Some minor outlying fortifications had been captured the previous afternoon, and the Japanese had divided into two bodies for the main assaults on the north-west and north-east. The Chinese in these two sections appeared to have no combination, and by a feint at the north-east the Japanese kept that part diverted until the west forts had been carried. It is a fact that they fell about an hour and a half after the cannonade commenced. The Japanese infantry advanced against them, and the valiant troops holding them ran away at the sight. The Chinese forts on the other side now began to fire away across the intervening valley, as if that could remedy the disaster. Upon them then became concentrated the whole Japanese fire. The Chinamen here made a far better show, and the fire was vigorous and sustained. About eleven o’clock, with a terrific blast of flame and thunder, which seemed to shake the ground far and near to the shores of the sea, their largest fort, the Shoju, or Pine Tree Hill, blew up; a shell must have alighted in the magazine. At noon the whole Japanese line advanced to the charge, and here, too, the Celestials never waited for the assault, but fled precipitately. There was no fighting at all at close quarters; not a solitary Chinaman stood for a bayonet thrust. Thus pusillanimously were abandoned these two great masses of fortifications, placed in the most commanding situations, on steep mountain heights where attacking forces could keep no sort of regular formation, and could have been mowed down in thousands by competent gunners as they struggled up the impregnable inclines. It was with a feeling of bewilderment that I beheld such powerful defences lost in such a manner, and realized that after three or four hours’ bombardment on one side, without a shot fired against the tremendous coast defences, it was all up with Port Arthur.
The victors next turned their attention to the redoubts and walled camps on the lower ground, with the calm method which distinguished all their operations. From the valleys between the hills began to emerge dark columns of infantry, which closed steadily upon the devoted town, rolling to their positions with the mechanical regularity of parade, the sheen of their bayonets glancing here and there through the volumes of smoke which had settled thickly in the hollows. Nearer, spread over the ground to which the forts their cowardice had lost should have afforded ample protection, were the disorganized masses of Chinese, preparing for their last scattered and fruitless efforts. Only one of the inland forts, that nearest to the town, and called, I think, Golden Hill, was still in their possession. The trenches below me on White Boulders’ front face, which had been unoccupied during the early portion of the day, now began to swarm with riflemen, whose weapons kept up a continuous roll, swelled from many a rifle-pit and redoubt away forward from the base of the elevation. Steadily the enemy advanced, working their way round on both wings within the captured fortresses. They took skilful advantage of every protection the ground afforded, and the resistance in their front rapidly diminished as they pressed on irresistibly from position to position.