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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Forty five miles north of Taga


Meanwhile, the province of Mutsu had been ordered to send 35,000 koku (175,000 bushels) of hulled rice to Taga Castle, and the other provinces adjacent were required to store 23,000 koku (115,000 bushels) of hoshi-i (rice boiled and dried) and salt at the same place. The troops were to be massed at Taga, and all the provisions and munitions were collected there by April, 789. These figures are suggestive of the light in which the Government regarded the affair. Kosami moved out of Taga at the appointed time and pushed northward. But with every forward movement the difficulties multiplied. Snow in those regions lies many feet deep until the end of May, and the thaw ensuing brings down from the mountains heavy floods which convert the rivers into raging torrents and the roads into quagmires. On reaching the bank of the Koromo River, forty-five miles north of Taga, the troops halted. Their delay provoked much censure in the capital where the climatic conditions do not appear to have been fully understood or the transport difficulties appreciated. Urged by the Court to push on rapidly, Kosami resumed his march in June; failed to preserve efficient connexion between the parts of his army; had his van ambushed; fled precipitately himself, and suffered a heavy defeat, though only 2500 of his big army had come into action. His casualties were 25 killed, 245 wounded, and 1036 drowned. A truce was effected and the forces withdrew to Taga, while, as for Kosami, though he attempted to deceive the Court by a bombastic despatch, he was recalled and degraded together with all the senior officers of his army.

It would seem as though this disaster to one comparatively small section of a force aggregating from fifty to sixty thousand men need not have finally interrupted the campaign, especially when the enemy consisted of semi-civilized aborigines. The Government thought differently, however. There was no idea of abandoning the struggle, but the programme for its renewal assumed large dimensions, and events in the capital were not propitious for immediate action. The training of picked soldiers commenced at once, and the provision of arms and horses. Kosami's discomfiture took place in 789, and during the next two years orders were issued for the manufacture of 2000 suits of leather armour and 3000 of iron armour; the making of 34,500 arms, and the preparation of 1 10,000 bushels of hoshi-i. To the command-in-chief the Emperor (Kwammu) appointed Saka-no-ye no Tamuramaro.

This selection illustrates a conclusion already proved by the annals, namely, that racial prejudice had no weight in ancient Japan. For Tamuramaro was a direct descendant of that Achi no Omi who, as already related, crossed from China during the Han dynasty and became naturalized in Japan. His father, Karitamaro, distinguished himself by reporting the Dokyo intrigue, in the year 770, and received the post of chief of the palace guards, in which corps his son, Tamuramaro, thereafter served. Tradition has assigned supernatural capacities to Tamuramaro, and certainly in respect of personal prowess no less than strategical talent he was highly gifted. In June, 794, he invaded Mutsu at the head of a great army and, by a series of rapidly delivered blows, effectually crushed the aborigines, taking 457 heads, 100 prisoners, and 85 horses, and destroying the strongholds of 75 tribes. Thereafter, until the year of his death (811), he effectually held in check the spirit of revolt, crushing two other insurrections--in 801 and 804--and virtually annihilating the insurgents. He transferred the garrison headquarters from Taga to Isawa, where he erected a castle, organizing a body of four thousand militia (tonden-hei) to guard it; and in the following year (803), he built the castle of Shiba at a point still further north.


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