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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

At the hands of Sanada Masayuki


Tokugawa battalions, following two routes--the Tokaido and the Nakasendo--made rapid progress westward, and on September 21st, the van of the division under Fukushima and Ikeda reached Kiyosu. But the Nakasendo column of thirty-eight thousand men under Hidetada encountered such desperate resistance before the castle of Ueda, at the hands of Sanada Masayuki, that it did not reach Sekigahara until the great battle was over. Meanwhile, the western army had pushed steadily eastward. Its first exploit was to capture and burn the Momo-yama castle, which was splendidly defended by the veteran Torii Mototada, then in his sixty-second year. With a garrison of only two thousand men he held at bay during eleven days an investing force of forty thousand. The torch was set to the castle on the 8th of September by traitors in the garrison, and Mototada committed suicide. Thereafter, the van of the western army advanced to Gifu along the Nakasendo, and the main body, making a detour through Ise, ultimately pushed forward into Mino.

With this army were no less than forty-three generals of renown, and the number of feudal barons, great and small, who sent troops to swell its ranks was thirty-one. Undoubtedly these barons were partially influenced by the conception generally prevalent that the fortunes of the two great families of Toyotomi and Tokugawa depended on the issue of this struggle. But it must also be admitted that had Ishida Katsushige been as black

as the Tokugawa historians paint him, he could never have served for the central figure of such an array. He is seen inciting the besiegers of Momo-yama Castle to their supreme and successful effort. He is seen winning over to the Toyotomi cause baron after baron. He is seen leading the advance of the western army's van. And he is seen fighting to the end in the great battle which closed the campaign. Some heroic qualities must have accompanied his gift of statesmanship. The nominal leader of the western army, which mustered 128,000 strong, was Mori Terumoto, and under him were ranged Ukita Hideiye, Mori Hidemoto, Shimazu Yoshihiro, Konishi Yukinaga, and many other captains of repute. Under the Tokugawa banners there marched 75,000 men, their van led by Ii Naomasa and Honda Tadakatsu.

On October 21, 1600, the great battle of Sekigahara was fought. The strategy on the side of the western forces was excellent. Their units were disposed along a crescent-shaped line recessed from the enemy, so that an attacking army, unless its numerical strength was greatly superior, had to incur the risk of being enveloped from both flanks--a risk much accentuated by the fact that these flanking troops occupied high ground. But on the side of the western army there was a feature of weakness which no strategy could remove: all the battalions constituting the right wing were pledged to espouse the cause of Ieyasu at the crisis of the struggle. There were six of these battalions, large or small, and they were commanded by Akakura, Ogawa, Kuchiki, Wakizaka, Kohayakawa, and Kikkawa. Thus, not only were the eastern troops able to deliver their attack in full force against the centre and left of their foes, but also the latter were exposed to the most demoralizing of all eventualities, treachery.

After a fierce fight the western army was completely defeated. Some accounts put its losses at 35,000 men; others, with greater probability, estimating that only 100,000 men were actually engaged on both sides--namely, 60,000 on the Tokugawa side, and 40,000 on the Toyotomi--conclude that the losses were 6000 and 9000, respectively. Shimazu of Satsuma, at the head of a handful of samurai, cut his way through the lines of Ieyasu, and reaching Osaka, embarked hastily for Kyushu. Ishida Katsushige lay concealed in a cave for a few days, but was ultimately seized and beheaded, in company with Konishi Yukinaga and Ankokuji Ekei, at the execution ground in Kyoto. This one battle ended the struggle: there was no rally. Punishment followed quickly for the feudatories who had fought against the Tokugawa. Thus Mori Terumoto's domain, originally covering eight provinces and yielding a revenue of 1,205,000 koku, was reduced to the two provinces of Suwo and Nagato, yielding 300,000 koku. The three provinces of Ukita Hideiye were entirely forfeited, and he himself was banished to the island Hachijoshima. Oda Hidenobu, grandson of Nobunaga, Masuda Nagamori, and Sanada Masayuki, with his son, were ordered to take the tonsure and retire to the monastery of Koya-san. The fief of Uesugi Kagekatsu was reduced from 1,200,000 koku in Aizu to 300,000 koku in Yonezawa; and the 800,000 koku of the Satake family in Hitachi were exchanged for 200,000 koku in Akita. Only the Shimazu family of Satsuma remained without loss. Secured by inaccessibility, it continued to hold the provinces of Satsuma, Osumi, and Hyuga, with a revenue of 700,000 koku.

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