We knew it was a battle because the Japanese officers told us it was.
In other wars I had seen other battles, many sorts of battles, but I
had never seen a battle like that one. Most battles are noisy,
hurried, and violent, giving rise to an unnatural thirst and to the
delusion that, by some unhappy coincidence, every man on the other
side is shooting only at you. This delusion is not peculiar to
myself. Many men have told me that in the confusion of battle they
always get this exaggerated idea of their own importance. Down in
Cuba I heard a colonel inform a group of brother officers that a
Spanish field-piece had marked him for its own, and for an hour had
been pumping shrapnel at him and at no one else. The interesting
part of the story was that he believed it.
But the battle of Anshantien was in no way disquieting. It was a
noiseless, odorless, rubber-tired battle. So far as we were
concerned it consisted of rings of shrapnel smoke floating over a
mountain pass many miles distant. So many miles distant that when,
with a glass, you could see a speck of fire twinkle in the sun like a
heliograph, you could not tell whether it was the flash from the gun
or the flame from the shell. Neither could you tell whether the
cigarette rings issued from the lips of the Japanese guns or from
those of the Russians.
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