最上義光歴史館/<Part1-4> Saijoki - The Mogami Chronicles -

最上義光歴史館
<Part1-4> Saijoki - The Mogami Chronicles -
The Conquest of Sagae

  Pressing on with its attack, the Mogami force next attempted to push into Sagae, which lay close to Yachi. However, ruling Sagae was a young man of unparalleled physical strength by the name of Hashiba Kanjūrō. Gathering to his side the retainers of Shirotori Jūrō who had survived the battle at Yamagata, Kanjūrō commanded a large force of men who fought so valiantly that it was impossible to engage them directly. In battle after battle, Kanjūrō would invariably ride out at the head of his army, cutting into the enemy force furiously, and once again the first wave of Mogami attackers would be repulsed, and then the second.
  One day, however, word that Kanjūrō was advancing upon the branch castle of Nakano reached the ears of Lord Yoshiaki.
  “It is only to be expected of a scoundrel like him. Had I been of a mind to slay him, I could have done so in any number of ways, but his valor and my hope to make him a general in our armies had until now stayed my hand. He has consistently refused to recognize my many efforts to seek peace with him, and he now dares to penetrate deep into my own domain. There is no option left but to put an end to him.”
  So spoke Lord Yoshiaki, and a punitive force was dispatched to deal with Kanjūrō and his men. Upon espying the great army of Lord Yoshiaki, even the staunch Kanjūrō did not hesitate to retreat to the moat newly dug by his men. When the last man of his army had crossed the moat, Kanjūrō caught sight of Sakusami Toneri, a youth of sixteen or seventeen, who hesitated to make the crossing and still lingered irresolutely on the side.
  “What poor excuse for a man cannot cross a moat such as this? Come, let me help you across.”
  So saying, Kanjūrō clasped Toneri to his side and used his pole sword to easily vault over this moat that was some three or four meters wide, and he and his men then retreated to the Sukawa River. There they were confronted by the rising river waters, but Kanjūrō easily pushed back into the river a ferryboat that had been hoisted by the Mogami soldiers onto higher ground. Loading his men onto the boat, Kanjūrō propelled the laden boat into the current with a great cry of “Ei!”, and then he quickly jumped on board himself. The waters of the river were fast-flowing, but Kanjūrō and his men succeeded in reaching the opposite shore, where they quickly took up position. Shoving the ferryboat into the river to be swept away, Kanjūrō addressed his enemy in a loud voice.
  “If Lord Yoshiaki would like a fight, let him come over here and challenge us.”
  The Mogami vanguard reached the riverbank, but finding themselves unable to cross a river so deep and fast-flowing without the aid of a boat, the soldiers were forced to return to their encampment. There, Lord Yoshiaki conferred with Ujiie Owari no Kami.
  “Tomorrow, we will use our wits to put an end to Kanjūrō,” his lordship said. “What I suggest is this: when we have crossed the river, we may be certain that Kanjūrō will ride out to meet us in battle, and in anticipation of this, we will conceal an ambush of twenty skilled marksmen in the fields of high grass to either side of our vanguard. Once battle is enjoined, our vanguard will pretend to retreat, and Kanjūrō, being the hot-blooded and youthful warrior that he is, will no doubt ride brashly out at the front of his army in his usual manner. With twenty guns bearing down upon him, we will surely not miss our mark.”
  “It is a wise plan,” responded Owari no Kami, “and preparations may begin at once.” It was thus that twenty skilled marksmen, so accurate that they would not miss a bird flying in the sky, were selected from the various Mogami forces, and the details of his lordship’s plan were carefully explained to them.
  “Firing too hastily may cause you to miss the target, so it is better to fire as one,” they were told, and the signal on which their weapons would be fired in unison was agreed upon.
  The next morning at the hour of the rabbit(1), the Mogami army sallied forth, crossing the Sukawa River and skirmishing with the soldiers they encountered, and when Kanjūrō took to the field, battle was enjoined. It was then that the Mogami vanguard, as previously arranged, feigned its retreat. Brandishing a large pole sword with metal plates affixed along the length of its shaft, Kanjūrō led his army in victorious pursuit of the retreating soldiers, as had been expected, and the Mogami marksmen closed in on him, firing in unison at the prearranged signal. It appeared that Kanjūrō had been hit, for his horse reared wildly and he was no longer able to stand up in his saddle, but he managed to reseat himself and ride away. Witnessing this, Lord Yoshiaki berated the group of marksmen. “How could you miss an enemy at such close range?” he demanded of them angrily, and a soldier by the name of Urano Magoemon stepped forward to respond. “We took careful aim before firing,” he said, “and there is no doubt but that we hit our target.” His words were proven true, for Kanjūrō had been struck by a bullet that had passed through his saddlebow and exited from his lower back, and it was around 4 p.m., at the hour of the monkey, that he breathed his last.
  “This was an unfortunate young man,” Lord Yoshiaki said when he heard the news. “If he had challenged us from his stronghold of Sagae and fought a defensive battle keeping the Mogami River before him, he would not have been so easily vanquished. His rashness made him unable to recognize a strategy for victory, allowing him to be easily taken in by our ruse and cut down.”
  Lord Yoshiaki thereupon divided his army into several divisions in preparation for battle, and launched the attack upon Sagae.


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(1) Sunrise, approximately 6 a.m.

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2012/12/08 10:21 (C) 最上義光歴史館