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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

The losses of the Takeda men were enormous


traditions have been handed down about the demise of this celebrated captain, undoubtedly one of the greatest strategists Japan ever possessed. Some say that he was shot by a soldier of Ieyasu; others that he was hit by a stray bullet, but the best authorities agree that he died of illness. His son, Katsuyori, inherited none of his father's great qualities except his bravery. Immediately on coming into power, he moved a large army against the castle of Nagashino in the province of Mikawa, one of Ieyasu's strongholds. This was in June, 1575, and on the news reaching Nobunaga, the latter lost no time in setting out to succour his ally. On the way a samurai named Torii Suneemon arrived from the garrison of Nagashino with news that unless succour were speedily given the fortress could not hold out. This message reached Ieyasu, who was awaiting the arrival of Nobunaga before marching to the relief of the beleagured fortress. Ieyasu assured the messenger that help would come on the morrow, and urged Suneemon not to essay to re-enter the fortress. But the man declared that he must carry the tidings to his hard-set comrades. He was taken prisoner by the enemy and led into the presence of Katsuyori, who assured him that his life would be spared if he informed the inmates of the castle that no aid could be hoped for. Suneemon simulated consent. Despatched under escort to the neighbourhood of the fort, he was permitted to address the garrison, and in a loud voice he shouted to his comrades
that within a short time they might look for succour. He was immediately killed by his escort.

This dramatic episode became a household tradition in Japan. Side by side with it may be set the fact that Hideyoshi, who accompanied Nobunaga in this campaign, employed successfully against the enemy one of the devices recommended by the Chinese strategists, whose books on the method of conducting warfare were closely studied in those days by the Japanese. Sakuma Nobumori, one of Nobunaga's captains, was openly, and of set purpose, insulted and beaten by orders of his general, and thereafter he escaped to the camp of the Takeda army, pretending that the evil treatment he had undergone was too much for his loyalty. Katsuyori, the Takeda commander, received the fugitive with open arms, and acting in accordance with his advice, disposed his troops in such a manner as to forfeit all the advantages of the position. The battle that ensued is memorable as the first historical instance of the use of firearms on any considerable scale in a Japanese campaign. Nobunaga's men took shelter themselves behind palisades and fusilladed the enemy so hotly that the old-fashioned hand-to-hand fighting became almost impossible. The losses of the Takeda men were enormous, and it may be said that the tactics of the era underwent radical alteration from that time, so that the fight at Takinosawa is memorable in Japanese history. Hideyoshi urged the advisability of pushing on at once to Katsuyori's capital, but Nobunaga hesitated to make such a call upon the energies of his troops, and the final overthrow of the Takeda chief was postponed.


The Mongol invasion should have taught to the Japanese the great advantages of co-operating military units, but individual prowess continued to be the guiding factor of field tactics in Japan down

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