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Battles of the Samurai

 

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EXPLANATION
Name of battle
Date / Province, Location / Type (Battle, Siege)
Aggressor (if applicable - otherwise victor in first slot) (Names surrounded by ( ) indicate lord of commander on scene) (numbers involved if known)
Defender (if known). Victor of battle is indicated in bold if applicable.
Notes on battle
Notable samurai killed in battle

 

 


A


AKECHI
March 1574 / Mino / Siege

Takeda Katsuyori
VS
Oda Nobunaga

Despite the death of Takeda Shingen in 1573, the Takeda, now led by Katsuyori, continued to make gains against the Oda and Tokugawa. In March 1574 Katsuyori led an army into Mino Province and surrounded Akechi Castle. Nobunaga hastily dispatched a relief force under his eldest son Nobutada and Ikeda Nobuteru but this arrived too late: Akechi's commander had already surrendered. Later that year, Katsuyori would score another victory by taking Takatenjin Castle in Tôtômi Province. This would be the Takeda's high-water mark, which would recede following the Battle of Nagashino in 1575.

ANEGAWA
30 July 1570 / Ômi / Battle

Oda Nobunaga (20,000)/ Tokugawa Ieyasu (8,000)
VS
Asai Nagamasa/Asakura Kagetake [Asakura Yoshikage] (20,000)

This battle, fought in the shallow waters of the Ane River, came about after Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu threatened Odani Castle, the home of Asai Nagamasa. Earlier that same year, Nobunaga, the master of Kyoto since 1568, had felt compelled to march against Asakura Yoshikage of Echizen. The Asai, long-time allies of the Asakura, broke their alliance with the Oda and threatened the Oda army from the rear. A skillful retreat minimized the immediate danger brought about by this surprise development and soon Nobunaga was ready to punish Nagamasa for his treachery. The Oda and their Tokugawa allies marched on Odani Castle, prompting Nagamasa to send for help from Echizen. Asakura Yoshikage sent an army to support him and the combined force marched out to confront Nobunaga in the field. Nobunaga reacted by placing a screen around an Asai fort he had been reducing (Yokoyama) and advancing to the southern bank of the Anegawa. The following morning the battle began, with the Oda and Asai clashing on the right while Tokugawa and Asakura grappled to the left. To the right Nagamasa's men fought very well and the situation there was soon in doubt for the Oda. Meanwhile, theTokugawa men were handling the Asakura roughly and once he felt in a position to do so, Ieyasu sent his men against the flank of the Asai forces. The hard-fighting Asai had no choice but to rereat and the day ended in Nobunaga's favor. Some 1,000 Asai and Asakura men had been killed, as well as a number of commanders. At the same time, Odani was for the time being saved, as Nobunaga withdrew his weary army from the area soon afterwards. A few months later the Asai and Asakura retaliated by defeating an Oda army near Otsu, an action that saw the deaths of Mori Yoshinari and Oda Nobuharu (one of Nobunaga's younger brothers).

KIA: (Asai) Endo Naotsune, Isono Kazumasa (Asakura) Makara Jurôzaemon

ARAI
1516 / Sagami / Siege

Hôjô Sôun
VS
Miura Yoshiatsu

Miura Yoshiatsu and his son Yoshimoto allied with the Ogigayatsu branch of the Uesugi and opposed the Hôjô's activities in Sagami. Yoshiatsu's attempts to reduce the Hôjô's forward forts failed, however, and strife within the Uesugi allowed the Hôjô to turn their full attention on the Miura. in September 1512 Hôjô Sôun was in a position to lay siege to Yoshiatsu at Okazaki Castle, a critical part of the Miura's defense of the Miura Peninsula. Yoshiatsu was forced to quit Okazaki and retreat to Arai, a castle held by his son Yoshimoto. The Hôjô and Miura skirmished near Kamakura on a number of occasions as Sôun reduced the Miura's remaining outer forts, effectivly bottling up Yoshiatsu at Arai. With the Miura reduced to only Arai, Sôun was content to let them 'wither on the vine' for almost three years. Finally, in 1516, Sôun ordered an all-out attack on the starving defenders of the castle and Yoshiatsu and Yoshimoto, after a brave stand, both commited suicide. Yoshimoto is famed for having cut off his own head, an act which, whether true or not, is said to have greatly impressed the Hôjô

KIA: Miura Yoshiatsu, Miura Yoshimoto

2nd AZUKIZAKA
1548 / Mikawa / Battle

Taigen Sessai (Imagawa Yoshimoto)
VS
Oda Nobuhide

The Battle of Azukizaka was a notable event in a long period of hostilities on the Tokai Coast. The Imagawa family, led at this time by Imagawa Yoshimoto, was gradually extending its influence eastward from Suruga. Following an earlier war with the Shiba family, Tôtômi was brought firmly into the Imagawa domain, with its neighbor Mikawa naturally a place of great contention. To the east of Mikawa was owari, and the Oda domain. Oda Nobuhide (father of the famous Nobunaga) was a staunch opponent of the Imagawa, and just as interested in influencing events in Mikawa. Mikawa itself was the home of the Matsudaira family, who found themselves caught between these two forces. By 1548 the Matsudaira had drifted into the Imagawa camp, though hardly without incident, and now stood to join forces with their erstwhile enemies to the west. At this time a certain Toda Yasumitsu betrayed the Matsudaira and declared his support for the Oda. While Yasumitsu's rebellion was quelled, Nobuhide nonetheless led an army of some 4,000 men into Mikawa, his objective being Okazaki - the Matsudaira's capital. The young lord of the Matsudaira, Hirotada, turned to the Imagawa for assistance and agreed to provide his only son as a hostage in return for help from Suruga. The child (the future Tokugawa Ieyasu) was duly dispatched eastward but was intercepted and spirited away by the recently chastised Toda Yasumitsu. Hirotada's son ended up as a hostage of the Oda but if Nobuhide had hoped this would convince Hirotada to change his allegiances, he was to be disappointed. Hirotada brushed off the threats to his son's life (perhaps intuiting that the boy was of more use to Oda alive then dead) and in the end no harm came to him. Meanwhile, Yoshimoto dispatched his talented uncle, the monk-general Taigen Sessai (or Sessai Chorô), with an army to sort things out in Mikawa. Nobuhide himself led an army out of Anjô (a Mikawa castle taken from the Matsudaira) and ran right into Sessai's army. Sessai had selected the ground well, and the engagement began in what was essentially an ambush. The fighting was desperate but in the end Nobuhide was defeated and his army sent on its way back to Owari. Sessai thus avenged an earlier reverse suffered by the Imagawa at the same site six years previously. This battle also proved to be Nobuhide's last, for he died the following year. in the aftermath of his death Sessai was to return and retake Anjô - in the process compelling the Oda to give up Hirotada's son. Sessai himself died in 1555 and the next great encounter between the Oda and Imagawa, at Okehazama in 1560, would have a much different outcome.

 


D

DAN NO URA
24 April 1185 / Shimonoseki / Battle

Minamoto Yoshitsune (850 ships)
VS
Taira Munemori (500 ships)

Dan no ura was the culmination of the Gempei War (1180-85) and resulted in the complete destruction of the Taira leadership. The battle had been essentially forced on the Taira by their loss of Yashima - their base on Shikoku. Pursued by Minamoto Yoshitsune and isolated by the maneuvers of Minamoto Noriyori on Honshu and northern Kyushu, the Taira were forced to stand and fight. They were more experienced at naval warfare then the Minamoto, but this was offset to a great extent when a number of local warriors brought ships and seasoned Inland Sea sailors for the Minamoto. Though outnumbered in ships (perhaps 850 to 500), the Taira hoped to use the tides to their advantage. In the event, the tides did flow against the Minamoto initially, and allowed the Taira to employ their archers to some effect. In the end, the tide changed and Yoshitsune, aided by the defection of the Taira general Taguchi Shigeyoshi, was able to drive home his attack. The child-emperor Antoku and his mother commited suicide by drowning, followed by most of the Taira samurai - save their leader, Munemori, who was captured and later executed.

KIA: Taira Tomomori, Taira Noritsune, Taira Norimori, Taira Tsunemori, Taira Sukemori, Taira Arimori, Taira Yukimori, ect...

G


1st GASSAN - TODA
1543 / Izumo / Siege

Ôuchi Yoshitaka / Môri Motonari (30,000)
VS
Amako Haruhisa (15,000)

Hoping to capitalize on the recent death of Amako Tsunehisa and Haruhisa's defeat at Koriyama in 1540, Ôuchi Yoshitaka launched an attack into Izumo. The allied progress into Izumo proved exceedingly slow, and at the gates of Gassan-Toda the Ôu;chi / Môri effort faltered and fell back in disarray. Motonari himself came very close to being captured in the retreat and this reverse is said to have brought about a decided change in Yoshitaka, who afterwards displayed little interest in military endeavors.

2nd GASSAN - TODA
September 1565 - January 1566 / Izumo / Siege

Môri Motonari (25,000)
VS
Amako Yoshihisa (10,000)

Following the death of Amako Haruhisa in 1562 the fortunes of the Amako declined, and in 1564 Môri Motonari began a drive to take all of Izumo. Môri's initial attempts to storm Gassan-Toda failed, so he began capturing the outer Amako forts in an efort to isolate the stronghold. Chief among these outposts was Shiraga, which fell in late 1564 despite Yoshihisa's efforts to provide relief. Motonari then resumed the siege of Gassan-Toda in 1565, and by the end of the year supplies and morale within the castle were flagging. This was exacerbated by Motonari's decision to refuse to accept deserters, a policy aimed at reducing Gassan-Toda's foodstuffs as quickly as possible. Yoshihisa made his situation all the more difficult by executing Uyama Hisanobu on the (incorrect) suspicion of treason. This further damaged morale and when Motonari lifted the ban against accepting deserters, thousands of the starving defenders fled. In January of 1566 Yoshihisa finally surrendered and was allowed to go into exile.

KIA: (Amako) Uyama Hisanobu (executed)

 


H


HETSUGIGAWA
1586 / Bungo / Battle

Ôtomo Yoshimune, Chosokabe Motochika, Sengoku Hidehisa (7,000)
VS
Shimazu Yoshihisa (15,000)

In 1586 the Shimazu had driven deeply into the Ôtomo domain and threatened Funai, prompting Toyotomi Hideyoshi to dispatch a contingent of reinforcements under Chosokabe Motochika and Sengoku Hisahide with orders to stand on the defensive. Sengoku and Ôtomo Yoshimune decided to ignore Hideyoshi's injunction and attempt the relief of Toshimitsu, an Ôtomo castle under seige by Shimazu general Niiro Tadamoto. Despite Chosokabe's protests, the allies made for Toshimitsu, only to find that Niiro had brought it down. They were then drawn into a battle with the Shimazu army under Shimazu Yoshihiro and Iehisa and were fooled into attacking by a feigned retreat. The allies were defeated in a bloody affair on the river banks and put to flight. In the aftermath of the battle, Chosokabe retainer Tani Tadasumi was sent to the Shimazu to collect the body of Chosokabe Nobuchika - Motochika's eldest son. His loss, chief among many suffered by the Chosokabe on that day, was to have far-reaching consequences for that family. In the meantime, Funai fell shortly after the Chosokabe and Sengoku withdrew from Bungo and, for a moment in time, Shimazu Yoshihisa was master of all Kyushu.

KIA: (Chosokabe) Chosokabe Nobuchika, Kataoka Mitsumasa, Kuwana Tarôzaemon, Okunomiya Masaie, Sogo Nagayasu, ect...

HITADORI
1585 / Mutsu / Battle

Hatakeyama, Ashina, Soma, Satake (30,000)
VS
Date Masamune (7,000)

The Battle of Hitadori came as Date Masamune faced the greatest crisis of his career. Faced with an allied union of hostile daimyô, Masamune was badly outnumbered but determined to face his foes in the field. Despite spirited efforts by the hard-pressed Date warriors, Masamune defeated in the first phase of this battle at the Hitadori Bridge and forced to reteat into Motomiya Castle. He was saved by the sudden departure from the enemy ranks of Satake Yoshishige, whose own lands in Hitachi were being attacked. The remaining allies, who did not feel that they had the strength to bring the castle down, retreated from Motomiya.

KIA: (Date) Moniwa Yoshinao.


I



IWAMURA
1575 / Mino / Siege

Oda Nobutada (Oda Nobunaga) (30,000)
VS
Akiyama Nobutomo (Takeda Katsuyori) (3,000)

Following Takeda Katsuyori's crushing defeat at Nagashino, an army under Oda Nobutada (Nobunaga's eldest son) laid seige to Iwamura, which Akiyama had captured for the Takeda in February 1572. The much-weakened Takeda clan could not come to the aid of Iwamura, which fell in December. Akiyama was captured and executed and by this siege Nobunaga reclaimed all of Mino Province.
KIA: Akiyama Nobutomo

ICHI NO TANI
March 1184 / Harima / Battle

Minamoto Yoshitsune/ Noriyori (Minamoto Yoritomo)
VS
Taira Koremori

Following their expulsion from the capital, the Taira operated Ichi no tani as a forward base to both guard the approaches to western Japan and perhaps to facilitate some future counter-attack. Minamoto Yoshitsune and Noriyori were dispatched by their elder brother Yoritomo to reduce this stronghold, and split up for the task. Yoshitsune headed to the north of Ichi no tani and took Mikusayama while Noriyori assualted Ikuta no mori (held by Taira Tomomori) - just to the east of the main Taira base. With the Taira attentions diverted by Noriyori's actions, Yoshitsune was able to manuever into a position to launch a surprise attack on Ichi no tani itself. Leading his men in a daring charge down a steep cliff that the enemy had not bothered to guard, Yoshitsune put the Taira to flight and won the first of his trio of famous victories against the doomed Taira.

KIA: (Taira) Taira Atsumori, Taira Michimori, Taira Narimori, Taira Tomoakira, ect...

IWAYA
1586 / Chikuzen / Siege

Shimazu Yoshihiro (Shimazu Yoshihisa) (50,000)
VS
Takahashi Shigetane (Ôtomo Yoshimune) (760)

With the defeat of the Ryûzôji at Okitanawate in 1584, the Shimazu returned their full attentions to the Ôtomo and began to push deeply into their territory. A drive into Chikuzen Province resulted in the Seige of Iwaya in 1586. Iwaya was held by one of the pillars of the Ôtomo house, Takahashi Shigetane (Shôun), and some 760 men. After holding out for two weeks against enourmous odds, Shigetane, aware of the futility of further resistance, commited suicide. When the Shimazu heard of his end, they are said to have prayed for his spirit, so impressed were they by his bravery.

KIA: Takahashi Shigetane.

 


K


KAWAGOE
October 1544 - May 1545/ Musashi / Siege and Battle

Hôjô Ujiyasu (8,000) /Hôjô Tsunashige (3,000)
VS
Uesugi Tomosada/Uesugi Norimasa/Ashikaga Harauji

In an effort to turn back the Hôjô expansion into the Kanto, the two branches of the Uesugi (the Yamaouchi and Ogigayatsu) allied and, joined by Ashikaga Haruuji, besieged Hôjô Tsunashige in the strategically important Kawagoe Castle. Though two earlier attempts to retake the castle had failed, the allies were encouraged by an alliance between the Takeda and Imagawa against the Hôjô and hoped to take advantage of Ujiyasu's tenuous situation. As long as Ujiyasu was threatened from the west, he could only look on. However, a treaty was reached between the Hôjô and Imagawa that allowed Ujiyasu to turn his full attention to Kawagoe, which was slowly being starved out by the allies. After failing to reach a political agreement with the Uesugi, Ujiyasu lead an army into the area and launched a night attack on the Uesugi headquarters that was supported by a spirited sally by Kawagoe's 3,000 defenders. The Uesugi were totally surprised, thrown into confusion, and routed. This brilliant victory was Ujiyasu’s greatest, and one from which neither branch of the Uesugi ever recovered.
Note: The size of the Uesugi/Ashikaga force is hard to guage. The figure given out at the time was 80,000 men, which seems improbable.

KIA: Uesugi Tomosada

2nd KAWANAKAJIMA
November 1555 / Shinano / Battle

Takeda Shingen (12,000)
VS
Uesugi Kenshin (8,000)

The second contest between Takeda Shingen and Uesugi Kenshin occured in the Fall of 1555 and largely consisted of skirmishes as the two warlords vied for a superior position. For over a month, the Takeda and Uesugi glared at one another from across the Saigawa and in the end retreated without having fought a decisive encounter. The fiercest fighting happened towards the beginning of the campaign, when Kenshin attempted unsuccessfully to reduce Asahiyama. Shingen had supplied the fort's commander, Kurita Kakuju, with some 300 guns prior to the battle and these tipped the balance in the defenders' favor.
See here for a map of the Kawanakajima area.

4th KAWANAKAJIMA
October 1561 / Shinano / Battle

Takeda Shingen (20,000)
VS
Uesugi Kenshin (13,000)

Uesugi Kenshin drew the Takeda to battle by threatening Kaizu Castle. Shingen led an army of around 20,000 men to the area, making a wide circle around Kenshin's camp on Saijo Mountain and entering Kaizu. Shingen then decided to adopt a plan concived by Yamamoto Kansuke whereby one part of the Takeda army would set up an ambush on Kawanakajima while the other part flushed Kenshin from Saijo in a night action. Shingen accordingly took 8,000 men to Kawanakajima while Kosaka Masanobu and Baba Nobufusa led 12,000 to Saijo; unfortunatly for the Takeda, Kenshin learned of Shingen's movements and acted to thwart his plans. He took his own army off Saijo ahead of Kosaka and Baba and asualted Shingen's force at dawn. The fighting was desperate, and Shingen's brother Nobushige and great-uncle Morozumi Masakiyo were both killed. Kansuke fought bravely, then commited suicide even as Kosaka and Baba arrived to drive Kenshin off. The battle is recorded as having been especially bloody, and supposedly featured a brief personal combat between Kenshin and Shingen - though this may be regarded as a colorful legend.

KIA: (Takeda) Takeda Nobushige, Morozumi Torasada (Masakiyo), Yamamoto Kansuke, Hajikano Tadatsugu. (Uesugi) Shida Yoshitoki, Shoda Sadataka.
See here for a map of the Kawanakajima area.

KIZAKIHARA
1572 / Hyûga / Battle

Itô Yoshisuke
VS
Shimazu Takahisa

Following Yoshisuke's capture of Obi, the Itô consolidated their hold over southern Hyûga and began advancing into territory traditionally held by the Shimazu. Yoshisuke desired to expand Ito influence into Osumi, and to this end supported clans within the borders of that province hostile to the Shimazu. Takahisa was nonetheless able to subdue Osumi and in 1572 was in a position to challenge Yoshisuke in open battle at Kizaki Plain, on the Ôsumi-Hyûga border. The day went to the Shimazu, and the Ito were routed. Four years later Takahisa again defeated Itô at Takabaru and in 1578 Yoshisuke was forced to flee to the lands of the Ôtomo. This was nearly 100 years after Shimazu Takehisa had first defeated the Itô at Obi in 1485.

1st KONODAI
November 1538 / Musashi /Battle

Hôjô Ujitsuna (20,000)
VS
Satomi Yoshitaka and Ashikaga Yoshiaki (10,000)

Taking advantage of Hôjô preoccupation with a dispute with the Imagawa, the Satomi and Ashikaga gathered an army to attack the Hôjô's Musashi outposts. Ujitsuna hastily assembled troops from Izu and Sagami, pausing to assemble them at Edo before moving on to Konodai. There, the Satomi and Ashikaga forces were set upon and defeated with relative ease, resulting in Ashikaga's death and a Hôjô pursuit of the Satomi onto the Boso Peninsula.

KIA: Ashikaga Yoshiaki

2nd KONODAI
May 1564 / Musashi /Battle

Hôjô Ujiyasu (15,000?)
VS
Satomi Yoshihiro (10,000)

Satomi Yoshihiro at first did well in this battle, capturing Konodai and forcing the Hôjô to retreat. Ujiyasu, however, ordered his men to attack Konodai again, and caught the Satomi by surprise. Many Satomi were killed and Yoshihiro was forced to flee. Following this battle, the Satomi were greatly weakened, though they continued to resist the Hôjô for over a decade.

KORIYAMA
1540 / Aki / Siege

Amako Haruhisa (20,000+)
VS
Môri Motonari (8,000)

Amako Haruhisa, who had been steadily advancing the power of the Amako (reaching as far west as Harima in 1538) invaded the Môri lands of Aki Province and forced Motonari to retreat within the walls of Koriyama. Haruhisa, who was determined to eliminate the Môri (a long-time thorn in the Amako's side) once and for all, burned Yoshida (Koriyama’s town) but was unable to dislodge Motonari from Koriyama itself nor entice him to come out. For his part, Motonari contented himself with making small night-time raids on the Amako's supply trains as Haruhisa settled in for a siege. A relief army under Sue Harukata was sent by the Oûchi and forced Haruhisa to retreat with some loss when the latter was attacked by both Harukata and Motonari. This victory, and the death of the former Amako Daimyô Tsunehisa the following year, would encourage the Môri and Ôuchi to invade the Amako's Izumo Province in 1542. That campaign, however, was destined to end with Haruhisa raising a victory cry (see 1st Gassan-Toda).

KÔZUKI
December 1577/ Harima / Siege

Hashiba (Toyotomi) Hideyoshi (Oda Nobunaga)
VS
Akamatsu Masanori

The battle for Kôzuki Castle came about as the Oda pressed forward their advance against the provinces of the Chugoku Region. The commander of the campaign, which was aimed at diminishing the power of the Môri, was Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and his army included such famous names as Kuroda Kanbei, Takenaka Shigeharu, and Hachisuka Koroku. In addition, the Oda were supported by a force under Amako Katsuhisa, who hoped to one day restore the fallen Amako family to power in western Japan. Akamatsu Masanori, Kôzuki's master, refused to submit and so fighting commenced in December as Oda troops began to reduce Kôzuki's outer defenses. Later that month, the Ukita, allies at this time of the Môri, sent an army to relieve the castle but this was intercepted and defeated in a bitter fight. With the Ukita repulsed, and the Môri nowhere to be seen, Hideyoshi called for the surrender of the castle. When this was refused, he ordered a general assualt. The castle was stormed with much loss of life and Masanori commited suicide. By the time the Oda army's banners were raised over the castle walls, some 1,000 of the defenders were dead. In the aftermath of the fight, Kôzuki was turned over to the Amako. In 1578 the castle would be lost to the Ukita and then regained by the Amako. Soon afterwards, however, the main Môri army arrived and encircled Kôzuki, trapping Katsuhisa and his men within. The Oda army, engaged in the reduction of Miki Castle, was unable to send relief and Kôzuki fell once more - along with Katsuhisa's dream of resurrecting the Amako.

KURIKARA
June 1183 / Etchu / Battle

Minamoto (Kiso) Yoshinaka
VS
Taira Koremori (Taira Munemori)

Following an enforced pause in the Gempei War due to a famine, Taira Munemori dispatched a large army under Taira Tomomori and Koremori to throw back Kiso Yoshinaka, whose forces had driven into the Hokuriku Region. The Taira army was divided in two once in the area, and the force under Koremori advanced against Yoshinaka, who ambushed them at Kurikara Pass. The Taira were completely defeated in the confused night fighting - which included oxen driven into their ranks-and retreated back to Kyoto. Yoshinaka was then able to advance on the capital with little difficulty.

KIA: (Taira) Taira Tamemori, Saito Sanemori

KUROKAWA
July 1589 / Mutsu / Battle

Date Masamune (23,000)
VS
Ashina Morishige (16,000)

The fighting that led up to the Date capture of the Ashina's Kurokawa Castle was the culmination of a decades-old rivalry between the two families. In 1589 Masamune convinced the important Ashina retainer Inawashiro Morikuni to rebel and soon afterwards took advantage of the confusion to attack. He led some 23,000 men in the direction of Kurokawa and were met by Ashina Morishige's 16,000 at Suriagehara. The Ashina fought well and were only compelled to retreat when Masamune himself led a charge against their tiring ranks. Unfortunatly, Masamune's men had managed to destroy the bridge over the Nitsubashi River - which was the Ashina's escape route. Panic set in amongst Morishige's warriors, and many who did not drown trying to swim the Nitsubashi were cut down by the victorious Date. As many as 2,300 heads were taken and the Ashina army was scattered. Masamune pressed on to Kurokawa, which fell easily. Morishige escaped to the lands of the Satake, and Masamune, for a short period, would be the greatest northern warlord.

 


M


MIKATAGAHARA
6 January 1573 / Tôtômi / Battle

Takeda Shingen (28,000)
VS
Tokugawa Ieyasu (11,000, including 3,000 Oda troops)

As part of an ongoing effort to dominate Tôtômi, Takeda Shingen led an army south from Shinano and captured Futamata. A few months later he returned to Futamata and used it as a base in a move against Hamamatsu, Tokugawa Ieyasu's headquarters. Tokugawa Ieyasu, reinforced by troops sent by Oda Nobunaga, rashly marched out to challenge the Takeda army on the Mikata Plain (Mikata ga hara). Shingen ordered a frontal assualt that quickly broke the Oda contingent and allowed for Takeda horsemen to begin circling around the Tokugawa flanks. Ieyasu signalled a retreat and barely managed to make it back to Hamamatsu alive. He survived the event only due to Takeda reluctance to become involved in a siege. This battle is often recorded as the opening move of a Takeda advance on Kyoto, but it would appear that Shingen's primary goal was to weaken Ieyasu for local advantage.

KIA: (Tokugawa) Natsume Yoshinobu, (Oda) Hiraide Norihide

MIKI
1578-1580 / Harima / Siege

Toyotomi Hideyoshi (Oda Nobunaga) (7,000+)
VS
Bessho Nagaharu

The long siege of Miki Castle came about as a result of Oda Nobunaga's push westward against the Môri clan. The lord of Miki, Bessho Nagaharu, had initally supported Nobunaga but broke away following the rebellion of Oda vassal Araki Murashige in 1578. Hashiba (Toyotomi) Hideyoshi, Nobunaga's commander of the westward push, attacked the Bessho domain and began to reduce Miki's outer forts. Miki itself proved a tough nut to crack. Miki was vital to the continued defense of the Ishiyama Honganji in Settsu and the Môri were therefore determined to see that it held. Supplies were shipped in and Bessho held out tenaciously. Even when the Bessho's Hirayama Castle fell in 1579 (resulting in the death of Nagaharu's brother Harusada) and the noose around Miki tightened, the Bessho held out. Yet, in 1580, the gradually thinning stream of Môri supplies became a trickle and then dried up as the Oda were finally able to blockade the castle from all sides. Seeing that further resistance would only doom his men to starvation, Nagaharu agreed to surrender the castle. Nagaharu, his brother Tomoyuki, and advisor Goto Motokuni all commited suicide and the garrison was spared. In a postscript to this battle, Hideyoshi spared Goto Motoaki's young son Mototsugu and placed him in the care of Kuroda Kanbei. Mototsugu, better known as Gotobei, would be one of the most valiant of the defenders of Osaka Castle and the Toyotomi cause in 1614-1615.

KIA: Bessho Nagaharu, Bessho Tomoyuki, Bessho Harusada, Goto Motokuni

MIMASETOGE
1569 / Sagami / Battle

Hôjô Ujiteru, Hôjô Ujikuni [Hôjô Ujiyasu] (20,000)
VS
Takeda Shingen (10,000)

In 1569 Takeda Shingen invaded Hôjô-controlled Sagami and attempted a number of sieges that culminated in an abortive effort to take Odawara. Shingen soon retreated after doing some damage to Odawara's outer works. The Takeda army was attacked in the Mimase Pass by a Hôjô army under Ujiteru and his brother Ujikuni. The Takeda vanguard, which included Baba Nobufusa, was hard-pressed; Takeda Shingen himself led up the Takeda's main body and the tide of the hard-fought battle was turned by a furious attack by Yamagata Masakage. The Hôjô were defeated and forced to retreat north, allowing the Takeda to return to Kai - though leaving behind some 900 dead.

KIA: (Takeda) Asari Nobutane

MIMIGAWA
10 December 1578 / Hyûga / Battle

Tawara Chikataka [Ôtomo Sorin] (50,000+)
VS
Shimazu Yoshihisa (30,000)

Determined to crush the growing power of the Shimazu, Ôtomo Sôrin and his son Yoshimune led an enormous host into Hyûga, intent on recapturing lands taken from the Ito family. Tawara Chikataka, Sôrin’s brother-in-law, led the bulk of the army to besiege Shimazu Iehisa in Taka Castle. Yoshihisa hastily rallied his kinsmen and marched north to Sadowara, where he was briefly held up by bad weather. Meanwhile, his brother Yoshihiro, who was advancing along a diffrent route, enocuntered and scattered an advance Ôtomo force, following up this success with the destruction of an enemy fort at Matsuyama. Yoshihisa then advanced to the Taka area, and joined with the rest of the Shimazu clan. In the resulting battle Tawara sent the Ôtomo army in a frontal attack that was repulsed after some bitter fighting. The Ôtomo were quickly routed, and Yoshihisa won an amazing victory that cost his enemy thousands of men and heralded their decline.

MINATOGAWA
5 July 1336 / Harima / Battle

Ashikaga Takauji
VS
Nitta Yoshisada / Kusunoki Masashige

Following his retreat to Kyushu in March 1336, Ashikaga Takauji gathered enough support in the western provinces to launch a return to Kyoto in June. Nitta Yoshisada favored opposing him en route, a strategy opposed by Kusunoki Masashige. Go-Daigo gave his approval to Nitta's defense on offense approach, and Masashige reluctantly accompanied him to Harima. The Imperial army arrayed itself to the west of the mouth of the Minato River, with its main contingents under the command of Yoshisada and Nitta Yoshisuke, while Kusunoki commanded some 700 men just east of the Minato. Takauji, whether by chance or design, engineered what turned out to be an almost textbook attack. When the fighting started, Shoni Yorihisa attacked Yoshisada's front while Hosokawa Jozen sailed up and began landing to his rear. Nitta panicked and pulled back, leaving Kusunoki's 700 men to face the full brunt of Ashikaga Tadayoshi's army. Kusunoki and his men fought bravely but in the end were overwhelmed. After almost six hours of fighting Masashige and his brother Masasue committed suicide, joined by those Kusunoki retainers who had not already been killed. The loyalist cause was doomed, and Nitta Yoshisada, who escaped Minatogawa, was later killed.

KIA: Kusunoki Masashige

MIYAJIMA
October 1555 / Aki / Battle

Môri Motonari (10,000)
VS
Sue Harukata (20,000)

In 1551 Sue Harukata overthrew Ôuchi Yoshitaka and became the defacto head of the Ôuchi clan through a puppet, Oûchi (Ôtomo) Yoshinaga. In 1554 Môri Motonari of Aki rose against Harukata and defeated a Sue force at Oshikihata in June. In October 1555 Sue was lured to Miyajima (Miya Island, also known as Itskushima) by a ploy on Motonari's part: he had ordered a fort built there, then publicly lamented that he could hardly hope to hold it for long. Even as the Sue were occupying Miyajima, the Môri were initiating the second phase of Motonari's scheme: the Môri army recaptured Sakarao, a fort on the mainland that acted as an anchor to Sue's army on the island. Then, in a thunderstorm the Môri, led by Motonari and his sons (Takamoto, Kikkawa Motoharu, and Kobayakawa Takakage) sailed to the island and launched a surprise attack at dawn that resulted in the complete destruction of Sue's army. Harukata himself commited suicide and Motonari's rise in the western provinces had begun. Motonari's victory here had been much aided (if not made possible) by the assistance of the Murakami, a family of pirates whose friendship Motonari had been courting for some time.

KIA: Sue Harukata, Sue Nagafusa

MORIBE / JÛSHIJÔ
June 1561 / Mino / Battle

Oda Nobunaga (Moribe - 6,000)
VS
Saito Tatsuoki (Moribe - 3,000)

When Saito Yoshitatsu of Mino died of illness in June of 1561, Oda Nobunaga was quick to take advantage of the situation by leading an army up from Owari and into the Saito domain. Yoshitatsu's teenage heir, Tatsuoki, responded by sending a force out from Sunomata to strike first. This was defeated by Nobunaga's army, which went on to take possesion of Sunomata itself. Oda and Saito forces clashed again a week later in an action known as the Battle of Jûshijô which began with an ambush of an Oda contingent. Nobunaga hastily led a force out of Sunomata and defeated the Saito in a sharp night action, in the process costing the latter their general Inaba Mataemon. After fighting a few more skirmishes and taking a further two Saito forts, Nobunaga returned to Owari Province.

 


N


NAGAKUTE
1584 / Owari / Battle

Ikeda Nobuteru [Toyotomi Hideyoshi] (12,000)
VS
Tokugawa Ieyasu (9,000)

In an effort to break the developing stalemate at Komaki, Hideyoshi dispatched the Ikeda to move around the Tokugawa army and threaten Mikawa. Farmers warned Ieyasu of the Ikeda movements, and he hastily led an army out to intercept them. The battle opened with a single shot that killed Mori Nagayoshi and developed into a rout for the Ikeda. Hideyoshi led out an army when news of the defeat reached his headquarters, but Ieyasu elected to avoid contact and ultimatly returned to Komaki.

KIA: (Ikeda) Ikeda Nobuteru, Ikeda Yukisuke, Mori Nagayoshi

NAGARAGAWA
1556 / Mino / Battle

Saito Yoshitatsu
VS
Saitô Toshimasa (Dosan)

In 1542 Saitô Dosan overthrew the Toki and took control of Mino. His wife was of the Toki family, and her son, Yoshitatsu, was adopted by Dosan. Dosan then decided to disinherit Yoshitatsu in favor of another son, Nagatatsu, provoking a civil war. Yoshitatsu murdered his two younger step-brothers in 1555 and declared war on Dosan. In May 1556 Yoshitatsu led an army to the Nagaragawa, prompting Dosan to take up a postion on the opposite side of the river. Yoshitatsu's vanguard opened the attack by crossing the river and cutting deeply into Dosan's ranks. They nearly reached Dosan's headquarters before being savaged by a counterattack. Yoshitatsu then led the bulk of his forces across the river and in the course of the fighting Dosan was killed. Yoshitatsu thereafter assumed control of Mino.

KIA: Saitô Dosan

NAGASHIMA
May 1571 / Ise / Battle

Sakuma Nobumori / Shibata Katsuie (Oda Nobunaga)
VS
Nagashima monto

This battle came about as a result of Oda Nobunaga's determination to eliminate the monto stronghold in the marshes around Nagashima. Here, fierecly independant local warriors, villagers, and religious sectarians had been causing trouble for the Oda for some time. Nobunaga thus dispatched his generals Sakuma Nobumori and Shibata Katsuie with an army to bring the monto to bear. Unfortunately for the Oda, the defenders had fortified the already naturally difficult terrain around Nagashima, and the attacking army was stalled almost immediatly. The attack quickly developed into a fiasco and was at length called off, with a number of Oda generals dead and Shibata himself badly injured.

KIA: (Oda) Hachisuka Masamoto, Ujiie Bokuzen

NAGASHINO
28 June 1575 / Mikawa / Siege and Battle

Takeda Katsuyori (12,000)
VS
Oda Nobunaga (30,000)/Tokugawa Ieyasu (8,000)

In the summer of 1575, Takeda Katsuyori led his army into the Tokugawa domain and laid siege to Nagashino Castle, a locally important strongpoint that had changed hands a number of times in the past few years. The castle's defenders managed to resist the initial Takeda attacks and, thanks to the heroic efforts of a certain Torii Sune'emon, managed to alert Tokugawa Ieyasu of their plight, and the latter convinced Oda Nobunaga to commit to an all-out battle with the Takeda. When faced with the appearance of a numerically superior enemy force, Katsuyori, over the objections of his veteran commanders, opted to attack. Thanks to superior firepower (as many as 3,000 arquebuses were used in the battle) and good positon, Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu crushed the Takeda attack and relieved Nagashino Castle. Most of the famous Takeda generals present were killed in the battle and the offensive power of the Takeda was severly crippled (having lost around 10,000 men). Oda was now free to fully turn his attentions elsewhere, leaving Ieyasu to contain the battered Takeda.

KIA: (Takeda) Takeda Nobuzane, Baba Nobufusa, Yamagata Masakage, Naito Masatoyo, Hara Masatane, Sanada Nobutsuna, Sanda Masateru, Kasai Mitsuhide, Wada Narishige, Yonekura Shigetsugu, Atobe Shigemasa, ect...

 


O


4th ODANI
August-September / Ômi / Siege

Oda Nobunaga (30,000+)
VS
Asai Nagamasa (10,000?) / Asakura Yoshikage (20,000)

In the 4th battle of Odani, Oda Nobunaga had decided to try to finish Asai Nagamasa in one blow, leading a large army of somewhere between 30,000 and 50,000 men to the castle. This was also to be the first battle his son and heir, Nobutada, took plart in. Hideyoshi and many other well-known Oda generals were also present. The first Oda attack Nagamasa's outer defenses were breached and Nagamasa's own residence went up in flames. Further Oda efforts stalled, however, (thanks in part to the staunch resistance of Atsuji Sadahide, Odani's garrison commander) and in the meantime Asakura Yoshikage had led some 20,000 men down from Echizen and took up at Otake Castle, somewhat north of Odani. Nobunaga sent Yoshikage a challange to battle and a fight between Oda and Asakura ashigaru developed. In the course of the contest, a certain Asakura warrior named Nagasaki Daijô, a master bowman, rode in the direction of Nobunaga's headquarters, determined to put an arrow in Nobunaga. He was unable to get in range, however, due to Oda spearmen. While this battle was inconculsive, it finished in favor of the Asakura.
A few weeks later, a retainer of Asakura Kagemori named Takeuchi Sannosuke led a group of men under cover of a rain storm into the Oda camp and set a number of fires (how they managed this in a storm isn't explained) and generally created chaos. In the confusion, the Oda warriors began fighting with one another and all told around 700 men were killed in this manner. A great opportunity existed for the Asai and Asakura to follow up the fiasco in the Oda camp; unfortunatly, Yoshikage hesitated and did not move (leaving Nagamasa with little choice but to sit tight). Nobunaga soon after departed the field.


ODAWARA
June-August 1590 / Sagami / Siege

Toyotomi Hideyoshi (200,000)
VS
Hôjô Ujiyasu/Hôjô Ujinao (40,000)

With the defeat of the Shimazu in 1587, only the Hôjô remained as a formidable force for Hideyoshi to reckon with. After they refused to pay homage, he invaded the Kanto with an enormous army, spearheaded by Tokugawa Ieyasu. The Hôjoô, after some heated debate, opted to withdraw the bulk of their forces within the walls of their capital, Odawara - one of the most formidable castles in Japan at that time. There was little actual fighting, as the Hôjô hoped that logistical difficulties would force Hideyoshi to call off his seige of their formidable Odawara stronghold. Hideyoshi, however, had made sure that his vast army was well-supplied, and after three months Odawara surrendered. Hôjô Ujimasa commited suicide and the Hôjô lost the Kanto.

OKEHAZAMA
19 June 1560 / Owari / Battle

Oda Nobunaga (2,000?)
VS
Imagawa Yoshimoto (20,000+?)

As the opening stage of a march on the capital, Imagawa Yoshimoto invaded Owari and brought down two of Oda Nobunaga's forts (Wazashi and Marume). Oda Nobunaga, to surprise of his retainers, opted to meet the enemy in the field and hastily gathered an army. He set out while the Imagawa troops rested near Okehazama. Taking advantage of Imagawa Yoshimoto’s overconfidence and a sudden thunderstorm, Nobunaga launched a lightening attack into the Imagawa encampment in the Dengakuhazama and killed Yoshimoto. The Imagawa quickly lost heart and fled, leaving Nobunaga with a complete victory. The Imagawa’s dreams for taking Kyoto were shattered and from this point, the Oda began their rise to power. A concrete number for Yoshimoto's stength is difficult to come by, and figures range from 10,000 to 25,000.

KIA: Imagawa Yoshimoto

OKITANAWATE
5 May 1584 / Hizen / Battle

Ryuzoji Takanobu (25,000)
VS
Shimazu Iehisa [Shimazu Yoshihisa] (2,000)/Arima Harunobu (1,000)

Hoping to crush both the troublesome Arima and the Shimazu expeditionary force sent to aid them, Ryûzôji Takanobu led a force onto the Shimabara Peninsula. While the Ryûzôji had never quite recovered from a defeat at the hands of the Ôtomo in 1569, Takanobu still had some fine leaders and a large army. Only the Arima continued to challange his domination of Hizen Province. Yet, at Okitanawate, the confident Takanobu was to suffer a fatal setback. The two main Ryûzôji columns were quickly stalled by the small if well-armed Arima navy and by the desperate élan of the Shimazu. In the growing confusion, a band of Shimazu swordsmen raced for Takanobu's position; Takanobu (like Imagawa Yoshimoto at Okehazama) believed that a fight had broken out among his own men. He realized too late the danger he was in as the Shimazu suddenly appeared, swords flying. Takanobu was killed and the news generated a general panic within the Ryûzôji ranks despite the best efforts of Nabeshima Naoshige to maintain order. The Ryûzôji at length fled the field and Takanobu's son Masaie was later made to submit to the Shimazu.

KIA: Ryûzôji Takanobu, Enjôji Nobutane, ect...

OSAKA (WINTER)
1614 / Settsu / Siege

Tokugawa Ieyasu (195,000)
VS
Toyotomi Hideyori (113,800)

Rising tensions between the fledgling Tokugawa bakufu and Toyotomi Hideyori, the heir of the late Hideyoshi, led to the 1st Siege of Hideyori's Osaka fortress. Prior to the start of hostilities, Hideyori had gathered as many as 100,000 ronin within his castle walls, many of whom had been dispossesed by the Tokugawa after Sekigahara. The campaign began in November and opened with a series of hard-fought actions that continued for about a month at a considerable cost to the Tokugawa. Knowing that a direct assualt on the castle was unlikely to succeed, Tokugawa first resorted to a bombardment of the walls, then to peace talks. Hideyori unwisely agreed to negotiate, allowing Ieyasu to prepare for his next effort to bring the last bastion of the Toyotomi down.

ÔTATE no RAN
1579 / Echigo / War

Uesugi Kagekatsu
VS
Uesugi Kagetora

The great warlord Uesugi Kenshin died in the spring of 1578 and left Echigo with an uncertain future. Prior to his death, he had arranged for two men to inherit his domains and, perhaps unsurprisingly, this resulted in a civil war. The two leaders in question were Uesugi Kagekatsu and Uesugi Kagetora. Kagekatsu was the son of Nagao Masakage and Kenshin's nephew. Kagetora was the 7th son of Hôjô Ujiyasu and at one time had been adopted into the Takeda family. Kenshin had adopted Kagetora in 1569 as part of a Hôjô-Uesugi peace treaty and married him to one of Nagao Masakage's daughters, thus making him Kagekatsu's brother-in-law. When Kenshin died, mutual distrust and ambition quickly divided the two men, and separate camps formed - one with Kagekatsu at Kasugayama Castle and one with Kagetora at Otate. Kagekatsu managed to gain the support of some of Echigo's greatest generals (including Amakasu Kagemochi, Saito Tomonobu, and Suibara Takaie) and after some bitter fighting managed to bring down Otate Castle. A Hôjô attempt to come to the aid of their kinsman failed, and Kagetora commited suicide. While Kagekatsu was now the sole lord of Echigo, the war would prove almost as disastrous for the Uesugi as Nagashino had been for the Takeda. Divided and bloodied, the Uesugi suffered the loss of almost all the lands Kenshin had taken to the west of Echigo to the Oda army. Only the death of Oda Nobunaga in 1582 halted the inexorable Oda push towards Echigo itself.

KIA: (Kagetora) Uesugi Kagetora, Uesugi Kagenobu, Kitajô Kagehiro

ÔTSU
1600 / Ômi / Siege

Môri/Tachibana/Tsukushi [Ishida Mitsunari] (15,000)
VS
Kyôgoku Takatsugu [Tokugawa Ieyasu](3,000)

As part of the opening moves in the Sekigahara, Ishida Mitsunari dispatched an army to reduce the castle of Ôtsu, situated on the south-western shore of Lake Biwa (Biwako). On 13 October 1600 15,000 men under Môri Motoyasu, Tachibana Muneshige, and Tsukushi Hirokado, supported by ships commanded by Mashita Nagamori, isolated the castle, which was defended by 3,000 men under Kyôgoku Takatsugu. Ôtsu was a formidable defensive position, and initial attempts to force an entry failed. On 20 October an insulting joke on the defender's part (a number of Môri banners were stolen and waved from the castle walls) resulted in an intensification of the attacker's efforts, and on 21 October the castle fell. Kyôgoku's efforts, however, had prevented some 15,000 men from particapating in the actual Battle of Sekigahara. Takatsugu survived the seige and was later awarded by Ieyasu for his efforts.

 


S


SAKAI
1399 / Settsu / Battle

Ashikaga Yoshimitsu
VS
Ôuchi Yoshihiro

Ôuchi Yoshihiro, the powerful shûgo of Suo and Nagato, had been an important Ashikaga adherant in the war with the 'Southern Court' and his greatest contribution came in 1392, when he managed to convince the emperor of the Southern Court to surrender, thus bringing the Nambuchuko Period effectively to a close. Yet yoshihiro was to rise in revolt against the Bakufu as a result of what he considered unfair demands on his resources (the shôgun requested that he build him a villa at Kitayama, for instance). To this end, he had carefully made arrangements for support among various other shûgo, and then withdrew his forces from Kyoto to the city of Sakai. Yoshimitsu initially attempted to solve the crisis peacefully, but finding Yoshihiro determined to fight, elected to make the first move. He gathered an army composed of the Hatakeyama, Hosokawa, and Shiba and made a general advance on Sakai by land while at the same negotiating with the Inland Sea pirates (whose support Yoshihiro had been counting on) to affect a naval blockade. Yoshihiro's rebellion quickly began to come undone, in part due to Yoshimitsu's prompt response and also due to a good deal of promised support from the Kanrei Ashikaga Mitsukane and others failing to materialize. At the same time, Yoshihiro's Iwami and Izumi troops proved incompletely unreliable. Oûchi resistance was nonetheless stubborn, but in the 12th month of 1399 Bakufu troops managed to set fire to the city. Amid an all-out assault by Yoshimitsu's forces, Yoshihiro commited suicide.

KIA: Ôuchi Yoshihiro

SEKIGAHARA
21 October 1600 / Mino / Battle

Tokugawa Ieyasu (80,000)
VS
Ishida Mitsunari (80,000)

This battle saw the culmination of the Sekigahara Campaign and the complete defeat of the ‘Western Army’. The battle was fought around a small village called Sekigahara that sat astride a crossroads under the heights of Mt.'s Sasao, Matsuo, and Nangû. In retrospect a strategically important point, the choice of the field of battle had been inadvertant. Ishida Mitsunari had hoped to meet Ieyasu somewhere further east; Ieyasu's primary objective had been Sawayama Castle. Ieyasu's hasty march west forced Mitsunari to offer Ieyasu a fight the latter was more then willing to accept. At the same time, the ground favored Mitsunari to a degree. Western army troops occupied the heights around Mt. Nangû and Matsuo, with Ishida himself positioned somewhat northwest of Sekigahara and flanked by Mt. Sasao. Ieyasu's men were deployed along the Nakasendo, with the vanguard facing Mitsunari, and were exposed to an attack in the flanks, especially by the western troops on Mt. Matsuo. Luckily for Ieyasu, those men were under the command of Kobyakawa Hideaki - who had already decided to betray his western compatriots. The fighting began in a rainy dawn, and the issue was initially very much in doubt. The forward Tokugawa units attacked and became heavily engaged with contingents under Ukita Hideie, Otani Yoshitsugu, and Konishi Yukinaga. No real advantage was being gained until the defection of Kobayakawa Hideaki around noon. Hideaki, who commanded one of the strongest Western contingents present, turned the tide in Ieyasu’s favor. Meanwhile, the 25,000 or so western troops arrayed on the slopes of Mt. Nangû under the Môri and Chosokabe were largely idle. Kikkawa Tsunie, commanding the vanguard, had himself decided not to fight Ieyasu, and his immobility forced those to his rear to do the same. Finally, the western forces began to break and a general rout ensued. By the end of the day's killing, Ishida Mistunari’s forces had scattered and as many as 60,000 heads would be taken. Tokugawa’s victory was owed in large part to Kobayakawa’s defection and the inactivity of the Môri contingents present. Ishida and Konishi Yukinaga were later captured and executed.

KIA: Ôtani Yoshitsugu, Shima Sakon (died of wounds), Shimazu Toyohisa; (Tokugawa) Ii Naomasa (died of wounds)

SENDAIGAWA
6 June 1587 / Satsuma / Battle

Niiro Tadamoto [Shimazu Yoshihisa] (5,000)
VS
Toyotomi Hideyoshi (170,000)

This was the last engagement in Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s Kyûshu Campaign and was highlighted by a suicidal Shimazu charge and a one-on-one duel between Niiro Tadamoto and Kato Kiyomasa. Kato won but spared Niiro’s life.

SHIZUGATAKE
May 1583 / Ômi / Battle

Toyotomi Hideyoshi (20,000)
VS
Sakuma Morimasa [Shibata Katsuie] (8,000)

Following the death of Oda Nobunaga, Shibata Katsuie and Hashiba (Toyotomi) Hideyoshi grew openly hostile, and in late 1582 Shibata's ally Oda Nobutaka declared war on Hideyoshi. While Oda was easily forced into submission, Shibata dispatched Sakuma Morimasa from Echizen into northern Ômi to reduce Hideyoshi's forward outposts there. Katsuie soon became leery of the whole business and called for Morimasa to pull back - without effect. Sakuma had taken Iwasakiyama and was attempting to capture Shizugatake when Hideyoshi suddenly arrived and soundly defeated the surprised Shibata force. Katsuie commited suicide in Echizen when news of the defeat reached him. A number of future Toyotomi greats made their debut at this battle, including Fukushima Masanori and Kato Kiyomasa, both of whom won glory as members of the 'seven spears' of Shizugatake.

KIA: (Toyotomi) Nakagawa Kiyohide (prior to the battle); (Shibata) Sakuma Morimasa (captured and later executed), Shibata Katsumasa, Shibata Katsuhisa

 


T


TAKAMATSU
1582 / Bitchû / Siege

Toyotomi Hideyoshi (Oda Nobunaga) (30,000)
VS
Shimizu Muneharu (Môri Terumoto)

Takamatsu Castle was the Môri's last line of defense against the encroaching Oda army - beyond this point, the latter could finally enter the Môri's home provinces. The castle was defended by Môri vassal Shimizu Muneharu and promised to be as difficult to bring down as the other stongholds Hideyoshi had reduced in his five or so years of campaigning in the Chugoku region. Initial attacks by Oda and Ukita troops were repulsed, and so Hideyoshi settled in for a siege. Terumoto eventually arrived in the area with an army but took no real action. By this point, Hideyoshi had decided to attempt a flooding of Takamatsu by diverting the waters of the Ashimori River. This was duly carried out, but, despite the especially difficult situation he was now in, Muneharu still refused calls to surrender. Soon after the flooding tactic had been carried out, Oda Nobunaga was killed in Kyoto by Akechi Mitsuhide. Mitsuhide attempted to send a message to the Môri informing them of this turn of events but the letter was intercepted by hideyoshi's army. Now holding this important piece of information in his hands, and determined to march against Akechi as soon as possible, Hideyoshi negotiated with the Môri. They would be allowed to retain the provinces they still held and peace would be

TAKATENJIN
1574 / Tôtômi / Siege

Takeda Katsuyori (25,000)
VS
Ogasawara Ujisuke (Tokugawa Ieyasu)

Takatenjin Castle was an important Tokugawa possesion in Tôtômi Castle held in 1574 by Ogasawara Ujisuke. In 1571, Takeda Shingen had encircled the castle but withdrew when his men could make no impression on the defenses. In 1574, a year after Shingen's death, Takeda Katsuyori led some 25,000 men into Tôtômi and once more Takatenjin was besieged. The Takeda had two advantages in this campaign: firstly, Tokugawa Ieyasu's army had not recovered from its defeat at Mikatagahara in January 1573; secondly, Oda Nobunaga's army was tied up fighting with the Nagashima monto. Thus, when Ogasawara sent a messanger to Ieyasu urging immediate relief (in view of the powerful Takeda army), nothing concrete could be offered. Ujisuke therefore surrendered the castle and threw open the gates, much to the chagrin of his kinsmen serving elsewhere in the Tokugawa domain. Takatenjin's capture, something even Shingen had not been able to achieve, marks the height of the Takeda's power. The following year, many of the men who had surrounded Takatenjin would be killed at Nagashino and the Takeda badly weakened. Nonetheless, Takatenjin would remain in Takeda hands until its fall in 1581. When Takatenjin was back in Tokugawa hands, Ieyasu could finally claim complete control of Tôtômi.

TEDORIGAWA
November 1577 / Kaga /Battle

Shibata Katsuie/Maeda Toshiie (Oda Nobunaga) (48,000)
VS
Uesugi Kenshin

Uesugi Kenshin invaded Noto in the fall of 1577, prompting Oda Nobunaga to dispatch a sizable army to the relief of his allies there at Nanao Castle. Kenshin was initally hesitant to face the great host and avoided a battle until Nanao was brought down. When the Oda learned that Nanao had fallen to Kenshin, they began to withdraw but were goaded into battle at the Tedori River in Kaga. Kenshin tricked Nobunaga into launching a frontal attack across the Tedorigawa and defeated him. Having suffered the loss of 1,000 men, the Oda withdrew south. This was destined to be Kenshin's last great battle. Estimations on the size of Kenshin's forces at this fight range from 8,000 to as many as 30,000.

TOTTORI
1581 / Inaba /Siege

Toyotomi Hideyoshi (Oda Nobunaga)
VS
Kikkawa Tsuneie (Môri Terumoto

Tottori Castle was key to the Môri's defense of their inner provinces. Once owned by the Yamana family, Tottori had passed to the Môri and was guarded by Kikkawa Tsuneie. The castle came under attack by Oda forces under Hashiba (later Toyotomi) Hideyoshi, who opted to starve the garrison out. To this end, the local villagers were driven within the walls of the castle and all the approaches to Tottori were covered. The defenders held out stoutly but soon food stuffs ran so low that they were reduced to consuming all of the horses they had on hand - when these were gone, the defenders began eating grass. Starvation began to have effect Hideyoshi intended: the strength of those inside the castle ebbed and disease broke out. Finally, Tsuneie, after some 200 days, agreed to commit suicide and surrender the castle. It is said that the death toll rose even when the gates were opened: desperatly hungry men gorged themselves on the food offered them by the victors, only to die when their shrunken stomachs were fatally unable to cope with the sudden bounty.

 


U


UEDAHARA
September 1548 / Shinano / Battle

Murakami Yoshikiyo (7,000)
VS
Takeda Shingen

Uedahara occured as a result of Takeda Shingen's push into Shinano and his ongoing conflict with the Murakami and Ogasawara. This confrontation saw the use of 50 Chinese matchlocks by the Murakami, who surprised and defeated the Takeda army near Ueda. Takeda had just taken Shiga Castle, prompting Murakami to lead an army to meet him near Ueda. The bulk of the fighting happened on Uedahara, on the western bank of the Chikuma River. The Takeda vanguard was badly bloodied, and forced to retire. At least one source (the works of Rai Sanyo) records that Shingen and Murakami personally traded blows in this action, though given that this same source incorrectly has Shingen winning the battle, the accuracy of the story is hard to determine.

KIA: (Takeda) Amari Torayasu, Itagaki Nobutaka, Hajikano Den'emon

UZU
June 1582 / Etchû / Siege

Shibata Katsuie / Sasa Narimasa (Oda Nobunaga)
VS
Takemata, Yoshie, ect... (Uesugi Kagekatsu)

Following the death of Uesugi Kenshin in 1578, the Uesugi domain had fallen into a year-long civil war (see Ôtate no ran). Taking advantage of the Uesugi's feud, Shibata Katsuie and Sasa Narimasa, Oda Nobunaga's spearheads in the Hokuriku Region, began a drive for the borders of Echigo itself. By 1581 the Oda had taken Toyama and were entrenched in Etchû Province, which Shibata and Sasa set about clearing of both Uesugi and ikko-ikki resistance. Realizing the gravity of the situation, Uesugi Kagekatsu reinforced Uzu Castle with a number of his important retainers. In May 1582, the Oda attacked both Matsukura and Uzu Castles. After a bitter struggle, Uzu fell in the first week of June and the Uesugi presence in Etchû was all but eliminated. Yet, as fate would have it, Oda Nobunaga himself was killed by Akechi Mitsuhide just days later, and the Uesugi would be granted a reprieve.

KIA: (Uesugi) Tadanume Yasushike, Takemata Yoshitsuna, Yoshie Kagesuke, ect...

 


Y


YAMAZAKI
2 July 1582 / Settsu / Battle

Toyotomi Hideyoshi (20,000)
VS
Akechi Mitsuhide (10,000)

Learning of the death of Oda Nobunaga at the hands of Akechi Mitsuhide, Hideyoshi quickly signed an armistice with the Mori and raced back to the Kyoto region. Akechi, who had failed to gather any support beyond those familes already loyal to the Akechi, was confronted at Yamazaki on 2 July. His troops failed to take the locally important Tennôzan and were routed when flanked after Hideyoshi's army forced a crossing of the Enmyôji River. Mitsuhide himself was killed attempting to flee to Sakamoto Castle, which fell soon afterwards to Hori Hidemasa.
KIA: (Akechi, in the immediate aftermath) Akechi Mitsuhide, Saito Toshimitsu.

 


  Sources

Berry, Mary Elizabeth Hideyoshi Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1982

Bryant, Anthony Sekigahara 1600 Osprey Military 1995

McCullough, Helen C. The Tale of the Heike Stanford 1988

Bessatsu Rekishi Tokuhon #85 Sengoku no Kassen Japan: Shin Jinbutsu Ôrai Co., 1998

Rekishi Gunzô Shirizu #5 Takeda Shingen Japan: Gakken, 1999

Rekishi Gunzô Shirizu #8 Uesugi Kenshin Japan: Gakken, 1999

Rekishi Gunzô Shirizu #49 Môri Senki Japan: Gakken, 1997

Rekishi Gunzô Shirizu #51 Sengoku no Kassen Taizen Japan: Gakken, 1997

Sadler, A. L. The Maker of Modern Japan Tuttle 1989

Sato, Hiroaki Legends of the Samurai Woodstock, New York: The Overlook Press, 1995