger would of course be greatly increased the
moment Tacoma received a stronger garrison.

Martin Engelmann, a German who had immigrated to the great Northwest
some twenty years ago, owned a pretty little home in the suburbs of
Tacoma. The family had just sat down to dinner when the youngest son,
who was employed in a large mercantile establishment in the city,
entered hurriedly and called out excitedly:

"They're coming, father, they're in the harbor."

Then he sat down and began to eat his soup in haste.

"They're coming?" asked old Engelmann in a serious tone of voice, "then
I fear it is too late."

The old man got up from the table and going over to the window looked
out into the street. Not a living thing was to be seen far and wide
except a little white poodle gnawing a bone in the middle of the
street. Engelmann stared attentively at the poodle, buried in thought.

"How many of them are there?" he asked after a pause.

"At least a whole battalion, I'm told," answered the son, finishing his

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 15 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

Online LibraryFerdinand Heinrich GrautoffBanzai! by Parabellum → online text (page 15 of 23)