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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Our countrymen when they saw these swordsmen


*Yamato

enemies.

**Chinese pronunciation of the ideographs read by the Japanese "Hachiman" (god of War). The pirates inscribed on their sails the legend Hachiman Dai-bosatsu.

Further records show that in 1556 the pirates entered Yang-chou, looted and burned the city; that in 1559 they attacked Chekiang; that in 1560, they made their way to Taitsang, and thence pushed on towards Shanghai, Sungteh, etc., looting towns almost daily. There was no effective resistance. We find also the following appreciation of Japanese ships:

"The largest of the Japanese vessels can carry about three hundred men; the medium-sized, from one to two hundred, and the smallest from fifty to eighty. They are constructed low and narrow. Thus, when they meet a big ship they have to look up to attack her. The sails are not rigged like those of our ships which can be navigated in any wind. But wicked people on the coast of Fuhkien sold their ships to the foreigners; and the buyers, having fitted them with double bottoms and keels shaped so as to cleave the waves, came to our shores in them."

Evidently the Chinese were better skilled in the art of shipbuilding than the Japanese. As for the defensive measures of the Chinese the following is recorded:

"The Government troops on sea and on land made every effort to keep off the pirates. They flew banners

at morn and eve and fired guns seaward, so that the enemy, understanding by the flash and the detonation that we were prepared to resist, abstained from landing. But when the pirates handled their swords skilfully, their attack was fearful. Our countrymen when they saw these swordsmen, trembled and fled. Their fear of the Japanese was fear of the swords. The pirates' firearms were only guns such as men use in pursuit of game. They did not range over one hundred paces. But their skill in using their guns was such that they never missed. We could not defeat them. They rise early in the morning and take their breakfast kneeling down. Afterwards their chief ascends an eminence and they gather below to hear his orders. He tells them off in detachments not exceeding thirty men, and attaching them to officers, sends them to loot places. The detachments operate at distances of from five hundred to a thousand yards, but unite at the sound of a conch.

"To re-enforce a detachment in case of emergency, small sections of three or four swordsmen move about. At the sight of them our men flee. Towards dark the detachments return to headquarters and hand in their loot, never making any concealment. It is then distributed. They always abduct women, and at night they indulge in drinking and debauchery. They always advance in single rank at a slow pace, and thus their extension is miles long. For tens of days they can run without showing fatigue. In camping, they divide into many companies, and thus they can make a siege effective. Against our positions they begin by sending a few men who by swift and deceptive movements cause our troops to exhaust all their projectiles fruitlessly, and then the assault is delivered. They are clever in using ambushes, and often when they seem to be worsted, their hidden forces spring up in our rear and throw our army into a panic."


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