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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

He not only sat down to besiege the redoubt


an arrangement had no elements of stability. The four councillors could not possibly be expected to work in harmony, and it was certain that Katsuiye, Sakuma Morimasa, and Takigawa Kazumasu would lose no opportunity of quarrelling with Hideyoshi. Indeed, that result was averted solely by Hideyoshi's tact and long suffering, for when, a few days later, the barons again met at Kiyosu for the purpose of discussing territorial questions, every possible effort was made to find a pretext for killing him. But Hideyoshi's astuteness and patience led him successfully through this maze of intrigues and complications. He even went so far as to hand over his castle of Nagahama to Katsuiye, and to endure insults which in ordinary circumstances must have been resented with the sword. Tradition describes a grand memorial ceremony organized in Kyoto by Hideyoshi in honour of Nobunaga, and, on that occasion, incidents are said to have occurred which bear the impress of romance. It is, at all events, certain that the immediate issue of this dangerous time was a large increase of Hideyoshi's authority, and his nomination by the Court to the second grade of the fourth rank as well as to the position of major-general. Moreover, the three barons who had been appointed with Hideyoshi to administer affairs in Kyoto in turn, saw that Hideyoshi's power was too great to permit the peaceful working of such a programme. They therefore abandoned their functions, and Hideyoshi remained in sole charge of the
Imperial Court and of the administration in the capital.


It has been already stated that Nobunaga's sons, Nobutaka and Nobukatsu, were bitter enemies and that Nobutaka had the support of Takigawa Kazumasu as well as of Shibata Katsuiye. Thus, Hideyoshi was virtually compelled to espouse the cause of Nobukatsu. In January, 1583, he took the field at the head of seventy-five thousand men, and marched into Ise to attack Kazumasu, whom he besieged in his castle at Kuwana. The castle fell, but Kazumasu managed to effect his escape, and in the mean while Katsuiye entered Omi in command of a great body of troops, said to number sixty-five thousand. At the last moment, however, he had failed to secure the co-operation of Maeda Toshiiye, an important ally, and his campaign therefore assumed a defensive character. Hideyoshi himself, on reconnoitring the position, concluded that he had neither numerical preponderance nor strategical superiority sufficient to warrant immediate assumption of the offensive along the whole front. He therefore distributed his army on a line of thirteen redoubts, keeping a reserve of fifteen thousand men under his own direct command, his object being to hold the enemy's forces in check while he attacked Gifu, which place he assaulted with such vigour that the garrison made urgent appeals to Katsuiye for succour.

In this situation it was imperative that some attempt should be made to break the line of redoubts, but it was equally imperative that this attempt should not furnish to the enemy a point of concentration. Accordingly, having ascertained that the weakest point in the line was at Shizugatake, where only fifteen hundred men were posted, Katsuiye instructed his principal general, Sakuma Morimasa, to lead the reserve force of fifteen thousand men against that position, but instructed him at the same time to be content with any success, however partial, and not to be betrayed into pushing an advantage, since by so doing he would certainly furnish a fatal opportunity to the enemy. Morimasa neglected this caution. Having successfully surprised the detachment at Shizugatake, and having inflicted heavy carnage on the defenders of the redoubt, who lost virtually all their officers, he not only sat down to besiege the redoubt, whose decimated garrison held out bravely, but he also allowed his movements to be hampered by a small body of only two score men under Niwa Nagahide, who took up a position in the immediate neighbourhood, and displaying their leader's flag, deceived Morimasa into imagining that they had a powerful backing. These things happened during the night of April 19, 1583. Katsuiye, on receipt of the intelligence, sent repeated orders to Morimasa requiring him to withdraw forthwith; but Morimasa, elated by his partial victory, neglected these orders.

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