Battle of the Yalu River

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The Battle of the Yalu River was a naval battle fought on the Yellow Sea between Chinese and Japanese forces on Sept. 17, 1894. It was the largest naval engagement of the first Sino-Japanese War, and ended in victory for the Japanese.

The Sino-Japanese War was fought mainly in Korea, and both sides re-supplied their forces by sea. A Chinese convoy, with escorts, was sent to northern Korea in September, and was intercepted on the return trip. The Chinese fleet, under Admiral Ting, consisted of two battleships, eight armored cruisers, and three torpedo boats. The Japanese force, under Admiral Sukenori Ito, was comprised of eight armored cruisers and four other armed ships.

Admiral Ito divided his force into a fast squadron (the 4 newest cruisers) and the main fleet. While the Chinese fleet steamed ahead in a broad arrowhead formation, the fast squadron was able to outflank them. The battle lasted for five hours, until both fleets ran low on ammunition. The Chinese withdrew to Port Arthur, and the Japanese declined to pursue. The Chinese fleet lost five cruisers, and every one of their remaining ships suffered damage. Four Japanese ships, including the flagship, were badly damaged.

The next month, Japanese forces landed near Port Arthur, forcing the evacuation of the Chinese fleet across the Yellow Sea to the port of Weihaiwei.


  • A History of War at Sea, by Helmut Pemsel, Naval Institute Press, 1975