最上義光歴史館/<Part1-7> Saijoki - The Mogami Chronicles -

<Part1-7> Saijoki - The Mogami Chronicles -
The Battle of Mount Kashiwagi

  Now, also around this same period of time, there was a man named Mitsukane who occupied the region of Kaminoyama. Although married to an aunt of Lord Yoshiaki, he and his lordship were unfavorably disposed towards one another. One day, Mitsukane summoned his retainers Satomi Kuranosuke and Satomi Minbu. “As you know,” he said, “there is bad blood between myself and Yoshiaki. However, Kaminoyama is but a small territory with limited military might, and I cannot hope to challenge Yoshiaki single-handedly. It is for this reason that I have thought of Terumune of the Sendai domain. He is wed to Yoshiaki’s younger sister with two sons, but I have heard it said that he and Yoshiaki are not on good terms and do not associate with each other. If Terumune will lend us his support, I believe that we can defeat Yoshiaki. What is your opinion of this plan?”
  “Your lordship’s plan is a sound one,” replied the two listening men. “If Lord Terumune will come to our aid with a large force of men, Lord Yoshiaki will undoubtedly lead his own army to Kaminoyama, where the two armies will confront each other. If we have in the meantime stationed our own troops along the mountain ridges and valleys, we can take the enemy by surprise by attacking from unexpected directions, and victory will surely be ours.”
  Mitsukane was greatly pleased with this response, and he dispatched a messenger to Lord Terumune with the details of his proposal. “Although I myself have long been at odds with Yoshiaki, I have not had the capacity to challenge him alone. If you, Lord Terumune, will join my cause, I will be pleased to lead our forces in battle with a strategy that will propel us to swift victory. This will allow you to obtain the Mogami territories for your own, while I, Mitsukane, ask for but a small corner to claim as my own domain.”
  Lord Terumune had in fact been privately hoping to find an ally in the Mogami inner circle for some time, and had been exploring ways in which he might take on Yoshiaki. Seeing this development as a fortuitous opportunity to further his plans, he sent a courteous letter to Mitsukane informing him that he would be arriving with his troops presently.
  However, news of this plot reached the ears of Lord Yoshiaki, and he summoned an elderly warrior named Irago Sōgyū for a consultation.
  “The branch castle of Narisawa is where the enemy intends to meet us in battle,” said Lord Yoshiaki. “It is my wish that you hasten to Narisawa and join forces with castle lord Narisawa Dōchū to hold the castle. The young garrison soldiers may be impatient to sally forth and do battle, but you are not to let a single one of them beyond the castle perimeter.” So commanded, Irago Sōgyū left for Narisawa Castle.
  In the meanwhile, Lord Terumune came forth with his large army, and, after convening a war council, proceeded with his men to Karuisawa.
  There, he summoned a local resident, questioning him in detail about the current situation within Narisawa Castle. It was after this that he spoke with Mitsukane.
  “Yoshiaki has ordered Dōchū, a long-serving retainer some seventy years of age, to hold the castle, and Sōgyū, who has himself passed his sixtieth year, has been sent to lend him aid. I believe that Yoshiaki has chosen to defend the castle with these two seasoned warriors because he sees the young soldiers of the castle garrison as being inclined to impulsive action, making them vulnerable to enemy ploys and liable to bring defeat upon themselves. For Yoshiaki, this will be a fight upon familiar territory, which will give him the opportunity to hatch all manner of strategy, and I believe that he intends to send his main force to the castle at some unlooked-for moment, allowing those men to unite forces with the castle soldiers in a bid to cut us down. Furthermore, we would do well to remember the folding screen of Takeda Shingen, in the province of Kai, upon which is noted the most celebrated warriors in Japan today. Fourth on this list is the name of Irago Sōgyū, and with a warrior of this caliber holding the castle against us, capturing it will be no easy matter. If the battle goes against us, and if Yoshiaki then arrives with his great legion of soldiers to finish us off from behind, we will surely be doomed.”
  Mitsukane considered what he had heard, and spoke.
  “If Yoshiaki would himself come to Kaminoyama, I believed that we could gain the upper hand by concealing our soldiers in the mountains and valleys and ambushing our enemy from unexpected directions. However, Yoshiaki is a cautious man, and will most likely send forth reinforcements to a castle that lies along the route, while himself remaining prudently back. Now, if we had but a small force of men, it might be wise for us to wait for the other side to make the first move, but with a large army of this size, it seems fainthearted for us to spend needless days avoiding battle because we fear the machinations of the enemy. Better that we keep a watchful eye on the castle as we find Yoshiaki’s encampment and assail him there, and once we have triumphed over him, the castle will surely fall on its own.”
  “Proceed as you see fit,” said Lord Terumune to Mitsukane, “and I will look to you to lead the attack.”
  Meanwhile, in his own camp, Lord Yoshiaki had also convened a war council with Ujiie Owari no Kami, Nobesawa Noto no Kami, and other kinsmen and vassals.
  Owari no Kami moved forward to speak. “From what I have gathered,” he said, “it seems that our enemy is mighty in numbers. Moreover, Mitsukane himself will be in command, and it would be unwise for us to venture deep into Kaminoyama to do battle when we have little idea of the enemy’s strategy. The enemy may choose to assail Narisawa Castle, and if this turns into a protracted battle of some five or ten days, this would be to our advantage. By dispatching our reserve army to fight alongside the castle garrison, we could turn the tide of the battle and achieve a quick victory. If the enemy instead decides to blockade the castle and venture hither to give battle, we could shift our camp to the vicinity of Mount Kashiwagi and conceal our soldiers in the woods to launch a surprise attack upon our assailants, another strategy which is sure to bring us success.”
  Owari no Kami explained both these strategies in clear detail, and when the council elected to proceed with the latter option, the Mogami force marched towards Mount Kashiwagi. Soon afterwards, word arrived that the enemy had blockaded Narisawa Castle and was preparing to march on his lordship’s camp.
  It was decided that they would await the enemy where they were, with Nobesawa Noto no Kami prepared to lead the vanguard, Ujiie Owari no Kami in charge of the second company, and the remaining men divided into seven units. Meanwhile, Koizumi Kamon and Katō Tarōemon were sent with 200 arquebusiers to lie in ambush on Mount Kashiwagi, under orders to listen for the drum signal that would tell them to fire upon Terumune’s hatamoto guard.
  After being informed that Lord Terumune had taken up position at the foot of Mount Kashiwagi, Mitsukane led the vanguard in an attack upon Lord Yoshiaki’s encampment, and the initial skirmish between troops of the opposing armies took place in Matsubara. They fought for about an hour, but then both sides pulled back to catch their breath, and it was then that a drum signal sounded from Lord Yoshiaki’s head camp. The soldiers who had been lying in ambush were on their feet in an instant and eagerly rushing down towards the foot of the mountain; there, with the flank of Lord Terumune’s head camp in their sights, they rained a hail of bullets down upon the enemy with their 200 arquebuses. This unexpected attack threw Lord Terumune’s hatamoto retainers into confusion, and the soldiers behind them prepared to flee without any attempt at resistance. Into this melee swooped Nobesawa Noto no Kami, iron baton in hand, with Suda Kojūrō following strongly behind, and Noto no Kami’s men unhesitatingly followed their leader into battle, as did the second company under Ujiie Owari no Kami. Abandoning their battle formations in their eagerness to engage the enemy soldiers, they fought with such raw will and fierce determination that the enemy army was utterly overwhelmed. Soldiers of the van and rear guards fell back in a single mass to flee, only to be pursued and slain by Lord Yoshiaki’s men. So relentless was the Mogami assault that the position of Lord Terumune himself appeared to be in peril, but his long-serving fudai(1) retainers turned back en masse to protect their master, and, with one and then another of them falling in his defense, they finally succeeded in reaching the outermost moat of Kaminoyama Castle.
  In the midst of these developments, Lord Terumune’s wife also arrived at the castle in a palanquin.
  “Of late, I had wondered whither you ventured to give battle,” she said to Lord Terumune, “only to learn of this war taking place between brothers.
What manner of behavior is this? When my father, Lord Yoshimori, lay on his deathbed, he summoned you, Lord Terumune, to his side and bade you always behave as a friend to Yoshiaki. In time, your young son, Masamune, will come of age, and if our clans remain bound by the closest of familial ties, the Uesugi and Satake families might ally themselves together and seek to overcome us, but we would still have naught to fear. It was but recently that my father called on the Date family and retainers to respect the wishes of Yoshiaki, and on the Mogami side to consider well how their actions might affect you, Terumune, commanding both sides to give due deliberation to the other – but can it be that you have both so quickly forgotten his words and taken up arms against one another? How shameful! I entreat you to withdraw your army at once. If you will not agree, I beg that you strike me down with your sword and kill me now.” Terumune’s wife wept as she appealed to her husband.
  In his heart, Terumune had been secretly desirous of someone who would compel him to desist and offer him the opportunity to withdraw his forces, and he welcomed the mediation of his wife. “Speak likewise to Yoshiaki,” he said, returning to Yonezawa before dawn the following day.

(1) Retainers whose families had served a lord for many generations

2012/12/21 16:45 (C) 最上義光歴史館