Ambassador Meyer to the Secretary of State .

No. 467.]

Sir: The department’s dispatches Nos. 57 and 62,a dated July 24 and August 1, 1905, respectively, inclosing papers from the Japanese legation at Washington bringing to the attention of the Russian Government certain violations of the Geneva convention alleged to have been committed by members of the Russian army, were at once referred to the ministry for foreign affairs.

I am now in receipt of a note replying to both of the Japanese letters, and beg leave to inclose a copy of the ministerial note, dated March 1/14, together with a copy of the inclosure transmitted therein and a translation of the same.

I have, etc.,

G. von L. Meyer.
[Inclosure.—Translation.]

Copy of a communication of the general staff dated February 16, 1906; No. 98.

With regard to the question of the violation of the rules of the Geneva convention by a detachment of Adjutant-General Mistchenko and by Colonel Miiller, temporary commander of the First Brigade of the Thirty-first Infantry division, communicated by the minister of foreign affairs to the minister of war, under date of August 12, 1905, sub No. 4468, the chief administration of the general staff communicates as follows:

(1) In accordance with the report of the commander of the Fourth Ural Cossack Regiment, it is seen that on May 5, 1905, the advance guard of the sixth company (hundredth) of the said regiment was fired upon from a village (name unknown); upon the approach of the main forces a squadron of the enemy’s cavalry galloped away from the village; the firing continued, and a military movement was observed; supposing that this was a forward movement, the Cossacks made an attack, and upon advancing they saw commissary wagons in the village; some of the armed men who accompanied the wagons defended themselves, others tried to escape; a large number were made prisoners and disarmed.

A number of the two-wheeled wagons tried to make their escape and were pursued; the Japanese attendants of the two-wheeled wagons defended themselves with their arms, wounding two Cossacks (Terentia Budarnikoff and Samuel Tianoukhin), and this caused the Cossacks to follow up the attack, during which they killed 4 Japanese and wounded 2 others.

In this affair a Japanese surgeon who defended himself with his sword against the Cossacks was taken prisoner. This surgeon, by orders from Adjutant-General Mistchenko, was released on May 7, together with 15 hospital nurses, at the village of Tsinsiantao, in order to attend to 49 wounded Japanese belonging to the reserve infantry regiment, the hospital detachment having been equipped with ample supplies.

During the skirmish the sign of the Red Cross was not displayed; that the wagons belonged to the hospital staff was only discovered after they were captured.

Besides the hospital wagons there were also commissary depots in the same village, which were destroyed.

According to the report of the adjutant-general, Mistchenko, among the prisoners made during this skirmish of May 5 there were 7 men belonging to the infantry division.

[Page 1335]

Every possible attention was afforded the prisoners and women during their transportation to the divisional headquarters in small carts; before sending the prisoners to the staff of the army they were questioned as to any claims or declarations they had to make; these claims amounted to 25 roubles, which sum was paid to them.

In view of the fact that the raid of the cavalry detachment of Adjutant-General Mistchenko was undertaken specially with a view to the destruction of all kinds of military stores belonging to the enemy, the action of the Fourth Ural Cossack Regiment against the enemy’s wagons, which displayed no signs of belonging to the hospital service, and besides this, the attendants of which replied to the attack with rifle fire, must be recognized as absolutely correct, and no violation of the regulations of the Geneva convention occurred.

(2) It has been impossible to ascertain on what basis the order contained in the above-named letter was issued by the temporary commander of the First Brigade of the Thirty-first Infantry division, inasmuch as the headquarters papers of the brigade and of the staff of the Thirty-first Infantry division were lost during the battle of Mukden, and Major-General Miiller does not recollect issuing any such orders or any reason for so doing.

Correct copy. (Signature illegible.)