Topic: Cold Steel
High Rate for Sword and Bayonet Wounds
Surgeon Spear Makes Notable Report on These Casualties in Russo-Japanese War
Boston Evening Transcript, 20 October 1906
Surgeon Raymond Spear, U.S.N., states that of the wounds received by the Russian troops in the late war about 1.75 per cent were inflicted with bayonets and sabres. "The Russian Cossacks," he adds, "were very adept in using their swords, also, according to the Russian officers, were more proficient than the Japanese in the use of their bayonets. That there should have been any such percentage of sword and bayonet wounds is a remarkable feature of the war. Both sides were armed with modern rifles, machine guns, field pieces, etc., all intended to render the approach of an enemy impossible; but, as a matter of fact, night, the character of the country, protecting fields of grain, and, not least, the courage and roused fighting spirits of both sides, made this character of fighting possible. Men were stabbed over and over again in these charges; many died. Stab wounds by the Japanese broad bayonet through the chest and abdomen were very fatal. The blade was large enough to sever the blood vessels. The narrower Russian blade, unless it reached a vital spot, comparatively did not do the same amount of damage, but nevertheless was a very efficient instrument of death. Most of the bayonet wounds treated were of the extremities, and usually healed without trouble, as bones were rarely involved. The sword wounds involved, as a rule, the upper extremities and the head. A number of the head cases presented fractures of the skull. If they were clean-cut and did not become infected they did well.