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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Was to marshal in Kawachi force sufficient to threaten


plan, then, was to marshal in Kawachi force sufficient to threaten, if not to overrun, Settsu, and then to push on into the metropolitan province from Omi and Iga, the Ashikaga having been previously induced to uncover Kyoto by the necessity of guarding Kamakura. From the Kii peninsula the obvious route to the Kwanto is by sea. Therefore, the Southerners established a naval base at Shingu, on the east coast of the peninsula, and used it for the purpose not only of despatching a force northward, but also of maintaining communications with Shikoku and Kyushu, where they had many partisans. Chikafusa himself led the oversea expedition to the Kwanto, but the flotilla was wrecked by a storm, and he reached Yedo Bay with only a small following. Nevertheless, he established himself at Oda, in Hitachi, and being there joined by many of the Ashikaga's enemies, he managed, not indeed to seriously menace Kamakura, but at all events to give occupation to a large force of the Northerners. Driven out at last (1343), after more than four years' operations, he returned to Yoshino, where he found Kusunoki Masatsura, son of Masashige, carrying on from Kawachi a vigorous campaign against the Ashikaga in Settsu.

After many minor engagements, in all of which he was successful, Masatsura inflicted such a severe defeat on his opponents at Sumiyoshi that the Bakufu became alarmed, and mustering an army of sixty thousand men, sent it under Ko Moronao and his brother,

Moroyasu, to attack Masatsura. This was in December, 1347. Then Masatsura and his younger brother, Masatoki, together with Wada Katahide and other bushi, to the number of 140, made oath to conquer in fight or to die. They repaired to Yoshino, and having taken leave of the Emperor, Go-Murakami, they worshipped at the shrine of the late sovereign, Go-Daigo, inscribed their names upon the wall, and wrote under them:

We that our bows here Swear nevermore to slacken Till in the land of life we Cease to be counted, Our names now record.

It was in February, 1348, that the battle took place at Shijo-nawate in Kawachi. Moronao had sixty thousand men at his disposal; Masatsura only three thousand. The combat raged during six hours, the Kusunoki brothers leading thirty charges, until finally they were both covered with wounds, and only fifty men remained out of the sworn band. Then this remnant committed suicide. Moronao, following up his victory, marched into Yamato, and set fire to the palace there. Go-Murakami escaped to Kanao, and presently the Nitta family in the east and the Kitabatake in the west showed such activity that the Southern cause recovered its vitality, a turn of events largely promoted by dissensions in the Northern camp and by the consequent return of Moronao's forces to Kyoto. It is necessary, therefore, to direct our eyes for a moment to the course of affairs on the side of the Ashikaga.

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