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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Takauji and Tadayoshi were proclaimed rebels



A serious obstacle to the achievement of the Ashikaga chief's purpose was Nitta Yoshisada. Both men were of the Minamoto family, but Yoshisada's kinship was the closer and his connexion with the Hojo had always been less intimate. Further, he had never borne arms against Go-Daigo's cause, as Takauji had done, and his unswerving loyalty made him an inconvenient rival. Therefore, the Ashikaga leader took an extreme step. He seized the domains of the Nitta family in the Kwanto and distributed them among his own followers; he caused his brother, Tadayoshi, to send letters inviting the adherence of many bushi; he addressed to the Throne a memorial impeaching Yoshisada on the ground that, whereas the latter's military successes had been the outcome entirely of opportunities furnished by the prowess of the Ashikaga, he did not hesitate to slander Takauji to the sovereign, and he asked for an Imperial commission to destroy the Nitta leader, whom he dubbed a "national thief."

Yoshisada, when he learned of the presentation of this memorial, seized the Ashikaga manors within his jurisdiction and addressed to the Throne a countermemorial in which he conclusively proved the falsehood of Takauji's assertion with reference to military affairs; charged him with usurping the titles of governor-general of the Kwanto, and shogun; declared that Prince Morinaga, the mainstay of the restoration, had become the victim

of Takauji's slanders, and asked for an Imperial mandate to punish Takauji and his brother, Tadayoshi. It is significant that the leal and gallant Yoshisada did not hesitate thus openly to assert the innocence and merits of Prince Morinaga, though only a few months had elapsed since the Emperor himself had credited his most unhappy son's guilt. While Go-Daigo hesitated, news from various provinces disclosed the fact that Takauji had been tampering with the bushi in his own interests. This settled the question. Takauji and Tadayoshi were proclaimed rebels, and to Nitta Yoshisada was entrusted the task of chastising them under the nominal leadership of Prince Takanaga, the Emperor's second son, to whom the title of shogun was granted.


In the beginning of November, 1335, the Imperial force moved eastward. It was divided into two armies. One, under Yoshisada's direct orders, marched by the Tokaido, or eastern littoral road; the other, under Yoshisada's brother, Wakiya Yoshisuke, with Prince Takanaga for titular general, advanced along the Nakasen-do, or inland mountain-road. The littoral army, carrying everything before it, pushed on to the capital of Izu, and had it forced its attack home at once, might have captured Kamakura. But the Nitta chief decided to await the arrival of the Nakasen-do army, and the respite thus afforded enabled the Ashikaga forces to rally. Tadayoshi reached the Hakone Pass and posted his troops on its western slopes in a position of immense natural vantage, while Takauji himself occupied the routes on the north, his van being at Takenoshita.

The Imperialists attacked both positions simultaneously. Takauji not only held his ground, but also, being joined by a large contingent of the Kyoto men who, under the leadership of Enya Takasada, had deserted in the thick of the fight, he shattered his opponents, and when this news reached Hakone on the following morning, a panic seized Yoshisada's troops so that they either fled or surrendered. The Nitta chieftain himself retired rapidly to Kyoto with a mere remnant of his army, and effected a union with the forces of the ever-loyal Kusunoki Masashige and Nawa Nagatoshi, who had given asylum to Go-Daigo at the time of the escape from Oki. The cenobites of Hiei-zan also took the field in the Imperial cause. Meanwhile, Takauji and Tadayoshi, utilizing their victories, pushed rapidly towards Kyoto. The heart of the samurai was with them, and they constantly received large accessions of strength. Fierce fighting now took place on the south and east of the capital. It lasted for several days and, though the advantage was with the Ashikaga, their victory was not decisive.

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