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Monday, July 4, 2011

The Battle of Nagashino

Now, in the midst of the warring states of Japan, only one force can defeat the awfully fast rising power of the Oda-Tokugawa alliance, specifically, Nobunaga. And that is the might of the legendary Takeda cavalry, being controlled by the one and only, Shingen Takeda. Nobunaga was now known the most powerful daimyo in all of Japan, the third best in military strategies, next to Kenshin and Shingen, and the most cruel of all rulers, hence the name "Demon King", from the name of the "Fool of Owari", to "Demon King" is a very great accomplishment. Nobunaga, by now, has already installed a puppet government, using the current Shogun, the Ashikaga clan, under his own rule. Only Shingen can stop Nobunaga, for if he does not, the Oda Shogunate will be installed, making the land in the rule of an unforgiving Demon King. Unfortunately, Shingen dies.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Battle of Mikatagahara

This battle was in around 1573, 12 long years after the great battle of Kawanakajima. The Takeda was controlled by Shingen Takeda, the Tiger of Kai. His name was feared and adored all over the 66 provinces of Japan. Shingen was looking to expand his territory to the south, making a path straight for the capital, Kyoto.

Shingen Takeda

He first made an unlikely agreement with the Tokugawa's clan lord Ieyasu. This agreement was rumored to be the cause of the demise of the once great Imagawa clan. Taking advantage of the discord happening at the Imagawa capital, Suruga, because of the very surprising death of their lord, Yoshimoto, the two clans worked together to vanquish the Imagawa. Shingen took control of the Imagawa capital, while Ieyasu got hand of the other province named, Totomi.

Ieyasu Tokugawa

Now, the Takeda had a very comfortable place in their provinces. He had the very large Shinano province at the west of Kai, the Takeda capital. He also has control of the Kozuke province to the north, and the recently acquired territory of Suruga at the south. He was very much protected by a large mountain range to Kai's east. Unfortunately he was caught in the middle of the several great clans such as the Uesugi, Tokugawa, and Oda. Shingen's strategies carried them to victory as always against the fierce assaults on all sides. Now, he is very much ready to fight back, with a goal in mind, and that is to become the one and only Shogun, ruler of all of Japan.

He camped himself inside the province of Suruga. He took with him a fairly great army under his command, alongside the great Nobufusa Baba, the cunning Masatoyo Naito and the ruthless Masakage Yamagata. He marched bravely to the province of Mikawa, hometown of Ieyasu, to take Ieyasu's dear Hamamatsu castle. Shingen gave the Tokugawa a decision, either to surrender or to get annihilated on all sides, Ieyasu chose to fight, for control of his province of Mikawa.

While the Takeda commander, Shingen was marching towards the castle of Hamamatsu, Ieyasu gathered up all willing samurai, to take arms and fight for their own homeland. Ieyasu asked his dear friend, Nobunaga for some assistance in this bout. Nobunaga recognizes that the Takeda might be a dangerous force to his power later on when not stopped. So, Nobunaga sent 3,000 warriors to the Tokugawa's aid, in order to weaken the approaching Takeda army. The Tokugawa men believed deeply that their lord, Ieyasu can conquer and unify Japan. Ieyasu also believed that his generals can carry him to victory, with him were his most trusted men. So, the generals of the Tokugawa stood firm in the face of ultimate annihilation.

Ieyasu was persistent, yet he fought for his dear life. He gathered the 14,000 Oda-Tokugawa army to the high plain of Mikata where his samurai faced the legendary cavalry of the Takeda clan. Shingen was surprised of the action taken by the Tokugawa men, He expected them to retreat and take refuge in the province of Owari, Nobunaga's home province.Yet there Ieyasu is, outnumbered greatly, standing firm on the grass by his beloved castle of Hamamatsu.

Shingen ordered his men in an attack formation, named the fish scale. While Ieyasu arranged his men in a number of lines, the first of which were a line of matchlock or better known as gunmen. The two forces were positioned in their places, waiting for each other to make a move. And then, as cold snow began to fall, Ieyasu thought this be the perfect time to launch an all out assault, because the cavalry's charge will at least be slowed by the snow. So, Ieyasu ordered the gunmen to fire at will. This attack  made the cavalry front line to charged directly at Ieyasu's line. This caused the gunmen to retreat in a very un-orderly fashion.

Ieyasu Tokugawa noticed the demise of his front line, so he commands his men to retreat and live to fight another day. Shingen then ordered a complete pursuit for Ieyasu's head. Masakage Yamagata, and Nobufusa Baba rallied their cavalry units under their command to surround the main body of the Tokugawa army. Masatoya Naito however charged directly to Ieyasu's unit, only to be blocked by the great Tadakatsu Honda, one of the great, and possibly the greatest warrior to ever live in Japan. The great Takeda cavalry was stopped directly in their tracks by him and his weapon, the Tonbo-giri, one of the three legendary spears in all of Japan.

Tadakatsu Honda

The Tokugawa retreated in unison, while Tadakatsu protects their back force. Ieyasu orders Tadayo Okubo, one of his generals to signal the army of the retreat, using his golden signaling fan. Tadayo planted it in the Saigadake, where the land began to go down hill. He then persuaded the remaining army under his command to charge to the Takeda army to free his trapped comrades. But then one of his loyal generals named Yoshinobu Natsume offered to sacrifice himself, for the life of their commander, Ieyasu was far too important.

Yoshinobu, then charged his unit to the enemy force to buy Ieyasu more time to escape. The Oda has already retreated to inform their lord, Nobunaga of the threat to come. Only the Tokugawa remain in the path of the hooves of the Takeda cavalry. Ieyasu then recieves word that his general, Yoshinobu has died, now Ieyasu retreats in full form saying to himself to avenge his fallen soldiers.

Ieyasu barely made it to his hometown castle of Hamamatsu, and only with a handful of men with him. Tadakatsu knew that it was already a quite pointless battle, so he retreats along with Ieyasu. Masakage Yamagata, followed by Nobufusa Baba pursued the enemy army to claim Ieyasu's head. Ieyasu quickly let open all the gates and ordered his men to light fires on torches and braziers in order to guide his army inside Hamamatsu.

Masakage Yamagata

When the Takeda vanguard arrived at the very gates of Hamamatsu castle, the scene before them were unbearable. The castle before them was isolated, completely open, and free from harm. A moment later, Tadatsugu Sakai, a Tokugawa general, beat war drums to further confuse the enemy. They thought of this as a trap or ambush, for they were too suspicious. Little did they know that the Tokugawa army only had a handful of men remaining, and those handful were simply hiding, and if the Tokugawa were to ambush them, then the remainder of Ieyasu's men were to be annihilated.

The Hamamatsu Castle

Nobufusa, Masakage and the rest of the Takeda army decided to camp for the night, for they thought that they could not get anything more in assaulting the castle. And at the middle of the night, the remaining Tokugawa army launched an unsuspecting raid on the Takeda main camp. The following day the army of the Takeda relieved the castle of the siege, continuing with their march towards the capital. Little by little, approaching the home town of the "Demon King", Nobunaga Oda.

The Tokugawa were fools in engaging the Takeda cavalry face to face in the open battlefield, they should have either surrendered or entered the battle in the protection of the Hamamatsu walls of stone. In that way, they could have had a chance to stop the Takeda from ruining their entire army. They could have also put Tadakatsu's unit to defend the walls from the inside, and the matchlock on the sides of the walls to discombobulate the enemy army. 

The Takeda on the other hand should have continued with the siege instead of withdrawing. The matter that the Takeda vanguard, that consists of Masakage Yamagata and Nobufusa Baba didn't attack the open castle instead of camp for the night, made the Tokugawa have a chance to survive. They should have wiped out the Tokugawa to prevent them from rising and having a future threat later on. Now they are in the most trouble they have ever faced, and that is being trapped in the midst of the patient and trusting Ieyasu Tokugawa, and the ever powerful, ever forceful Nobunaga Oda.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Quote for the Day

"In a mad world, only the mad are sane"

Battle of Kawanakajima

There are a total of five battles of the great Uesugi and Takeda clans in the land of Kawanakajima. But among all the five of them, the fourth confrontation is the most legendary of all. Shingen Takeda and Kenshin Uesugi were the most bitter of all rivals. In their time, the two of them are the most powerful samurai warlords alongside Nobunaga Oda. The Tiger of Kai and the Dragon of Echigo were driving each other into the brink of destruction. The two great forces battled for three rounds, lasting in a stand still, not one would gain the upper hand, until the fourth. 

Kenshin Uesugi

This battle was fought in order to defend the province of North Shinano and Echigo from the great Takeda army. The 16,000 Takeda men were to go up against the18,000 Uesugi people. The Uesugi was camped at their main stronghold, the Kasugayama Castle, one of the five great mountain fortresses. While the Takeda were fixated at their home province, Kai. Kenshin left Kasugayama with 18,000 determined to take the very much respected warlord, Shingen Takeda by surprise. He passed through the Buddhist temple Zenkoji leaving 2,000 men to guard it. Leaving him with 16,000 determined Uesugi warriors. 

Shingen Takeda

He moved his Uesugi force up to the western mountains looking down upon Shingen's beloved Kaizu castle. Kenshin was cautious enough to leave the castle be at first for it's supremacy. Little did he know that the castle contained no more than 150 foot soldiers.  A scout by the nearby small fortress named Tsutsujigasaki noticed the very dangerous movements Kenshin has been making. He quickly alarmed Shingen the up coming threat via signal fires. Quickly Shingen mustered up 16,000 warriors to confront the infamous Kenshin, alongside his brother Nobushige and a strategist with an unbreakable loyalty named Yamamoto Kansuke. 

Shingen made his way to the North Shinano province only having one ideal in mind, and that is to defend his homeland, Kai. Going toward the north, Shingen gained an extra 4,000 units to his army, making it 20,000. The Uesugi army decided to camp their army by the Saijo mountain, in the cover of the fog and woods. After some time Shingen's 20,000 finally arrived at the named battlefield.The Takeda's front line was in the leadership of Nobushige Takeda, behind him were some generals of the famed and feared 24 generals of Shingen. The only things that are seperating the two armies are the Chikumagawa river and the wide plain of Hachimanbara. They both knew that whoever wins this very battle, wins the whole Shinano province. 

The two rival warlords waited for someone to make a move. Not one of them wanted to make a single mistake, for a single mistake can cost them the whole battle. Shingen with Kansuke thought of an indigenous plan that they thought might just wipe off the Uesugi firce from the face of the Earth. They thought that they can lead a dispatch force alongside the mountain to attack the unsuspecting Uesugi from behind. This action will make the Uesugi retreat to the plain making them bait to the main army of the Takeda, crushing them in two sides. So, Kansuke ordered Kosaka Masanobu with fellow Takeda general Nobufusa Baba to lead an army containing 12,000 to the mountain in the cover of the night. Kenshin suspected as much, so he led his entire army to the Hachimanbara plain, quietly and carefully, they dashed past the 12,000 using bits of their own cloth as camouflage they also left right around 3,000 soldiers to defend the path they were going to take, in order to buy them time when the Nobufusa unit realizes the trick. By dawn, the 8,000 Takeda cavalry faced the 10,000 Uesugi warrior monks. Not fleeing afraid warrior monks, but ready to fight warrior monks.

The large Uesugi army caught the Takeda by surprise. The Takeda was now the bait to Shingen's very own plan. Kenshin did not make any hesitation, he swiftly charged his entire army toward the Takeda main force. In a very effective circle formation, where when a unit grows weakened, it flees while another unit takes it's place. The vanguards of both armies clashed, resulting in an unfortunate end for the life of Nobushige. Kenshin knew that he could not waste any more time, for the pincer movement unit will quickly realize it and come back.

Kenshin, all alone, pierced through the enemy lines. He quickly found himself in the Takeda main camp, where Shingen is sitting. Kenshin charged at Shingen with his sword ready to slash. The moment Kenshin attacked Shingen, the Takeda commander quickly parried Kenshin's sword with his signaling fan. That brought him enough time for one of his soldiers came ti drive Kenshin off the camp.

The Uesugi were having their own troubles. The main Takeda force held strong and would not just give up. Kansuke fought bravely in the midst of the battle, he charge all by himself deep into enemy lines costing him his death. The Takeda main force were falling one by one to the fierce attacks of the Uesugi army.

Kosaka and Nobufusa, finally reached their destination, only to be attacked by 3,000 Uesugi samurai. Kosaka was wondering if this puny force was the threat everyone was so worried about. They quickly knew what was going on, they made quick work of the 3,000 and ran towards the Hachimanbara plains. Kosaka knew it, by the time the stealth unit got back, the Uesugi were already fighting the Takeda. The 12,000 of  Kosaka quickly attacked the Uesugi army from behind, causing Kenshin to flee. That marked the end of the battle.

It was a tactical win for the Uesugi and a strategical win for the Takeda. Shingen suffered around 4,200 losses and the Uesugi suffered around 3,500 losses. Yet, the Takeda lost much more men and Shingen's prized brother Nobushige, they did not back down. This made the two great clans to put their military at bay because of that bloody battle making the Oda the most powerful clan in all of Japan.

Nobunaga Oda

The battle could have been decisively won by the Takeda, if only they positioned their units in front of the river, and to not split their units in two. In short, they would have won if they attacked straight forwardly. They take pride in their great cavalry, the cavalry are rendered useless if slowed down. The battle could have also been a decisive Ueasugi victory, if only they took Kaizu castle in the first place. That would make the Takeda cavalry useless, for horses cannot climb walls. This battle still, did not settle the score for the both of them.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Quote for the Day

"The skillful employer of men will employ the wise man, the brave man, the covetous man, and the stupid man. For the wise man delights in establishing his merit, the brave man likes to show his courage into action, the covetous man is quick at seizing advantages, and the stupid man has no fear of death,"

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Quote for the Day

"Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained"

Battle of Okehazama

This legendary clash occurred in the province of Owari, the home province of the late and great Nobunaga Oda. The two opposing warlords were Nobunaga and Yoshimoto Imagawa, leader of the ever powerful Imagawa Clan.

It happened right around May or June 1560. The battle was very much on Yoshimoto's side. The Oda were outnumbered 1 to 10. They were so outnumbered that Sado, his adviser, pleaded that Nobunaga surrender, to prevent the worst case scenario of being entirely slaughtered. Even some of his most fearsome generals like Katsuie Shibata show fear in his eyes, and instead ask Nobunaga to remain and hold on inside the castle.

Nobunaga, having the pride of the samurai, does not want to go down without a fight. So he makes a speech that would play a great role in the coming fight. In front of his men he stands gloriously, proud to be an Oda. And in a very inspiring voice he says "The Imagawa has 40,000 men marching towards the sacred place? I don't believe that. He 'only' has 35,000 pathetic soldiers. yes, that is still too many. So, Sado? you want me to surrender. What if we do surrender? Will you get content in losing your life that way? Or what if we hold on like Katsuie wants me to? What if we stay here, behind castle walls, lock the gates up until the Imagawa lose their appetite and go home? We will be able to prolong our lives for five to ten days, and what we cannot defend will still be undefendable. We are at the bottom of the pit, you know. And our very fates are interesting. The misery is also too great. I see it as a chance of a lifetime that I cannot afford to miss. Do you really want to spend your lives praying for longevity? We were born in order to die! Whoever is with me, come to the battlefield tomorrow morning. Whoever is not, just stay wherever you are and watch me win this!"

The Oda army was microscopic compared to the length and width of the Imagawa. Nobunaga made his way to a place called Okehazama where Yoshimoto camped his men. Nobunaga's men increased by the time he got there, from 250 to 3,000. Yoshimoto on the other hand was too over confident, that he allowed his men to drink wine and have celebrations about their recent victories. While celebrating, a storm passed through the land, making the Imagawa soldiers take shelter in their tents. The very moment the rains stopped, the very first move of this battle was made.

The first move was given to the hands of Nobunaga Oda. He ordered his men to raise many banners in the southeastern side of the camp of the Imagawa. Yoshimoto did not expect any attack from the minuscule army of Nobunaga. Little did he know that the banners being held up high and proud, are in the possession of  mere straw dummies. Nobunaga is not fool enough to attempt a straight forward assault, for if he does, his entire army will be vanquished, devoured even, flat out destroyed.

So, Nobunaga assembled a number of cavalry units. He sent the cavalry to take out the scout patrols in order to secure the element of surprise. After waiting patiently, the cavalry units successfully took out the patrols. At that very moment, Nobunaga rallied up his men and quietly marched up, to the north of the camp. From the north, Yoshimoto's tent was closer, more so that only a handful of men guard it. He then quickly, assaulted the camp of the Imagawa, the soldiers were in confusion. For the Imagawa, a happy day in celebrating turned into a day of deadly capabilities. For the Oda, a day of unending despair into a day of everlasting happiness. Yoshimoto quickly reacted and thought that this ruckus was just a fight between his own men. So he shouted for them to stop and go back to their positions. Quickly after a soldier appeared right in front of him, he suddenly realized that this soldier was not his own, instead it was of the Oda. The soldier quickly slashed Yoshimoto with his sword, but Yoshimoto parried the attack with his very own weapon, only to be beheaded by another man. With the Imagawa without a leader, they fell into the might of Nobunaga Oda. This made Tokugawa Ieyasu, the leader of the Tokugawa clan ally to the Oda, thus making the Oda more powerful than ever.

The day was won by the Oda army. It was a decisive victory for them.This battle proved that brains is always better than brawns, and that the size of the fighter does not matter. This victory established that Nobunaga was no longer a mere Daimyo of a fallen clan, but that he might one day, one day, rule all of Japan.