After he had minutely arranged the Eastern Detachment in a series of rearguard positions, so that each fraction of it could contribute a little to the game of delaying the enemy before retiring on the positions next in rear, the commander of the detachment, Zasulich, told him that " it was not the custom of a knight of the order of St George to retreat," and Kuropatkin did not use his authority to recall the general, who, whether competent or not, obviously misunderstood his mission.
Zasulich's medieval generalship had been modified so far that he intended to retreat when he had taught the Japanese a lesson, and therefore Kuropatkin's original arrangements were not sensibly modified.
A few moments afterwards Zasulich ordered the retreat.
Fresh attempts were made by subordinates to form rearguards, but Zasulich made no stand even at Fenghwang-cheng, and the Japanese occupied that town unopposed on the 5th of May.
The subsidiary protective forces on either flank of Zasulich had promptly abandoned their look-out positions and fallen back to join him.
A few days later, Zasulich's persistent requests to be allowed to retreat and the still uncertain movements of the 2nd Army induced him once more to prepare a concentration on Mukden.
This incident suggests two reflections - first that raids or attacks in rear of the " centre of operations " are valueless, however daring, and second that had Zasulich, in his determination to be worthy of his knighthood, concentrated for battle, the presence of the Madritov detachment on the field would have prevented the lamentable and costly misunderstandings of the retreat on Hamatan.
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