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1. Image is by kind permission of the 'ABC Wargamers' blog and shows a brigade of Russian cavalry in reserve on the table top.
During the war, both sides employed spies, often recruited from the local population, as well as small reconnaissance units, who reported on the state of preparedness on the other side of the front. The Japanese, however, were better able to utilize agents who disguised themselves as locals. For example, they had a senior officer in disguise among Chinese coolies working on the Russian fortifications at Nansham before the Battle of Nansham. Similarly, they drew much information from Chinese agents who were disposed to collaborate with those they perceived as about to be victors.
The Russians, by contrast, suffered from divided lines of communication and from tactical disorganisation. The Cossack units, which traditionally were charged with gathering real-time intelligence on an army’s movements, failed in their mission; the army lacked sufficient interpreters who knew the local language and especially the enemy’s language, and the troops did not receive maps of the arena. Like its Japanese rivals, the Imperial Russian Army made much use of Chinese agents, especially Honghuzi members, and Japanese prisoners of war who were found to be co-operative when treated with softness and cordiality.’
THE WARGAMER may wish to take account of the superior Japanese intelligence from local sources when planning a table top battle or campaign. Of note is that both sides used observation balloons, for example the commander of the Third Japanese Army employed balloons for photography. Balloons might also be used for artillery spotting. They were generally raised to a height of 2,000 feet but time in the air was limited because of fire from enemy guns. A neat little addition, perhaps, to the wargame table.
Source: ‘Historical Dictionary of The Russo Japanese War’, 2nd Edition, Kowner, Rowman and Littlefield, 2017.