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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Five months after moving out of Harima


Yet

no other plan of operations suggested itself to the Kamakura strategists. Yoshitsune was not consulted. He remained in Kyoto instead of repairing to Kamakura, and he thereby roused the suspicion of Yoritomo, who began to see in him a second Yoshinaka. Hence, in presenting a list of names for reward in connexion with the campaign against the "Morning Sun shogun," Yoritomo made no mention of Yoshitsune, and the brilliant soldier would have remained entirely without recognition had not the cloistered Emperor specially appointed him to the post of kebiishi. Thus, when the largely augmented Minamoto force began to move westward from Harima in October, 1184, under the command of Noriyori, no part was assigned to Yoshitsune. He remained unemployed in Kyoto.

Noriyori pushed westward steadily, but not without difficulty. He halted for a time in the province of Suwo, and finally, in March, 1185, five months after moving out of Harima, he contrived to transfer the main part of his force across Shimonoseki Strait and to marshall them in Bungo in the north of Kyushu. The position then was this: first, a Taira army strongly posted at Yashima in Sanuki (Shikoku), due east of Noriyori's van in Bungo, and threatening his line of communications throughout its entire length from Harima to the Strait of Shimonoseki; secondly, another Taira army strongly posted on Hikoshima, an island west of Shimonoseki Strait, which army menaced the communications between Noriyori's

van across the water in Bungo and his advanced base in Suwo, and thirdly, the command of the whole Inland Sea in the hands of the Taira.

Evidently, in such conditions, no advance into Kyushu could be made by Noriyori without inviting capital risks. The key of the situation for the Minamoto was to wrest the command of the sea from the Taira and to drive them from Shikoku preparatory to the final assault upon Kyushu. This was recognized after a time, and Kajiwara Kagetoki received orders to collect or construct a fleet with all possible expedition, which orders he applied himself to carry out at Watanabe, in Settsu, near the eastern entrance to the Inland Sea. In justice to Yoritomo's strategy it must be noted that these orders were given almost simultaneously with the departure of the Minamoto army westward from Harima, so that by the time of Noriyori's arrival in Bungo, the military governor, Kagetoki, had got together some four hundred vessels at Watanabe.

Meanwhile, Yoshitsune had been chafing in Kyoto. To a man of his temperament enforced passivity on the eve of such epoch-making events must have been intolerable. He saw plainly that to drive the Taira from Shikoku was an essential preliminary to their ultimate defeat, and he saw, too, that for such an enterprise a larger measure of resolution and daring was needed than Kajiwara Kagetoki seemed disposed to employ. He therefore obtained from the cloistered Emperor the commission of tai-shogun (great general) and hastened to Settsu to take command. Complications ensued at once. Kagetoki objected to be relegated to a secondary place, and Go-Shirakawa was induced to recall Yoshitsune. But the latter refused to return to Kyoto, and, of course, his relations with Kagetoki were not cordial. The situation was complicated by an unpleasant incident. Kagetoki wished to equip the war-junks with sakaro. Yoshitsune asked what that meant, and being informed that sakaro signified oars at the bow of a boat for use in the event of going astern, he said that such a provision could tend only to suggest a movement fatal to success.

"Do you contemplate retiring?" he asked Kagetoki. "So far as I am concerned, I desire only to be equipped for advancing." Kagetoki indignantly replied: "A skilful general advances at the right moment and retires at the right moment. You know only the tactics of a wild boar." Yoshitsune angrily retorted, "I know not whether I am a boar or whether I am a deer, but I do know that I take pleasure in crushing a foe by attacking him." From that moment the relations between the two generals were distinctly strained, and it will presently be seen that the consequences of their estrangement became historical.


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