Battle of Hakodate

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  • Japanese: 函館戦争 (Hakodate Sensou)
The battle of Hakodate

Matsumae castle

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Goryôkaku Honjin

The former Bakufu retainers leaded by Enomoto Takeaki escaped from Edo in 1868/4 and arrived at Ezo in 1868/10. After they occupied Goryôkaku fort, they headed to capture Matsumae castle.

In 1868/11/5, the ground troops leaded by Hijikata Toshizo overthrew Matsumae han's defence line at Oyobegawa river. They occupied the hill in front of Matsumae castle. The castle had 7 batteries. Everytime when Hijikata's soldiers came close to Karametemon gate, the Matsumae soldiers opened the gate to fire the cannon and closed quickly. While they were taking the same tactic over and over again, Hijikata took small unit and entered the castle from behind.[1] Matsumae han surrendered in 1868/11/20. But the former Bakufu retainer troops lost their battleships Kaiyô-maru and Shinsoku-maru during the battle. In 1868/12/15,they declared the Republic of Ezo and Enomoto was elected to be the president.

Miyako bay

Next they planned to seize the warship Kôtetsu that was anchoring at Kuwagasaki harbor in Miyako bay. Kôtetsu was an ironship that Tokugawa Bakufu purchased from the U.S. but it was possession of the Imperial forces at the time. 1869/3/21, Kaiten-maru, Banryû-maru and Takao-maru left Hakodate, but only Kaiten-maru was able to reach Miyako bay. Kaiten-maru succeded to do surprise attack against Kôtetsu, but only 7 crews were able to jump on the deck of Kôtetsu and they were all shot. Fortunately there were only supply ships near Kôtetsu. Once they realized the operation failed, they quickly left the bay. Kôga Gengo the captain of Kaiten-maru was killed in the battle.


Imperial troops routes

1869/4/9, the Imperial troops started landing on Ezo. The Ezo troops spotted them at Futamataguchi, Kikonai and Matsumaeguchi. Matsumae castle fell first, and the Imperial troops defeated the Ezo troops at Kikonai. The Ezo troops commanded by Hijikata Toshizô at Futamataguchi was defeating the Imperial troops but when Yaginai was broken through, Hijikata decided to withdraw to Hakodate.

1869/5/11, the Imperial troops attacked Hakodate. They had 7 ships to support the ground troops but one of them Chôyô-maru was sunk by Banryû-maru. Hijikata was killed when he was on the way to Benten battery to rescue Shinsengumi.

1869/5/16, the nearest battery from Goryôkaku was occupied. The Republic of Ezo surrendered in 5/18 and Boshin war ended.


  1. According to Shimada Kai's journal."総督陸軍隊守衛新選組ヲ率テ城裏ニ廻リ梯子ヲ以テ石檣ヲ登リ城中ニ潜ミ入"

Battle of Hakodate in Fiction


  • Goryôkaku (五稜郭) NTV 1988
  • Shinsengumi!! Hijikata Toshizô Saigo no Ichinichi (新選組!! 土方歳三 最期の一日) NHK 2006



Boshin War
Toba-Fushimi - Koshu-Katsunuma - Utsunomiya castle - Ueno - Hokuetsu - Aizu - Hakodate
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